We are all angels outside

Light hearts and laughter

Prepared to be kind


We are all monsters inside

Gnashing behind smiles

Gorging on fire


Reality and disguise

Charades are the price

Of merchants civilized.


All Rights Reserved © May 2017 John J Vinacci

The Cough: The Big Crunch

The Cough: The Big Crunch

[You can read previous episodes of The Cough here, here and here.]

No one ever thinks about the end of the universe anymore. I suppose that’s because I’m the only one left. I’m the only one left here at the end of the universe.

According to recorded history, humans never really gave it much thought until after the first thousand or so years. Since The Cough prevented anyone from dying of any other natural cause, some of those who chanced to live more than a few hundred years got it in their heads to avoid even the most remote dangers to see if they could set the record for the oldest person of all time. As a group, these people became known as Eremites, I guess because they were hardly seen. Actually I know it’s precisely because they were hardly ever seen, considering what they became – contract killers. Eremites found themselves employed by those not dedicated to the contest. So they became reclusive, seeing how difficult it is to kill someone when they know who you are. Believe me, when someone suspects you’re the one they hired to do the dirty, they start second guessing their life decision. It’s funny; some of us we pretty sloppy at the start of our careers. Well, not ‘us’ anymore. Swan died of The Cough several hundred years ago.

That sucks for her, so damn close to the end. But, it’s great for me because it means I won. Which also sucks for me because there’s no one left to acknowledge my accomplishment. But it’s also great because barring The Cough, the very end of the universe as it collapses back up itself will kill me with the crushing force of physics unwinding itself to become a singularity once again. (Funny how wrong they were about the universe expanding forever way back when.) I can’t think of a more exciting way to die. That makes me think about all those people who didn’t want to try and live forever…

That wound up being most people. In my youthful naivety I assumed everyone wanted to live as long as possible; I thought it was why people believed in places like Heaven. Turns out I was wrong. A lot of people got really bored after going into their second or third centuries and actually wanted to die. When I first heard about this I was dumbfounded, surprised to hear how uncompetitive people are. The catch was, people just couldn’t bring themselves to kill themselves. And so us Eremites offered to do it for them, and that’s how we came to offer our services. Really, it worked out beautifully for the human race. Sometimes you just find the right synergy as a species; most people didn’t want to keep living and us Eremites enjoyed eliminating possible threats to our existence. All but one, that is.

It took a while to come out, but nothing can stay hidden forever. Eventually it was discovered that The Cough was indeed engineered by a human being. The virus, impossible to detect until a person let out that unmistakable light, dry cough, was engineered by a guy named…hell, I forget. It was billions of years ago. Maybe it was a woman. Or a transgender. I know it wasn’t the bird-people because we came later. Funny thing was, we couldn’t cure it. I’ve build the sphere I’m in to withstand the collapse of the universe until the last possible moment, but none of us could figure out The Cough. We were left to assume the virus could disguise itself as ordinary cells until something triggered the virus to chain react. That something was usually too much of a particular emotion, but the emotion varied from person to person. If your trigger was too much sadness but you were a naturally happy person, you were either a winner or kind of screwed depending on your perspective.

Sorry, I’m babbling about ancient history when I should be concentrating on the here and now. All I have to do is wave my tentacles and rustle my feathers and… Great! I’m at exactly six minutes until I’m crushed into oblivion. Looking out the window of my sphere I can see the universe roiling with light, getting brighter with each passing second. I’m safe from The Cough. I’m going to win! I mean, sure, this is going to hurt like hell – that’s probably and understatement – but I win! I win.



Mother. Fucker. Mother fucking fucker.

Five minutes and twenty seconds to live. Not long enough to see the lights go out as most of the early universe’s leptons and anti-leptons pop back into existence. Mother fucking fuckity fuck. Really? Am I really not going to get to see this? I just had to be too goddam happy. FUCK. FUCKKKK. THIS IS FUCKING BULLSHIT. I’ve been alive for two billion years and this is how it ends?! I. CALL. BULLSHIT!

I should have seen this coming. I’ve been containing my emotions for…ever. Now, with entropy decreasing, now I get emotional? Emotions are entropic, so what the FUCK? You know what? If I’m going out like this I ain’t going without cursing all the FUCKING way. FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, MOTHER FUCKING FUCK, FUCK…Well, look at that; 15 fucking seconds to go! 14-13-12-11-10-9. Lights are going out but I’m still here? Holy shit, triggering The Cough can be reversed with the opposite emotion!

Can’t dwell on that now. (Although, fuck, what a time to figure that shit out.) Here comes the crunch. Urk! Goodbye sweet universe! Good, urk, urk, good-bye. I fucking wi-


All Rights Reserved © May 2017 John J Vinacci

Poison And The Cure (Lyrics/Poetry)

Poison And The Cure (Lyrics/Poetry)

[Author’s Note: Another one from the archives!]


You scream for me

Madman in the dark

Fueled up on evil

Fury in your heart,

You beg me to release you

From suffering and hurting

Sign right here and I’ll

Keep it from returning;

You’ve got the poison

I’ve got the cure.


Accept the invitation and

I’ll release you from your prison

Or you can agonize forever

And never have your vengeance,

Your tortured soul betrays you

I can grant you some salvation

If you want your darkness sated

Here’s a contract, pen and date here;

You’ve got the poison

I’ve got the cure.


Now hear me

You have needs

So don’t resist me,

You’ll love me

(Then you’ll hate me)

You’ll justify me.


I am the temptation that enslaves

That makes promises agreed to out of hate

You’ll make choices you’ll take to the grave

You have something that nothing will sedate.


You scream for me

Madman in the dark

Empty of the evil

No more rage inside your heart,

You begged me to release you

From suffering and hurting

You made a deal with me

Mistakes result in burning;

You had the poison

I lied to you, there is no cure.


All Rights Reserved © May 2017 John J Vinacci

Human Beans

Human Beans

Colonel Byrd swallowed his own Adam’s apple as he returned his crow-cracked eyes to the menacing space-centipedes towering over him. On this cool November morning, 2021, black-and-tan insects from another world, sporting a thousand stubby legs each, had just evaporated several tanks with laser beams from their hundred dark, marbled eyes. The combination of melted steel and burning flesh flooded the veteran’s nose and churned the officer’s breakfast burrito almost inside out. Pull it together, man, the colonel told himself, What did you expect from aliens capable of interstellar travel? The officer stood almost alone as the civilians dotting the perimeter of the White House lawn had fled in terror. A few children, too inexperienced to realize they should run away, remained in the wake of their cowardly parents.

“I suppose you would like to talk to our leader?” the army veteran almost gagged as he plumbed the depths of his coat pocket for his smartphone.

The two longest and tallest aliens swung their heads towards each other then back at the colonel. “Does your leader have beans?” asked a voice that sounded like crunching, broken glass.

The officer withdrew his hand from his coat pocket and scratched his forehead, tilting his green, starched hat backwards. “Beans? You mean like the things you eat? Um, no, our leader doesn’t have anything like that,” Colonel Byrd’s lips curled. The space-arthropod nearest the colonel lowered its lengthy body towards the veteran and parted its sharp mandibles.

“What I meant to say is that ‘yes’ we have beans. It’s just that our leader doesn’t eat them,” the veteran spoke to save himself.

This caused a quiet stir among the fantastically large centipedes from space. The gathering of alien insects raised themselves high in the air and swiveled their heads back and forth at each other, their murmurings like nails etching glass. The monstrous arthropod menacing the colonel just a moment ago lowered itself towards the man again.

“What kind of a leader does not eat beans?” the creature asked. The veteran was about to answer when another, smaller alien interrupted.

“It does not matter, little hairless monkey. What kind of beans do you have? We are particularly fond of cocoa beans. Give us all of them,” it ordered.

An educated man, the senior officer knew these to be among the most valuable beans in all the world, for you cannot make chocolate without them! Giving the aliens all the cocoa beans, well, that was asking a lot, especially at the onset of winter when hot chocolate is so popular. But there was the matter of extraterrestrials’ death-ray eyes. The liquefied army tanks looked like olive sludge, vaguely like pieces of chocolate left out in the sun too long. Surely this was just a hint of the aliens’ power. The colonel fumbled for his phone again.

“Um, you see…Bear with me a moment. I need to speak to our leader.” The officer raised and waved a hand around, signaling everyone to remain calm while he brought the phone to his lips. A ding followed. “President Siri, what should humanity do when dangerous aliens ask for all of our cocoa beans?”

A digitized, Australian female voice replied quickly. “Okay, here’s what I found.” The colonel immediately tapped the first webpage result on his smartphone. He read as quickly as he could.

According to the Geneva Referendum on Possible Alien Contact, it was concluded that threatening aliens displaying superior technology and firepower should be complied with in order to minimize human casualties… It was going to be a hard sell but Colonel Byrd really had no choice. He put both hands in the air.

“Okay, okay. I have the authority to comply with your wishes. We will give you all our cocoa beans.” Though he may have just saved humanity, the veteran knew he’d just made himself over seven billion enemies.

“Good, good,” the closest slinky extraterrestrial said removing itself from the colonel’s personal space. But no sooner had it retreated than whipped its body back at the leader. “And do you have coffee beans?”

Were they toying with the man? Given their ability to traverse interstellar space and shoot lasers out of their eyes, they were cruel, too? Knowing he’d probably never make it off the White House lawn, the colonel stammered.

“Well, hmmm, I don’t really know what those are. I’ll, uh, have to ask around…” The veteran ran his fingers around his shirt collar. It sure was getting hot in the November sun.

“Are you sure you don’t know what those are?” the space-arthropod slurred at the O6.

No matter how he answered, Colonel Byrd figured he was a dead man. He raised his smartphone back to his lips and spoke softly. “Siri; chances are I’ll survive lying to dangerous extraterrestrials and see my family again?”

“Based upon a stress analysis of your voice, there is a high probability the knowledgeable and dangerous extraterrestrials will figure out that you are lying. It is reasonable to assume that any visitors from space have studied human behavior before arriving here on Earth,” Siri answered.

The officer figured there was no use in lying. He looked up from his phone and threw his arm around in a semi-circle. “Yes, oh great and formidable space insects! We have coffee beans, too. In fact, we have all kinds of beans. Soy beans, black beans, pinto beans…”

“Good! We will kill you all slowly for your cooperation,” boomed one of the god-sized arthropods. Green, slimy saliva coated its sharp teeth as it gnashed them together in anticipation. “This is wonderful, we would simply die if we ate anything that was not a bean!” The broken glassy voice could be heard far afield. The congregation of aliens writhed in victory, dancing like black-and-tan snakes around their silver plate of a flying saucer.

“Mister space alien?” a little African American girl spoke from beside the colonel. “Do you like beans?” she offered the creepy-crawly beside the officer. Her deep brown eyes were wide with wonder as she held up a white box against her pink down jacket.

The gigantic space centipede nearby leveled its black marbled eyes upon the child before Colonel Byrd, clenching his teeth sideways, could hide the girl behind him.

“Yes, little thing incapable of traversing galaxies. We love beans, as I have said,” the creature mocked as its eyes began to glow red.

The little girl held up the white box from behind the veteran’s back, generous to the oppressors. “Have you ever had jelly beans? They’re really good.”

Colonel Byrd spun around, dropped to one knee and brought his index finger to the girl’s mouth. He shook his head adamantly. “No, don’t say that!” he ordered as gently but firmly as possible.

“Move, small balding monkey!” the black-and-tan arthropod champed. It brought its tail around and swiped the veteran right. The officer tumbled safely enough but his dress greens were soiled with dirt and grass stains. The colossal bug snatched the white box from the babe with its two front pincers and launched the box high into the air, throwing the multicolored jelly beans far and wide.

The threatening centipede’s eyes lost their glow and seemed to gloss over in delight. “So many colors! We have never seen or tasted such delights.” The multitude of space insects slithered in various directions and caught the jelly beans in their gullets as easily as popcorn. “So, mmm, so delicious! You have more?” the thing demanded more than asked in its voice of crunching glass.

But then the extraterrestrials shuddered along the length of their bodies. Their thousand arms wriggled uncontrollably. They whipped their long, segmented selves to and fro, looking to accompany Colonel Byrd’s breakfast burrito.

“Commander Primea One Dash One Zero,” one arthropod’s jaws chittered, “I do not think these are real beans!”

Scores of intimidating, super-sized centipedes fell like heavy ropes upon the ground, their midsections exploding in the bright hues of the jelly beans they had swallowed. Colonel Byrd instinctually had tackled and embraced the little girl to protect her from the spewing guts of the extraterrestrials. His uniform was utterly ruined now.

“I don’t think they liked them,” the little girl seemed low and apologetic in tone. Then a glint of sun bouncing off the aliens’ spacecraft caught her eye and she forgot everything. Her pupils narrowed and she lifted her head up. “Can we play on the flying saucer?” she asked the putrid covered officer.

“Yes, yes we can,” Colonel Byrd nodded. “You can do anything you want as long as you’re always nice to people.” The veteran stood up, took the hand of the world’s next great leader and walked away victorious under the sun.


All Rights Reserved © April 2017 John J Vinacci

The Long Road (Lyrics)

The Long Road (Lyrics)

[Author’s note: This song dates back to 1999! I’ve always felt there was a certain beauty to the simplicity of the lyrics.]

I slept beneath the cherry tree for a little while / Until I woke up 10 years from now not knowing what my life’s about / I’ve only known direction when it kicked me in the face / But I cannot stop believing there’ll be a saving grace – I go on waging war / On faith and not much more / Until the battles that I fight wash me up on safer shores / I’ll bleed

The old man next to me is clinging to some poetry / Reminiscing days that suddenly seem to slip away / He’s telling shameless stories about living all your dreams / But he’s helping me survive the weight I’m bringing down on me – Gripping with belief / He’s forgotten how to breath / Going on forever with words that don’t surrender / A need

A woman in the streets is cradling a newborn baby child / Hush hush angel now she sings her son a lullabye / Maybe that was me with the possibilities open wide / But I cannot changed what’s done / But today I will decide – That I’ve got something to give / That we’ve all got lives to live / But my road ain’t paved for nothing, I can battle armed with something / To believe


All Rights Reserved (c) April 2017 John J Vinacci



The angels fought like hell

To save themselves

When God fell;

We heard heaven crash

It came to be

At last –


You can’t erase history

They couldn’t cure that disease;


So when love’s labored truth

Fulfills destiny of the doomed

There’ll be no hands to hold

For selling out on our souls.


The angels finally gave

Their halos away

That hallowed day;

We saw their bridges burn

And how their conscious spurred

A sentence deserved –


They’ll never touch us again

Not even on our last breath;


So when our kingdom comes

No strength will be enough

To cool that place on fire

We thought would be denied for us.


All Rights Reserved (c) April 2017 John J Vinacci

Voiceless (Poetry)

Voiceless (Poetry)

The dying oceans of her voiceless eyes

Every look comes to a standstill in time

She’s searching for some words adrift at sea

Searching for some words that bring her peace

Adrift at sea.


Proteus’ spell cast by her voiceless smile

Choirs of mermaids contemplate suicide

She’s diving for the words in liquid dreams

Diving for the words for as long she can’t breathe

In liquid dreams.


A broken oar steers her voiceless life

A slow, watery drowning, oxygen dying

She journeys for the words that will redeem

Voyaging for words, she sails on belief

She can be redeemed.


Adrift at sea

In liquid dreams

Words will redeem her

If she can catch them and release.


All Rights Reserved © April 2017 John J Vinacci