A Daughter Leaves for College

For eons or mere minutes on the clock
among marble mansions on a cliffside walk
or sewage-filled streets in a shantytown,
if you shimmer in silk or wear a paper crown -
110 degrees or snow sideways blowing -
should you be lost or know where you're going,
whether friends are plenty or few,
I will walk with you.

Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

Life is Short and Other Slogans

I’ve been around nearly as long as life, and I’ve seen it all. Which, at times, makes it difficult to say something original. But that’s o.k., because I’ve noticed humans crave the usual. You prefer slogans.

So here are my slogans:

   Be kind when you can.
   Don't be cruel - ever.
   Get involved, but not if you are going to violate the first two slogans.

If you want to make your community/world (is there a difference?) a better place, you don’t have to go it alone. There are billions of you humans. I am sure some of them may be willing to help. So make allies.

As my good friend, Luna, says:

   If you are going to turn the tide
   perhaps it would be best 
   to have the moon on your side.

See you soon.

Raven Breathless (fka Death), Senior Human Rights Correspondent

Love is a Many Splendored Thing – Sometimes

So what’s Louise Erdrich’s The Plague of Doves about? Love. Ahh, that sounds really warm and cozy. It is – until it isn’t. This novel is no Hallmark card or cheesy pop song. Its major theme is love in its many forms (splendored or not): young love, mature love, obsessive love, self-love (our favorite), destructive love (which may not be love at all), forbidden love (sweet!), and familial love (whatever).

The novel is primarily set in North Dakota’s Badlands (major metaphor alert) on and near an Ojibwe reservation. However, it opens with the murder of a White family on a farm. The sole survivor is a baby in a crib (the murderer finds her when she starts crying). So now he has a decision to make.

The story then jumps ahead decades to the 1960s. Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that shortly after the murders 4 Native Americans came across the scene. When several White men learn about the Native Americans’ presence at the farmhouse, they deputize themselves and (not being too concerned about guilt or innocence) lynch the 4 Native Americans. The murders and the subsequent lynchings permeate the community as if an icy phantom walks through it, even as the descendants from all sides interact and mix. There is no way to “unravel” the rope. “Nothing that happens, nothing, is not connected here by blood.”

The novel is narrated by 4 characters and follows several inter-related families for about 40 years. The proximity of the White and Native communities may breed trouble, but it also creates desire. “We can’t seem to keep our hands off one another, it is true, and every attempt to foil our lusts though laws and religious dictums seems bound instead to excite transgression.” This is not new. But Ms. Erdrich is a skilled writer, and her wonderfully-drawn characters keep the story interesting and the reader engaged. Ultimately, we learn what happened to the baby and who murdered the family. There is a resolution of sorts. But, still, questions linger.

While the murders and lynchings are ever present, this story is about finding, maintaining, and losing love – even the most fulfilled are not exempt. “I have loved intensely. I have lived an ordinary and a satisfying life, and I have been privileged to be of service to people. Most people. There is no one I mourn to the point of madness and nothing I would really do over again.” That sounds like a full life, but Ms. Erdrich is too honest to leave it at that. Fulfilled or not, questions still linger.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor.

Do You Pretend to be a Poet? Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Hello readers of this pointless blog. I am supposedly Luvgood’s father. That’s what I’ve been told, at least – even though every blood test has come back “inconclusive”. More importantly – I own every hotel on Block Island. But please don’t pigeonhole me. I am so much more than that. I am human, and I also own hotels in Connecticut.

When Luvgood informed me that he was going to devote his life to poetry, I told him don’t quit your day job. So then he quit his day job. And he has been asking me for money ever since. Being a good father, I have refused. He obviously needs to grow up and quit pursuing his dreams.

As an older, distinguished white man, I am burdened with the responsibility of constantly giving unsolicited advice. If you are pursuing your dreams, don’t quit your day job. I need workers. I need to support my lavish lifestyle. Don’t be selfish.

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

The Court of Last Resort

It’s easy to know when I’m about to make a bad student loan. I ask 3 questions. Is the borrower studying for a degree in social work? Is the borrower attending a for-profit college like Pungent Sound Technical College of Technology? Does the borrower want a career where she selfishly works to help other people?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the borrower will never be able to pay back the $200,000.00 loan I am about to give her. Still, I make the loan. Then I hound her all the way to bankruptcy court. If she can’t discharge the loan (and usually you can’t), I continue to hound her after bankruptcy.

If I were lovable, the bankruptcy court would be my lover. The relationship will be wildly dysfunctional. But the sex would be charged and dangerous. I wrote a poem about it.

The Court of Last Resort

Some of us get a dime
even though a dollar is due
and some of us pay a dime
even when we have so few.

So everyone here has
lots of reasons to lie
because in the court of last resort
you keep what you can hide.

Titmouse Beak, President of Pungent Sound Community Bank

Cloud Cuckoo Land – Going Cuckoo for the Classics

Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land is a book about a book. Yawn, you say? But, wait, it is also about the love of books. Still yawning, I see. But a big section takes place in a library in Idaho. Whose point are you proving, you ask, while stifling another yawn.

Well, quit yawning, because Cloud Cuckoo Land is a delight. The story involves 3 timelines and characters separated by continents and centuries. They are connected only by a book supposedly written by Diogenes in the first century. That book (also called “Cloud Cuckoo Land”) is about Aethon, a shepherd who lived 80 years a man, 1 year a donkey, 1 year a sea bass, and 1 year a crow. It is an unbelievable comedy but that doesn’t make it a lie, because some stories “can be false and true at the same time.”

Diogenes’ book (really a codex) surfaces in Constantinople in 1453, during the Sultan’s long siege of the city. A 13 year old girl named Anna discovers the book and endeavors to protect it.

In the early 2000s the book is found in the Vatican’s archives. Major theme alert. “Sometimes the things we think are lost are only hidden, waiting to be rediscovered.” Age, water, and mildew have been cruel, making parts barely legible. It is published on the internet, and scholars are invited to decipher what they can. In Lakeport, Idaho, Zeno (who is not a scholar) is in his 80s and lonely, so he attempts to translate the story – perhaps realizing that he has a lot in common with Aethon. Seemingly ordinary people making great (though unrecognized) contributions to humanity is a second major theme.

Zeno’s translation eventually is discovered by Konstance circa 2130. She appears to be the sole survivor on a spaceship traveling to a distant planet.

Cloud Cuckoo Land is part epic poem, part fantastical quest, and part science fiction. And while the characters and events are convincingly depicted and the narrative is absorbing, the novel is really about the miraculous survival of Diogenes’ story.

Doerr writes a love letter to all the ancient myths, legends, and folktales that somehow survived when so many others did not. “In a time . . . when disease, war, and famine haunted practically every hour, when so many died before their time, their bodies swallowed by the sea or earth, or simply lost over the horizon, never to return, their fates unknown . . . Imagine how it felt to hear the old songs about heroes returning home. To believe that it was possible.” Times haven’t changed that much.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

A Tribute to Anonymous Unknown

So many people have created stunning works of art, and we don’t know their names. Even more people crap themselves and call that art. But because they do it in public and are immune to shame, everyone knows their names.

When it comes to literature, some of the most beautiful and inspiring works were written by history’s most prolific writer: Anonymous (aka Unknown) or, better yet, Anonymous Unknown.

Anonymous Unknown wrote the Old Testament, as it is called by Christians. Jews call it the Torah, which literally means Jesus Christ! Quit coopting our stuff – you do this all the time. He, She or They (we simply don’t know) also wrote Pearl, Sundiata, El Cid, The Man from Nantucket, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Fifty Shades of Grey (The Early Years), Beowulf, and many more works that richly explore what makes us human. Yet, their names are lost in the dank cellar of Antiquity’s library – probably behind the leaky water heater and under Sappho’s poems.

We don’t need social media to inform us that Fame is fickle. We don’t need more grieving parents to remind us that Equity and Justice have never lived here. Still, it is a blessing to have these works, even if we don’t know who to praise and thank.

Gladiola Overdrive, Chief Editor

Blood Diamonds

   When it comes to comprehending numbers,
   don't listen to the poets -
   if they understood basic math,
   they wouldn't be poets.
   Listen to the accountants, instead.

   A poet will sing how 
   13 is an unlucky number
   (no feat of the imagination there).
   She may even pull out her license
   and irrationally rhyme 
   how some numbers are unethical.

   As if ethics applies to math and money.

   An accountant will cogently observe
   that no matter what 13 may be
   it is not a big number.
   17 is bigger - though still not big.
   27, 32, 50, and 59 are big
   but no bigger than a modest PR problem.

   13 does not make a synagogue a concentration camp.

   Especially when 13 is actually 12
   because the killer was 1.

   The accountant will clarify 
   that 12 is much smaller than
   billions.

   The poet will protest:
   billions is the sound of 
   outdoor concerts becoming killing fields
   and classrooms becoming slaughterhouses.
   Poets call those children and concertgoers
   blood diamonds.

   An accountant now concerned about the bottom line
   will counter that "blood diamonds" is
   a misleading and malicious metaphor
   manufactured by malcontent poets
   to cynically incite the sympathies of simpletons.

   There hasn't been a market for blood diamonds in years.

   So children and concertgoers are not blood diamonds.
   They aren't even innocent bystanders - 
   because they were terrified,
   when the shooting started,
   and tried to run away.

   If you must name them,
   the accountant will conclude that 
   the children and concertgoers were
   coal ash or feathers
   or other unavoidable byproducts
   of businesses worth billions.

   What, the accountant would like to know,
   is a poem worth?

   Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief

   First published in The Broadkill Review

Frodo and the Hedge Fund of Loneliness

When I was 156 months old, I was ignorant and delighted to be so. When I turned 157 months old, my family moved to a tiny and disturbing land where the money-minded natives used lacrosse sticks for everything. Working, eating, knitting, fornicating (ouch). Everything.

This strange place was called Connecticut, which means “hedge fund of loneliness” in Algonquian. Much like the winters there, I became sullen and dark. My sole refuge was the local library where I hid from everyone. It was easy to do. The place didn’t sell anything, so no one went there.

That’s where I found The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and my life was saved. The story is full of great and awful beings, but I became fast friends with Frodo. He too was a diminutive creature who saw ignorance as a blessing. Then he was sent to a cursed land on a doomed mission. Frodo got me through that first summer. He made all the difference in the world. While I was still frequently angry and sometimes lonely, I now had allies. Thousands of them. All waiting for me to read their stories.

Tengo Leche, Social Anxiety Scholar

Home Leaving

   I stole a frozen chicken
   and tried some Voodoo.
   I prayed to Shiva
   but I'm not Hindu.
   Magic 8 ball said gotta go.
   The lucky charm I rubbed 
   was actually just a dildo.
   I brought to Jesus
   all my desperate pleas,
   but though he loves the poor
   he loves us on our knees.

   So when's your home not your home?

   When it's owned by the bank
   you dumb fuck,
   and the bank wants you out.

   I diligently worked my way
   down every dead end street
   taking every detour I could take - 
   like rubbing a dildo for hours
   until my hands ached.

   Now the neighbors line the street.
   Police pound at my door.
   Mr. Diligent Dumbfuck went and got a gun
   because dildos won't do anymore.

   Luvgood Carp, Editor-in-Chief