Special Feature: The People’s Apocalypse
2012/10/26 § Leave a Comment
The People’s Apocalypse is a post-Mayanocalyptic October 2012 anthology recording what apocalypse means to various people.
Contributors include Carrie Seitzinger, Matty Byloos, Golda Dwass, Lisa Loving, Margaret Garcia, Derrick Jensen, Robert Duncan Gray, Tomas Moniz, Ariel Gore and the Center For Disease Control.
Editors Jenny Forrester (Hugo House award-winning writer, curator for Unchaste Readers) and Ariel Gore (hipMama, Literary Kitchen, Atlas of a Human Heart) funded its publication with a Kickstarter. To help them out, Unshod Quills offered publication in this special section for contributors to the effort.
The following works helped make a literary apocalypse possible. – DRG
If you said yes, I’d take you. But, you’d have to say yes to the silence of the wide eyes staring at the halo of the sun.
Some questions are too powerful for the tongue,
too loud for the pen.
Tell me, what is so confusing about a necklace of jasmine and red carnation,
a pink barrette tangled in dreadlocks,
a yellow tube of raisin lip gloss,
the traces of mosquito blood on a dirty palm?
On waiting for your lover in prison and other private rituals of the 21st century:
Tonight, beer glass next to lighter, plastic beads in one hand, pen in the other. Flip a lucky in the back of the pack, shoo a fly away with a burning tip, inhale let the soul slip. I flip three coins, ask who will my lover be once he emerges from the other side, still pay attention to this little lady who used to write poems about suicide?
Some nights I dream of my only time in jail, the week before inauguration. Tonight, I’m waiting for your voice broken up.
Hope is an aphrodisiac falling out of love
Hearts break when you use them as bait, trying to catch the sun, ’cause the sun always escapes the black bars of paradise.
Mai’a Williams lives in Cairo, Egypt. She is a poet, photographer, multi-media performer, revolutionary, and outlaw midwife. Her blog is at: http://guerrillamamamedicine.tumblr.com/
A good-looking man appeared at the wedding and grabbed my hand saying, “How about we get out of here and go get stoned?”
My aunt thought it was fine for me to leave with Jack, since we were cousins, and he was raised in an Orthodox household and attended a Yeshiva.
There were no adults in Jack’s bedroom, but I had the distinct feeling his dead grandmother was looking down on us disapprovingly.
As soon as we’d smoked a joint or two, we were making out on his bed. We were interrupted though,when his younger sister appeared, and was very anxious to get organized for the trip they were planning the next day.
“Hey-how about you going to Woodstock with us?”, his sister shouted. I hadn’t heard about this Woodstock, as I had been somewhat isolated working as a nanny for three months on Martha’s Vineyard.
I had not planned on taking any trips as I was supposed to be back in Evanston packing to go away for my first year of college.
On Martha’s Vineyard I had met Mark, who came riding up on his motorcycle to the beach I was hanging out on a day off from my nanny job.
I was not someone who had much experience with relationships.
On my next day off we went back to the beach where he showed me something he called “Orange Sunshine”. I had smoked pot before this time but really did not know anything about other drugs. He convinced me to take one of the tabs and I spent the day tripping on the beautiful beach.
A good part of the time I had to fend off Mark who was determined that I lose my virginity. I was quite happy to leave his repeated attempts to make love-something I was quite sure was not going to happen with him.
Unexpectedly I ended up going to New Haven with my Aunt to a cousin’s wedding. My father had grown up in New Haven and all of his cousins still lived there. I had never met them or their offspring before I arrived at the wedding with my aunt.
Jack and his sister Shelley had tickets for the Woodstock festival, and they were sure that I could get tickets once we arrived there. We had to leave early the next morning, so that we would arrive at Woodstock by sundown. Sundown was the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath, and Orthodox Jews are not supposed to travel on the Sabbath.
I had to call my parents to let them know my plans.
“Hi mom. Can you put dad on the phone too? I am in New Haven with my cousins, and they want me to go camping with them in Woodstock, New York. I will be back in plenty of time to pack for school. Oh, yeah, Jack’s parents think it is perfectly fine for us to be going. Jack’s younger sister is going with us as well as another friend”.
Luckily my parents had also never heard anything about Woodstock, and it wasn’t until they saw the front page of the newspaper two days later that they realized what was really going on.
Jack and Shelley’s mom was out of town ,and their dad spent most of his days studying in Synagogue. He was not very centered in the real world and did not pay too much attention to what his kids were planning to do.
We took off for Woodstock early Friday, concerned that we would arrive at our destination by sundown. Making it by sundown started to seem ominous when we hit a huge traffic jam, and the first of several terrific downpours.
The final ten miles took us until sundown, stopping and starting, stopping and starting.
As we sat for long periods before starting again, there were no cars honking and no angry people.
Young people in bare feet and long hair and interesting clothes would ramble along the long line of cars, making friends, passing along news and passing out joints.
We eventually would start driving again, and go by guesthouses inhabited by Hassidic Jews. As we drove by, the men in long coats would cheerfully raise their hands and give the peace sign.
It seemed to take us hours to reach a parking area. Thousands of cars were parked in a vast meadow. Finally the car was parked.
We had given up worrying about the Sabbath, as we walked for what seemed like forever. When we arrived, there were no ticket takers or sellers-people were simply pouring in.
It was getting really dark, and we hurriedly set up our tents as Richie Havens began to sing.
I had hopes of losing my virginity with my cousin Jack in our little tent. I was pretty sure that second cousins could marry, so I figured that included losing one’s virginity.
My hopes of any romantic interlude were dashed, as torrential rains began around midnight, and continued on and off throughout the festival. It wasn’t long before everything had turned to mud, including our tent, which became a trampled muddy mess.
We all became totally soaked, and having taken a large dose of what turned out to be some bad LSD, I completely lost track of my cousins for what seemed like days at a time.
Most of the time we were just wandering around in our own drug-induced euphoria-or for me,-drug induced nightmare, for several hours. I had missed the announcement about a bad batch of LSD being passed around, and spent several hours in the first aid tent being talked down from an anxiety filled, frightening cosmic nightmare.
What stood out for me, though, after re-entering a calmer universe was how friendly and sharing everyone was.
There was great music and friendly people.
The water pipes broke down almost immediately, and there were hardly enough latrines for the huge numbers of people who showed up.
The festival was an amazing event considering the many obstacles. There was mud and crowds everywhere. The mood remained friendly, and there were no fights or stealing. Everyone pitched in to help. The sense of community was the overwhelming feeling that I took away from the event. The way people treated each other in what ordinarily would be considered difficult circumstances is something that I still remember all of these years later.
As Jimi Hendrix began his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner, we had to leave, as I had to catch a plane back home.
We stopped in some friend’s apartment, and I tried washing some of the mud off of my legs. I had on my favorite pink short sundress, and did not think to put pants on to cover up some of the mud. I packed my shoes in my suitcase, and left them in there, as I checked my bag at the airport.
I loved the feeling of walking barefoot in the airport-that is until I tried boarding my plane. “Young lady” the agent at the gate practically shouted. “You cannot board this plane without your shoes on. This plane is similar to a restaurant as we serve food.”‘ My shoes are in my suitcase”, I replied.
I was promptly sent to the baggage area to get my suitcase, and unpack my shoes, and return to get seated on the plane.
I returned home to start college, and eventually began a love affair with Jack that continued over several years and many different states. When we see each other now, we never mention that love affair, but always talk about that wonderful road trip.
How We Fall Out of Love
I drive around Sag Harbor looking for Gabe.
Parking the car behind the Whaler’s church, I bite my lip and take a deep breath, “Fuck.”
I get out and walk over to the dumpster. Behind it I see a makeshift hobo camp, an old ripped sleeping bag, and a couple of coffee cups and beer cans on the ground. On the grass under some bushes, there is a grocery bag stuffed with clothes and a crumpled pack of Camels.
I look up at the pale sky; the dark skeletal outlines of tree branches have small buds pushing out at the tips, optimistically announcing, Spring! It’s been getting warmer each day, but at night, the ground frosts over just before dawn, and I know Gabe has been out here trying to get warm, sleep, feel for a minute that everything is going to be ok.
I feel guilty knowing I can go home to my nice house, lovingly annoying parents, tiny room with my little warm bed. I’m ashamed to be seen with him, my boyfriend, love of my life, an outline of his former self, the meat and soul of him somewhere else, lost.
I set the bag of breakfast down on the curb and sit. Holding onto the things we’ve always shared together is all I can do. I’ve brought what we call chicken, cow, pig sandwiches, coffees and green boxed iced tea. Four years of these egg sandwiches have clogged my arteries, spread out my hips, made me feel sluggish and weighed down my spirit. Yet I keep eating. Like an addict, I eat trying to get back that elusive high I felt in the beginning.
“Hey,” Gabe is standing in front of me. He never says my name anymore, let alone my sweet, my love, my sweetbabykim. He looks around his makeshift camp, and then sits. These days I can never tell if he’s on or off his meds. Either way, he is dulled out, dumbed down and looks uncomfortable just being alive. I know the feeling. I’m worn out with worry, exhausted with fear; the knot in my stomach expands every day.
“I brought breakfast. Thought you might…” I don’t know what to say to him anymore, the words come forced and shaky, I’m always afraid to make him mad, weird him out.
Gabe doesn’t say thank you; he drinks the coffee and lights a smoke. I resist the urge to remind him to eat, tell him what’s good for him. He hates that.
“So, any jobs coming up?”, I try to sound casual.
“Maybe,” He stubs out his cigarette, and digs into the sandwich, swallows big bites, barely chewing.
“Umm, what are you up to today?” I’m running out of things to ask, as we don’t have actual conversations anymore. We also don’t cuddle, make out, have sex, talk about the past, or plan for the future.
“I’ve got stuff I gotta do.” This means: find some weed, beg for money, buy some beer, and walk around town aimlessly for hours. Not: get a job; find a place to live, take a shower, see the therapist, take the meds, and love the girlfriend.
He stands up and looks down at me. He’s still handsome. Under the beard are those great cheekbones; under the musky clothes is his lanky hot body. For a second, I think I see his blue eyes come to life, like maybe he’s going to hug me, kiss me, make it all better.
“I gotta go.” He turns and walks down the road, headed nowhere. I sit by the dumpster, behind the church, finishing my coffee, alone.
Kim Nalepinski was raised in the waters of the East End of Long Island. She now lives mostly out-of-doors and underwater in the Virgin Islands, where she writes memoirs and essays of past and present.
Theresa J. Crawford
Words on paper
Coltrane laying it out like to die for
the Eiffel tower
men with kind eyes
art & ballet
There was no hip hop, no bebop, no happening music
to play out our sad saga.
There was no Chagall, no Frida, no color
to the palette of our lives.
There was some champagne once in a while,
but the bubbles all burst into thin air,
Which was all that was left of our love,
by the time I got there.
Carrying Each Other:
We had a snow emergency.
The wind was blowing.
The drifts were high.
The temps were low.
I was driving to work,
Cursing the winter,
Stopped at a light,
Hoping my windshield would stay clear,
And I saw a girl, maybe 10 or 12,
Carrying another child, maybe 2 or 3,
Through the snow
To each other.
Bio: Theresa is a psychotherapist in Minneapolis. She is a contributing writer to the Minnesota Association of Marriage & Family Therapy Newsletter, and is published in The People’s Apocalypse. She writes at: theresajcrawfordwrites.blogspot.com.
Travel Journal: Japan Tsunami, 1997
My husband, Leapin Louie Lichtenstein, is The Most Explosive Lithuanian Jewish Cowboy Juggler Ever to Come Out of Northeast Portland.
He scored the vaudeville equivalent of the lottery, a gig in Japan. He would perform for three weeks in the luxurious shopping mall at Canal City at the southernmost tip of the islands.
Me and our two kids James, 5, and Lela, 4, scored the vaudeville family equivalent of the lottery: we got to go too. David went first; me and the kids followed a week later.
After a 12-hour flight to Southern Japan with a stopover in Helsinki in which I screwed up my exchange rates and accidentally withdrew $200 from an ATM and bought a foreign newspaper for $26, the kids and I arrived in Fukuoka and settled into David’s perkalicious deluxe hi-rise hotel room.
While David cracked whips in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken in the Canal City shopping mall, me and the kids took the high-speed ferry from a dock near Fukuoka Tower to Marine World Uminonakamichi.
It was a dark and stormy morning. There was a current of electricity in the air. A purple, gusty rain blanketed the neighborhood as the Fukuoka Tower — studded with radio receivers and power sources — rose in a Frankensteiny magenta neon glow in the center.
Marine World Uminonakamichi is a seashell-shaped complex built on a peninsula jutting into the Pacific Ocean. It’s probably the coolest aquarium in the whole wide world. Maybe too cool, because James and Lela ran full speed from Aqua Live Show to Happy Sea Otter Meal Time to Marine Science Lab to Snack Bar to Gift Shop. We’d seen it all before noon.
It rained like a cow pissing on a flat rock. We got back on the high-speed ferry, and stepped off onto the dock into water four inches deep. “You know what? Let’s go find a cab back to the hotel,” I said.
The kids and me hydroplaned off the dock and onto the boardwalk. We reached the street just as a lone taxi swallowed an expensive woman in ruined white stiletto heels; the water was deep enough to splash a little into the open cab door. The door slammed and the car fishtailed off, spraying a 6-foot fountain of water on either side, and leaving us stranded.
James and Lela held tight to their inflated dolphins on sticks. They looked up at me. Water whirled around them. I grabbed them both by the hand; the water was at their knees. It was clear like ocean water, with playful little waves and eddies. I looked up. Fukuoka Tower was still a block away.
No sense panicking in front of the children. “Wow,” I said,“Isn’t this exciting? Why don’t we just go ahead and walk home instead of taking a cab?” “Why, Mama?” “Well, I mean, we’d miss all this fresh air and exercise if we took a taxi.”
“Mama,” Lela said. “What are you talking about?”
“Um, let’s just go.”
It was already getting dark. I didn’t have a watch, but it couldn’t be later than 3:30 p.m. Fukuoka Tower was easy to follow because it’s covered with mirrors and lights. It shimmered against the angry purple sky. We slogged closer.
A row of shiny storefronts spread across its base. We washed up into a gift shop. We stood for a moment looking out at the storm. “Anybody have to pee?”, I said. Lela laughed. “That’s funny, Mama. Who’s wants to pee in the rain?”
Unfortunately I could see her point. “Ahem, we’re about eight blocks from the Hi-Rise Hotel De Luxe, but I don’t see any buses or cabs,” I told the kids. “We should just walk.”
“You mean, swim, Mama,” Lela said. “Geddit? Swim?” Ha, ha.
I bought us each a new umbrella, the deep, bell-shaped kind you can pull down over your head and see everything through the plastic in the color the umbrella is. In about one second I realized I’d have to return my own umbrella because I’d have to physically hold these kids through whatever the hell was going on out there.
We plunged back in. One block. Two blocks. The water was about 12 inches deep and still clear; the storm didn’t seem scary, really. It was easy to navigate because the westernmost district of Fukuoka has a lot of weird tall buildings, like Fukuoka Tower, and even a Fukuoka Dome. Three blocks. Four blocks. James repeated the same question every three minutes: “How many blocks, Mama?” Lela smiled and splashed. “It’s like the biggest founting in the world,” she said. “Fountain,” I said. “Founting,” she said.
At the halfway point, we made visual contact with the Hi-Rise Hotel De Luxe down the street. As I looked in to the distance at the Hi-Rise Hotel De Luxe, I imagined I could see our window. In my mind’s eye I saw inside the fridge. It was empty. There were no beers or cookies there. My head ached. There was no aspirin. No dinner. I looked down at the kids. Now, water that was just below my knees hit them halfway up the thigh.
Up the street, the water had swollen, but it wasn’t really flowing. I could see a grocery about a block and a half away. Yes, on the way to the Hi-Rise, thank you very much. Score another one for the team.
Uh, yeah, we need to go to the grocery store,” I said. “What?” James said. “Go to the grocery store? Mama, isn’t this a flood?”
Objective: Don’t panic the children. “No, uhm, no, this may look like a flood, but really it’s just a bit floody. Seen any cars floating down the street yet?”
James’ eyes flew open. He gasped. Great.
“The grocery store is on the way, anyway. We can get chocolate milk.”
Cheap shot, I know. Without hesitating, he said, “Okay.”
We kept to the sidewalk. Soon it started an uphill slant, and the water receded. Now it was back down below my knee level — just below thigh level for James and Lela. At half a block to go, I sorta panicked just to get out of the water completely, and we fast-splashed up the parking lot and in the door.
We stood just inside for a moment, dripping like we just went scuba-diving in our clothes. Did we cheat death or what? I felt pretty good. We left a dripping trail from Pain Relievers to Alcohol to Dairy Case, Candy, and Meat Counter. This sort of thing must happen all the time, I thought. Because there were lots of people, plenty of people all through the grocery store, and no one even looked at us. In fact, all these people looked perfectly dry, perfectly normal.
Then again, on the other, other hand, we were too by the time we made it to the checkout stand. A grocery store wall clock showed 4:00 p.m. Through the big glass windows it looked deeper but also less dark outside.
We lingered a little longer on the island that was the grocery store. I plotted the shortest route to the hotel. We’d have to cross the street. You could see from here the street was deeper than the sidewalk.
Okay, kids, this is going to be tough, but the team is tough!” I hitched our four new plastic grocery bags, two over each of my wrists, then grabbed one kid with each hand.
And it was deeper, past thigh level on Lela, and she was no longer amused. I tugged the kids down the sidewalk as fast as I could. “Let’s watch TV when we get back to the Hi-Rise Hotel De Luxe,” I said. I thought: “Okay, I’m scared now.” I really wished my mind would start wandering.
“Let’s play Remember Fun Festivals,” I said. “Remember that festival in Belgium, where it was so hot we all got sunburned, and we saw that giant horse circus? Remember the big sausage-cooking pits, and the farmers in their white smocks, and the sausages were all sizzly and drippy, and the farmer-guys gave them to us on bread rolls, right with their bare hands?” Both kids looked up at me with smiles in their eyes, but not on their mouths. My hands gripped theirs so hard, I was already losing circulation, but they didn’t complain.
I said, “Of all the shows, ever, our friends, but also the rest of the world, what shows do you guys like best?” Water ran into my mouth while I talked. It was like swimming.
“I like Uncle Bobarino’s show, when he puts the wheelbarrow on his chin and juggles on the rolla bolla,” James said. “I like the Australian guys that dressed like fish, and played vacuum cleaner horns and followed people around.” He gulped for a moment. Must have taken in a mouthful of rainwater. The water was two feet deep now, past his thigh.
“What about you, Lela?”
Her face was stoic as she trudged on the scariest path of all — she was a little bitty thing, now waist-deep; I couldn’t see her feet anymore. She looked up at me with her teeth clenched, dragging herself forward with an effort.
“I really like Venus, Goddess of the Diabolo’s show,” I chattered. “I like her two electric diabolo tricks, and when she always gets a big macho man volunteer, and makes him wear the frilly apron and freaks him out.”
“I like . . . I like . . . ” Lela squeaked, “I like the Payasos Mendingos.”
“Mendigos,” I said.
“I like Uncle Rudy and Cosmo and Guapo and Stinky Monkey,” she said. They all have perfectly normal human names as well, but at this point, why bother with that?
“I remember the first time I saw the Payasos, and Uncle Rudy wore his bald-head wig, and he rode a horse puppet, and he jumped over a flaming banana,” I said.
Lela smiled into the storm. “And . . . the fairy-dressed people . . . way up in the sky . . . and they played twisty horns, and drums, and bells . . . and they did acrobax,” she said.
“Maudit Sonnantes,” I said. “Acrobatics.”
“Acrobax,” she said.
We dragged forward a block, then one more block, and suddenly a block-wide eddy of water hit us from a side street. It pulled us into the intersection. Suddenly Lela and James both were submerged chest-deep. They grabbed at me simultaneously, almost knocking me into the swirl with my hands weighted like stones by the grocery bags. We clawed our way back onto the sidewalk, where the water was back to thigh-high. We were just across from the Hi-Rise Hotel De Luxe. We still had to cross the street.
The rain pounded like a shower at the Bates Motel. I could feel my eyes filling up with water hotter than all the water around it. I looked down at the kids; the bottoms of their inflatable dolphin sticks were underwater.
Objective,” I said,“Don’t panic!” My nose let out a big wet snarf. “Okay, we’ve really got to hurry if we want to eat those Chips Ahoy cookies while they’re still fresh.” I looked down; all the grocery bags were partially filled with water now, and the Chips Ahoy cookies were completely submerged. For the last time, we pushed off into the wet unknown. I called out, “Chips, ahoy!” Bracing against the tide, we were ready for it this time — it was deep, but we moved forward.
I looked all around, but I couldn’t see the curb. The kids were rain-whipped, and the street river tried to drag them out of my grip. I started wondering if we were really going to make it. I thought of the Mad magazine version of “The Poseidon Adventure,” the scene where Shelly Winters, guest starring as a former Olympic swimmer, must swim underwater a long distance to save everybody’s lives. Except that Shelly Winters was goddess proportioned, clearly not suited to a long distance underwater rescue, and everybody knew she would die in this attempt. Everybody at Mad magazine did not put it as delicately as that. They had a cruel laugh at Shelly Winters. “God,” I thought, “please don’t let me end up in Mad Magazine. And don’t let my last thoughts on this earth be about Shelly Winters.”
Then suddenly, my feet hit a curb, and I almost went down again. I looked up — it was the curb of the Hi-Rise Hotel Deluxe. Like wet mice, we climbed out of the water and up the red carpeted entrance. Employees saw us coming and opened the door, then followed behind us with mops all the way to the marble elevator. Up in the room I saw the time: 4:15. I thought: We could have been killed out there, and the whole thing took only15 minutes?
“Mama,” James said. “Can we watch TV?”
Lisa Loving is a news editor and talk show host in Portland, Oregon.