A Foreign Persona

I feel safe. I feel home. I feel right and accepted whenever my mind wanders back to that room. I feel magical, and I feel knowledgeable. I was a regular.

From January of my freshman year in high school through May of my senior year, I spent my afternoons in a wondrous place, where I left myself at the door. With possibility as my escort and faith as my companion, I dared to live a dream, which only I had the power to pursue. Just arriving at the door, I gained the incentive, the adrenaline rush. I wanted to be her. As I neared the front, swashbuckling through onlookers, I felt a certain privilege overcome me. I felt as though the world was watching and I had the future mapped out in my mind. Her fate had been memorized.

Behind the dark curtain, my family awaited me. Soon, we would all take on our alternate personalities to entertain the onlookers and to tell their stories. We had spent endless hours preparing for the next three days—not even three days: seventy-two hours—six of which would be crucial. But it didn’t matter. In just seventy-two brief hours, their lives would end and ours begin again, but it didn’t matter. The thrill and excitement would last a lifetime.

I never imagined I would find my safe haven in a place where I was forced to bare all; unveiling myself to dozens of strangers. I found comfort in the fact that I was not the one being exposed; however, it was my resolution to portray her as well as she may have done if given the opportunity to, herself. My mind, my own enemy, I cleared every thought which did not pertain to that exact instant, and allowed my imagination to run rampant, abandoning my fears and myself, taking on a foreign persona.

This seventy-two hour interval would occur three times a year for four years. I could never imagine what the last minute, of the last hour, of the last day, of the last year would bring with it. The time when the roles would be reversed and her life would go on, without me, leaving myself as my only companion. But, eventually, the day did come, and somehow I left her, alone behind the dark curtains with my family, hoping that someday we would be reintroduced for another six hours.


Look at me happy and held dear

Look again enraged by hate, denied by him,

I pose to hide my fear, to keep me cool and calm a tear,

But what comes from all my work, a simple falsehood

But then, nothing good.


Look at her, smiling and fresh,

Look again at her ripped flesh.

She poses only to ease your head, from what you know, and what you dread.

But what comes from all her work, a simple falsehood,

But then, nothing good.


Look at him, content in work, lost in thought, ready to start.

Look again at his mangled mind, his flaming eyes, his hardened heart.

He poses not to simplify life, but to keep his family from his strife.

But what comes from all his work, a simple falsehood,

But then, nothing good.


Look at us, all users of masks, we love the hate,

Look again we’re makers of evil, and dead as fate,

We pose to stop the pain inside but what comes of it…

Nothing good.

Guilty Land

The wind on its course, set by some unseen navigator, gently caressed the trees as it ambled on…


It seemed to hint that it was only a foretaste of the impending holocaust which was in preparation for the great beginning of its oppressive tyranny.

The sky turned cold…

From seemingly nowhere, a giant monstrosity, like a judge, clothed in deep blackness, stepped onto the heavenly stage…

The sun cowered as it was drawn away and imprisoned behind doors and walls of darkness, enveloping its light, cutting it off from the world below.

An eeriness brooded over the earth. The seas grew restless. The great, dark tyrant maddening them like hungry savages waiting to gorge themselves on their prey.

The slamming of doors and the latching of windows could be heard, almost in spontaneous chorus, for we knew what was coming…

Lightning tore across the sky, seeking to bring ruin on the tallest, unlucky victim it could find in its brief but relentless mission.

A low, heavy rolling sound prevailed over the mountaintops, like a jury gloating heartlessly over the sentence meted out to the unfortunate soul.

The cloud, like a commanding officer, lined up its troops, all brilliantly dressed in cold, white uniforms, ready to destroy at the command…

Dissipation was ordered.

The fleet of deadly bullets (summoned to action) was set on course beyond the point of no return to fulfill a destiny of courage, honor and self-sacrifice.

Plants of all shapes, sizes and ‘walks’ of life were crumpled under the heavy blows of the nefarious hailstones and beaten to a pulp.

Tin roofs caved in like foil, exposing all they had to protect, like a new box of tissues being broken open and its contents torn to shreds.

Cars, as if made of balsa wood, were ruthlessly pelted, like targets at a shooting range; they buckled, bent beyond repair.

The ignorant animals in the fields were not even found innocent. They were struck down one by one, disintegrating under the ceaseless shelling of damning hailstones. Bodies were left to rot on the open plains that resembled gigantic abattoirs.

The judgment had been successfully carried out and the sun was set free once again to roam the skies and heal the broken land with its warmth.

The heartless laughter of the evil beast and his jury could still be heard in the distance as they slowly subsided over the horizon.


the invisible navigator saw fit to direct the path of the wind to caress our trees again, and…




its secret warning.

What if Alone

What if alone I cannot walk the roads?

What if alone I always lose my way?

What if alone I have no strength, no will?

What if alone I turn my world to grey?


What if alone I don’t know why I’m living?

What if alone I don’t know how to start?

What if alone I lose the strength of giving?

What if alone I even lose my heart?


What if alone I don’t know what is caring?

What if alone my smile is just a mask?

Why do I carry burdens not for bearing?

What if alone I don’t know how to ask?


What if alone I wait while Time is passing?

What if I even can’t give you a hand?

What if I only need your smile and blessing?

What do I do to make you understand?

A Short Story Not About Asprin

Beep! Beep! Beep!

That damned alarm, the most hated of Joseph McLaughlin’s possessions, began its insistent whining at precisely 7:15 a.m. on July 5th. A fist groggily snaked out from underneath the Cindy Crawford duvet cover and hit the top of the clock. It stopped whining. After some very peculiar movements, the duvet gave birth to a thirteen-stone, bleary-eyed seventeen-year-old boy. The inhuman apparition staggered towards the bathroom. It paused when it came upon the mirror, seemingly startled by the ghastly visage reflected in the honest glass. Joseph groaned, swore, spat and returned to the place affectionately called “The Black Pit” by the rest of the family.

He visited the bathroom an hour later, reemerging looking considerably more human that the thing previously spotted. He was wearing a smart but casual luminous green shirt and bright blue denims. He looked like something from the nightmares of the Man From Del Monte’s. Citrus-coloured and smelling like soap, Joe ambled slowly downstairs for his breakfast.

Joe met up with his best friend Ross Marshall at around twelve, just outside McDonald’s. As was the custom by this time, both argued over whose turn it was to pay for the food, resolved, as ever by the tossing of a coin. As they munched on their soggy Big Mac burgers, their conversation steered towards the party that night.

“You goin’ then?”

“Aye, widnae miss it fur onythin’ in the world. Anyhow, Martine’s gonnae be there, mebbes I’ll hae a chance wi’ her this time.”

“Aye, Ross, and my bum’s jist swallied China.”

“Ah thought ye were lookin’ a bit heavier that usual, but ah wis too polite tae mention it.” At this, the two friends collapsed in fits of laughter, not even stopping when Ross began to choke on his burger.

“Ross! Ross! Are ye chokin’ or aren’t ye serious?” Ross’ laughter didn’t help stop him choking, and it took five minutes for him to calm down enough to swallow, never mind talk.

Later that day, both boys went shopping for those last-minute items that always come in handy at parties. Joe bought his usual seven or so packets of Doublemint gum and chewed on one thoughtfully while he waited for Ross outside the Chemist. When he finally appeared, Ross was bright red from a mixture of embarrassment and anger. He explained to Joe what happened: “Ah wis standin’ at the counter, by masel’, a’body else wis looking fur stuff on the shelves. The wummin behind the counter must be wan of the stupidest people alive! Ah did mah usual, Ah said ’Do you have any asprin?’ while winkin’ and pointin’ like a mad yin. Daft bint only brought me o’er a box o’ Anadin. So, ah tried again, makin’ mah winkin’ and such a bit more obvious. Still the fool didnae get it. Aboot five minutes later, wi’ a queue behind me, she finally twigs, an says at the top o’ her bloody voice, ’Oh, ai get it! You want condoms, don’t you?’ I swear tae God, every single sod in that shop turned round tae look at me. Ah didnae even stop tae get my cha— Hey! Whit’re you laughin’ at?”

Joe was virtually having a heart attack on the pavement due to the hysterical laughter shaking his body. Seeing Ross’ indignant frown only made the images in his head clearer and started him all over again. Ross calmed down and began to see the funny side of the situation. “Aye,” he said, “It’s really bloody funny. But ye wilnae be laughin’ when ah get tae use these babies on wee Martine.” He grinned, his head now full of images, none of them unpleasant. As they reached the end of the road, they parted ways, agreeing to meet each other at the party. With that, they went home to get ready.

They used the time between the “Chemist Incident” (as it came to be known) and the party to get ready, and believe it or not, they used it all. They took five hours each to seemingly change, wash and fix their hair.

Anyway, they arrived at the party together. Smiles wide, hearts light due to the fact that they had their best ’ladykiller’ clothes and hair and stuff ready. The party was about half an hour in by this time. The perfect arrival time. The early arrivals would be loosening up and the drink and music would be in full swing. Joe just hoped that Martine wasn’t ’swinging’ with anyone else; he couldn’t bear the thought of having to escort a crying Ross through the streets of Cumbernauld. Still, on the bright side, it would be the ideal opportunity to throw him in a ditch somewhere and leave him there. Joe smiled; maybe the night would have a happy ending after all.

Ross started his ‘smoothie’ routine straight away. He sidled up to Martine and flashed her his most brilliant smile. Joe slapped a hand over his eyes theatrically when he noticed the small piece of lettuce between Ross’ front teeth. Martine smiled wryly and quietly informed Ross of the vegetable patch sprouting from his upper gum. He gave a little yelp and rushed to the bathroom, leaving Joe shaking his head in good-humoured disbelief. He decided to give Ross a little helping hand, and ambled over to where Martine was standing. It is noticed, at this point, that the boys’ use of slang seems to evaporate when speaking to members of the opposite sex. This may or may not be a subconscious thing, but it has been spotted in young men from Argentina to Zambia, no one has ever figured out why…

“He’s a nice guy, by the way, Ross is. Despite the, er, organic nature of his dental hygiene. He never stops talking about you.”

“Really?” asked Martine in her smooth Dublin accent, “That’s good.” She smiled again, “I’ve known that he likes me for ages. I quite like him too, I’m just having a little fun with him, don’t worry. I won’t bite him, unless he asks me to, of course.” She laughed.

“Don’t be giving him any ideas, he’s bad enough as it is.” They both shared a knowing smile and went their separate ways. Joe was content in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be mopping up any tears tonight, and went about the process of relaxing, and of enjoying the party.

About an hour later, Joe was watching Martine and Ross dance with an amiable smile on his face. Occasionally, Ross would give him a thumbs up sign behind her back, in reply to which Joe could only grimace theatrically. There was the lightest of taps on his shoulder, and he turned around. Standing in front of him, looking shyly at the floor was possibly the most beautiful girl that Joe had ever seen.

“Hi,” she said. “I’m Samantha, Sam, what’s your name?”

“Hello?” she said. Joe continued to stare at her with a goofy expression on his face.

“Are you all right?” she said. Joe snapped out of it and returned from whatever planet he’d been inhabiting for the last few moments.

“I’m sorry?” he said. She repeated her question. “Oh! Hi! I’m… I’m…”

“Joe,” piped in Ross, who’d danced slightly closer so that he could listen in.

“Yeah, that’s right,” stuttered Joe, “I’m Joe. Joe McLaughlin. Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise, I’m sure,” smiled Sam. “So, would you like to dance?”

“He’d love to,” came Ross’ voice from somewhere behind Joe’s left shoulder. Joe shot him a glance, smiled at Sam and they both hit the dance floor.

Things were going brilliantly until around half past twelve. Joe and Sam had danced and talked all night, and he’d even succeeded in getting her number and the promise of seeing her again when the dream was cruelly shattered by Martine yelling and swearing. Joe felt that familiar sinking feeling and turned around, dreading to see what Ross had done this time. Ross was standing in the middle of the floor, a look of terrified shame on his face as Martine stood a foot away, pointing at the condom lying on the floor.

“What the hell is that for then?! Eh? What kind of slapper do you think I am?”

Ross stupidly attempted to answer. “Well… Umm… No… I… You… I just wanted to be prepared just in case anything happened,” he managed. “But I wasn’t expecting it to… Honest,” he quickly added.

“Yeah, right!” shouted Martine, who then slapped Ross smartly on the cheek and stormed upstairs, daring anyone to follow her. Joe looked apologetically at Sam. She nodded, a resigned smile upon her lips.

“Yeah, I know. You’ve got to help your friend. It’s OK. I understand. I’ll see you later. Give me a call sometime.” With that, Joe took the dumbstruck Ross by the arm and gently led him out of the door.

As they walked home, the two friends reflected upon the night’s events.

“Ye should have seen your face, Ross! Ye were like a wean caught stealin’ a sweetie!”

“Yeah,” answered Ross, sadly, “But it wis a’ goin’ so well up tae then.”

“Talk tae her the morra, explain whit happened. If she’s worth it, then she’ll gie ye another chance.”

“Aye,” interrupted Ross, a cheeky grin on his face, “And if she isnae, at least I got tae feel her ar—”

The two friends laughed their way down the darkened, but familiar, old streets. It looked like the holidays were going to be a lot of fun.

Behind the Stars

He lies,


ever listening


then forgiving

but he lies,

Always behind the stars

dark drapes of


of dishonesty

He lies

careful, and negative

sweet sickly smiles

me believing

always behind the stars

sneaky and deceiving

He lies

Forever behind the stars.


as I looked out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw so many people

all looking back at me

they are hungry

very cold

they are children

now grown old

their faces long

for deep within

there is no soul

inside their skin


I turned them away

they aren’t mine to keep

I couldn’t give them shelter

nor a place to sleep

I’m just a humble person

not a savior

not a prophet

these are things I cannot be

as I looked back out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw gently rolling waves

and no one else but me

When Will They Realize?

When will they realize things aren’t the same?

We try to deal with it in our own ways,

Only confining in those who realize.


Sometimes we aren’t that lucky.

Only finding comfort in ourselves.

Thinking, overanalyzing, trying to understand.

Destroying all faith by losing our innocence so soon.


When will they realize we’re wise beyond our years?

Sometimes I think wiser than them.


Scared, frightened, yet grasping all concepts.

Closing ourselves off by thinking of consequences.

Intimidated by happiness and those who find

it, But silently begging for their secrets.


When will they realize they aren’t helping?

Just making us dream of what could be.

Increasing the pain, making it harder to heal,

And if it does, leaving permanent scars.


When will they realize?

My Journey

The Greek playwright Sophocles presented the following riddle to the main character in one of his stories: What animal starts out on four legs, then moves to two, and then to three before dying? Of course Oedipus Rex answers correctly: man, who crawls as an infant then walks erect in middle age and finally uses a cane in the elder years. The journey of life follows much the same arc; we evolve from needing influence and guidance to finally reaching that point where our lives are up to us. I consider myself very lucky up to this point in my journey. Some people become sidetracked and wind up on a far different course than initially planned, but the detours I made have only assisted in embellishing the individual instead of devouring it.

According to Freud a person’s most important period to grow personality ranges from birth to six years. In that span my biggest influences came from my family. When I think of that time before kindergarten, the single most important person to my development was my grandmother Carmella. She didn’t graduate from college or sell wheat futures in the stock market, but she had wisdom and tenderness so few possess. My parents worked, so each morning my mother would drop me off at Grandma’s house. I didn’t realize it then but in retrospect, this woman has led a remarkable life. She birthed three sons all by Caesarian section, lost a husband in middle age, then all but raised a grandson for half a decade. She taught me how to walk and gave me my first piano lessons. She remains close to all her grandchildren yet her and I both know she holds a special place for the first one.

When I began school, friends began to shape paths for this journey. In the beginning we hardly know these classmates. Common interests and experiences bond or repel certain people to others. I didn’t understand what friendship meant until August 16, 1997, though. That morning, I fell asleep at the wheel of my car and ran into two utility poles and a tree while going 40 miles per hour. An ambulance rushed me to Memorial East and within a few hours the first person to visit me outside of my immediate family was my friend Matt. I hadn’t shown up to bowling that morning so he called my house then came to the hospital. Nobody made him come to see me so quickly but he did. I will never forget the look in his face as he stared down at me. Hopefully every young person can look at two loving parents for guidance and help. I know how fortunate it is that I live with both of my natural parents, and that they both want the best for me. My parents embedded the values I cherish today into my spirit: the difference between right and wrong, the correct way to deal with anger, the importance of dedication and hard work in life. Those seem like clichés, yet it is society that refuses to hold those basic principles sacred anymore. I consider it an honor and privilege to have parents with common sense and self-worth.

Other things have also affected the path I continue on today. Music certainly opened doors and exposed undiscovered emotions. Playing the saxophone, conducting, and even composing allowed this aestheticism to flow out from the depths of my being. Without becoming an artist I certainly would not understand my potential or the self-discipline that reaching a particular goal entails. Listening to poetry and music has helped to forge the Nick Capezza of today. The sonnets of William Shakespeare and symphonies of Beethoven express desires and feelings that I have yet even to discover. Without those outlets to describe the indescribable, I would probably be a more isolated and confused person than I am today.

Now that I have pinpointed what has pulled me to this point in the journey, maybe it’s time to discuss what will pull me further down the line. The overwhelming spectacle of college life certainly will play a hand in the Nicholas Capezza of tomorrow. Professors, fellow students, academic advisors, and even the nurses in the infirmary may all give insight and knowledge into an area of my psyche yet to unravel. Without parents there to kiss the tears away with milk and cookies, college will become the ultimate test between temptation and my inner-strength and the morals I have placed for my own behavior.

Possibly the biggest choice of any person’s life remains what vocation to go into. Even areas people have skills in may not give enough satisfaction to turn into a career, whether that satisfaction stays financial or otherwise. Whatever occupation I choose, I sincerely hope that the trek will remain on its uncertain and awesome course.

Throughout this journey of life many outside forces manipulate whom all of us become. These demons shake each individual in different ways, making it so the simple question, “What is quality?” cannot have a true answer. To me, quality means taking responsibility for one’s actions and standing tough in the eyes of a challenge. Quality includes honor, loyalty, and the instinct to do the right thing. Now who created my personal connotation? Through every relative, friend, and composition it boils down to me. I have taken all these beliefs and crammed them into a six feet, two inch frame. The real journey lies ahead, the journey from young adulthood to old age. I only pray this journey includes many travels and few destinations.

Waking Up, But Not Really…

As the world spins, grows

and dies

I’m too absorbed in petty problems

constant apathy

an unhappy soul

to feel anything

I’m the embodiment

of a wasted existence

I notice nothing outside

my car or bank balance

and know no other way

I haven’t heard music

for such a long time

but it’s time for work

another day’s here

and these waking thoughts

will soon be crushed

under the terrifyingly simple

thoughtless thoughts.