#WomensMarch (Mad Monday & Women’s Liberation)

For the record:
I have never called myself a feminist but I darn well believe in equal rights based on competence; and I believe in a shared respect regardless of physical attributes… or skin color… or religious beliefs.
My expectation (admittedly unmet) is ALL inclusive.

If a right is infringed upon, be bold and utilize the law that is in place.
#BeBold
#EnForceTheLaw

Equal rights and respect. That’s really all the women’s march boils down to, right?
#EqualRights
#Respect

I have gotten a few personal unsavory remarks [from men and women alike] for the poem I am about to share but I am going to share it anyway.

Why? Because it reminds me of the sage advice I received years ago from an old woman who truly fought to make a difference — and it feels better than displaying a vulgar [self-deprecating] sign or wearing a vagina hat.  :/

Women’s Liberation

We did not burn our bras but wore them proudly
Holding–supporting–glorifying the mammary glands that would feed the next generation
For the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
We did not give animated voices to our vaginas for the world to hear
but let them speak in secret whispers that moved mountains.
We did not make a spectacle in the streets to prove our equality
For we knew in our hearts [already] that we were superior.

Page 235 from Getting Me Back

The Sharecropper’s Son Chapter 1 (Friday’s Free-for-All)

Waiting

For hopes that hung on a chicken bones
For hearts that lived in chains
For pods of green that died unknown
While waiting for the rain

For dreams left bare on empty prayer
For souls that wished in vain
For tears unshared in mute despair
While waiting for a change

For you and I and all mankind
For worlds where peace was slain
For faith and mind no man can bind
We wait and wait again

“All eyes were on Wall Street, but truth be told, the market crash paled in comparison to the Navarro County drought.”

Cast of Characters:

Jamison Baines Weir
Liam and Coletta Weir
Jeff and Diane Flint
Bob and Maddie Hallet
D.W. and Bell Crom
Colored Dan
Ronald Gore

theatre masks
Chapter 1

The news of Black Tuesday came and went as little more than dry morsels between flapjacks and red-eyed gravy. Black Thursday was no different. Margin calls and ticker-talk; it was all a foreign language to the average man of Navarro county. New York, Chicago and any place not adjacent to the dying province could have just as well been another country – another planet.
<>Suicides headlined newspapers across the globe. Although desperate men (and women) chose gas or bullets; poison or tablets to avoid poverty the stories of men leaping from windows sold more papers and it seemed to pacify the masses, at least for a while.
<>The headlines went on and on. Tales of a brutal bearish market where stock prices were plummeting and fortunes were being dissolved. The days grew long and the soup lines grew longer as billions of dollars were lost, except for the sparse crowd who knew how to short the market and profit from despair.

<>The caste system was readjusting; the prudent wealthy settled into middle-class; the so called middle-class went back to being poor and the poor resorted to begging or starving. Even the outcasts felt the impact. Amidst all of the chaos and realigning there was one morphological thing that everyone understood; a fact that every race, creed, class and religion agreed upon – the roaring twenties had come to a crashing halt. Literally.

EIGHT MORE TAKE THE PLUNGE.

A somnolent bedraggled man stood in the doorway of Crom’s Cafe and eyed the headline of the Navarro County Herald. He thoughtlessly tapped his hat against his thigh to loosen the grit before tossing a nickel into the box that read COFFEE & TOAST 5¢. There were a dozen nickels alongside his.

<>“Thanks Bell” he grumbled to the portly matron behind the paper as he filed past the register and took a seat in the back of the diner.
Half a dozen men sat scattered about the dimly lit eatery, each one scarcely aware of the others presence. They all sat in the same fashion; silent with their elbows on the table and their heads bowed over crumbs and half empty cups. One man’s groans interrupted the silence, erupting between broken verses of prayer which quickly evaporated without regard.
<>“Here you go Liam.” Bell spoke just above a whisper as she sat the mug and saucer on the table, “If there’s anything left after breakfast I’ll send it home with you.”
<>“Thank you ma’am but that fella over there looks a heap worse than any of us.” he nodded toward the sniveling man, “Looks like he might need any scraps you can spare.”
<>“Tut-tut!” Bell shot a glance at the praying man and shook her head, “Don’t you know who that is? That is Daniel D. Starnes; the same Daniel Starnes who owns the cotton gin over at Mexia; the same scoundrel that cheated fifty men out of their wages. I know he makes a sorrowful spectacle with all that praying but do you know what he’s praying for?” the woman paused long enough to fill her lungs and did not wait for Liam to respond. “The beast! Yep, he is praying that the stock market will recover so he doesn’t lose any more money on his investments. I tell you I am at my wits end with all the moaning and groaning and killing over filthy lucre and that blasted stock market! ” Bell wiped her hands on her apron and marched toward the kitchen speaking so the entire café could hear her, “Money! That is all some folks care about.”
<>Money can’t buy you rain, Liam thought, as he quietly dipped his dry toast into the weak coffee and watched as the diner filled.
<>The usual crowd shuffled in, in their habitual manner. More coffee was poured into waiting mugs, more nickels dropped into the box, a few at the bar ordered a real breakfast and those who could afford to buy a copy unfurled their paper. Liam inconspicuously glanced at the man’s next to him. The dismal headline meant nothing to most tenant farmers. It meant even less to Liam Weir. He saw it as one less gluttonous banker and they could not die fast enough to suit him.
And greedy cotton ginners can go to hell right along with `em.

Navarro County Herald

<>If I had five cents to spend, I wouldn’t waste it on that rag. They just as well call it the New Yorker! Liam decided he had seen enough of the Navarro County Herald. There was no mention of the drought, not on the front page anyway. When the man beside him turned the page, Liam went back to watching the idle patrons throughout the diner.
From his seat in the rear he could see the entire café and a portion of the adjoining store, the same store he was determined to visit and purchase a decent bill of groceries before the day was up.
<>Liam studied the room; watched as men felt blindly for cups and sopped dry biscuits in air while soaking up the news of investors going broke. All eyes were on Wall Street but truth be told, the market crash paled in comparison to the Navarro county drought.
<>He watched as a billion dust particles danced overhead, swaying recklessly in rays of smoke stained sunshine until the weight of grease and nicotine and worry forced them to settle. The grimy mist settled on everything – on everyone. It covered every field cap and fedora. Without prejudice it landed on burnt necks and white collars alike and no one, other than Liam appeared to notice. He listened to the moans and grunts that followed each turning page. Some lingered on the specifics, others on the gruesome photographs but at the end of breakfast they all shrugged their shoulders and went back to waiting.

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Door Number Four (Fridays Free-for-All) Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Don tugged at the brush and pressed his face in to the opening, completely oblivious to the pricks coming from the thick briars. When the first two numerals were visible, he sneered,
“This is it and there is no one here to stop me.” He steadied the flask against his numbed lower lip and sucked the last drop of Benadryl and bourbon from the stainless steel container. Hurriedly he shoved it back into his rear pocket and resumed his mission.
When he had burrowed out a space big enough to accommodate his shoulders Don Crowley scrambled through to the clearing to the other side.

The land bore no resemblance to his fond memory. He studied the bleached bovine skull that hung before the forgotten alley, the alley that would lead him to the entrance of his dreams.
The door was not near as beautiful as she had once been. The paint was all but gone and so was much of the wood. Termites had loved the timber as well, though not in the same way Don did. The brass appendages were tarnished and blackened, the frame was mildewed and rotting and she looked naked without her gable to shade her from the elements. But her lips were still a bright red.
The man ran his trembling fingers over the smooth rounded lines of cherry color and whispered,
“Hello door number four. I’ve thought about you for a long, long time.” He gently petted the mottled brass before curling his fingers into a fist then paused, “I don’t have to, but it seems only polite.” Holding the cold sticky metal against the tips of his fingers he savored the moment, inhaled deeply, wet his lips then, Clink… clink… clink.
The dull tapping brought tears of joy to his eyes, tears mingled with watery mucous because Don was allergic to mold as well as every other spore and pollen in the universe.

He stood on the cement landing, shaking his head in confusion. Was it the antihistamines and allergens causing him to imagine the voice or did Mr. Levin just invite him in?
Don stared down at the swaying concrete… the old porch had been a pier and beam foundation with a beautiful terrace above… could it be possible he had the wrong house? Looking back up he assured himself it was the right house, but so much had changed. He caressed the painted numerals to calm his fretfulness.
“It’s you… it has always been you.” he said placing his mouth against the deteriorating surface.
Bolstering his courage, he pulled back, stood as straight as he could and wiped the mustiness from his mouth.
Blood? He mused at the crimson wetness in his palm before wiping again. Paint? The iron taste confirmed his first guess and the dripping number revealed its origin. “What the hell?” he stammered bracing himself against the framework of the once glorious mansion.

“Wake up Donald.” The familiar voice commanded.
“I can’t see you.” Don moaned as he struggled to open his pus-filled eyes, “Where am I?”
“Exactly where you wanted to be.” Came the answer immediately followed by the sound of p’thu-p’thu “Now rub that in.”
“Did you just-” His words were cut short by an icy cloth slammed against his swollen face. It felt like a dozen hands on him, rubbing the warm spit into his eyes, pressing the cold rag to his lips and reaming his nostrils with ointment.
“Shut up!” the voice ordered pressing harder against his mouth, causing him to snort and choke as he inhaled the vapors of the salve.
Don briefly considered fighting the man that stood over him but there was no desire to. Despite the fact that the fellow had spit in his eye, forced a wet rag into his mouth and shoved something up his nose, he felt grateful. Frankly, he could not recall the last time he had felt so good, so calm and never in his life had he felt this strong and healthy. Don submitted and let the smell of tar and green mint carry him away.
When his breathing was slow and steady he felt the once chilled rag lift and the voice commanded him, “Pull yourself together and come on in to the kitchen when you can see straight.”
“Yes Sir Mr. Levin.” Don replied as he sat up and watched the man exit the dim parlor.
Slowly he scraped the thick balm from his face, picked the bits of crushed mint from his teeth and sniffed at the medicinal material.
“What’s in this?” he asked, studying the white cloth with nothing visible other than a few green specks caught in the cotton fibers. “You ought to sell it to one of the pharmaceutical companies.”
Mr. Levin never acknowledged the question or the suggestion but quietly shut the door without looking back.
Donald stood and stretched, marveling at the smoothness of his own skin and the indescribable vigor he felt.
Testing his newfound health he spread his legs, sprang upward and swung his arms over his head. He counted with each clap and two hundred jumping jacks later, his pulse and respirations were unchanged. Though dust covered everything in the area, he was unaffected.
He skipped around the massive room oblivious to any cares until the kettle whistling distracted him and he remembered Mr. Levin was waiting.
“This place is amazing,” he yelled toward the kitchen, “There must be a million dollars’ worth of antiques in this room alone.” Donald waited but the old man gave no response. If he had spoken, the younger man would not have heard as his focus darted to the nineteenth century Bosendorfer standing quietly in the corner. Don migrated to the antique piano and caressed the aged wood before letting his fingers come to rest on the ivory.
“Uh-uh!” The voice playfully warned before he had a chance to strike the key. It was her. Donald turned in every direction but there was no one to be seen. IIII flashed before his eyes and seemed to smile. The red lips over glossy white teeth, the IIII he remembered from his youth. But this smile was a cautious one like a mother gives her child; like the warning that precedes punishment.
“Yes ma’am.” He muttered as he shook the chill from his spine and hurried to the kitchen.

The room was just as he remembered it. Though he had spent only seconds inside before being chased out, the image had been stamped on his brain like a photograph.

“She called you didn’t she?” Mr. Levin asked without looking up.
Don understood the question but avoided answering and watched as the old man rubbed the rim of his cup. “I thought you were just a nosy little brat. Heck, you had snooped inside every house in the county; it weren’t like you were in love.” His voice trailed as he shifted in his seat; “Guess I should have saw it coming. Would you like a cup?”
“You haven’t aged a bit in fifteen years.” Donald answered staring at John Marcus Levin, “How is that possible?”
“I haven’t aged a bit in over fifty years boy, that’s part of it.” He answered dryly, still refusing to make eye contact.
Don watched the hot black tea flow as if in slow motion from the tarnished pot. He could count the drops as they splashed against the walls of the white china cup one at a time and without hurrying. He was totally mesmerized by the collapsing molecules of what was steam a millisecond ago; so much so that when the table shook he nearly fell out of his chair.
“Look! Look at yourself!” Mr. Levin growled banging his fist against the table and pointing toward the silver platter that held the tea set. “Do you like the way you look?”
“I have never looked better.” Don smiled stroking his flawless face and admiring the healthier version of himself. “No puffiness, no hives… I always wanted a smaller nose but yes, I like the way I look.”
“Good.” The old man replied in a softer tone, “Because that is the only face you’ll ever have.”
“Hell you make it sound like bad news when most people would give anything to stop the aging process. Do you know how many billions are made in the cosmetics industry every year? ”
“There’s no way to make you understand, not today anyway.” Mr. Levin sighed, “Not in my life time but in fifty years or so you’ll start to wonder and when the wondering fails to amuse you, you’ll grow weary and you’ll wish…”
Mr. Levin shook his head slowly, his loose flesh rippling with each turn until a bead of moisture broke loose from his cheek. Don studied the tear as it hovered then followed it to the table where it exploded on impact leaving a microscopic rainbow where it landed.
“I’ll wish what?” he asked, gently tilting the man’s face upward.
“You’ll wish you never loved her.”

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