Saturday, May 30, 2009

Life stories series: Chased clouds, empty sky

Chased clouds, empty sky
By Mike Marcellino

The Daily Prose, Volume 1, Issue 2, May 29, 2009

Two of a series

“Where to begin start? “he wondered.

“Start with radio, NPR,” as he had a portable, hand operated Shack radio. He began listening to public radio, riding his classic Japanese model bike to downtown Cleveland.

The writer was overwhelmed again. It was only the day after yesterday, the day before today. He forgot allergy pills, had stupidly got two plastic containers of conditioner at the dollar store, no shampoo. Yes, the conditioners were each a dollar.

His ability to scan labels - gone bad to worse, with or without glasses. No matter, 88 cent dime store specks, or the VA specials. He had some incurable eye condition he could have inherited from his real father, the assistant starter.

“The good news, the VA said, “double cornea transplants.”

A few years later, a really nice guy riding the Detroit bus asked the writer,” Are you on the transplant list?”

“That’s a really good question,” the writer thought to himself,”

“No. I’m not,” he answered.

“My first pair of VA glasses, gunmetal frames, high fashion,” he explained. “The top right rim split clean. “They must have been pretty thin,” he reasoned.

“Second pair, lightweights, rimless bottoms, fell apart right away, looked like silly putty,
Now that’s pretty funny if you need glasses just for show,” the writer said, wondering how he was going to write without eyesight.

“Blind people figured a way,” he knew that.

At the veterans’ medical center the writer handed the two broken glasses to the young man in the office. He asked him for a card but he didn’t have them. He said he was a “patient representative.” The writer, ex- orderly, in six months learned about health care. He was the only male on a surgical ward in Lakewood Hospital.

“These glasses are defective, contractors are ripping me and the VA off,” the writer said in consternation. “Investigate these glasses and get back to me, ok?” Without a word, he quietly put them away in a desk drawer.

Weeks later, the writer returned to the VA for another reason. He walked into the office of the patient representative and asked, “Did you look into my glasses?”

“No,” he responded, quietly and looking straight at me without another word, handed over two pair of broken glasses wrapped up in white paper and a red rubber band.

On the road, the writer rode toward the breaks in the puffy sky. He stopped on the near side bank of the river, at a drawbridge over the flats and tracks.

Junk floated on the Cuyahoga, dozens, on the layers of muck, discarded, mostly plastic bottles, all sizes, Styrofoam cups, faint, yellow striped off white rubber ball and a wooden desk drawer. Gradually, the mess on the water drifted, skating upstream.

“Fowl birds have more sense than to light on this water,” he thought. Then a goofy goose honked by.

The Cuyahoga, “crooked river,” as natives called it, was very celebrated. In the 1970s, the river’s ‘water’ caught fire. Another time, ex-mayor Ralph Perk’s set his hair on fire with a blowtorch. He aim narrowly missed the ceremonial steel ribbon. Both made world news.

The sun warmed the writer’s right shoulder. He felt it through an old green army shirt, probably Cuban. He’d done chores already – GI, no, err, rock star shower, brushed his teeth, tossed out pieces of his paper collection.

“Yikes,” he said to himself. “A call in public radio show about bikes – ageless, timeless commentators talking about ageless, timeless peddle power transportation. Right away he called the only station number on his cell phone. Turned out to be the wrong FM station but someone answered and he told him what he had to say about bikes anyway.

“We’re light years away from being ‘bike friendly,’” he told the guy at the WRONG station. “I know without doubt, this revelation won’t ever come to the earth’s most powerful nation. After all,” his thinking continued, “People in most of America’s towns, big and small, these days exist without a bus or train, intra or inner city and a third of our workers get to work carless.”

The writer remembered when he was in Saigon, it was 1968, a now and then Chinese sedan and a few motor scooters, were hopelessly outnumbered, surrounded by bikes and tricycles, aka rickshaws.

A commentator told about an LA doctor prescribing biking for a patient. “It must be a joke,” she chuckled nervously.

“Wait, don’t you know the cost of treating overweight Americans run in the trillions, and millions are dying needlessly.” he wanted to ask her.

“Where to begin,” he wondered again.

“Bikes as a means of transportation are ethic. It’s the economy stupid, if not for pleasure, adventure.

It’s a good thing for us and our planet,” he cried, into a northwest headwind.

“Is anybody listening? They still don’t get it. Isn’t that politically correct?”

“How much money does the government have for bicycles?” a caller asked.

“We have no specific sum,” a planner responded.

Then a downtown commuter called, asking about showers.

“You should live in Tulsa,” the writer could a told him.

Luckily, the writer was saved by the day. The sun chased the clouds, emptied the blue sky.

“Another day at the office,” the writer relented, landing safely again in Phoenix.

He took his usual break before starting work, reached for a wad of Gambler tobacco. A black and white portrait of a smoking cowboy stamped on the pouch, half his face in shadow, he noticed.

The writer thought, “In God we trust” for some reason.

Back in the executives’ wash room, he looked in the mirror. His hair was out of control, without shampoo for days. Reminded him of this couple he knew won a Toronto twist contest, last standing on the cream & black checkered dance floor.

“Call on John Travolta. File a class action,” he suggested.

Chased clouds, empty sky, copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life stories series: No outside signal

Art work by Ashley Pastore, Copyright 2009

No outside signal
Chapter 1
By Mike Marcellino

The Prose Daily Volume 1, Issue 1, First Edition, May 28, 2009

He woke up, not knowing how, or why, it happened. He lived with bikes in absolute mellow chaos; he was surrounded in an old dirty red brick building on West 3rd Street, just up the hill from the Flats. Made the French roast too strong, put in some 2 percent. Taking a shower should be pretty simple, but this day that is not the case. You see, the cold water has no knob, to turn it. Bike wizard, Harry, a short balding guy who says he’s Jewish, left a big wrench, that didn’t work for me the first time, letting out cold water; no matter, Cleveland water doesn’t read the bill anyway.

Today the writer used his now rusty small wrench without a problem. Out the door he goes, flying down the steep hill past the vacant run down café. Swear a cop parked his souped up Ford out front.

His first destination, carrying his unidentified army surplus pack, a laptop on his back, his hideaway of broken glass and old tires, nasty grass. He sat down on the edge of concrete, abutment to a bridge too far, a bridge to nowhere, but a clump of green hedged mixed with concrete across the chasm. The writer took a smoke, a mix of menthol Kite Turkish tobacco and what ever happened to be dropped in by a stranger.

Back on the road, he crossed the old, once mighty city’s industrial heart, The Flats. Peddling easily on his classic Japanese, he felt comfort in the passing trucks, 16 wheelers, and haulers in oil, asphalt and cement for starters. St. Mary’s the latter, Universal Oil the former.

Slipped quickly past the now quiet amphitheatre, where was it “Keith” Michaels, a once hot lead singer with Poison, turned cowboy complete with long gold hair and a matching straw hat? Got in Sunday for a dollar.

All roads lead to rock and roll in Cleveland, the edifice on the lake. But in Tower City, the old, once golden train station, the writer found solace – free rock and roll music piped in by Bose, what class, Forest City!

The Tower, the writer had once encountered years ago, on a strange day, probably running Veterans for Clinton from his hotel bedroom, fifty some yellow stickums, all with notations, the meet up and van caravan, linking up the Arkansas boys, Army, Marines and all, and some curbside revolt of Vietnam War combat veterans. Though he remembers well this spiritual occasion, suffice to say now, he called the place, “Crystal City,” after a place across the Potomac from DC.

The writer made it downtown, a bee line, pretend courier, carrying a top secret, highly classified message to Phoenix Coffee, the Cleveland + Plus version in the dim sun shadows below little, bland brick Key tower. Inside, outside no signal, he tapped at his laptop, “What to do next? I don’t have a clue, there are too many choices. But the once that suits him best is to run away.

Then he remembered, he forgot about the OD Bridge across the Cuyahoga to the East Side, raccoon suddenly shoot bike right into a city cave, he for fortune he entered into a dark or darker tunnel, the perfect flash back, waiting for the Americal and his next mission, still looking for an outside signal. Having nothing better to do, except hit the lake till his hat floats. Fuck, then he remembered, “Shit, there’s no surf in Cleveland, just tons of pollution.”

He got the key to the executive bathroom, a heavy ice cream scooper, walked though a maze of two glass doors, walls all the same fucking grey. He stopped in his tracks, a neon EXIT and that dreaded alarm warning. Open the door and all hell breaks lose, but he did it. The lock gave him trouble, on the men’s room door, adorn with a lifeless black suited symbol.

“It would help if I could see it,” he thought.

The writer was actually able to pass urine, aka, take a leak, no thanks to his prostate, bladder or kidneys.

“Free at last, free at last, thank God, free at last,” that pause in his life brought on his favorite quote.

“Ditto, Martin”

He could easily drift off into the Kennedy and King assassinations and the lack of real investigation.

“Better yet, ‘go find a guitar, play harmonica, live up to their labels.

Vincent isn't "Short" anymore, still a block south from Lake Erie, the closest to The Theatrial Grill's the Theatric Garage and a Holiday Inn Hotels and Express all weather sign's on the door of the old, historic National City Bank building.

It stopped raining. The daily commute underway in force.

"No outside signal," Chapter 1, The Daily Prose, Volume 1, Issue 1, First Edition, Copyright May 28, 2009 by Mike Marcellino, aka, Mike Marcellino, a sole proprietership in the state of Ohio, " Flash True Fiction" and "True Flash Fiction" and "True Fiction." all Copyright Mike Marcellino, aka Mike Marcellino Communications, May 28, 2009

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Once and for all

a soldier's song, unfinished
Story and photos by mike marcellino

No more ‘thank you’s,
No more memorial days,
No more salutes,
No more parades,
No more, if you please,
unless and until,
America gets it right,
soldiers' rights.

Our nation’s third century
Of GIs fighting, dying,
sticking their necks out for us,
Our way of life,
taking a hit, covering lethal charges,
save a brother’s life.

Too many body bag houses,
soldiers' homes for that the ones never coming back.
Too many wounds, terrible prices.
Too many in prison, and somehow locked up.
Too many in bodies, not spirits. Once 'n for all, get it right.

Stop starting wars for no reason,
by bad intent or the gravest mistake.
Man, like don't tell us to ‘take the hill’ when its suicide, same bloody ground we took the other day.
Starters, deciders, go fight.
Never again, send soldiers into battle, to fight,
lie wounded, coming home in disbelief, with wounds no eye can see.
Once 'n for all,
America, do your duty.

Copyright Mike Marcellino, 2009, Once and for all, a soldier's song, unfinished. Mike served in the United States Army as a combat correspondent and photojournalist in the Vietnam War. If you would like to listen to his recorded songs go to Split Pea/ce, More of his writing can be found on his Blog, Notebookwriter on Myspace as well as his Networked Blog,

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oklahoma spell, a poem

Oklahoma spell

By Mike Marcellino

With help,

And thanks to Duncan and Bubba

That spell fell on me

In Oklahoma


Clouds filled with mist

Ran through

Tops of Tulsa towers

Only interrupted

By steady rains,


Lost and confused

In Oklahoma,

But twenty some miles

Away from the home

Of Woody the road man,

Touching souls

Caught in the Great Depression

Being replayed in the muck

of the Twenty First Century.

Outside gales of Okie, forty knots

Or more, landlocked,

Finally died down to a soft breeze

Short lived,

Hidden behind our minds,


fickle Sooner winds

assaulting north an east


Sure to return

Cast away from the Gulf and Alberta.

Leaving the Okla homeless

Outta touch

Outta intelligence

Outta certain

Outta cell phone minutes,

in Indian Territory

carved outta

unwanted panhandle parts a Texas

Outta means

a communication.

Way past expiration,

minutes left in Oklahoma.

Copyright Mike Marcellino Spell Oklahoma 2009rain

Monday, May 4, 2009

Only broken text:a poem

Only broken text
Lost lake to shore transmissions.

by Mike Marcellino

Only broken text,

lost lake to shore transmissions.

Lake waters lap

curl on rock shores -

text a la Erie.

Thoughts rush,


only broken by

faint far away whistles,

trains, an other

muffled sounds, like

a motorboat skims, east

across the waters

of the lake called Erie

wet carpet of molten silver

tinted in placid black.

On the horizon

ozone circle,

light brown

crescent clouds,


with gold lace -

A single engine plane


east across the early morning blue sky,

instantly broken

by a dog's bark.

A single gull


on silver blue waters,

the sight of flight




slowly across the waters

of the lake called Erie,




by an endless, murky

light brown clouds


on the horizon,


contamination orange.

Only broken text,

lost lake to shore transmissions.




text messages

words flashing

to California

from sunup

in northern Ohio.

Only broken text,

lost lake to shore transmissions.

No signal

from the waters

of the lake called Erie.
Looking for signs,


cell systems,

piercing cries from the heavens.

Copyright by Mike Marcellino 2009 Only broken text: lost lake to shore transmissions.