There was this big skiffle craze happening for a while in England.... Everybody was in a skiffle group..All you needed was an acoustic Guitar, a washboard with thimbles for percussion, and a tea-chest- you know, the ones they used to ship tea from India- and you just put a broom handle on it and a bit of string, and you had a bass..you only needed two chords; Jing-jinga-jing jing-jinga-jing jing-jinga-jing jing-jinga-jing. And I think that's basically where i've always been at. I'm just a skiffler, you know. Now I do posh skiffle, that's all it is.
Limbic pursuits sink slowly and steadily lower on America's list of collective priorities. Top-ranking items remain the pursuit of wealth, physical beauty, youthful appearance, and the shifting, elusive markers of status. There are brief spasms of pleasure to be had at the end of those pursuits - the razor-thin delight of the latest purchase, the momentary glee of flaunting this promotion or that unnecessary trinket - pleasure here, but not contentment. Happiness is within range only for adroit people who give the slip to America's values. These rebels will necessarily forgo exalted titles, glamorous friends, exotic vacations, washboard abs, designer everything - all the proud indicators of upward mobility - and in exchange, they may just get a chance at a decent life. (209)
Suddenly, the man was thrown off her. Darcy looked around, but saw nothing. She rose up on her elbows to see the man climbing to his feet, shaking his head to clear it. His four comrades were looking up to the sky nervously. A huge, dark shape descended from the sky, vanishing quickly. Along with one of her attackers. Darcy was afraid to move and be taken as well. She remained still, her chest heaving. Another shape formed out of the dark sky. She could only stare openmouthed at the dragon coming right for her. Just before he touched down, the dragon shifted, taking the form of a man-a man that left her breathless and awestruck. There was no denying she was looking at a Dragon King. He stood naked, his hands at his sides while his gaze was riveted on the men who accosted her. The shadows kept much of him out of sight, but the streetlamps shed enough light of the hard sinew of his body that she wanted to see more. His lips peeled back in a snarl as he fought the four remaining men. He moved quickly, as if it were as effortless as breathing. The men began to throw huge bubbles of magic at the Dragon King. He dodged many of them. The few that hit him barely made an impact other than to infuriate him, if his bared teeth were any indication. The man-or whatever he was-who had stopped her in the pub was struck down with lethal force by the Dragon King. Darcy almost cheered, but it got lodged in her throat when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Had she not turned right then, Darcy would never have seen the second dragon swoop from the sky and wrap its talons around another of the men before flying away, crushing him. That left just two of her attackers. They and the Dragon King circled each other on the street. 'She's ours, ' one of the red-eyed men said. The Dragon King merely raised a brow. 'Think again, Dark.' More globes of magic flew from the two Dark, but the Dragon King was too fast. He came up behind one of the Dark and ripped out his spinal column. The same instant the dragon grabbed the other. Both Dark fell lifeless to the ground a moment later. Darcy hadn't moved a muscle in the few minutes that had passed. The need that had assaulted her earlier with the Dark was now gone. But she wasn't alone. The Dragon King's gaze turned to her. Darcy watched him standing in the glow of the streetlight, completely mesmerized by the dragon tat that ran from the King's right shoulder, under his armpit, and down his side to the top of his right thigh. The dragon's head was at the front of the man's shoulder and had his mouth open as if on a roar. He was rearing with his wings up and out. It was his long tail that stopped at the King's thigh. The King glistened with sweat that made his muscles gleam in the light. Darcy had the absurd notion to run her hands all over his body, learning the feel of his hard muscles and warm skin. Her gaze traveled down his wide chest to his washboard stomach and narrow waist. Then lower...
For Jenn At 12 years old I started bleeding with the moon and beating up boys who dreamed of becoming astronauts. I fought with my knuckles white as stars, and left bruises the shape of Salem. There are things we know by heart, and things we don't. At 13 my friend Jen tried to teach me how to blow rings of smoke. I'd watch the nicotine rising from her lips like halos, but I could never make dying beautiful. The sky didn't fill with colors the night I convinced myself veins are kite strings you can only cut free. I suppose I love this life, in spite of my clenched fist. I open my palm and my lifelines look like branches from an Aspen tree, and there are songbirds perched on the tips of my fingers, and I wonder if Beethoven held his breath the first time his fingers touched the keys the same way a soldier holds his breath the first time his finger clicks the trigger. We all have different reasons for forgetting to breathe. But my lungs remember the day my mother took my hand and placed it on her belly and told me the symphony beneath was my baby sister's heartbeat. And I knew life would tremble like the first tear on a prison guard's hardened cheek, like a prayer on a dying man's lips, like a vet holding a full bottle of whisky like an empty gun in a war zone... just take me just take me Sometimes the scales themselves weigh far too much, the heaviness of forever balancing blue sky with red blood. We were all born on days when too many people died in terrible ways, but you still have to call it a birthday. You still have to fall for the prettiest girl on the playground at recess and hope she knows you can hit a baseball further than any boy in the whole third grade and I've been running for home through the windpipe of a man who sings while his hands playing washboard with a spoon on a street corner in New Orleans where every boarded up window is still painted with the words We're Coming Back like a promise to the ocean that we will always keep moving towards the music, the way Basquait slept in a cardboard box to be closer to the rain. Beauty, catch me on your tongue. Thunder, clap us open. The pupils in our eyes were not born to hide beneath their desks. Tonight lay us down to rest in the Arizona desert, then wake us washing the feet of pregnant women who climbed across the border with their bellies aimed towards the sun. I know a thousand things louder than a soldier's gun. I know the heartbeat of his mother. Don't cover your ears, Love. Don't cover your ears, Life. There is a boy writing poems in Central Park and as he writes he moves and his bones become the bars of Mandela's jail cell stretching apart, and there are men playing chess in the December cold who can't tell if the breath rising from the board is their opponents or their own, and there's a woman on the stairwell of the subway swearing she can hear Niagara Falls from her rooftop in Brooklyn, and I'm remembering how Niagara Falls is a city overrun with strip malls and traffic and vendors and one incredibly brave river that makes it all worth it. Ya'll, I know this world is far from perfect. I am not the type to mistake a streetlight for the moon. I know our wounds are deep as the Atlantic. But every ocean has a shoreline and every shoreline has a tide that is constantly returning to wake the songbirds in our hands, to wake the music in our bones, to place one fearless kiss on the mouth of that brave river that has to run through the center of our hearts to find its way home.