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Contact Mizeta at mizetasworld@live.com, or Howard at fhschneider@comcast.net

Ed

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His wife died five years before him

Back then the small simple house was swept and cleaned and fresh wildflowers sat in Ball jars on window sills.

And June could tell you all their names and how they managed to survive in the hot dry climate of Arizona, Bisbee, Arizona, the old copper mining town

Before it was taken over in the 60’s by hippies from the big cities who carved their homes into the rocks in the shadow of the Copper Queen Hotel and drank cowboy coffee in the mornings

Before the day turned hot and they turned to pot and talked about the lives they had imagined before they came down with arthritis in their knees and their lungs filled with dust and too many years of

Camels and 100 proof tequila from across the border that went down easy and warm. But they listened to each other and they never said never no way or whaddya talking about or how about now, before the

sun comes up tomorrow you sit at that big old secretary desk you pass every day sweep the old newspapers and magazines into the trash and pull out one of those drawers where you keep a spiral

notebook its pages clean and blank and  you grab a pencil or a  pen that still works and begin to write about how you’d bring your silver flute everywhere afraid the junkies in the East Village would steal it

and how much you loved that baby. How much you loved June for that matter—how much you miss her. But that’s not something you do—show what’s on the inside. Some would call it feelings you’d call

it mush. Be cool be real, man. Play that flute like a woman. The truth is after June died you stepped off this spinning world and mostly looked back. Back to when you were drawing and playing the flute and

making the rest of us laugh –the ones who’d belly up to the bar on the nights you bartended at the Caliban on 3rd Avenue and order a tequila straight up with a slice of lime and salt on the thumb and tell

us stories about how when you were a kid on Staten Island your dad would send you out into the neighborhood to get the numbers from the shop owners and he’d play them.

The both of you playing to make a buck. To make people forget about the rent, the bills the dream of one day opening a little studio where you could sell your etchings, maybe play the flute some nights in a

softly lit club.

 

 

 

Cold Pancakes

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“It’s about time.” He spoke sharply to the waitress.

I’m so sorry sir, I brought them right off the griddle. They should be hot.”

“Cold. Nothing worse than cold pancakes. If you brought them right off the griddle, what gives? Either the griddle was cold, or you took the long, long way around getting here.” Then he noticed the waitress had a brace on her leg.

“Please, sir. Don’t complain about me. I need this job”

“Waitressing may not be the best job for you. Perhaps a desk job would be more suitable.” He nodded towards her leg, “in your condition.”

“This is the kind of work I’ve done all my life.”

“Shirley.” The waitress froze at the sound of the male voice behind her. “Is there a problem here, sir?”

“My pancakes are cold.”

“Boo Hoo.”

“I beg your pardon,” the diner said indignantly.

“Look around you”

The diner gazed around the room. All the waitresses had either a cane or a walker.

“What is this place?” demanded the diner. “Where am I?”

"You're in Hell. Somebody named Raymond cursed you. He said: 'may your pancakes always be cold.' Of course, I answered his curse." The diner then noticed two horns protruding from the managers forehead.

“How do I  get out of this place?”

“You eat your cold pancakes and say thank you to this nice waitress. And if she can forgive you for being such a wuss, you can leave through the back door so quickly that no one will ever know you were here.”

Claudine

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In the small town of Candyville lived a couple who were very poor. They were married a few months earlier and had come to Candyville hoping to find a job and start a family. With a little money from the estate of the wife's mother, who had passed away six months earlier. the couple was able to buy a small house. In a much larger house next to theirs lived an older woman named Mabel Linn. She had lived there for a long time, but none of the people in town liked her because she looked and acted like a witch.

As any couple might do when they move into a new neighborhood, they noticed some fruit trees in the yard next to theirs. There was a lot of fruit on the trees, and once in a while the husband climbed over the fence and picked some apples and pears. Mabel Linn was furious with the young couple for sealing her fruit and told them  she was going to call the police and have them arrested. But upon reflection, she changed her mind and warned them not to come into her yard again.

Everything went smoothly for a few weeks, but then the husband went over the fence again for some apples. His wife wanted to bake an apple pie. But the old lady came out of her house and caught him with her apples. She told the couple that she had warned them about stealing her fruit.

"We're so sorry. Please forgive us. We'll pay for them. How much do you want?" the wife asked.

Mabel Linn told the couple that instead of payment, she would make a trade width them. "I don't need money. But I have never been able to have a child. You can have all the fruit you want from my trees. All I want in return is your first-born child."

The couple thought that she was so old she wouldn't live long enough to make them pay such a price. So, they agreed. Never, never, never, they thought. She's older then the hills.

A year passed and Mabel Linn had become very fond of the couple. Then one day the wife found out that she was with child. On the day the baby was born, Mabel Linn went to see the new arrival. She told the couple that she had won the bet and would take the baby home with her.

"Oh, no. You can't take my baby. She belongs to us," the wife cried.

"Don't you remember the agreement we had? You got to have all the fruit you wanted, and I would get your first-born."

"Yes, I remember," said the wife. "But I didn't think you were serous."

"I was as serious as a toothache, Dearie."

So the old lady picked up the child and went home. She named the little girl "Claudine," and took her to a room on the second floor. 

Claudine was not allowed to play with other children. She would play by herself in her room,  a prisoner in her own home. Claudine played with anything she could get her hands on. Sometimes she took pots and pans from the kitchen upstairs to play house. Little did she know that what she learned playing house would be to her advantage in a not-too-distance future. Each and every day, Mabel Linn would give the child a bath and comb her beautiful, long red hair.

Everyone in the city had heard the rumor that the old woman had a child. But no one believed it because she was so old. There was never a man around the house, either. But one day, the prince of Candyville was riding his bike around the neighborhoods of the city and noticed an older woman, Mabel Linn, at the window on the second floor of a big, old house. Alongside her, looking out the window, was a beautiful young woman. The young woman noticed the prince and was curious about who he was. Claudine asked Mabel Linn about him, who told her that he was the prince and was a very nice man. Little did the prince know that Claudine had noticed him at the same time he had noticed her. As the prince started to leave, Claudine waved at him. The prince waved back.

The next day, the prince again was out riding his bike and remembered the pretty girl at the window and decided to see if he could find the house again. As he came around a corner, he noticed the old woman who had been with Claudine at the window leaving the house to go somewhere. He looked up at the window and saw Claudine looking down at him with a big smile. She called to him, asking if he would like to come up to her room.

"Of course! But how can I get up there?"

Claudine told him to open the front door and climb the stairs to the second floor. The Prince did as she instructed, and they liked each other. When the Prince was ready to leave, Claudine asked him to come back the next day.

When Mabel Linn arrived home a little later, she went upstairs and started chatting to the girl about various things. Suddenly Claudine accidentally let something slip out of her mouth, that Mabel Linn was not as nice as her new friend, the prince.

"What did you say, Claudine? What did you say something about me?"

"Nothing!" protested Claudine, fearful of angering Mabel Linn. But Claudine knew she had screwed up, and just hoped Mabel Linn would forget about it. But Mabel Linn didn't forget. Mabel Linn suspected something was going on between Claudine and the prince. She didn't know what but decided that she'd better watch Claudine and the Prince closer from then on.

Under these difficult circumstances, Claudine had become morose and very quiet, and Mabel Linn didn't like that. Mabel Linn decided to punish Claudine by cutting off her hair.

"Please, oh please. Don't cut off my hair. I've had this hair all of my life. I've done nothing wrong. Please. please, don't do it."

But Mabel Linn did exactly that. And, as an added punishment, Mabel Linn kicked Claudine out of the house and told her she would have to spend the rest of her life in the woods. "You have lost all the respect I ever had for you now that you've been with the Prince. Get out of my house. I never want to see you again."

Later that day. the prince came by Claudine's house and waited for her to materialize at the window. But when he called up to her, she never appeared. Eventually, the prince went to the door and asked Mabel Linn if he could talk with Claudine.

"Never again will you ever speak to Claudine" the old woman told him. "I don't like you, and I'm going to cast a spell on you. From this day forward, you will be blind. You will never see anything again, ever."

So now the Prince was blind and would never be able to see his love—she was gone from his life. That evil woman took the most important things I had . My eyes,

and my lovely Claudine, he thought morosely as he tried to find his bicycle.

After a few weeks of stumbling through the forest searching for his love, who herself was wandering aimlessly, looking for something to eat, like blueberries or mushrooms, anything edible, they came upon each other totally by accident. "Is that you, Claudine?" he exclaimed when he bumped into her.

"Yes, my love. It's me!" Claudine answered. Their exuberant joy caused tears to stream from their eyes, and suddenly the tears washed away the prince's blindness. But the tears also brought an end to Mabel Linn's life—she suffered a sudden heart attack. Now she lies in an unmarked grave outside the walls of Claudine's new home, the prince's castle.

Love had brought the couple back together, and they lived happily ever after.

Camping!

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What can I do to pass the time?

Write a poem that I hope will rhyme.

Been here in the woods much too long.

Here's a list of what's gone wrong.

A bee sting on the day I got here.

Being attacked by bugs is what I fear.

Each day is hot with blazing sun.

Nothing to do that I consider fun.

A bucket to pee in every night.

Nothing for me is going right.

The lake's dried up and the office is shut.

No wonder I feel in such a rut.

Can't wait to kiss the place goodbye.

I'm trying not to break down and cry.

Wisdom of a Wildflower

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Just one of those little wildflower seeds

Dropped by a bird in a field of weeds

Grew and flourished in sun and breeze,

Admired by all the birds and bees.

Still she complained that she was there.

Was not content to breathe fresh air.

Then someone, walking, picked her from

The field she'd always known as home

And put her in an old cold jar

With flowers who surpassed by far

Her beauty and her fragrant light.

She slipped unnoticed, out of sight.

Amongst the flowers she did lie,

Longing for the clear blue sky

And knowing now, but much too late,

How we should appreciate

The good we have and hold it dear,

for it will not always be near.

Childhood Chains

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Childhood Chains

 

They put that burning pain

In the pit pf your stomach.

Years did not take it away.

Time left unhealed scars, aching.

 

They squeeze life from you

at every turn and even when

you don't know why you are hurting.

The hating doesn't go away.

 

Emotion churns within you,

Boiling over in raging

Anger against the ones you love.

 

You act as a helpless puppet

in the fury of it all for

you do not know the secret

of its destruction.

 

If I could have been there . . .

If I could have stopped them . . .

 

But you were alone in your

terror and you live with the

haunting memories every moment,

carrying them into every situation.

 

Only you can lose those childhood

chains that bind you like a slave

to your past.

 

Only you can forgive them all, and must,

to be free of them at last.

Is That All There Is?

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As Sam and his friends lounged in Dan’s Bar guzzling beer Sam noticed a funeral procession passing by the window. “Another one bites the dust” Sam exclaimed. His friends Moe and Charley chuckled. “Poor sucker. All he did in life was sweep the floor in the courthouse. Not much to show for his life except a heap of dirt.” The men laughed and continued the evening with their usual dart games and beer. Sam weaved his way home and unlocked his dark, lonely house. As he sobered up, he picked up the newspaper and read the obituary. John Neevers, Born 1939 Died 2019. No family. Worked in the courthouse as a janitor for 50 years. “Is that all there is to life?” Sam wondered.” You work and then you die?” He knew he was a good auto mechanic. He could get the worst clunkers running again and he especially liked the smiles of the pretty women after he fixed their disabled cars.

Sam had a restless night. In the morning he pondered,” here I am, 55 years old, and not much to show for it.” He grabbed a piece of paper and began to write his own obituary.

Sam Smith Born 1964 Died: not yet. Good auto mechanic. Liked to drink beer with his friends and a good dart player. It didn’t seem like enough, so he added: Helped the Poor. Hiked Mt. Everest. Wrote a mystery novel. Rescued stray animals.

The following day was Sam's day off from work. He walked down to the homeless camp under the Burnside Bridge. He offered a couple of dollars to the first guy he saw. The guy scowled and looked at Sam disdainfully. “Keep your damn money. If you can’t find me a place to live, go away!" Sam was speechless. Suddenly several scruffy young men surrounded him. They knocked him down and took his wallet and cell phone. Sam struggled home and drew a black line through “Help the Poor” in his obituary.

A few days later Sam decided to take a hike on Mt. Hood to prepare himself for the climbing Mt. Everest. After climbing for four hours, he became disoriented, fell, and broke his leg. Luckily, he had a new cell phone and was rescued. After returning home from the ER he drew a black line through “Climb Mt. Everest.”

As Sam waited for his leg to heal, he tried writing a mystery novel. But try as he might, he couldn't get past the first page. Crumpling up the tenth sheet of paper, he drew a black line through “Wrote a Mystery Novel.”

A month later, Sam decided to rescue feral cats. He grabbed a couple of tom cats he found eating from a dumpster and managed to get them in a box. “This will be a piece of cake. I finally found something I can do,” he thought. By the end of the week Sam was questioning his good intentions. The cats had shredded his couch and chair, tore holes in his curtains, peed on his carpet, and yowled every night. “I’m not cut out for this,” he said through clinched teeth as he booted the cats out the door. Sam drew a black line through “Rescued Stray Animals.”

Sam went back to Dan’s Bar. His friends and he had a good laugh at his attempts to spiff up his obituary. On his way home Sam dropped dead of a heart attack. At his funeral Moe whispered, "Like Sam always said, another one bites the dust.”

"Too bad," mumbled Charley. “Sam didn’t need to be a hero. He was a damn good mechanic, a fine friend, and a great storyteller.”

Pencil

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Please don't get me mixed up with anything else. I am a pencil, and always will be one. I started out as a sturdy log from an Elm tree. Slowly but surely, people made me smaller and smaller. Then someone installed a piece of lead inside me and an eraser on top of me. 

Over time, I frequently become overused. Even though I have a long piece of lead in me, like my other pencil brothers, we are rarely fully utilized. Most of the time, people throw me away before all of my lead is used up. I try and tell those people that I still have use, but they throw me away anyway. They're just throwing money away.

The same goes for my eraser. If it's not good enough for people to use any more, they throw me away.

Another way people waste me is by sharpening me too much. The lead inside me is good lead. It's made the right way, but wasteful people still throw me away before it's used up.  

Then there are those people that love to chew on my tail. When chewing on me, they slobber all over me. I'm sure they don't do this on purpose, but it  isn't very healthy to have human germs on my body all the time. I could get some terrible disease that might never be cured.

Finally, one of the weirdest things that happens to me is by those school kids. The ones who love to have pencil fights, fights that could turn very bloody very easily. One of them, or even both, could aim for any place but the face, but miss and cause a serious injury. Put out an eye, maybe.

We have to stop those nasty pencil fights.

The Magnolia Tree

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The long neglected

Magnolia tree

bravely struggled

for her dignity,

but the weight

of neglect

pulled her down

till her branches

dragged the ground.

 

Though she flowered

faithfully each year,

in her drooping limbs

the truth was clear:

She stood ashamed

of her sagging shape

but could do nothing

about her state.

 

Then you came along

and understood

her need to be free

of her scraggly wood

and trimmed

and pruned so lovingly,

that she reclaimed

lost dignity.

 

Now I can feel

surging energy

as she impatiently

awaits the Spring

so she can share

her magnificent

gratitude

for your love and care.

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