ED Dean

The Road

After riding emotional highs and lows from days on the road, your heart can only focus on one driveway. That simple concrete slab called home.

From my darkened driveway, I stop to watch a brilliant orange sky light up the evening after a very long week on the road. Thank God it’s Friday! It’s not that I’m physically tired like my father was after a long week in the factory or mentally tired like my school teacher sister, I’m just emotionally drained. But when I walk in that door I know I must garner enough strength to feed the psyches of three loving faces.

Actually my week on the road is T.N.T; Tuesday through Thursday. Monday and Friday are office days. Monday is usually a planning and briefing session and Fridays are debriefings but this Friday caught me in an emotional extension on the road.

The office techies keep saying that we’ll soon be replaced by the internet and ‘computer-to-computer’ decisions. Sometimes I wish it were true but in my heart I know that ‘pressing the flesh’ will always have a place in the human sales equation.

Colored clouds float by spewing dramatic dark orange and red highlights that entertain my thoughts, punctuated by headlights of other cars scurrying like ants on a hill, weaving their way to some quiet solitude. I am no different. I sit in the driveway with my headlights off and linger in contemplative review letting my psyche rewind. I too am one of the ants. I stop to look skyward once more before opening the door and remember the old Indian saying; “It is a good day to die!” But which life would cease? Is it all worth it, this double life of duplicity and deceit? I am only a minor player in corporate America. Every lonely sunset has become my friend, my lover, my mentor. There is never a duplicate, just as love is, easy and forgiving. There are smiling faces behind that door only for me. To be loved is a special thing and I think I have found more than my share in this double life.

As a Young Turk in my mid-twenties I received my golden spurs; road warrior by choice and avocation. Eager successful years promoted me to an expanded agenda with titles that I proudly accepted along with the ensuing money. Titles are always part of the package and are only meaningful on an embossed business card. Was I good? Was I right? You judge, because I know you will!

Early on I borrowed a great ploy from a mentor. When I landed in a local area, my eyes searched for a street urchin. I gave the carefully chosen kid a mind boggling five dollar bill to carry my card up to the receptionist and announce my appointment and presence. I was rarely kept waiting. My natural success was never about my ability to talk but more to observe and listen.

Corporate customers lie more than any peddler in the world. They assume their crown will hide everything. But I always found the facts and the truth on the factory floor. A twenty dollar lunch with a line supervisor gave me everything I needed to know.

Endless hotel and motel chains with earned honor points became my second kingdom but in the end it was only a plush lonely bed at the end of the day. Of course there were lavish dinners out with exec customers but most evenings end with a B.L.T. room service sandwich and two scotches from the mini bar.

As in any upgraded city-center hotel, there was the ‘road warrior’ clan. Black Jack always seemed to be my shadow. He was neither black or Jack; he was simply Dan. The moniker came from his prolific love of Jack Daniels. He never asked what you were drinking but to order a Jack-on-the rocks and let you choose a mixer of your choice. He personified the negative side of our trade. Jack loved to bemoan proliferation of skirts in our brotherhood. Most of the women were pharmaceutical or retail reps and rarely industrial but Jack never missed a chance to hit on them every chance he got. Jack’s mantra was; no sex was worse than bad sex but most of us chose conversation and camaraderie at the bar. We were a fun loving family of ‘Can you top this?’ and most of the time it was yes.

Personal or professional problems were rarely up for discussion but when it came into the mix both genders advice flowed faster than the booze. We were family for the night.
When you work the Midwest, massive snowstorms and bad weather are facts of life. Familiarity with the hotel staff or guaranteed hotel reservations is your only port in the storm. When you’re one of the lucky, the peddler creed says that you share that extra double-queen in your bedroom.

Your eyes search the bundled bodies in the overbooked hotel lobby for a familiar face and you offer. If your heartfelt invitation goes out to a ‘skirt’ you might be branded as a ‘dirt bag’ but most of the seasoned ‘road warrior’ gals know that it’s a sign of respect and accept graciously.

Sex is never the equation but only happens as an answer to a long night of camaraderie in the hotel bar. It is that natural and constant need of humanity to be validated by the intimacy of wanting and being wanted.

A late breakfast in the dining room brings news that the highways will be open by early afternoon. Hugs and well wishes flow over the tables and within a few hours the vast migration of the road warriors suck the hotel empty.

You learn early on to never check your baggage on airline travel. Carry-on is the only way to go. If you’re driving, it’s a short walk to the parked car and a dreary log jammed expressway hour home and you realize that you’re just one of the leaf cutter ants in the colony, heading down the jungle road with your order prizes on your back.
The headlights quickly pop on like stars in the early darkened skies and after fifteen years on the road, you wonder. How long before I get the home office promotion? How long before I have only one life to lead? But as you pull up into a darkened driveway and contemplate; you know she knows; she knows but tolerates the deception as the pretty little lady at all the corporate functions. She smiles graciously and makes the required small talk and does her part to be the perfect corporate wife. She is well paid for her pain but money will never soothe her emotional scars. Was she a ‘sell-out’ just like me? She had a talented career that she chose to disregard for an easier life.

We all have a pound of flesh to sell in the ‘Persian Bazaar of life; it’s simply a matter of price!

I can hear the lyrics to Tina Turner’s song, ‘What’s love got to do with it’ rattling around in my brain. I know it’s just a matter of time. How long before she gets tired and takes the kids and leaves? How long will the duplicity last? Have I become just another ‘Black Jack’ road junkie? And then you have to finally admit to yourself that you’re just another road warrior addict and the split in your personality is slowly becoming permanent.

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Laura Zucca-Scott

Praying for Summer

I am praying for summer
Quiet breeze from the ocean
A ship’s horn
And children still sleeping
Running in the cool sand

Before the heat
Comes, early in the morning
You can dream
Of faraway lands
And momentous memories

I am praying for a new summer
Even when I cannot see it

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Bobbie Troy

A Different War

is it
a different war
because the bombs
are under bellies
and executions
are not always at dawn?

is it
a different war
because the enemy
can be our neighbor
with the same daily routines?

is it
a different war
because the sun shines
behind the guns
as the masks portend
certain death?

is it
a different war
because the hate and the anger
are spread universally
and equally
across all who are not
of the radical state of Islam?

is it
a different war?

 

Loyalty
By Bobbie Troy

we can be loyal
to a cause
to a person
to an ideal
but the hindrance comes
when the big picture
is not seen
and loyalty blinds us
to ignorance
to faults
to deceit
as if we were looking
through the eye slits
of a medieval helmet.

 

There Must Be a Moment
By Bobbie Troy

there must be a moment
between life and death
when we are nothing
or everything
as we leave one reality
and enter another

there must be a moment
between life and death
but how will we know it?

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Len Kuntz Debuts

Somewhere In Senegal 

We are running on broken glass
Past startled zebras and giraffes
Baobab trees shaking from mortar fire
Would-be assassins gaining on us
With their jeeps and armored cars
We only ever wanted clean water to drink
Shoes or shelter were luxuries we couldn’t afford
Our skin is ripe with sores, our legs rotten posts
We have nothing to offer but bones and bodies
And still the marauders advance with weapons firing
As the yellow parrot flies by like a hoax
Saying This way
Go this way
Here
 

Of My Father 

The hands of my father could crush things
His stare lit forest fires and raised whole buildings
If he laughed you felt safe the way hunted deer do in the brush
I remember his breath smelling of motor oil and Old Milwaukee
His mouth a trapdoor or chimney
The heavy footfalls that meant emergency and danger
Being flung down a flight of stairs
Slapped on the thighs by black leather belts
In the photo I find of him he is younger than I am now
Holding a long-handled axe across his chest while smiling
When my daughter asks who he is I tell her
It’s nobody I ever knew.

 

Bio: Len Kuntz is a writer from Washington State and an editor at the online magazine Literary Orphans.  His story collection THE DARK SUNSHINE debuted from Connotation Press in 2014.  You can also find him at lenkuntz.blogspot.com

 

 

 

 

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Laura Zucca-Scott

It Never Stopped

The rain never stopped
It rained in the early dawn
Beating the light
The cold never eased
Chilling the bones a
Crashing the breath
It rained on laughter
Soaking resilient smiles
The ground was sodden
But the rain never stopped
Until there was no place to hide
For the young and the old
A man said,
The flowers will protect us
Looking into his child’s eyes
A new life was born

 

You Are Still You

I watch you fall asleep
sea green eyes closing
and a tired smile

Just a year ago
we were walking by the harbor
discussing endless stories
of a life we share
breathing salt and sun
in the early morning

I wish I could make you strong again
and help you fight your enemy
I wish I could tell you
all I want to say

That I remember every moment
learning how to ride a bike
and bleeding all over your shirt
when I fell playing soccer
with the big kids
When you helped me climb the fence
to the best playground there ever was
my eyes half closed from fear
We raced the waves so high and strong
And read countless books about honor and hurt

But most of all
I want to tell you
That you are still you
And I am still here

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Ananya S Guha Debuts

Who Mourns?

withering, decadent
death in oblivion
matrices of poverty
disillusionment and becoming
destitute of hopes
candles wax and wane
who mourns?

Ananya S Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has been writing and publishing his poetry consistently, in India and abroad for the last thirty years.

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John Kaniecki

Sophia

by John Kaniecki

A child of incest
This pure angelic dove
Of raging raping conquest
With no tender act of love

But she is a child
Sweet, innocent
But she is a child
With nothing to repent

I see the cross
Spray  painted upon the wall
It’s a heavy cross
For one so small

Smile, dream
Let life lazily flow by
In time
For the crime
You shall scream
And cry

A child of incest
Take my trembling hand
The wages of sin
We all understand

 

To Candace

by John Kaniecki

Life is a journey a long perilous trail
With times of joy with  times of sorrow
With every footstep telling it’s tale
So here is wishing you a better tomorrow
For you my child have grown
And today you no longer walk alone
For in this day of wedding bliss
Two became one in a single kiss

May you learn to enjoy the sunshine
And understand the necessity of rain
In the mysterious ways of Love divine
No kindness is ever in vain
Be a shoulder to lean upon
Kiss away the pain until it is gone
Do not be afraid to weep
Never keep anger into sleep
Forgive as if it was easy
Learn to surrender freely
Look to the Lord in all things
Hope in what tomorrow brings
If the agony is too much to bear
God awaits for your anguished prayer
If you must break down and cry
Have faith there is an answer why
Share the good that you have found
Above all let Love abound

Hand in hand on the trail narrow and straight
In the hands of the Lord is your fate
Learn the true nature of amazing grace
Till the day you behold God’s face
For at the end of your trial
Our cruel cross seems more than worthwhile

One last dream to come true
May God Bless You!

 

A Father’s Love

by John Kaniecki

When I was young my daddy
Sat me upon his knee
He said “Son”
A man’s work is never done
So fight, fight, fight
Until  you go gently into the night

Words you know come cheap
But promises are made to keep
Daddy didn’t pass every test
But I know that he did his best

Now I see my reflection
With careful inspection
I must honestly report
That I have fallen short
But I can say this with no lie
I gave it my best try

Thank you father for your living lesson
Your Love was the best blessing
And now as I say a brief farewell
I know everything will be well
Because you taught me long ago
All I needed to know

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