Okay, no one’s answering
Well, can’t you let it ring a little longer
Longer, longer oh, I’ll just sit tight
Through shadows of the night
Let it ring forever more
Telephone Line lyrics
copyright Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC.
– Jeff Lynne
I became acquainted with Kenneth “Kenny” Sibbett several years ago when we both submitted pieces to some long forgotten
literary magazine. We were both published, but I don’t so much remember my contribution as I do his. It was a poem called Nicotine Fingers. Once I
read it, I was hooked. It was a rat a tat, guns a blazing rant about what else…nicotine addiction. Kenny had the ability to meld humor and existential angst that
endeared him not only to me but many other fans.
Through the editor, I was able to contact Kenny and a friendship was born. Our usual method of contact was by email, maybe an occasional
phone call. He lived in North Carolina. I always inundated him with requests to read his material and he often complied. Kenny wrote shorts stories as well as
poetry. He also had a novel published called Killer of Angels.
And while he had his own unique style, I likened him to some of those “grit lit” writers such as Larry Brown, Harry Crews, Rick
Bragg, and Barry Hannah. Writer Clyde Edgerton calls the genre the antithesis of Southern charm and good manners. “In Grit Lit you’ll find some needed and
necessary cutting to the bone, some ass kicking, drooling, yelling and shooting up the house and refrigerator, some use of tools from a toolshed, not a toolbar. Some hurt and
love.” That was Kenny in a nutshell.
I also called Kenny the greatest writer you never heard of. But as it turns out, he planted seeds all over the internet. His poems
and short stories have sprouted all over numerous literary web sites. He was also very active on social media sites, sending me countless invitations. If that
wasn’t enough, he wrote op ed pieces as well.
If I remember correctly, it was probably sometime early in 2015, I learned that Kenny had developed throat cancer. Those damn cigarettes. But I
remember him telling me that it was just a minor setback. You can’t keep a good writer silenced. But then it wasn’t much later that he lost his voice
entirely. Before this, we even discussed collaborating on some songs. He had recently taken up the guitar. It was more serious than he had let on. And
then…we just lost contact. Me…life got in the way, him…chemo got in the way. And just when I decided to check to see how things were going…I
found out he passed away…on September 14, 2015. I’ll miss him dearly, his gift of writing, his wit, wisdom, and his grit and determination. He was still
able to write through the pain and after effects of chemo. Yes, even that is posted online. His stories were a boat he used to navigate the river of life. And I
feel like the singer in Telephone Line.
The Night Was Full Of Rainbows
Man oh Man, You just shoulda' been here.
What a sight, never to be seen again on this earth again. The sky was lit up in so many colors shooting this way and that way one would of sweared someone slipped some of that
there LSD in my water. I don't have any idea if you will ever see this or not, this thing has got all those egghead scientific fella's stumped. They don't know their
ass from their elbow is what my Daddy would say. Anyway, if this survives, and I dont, and you do, or you find it in 1000 years or something, hell, this ain't no Bible, so
don't go a'worshiping it or anything. It's just my account of what happened on the last night on the last day on earth. I ain't no scholar or nothing, so excuse my
writing right off the bat.
Me and my family are up in the Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the perttiest places on earth if you ask me, course' I'm from here and
kind of prejudiced. It's about midnight here, 12:15 p.m. exactly and you can see camp fires as far as the eye can see. There must be millions of them since the power went out.
That happened all of a sudden about six weeks ago and since then, it's been every man and family for themselves and one hell of a ride. I'm writing this journal because my
granddaddy said we need to keep records about our lives and pass them on to the next generation. Ya' know, he said, before he died that is, that it might just come in handy one
day. Coursin', he was a root doctor and could see into your future for a few dollars. Free, if you had a chicken or pig or something. Hell, I seen him do it. But back to the
future, if there's gonna be one.
Everybody predicted it would be nuclear war or global warming or a million other things, no one, at least that I heard, said a damn
thing about the Sun exploding and taking out all communication, everywhere. I'm sure the president and some others still are in contact, but everyone I know used up what gas
and shit they had weeks ago. Right now, it's a 110 degree's and it is in the middle of winter at night. You don't see many people in the daytime. They all under some
kind of shade, suffering. But, the rumor is this is the last night anyway, so I decided to write this down for posterity I guess, not that it will do much good. People are stupid,
always have been, always will be.
If you have to die, and believe me, I hate it as much as the next man, this is sure as hell a crazy way to go out. It is a
kaleidoscope of colors, shooting across the sky and exploding somewhere, anywhere, but not here, not yet anyway. It seems like God or whoever is in charge or Karma or fate, and
believe me, I ain't never been a big believer either way, decided to stop us from killing each other and butchering and raping and pillaging that we do to each other. It's
like someone got tired of all the waste and wealth of one place and the pain, suffering and starvation of people just thousands of miles away and decided it just weren't fair.
And it ain't..
People fighting and killing each other all the time. I got to say this and no one is going to stop me. Not now anyway. It seems like the color of a
person's skin has decided the have's and have nots'. I ain't got a lot of time to dwell on this, but this country I live in has been killing brown people for almost
11 years now in some war and ain't solved a goddamn thing. No, they made it worse is all, cause of profit and the rich wanting more and more while us poor-ass people get less
and less. I've seen some of those rich people on the highway, out of gas in their big'ole luxuary buses trying to get somewhere cooler. They got wads of cash and gold and
diamonds but none of it means shit up here. WATER, that's right, water is the currency, it means everything, or did. I seen a man get his brain's blown out over a cup of
warm water. Yep, that's right and his kids were right there and nobody helped them, nobody. It is everyman for himself and you take care of you and yours.
family's been in these mountains for hundreds of years and we know where every drop of water that can be found is, and ya' know what? There ain't no more. We got enough
for tonight and that's it. I want ya'll to know, I had to kill some people, some bad people who tryed to take my family's food and water. When it first started, we
mountain people round here got together and closed off the roads. We had to, people were going crazy trying to get up higher. Well, I'm on top of a mountain now and in a few
hours me and my loved one's will be dead. I'm going to kill all my family after they fall asleep, then kill myself. Better that than see them suffer. I won't have that.
I just won't!
Man, look at those colors. I'm not a religious man, but I've always been spiritual and this my friends is something out of this world. Millions of
colors streaking by, it's almost like one continuous rainbow, as far as the eye can see. I got no advice for anyone who survives whatever the hell this is. How do you survive
the Sun God's? Sounds funny don't it. "Sun Gods". But I've heard it from time to time these last few weeks. If I was pressed, and I ain't and no one would
take my advice anyway, I would tell people to find out everything this world has ever done, and do the opposite. Man ole Man, did we fuck this old world up or what?
getting near time. I want to go and kiss my babies and my wife. Hug my mama and shake my daddy's hand. He don't know much of what going on, ain't in years. But there
was a time, when he was a man's man. He probably would be doing something different, damn, I wish he would wake up for a few minutes and tell me what to do. But.. wishes and
horses, huh? If I done anything wrong to anybody, I'm sorry. I used to pull a cork and got out of hand from time to time. Nothin' serious, but I'm sorry. I can hardly
see for the sweat, but I got one more thing to say to whoever finds this, if if gets found, which I doubt. Please, be kind to everyone. That's all. All the problems in the
world could have been solved with those two words. Be Kind. How hard is that? Peace to you all.
A Special Day for the Birthday Girl
The old woman, who was the first baby
born in her hometown on New Year's Day, had always thought this day was special. Not in egotistical way. Not at all. She thought it was fate, or Karma to be the first baby born
at 12:01 a.m. on the first day of the New Year. Her parents were also very proud of her date of birth and loved her very much. She was their special baby girl. An only child, she
was always given lots of Christmas presents, but it was New Year's Day shelved for, for this was her "Special Day" her father and mother told her.
New Year's Day Parade, they would shoot-off fireworks over the lake and everyone would sing "Happy Birthday" to her. She would laugh, smile and blush as she opened
more presents in front of her parents and friends. Her father would always give her a salute, and a wink. The old woman smiles at the thought. She loves thinking about her parents
and how much they loved her, and this country. Her family were very patriotic and also never missed the 4th of July fireworks. It was almost as though she had two birthdays.
She was voted most popular in high school and married the boy who was also most popular. They were very happy for the few months they were together. When her husband received his
draft notice, it seemed as if the honeymoon was barely over before two soldiers came to the door and told her that her husband was missing and presumed dead. She was eight months
pregnant at the time and the two kind soldiers had to help her sit down. They then left her alone. All alone. The silence of the house almost drove her insane. She never re-married.
Her precious daughter, born a month later, was only three when she was stricken with a rare form of cancer that was virtually untreatable. Within a matter of weeks, one day
less than a month, her beloved daughter passed away. She had no more children. She worked as a waitress in a Denny's Restaurant for 18 years until it closed and left her
unemployed. Not able to find a job, she collected her unemployment insurance until it ran out. She was then on welfare and food stamps, but after two years the state cut off all
benefits. She was now homeless, alone, and very afraid.
The first night she slept outdoors, she was 43 years old. She awakened to find a thief had stolen all her
possessions. Her last $20, but far worse, her pocketbook with the only pictures left of her beloved husband and daughter. A week later, she was raped for the first time. Taken to
the hospital, the detectives, after learning she was homeless put her case on the back-burner. They were far too busy to waste time on a case where the woman probably brought it on
herself by sleeping around outdoors. The idea of a Catch-22, of sorts, never crossed their minds. They were, after all, detectives.
She is now 72, but feel's ninety.
When the do-gooders come and try and help her find a place to live, she hides. She is now at home, being homeless. The idea of sleeping in a warm house scares her. What if it
caught fire, she would not want to die like that. She likes her little space in the alley. This was her space and no one could harm her, not in her space. She plundered now through
the very garbage bins she used to put garbage in when she worked at Denny's, so many, many, years ago. It is now Bob's Burger Joint and when they throw out leftovers every
night after midnight, she eats well, if the men do not beat her to it.
She is still very proud, and at the end of every year on New Year's Day, the excitement builds.
This is still her special day. When the city has their annual New Year's Day Parade, she stands and watches as the bands march by and play patriotic music. The beautiful people
on the beautiful floats throw candy. She never fails to grabs a few pieces for later. Someone usually discards one of the small plastic American Flags, which she picks it up and
waves to the beat of the band. At night, the fireworks are shot high into the darkened sky and the rockets explode into big, beautiful, bright colors and light up the world.
But it is the end, the very end of the show, that she so eagerly awaits. It is then that she is given her 'special birthday present' again. Every year, without fail, the
very last rockets exploding into the sky are Red, White, and Blue, the most beautiful colors in the world to the old woman. They are shot higher than the others and it seems that
our flag, our American flag, is suspended in time for an eternity over the lake. The old woman, who was born on New Year's Day, cries, but not out of sadness, but pride. As the
colors fall and slowly mix together, the American flag becomes a myriad of colors and the old woman, without fail, just as her father had done all those years ago on her
"Special Day", salutes. She always salutes the American Flag with a lump in her throat, and a tear in her eye.