The Welcome - By Dennis Langston 

It caught the corner of my eye as I walked by my office window, bright enough to draw attention to on a dark, cool clear night with the usual parade of stars in our New Mexico sky. It’s fall, and winter isn’t far behind. I retraced my steps back to the window to get a better look, ever the vigilant citizen because area 51 is a short 900 miles away.  It’s been over 50 years, but as they say “ya never know”. There was something about this light that was captivating me, perhaps because it was obvious it was not an airplane due to its lack of movement. I crossed off my second thought, of a star or planet. Way too close. I was trying to be as objective as I could at one o’clock in the morning in Roswell, New Mexico, and Area 51 a short flying saucer flight away. 

When the light began to slowly move what appeared to be in a decent,  I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.  I had been on my way to bed, but now I was wide awake with cautionary thoughts going through my mind.  No question there is always skepticism when someone confesses they experienced something out of the ordinary, making them sound like they’ve gone off the deep end.  I felt I was wading into that end of the pool the more my thoughts leaned towards an out of this world explanation. 

If I just go to bed now I could stop this, this, no I’m not going to say it trying to encourage my sensible side to settle me down.  But what if it is….?  Come on sensible side kick in, tell me this can all be explained with a simple explanation.  Well I gave it a little time with negative results, no simple explanation came so I began thinking of the things I needed to do in the morning.  I was about to turn away from the window when the light began  to bounce, stabilize, then bounce some more.  A helicopter, it could just be a helicopter that is having problems staying up.  I should have heard an engine because sound travels a long way at night.  But nothing, as the bouncing descent continued until it looked like it finally hit the ground.  I wasn’t sure if I imagined or actually heard a muffled thud just after the brief sound of a very large fan coming from the light’s direction. 

The light seem to be growing dimmer to the point I could barely see it, making it hard to judge how far away it was from my house.  There wasn’t a conscious decision to go.  It was just a natural response to go help if I could.  I was sure help was probably on the way, but one shouldn’t assume anything when it comes to accidents, and people needing help.  I would need to take my four-wheel drive vehicle because the terrain is a little iffy in some places out here, and I may have to transport any injured so better be prepared.  I grabbed a jacket and some blankets for the cool night of New Mexico.  Keys in hand, a thought crossed my mind, so I grabbed it too.  I’d rather not need it, than not have it and wish I did.  I checked the 15-shot magazine and holstered it, ready if needed.  Meeting me at the front door was Tucker my eight-year-old golden lab who wasn’t taking no about going with, so out we went into the cool night air.  My shivers stopped when we got going, tracking the dim light that was about a half mile away.  

When my head lights first illuminated what looked like  some sort of aircraft, definitely not a helicopter or anything that I was familiar with.  We were about 150 yards away when I slowed to a stop thinking that I should turn around and call the authorities when Tucker squeezed out of the half rolled down passenger window and making a bee line towards the craft.  I turned my head lights off, jumped out of my jeep and yelled to Tucker to come back.  Tucker wasn’t listening but the light from the craft turned off perhaps in response to our presence.  I started jogging towards the craft when someone or something appeared to be standing on the craft than jump down to the ground as Tucker reached the craft.  My heart was in my throat, feeling no good was going to come of this. Why hadn’t I just gone to bed?  

I cautiously slowed to see if I could make out what the darkness was not letting me see.  I unholstered my model 19 Glock and crouched low and approached the craft not knowing what to expect.  There they were Tucker licking the face of the stranger, while he laughed and petted Tucker.  I was about to introduce myself when through the darkness something didn’t seem right about this person.  Stepping closer I could see the left side of his face was black, and the other side was white.  I immediately thought of the mime Marcelle Marceau.  The stranger looked up at me and laughed.  Did he read my mind? 

  

The Queen Bee - By Dennis Langston 

Surprise, fear, then anger preceded eventual tears when she was overcome by the sight of her little ones on their backs with their little legs up in the air, not moving.  A sure sign of their sudden tragic end.  But how could this be?  There was no sign of any kind of struggle.  Just them laying there being so quiet and at peace in what could have been a late afternoon nap.  When they didn’t answer when she called for their return, if they had finished their daily chores. She knew something was wrong, but certainly not to this degree.  She had been so proud , as she explained to them, their importance to the world, and to have pride in how this makes them so special doing the work they perform daily. 

She felt it was her duty to impress upon them their development of a strong work ethic, to stay busy, busy, busy with no exceptions.  She also explained the art of self-defense to only protect themselves, and only use it as a last resort.  As she surveyed this senseless site of death she wondered to herself was there something she should have warned them about, and now what is she going to tell the others about the mysterious deaths of so many.  Panic slowly began to take hold of her whole being because this may not be an isolated incident, but something more sinister, and wide spread, threatening life as they know it taking away their reason to being, destroying what has been passed down from one generation to the next, and so many depend upon their work.  How is the rest of the world going to survive if they should perish.  

She took a deep breath and steeled herself for all she would have to do next.  Let the others know; sound the alarm; and make the decision to uproot their whole life and move their entire colony.  It’s been done before to ensure their survival, but it had been done due to a known cause, like a fire or something similar, but this.  How can you fight when you don’t know what you don’t know.  No, this decision she does not take lightly, and being the queen it is her decision and no one else’s.  Her subjects are loyal, and will follow her whatever she decides to do unless, of course, there arises something she failed to keep tract of due to her busy schedule…another queen bee looking to unseat her, and perhaps cause the destruction of their hive, and a chain reaction involving other hives as well.  Could this be more far reaching than she first thought.  

 

York - By Dennis Langston 

After that band of gypsy coyotes quietly walked by, the mood of our group became melancholic.  We had been at it for 3 months and we knew that what we just saw was not a sign of good times ahead.  Quite the contrary.  That was the third such sighting in a fortnight.  We knew it was going to be a long mission, and we planned for it.  But to say it is one thing.  To live it day after day, week after week until there seems to be no end in sight, is quite another.  And as gawd is my witness this is surely the other.  I tried to prepare myself, in my mind, but how was I to know what to expect having never been further than town for my entire life.  I didn’t even have a proper time to say good-bye to my woman, and child before we were fixin’ to leave.  I may never see them again.  I see the others writin’, especially the captain.  He more so, day and night.  Now I wish I had brung something to write on even if they wouldn’t let me send it back. It still woulda felt good to put it down on paper for my family to read later, just lettin ‘em know what we seed, and done on this trip.  I aint talked to William about what I desire, but surely as long as he knowd me, specially since I’m a family man too how can he not know?  Even though I was forced to come with him now that I’m here, and doing my share like all the other men I’ve earned to be a free man.  I was the one that nursed Sgt. Floyd, and did all I could until his poor ol body just gave out. 

Lawd knows how much longer this here trip gonna take, but the beauty of this untraveled land is a site to see.  Some days we walk amoung the heards of buffalo, a sea of brown thundering hooves, and horns eatin, and a grazin whit no care in the world.  Sometimes I wish I was one of them being able to roam to and fro, to and fro lawd knows I’m ready.  They are a smelly bunch, but they will provide for us after we set up our huntin party to bring down enough of them for food and other things we are aneedin.   I also like to watch the deer so preety and fast.  They are difficult to hunt ‘cause they hear and smell pretty good, and our muskette rounds only go so far.  The first shot must be true.  A second shot is a movin target harder to hit. 

We been up against death on four paws too.  Them bears aint nothin to mess with ‘cause it takes so many shots to bring em down.  The other day the captain had to be rescued from one who wanted what the captain had kilt a nice size deer.  The captain shoots then out anowhere a grizzly as big as a horse making deep grunting sounds with each stride taking aim for the captain.  Sgt. Ordway and three other men took aim on that there beast hitting it with all four shots that only made it run off not kill it.  We were all a bit shaken to see such a big animal filled with such fury be so nimble, and run so fast, and our muskette rounds havin little effect to bringing it down at such close range.  That day made us watchfull for more chance meetings with sudden death like the captain almost had.  It surely made me home sick and added to why William should let me go my way.  I will continue to do my share of what needs to be done for we must work together to stay alive so we can get back home where I will be a free man.

High Heals and Chickens - By Linda Burk 

Samantha Starr was at the top of her game. A classic beauty with raven-black hair, porcelain-white skin, startling gray eyes, and a six-foot body clad in size-one clothes. Her parents were real-estate barons in New York City. They pushed their daughter to take advantage of her good looks. 

Samantha, like many other models, was anorexic to keep her size-one figure. As a perfectionist she excelled in school and as a famous model. Her photo appeared on the cover of many fashion magazines dressed in her signature silver sequin dress with six-inch matching heels. 

Samantha lived in the center of New York City on the second floor of a brownstone. She kept to herself being too busy to notice her neighbors. Her friends were other models who mainly were interested in spas, clothes, and meeting men who had plenty of money. Her long-term boyfriend was a stockbroker. Their time together was spent mingling with the rich and famous. 

As Samantha reached her 25th birthday she had the nagging feeling that she was missing something. Her life seemed empty. Samantha was taking a few weeks off from modeling to relax. As she stretched out on her white kid-leather sofa, she fell asleep and began to dream. It was a country scene. She loved the smell of fresh manure, cattle lowing in the nearby field, and she was drawn to the yard of chickens. She immediately fell in love with these feathered creatures. They strutted around, not unlike the models on the runway. Each day of her vacation Samantha returned to that dream. After a week she was compelled to seek out some chickens. One morning she rode the subway to New Jersey and found a bus to the countryside. It was a revelation. The lack of constant horns and sirens of New York traffic, the smell of the fertilizer on the fields, and the smell of the sweet clover just mowed was intoxicating. She walked to the fenced-in yard to watch the chickens pecking for bugs in the green grass as they made little contented moaning sounds. Oh my! How she loved it! All at once an old farmer strode up to her. “What are you doing?” He eyed her tight-fitting slacks and six-inch heels slowly sinking in the dirt. Samantha was startled but made a split-second decision. She wanted to buy some chickens for pets. The farmer shook his head muttering “These darn city slickers.” But he found an old cat carrier and sold her two banty hens. Samantha hurried into her building with the covered cat carrier. The doorman did not seem surprised. “Good evening, Ms. Starr. I hope you enjoy your cats.” Samantha nodded and smiled. It would be her secret. She set up the spare room with some straw and an antique dresser on which the chickens could roost at night. The chickens were free to roam around the room. She loved to hold and pet them. But they did not seem to be thriving. She realized they needed a place to peck at bugs. Several times a week she began a routine of transporting them in the cat carrier on the subway to New Jersey and then riding her bike to a field where they happily pecked at bugs for a couple of hours, She lured them back with cracked corn. 

Samantha became obsessed with the chickens. She dropped most of her friends and her money- obsessed boyfriend. She began to eat the eggs and discovered she loved cooking and even canning fruits and vegetables from the local farmers’ market. Soon her dress size increased to a 3 and she no longer was the top model. She couldn’t understand where this passion came from. One day she went to a hypnotist. He took her back to her former life as a farmer’s wife in the 16th century. Her husband treated her badly and she took solace in the barn yard-especially with the chickens. 

She knew she had to make a choice: high heels or chicken. Samantha thought long and hard. She realized her looks would not last forever and her modeling had given her financial freedom. Her heart was in the fields of New Jersey. Her chickens wouldn’t care what she looked like. It was not a difficult choice.

My Name is Artie Jones: I Live Here in Candyville and Love This cCy - By Jim Carlson 

I noticed you one day 

noticing me from across 

the park.

If it hadn't been 

for the pond between 

us, I might have made a move.

But I just kept on 

with my noticing 

your generous smile.

Reflected in the water, 

reminded me of a 

quiet kindness.

I'll bet you like 

ice cream, and little kids. 

And would go to the beach 

with me for a swim.

Afterward, we'd get a 

Coney Island and do 

the get acquainted  

talk.

Sadly, the economy 

is bad. I'm out of work. 

And must move away.

Since we never met, 

this is where the poem ends.

Can you see me? - By Peggie Guzman 

I saw you flit to the very top, 

Confident and sure 

The view is fantastic, you said 

all blue and white and green 

Unbelievable, you said 

Can you see me? I asked 

Fresh snow on the mountain 

White and purple, you said 

Can you see me? I said 

The river runs free and wild 

White caps, sandbars 

Osprey aloft, you said 

Can you see me! I shouted 

Eagles flying high 

A view to forever, 

Beyond and beyond, you said 

Can you see me? I whispered 

Can you? I sighed

Kisses - By Peggie Guzman 

   Warm, no hot.  Near my eye.  My eye sees nothing.  So soft and hot.  A kiss?  A kiss moving down my temple to my ear, along my jaw and then to my chin.  I turned into the kiss hoping it would go on and on.  It did. On my neck and I felt it moving down.   

  I also felt hands on my arms pulling and lifting.  I didn’t resist.  I was being lifted somewhere.  Somewhere curved like a hug wrapping all around me.  The kiss was still there when I perceived rather than heard a distant murmur.  Was it the one with the soft kisses?  I wanted to stretch out that warmth, sink into it.  But no.  The voice was further away. The words were blurry and unknowable but very close and still too far away for those kisses. 

   A shake and a louder voice calling my name.  The unkissed eye saw a little light, a ruined landscape and a gray, gray sky. 

   Voices became clearer now. 

   “Medic” I heard, “the chopper landed just over that ridge.  It’s too far to carry her so we’ll have to triage right here and right now.  

   Another voice “Get a bandage on her head.  Pressure directly on the wound.  Stop the bleeding near her eye first. “ 

   “It looks like the bullet missed the eye, but I doubt she can see anything at all right now”. 

  “Is she conscious?” 

   As they rolled my body onto the stretcher, I groaned.  The kiss was gone and I longed for the comfort and warmth of it.  I began to realize what had happened to me. I had been hit and my unit was here with me giving aid. 

“Where?”  I mumbled. 

“Take it easy soldier” the voice said “we’re going for a stroll.  Hang tight we’ll be in the air shortly. You’ll make it, now we have to hustle.”   

   Loud and close to my ear, I heard “scramble, she’s stable for now but go, go, go.” 

I felt a smile in those words and slowly went back to the dream of that soft, hot kiss.

The Riddle of Randy - By Dan'l McLlhenny  

Depending on how he threw the ball,  the wall  produced a multitude of reactions; pop-ups, line drives, chop suey gounders, even blistering fast earth grazers.  Talking 

exercise and reactive response this ball at the wall challenge was as engaging as the pitchback invention.  Unlike the web-net feature though, causing the horsehide, stitched sphere to spring back at its tosser as prompted. Using the wall option mimicked a harsher reaction not at all the implying one method better than the other. 

However, to the inventor's credit the pitchback was portable and far less stressful to the ball.  

For a fascinated ball playing kid like Randy the one on one wall game was a serious activity of self-imposed physicality.  He regularly threw day after day, hour by hour 

in blissful amusement. Enhanced keenly by his rich imagination. Randy - a sidearmer pitched like Dodger ace Don Drysdale. He creating epic battles played-out in fantasy, World Series skirmishes verses Yankee pinstripe suiters such as Whitey Ford.  All in his head stuff - vivid, genuine, innocent emulations of his heroes, Randy assumed those famous few including the eloquent in the moment - play by play of Major League Baseball announcers. The spoken word, real time - storytelling of Vin Scully’s voice as the up-beat Dodger spokesman even crept into these idle times of fun. 

Life scoots along handily enough without our help but if daydream games run their course hours do mysteriously evaporate into thin air.  Having an imagination is a good thing in your youth to whittle down chunks of time before the dinner bell bongs or as a harmless substitute for adolescent boredom. But what if there were no suitable knee-jerk reactive tool immediately available; no wall, no pitchback device? Randy had another solution on hand right in his own backyard.  He could just as easily hit rocks. Not  in a mischievous way or in anger either. He’d loft a rock and bat the bugger over the family fruit trees into Mr. Quigley's vacant pasture.    

Just as concrete walls and asphalt streets surfaces limit the life of a baseball cover… 

so goes the damage done by otherwise resting rocks hand tossed-up and swung at by old wooden Louisville Slugger bats.  “And that shot is outta here, monumentally gone!” Long before Fantasy Baseball became a thing kids all over America followed their big league idols in imaginary pursuits to pass the time. For Randy, a rock ball game was equally as interesting. Depending on the time of year if assorted smallish rocks were already over harvested. Randy would busy himself hitting the discarded limes or lemons, clearing nature's natural spills with a well-practiced swing leaving his bat wafting aromatic fresh smells of dripping wet citrus smashes. He doubted Quigley ever noticed the randomly dispersed fruity discards in the mostly well overgrown weed patch of a pasture. 

Occasionally Mr. Quigley rode his horse on his five-acre miniature back forty. Never off the well-trodden perimeter trail. He was with the mounted horseman's posse and had all the flashy tack riders placed on their horses for parades. And If he had ever noticed any of Randy’s hi-arching home run spoils he never said a word. You could say the backyard and the field beyond was Randy’s sanctuary, an alternate playground where a boy could get away from it all if friends or other players were nowhere to be found.  He never had to be coaxed into amusing himself; it came quite naturally which had its own merit in La Mesa back then when the 1960’s were just beginning to leave their mark.

Yesterday Evening - By Dan'l McILhenny  

Yesterday evening 

Sitting together, sunset neared 

A cloud cornucopia made memorable skyscapes 

Layers of thinnish cloud-whites 

Highlighted against deepened azures 

Wind-tossed lingerings 

Shapes evolve ~ as intricate webworks 

Seemingly elastic  

Heads tilted back 

Our eyes gaze - seeing 

racing contrails aloft 

Passenger jet plumes 

Remains stitched-in exhaustively   

Headed  in a hurry south bullets 

Their nextings unimportant 

To our shore perch sensing place 

And West . . . 

One tiring, sparkling Sun slowly 

Dismisses this calendar date 

Teasing through bandish low hung clouds 

Momentarily ducking out of sight 

Then demanding its  

Final dazzling shine before us 

A last beautiful curtain call 

An obvious cool  

Wraps around now 

Gone the solar radiance 

Some distant cloudlings drink-up 

Fleeting pastels bashfully showing off 

New alluring hues only to assume 

Grays as darkness waltzes toward night 

Along the Pacific Coast

Lizard Races of May - By Dan'l Mcllhenny 

Today as any that cometh our way 

Is fine for the Lizard Races of May 

When reptile smiles number 

More than a few 

And push-ups seem second 

Nature too! 

We watch the path as much as 

The bushes we do 

To see them brave dashing 

Quick like the breeze 

A bit faster than Santa dares go 

Should they grow tired - 

Exhausted sprinters galore 

It won’t last so long you know 

Before resuming their dart abouts 

Ah . . . the shouts and excitement 

While we keep our keen eyes peeled 

On the Lizard Races of May

ddff