by Kenneth Radu
Novelist, short story writer, poet — Kenneth Radu has the unique ability to uncover the extraordinary within the everyday, to peel back the fabric of the superficial to expose hidden depths of meaning. In “Mercy” Urban Graffiti is pleased to present Radu’s story of how a dark, unspoken family secret tears apart a family’s very foundation. ~Editor
Tattoo Nude 1. Photo © 2006 by Devin McCawley
Her head had cracked against the cement floor and she believed her life had come to an end. Her mind plummeted in a tailspin down a black well. In the descent she heard a voice demanding cunt and Adrian offering “be my guest” as if inviting him to use something he owned. She had never forgotten those words as the friend clutched her hair in a fist, repeating “holy fuck.” She would die with the stench of engine oil and whiskey swirling around her brain in the depths of the dark. Dizzy from alcohol, her brother smoked and laughed while his friend, also rank with booze, grabbed under her skirt and clawed off her panties. His nails razored her delicate flesh, he fingered her private parts, and she jolted upwards. His weight pressed hard against her breasts, she struggled to breathe, she couldn’t push him off, and she appealed to her brother: help me, Adrian, please, god, help me. A hand clamped over her mouth and she tried to bite it and scratch the guy’s face, but her jaws wouldn’t move. Both Adrian and the second friend held her arms apart by the wrists while the first friend drilled deep into her body and screams cut through the soft tissue of her brain.
by Hal Sirowitz
The day President John F. Kennedy was shot, I was at Junior High School, sitting behind the girl I had a crush on. We heard the tapping of the loudspeaker, a signal that there was going to be an announcement. Then, the principal informed us the President was being taken to the emergency room in a hospital in Dallas. A few minutes later, the principal returned to tell us that Kennedy was pronounced dead, and we now had a new President of our country. He told us school was being cancelled, and we should go home to watch further results on television. For the first time in my life I felt I was a part of history. The Cuban Missile Crisis didn’t really count, because school wasn’t terminated. Mother didn’t want to watch it on television, because she got squeamish seeing all the blood. She said the blood-stains would be hard to remove from Jacqueline Kennedy’s clothes. She called up my father to tell him the news. His secretary said he was at a meeting. Mother said she wanted to talk to him anyway. The secretary got my father on the phone. He was annoyed at being interrupted. My mother told him the news. He said he would try to get home earlier than usual. But he had to fight traffic. She said he was lucky, he didn’t have to fight death, like the President.
The People’s Poet
by Ron Kolm
Author photo © Copyright 2010 Kim Soles
I met Hal in 1980 when he was emceeing the poetry readings at St. Clement’s Church on 46th Street in Hell’s Kitchen. Hal did a terrific job in mixing the knowns and the unknowns, and then making the unknowns feel like they could end up in the pantheon of New York City poets. At the conclusion of each event Sirowitz would read some of his own work. The first time I heard him I was instantly hooked. His poems were short and funny, and in them Hal was able to project himself through his mother’s eyes. To her everything was a potential threat — especially to her family’s belonging to the mostly assimilated Jewish middle-class. Religion still played a part in his work, but almost more as a set of superstitions, than as a link to the ineffable — and it was more through the sensibility of the father than the mother. Hal’s poems were also incredibly concrete — they were filled with real things; real cats, real girlfriends, real condoms. And many of them began with the mantra, “Mother said…”
Love for the Strings:
The Art & Performance of Hikari Kesho’s Shibari Photography
a visual essay by Mark McCawley
Hikari Kesho has always had a passion for the photography of bodies, particularly the female form, exploring what he called “body expression” when at the age of 18 he began his first serious and continuing explorations of photography by enrolling in a major photo club. Often his photographic research led him to interpret the body with the use of chains, ropes, even ivy, anything that could be used to “lock” the position of the subject in a desired position, to transform the subject “more charming, more beautiful graphically, yet certainly also the most erotic” to the eye.
Gibberish, Hallucinations, Paranoia,
and the Long Way Out of Town
by Jose Padua
I can’t remember the quick way out of town anymore, and while we were stuck in traffic on North Capitol Street this morning, we saw this man standing at the entrance to this building, which is listed as the address of the Ida Mae Campbell Wellness & Resource Center. From behind the man looked like he was perhaps a businessman or even a doctor, but as we waited in traffic he remained at the door, and after a moment I could see that he was staring at a sign above the doorknob. When he turned around briefly, I could see he had a totally blank expression on his face, the look of someone who is far beyond just being lost. Then he turned back around to stare at the sign.