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John Lunar Richey

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She Keeps Me Astray


John Lunar Richey


     Shelly has a way of keeping me lost - driving dirt back roads dodging ditches and potholes with a loaded .45 in the glove and a bottle of booze between us. She speaks her pain with so much fury; she burns everyone, including herself… So much lead in her heart... Her love untamed, irrational and mean as the fire she walks. An inflamatory artist whom I adore - not my guru – no - she would kill anyone stupid enough to follow her. "Walk that dark path alone," Shelly preaches. "And deal with your own devils."

     Windblown leaves shimmy and shiver at roadside. Squirrels bury food in the dirt before the winter snow…On a patch of white sand, we draw a mandala. Angels watch from the clouds above as we glide our naked bodies through the ruins of our creation. "Rage matters," Shelly digs her nails deep into my back. I gasp, "Make me feel yours." Shelly bites sharply – we rise through the clouds of our desires - sweet milky thighs closing in on precious pink - declaring our lust to the lurking Demon of the Pines.

     Lifting the heavy moss-covered trap door – we drop inside our hidden fortress. Various sized bullet shells liter the cement floor. Fuses and rifles fill the place with security. We rest in our hidden bunker. A photo on the fridge has my girl in her wedding dress –sitting on a box of dynamite - smoking a cigarette - shiny revolver in her hand - pretending to blow the smoke from the recently fired gun. Shelly always takes me to the limit of joyful distress lying beside me shedding tears in her sleep.

     Lying next to Shelly, I daydream a memory of us in the desert: Shelly hands me a camera, hikes up her skirt, hops atop an old time gas pump and crouched on heels poses smoking a cigarette till the angry grease mechanic yells caution with allowances to a hot red-lipped girl blowing him kisses in the dusty red dusk. Shelly, always putting death in the forefront – says, "Fear not; our fates are charted." Seemingly having to prove it every day - we drive into the sunset –with Darkness as our Destiny.



Lunar has writings published in Rolling Stone, Genesis, The Mammoth Book of New Erotica, The Journal of Erotica, and The Best of the Journal of Erotica (the later two published in the UK). Lunar also works with Lunar Ensemble (word & music projections).





John Lunar Richey


Small ferns divide the traffic flow at the entrance of a fenced-in community where a dog barks incessantly. The factory across the street has an empty flag pole which clangs like a dull wind chime. The pole, with massive base, raises high into the sky. I imagine Old Glory flapping in the wind at one time. Now only the hook and chain jangle and clang against the metal pole in this chilly October breeze. Walking through the factory parking lot, I rub my cold hands before returning them into my jacket pockets. Overlooking high above is a perched vulture. The air, crisp azure, no clouds in sight. Eagles and hawks glide through the sky. I find it difficult to capture these predators in flight—floating like kites in a wind stream—my photos wingless and blue. The only exception; this beautiful bird of prey perched in full wingspread upon a rusty defunct cell phone tower.

A factory girl, standing outside says, “It’s an eagle.” Cigarette to her mouth, she deeply inhales toxins, as if her life depended on it. I inquire, “What kind?” We both look at the huge bird in full wingspread. She shrugs indifference and says, “Bald Eagle.” Throws her cigarette to the ground and squashes it beneath her work boot. No longer interested, she says, “Break’s over.”  I say, “Looks more like a condor than an eagle,” to the factory door slamming.

It’s a Turkey Vulture – foreboding statue – great target for a rifleman.  Walking into the middle of the road I take a couple shots before returning my camera to its belt holster. A foul scavenger, usually seen roadside, pecking apart the dead—now perched high—very visible in full wing span. Why?

Still standing in the road, a hawk soars above me. Once again I draw my Sure Shot.  A constant sun glare on the digital screen hinders my focus.  Slowly creeping around the corner is a ghost of an old jalopy pickup truck with rather mod two tone paint job.  I snap the time-warp photo.


Further down the road is a vacant factory closed for years. Everything about it is decrepit; dangling gutters—peeling paint—a buckled pavement of weeds with a chain across it which reads:  No Dumping. Here decay begins. Truck tires have crushed the weeds on both sides of the chained road. Who knows what’s been dumped?  Huge mounds of garbage are covered with mud, moss and grass.  A soggy old mattress spray painted—Hobo Go Home—lies next to a mucky pond filled with empty beer bottles. Once a vast pristine mix of farms and grassland—now an abandoned illegal dumping ground—I have trekked beyond the suburban village where all cars exit left towards major interstates. I am to the right side or perhaps wrong side of this quiet two-lane road through the woods. Varieties of trees which have stood for ages now lean upon each other or have snapped at the trunk. A massive tree has fallen by the sickle of last month’s hurricane. I’ve always thought these woods deeper, but Nature’s pruning winds allow me to see through the trees to a pale white factory and lot filled with cars.

Across the road, a white plastic facsimile of a wooden fence outlines a planned community which failed and has been abandoned. A paved entrance with a link fence ends ten feet from the road. What’s left is a muddy road which I follow into the woods. Wheel grooves of trucks are still visible from construction days as off-road vehicles from the neighboring complex tread a path alongside the hoof prints of deer and other mammals. The potholed path opens to a field of tall golden weeds, basking in the sun, surrounded by verdant thick brush. The dilapidated white plastic fence twists, bends and breaks—as it turns the corner—one panel has fallen down leaving a gap into the wild.

And there stands a frothing rabid animal of muscle and jaw— looking like a mix of Rottweiler and Mastiff—a beast with cloven hoofs the size of a pony. The monster stares me down. I freeze, camera in one hand, the other fumbling inside my jacket pocket. My cell phone falls to the ground. I pull out my knife—open it—hoping this beast will get the shining serrated point: This is a weapon!

The creature stomps the Earth. Charges—crunching my left thigh as my outstretched hand plunges the knife deep inside the animal’s breast —searching for a heart.  I push and push the knife deep! Finally—A victor in exhaustion—pushing heavy dead weight off of me. I lie in shock —cold ground—warm blood.

Alone in these woods my boyhood thoughts regress to imaginative horror stories shared in tree houses or at the campfire. Hold the flashlight under thy face—tell a ghost story—a hand rises from of the dirt grave: “Chiller Theatre!”

I follow the shrill of a hawk in flight through the brush to where the path widens. Beyond I see another hawk fitfully flying up and down in the meadow. What a ruckus. The hawk is either trying to frighten me or is unable to free and flee my approach. Perhaps tangled in string or wire it continues screeching up and down…I’d like to get a photo but I dare not go any further… The hawk I followed flies into the Blue.  I attempt a photo, camera reaching for the sky and capturing just that. It could have been a beautiful picture: A winged acrobat’s magical arc into the blue.

The hawk circles as I check my settings on the sun glare camera screen. Suddenly sensing danger—then feeling it hit my head—two sharp nicks; some blood. The hawk has dived upon me; sharp talons, beak. Another shrill caw—a timely duck—the bird sweeps across my head. I make tracks, retreating from the marsh. The hawk circles.

Out of the marsh, I slow my pace; catch my breath at the bend in the path. Two painful bumps on my head coagulate. I wash a little blood from my hands in a mud puddle. Something forbidding and spooky surrounds this bend where I visualized the rabid monster.

What really happened here? Face gnawed unrecognizable —shoulder; arm gone—severed hand holds a bloodied opened cell phone.  Cloven hoof prints disappear through the brush.

 I enjoy scaring myself in these woods: A kid looking under the bed, creating frightful fantasies; monsters in my head, skeletons in the closet. I proceed past this Bend of Doom—past this Creepy Corner—to where the muddy road leads me to the safety of a paved road.

On the deserted street I notice an object gleaming in the sunlight.  A huge rib cage picked clean, stark white in the roadside grass. Only bone. Flies wander in vain. I snap a picture. The shell of a corpse remains.


The vulture has taken flight.   

Art by Bill Zbylut 2017

She Knows Something


by John Lunar Richey

She knows something of crying skies.
Evening tears which lie soft and white
upon the frozen mountain peaks. Dormant,
unforgotten dreams awaiting the sun's
allowance to rush Springtime streams with
cascading torrents of ghostly memories.

She wanders NYC sidewalks which buckle
and crack in the Summer heat. Roots
exploring beyond concrete—wandering
pastures as well—harvesting wild mushrooms
into mind expanding rainbows as we trip
through Times Square's neon kaleidoscope.

Shes has her own reasons for speaking
to the circling birds of migration
as they fan into geometrical patterns
across the cool, crisp blue Autumn skies—
chirping and chiming of their future departure
to the ravens who caw back to be left alone.

She watches Winter’s grey skies billow.
Foreshadowing the Clouds of Darkness.
Northeast winds which whip rain and snow

—pushing the Atlantic's surf ashore—
dancing whole hardheartedly with the moon.

Knowing: The instinct of her Nature.


John Lunar Richey has writings published in Rolling Stone, Genesis, The Mammoth Book of New Erotica, The Journal of Erotica, and The Best of the Journal of Erotica (the latter two published in the UK). Lunar also works with Lunar Ensemble (word & music projections).

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