When it begins it is like a light in a tunnel, a rush of steel andsteam across a torn up life. It is a low rumble, an earthquake in theback of the mind. My spine is a track with cold black steel racing onit, a trail of steam and dust following behind, ghost like. It feelslike my whole life is holding its breath.By the time she leaves the room I am surprised that she can’t see thetrain. It has jumped the track of my spine and landed in my mothers’living room. A cold dark thing, black steel and redwood paneling. Itis the old type, from the western movies I loved as a kid.He throws open the doors to the outside world, to the dark ocean. Ifeel a breeze tugging at me, a slender finger of wind that catches atmy shirt. Pulling. Grabbing. I can feel the panic build in me, theneed to scream or cry rising in my throat.And then I am out the door, running, tumbling down the steps fallingout into the darkened world, falling out into the lifeless ocean. Outinto the blackness. Out among the stars and shadows.And underneath my skin, in the back of my head and down the back of myspine I can feel the desperation and I can feel the noise. I can feelthe deep and ancient ache of loudness that litters across my bones.It’s like an old lover, comfortable and well known, but unwelcome andinappropriate with her stories of our frolicking.And then she’s gone and the Conductor is closing the door. Thedarkness swells around us, enveloping us in a cocoon, pressing flatagainst the train like a storm. I wonder, what is this place?Those had been heady days, full and intense. It’s funny. I rememberthe problems, the confusions and the fears of life we all dealt with.But, that all seems to fade. It all seems to be replaced by images ofthe days when it was all just okay. We all had plans back then,patterns in which we expected the world to fit, how it was to bedeciphered.Eventually you just can’t carry yourself any longer, can’t keep youreyelids open, and can’t focus on anything but the flickering light ofthe stars. Hours pass, at first slowly like a river and then all in arush, a climax and I am home in the dorm, waking up to the ringing ofthe telephone.When she is gone the apartment is silent, empty, almost like a personsleeping, waiting to wake up. When she is gone, and I am alone, I curlup on the bed, wait for the house to eject me from its dying corpse.Crazy thoughts cross through my head, like slants of light in anattic.The Boston 395 rocks a bit, a creaking noise spilling in from theundercarriage. I have decided that whatever this place is, all thesenoises, sensations - all the train-ness of this place - is afabrication. It lulls you into a sense of security, allows you to feelas if it’s a familiar place. But whatever it is, it’s not a train, orat least not just a train.The air, heightened, tense against the glass. I can hear the squeak ofshoes on linoleum, I can hear the soft rattle of a dying man’sbreathing. Men in white uniforms, sharp pressed lines, run past,rolling gurneys down florescent hallways.
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When it begins it is like a light in a tunnel, a rush of steel andsteam across a torn up life. It is a low rumble, an earthquake in theback of the mind. My spine is a track with cold black steel racing onit, a trail of steam and dust following behind, ghost like. It feelslike my whole life is holding its breath.By the time she leaves the room I am surprised that she can’t see thetrain. It has jumped the track of my spine and landed in my mothers’living room. A cold dark thing, black steel and redwood paneling. Itis the old type, from the western movies I loved as a kid.He throws open the doors to the outside world, to the dark ocean. Ifeel a breeze tugging at me, a slender finger of wind that catches atmy shirt. Pulling. Grabbing. I can feel the panic build in me, theneed to scream or cry rising in my throat.And then I am out the door, running, tumbling down the steps fallingout into the darkened world, falling out into the lifeless ocean. Outinto the blackness. Out among the stars and shadows.And underneath my skin, in the back of my head and down the back of myspine I can feel the desperation and I can feel the noise. I can feelthe deep and ancient ache of loudness that litters across my bones.It’s like an old lover, comfortable and well known, but unwelcome andinappropriate with her stories of our frolicking.And then she’s gone and the Conductor is closing the door. Thedarkness swells around us, enveloping us in a cocoon, pressing flatagainst the train like a storm. I wonder, what is this place?Those had been heady days, full and intense. It’s funny. I rememberthe problems, the confusions and the fears of life we all dealt with.But, that all seems to fade. It all seems to be replaced by images ofthe days when it was all just okay. We all had plans back then,patterns in which we expected the world to fit, how it was to bedeciphered.Eventually you just can’t carry yourself any longer, can’t keep youreyelids open, and can’t focus on anything but the flickering light ofthe stars. Hours pass, at first slowly like a river and then all in arush, a climax and I am home in the dorm, waking up to the ringing ofthe telephone.When she is gone the apartment is silent, empty, almost like a personsleeping, waiting to wake up. When she is gone, and I am alone, I curlup on the bed, wait for the house to eject me from its dying corpse.Crazy thoughts cross through my head, like slants of light in anattic.The Boston 395 rocks a bit, a creaking noise spilling in from theundercarriage. I have decided that whatever this place is, all thesenoises, sensations – all the train-ness of this place – is afabrication. It lulls you into a sense of security, allows you to feelas if it’s a familiar place. But whatever it is, it’s not a train, orat least not just a train.The air, heightened, tense against the glass. I can hear the squeak ofshoes on linoleum, I can hear the soft rattle of a dying man’sbreathing. Men in white uniforms, sharp pressed lines, run past,rolling gurneys down florescent hallways.

-Jason Derr

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But that wasn't the chief thing that bothered me: I couldn't reconcile myself with that preoccupation with sin that, so far as I could tell, was never entirely absent from the monks' thoughts. I'd known a lot of fellows in the air corps. Of course they got drunk when they got a chance, and had a girl whenever they could and used foul language; we had one or two had hats: one fellow was arrested for passing rubber cheques and was sent to prison for six months; it wasn't altogether his fault; he'd never had any money before, and when he got more than he'd ever dreamt of having, it went to his head. I'd known had men in Paris and when I got back to Chicago I knew more, but for the most part their badness was due to heredity, which they couldn't help, or to their environment, which they didn't choose: I'm not sure that society wasn't more responsible for their crimes than they were. If I'd been God I couldn't have brought myself to condemn one of them, not even the worst, to eternal damnation. Father Esheim was broad-minded; he thought that hell was the deprivation of God's presence, but if that is such an intolerable punishment that it can justly be called hell, can one conceive that a good God can inflict it? After all, he created men, if he so created them that ti was possible for them to sin, it was because he willed it. If I trained a dog to fly at the throat of any stranger who came into by back yard, it wouldn't be fair to beat him when he did so.If an all-good and all-powerful God created the world, why did he create evil? The monks said, so that man by conquering the wickedness in him, by resisting temptation, by accepting pain and sorrow and misfortune as the trials sent by God to purify him, might at long last be made worthy to receive his grace. It seem to me like sending a fellow with a message to some place and just to make it harder for him you constructed a maze that he had to get through, then dug a moat that he had to swim and finally built a wall that he had to scale. I wasn't prepared to believe in an all-wise God who hadn't common sense. I didn't see why you shouldn't believe in a God who hadn't created the world, buyt had to make the best of the bad job he'd found, a being enormously better, wiser and greater than man, who strove with the evil he hadn't made and who might be hoped in the end to overcome it. But on the other hand I didn't see why you should.

-W. Somerset

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Some people read for instruction, which is praiseworthy, and some for pleasure, which is innocent, but not a few read from habit, and I suppose that is neither innocent nor praiseworthy. Of that lamentable company am I. Conversation after a time bores me, games tire me, and my own thoughts, which we are told are the unfailing resource of a sensible man, have a tendency to run dry. Then I fly to my book as the opium-seeker to his pipe. I would sooner read the catalogue of the Army and Navy stores or Bradshaw's Guide than nothing at all, and indeed I have spent many delightful hours over both these works. At one time I never went out without a second-hand bookseller's list in my pocket. I know no reading more fruity. Of course to read in this way is as reprehensible as doping, and I never cease to wonder at the impertinence of great readers who, because they are such, look down on the illiterate. From the standpoint of what eternity is it better to have read a thousand books than to have ploughed a million furrows? Let us admit that reading with us is just a drug that we cannot do without who of this band does not know the restlessness that attacks him when he has been severed from reading too long, the apprehension and irritability, and the sigh of relief which the sight of a printed page extracts from him? and so let us be no more vainglorious than the poor slaves of the hypodermic needle or the pint-pot.And like the dope-fiend who cannot move from place to place without taking with him a plentiful supply of his deadly balm I never venture far without a sufficiency of reading matter. Books are so necessary to me that when in a railway train I have become aware that fellow-travellers have come away without a single one I have been seized with a veritable dismay. But when I am starting on a long journey the problem is formidable.

-W. Somerset

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When I was a child, an angel came to say,A true friend is coming my warrior to sweep you away,It won’t be easy the path because it leads through hell,But if you’re faithful, it will be the greatest story to tell,You will move God’s daughters to a place of hope,Your story will teach everyone there is nothing they can’t cope,You will suffer a lot, but not one tear will you waste,Because for all that you do for me, you will be graced,For I am bringing you someone that wants to travel your trail,Someone you already met when you passed through heaven’s veil,A warrior, a friend that whispers your heart’s song,Someone that will run with you and pull your spirit along,Don’t you see the timing was love's fated throw,Because I put you both there to help one another grow,I am the writer of all great stories your chapters were written by me,You suffered, you cried because I needed you to see,That your faith in my ending goes far beyond two,It was going to change more hearts than both of you knew,So hush my child and wait for my loving hand,The last chapter is not written and still in the sand,It is up to you to finish, before the tide washes it away,All that is in your heart, I’ve put their for you to say,This is not about winning, loss or pain,I made you the way you are because true love stories are insane,I wrote you in heaven as I sat on its sandy shore,You know with all of my heart I loved you both more,There is no better ending two people seeing each other's heart,Together your spirits will never drift apart,Because two kindred spirits is what I made you to be,The waves and beach crashing together because of-- ME.

-Shannon L.

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When we came out of the cookhouse, we found the boy's father, the Indian man who had been grazing the horses in the pasture, waiting for us. He wanted someone to tell his troubles to. He looked about guardedly, afraid that the Señora might overhear him.'Take a look at me' he said. I don't even know how old I am. When I was young, the Señor brought me here. He promised to pay me and give me a plot of my own. 'Look at my clothes' he said, pointing to the patches covering his body. 'I can't remember how many years I've been wearing them. I have no others. I live in a mud hut with my wife and sons. They all work for the Señor like me. They don't go to school. They don't know how to read or write; they don't even speak Spanish. We work for the master, raise his cattle and work his fields. We only get rice and plantains to eat. Nobody takes care of us when we are sick. The women here have their babies in these filthy huts.''Why don't you eat meat or at least milk the cows?' I asked.'We aren't allowed to slaughter a cow. And the milk goes to the calves. We can't even have chicken or pork - only if an animal gets sick and dies. Once I raised a pig in my yard' he went on. 'She had a litter of three. When the Señor came back he told the foreman to shoot them. That's the only time we ever had good meat.''I don't mind working for the Señor but I want him to keep his promise. I want a piece of land of my own so I can grow rice and yucca and raise a few chickens and pigs. That's all.' 'Doesn't he pay you anything?' Kevin asked. 'He says he pays us but he uses our money to buy our food. We never get any cash. Kind sirs, maybe you can help me to persuade the master . Just one little plot is all I want. The master has land, much land.'We were shocked by his tale. Marcus took out a notebook and pen. 'What's his name?'. He wrote down the name. The man didn't know the address. He only knew that the Señor lived in La Paz.Marcus was infuriated. 'When I find the owner of the ranch, I'll spit right in his eye. What a lousy bastard! I mean, it's really incredible'. 'That's just the way things are,' Karl said. 'It's sad but there's nothing we can do about it.

-Yossi Ghinsberg

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From my college courses and my reading I knew the various names that came at the end of a line of questions or were placed as periods to bafflement: the First Cause, the First Mover, the Life Force, the Universal Mind, the First Principle, the Unmoved Mover, even Providence. I too had used those names in arguing with others, and with myself, trying to explain the world to myself. And now I saw that those names explained nothing. They were of no more use than Evolution or Natural Selection or Nature or The Big Bang of these later days. All such names do is catch us within the length and breadth of our own thoughts and our own bewilderment. Though I knew the temptation of simple reason, to know nothing that can't be proved, still I supposed that those were not the right names.I imagined that the right name might be Father, and I imagined all that that name would imply: the love, the compassion, the taking offense, the disappointment, the anger, the bearing of wounds, the weeping of tears, the forgiveness, the suffering unto death. If love could force my own thoughts over the edge of the world and out of time, then could I not see how even divine omnipotence might by the force of its own love be swayed down into the world? Could I not see how it might, because it could know its creatures only by compassion, put on mortal flesh, become a man, and walk among us, assume our nature and our fate, suffer our faults and our death?Yes. I could imagine a Father who is yet like a mother hen spreading her wings before the storm or in the dusk before the dark night for the little ones of Port William to come in under, some of whom do, and some do not. I could imagine Port William riding its humble wave through time under the sky, its little flames of wakefulness lighting and going out, its lives passing through birth, pleasure, sufferning, and death. I could imagine God looking down upon it, its lives living by His spirit, breathing by His breath, knowing by His light, but each life living also (inescapably) by its own will--His own body given to be broken.

-Wendell Berry

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I . . . hurried to the city library to find out the true age of Chicago. City library! After all, it cannot be anything but Chicagoesque. His is the richest library, no doubt, as everything in Chicago is great in size and wealth. Its million books are filling all the shelves, as the dry goods fill the big stores. Oh, librarian, you furnished me a very good dinner, even ice cream, but—where is the table? The Chicago city library has no solemnly quiet, softly peaceful reading-room; you are like a god who made a perfect man and forgot to put in the soul; the books are worth nothing without having a sweet corner and plenty of time, as the man is nothing without soul. Throw those books away, if you don't have a perfect reading-room! Dinner is useless without a table. I want to read a book as a scholar, as I want to eat dinner as a gentleman. What difference is there, my dearest Chicago, between your honourable library and the great department store, an emporium where people buy things without a moment of selection, like a busy honey bee?The library is situated in the most annoyingly noisy business quarter, under the overhanging smoke, in the nearest reach of the engine bells of the lakeside. One can hardly spend an hour in it if he be not a Chicagoan who was born without taste of the fresh air and blue sky. The heavy, oppressive, ill-smelling air of Chicago almost kills me sometimes. What a foolishness and absurdity of the city administrators to build the office of learning in such place of restaurants and barber shops!Look at that edifice of the city library! Look at that white marble! That's great, admirable; that means tremendous power of money. But what a vulgarity, stupid taste, outward display, what an entire lacking of fine sentiment and artistic love! Ah, those decorations with gold and green on the marble stone spoil the beauty! What a shame! That is exactly Chicagoesque. O Chicago, you have fine taste, haven't you?

-Yone Noguchi

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