Monica Bell 2015

Poem:     "Time"

Poem:     "The Result of Beach Day"

Story:     "Sold"

Poem:     "Exploring Airplanes"

Story:     "Dirt Border"

Poem:     "1961"

Twitter Pieces

After "Diving Into the Wreck"



Time is this crazy thing composed of cherry pie 

eyes and sunset watch-liars. Little boys and little 

girls chasing bugs whose butt-ends light up. Did 

you know that lightning bugs are cannibals? They

also eat snails. And baby bugs. That when you

caught fireflies and stuck their bodies in mason

jars that the bugs were probably thinking “Hmm,

mosh pit lunch buffet!” Did you know that when a 

firefly dies, its fire stops blinking but stays on

until it slowly fades to dark. 


Time is this crazy place made up of summer 

watermelon smiles, sun bleached hair 

and frozen aloe vera scents. That people drive 

miles just to get away from each other and 

others drive to be together. Did you know that 

people die in the summer? That it turned out 

that none of us are invincible. That some people

take the ‘no strings attached’ label and apply 

it to rock climbing. That being on top of the 

world gives you no more power than the beings

below. Trust me. I’ve been there. On both levels 

and both altitudes and attitudes. Decision making. 

Character creating. Living life the way it was 

meant to be done. Shifting. People have the 

ability to steal. They steal hearts from other 

peoples’ chests, and pens from dentist’s desks, 

and garden gnomes from their homes. 


Time passes wherever 

we are. So why cry over broken nails or 

broken hammers or broken roads? Why cry

at all? Time is time. Time eats time. Time is.

It is beautiful and wretched and destroys

and creates and lets wounds heal and dry.

Time is cruel and time is old. It lives without

living and can never die. Time outlives us

yet isn’t alive. Time is time. Time. Shifting.

Firefly. Time. Time eats time. 






The Result of Beach Day


I would fall 


on speedboats as they jumped 

on waves 

illuminated by the sun setting 

on the horizon. 


I would fall 


while sea water sprayed

on my face

and lips and I would lean against 

his arm and sleep. 


I would fall 


to the rhyme time of music

that pumps 

like drum beats on these 

watery waves.








     Ralston just wants to sleep; but he can't afford rent for the next month so he goes to sell instead. He enters from the outside door to the basement of a four story building. It is his usual spot. He has sold so often he can’t remember how many years he has left before he runs out of life energy. Since Ralston cannot afford to buy life energy, he would inevitably die once his own ran out. The fear of living on the dirty streets pushes him to sell. Imaginations flood through his psyche of being kidnapped from an alley and having his life forcefully drained from his veins until he is left brain-dead, without even a soul to escape death. Ralston believes it is worth spending a little life energy here and there in order to save it all from being sucked dry.


     He plugs his veins with the needles and places the brain-suction helmet on his head. He lets his body sink onto the cold, moist cement bench below. Hands clench around the metal bars on either side of the bench and he grits his teeth. He knows it will only take a second. Pain. Then it is over. He pulls out the plugs from his greenish veins and the helmet from his head. His eyes swim in a dizzy haze across the room. He checks the meter on his left. Four bars glow blue from being life-charged. He knows that The Buyer will be able to resell his life energy for triple what he will be paid for it, but Ral needs the money now. 


     The headaches get worse each time he sells, but it is worth it in the end. It is preferred to spending one night on the streets, to hear the screams of The Sold. He stands on quaking feet to walk on the greasy floor to The Pay Man. Three bills are placed in Ral’s hand.


     “But I gave up four years!” Ralston’s spittle falling like mist on The Pay Man who remains calm, placid like a statue who doesn’t know the meaning of compromise.


     “But you gave up four tired years. If you had been rested, I would have paid $400.” 


     Ral knows that a year is a year whether he was tired when he sold it or not. But he also knows it’s illegal to sell time so The Pay Men usually pay whatever they feel like at that moment. 


     “Can I sell some blood then? I really need money to pay rent.”


     “Sorry, kid. Your blood is too green. Maybe in a month you’d be ready. But it would not only kill you, it'd be weak blood. We would need twice as much to make up for your lack of vitamins.” The Pay Man pointed towards the door.  “Hey, kid. Stop taking The Green. I lost my brother that way.”


     Ralston exits as quick as his weak feet can take him. He is only 20, but the effects of selling time and taking The Green had taken his strength. Ral walks up the stairs stained with dirty water and out through the doorway. His thoughts revolve around different ways how he can make another $100 before the next day, but he can’t think of a single way. He crosses the street that is muddied with sins and secrets and into the alley where he knows Galahad is waiting to make a sale. Ralston decides that he might as well enjoy his last night in the numbness of The Green. Tomorrow he will sleep under the gloom of the sky. Tomorrow his night will be full of screams. He will be sold.


     “Gallie! I need some Green,” whispers Ralston as he approaches Galahad.


     “So do we all these days, Ralston. Maybe if you paid me from last time-”


     “Man, I need some now.”


     “Bro, take a step back. You know I can’t afford to give you charity. I have a kid at home, you don’t even have that. I’m trying to make a living. You are trying to numb your own death.”


     “Listen, Galahad. If I’m dying then numb me up.”


     “Beat it, you worthless junkie,” hisses Galahad as he turns to leave.


     “I have the cash!” The intensity of Ralston’s voice breaks the quiet of the streets. Gallie takes a step towards Ral. Then with one hand, covers Ral’s mouth and pushes the boy against the alley’s brick wall. Ralston tries with no success to use the few teeth that he has left to bite onto Gallie’s thick fingers. Galahad finds the small crumple of $300 dollars that Ral had sloppily stuffed into his front pant pocket. Gallie throws Ral to the alley’s sewer soaked floor and disappears into a doorway, a lock clicking into place. 


     Ralston picks himself up and doesn’t bother to wipe the muck from his trousers. With no other options, he moves on. He searches through alleys and knocks on doors marked with the seal of The Green, but no one opens the doors and no one looms in the alleys with liquid to be sold. Ral isn’t alone. Bodies lie in heaps. Some are still alive, but are trying their best to hide puffs of cold breath in order to appear dead. Others have The Green so strong in their veins it is impossible for them to still be alive. The rest appear to be The Sold, veins slit open where a blood sucker device had been forcefully removed. But Ralston is lucky. It is early enough that The Sellers aren’t on any kidnapping rampages yet. No screams yet. 


     Ral finds himself on the same block as his apartment. After deciding not to fight his exhaustion anymore, he makes his way towards it. The cold from the streets has seeped past the rags on his body and into his skeletal frame. He opens the building door and takes no caution in creaking up the stairs to the third floor. Ral opens the first door on the left and crawls over the bodies taken by sleep. He finds the cot that he rents and the small blanket that he stole from a man sleeping on the streets. Ralston knows that tomorrow the month will be up and the landlord will kick him out onto those same streets. Ral does not have the $400 dollars that it would take to keep the space that his cot occupies.


     Ralston turns onto his side. To his surprise the old woman sleeping to his left has a near full syringe hanging from her arm. She herself had passed out before being able to inject more than a few drops of The Green into her veins. He touches her arm. It’s cold. Ral pulls the needle from her vein and stabs it into his own. The room swims away as he releases the needle’s contents into his arm. His veins glow a shade deeper as his heart pumps the liquid through his body. His last thought before he goes numb is how strange it would be if he had sold his last year today. 






Exploring Airplanes


The grass 





The insects 





I trudge


over sticks,

over logs.



To the hull

of metal - 













Dirt Border


     It was a simple road made of gravel and dirt. It was that simple, yet crude road that separated two strangely opposite worlds. One side of the street was the middle class, but in comparison to those across the way they might as well have been millionaires. The people on the other side, the squatters, had built a village that shouldn’t have ever existed. The squatter village was located inside of a barranca, a river canyon that would flood the surrounding land during la época de lluvias. The squatters gathered whatever wooden planks, tin sheets, or scrap plywood they could find and using one side of the canyon as a wall, constructed shacks to be their home. Corrugated tin was their roof. Used car tires were placed on top of the tin to keep it from blowing away or simply falling off. The dirt was their floor. When the rains did come and the waters rushed from upstream, shacks were swept away. Sometimes the occupants didn’t make it out in time and were taken downstream. Sometimes they would lose everything they had ever owned. At other times, the waters took lives.


     He was a boy of eight. His fair skin and blonde hair set him apart from even his neighbors on their side of the street. His parents were missionaries. He had spent the majority of his life in this foreign country.


     The American boy emerges from his cement home located right on the edge of Colonia Flor Blanca and to meet with the neighborhood Salvadorian boys on the road for a game of fútbol. His mother calls him home to send him across the street to a shack that has a mud oven with a large piece of flat iron atop the oven. A woman in the hut heats a fire inside the mud oven and to make tortillas de maiz on the flat iron top. She flips the thick yellow tortillas with hands accustomed to the heat until the tortillas are cooked to perfection. Then with a stack of the freshly hand-made tortillas de maiz held tightly, the boy wanders up the washed out canyon bank, crosses the road, walks between the two almendra trees, that grow on the land between the road and the cement sidewalk, and onward through the front yard to enter his house. 


     The boy eats supper. In his hurry to join the evening game of fútbol, he drops pieces of food on his clothes and stains them. When he finally finishes his food, he steps outside to join his buddies. Some are gathering stones from the gravel road, others are using the stones that they had already grabbed to knock almond fruit off one of the two almendra trees, and the rest are devouring the flesh of the fruit and throwing the pits, with the nut still inside, away. They wipe their small hands on their dirt stained shirts and pretend that that wasn’t their only meal for the day. The American, in his guilt, reaches down to the ground and touches his fingers to the dirt and smears it on his shirt to cover the food stains.


     Then the missionary boy, the squatter children, and the other boys living in Colonia Flor Blanca ran out to the middle of the road. Their differences and circumstances fade. None of it matters once the ball is being kicked and passes and goals are made and knees skinned and smiles grow and dusty gravel flies and laughter fills voices and the dying sol lets its last rays kiss El Salvador goodnight. Because even though that gravel road was the simple boundary between two different worlds, it was also the thing that brought the two worlds together. 








It would have been their 54th

anniversary on my 18th birthday,

but time steals. 

Now my heart hurts,

pounds—force, purpose, 

and sorrow. 


Give him back…please. 

I beg, knowing that 

this is just another year. 

One more after the last.


Three and a half since he left. 

Almost four since I saw him last. 

Three and a half years of guilt 

and hurt. Three and a half 

layers of dust collecting.


Now Grandma is alone,

without her soulmate. 

The clock quit counting 

their marriage at 50 and 

a half. But I couldn’t stop. 


June 17th, 1961.

Only 54 years ago.

A kiss. A promise.

Memories made.

Memories lost.

And now today,

June 17th, 2015,

no new memories.


No more family dinners.

No jokes. No mini golf.

We still do those things,

but it isn’t the same. No

one is the same anymore.

We all have changed.


A worn chest, full of letters and

love poems, sits under stairs

next to hammers, fishing 

poles, photographs, rifles.

But the author is dead. 

His ghost rests in the dust, 

rust and creaks of the

floorboards of 

Grandma’s house.