Atavistic Lipstick – by JEFFREY H. TONEY

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Atavistic Lipstick

Jeffrey H. Toney


Stepping onto the grimy commuter bus, her beauty jolted me from my daily stupor.  Bright red vinyl facing benches held three passengers, one seat unoccupied next to her.  I joined her as we jerked towards the next stop.  Leaning against the window, warm dry air blew past her cheek gently tickled by a tiny tear trail.

“What’s wrong?”  My optimistic fool inquired.

We crashed hard, helpless passengers smacking onto hot metal bulging blisters borne from four tons colliding, her atavistic pop lipstick loam laced with blood, now crimson pin pricks on my glasses, salty on the tip of my tongue.


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Jeffrey Toney (r) with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (l) at Relief Live, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Music For Relief at LA River Studios (November 14, 2015).  Music for Relief has raised over $7 million for survivors of multiple disasters across four continents including Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; see:



Dr. Toney has published scientific peer-reviewedarticles, news media opinion pieces as well as short fiction stories in O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of The Veterans Writing Project, The East Coast Literary Review and in Crack The Spine.  Recently, he was nominated for a PushcartPrize for his 100 word story, “The Quiet Raspberry Wormhole” published by Crack The Spine.  He serves as Provost and Vice Presidentfor Academic Affairs at Kean University. He volunteers and fundraises for charities such as Music For Relief,founded by Linkin Park, and the RFK Center for Human Rights.  He serves on the Steering Committee of theScience and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for theAdvancement of Science (AAAS).  You canfollow him on Twitter @jefftoney, read his blog on The Huffington Post ( and listen to his podcast about how anyone can contribute to human rights issues on Talk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria (  



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