Out-worn heart in a time out-worn,
Come clear of the nets of wrong and right;
Laugh, heart, again in the grey twilight,
Sigh, heart, again in the dew of the morn.
—W. B. Yeats, “Into The Twilight”
- Moon’s Up, Nights Up (Part 1)
by Quin Browne
Eloise McDaniels had spent most of her life avoiding sleep.
As a baby, she was one of those spoken about in hushed whispers by other mothers around coffee and Sara Lee pound cakes; “Oh, poor Peggy [for that was her mother’s name]! That baby hasn’t slept since they brought her home from the hospital! I mean, have you seen her lately?” The last pronouncement brought tsk’s and a general shaking of heads….the name recalling a memory of the missing member of the coffee klatch. The sallow complexion and bag-laden eyes along with her worn-thin-by-exhaustion body was vivid in their minds. Each mother smiled, an unconscious smile of smug superiority. Their babies slept with a normal pattern, only waking on occasion to be changed and fed. As the months had wore on, these children held to that sleep cycle for longer and longer periods, allowing the whole family to sleep with them, barely stirring when their cry rang out in the dark. Once the need for food and comfort were met, they swiftly nestled back to sleep, as babies are wont to do.
Eloise McDaniels did no such thing.
She fussed and fidgeted and moaned from the moment she was born. Her wails would bring her mother to the nursery, where she would feed and change Eloise, offering comfort when she snuggled her close, watching Eloise’s eyes grow heavy and then close. This child, however, was a master of playing possum; lying with eyes shut and soft breath whispering between her pursed baby lips, the very picture of a sound sleep. She held to this pretense of full sleep during her mother’s s l o w rising from the rocking-chair, the tiptoeing to the crib, the lying Eloise on her back and a gentle lifting of a blanket to cover her in the night. Peggy would creep down the hallway, praying to herself and whoever could be listening, “Pleasepleasepleaseplease.” Back in her own room, Peggy’s hearing was tuned to the baby monitor sitting innocently on her nightstand. She’d eventually allow her guard to drop, lulled into complacency by the quiet, gentle breathing pattern broadcast between the tiny bursts of static–wanting, hoping, believing tonight would be the night of blissful rest. It was always a waiting game, between Eloise and Peggy…. how deep of a sleep could Peggy fall into before Eloise decided it was enough, before she opened her clear green eyes to the dark, before she gave a wiggle of anticipated joy, and quite deliberately opened her mouth to call her mother back into the little room with the small night light, where she would soothe, change, feed, rock, curse, cry, beg Eloise to just go back to sleep, for the love of God, go back to sleep!
And sometimes, sometimes….Peggy thought seriously about letting Eloise remain tangled in the blankets, little arms flailing, her tiny twisting body causing the soft cotton blanket to become stuffed in her wee nose….she thought about turning off the monitor just long enough to….to….Peggy would shake the thought from her head, from her confused imagination, and go back to untangle her ‘bundle of joy’, once again changing, feeding and rocking, singing the lullaby she’d composed for her child, “Shut up, shut up, little girl. Don’t you cry. Shut up, shut up, little girl. Close. Your fucking. Eyes.”
the monster is anyone
and everyone he imagines himself
not just you
or even a multitude of strangers
but a monster
Trapped in Pavement
He thrusts the balloons into her hand like swollen kisses, but already she is running. She dashes, feet aching. She wants only to feel lighter; balloons aloft like an incantation. Her body is trilling with feeling. No feeling, no feeling. The thought spirals, rotates: a mantra.
Somewhere she trips on cement pathway and her shoes fall from her. She just keeps running. Her grip tightens around balloon string and she tosses herself down onto a slatted bench before her. The balloons are her buoy, she is going under.
She can feel clouds in the air, looming like they’re going to ingest her. She thrusts her nails into her mouth to push down words-bubbling. Her eyes are fixed on some intangible horizon. She is not looking anywhere.
To get me is to have me
To have me is to consume me
To consume me is to take me into your soul
To take me into your soul is to sacrifice your own
To sacrifice your own soul means replacing it with mine
But replacing your soul with mine means you are no longer you
Instead, you will be a mirror image, a pawn, for I have a black heart
and you will, too
Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta
By Janelle Rene
Much like any other single female in today’s contemporary life, I was poised to finish a Lean Cuisine and retire to the couch for an evening of Law & Order. Or not! Instead, I had my clipboard in hand and was ready and standing at one of the hottest of the hotspots. I was at the biggest “at the moment” trendy nightclub amongst the glistening lights, and equally glittery starlets in Hollywood.
Just like in the days of Studio 54, I was part of the door crew, the elusive doormen that may or may not let you in based on your appearance or how much you were willing to grease us to guide you to the front of the line. I was more threatening a foe than the over 6′ plus two-hundred fifty pound dudes standing around me. Why? Because I held “the list.” Yes, “the list” that you were either on or you were not. I guarded this list with my life, and I was heavily guarded by the aforementioned muscle.
Standing at just barely 5’ 3”, for years I was always told I cast a slight presence. I used to think this was a flattering reference to my small frame. At some point, though, I realized this compliment wasn’t so flattering, a suggestion that perhaps I was barely noticeable at all. I didn’t set out to be “noticed” per se, but evidently as the years went on, my shyness gave way to unabashed ballsiness.
To be known in Hollywood at all is a feat in itself. Everyone is struggling to be seen, to be noticed, to be discovered, and at the club door, they were struggling to be seen by me. I was known through Hollywood as “The Sergeant” as I would stand at the door quietly, before projecting in my loud booming voice “$20 to join us, $0 to go home!” They were all so threatened by my presence, but wouldn’t they laugh to know that was just my “cheerleader voice”.
Thousands of people would cram into the parking lot at the entrance to da’ club, trying to look their prettiest, trying to be the coolest, trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, and all in vain attempts to get inside. The VIPs were escorted in immediately, because, while they appeared to be special, they were really just people that were stupid enough to pay $800 for a $40 bottle of Vodka. There were the actual celebrities and the ones that played an extra once on Mad Men and thus considered themselves celebrities. There were an actual slew of “regulars”, those that actually formed a bond with you from door-to-door, club to club. There were club promoters, and sub-club promoters, and sub-sub club promoters, all trying to get their people in, or people purportedly on “the list”.
But ballsy as I was, this particular night I was just annoyed. Annoyed at you and your entourage, annoyed that my feet hurt, annoyed that promoters were yelling at me, annoyed at the entire evening! I wished I was home, perhaps curled up on my couch watching Law & Order. I listened to your pleas. I listened to your whining. I took your money and then guided you towards the cashier to pay the mandatory $20 cover charge.
And then she walked up, let’s call her “Amy,” seems appropriate since I didn’t care to know her name then, nor care to now. “Amy” was accompanied by her friends, a few other girls in tacky Forever 21 dresses, carrying knock-off designer handbags, and wearing $200 shoes. They had probably spent their entire day at the local mall shopping for their ensembles, all leading up to this amazing, fantastic unforgettable evening. “Amy” and the gang made it through the velvet rope and they were primed and ready for their grand entrance. She walked up to one of my bodyguards to charm herself into the club. I asked her, as I asked everyone else, whose list she was on? She ignored me. I asked again, “Whose list are you on?” “Amy” looked at me and said “Who the fuck do you think you are?” Who am I?! “I’m the reason you’ll be getting into this establishment tonight or not,” I replied in a polite yet sardonic tone. Perhaps to be expected, “Amy” told me to “fuck off” and continued to flirt with my bodyguard. All the annoyances of the evening caught up to me in a flash and I lost my cool. I cocked my arm back and I clocked this chick square in the jaw. She stumbled back, completely stunned, then lunged at me. Her friends quickly followed into the fray, as my bodyguards swooped in. A group of screaming, kicking, girls in Forever 21 dresses were forcibly escorted off the property. They were yelling obscenities, they were threatening law suits. But one thing was sure: they were not inside the trendy Hollywood hotspot, they were out on the street.
I barely knew what had happened at all. My stature forever changed, I was no longer cutting such a slight presence. From then on my bodyguards referred to me as a thug, fist bumping me with respect. I smiled slyly to myself, for the best part was that nobody was ever on “the list”, not a single name, just blank sheets of paper hidden by a top sheet, my body, and my clipboard. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.
All photography in this issue by Paul Dutra.
Read SPECIAL #1: Kristen Michelle Håvet HERE
ISSUE #2 coming November 15, 2009.