Friday, 30 September 2016

Agent Orange Is Still Killing Veterans Slowly by Donal Mahoney

From http://veteransvoteyourcause.com/

This is a true story told to me recently by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. It explains his experience with the legacy of Monsanto and Dow and the ongoing effects of its product, Agent Orange, the lethal spray used in Vietnam during the war.

My friend’s brother died a slow death from the effects of Agent Orange. And the other day while at the mall he met someone now going through what his brother went through prior to his death.

He said a man stepped out of a store wearing an orange T Shirt.  On its back was, "I was killed in Vietnam I just haven't died yet.”

Roy walked up to him and asked if his shirt pertained to Agent Orange. He said that it did, and he began to tell Roy his story. He was just out of high school when he joined the service and was sent to Vietnam. He said he was in the Highlands with the Big Red One.  Fighting was intense, snipers were everywhere and Operation Ranch Hand sprayed Agent Orange day after day.  He finished his tour, came home and thought he was safe.

But all the symptoms of Agent Orange poisoning except diabetes soon appeared: breathing problems, cancer, genetic problems that he passed on to his children and heart attacks. He has fought the cancers for years. Now the cancer has returned in six locations.

He said when he first reported his health problems, the Veterans Administration denied, denied and continued to deny that they were due to Agent Orange. Finally, they admitted, after analysis proved the danger of dioxin, that he had indeed been poisoned. By this time, he had accumulated debt, had a checkered work record because of all the health episodes and had suffered for years without adequate medical care.

As Roy listened, he found it to be the same refrain other veterans had told him, including his brother. The VA knew about Agent Orange, but they felt if they kept stonewalling, the Vietnam Vets would die or just give up on getting the care they needed and deserved.

Roy said this man at the time didn't question the morality of the war in Vietnam. He went and fought, got a biological injury he did not get a purple heart for and returned to a nation that turned its back on him. No veterans in the history of this country have been so maligned.

As the man Roy met in the mall said, "The only parade my fellow Vietnam veterans got to honor them started with a hearse and ended up at a graveyard.”

Roy didn't get much sleep that night as he thought about the truth of that man's statement and remembered as well the agony of his own brother’s death from Agent Orange.

*****

Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri. He has had work published in various countries. Among them are Bluepepper (Australia), Ink Sweat and Tears (England), Beakful (France), The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey). Some of his work can be found at http://eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html#sthash.OSYzpgmQ.dpbs=

Friday, 2 September 2016

Rose Artist by JD DeHart


On delicate petal, she
wraps the story under revision.
A tome on a stem.
She weaves her narrative
among the thorns and briars
of common life.  
Whether it is bubbling pink,
painful crimson, or the mournful
color of snow, a collection of light
emerges from the bouquet.

JD DeHart is a writer and teacher.  He has recently been nominated for Best of the Net and his chapbook, The Truth About Snails, is available on Amazon.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

An Immodest Proposal by Donal Mahoney

with apologies to Jonathan Swift



The other day I was talking to a neighbor who said he has found a way to help the poor and improve our environment simultaneously. It’s no secret, he said, that we have a dire food shortage among the chronically poor. It’s also no secret, he pointed out, that many of our cities are overrun with feral cats.

Organizations already exist, he said, that trap and neuter feral cats and then let them loose again. These cats, he said, turn up on our porches, tails up, looking for food.

My neighbor is a wild game hunter who has hunted on many continents. The heads of many of his prey are mounted on his walls. He says he should not be the only one hunting feral cats in an urban environment, something he does when he is not overseas hunting bigger animals. He sees feral cats as a viable food source not only for the poor but for anyone who likes wild game.

He’s partial to a dish called “Feral Cat and Dumplings,” a recipe he shared with me after I talked with him in our alley early one morning while taking out the garbage. He had a lumpy canvas bag over his shoulder and said he had had a good night hunting. (He didn’t say anything when I told him I thought I saw one lump wiggling.)

Here is his most popular recipe for feral cat, the seasoning for which, he said, can be adapted to taste:

Feral Cat and Dumplings

Skin and cut up your cat as you would a young rabbit. Season the cat with salt, pepper, garlic, and diced onion and then pressure-cook the pieces until the meat falls off the bone. Remove the meat from the bone and save the broth. 

Dumpling Ingredients:

1 egg (preferably from a free-range hen until she plumps up enough for a future meal)
1/2 cup cooled cat broth
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Mix ingredients with enough flour to make a firm dough. Turn dough out onto a board and knead in the flour until dough is stiff. Roll the dough out thin and let it stand for an hour. (If cooking outside in warm weather after shooting the cat, stand near the dough to wave away flies and other insects.) Slice the dough into diamond and/or noodle shapes and drop into boiling cat broth. 

Water may be added to the broth if so desired. This is recommended if entertaining guests who have never dined on cat before. Then drop the boned cat meat into the broth and simmer over low heat for at least 10 to 20 minutes before serving. It’s fine to withhold the dough and use the cat meat alone to make Curried Cat or Cat Tacos should cultural tastes make one of those more appealing.

There is a movement under way, my friend told me, to print out this recipe and post it in food pantries and local shelters throughout the world so interested parties can copy it, trap or shoot their own feral cat and then make a nice inexpensive meal at home.

My friend isn’t certain if the recipe is online yet since he’s not into computers but he said getting the recipe out to the public, here and abroad, is what’s important. He sees it as a step in the right direction for feeding the poor and ridding our environment of feral cats.

Eating feral cats, he said, is a lot cheaper than trapping and neutering them or aborting captured females, something proposed by a new organization that he says is called Planned Cathood. He says he’ll give me a brochure on Planned Cathood later on.

I asked him if he thought one might grind up feral cat meat and make quarter-pounders with cheese, tomato and Bermuda onion on a toasted sesame seed bun. Children, I mentioned, often love burgers.

He said he thought one of the cats in his bag was just the right size and probably marbled enough to whip up some thick burgers for his family that night.

My neighbor is proof that there is no end to the inventiveness of man when it comes to helping the poor and at the same time cleaning up our environment.

*****

Nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, Donal Mahoney has had work published in the United States, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his earliest work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/ 

Thursday, 21 July 2016

This Dark Thing by Natalie Crick



This dark thing that sleeps in me,
It steals from me so I am left with nothing.
I am blameless, Godiva.
The murmurings are alive.
Watching you dully from my bed
I have taken the pill to kill.
I mourn my own death,
Drowning into the night.
My tears could devour
The ocean. I want, I want.
I have lost myself. But that is not enough.

*****

Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women's poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Dinner in Little Italy by Mark Young


For soup we had Carpaccio, the bowls so full of Venetian pageantry they threatened to overflow when the doges supplied as a complementary garnish were added.

A choice of Carbonari or Carabineri for entree.

Caravaggio was the fish of the day, its light flesh standing out against the dark plate it was presented on, the accompanying vegetables steamed to retain the piquancy of their natural color. We ordered a bottle of Monteverdi to go with it all but it had soured after laying untouched for so many years. A young Morricone was offered &
accepted as a suitable replacement.

For dessert lemon-flavoured Giotto eaten al fresco on the vine-covered verandah. Palates refreshed, we returned inside to round the meal off with coffee & Giacometti.

We put the bill on Amerigo Vespucci, pausing as we left to admire the Canneloni hanging on the stairwell walls. Those enigmatic mannequins followed us home.

***

Mark Young's The Holy Sonnets unDonne is now available as a downloadable pdf from The Red Ceilings Press.http://www.theredceilingspress.co.uk/pdfs/the%20holy%20sonnets%20undonne.pdf











Saturday, 2 July 2016

The Murmurings by Natalie Crick


The poison drips steadily into my skull.
Lice are feeding. They are carnivorous.
She is biting away at my life.
I am merely a husk.

She watches me lie awake at night.
She lives in me, breathing,
Locking my heart away in a chamber
Where nothing moves.

Where the air freezes to ice.
I wait for a sound.
There is no end.
I remember the beginning: a death.

For years
We are white with exhaustion at what this thing is.
It is the last night of our lives.
Tomorrow I’ll be gone.

She is alive. Look:
It is beginning to hatch.
But it is dark. So dark.
I can barely see my own reflection in the mirror.

There is just some stranger.
We try to catch the pieces of me
Before they shatter forever.
Misted snow drifts over the remains.

***

Natalie Crick, from Newcastle in the UK, has found delight in writing all of her life and first began writing when she was a very young girl. Her poetry is influenced by melancholic confessional Women's poetry. Her poetry has been published in a range of journals and magazines including Cannons Mouth, Cyphers, Ariadne's Thread, Carillon and National Poetry Anthology 2013.  

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Meeting Dad Again by Donal Mahoney

(c) Waterford Co. Museum and/or respective owners
My father emigrated from Ireland to the United States in the early 1920s. He had been released from Spike Island by the English who "occupied" Ireland at that time. Spike Island was the "Guantanamo" of that era, located just off the coast of Ireland. It was there the English warehoused prisoners of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

My father had been imprisoned by the English at age 16 for running guns through the marshes of County Kerry to aid the rebels fighting to free Ireland from the rule of the English. Young Irish lads were recruited for duties like this because they would be less apt to be captured by the English--or so the IRA thought. My father was not coerced into doing this. He volunteered for the duty and would have done it again if the English had not insisted that he and other prisoners leave Ireland as a condition of their  release.

On arrival in America, he found work as a grave digger in Brooklyn, NY. Later he boxed professionally and sang in night clubs that catered to Irish immigrants. After he got married, he moved with my mother to Chicago where he was hired by the Commonwealth Edison Company. There he spent almost four decades as a lineman, often working as a "troubleshooter" who was called out in the middle of the night whenever a storm knocked out the power. He liked this work and was very good at it or so I was told by his peers when I visited him in the hospital. They had gathered in the hall outside his room after he had survived an electrical accident that occurred high on a pole in an alley. He survived 12,000 volts, an incident that got his name in the Chicago Tribune.

In January 2012, decades after my father had died, my wife discovered a photo of him on the Internet. It showed him as a prisoner on Spike Island, circa 1920. He was a farm boy, poor as the chickens he fed as a child, but the English dressed him up nicely for the photo that accompanies this story. Perhaps they didn't want his age to show and to a degree they succeeded in that. You would think they had treated him well but they broke both his legs with rifle butts and let him sit on an earthen cell floor for a long period of time.

In the photo, my father is in the first row, third from the left. He is identified as “J. O’Mahony,” which was the family name until he became a citizen of the United States. On that occasion, the judge suggested he change his name to "Mahoney," which was "more common" in the United States. My father agreed to the change but it was a decision he would rue for the remainder of his life. More than once he told me, "I should never have done it but I was a greenhorn, what did I know?"

My poem, “Meeting Dad Again,” below, was written many years later after my father and I reunited in Chicago briefly after he had been out of my life for awhile. His two years on Spike Island as an adolescent had taken a toll. He suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) before that ailment had been identified and named. Despite this problem, however, he was a sober Irishman who labored hard in Chicago for decades to save money to put me through college. His goal was to make certain I would never have to "work with my hands." He didn't have to worry. I can operate a hammer but have no manual skills beyond that.

My poem records our reunion when my father, back in town unexpectedly, phoned me at work and, to my surprise, asked that I meet him for lunch. He suggested a cafeteria that was then a Chicago landmark. No fancy restaurants for him, even though in retirement he could afford a touch of the posh. I can't remember for certain but I doubt that he let me pay the check. He knew that I had bills as the father of five stair-step children.

The lunch went well. Conversation was light. I did not ask him where he had been or what he had been doing and he asked only pleasant questions about me and my children. He showed no mood swings to indicate that he had once been a guest of the English, a confinement that affected him far more, I believe, than absorbing 12,000 volts. The voltage crippled his hand and gnarled his arm but the English crippled and gnarled his nervous system. On this day, however, he was in fine fettle, as he liked to say. This time he was more interested in seeing me than my report card.

***

Meeting Dad Again 

Thirty years later, Dad came back
and we met for Ham and Yams at Toffenetti’s.
Pouring his tea, he told me he had
to restore power once
at a newspaper warehouse
and the storm broke again
and the lightning cracked his ladder.
He spent the whole day, he said,
sitting in that dark warehouse,
waiting for the lightning to stop
and for the truck to bring a new ladder.
He had a great time, he said,
sitting next to a flickering lantern
and reading for hours the Sunday comics
printed and stacked
six weeks in advance.