Beatty, Orloski and Davies



Shostakovich’s preludes and fugues sanctify the living room,

ring throughout the cold mobile home. It is late autumn and


a man, his gloved hands deep in the pockets of a down vest,

rocks in a mission oak chair, eyes shut, back straight, grateful


the genius both terrorized and honored could compose amidst

chaos, that his brain and brittle fingers salvaged beauty, and


that she, his friend, now also dead, captured his sound. Two

who not only survived but thrived during the Second World


War, a variation on an eternal theme. Grateful too for a kitten

tossed from a truck last week asleep in the cardboard box at


his feet. Suddenly the furnace rattles, blows, buries the music,

for ten minutes seems to sentence two artists to oblivion, stop


time. It shuts off and he hears nothing but piano until the final

piece ends. In silence the room gradually darkens; sunset tints


the stereo cabinet’s glass, fires a hillside beyond the pasture.

Thee gunshots vibrate the walls and he thinks, “Just hunters.”


He considers turning on the news, opening a can of tuna, pack

of crackers, feast for two, but his hands, warm and content as


the kitten, are reluctant to move and in his head a bit of music

returns, expands until the room becomes an apartment in a city


almost six decades ago, today, or years into the future, where

two musicians play as a party continues toward dawn, family,


friends, maybe neighbors or a stranger who happened to look

in a window as one looked out, all gathered round, captivated,


history’s latest dictator drunk and dozing at his headquarters’

desk, unaware his soldiers are kicking down the wrong door. 

Edward Beatty lives in rural northwest Illinois.



The man playing Cat Stevens’ music

called-it a night, cased-away an acoustic guitar,

and Hurricane Agnes flood-waters receded below Pringle Township hill.

So it came to this for Specialist 4 Fambo,

Pa National Guard, June 1972 –

Last sip warm Rolling Rock,

A happy valley between young breasts,

Babies’ milk needing ice.


“Active-duty” block-ice delivery

Topped 8-hours shifts as Woodlawn Dairy deliveryman, and service to one’s country

Allowed Fambo to love a Body & Fender man’s daughter all night long,

until naked-awakening inside

A “Deuce & a half” cab;

Maybe never seeing her again, maybe an altar, who knew?


Fambo dismounted the truck,

felt a dark dawn, a day God made;

& like clouds, he had to relieve himself –

Where to piss in a flooded city?

Misericordia College doors closed,

too many eyes around 109thstaging-area, and Fambo opened an Army jeep gas cap, let piss-stream flow into a fuel tank.


Yellow was the color blending with

Leaded gasoline, de-pollinating spark plugs.

Shake off that whale member, Fambo,

Detour around the Susquehanna River bridge, ice don’t last forever.


Jesus – had he believed in military honor code, such things Sanitation, locating a tree,

But a god-damned Captain did his rounds,

& Fambo tried zippering-up, stop the piss flow; too late, he must mature another day.


Lingering taste of burnt-dogs on a camp fire, hands stung by unloading blocked-ice at Pringle’s Red Cross station, weed odor

On Cassandra’s breath,

A corpse found a mile down river,

A  singer’s  warning about wild-worlds,

How hard it actually was “to get by.”


Dressed-down, Section 8–something-or-other,

“Conduct unbecoming,”

Fambo hadn’t a reason

For pissing in gasoline tanks —

Wilkes-Barre flood victims

and Pa National Guard deserved better than him.

He wished he could have “held it”

a while longer, stood bladder-pressure like

Napoleon, subdued a urine surge,

maybe never having had to say goodbye to a Specialist 4 stripe, until gasoline rationing,

even & odd license plate number revival,

the Shah’s prostrate, get gas while its piss warm Hormuz cheap.

Charles Orloski lives in Taylor, Pennsylvania.  He can be reached at CCDJOrlov@aol.com.                   


The Middle Aged


We wear our

expressions to
pass through the world –

voices calling us
to old dreams,

what we will be.

To pass through
the world to what

we no longer ask,

used to ignorance.

Innocence we
vaguely recall,

smile at in
children and others –

we are the tough
birds who survived –

blood runs down
the bankers’ walls

and we are not
appalled –

in silent woods
the trillium

has lost its
silver tongue.

Who we are has

(Previously published in Four Quartets) 

Robert A. Davies lives in Portland, OR.  His forthcoming book is Melons and Mendelssohn.  He can be reached at rjdavies3@ comcast.net.


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