Monthly Archives: February 2016

‘The Loss Of A Thousand Autumns’ by Andrew Bradford

Where I was going that long night so far removed from me now

Emerging from the alley in the semi-darkness, she looked like a lost waif

We stood along the path, daring not approach the Deity

Awareness is a myth; understanding is only to be found in the memories of each muscle

Toward dusk that day she reached and touched her cherished distant star

Curled tight like a wounded bird, the old woman attempted to speak her last words

I am a fool, plain and simple–suppose it can be said of us all sooner or later

Trying so desperately to obey the rules of some force never felt this strong

He looks askance at the gathered tribe of men and turns on his heel

Would it be preferable if we merely suggested what we saw in our sleep?

I fear the sounds I most despise will be played

For all eternity or even beyond that fading moment

She was there once in the mirrored reflection of my hidden eye

I reached for her and found

The leaves golden and red; the world dying in early frost

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Late At Night’ by Brad Thaxton

When the silence blends with the darkness

And the wind stands still for the moon–

That’s when it’s late at night,

And the whole universe is in tune.

When the stars start to sparkle and glitter

Like a new coin reflecting light–

That’s when all troubles fade away,

In the peacefulness, late at night .

Many times I’ve stood alone in a courtyard

And stared up at heaven and space–

Wondering where it all began ,

While the blackness poured down on my face.

The mystery of all creation

Lies hidden in the sky–

As I look upon the glory,

Of a comet flying by.

Such a special time for dreaming

A dazzling vision in my sight–

That’s when my soul is safe and sound,

In the calmness, late at night.

Copyright 2016 by Brad Thaxton. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Tower’ by Art Metzger

The lunchroom was packed – all the long tables filled. With class lunch times staggered from 11:30 to 1:30, it would be at least two o’clock before the last table had emptied. Joe wondered how long he was going to have to stand like this. He’d been standing, balanced, since a few minutes before noon. It was now 12:15. His own class had finished and gone to recess. In another fifteen minutes they would be returning to their classroom.

A few minutes past 11:30, just after Joe and his classmates had found seats and begun eating, someone had shouted at Joe – something about what flavor Gerber’s baby food his mother had packed for him today. Joe was used to the taunts, he had been teased and bullied about his size and poor health ever since he started school, but nevertheless, this time, he shouted back to shut up. Just as he did, the school principal, Mr. Chaney, happened to walk by his table.
“Joseph, since when has the lunchroom become the place for shouting?”
“I was just…”
“I heard what you were doing, you were telling someone to shut up.”
“But they were…”
“Joseph, that’s enough. Get up, fold up your chair and come with me. Normally I would paddle someone shouting like you were and then trying to argue with me, but, as you know, I have notes from your mother and your doctor not to ever paddle you. So we must find other punishments.”
Hundreds of eyes followed Joe as Mr. Chaney led him to the main entrance of the lunchroom. “Come over here to the side, Joseph, we don’t want you blocking traffic. Now set up your chair.”

Joseph is staring at the school buildings. For a grade school it’s a fairly large campus – two buildings, three baseball diamonds, and a field for football and track. The main building has a tower in one corner, overlooking the ball fields. Joseph remembers that the ground floor of the tower had always been used to store sporting and groundskeeping equipment. He has no idea what the other floors hold, if anything, but he is going to find out. He needs to know for his plan to work. He walks toward the tower, casually, trying not to look around. There are two gym class softball games going on in the fields, but everyone there is concentrating on the games. There is no one else around.
The door to the tower isn’t locked. Joseph didn’t really expect it to be, but he is still relieved. He steps into the darkness and closes the door behind him. He is in a square room that takes up the entire ground floor of the tower. There are two small windows letting in light, and Joseph finds himself surrounded with lawnmowers, rakes, and other equipment he doesn’t recognize in the half-light. He winds his way through to the stairs in the back left-hand corner of the tower. The stairs are a familiar sight, they are exactly the same as the stairs in the school building – up eight steps and then the flight turns back on itself, up and up. There is a small landing and doorway at every floor. Joseph starts up the steps, hoping that access to the roof isn’t locked.

“Put it up right here,” Mr. Chaney said. “Now I want you to stand on it until I come to get you. Maybe then you’ll remember that there’s no shouting in school, not even in the lunchroom.”
“You want me to stand on a folding chair? What if it closes?”
“Just be careful and it won’t close. Stay balanced. I’ll come to get you when I think you’ve learned your lesson.”
“But I have to get back to class soon.”
“Joseph, what did I tell you about arguing with me. Now get up on the chair.”

Joseph has climbed up to the fifth floor of the tower. He’s opened the door on the landing of each floor, but has seen no sign of any recent use by anyone. There are broken desks and old blackboards on the two lower floors, and crates of what he assumes are out of date school books and student records. But past the second floor there is nothing, just dust and cobwebs. Joseph looks up from the fifth floor landing and sees only two more short flights of stairs – sixteen more steps. The landing on the sixth floor is much like the others, the only difference is a metal ladder fixed to the wall leading up to a hatch. Joseph doesn’t see a lock, only a set of sliding bars controlled by a lever that held the hatch closed. The ladder is woven with spider webs. Joseph brushes them away as best he can and climbs the rungs. At the top he holds the ladder with one hand while he tries to pull the lever that moves the bars to open the hatch. At first the only budge a little, but Joseph switches hands and pulls harder. Dust and flecks of metal are falling down on him, but he finally gets the bar to slide, and the hatch falls open.

Once he was actually standing on the folding metal chair Joseph was afraid to move. He imagined a foot sliding backwards, just enough to put pressure on the back of the chair seat and cause it to close. He thought of the chair swallowing him, a brown metal lunchroom monster. “Look, we’ve got a floor show,” he heard someone say. He couldn’t tell who said it, but there was a round of laughter. He looked around for an instant, but then looked back down at his feet, assuring himself that they haven’t moved.
“Hey Joe, how’s the view from up there?” More laughter. “Do you want to get down? Do you want your mommy?”
Joseph risked another look out at the lunchroom. He didn’t recognize any individual faces, he saw only a sea of laughter. He spotted one or two teachers off to the side, standing, watching him. He thought he saw pity in their faces. He wondered if he was imagining it. Already his legs were getting stiff, and it had only been a few minutes.
“Are you going to cry, baby?”

Joseph climbs up the last rungs of the ladder and crawls out onto the roof of the tower. He stands in the morning sunshine and looks around. The softball games are still going on below him. The players are tiny, running for a ball too small to see. Joseph stares at them for a moment while they play a game that he has never been invited to play.

The lunchroom clock showed that only a half hour had passed since Joseph climbed up onto the chair. It was going on 12:30. His class was gone. Other classes had come in, filling his ears with more taunts and laughter. Girls pointed at him as they came into the lunchroom, already the whole school must know about him. Joseph’s right leg, the one pressing against the front part of the chair to hold it open was beginning to shake. Joseph wanted to switch them, but he wasn’t sure how to do it. He was afraid to move. He was afraid he was going to cry, though he knew that would only make things worse. Everybody coming in or leaving had to walk right by him. Everyone looked at him. Everyone laughed at him.
“Hey Joe…you know you look really stupid up there. Did you forget the way down?”

“Do you like it up there?”

Joseph takes a closer look around the roof of the tower. The roof is completely flat, there is no kind of wall around the edge. It is perfect for his message. He looks around again. One of the softball games is ending, the players heading into the showers. They would be replaced, Joseph knew, by a new class in a few minutes. He watches the students filing into the gym for a moment, then turns toward the school buildings. The playground between the buildings is empty, it’s still to early for recess. The teachers’ parking lot is filled with cars. Joseph doesn’t recognize most of them, but he does see Mr. Chaney’s car. Not the same car he drove back then, but Joseph had been watching, and he was sure it was Chaney’s car. Perfect. Two rows away he sees his own car. Turning, he goes back through the hatch into the tower.

Joseph was going to cry. He didn’t think he could stop it. His left leg was almost numb. He wished that he had gotten onto the chair facing the back, so he could hold onto the backrest, steady himself. Maybe lift one foot at a time and move his toes while he held to the back of the chair. But he knew that Mr. Chaney wouldn’t have allowed that. He wanted Joseph facing the lunch crowd. So Joseph stood, frozen in place. He had put his hands in his pockets, not knowing what else to do with them. It was a few minutes after one o’clock.

Joseph is back in the school parking lot, standing beside his car. He opens the door on the passenger side, pulls the lever that sends the front seat forward. The back seat is filled with trash, unpaid bills, unmailed resumes, old sandwich wrappers. Leaning against the seat is a large artist’s portfolio case, leather, zipped closed, with a handle. Unlike the car and everything else in it the case looks brand new. Joseph maneuvers it carefully out of the car. It seems fairly heavy. Once it’s out Joseph slams the door shut. His keys and wallet are lying on the front seat, but he doesn’t bother locking it. What difference can it make? Without looking back he starts back toward the tower, looking perhaps like a visiting art teacher.

Joseph couldn’t feel his legs. He thought his right leg was still shaking, but he couldn’t tell for sure. He no longer heard the other kids, no longer saw the lunchroom clock. He was locked in his own frozen world of terrified stillness. He wasn’t even sure he would ever be able to get down, even if he was allowed to. He hated the lunchroom. He hated the chair. Mr. Chaney. Especially Mr. Chaney. His mouth was completely dry. His eyes were wet.

Joseph’s ascent of the tower stairs goes much more slowly with his burden. He switches hands often, carrying it carefully to keep it from dragging or knocking against the wall. There is no one around, but still Joseph is terrified of making any noise. There is metal in the portfolio case. He doesn’t want it clanking together. Once up the last flight of stairs, it is even harder to maneuver the case up the ladder to the roof. The hatch was still open, as he had left it. With one arm hooked around the top rung of the ladder, Joseph finally manages to lift the case up and through the hatch. He pushes it slightly off to the side, then steps once again into the sunlight.

It is a few minutes before two o’clock. Joseph realizes that someone is talking to him. It takes him a moment, but he realizes that it’s Mr. Chaney. “Do you think this was a fair punishment, Joseph?” Joseph doesn’t answer. “Or do you think some of the people making fun of you should have had to take your place?” Again, Joseph doesn’t answer, but he does nod his head. He is thinking about how much he would like to see Mr. Chaney standing on the chair for five minutes. “I think you’ve learned your lesson, Joseph. You may get down now. Do you need help?”
Joseph shook his head no, but Mr. Chaney helped him anyway, sort of helping him slide down until he was sitting on the chair.
“Sit there for a few minutes, Joseph, and then get to class. I’ve told your teacher to let you in without a note. And no more shouting.”

Joseph unzips the portfolio case. Inside is something big and flat, wrapped in bubble wrap and tape. Joseph takes a small pocket knife from his pocket and starts cutting the tape. Occasionally there is a small pop from the bubble wrap. As he unwraps he lets the wind take the bubble wrap. He won’t be rewrapping anything. Finally the entire package is unwrapped. Inside is a brown metal lunchroom chair. It’s not really from the lunchroom, though. Joseph stole it during one of his short-lived janitor jobs, from cleaning up after a basement church meeting. Joseph unfolds the chair and sets it in one corner of the tower, just at the edge, looking down on the playground on one side and the parking lot on the other. In the playground children are just filing out for recess, some running, some bouncing balls for four-square or basketball. He watches the children for a moment, turns to be sure he can still see Chaney’s car in the lot, make sure he is still there, then he climbs up on the chair, feeling the familiar metal under his feet. He can feel the sun on his head as he starts rocking back and forth on the soles of his feet. He presses down on the back of the chair seat with his right heel and wonders which way he will fall.

‘Temporal Memory’ by Andrew Bradford

When he awakened, the first thing they asked him was what he could remember. Well, he wanted to say, nothing. I was working around the house and then I woke up here in the hospital.

As the doctor was leaving the room, he heard him remark, “Not a good first sign.”


You were Eric, he can feel her whispering into his ear, and yet he doesn’t open his eyes to check and make sure she’s actually there. Eric. Can you hear me, Eric? We were married, Eric.

He can hear her crying softly, wants to reach and comfort her, but she is a stranger to him, and he is uncertain what to tell her. Does he pretend to be Eric just so she will feel better?

Closing his eyes tighter now, the voice fades and he is once more in pitch black space.


Is this a dream? The question buzzes into the depths of his mind as he stares at the television in the hospital room. What is real and what is just dream? Isn’t that the question man has been asking almost since the beginning of time?

Could be a dream, he realizes. This could all be a horrible nightmare or a way of his brain to teach him some much deeper lesson.

They bring him lunch and he eats some of it, noticing how bland it all tastes, then suddenly frightened when he comes to the realization that he cannot name any of the food on the plate. Surely they all have names, but all he can identify them by is color and shape: a brown square, a short mountain of white fluff, tiny green figures that seem to have been cut to the same size.

When the headache starts, he cries out and they bring him meds for the pain. But the meds only make him sleep, and how is he to ever awaken if he keeps being put back to sleep?


More tests where he has to lie perfectly still and try not to breathe too much. The machine makes whirring noises and he closes his eyes so he will not see the movements of what they call “the scanner.” He has no idea what that means, and he merely wishes the tests would end, which they finally do, but not for hours.

When they wheel him back to the room, he notices there are flowers scattered around, along with cards and notes from people he assumes he is supposed to know. Who sends flowers and cards to a stranger? He thinks it might be nice to read the cards, but he doesn’t because he is already certain he will not recognize any of the names, perhaps the words will also make little or no sense.

He clicks the TV on and then just as quickly turns it off again. He’s convinced the damn thing has been giving him the terrible headaches which seem to arrive without any warning.

So he stares at the ceiling and counts the dots on the tiles that he can see. But he is not counting them because numbers do not have meaning. So he names the tiles instead, and each one he calls Eric.


The doctor appears one morning and asks him if he is willing to try something that has never been done before, something experimental. He uses the words “radical surgical intervention.” What exactly does that mean? To which the doctor replies, “It means you get well much faster and back to where you were.”

He signs the forms with an X.


As he awakens in the room once more, he feels much lighter, as if his body might suddenly float away and not return. He grabs the sides of the bed and holds on for dear life.

A woman dressed in white arrives and shines a light into his eyes. As he stares back at the light, he can feel the rage building deep inside of him.

He reaches up and begins to thrash around, hitting the woman in white and laughing as he notes the absolute fear in her face. She begins to cry out and he covers her mouth with his hand. He watches as the light fades from her eyes and her body becomes heavy.

Wandering around the room, he stops to admire his face in the mirror, only to be shocked by the scar across his forehead. It reaches all the way around his head and seems to go on forever, as if an infinite cord tying him to some new self he does not recognize or fully comprehend.


When morning dawns, he feels warm liquid covering his face and hands. It is red and somewhat viscous. He tastes it and is repelled by the saltiness of it.

Near where he lays, he can see the what appears to be flesh, skin, muscle, bone.

He reaches for his head to try and forestall a headache, but when he does, he feels nothing but an empty hole where what makes him who he is should be.

Reaching for a knife he sees on the floor next to him, he stumbles to his feet and begins to run, not stopping until he is driven to the ground by the pain in his face.


The doctor shakes his head and answers a question he does not even recall asking him: “The pain will never abate. We can keep you somewhat comfortable, but we cannot alleviate all of what you will feel.”

He stutters and mumbles as he stares at the doctor and inquires, “Am I dead?”

The doctor laughs and steps towards the door, replying, “You’ll soon wish you were.”

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘The Suicide Fair’ by Art Metzger

The wonderful weight of a rose, my boy,
on the back of a marble throne;
the sinister scratch of a thorn, my boy,
to open the red veins of home.

The red veins of home, they can lead you on
and on through gelatinous air.
The red veins of home, they can lead you down
to Hell, to the suicide fair.

The suicide fair, where a sputtering heart
taps its beat in a medicine chest,
where the steam trickles down tearing ribbons of flesh
from a visage where carnivores nest.

Your visage, your face, see it trickle away
in the glass where amphetimine tiers
hold razor blade toothpicks and capsules of dreams
and matches to trim ‘way your beard.

And hidden away, in a room with soft walls,
in the place where the needle tracks meet,
stretch crucifix highways of white powder fun
where small spoons stir a thorazine treat.

Round go the spoons, how they swirl you down
even deeper and faster than breath;
they swirl and spin till your mind’s left behind
in an eddy of lava-lamp death.

And then it all stops and you find yourself still
and alone on a quaint sylvan path
that leads to an oven where gas lies in wait
for your lungs to come breathe in their last.

The pale sylvan path, as it floats through the trees,
seeps with sadness in words that will rhyme
with powders and poisons and pills, my boy,
and a trigger that’s pulled just in time.

A trigger that’s weighted, a trigger that waits
at the end of a glistening gun
for the wonderful weight of a rose, my boy,
when the suicide fair has begun.

Copyright 2016 by Art Metzger. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘Half Past The End Of Time’ by Andrew Bradford

I was shameless back then, unafraid of what I might say or do

Came across a butterfly and admired its beauty, only to realize it was


I awaken each night around five to ponder my own fate

Yet never find the time to properly prioritize my world

A broken acorn falls lightly to the lawn

The September storms made the days seem somehow more fragile

As the liar claims to heal all who present themselves for miracle working

Consider the hemlock and all it means

Beauty of a sort and deadly for the all-too inquisitive

Down past the hills there is a patch of virgin timber

The prattling voice of some far away river fails to calm the men who shiver in terror

I perfer to see us all as gardens in need of tending, of weeding, of watering, of care and love

Lasting here languidly until the stars at last fall to earth

And the sun bakes us all to ash

Copyright 2016 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.