Fury

Petty? I shan’t think it’s so!

I have this Monet, and Van Gogh

Clearly, I appreciate

The things the low class tends to hate!

An eye for that which is so grand!

Smaller brains won’t understand

Yes, this is what I say to thee

A peasant is but lesser me

That means that I am better, yes?

Oh come on now, I must digress

Let me say something, highbrow

I am not fucking joking, now

A good person exists in me

The spirit of my mother, see

She can see right through your shit

And make you walk on top of it

So save your graces, save your prayers

Cause I know, you know, no one cares

This isn’t the beginning, friend

It’s just a taste of what’s at end

The One: Entry 2

It’s weird for me to be telling this story. I just want to be upfront about that before we get too much further into this little journey you and I are about to go on. Sometimes I wonder why it’s so hard to talk about this stuff when I’m face to face with people, but then I realize that I’ve already answered my own question. Face to face is hard, don’t you think? It’s just so, I don’t know…different. Because when we’re speaking to someone in person, we can immediately see their unintentionally expressed judgments and subtle cues that make us fully realize what they actually think of us. Right? I know you know what I mean.

Which is why I prefer telling my stories like this. Journaling, you know? Journals let us extract the real. The deep. The truth! Because with journals, we don’t have to concern ourselves with an audience. Ugh, the audience. Always judging. Always critiquing. Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to my original point.

Love. Soulmates. The ONE.

Yep, you heard me. I bet you already know them. Wanna know how?

Technology.

Simple! This whole Information Age that we find ourselves lucky enough to be living in has unlocked a near unlimited number of doors for us. Yup. For anyone willing to try and step in, the various social media platforms and apps we have access to are host to literal millions of people all waiting to be validated. Doors just begging to be opened.

All you have to do is knock.

And hell, sometimes you don’t even need to do that! There’s people out there who just leave the damn door wide open! Its crazy, I tell you. Sometimes it makes me wonder how certain folks can be so trusting with all their shit out there in the open, but hey…I guess not everyone is as messed up in the head as me. Seems there are plenty of perfectly normal, “nothing to see here” types just asking to be walked in on.

Wait. I think I got off track again. I was talking about meeting the One, right? Of course I was. So I bet you’re wondering what I meant by that. Well, believe it or not, my scattered brain never ceases to fail me and has brought us to the answer. Social media! Simple. It’s so easy to read between the lines and really understand people based on a precise formula: one part profile, three parts day-to-day posts, and a heaping spoonful of comments/actual interactions. Because they all tell us different, albeit very important, things.

Take our profiles, for instance. Or our own personal “ad”, as I prefer to call them. They’re basically shovels full of bullshit that we scoop from the dirt-pile that is reality which we then cast toward the window of public knowledge – hoping that the best parts stick on the glass before slowly falling down so others will remember the crap we want them to. They’re sort of like social resumes, but without the necessity of having to worry whether or not we can back it up. You know…like an actual, real job would require. I mean after all, how many people do you know would look at a person’s “About Me”, see that they graduated from Syracuse in 2012 with a bachelors in Bio-Bullshit or something, and then actually go check the alumni lists to make sure they’re telling the truth?

I’ll save you the time: no one. You know precisely no one that would do that. Maybe some photo stalking to audit them perhaps, but hey – all it takes to dodge that one is a quick “Where are my college photos? Oh please, I had to delete those when I started applying to real jobs. You know how it is!” Giggle giggle, sly wink, and a sip of that vodka cranberry and we’re on to the next topic. Please. Any uneducated kid with a vocational degree can do it. So yeah, that’s the profile for you. It’s our canned version of ourselves. Which, incidentally, can tell us a lot about someone and how they wish to be perceived.

Then there’s the day-to-day posts. These are basically the fluff that people put up to support the claims advertised on the profile. All initial releases need some backup content, no? Sort of like sequels. Posts are like sequels to our first installment, furthering our narratives. Makes sense if you ask me.

Which, of course, brings us to the meat and potatoes. Comments. Interactions. Arguments! These are what truly reveals who a person is or is not. Actions speak louder than words, after all, do they not? Oh yes. They most certainly do.

But let’s get back, for the third time now, to how you already know your soulmate. It’s by taking the information we just discussed, and intelligently applying it with the appropriate intentions. Social media. Reading people. Easy. You know it, I know it, we all know it.

We all have that one, perfect person out there just waiting for us to slide into their DMs. The question is whether we ever grow a pair big enough to actually do it. And what you’re about to learn…is that me? Well, I did.

Boy, did I.

The One: First Entry

Can we be honest with ourselves for a moment? I want to talk about some things. Things like Facebook. Twitter. Instagram, perhaps. Hell, even Tinder…anything that lets people advertise who they are (or at least who they want to be) without having to concern themselves with the real world.

Yeah, I know.

It’s not easy to examine one’s self. We’d all much rather be judging someone else. But right now, let’s do the hard thing and focus the lens introspectively.

Sure, it’s easy to look on at the spinning wheel that is social media, watching as the people we know and grew up with move on with their lives. Comparison is the theif of joy, ain’t it? That’s what they say, at least.

It’s funny though because everyone’s aware, whether consciously or subconsciously, that social media is just a highlight reel. If only we knew who we all are after each one of those many layers of social graces and obligatory formalities got peeled back. The real, you know? Because as much as we market how cool our lives are, at the end of the day…it’s validation that we really want.

Most of us, that is. And you know what? That’s perfectly normal. Not at all a thing to be ashamed of.

After all, most of us just want someone who knows us. Who understands us. Who IS us. We want to enjoy life with a person who gets, more so than anyone, who we truly are. And I’m not talking about the person at three o’clock, bringing in coffee with the same fake grin we all wear knowing we’re just waiting for the hour hand to get knocked ahead a couple notches. I’m talking about the person we are when the day’s facade is over, the candles go out, and the door closes. That person you see when the ambient light from the TV flicks on as it highlights the it-was-a-long-day-fucked-up-hair and feetie pajamas silhouette. That’s the person we’re searching for.

And you want to know something? I bet you’ve already met them.

I know I have.

91 (A Short Story by Josh Jones)

91

At 91, Gladys sips bourbon from her grandmother’s floral teacup. It’s eleven in the morning. The teacup shakes slightly in her veined, big-knuckled hand. The saucer clinks several times as she sets it down. She’s given up reading the newspaper because her eyes are shot and she feels reading glasses are gauche. Instead of reading she listens to the radio.

Her radio, an original transistor type, picks up programs broadcast on the FM signal. A light jazz music traipses through the air. She wears a light cotton gown. White, wispy hair dances around her face, catching the morning light. Her eyes are set deep within a wrinkled face. Looking out her window to the yard, a young Hispanic man mows and trims.

Her lips, moistened from the bourbon, tense every so often as she listens to the irritating man on the radio who talks between her songs. As he prattles on, she closes her eyes and sees the lovely vignettes of her childhood. She dwells here more and more, in the thoughts of a youth, where memories are so vivid in her mind. She revels in her recollections and the emotions they bring. They take her back to times long before the Alzheimer’s became the focal point of her life. Mornings are the best, with her bourbon, her light jazz and her youth.

She remembers the small apartment where she, her sister, and parents lived. It was an Irish neighborhood on the cusp of Harlem in the thriving days of New York City’s bustling renaissance. She remembers ‘rushing the can’ to her parents as they listened to Benny Goodman. The large can, coming from the corner bar, was filled with cold beer. At nine years old, she would give the slip of paper to the bartender for credit at the bar from her father. She remembers the smoky bar. She remembers neighbors sitting on the stoops of their buildings. She remembers her parents would drink the beer out of clear glasses while dancing in the kitchen.

Her older sister, Esther, would come home with stories from The Cotton Club where she was a coat check girl. She told her parents about the fur coats, the shimmering clothes and way the dancefloor pulsed with people dancing, drinking, smoking. Gladys would sit in the window overlooking the alleyway watching her parents dance, wanting to be older. She remembers her mother moving to the icebox, her hips swaying to jazz orchestra, to get refill the glasses. When her mom would be busy, Glady’s dad would pluck her from her window seat and spin her around to the jumpin’ and jivin’ music. She could smell the beer on his breath and the smoke on his clothes.

At her kitchen table, the ninety-one-year-old Gladys brings a hand up and feels the cotton collar of her house gown. She thinks of the sable furs her sister described from her job at The Cotton Club. In her silent reverie, Gladys picks up the cork from her Maker’s Mark bourbon bottle. The weight in her hand reminds her of the Bazooka Joe bubble gum her mother would give to her. She’d unpeel the wrapper, read the joke to her parents and they would hoot and holler with tipsy delight.

Gladys’ toe is bouncing along to the jazz station on her FM radio. The bouncing reminds her of jumping on the bed as she and her sister giggled together about a Barney Coogle cartoon called “Patch Mah Britches”. The character, and his big bottom, are covered by trousers with a hole in the seat. They fall back onto the bed laughing at the picture of the man’s underwear poking through his britches.

The radio goes to a commercial and her thoughts stop as an advertisement to cure erectile dysfunction dissipates the fond visions in her mind. She looks wide-eyed at the table. A plate from dinner with her remaining meal still sits on the table next to a pill dispenser.

Did she forgot to eat last night?

Oh dear, whose pills are those?

She sips her bourbon as a commercial for feminine hygiene products for maximum flow days causes her to scoff. She looks at the table again where her teeth are submerged in a glass next to her uneaten meal. She touches her mouth as if she’s surprised her teeth are across the table from her.

The music begins again and again, she is now skipping down the sidewalk beneath her apartment, throwing  a stone onto the hopscotch square. She hops deftly from one square to another, leaning forward to pick up the stone. A siren sounds down the street, she looks up as folks lean out their windows to watch the fire truck ramble by with its large water tank as firefighters hang off the sides.

Finishing her hopscotch, she says hello to Mrs. Finnegan, the fat lady across the hall who wears enormous, floral dresses and hands out candy. She gives Gladys three pieces of salt water taffy. She puts the candies into her pocket and runs upstairs to share with Esther. The radio in the kitchen is playing a rumba song. Esther grabs Gladys and they try to copy the dance moves they’ve watched her folks do. They both trip over each other, falling into a pile, giggling on the kitchen floor.

“Mom!” Gladys hears the sharp words and thinks her mother is yelling at them.

But, where’s Esther?

The knock comes again to her door. The door to her house, not her parent’s apartment.

Gladys walks to the door. “Yes?” she says.

“Mom,” a woman says again. “Open up, I have your groceries.”

“Groceries?” Gladys questions laying her hand on the door. “I didn’t order any groceries.”

“Mom,” the woman says, “it’s me. Your daughter.”

Gladys opens the door and looks at the woman and says, “I don’t know. I need to call my daughter to see if she ordered these groceries.”

“Mom,” the woman said. “I’m your daughter.”

“Oh…” Gladys said.


 

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Sheltered

 

Keep it Close

It’s funny really, sit back and watch

At all the people, climbing notch

Try to break an industry

That only wants to catch, release

They all want content, what they need

A mind like mine, that doesn’t feed

On all the bullshit, all the fake

And how much money can I make

This game is changing, get on board

Here I’ll help, on my accord

You heard me right, what you’re surprised?

It’s weird, I know, a stand-up guy

See all these disrespectful lines

Just show me how small are your minds

And treating people like you do

It’s getting old, get with the new

Yeah, I said it, deal with it

I don’t care what trash you spit

Your game is awful, get in line

Cause none of y’all can top this mind

I know you’re mad, and feel like fools

That’s natural, we’re animals

That’s what happens when you’ve lost

Hey, keep it close, these keys I tossed

The Real You

The real inside you wants to out

Because you know what you’re about

It’s scratching, teething, ripping in

Creating so much real tension

The world is wasted, the time is ours

To fix these fucking scrapes and scars

These people all have gone to hell

It’s time we step up, fix the shell

Well do it right, not what they did

Well take this place and fix it, kid

The time has come, let’s get it done

Let’s own this world with endless fun

Let’s make religions, get along

The red and blue will sing their song

It isn’t hard, for all it takes

Is you and me, to be awake

I Want to Die

I want to die

But not because

The reason that

You’re thinking of

See all I want

Is for you hoes

To like my poems

And like my prose

And come on guys

We all admit

That once you’re dead

Your works legit

I know, it makes

My mind go numb

That people are

So fucking dumb

Appreciate

They can’t, in place

When greatness slaps

Them in the face

Because they can’t

Get over, see

Their mindless, stupid

Jealousy

So yes, I guess

With drawn out sigh

I’ll bite the bullet

It’s time to die

No, B!

Why does he just stare at me

As I’m driving, silently

Watching oh so creepily

Licking chops so hungrily

Does he think of eating me?

Does he want his bowl to be

Filled with water, does he see

How his gaze drives me crazy?

I must breathe, I think I’m free

Surely he is not hungry

For my flesh and bones, I think

He just likes to look at me

Phew I’m calm, finally

I’ll just turn and drive, as we

Wait…whats this you’re doing, B?

NO! Oh my God, someone help me!!

It’s Cruel, You See

Gazing in this mind of black

At all the things that I’d take back

If only it was kind to me

But time, regret, its cruel, you see

The things I wish I hadn’t done

They never fade, they never run

They occupy my mind at night

And fill my heart with doubt and spite

Oh, to have it back, now lost

I’d pay the toll, at any cost

To right the wrongs, that I transgress

To heal the pain, as I regress

Alas, its time that’s cruel, you see

And as I look back, woefully

The past, it grows so rapidly

To haunt my wounded memory

Together

In my chamber, losing sleep

Rocking, thinking, silently

Watching broadcasts quietly

Observe this world, so violently

I wonder if the day will be

When people live, peacefully

Shedding war, with treaty

No longer loving fearfully

It all could change, if only we

Would be the change we want to see

We must admit, reluctantly

To fix the “us”, it starts with “me”

Don’t take offense, the truth, you see

Is no one lives life perfectly

We’re all together, I decree

To live, one human family

When Finally, It’s Built

The last years of your life

So confined and constrained

Arthritis was rife

It hurt, and it pained

No solace you had

But to lay in your bed

Retreat to your books

Build a world in your head

I’ll never forget, Mom

All the stories and shows

We’d read and watch together

To forget this life’s woes

CSI, Nora Roberts

Your favorites, I know

You’d gleefully immerse

In her books, or that show

Oh Mom, how it hurts

To think of these times

It rips me apart

But keeps me alive

All that’s ahead

Everything I achieve

Is all due to you, Mom

And your love for me

You deserved so much more

How so badly I yearn

To turn back the clock

Give the life that you earned

The impossible, I want

The impossible, I need

Yet I’m forced to move forward

And to carry this grief

Your love for those stories

They’ve inspired me, Mom

And I promised you one day

That’d I’d carry that love on

One day, Mom, I swear it

No more tears will be spilt

When I cut that bright ribbon

When finally, it’s built

My Dog

My Dog

I wonder if my dog

Knows he’s a dog

Or if his cute little brain

Is clouded in smog

And instead he assumes

He’s a human like me

With thumbs all opposable

And not paws as his feet

I wonder if he thinks

That I’m his pet to keep

Keeping my water bowl full

Allows me on HIS bed to sleep

Whatever he thinks

It’s funny and sweet

So come on, my dog

Let’s get you a treat

What If They Died

What if they died?

What if that artist

Who painted their works

So great, yet shunned

For personality quirks

What if that singer

Who hit impossible notes

Wasn’t caught up in drama

Or the brunt of your jokes

What if you focused

On content they write

Instead of the bullshit

The cheap and contrite

Why is it, so often

An artist, who yearned

Must die to achieve

The recognition they’ve earned

It isn’t the painter

Whose genius, they leave

It’s ego that chains us

A jealous reprieve

For when you are dead

You’re no threat to us

So sure, we can like you

Just stay off of my bus

Some day, I do hope

The people will see

That passion is living

And envy is greed

You

What things go through your head

When you lay down and no one is there?

When you know that no one is listening

Is it a dream, or perhaps a nightmare?

Do you think of the rest of the world

And how we’re all stuck in a cell?

Or maybe those shoes you’ve been wanting

Or if there’s a heaven or hell?

Think hard, for I say this

Not to judge; no fingers I point, I can say

But your thoughts? They truly define you

Not facades, nor roles you portray

Live. Love. Be honest

Please, be true to the core

For when you find the real you

Your reason to search – it’s no more

To You, Mom

I’m so close, Mom

I can feel it

I’ve kept my post, Mom

Done what I said I’d do

It’s all about to take off, Mom

Please, stay on board with me

Your soul has been my compass, Mom

It’s the only thing that’s driving me

Everything ahead is ‘cause of you

And the thing I’m leaving behind me

Is a life of stress and judgment

Not at all the things I want to be

All I want Is what you deserved

But never seemed to truly get

I’m so sorry Mom, I really am

I miss you so much, now eyes are wet

It doesn’t matter though

You’ll always be a part of me

Every piece of good and kind

Came from your hand holding me

Mom, I miss you so much

I can’t even describe it, no

And everything I’m about to do

Will be because you loved me so

Priorities

Whatchu mean you don’t wanna say please?

You better take a step back and consider your priorities

Whatchu want more? Change or the argument?

Number one, please. Number two, cause dissent.

People won’t change unless you give em what they wanna hear

I don’t care if you don’t like that, that’s the way it is, hear?

Deal with it or don’t, your decision ain’t up to me

But imma be over here, causing change and making beats

Well not really beats I guess, instead I’d probly say rhymes

Cause I don’t know how to rap even tho I’ve tried a hundred times

See I know my place, what I’m not and what I am

And I bet you’d feel the same if you’d learn how to debate, man

This is Cozy

Let’s take a moment and talk about the real deets

Some of y’all are prolly thinking when’s he finally gonna peace

Well I hate to say this but I’m actually kinda comfy here

It’s really fun, it’s helped me write, and I’ve shed a couple tears

The people here are just that, they’re the real deal

Not a mask, not a hat, I never get a fake feel

So I hope we can get along without getting jealous

Cause you know that’s natural, guys were just competitive

That’s all. Just in case anyone’s annoyed. It’s the natural way of things. I still luh you.

My Life

Monday, Friday

Every day through the week

Working, writing

Never hanging with the weak

Paying, my dues

Those that came before me

Same grind, same time

Time off? Please that bores me

No sir, no ma’am

Sure, I talk politely

At night? All night

Writing, it consumes me

Let’s take a break

A break from what, Matt?

That rhythm there

Oh, you don’t like that?

Okay, no way

See what I did there?

Symmetry, those beats

Flip it over still the same thing

Hold up, last verse?

No the one before, damn

Oh shit, that’s right

What’s this poem about, man?

Who knows, I don’t

All I know is writing it

Has been, no joke

Fun as hell and now it’s ten

Sure is, turn in?

Bitch you must be playin

No chance, next glass

Man Baxter is sleeping

So what? Wake up

All these tasks on my hand

Right now? Yes now

His ass can sleep at work, man

True that, no doubt

That dogs my dog, see

No joke, I know

Little guys my world, B

Okay!

Lets hold up

Time to pause for a cause

So I can fill my cup

Okay!

For real this time

Tomorrow imma read

Laugh my ass, this rhyme

Okay!

Time for bed, for real.

Cmon Mr Baxter. Seriously. Come on.

Family Ties

It’s times such as these

When you want to say please

What more can I do?

What else will appease?

All you want is a pat

Maybe “Hey, way to go”

Or “I’m proud of you, son”

“It’s hard work, that I know”

But none of it fits

Beyond all my wits

I can’t do what is right 

Im up thinking at night

I just don’t understand

I just don’t comprehend

I just want to be proud 

I just want to fit in

The people I’ve met

Who never I’ve seen

They’re beautiful, dancing

All over round me

My family ties

And this, I detest

They’re toxic to me

Will be, till I rest 

Why is it so hard?

Why can’t you support?

I’ve written alone

My mind is my fort

For blood isn’t born

Its gained and it’s yearned 

And true family ties 

Cut deepest, when earned

The Tiki Torches: 3

“Alright, everyone. This evening we have an excellent opportunity to show these people just what we mean. We’ve tolerated centuries of oppression, decades of condescension, and countless years of bigotry! I say unto you all, stand up for your rights! Stand up for your freedoms! Stand up for the God Given, inherent capabilities of existing as a human being!”

Hurrah!!

Standing tall in front of a melting pot of human beings, the mayor of the city of Perth gives an emboldened speech at the municipalitie’s town hall meeting. As a champion of all races and creeds, he has garnered the support of pretty much the entire town. Except, of course, a small minority of closed minded bigots who refuse to adapt to change.

“We will stand strong with our brothers and sisters, no matter the cost!” The mayor shouts from his podium inside the town halll. “This is but a small town, but we are a united town!” He adds, a finger shaking in the air to reiterate his point.

“We will not allow a small contingent of oppressors to light up the evening! We will stamp out the flames of injustice!” Hurrah! “We shall stop them in their tracks!” Hurrah! “We shall meet them on the battlefield of intellectual opposition, and let none leave without exposure to our light!” HURRAH!!!!

As the mayor lets the crowd’s energy die down, he holds out his arms.

“My friends.” He says. “Let us begin preparations. It’s been reported that there has been a spike in Tiki Torch sales at the Wal-Smart across town. Let’s show them that these torches shall not have been bought in vain! We shall show them the error of their ways.”

Hurrahhhh!!!!!!

Slowly walking off his town hall stage, the mayor finally takes a moment to catch his breath.

“Great speech, sir!” One of his constituents says.

“Yeah. It was. But it was just that. A speech.” The mayor snaps back, obviously caught up in thinking about something else.

“But sir, you moved the entire town! That surely must count for something.” The constitutant says.

“Yes. They’re motivated. And for that I am grateful. But there is so much else left to do.” The mayor says.

“Come, we must prepare for the Torches.” He adds with a sly wink, clearly indicating that he has something in store for the folks riding his way.