Archive for August, 2008

Loyd Pahk

Loyd PahkWhen I had the
stroke, I was still
waiting for my
promotion to
Director to
go through. It was
going to make
it all better.

Didn’t even
want that damn job.

Johan Torres

Johan TorresI was born with a
defective valve in my
heart, so my life was
contained, limited, and
measured in tiny
doses. But that once with
Isabel under
the infinite stars, I
gave her everything
I had. It cost me, but
I have no regrets.
Brevity is not lack.

Jonathan Mellor

Jonathan Mellor I studied all the great word men,
Bruce, Carlin, Hicks. Did you
know that as part of his act,
Mort Sahl used to just read
the Warren Commission report?
These were my heroes, the
comics who made people laugh while
forcing their eyes open
even if it meant insulting
and enraging them. I
was good at that part of the gig.
Leaving some no-name club
in some flyspeck town, somebody –
I never saw who – hit
me in the head with a cement
brick. I never woke up.

D.A. Antonio Jackson

D.A. Antonio JacksonMy life
was devoted to bringing
justice, to punishing the
wicked,
and upholding the standards
of the community. My
finest
hour was when I sent the
murderer Glenn Austen to
death row.
But my son was diagnosed
with schizophrenia, so
I quit
my office as the District
Attorney and devoted
myself
to his care. I studied the
working of the human brain,
damaged
and healthy. And I learned that
morality cannot be
divorced
from chemistry. I think of
all those I damned to prison
or worse,
and I recall the triumph
I felt when Austen went to
the chair.
I wonder if anything
I did helped anyone. I
doubt it.
My son was just another
big case that I had to win.

Glenn Austen

Glenn AustenIt was a little
bit after my sister
Alexandra was
arrested for arson
that I got chosen
for jury duty. I
tried to get excused
by telling them about
her, but the judge was
unmoved. They selected
me to serve on the
murder trial of that
dentist, Doctor Stahl
for killing his patient
Zadie-Mae Lemmons.
Each day we sat there and
heard evidence of
their tawdry affair, of
how she got pregnant,
and his desire to
cover it up. Saw
the gruesome photos of
how he tried. And as
I listened, I despaired,
because I saw that
no matter how much you
love at the start, it
always turns to hatred.

We found him guilty,
and that night I went home
to my pregnant wife
and shot her in the head.
If the boys had been
home I would have killed them
too. As it was, when
I tried to shoot myself,
the gun jammed. There was
a standoff, and I tried
to provoke the cops
into doing the job
for me, but they were
remarkably restrained.
I don’t know why. It
took four years of trials
and appeals before
they killed me anyway.
I would have saved them
the time and the trouble.

Alexandra Austen

Alexandra AustenThat house was the cause of all of our strife.
He inherited it
from his mother, and all his siblings
were jealous and never
forgave him. Then all the property
tax increase forced us
to sacrifice everything to keep
paying for it. And no
matter how much I tried to convince
him that we needed to
just leave it behind and start over
somewhere new, he never
could see how to extricate himself.
So one night, after we
fought about money and our future,
I torched the awful place.
Burned the fucking thing to the ground. He
divorced me, and sued me
But he never understood that I
did it to set him free.

The Salaryman

The SalarymanWhen I was
ten, my folks gave me a super-8
camera,
and I fell in love with making films.
In college,
I won a prize at a festival
and I moved
to the city to break in to the
industry.
But all the entry-level jobs were
held by the
children of the rich and connected
who could work
for no money. I took an office
job and tried
to work around it. Before I knew
it, twenty
years had passed, and I’d become the vice-
president
of the firm, with a family and
a mortgage,
and no more time left. So I gave up
my dreams. But
by the time I passed on and was sent
here, I had
made enough money and knew enough
people so
that my kids could work those entry jobs
for free. Each
generation gets a bit further.

Busker Barney

Busker BarneyI was playing for coins
at the Courthouse Bus Stop.
It had been a long day;
I’d made very little.
When Russell Diedrich and
Dutch Wallis came along,
high on something, they gave
me twenty dollars to
play “Gloria” while they
bellowed along. When a
policeman started towards
us to stop their racket,
they ran away, pushing
me towards the cop to slow
him down. I tripped and fell
into the street, right in
the path of the number
7 bus. Now I’m here,
where there are so many
great musicians that I’m
never at a loss for
somebody to jam with.

Judge Sy Goldberg

Judge Sy GoldbergWhen I was alive,
I would
sit on the bench, listen to the
petitioners in
front of
me, and I prided myself on
being fair, treating
the poor
the same as the wealthy. But now,
buried here, I can
listen
to the curses from the many
whom I sent here, I
can hear
what the prosecutors could keep
from the record, I
can see
the truth. The poor were not equal
at my bar. The field
tilted
from the start. The fairness that I
prided myself on
was just
the self-reinforcing bias
of a system built
to crush.
I should have been their advocate.
Instead I handed
the axe
to the headsman. I sent Lukasz
Harding to Death Row.
But I
was a hundred times more guilty.

Mrs. Sofia Garzan

Mrs. Sofia GarzanI designed
lingerie for a
living. So when my girl
Maggie got
her reputation,
of course the town whispered
that it was
my fault. And when the
kids followed a fad where
underthings
were worn openly,
of course the answer was
to picket
my shop and brand me
as anti-family.
Were they so
scared of their children
that it was easier
to enact
legislation than
to simply talk with them?

Didn’t all
of their desperate
attempts to “rescue the
family”
end up destroying
the family instead?

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