Welcome to Popular Ink's INDELIBLE KITCHEN.

Now get the hell out!

Really, we would love to have you stay but we would feel rude about that as we have left. As in gone, defunct, kaput. We aren't here anymore. Sometimes, when it's late and we are worried about dying, we do believe in reincarnation. So, maybe we will live again. We'll let you know if that happens.


The best thing I have ever read on craigslist

I was looking for a couch on Craig's List but got side-tracked and started looking at everything. The interesting thing about looking at furniture on Craig's List is that you get these haphazard photos that allow you to see onto someone's life. So, I was engaging in this home-furnishing voyeurism when I saw this ad:

Laminate kitchen table, 4 legs included - $23

Date: 2007-07-26, 8:42PM EDT

This is an adequate speckled laminate kitchen table. There's nothing wrong with it, but it's not the kind of table that will make your life complete. Or maybe it is. We're not getting rid of it because we're moving or because we bought a new table. We simply stopped eating so we no longer have a need for it.

It's 3' x 4'- a surface area of 12 square feet. The table surface is 30.5" above the ground, supported by 4 legs, black, made of wood of unknown origin. At one time there was a leaf that could be inserted in the middle of the table to extend it to an indescribable length, but it can't currently be located. I think a dingo stole it.

The legs are easy to attach and remove via a revolutionary wing nut attachment mechanism. Even if you don't need a kitchen table, removing and reattaching the legs would make for hours of enjoyment. Oh - and it's been tested outside its intended kitchen environment. This fine specimen has been used as a desk and to hawk wares at a garage sale just this past spring.

The table is currently wasting the days and nights away in our garage. You can verify this in the picture below. A giant poster of Jules Winnfield (as played by Samuel L. Jackson) from the movie Pulp Fiction is watching over it. The poster's for sale too.

The Dirty Border, Chapter 12 by Melanie Lamaga

In which Pooh falls in with a bad crowd and learns about interspecies dating, the Aztec calendar and to never ever to drink tequila with Jesus-Fondling-His-Likeness


"Premeditated Mooning" by Jay Snodgrass

At the end of fifth grade, on the very last day,

I drew a smiley face on my butt in order to moon

Mrs. Stringer the math teacher, who had been

My homeroom teacher the year before.

She’d grabbed me by the head one day for my insolence

And left an orbit of half moon gouges

Around the top of my cranium, a crown of bad behavior.

I knew I had to do something to get her back

So when my friend Barry suggested I moon her I

Thought that was a great idea, but I couldn’t just

Moon her because where’s the originality, where’s the

Punishment, the return scold. No I had

To come up with a pretty good way to amplify it

If I wanted it to go down as one of the greats.

So that morning I snuck my mothers mirror and a tube

Of burgundy lipstick which I threw away

After applying through the magic of the Fovea which

Is that nerve in the back of your eye

That takes the upside down image your eye gets and

Turns it right side up for the brain to process

I drew two big dark, sad, sorrowful eyes and one long

Jagged mouth across the longitude of my

Ass crack. All that day I was heady with anticipation

Not only was it the last day of school,

But I was going to paste it right out of the park with

My painted little wiggler. I had nerves up

All right, and as I saw Mrs. Stringer standing in the doorway

Of her classroom, waiving to all the good

Little ones, the ones whose company I would forsake

In the wake of my revelation, if you will,

I knew my opportunity was at hand. I seized upon the reins

And let fall the buckle shouting to get her

Attention before I bowed to the opposite of her, waving it

Back and forth like a ship to ship signal.

A few hours after I got home, my father stormed into the

House and demanded to know what I had done.

The only thing at all about this story that keeps me in a

Straight face is the fact that a few years later Mrs. Stringer

went mad and was institutionalized. I could claim credit

for that, but on the whole, it just makes me feel bad.


Installment #2 of "Shutdown" by Jeff Crouch

This is part of an ongoing story. Click here to read the first installment.

John Largent was going to have a busy night, and he walked over to one of his favorite doctors and asked for a prescription to help him with his diet.

Dr. Johnson was the doctor John Largent would go to first, if only he could find him, but the doctor he found was Dr. Zemackis.

Dr. Zemackis was busy doing his job, trying to get water to his patients and reassure them about their well being. It was sure to be a stressful evening.

John Largent would have to wait to get his prescription; Dr. Zemackis had a no-nonsense look in his eyes.

Meanwhile, Dr. Johnson was still in his office trying to figure out the best way to keep his secrets guarded.

A patient, dismissed earlier that afternoon, had begun to go door to door in her apartment building, quizzing people about their experiences at the hospital. Incredibly, she found that one out of three people she talked to had been to the hospital.

The information she got was alarming, not because people had much bad to say about the hospital, not overwhelmingly anyway, but because the information she got was altogether contradictory.

Susan James had just begun her adventure in the disconcerting.

Dr. Johnson knew better than to let the shutdown worry him. His favorite movies had always been about prison escape, and he had always had a neurotic fascination with such TV shows as Gilligan's Island and Hogan's Heroes.

A car in the parking lot burst into flames, and the flash against the window momentarily drew Dr. Johnson away from his paperwork.

Down the hall, Dr. Ward realized that his car had exploded. His trunk was full of oxygen tanks, and the blaze was miraculous. It immediately ignited the two cars next to his corvette.

Dr. Johnson signed the piece of paper he was looking at and put it in his case. The analysis made for the patient was, indeed, completely bogus, and he knew it. He had initiated another irrelevant treatment plan with suppressed glee, but he refrained from finalizing the case on the computer.

Dr. Zemackis had asked John Largent to collect water for the patients, and John Largent knew he had a clean water facility available in the hidden hospital, but he was as yet unwilling to expose the secret facility.

Instead, John Largent got on the phone to Becky Crown.

"Becky," he said, "the doctors are worried about provisions for the patients. The reporters are here or will be soon. I need you to start issuing requests for bottled water, food, blankets, and whatnot. Be sure to tell people where to bring them. Tell them Jim's Hardware has already donated $500 worth of inflatable mattresses."

Becky paused for a moment and said, "But that's only about six mattresses, John."

"Actually, it’s nine," said John.

Becky checked her messages and began to make herself ready for a long night at work.

Tim Irons, the IT Director, had managed to keep the computer system on line, but something seemed to him terribly wrong.

Dr. Ivory had approached Dr. Johnson twenty-five years ago about running a hospital where people were consistently misdiagnosed and treated for maladies they never had, and Dr. Johnson had been more than willing to cooperate.

In the inner circles of management, Dr. Ivory was known as the Recruiter, and her dedication to her work was nothing short of absolute.

During the shutdown, Dr. Ivory should have been in Cozumel enjoying a bonus package from a pharmaceutical company, but she had greater secrets to guard than Dr. Johnson.

Even before she had heard Dr. Johnson was a fan of Hogan's Heroes, Dr. Ivory made her presence known on the hospital's racquetball courts.

Shortly after Dr. Johnson began his work at the hospital, his first wife, Dr. June, had run off with her tennis instructor. He was never sure why, but then, he never really understood the workings of management.


"Wash In" by Jenny Tondera

"Big Mouth of the Missouri River Swallowed Anna Whole" by Rebecca Prashner

She had gone down to the bank to catch crawfish. The water was strangely clear that day. From the light of the clear grey sky, Anna could see all the objects that floated by. She saw a skeleton key in the current and pocketed it. Anna waded in further. Cold black mud anchored her toes to the bottom. On a day like this, she knew there were more things to find than crawfish.

Anna pocketed a lot: shiny and tarnished pennies, a shoelace, an old fishing hook, a locket. She was soon weighed down in the cold, clear water. It occurred to her that she was in the middle of the river now, with a strong current. It carried her on as she grabbed for more trinkets. She thought she saw a hippo, but those only belonged in the Nile. A grey sky casts illusions like that. Anna went rushing down the river like this. What she didn't know was that everything was turning to water in her pockets.

"empty bucket" by Rebecca Prashner

I've got a bucket
keep it out at night
I might
be thirsty
in the morning

by then
it's all
dried up

the nights
are too
& fast

"Film " by Rebecca Prashner

There's nothing blank
On a page
Missing words
Beneath a window
With blue light


Poor reading skills predict death

A new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concludes:

"Inadequate health literacy, as measured by reading fluency, independently predicts all-cause mortality and cardiovascular death among community-dwelling elderly persons. Reading fluency is a more powerful variable than education for examining the association between socioeconomic status and health. " (Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:1503-1509)



"The Dirty Border - Chapter 3" by Melanie Lamaga

“This is the first installment in a series of photos from the Tijuana border crossing, a timeless universe where cars are furniture and kitch is religion.”


"Little Teatimes" by Jay Snodgrass

Once after a brunch of needles, pastry brown blood

Stains and fennel, you brandished

The length of hair at the caller knocking at the door,

Mocking birds scrabbling to fill

Up the morning with noise. Once after a breaking

Of limbs you leaned from the broken

Car window and pawed at the ground around my feet

Like a dog after a crime.

Once after the rain came to you like a blanket

Of clover, like a shawl of empty

Shoulders, you proclaimed that the future of wood

Was an axe. We embellished

Your waxing fever with polish and the electric

Wood sander for Christmas. Then

Once you learned to walk again, the lengths of tendon

Reworked into banisters of clean light

You stole a thimble of milk and every other tick

Of seconds from the clock. The refrigerator

Heaved a stony thrumming, compressing air

In gasps. One floor tile at a time

From the alternating patterns of worn browning cream

And burgundy scuffs, got up and marched

To the basement in regiments. Once you parted

The gift of a mirror into two rooms at once

The devil rang the door bell and you scuttled. Once

In a romance of broken rocks and asphalt

You went after the redness in a robin with the left over

Steak knives shivering in the drawer.

HEY! LOOK! A poem that actually responds to our monthly theme: “Murder, Mayhem and Miniature Golf” by Tabitha Dial

She used to always be ready

for miniature golf

or croquet –

any excuse to hit a ball

around a lawn

She used to always be ready

for a little murder

at the drop of a second –

any excuse to kick

around a father figure

She used to always be ready

for a bit of mayhem

or minor chaos –

any excuse to fix

over-frayed nerves

She used to be ready.

Now she cannot be bothered

to leave the house.


"Columbia" by Roy Scholten

600 x 600 black and white digital illustration made in GraphicConverter

"Metalla" by Roy Scholten

600 x 600 black and white digital illustrations made in Graphic Converter


Dick Cheney's Man Sized Safe by Jay Snodgrass

1. Obscene

Check the box behind the door. The case lingers, violence

Like bars of chocolate. Not so secret.

Reach back. Reach back to find the throat in the dark.

The straw, wet straw. I’m drinking from this.

Hide the behaviors of the secret camps. My big blue bleeding. Contiguous synthesis.

I love this channel. What will it do tomorrow.

The desert is one after the other. Arc of names.

What he said. Let’s do it again.

This street needs covering. Its secret is exposed. You drive down to my house and burn it down. The director is giving away his books.

Lick a card. Any card. Feel the redness

Living in the night, with my sacred credit cards.

Out of the braidal perilously crocking.

Specter of the worst. Clear metal bar. Swing into the casket.


Turf! by Clay Blancett

Turf, Water, Red Ball

Hole 3 Par 2

Hole 9 Par 2

Treacherous Stones

Like the Terraces of the Inca


Ultimates by Jay Snodgrass

Here is what you think:

I said everything:

Notice the blowing, full bore,

Nightly endured

Production, still, out of bounds.

Nobody said you would make

A flywheel of ground dinosaur teeth;

–A sewage system of forgettable –

A canonic undertow of unwavering vanity,

All, reigned in to the heart-thump.

I SAID: you may

Northern. The sanctity, cowling doomsday,

The great ones wave banners.

Their gloved fist at the sky. Superhero

Dilettantes, the total crimson cut

Of cosmic declaration, a super-cision.

While the superfluous over bite, fiend to crinkle,

Listens to the over-sound: here comes

The report: Dupe. Acquittal. Spectral



"And still it goes on" by Tabitha Dial

And it still goes on

This time it happened in the car

after dinner—former husband and wife

taking out social mores again,

still hoping to screw one another over.


She probably smelled—

again—of that beautiful black,

almost the deepest brown,

wood and mud and sin-smacking lips

but never like sunshine.

Never like sunshine—

How could he resist her?


It lasted

long enough

for their signals

to reach across the pond

again and again,

playing leap frog

all last summer.

All last summer

they tried to sweeten things.

They scraped their front teeth

against the empty rind for any shred of sweetness

She put her unbroken mouth

over his, reached for his hands—

but the sky still draped

itself in black that night.

It would’ve been perfect

if there had been stars.


A New One by Gentry Hoffman

"The Mating Patterns and Courtship Rituals of Local Campus Rock Doves (you might know them as pigeons)"


"Bobbin Threader By Nature"


"The State-Job-Space-Time


by Gentry Hoffman

I deftly walk the hallway, glancing at faces. They glance at me, sure, and smile reflexively. That's muscle syntax for "I am harmless." I wonder if the hair’s-width chronology of these encounters add up. I wonder if, added together, any of these nano-smiles I pass intuit where I came from, who I've been. Do they read a casual, physical confidence, or do they just see the reciprocating muscles contract to stretch the lips into an eighth-moon, concave-up geometry? Or, do they see harmless? I find this interesting.

These people I know. I see them day after fuckless day. I can tell you names. I can tell you three names: Rebeccah. Robert. The redhead...god, I forget her name. Met her once, not long ago at a show I never in a million would have thought she'd be at. This, after years of "meeting" her around here. That's how it's worked, it's the pattern of local space-time (my physics teacher would push me over an event horizon for breaking those two up). Around here at least.

For the past seven years I've worked for the state, and the patterns are obvious at this point. I've accepted them, which is probably the meat and potatoes paradox of the "state job" continuum. The patterns are thus:

  • You get a "better" job, meaning more pay, benefits, stability, structure and less happiness (also known as a "real job").
  • You learn your job, meet the locals, form inorganic work relationships and romantic ones with people you greatly don't identify with, and you violently resist becoming one of them without realizing it.
  • You master your job to the point of supreme boredom; meanwhile people come and go (see: Turnover) and you hope it's not the cool ones.
  • You begin to loathe your job. Meanwhile, you begin to procrastinate and the quality of your work beings to decline, while ironically your performance evaluations get better and better.
  • They consummate the soul-job transaction by consistently giving you marginal cost-of-living raises, and the random yet slightly larger ones for those great evaluations you've been getting recently.
  • You think to yourself often how you really need to get away from this place.
  • See bullets four and five above. Repeat. Reflect.
  • You become one of them without realizing it.

Ok, so we were at the part of the pattern of seeing people every day for years without meeting them. Right. And so then one day a meeting is facilitated by the gods of chance and random number theory. You meet, you exchange names and so you are now not just a smile. This is nice, this is personal. The pattern is strange: the flirty smiles were always there, but so was the plexiglass wall that always aligned at an angle perpendicular to the line between our smiles. Mathematically, two points in the plexiglass could be used to define our smiles, with a basis vectors at the origin of the tower where we both work. Why did we never speak before? How many smile lines were defined before finally our chance meeting? I find this interesting.

The emotional epaulet "desperate" is fastened by a passant to her right shoulder (looking at her, on my left). It's hard for me to keep from staring at it during our conversation. I can't decide if it's this, or the banality of it all that is disappointingly familiar, but I am not one to hide my stripes either (emotional bobbin threader by nature), and so this makes for an awkward conversation. Little meaningless collisions of nothing. It's like when a feather slams into a feather. As opposed to matter v. antimatter. I'm still waiting do discover the dark stuff. I find this interesting.

At lunch there are animals to deal with. I say "deal with" and not "look at" or "enjoy" because they are very familiar with our patterns. They are urban fauna. Street smart rock doves (you might know them as pigeons), they push and hustle and huckster their way around campus, jostling their way to scraps and bun seeds and the occasional errant french fry. The grackles are ubiquitous and nasty with their audacity. They will swoop/snatch/perch their way from meal to meal. The whole exercise reminds me of Oliver Twist.

Romantically, pigeons and students are inseparable to me at this point. Their mating patters share not only a cadence but a sweetness and a dirtiness. The male student/pigeon is tenacious from the instant of any signal recognition. They are on it, and they can't be stopped. They are young and energized and in it to win it. Little factories of hormones drive-chain the machinery and presto-bango, love! The posturing, the ruffling and preening, the puffing. These are the performance arts of hormone love. The courtship ritual is a dirty-feet street ballet. They workshop these courtships for future performances. They learn their blocking, beat. They learn their faces, beat. They practice their lines, scene.


More Water by Clay Blancett

"I Have the Stones"

"Marineland of Florida"

"The Wreck of Tug 945"

Discuss amongst yourselves.


OK-Water it is, Then by Clay Blancett

"Gilley's Creek"

"Out Nine Mile Rd."

"The James Under 95"


My Interstice by Jay Snodgrass

My life is a white zeppelin over a sporting event.

So up there, I’m all gosh and serrations.

I wish there were another, a dark zeppelin

that would come and do aerial combat with the first.

I would have Ollie North narrate for the History

channel. What a struggle. No one will ever again

notice the athletes murdering their wives.

& every explosion will be a shower of perfectly salted

peanuts, & with the crack of each shell

each person in the stadium will get three more years

to live & go shopping for antique ottomans.

It is the dark zeppelin of my youth, & it is winning,

volleying canon shot after laser beam. & the evil zeppelin

of my life is falling now in to the stadium which

languishes like a woman. Cut to Freud commercial.

Now back to the collapsing evil zeppelin ablaze now

all skeleton, striking mid field the Dolphin’s home game.

O weeping humanity, I need a slushy over here, my life

is so on display. The ribs of the dead zeppelin are my own

window blinds & the neighbors are tearing away from televisions

which means they’re breaking off their own faces

to look in at me, my weeping secrets inferno-ed

& the clouds are trollop heavy, candy soft & what I’m amazed

at is how perfectly gleaming is my black, black zeppelin.



Drums of Chemical Waste by Jay Snodgrass

Under the sledge,

Drums of waste, fruitful waste cavorting

to the transom. Weak wet-kneed belligerence

tinder in the forest dream. Soon this too

will be on fire.

Drums of casket ashes

Drums of wedding vows

stinging waves

cover their barnacled wrists

to hide the shame of it. Ensues

the vacating, the renter’s paradigm.

Meet out the measure of time, one saw

draws across the hope, perilous hope

of clearing the contaminants.

The other, the exhaling saw-stroke,

watches TV on the broken-in couch.

nothing is too sacred.

Exhale to drum

bleat, ash to drum,

steam light & fume-

watch, the wisdom of the drum.

Down in the fish-well the drum, ribbed

luminous monument, forever left of tide

smears its front with dribble, waxes

to the ride.

Soon, even this will be on fire.


"Poemophone: Optima" A Sound Sculpture by Tracey Cockrell

7" x 13" x 12"
typewriter, steel, cherry

The act of typing sets this sound sculpture in motion. "Poemophone: Optima" was used to generate a series of collaborative performances with artists, writers and musicians. "Optima" is the first of an edition of eight similarly altered typewriters--each based on the musical instrument, the mbira. Each altered typewriter has a unique tuning system or voice. Each of these eight "Poemophones" will be sent to one of eight writers who will spend several months developing written compositions for use in performance and recordings.

Detail from "Poemophone" by Tracey Cockrell


"Television" by Ira Joel Haber

"Falling" by Emily Anderson

Following our harrowing escape from the orphanage, we stumbled upon a big empty house on top of a great big cliff overlooking a small circle of the great big sea; seals and baby seals brayed on the beach below.

There was no furniture in that house, only empty rooms made of hard pink granite and soft golden sandstone, sometimes in stripes. The windows had no glass in them at all which caused some of us to wonder whether or not they really were windows, or if they were just holes. Initially I supported the former theory, that the windows were windows, since they were clearly part of a structure that had been designed to be a house, and in fact themselves supported the house’s houseness, by providing vistas like that of the sea for in front of the sink while washing supper dishes, and like by letting in white moths and moonlight, and of giving yellow squares to the stone floor for standing in and jumping through all day long, all of which are things that never happened at the orphanage and supposedly happen in houses, the way mommies and daddies and pets and cows and policemen happen in at or around houses. But events have now led me to the opposite conclusion: that what I believed were windows were simply holes.

At night, through the spaces where the moths and moonlight come, we hear along down the beach the seals’ barking and the baby seals’ squeaking, the waves that we know from daylight to be white crashing against the rocks that are black day or night, and at last, the tear and snag of a motor. Then a pop of light.

That white pop, dipping and jumping, seizing and slumping, apprehends all of us: the seals barking on the beach, our pink and gold house leaning across the black with white sky, the pallid children with wrists sticking from outgrown cuffs leaning so very far out. The only thing that light can never catch is the cliff, so black white light will not see it.

There were as many as twenty-six of us when we left the orphanage during its moment of distraction (while the bathtubs were developing hair and gin and growing grandfathers who were not our grandfathers, while the dark closets were sprouting orphans on cords and rats on vines, while the silk kimonos were unearthing women, steaming laundry, and sweet purply smoke) but now there are not so many of us. Not so many now but also so many then that I have lost count.

The white grows until it is stretched across the beach like a white windowshade. The motor glugs and when it stops the sea is loud and lapping black against the beach. We see men. Men who are not afraid of getting wet up to their knees with black water and men who are not afraid of getting white sand stuck to their wet boots. Men who whisper and work quick. Seals with rolls. Seals with flips.

The white windowshade rolls up with a motor sound. All of us orphans squeeze so close to lean out it’s like there’s only one of us, instead of twenty-six or twenty-five or -four. We watch the shade roll up black. It lets go the streaks of blood and sealshadow on the white beach. Blinks away the pink and gold house and its stretch into sky. Lets go the orphans’ leaning eyes and outgrown clothes: it lets all of us go, but lets one of us go most.

The last day I spent at the house, before I left to meet your mother and make her my wife, I ate a good orphan breakfast, oatmeal, from a big kettle. Even though I was almost grown-up I got caught up again in the old argument, of whether the house’s windows were windows or really holes. Even then I insisted they were windows. I became so angry with the argument that I bit through the oatmeal into my tongue, and tasted some of my own blood. But there was no one to feel sorry for me because by then only I was left.


Presidents by Ira Joel Haber

The Third World in the First Person by Alyssa Kelly

I am tired of myself.

Taking up too much space in the grocery store on an afternoon bruised with stress.

Where is the priest with the bullet in his bathrobe on the lawn of San Salvador morning?

Not on the cereal aisle. Not in my car. Not on the ballot. Not without struggle.

I do not know myself.

Choices are made, milk is drunk, rent was due.

Who am I but a reflection of you? And you and you and you.

Trust the billboard that reminds us to pay attention.

I am trying to listen.

Almost Cheating by Alyssa Kelly

Almost cheating is that almost car wreck

You could see coming, but avoided in

The last second. Except this accident

Is one you sped towards, pressing down the

Gas pedal and unbuckling your seatbelt—

Coming close enough to see the bristles

Of a two-day beard, to hear uneven breath,

To breathe a deepness of his for your own.

But, you averted the kiss that would have

Tasted like Spanish wine and cigarettes,

A harvest of sad-song regret, and the

Unimaginable consequence of

Skin and muscle scraping against asphalt

At seventy-five miles per hour.


Your Basic Love Poem that Can Be Read at Any Wedding by M. C. Boyes

Boyes sent this to us to post because people are always contacting the author asking for recommendations on a poem that can be read at weddings. Boyes noted that people want something accessible and lyrical--nothing too tough. After searching far and wide and coming up empty-handed (well, not really empty-handed--there are a lot of great love poems out there but the accessible ones are over-used), Boyes decided to write the poem that appears below.

Feel free to use it at your wedding. If you do, leave a comment here so Boyes can feel gratified. Boyes has also requested that you send interesting wedding photos to The Indelible Kitchen. We promise to publish the really good ones.

Your Basic Love Poem that Can Be Read at Any Wedding

Things in their most basic form

are the hardest to put words around:

the winged tail of a shrimp.

a freshly washed pillow case,

growing crisp in the autumn air.

The late winter sun

quenching itself on a bowlful

of snow. The half moon

resting, always,

in your right thumbnail.

What I mean is this—

after the long ride home

when the grass is wet, and the dishes

have been dried, and the wrinkles

have begun to set themselves

in lines more broad

than fine, there will be you—

asleep. Your head in its infinite state

of undress. Each hair

set upon another

wrestling against the grains,

that by some unwritten rule,

must form in your blue eyes.

There will be you, again.


Alight, aloft, adrift,

in my arms alone.

There will be you

and me

and we will be

at home.

-M. C. Boyes


Call Me Crazy by James Robert Daniels

PORT TOWNSEND, WASHINGTON, USA, 2006—Our local newspaper conducts a poll. This is the question: “How should we respond to the problem of homelessness in Jefferson County?”

A quarter of the people think that we should “urge the creation of affordable housing.” However, only 2% favor subsidized rent. This is in a county where many working persons search for two, three or four low-wage jobs to pay the rent. This is at a time when the minimum wage in our country is $5.15 per hour. Twenty-five percent of the working families in the United States of America don’t earn enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

This American small-town paper suggests the choice of allowing tent cities in public parks. Less than 6% of the citizens like that idea. We know about the tent city that Seattle has had for years. It began secretly in the woods in the middle of the city. Those people have been moved around constantly, ever since the city cracked down and bulldozed the encampment. The latest site is a clean and quiet church parking lot—surrounded by a worried neighborhood—in the suburbs.

There’s another option for us: crack down on illegal camps and prosecute offenders. Seattle has responded to people with nowhere to go. They’ve passed a law against sitting on the sidewalk. Another recent proposal there is to cut down the trees and remove the benches in public parks. Apparently the parks won’t be so attractive (to the homeless) then. New York City responds, as well. The homeless move on when prodded by police or they face arrest. How an unemployed, destitute, homeless person who has been prosecuted is supposed to pay the fine remains a mystery. A quarter of our home town’s survey respondents are all for “cracking down.” Just like the big cities, we would love to kick homeless people out. Let them go to the next neighborhood, the next town, city, county or state.

No word on how the individuals, the families, the elderly and the children we throw out will travel. Where they will go is not our concern.

Nobody seems to know who these people are—these people with no homes and no money, these people we want to fine.

Elaine was one of them, once. She quit her job and moved in order to be with her daughter who, pregnant with twins, was in a car accident. Elaine’s sister kindly opened her home to Elaine and her three children until Elaine could find work. Because of the car accident, Elaine’s daughter gave birth 12 weeks early to twin girls. Less than three weeks later, with those two babies still fighting for their lives, her sister’s house burned down. They were, all of them, suddenly homeless.

Carol had been out of work for three years and was still looking for a job, any job, when her unemployment compensation ran out. Katherine, a stranger, helped Casrol out until she found work. Then Katherine’s employer (perhaps the largest retailer in the world) fired her because of her disability (in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, incidentally).

Elsewhere in the land, Madeline, her husband and their five children found out the hard way that a water pipe under their house had been leaking. They suddenly got an unbelievable water bill from the City of Baltimore. They fixed the pipe and paid extra on their utility bill for months. That wasn’t good enough. The city sent them a notice that the land under their paid-off home would be seized and sold at auction for the balance they still owed: $310.09.

These folks are the lucky ones. With a little help from family, friends and strangers; with perseverance and hard work, in time, they’ve all got back to living from one paycheck to the next. The thing is, this can happen to anyone.

Elaine and Carol and Katherine and Madeline were not homeless. They have faced houselessness. Jessica, on the other hand, was homeless at age 20. She was completely alone in Union Square in New York City, with nothing but a few clothes and a tin cup. Someone cared enough to give her shelter for five days, until she could get herself into a place to live and a new, self-sufficient life. Jessica collected $2.68 in her tin cup on that day. She used it to help another stranger, a mother of three children, pay her rent.

I’ve been houseless in the past. I have not yet been homeless. Houselessness is not something to be feared, however awful you may think that would be for you. Like poverty, being without a place to live is just another obstacle. Sure, it can be overwhelming. When you are poor in America, everything is a struggle. If you have to give blood to get gas money to look for work, to make enough to go somewhere and apply for a “permanent job,” you are afraid of failure. When you wonder whether you’ll run out of gas at the end of the day and end up at the side of the road, with no way to even get back to your temporary “home,” you know fear.

But that is not the meaning of “homelessness.” Homeless means that you have nobody to turn to. It means that you have not only no shelter, but that you have no community, no family, not a single person in the world who will take you in. This very real fear rules the lives of many Americans today.

A survey conducted recently by Woman’s Day Magazine asks, “If you were laid off from work today, what could you afford to buy?” The overwhelming response, at 68% across the land, is this: “A pack of tissues to sob into.”

So what about that survey in our town? Here is the overwhelming, number-one response. The question: “How should we respond to the problem of homelessness in Jefferson County? Our answer: Focus on social programs that deal with mental health and substance abuse.”

Well, such programs may be a good idea for all of us. There are crazy people on our streets and drug addicts in our parks. Just as there are crazy people and drug addicts in our towns, cities, suburbs, offices and, yes, even in our capitol. But I thought the question was about homelessness. Call me crazy.

This essay originally appeared in Spring Hill Review, June 2005.


Soup Delirium

Overweight in the prime of stretching

I cave onto your bacon. Spans of roomy

deprivation. Scores of searing pan edges

marking my extremities. One arm

for breakfast. One arm for snake.

Try to dislodge the Alligator from the Python.

Meet the convex of city streets wherein

none of nature’s mastications are performed.

& suddenly it’s raining so hard, & there’s no where

to go. The sewer’s filling. The water’s up

to my knees. I’m sweating a little too, which

contributes. My clothes are pressing in on me

marking my skin with red pictures of hunting

animals and barcodes: a menu of simmering.


An Excerpt from “Adman” by Corey Mesler

So we say there’s no caffeine in our toothpaste.”

“That’s right.”

“There is no caffeine in toothpaste.”

“Right. We say that.”

“But there’s never been caffeine in our toothpaste.”

“That’s the pitch. ‘Always caffeine free’.”

“There’s never been—“


“And people will think…”

“That other toothpastes maybe, just might, perhaps have just a little caffeine.”

“Which they don’t want.”

“Not in their toothpaste.”

-“Adman” originally appeared in Heat City Review.


Notice by Louise Weinberg

“Notice” by Louise Weinberg. Photo collage with thread, ink, French bereavement envelope and vellum, 2006.

The Movement of High Waters by Louise Weinberg

"The Movement of High Waters," by Louise Weinberg. Photo collage print, 2005.


Sanguinistas! by Jay Snodgrass

I’m through bringing you these little vials.

In your vestment armor I envision a cleansing of the meat board.

Still no hammer can straighten the victory loom.

Saddle your viewfinder with the trembling of weaving.

You ought not prune your Hydrangea with the broadsword of Lo-angrick!

Swing me to the myriad. I have enlargened the hoop straddle

with ingots of Thule.

Gorge wedded to the throng toggle, I, steeple grouched the heathens,

but with flowers, sweet purple Pansies, Goth-weaver.

I’m journeying to the Mall of your choice in order

register thee, my cellular to the battle axe. such

a pretty compliment to the broken tooth,

also the queenly crown, her smooth crash:

Nordrun the cruise liner wishes to bury you.


Alex Podesta: Not Just Giant Rabbits

Alex Podesta, known for his giant man/rabbit sculptures, also makes other things. Here are some of them, plus a giant man/rabbit sculpture thrown in for good measure.

Podesta will be exhibiting his work at a show opening July 3 at Andrechsgalerie in Innsbruck, Austria and one opening August 4 at the New Orleans Contemporary Art Center.

Donations in Honor of Jonny Z/Jonathan Zanin

This is a repeat of an older post. We have posted this again as Jonny Z was a friedn to Popular Ink and we hope to get the word out so that people who want to donate to his causes can.

If you wish to send a donation to honor the late musician, activist and artist Jonny Z you can send a check to Chop Suey Books. You can support the nonprofit group dedicated to feeding the hungry, Food Not Bombs, or you can contribute to the Nonesuch Fund to help pay rent on the store that will be in serious straits because of Jonny Z's death.

Chop Suey Books

1317 West Cary Street

Richmond, VA 23220

(804) 497-4705


(To post a memory, a link or other info or to read memories of Jonny Z or view links relating to Jonny, see the entry “Jonathan Zanin: A Kiss for Jonny Z”)


A New Story by Zack Wilson


By Zack Wilson

My last crush occurred when I was 29 and still a schoolteacher. I suppose my age and workplace are relevant. She taught foreign languages and her name was Rachel.

She was a beautiful woman without realising it. About five years younger than me. Her hair was chestnut brown, like her eyes. She had big hands and her skin was ivory—white and soft. I thought I loved her.

I hung about with her most of the time at work. We always sat together in the staffroom. I took her shopping in the Christmas sales. We even went on holiday together for a few days in Edinburgh with some mutual friends. I really thought she liked me. Maybe I thought that if I just hung around with her long enough then we would become a couple.

She had a long-term boyfriend whom she left. I felt like I had a chance. I didn’t. She got back together with him when he got drunk and lay on her mother’s sofa calling her name into a bucket.

Just before the whole thing completely broke my heart and contributed to an alcoholic breakdown, I sat behind her at the Year 11 Awards Evening. This event was a load of self-serving toss dreamt up by the headteacher because of difficulties with Ofsted. It was also an event marked by the speech of a self-declared ‘Motivator’.

This bleached haired twat had been invited into the school as part of what was called ‘The Unstoppable Teen’ programme. This involved vast numbers of children of average ability being taken out of GCSE lessons to go and see this dickhead, who told them that they weren’t average but were brilliant and that they could all achieve great grades. Quite how not being in GCSE lessons would help this, I wasn’t sure. I am sure his fee came directly out of the school’s annual budget.

Anyway, I attended this event because I had to and sat behind Rachel. I’d smoked some dodgy hash to help get me through it and this probably made me a little solipsistic. I think she had a dress on and some kind of cream coloured woollen jumper. Her hair looked darker than usual and had had its style changed indeterminately and subtly in a way that took my breath away. She never looked like she wore makeup. Sitting behind her I could see the way her eyes shone in the twilit hall when she turned to one side.

The evening progressed without incident. There were some speeches and some prizes were handed out. I noticed one of Rachel’s dark brown hairs trailing across her cream shoulder as we stood to applaud deserving geographers or Special Needs scientists. Rachel applauded and smiled with the enthusiasm of a girl who’s been given a pony for Christmas. I couldn’t take my eyes off the trailing hair.

The headteacher made a speech. I can’t recall the details. The Motivator came on.

He told us about himself. About how he’d been a professional footballer as a youth, but had had a bad injury. He’d been hopeless and thought his career, even his life, was over. Rachel looked sympathetic and beautiful in the light reflecting from the stage.

But he’d picked himself up and gone to America. In America, he’d found a way to work, and a way to make money. I lost interest here, but Rachel didn’t. He went on to say something about how he’d found out he had a gift for public speaking. We all have a gift, he said, his blonde hair trembling in the spotlight. I

I noticed a tiny black insect crawling along, parallel to the dark strand of hair on Rachel’s shoulder. I wanted to tell her. I wanted to move it, catch it, hunt it down for her.

Her head was gazing at the trembling blonde thing in the spotlight. He was telling random Year 11s that they were “the best” and pointing into the audience. I forget what had led him to it. I tried to whisper “Rach” twice or three times. She deliberately ignored me.

The grey haired woman next to her smiled sympathetically at me. I grinned back. I tried to remove the insect discreetly with my index finger and thumb, but Rachel lifted her shoulders suddenly and moved slightly forward. She was besotted with the stage.

My hand slapped her on the shoulder, smudging the insect. She leaned forward, away from my offending hands. I could tell that she wasn’t grateful. I tried to stutter an explanation. She dismissed me with an underarm wave and I saw withheld tears reddening her eyes as the speech on stage finished and we all stood to applaud.

I didn’t speak to her again that evening.

I can’t remember speaking to her ever again, actually, and I wish there was some way now that I could tell what I lost.