by Steven Hughes Purkey
& Deirdree Prudence
The mimeograph machine whirred as he fed paper into it…torn paper…crumpled paper…he had to get this done. He had to get this shit printed, as many copies as he could, & distributed to the masses. He had to get this done.
He’d already been working for several days straight, day & night, with little to no sleep…he’d lost track, his mind a blur…he just knew that this printing was urgent.
Darryl Allan Levy pulled the final page from his hand-held copier & begin haphazardly stapling the pages together…printing, collating, folding, staples flying, he loved it. He had to get this done. It was his 1st book on his own Seven Flowers Press—poetry, collages…art that transcended definition…just as d.a. did in his personal life…He had to get this done.
It was 1967…he’d been on this Earth just 25 years, but felt his time was limited…he thought of suicide most days…when he wasn’t blowing his brains out with drugs & sex & art & poetry…He friends gave him stacks of books. He read every one of them. They kept bringing them, books of all sorts, it kept him here. On this planet. They knew when the books were no more, d.a. would be gone…
But right now he just wanted to print, to publish his & his friends’ works & enlighten the city of Cleveland, his hometown…the love of his life…
A few years back, in Mexico, the smell of adobe, the stink of loss in the dry air, the realization occurred to him that he was, in fact, a poet…not any ordinary mad man, but a real poet…an artist…& he felt it his duty to bring it to the people…on the streets…for free. He had to get this done.
He stood in the freezing cold of a Cleveland winter, snow falling hard against his body & face, as he enunciated the words of his works…sharing his profane poetry with the masses, most of which ignored him…hurried by on their way to here & there, pulling their coats closer, tighter, as they scurried away from him, narrowing their eyes. He was dressed in a tattered coat, pants too big & his dark hair & beard a mess. The residents of Cleveland looked at him, thought him homeless, a beatnik they’d heard about on the nightly news over their tv dinners. He was one of them…
d.a. passed out his passion to the strangers as they walked by…a few taking the time to stop & read a line or two…some dropping the hand-printed pamphlets to the icy frigid sidewalk, trampling over them…& trampling over him & his hopes & dreams…
He had to get this done.
The Dangerous Sunglasses
Back in the '80s, there were millions of strange and wonderful sunglasses sitting on the front of humans' faces. Many shades of shades. Everybody sported them, even dogs with bandannas. A Canadian singer had a hit about wearing them at night (in the song he explains that it's because there's no sunshine in Canada, so he may as well). One particular style that I remember being advertised during Morton Downey Junior's commercial breaks was a pair that allowed one to actually see BEHIND oneself. The lenses were flat, rectangular and black. Inside, to the immediate left and right of the corresponding eyeballs, the lenses were kind of "mirrored". I wanted a pair SO bad, but, it being the 80's, they cost like $199.95 in 8 easy payments. Expensive and confusing were NOT a good combination for a teenaged Braithwaite. I never noticed anybody wearing them, so it made me feel happy that I wasn't the only one missing out.Twenty years later, while wandering around staring at things in a yard sale, THERE THEY WERE. I gasped aloud and experienced the ecstatic bliss usually associated with winning at a Bingo parlor, only BETTER. Shaking, I slowly donned them, and could suddenly SEE BEHIND ME. They WORKED. I rotated away from the ancient lady running the operation, and...hey, she's looking at my BUTT! I laughed aloud, and couldn't stop giggling as I approached her. She said they looked good on me, and smiled. I asked her how much, and she said "a dollar." I was so excited, I had to tell her what they do. She gave me a disapproving look and told me "okay, fifty cents, but be careful." I gave her a dollar anyway, but should have listened to her advice.It was the first REAL warm Saturday of Spring, and I was strutting down the boulevard in Seattle with SUPERPOWERS. All the ladies were out in their new sundresses, and I was admiring their beauty without them noticing, like GOD does. Suddenly, I hear a loud screeching of tires followed by the blast of a horn. I had wandered out into traffic, damn near getting hit by a convertible sportscar. The driver yelled "are you BLIND?" I turned around and tripped over the curb abutting the sidewalk, my magic sunglasses flying from my face. The driver and his girlfriend laughed as I crawled, scrambling towards my spectacular spectacles, making a spectacle of myself. I put them on and stood, feeling dizzy and nauseous, with 360 degrees of vision spinning my existence.Yeah, I was heading down the wrong path, in more ways than one. I boarded the bus, and made it a point to sit in front of the foxiest gal available. I looked at her cute nose for a SECOND before RIPPING the shades from my head in a fit of guilty self-loathing. I'm a gentleman, and this was simply UNFAIR. The advantage was a perversion of nature. It just wasn't RIGHT. My conscience in crisis, I held them in my hand, wishing for nightfall to ease the temptation (this ain't Canada).Realizing I shouldn't be in public, I headed home. With no dangerous auto traffic on the bike path around Greenlake, I put 'em on. Sin aside, they were just too weird and awesome to resist. I found it funny to get out of the way of joggers and bicyclists as they approached me from behind. Big trees lined the path, and I sat in front of one, directly facing it, with my back to the path. I laughed hysterically at the people who were pointing at the crazy guy laughing at a tree.On my way home, I came across a man who didn't have one, begging for change. "HEY," he rasped, "are those the sunglasses where you can see behind yourself? I always wanted a pair of those!""Yeah. Here ya go, they're yours, and the dollar I paid for 'em. But be careful."
Jar of Fireflies
By Suemi Guerra
Every love story has a beginning,
middle, and end…
But you and I will never,
have a history or a past,
to cling on…
So you gag me with a jar of fireflies,
and my heart lights up,
like an x-ray…
When you whisper in my ear,
“I don’t love you.”
And my heart slowly crumbles,
Gag Me With A... Issue #7 is out!
Featuring: Deirdree Prudence, Steven Purkey, Fang Ela, Dr. John Callaghan, Robert Hand Ferry, Luna Blue, Alain Marciano, Derwood Morris, Braithwaite, Michele McDannold, Chris Bird, A'misa Chiu, Sarah P, Orla Foster, Mina Boromand, Samuel Joseph...& the lovely Muriel Bellini as cover & back cover artist!