Fast Food Warfare

Fast Food Warfare. Thanks to the editors at The Drabble.

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By S. S. Hicks

He stood in line, weighing his choices: double burger and fries, or the six-piece chicken combo.

Behind the pre-lit menu above him, he tries not to notice the dead bulb between Combo #3 and Combo #4, tries not to remember the drones he flew two hours prior, bombing a village he hadn’t heard of, checking off a list of marked buildings, turning off his screen of options, grabbing his jacket, hitting the sidewalk, opening the door to this chain restaurant where he hears the woman in front of him say to her little girl, “What would you like, my sweetheart?”

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Roadside Barns

We drove in a downward slope,
cats tonguing our winter coat with one long
lick around snowy roads.

Threaded between bramble, barns house the secret
narratives of animals setting forth on missions —
the tale of mice and mavericks.

These chalky, sedated skies spill like medicine,
when I lay hot with fever and mystery, to
when seasons held their breath,

releasing night into howl, curling lines
to show icy exhales, the strummed
language of plucked fruit and wild birds.

I viewed the dilapidated wood, crooked hinges,
birds nesting into high corners in a warm refuge
of twigs, my mind fighting off the hollow and chill,

holding onto the echo of turned pages from
children’s books, knowing country barns are
better viewed roadside.

Great? Not Today.

January 20, 2017

My high school English teacher was big on avoiding what she called bland adjectives — amazing, fantastic, wonderful. Great she especially loathed. Even telling her to have a great day could result in a death stare, but perhaps I’m taking too much creative liberty.

She was very old then so chances are she is no longer with us. Maybe it’s better she doesn’t live in an age of Twitter and Trump, who is very fond of bland adjectives, especially great. He built an entire platform on great. If she isn’t already dead, it would kill her. Bigly.

Great, she argued, is also relative. A great day for a serial killer is someone else’s bad day. Can’t argue with that. Just like you can’t seriously argue that fifty years ago was a greater time for women or people of color. I’m going to go on a limb here and say civil rights violations and crotch grabbing seemed more likely fifty years ago, even with our new Groper-in-Chief. Some might find that scary; others just call it progress.

That said — it’s not a great day.

I had a professor who professed if you say something often enough, you start to believe it. At the time she used O.J. Simpson as an example. She was certain O.J. didn’t believe he was lying because he had told himself the lie until it became his truth.

“He actually believes what he’s saying,” she said.

Seems more like a sign of a psychopath, but she blamed his ego. With a big enough appetite, ego doesn’t care for truth. It’s an insatiable monster always looking to be fed. Ego will blind you, which explains Trump, and his hair — truth lying behind a carefully combed secret.

I’m quite certain she’s not having a great day either.

I’m trying not to be fearful here when fear is what got us into this mess. So I’ll just settle on today being a Not So Great, Very Bad Day for America. Today marks a day when everything that is unjust has been validated. Set aside party politics, we now have a man in charge who ran a campaign on fear, disrespect, intolerance and coyly courting racists. Sure, party loyalists can forget that bitter little pill. But he should have been crushed. CRUSHED. Period. Seat at the table – pulled away. Otherwise a disease spreads, as we have seen since (and before) the election, and I’m not even going to mention his views on climate change or yanking away health care for millions. America, you’re dating a douche. You can do better.

No, today I won’t be telling anyone to have a great day. Not when it is clear our country has a disease.

Today, I will say, is a day we must start looking for a cure.

My Poem in Gyroscope Review

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Happy New Year All!

I’ve been on the road, trying to keep up with reading, working on poems and stories for publication and ringing in a new year with family and friends. Hope everyone had a happy holiday, or at least walked away with some good stories (ideally both).

My poem Lab Art of a Half-Life has been published in the Winter 2017 issue of Gyroscope Review! The issue is available online, and I am thrilled to be included among such a talented group.

Looking forward to a new year of writing!

The Threshold of Snowflakes

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Feel the soft empathy,
the pregnant belly sharing
a heartbeat of a million voices.

In the landscape of lies
you will find the construction of
beautiful, fragile flakes

collecting, rising to solidify
into a frozen wall,
drop by drop by drop.

And when you fall from your graces,
slip in your well-fitted shoes
when we have worn so many,

we may offer shelter
from winter’s piercing blast,
lest you understand,

above the welcome mat
snowflakes turn to ice and
ice turn to daggers.

The Nesting of Wild Things

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Birdsong begins in darkness,
humming like faulty wiring,
collecting trills placed
in bone and wind.

I felt shadows move in stillness
bowing to my fetal shape,
setting off the nightingale and
the cerulean warbler

to rest branches in my open palm,
flint to strike against the
steel moon and ignite a
flight of condors.

Running with fever down
beaches of gulls into hawk-spun
mountains, I spilled into
the soft-plumage of day

clearing the way for the
wild things at the gate,
feathers soaked in bonfire blue,
a launch of flight

leaving me covered in the
the ashes of the phoenix,
quelling the call of the nest
to put me on my journey.

So You Wanna Start a Revolution

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Begin with well-placed propaganda-
words repeated become truth.
Let them marinate, thicken with time
so they stick to the sides of the bowl.

Stir in nostalgia, fog the hindsight.
It should feel like cocoa by fireside
or glass underfoot, the searing
of the downtrodden.

Numb the resistance with
Santa’s lap, hover-boards, iPhones,
white elephants that recycle
over seasons until resting in Goodwill.

Throw in the disillusioned when
the revolution becomes the pulled
linchpin of a grenade.
Then repeat history.

“Polling Place” on The Drabble today

I know I’ve been MIA as of late, but today my piece “Polling Place” is on The Drabble.

As our exhaustingly long and contentious U.S. elections come to a close, we will continue to face division in our nation until we heal, listen and collectively stand up to hateful and misogynistic rhetoric. The work doesn’t end today, but it starts with voting.