Excerpts from The Distance Project
My two-leggeds are home all the time now. They feed me whenever I want and let me in and out and in and out. I like to pretend I’m coming in when it gets dark and then run away and stay gone for another couple of hours, but I don’t want to be left out there by myself when I want to come in -- and I’m not left out anymore, ever! In fact, they’re both paying more attention to me lately and that’s how I like it so it’s a good time for me. Except they yell at each other a lot more now, and I don’t like that. It’s almost as bad as watching that yellow cat across the street kill a squirrel. I like things to be quiet.
That’s one reason I like the ghost. She sits on the little wrought-iron bench in the side yard and smokes cigarettes. I’m not sure, but I think I’m the only one who sees her. She told me she used to live here, that she misses the house and the front yard. She doesn’t think the two-leggeds who live here now are taking good care of the house: they’re messy and they let the dogs pee on the floor sometimes. She doesn’t like the way they have parties and stick decorations on the walls with scotch tape, or let candles burn while the air conditioner is on so little drops of wax get blown against the wall and then aren’t even scraped off the next day.
Her name is Mrs. Wallace, and she had a maid who lived out in a funny little room facing the alley, under the oak trees. She mostly comes by around the time it starts to get cooler, at the end of the day, when the squirrels and lizards finally quiet down. We both love the quiet. Now that it’s almost summer, those huge bugs in the trees and bushes, the katydids, have started that annoying, buzzy, on/off humming that goes on all night. Still…They stay out of my way and I stay out of theirs. We learned early on in our relationship that it’s best to keep our distance. (They’re way too crunchy to be tasty anyway.)
From PARKER and MRS. WALLACE
by Jill Logan Leuders (retired teacher at Rice University -- Houston, Texas)
It starts with the hummingbirds. They are the first. They blow up over the San Gabriel Mountains and float in on a desert breeze, to jitterbug boldly through the cactus blossoms and spring blooms. Plants don't care about pestilence. It’s time for them to grow and so they do.
As the Giant lies stunned, the garden moves into the vacuum he leaves. Tiny birds zoom over my front porch, hover and tap at the windows, thinking their reflections intruders, the buzzing of their wings loud in contrast to the new quiet.
Quiet. So quiet. Like the morning after a fresh snow.
But there is no snow. There is no cold. Just an uncompromising silence. And stillness. A stillness that blankets the city like a strange duvet stiff to the touch, as if it hadn't had its first wash yet. It rolls in off the ocean and seeps inland, a slow syrup, unimpeded by the usual wall of sound created by millions when living normal life. The pre-dawn rumbling from the freeways – millions of tires spinning on concrete-- absent. Tequila-colored light blends into morning, the usual moment for thousands more to join the fray. But not now.
During the first two weeks, the hum and drum and whir of the city is stopped mid-sentence, frozen, retired, packed away, forgotten. A lumbering prize-fighter who has never lost now lies sucker punched, knocked out by a single blow from the smallest of opponents. The crowd sits stunned, mouths agape. They know he'll get up because he always has. Spring off the mat, because that is what this lumbering giant has always done before. But this time he doesn't. He’s down. Out cold. Barely breathing. The fight’s over. The crowd can’t understand what’s happened. They shuffle home, heads bowed in meek wordlessness. The silence from the stilled arena reverberates through the vast maze of empty streets. That much quiet is frightening; too many things can be heard inside it.
Wash your hands! Stay at home! Don’t come out!
But there’s nowhere to go. The stores still open have almost nothing to buy. It’s not worth risking your life to stare at sad stacks of browning bananas and empty shelves.
From City Of Angels
By Jan Munroe (actor, director, set designer, writer -- Los Angeles)
from Volume Two , August 2020
Waiting in Confinement
by Edwin Gerard,
(director, actor, writer, artist -- Cairo, Egypt)
A Brief History of the United States
by Murray Ngoima
(artist, writer, teacher, activist -- Vermont, USA)
from Volume 3 Feb 2021
By Tony Abatemarco (writer, director, actor, Los Angeles)
On the day my house cleaner comes
I clean. Clean and straighten,
Just like my Mother would have done
Had she employed a house cleaner.
No, it was not a question of money.
We were, as my Dad reminded us,
Well-off by then. He’d made smart choices
With his eighth-grade education.
No, Mom wasn’t scrimping. A victim
Of the Depression, she’d had enough
Of that. She was simply too proud
To let someone else dust or wax or polish.
My Mom and her sisters were all,
With one exception, fastidious.
Fastidious about the maintenance
Of their domains. High-strung…
High-strung is what we called it then.
If tools or appliances didn’t do the job,
They’d use their hands, their nails;
On their knees, digging, scraping.
I’m like that. I spit on my fingertips
To tap the last specks of dust off
The floor. The dust pan or Dustbuster
Misses them. I’m high-strung.
If I were a fiddle or a yuke, I’d zing,
Rattling the teacups in the hutches.
My notes are quite impossible to set
A key to sing in. Castrati-like.
Perhaps I missed my calling.
In Rome, the 16th Century,
They’d have carried me on a palette
Singing hymns to Sacred Mothers –
Palestrina! Bedecked in red,
I’d shake the stained-glass churches
With notes made more celestial
By my reaching them.
Or is it Pergolesi, a century after,
His undulating Stabat Mater,
Across the Bay of Naples, that
More closely analogizes what I sing here?
What I sing is one more stab
At mysteries left unanswered
As I turn to mere conjecture of
Who/what made me.
Who made me?
Where’d they go?
Why do I kneel,
I’ll leave here
A singer singing song
Without a coda