Edgar Heard the Bells, All Right

xmas bells

by Erin Abernethy,
with apologies to Mr. Longfellow and Mr. Poe

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play.

YA’LL HUSH FOR TWO MINUTES AND PLAY NICE!
AND QUIT MAKIN’ THE DOG PEE ON THE CHRISTMAS TREE!

Hear the loud alarum bells–
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now their turbulency tells!

MAMA! MAMA! MAMA! HE TOOK MY FIRE TRUCK!
YOU PUT THAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!

And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

WAH! WAH! WAAAHH! WAAAAHHHHH! WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHH!
HUSH, OR I’LL GIVE YOU SOMETHIN’ TO CRY ABOUT!

In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!

DADDY, SHE HIT ME! MAKE HER QUIT!

I thought how as the day had come
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll’d along th’ unbroken song
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.

SOMEBODY TAKE THE DAMN BATTERY OUT OF THE SMOKE DETECTOR!
IT GOES OFF EVERY TIME I OPEN THE OVEN DOOR!

Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire

MAMA, THE CENTERPIECE IS BURNIN’!
SISSY KNOCKED THE CANDLE OVER!

And in despair, I bow’d my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,

YA’LL BETTER SETTLE DOWN RIGHT NOW OR AIN’T NONE OF YA GOIN’ TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE WITH ME AN’ MAMMAW!

Oh, the bells, the bells, the bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!

IF YOU DON’T GET TO GO TO THE CANDLELIGHT SERVICE, SANTY CLAUS WON’T COME AN’ BABY JESUS WON’T LOVE YOU AND YOU’LL GO TO HELL!

“For hate is strong and mocks the song,
Of Peace on earth, good will to men.”

MAMA SAYS YOU’RE GOIN’ TO HELL, SO THERE!
OPEN THE KITCHEN WINDOW AND CLEAR SOME OF THIS SMOKE OUT!

How they clang, and crash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour

GRAMPAW SMELLS FUNNY, AND HE AIN’T SNORIN’. IS HE DEAD?

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep;
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

WHAT’S A SEIZURE? CAN I HAVE ONE TOO?

And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a Runic sort of rhyme

I AIN’T TAKIN’ NONE OF YA’LL ANYWHERE WITH ME EVER AGAIN–
NOWHERE, NO WAY, NO HOW!

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace on earth, good will to men.”

NOW HUSH AND SAY THE BLESSING!
HURRY UP BEFORE IT GETS COLD!

Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
To the tolling of the bells
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

AMEN. YA’LL DIG IN.

© Copyright 2004 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015.

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The Narcissistic Parent’s 10-Point Guide for a Happy Thanksgiving

YLF_053

by Patrick Redding

[Author’s note: I trust our readers to be intelligent enough to know that this is satire and intended to be humorous. Although it’s not my intention to offend, it could happen. Sorry about that.]

1. Invite all the relatives you can possibly think of, no matter how long it’s been since you saw them. If you haven’t seen them since a funeral, be sure to mention that. Forget love and money; guilt’s what really makes the world go ’round!

2. Invite some other people too – church acquaintances, people you see occasionally at work, your mail carrier – whoever you can drag to the table. Thanksgiving is about sharing. If certain family members don’t seem keen on traditional clan gatherings anyway, having strangers there is sure to put everyone at ease!

3. When people offer to help cook, twist it around and ask them why they don’t like your cooking. If they offer to bring some fancy-pants special dish like cranberry-nut-almond-brussel-sprout stuffing, graciously accept their offer but again, make sure they know that you know they don’t like your cooking. Don’t worry if you sound offended. They’re family; they should understand!

4. If you know that certain individuals in your family have special dietary needs, such as diabetics or vegans, be sure to go out of your way to let them know how special you think they are. Take pains to assure them that you’re making dishes just for them; ask them for recipes if you have no idea what they can and can’t eat. If they feel self-conscious or think you’re being a condescending bitch, that’s really not your problem, is it?

5. Alcohol or no alcohol? It really doesn’t matter; the alcoholics are going to drink in their cars on the way over anyway. If you don’t drink, you can self-righteously criticize everyone who can’t get through a nice family meal without self-medicating. If you load up yourself, though, you have license to say and do pretty much whatever you want and not worry about apologizing later – not that you’d do that anyway, because you’re always right.

6. Before you eat, make everyone hold hands and say grace. You certainly don’t need to kowtow to the sensitivities of a couple of atheists or pagans in your family. After all, they embarrass you every year by not showing up for your church’s Easter programs or Christmas cantata. What would Jesus do? Jesus was a hippie! Don’t listen to that long-haired peace-and-love crackpot.

7. If you skip grace, you can still make people wish they were somewhere else by making everyone around the table take turns telling what they’re thankful for. You may want to skip this part if you have any children who have recently married someone you don’t like, as they’re likely to gush about how thankful they are for their loving spouse, and no one wants to hear that crap at the dinner table.

8. Even though other people’s lives aren’t nearly as interesting and fulfilling as your own, make certain you include everyone in dinner conversation, even if you don’t know much about what’s been going on with them. Surefire topics to start a spirited conversation might include the recent elections, your son’s “friend” and how much he reminds you of that Boy George fellow, your youngest daughter’s weight gain, your oldest daughter’s failure to produce grandchildren. After all, just because you’ve opened a can of cranberry sauce doesn’t mean you can’t open up a can of worms too!

9. After dinner, insist upon making up take-home plates of leftovers for each and every guest, especially the ones who didn’t seem to eat much. There are starving children in Ethiopia who’d be grateful for a good plate of food, and you shouldn’t be shy about pointing this out to the uncooperative little brats who are trying to slip out the door before you’re done with them!

10. Once everything’s done and your guests have managed to escape, take a moment for yourself to reflect on what a good person you are to provide such a loving family home for such undeserving little buggers. Take out pen and paper and dash off letters to let them know how disappointed you are that they seemed upset with you for no good reason. Don’t forget to mention how they embarrassed you in front of everyone by not helping out with dinner or laughing at your jokes. Make sure they know that attendance at Christmas is mandatory and you expect them to be on their best behavior!

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100% Pure Genuine Government B.S.!

govegan

by Erin Abernethy

[Editor’s note: Back in the early years of the 21st century, when George W. Bush was occupying the White House, Erin Abernethy kept a blog called Brimstone Bites,” which consisted of equal parts political snark, overheard conversations, and general silliness. The blog was put on hold when she enrolled in her Advanced Statistical Analysis class, and it was taken down when a hacker turned it into some sort of bizarre real estate phishing scheme. However, some of her original posts were recovered, and we thought you’d enjoy seeing a few of them from time to time. Here’s a series that dates back to the days of the spinach contamination scare of September, 2006. – R.C.]

Need to Bury a Body Fast? Well, Too Bad.

cemeterysign

And you know how long it takes to get a committee to agree on anything….


Bite This.

flea (‘flE) n. a small wingless bloodsucking insect

The government and most civil service agencies love acronyms. We’ve got the FBI, the CIA, the DEA, the DHS, the NSA, and you’ll need your ID and SSN or at least a PIN pretty much anywhere you go.

Considering all that, I find it interesting to note that in press releases and news stories, no one ever uses an acronym to abbreviate one of the lengthiest and most common phrases we hear today:
Federal Law Enforcement Agencies.

Hmm.


Exercise Leads to Weight Gain. Don’t Let Those Infomercials Fool You.

Overheard between a sporting goods associate and a very hefty guy shopping @ a local Wal-Mart:

Assoc.: So can I interest you in one of these exercise bikes today?

Hefty: Nope, I just need some fishing line.

Assoc.: Didn’t your wife say the doctor told you to lose some weight?

Hefty: Yep, that’s what she said.

Assoc.: You oughta get yourself one of them weight machines, start workin’ out.

Hefty: Nope, don’t think so.

Assoc.: Well, you ain’t gonna lose no weight fishin’, I can tell you that right now.

Hefty: No, but I can’t start workin’ out, because muscle weighs more than fat, see? I start workin’ out, next thing you know, I’m gainin’ weight. I can’t be buffin’ up an’ puttin’ on muscle if I’m supposed to lose weight. They don’t tell you that on them infomercials, that muscle weighs more than fat. They don’t want you to know that. They’re tryin’ to sell machines, see. How many you reckon they’d sell if they told everybody muscle weighs more than fat?


Drug Companies Are Evil.

Oh, you want proof? Fine.

666coldmed

Now you know. But hey, don’t let that ruin your buzz.


Enough.

“A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.”

~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“The great error of nearly all studies of war… has been to consider war as an episode in foreign policies, when it is an act of interior politics…”

~Simone Weil


100% Pure Genuine Plastic!

shower

Does the word “luxurious” really belong in a description of a shower curtain?

For that matter, should the words “luxurious” and “vinyl” ever be allowed next to each other?


Bad Spinach: Christian Cow-Eating Government Plot?

I almost hesitated to post this one because I was sure no one would believe what I overheard some big bubba-boy in coveralls saying this morning in a local grocery store:

“You know, that spinach thing, it’s a government deal. Y’all remember how they used AIDS to try and get rid of the homos? See, they’re usin’ this e-co-lie spinach to get the vegetarians. Them vegans, you know, they’re the ones always causin’ trouble, wantin’ to save the owls and keep the ten commandments out of schools and all that kinda stuff. That’s why the government ain’t gettin’ in no hurry to figger out this spinach thing. They’re hopin’ the vegans’ll starve to death and then we can get on with business.”


© Copyright 2006 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2015.


Header photo by oFace Killah. Licensed CC BY 2.0.

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She Visits Her Beastmother’s Uncle

VAHospital

by F.X. MacKenzie

He talks endlessly about “The War”–
there was only one, you know–
the one he fought in;
all the others were just spats and squabbles.

He refers to his time “Overseas”
as though it were all one country
from the tip of France to the top of Siberia:
everything outside the continental U.S. being “Them”
(godless communists and terrorists)
against “Us”
(God’s Christian soldiers, defenders of democracy).

He calls his oncologist “that colored-girl nurse”
Language that would elicit a ten-minute hellfire rant
or a swift kick in the shins
from his spitfire of a niece
if it came from the mouth of anyone else
but she tolerates him, this venomous ancestor;
she has a blind-spot fetish for old men.

“What color is she, your doctor?” she needles him,
hoping against all evidence to the contrary
that 87 is not too old to learn…
but he grunts and spits into a plastic cup
and beckons her closer to confide his suspicion
that the hospital is run by Jews.
Before she leaves, he will ask her to fetch his wallet
so he can bequeath her a dollar and a warning
about the New World Order.

 

© Copyright 2006 by F.X. MacKenzie. Republished 2013, 2015.


Header photo via Morguefile.

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Alzheimer’s Suite

old couple

Photo via Morguefile.

 

[Editor’s note: “Alzheimer’s Suite” is a work-in-progress by Rowan McConnell; today, we have three shorter pieces from the whole. Not all are specifically about Alzheimer’s Disease; this is a temporary working title for the upcoming collection of poetry about aging. – R.C.]


 

by Rowan McConnell

Tabloid Overload

On the phone
with her cronies,
she argues,
gets confused,
can’t recall
which pop star
got religion
and which one
got divorced.
God and Gay
are so close,
you see.


 

Where’s Wanda?

Where’s Wanda?
We’ve lost her again.
She shouldn’t be hard to find.
She’s not exactly camouflaged
in her pink-striped blouse
and her lime-green capris.
Was she wearing her glasses?
No one knows,
but her straw hat is missing.
Oh look! There she is,
talking to a sunflower
while hummingbirds hover,
drawn by her brightness.
Birds of a feather.


 

Stocking Up

I’ll put these canned peaches up here –
you never know when you might want some.
They aren’t in season long, you know.

I’m saving these blackberries too,
in the freezer. A blackberry pie
will taste good to you when you’ve got a cold
later this winter.

One summer we had so many tomatoes
I couldn’t keep up
Couldn’t stew and can them fast enough
and we had fried tomatoes,
tomato sandwiches,
tomato soup,
tomato salad,
tomato pudding, until your brother
broke out in hives.

Those pickled beets? I put those up
when your dad was overseas,
fighting in Vietnam –
getting high and knocking up Asian girls.

Strawberry preserves never go bad,
unlike family.


 

© Copyright 2015 by Rowan McConnell.

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After Delilah

temple

Artwork via Pixabay.

by Sam Justice

Before Delilah, I slept nights. I dreamed regularly, sometimes lucidly, of things like kings’ thrones or starry nights or valleys of sweet-smelling flowers. Sometimes I dreamed of women: raven-haired temptresses, flaxen-haired maidens, ginger wenches. You know what I mean. But that was before.

After Delilah, I slept fitfully – couldn’t put two winks together, much less forty. My body still woke every hour or two, conditioned to her smoke breaks that went on all night, every night. At work the next day, I started nodding off during meetings. I became irritable, couldn’t think, spilled my coffee, occasionally hallucinated – all your classic signs of sleep deprivation.

Love isn’t blind.
It’s just astigmatic.

If I slept long enough to dream, I dreamt of murders or variations on my own death: driving off a cliff, being hit by a train, shot, speared, gored by a rhinoceros, trampled by horses. They were the sort of nightmares you get when you’re a cop or a soldier. I was a computer technician.

Before Delilah, I ate regular meals, mostly simple fare such as salads and bread, or soups and sandwiches. Sometimes, when I had the time and energy, I even cooked – nothing fancy, just basic things like lasagna or marinated chicken. I sometimes had a friend or two over to enjoy dinner with me. If there were leftovers, I frugally sealed them up in freezer bags and saved them for another week.

After Delilah, I never knew when to eat. My body – jittery and hypervigilant – still seemed to think that she might enter the room at any time, shouting about perceived injustices, or demanding to be driven across town to pick up her medicine or more cigarettes or the sugary drinks which were the most benign of her addictions.

The irregularity meant that I might go all day without eating, only to find myself shaky and nauseated and craving doughnuts at three o’clock in the morning, and if I very sensibly gave my body a bowl of Raisin Bran instead, the soggy cereal would come back up with a vengeance. My system could no longer tolerate vegetables or fruits. Embarrassment about my digestive difficulties kept me from sharing dinner with friends. I learned to live on packaged peanut butter crackers and plain bread, with an occasional single-serving macaroni-and-cheese dinner microwaved in a plastic container. There were never leftovers.

Before Delilah, I was fit and reasonably healthy. I won’t bore you with a recitation of my exercise regimen. It wasn’t anything as strict as that anyway, but suffice to say that I walked a few miles each day, lifted weights, and hiked in the mountains on weekends. I could run up and down the steps to my apartment without breathing hard.

Once, I was standing in the doorway at work, and I pushed hard enough that the plaster cracked around the doorjamb. I didn’t mean to. It just happened. It was probably caused by substandard building materials, or shoddy contractors. Still, everyone had a good laugh about it.

After Delilah, of course, I had to move out of my apartment and into one across town where it wasn’t really safe to walk in the evenings. I was so depressed that I stayed in my office with the door closed most of the time at work, and didn’t roam around the building to visit with my coworkers like I used to. The lack of exercise made me paunchy around the middle, despite having practically nothing I was able to eat. Between this and the constant snapping at people from lack of sleep, I didn’t have much to laugh about. If my coworkers were laughing, it was behind my back. Probably at the coffee stains on my pants.

There was a woman, Evie, who worked down the hall from me, before Delilah, and we used to talk pretty often, even flirt sometimes. Evie and I got along great, and I thought she was hot, but I wouldn’t ask her out because it’s awkward, you know, when you go out with someone you work with. Delilah came to work there too, after we were already seeing each other. After Delilah, I had solid proof that dating someone you work with is a bad, bad, bad idea. It doesn’t matter whether you were working together first or going out first. It doesn’t matter if the person you’re going out with never comes to work because she calls in sick all the time. It’s a bad idea. After Delilah, I had to replace all four of the slashed tires on my car. More than once.

Which brings up another thing. Before Delilah, I had money. Not a fortune, but enough. I was paying off debts, a little at a time, and my needs were few. Delilah’s needs, however, were many – and expensive. After Delilah, I learned to lock up my cash, credit cards, and anything to do with my banking information. I could have gone through six years of college or had heart surgery for the amount of debt she racked up on my credit cards.

Once, she suggested she could get a second job to help out (which was funny, since she wasn’t showing up for the job she already had), and she took it into her head that she could go to work with her friend who owned a hair salon. She’d never cut anyone’s hair before, but I foolishly agreed to let her have a go at mine, for practice. How hard could it be?

After Delilah, I never went anyplace to get my hair cut again. I was too afraid. She’d been doing all right, when she cut my hair that time, despite being hopped up on whatever she’d taken earlier that evening, but she’d missed a longish lock of it and when I pointed it out, she began screaming and stabbed me in the ear with the scissors. I’d never imagined there could be so much blood in an ear. Whenever I passed a hair salon, after Delilah, I couldn’t help wondering whether the plastic drapes were there to keep off hair or blood. Now I just shave my head every week.

I don’t want you to think that I’m the sort of person who blames every bit of trouble in their life on an ex. I’m really not, or at least I wasn’t (before Delilah), and I take full responsibility for the rather large baggie of pills found in the pocket of my car door. That is entirely my fault. I didn’t buy them or put them there, but I refused to let Delilah drive my car the day we broke up. She was quite insistent about borrowing my car to get her things from the apartment, but as I mentioned, lack of sleep makes me very cranky, and I was already late for work. It seemed better, at the time, to simply say no and assure her I’d drop her things off at her mom’s house.

So even though I didn’t know they were there, the drugs in the car were my own fault. I knew her well enough by then that I should have thought to search the car thoroughly. The police didn’t know her as well as I did, and they certainly knew to search the car. It’s a catch-22, I suppose, when your tires get slashed and you need a report to turn in to your insurance, so you have to call the police to report the vandalism and they somehow just know to peek into that little pocket on the driver’s door, which is right there in plain sight.

Love isn’t blind, just astigmatic. And when things are fuzzy or unclear, I’ve always tried to be nonjudgmental – give the benefit of the doubt when I can.

Until after Delilah.

© Copyright 2015 by Sam Justice

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This Week at Gatewood: March 15-21, 2015

hyacinth-620389_1280

Photo via Pixabay.

by Frasier MacKenzie

Hello, and thanks for stopping in! Here are our features for the week of March 15-21:

Monday:Lollipillar,” photography by NEZ

Tuesday:Vessels,” poetry by Xavier

Wednesday:Art and Suffering,” essay by Rob Colfax

Friday:Emptiness,” photography by P.L. Miller and quote from Lao Tzu

Remember, the Friday photo can be downloaded for free as a meditation card for your phone, tablet or computer. Share, print, ponder… enjoy!

Special Assistant Doc Nicholas brought us some chuckles this week:

Follow @docnicholas on Twitter for daily updates on Journal posts as well as cat shenanigans and other tidbits of interest.

That’s it for our Gatewood Weekend Wrap-Up. Enjoy your weekend, and check in to visit us again soon!

 

 

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