January 2017 Poetry Section

Author: Kristin Frappier, Literary Mag

Hope

Honest excitement for what’s next
Open eyes to new opportunities
Possibility of building a complete picture puzzle
Eager to embark on new road


Dream

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Determination to achieve
Respect for what is but always striving for what could be.
Endless evolving
Always there
Meaningless is no vision, hope or dream
Stainless is a dream even in times of defeat.

 

 


Trip Around the Sun

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One spin
One ride
One life
Through showers of sadness
Through clouds of confusion
Through bright day of bliss.
Along the way curveballs may be thrown
And strikes may replace home runs
But as long as travel continues
We can make our own wild ride .

Falling For a Lie

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Literary Mag

Once upon a time, in the north easternmost town in all of Rhode Island, a young boy told a very small lie that almost cost him his life…twice.

It might have been the weekend, it might have been the middle of the week, but the summer sun continued to burn through the puffy clouds in the sky, so the day of the week didn’t much matter. There were still ten glorious, freedom-filled days before the start of the new school year and on this particular morning two groups of boys–bored and restless–went looking for trouble.

Jim scampered down the winding steps from the second floor and landed in the kitchen, where his father was making a large sandwich at the counter. He was dressed in a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, and the brand new sneakers he had not yet had a chance to break in. He was already sweating, his brown hair sticking to his forehead–it was very possible he hadn’t thought to brush it or wash it all week.

He was a busy boy, a ball of some kind permanently in his hand. He could play sports with the best of them and often proved himself a worthy opponent against the older boys–including his two older brothers– in the family’s lively neighborhood. That day, his hands were empty as he made his way towards the door and he paused only when his father asked him where he was off to.

“Me and Bruce are gonna take a walk up to One Mendon to see Nana,” he said. His father nodded in approval and turned back to the platter of cold cut meats.

Jim met his friend of nearly eight years a few hundred feet from his house and together, the two 13-year-olds began their short, one mile walk. He caught a glimpse of the nursing home where his grandmother now resided. If we visit her on the way back, it won’t really be lying, he thought. He smiled to himself, pleased with his plan as he and Bruce came across a couple of older boys.

“They’re still there,” one boy informed the pair.

“Yeah, and one of their BBs just missed my eye,” said another, pointing to his unscathed face.

Without another word, the group crossed the main road and made their way across the local Almac’s parking lot, headed for the long-abandoned train trestles.

In those days, Cumberland was still home to many bustling factories that produced textiles and other goods. While shipments made their way to the customers by freight truck, in the 1800s, trains moved over the Blackstone River, whose water powered the factories before stable electricity was introduced.

By the time Jim and his band of revenge-seekers came along, the trestles were aged, and rotted in many areas. The boys’ necks craned to the top of the vacant trestles but saw no signs of any other visitors.

“Maybe they went home,” Bruce observed, wrinkles appearing on his tanned face as his eyes squinted against the bright sun. “They” were a group of boys–not unlike the cluster of young men assembled on this side of the train tracks–from the nearby town of Lincoln.

Prone to mischief, (much like any unsupervised clique) the boys from Lincoln had taken to shooting their BB guns across the river. Several pellets had been found on the grounds of the adjacent grocery store, prompting annoyance from the parents who simply could not wait for school to begin again. The boys from Cumberland and Lincoln alike had spent several days taunting one another, enjoying the thrill of a squirmish, even if it seemed nonsensical to both sides. Summer boredom often bred a longing for action and suspense.

And so it was decided that one of the Cumberland boys should survey the patch of land opposite the train tracks–which could only be properly done by climbing the rickety trestle they reasoned. Bruce declined quickly as it was widely known he was terrified of heights. For one reason or another, Jim volunteered and as he made his way up the structure his friends bet against him.

“Don’t chicken out on us now, Frapp,” they said. Jim scoffed and rolled his eyes as his hands reached for the next hold. Athletic as he was, it didn’t take Jim long before he hoisted himself up onto the train tracks and found his footing. The air was quiet and the wind provided by the 25-foot bridge cooled his sun-burnt face.

“See anything?” someone shouted from down below.

“No!” Jim yelled back, his hands cupped around his mouth to amplify the sound. He had half a mind to go back down and fill his pockets with rocks so that he could toss them over the other side of the unmarked territory. See how those jerks like it that devilish little voice inside him suggested. Surely his strong arm and a sharp enough pebble could give their BB guns a run for their money. Jim could see almost nothing, his hazel eyes blinded by the midday sun, but when he heard unfamiliar voices hooting and laughing he knew he was in trouble.

He heard the pop of those dreaded guns and heard several of the small, round BBs whistle past him as he turned every which way, searching for the best escape route, He spied an embankment to his left and raced towards it, his eyes trained on his exit. All he would have to do is jump down a few feet–easy, he thought–his short legs pumping furiously. In his haste, Jim did not notice the three railroad ties missing and his foot stepped through the gap in the bridge. He screamed in horror as his entire leg fell through the hole, sending him down, down, down into the polluted water far below…

Ronald, father of eight, had just switched on the new color TV set when the phone rang. His wife was at work and five of the children still living at home were occupied, playing games of tag and basketball in the street while his youngest son was off spending time with his beloved grandmother. He finally had the living room to himself and now that foolish phone wouldn’t stop ringing. He answered the old rotary in the kitchen gruffly, frustrated that his relaxation had to be put on hold. He hoped the phone call was important enough to warrant the interruption of his solitude, but he was not expecting the police to be on the other end of the line.

“That’s impossible, my son is visiting his grandmother…”

The three boys watched as their friend tumbled down from the great height of the trestle, landing in just a foot water. One of the older boys, Ronny, who had teased Jim mercilessly as he climbed, yelled for someone to call for help while he stepped carefully but quickly down the muddy embankment to their injured friend. Ronny called out for Jim but he did not respond. Jim seemed to be floating just under the surface of the inky water, but in the stillness he was difficult to locate.

Ronny waded through the shallow, foul-smelling water, his arms outstretched in desperate search for the other boy. When he caught a glimpse of a tuft of hair, Ronny seized the unconscious teenager by the waist and dragged him to dry land, filthy, bleeding and missing his left shoe. He felt relief sweep through his whole body as he heard the wail of a siren and just then his friend began to cough up the dye-and-who-knows-what-else-laden water.

Mr. Frappier arrived at the police station just moments after he hung up the phone. While he was thankful he was not walking into the hospital emergency room or worse the morgue, he was doubtful his son would make it to his fourteenth birthday. Jim was seated in a chair, his bloody and bruised knee exposed through a hole in his worn-out jeans and a bandage just underneath his chin. The cut appeared actively bleeding and his son was visibly shaken.

Ronald wondered if it was because of his near-death experience or because of his own entrance at the small police station. The officer at the desk dismissed the Frappier men after reminding him that the younger Frappier was lucky to be alive, having hit his knee on the bottom of the shallow span of water and somehow cutting the area just below his chin. He could have been paralyzed, bled to death or simply drowned. The two walked out of the building, Jim trailing far behind his father.

“Get over here,” his father warned, his words spoken through gritted teeth. My dad’s gonna kill me! Jim thought. He obeyed, preparing himself for his father’s incomparable tirade but was greeted with nothing but silence for the longest one mile car ride of his young life.

Jim sat in his room on a pair of pillows, bouncing a basketball against his bedroom wall. Barbara stood in the doorway of the room shared by all her other brothers, shaking her head at Jim’s stupidity,

“Looks like you won’t be needing this for a while,” she said, scooping up Jim’s baseball glove and throwing it back down onto the dresser.

“I’ll be lucky if I’ll be able to sit down at my desk at school,” he winced, shifting gingerly to find a comfortable position.

“Serves you right,” she stated bluntly, offering her scratched-up brother very little sympathy. “You scared Mom half to death. You know how Dad is about that.”

“God, what if Ronny hadn’t been there?” Jim asked.

“You would’ve been a goner for sure,” Barbara replied. “No one else was going in there after you.” The siblings had been told that Bruce had earned quite the punishment for allowing his best friend to risk his life so recklessly.

“You’d better rest up, I hear Dad’s got a long list of chores for you to do tomorrow,” she chuckled. Jim groaned dramatically, leaning his basketball and head on his knee before regretting it.

As Barbara turned to leave the room, Jim whispered “Hey Bucky, want to sneak me up some Whoppers later?” he asked, flashing a toothy smile.

“Maybe.”

December 2016 Poetry Section

Author: Kristin Frappier, Literary Mag

Merry Christmas

Mistletoe
Evergreen trees
Ribbon
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Young and old waiting all year
Christmas cookies
Hot cocoa
Red Sacks
Ice skating
Stars are angels a top the train
Tinsel
Merry memories with family and friends
A search to find the perfect gift for the naughty and nice on your list
Silver bells ringing in the snow


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Silver Bells

Sounds of the season.
In the dark a sound of hope
Love to hear them ring
Vanished only when the ringing stops.
Everlasting symbols of the season!
Ring with cheer
Bell of beauty
Evening under the stars
Lovely
Lasting not loud
Serenity even in a snowstorm!


To My Love

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You give me hope that can float!
You make my heart happy.
You make me feel like a butterfly who is bright who soars above all clouds!
These are the gifts you give to me at the holidays and beyond!
These gifts have no price tag or dollar value!
These gifts cannot be bought, sold or exchanged!
These gifts will be treasured forever!
These gifts make me feel rich with only a penny in my pocket!
All I want is you!

The Case for Santa Claus

Author: Mary Grace Donaldson, Literary Mag

When I was a little girl (actually, scratch that, from when I was a little girl until age 18), I attended a private school that was not religiously affiliated but rather a non-denominational school that welcomed children of all faiths and backgrounds.

I was exposed to several different types of cultures and traditions as a result, and I learned early on that while Christmas was the highlight of my year, many of my classmates looked forward to receiving a gift on each night of Hanukkah, or celebrated Kwanzaa or Ramadan with their families. During our school concerts, we always sang Christmas and Hanukkah songs, as well as old standards like Winter Wonderland.

However, while my classmates may have celebrated during the months of November and December differently than I did, Christmas — both the religious and secular aspects — remained at home. My parents love Christmas, and they pulled out all of the stops to make sure I had the best Christmas they could possibly give to me.

Mentions of Santa Claus “watching” began right after Thanksgiving, the North Pole was a real place as far as my parents were concerned and my grandmother even got in on the act by sending me a “Christmas Report Card” that came “From Santa. It was designed to keep track of all of my good deeds and chores from December 1 through 24.

And now, without further ado… the story I am about to tell is a true story from my childhood, and the background I’ve just provided you with is meant to show a bit of context. While I can’t certify that the dialogue is 100% accurate, I think you’ll get the picture.

It started when my parents were more than saddened when I came home from school at only age five with the following statement:

“Mom, Dad…at lunch today, the kids told me that Santa isn’t real.”

Of course, I’d defended Jolly Old Saint Nick at the lunch table, with the fervor that only a kindergartener can. But I can distinctly remember the look on one girl’s face (we’ll call her Lily to protect her identity) as she said…”Mary Grace, you know Santa is really your parents, right?”

Tears came to my eyes as I walked away from the lunch table, distraught. Was Lily right? Had it been Mom and Dad all along? 

To get back to my parents: in later years, they blamed the parents of the children who did not promote belief in Santa Claus for their failing to teach their kids to keep their mouths shut about “The Secret” of Santa’s true identity.

“I believed in Santa Claus until I was eleven!” my mom exclaimed.

But for the time being, my parents weren’t going to go down without a fight. They weren’t about to reveal “The Secret” — and they were well aware of the fact that I’d buy their story much more than I’d buy Lily’s Lunch Table Tabloids.

“Mary Grace, we know Santa is real,” my dad said. “And you know what? We’re going to prove it.”

“How?” I asked, eyes wide, already enthralled with the idea.

“We’re going to catch him on tape!” my dad cried in excitement.

My mom, having no prior knowledge of my dad’s plan to that point, played along like a champ. “Yes, we are!” she echoed.

“How?” I asked again.

“We’re going to set up the video camera in the living room by the Christmas tree,” my dad explained, his eyes twinkling.

I started to have my doubts. “How will the camera know when Santa walks in?” I asked.

My dad didn’t miss a beat. “The camera is floor activated,” he replied, my mom nodding vociferously in agreement.

Remembering that we didn’t have a fireplace, my doubts continued. “I don’t even know how Santa gets into the house,” I said. “How does he get out of the chimney?”

“The chimney goes to the basement,” my mom explained. “Santa will just come upstairs that way.”

I somehow took in all of this seemingly vital information and bought the story. I cannot remember exactly what I reported back to Lily at school the next day, but it couldn’t have been that important. We were going to catch Santa Claus in the act!

And on Christmas morning, after we opened all of the gifts and I confirmed that Santa’s cookies and milk were consumed to my satisfaction, my parents and I gathered around the TV and VCR to watch the evidence.

The video started with just a still shot of our Christmas tree and then…I heard the tinkle of the bell that hung on our basement door. A few footsteps and then…there he was! As the song says…”Cap on head, suit that’s red, special night, beard that’s white…Must be Santa!

“He was here!” I cried. I could not contain my jubilation as I watched. “Santa Claus” waved to the camera, held his big belly and gave a hearty “Ho, Ho, Ho!” Before I knew it, he was pulling the presents I’d just opened out of the giant sack he’d lugged into the living room. As if on cue, he moved over to the milk mug and plate of cookies, and ate and drank with fervor, enjoying every bite and sip. With one more wave to the camera, he was gone…and I heard the tinkle of the bell on the basement door once again.

Approximately three years and two more “Santa Cam” experiences later, I point blank asked my mom if the Tooth Fairy was real, which led to a discussion of both the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus. I found out the true identities of all three in one night. While sad, I had many questions…like, how did they catch Santa Claus on film if they’re Santa Claus?

As it turned out, my parents pulled out all of the stops more than they had already. They’d purchased a premium Santa suit, wig and beard set (as my dad has no facial hair to speak of). I then realized that my dad was skinny and the “Santa” who appeared on tape wasn’t. My mom, smart enough to realize I’d pick up on the weight difference, had stuffed the pants of the suit with pillows. Of course, the “floor activated camera” story was one they’d made up on the fly — my mom was “Santa’s” camerawoman the whole time.

After finding out all of the production secrets, I asked my parents to set up the “Santa Cam” just one more time — and, of course, they were more than happy to oblige.

Dear Life

Author: Kristin Frappier, Literary Mag

Dear Life:

I am thankful for so many aspects of you.
I am thankful for heartache because it has shown me my true strength.
I am thankful for my friends and family because even when I am imperfect they are there.
I’m thankful for new adventures that test me in new ways.
I’m thankful for taking new chances that make me feel like I can fly.
I am thankful for my loving boyfriend who has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen, can make me laugh even if I don’t want to, and has a wish not to change me but for me to see myself the way he sees me.
I am thankful for my poetry because it provide me with an outlet that allows me to keep the smile on my face.
I am thankful for a new dream and to chase new opportunities.
I am thankful for dreams and goals because they are the things that keep me driven.