OUT OF TOUCH / OFF TO AFRICA

For the past few days I’ve organizing my trip to Africa.

Kenya and Tanzania.

For the Kilimanjaro Initiative.

I shall be escorting three young adults from Brooklyn to Nairobi and then accompanying this trio and five Kenyans to the Masai tribelands in Tanzania before attempting a climb of Africa’s highest mountain.

Kilimanjaro is over 19,000 feet tall.

My friends have given even odds of reaching the dormant volcano’s rim.

My sister have less faith in me.

I think I will make it.

I want to.

At noon we shall board a Kenyan Airline flight to Nairobi.

Fifteen hours we shall land in the largest city in East Africa.

Africa.

So very far away, but tomorrow my feet shall stand on the Mother Continent.

Asante Life.

SKIN COLD AS ICE by Peter Nolan Smith

When Lou Reed died seven years ago, a friend called to ask, if I had known the singer.

I said, “No.”

El-Roy was a pussy hound and asked if I thought Nico was a good fuck.

“I don’t know,” I replied and hung up thinking one thing.

The Velvet Underground’s singer was probably great in bed and I recalled a Nico lookalike back in Paris during the 80s.

Mirabelle was a blonde aristocratic junkie model, who had greater success ripping off rich men than getting on the covers of VOGUE or ELLE.

I was working at the Bains Douche as a doorman. Only the Palace and Le Sept rivaled the old bathhouse for the supreme destination of the night. Les Bains was small. 500 people was the legal capacity. On the nights new wave and punk bands played in the basement over 700 people packed the club for THE GANG OF FOUR. Fabrice, the owner, complained about the crush and I explained everyone who was anyone wanted to be there.

“Did they all pay?”

“100%,” I answered knowing

At that time over 200,000 Americans resided in the French capitol. Most of my countrymen worked at banks or attended university. My job offered better perks than pay or wisdom, especially since the patron of the Bains-Douches had granted me the power to treat the French ‘comme le merde que ils sont’.

Personally I liked the natives, however Fabrice was the boss and my restrictive door policy earned the hatred of most of the Parisian demi-monde. I learned countless insult in French. None of the abuse mattered, because my friends and beautiful women received star treatment at Les Bains.

Mirabelle was a favorite thanks my preference for skinny women.

One winter night the blonde accompanied me back to my flat on the Ile St. Louis.

We snorted some H and made love without satisfaction until the drug sang us to sleep.

Neither of us took off our clothes.

The next morning I woke to the bells of Notre Dame.

The windows were open and I shivered with the cold.

Mirabelle’s skin was ice to my touch.

I thought she was dead and grew hard as a rock realizing that realize the dead can’t feel anything and shove my cock in her bony ass. My medical diagnosis was wrong. The first thrust woke her from the grave and Mirabelle said, “Plus profound.”,then her lungs drew a shallow breath.

I closed the window and fucked her with the dawn.

It was like making love to a beautiful corpse

And she gave a death rattle as a moan.

“Good?” I asked from on top.

She simply pleaded, “Encore.”

I gave what she wanted. Another line of China White, Mirabelle was very good at being a bad girl

And I bet Nico was the same.

A goddess best undressed in the cold.

A Winter Poem

Last year my friend Alison in Palm Beach found this poem. Her trees were dying from the cold.

” WINTER ” by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

Shit It’s Cold

The End

That was one of coldest weeks in American weather history.

Even Florida had snow.

Winters weren’t always that way and maybe next year will be normal, but in April 1971 I escaped the cold in Boston by driving to Florida with Mark, John, and Tommy. It was spring break. We had rented a house in Fort Lauderdale across from the infamous Elbow Room.

The Sunshine State’s drinking age was 18.

The four of us were legal.

We crossed the state line around 9pm. WBZ was on the radio. The Boston station was broadcasting the NHL play-offs. Bruins-Canadians. We were leading ‘les Habitants’ by 2 goals in the 3rd period. The station’s 50,000 kilowatt signal gave out at the ‘free OJ’ welcome stand. We reached Fort Lauderdale at dawn. We went to swim at sunrise. I read the morning newspaper on the beach. The Bruins has lost 7-5. None of my friends cared about the loss.

We were on a beach with girls in bikinis.

There was no more winter.

Slurpee Waves

Slurpee Waves

The winter of 2014-2015 achieved record colds throughout New England. The accumulated snowfall in Boston towered over humans, shutting down highways and public transportation. Even worse were the incessant sub-zero temperatures freezing rivers and coating the ocean with a thick slush tapping at the coast.

At the end of February Brian Sagar photographed a series of frozen waves crashing to the shore in Newburyport.

According to boredpanda.com, Nimerfroh said that the high temperature that day had been only 19F, or -7C, cold enough for ice to form near the shore, but not cold enough to form solid pieces of ice, which is why the waves had to travel through a layer of slush to reach the shore.

No one was attempting to surf these ‘Slurpee’ waves.

But some fool attempted to bogey board them.

The phenomenal swells vanished after a half-hour and the sea went flat.

2015 had been a cold winter indeed.

BROKEN ICE by Peter Nolan Smith

Back in the last century the rivers, lakes, and ponds froze solid during the New England winters. Fishing shacks were dragged onto the ice and young boys played hockey in sub-zero temperatures with fires blazing on shore to warm frostbit fingers and toes. Daring teenagers drove across the smooth surfaces and their big Detroit cars gracefully spun 360s like sequined Ice Capades performers.

Everyone loved the ice, but respected the danger of falling through the ice.

Mickie Finn tried a shortcut across Turner’s Pond. He didn’t make it across and two days later the police divers found his blueish body. The entire town mourned his passing. He was one of us and any one of us could have been him.

Dead well before our time and every parent in the town forbad pond hockey after that tragedy.

None of us heeded their warnings. The young were destined to live forever, but we always brought a long length of rope to our afternoon sessions on Dog Pond.

Hockey was in our blood and with any luck one of us might play for BC High or even for our beloved Boston Bruins.

I was not a good hockey player, but I was no bender.

My cousin, Oilcan, or his two brothers, were the stars. Our scratch team included my next door neighbor, Chuckie, and my older brother, Frunk, in goal, who skated out to join me on defense, and our family ruled the swampy pond near Rubber Road.

“Puck.” We slapped our sticks on the ice whenever we were free.

Slap shots were banned after a clapper smacked my face.

My girlfriend, Kyla, thought I was cute with two black eyes.

The bullies at my school thought different.

“No one else better be beating you up. You belong to us,” said Joe Scanlon before punching me in the stomach in the school corridor.

“Too bad there’s no black stomach,” laughed his friend, Mark Tully. “It’d go good with your black eyes.”

Both were older and bigger than me.

After a year of their persecution nothing really hurt anymore and I looked forward to the games.

Everyone called me ‘Mad-Dog’, because of my vicious checking.

My older brother pulled me aside one afternoon and said, “Ease up.”

“Why?”

“Because no one here is called Joe or Mark, are they?”

“No.”

“Do you want my help?”

“I’ll handle them. I only need you to win this game.”

We were a team. We knew where we were on the ice. We played game after game until near dark and then shucked off our skates and ran through the snow-drifted pastures to reach home before out fathers arrived home for dinner. Showing up late meant a missed meal and none of us liked going hungry.

Skating on pond ice has a different sound than a rink. Sharp blades barely scratched the thick hard ice. Occasionally the puck effortlessly glided in defiance of the Laws of Friction to the reeds or worse to the thin ice around the pond’s outlet to the Harland swamp. The puck stopped on the brink of open water. They cost $2 and $2 was twenty Coca-Colas at the gas station by the church. Both teams stood paralyzed by fear. We had all known Mickey Finn, but Oilcan devised a method to retrieve the biscuit.

“I’ll tie my hockey stick to a rope and knock it free.”

“That sounds like a good idea, except your mother will kill you if you lose the twig.”

Auntie Gee-Gee had a temper and a good stick cost much than a puck.

“You want to stop playing?”

“No.”

“Then grab my heels and don’t let go.”

My youngest cousin tied his hockey stick to the rope and lay on his stomach. He swung the CCM stick at a wide-arc to knock the puck back onto solid ice. Oilcan scrambled to his feet and headed toward the opponents goal.

Two big rocks.

His brother saucer-passed the puck to Oilcan.

Another goal.

We were unstoppable that winter. I should have been on the bench, but I excelled at shutting down snipers.

Dog Pond was our home ice. We never played away games. We took on all comers and then one blustery February afternoon six older and bigger boys appeared on the edge of the pond. Two of them were Joe Scanlon and Mark Tully.

“We heard you girls think you’re unbeatable.” Joe laced up his skates. “You look like hosers to us.”

“That’s them,” asked Frunk.

“Yeah.” I blew in my hands. Flurries floated in the air. The sun bore through an opaque overcast. It was wicked cold and we had about thirty minutes left to sunset. My cousins and Chuckie glided up to us and my next-door neighbor said, “These guys are big.”

“Fuck ’em all,” swore Oilcan. Uncle Jack was a Marine. He taught us some right things.

“Us against them.”

“Fuck ’em all.”

We took first possession and Stevie shoveled a pizza to his older brother, who deked out the defense and scored within ten seconds.

“Let’s get it back,” Joe Scanlon had come down here to say all ice was his ice.

But not Dog Pond.

We were fast. We understood the ice. The puck belonged to us, but somehow they kept close and I was to blame.

Both Joe and Mark owned me and I gave up position.

And the sun dropped beneath the trees and the ice was invisible. Joe scored two goals to tie the game.

Only minutes remained in the match.

“Stop ’em,” ordered my brother and I nodded to say I’d do what i had to do.

Mark stole the puck from Chuckie and charged up ice. There were no stripes on the pond and I swung out my stick to trip my tormentor. He thumped on the ice and glided to the outlet. Oilcan went for the rope. I skated to Mark, but he crashed through the thin ice headfirst and disappeared into the water.

Mark sputtered to the surface. I stopped to check the hole. This wasn’t good and I thought about watching him drown, except I recalled Mickie Finn’s family crying at the funeral and I lay on the ice.

“Hold my feet.” My brother was first in the chain. Joe Scanlon was second. Chuckie was third in the chain and Oilcan threw me the rope.

Mark bobbed like his skates were dragging him down to the bottom of Dog Pond. Panic swam in his eyes. He had been at Mickie Finn’s funeral. If he didn’t get out of the pond, we would go to his.

“Catch this.”

I threw the rope, but he couldn’t hold on with his gloves.

“Take off your gloves.”

“I can’t. I got them for Christmas.” His mother was the meanest woman in town.

“Fuck Christmas,” shouted Joe.

Mark tried to take off his gloves and sank out of sight. Joe started to get to his feet to save his friend.

“Don’t.”

Losing one was bad.

Losing two was worst.

I edged closer to the watery hole and Mark burst to the surface sucking air. His gloves were gone.

“Catch.”

I tossed the rope and he caught it. We pulled him out of the water to safety and dragged him over to the fire.

“Fucking hosers,” he chattered a foot from the blazing flames.

“Really?”

I turned around and spotted the puck on the ice. I skated towards the biscuit. No one realized what I was doing until I shot at the opposing goal. The puck pocked off a rock to give us the victory. It was the first goal I had scored this winter and I returned to the edge of the pond to sluiced ice onto Mark.

“Game over.”

“Fucking shiesty.”

“Better than being losers.” I motioned for my cousins, brother, and Chuckie to go. The sun was almost down. Food would be on the table. We might eat any of it, but we smiled in the wintery evening, because it was always good to win on your own ice.