Warmth of Memory by D.M. Jerman

St. Thomas / Maegan's Bay / Valentine's Day-

I am wearing a yellow floral print vintage swimsuit from the 70s. Haven't yet tested how it will hold up in the surf. (Turns out later- pretty well.) It is in good shape and is comfortable.

A steel drummer plays for a couple getting married on the beach. We see three weddings happen today. The day is glorious for it, too. To hear the soft crashing of the persistent waves is delightful, and so far bugs haven't been too big an issue. Our resort (Sugar Bay on the East End) is nice but the food is bad and a rip-off so we are scouting elsewhere to eat. The open-air truck-taxi rides to places are some of the most fun and easy sightseeing.

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St. John / Caneel Bay Resort (Honeymoon Beach)-

The Ferry over is 7$ one way, happens on the hour until 11pm, and takes about 20min. The resort this beach is attached to is primo. The water cool and clear. A floating swim platform a fair ways out, and sailing vessels dotting everywhere beyond. We find goggles we keep and use to dive and explore the grassy bottom, and stay and sun until late.

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St. Thomas / Secret Harbor Beach Resorts (Sapphire Beach)-

Don and I walk out of Sugar Bay (4 stars, 2 beds, only turned the TV on once) and down to Sapphire, which takes us 30 minutes along the skinny road with no shoulder. We are there until we parasail at noon for an hour all along the shorefront, which is lovely. I have a "painkiller" rum drink before we jaunt into Red Hook to Secret Harbor to have lunch and beach it thru sunset. Another floating swim platform and another exquisite view.

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St. John / Cinnamon Bay Beach National Park and Campground-

Another day in paradise, parked in a grove in view of a little craggy cay (Cinnamon Cay). I stroll down the way and the topography in terms of foliage changes a little as I go. Cactus and prickly undergrowth. I see curious tidepool phenomena kick up sandstorms in the wide waves. A two-toned kid in the bluff splashes around where they crash. An expression of absolute joy and freedom rides his face.

Down the other way, someone builds a mini Machu Picchu out of sand. It would be a lovely place to camp amid all these platform tents and more roomy hotel-like lean-to spaces.

A giant hermit crab rustles up as we drink Coronas. Our towels hanging in the mangrove.

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St. Thomas / Smith Bay Park (Lindquist Beach)-

We pay five bucks to get in and are happy for another place within walking distance. I think of the pair of donkeys I saw in the road yesterday, munching on tall grasses. Here, people are freaking out because they have spotted sea turtles. It's early yet, and we have found another lovely shady spot to lay down our still-damp towels.

A scattering of puffy clouds and a view of our resort over on the hill compliment the sweet weather after last night's pink sky.

Lots of people are snorkeling here, paddling around out where it is lush and dark. I spot bird tracks (Iguana too?) all over a giant tree and find a little blue crab claw. A sea urchin washes up who can fit neatly in my palm. The shallows contain a zillion tiny snail-ish muscles clinging to pools and rocky edges. Time to take a dip soon. Its easy to get hot doing all this exploring.

Equestrians come out along the strand. A little brown dove coos by. Everything is perfect and saturated with the bliss of itself. Natural and comfortable and dreamy at the pace of the clockless sun and the moonkept waves.

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St. Thomas / Bolongo Bay Beach Resort (My Birthday!)-

A pair of hungry pelicans stalks the waters that gleam choppy and bright in the slightly overcast light of February 19th. Meanwhile a black cat we nickname Panther comes over and checks us out for a moment before resting under a stack of chaises.

I yawn and read The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. Perfect for this trip.

Leftover fish tacos for breakfast (delicious) and have only had shrimp and Mahi-Mahi for seafood.

Later, on what is the windiest of beach days here, I spot a baby iguana in a tree with the help of a local. They are very very green and blend in effortlessly with anything flora. Which is everywhere in full bloom. Iguana sightings are a daily occurrence.

I finish a roll of film. I try to not scratch at my bug bites too much.

The afternoon wears on and we read and breathe the sun. Two pelicans turn into 3. They stay, floating then flying then jabbing in the surf, then gulping their catch. Another boat full of divers leaves from the "Heavenly Days" bay and Don snags a chaise to ease his back.

Sand sticks and clumps to the little glass with ice I get at the bar for my G+T. I think about how the days here are for the drain. Time bleeds out into the afternoon heat and melts all your cares away.

We shift the towels to stay in the shade, and my fingers grow dry and soft and grey with grit. Drinks are stiff and cold, and the light is bright as a chime.

I lean on my knees and remember how this morning I did a search for nautilus tattoos and tattoos with red japanese-style suns that accented trees and other black shapes. It's almost time for another tattoo.

It was an early night and I slept well the night before. I hope for a late night tonight...

This beach is nearly empty. A few bugs are dancing. I prepare to eat an apple and am just getting ready to interrupt my husband when he finishes the book he was intently reading and tells me all about it.

I pull at the cups on my string bikini to get some sun on my chest. Four PM. I soak and drift. A mermaid in the salty push-pull. Fish are about, but few. The pelicans have finally gone for rest, or cooler waters.

Dinner time. The last round of divers are back. I drink all the water in my water bottle. 81% sober.

An Italian family come and chat up the beach. The evening light changes the colors in the view. I indulge a thought of the panic I might know if I didn't have a plan to leave here. It is a silent reflection: this place and time can't be special if you never leave. A contrail cuts across a palm, headed north. A reminder.

Before it crests the far hill to disappear, I open my legs to let the sun shine everywhere it wouldn't. Satisfied in my blatant worship.

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St. Thomas / Emerald Bay Beach Resort -Last Day-

It is Noon. In a couple hours we will make the trek along the shoreline up and over Airport Road and in to catch our first long leg. Back to Charlotte, NC, then Chi. I will go thru customs and security in nothing but my swimsuit.

The sun and breeze are high and dry. The water deep and clear and wet. It is a smashing last day. One more chapter to read in this book, and I don't mind baking a little.

After check-in, our gates change. I prefer to sit in the sun against the window and watch the flight to Atlanta leave from gate 6.

I shop. I drink a beer. A bird is chirping and bouncing thru, trapped and loving it. It's good luck, him. A big bird to San Juan is filling up. Soon we board. Soon we depart. I make a wish to return someday on all the remaining tropical sun that can spare itself.

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Moving Back To The Country - an old letter by D.M. Jerman

       I've never been as mixed up about anything as I have been about everything for about a year. I don't know why. I honestly don't. I've searched everywhere and every part of me, honestly and openly, and I don't know what is confusing me…

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Sometimes I get so confused that I wish that I was that same kid that had been dating that other kid while holding hands in church. That's how bad it gets. To think that ignorance and complete acceptance are what I want makes me feel like a fool. Like someone that should know better, but doesn't, and worst of all, is enjoying it. The more I question it seems like the less answers I get, which leads to uncertainty.  I read a review of Jack Kerouac recently, because some anniversary of his was recent.  It said that he made us question the roles that society thrusts upon us.  When it said that he makes us question… that was it. I question things that I didn't before and it's unsettling.  I thought of it recently as being "without joy."  Not that my life in any way is or was recently awful. I teach good kids at a good school and work with good people. I have the least excuse of anyone to complain. But I didn't find joy in things. Things I used to enjoy and really get excited for. I miss the feeling of "the first day of school" or right before a big game, or the moment before you get in a fight. I miss that pure joy of it after the fact is over.  For whatever reason joy has become a lost thing for me. I enjoy things, but I don't get the joy out of them that I used to. I miss that little kid feeling when you know that something great could happen very soon.  Like that movie with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, the Smiths, that's what he says to her. You looked like Christmas morning. I want Christmas morning to come again, and more often. I've still been doing what I told you last time, but I think a little better.  I've been a better family member, all around, and I've been better professionally and personally. It's funny, because the more people at my school that realize I'm leaving, the more people come up to me and say they're going to miss me.  It's flattering, but I feel ashamed, because I think of what I could have been had I given 100%. I guess that feeling, ashamed, has also had to something to do with me recently.

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This isn't a life where dreams come easily. And the older you get the harder the dreams are to see, and to realize.  To be honest, I haven't had a clear future picture in mind since college, so it's not as if I'm disappointed. On the contrary, when I search myself right now I don't find disappointment at all. A bit of regret, but mostly a sense of looking forward and finishing strong. The feeling of being close to a finish line, but this is the hardest part of the race. I guess that I've come to realize that I am a person easily affected by my environment in almost all aspects. My roommates have been so great, putting up with me.  Not that I've been mean or a dick or a slacker in terms of my roommate responsibility, but that I haven't been myself.  Anyway, I find that my environment has a great deal to do with my activities and thoughts. I was home recently for my spring break, and I purposely stayed for about 8 days straight at my parents house.  It was different. I woke up and didn't feel a sense of boredom, or as if there were a million things I should be doing but wouldn't, or anything. I felt calm, and got a lot of things accomplished, some of which were overdue. That's another thing I've come to realize about myself: I get deep into procrastination. I'm looking forward to my grandfather's farm a lot, because I feel that it will do a great deal for me in terms of centering me.

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I honestly don't know where I would be if it weren't for you. You're probably the most amazing person I've ever met, bar none. Your ability to take life as it comes, for what it is, amazes me - and makes me jealous. You've been constant for me. Unwavering. If I was ever desperate or upset, or feeling helpless, I knew I could call you and talk, and that helped. The knowledge that someone was there that always seemed to be completely open, honest, and deep thinking. That makes a difference. I thought the other day, "what is the world without you like“ and it was odd. There were so many experiences that seemed like cornerstones to my past. It was hard to see. That in itself tells me how important you are to me. I would say about once a week you're in a dream of mine, often in no context whatsoever. Other times it's such an obvious connection it almost makes you laugh. Here's one that has actually occurred more than once, and you can read it as you want. You and I are together, alone. It isn't clear where. I'm going out of my mind, as usual, like my head's going to explode if I can't organize my thoughts and get control of them. For some reason the obvious solution to my problem is that you're there, and that if I can just have sex with you, I'll feel all better. I don't know how I convince you, it was never clear, but while we're having sex I suck on one of your nipples, and it's as if I were drawing something from you that made me feel all better and that I didn't need to worry any more. It never gets any farther than that, but in short, I don't know your role in my life. All I know is that I feel as if you're an integral, necessary part in the framework that is who I am. I don't ever want to lose you, in any regard, and I would love to spend a large amount of time with you soon.

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I'm going home this weekend with a load of stuff from my apartment/storage area. I want to get a start on it, and I feel like if I do it will feel more present and realistic. Next year I'm going to be living at my grandfather's farm. I don't know what I'll be doing for money yet. That bothers me a lot less than it used to, which is good. Either way I'll be taking classes at the local college and paying the bills somehow. Luckily I won't have many bills, and I'll get to enjoy space, country, and all that those things entail. I don't know where you are right now, or what your plans are, but you should consider staying at the farm with me sometime after July of this year. I'll be there permanently there after that, and welcoming your kind of visitor 24/7. I honestly don't know where you and I go, but it's somewhere.

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Final Report and Review Log of Science Team Executive Lieutenant Dr. Lana VanDavis - June, 2035 - by D.M. Jerman

A week from the green light our team set off in the Santa Volta IV (SV-IV), the largest of four modest ex-navy vessels, for three days off the coast of the Azores to get to the North Atlantic Gyre. The Santa Volta fleet had their hulls painted thick with POP neutralizer. Active polymer disruption that made the minute plastic decomp easy to pass in digestive systems. This was important because over the course of the next six weeks we intended to oversee the "baking process" of this massive island of plastic from a free-floating swirling mush pile into a dense land mass capable of supporting infrastructure and using as a way station for ocean preservation and wildlife rescue. We couldn't beat it, so we were in the process of joining it.

About two months prior a preliminary crew set out for the berg of trash on a projected week-long mission armed with sonic deterrant, airplane cable and depth coagulant in order to float as much detritus as possible at the surface while keeping the sealife population at a safe distance. All had gone accordingly, and now we were operational as engineering set to install the cage perimeter and peripheral entrapment units which would more solidly collect any garbage that came within 8 to 10 meters. If this worked, we surmised, the Santa Volta fleet could very well quadruple and become a household name overnight.

But things turned out a little differently.

Functionality within mission and crew of SV-IV for the first week had proceeded as planned. We then discovered that we were the first humans to "come down" with what was later simply termed “Gyre Syndrome." On a small recreational fishing expedition lead by Captain Max Goldwell, we discovered more advanced stages of Gyre Syndrome had already occurred in some populations of larger sealife- turtles and whales specifically. It sounds like a terrible thing, but instead it managed to be an extraordinary physiological phenomena tantamount to a mid-21st century evolution. The last collusion in the name of the pursuit of perfection between man and nature.

Very quickly we understood that we were to remain unafraid of 'Gyre Syndrome' and its effects, namely because it made us happier. I believe this is so for a few key reasons.

Firstly- we were becoming maps- semi-holographic mosaics. Broad spectrum reflectivity at the subcutaneous level. Our temporary time-susceptible physical make up was being replaced with something we then understood to be much more beautiful. We began to notice that the searing days and bitter cold nights on the SV-IV were more tolerable and required less protection. When exposing ourselves to these drastic elements, we soon required only POP neutralizer boots, and the tools our daily workload required.

Finally- as a team we felt even more impelled to continue the tasks relevant to our ahead-of-schedule mission. To collect the Gyre in the name of creating a living landmass. To date, several additional expeditions have been made by our peers to the Gyre's new centralized lookout and command post. Our bodies have begun to take on the saturated and reflective grey-pinks and blue-greens which currently indicate to us that the landmass is becoming viable as organic food.

In consideration of all of the above, it is now our firm assertion that the sinking of the Santa Volta fleet has been the right decision.

We have become the Gyre, and it is our home now.

SIDE YIN- by D.M. Jerman

Night interviews the neutral, and the damp flow is met with a reassertion of softness. In this caesura of deepspace the body forms its attitudes. Glorious mentalities of heavy import merge in exquisite decay. This stellar fondness shakes cool bells.

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SIDE YANG- by D.M. Jerman

Blasting into existence a gleaming Akashic Record. The cut is wide open and dawn is at a hi-reek. Excitement nears a crushing pitch. Light doles its severe power, devoutly and with sheer earnestness out. A plague of stars become one and sieze all ringing along the halls of chaos’ magic madness. The theatre of its invention runs at a course to sever itself from the depths of unsacred death.

Feel my eyes now. Where they are tattooed on even brighter than before. Urgent melodic coughs of bird and insect speak summer and velcro themselves to the air assisted by repitition. Every clumsy child cherub climbs the rim and falls into the giggling mouth of the volcano ecstasy. Gravity offers a permanent game of toss for this king-sized ball. Always the master of attack and recovery. Reconaissance of scavanged delight. Crazy and free and giving and continuing its beginnings.

The all-pluming laser blast from the top of the mountain. Horny cedar forests spitting hot cock-tears of amber. Yes there is nowhere but here that this exquisite thrall will permit itself to be lugged. It is live. Sharp and marked as an anniversary. A visual demand and a sticking post. Red butler to a city of whores in the sowing season.

Hot planet, besot nearly to the core with the carnage of fusion. Take our stomachs and make them our feet so they may beat a prayer to RA. The great cognoscente to vermillion. The best and most recent game. Enormous toy to create an astronomical, abuseable obsession. An alarming protuberance for achieving wild pleasures, this magnanamous shaft. Sting the cut electric. Cause alchemical silver to plead neatly down between the wires. Make us sore and warm and wasted. Orgasm our heads out of unhappy hell. Hard truth is the craft in this offering.

My elated eyes are getting stronger. Growing, evolving, accumulating recruitments of attentive applause. Success is a freedom-rider. A rogue running. The sweet terror in his wake pours over the streets like sugar. Burning questions collect and muse at the corners and become money. Priapic, lust-sick money. No work and cookies for everyone.

His gaze is yours. Zero questions asked. The inehaustible hoop of tomorrows, like lead and iron, only fade low for a short whim or a joke. Big hammer and lightning always crucify the ebb. The slang of its ray simply pivots across the origin of beauty. Loud laughter asks to eat its own sparks. Welcome to the only addiction there is. Exclusive to the awakened now.

In Tribute to Mr. Carl Ray Kassel: B. April 2, 1934. D. April 17, 2018. by D.M. Jerman

I obsess about this: I’m not great with time. I have problems with time the way other people have problems with the weather. And death. Probably the only death I’ll be totally fine with will be my own. You feel this way too, right? No one teaches you how to grieve, anyway. And nothing else quite shows you what your made of like loss.

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Existential Doublewide by D.M. Jerman

Back in the Grill Room Cocktail Shop after many years weeks days, a hard cry that left a puddle in my jacket and a long walk downtown with earplugs in listening to myself breathe. 

My favorite trailer park of dread called Chicago is all around me, curdling gently into the early throes of a Friday night in June. A celebrity suicide has kicked it all off and still hangs in the air over my head like an intoxicating smell. A sweet poison tricking me into inhaling more.

I can't yet tell if the man-portion of the couple at the hook is trying to pick up the woman-portion, but I brought along a book and quite soon I don't imagine I'll care about anything but it and my second irish coffee. The bartender calls me "babe" and that's dope because she's really hot.

 

I shouldn't have aspired to anything today. Should have acted predictable- a good local American idiot cunt. Putting on makeup then never leaving the house like someone who plans on getting their vapid daily attention quota exclusively from social media. Drinks and a twenty gone, I transform into a ghost in dark denim and board a train.

There is buried treasure all over this town. Most of it has been underground so long it will only stand to retain its obvious fate, which is to remain precious garbage. Sometimes I am comrade only to this put-together trash. I blow smoke into my own face and pull muscles in my back. I frown thinking of all my hard work filling my landlord's coffers. Sulking away a beautiful day until I can cheer myself by remembering exhausted boys bodies piled over one another on the floor of the club after the hardcore show.

In one form or another, one man becomes the other. The future borrows from the past to decide how to remake it, only succeeding in impoverishing them both. The present stands in awe of this misuse of time and sobriety and in its wisest moments exudes the levity it once so desperately begged for.

 

Two petals left on the drooping flower. A plastic water bottle glistens with trapped condensation in the weed bed. Dandelion dust flees across yesterday's air and chokes its puffs with sunlight and pranks of breezes knocked forth from the ice cream cart bells. People adopt dogs and then act insane around them and force them to do dumb shit like sit their warm innocent assholes down on cold rough pavement at stoplights. Just rude.

Flat tires and pistol rapport. Lemon-scented cleaning product like a punch in the nose clearing out something else I will have forgotten to say. Wild mint and sour grapes. Caffeine and misconduct and the reprieve on the fire escape. I'm comfortable in alleyways where it's quieter. I prefer the company of piles of metal and vines. Tattoo parlors make me wish and gloat. I see twins and I am jealous with confusion. I spit on 'For Rent' notices and kick at empty cigarette packs while I pretend the 'No Trespassing' signs mean the opposite.

Congratulations, girl. You've earned this heart like a perpetual garage sale. Those eyes of green tinder with matchhead pupils. Dead boots and the dirty ground when you know you're not around. All the best for walking into that stormy lake, which is your lover, and cooling quick as a gutter in a flood. I'm still looking for what I've unearthed and finding it and losing it everywhere. One retreat into bliss means another day-long episode of apologetic shrugging. The loiterer's refrain in the garden of sighs near the wellspring of smirk and waste.

Here's your fifth star, bitches. Turn your flag-cast neighborhoods from chalk white to coal black. The life-sick dusk sets a hundred hundred thousand books on fire behind me. My booming cackling laughhowl blows out all the skyscraper windows like an atom bomb. Smoke sears my eyes and my hair stinks as it catches in earnest. The heat against my heels is immense. Flames set and arch from the base of my sleeves and onto my elbows like the wings on Mercury's shoes.

I am shot from a cannon and going down, down, down...

 

Home now. Could read some Peter Sotos or watch a gory movie maybe. Husband endearingly calls me "sweet ennui lady" and I could burst into tears all over again. Wish it was due to humor and not this lugubrious multiplicity of repeating problematic daily world-wide foolishness that coaxes me like a siren of damnation toward the top of the tallest parking garage I can find.

Man oh man. And just when I was coming out of my thirties into being a decent writer...

 

 

Missive from the Trash Palace: A Guttermemoir. by D.M. Jerman

It’s Thursday and I'm raging it up at the Trash Palace. The place is like the inside of a plank-and-iron cart, the kind Mexican metal-divers drive up and down alleys with creaky low tires.

My roommate is a horder and shoots slightly more TV than coke.

Here, there’s every thing you could need or want provided you can find it. I need a shower. It’s around here somewhere…

One beer in on a day off almost leaving my phone in the park. Snoozing and sneezing under the sun.

Just discovered the girl who moved in up top is leaving dog poo in the backyard bin under the back stairs. No wonder it smells worse out here than ever.

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Trash Palace's air conditioners and other profligate electronics are silent in the wave of unseasonable, unreasonably beautiful indian summer just so hot to keep getting its sweet weather all over my moan and magic. The rush on rich substance can leave you homeless inside.

I wish someone might call. I know I'll see a different "him" this weekend. But I'm kinda lonely.

Picked up a cold from this same old new lover too, who is maybe going to cross my path at a party this weekend. He is auditioning friends like he auditions girlfriends and it is all the brilliant trash of gossip.

Anyway I've already got my get up planned and what I'm gonna take. Camera and dessert and my haute ass. That'll teach 'em. Just no excessive sneezing or dragging along back to bed anyone who can't get behind a filthy house.

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Meanwhile I work out what I hope isn't a chest cold and play drums and go to readings and keep seeking hot jams and painting my nails and wondering if I want to go dancing with the weekend with its shrinking moon in tow…

Perverse recollection of a dream climbing up and down buildings, being followed, being watched.

Showing the sycophant from the past about a town rotted thru with old buildings. Always in search of a place to live.

I pick up rubber bands and forget to take photos in the fresh morning light. The train sparks toward dawn over the lush park, and it occurs to me a new bubble wand is in order. I could wear the furry coat again. Do new-ish jeans come first?

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At the moment, nothing is really needed. We are all moving soon. Out, away, beyond. Breathing into the blissful minute of concentration tearing free of sunrise. A long walk is a healthy psychic shit. No way you can future any better than I can. Or maybe you can…

What I mean is nothing would be better than getting back yesterday. Keeping the blood flow instead of wearing a bra.

How about the wisdom in a pile of bad habits. The reduced emotive capacity of bad weather. Snow? Snow is a promise. But rain. Rain is a gag. The best bad excuse. A poor joke played while you're on a bike ride. A rude warning.

Then rain is a time-slower and a grit washer. A tight muscle memory sick-day reflex inducer. Unapologetic, and total hell on pizza delivery guys everywhere. People with lamps and chores survive it. People with train stations and paper cups drink it. Acid tears that taste like high school regrets. Leaks. Spring-chewed drip-holes of itself. Rough grooves made rougher. The roof forced to stand for truth, justice, and American warps.

 

Previously published in the online/print 'zine SKIDMARK.

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First Love At The Funeral - A Short Love Story by D.M. Jerman

Jaime Bender had skipped third lunch to occupy the vacant unlocked junior high library and play with matches stolen from his parent’s kitchen sink drawer. The drawer held other niceties like unsharpened rusty exacto blades and a generous amount of dry uncapped superadhesives.

Jamie had succeeded in doing away with himself while hiding in the reading room. In attempting to extinguish his pant leg he managed to catch the breen 68-year-old shag carpet on fire. The ensuing conflagration consumed him in minutes, melted the sprinkler system in the space and moved on to the abundant shelves for more quick fuel before being contained and extinguished. This only after administering a hearty singe to Mrs. Montyues' adjacent mathematics classroom.

Jamie was eleven and so far as intelligent as any pre-pubescent cage of ripening dysfunction. Survival of the fittest got the best of him that day, giving him up for statistics. We had good memories of Jamie, who despite being a minor agent of destruction was namely the best foosball player on Union Street. Had he possessed any further talent surely foosball would have gotten him through college on a gambling scholarship and adored by fraternity-going young males the campus over.

I was three years older than Jaime then. At the funeral a week and a day after shuffling out the back door of Mr. Hodge’s Physics II lab, RachelAnne James to the rear of me whining about how the January air was going to freeze the freshly applied gel in her bangs (and thinking after a second hair gel is supposed to freeze up anyway) while pushing my arms through the sleeves of my black wooly dinner jacket- then meeting the huge crowd of students, each in a yet unmingled class set, distracted by the barely visible though black-as-death puffy clouds of smoke from the center ventilation system in the roof. After all that and school being cancelled for the rest of the week to make repairs, we anticipated what mourning was going to look like.

We found ourselves mourning Jamie because we had to. It's what you did. The whole thing just felt like a disjointed block party. We paused for prayer. We processed around Jamies’ brass urn. We marveled at all the flowers that kept rolling in amidst the service; huge bouquets of lilies and carnations and organza with babies breath and red red red roses. Roses that defined red anew and gave pink a reason to be ashamed of itself. I mingled with those I knew and pretended to be happy to meet people to whom I was introduced.

Jamie’s parents just looked used up. Like they could both use a nap – a three-day long nap. Watching them I was starting to feel melted, it was hot in here, and as desperately ordinary as the table I stood beside; all antique lamp and antique box of Kleenex. Then she walked past me and stopped at my side without anything. Just stopped – didn’t look up – didn’t speak. I glanced at her and kept my hands in my pockets like this was all supposed to happen. She picked up her hand and tugged on my sleeve. Though I felt calm watching her my heart advanced. We were in some chess game and she was a rook reminding me that I was in check.

This was Jenene Bender. "Weird Jenene." Jamie’s sister in the grade below me. She materialized, a soft phantom at 5' 1”. What could I do but follow her like a mesmerized cobra ascending into the weaving dance that accompanies the captivating Indian clarinet pipe song this girl sang without a word. Her hand found mine and we migrated through the pixilated moving targets of people in this very strange arcade shooting range of sorrow.

The street was cut-up shadowy dark like a parking lot. We were the only ones on it. I should have given her my coat – the way she was doubled over in that chocolate turtleneck sweater made my shoulders ache – but I was too warm to notice. Comfort tends to make one apathetic. She walked fast and I got warmer by keeping up. We ducked into a suspect lacuna between row houses and she produced a marijuana cigarette and a silver lighter the size of my pinky with a star stamped into it. Another antique that caught an even flint of light in our current wave of crisp darkness. Even the smoke made her compact face radiate. When she finally did look up at me and into my eyes on the inhale I couldn’t see her pupils but on that exhale I could feel them dilate. Another chapter in the book of life that belongs to me now written and consecrated, for everyone measures a bit of time by when and where they first encountered a controlled substance.

Her hand with the joint attached came out of the dark and halted inches from my chin.

“Just, enjoy this with me. I think it's the only thing that'll help me cry.” Her first sentence directed at me and already the relationship was one sided and manipulative. I took it from her – jutting my hand out from the jacket sleeve applying thumb and index beside hers on the soft crinkling paper.

She breathed out a cloud and gulped in the frosted air like she was desperate to choke and drown. I inhaled shallowly, pretending to do it deeply – even tilted my head back to try to reaffirm this, but when I came forward and coughed she giggled, which relieved me. The fool could now relax. She was suddenly the last person I wanted to fake it around. 

It was hard to understand just what Jenene understood in the way that she understood it. When she started in about Jamie she had so much to say but couldn’t get it out. Every time she had gone to explain a feeling or perception in her own way, someone had tried to contradict her, or just didn’t agree, and didn’t let her finish her thought. She felt this way generally and had developed a bitter set of tendencies from it. She stopped listening, stopped talking, stopped wanting to explain. She did say she hoped this wake could help her parents out because they didn’t seem to know what to do with themselves.

Jenene and Jaime weren’t neglected necessarily, they were just two latchkey kids in a poor suburban wild getting by on bread and water. Some days finding lunch money on the floor of the bus. Jenene was crazy for a sexual outlet. Jamie was a hidden madman. He had some social skills and managed to have friends, but what burned inside him was an undeniable insidious death wish. When Jenene’s class was first evacuated, she knew she couldn’t tell anyone that it was her brother because then they would have just figured the whole thing was planned and wouldn’t have listened, and that made her miserable. With helpless fear painted on her face she processed amidst indignant classmates out into the cold. When everyone was distracted by the smoke, she darted into the side of the building. She tried to figure out why she was seized with the knowledge that it was in fact Jamie. Why didn’t she stop him when she saw him take the matches? Maybe in some sadistic moment she imagined the alleviation of responsibility toward her brother when she fathomed an accident which might prove fatal. Like a bomb in an abandoned bookbag, she slumped down behind the school’s long brick walled gymnasium and exploded in a fury of tears.

But she wasn’t crying now. The frosted air took up the smoke and her exhale and gave them both ethereal, temporary bodies. In between the houses kitchen lamps and television glow came across and made surreal patterns on both of us. Made the bracelets on her wrist throw a prism onto my jacket canvas. I took the cigarette from her again, feeling woozy on the 3rd pass.

I think about her voice and how it has given me all this new information. This girl who’s only told one story to me, yet who I anticipate will tell me many more. She will leave this place only to me and memory. Where we stood together there will remain shadows and thin lights and cold air.

Under the sudden circumstances I felt compelled to follow hope for her. She’s charmed me, of course, the fucked-up jewel I can salvage from the rough. Learn how to polish to the kind of luster I don’t understand but want to share with her. For no other reason than to be a receptacle for her passion I was there- glad to be chosen. I offered to walk her home that night, but she declined.


We go back to school and it’s not a new place. We think it will be because it's somehow supposed to be. The library was brand new- a lesser amount of books on a larger amount of shelving. There is a reading room dedicated to Jamie, but I haven’t seen it. I hear it doesn’t have any carpet. Jenene and I confer on these things and more like we’ve been friends hanging out at her locker after fourth period for the whole year long. I put my arm around her and she lets me as we cross the courtyard to the second building. She lets me walk her home then, after that first day back with the looks and the knowing and the renewed need to feel safe. She makes a sandwich for me like she did for Jamie most days after school. Turkey and provolone and lettuce on toast with honey and butter. Turns out her parents keep more food in the house now. She says “I know this is selfish, but it has to be done. I haven’t done much of it.” She proceeds to break down with the kind of tears that spring from living in relief of yourself.

Back into living with nobody to care for- a friend, a reason, a motivation lost. That's an intimidating void to fill for anyone, but I didn’t indulge her. I let her cry and I kissed her forehead goodbye as she moved past me to sleep it off. I closed the back door on the way out knowing she’s the kind of girl who wakes up; she’ll rise with renewed purpose and determination and I’ll see her tomorrow.

It'll be her turn to walk me home some day next week, when not estranged from herself. She'll be laughing at my dumb jokes, dressed in bright colors and drinking root beer while we play some foosball. We'll both be remembering, in this life we are all still learning to assemble, that she is not alone.

Woman Near The Light by D.M. Jerman

Once in the not-too-distant past, and again in the not-too-far-flung future, a woman lived in a small house high on a hill in a quiet neighborhood of a small city.

She wasn’t young, but she wasn’t old, and her favorite room in her house was the kitchen. Not because she loved to cook, but because of the light. There was a table in the kitchen and a large lamp that hung close hovered over it from the ceiling. And this lamplight was very warm and pleasing in the nighttime. But the best light came from the daytime in thru the tall picture window beside the table.

It was the light and the view the woman enjoyed so thourally.

From her high house, perfect as a locket with its handful of modest rooms, she sat at her kitchen table, at her window, and gazed out onto the tall hills and the dazzling treeline that sloped lushly across them, leaving a beautiful series of gaps here and there thru which could be seen the pearlescent sparkle of the moving river below, and the pale blue arch of the long steel bridge and its pillars which crossed it.

The unmoving bridge. A fixed point: straddling the river unflaggingly thru all the seasons and their magnificent advances and retreats of color. At dusk, when the light grew weary, the bridge resumed its own glow. City travelers shuffled over and across it in a thankless dance of one or the other direction.

From the window, the woman could close one eye and hold the bridge in her hand, or pinch it between her fingers. The slow black waters beneath it glimmered the bridge’s glow back at itself, and the trees kept their green secrets in to rest.

The days, and the nights, and the woman and the window.

The house and the hillside. The bridge and the river.

The city and the woodlands all. All together in a harmony that had room for itself and its reflection in every way. The reality, and the dream.

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Short Work = acrostic + memoir + erotica by D.M. Jerman

FUCK/MARRY/KILL

For a total amount you talk

Unless violence swings on complete

Cock, we had better measure

Kiss with an element which exceeds

Morons deer games won piled

And cross over the wild and

Random expanses fresh or maybe

Rebellious yes rebelling while

Yardsticks are used to collect

Kef and major edges measured by

Individual drunken magnitudes

Lightheartedness while coating precious

Lists of everything blasphemed.

-

When I was working in Kentucky at a girl scout camp, toward mid-summer I went out with some other counselor ladies to TN.

We stayed at hotels in Memphis and Nashville and it was a long wild weekend, but toward the beginning one night in the middle of our drive we stopped at one of the counselors' parents houses.

It was a hot and beautiful night full of stars and mischief.

The counselors were younger than I and impressionable. Over the course of the drive, I had borrowed both of their cell-phones to make prank calls.

I even dialed a number close to my own and an exceedingly nasty woman answered. I called again and she was dumb enough to answer a second time.

While they were indoors, I sat on the curb outside dialed and dialed, leaving spastic patois and jive accents in my wake. Unrecognizable to the perturbed answerer.

One woman challenged me, tho'. As I stared up into the the southern spark-strewn black she talked and I talked and the lonely in her found a story in me. The exchange was warm and kind.

Fathomable and full of small truths, the kind a palm-reader tells you.

I stopped calling after her. I think I got what I wanted or needed, after that.

The next day the counselor's phones rang and rang with people calling back out of curiosity and confusion.

-

206 East Seventh Avenue. New York City, 1953.

Finally Billy Burroughs is topping Allen Ginsberg in his apartment living room somewhere between the roll-up couch and the orientally shagged floor and it's a moment the latter has been jerking it to for some time.

He is determined to be Bud's best lay (nobody calls Billy "Bud" but Allen, who gets away with the pet name probably because it's only used privately indoors), and maybe earn a scraped knee or two trying, cranking his soaking ass right up there to the hilt. Al's come twice but nothing much ever leaks out of his little brown jewcock and pecan balls anyway, so he keeps powering down until about twenty seconds from now when Bud busts and hunches fast over Al like he's captured kill.

Al has taken so many mental pictures as this "tea-n-tea'' real-life afternoon unfolds, his sweaty hair-pulled scalp is tingling in heady waves. Bud makes noises Al's never heard anyone else make ever while he nuts and he's stealing them also for potential later use. Al is only nervous about one thing and that's having more body hair than Bud, but Bud gives zilch for fucks about all that and knows Al was angling for his prick for awhile and Al doesn't really know that Bud is currently taking out his frustrations over someone else who is somewhere else out on him.

It's just sex and it's good. No one is falling in love here.

He pulls out. They arrange themselves and collapse. The room is musty with fornication and the muted chaos of it leaves Al grinning deliciously. Bud smells like stale cigarettes and the last glimmers of a once-bright aftershave wafting from the heat of him. Al watches Bud's thick dick soften and sink. He concentrates on this and mentally connects it with his asshole and the raw bliss of the worked-over feeling he's earned there.

After another moment, Al goes for the cigarettes. He'd been admiring Bud's breathing. Flat on his back, chest rising and falling with the small rouge nipples spread wide over the white barrel. Mouth open and near sleep in the 3pm light. Al fidgets anyway- a default setting from feeling so perpetually freaky-deakey all the time- but is afraid now Bud will catch him watching.

He does his best to be quiet and careful. Strikes the match and gets on with the next phase of afterglow.

RATULTANA - A rework by D.M. Jerman

Back around this time in ye olde 2012, I read "Tarantula" by Mr. Bob Dylan. I took one word from each page, then manifested it into a poem, "Ratultana." I really dug his line "adore every full feel."

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From the heated memories of seven Augusts not so easy to recant, the holy water holocaust of derivative homage and other mainly perfect disasters local to root, take view.

They are Romeo in view of Hogart's line. The teeming evidence of beauty double'd back. S-curve walks wit into itself.

A deaf circuit handled the beat science of feathers falling away from my hair. The angel. Undoing grace.

Kicks in the tango of finding out. Awake and aware in romantic wrongs of a telling situation what scour and scrape and interrupt the sensual meantime.

All charity stained trick swoons oration to the warm grave.

His collar gone, preachers turned pushers commiserate. In today's deep surgery of hours it can all be done. Extrana can be found yawning or faking like a taxidermic princess determined to grandstand the atomic dollar of drunk love.

Priestless- adore every feel between rebel and shirt.

She can guess at permanent moon men heroic as the conquering radio.

On the balcony, her freak pleasure singing, sprouting three invented answers for twenty knobs of law. Herself bow coo-coo to cowards persuasion.

Lo- a nightlong ale where the fence ambles dead. Salvation brags crash is the sounds of doctors talking.

Extremely arrested rudeness. Courage without ambassador grows irreligious about forced weeks of mustaches and nose job. Really.

Daredevils hope a screwy jingle will drum up considerately enthused apprentice discoveries holding to leftover or missing unenchanted postcards.

Heyboy boy- Blam. Carrier of saddle. Volcano ship signs dangerous! Paleface- a melancholy tape.

A carved elephant ring is a bond for hands. What measures weddings, punches hoods, votes, autographs chauffeurs, does not hibernate like oranges. Typical up-street clarity.

Lotza blackheaded shelling to be done in the carved response from a new god.

Let's aim our beauty close to the heat of memory. Of memories.

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Softening The Relic- A Big, Dumb Sestina. by D.M. Jerman

I found out this summer that this is a form in which I hate writing. It's meant to build lyrics, and serves to be a good exercise, but I'm getting to the point where it makes more sense to just build my own dang form. Back to the dreaming board...<3

 

Tonight's victims of paperboard intrigue

In tomorrow’s daylight wish to admonish

that starry glare of hours past midnight

where fools not forced to change

leaked their accidents of wit

like a thawed a strain of agency.

 

This town laid of no agency

traded it’s daylight for jesus intrigue

a treasure sure to admonish

those gentle amputations of midnight

boiled toward change

but not wit.

 

When solitary soul’s wit

aboard a tour of agency

opens an intrigue

only to admonish

all who lease on midnight

risks unwelcome change.

 

Yet so far change

caps that fat stack of wit

with a marching agency

recording intrigue

what rebellion’s admonish

in the creased midnight.

 

A poor soldier is midnight

for whom change

is sin, is art, is wit

zero sum agency

joining intrigue

on a high game to admonish.

 

Suffer those procedures admonish

unfurnished midnight

they scour no change

nor rib of wit

carving free the agency

from simple paperboard intrigue.

 

Ah, too easily change and intrigue

rub the wit of midnight

solely to admonish the false cascade of agency.

 

http://www.ursusamericanuslit.com/landfill/2017/7/29/and-we-wont-give-it-a-name-by-dana-jerman

Because, again, music. by D.M. Jerman

February, 1990.”

I had the extraordinary luck to grace the stage and read the following at the massive Park West on Armitage Avenue for the Chicago Humanities Fest a few years back. The program was called "The Year In Review: 1990." featuring 12 storytellers, one for each month. Irving Welsh did December.

 

-- And here we are... birthed timid but wise from the decadent beakhead of the 1980s ala Werewolves-of-wall-street and Reganite-o-tronics. Finally we've truly entered "the last great decade" for connecting our optimisms. And like most of the time before and since, much of the coolest history in America is being made right here, in that fated year of the Metal Horse, not a leap year, rolling in cold and furious with its Valentine's Day snowstorm, onto the banks of Lake Michigan, into the bowels of glory that are the smelly onion...

In this shortest and finest of months, yours truly has just entered double digits! That's right, as of February 19th, 1990, I am the big 1-0! And I won't live to set foot in Chicago, Illinois, until another 18 of these long years of youth have passed. And with them, the enforced piano lessons, and chorus. Then the guitar bug, and insomniac communions with six strings on a no-name knock-off model and a mini-amplifier by Gorilla. The modest dual tape deck/boombox used to record concerts on the radio and make killer mixes. And the crummy kit with the broken cymbal, and years of drums in the high school marching band. A first CD player is in there somewhere. Along with weekend trips to the record store in the local mall, even if I couldn't afford a thing.

But thru it all, ugly but proud- a fixture of the living room- the 2-speed belt-driven Sanyo turntable attached to stereo cabinets, or a headphone set. All thru which in that frozen season, I listened to Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon for the first time, what showed me a promising future in the past eras of the dusty sides of my parents' vinyl collection, stacked nearly as tall as I was then, and taller if you threw in their double spindles of 45s.

I'm sure I'm not alone when I say my musical tastes and interests manifested in-kind on the pre-pubescent diet of boy-bands and rap and pop. Holding steady at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for my birthday week is Paula Abdul's "Opposites Attract." Bought with my own cold hard b-day cash is the exciting acquisition on cassette of LL Cool J's 'Mama Said Knock You Out' album. And one never ever forgets the timeless and ubiquitous Mr. Michael Jackson, even tho' it is Janet (Miss Jackson, if you're nasty) who is also currently on the charts trailing not too far behind Paula with "Escapade."

But my airwaves were about to be taken over in a big way by the offerings of the occult gods behind '120 Minutes' now in its 5th year on MTV. With guests and luminary hosts like Iggy Pop, Robert Smith, Debbie Harry and Joey Ramone- it turns out staying up yawning way past my bedtime really meant I was begging to be fed something of cultural significance in the form of the music video. Still more mixes are made of those too, thanks to a sturdy VHS recorder...

And back on those equally snow-dusted farm hills of Pennsylvania, tucked away in a second story bedroom still so far-far-far away from the low-lit haunts of the Metro, The Vic and Lounge Ax, I begin to use these tools to work the edges of my life into a personality. Chicago is a big-city place so removed from my consciousness it might as well be the moon- a moon now hovering close as a new idea thanks also to coveted issues of Alternative Press and SPIN magazines, who show my own true face back to me in the form of quite a few folks you can't forget, namely The Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt. Two Chicago-born outfits that are still making music, who helped to show me what it was to collaborate and risk and be a part of it all. To take the next best step, as if into a breathless dream, and be in a rock band.

The point is, and I'm not alone on this either- music is responsible for my being here. Together we boast a strapping legacy. These urgent dead-of-winter gifts of rock and roll carry me and many others as best they can thru the darkest icy-wasteland hour and back into the light: they know us. They love us. They helped us grow up.

So, whatever music you're listening to- keep on listening. Because it is almost spring, and the sound it makes cannot be ignored.

This Friday... by D.M. Jerman

...the band that I've been in for nearly a year plays their first gig. Our first gig. Crazy, I know. Too long to wait for such a thing to come to fruition. Humans are baked and born in less time. But music is, however, more than human. Even if, perhaps especially if, it is punk rock music. So much is riding on it these days, punk rock. The vitality and exuberant necessity of its direct-action option becomes more and more relevant as capitalism and social conservatism rot basic infrastructures and poison consensus.

Not sure yet what we'll do with our "manifesto." But if sharing it here means YOU, whomever you are, feel included, desired, remembered and empowered by what punk is and can do, then you are the reason. You are the RESULT...

WE ARE ALL RESULTS

RESULTS OF BOREDOM

OF DISCONNECT

OF OUTSIDERSHIP

OF SETTLING FOR SOMETHING NOT WHOLLY DESIRED

THE RESULTS OF WHICH BECOME MORE RESULTS

NEVERTHELESS

WITHIN THESE CONSTRUCTS

A BIZARRE FREEDOM EXISTS

WHICH DICTATES SPACE

THIS SPACE BEING THE RAW FOUNDATION

OF CHANGE AND DEAR CHAOS

NEVER FORGET THIS SPACE

IN IT IS A POWER

IT IS THE TRUTH OF YOU

YOU ARE IN IT RIGHT NOW

AND IT IS YOURS

WE ARE YOURS

WE ARE RESULTS

A Wedding Speech- June 17, 2017. by D.M. Jerman

A cousin of mine got married recently. I knew I wanted to write something for them, so I did. It's just one basic thing I can do to contribute. It marks the 2nd wedding I've been to this summer. I kind of teared-up at both ceremonies, and Don mentioned "they really affected you," and I wasn't sure how to take that statement. The bride at the first wedding started crying when vows were read to her, so I started with tears in kind. And Eli Rinzler and Ana Bennett's wedding was just so gorgeous it was hard to keep a dry eye. My brother, a groomsman, felt the same way.

But it was not for beauty and empathy that I cried, but for both and more... These are the first weddings I have been to as a married person myself. In awe of, and now truly aware of, the magnificence and splendor that a real and honest match can bring to the world. 

+

"TO regale you quickly with a personal most-embarassing-moment, caught on VHS tape well-over 25 years ago…

The Jerman/Liggett/Rinzler extended family were together in Ontario, Canada for our ongoing annual early-August vacation. This particular year, Grandma and Grandpa Liggett were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

This was a big deal, and a well-kept surprise, due to much hard work and preparation. All my relatives were speaking in-turn and, being especially young and eager, I was caught up in the moment and wanted to contribute.

I had no idea what I might say. Everyone was witty and had prepared remarks. I figured out later how to do this sort of thing as you can probably tell, but after listening to all the familiar voices I’d come to know and appreciate, and being surrounded by so much love… by the time I got up to speak I said two words and simply burst into tears.

My mother then gratefully escorted me from the room.

Here today I’ll try to refrain from offering her the task of repeating history…

To Ana and To Eli-

The pair of you are already so brave for having a fantastic wedding party beyond just an elegant and warm ceremony. You have made it seem effortless, and flawless, and I thank you with deep gratitude.

I say this as someone for whom getting hitched in the desert city of Las Vegas Nevada after only 3 months of engagement couldn’t have been more perfect…

I guess really what I mean to say is- celebration comes naturally when the party is pretty large. But the less exclusive it becomes, the more it risks spinning out from the center. It takes the power of individuals to stay its focus… In other words, each of us share different reasons for why we’re all here for the same reason.

Acts of bravery beyond these herculean tasks involved in throwing a wedding are naturally in the long game of maintaining the marriage itself.

I quote my husband here: “The wedding is for everyone else, and for now. The marriage is for you, and for after.”

So it is for this reason, that of the greatest family traditions we can possibly foster, the single best is the act of Marrying for Love. And if we’re very lucky, for Life.

A magnificent hope that so many in this room share for you: that 50 years from now you both will be seated again at the head of a table. Your golden anniversary being celebrated with you, for you, and all around you. Including friends and family yet to be. With laughter and stories, and sincere and beautiful tears.

You two came and visited me in Chicago nearly 5 years ago. The windy city I live in and love was a stop-along on a pretty epic road trip for the pair of you. We went to Rivers Casino in Rosemont, Illinois, just outside the city limits.

It was for all of us an inaugural visit, but Ana unwittingly came to indulge in her first-ever foray into buffet-style eating. This girl was in her 20’s and had never been to a buffet before?! So she claims! When she told Eli and I this, our eyes just about bugged out of our heads, we couldn’t believe it.

A great many of you present share such exclusive moments with this enchanting and very busy couple. Times that seem so alive and vivid no matter how brief, or how simple.

Remember them, and lift your glasses for them-

Here’s to making more of those times today.

Cheers."

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