Your smile can turn
Blue skies from gray
Like the bluebird
just sight of you
my heart uplifts!
Augusta Maine, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Enrique, Jordan, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Mr. Velveteen, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Thomas, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
The Gunnarsons, the Browns and the four young men from New York threw on shirts and flip-flops and headed up Pilitas in search of a Tapas bar. The ten crowded together beneath two umbrellas at two tables on an outdoor brick patio where Zach paid for a pitcher of Sangria, another of cerveza and a single Jarritos mandarin soda with two cups for the Bryans to split, all of which Enrique ordered in perfect Spanish.
“So let me get this straight,” Thomas said, distributing the first pitcher of beer into five mugs, “You two are cousins?” he asked Mary, “not twins?”
“Correct,” Mary replied handing each child a small glass of soda and nodding. “Our mothers are identical twins but we just look amazingly alike.”
Beth said, “What do you say, boys?”
“Thank you!” Both Brians declared as they returned to playing together with Mr. Velveteen.
“And you both have sons that you named Bryan? What’s up with that?!” Jordan interjected, placing one mug of beer in front of himself and passing another to Dennis.
“Yes, well sad story,” Mary said with a triple nod. “We had an uncle who served in Vietnam. Went MIA in 1968. Pretty sure he died as a POW but no official word. Uncle Brian was idolized by both our Moms and we independently chose to name our sons after him. Beth went with the traditional spelling but I changed the ‘i’ to a ‘y.’ Seemed like tempting fate to use the same spelling, plus this way both Bryan and Mary are spelled with a y which I thought was a nice touch.”
“It is a nice touch,” Beth said, nodding and poring sangria into four glasses, “and, in more ridiculous coincidental behavior, I thought the same thing when I named Brian Brian with an ‘i’ like Elizabeth.”
“Ha!” Mary barked. “I never think of you as an Elizabeth. You’re always Beth to me!”
“That makes sense. I always went by Beth when we were little, it’s only been since I started college that I stopped insisting people call me Beth. Joseph uses both, don’t you sweetie?”
“Ya. Just as I now go by Joe or Joseph. Before you Americanized me it was always Joseph.”
“But you got pregnant and had your sons at the same time?” Dennis asked with a feigned shudder. “That’s… creepy!”
“A little, but not so very,” Mary said. “I know of lots of siblings whose children are born right around the same time. Don’t you have cousins near your age?”
“Near!” Jordan agreed, elongating the word, “Not exactly my age. Weird.”
“It is weird,” Zach said with a nod, raising his hand at the passing server and circling his finger over the pitchers, “but I think it is much weirder that we wound up at the same hotel at the same time!”
“¿Más lanzadores?” she asked, causing Zach to turn his head toward Enrique.
“Si,” Enrique replied with a nod, “por favor. And you guys haven’t seen each other since like the nineties?” he added, speaking to Beth and Mary.
“Well that isn’t super strange really,” Jordan said, “I mean, it is a big travel time and all, right?”
Enrique bobbled his head in reluctant agreement as Beth said, “Yeah. Saw each other, what? Twice after grandpa died? Almost twenty years now? I mean, we used to write some when we both lived in the States and then we emailed some when I moved to Iceland but things get busy. I’m more likely to hear what Mary’s up to from my mom than I am from her.”
“Ditto,” Mary said with a shrug. “I agree with Zach though. The craziest part is that we wound up here together at the same place at the same time.”
“Yeah, that’s one word for it,” Enrique said, nodding. “I got one thing to say though. One thing to the Zach-meister there. Didn’t somebody say to me how important it is to keep in touch?”
“Hmmm,” Zach acknowledged, nodding his head, “that sounds very familiar. I’ll have to remember it. Oh, hey!” he added. “Wasn’t that the same guy who told you not to kill too many braincells?”
“Just shut up and pass me a sangria. Please.”
Airplane- "Joey? Have you ever been in a Turkish Prison?", Augusta Maine, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Enrique, Jordan, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Thomas, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
Zach dove toward the side of the kidnapper to ensure that the monster’s fall would be away from rather than on top of his son. Flying through the air, arms outstretched he saw Mary running towards Brian, fear and furry in her eyes. Though he plainly saw Mary in front of and to his right he heard her voice scream something unintelligible from behind him. Distracted from his prey the kidnapper deftly moved from his path of flight and Zach landed headfirst in the surf as Enrique, Thomas, Jordan and the fourth New Yorker cut off the kidnapper’s escape route up the beach.
“You move one inch and you will never move again!” Enrique screamed at Joseph. “Bryan! Bryan! Get up! Come here,” he added, crouching low and extending both hands to the bow who sat crying in the surf.
“Stop! Stop!” Mary yelled as she ran next to Enrique shaking her head furiously, Bryan held close in her arms. “That’s not my Bryan! And that man is Brian’s father! His mother’s right there!” she added, pointing at Elizabeth. “This is all a huge misunderstanding!” Beth surged into the surf, plucked her wailing son up from the waves and flashed vengeful eyes at the four men who surrounded her and her family. “Beth! Stop! It’s me! Mary! It’s okay! It’s okay!”
Zach rose from the water, faced up shore, saw two of his wife and two of his son and froze. “Oh, Jesus Christ,” he muttered under his breath. “You’ve got to be kidding me!”
“Mary?” Beth asked, her voice raw but ferocity receding. “What the hell is going on?!”
“I think we are the victims of the most ridiculous set of preposterous coincidences the world has ever seen. Zach? Meet my cousin Beth. Beth, this is Zach and our son Bryan, and you must be Joseph?” she added, shaking her head. “I’ve seen your picture but we haven’t met.”
Joe strode to Beth and wrapped his arms around his wife and child, voiceless sobs causing his chest to visibly sputter. “Brian, Brian, Brian. It’s okay. We’ve got you now. We’ve got you now.”
Enrique turned to his left, threw his hands out palms skyward and asked his friend Thomas, “What in the hell happened here?”
“You told us to run,” Thomas replied, arms folded across his chest, nostrils flaring, “so we ran. Jesus, guys. ‘Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish prison?’”
Joe tilted his head to the side, completely missing Thomas’ Pop-Culture reference. He then turned to Zach and stared at him for three long seconds. “You thought my Bryan was your son?”
“Yes! I’m sorry! They look so much-”
Joseph held his hand next to his face, palm facing Zach. “And you ran after me to save your boy?”
“I see,” Joe said nodding. “I see,” he repeated as he squeezed his family once more before wading into the ocean, hand outstretched. “My name is Joseph Gunnarson. This is my wife Mary and our son Bryan. It is nice to finally meet you,” he said, shaking hands. Pausing he added, “Your reputation precedes you. Bryan?” he asked, squatting low and motioning with both hands for his wife and son to join them. “These three are your cousins. I do not know who these other men are but apparently they too were willing to take great risks to protect an innocent child from harm so it would honor me to make your acquaintances?”
Augusta Maine, “Stop that man! He has my son!”, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Enrique, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
Zach was out of his beach chair and running hard and fast, intent on saving his son, vision narrowed to tunnel focus, in a fugue where distractions and diversions did not exist. He was almost upon Bryan and his son’s captor when he heard the patter of racing bare feet beside him. In a fury his head turned, fists cocked, adrenaline spiked, ready to pummel whoever dared get between him and rescuing his son.
“Zach!” he heard someone scream. “Zach!” the voice repeated, “What is it?!” Enrique demanded.
Zach raced on, his lumbering form challenging the waves ferocity as his feet smashed step after step as he zeroed in on the man who held his child. “Him!” he roared, pointing at Joseph. “Him! He has my son!”
Enrique surged, running point of the three young men who followed in close pursuit. “Stop him! Stop him!” Enrique called over his shoulder, adding, “He’s got Bryan!” before turning his head forward and screaming, “Bryan! Bryan! We’re coming! Your dad’s right here!”
Joseph looked up from his play with his son and saw the stampede of men rushing his way. He heard voices screaming out his son’s name and saw fury in the eyes of the onslaught. “Beth! Beth!” he screamed, “Get help! Run!” turning his back to the approaching attackers as he lowered the arms that held the burden of his son, Joe flipped Brian midair so he would hit the surf feet first and then sprung into the air, spinning 180 degrees to face the human deluge which seemed intent to pour over him. Joseph, his son dazed and defenseless at his feet, stood at an angle, his body turned to present a minimal area for his attackers to strike and raised his left fist just below chin height as he pulled his right fist back, fully prepared to kill or die in order to protect his son from the deranged mob that was swarmed toward them.
Joe heard Beth’s voice scream over and over but his brain held no comprehension of her words. No matter what happened next he would protect his son or die trying. His head swept right to left, taking in the pack of human curs, his eyes reaching the shore and his head twitching as he saw Beth in front of rather than behind him.
Beth, holding Bryan who Joe knew was at his feet. Bryan who cowered in fear, his son having no comprehension of what had caused his father to throw him to the ground and turn from loving and playful Pabbi to a man ready, willing and able to use maximum force in defense of what he held most dear. Distracted by Beth for a split second he found himself ready to fight the men who split and surrounded him and Joe prepared to deliver mayhem even as he wondered how and when his wife had transported their son to safety.
Focused on the fight Joe heard Beth scream what sounded like, “Zach! No! That’s Joseph!” as the largest of the five dove low and tried to take him out at the knees.
I have big shits, you have them too
my hopes and dreams go down the loo.
It’s not so bad, I carry on,
commiserate through screaming song.
Butt thing that burns is hemorrhoids,
vein agony my dreams destroyed.
A certain age, a certain time,
they’ll get you too: Prophetic rhyme.
The stench, the smell, may make you retch
as I destroy pristine toilet,
never again will be the same,
still have great hope merde goes down drain.
You think grotesque this trifling rhyme
till your GI works overtime.
Prayed clench of cheeks still save somehow
but this butt load through me did plow.
Apologize for rhyme crappy
but we’ve all felt sear in nappy.
So while you gag on my foul words
please say a prayer for my innards.
The innards that seem quite intent
to burst from me with force potent.
I’m calling truce, I pray for peace,
pleas, moving bowels can you now cease?
Cease and desist is fervent prayer
for I’m fresh out clean underwear.
Empty vessel must surely be,
simply no way more crap in me.
Butt thing that burns the stench, the smell,
you think grotesque, all know it well.
Though it’s damn bad I carry on
and scream my rage through shitty song.
Exhaustion and pain
are daily refrain
A chorus morose
of wracked body brain
There’s no escaping
the walls of my cell
for they’re composed of
DNA know well
No well, not Christmas,
no babe in manger,
with no sign of cure
Not sure if it’s pain
causing lack of sleep
or if it’s fatigue
that makes pain’s stabs deep
Cycle that’s vicious
a cycle sans end,
when’s Second Coming?
Need flesh born again
like tying a shoe
start by bend over
like I used to do
Ben Dover’s laughing,
man’s callous and cruel,
bend’s been replaced by
a bent body, fool
Grimace as spasm
steals more than pommes frites
my life’s just endured
fear I’m the pony
with pain as my spur
Spurs me to whinny
and spurs me to flinch
pain falls and rises
but’s ever present
Just no escaping
the walls of my cell
for they’re composed of
DNA know well
Morning and evening,
this pain must endure
Augusta Maine, “Stop that man! He has my son!”, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
Beth, Bryan and Joe strolled north-westward on Pilitas to the beach where they scanned the columns and rows of beach chairs and umbrellas that dominated the regions of beach farthest from the lapping waves. “Busy, huh?” Joe commented. “It looks as though it was a good idea to come today rather than wait for the weekend, yah?”
“That or we need to get here earlier if we want our choice of where to sit,” Beth replied. “This is like a sea of umbrellas, isn’t it?”
“‘A sea of umbrellas.’ I like that. Very poetic. But I’m not sure what image the words would create if I didn’t have this expanse of oiled bodies beneath the sun to burn a picture in my mind. Perhaps a flotilla of umbrellas being used as pleasure boats?”
“That’s a fun image. Sailboats. With the sails attached to the handles bobbing blissfully along.”
“Blissful bobbing sounds nice but how would we steer? Where are the rudders?”
“Too deep, sweetie. Don’t go so far below the water line. It’s just a picture.”
“Ha! You just said, ‘Don’t go so deep,’ and the subject is sailboats. You’re a genius even when you don’t try. Hey, Brian? Do you know how wonderful your mother is?”
“Uh-huh. Brian knows. Love you, Mama.”
“Well that’s settled,” Joe said with a laugh. “Unanimous.”
“And I love you, sweeties,” she replied, kissing her fingertips and throwing kisses. “Beach chairs or just spread a towel out down closer to the ocean?”
“Sun’s rays are pretty strong right now so we should probably get an umbrella. Shall we reconnoiter first and then we can figure out the best place to land?”
“Good plan,” Beth said with a nod. “Brian? Let’s take off our jerseys so we can get in the ocean,” she added as she laid her bag on the ground and pulled her shirt off.
“Yah. Let’s get wet,” Joe replied, pulling first Brian’s shirt off then his own. “Brian? Want to fly in the sky?”
“Pabbi make me fly?”
“Say the word and you’re a bird!”
“Brian Fly! Fly, Pabbi! Fly!”
Joseph scooped up his son, lifted him high overhead and placed the palms of his hands beneath Brian’s hips as the boy arched his back, outstretched his arms plane like and commanded, “Run, Pabbi! Brian fly!” as he squealed in delight which in turn made both of his parents laugh in appreciation of his joy
“To the ocean, my sweet! It’s time to get wet!” Joe hollered unreservedly as he ran into the ocean kicking sand, making waves and catching the attention of the languid loungers that soaked up the sun’s rays.
Zach opened a single bleary eye and looked up from his state of semiconscious. Peering uncomprehendingly toward the squeals and shouts that wafted up from the surf what he saw made him smile and nod once before his eyes shot open in a terrorizing moment of déjà vu. The man from the hotel again had Bryan in his arms and was running with him away from Mary.
“Stop!” Zach shouted at the top of his lungs as he struggled to his feet. “Stop that man! He has my son!” he added as he sprinted pall mall through the sand and towards the surf.
Farther and further it’s all uphill climb, body’s wracked with pain zero peace of mind Going on fortnight latest episode, face set in grimace refuse to explode Throwing a tantrum would lead to nowhere, twenty-four-seven palliative care Don’t tell me others have got it far worse, not competition to see who feels worst If world’s my oyster then shell I can’t shuck, no pearl of wisdom nor sweet meat to pluck Only a longing to stand without pain, return joie de vivre, feel human again
Some men have sunshine on a cloudy day, my color palette’s turned darkest of grays Blue skies you’re seeing for me fade to black, ponderous power of sick, crippled back Snaking sick sine wave where pain ebbs and flows, sometimes just niggling but mostly harrows Gnaws at my being and won’t let me be, fear never again will I be pain free Our days are numbered though quotient know not, long to live fully but that’s not my lot Past perfect future, past progressive pain, long to progress to time beyond pain’s rein
Augusta Maine, Brian Gunnarson, Bryan Brown, Elizabeth Gunnarson, Joseph Gunnarson, Mary Brown, Phoenix Arizona, Playa Los Muertos, Puerto Vallarta, Reykjavik Ice Land, Wellington New Zealand, Zach Brown
Zach was the only Brown who was not awash in melted ice-cream. “See?” he asked Mary, “If you’d been smart like me you would have gotten a cup rather than a cone.”
“‘Smart,’ eh? Pretty sure the word you’re looking for is glutenous. Three scoops! Three!?”
“I blame you, my love. You put the idea of rum raisin in my head and then you ordered key lime and when Bryan got chocolate fudge I just had to follow suit.”
“I’m pretty sure we would have let you have some of ours if you’d asked.”
“What!? And be one of those fathers who takes food out of the mouths of his wife and child? Blasphemous. No, no, it’s fine. You eat your drippy dribbles and lick your sticky wrists and I’ll sip my sloppy soup. Fortunately I planned ahead and ate quickly.”
“Which is why you got an ice-cream headache.”
“The wages of sin. It’s a sad story but somehow I’ll carry on. What you say, Bry? Good ice-cream or what?”
“Uh-huh,” Bryan answered, licking his fingers.
“I think all you’re left with is the cone, my love,” Mary said, shaking her head at the amount of chocolate drizzle that covered her son. “We really need to clean you up,” she added.
“Why don’t you just hop in the ocean? Easy-peasy.”
“We should have taken his shirt off before he ate the ice-cream,” she declared with a sigh. “It’s just covered.”
“Take him in with it on. Either way it’ll have to be washed but at least for now we can get the gloppy off.”
“The voice of reason. Bryan? When did Papa become the voice of reason?”
“I sticky,” Bryan said, looking at his hands.
“We know love,” Mary replied. “We’ll go get cleaned up.”
“Me the voice of reason? God forbid!” Zach said with a laugh. “If I’m the voice of reason then that handbasket to hell is an express flight. You want me to help you slip out of your wrap?”
Mary turned her head to the side and looked at her husband from the corners of her eyes.
“Ha!” Zach barked. “That too, but I meant for you to get in the ocean. You’re a big kotiro and you managed not to get any Key Lime on your red wrap.”
“Aren’t you coming with?”
“No. Think I’ll sit tight. Wouldn’t hurt my feelings if you took the long way home. Let me catch a couple winks?”
“We can probably do that. Okay, you may undress me with more than just your eyes but the bikini stays on.”
“Spoil sport,” Zach said with a grin as he lifted Mary’s wrap from the bottom up and then licked her cheek. “There was a spot of Key Lime there,” he said with a wink.
"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may...", "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star", Carl Sagan, Earth's Axial Tilt- 23.5 degrees, Jane Taylor, Julia Ward Howe- "The Battle Hymn of the Republic", M. Boulin, Robert Herrick- "To the Virgins to Make Much of Time", Summer, Winter Solstice, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Seems adulting leads to adultery
as over years turn backs on hopes and dreams
and endless flow of water beneath bridge
adulterates wine once sweet and heady
Pet names, sobriquets that made us giddy
no longer uttered in these sober times
continue through gray and dull existence
where fear sad reason’s replaced cherished rhyme
Beneath sweet moonbeams cavort sunflowers,
their light fancies tickled by Zephyrus
Sun worshipers, narcissistic sunflowers,
until seeds are reaped and compost become
Billions of pinpricks from Sagan’s starlight
eons long dead far stars whose light lives on
Jane Taylor’s, Boüin’s ou Mozart’s Twinkle
we’ve no way to staunch blood flow from them all
Darkness, never ending solstice midnight,
light one-hundred-eighty degrees away
Number axial tilt same youth’s flower
God’s sense of humor’s forever triste
With Republic’s Battle Hymn of Glory
we slaves scream, “Carpe diem! Seize the day!”
Herrick’s admonition rosebuds gather
are just petals pressed in book shelved away