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Editor's Note


SNR's Writers


 Exit Strategy
Elaine took me to her German psychic,
as expected, she saw everything.
Our bad days and our glories.
The history of our times and species;
we have been together
for generations.
Realizing how long I have been with Elaine
made me feel tired – I didn’t realize we’d been
working things out for over 400 years.
That’s a long time to accommodate a sentient being,
I don’t care what form I was in; me as:
Her cat
Her dog
Her sister
Her butler
Her mother
Her hair stylist
Gerta saw it all against her inner astral cineplex.
I didn’t know I was once a charming pistol packing pescalero
a handsome Mexican bandit who charmed Elaine
(in an earlier even more succulent form)
to indulge my desires.
Irresistible under a vast pecan tree.
My sombrero tossed casually to the side
The Milky Way strung over our heads.
I pick the flower she willingly offers me.
We melt into the warm night – two sentient beings
as happy as two sentient beings could ever be.
She, the sheriff’s daughter
virgin, sixteen, flawless
 filled with secret flames
Me, hanging from a pecan tree
 limp, twitching, forlorn
looking a bit bewildered
                        My sombrero tossed hurriedly to the side
Too many lives to hold in one small boat.
Yet on we sail, east to paradise
fighting our way toward enlightenment,
the only exit strategy
for two weary souls.

You will love me forever, until you became
bored with predictability and leave me
for a man who plays board games and
grows the best pot you ever smoked
After being beaten
my belief in mother love falters
only eleven years old
and exhausted by her love
I simply forgive
Even animals must flee when frightened
Falling out of mind
into life
they are orphans
Mysteries of mind leaving me silent
                                    as I await further direction

Ideas of Grace
Moments of desolation when life and love collide
drowning us beneath the weight of their inevitability
You pause and look back at me as if I were cancer
How can this be?
Why is this happening?
Who do you think you are?
Isn’t history the antidote for bad judgment?
Fidelity is so fluid these days  
So much expected in return
I tell you about my parents 
My long suffering mother
My long silent father
Married 58 years until death
“Those were days of denial, when relationship
 was abduction and silence a woman’s ransom.”
I don’t argue      I hide my point of view
How could you understand
 there is glory in surrender
if made for harmony
Or that the liberation of the blind
 is conceived in a bed of forgiveness

Saks Fifth Avenue
Time moves so slowly as we wait for
our loved ones to exit the dressing room
- again.
Exotic birds parade before us
Tight fitting
            Low riding
                        Up lifting
                                    Miracle bras
Moving in synchronous motion
from rack to stack.
My male comrades and I
 warm the bench.
We’re the second stringers.
Eye shadow.
You exit a new woman.

Right Foot into Wings
My worst curse - immobility.
Crutches and no car for six weeks.
The basement writing room has
become a sensory deprivation chamber.
Even my pain medication haunts me -
midgets in white doctors’ jackets chasing
me with whips offering me more pills.
All I can do is - hop hop hop.
“You needed this.” Elaine tells me.
“A divine light will appear, a voice in
the night, an angel will come, you’ll be
forever changed.  You want to change
don’t you? You could use a little changing
you know. Think transubstantiation’s easy?
Huh? Do you? How about making the move
from caterpillar to butterfly? Think that’s
so easy? Stop complaining and be glad
you have one good foot.”
No pity down here in the deprivation chamber.
Shut up and take it like a man.
Life’s a trash can – deal with it.
Alone in the basement – hop hop hop.
Entertaining pain medication dwarfs – hop hop hop.
Writing fiction only a fleeting idea – hop hop hop.
Six weeks until transubstantiation lift off.
            Fly to Mexico amidst clouds of Monarchs.
            Butterfly wings better then any right foot.

My Cat's Human
(November 21, 2006)
I would tell my daughters, “That’s the luckiest cat in the world;
she’s so dumb she’d die if she ever stepped foot out the door.”
I guess even she knew that the day I left the front door open by mistake,
freedom beckoned as she stared out into the wild world knowing it wasn’t for her.
I didn’t pet her; she didn’t like to be petted. I freshened her water.
My daughters were always too busy to do it. She was my daughters’ cat.
No one brushed her dreadlocks; the matted clumps that grew worse
as she aged, slowed down, and slept more. So I did.
I grew up on a mink farm. I don’t love animals. What are they good for except
to eat and wear?
She’d sit next to my desk as I’d write, and stare, and talk to no one. She’d sleep
outside my bedroom waiting for me to wake up; scratching the door if I was late.
She didn’t get smarter with time. After thirteen years she was still just a dumb cat.
Well, animals are all pretty dumb aren’t they?
Yesterday she didn’t get up from the place where she’d plant herself until I got home;
the spot at the top of the steps where she seemed to be glued as if she were waiting for
someone to come in the front door. 
When I called Elaine to say the Vet had just put Princess down, I made a joke about
 her corny name; and started to weep. That was when I realized she’d made me her human.

Copyright 2008, Charles P. Ries. © This work is protected under the U.S. copyright laws. It may not be reproduced, reprinted, reused, or altered without the expressed written permission of the author.

Charles P. Ries lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His narrative poems, short stories, interviews and poetry reviews have appeared in over two hundred print and electronic publications. He has received four Pushcart Prize nominations for his writing.  He is the author of The Fathers We Find, a novel based on memory, and five books of poetry — the most recent entitled, The Last Time which was released by The Moon Press & Publishing. He is the poetry editor for Word Riot (www.wordriot.org), Pass Port Journal (www.passportjournal.org) and ESC! (www.escmagazine.com). He is on the board of the Woodland Pattern Bookstore (www.woodlandpattern.org).  He is a member of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission and a founding member of the Lake Shore Surf Club, the oldest fresh water surfing club on the Great Lakes (http://www.visitsheboygan.com/dairyland/). You may find additional samples of his work by going to: http://www.literati.net/Ries/