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A Taste of Honey
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A Taste of Honey

A collection of excerpts from our Authors


Riding the Dog

by Thomas E. Kennedy


The young man carries his possessions in a brown paper bag and a shoebox. I notice him when I board the coach at Greenville. His name is Marvin, and he wears a pale blue shirt and baggy yellow pants, no jacket despite the nippy January afternoon. He tells a friendly, brown-faced woman in the seat across the aisle from him that he has been traveling for over thirty hours, since Detroit, and that he is 23 years old and has been in prison since he was 16. I wonder what he was in for. Drugs probably. Packed away during the 90s when tough laws cleaned the streets of rubbish so the increasingly wealthy folk felt free to go out and spend their fortunes. Now the prisons, like most everyone else, are going broke and slipping loose the nonviolents, as an economy measure.


An excerpt from

Riding the Dog: A Look Back at America (essays)
New American Press, 2008


Thomas E. Kennedy




Notes from the Waiting Room

by Bart Windrum


Maybe you’re freaked out. Your loved one is hospitalized. Maybe it’s
a surprise, a shock. Maybe s/he’s in critical condition in an
intensive care unit. Maybe terminal. Maybe there’s a decision you have to make—perhaps a life-and-death decision. How prepared are you to make it?

You and your family assemble at the hospital—a foreboding environment. A teeming, technical, yet bland place where time moves strangely and what lies ahead is not explained. you’re left alone with your languishing loved one, your uncertainties, doubts, and fears. To ensure that your family’s best interests are served, you must proactively unearth all kinds of information by asking endless questions, up front, of virtually every person who interacts with you in a professional
capacity. To ensure that your loved one doesn’t languish, you must have that information before each next choice point—some moment that practically begs for a decision. how do you get it? How do you know what to ask for? How do you anticipate when the next choice point may occur?

This book offers a compilation of guidance you won’t find elsewhere. My experience during and after two terminal hospitalizations taught me that healthcare establishments neither talk about nor offer the information you most need to know—especially what you need to know to help you in your hours and days of need, whether your loved one is terminal or hospitalized for less severe conditions. To the limited extent that institutions talk about matters vital to you, their communication is not offered in advance; it usually coincides with some disconcerting or agonizing choice point.

If you are your loved one’s designated personal representative (known also as proxy, agent, surrogate, or Medical power of Attorney) and your family’s values are like mine, communing with your loved one, receiving direction from your loved one, and avoiding detrimental emotional shocks are among your family’s most vital interests.

You may need help in making a life-and-death decision. But if you’re not sure what death’s onset looks like, you won’t know that a life-and-death decision may be looming.

During two hospitalizations fifteen months apart and totaling almost six weeks, my family received virtually zero advance notice of things to come, let alone any guid ance. Without notification of what was likely or possible to happen, we experienced repeated, deep, destabilizing—and unnecessary—shocks. Our equilibrium suffered, and important opportunities were foreclosed, vanishing opportunities to commune with and receive treatment direction from our loved ones. Without guidance, our best interests were not served by providers or by institutional staff and representatives. Rather, we had to discover for ourselves how to have our best interests served, moment by moment, time and again—during the most urgent, stressful, and vulnerable of times of our lives.

Thus, this book.


An excerpt from

Notes from the Waiting Room

Axiom Action, LLC


Bart Windrum




The Crimson Woman

By Patricia K. MCcarthy


Sir William Simon Hennessy desired fresh blood. His belly absorbed the first glass in one swallow, a quick pick-up as a precursor to the dayâs feedings. He wiped the remaining cream under his chin and tossed the damp towel into the tub. A fresh sea scent of eau du toilette was splashed on his neck and clean face, followed by running a fine-tooth comb through his full head of short, white hair.


"Bring her to me," he ordered to the two men waiting in the next room. He stepped out of the bathroom and turned to the dresser, slipping a cherry red ruby onto his pinky finger and a second gold ring on his index finger, delicately engraved with the emblem Scotland Forever. He had no need for watches. To the precise minute, he could accurately estimate the time of day. Time was the crystal clear reflection of Sir William, inescapable and eternal, conforming to his body like an old, favourite wrinkled leather jacket.


An excerpt from

The Crimson Woman


Patricia K.MCcarthy




The Steel Veil

By Jack Marshall


“Sunny Days”

Midday as in late summer, though it’s barely
Early March, and with the velvety rustle of little
More than skin-and-bone-wings, a warbler
Wolf-whistles the blue loveliness above.

In Berkeley, the sidewalk outside the café is the color
Of the sky. I’m soaking up the sunshine, lapping
A latte, tasting the flakiest croissant au chocolat
In what may be my last meal toward the end

Of the era of unchecked power of the Western World,
While a cherry-sweet chirping in the trees is clearing
Throats of winter. Today, throats are better off
In Berkeley than in Baghdad,

Where in one form or another heat hits
Like a stroke, even where a car-roadside-or-human
Bomb has not. There are so many
Sunny days for death in Baghdad.

The sky above here, as there, though limitless
Beneath which we pray not to suffer
What is made with so much space
To suffer in, is not big enough for me

To feel what a mother must feel
On the street as she turns on her heel
At the sound of danger to her children;
Or before sending on out

For the day’s bread, knowing it could cost
The life of one who has breathed

In, through, out of you.

Just this morning, taking a hot shower, I heard,
“This is as close as you will get to being with
Your mother again,” and for a second forgot
What dimension I would step out into.

Fast fatiguing, fitful sleeping,
Urgent peeing, eyesight dimming,
Are not good omens for hope,
Since all our hopes suppose

We’ll live them healthy.

Instead, a person across the sea
Nightly crumbles before our eyes,
Laying his head like a heart in a vise
For the handler’s pleasure.

The weight of multitudes and their gods:
I hate the weight of the gods
Of multitudes, but love heaven’s
Silken silence leaving no trail

But sunset’s crimsoning sail.
Light dims; cats doze; birds start up their din.
This is the hour I like best, which slides
Slow as a veil over a ravishing creature’s thigh,

Who will ravish again tomorrow.

Family and self-preservation aside, my worst fear
In the doomsday scenarios I’m given to lately
Is a quake, nuclear, or terrorist attack,
In which my seven cats scatter

To the four winds; creatures so high-strung,
And still, they’re lordly and lethal at once,
Yet whose squinting eyes pain makes
Even the kitten’s frightened face shrunken, old.

Where to, then, who have never known anywhere
But home? First, let me sweep the stones
From their path, and pray their killing
Skills thrive on living smells in the grass.

For us, there’s the astronomical
Luck in the starlight not stopping.

“To the Orpheus of the Awful”

Prematurely, late August leaves fall, curl, crisp as chips;
Sunsets moving south, daylight briefer,
Darkness sooner, air chill, and a humming

Shadow not yet at final rest, smaller than a sparrow,
Bigger than a bee, buzzes flicks
On the beige stucco wall, as you take a rest

From watching the coming phase of the terrible
Toys for the children, with evening’s lament
From everlasting larynx wailing over the hills.

Burning towers; sounds of tribes crying;
Rivers of cries as real as any river
You drown in, you take a rest from

Evening’s larynx, everlasting lament;
Eyeballs sore as flayed backs and feet
In hegiras through desert heat; a slow,

Steady stamping of feet, a muffled tom-tom
Risen from Earth’s drum by multitudes
Longing to rise off the ground, or sink

Underneath, who cannot live
Upon it; who forge chains from the straw
They inherit and, parched for Paradise,

Mix their blood in its sand, no longer slaves
To their meat, while we take another crack
At making Iraq pita-flat.

See the cat. See a thousand years of it
Stroll out of the weeds, veiled
In a chador of spider’s lace.

Swatting flies, it twists in midair, twirling
Lariat, claws and tail,
Even as your eyes dim and your legs lift dead

Weight. Smell the woodsmoke of autumn
Nowhere near. See the tops of trees
Lit by sundown glow like blondes

With dark roots. As soon as it sinks
Behind the hills: dark, not a sound,
No one around, quiet as a shark

Prowling an empty aquarium.
Each part of the darkness is
The whole. In the realm of

The not-for-long, everyone is afforded
A partial view of the show before
They’re swept out of the stalls.

And you?—You’re several
Layers of time
Ago removed.

In decline, powers weaken,
And all weaknesses, tested, worsen
And win, as you waken to a night

That almost finishes you.
Give one last push

To the falling wall, and sweep
Out the stall
To the endlessness, alas, that ends.


There is a glacier, grown slowly as hair,
dissolving faster than our thoughts
run past. There is one’s self, close

to being absent at any moment, and all
of us under a sign in an unknown season
we know for certain we’ll be dying,

when loved ones will vanish, and we
unable to hold or kiss or ever miss them again.

Besides warming, there’s the double whammy
of global dimming: obstructed solar rays
the red rim on the blackening tin twilight is riding,

like the slowed-down sweeping of a grain
of glucose firing through the brain, the way
memory comes form, into, and through

what we feel, and becomes real;
like the past, inventing itself in the last second
I keep coming back to the places that keep

coming from the sunset I am a student of
at my desk, where every seat is front-row;
the vast red vapor trail erasing the horizon

against which time narrows and place deepens
in the clarity of outline, in the last light.

I am a student of sinking that lasts
seconds, and of which I am a part, and
do not follow. The longer I fail, the longer

I live. To live, I fail; I fail, and live
in the furrows of feelings that live
in the places we lived in, empty now

of us and what we did there,
with failing faith, failed friends, in moments
that were loved, in hours that weren’t.



Excerpts from


The Steel Veil