Tomas Birriel, Ft. Lauderdale FL, “Almost Home”
The Florida sun radiates above head and its light beams through my office window. The thick glass insulates me from the heat and I am enveloped by conditioned, recycled air. The blacktop of the parking lot absorbs the warmth that I want to feel on my skin and in my bones. A crow settles on the telephone wire and assumes an invariably vigilant stare—watching me, pitying me.
Two more hours and I’ll be out of here.
As I stroll through the halls I catch a glimpse of Frank at his desk, wide-eyed and kissing the rim of a steaming mug. In the kitchen I pick up the coffee pot and I hear the hollow sound of a thimble full of liquid hitting the walls of the steel thermal container. Apparently Frank did not read the memorandum sent from human resources relaying the importance o
Emily Webber, Plantation FL , “Everything Comes through Miami”
“Everything comes through Miami. Here is where you can find the impossible.”
This was how the last letter from Paul began. While reading it she imagined a giant funnel of people, animals and fantastic creatures being poured in through South Florida.
Paul loved birds, even though as a child he paid mightily for this. He was always looking up, scanning the sky, and this made him an easy target. But the secret he kept inside himself was that one day he would find something magnificent. He was small as a boy. The only thing big about him was his head. Adults told him it was because he had a big brain and knew lots of stuff. Kids never said anything about brains or being smart. They taunted him with words, in addition to their hands, and they never grew tired of it. So he kept his eyes on the sky. Some birds were ordinary and even ugly but they could always go wherever they wanted. And then there were some that went wherever they wanted and were magical. So in the end he wrote about the birds.
“There are some birds you always hear before you can see them and you only see them if very lucky. Green parrots are one of those - loud and cackling as if in a constant state of bickering - when you look up at the sky most of the time you see nothing but flashes of green or even more rarely pairs of them sitting on a wire. Legend has it these parrots are here because of a hurricane’s path of destruction that ravaged South Florida. So whenever I hear their loud cackling and look up at the sky to catch a glimpse of them, I’m reminded that out of the chaos can come something beautiful.”
Sue Germain, Miami, Fl, “The South Meets Cuba”
It is July 10, 1993 a Sunday night in Miami. I had recently joined a telephone dating service where I placed a long term relationship ad which said I wanted the all American dream, marriage, little house with a white picket fence, kids and a dog. The ad also said if the person listening does not want the same thing “please don’t waste my time or yours”.
Two men left me a message to call them. One I didn’t call and one I did. The one I called back left me a message which simply said “Sue, call me”. It was more a command than a request. After a lot of self talk and picking up and putting down the telephone I finally dialed the number.
After he remembered he left me a message he told me someone gave him a free coupon to join the dating service. We talked until it was time for both of us to get ready for work. We met for dinner at Penrod’s on South Beach on Wednesday July 14, 1993. Penrod’s restaurant is now Nikki Beach. He wore glasses, very handsome and carried a Time magazine. I was so nervous I just ordered mineral water. He leaned across the table and said “I think you are lovely”. That was it, I was in love.
It is October 17, 2011; my husband, Miguel, and I have been married for ten years. We have been together since that night at Penrod’s long ago in 1993. Our love for each other has never wavered and each day when he comes through the door I thank God. We have the little house, the white picket fence is brown, we were not blessed with children, but we have two Chihuahuas and they are our spoiled little babies.
Darah Zeledon, Hollywood FL , “A Lucky Girl”
You don’t know what you’re made of until you are ripped apart. I should’ve suffered a nervous breakdown, or at the very least, divorce, years ago when my seemingly perfect world began to tumble to the ground. But that hasn’t happened. And despite five agonizing years battling adversity, like the Palm tree, I continue to bend, but break, I will not.
It all began in 2006 when suddenly, I was diagnosed with a tennis ball-sized brain tumor while pregnant with my 4th baby. What followed was the abrupt suicide of an adored younger brother and violent armed home invasion. Six months after the robbery, we lost our business overnight. And fell into financial ruin.
Our hopeless situation forced us to abandon our comfortable life in Panama. With nowhere to go and in spite of everyone’s discouragement, we returned to the US—-marching straight into the worst financial crisis since The Great Depression. Here we set out to start anew with nothing more than a will to survive and five young children to care for.
Through it all, I came out fighting and keep fighting my way out, in search of tranquility and stability for my family and me. I manage to keep everyone united and happy by living a philosophy that kept me and keeps me sane and resilient—-the Seven Universal Pearls of Wisdom. My theory was put into practice recently when once again, my life hung in the balance. A weekend road-biking excursion turned tragic when I unexpectedly lost control of the bike, went flying off and landed face-down in the middle of A1A. I suffered multiple facial fractures, skull injuries and lost teeth. Still recovering from three extensive reconstructive jaw surgeries, I “walk the talk” and do what it takes to keep my family strong, and press on like a warrior.
Ricardo Rovira, Miami FL 33143 , “Mangrove Trail”
The mangroves at Matheson are heavy with morning light trying to break thru the spindly branches bundled with the night work of a thousand crab spiders that watch us as we bike past them with their thousand hungry eyes. My son, the arachnophobe, pedals faster and again asks why we didn’t take the high road, the smoothly-paved one without the rooty bumps or the pools of briny water or the broken branches groping at our feet, the high road that takes you where you want to go fast, no questions asked, no thousand eyes staring back at you, demanding that you slow down, that you dismount, that you stare right back and take it all in.
Leonard Erskine, Hollywood, FL, “Life is a Passing Parade”
Life is a perpetual Passing Parade
An odyssey the ultimate charade
An eye blink in the anals of time
A merry go round or just mime
With obivion just a heart beat away
We struggle and strive each day
As faces from your sight fade
You entrench and in piety wade
But the human spirit is dauntless
Prevailing no matter the duress
Just turn each adversity to gain
While we march to life’s refrain
Oh yes life is a Passing Parade
Our destiny not always self made
So high step it to the drummer
And make every day like summer
For you have one life to live
And so much of your self to give
The final march past will appear
But who cares,it’s naught to fear
Board the love boat and remain
As you wave to all in your domain
The Passing Parade will never end
So make the bestof life my friend
Allie Jacobson, NYC, NY, “MIAMI BITCH”
The young, gorgeous girl gazes across Collins Avenue, sitting in the back seat of her dad’s red BMW convertible. Her luscious dark locks are blowing daintily in her face and she is deep in thought while staring across the bay toward the rows of colorful houses, each perfectly lined with erect, warm palm trees.
Ah! This is Miami Beach, Florida, baby! Otherwise known as Nicky Rosetta Bean’s happy place! The Sunshine State where, “sunshine” belongs in the name to account for the amount of sun in the state.
Nicky Bean enters the Fountainebleau, her high-heeled poses, stealing glances from all the hottest people around the hotel. Nicky makes her biggest effort to take all her friends from small town Missouri and bring them to the hottest places to chill and party with friends. Daddy is nice enough to chauffer Nicky and her truly close friends around Miami Beach. Tonight, Nicky is wearing a truly elegant gown, golden, with matching gladiator sandals. However, she feels a little bit self-conscious with all the staring eyeballs all over the place. “I hope my hair isn’t burnt too much at the ends,” she thinks to herself.
Of course, the first thing that all the partiers at the poolside are thinking is, “Why is Nicky’s hair so dull?” “Why isn’t Nicky standing up straight?” Come on, Nicky! The world is depending on you to be a superstar tonight!
Hello?! Nicky? Whatever happened to the girl who wanted to change the world to help other people? The girl who cared more about preventing global warming rather than causing heat destruction? She’s headed toward a party in a gas-guzzler, which isn’t going to benefit anybody! The sad part of the story is that nobody is there to say what Nicky should really be worrying about.
Grace Denny, Kendall — “Night Swimming”
Aramís Castañeda , Miami Beach FL “CEMENTERIO DE NOVIAS”
─¿Cuál de sus hijos eres tú… el periodista? ─me preguntó la señora que ponía flores en el panteón contiguo al de mi madre.
─¿La conocía?─ inquirí, luego de aclararle que sí, que era el periodista.
─ Personalmente, solo el día en que la encontraron asesinada─ contestó.
Resulta que, mientras atendían los sepulcros de sus respectivos esposos, habían iniciado una charla informal. Hablaron de su infancia: más o menos feliz la de mi madre; llena de maltratos la de ella. De su adolescencia: rebelde la una, apocada la otra. De la esplendorosa boda con doscientos invitados de mi madre, de la modesta de ella a la que ningún miembro de la familia se presentó. Cuando llegó el turno a los hijos mi madre explicaba que tenía tres y la mujer, claro está, que era estéril.
─ Uno es periodista, el otro arquitecto y, la hembra, ingeniero nuclear ─aclaraba mi progenitora.
─ ¡Entonces tú eres…. Estelita Zúñiga! ─ me reveló la señora, que había exclamado sorprendida. Y acto seguido se presentó. Lucrecia Pérez, como mi madre, llamaba a los programas de radio para contestar preguntas.
─Yo no recuerdo tu nombre─fue lo que apuntó aquella.
─Como casi nunca adivino raras veces graban mi voz- aclaraba Lucrecia.
Y, lánguida, me confiesa las veces que se había imaginado a Estelita: una dama de cabello cuidado y rostro terso que corría al teléfono seguida por sus hijos para, ayudada por ellos, dar siempre la respuesta más completa. Los hijos a los que felicitaba en la radio: el periodista, el arquitecto y la ingeniero nuclear.
─Los sentimientos son raros ─dijo, al tiempo que la mano enguantada apretaba el cuchillo con el que removía la tierra en la jardinera de su esposo.
Yo arreglé los cactus en la de mi madre y le sonreí