GUEST POST // The Long Term by Mark Renney

The world is broken; in all the ways we predicted it would be. It cannot be repaired; it is far too late for that now. But at least you can take a break, as long as you have the funds of course. You can check into one of the Long Term Hotels. These are easily distinguished from the others with their high fences and the twenty-four hour security guards patrolling the perimeter.

When I was a kid, I used to think that they were homes for the elderly. Whenever I spotted the residents out on their balconies or lounging in the gardens, to my young eyes they did appear to be old and decrepit. When I learned the truth, that these people were the wealthiest in our society, the monied elite, I was appalled. It seemed obscene to me that they were living amidst us in the lap of luxury, flaunting their success and good fortune in our very faces from behind the high fences with the armed guards protecting them from the rabble outside.

Now I am the one on the other side of the fence, gazing out. I am the old man on the balcony and I remember my younger self and how slowly I came to realise that most people didn’t share in my outrage and were much more accepting of the hotels. They argued that they were ‘good for the City’ and created jobs, not just for the construction industry but also the hotel staff and the security details. And businesses and local shops benefited and flourished, all because of the Long Term Hotels.

I ranted and raged and they stared back at me, incredulous.

‘Why is it so wrong?’ they asked. ‘If they can afford it, why shouldn’t they check in? Who wouldn’t? Wouldn’t you? Isn’t it what we all want, isn’t it the dream? To be comfortable and to be safe?’

I remember how I answered, what I said and I believed it way back then. And I still do.

by MARK RENNEY
© All rights reserved 2022

TATI’s & TONY’s DEAD POET TOUR // Sixty to Sixteen by Victor James Daley

If I were young as you, Sixteen,
And you were old as I,
I would not be as I have been,
You would not be so shy,
We should not watch with careless mien
The golden days go by,
If I were young as you, Sixteen,
And you were old as I.

The years of youth are yours, Sixteen;
Such years of old had I,
But time has set his seal between
Dark eyebrow and dark eye.
Sere grow the leaves that once were green,
The song turns to a sigh:
Ah! very young are you, Sixteen,
And very old am I.

Red bloom-times come and go, Sixteen,
With snow-soft feet, but I
Shall be no more as I have been
In times of bloom gone by;
For dimmer grows the pleasant scene
Beneath the pleasant sky;
The world is growing old, Sixteen,
The weary world and I.

Ah, would that once again, Sixteen,
A kissing mouth had I;
The days would gaily go, I ween,
Though death should stand anigh,
If springtime’s green were evergreen,
If Love would never die,
And I were young as you, Sixteen,
And you were old as I.

by VICTOR JAMES DALEY (1858-1905)
Public Domain Poetry

PERFECTION IN ACTION // The Last Bedtime Story

Her hair was like straw, a far cry from how it used to be. She no longer adorned it with dandelions. Nor did she wear clovers or ladybugs to make it grin with a certain visual poetry. No, a brush of dry, prickly, lifeless bristles was all that greeted his touch.

“Don’t worry, honey,” she whispered, cutting a faded tress. “We’ll bring our Summer back.”

And so they painted on the lush green grass with the remnants of her youth. Dewy dandelions and sleepy ladybugs. Clovers and sweet peas. Then the hedgehogs joined them in the sunlight, and they danced.

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

SPAM® Sushi #15

Wrinklies patients may arrange forgotten the operation, and machiavellian scars are undoubtedly overlooked in the shadowy examination room.
MitchCheduby

Sure, darkened rooms are the current worldwide trend in the beauty industry. Not only wrinkles and scars can be fixed, but also unwanted birthmarks, crossed eyes, overbites and underbites. Nothing’s impossible. Just one flick of a switch and anyone will look young and beautiful!
Tati & Tony (Advocates of Natural Beauty and Looking for Black Cats in a Dark Room)

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020

Mother Love

This is a tribute to my Mother.

My Mother, who has always been there, for my Father, for my Sister. For me.

As I edge towards the end of my fifth decade of life, I find myself thinking about all that she must have done and seen, all that she must have lived through that I will never know about. What was it like for her before me? And what was it like having to give birth to a deformed child? And yet she nursed me. She raised me. She taught me to be a good boy. She loved my face.

She was there the day I discovered my Father could cry. My Sister poked gentle fun at her for falling asleep watching television. And she’d listen patiently as I babbled everything I thought my teenaged self needed to say. Of course, I’d figure it out eventually, whatever it was. It was just nice to know that someone cared.

My Mother.

She welcomed my soon to be Wife with open arms. She grieved on the day I married and left the nest. We continued to hold hands over the telephone. Her heart never abandoned me, my Mother, who was kindness personified. Who I strive to emulate.

And now I see that time has caught up with her. Now she’s a ghost of her former self, no longer the woman I grew up with, looked up to. Kindness personified has become a slow and drawn out forgetting. She is reduced to haunting the shadowed halls of her oldest memories. I hope at least it’s beautiful there.

Is it supposed to be like this? Is it not enough that we die? Must we also be stripped of everything we are and hold dear? Must we be taken away before we’re truly taken away? Yet we live like there will be a tomorrow, hopeful in the face of certain oblivion.

For my birthday this year I want the impossible gift. I want her disease to be lifted, thrown away. I want my Mother to live well into her nineties, happy and full of years. I’m not ready to let go.

I wish you could have met my Mother, back when her spark was compassionate and bright. But she is fading now, and most likely won’t remember you. My Mother, who loved my face. Who stooped low for me. Who fed me watermelon.

by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2020