Issue #56 - moni's Top 10 E-ZINE
(Part 1 of 2)
(The Poets Niche Official Newsletter)
Monday, July 3, 2000


       "Bless me Father for I have sinned, it's been four months
            since the last issue of moni's top 10!"

Part 1 of 2

-  POETIC SHORT STORY by Aubrey Eric Smith


1)  WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE 10? -- Many of you have called or emailed me
about the "disappearance" of THE 10.  And yes, several seasons and
holidays have come and gone since the last issue was emailed on February
24, 2000.  To those of new members who aren't familiar with THE 10, check
out a few of the back issues at ( to bring you up-to

For me, putting together THE 10 is somewhat of a religious experience in
terms of synchronicity.  If I'm not feeling the vibe while pulling
together poems and stories to feature or issues to address, I won't rush
myself to get an issue out just for the sake of it.  

What makes the Poets Niche unique are your -- outspoken, confrontational,
political, paradoxical, autobiographical, philosophical, self-help, self
healing, self-consoling promises of everlasting togetherness -- poetic
renditions consciously tap dancing on our souls making us question
reality and/or our immortality.  It is because of this uniqueness that I
must remain true to myself so that you receive the best issue of THE 10. 
[If you believe that sorry explanation of why it took me four months to
put together this issue of THE 10, boy do I have a piece of prime real
estate to sell you!!!]

This issue of THE 10 is packed with poetry, compelling stories,
submission calls and some fun stuff.  Therefore, you will receive two (2)
emails highlighting events that took place from March through June 2000. 
I know you will ENJOY this ENTIRE issue of moni's TOP 10 E-ZINE!!!


2)  POETRY SLAM 2000 -- In celebration of National Poetry Month, I emceed
a three-part poetry slam at Barnes and Noble.  Six winners chosen from
Slams 1 and 2 competed in the Final Slam on April 16th.   Hand outs were
provided to explain: (a) WHAT IS A POETRY SLAM; and (b) THE RULES OF THE
NATIONAL POETRY SLAM.  Ten unbiased judges received THE PEOPLE'S COURT
SLAM RULES and score cards.  Local businesses such as -- Red Fish Grill
(Ralph Brennan has agreed to sponsor future events), Bally's Casino,
Straya California Creole Cafe, Outback Steakhouse, Crystal Room,
Streetcar Restaurant, Luther's Bar-BQ, Movie Passes from the Canal Place
Cinema -- joined in the festivities and donated gift certificates. 
Rounding out the prizes won were CD's donated by George Winston, and a
hand painted decorative pot with a poetry book on the outside donated by
my friend, Cheryl Stocker.  One lucky winner received a copy of "moni's
reference binder" containing over 250 pages of reference information such

 Copyright Information
 Websites for Glossary of Poetic Terms
 How to Publish Your Poetry (advice from Peter Finch)
 Get Published Not Exploited (by Kalamu ya Salaam)
 A Motivated Poet Is A Committed Poet (by Jim Carman)
 How Do I Publish an E-Book? (Bookhome Publishing)
 What Editors Do (by Michael Seidman)
 How to Get Your Book Reviewed
 How to Write a Press Release
 35 Ways to Make Your Next Book Signing an EVENT (by Larry James)

All 12 slammers won a gift because of the generosity from local
businesses.  The Grand Prize Winner, Mack Dennis, won a $50.00 Gift
Certificate from BARNES &NOBLE, the opportunity to host a poetry reading
and listing of his event in the Barnes &Noble Calendar of Events, along
with media notification and assistance from me to help him plan his

This could not have been a success without the support of family and
friends.  THANK YOU Jeanette, Phillip, Marvin and Ermine for judging the
competition, and Poets Niche member Maria Despenza, for hanging out with
us.  A SPECIAL THANK YOU to Jan Clifford, Barnes &Noble's Community
Relations Manager, who ran last minute errands.  Jan and I have big plans
for the future -- more poetry readings, a Short Story Contest, and
collaborating on a book of short stories and poetry to be published by
Barnes &Noble.  I pitched the story idea to the B&N folks and they LOVED
IT!!!  I'll keep you posted.


3)  MY NEW BEST FRIEND! -- It's funny how life takes a sweet turn when
you least expect it or how souls cross your path at the intersection of
Monotony and Insanity.  Well, such a sweet turn or occurrence recently
happened to me.  It was my intention to keep this path crossing all to
myself, but as luck would have it, I can't keep a secret.  Besides, if I
didn't tell "our" story "my way," I'd have to go back to using my
formerly known name "+$" or sue the tabloids for releasing pictures of me
and my new best friend incognito reading poetry to one another.  [WARNING
-- Objects and/or story versions may seem more embellished than they
appear for entertainment purposes only]. The truth of the matter is, I
was in the process of drafting questions for an interview when I received
an email, which got me to thinking, which means trouble.  So, this is the

Dear moni:  I need an independent ear and voice.  Please help, for unlike
yourself, I seem to pen for ghosts that haunt and taunt me.  It is
because of them that I need to find an objective opinion to determine if
there is any merit in this work.  Any suggestions will be appreciated. 
Thank you and God Bless --- Signed T'I.


Saturated emotions
Penned with letters
Hung out on clotheslines
Scented by breezes
Dried by sunlight
And worn by nudes...

                     Thalamus' Ink (c)

# # # # # # # #


Whining winds
Overcoats and mittens
Fireplaces and cuddling kittens
Skeletal trees
And quilted grounds
Crunching footsteps
Interrupt sounds
Of snowflakes
Falling to the floor
When kissed by sunlight
Gone once more
Whining winds then declare
Though slumbering presently
Spring is near

                       Thalamus' Ink (c)

moni's response -- dearest T'I!!!! -- honey chile, if i had ghosts who
haunted and taunted me with such a lyrical and metaphorical presence, i'd
cross over to the other side.  i have read your poems over and over so i
can hear the rhythm in my head and taste your words on my tongue.  call
me at xxx-xxxx so i can read them to you!  darlin it's time for you to
start submitting your poems to the masses!!!  thanks for making my DAY!
Naturally, T'I called and we talked and laughed until it was obvious that 
I had been on the phone way too long for my boss.  As T'I read a few more
of his poems to me, including "The Players Code" below, I was awestruck
by his deep voice and the patience in which he paused in between
thoughts.  It was as if he wanted ME to also inhabit the souls of those
haunting ghosts who spoke to him.  So what happened next?  Of course I
emailed him after we talked because I wasn't full and I wanted seconds.


The Players Code
All that Glitters in Darkness.....

What is there after I've got mine
Perhaps to get some more
And there you are my mattress queen
Fresh dew laden upon your meadows
        and mounds
With a fractured smile now framing
your sunrise face
Knowing my mind's flaw
As I arise

Endings echo for conclusions
And beg for new beginings
And may these seeds
In yesterday's field
Lie fallow for another season
Shadows hide in the morning
To authenticate the truth
And may this door's closure
Confirm it

                Thalamus' Ink (c)


dearest T'I.!!!!

WOW!!!!  my dear, i'm brain dead, mush, lost in the sound of your voice. 
i hope i'm not asked to do anything important 2day like breathe, walk or
talk, cuz i simply can't, or more like, won't.

Your new best friend!!!

T'I was kind enough to send me an autographed copy of his book.  The
Preface explains why he wrote "When My Voice Fails Me But My Heart Needs
to Speak".  "It was not my intention to sit and write, but impulses of
urgency, anger, and love are strong motivating forces.  Personally, this
may be my catharsis, a way to purge my soul...Self discipline, integrity
and trust are concepts subject to extinction...If all of us would lift
our heads, stand erect and revive these endangered concepts, then we can
bask in God's greatest gift of"

I was exhausted after I read "When My Voice Fails Me But My Heart Needs
to Speak" because all my emotions were exposed.  I fell in love after I
read "On this Heart", "Anticipation", "Manna" and "You are the..."  Then
I got mad, hurt and pained after I read "Happy Birthday" (which is
dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr.); "The Latch Key Kid" (the stanza
"My greatest fear each day was from six till your turned key/For I never
knew your absence was such a necessity," -- makes you wonder why or how
anyone could or would harm a child); "The Street Sentry" (confronts the
homeless issue); and "Suzi's Side" (deals with the Heaven's Gate mass
suicide).  But, "Toxic Waste" stayed with me because it reminded me of
society's shortcomings.

                   Toxic Waste

Life was the joy and respect all of us had accorded one another
Together we had built roads, dug tunnels and erected bridges...
                      Together in harmony

The abruptly, there was an infiltration by a contaminant from 
another world -- a chant.  At first we all chimed in and then later,
as I looked upon from my labors, I became sickened and half
choked from the sadistic sneers with accusing fingers directed at
me.  My apprehension grew as the chants selective pungence
was released upon the wind.  It repeatedly permeated, lacerated,
and scarred me

                       "The Leper"

Hell had risen to determine the fate of a virgin at the hands of 
Satan's henchmen.  You reveled in your lust for power and
persuasion, truth be damned, and feasted upon innuendo
and perception's flaws.  I continued to grasp for air, reason,
and composure but vision blurred, ears ringing, and 
confidence drained;

                  I Ran From My Distorted Sand Box World

At home I asked my mother "What is a nigger?"  In suspended 
animation she slumped into her chair -- a marionette with life strings 
just severed.  Her facial contortions gave way to tears and then 
she held and rocked me.
Recess was over and education was just beginning
                 Why don't toxic words have a half life?
                 Doesn't all the garbage go out in the morning?
                 Will this chant ever fade from my soul 
                           and from yours?

     Thalamus' Ink (c) from his book of poetry
"When My Voice Fails Me But My Heart Needs to Speak"

Finally, many of you use pen names because you fear your real identity
will be exposed in between the lines of your poems.  After someone asked
T'I his real name, he went a step further and wrote a poem.  Here's his
poetic explanation of why he prefers to be called Thalamus' Ink, which
"I" entitled "Will The Real Me Please Stand Up".

Will The Real Me Please Stand Up

Respect this place
where I am free to expose
the joys and the burdens
of this soul's life -
A Black Man's

changes so instantly
like soaps
like coffees
like guns
like needs
like speed
like commuters
like computers
like news
like our views

through this test
these words
have remained constant
and I write them
to keep them, thus
they are the only things
I have to give you
they are the only love
I have to give you

Declaring my name
would only cloud my intention
do not confuse
such a declaration
as a key to one's soul
for many oscars have gone unrewarded
at bedtime when
the flesh is disrobed
and the mind's intention
is to fashion a weapon
by casting "love"
to the weak

Why do we close our eyes
when we kiss?
Or dim lights
and trust love to the darkness?
What you search for is not me
but my brothers of the same soul

                        Thalamus' Ink

THANKS Thalamus' Ink for sharing a part of yourself with me so I could
share "you" with others.  Also, thanks for the MUST BUY AL JARREAU CD
tip.  "Something That You Said" is AWESOME!!!  If you'd like a copy of
"When My Voice Fails Me But My Heart Needs to Speak" or comment on the
above, please email Thalamus' Ink at (


4)  POETIC SHORT STORY -- I was hooked the moment I read Bree's poetic
short story.  Bree explained that "A funeral for forever" is about
"someone who is confronted with the obvious end of a long-term
relationship and how they poetically remember, reason, rage and finally
resolve their unhappiness with the whole situation."  The manner in which
Bree eulogized the "deceased" will make you look back at how previous
relationships ended or help you recognize the common pitfalls to avoid
with your new partner.  

As I read "A funeral for forever" the following picture popped into my
head.  PICTURE THIS IF YOU WILL: You enter the church and all heads turn. 
Standing at the pulpit is your soon-to-be ex-significant other.  Your
body floats down the aisle on a cloud of awkward stares toward a coffin
of unresolved issues.  You kneel in front of a casket filled with old
pictures from happier days, guilt gifts, a dozen of dead roses, a locket
of broken promises, a stack of "I'm sorry I forget" greeting cards,
receipts of indiscretions, all peacefully resting on a satin pillow
stained with tears.  A twinge of "why us after all these years" tiptoed
into your wishful thoughts of "maybe not this time."  All of a sudden you
feel the congregation praying you to your feet.  Somehow you find
yourself sitting on the front pew of pity, and in the background you hear
the organist playing Carol King's classic break up song "It's Too Late".  

Your ex-significant other clears his throat and begins his eulogy.  "Yes,
this is truly a sad occasion and I wish I didn't have to be here.  But, I
am.  I won't waste your time explaining the why, what, when, where or how
the dearly departed died.  Just remember that the truth always has a way
of sabotaging your best intentions.  Should the grim reaper pay your
relationship a visit, I hope you'll find some comfort in these words."   

I blew my ex a kiss and said, "Amen."  

                     "A funeral for forever"
            by Aubrey Eric Smith a/k/a Bree (c) 2000

I feel your silence, the cold sound of possibility crashing into a brick
wall of reality.  I see the site of our combined future weeping in the
crusty corners of my mind's eye, clearly.  It is clear we might not be
seeing each other anymore?  As if there were more to see or say or

Don't you remember us whispering, whispering sweet nothings behind God's
back for months, for years.  Don't you remember us tucking dreams
brazenly down the front of our pants, a concealed forgetting
to put the safety on have we inadvertently blown off our tomorrow?

I remember us a melodious rhythm cascading down, you a Xylophone, me a
bass guitar.  I remember us cooking moonlight on a hotplate and pouring
it into just one cup.  I remember in the winter of beginning, love naked,
shivering, huddled round the warmth of "our" burning promise. I remember
us caught being in love, our lawyers made us plead guilty as ignorance
was no defense. Now acquitted, are we really free to go?

I remember us in the twilight of an after glow of faking love, wondering
why we climbed a barb wire fence just pick dead flowers amongst a
minefield.  I remember make ups, more like a test than not, us cheating
and still failing. I remember giggling make ups.  I said make up! 
Hollywood style make up, putting on a make up just to hide the
imperfections, but that only lasts for a see.

When discontent becomes congruent to a mutual body of opinion, how really
do we work it out -- the discontent?  The body?  Aerobics?  Running? 
Patience is running thin.  I remember a thin line between love and
waiting for not love while "like" lingers.  I remember running, patience
running thin.  I remember running a bath of tolerance and submerging my
indignation, holding him under as his breath bubbled and his lips mouthed
profanities.  I remember killing indignation in a bathtub of tolerance
for you!!!...but later, crying secretly for he was my son and had a right
to live!  Let us not talk of him.  Let us talk of people, two people...

Every two people make one not one plus one that would be too much less
than what we were or could have sustained.  Every two people make one, we
went one on one and you say I shut you down.  Well, game then!  Game
over.  I guess I won.  Every two people make one, not a hole in one, yet
that is how I now feel like I'm not whole in this dug ditch.  Every two
people make one, our one still breathes yet you pack our bags for
purgatory.  Must suicide surly await?

Maybe you're right.  Maybe we should bounce from all this unpleasantness,
though on one hand what would be gained by flinging ourselves down
against this only to return to the same place, the same palm with nothing
in hand.  Again, maybe we should bounce?  But as in ball, as in game, as
in opponents, as in opposites, because opposites do attract.  And if we
are opposite, are we not then more attractive in our polarity?...the
antithesis of congruity...anti-matter and matter... forever joined, but
forbidden to be touched yet our parallel universes be destroyed or more
romantically grand like James Bond and Mata Hari operatives of opposing
factions caught in a heated battle on the front lines...spies in
love...but whose the double agent?...who seeks asylum amongst all this

Am I being silly?  NO!

This is how I fashion my reaction when it appears we are no longer in
fashion.  And speaking of fashion, please tell me what would you wear to
a funeral?  A funeral of forever.  What cloak goes well with a double
breasted, ill-suited pair like ourselves?  What ties displayed clashes
least with our multi-hued laments?  What shoes best fit our feats of
despair?  High heels?  Wing tips? Or wide-mouthed love mashing platforms? 
Yes, let it be platforms, at least we could jump from them and maybe land
firmly on better grounds.  No matter our propriety in dress, I now must
agree, due to the blandness of this reflection we appear well clothed. 
Let us then make this here our service for the funeral for forever, a
celebration of our end.  Let us sit together in the same pew, though with
different views, honoring the split of our infinities.

And though I am compelled to sing at this service, I will not sing the
blues!  No, instead I chose another color to sing.  I will choose to sing
gray as this is not black nor white nor obvious at all, so blue will not
do.  I will sing gray!  I will sing it high and as well as I can, but put
no faith in hearing your chorus chime in...I am off key and remain so in
your eyes and ears no matter my song.

But here we are at the funeral for forever and the casket is open for all
to see.  There was no trauma or drama here, no long illness, just sadly a
self-inflicted wound that cut too close to the truth.  We did not suffer
much, but we are now truly gone.  Let us rise and approach this body of
shared experience together.  Let us respectfully view the cold, ungrowing
thing, the shell of what was once alive and reaching.  As I glance at
what has been done, I whisper acceptance to you now.  It does look good,
so peaceful, so calm from this distance.  I am sure we have Folly's
deepest sympathy.  So, there's no need to assemble again after all

Farewell....Farewell Farewell....

                             ** THE END **

DANG AUBREY!!!  Where's the Kleenex?  Being buried in the same coffin
with you was both sad and extremely enjoyable.  What really struck me
about "A funeral for forever" was the compassion in which Bree expressed
how hard it is for a relationship to finally die when the heart really
wants to live.  Circumstances -- upbringing, family, friends, jobs, lack
of time, religious beliefs, finances, peculiar habits, different goals,
etc. -- were all pallbearers carrying this deceased relationship to its
final resting place at IT'S OVER CEMETERY.  "A funeral for forever"
forced me to look back to see if there could have been an afterlife with
one dead soul.  I quickly discovered that disturbing the gravesite of the
"once was" only brought back the skeletons of a relationship better left

Hey Bree, thanks for finding the time to hookup with me while I was in
New York.  It was fun!  Please feel free to send your love, support, oh
yeah, and condolences, to Bree at (


5)  MORE GOOD NEWS -- When it comes to all the good news to report, the
Year 2000 has been "Berry, Berry Good" to many of YOU!!!

* * * * * * *

Somehow in between his paramedic responsibilities, teaching, parenting,
and being an overall sweetheart, my Rusty Knight, Shaun Cecil, managed to
get accepted to nursing school.  (See Poems of the Week 33 and moni's top
10 issue #27 for an explanation of who Rusty Knight really is).  Thank
you God for giving the "whirl" a nurse who can heal the sick with his
smile or a poetic tale.  If you ever need a sympathetic ear or a tender
heart, then Shaun is definitely the guy with excellent bedside manners
and a warm soul to make anything that ails you feel ALL BETTER!!!  Shaun
I'M SO PROUD OF YOU and LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!!! If you need training on how
to wrap a tourniquet around moni's mouth, please email Shaun at
* * * * * * *

A WELL-DESERVED PAT ON THE BACK -- Lenora didn't just hang in there to
prove the nay sayers wrongs.  She went the extra mile because God was
faithful to her vision and expected nothing less than excellence from
her.  On May 12th, LENORA DEVINE graduated with a BA Degree in
Interdisciplinary Studies from Dallas Baptist University.  Her "JUST DO
motto for all of us to live by.  Please JOIN ME in congratulating LENORA
DEVINE on a JOB WELL DONE!!! Your well wishes and love can be emailed to
Lenora at (

* * * * * * *

BRAGGING RIGHTS -- In 1969, my dad was accepted in the graduate program
at Ohio University. My parents packed the family (all 7 of us) up and we
moved to Athens, Ohio so my father could further his educational
endeavors.  In 1970, he earned his Master's Degree in Economic Education. 
However, due to the Kent State riots, the Class of 1970 did not have a
formal graduation ceremony and his diploma was mailed to him.  My dad
felt robbed because the graduation ceremony represented the brass ring
he'd worked so hard to earn.  On June 10, 2000 during the graduation
commencement for the Class of 2000, the incident surrounding the Class of
1970 was acknowledged by OU's President. Here's where I get to brag a
little -- Thirty years later, my dad, Mathew J. Wilson, was honored by
Ohio University for returning to formally receive his well-deserved
degree.  It was a proud day for my family because my dad received a
standing ovation when he finally walked across the stage to accept his
Master's Degree in Economic Education.  THANKS DADDY for proving to us
to pursue their dreams!!!  And DADDY, WE -- Mom, Mat, moni, Markie,
Michael and Maria -- LOVE YOU!!!  

* * * * * * *

MORE BRAGGING -- On May 18th, my son received his Master's Degree in Fine
Arts/Illustration from the School of Visual Arts in New York.  As I
watched Gustave walk across the stage to accept his degree, a snapshot of
my baby boy's life flashed before me -- kindergarten, little league, art
classes, piano practice, driving lessons, last minute term papers, being
tutored and tutoring others, prom night, midnight discussions, leaving
home, calls for money, mo money and mo money, advice and prayers.  As a
single parent, a sense of accomplishment washed over me, and a smile from
ear to ear firmly planted itself on my face.  Gus had a plan, stuck to
it, and accomplished his goals.  But, words simply could not express the
joy I felt because the moment Gus received his degree, my days of paying
Go to ( to view a
sample of Gus' artwork. 

* * * * * * * 

ENGAGEMENT NEWS -- I was recently told by my soon-to-be daughter-in-law
Diana, that my son finally asked her to be his bride. [I knew he was
going to pop the question, but don't tell her].  Gus proposed to her on a
rooftop overlooking Manhattan's city lights.  HOW ROMANTIC!!!  I could
not have prayed for a better soul mate for my son than Nana.  I LOVE YOU

* * * * * * *

that, effective today, Kevin Netters is joining the NE Region as our
Business Manager.  Kevin comes to us from the Great Lakes Region, where
he was a Metropolitan District Manager based in Syracuse, NY.  He has
formerly worked in sales positions with ACDelco in both the Mid-South and
Midwest Regions, so he is very familiar with the needs of his new
position and anxious to be a contributor."  Kevin and wife Andre, are
expecting a precious bundle of joy in November and plan to name their
sweet baby boy 'DelMONIco' after his Auntie moni.  MUCH LOVE KEV and
DRE!!!  Best wishes and congratulations can be meailed to Kevin and Andre
at (  

[A little trivia -- Years ago, Kevin used to babysit Gus.  FAST-FORWARD. 
Every summer before Kevin and Gus returned to college for the fall
semester, Kevin's mom and I took our sons to lunch to discuss their goals
and give them two cents worth of motherly advice.  Here's the best part,
Gus and Kevin currently live in New York and are fulfilling their goals
and dreams.  [Hey Auntie V, I guess our advice paid off twofold].

* * * * * * *

BOOK PUBLICATION -- Rene' Nettles has published two books of poetry,
"Love Off The Diamond Press" and "Black Rose".  Word on the street is
Rene's books bring together the reality of love, life and imagination. 
She focuses on the realism of love, heartbreak, and triumph over pain. 
If you'd like to buy a copy of Rene's books, please write to Assistant
Services, c/o Poetry Books, PMB 394, 3010 Wilshire Boulevard, #100, Los
Angeles, CA  90010 or email Rene' at ( for more

* * * * * * *

Tina Marie Clark continues to shine.  A couple of months ago, Tina was
interviewed by VH1 for an upcoming new show -- Sound Affects.  [I was
there for moral and 'calm me down gurl' support].  Sound Affects is a
program dedicated to showing how an artist and their music positively
affected and influenced a person's life.  The artist who instilled that
AIN'T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH to keep Tina from accomplishing her goals
was, and still is, Diana Ross.  I promised not to say too much until
after her interview airs this month.  But I can say that Tina was a true
diva herself.  Her story is compelling, and I was practically in tears as
I watched her reminisce about her foster care (or lack thereof)
upbringing. If you would like more details on when Tina Maria's interview
will air on VH1, or would like to congratulate Tina, please feel free to
email her at (


See second email -- Part 2 of 2 of moni's Top 10 E-Zine (6 through 10).

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