Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen

Archive for October, 2015|Monthly archive page

Poems by Annie Quintano

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2015 at 3:23 pm

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Untitled POEM #1

In case you didn’t know, she thought

but left it unsaid;

The spectacular array of colors

when it fell

and splattered red

and relieved itself of mold and charring;

the lathes and studs unable to stand

or withstand

And the black and orange of smoldering—

like Halloween

but the bones now real-

and shorn of skin

a crisp whiteness

porcelain

too worn not to break

she thought it was best left unsaid:

that tragedy has an appeal;

and suffering, ironically, delightful colors

and can leave a taste in your mouth

both blood

and wine

indistinguishable

And to uncomplicated it

red isn’t always blood

sometimes red is just red

-Annie Quintano

 

UNTITLED POEM # 2

What is delightful;

beyond the unexpected waking

when one is dying—

is the smell of decay held at bay

leaving room for lavender

the sound of a toilet flushing

the wooden cane leaning against the door

Annie Quintano

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Do What I Say

In Poetry, The worst of times on October 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm

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-Do what I say

But you don’t make sense

-Don’t think about it, just do it

Sorry I don’t work that way

-Just follow all 3 of us

You’re not saying the same thing

-Listen and do or else

Who do I listen to-you’re saying all different things?

-You didn’t listen-now leave

Why?

-You didn’t follow instructions, now get out

You’re not making sense-which instructions to follow?

-And you’re leaving “voluntarily”, or I call the cops

Are you on crack?

-You can’t appeal this, get out

Your supervisor said I was supposed to get an appeal

-Don’t pay attention to that bitch, get out

You’re making me homeless

-I don’t give a fuck-BTW, you can’t stay in our shelter

Where am I supposed to go?

-I don’t give a fuck-you’re free to do what you want

I’d like to stay in the place I’ve been living in

-Get out

-Thomas Clarke

 

Volunteer Story: Bill

In Soup Kitchen Stories, Volunteer Stories on October 16, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Bill Frick quoteWhen Bill retired six years ago, he knew he wanted to stay busy and keep a sense of purpose in his life.  After a full professional life as a massage therapist and vocational counselor, he decided to go to a volunteer fair to see what options were available to keep his days  meaningful. It was there that he  was introduced to Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen where he’s become a familiar face ever since.

“I signed up for volunteering here, and I’ve never needed to volunteer any where else,” Bill remarks, “There’s something for everybody here. At first I volunteered  five days a week, doing different things. When I started, I usually had the job of carrying the trays back to the kitchen.”

These days, even though he’s volunteering, “only two or three days a week”, Bill’s one of the first volunteers here on those mornings. That’s because as an Assistant Volunteer Coordinator, his job is to welcome the approximately sixty others volunteers, introduce new ones to the soup kitchen, and assign each of them one of the many jobs that’s essential to making the two hour meal  run smoothly. His experience volunteering in many of the roles at the soup kitchen, combined with his experience as a vocational counselor seems makes Bill a natural at this job, ensuring that ensure  that each assignment  matches and accommodates each volunteer’s unique needs and skills.

“It’s a privilege to be here,” Bill says, “I like helping to welcome volunteers and make them feel comfortable.”

Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen has become the  bedrock in Bill’s day to life and his consistent presence helps not only our volunteers feel comfortable, but gives our guests that sense of community and stability  it can be so hard to find elsewhere in their lives.

“It’s a great social place for me, that’s important,” Bill remarks. “The other volunteers are important to me, socially. They’ve become my friends. And you know there are guests who start to volunteer. That’s always great to see happen.”

Storm Drains

In Stories on October 13, 2015 at 9:39 pm

rain at night

 

It was an unbearably long walk and wet, at that.  The rain had begun early and she knew this because she had been up since three AM and she knew this because she was certain that this much rain could not have accumulated in any shorter amount of time.  The storm drains were already clogged.  Rushing waters had the brown oak leaves scattered along the gutter into a mass at the corner drain.  To step off the sidewalk it was unavoidable that her feet would become drenched.  She submitted to its inevitability but resented it.  She had turned recalcitrant of late and harnessed much of her energy to defy dictates but she knew she best not battle with nature.  It was futile.  The cancer had taught her that.  Those in her support group had encouraged her in the opposite direction. ‘Defy it!’ they encouraged, almost in a chant, all of them, all together and she found the passion and urgency in their voices troubling as if fueled by a terror of which they were in denial.  Secretly she resented them.  Their facile comments.  She dropped out of the group and it was just that group from which she was walking away now.

She trudged through rain and leaves that flew up and plastered themselves momentarily to her cheek before they continued on their flight; before she even had time to brush them away.

She moved steadily on leaving the hovering of well-meaning people behind; affirming her desperateness to be left alone and unbothered and un-preached to.

The gutters of the crosswalk appeared to rise up against her – purposively and with some obscure malevolence as if they plotted and built this impediment precisely for her; this growing swell of water, dark and putrid. It deepened and rose.  It became a being unto itself.  But the walk and the emotionality of giving notice to the group had fatigued her and she felt unable to struggle against the brewing storm; against the storm drains themselves; the hard, mean, impassable wall.

She was an ample woman with broad hips through which she had birthed six children, two of them already dead.  To look at her one would assume she was strong.  Her own sensibilities also dictated she was, but now in the face of the dream-like flood waters, she had weakened considerably.  Her hips had slipped narrow, the meat on her bones gone paltry.

She did not attribute the weakness to the cancer whose supreme hunger for her death she still found she was able to manage.  No, it seemed to be the rain.  The rain had done her in.  The rain had leached away her strength; washed away her grit—threatened to drown her.  The rain had filled her pockets with stones like Virginia at the River Ouse.

If she could just manage to cross this street, she thought, drawing down the mountainous wall of water to a manageable size, then she might continue to live.  Just for the rest of this day.

She thought of Moses and the Red Sea—how stories not meant to be literal took on enormous literal force, inhospitable to refutes or opinions.  She wished for the powers, none the less.  For the power of a mind free of critical thinking that could take Moses at his word.

She stepped off the curb and the waters shuddered on either side of her wet sneakers.  She was making a way.  A way across.  Cars screeched to a boisterous, angry halt.  She was sorry for the consternation she had caused; the middle of a rainy street which seemed to demand cars stop, make a way. But she pressed on.  Pressed on while the water flowed.

The other side did not guarantee her life as she had hoped.  There was something about the very safety of that corner that caused the cancer to scream out—mark its territory; stake out its claim on her body; its terror on her soul.

-Annie Quintano

FOR MY MOM

In memoir, Uncategorized on October 2, 2015 at 9:05 pm

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I just don’t know how to start writing about my mom. I love her so much. She was 97 years old and strong. She had a strong gird. When she had to go to the bathroom, she would tell me, “I am no baby.” That is my mom. My mom was extremely generous, she would share her small pension every month with me. She was a giver.

She had two husbands, both of them abused her and beat her. I told her, “let me get the police,” and she said to me, “everything is ok, I’ll be alright.” My mom was an adventurer, she would go anywhere by herself. She would talk to strangers in restaurants. My mom was a likable person and I was blessed with the support of my sister and brother. My mom got shingles in her late 90’s – it was hard on me. It was hard on me, I would not give her the pain medication because it would make her sleep. I would give her a hot towel to relieve her pain. The more I was with her, the more I realized how important love was. I would bathe her every week, wash her lovely feet every day, and kiss her loving toenail. My mom and I worked together in a cafeteria. Her job was to make salad, while I was a pot washer.

I would take her every two months to see her foot doctor (to trim her toenail). Her foot doctor told me, “you are a good son, but as she gets older, it will get harder.” I realized that a few years later. I got her a wheelchair and she said “Is that for you?” That is my mom. My mom was a single parent, raised me, my two brothers, and sister (with my help). I would tell her “she did it,” and she would respond, “with the help of God.” I never put her in a nursing home, I was responsible for being in charge of my mother. I would play checkers with her and always allow her to beat me. She was so comfortable sitting in a chair the whole day, she would never complain.

I would talk with her for hours about the good old days, when she was young. I was so blessed that she had no dementia. She had a wonderful spirit and loved music. During World War 2, my mom worked as a bus girl at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. She met the actor Clark Gable there. He wanted her to come to Hollywood with him; my mom said no because she was too close to her own mother. I remember on my mom’s birthday, I took her and my brother to see a Broadway show. On mother’s day, I told her every day is mother’s day for me (with many kisses). Mom was a real New Yorker. She would go by herself to all the department stores in the city. She retired from work at 62 years old. She worked at a Coach factory on 34th street. I would visit her after work, and go for dinner on Fridays. We would also go to the St. Francis church on 31st street.

It’s very depressing for me now that my mother is no longer here. I miss all those intimate years with my mom. I miss it. I would say to myself, “oh Lord, please help me.”

I recall the last couple of weeks when I could not bathe her, change her pants, or do anything until my brother came home from work. There were times I would act like a clown and dance to make her smile. I know that the love for her doesn’t end because her spirit is with me all the time. I remember when my brother and I brought her to the hospital (where she spent three days). She was crying and told me to please take her home. I stayed with her the whole night at the hospital until the next day (when we went home). I remember praying to myself, “please help me God, I don’t want anything to happen to my mother.”

-Charles Borges

LILA AND JEFF II (Lila and Uncle Louie)

In Uncategorized on October 2, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Portrait of a businessman working on accounting ledgers

Louie              Lila, come in, you look troubled.

Lila                 I am. . .  Jeff fucked up again.

Louie              I warned you about that Mick, what did he do now?

Lila                 He confused your tax service with a Russian one.

Louie              I am well aware of those Russkie imposters-they used my name and even doubled the pay of one of my workers. Stupid kid could be bought off for $20 an hour.

Lila                 You’re only paying your tax guys $10 an hour?

Louie              Gotta cut costs. . .

Lila                 Yeah, like who else would drive a Mercedes with armor plating in that part of Brooklyn?

Louie              Well, it’s cheaper and less likely to be bought off than bodyguards.

Lila                 Are things that bad?

Louie              Yes, they are. Can’t trust anyone outside of family anymore.

Lila                 I have trouble trusting my husband.

Louie              He may be a complete clutz, but I don’t see him cheating on you or ratting the family out to the feds.

Lila                 That is true. He’s broken every piece of that china set Aunt Gina got me for our wedding.

Louie              I know, $12,000 in the garbage.

Lila                 You can add the $900 he lost in refund money to the Russkies. I may need help paying the rent.

Louie              I’ll pay a visit to your landlord.

Lila                 No bats this time!

Louie              Ok, no bats, no tire irons, no chains. . .

Lila                 Have you ever not used force to get your way?

Louie              A few times, not that long ago, I met one of my rivals who ratted guys out to the feds. I gave him an umbrella.

Lila                 Did you hit him with it?

Louie              No, but he didn’t live long after he used it.

Lila                 You gave the poor schmuck a poisoned umbrella?

Louie              Not when you put it like that. . .

Lila                 I wonder how I could be related to you, to all of this?

Louie              Lila, your parents loved you. Your father did everything he could for his baby girl. And when they died in that wreck on the Belt, I took care of you.

Lila                 Yeah. .  raised by a monster.

Louie              We’re all monsters inside, Lila, even you. .or dunces.

Lila                 Only a monster could come up with a poisoned umbrella!

Louie              I got the idea from the Russkies. Some KGB goons poisoned a rat in London. I used it to snare a rat in Arizona. The Lufthansa rat.

Lila                 I thought he died of a heart attack?

Louie              That’s the best part, the poison is undetectable. No weapon, no charges. Now if you excuse me, I have some Russians to use this umbrella on. . .When they’re dealt with, I’ll get your $900 back.

Lila                 Anything for family?

Louie              Yes, anything for family.

-Thomas Clarke