Creative Writing MFA Program Portfolio Application (December 14th, 2018)

1. Dream Catcher

Fear of dying in my sleep…of dying in poverty, no career I climbed up to reflect on… just a plethora of aspirations and thoughts racing like a flock of thousands of birds headed south…while America’s democracy and rule of law corrode…gin and prayers fail to relax me…

But I am like my grandmother.

She used to listen to talk radio late at night as she fell asleep, sometimes not until three a.m.…

I watch the news on my laptop…

…five splits in the screen so we can see the face of each expert on the news panel… strikes my eyes like the rays of a plasma ball, the dendrites of a neuron under a microscope, octopus arms, jellyfish tentacles inside an aquarium…

President Trump called NFL players “sons of bitches” for kneeling during the singing of the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.

Nuclear North Korea threatens the inevitability of violence…

Even on Friday, at 11:30 p.m. when one could be doing anything… many, like MSNBC’s Brian Williams analyze our Earth’s environment and community- its well-being or lack thereof.

Caretakers indeed abound: bureaucrats, military, police, fire fighters, hospital workers, and nocturnal intellectuals, with integrity.

Thank you.

It helps me sleep…

2. Exclamation Point

What the hell… do these “history teachers” …teach?

“Texas officials: Schools should teach that slavery was ‘side issue’ to Civil

War,” says a Washington Post headline.

“Side issue?”

In the midterm elections, several Republicans sought to stifle the Black and

Native American vote.

A few weeks ago, we witnessed… the worst… anti-Jewish… massacre in U.S.


Footnote one might overlook, right?

How about an ant… to crush?

No comfort to my recurring nightmare: at an Auschwitz gas chamber…

Zyklon B…

exterminating me-a Jew, by Hitler’s definition.

No side issue to me.

Human history plagued by genocides, massacres, dispossessions, slavery,



No side issue…it’s an exclamation point!

3. Perambulations

Walking helps me meditate.

My thoughts: streaming, roaming, like wind, or birds flying.

No obligations… except to walk, and meditate.

The sky, a sheet of blank white paper.

I wish it would snow.

Yes, let winter arrive early!

Make it colder.

Cold air, so blunt, stimulating, ordering me to feel its intensity, like masterpiece art work or extra dry gin, and refreshing, like pure cranberry juice (without any added sugar) from the refrigerator, or like waking up late after a much needed, long night of sleep, and exciting too, like the first French kiss in series, igniting my nerves.

At least the air this afternoon chills enough to repel the gnats, and mosquitoes.

Autumn’s rustic bouquets blooming…I wish I could walk through its maze all day.

The air’s force, when it gusts, feels like God’s blessing, an extract of pure benevolence,

a grandparent’s kiss.

4. The skyscrapers, not the cold, bitter wind

Mark Holland, he owned the hostel where I could no longer afford to lodge; with grace, he insisted I stay.

Mark treated my poems like hundred dollar bills; If I read them to him, and listened to his lectures on music, I could stay, and food was on him.

One night, Mark was driving us to an Indian Reservation (I wish could I recall which reservation, and which tribe governed it…) to buy a brand of cigarettes he fell in love with in Montreal- Player’s Light, with the image of a ship sailing on a royal blue ocean, on the top of the cigarette box.

He played a recording of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris singing the song “Love Hurts” from the 1974 album Grievous Angel, in a two-part harmony with an ironic beauty, the kind I saw walking in the parking lot where I work, heading towards my car, at dusk, the wind-chill: 26 degrees Fahrenheit, raining, not drizzling, not pouring, just raining…ah…wow…

When I play it over and over, and think about it, a city lit up at night comes to mind, and an eclipse does too.

The song sent little earthquakes through me as I sobbed, thinking of a girl thousands of miles away, worrying I might never see her again, agreeing, love does hurt.

Mark had a penchant for such songs, with an expensive whiskey taste, burning your tongue,

warming your heart just a touch… however, beware, if you drink more than two shots,

the vocals, and the lyrics– they sting; those silk and cashmere blankets don’t shield you from the pain and the cold, bitter wind.

A month or so after my older brother bought me a plane ticket back to New Jersey, I received a phone call informing me that Mark hung himself.

Did he hear a song like “Love Hurts” in his mind when he did it?

If one of Mark Knopfler’s revered guitar solos played in his mind, instead, could it have spared his life?

He was the one who introduced me to Knopfler, and his opening guitar riff to “Money for Nothing,” while driving through Tampa.

“Wait for it… wait for it…wait for it…”  he said, as if he and the guitar were taking us up a long elevator ride towards some surprise, as a man sings in falsetto, “I want my, I want my MTV…” and then about a minute and a half later, “now!”

Fireworks explode, celebrating a skyscraper of guitar sounds!

5. Art

Music plays on my Apple laptop…the back reads: “Designed by Apple in California

Assembled in China.”

According to the “executive summary” for the China Labor Watch

Website “workers making the iPhone” are exploited, paid just $1.85 per


(Compare to my $11; compare to $7.25, America’s minimum wage).

The Guardian reports that the Foxcon Longhua factory in China, which

manufactures iPhones,

has body catching nets to curtail its suicide epidemic.

Should I trash what the workers produced in protest, and boycott?

I sigh…the music plays on…a man and woman sing: “I-I-I-O-I-I-I-O-I-O-AH- I-


According to a Business Wire article published June 23, 1999, it was a

husband and wife singing “a vocal chant” called “Jubilant Drinking Song,”

recorded in the late 1970s and incorporated without their knowledge in this

international top ten hit– the 1993 song “Return to Innocence,” by a music

group that calls itself “Enigma.”

This resulted in a lawsuit and then eventually a settlement.

The music continues…I think of wind…wind…blowing through American


…the sound of ocean waves crashing while I’m walking on the Rehoboth

Beach boardwalk, gazing at the snow falling from a dark gray, nighttime


I show the winter wind my toughness as it persists, whipping my exposed


The music inspires, and facilitates contemplation and day dreams…

6. Kavanaugh

Don’t fret 

Warriors will keep alive in the blood

-Simon Ortiz

The fight for justice…hands stretching, muscles tearing, reaching for the

sky- daunting, tempting to surrender, and submit, assuming futility, but

people walked on the moon, made a vaccine

for malaria, polio, and other diseases.

I contemplate my White Privilege, resenting every remnant of it, and scowl

at America’s

White Supremacist bigot bullies…oppressing…Native Americans, African

Americans, Arabs, Jews, Women, the non-heterosexual, the poor, the

vulnerable, the non-Christian, non-Caucasian and it disturbs me, makes me

drink my whiskey with a little extra intensity…

I fear that nothing, not a single atrocity, would have moved Justice Brett

Kavanaugh’s supporters in the Senate to oppose his confirmation (not that

we know whether he was guilty or innocent… “the allegations fail to meet

the more likely than not standard,” Senator Sue Collins said in her speech,

explaining her vote to confirm him…but the way Christine Blasey Ford’s

accusations were “investigated” in a rush- “More than 40 people with

potential information into the sexual misconduct allegations against

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh have not been contacted by the

FBI, according to multiple sources that include friends of both the nominee

and his accusers,” NBC News reported…and what about Deborah Ramirez

and Julie Swetnick who also made accusations of sexual misconduct…

ignored by the Republicans in Senate, the F.B.I., President Trump 1)– a

“sham” as many Democrats in the Senate called it!)

Even months later, Trump says he knows acting Attorney General Matthew

Whitaker, then says he doesn’t know him, adding to the reeking junkyards,

and mountain chains of venom filled sewage lies, poisoning our politics,

government, law enforcement, rhetoric, relationships, and the

Republicans– not a…flinch…


But hope…hope…hope…look at things like New England, where the snow

seems to grace with its elegance as it falls- the homicide rates there, among

the lowest in the nation…look at the gentlemen like former F.B.I. Director

James Comey, and the ladies like newly elected Congress woman of Kansas,

Sharice Davids…

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

More Americans voted for Clinton than Trump.

7. President Obama

January, 2016: I see President Barack Obama crying.

Small splotches of white salt under his dark brown, snowy night eye seem

dabbed on there by a paint brush; of course, it’s just the light reflecting off

his evaporating tears.

The photo was taken by Jim Watson for AFP/Getty Images when President

Obama was giving a speech on gun control.

November, 2008: I was 22. It was my second time voting for president.

I voted for Barack Obama.

Just the past month my father had died because his colon exploded.

After he died, I thought I lived in some other universe.

The yellow, red, orange, and brown leaves falling from tree branches

seemed to be all that could comfort me, reminding me of my father’s book

of Van Gogh paintings that I inherited.

On occasion, when those trees shook, and threw their leaves in the air,

especially when it rained, I thought maybe my father’s… ghost… was trying

to tell me something.

November, 2012: In my naiveté, I betray my fellow Americans, voting

against Obama and for Romney– my… Republican phase… failing to notice

things like, say, the nature of my own poverty, and the poverty that

surrounded me and my coworkers in the retail industry.

I failed to realize the exploitation.

I was a college dropout then, holding false assumptions.

Example: if people fail to “think and grow rich,” blame their skepticism, not their exploiters.

Less government, more optimism.

Mix errors like that with tornadoes of panic attacks… (extremely low…

serotonin level…a doctor and I later hypothesized) almost deafening,

blinding, throwing me all over the place, meddling with my thought


I returned to college, combating my anxiety with knowledge, learning to

think and analyze more critically…as I reflected on President Obama over

the years, I came to miss him.

Leave a Reply