Deborah Garcia

 Dear Mother of Jihadist,

I see you as a mournful mother, standing breathlessly over the brightly woven rug in the greyness of your two-room hut, looking at the empty spaces where your sons used to play, where they knelt five times daily for the salat, where the aromatics of coriander and cardamom swirled around the biryani grains pocking their cheeks and fingers.

When you were a young mother, leaning breathlessly towards your son’s swaddled body, crying for nourishment, reaching his fist towards the sky, you brought him into your warm breast where the milk is supposed to flow. And staring into the mirror of your adoration was the child that should have loved himself as much as you, but all of it has gone up in smoke.

But what this mother wants to whisper into your ear, is that you are worth more than empty spaces.

Can I attempt to translate light into words, as Hafiz had. To make the luminous resonance of the god in my husband, David, tangible to our infinite senses? We are shrinking towards the same horizon.

I want to speak gently to you mother, that you had given to him all that he needed to survive and to live out the dreams that you put aside to bring him into this world. And I want you to know that you gave him life, but he owned it.

I cannot yet reach into the depths of my soul to wet my hands in the forgiveness of the acts planned and committed by your son, that targeted my home and resulted in cascading interruption of my life and the sudden immolation of my husband, David, a man he had never met. This heinous, incomprehensible act has forever bound us in the timeless world of none.

I do not hold you responsible for the poverty that fed his appetite for fundamentalist power in brotherhood. I am sure that the love for your sons, as I have for mine, was as vast as all the stars in the universe, and that even though they have fallen from grace, you still hold a love for them in your mother’s heart.

Every day, I chat with death. For those of us who have experienced it, it’s something that we have to visit for the rest of our lives. 9/11 has made my son’s childhoods, their development into adults, tied to their father’s death, to your son’s death, to the empty spaces in our homes. It has swathed us to each other.

But in order for us to go on, into our own futures, we must leave the past and its wounded dreams.

Every line of David’s that I have wept over increased my desire to impart his remarkable qualities: an audacious encouragement, his outrageous onslaught of life, a transforming knowledge and generosity, his sweet-playful exuberant genius that is unparalleled in relationships and movie scripts. There is a mystical dimension in his spirit, in his letters and writings that reveals, comforts, and bestows “The Gift of David.” There is consonant language that resonates from his string soul, the voice of one startled by god. His words are a music that comforts, amuses, enlightens my soul.

Delight is edged with Sorrow. It’s all about making peace with the darkness and when you do that…You can let that live inside with a fresh bowl of hot onion soup. You can enjoy life and you can feel everything, and you can be okay. That is the underpinning, and what is necessary to live a good life.

May Peace find you in the glow that illuminates the edge of your horizon.

       Deborah Garcia, 2020


                             Miche Braden

When asked what is my favorite part of my body, my answer has never been what people think. My large voluminous breasts? The way my legs look in stilettos? My hands gliding over the piano keys? My answer is always: My Skin. All of it.

When I was in my 20’s my boyfriend told me my skin felt like sandpaper. That embarrassed me to no end. To think someone touching me would be so repulsed by my body’s casing. Like I was just one away of being a porcupine or something. I began looking for ways to make my skin more appealing. Baby Oil alone was too greasy. Most lotions weren’t emollient enough. I wound up using Nivea skin oil. That wonderful creamy substance just melted into my skin, making it feel & look like chocolate silk. But I couldn’t always find or afford it.

When I became macrobiotic after working with Dr. Jewel Pookrum, she had ways of using what would normally be food stuff. Also healing the skin from the inside. I began mixing oils, Olive & Sesame oils, liquid lanolin, glycerin with touches of fragrant essential oils. I felt like a conjurer. I felt so good, but that lifestyle was hard to afford.

Right now I’m using Gold Bond’s Ultimate Healing & Radiant Renewal lotions Yet I have issues as my senior skin takes it’s own time as well as allowing pitfalls. I moved to an area that is fraught with mosquitos & other biting insects & my skin began to look like a minefield. I hate anything that is raised on my skin. Bumps, scabs, scratches, scars & I do the unthinkable. Since I am the one that feels my skin, if something is there I try my damnedest to remove it when all it does is makes it worse. I have yet to allow myself to leave it alone to let it heal. Like my relationships, my life challenges, my thoughts even.

Although most of my skin is alright, I miss my full flow of chocolate silk. Feeling like I’m running my hands thru a fragrant creamy pallet, showing the world how smooth my life is by the texture of my skin.  



 "To get writing done, one must say no to things

        no reasonable person could ever turn down."    

                               -Michael Cunningham

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                       Sharing the same sky,

                                             Dorothy aka Notorious DRG

     Deborah Silverman

The tone was set with absence and disregard
No one there, no one came
Building anxiety, tightness and rage
No good reflection

Gifts shown, but gave no relief, no recognition
Love came, but gave no relief, made no difference
Children came
Building anxiety, tightness and rage
One difficult and bad
Building anxiety, tightness and rage
One compliant and good
But there was no relief

Children moved out, but not on
But there was no relief
Grandchildren came and rage abated
Anxiety and tightness remained

Caring love changed to needing care
Anxiety and tightness remained, rage returned
Despair, looking inept, netted death attempt
Love’s care changed to smoldered end
Odd relief peeked out, anxiety changed

Absence and disregard needed care
Baby care for an old lady baby
No gifts seen, no love felt
Good reflection came from paid strangers
But insufficient; netted another death attempt

Anxiety grew, away from seeing eyes
Tightness and rage blunted
The tone was set with absence and disregard
From the beginning to the end

DES 9/20

Dorothy Randall  Gray


Ode to My Sleep

Cynthia Liepmann

How long had it been?
Years? Decades?
How long had I been fighting 
for my life all night?

How many clues
did You give me?
Tiredness, even after a night’s sleep;
Spaciness, not being able to remember 
what happened yesterday;
Grouchiness, irritability;
everpresent muscle Pain;
that business with life-threatening Fibrillation;
and then, the early morning Headaches?

That’s when I had to pull out
my detective hat and magnifier,
my understanding of body chemistry
and the science of You.
That’s when I started to wonder if…
could it be?
am I just not Breathing 

Now, dear Sleep—
dear restorer,
dear recharger,
dear dream deliverer,
dear skin softener,
dear wave maker,
dear muscle soother,
dear memory clearer—
with the help of my new
bedside Breathing companion
we are reunited!

                Deb Staunton
I am the daughter who surrendered her childhood to her father's anguished tears, whose wisdom arrived on a derailed train, draped in a liquor-drenched coat, dragging a suitcase of delusions wrapped in cellophane. Lessons learned through the looking-glass of convoluted conversations, I am the daughter who took the lead, guided my parents through thorny thickets, stoic and stable, a repository of reason. I wore my father's demons like wet wool on my young shoulders.                   


               Deb Staunton
 From the Bronx to suburbia,

fire escapes and five floor walk-ups
to lawn mowers and block parties.

The Burtons, Cardones, and Zimmermans.
Fireflies and backyard barbecues,
bicycles and little league.
Haggard husbands working late,
winter blackouts, mothers march
door to door, gather each other,
crowd into a single home,
fireplace ablaze, thermoses filled
with steaming coffee,
children in sleeping bags,
hair aglow with the crackling flames.
A decade later, teenage angst,
bullies and bras and Tiger Beat magazine.
Walks to Woolworths
for pantyhose and lip gloss,
lingering at school
for a glimpse my crush.
Awkward and innocent,
lagging, late bloomer,
wisdom wagered ,
melodies of mental illness
waft through my home.


            Hubris to the End
                           Deborah Silverman

“Wow, you’re beautiful,” he said. She smiled sweetly and didn’t say anything. “Come over here,” he said and she complied.

“We’re starting the meeting now,” his aide called to him. He looked briefly confused, glancing back and forth between his aide and the beautiful woman. She quietly slipped him her card and disappeared.

That night when he called, she answered promptly. He didn’t even say her name. He just said, “It’s me. Meet me at the Watergate Hotel in an hour. Go to room 45. No one will stop you.” She said, “OK.”

When she knocked on the door he opened it quickly and was in boxer shorts and his socks. He laid on the bed, his protuberant stomach looking at the ceiling. She sidled over to him and started to remove her shirt, then her skirt. Her shoes sat peacefully by the door, awaiting her departure.

She reached down to remove his boxers and when he closed his eyes, letting out a gasp between lust and pain, she continued to stab him until the nasty glint of his eyes and the voluminous words of hate were forever stilled.


       Ode to Dorothy
             Deborah Silverman
Smooth, belying age
Where there could be crags, the visage is smooth

Experience shines, lines have not formed
Do life’s misfortunes have to appear on the face?
Do the miscarriages of justice have to cause a furrowed brow?
Does pain bear in to make a crevice here, a divot there?
Smooth, burnished brown skin,

Reflecting the peace within,
Celebrating the landscape to create and the
Panorama to generate
Generosity wipes creases gently away
Pinched places don’t hide because they never form
If I give away my gifts, my countenance does shine
Burnished brown skin
Smooth, belying age

DES 10/6/20                            

                      Dear Daughter            

                         Kathe Kokolias

Thinking about forgiveness and apologies, I thought that I would write a letter to my parents forgiving them for kicking me out of the house when I told them I was pregnant. 

But then I realized that what I really wanted was a letter of apology from them. Although long after the fact, after I had that baby and a second, and they had welcomed me back home and were loving to my kids, what they never did was apologize to me.

And that really bugs me.

Dear Daughter,

This letter is long overdue. Your dad and I have been dead for 40 years (44 years for me, and 40 for him this November) and we both wish that before we passed, we had made the attempt to heal any leftover bad feelings among us - you, me and your dad..

Now here on the other side - I wouldn’t exactly call it heaven - we have had plenty of time to review our lives together and individually, and how we treated you continues to be a subject of discussion.

I have chosen to speak for both of us, for your dad and me, since I never spoke up enough during our marriage, That is something I continue to regret, and will regret til the end of time. I realize that’s what probably got me in the end: the unspoken resentment festered inside, ate away at me, until it consumed me totally. But that’s another subject altogether and nothing to do with you.

I confess that I always cared too much about what other people thought: from the neighbors on our street to the people at church. Even when I was tired and just wanted to sit down, I’d drag myself outside to sweep the sidewalk and the gutters, and clean the front door windows.

Every Sunday I dressed with care to avoid potential stares from the old ladies sitting in judgment in the pews, and would make a snide comment -  not to me, but to my mother, who then would angrily relay the message. 

Kathe, what we did to you was unforgivable. Our rejection of you and your unborn child left you no choice but to marry someone that you didn’t belong with. Your dad and I figured that if we didn’t consent to your marriage, that you’d have the baby, put it up for adoption, come home and resume your life. Be a college girl, become a teacher.

What we didn’t figure on was that you would find the Children’s Home Society and be told that Florida law states that because you were pregnant and over the age of 17, you didn’t need your parents permission to get married.

We should have known that there was no way you could put your baby up for adoption. That was what we wanted, not what you wanted.

And what we didn’t foresee was that by rejecting you and the baby, that it would carry over for years to come. That you would always deal with feelings of rejection, and so would your daughter for most of her adult life.

We did a terrible injustice to you both, and I hope that you will be able to forgive us, not just try to forget what we did to you but genuinely forgive us.

Then maybe we can spend eternity in peace.