Yellow Mama Archives II

KJ Hannah Greenberg

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Acuff, Gale
Ahern, Edward
Allen, R. A.
Alleyne, Chris
Andes, Tom
Arnold, Sandra
Aronoff, Mikki
Ayers, Tony
Baber, Bill
Baird, Meg
Baker, J. D.
Balaz, Joe
Barker, Adelaide
Barker, Tom
Barnett, Brian
Barry, Tina
Bartlett, Daniel C.
Bayly, Karen
Beckman, Paul
Bellani, Arnaav
Berriozabal, Luis Cuauhtemoc
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Blakey, James
Booth, Brenton
Bracken, Michael
Burke, Wayne F.
Burnwell, Otto
Campbell, J. J.
Cancel, Charlie
Capshaw, Ron
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Carrabis, Joseph
Cartwright, Steve
Centorbi, David Calogero
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Christensen, Jan
Clifton, Gary
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Coverly, Harris
Crist, Kenneth James
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Davis, Michael D.
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Doyle, John
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Ebel, Pamela
Fagan, Brian Peter
Fillion, Tom
Fortier, M. L.
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Galef, David
Garnet, George
Garrett, Jack
Graysol, Jacob
Grech, Amy
Greenberg, KJ Hannah
Grey, John
Hagerty, David
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Irwin, Daniel S.
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Karl, Frank S.
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Kennedy, Cecilia
Keshigian, Michael
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Kompany, James
Kondek, Charlie
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Larsen, Ted R.
Le Due, Richard
Leotta, Joan
Lester, Louella
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Lucas, Gregory E.
Luer, Ken
Lukas, Anthony
Lyon, Hillary
Mannone, John C.
Margel, Abe
Martinez, Richard
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McQuiston, Rick
Middleton, Bradford
Milam, Chris
Mladinic, Peter
Mobili, Juan
Mullins, Ian
Myers, Beverle Graves
Myers, Jen
Nielsen, Ayaz Daryl
Nielsen, Judith
Onken, Bernard
Owen, Deidre J.
Park, Jon
Parker, Becky
Pettus, Robert
Plath, Rob
Prusky, Steve
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Reddick, Niles M.
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Reutter, G. Emil
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Ross, Gary Earl
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Snethen, Daniel G.
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Stoll, Don
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Taylor, J. M.
Temples. Phillip
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Weil, Lester L.
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Williams, E. E.
Williams, K. A.
Wilsky, Jim
Wiseman-Rose, Sophia
Woods, Jonathan
Young, Mark
Zackel, Fred
Zelvin, Elizabeth
Zeigler, Martin
Zimmerman, Thomas
Zumpe, Lee Clark

Alive Another Day

 

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

 

A senior citizen protected by a large straw sun hat and elsewise covered from wrists to ankles, makes her way among tombstones. She pauses at one.

“Larry, it’s two months, one week and six days past my seventieth birthday. Why aren’t you here to rejoice with me? We agreed I’d go first.

“I’m so miserable without you. The insurance money’s keeping me afloat and the kids visit . . . sometimes, but life’s no good alone.

“You nasty piece of work! You promised to outlive me.”

 

****

 

“I’m alive!”

“Yes, Ma.”

“I’ve been granted the gift of waking up again!”

“Yes, Ma.”

“That’s three months, two weeks and five days past my seventieth birthday!”

“Yes, Ma. Yesterday was three months, two weeks and four days past your seventieth birthday.”

“Oh Honey, you’re keeping count.”

“Don’t have to—you do.”

“You bet! We’re only guaranteed seventy years and I’ve been given a reprieve to live longer.”

“Not so amazing; the average female life expectancy, here, is eighty-two.”

“You don’t say.”

“I don’t. I read it in Statista.”

“For everyone?”

“Nope, for first-world countries, mostly. You were born in the right place, at the right time.”

“Counting COVID and other nasties?”

“Counting.”

“Well, no matter, Scripture gives us seventy, so I’m living on bonus time.”

“I know, you call me every morning to let me know.”

 

****

 

“Good morning, Dear.”

“Hi, Mom! How come you’re not dialing Jerry?”

“His phone number isn’t working.”

“Oh.”

“Did you know that three months, three weeks and four days have passed since my seventieth birthday?”

“Sure.”

“I’m celebrating!”

“Lunch with the girls? Manicure? Signing up for a new app?”

“No, most of them are on a cruise. I don’t like nail polish. You didn’t forget? Besides, I’m happy using dated technology. No new apps for this grandma.

“So, I’m celebrating by calling you.”

“Oh . . . Did you know I got to the office two hours ago?”

“The early bird . . .”

“Mom, you can’t call me every morning.”

“I see.”

“Maybe, after the kids are asleep, I can Zoom with you.”

“Sure. ‘See’ you in fourteen hours.”

“Mom!”

“What?”

“Do you always have to make me feel guilty?”

“I just called to wish you a ‘good morning.’ No guilt attached. Hanging up, now.”

 

****

 

A senior citizen fights against snowdrifts in boots, a parka, and assorted cold weather gear as she makes her way among tombstones. She pauses at one.

“Berel, you were supposed to outlive me. I get it that your father caved, but a son ought to respect his mother. I wanted to read to your children! I wanted to meet your wife! I wanted to clap at your college graduation! You didn’t let me do any of that.

“Did you know that today is four years, ten months, one week and two days past my seventieth birthday? I would have gladly given you my decades, instead, if it had been possible.

“Anyway, the docs say the cancer’s returned. I wanted to tell someone.”

 

****

 

“Mommy, Teri told me you’ve been calling her at work. You shouldn’t do that.”

“If a mother can’t say ‘good morning’ to her children, what’s the point of motherhood?”

“Carpool is picking up in five, so please just tell me today’s count.”

“I’m five years and a day past my seventieth birthday.”

“You’re ancient.”

“Yup.”

“Oh, there’s the horn. Gotta go. Love you. Kisses and hugs.”

 

****

 

Three adults, their spouses, and their children make their way among tombstones. They pause at a fresh gravesite.

“Five years, six months, and four days since her seventieth birthday.”

“I shouldn’t have changed my phone number. Her calls took only a few minutes.”

“I shouldn’t have told her I was busy at work when all I was doing was sipping my second coffee and checking my Facebook account.”

“I should have been honest and let her know that carpool was a lifeline for me after Peter was diagnosed. I never told her about his illness—I didn’t want to add to her burdens. Now, I realize it would have been better to have had her involved. At least the surgery worked and Peter’s clear.”

“Five years, six months, and four days since her seventieth birthday.”

“Which do you think was worse for her, Berel’s death or Dad’s?”

“She was really afraid of dying. Her calls were her way of celebrating each droplet of life.”

“Poetic.”

“Seriously! It must have been awful to live so many hours, days, weeks, months, and years alone.”

“You sound like Mom.”

“Good! Expect calls from me if I pass seventy.”

 

 

 

Light Notes

 

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

 

Alex walks toward her friends seated in her school’s cafeteria.

Mable is scrolling on her cell phone. “And for only thirty dollars . . .”

Travis looks up from his own phone. “Good price!”

Sylvia puts her phone on the table. “Hey, Alex. News?”

Tami, too, puts down her phone “You look drowned. The world hasn’t ended.”

Travis: “Shut up, Tami.”

Tami: “Well . . .”

Sylvia: “Sit, Alex. What’s the matter?”

Alex gestures the stink eye to Tami and then regards Mable, Travis, and Sylvia. “Everything. Remember Stan Catly?”

Mable: “A social idiot.”

Travis: “Nope, an unlimited idiot.”

Sylvia: “What happened?”

Alex: “He’s talking about my brother, Gerry.” She begins to cry.

Travis: “Yup, Stan’s an unrestricted idiot.”

Sylvia glares. “Hush!”

Mable hands Alex a length of clean toilet paper.

Alex wipes her eyes and nose. “Did you hear what Stan did to Leeann Walter’s brother? To Phillis Lee’s brother? It wasn’t just words. They’re vegetables, now. I can’t protect Gerry.”

Travis: “Stan’s a brigadier-level idiot.”

The youths nod.

Tami: “He’s going to juvie. There’ll be no problem.”

Alex: “Not ‘til next week.” She walks away.

Mable looks at Tami. “There are many makes of idiots. Stan’s supreme.”

****

A day later, in a classroom, the group members are seated at their respective desks.

Stan walks in. He curses Alex, then adds, “Your brother’s over. Gerry’s snitch brought me down. He’s going down, too. Maybe you, too. I don’t care that you’re a girl. You probably know all about it.”

Travis stands up between Stan and Alex. He’s taller than Stan, but scrawnier. “Get out!”

Stan: “Ooooh, mouthy.” He rolls up a sleeve and then makes a fist. Then he laughs at Travis and again curses Alex. Before he leaves the classroom, he adds, “I’m still enrolled, here, this week.

****

The friend group is once more seated at their cafeteria table.

Mable scrolls on her phone and gasps. “Look!”

Tami leans over. “No!”

Sylvia and Travis, too, lean over. “No!”

Sylvia: “Alex’s brother!”

Travis: “Ya know, Gerry wasn’t in school yesterday, or today.”

Sylvia: “Pity Stan’s too young for real jail.”

Mable: “Why’s he still free?”

Travis: “Grownups are exceptional idiots.”

Tami: “We should go to the funeral.”

Tami: “Should! Think Alex’ll come back to our school?”

Travis: “She’s no idiot.”

Sylvia: “Losing a brother! I can’t imagine.”

Tami: “She was afraid and . . .”

Mable: “. . . and we didn’t help.”

Travis: “We’re idiots. But what could we’ve done?”

Tami: “Revenge?”

Travis: “That’d make us idiots on Stan’s level.”

Mable: “And get us sent to juvie.”

Sylvia: “What’s to do?”

Tami: “A GoFundMe page. We’ll help with funeral costs and get therapy for Alex’s family.”

Mable: “They’ve plenty of money. Besides, money won’t bring back Gerry.”

Tami: “Duh. Nothing will. The best we can do is small things.”

****

Alex never returned to that high school. She finished twelfth grade at a boarding school and then became a roadie for a local band.

Stan graduated from juvie to adult incarceration. Every time he was released, he committed more murders. Eventually, he, himself, was murdered.

Travis became a lawyer. He spends a significant amount of time on pro bono cases.

Mable struggled with high school math, so she entered art school. On weekends, she works at a woman’s shelter. A few times a year, she conducts art workshops for kids living in the shelter.

Tami joined the army and then graduated from a police academy. She became a public information officer.

Sylvia opted for a gap year, which she spent teaching English in Peru as a Maximo Nivel volunteer. Thereafter, she enrolled at a local community college. She dreams of eventually getting a bachelor’s degree and then teaching in an inner-city classroom.


Insouciant

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

 

Indifferent, ostensibly unconcerned, elsewise appearing apathetic,

Unhelpful for manqué mates plus partners frustrated over life goals.

Few emotional tocotrienols exist capable of changing attitudes among

Persons under-impressed with dear ones’ reduction to minute fragments.

After all, comminuted feelings make no matter to self-serving individuals

(They’d rather isolate in video games or anorexically circumnavigate until

Their lovers fall asleep, overdose, or gun themselves down owing to grief.)


KJ Hannah Greenberg has been playing with words and images for an awfully long time. Check out her poetry and art book, One-Handed Pianist (Hekate Publishing, 2021).

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