©1914 Judy Ann Giorchino

Never back down, never look away, never avoid, and never let fear stop the seeing.

The house across the road burning to the ground with three children inside.

Be brave. Think of angels. The babysitter smoked and fell asleep. It can’t happen here, to us.

Earthquakes, the fractured tree through the roof above the girl’s single bed in the night.

Eucalyptus branches filling the pink and silver-grey room, sirens through the darkness.

Forest fires raging, leveling the neighborhood. This is California, these things happen.

Monthly nuclear attack drills, crouching under the little wooden school desk, arms crossed over head.

Authorities preaching fear and hatred with superior lies of possible survival.

Ed’s mother being institutionalized by her husband,

Due to unacceptable (to him) menopausal impossibilities,

Never to be seen again by her grieving teenage son.

Suzanne’s father being exposed as a sexual abuser, not only of his daughters but of sons,

And all of their friends of both sexes who were afraid to say no or to report.

The baby being flushed down the toilet after three and a half months’ gestation.

Nancy with the red hair and the beloved husband who lived on the houseboat happily

Until she returned from work one sunny Sausalito afternoon to find him bedding another man, and

Who died in a field of poppies after swallowing every pill in the cupboard.

The boss at the record company who died of a heart attack on LSD at the Monterey Pop Festival,

And then answering the telephone at the company, “No, I’m sorry, he’s not here. He’s dead.”

The female boss who told all the salesmen at the convention that if they wanted to buy advertising

In our magazine, they could meet and bed the clueless and unwilling young writer in the hotel upstairs.

Charles in North Beach, where the high school kids went to buy drugs of all sorts,

Down the urine soaked trash filled hall in the flophouse. Three hundred pounds of naked man

Lying on a stained bare mattress with a kind of light coming through a high window never washed.

Indian Joe in LA with his detox tent in the homeless camp, and the never-empty cauldron of stew.

No one asked what they were eating, and were glad for the respite.

Mary on Spring Street, who had not seen clean water for weeks, whose

Legs, when we peeled off the polyester pants of undetermined color, crawled with maggots.

The tears of the four year old child whose daddy made her “ride pony” on his front parts.

The families in the path of the proposed freeway whose homes were taken without warning.

The wolf-dog dragged home on a rope behind a speeding pickup truck after he strayed to a neighbor’s.

The little puppy I loved shot by the same neighbor because he wandered into his yard.

The men who just like to shoot things, but don’t take the meat or follow the trail of blood.

The women who never leave home and never speak to strangers because their husbands say so.

The television news.

What more do you want me to see? I can’t look away. 

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