ISSN 1551-8086
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   poets list
   Francisco Dominguez & Aire Celeste Norell
   Marie Lecrivain & Angel Uriel Perales
   Sheikha A.
   Steve Abee
   L. Ward Abel
   Carl Abt
   Hannah Adcock
   Elizabeth Addis
   Aderemi Adegbite
   Adeolu Emmanuel Adesanya
   Neil Aitken
   M.I Akande
   Shahd Al-Shemmari
   Lynn Albanese
   Scott Alexander
   Gwyndyn Alexander
   Nicole Alexander
   Alaina Renee Alexander
   Inalegwu Omapada Alifa
   Maureen Alsop
   Rafael Alvarado
   Steven Alvarez
   Veronica An
   Zack Anderson
   Kristine Anderson
   G.D. Anderson
   Amy Anderson
   Lori Anderson-Moseman
   Grace Andreacchi
   Renae Andruse
   Arlene Ang
   Roger Angle
   Stephen Anstay
   Azure Antoinette
   Theresa Antonia
   Aurora Antonovic
   Maria A Arana
   Carlye Archibeque
   Joseph Armstead
   Feral Artist
   Baron James Ashanti
   Charlene M. Ashendorf
    Askew
   Gregory Austin
   Shawn Aveningo
   maeghanne ayers
   Goodness Lanre Ayoola
   John-Patrick Ayson
   Jim Babwe
   Sophie Bachard
   Vasile Baghiu
   Bridget Bagne
   song-hue bahk
   Michael Baker
   Prerna Bakshi
   Anna Balint
   David Banuelos
   Jared Barbick
   J. Mae Barizo
   Peter Barlow
   Matthew A. Barraza
   James Barros
   Jeni Bate
   Jonathan Beale
   Richard Beban
   Gary Beck
   Gary Beck
   Lytton Bell
   Hakim Bellamy
   Michele Beller
   Laura Bellotti
   Stefanie Bennett
   Hayley Berariu
   Lawrence Berger
   Kevin Berger
   Mike Berger, Ph.D.
   Tom Berman
   luis cuauhtemoc berriozabal
   Craig Berry
   Nick Bertelson
    Besskepp
   Mary Rose Betten
   Cheryl Beychok
   Gwendolyn Beyer
   FranÁois Biajoux
   Jarvis Black
   Heitham Black
   Beau Blue
   Rose Mary Boehm
   Bonnie Bolling
   Julie Bolt
   Lek Borja
   Cristogianni Borsella
   Gerald Bosacker
   Amanda Boschetto
   Wendy Bourke
   Jack G. Bowman
   Jennifer Bradpiece
   Bob Bradshaw
   Marcielle Brandler
   Peter Branson
   Sumiko Braun
   Adam Bresson
   Quiana Briggs
   Jack Bristow
   paulo brito
   Alan Britt
   Michelle Brodeur
   Lynne Bronstein
   Charles Brooks
   Adam Levon Brown
   Leah Brown
   Deborah Edler Brown
   Jason Sanford Brown
   zoey brown
   Bob Browning
   Sir Mark Bruback
   MC Bruce
   Jeffrey Bryant
   Kate Buckley
   Robin M. Buehler
   Ron Burch
   Graham Burchell
   Maria Rose Burgio
   Betsy Burke
   Matt Burns
   Richard Burrill
   Tony Bush
   Zachary C. Bush
   Elissa Calvin
   Joseph Camhi
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Velene Campbell
   Don Kingfisher Campbell
   Neil Campbell
   Dana Campbell
   Luis Campos
   Janine Canan
   Lyn Cannaday
   Pasquale Capacosa
   Joey Capone
   HťlŤne Cardona
   Britton Laine Carducci
   D.J. Carlile
   Julia Carlson
   Alicia Carpenter
   Jonathan Carr
   Patricia Carragon
   Oscar Carrasco
   Jared Carter
   Michael Aaron Casares
   John Casey
   Lisa Castro
   Rachael Kelechi Caulker
   Nika Cavat
   Michael Caylo-Baradi
   Steve Ceniceros
   Michael Ceraolo
    Cerise
   Robert Cesaretti
   Cheryl Chambers
   Lita-Luise Chappell
   Shibani Chattopadhyay
   Lisa Cheby
   Beth Cheng
   Ralph-Michael Chiaia
   Juhi Chowdhury
   David Christensen
   Terry Clark
   Darice Clark
   Terry Clark
   Phil Clark
   Charles Claymore
   Jeanette Clough
   Kim Cochran
   Ed Coet
   Tobi Cogswell
   Megan Coker
   Bruce Colbert
   Merrill Cole
   Karen E. Cole
   Christopher Coleman
   Larry Colker
   Beverly M. Collins
   David Concepcion
   Christiane Conťsa-Bostock
   Brendan Connell
   Alice Constantine
   Jack Cooper
   Flavia Cosma
   Rachel Coventry
   R. Paul Craig
   David Cravens
   William Crawford
   Natalie Crick
   Rosemarie Crisafi
   Carla Criscuolo
   Chris Crittenden
   Benjamin Crowley
   Susan Culver
   Joe Cyr
   Jim D Babwe
   Morgaine d'Abney
   Karen Corcoran Dabkowski
   Daniel Daian
    Dalton
   Catherine Daly
   Iris Dan
   Marie Lecrivain & Daniel Gallik
   Dan Danila
   Michelle Daugherty
   Piper Davenport
   Kathrine David
   Gareth Davies
   Holly Day
   Frank De Canio
   Gregory De Feo
   Steve De France
   J. de Salvo
   J de Salvo
   kumari de Silva
   Pijush Kanti Deb
   Shalla DeGuzman
   JD DeHart
   Diane Dehler
   Aurelius Demarco
   Darren C Demaree
   Gloria Derge
   Chris Derrico
   Lea Deschenes
   Maurice Devitt
   Theo Diamantis
   Mike Dias
   Martin Dickinson
   Edward J DiMaio
   Mark Dixon
   Peggy Dobreer
   Rosemarie Dombrowski
   Francisco J. Dominguez
   Linsly Donnelly
   Lisa Helene Donovan
   Kevin Doran
   Marvin Louis Dorsey
   John Dorsey
   Marvin Dorsey
   Laura A. Lionello & Douglas Richardson
   Doug Draime
   Donelle Dreese
   Dale Duke
   Jawanza Dumisani
   Henri Dumolet
   Max Dunbar
   Robin Wyatt Dunn
   t. joseph dunn
   Tyler Dupuis
    Durenda
   Walter Durk
   Douglas Dvorkin
   Ron Dvorkin
   Amitabh Vikram Dwivedi
   Alfie Ebojo aka alfie numeric
   Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
   Sabrina Edwards
   Patricia J. Edwards
   Miguel Eichelberger
   John Elison
   Julian Ellis
   Neil Ellman
   K. Eltinať
   R.M. Engelhardt
   Margarita Engle
   Jon Epstein
   Sufi Erter
   Eli Eshaghian
   Michael Estabrook
   Alexis Rhone Fancher
   Richard Fein
   John Feins
   Emily Fernandez
   Melissa Fischer
   W.S. Fisher
   Jamie Asae FitzGerald
   Amelia Fleetwood
   Jake Fleshner
   John Jay Flicker
   David Flynn
   Arthur Charles Ford
   Liz Fortini
   Sesshu Foster
   Heather Fowler
   Clint Frakes
   Sarah Francois
   Amťlie Frank
   Alex M. Frankel
   Allie Frazier
   E.L. Freifeld
   M. Frias Frias-May
   Suzanne Frost
   Delia J. Fry
   Elliott Gabay
   Steven Gabriel
   Timothy Gager
   Daniel Gallik
   J Gamble
   Ishmael Garay
   Jerry Garcia
   Daniel Garcia-Black
   Gabriella Garofalo
   Vince Garofalo
   Yvonne Garrett
   Nelson Gary
   Donna Gebron
   Ulrike Gerbig
   Janice Gero
   Ursula T. Gibson
   Rebecca Gimblett
   Tony Gloeggler
   Steve Goldman
   Vesna Goldsworthy
   Melanie Gonzalez
   Jeffrey Graessley
   Allison Grayhurst
   Jeff Green
   Timothy Green
   Jeanie Greensfelder
   Rhoda Greenstone
   Amos Greig
   John Greiner
   John Grey
   Summer Griffiths
   Danielle Grilli
   Brian Grillo
   John Grochalski
   Wendy Grosskopf
   Andrew Grossman
   Ro Gunetilleke
   Kenneth Gurney
   John R. Guthrie
   Debashish Haar
   Erik Haber
   Hedy Habra
   Tresha Faye Haefner
   Matthias Hagedorn
   James Hall
   Tom Hamilton
   David Harrington
   William Harris
   Matt Harris
   Dawnell Harrison
   J. Alana Hauenschild
   Kari J. Hayes
   KJ Hays
   Ann L. Healey
   Eloise Klein Healy
   Jessica Healy
   Jim Heavily
   Dan Hedges
   Paul Hellweg
   Samantha Henderson
   Jack Henry
   David Herrle
   JD Heskin
   Kenneth Hickey
   Jerry Hicks
   Marvin R Hiemstra
   Ed Higgins
   Carlos Hiraldo
   Sherri Hoffman
   Guy Hogan
   Ali Hosseiny
   Dave Houston
   David Howard
   Eric Howard
   Nate Howard
   Bryon D. Howell
   A J Huffman
   Hunter Lee Hughes
   Roger Humes
   Trista Hurley-Waxali
   Elizabeth Iannaci
   Thea Iberall
   Armine Iknadossian
   Gedda Ilves
   Alegria Imperial
   Victor Infante
   Victor D. Infante
   Augustus Invictus
   Susan Irvine
   Alexandra Isacson
   Natalie Itzhaki
   Amber Jacob
   Scott Jacobson
   Larry Jaffe
   Sonika Jaggi
   Emmanuel Jakpa
   Matthew James
   Andrea Janov
   T.A. Jennings
   Ivan Jenson
   Dani Jimenez
   Alex Johnson
   Michael Lee Johnson
   Lois P. Jones
   Strider Marcus Jones
   Tao Jones
   Georgia Jones-Davis
   Jasmin Jordan
   Quentin Josephy
   Liu Jue
   Ruth Juris
   Gene Justice
   Gary Justice
   Pete Justus
   Mikel K
   Scott C. Kaestner
   Sheema Kalbasi
   Peycho Kanev
   Rachel Kann
   Jay Kantor
   Paula Sfier Kattan
   Russ Kazmierczak
   James Keane
   Gretchen Keer
   Aaron Keller
   Collin Kelley
   Kamuran Kelly
   Raud Kennedy
   Bernard Kennedy
   Kathleen Kenny
   Stephen Kerr
   Hari Bhajan Khalsa
   Just Kibbe
   Jerome Kiel
   lalo kikiriki
   Ashley King
   Robert S King
   Franklin Lafayette King
   Sofia Kioroglou
   Rusty Kjarvik
   Kenny Klein
   LeAnne Kline
   Deborah P Kolodji
   Tracy Koretsky
   Edith Kornfeld
   George Korolog
   Dimitris P. Kraniotis
   Mark Krewatch
   Chris Krueger
   Amanda Krut
   Thomas Kršmer
   Gerard Kuc
   Donna Kuhn
   Christopher Kuhn
   Len Kuntz
   Craig Kurtz
   Tammy Ho Lai-Ming
   Daniel Lambert
   Anthony Langford
   Donald Langosy
   Ray Lanthier
   Phillip Larrea
   Phillip Larrea
   Kasandra Larsen
   Wolf Larsen
   Ethan Latham
   Lisa LaTourette
   Marie Lecrivain & Laura A. Lionello
   Marianne LaValle-Vincent
   Kevin Lavey
   Judith A. Lawrence
   Eric Lawson
   Richard Leach
   Marie Lecrivain
   Anne Lecrivain
   Noah Lederman
   Pete Lee
   Emma Lee
   Kevin Patrick Lee
   N.M. Leepsa
   Alexandra Leggat
   Laura LeHew
   Gary Lehmann
   Sharmagne Leland-St. John
   Kevin LeMaster
   Michal Lemberger
   Kim Leng
   Roland Lesterin
   Tiffany Lettieri
   P.A. Levy
   Martin Lewis
   Cheyenne Lewis
   Anthony Liccione
   Cynthia Linville
   Laura Lionello
   Zachary Locklin
   Jessica Lopez
   Harold Lorin
   Tess. Lotta
   B.D. Love
   Adam Lowis
   Ron Lucas
   Andrew Lundwall
   Rick Lupert
   Suzan Lustig
   Radomir Luza
   Stosh Machek
   John MacKenna
   Sarah Maclay
   Stefanie Maclin
    Magdalena
   Gary Maggio
   Holly Magill
   Anthony Magistrale
   Marieta Maglas
   Suvi Mahonen
   Donal Mahoney
   Robert Maiolo
   Kelly Ann Malone
   Michael Malota
   Shahť Mankerian
   Angela Consolo Mankiewicz
   Chris Mansell
   H.E. Mantel
   April-May March
   Rick Marlatt
   John Marshall
   Agnes Marton
   Francis Masat
   Lee Mason
   Hyatt Mason
   Anthony Mason
   Johnny Masuda
   Mira N. Mataric
   Ellyn Maybe
   Michelle Mazzetti
   Mary L. Mazzocco
   Ted Mc Carthy
   Austin McCarron
   Terry McCarty
   Paul McConnell
   Brendan McCormack
   Deborah McCreath-Akbar
   Catfish McDaris
   Bray McDonald
   Karen J McDonnell
   Matt McGee
   Allen McGill
   Afric McGlinchey
   Terance James McGunigle
   Cat Angelique McIntire
   David McIntire
   david mclean
   Isobel McQueen
   Fernando Meisenhaulter
    Mephistopheles
   Corey Mesler
   Melissa Michaels
    Mike the Poet
   Scott Miller
   Richard Lee Miller
   Robert John Miller
   Hany Haggag Abdl Mobdy
   Richard Modiano
   William Mohr
   Sonnet Mondal
   Jason Monios
   Leslie Monsour
   Amanda Montei
   Patrick Mooney
   Carl Moore
   Greggory Moore
    Albert Lee Moran
   A.J. Morelli
   Christopher Mulrooney
   Frank Mundo
   Barbara-Marie Mundt
   Augusto Munoz
   Mark Murphy
   Craig Murray
   Kristine Ong Muslim
   JL Nathan
   Nimah Nawwab
   Leslie Maryann Neal
   Jason Neese
   Raghab Nepal
   Robbi Nester
   Mindy Nettifee
   Martina Reisz Newberry
   Beth Escott Newcomer
   Peter Nezafati
   Scott Nichols
   keith niles
   Dave Nordling
   Aire Celeste Norell
   Steve Norwood
   Laura Nye
   Toti O'Brien
   Charlotte O'Brien
   Suzanne O'Connell
   Katie O'Loughlin
   Peter O'Niell
   Tom O'Reilly
   Akor Emmanuel Oche
   A.J. Odasso
   Rita Odeh
   Kirsten Ogden
   Daniel Olivas
   Maurice Oliver
   Marc Olmstead
   Philip ONeil
   Nzingah Oniwosan
   Chika Onyenezi
   Nina Orlovskaya
   Sergio Ortiz
   David Ishaya Osu
   Scott Thomas Outlar
   Holly Painter
   Lizbeth Palma
   Heather Palmer
   Greg Patrick
   Miss Natalie Patterson
   David E. Patton
   Tim Peeler
   Steve Pelcman
   Angel Perales
   Alice Pero
   Angela J. Perry
   Helen Peterson
   Brenda Petrakos
   Adam Phillips
   James G Piatt
   Rebecca Pierce
   Gareth Pike
   James Pinkerton
   Rob Plath
   Kushal Poddar
   Contributors to poeticdiversity
   Meg Pokrass
   Traian Pop Traian
   Bethany W Pope
   Wayne E. Popelka
   Elisha Porot
   Adrian Potter
   Ren Powell
   Frank Praeger
   Luke Prater
   Kristena Prater
   Shannon Prince
   Stephany Prodromides
   Hattie Quinn
   Octavio Quintanilla
   Beverly J. Raffaele
    Raindog
   Catherine Rajca
   Steve Ramirez
   Mauricio Alejandro Ramos
   Vishnu Rao
   Ingrid Rattay
   James Rauff
   Kasey Ray
   Bili Redd
   Brian Redfern
   Marie Rennard
   Luivette Resto
   E.W. Richardson
   John Richmond
   Francisca Ricinski-Marienfeld
   Lillian Ridgeway
   Kevin Ridgeway
   Dee Rimbaud
   Elijiah Rios
   Cat Risinger
   Ariel Robello
   Ebi Robert
   John D Robinson
   Paula Rodriguez
   Nydia Rojas
   Daniel Romo
   Rina Rose
   Emily Rose
   Diana Rosen
   Poet-broker Rosenthal
   Alison Ross
   James Robert Rudolph
   Walter Ruhlmann
   Gina MarySol Ruiz
   Cody Rukasin
   Cody Rukasin
   Ashley Rumery
   David W. Rushing
   Maryann Russo
   Sonya Sabanac
   Howard Sage
   Russell Salamon
   April Salzano
   Bryan Sanders
   Lisa Marie Sandoval
   Cecile Sarruf
    Sasparella
   Ethan Sassouni
   John Saunders
   Lorraine Sautner
   Rati Saxena
   Iftekhar Sayeed
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   Peter Schwartz
   Ken Scott
   Sondra L. Scott
   David Scriven
   Justin Scupine
   LB Sedlacek
   Lisa Segal
   Anthony Seidman
   Anthony Seidman
   Oleg Semonov
   John W Sexton
   Jack Allen Shafer
   Dahn Shaulis
   Tom Sheehan
   Jake Sheff
   Steve Shickman
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   June Shiitake
   Ferrari Silverpowder
   Rishan Singh
   Durlabh Singh
   Kalpna Singh-Chitnis
   Apryl Skies
   Knute Skinner
   Sam Skow
   Ratpack Slim
   Lee Sloca
   Carol Smallwood
   Clinton Smith
   Danielle Smith
    smzang
   Kate Soto
   Ghetto Speare
   Jeanne Marie Spicuzza
   Richard Spuler
   Matina Stamatakis
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   Julia Stein
   Eric Steineger
   Carl Stillwell
   Bruce Stirling
   Alex Stolis
   Karr Stratynberg
   Kevin Stricke-9
   Keith Stump
   Daniel Suffian
   Annette Sugden
   J. C. Sullivan
   Dee Sunshine
   Mani Suri
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   Sister Taxi Hopscotch
   Barbara A. Taylor
   Jonathan Taylor
   Allen Taylor
   Mark Taylor
   Paul Kareem Tayyar
   Alene Terzian
    The Unarmed Man
   A. Thiagarajan
   G. Murray Thomas
   Lynne Thompson
   David Thornbrugh
   Kari Thune
   Sarah Thursday
   Ilona Timoszuk
   Tim Tipton
    TJungle
   Chrys Tobey
    tolbert
   Imani Tolliver
   A. TOMIC
   Anthony Torchia
   Mary Torregrossa
   Evan Traiger
   Davide Trame
   Tri Tran
   Ryan Tranquilla
   Alain Marcel Treadaway
   Pedro Trevino-Ramirez
   Ben Trigg
   Paul Tristram
   Maja Trochimczyk
    Troy
   The TruthHearse
   Tatiana Tulskaya
   Yelena and Roman Tunkel
   John Turi
   Danny Uebbing
   Amy Upham
   Amy Uyematsu
   Philomena van Rijswijk
   Gene van Troyer
   Wanda Vanhoy Smith
   Brenda Varda
   Luis Rubio Vargas
   Carmen Vega
   Ms. Veronica
   Papa Vic
   Clee Villasor
   Ajise Vincent
   Curran D. Vinson
   Jason Visconti
   Anca Vlasopolos
   Daniela Voicu
   Claire Walker
   toren wallace
   r.k. wallace
   Evan Walsh
   Sharieff Walters
   John Wariner
   Deborah L Warner
   Christopher Watkins
   Brian Watson
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   Desmond Weindorf
   Cindy Weinstein
   Denise R. Weuve
   Rev. Dave Wheeler
   Leigh White
   Megwynn White
   Kelley White
   J.T. Whitehead
   Claire Williams
   John Sibley Williams
   Patrick Williamson
   Martin Willitts, Jr
   Jessica Wilson
   Amye Wilson
   Robert D. Wilson
   Alicia Winski
   Tyler Joseph Wiseman
   Joseph Wistren
   Wayne Wolfson
   Terry Wolverton
   Nina Womack
   Seth Woolf
   Kirby Wright
   Gianna Wurzl
   Abigail Wyatt
   John Yamrus
   MŁesser Yeniay
   Julie Yi
   Gregory T. Young
   Britney Young
   Omar ZahZah
   Mariano Zaro
   Michael Zeltser
    
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Lynne Bronstein
April 2007
   

 

Why Me

† † It feels cold against my chin. It is cold in this car. Are we going to move? They are staring through the windows and someone just took my picture. What is this, a zoo? The police must be nearby but they canít get over here. The crowd is preventing it. This crowd makes a lot of noise. They are watching us; it is a show. I wonder if we are on television. They always put things like this on television.
† † They are taking pictures, of me in my black sweater and my hair just hanging and this cold gun pressed under my chin. It hurts. And because he has the gun just so, the police wonít stop us because, because, because the man will pull the trigger if the police move in. I am a hostage.
† † I think we are beginning to move now. The man in the front seat has his hands on the wheel. We are going to drive through here. The man in the front has just put a cassette in the car stereo. Itís an album by the Police. Yes, I wait for the police lower case and they play the Police upper case, wrong police but the song could be an omen, rescue me, rescue me, somebody tear through this crowd and pull me out of this situation and donít let his gun go off. It is cold and sticks in my chin. Iím thinking about the bullet if it goes in. No, at any moment, I will be no more. The bang will be the last Iíll hear. I mustnít think that is going to happen. I must pretend this will turn out okay. If I believe, the bullet will not blow off my head and the man with the gun will fade away.
† † When the world keeps running down, you make the best of whatís still around. I would sing along with that, but I donít think Iím allowed to sing. I am going to try to hum. Hmm. "Shut up back there," says the man in the front seat. The other man with the gun sticks the barrel further into my chin. I think I canít breathe.
† † Try to look out the car windows. I just see faces of people I donít know, a noisy crowd, dark buildings, stores. I donít recognize the area. We are miles from where this began. It was a regular Saturday and I was behind the counter at the bank. The men came in and grabbed me. They robbed the bank and took me. They could have just robbed the bank but they took me so they could drive on and on and have no police daring to come after them because the man is holding a gun to my chin. Justice is not being served because of me.
† † I am not going to think about why they took me.
† † If I donít think about it, I will live and this will all be over soon.
† † I am going to live. He will never pull the trigger. He isnít that stupid.
† † He wonít pull the trigger while the gun is under my chin. I donít think thatís how they shoot people. I never see anyone shot that way in the movies. Not until-not unless-they struggle or run. I donít know what they really do. Iíve never been in this situation before. I never held a gun in my hand. I saw a boy at school with a gun; he said it wasnít loaded. I donít look at guns in the movies. I will pretend this gun isnít loaded. It might not be. It might all be just for show. Itís just a threat.
† † My stomach is cold, very cold. I think I may have lost control of my insides. I will press my thighs together, just in case. Each time I swallow, I feel a big lump going down. My breath is going through my body like a cold sword. It all hurts.
† † But it will all be over soon. He isnít going to shoot me. They are just trying to get away and then theyíll let me go. Or if they donít, I Ďll wait until thereís a moment, like if they have to get out of the car, and then Iíll run. But maybe not. If they see me run, they may shoot.
† † Maybe I could make friends with them. But not that way. Oh God, no. I think this man next to me is the ugliest man I have ever seen. His hair looks greasy. He is smoking. He must smoke all the time; the smell of smoke clings to him. Now he is starting to tell a dirty joke. The man in front tells him to shut up. Nobody talks to me. Itís lonely and boring. The man in front drives and doesnít sing, hum, whistle, or pay much attention to the Police cassette. He takes it out and puts in a cassette by an electronic group. The man next to me mutters an obscenity. Then he says:
† † "Youíre taking the wrong road."
† † "Shut up," says the man in the front.
† † "Canít you say anything else," says the man next to me.
† † "Thereís no more towns for a few miles this way."
† † "I need some more cigarettes," says the man next to me. For a second, I feel the barrel of the gun pressed less tightly to my face. The man is preoccupied with his lack of cigarettes.
† † "Youíll do without them, for now."
† † "I tell you I want more cigarettes, I need more cigarettes. I gotta have them. Go the other way, man."
† † I hate the smell of the smoke but now I am praying that the man in the front will take the other manís need seriously so they will drive to a place where they will get out and maybe I can escape.
† † Look out the window. We are in the country now. It looks brighter. It is late afternoon now, I think. Some houses here and there, a field, a golden field.
† † We seem to be stopping.
† † No, weíre just slowing down.
† † No, stopping. The man in the front gets out. The other man continues to hold the gun against me. I think the driver is relieving himself. The other man gestures with his free hand. "Give me the gun," says the driver. Briefly, I experience the sensation of no gun under my chin, but now the gun is being held by the driver. He is kneeling on the car seat while the man whoís been holding the gun gets out and turns away from us. He starts to say something and the driver cuts him off. I think he was going to suggest that they make me watch but the driver doesnít want any of that. He sticks the gun against my cheek. I close my eyes. "Open your eyes," he says. I am afraid and do as he says. I have to look at the black stubble on his face up close. His breath hits me in the face, warm but stale. I hear a rasping when he breathes.
† † Then he surprises me. "You like to sing?" he says.
† † I nod. "Sing us a song," he says. He holds the gun toward my chest, now. The man from the back seat is watching us outside. He gets into the front seat.
† † I begin to sing an old German ballad I learned in school. The stubble-face shakes his head. "Sing pop," he says. "Rock and roll. American junk." I begin to sing a Police song, in English. "Every Breath You Take." "Not American, English," groans the other man.
† † "English-American-theyíre all scumbags," says the stubble-face.
† † "How much English you know? Eh?" says the man in the front seat. "You know more songs in English?"
† † "You know songs in Italian maybe?" says the stubble-face. "You stop that and sing in Italian."
† † "Maybe you can sing a dirty sailor song," says the man in the front.
† † Stubble-face snaps at him with his free hand. The man in the front makes a face at me, teeth bared, tongue out. Then he makes a kissing sound at me.
† † I forget the words. I stop-I canít go on even if this means the gun will go off. My thighs are wet. A tear runs down my cheek. Now I am not so afraid they will kill me as that they will rape me. Or make me take off my clothes and still sing. Or make me touch them and do things to them. Or that they will ask me dirty questions about what I want to do to rock stars. I can read their thoughts. They are filthy men. Why would they take me otherwise.
† † I am eighteen. I live in Cologne. I have never been anywhere else. I am a year out of school. Yes, I touch up my natural blonde hair. I am a bank teller. I would rather be a singer but maybe I canít be a singer. I have dated a few boys. Itís none of their business whether or not I am a virgin. Either way, I would never touch them. The gun is going to kill me because I am not going to touch them.
† † The man in the front says I am stupid and leaves it at that. He says he wants to drive for a while. So the car starts up again and now Stubble-face holds the gun to the top of my head, not too close.
† † How can anyone hold it there for so long. Does his hand cramp up? My neck is stiff. I am hungry and thirsty and my panties are soaked and the gun is starting to be the least of my concerns. Itís so monotonous. I am used to the sensation now. I do not believe this man will shoot me either. I am not going to die. I think I could manage this for the rest of my life-or a few more hours. I suppose that if God said to me that for the rest of my life I would have to sit with the barrel of a gun stuck to my face and not going off, I could live with it as long as I knew I would stay alive. But I would always be looking at the gun and expecting it to go off anyway, somehow. So there would be the suspense to relieve the boredom.
† † We are driving through a town again and people are standing by the side of the road and waving and cheering. Who are they waving and cheering for? I see TV cameras. Some people have signs. They seem to be cheering the two men I am with. How could they? What about me? I turn to the window and there are some people waving at me, too. I see someone holding up a sign with a photo of me, cut from a newspaper. I am in the news, then. We are in the news. We are a band on the run. I hear people chanting my name. The driver waves to the people. Where are the stupid police? They arenít coming to my rescue. They wonít get near our car. Theyíre afraid of these two men I am with.
† † Our car stops. People hand the driver objects-beer cans, cigarettes, food, newspapers. The men accept all these presents of survival and the car starts up and speeds away. Later, they stop in a field. They eat and I get nothing. I have to watch them eat. Finally, one of the men gives me a small bag of chips. I eat them, first slowly, because my mouth is so dry, and then I grab a bunch and stuff them in my mouth. They give me a sip of beer. It drips down my face. The men laugh-I never heard them laugh before. The greasy-haired driver laughs in short bursts and the Stubble-face laughs once, just a "Ha!" And then weíre off again. I want to fall asleep but can I sleep with the gun still next to me? The gun held to my head is my life now. I am afraid that soon, if they command me to put it in my mouth and lick it, I might just do that.
† † If I get out of this, I am going to become a singer. Last summer, I met this boy and he thought I sang well. He said I should come to the club where he worked and he would talk to the owner and I could sing with the house band. I know I can sing. You just donít ask me to sing when Iím scared. What do you expect?
† † We are slowing down again.
† † We have stopped.
† † The man in front is getting out.
† † He is holding up his hands. He is screaming at someone.
† † I think maybe itís the police. At last. I canít see where they are.
† † The man with the gun is holding it to the side of my head. He tells me to get out of the car and walk.
† † Oh, God, no.
† † I canít move.
† † "Get up!" he barks. I get up and get out, the gun never far from my head. I begin to walk. I see a barrier ahead on the road. The police seem to have cleared the road. I canít hear what the police megaphone is saying because the blood is pounding in my ears.
† † I see the man who had been guarding me and later was driving, holding up his hands, but suddenly he begins to run. He tries to run off the side of the road. I hear a shot.
† † I duck down by the side of the car. The man with the gun grabs me by the hair. He is yelling at me. He pushes the gun right under my chin again. He makes me ge tup and pushes me in front of him and we go to face the police. He is screaming and the police megaphone is screaming. It is all noise. The police have their guns ready but they cannot shoot a hostage.
† † They cannot.
† † I have heard a shot; I know these guns are real and their bullets can kill. I think this is the end. It will be over in a flash. I will be hit. It will happen so fast I will not know what it really feels like. It will all go black.
† † It will not happen! Nobody will dare! No one can shoot me! There is a beautiful golden field over there. I am going to run to it.
† † I am running.
† † The
† † Beautiful golden field
† † Is right over
† † there.

copyright 2006 Lynne Bronstein