Andria Alefhi
Not a Joiner: 3 days at a yoga ashram

I was supposed to stay until Friday but on Wednesday afternoon while everyone was in class, I quietly packed my bags and left.

I volunteered my services as an interpreter for a yoga teacher training course at an ashram. It’s my fault, really. I didn’t fully comprehend what I was signing up for. I thought I was going to a yoga retreat (read: no frills spa). What I went to was a yoga retreat (read: cult).

I’ve yet to look it up in the dictionary but apparently ashram means some kind of monastery for guilty Caucasian people needing of penance in the form of busy work and journal writing. Every morning the mission bell rang across the compound at 5:30am. Folks went off half-asleep to sit cross-legged on the floor and be half-asleep with the others for 30 minutes (well, fine call it meditation if you have to). Twice a day folks did “karma yoga” which were glorified chores such as washing dishes or folding laundry. The chores reminded you that no one was above anyone else. Did I mention the cross-legged sitting on hardwood floors? One computer to share with 60 others with limited hours of operation?

Once I got there and got the picture of Freakville I thought ‘well at least I can take yoga class everyday and get a buff workout’. Even that was a surprising disappointment. Their version of yoga is more holistic incorporating the karmic yoga chores, the meditation, the singing and chanting nightly. The one yoga class they did offer each day didn’t have the exercise flow I was looking for and was mostly lying on the floor breathing.

But here’s the best part. Only I could go to a yoga ashram and find someone to dislike so greatly that I wanted to punch this person in the face and then publicly flog them. This place where strangers offered me chocolate. This person was an instructor (a swami). I remembered her instantly. A real deaf wannabe. This person actually went out with me and a group and refused to use her ability to hear and speak, so greatly did she “identify with being deaf”. She was there, and everything about her reeked of self promotion in the worst way, that kind of overly helpful and nice do unto others way that was so obviously to stroke her own ego but in a way that she couldn’t see but I so easily could. I wasn’t being utilized as an interpreter very much because this person took over and I ended up sitting there (on the hardwood floor!) wondering just what I was doing there. I know I cannot describe in words the degree to which I hated this woman, hated all people of this nature, so fucking clueless and manipulative and skilled at enshrouding themselves in phony bliss. She felt my opposite energy and it sent me out of there.

I had come to interpret, to help out, to do something specific, and leave. If it were compared to helping someone move, it would be to help you move a couch and only the couch because it requires two people, and not to stick around and load boxes in the car. I didn’t join in the singing, the meditation, the chores, and didn’t get up at 5:30am. They couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that I was just there to interpret. That I wasn’t a joiner: that any group activities, especially those centered around praise, honor and devotion to a speaker, monk, teacher, rabbi or guru send me the other way just like a reflex action.

Why can’t I see the good that can be derived from motivational speakers? I always detest the inspiration that others feel and it makes me blacken inside. A 96-year old rabbi came to preach peace and love and forgiveness. People cried and thanked him for coming. All I could think was, “Who the fuck does he think he is?”

I didn’t enjoy the yoga plus I was cold since I’d gotten there, and I wasn’t being paid. After I told the whack job girl “You’re patronizing. Do you know that?” to which she replied, “it’s all in your mind”, I had to double back and take a breath. I left anyhow, but even before I was back in the real world, I knew she touched a nerve that was partially true.

This place was nutty but she made a point. And this is my never have Paris. This is my thing never meant to be. How much is me and how much is them? Much more than others I end up apologizing to people and backtracking, fast tracking, smoothing over, clarifying, retouching, what I meant was-ing, I’m sorry it came out that way-ing for all kinds on interactions, conversations, altercations, confrontations, interceptions, first impressions, and looks that went the wrong way.

I do something to people. I set them on edge. I give them the look. I can’t go with the flow. Or it’s the opposite. I have great energy. We make a connection right away. We like each other instantly and have nothing but complete trust. Everyone is like this but for turning the knob feels out of my control and happens externally.

Some people have lemons and make lemonade. Some maybe just sigh, too tired to make lemonade, and go to Dunkin’ Donuts for an iced coffee. Me, I run to the nearest person, finger already pointed, screaming, “Do you see this? What the FUCK am I supposed to do with lemons?” I somehow need to prove to anyone within earshot that I saw thru the plot.

I feel guilty because I tire out good friends who know how small my comfort level is. And yet to strangers I come off as laid back and ‘go with the flow’.

The ashram was on 77 acres of land and you couldn’t hear the cars from the road. At two days before I turn 37, I have to wonder what happened to the person I was who could sleep on a stranger’s floor and go away for a weekend with a toothbrush, a single pair of underwear and an unwrapped bagel stuffed in a backpack.


Colin James

Pack your letter in the drawers
and send us all out as one.
That nice Mr Piggets’s son
will come in his van
load us up and haul us off.
Several months later if traffic
is reasonable, a different wardrobe
will arrive with your sister’s reply.
I hope she is well, and please mention
I haven’t forgotten our plans
for a rendezvous.
If possible, don’t send a Welsh Dresser
as it’s the only species
that defies nature’s design



Charlie Cassarino

You were standing in the sea,
And the water was turning dusky
As it lapped around your legs.

Every light, from the sunset factories
To the slow airplanes, glowing
In unison for you. An orchestra

Of landscape and tiny cogs,
Of life and industries, all
For you and your unstable smile.

You balanced on the evening shore,
And the world shifted to keep you
Upright; every white boat loved you.

Your two eyes told me they were blind
To all this, and kept me still,
As I stood in the sea, watching.



JF Quackenbush
Carl Is A Dick
-for Claudia and Stacie; an apology

Carl is a dick.
Everybody knows that Carl is a dick.
Except Carl.

Carl’s big problem.
The big problem Carl has. Is Carl.
Never mind what Carl thinks. He’s a dick.

So Carl, one might think or say.
Say Carl, think about this. Carl.
Think. Carl. Think about it.

No, so seriously.
Seriously, say this to Carl.
Carl, it needs to be said.

Carl doesn’t mind.
Carl goes to strip clubs and drinks beer.
Looks at tits, does Carl. And Drunk.

Give it up, the mind.
Mind what we say, Carl. Word.
Carl speaks in simple words. Carl.
“Oh no you didn’t. I’m a mercenary!”

Simply said, the idea that Carl thinks.
What might you say if you knew what Carl thought about?
Probably not much. Carl is simple.
Simply said, Carl is a dick.

Fuck Carl.
Don’t fuck Carl. But seriously. Fuck Carl.
What would life be like if we didn’t need sleep.
Not like Carl’s life. Carl is a dick.

Carl pays his girlfriend for blowjobs.
It’s depressing that he has a girlfriend.
He doesn’t have to pay for sex. Just head.
She fucks him for nothing. Even though he’s a dick.

Maybe we have never met.
Carl and you and the rest of us.
That would be a better world than this.
“Fuck the world for you. There’s a world elsewhere motherfuckers.”
Fuck the world, for you. There’s a world else where. Mother Fucker.



John Rocco
Dante’s Inferno

is a ride at Astroland
and we got loaded on the boardwalk
and went on it crisscrossing
into the unknown
and crash the monsters
came fast and in order and meaning.

The Werewolf:
Secret traitor of myself
I am you in the night
the moon our likeness.
Rampaging lycanthrope!
Your Beast is our Beast is my Beast.

Hockey face of Hell
but first slime boy
in the lake always
against nature.

Dancing Skeleton:
The dance of death
and what a funny drunk!

The Mummy:
Doing tequila shots with Sarah
in the Turkey ’s Nest
screaming: “Odin!”

The horny old goat
couldn’t wait to
smash and grab in
eating birds always on his mind.

Frankenstein Monster:
You were always my favorite
square-headed hipster
bolting down the night
for all you wanted were
friends. You smoked
with the blind hermit
and drank his wine.

Goodbye, monsters.
The ride is over.



the poet spiel

alf brushes his teeth for the third time
he tries to make ronald appear in the mirror
fussing and swearing
because he’s nicked his neck

the movers left an hour ago
the only personal items remaining
in this grand restored victorian home

are their toiletries and two bags of trash
alf pulls out ronald’s orange toothbrush
sniffs it and runs the bristles across his thumb
a couple of times

then tosses it into a garbage bag
he’s pissed they hadn’t agreed
about taking the mortgage insurance option
ronald had insisted
it was just one more unnecessary expense

and they could use the money more wisely
to put a new roof on the house
besides it would be foolish to waste energy
thinking about dying so young

alf reaches back into the trash bag
retrieves the orange toothbrush
shoves it into the back pocket of his 501’s
alongside a useless old condom

he rummages through the bag and finds shards
of a bright blue lemonade pitcher
he and ronald had purchased
at a yard sale for twenty-five cents

from a nelly old queen who’d just lost
his companion of fifty-two years
pitiful old soul had bawled relentlessly and drawn out how
he was going to have to move to a rest home to die

alf brushes his teeth one last time
this time he is certain he sees ronald
over his shoulder shaving
ronald’s throat is bleeding

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