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Author: Joan Steffens
Location: Kemp, Texas

diamond icon Joan Steffens, 65, has been writing poetry, essays, and short stories most of her life. This is the first time she has submitted any of her work for consideration.

The Re-write

I paid good money for this book!
I want a re-write!
I want an alternate beginning!

Delete the abusive parents and the battered
child. Make the boy a beloved prince, the
parents a benevolent king and queen. Have
them live happily-ever-after in a small kingdom
by the sea, somewhere east of the sun and just
west of the moon. Color the skies eternally
blue and never darken the sun.

Change the part where the boy runs away and
joins the Marines. Take out the chapter about
Vietnam altogether--wipe the Special Forces
tattoo from his arm. Delete the elusive bleakness
that plays hide-and-seek at the back of his eyes.
Kill the monster that lurks just beneath the
surface of the sea.

I want a fair fight!
I want a re-match!

Remove the brass knuckles hidden in Lifeís
glove. Provide the boy with different weapons—
take away the sniper rifle that shoots him
through the heart every time he pulls the trigger.
Throw away the explosives that blow his soul
to bits every time he lights a fuse.

Give him a violin and a bow—let his music
pierce the clouds, soar through the center of the
sun. Hand him a pencil—tell him to write a love
poem or sketch the face of a child. Give him a
brush—let him paint a bird in flight or a picture
of hope with wings.

I want an alternate ending!

Pretend he will come home from work today
walking tall, shoulders thrown back. Leave out
the part about the drugs and the alcohol. Write
in a paragraph where he pets the dog and feeds
the cat.

Slip into his dreams—tell him he isnít forever
sixteen, fighting a faceless enemy from the cold
comfort of his bed. Take away the flashbacks.
Tell Charlie he canít hide behind the trees in
the backyard anymore. Tell Charlie not to show
his face around here again. Tell Charlie the war
is over and everybody lost.

I paid cash for this book!
I want a re-write!
I want a re-match!

Life cheated.
I want my money back.

ISSN 1941-0441

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