by Jeph Johnson 


I never had a religious upbringing, so when Shari brought a pomegranate to school and cut it open, sharing with me the tender insides, all the majesty of Song of Solomon erupting in my loins from the sugary, yet mildly acidic taste, was lost.

It was an adult fruit, and it seemed somewhat rebellious to be peering inside at the sweetly-seeded morsels while Shari smiled deviously.


Looking back, with 41-year-old eyes (which are just now beginning to need reading glasses) I realize she was expecting me to kiss her.

Fewer than seventeen people in my whole life have ever looked at me that way, and I have savagely fucked five of them.


Shari looked almost exactly like Natalie Portman, but back in 1980, Brooke Shields was the person my mind compared her to.

Shari had long, dark-brown hair and a cover model's perfect features.

Her uni-brow meant she must have had pubic hair, something I had only a scientific knowledge of from my Mother's Playboys.

That Mom was the one with the pornography stashed underneath the bed remains an oddity of my youth.


She told me she liked the stories and I guess I believe her.

Her longing for human intercourse was always more passionate than my Father's desire for sexual intercourse.

At 14-years-old, up until I popped a few pomegranate seeds into my salivating mouth, my libido was just as dormant as Dad's.


Before the pomegranate, I had only seen ads and posters for The Blue Lagoon but Shari smiling at me caused the clothes to fall and the wave of her teenage beauty to crescendo over my innocence.

My senses flooded: sweetly acidic seeds sprouted on my tongue, statuesque magazine-model beauty exploded in my eyes while silent come-hither whispers gently caressed my ears!


My penis cocked while my testicles took aim and shot adrenalin straight up my spine into my insular cortex.

Of course Shari didn't know any of this was going on; she just wanted me to kiss her.


That didn't happen until much later....and it didn't happen with Shari. Instead Laura, a chain-smoking seventh grader who enjoyed the liquor cabinet of my best friend Jamie's Dad pulled me into the bathroom to "tell me a secret."

It was the same secret that she had told Rob five minutes earlier.


I just saw him leaving the bathroom with a huge smile on his face.

We all sat around listening to Pat Benatar's "Get Nervous" record.

Rob spent "Shadows of the Night" and "Looking for a Stranger" groping Laura's Middle School tits, while I started off my bathroom adventure to the strains of "Anxiety (Get Nervous)."


Her breasts were small and firm, and as soon as my finger touched her nipple "Fight it Out" began playing.

"The Victim" was the last song on side one and played when Laura sat me back down on the couch.


By the time Jamie flipped the record over, "Little too Late" was playing for me, and he was now leading Laura into the bathroom to learn the secret too.

He made out to "I'll Do It", which, for him, was apropos.


The fact that I had gotten "sloppy seconds" played along in my mind with the song "I Want Out", but Jamie's "sloppy thirds" had no effect on him.

Jamie's drunkenness often led him to all sorts of adventures without him realizing it.


Later on in life he met up with the Montana correctional system due to his drunk driving, but he straddled Samantha Senior year upon Mt. Scott on the passenger side of his Chevy pickup.


She would only gently kiss my puckered lips once after we waited in line for Night Ranger autographs.

Fifteen-years-old Sam then deep-kissed their drummer and I wondered aloud why she wouldn't kiss me - one of her best friends...


"I'll kiss you," she promised, giving me a confused look.

That's when I gave her the nickname "soft lips", even though I had gotten sexier kisses from my Aunt.


Still, it seemed to be a good Springtime day, I knew it was one that would shape my entire life.

After all, why would I be typing away this Autumn morning, still have that Benatar album on my hard drive, while sucking down a pomegranate flavored candy?


Author's Notes/Comments: 


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River Flows In You

He's playing the song again

The one narrating the sounds

Of the river water flowing

And it always flows in you

Whoever that "you" refers to

Remains still a mystery


The keys continue being stroked

I know this not because I can see him

But because I can hear him

And I'm certain it is him

No one else in this place would know

The precision needed to play this song


I stand in the middle of the room

Motionless as a statue

I'm traveling to the past

Where I see us in that same room

As he played the same song

Just for me

I remember it all


How special I felt at that moment

When I had him all to myself

And it was nothing but us

And the song without words


Perhaps he plays it for himself now

Or thinking of his beloved miles away

I can't help but wonder if he

Remembers me through it,

Even as an afterthought


He must know, though

That this is my song

That he's my first thought

Every time I hear it

Shadows Never Tell

Shadows Never Tell



You approach me from the shadows.

You dont know me anymore.

You've been gone so long.

You live on a distant shore.


We crossed paths so long ago.

In the not so distant past you came to me.

As always your face you didnt show.

I suspect, on that distant shore you still must be.


My favorite flower, from the land of your home.

I sometimes wonder how you are.

Does your heart still roam?

I remember you said we look at the same stars.


I am sure you have babies, the grand ones.

Ones from your children they would be.

I do too, I have a few.

Little boys; I have three.


Our hair is grey now.

Although you never wore hair at all.

Still I know you would be gray now.

I can see you, beaming with pride, standing tall!


I wonder has health and wealth become a friend.

And if so, was it fleeing, or did it come to stay?

If you ever think of me; maybe now and then.

Come on down, come down my way.


A kiss on the cheek.

A smile for old times.

I miss your heart so tender and meek.

While you hated my rhymes.


But come my friend; come see me again.

Even if its in the shadows.

To hear your heart, in your words, would be my gain.

If you are well is really all I want to know.


Sending kindness, and care from the heart.

Wishing you well.

Just wondering what ever happened to our start.

But, shadows never tell.





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