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 Volume #2                     May 21st, 1995                      Issue #3

                        CONTENTS FOR VOLUME 2, ISSUE 3
     Column: From the Belly of the Dough Boy . . . . . . . .  Matt Mason

     Column: CyberRealWorld . . . . . . . . . . . .  Robert A. Fulkerson

     A Conversation Between A Luminous Being And An Enlightened Soul
      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Clem Padin

     The Honeymoon  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Jim Esch

     Corn Lover in Winter . . . . . . . . . . . .  William C. Burns, Jr.

     Mabel  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  William C. Burns, Jr.

     HAIKU #337 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  William C. Burns, Jr.

     Does He Limp?  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Leonard S. Edgerly

     < homesick for the lost continent >  . . . . . . . . . Ray Heinrich

     A Box of One's Own . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matt Armstrong

     Fine Wind, Clear Morning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  John Landry

     Boat Returning in a Storm  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  John Landry

     Baton Rouge During the Gulf War  . . . . . . . . . . .  John Landry

     Oh cat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Gail Reichert

     Soren at the Sweetwater  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Todd R. Robinson

     Degrees of Separation  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael S. Adams

     The Sour Sweetness of Tobacco  . . . . . . . . .  Ronald E. Tisdale

     I Remember ... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Ben Wiebe

     A Surprise Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Chuck Kershenblatt

     About the Authors  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  The Authors

     In Their Own Words . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  The Authors

 Editor                               +                       Poetry Editor
 Robert Fulkerson              The Morpo Staff                Matthew Mason                      +

 Layout Editor                                               Fiction Editor 
 Kris Kalil Fulkerson                                           J.D. Rummel                         
 _The Morpo Review_.  Volume 2, Issue 3.  _The Morpo Review_ is published
 electronically on a bi-monthly basis.  Reproduction of this magazine is
 permitted as long as the magazine is not sold and the entire text of the
 issue remains intact.  Copyright 1995, Robert Fulkerson and Matthew Mason.
 _The Morpo Review_ is published in Adobe PostScript, ASCII and World Wide
 Web formats.  All literary and artistic works are Copyright 1995 by their
 respective authors and artists.

                                EDITORS' NOTES

   o _From the Belly of the Doughboy_ by Matt Mason, Poetry Editor:
      A Review of the University of North Dakota's 26th Annual Writer's
      Conference, March 21-25, 1995
   If you ask a lot of people what type of thing they'd like to do in
   North Dakota around March, most will answer, "leave." Well, they're
   fools, all of them, fools, as something pretty impressive happens up
   in Grand Forks once that ice starts melting (before the spring
   blizzards hit, that is).
   What I'm talking about is the University of North Dakota's annual
   Writer's Conference which I had the luck of catching this year.
   English Professor, conference founder, fisherman, and host of a mean
   party, John Little says: "Winter in North Dakota is a time for silent
   reading and contemplation. Springtime is when we celebrate by hearing
   the writers' voices themselves." And before you snigger and say, "yah,
   right, I'm sure the conference gets the mighty likes of Delores
   Persmidgy and Joseph B'Low." Well, in the past, this conference has
   attracted writers like Truman Capote, Tom Wolfe, N. Scott Momaday,
   Alice Walker, Alex Haley, Susan Sontag, Czelas Milosz, and many, many
   more. It's an impressive feat for any community.
   What the conference entailed was five days of readings, panel
   discussions, and parties. I was among those running from the first
   student readings at 11am until the parties which would sometimes last
   until 5am (admittedly, I didn't last quite that long, being out of
   school, I don't seem to have the insane student stamina which drives
   people to go to class all day, party and procrastinate all night, work
   a part time job, write an opera, and still get all projects and papers
   turned in roughly on time). The organization was first rate and the
   folks in the community were great, making me feel truly welcome, even
   at that first party where I really didn't know anyone (yet).
   1995 brought some terrific writers: Tim O'Brien (_The Things They
   Carried_), Bharati Mukherjee (_The Middleman and Other Stories_,
   winner of the 1989 National Book Critics Circle Award), Sharon Olds
   (_The Father_), Sherman Alexie (_Business of Fancy-Dancing_), Marge
   Piercy (_He, She, It_, winner of the 1993 Arthur Clarke Award for best
   science fiction novel), Gordon Henry Jr. (_The Light People_), and
   Yusef Komunyakaa (_Neon Vernacular_, winner of the 1994 Pulitzer Prize
   in Poetry). All of them had a one-hour reading and also participated
   in a panel discussion where they discussed the state of the art (this
   year's theme) as well as answering audience questions.
   Of them all, Sherman Alexie was probably the most dynamic reader,
   breathing tremendous amounts of life into poems and one short story
   which he simply told, rather than read, in storyteller fashion.
   Tim O'Brien was hilarious character, both at the public forums and at
   the parties afterward. In fact, he and Gordon Henry Jr. probably get
   the award for staying out the latest, most didn't last long past the
   more formal receptions (and I don't really blame them, they only fly
   in for a few days and then are quickly whisked away again).
   All the writers impressed me in too many different ways to really give
   enough credit to in this short column, but, dang it was a blast. I
   particularly enjoyed the poets like Olds and Komunyakaa, and was also
   impressed with the storytellers like Alexie, O'Brien, and Henry. It
   was a hefty week, though, and by Friday you could see the toll on the
   English grad students in particular who seemed beyond exhaustion but
   were still able to stay awake through everything and still go out
   afterward. I am in awe of these brave people.
   And apparently the parties which go on at night have a long history,
   particularly the years where folks like Raymond Carver, Hunter
   Thompson, or a gaggle of Beat Writers came through. Though some seemed
   to see this year's extracurriculars as tame in comparison, most seemed
   satisfied and, actually, some of the finer quotes of the entire
   conference came not during the readings but late at night in the mix
   of students, Grand Forksians, professors, and the writers.
   So all of you out there (yes you!), sometime around early March next
   year, make sure and call UND and see when the '96 conference is. Then
   when the time comes, throw some books and bagels into your car and
   roadtrip to Grand Forks, you will not regret it. It's a week that runs
   from cerebral to wild, where the atmosphere is excited and friendly,
   and where you're only a stranger if you let yourself be.
   o _CyberRealWorld_ by Robert A. Fulkerson, Editor:
   As I sit down to write this, it's almost two in the morning on Sunday,
   May 21st. I'm starting from scratch on this column, something I had
   planned to not be doing. Three days ago, Thursday the 18th, I had
   taken myself out to Chalco Hills State Recreation Area and had planted
   myself firmly on the bank of the lake there and wrote most of my
   column. I used big, flowery words and images to try and relate what I
   was experiencing, sitting there as the sun set over the horizon. I
   wrote about the beautiful orange and purple hues of the sky, the low
   croaking chorus of the bullfrogs coming out for the night and the
   sweet scent of freshly mown grass that hung in the cool night air.
   My intention was to focus on the Real World, the real physical world
   that we all live in. I wanted to write about how, over the past year
   or so, I've entrenched myself deeply in that other world we constantly
   hear about, CyberSpace, and lost a firm grasp on the Real World.
   I've been a part of the CyberSpace community now for well over 12
   years, going all the way back to my Commodore Vic-20 and 300 BPS
   modem, connecting to CompuServe, then to local area bulletin boards,
   then to Q-Link and finally (after America Online) hitting the "Big
   Time" with the Internet.
   Before the Internet came into my life, most of the friends that I met
   via the various on-line services and bulletin boards I frequented were
   real and tangible -- I would meet them in real life and we'd have
   parties and do stupid stuff and laugh together. With the advent of the
   Internet, however, it has become much more difficult for me to meet in
   the Real World the people I've run across in CyberSpace. So, in order
   to foster the human need to know people, to actually get to know them
   and find out who they are, I've migrated more and more to electronic
   communications for my day-to-day interactions with people.
   Before you begin to think that I've plugged myself into the Internet,
   let me say that I haven't abandoned those friends and people I've met
   in the Real World. I've simply added an entire virtual community of
   people to my current circle of friends. It's getting to be quite a
   crowded circle.
   But, I've digressed a bit. When I drove myself the three miles down
   Highway 50 to Chalco Hills, I noticed, for the first time in months,
   the world around me. It was a rather surreal feeling, actually. I had
   the window rolled down and a mixed tape of driving music playing in
   the background, very similar to the same routine I've followed for the
   past year driving back and forth to school and work every day.
   Right before I got to Chalco, however, the sudden beauty of the
   countryside exploded and overwhelmed me. It was very pleasant, but as
   I said before, surreal. What was different about the countryside at
   that particular moment that I hadn't noticed the countless other times
   I've driven in that area over the past year or so? Even now I can't
   pinpoint what it was.
   I ended up driving around Chalco Hills for about fifteen minutes as
   the sun completed its descent below the horizon, then perched myself
   on a grass-covered bank of the lake and watched the world unfold
   around me. The frogs, the fishermen, the lovers in parked cars -- it
   was if someone had turned on the Real World again and it was flowing
   rapidly into all of my senses.
   It's odd. I just finished up my full-time schooling for a Masters
   degree in computer science. I still have a few classes to finish up,
   but my tenure as a Graduate Fellow has expired. I've also been offered
   (and accepted) a job with Tandem Telecom here in Omaha, Nebraska. My
   wife recently quit her job as a research assistant to focus on her two
   Masters degrees (English and anthropology). One of my best friends has
   recently fallen in love with a wonderful woman and has also received a
   large promotion at his job. After years of floundering in jobs she
   hated, my mother has found a job that she really enjoys and feels good
   All of these things have happened within the past two weeks, and I
   think they've jarred me out of my graduate school/work/CyberSpace
   monotony. It's a good feeling, to notice the trees which are "leafing
   out" (thanks to a former co-worker and friend of mine for that term)
   and feel alive and invigorated again.
   Without trying to write a column with a moral, it appears that one
   appears here anyway. I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to
   decipher it. As my friend (the one who recently fell in love) says at
   the end of his columns for the _Kryptonian Cybernet_, another
   electronic 'zine ....


 "A Conversation Between a Luminous Being and an Enlightened Soul"
 by Clem Padin
   Yafmenn was meditating when the Illumination came. Like the stages a
   supernova, his experience seemed to implode so that the past became
   present. Then, it expanded outward and the future became the present.
   It was as if he had become a light cone, experiencing the past,
   present, and future all at once.
   And while still in the moment, there came to him a Luminous being. He
   grew before him, as if from a grain of cosmic dust.
   "Welcome, brother", it said in a voice so sweet it nearly made Yafmenn
   "Thank you", he replied. And as he spoke, he returned to his sentient
   self; sitting again in his office, the Inspirational Message Screen
   Saver (IMSS) on his monitor floating the same message he'd seen before
   he closed his eyes (one he had found in a liqueur add and entered into
   the program):
                          __"ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN"__
   The being sat across Yafmenn's desk in his windowless, but spacious
   office. It sat in one of the seven chairs lined up along the far wall,
   It's halo obscuring a good portion of the _National Geographic_ poster
   of the universe (from the June 1983 issue).
   Yafmenn blinked and shook his head several times.
   "Is this it?", he asked, as his senses returned and he felt himself
   not so changed after this soul-altering experience.
   "Is what it?", replied the Luminous Being knowing full well what was
   "I just reached Nirvana. Aren't there supposed to be garlands being
   thrown around and gods singing my praises. You know, like when the
   Buddha reached enlightenment."
   "Well, you know how it is: you get a couple guys reaching
   enlightenment; they try and document what happened to them; they're a
   little tipsy from the experience; they exaggerate a little...", He
   smiled broadly as his voiced trailed off. Yafmenn noticed how it
   wasn't quite as musical as before.
   "What about transcendence? Aren't you supposed to get this big dose of
   Forgiveness, or something? I still get pissed when I think of what my
   former boss did! And, I don't feel Omnipotent or Omniscient. Here,
   I'll try and create a glass sphere in the palm of my hand" Yafmenn
   held out his hand as if he were cradling something.
   "Hey! Stop that!" shouted the Luminous Being. "You know the energy
   you'll generate? You'll torch this entire office!"
   Yafmenn pulled his hand back, rubbed it against his other, and noted
   how warm it was.
   "What's the big deal, can't I create stuff out of thin air? I'm
   illuminated, I got privileges!"
   "You're still living in the physical universe! You've got to abide by
   it's laws. There's no such thing as something from nothing. We're
   talking basic physics here: take a few atoms, stick them together,
   squish out the excess energy and what do you have?"
   "I don't know, what?"
   "You get fusion. You know, the sun. Tokomak. Princeton!" It shook Its
   glowing head, "Sheesh!", It quietly muttered.
   "You know that forest in eastern Asia?" It continued. "Where all those
   trees were flattened?"
   "Sure. In Tunguska, 1908.", replied Yafmenn.
   "An Illuminated soul did that."
   "What?", Yafmenn replied incredulously.
   "He was on a date when his wagon wheel broke. He didn't want to dirty
   his cloths, so he tried to create a new wheel and woosh... Anyway,
   just because you get enlightened doesn't mean you can find where
   Andrew Wiles made his mistake!". 'Oops', It thought to Itself. But
   Yafmenn was too preoccupied to catch the reference.
   "But I thought I'd be able to perform miracles, you know, events
   beyond the realm of physics. Says here ...", Yafmenn grabbed the
   paperback Webster's New World from behind his Deep Thoughts by Jack
   Handey calendar. "...Says here... 'Miracle' blah blah blah 'an event
   or action that apparently contradicts known scientific laws'."
   "Sorry, that's a myth. Besides, you missed the 'apparently'
   "What about all the stuff Jesus did? Water-walking, the fish thing,
   all that healing stuff?"
   "Jesus Christ! that's all I seem to hear! Sometimes I think we ought
   to have an FAQ just for the newbie enlightened! When Jesus
   'apparently' walked on water, it was really just a huge block of ice -
   he changed the water to ice as he stepped. Nearly slipped and broke
   his neck, too! I wouldn't recommend you do any miracles. Most
   enlightened people say away from them."
   "What about doing some good in the world. I wouldn't mind making it
   rain in, say, Ethiopia. So they can get a decent planting season
   going. Anything wrong with that?"
   "Actually, you run into a conservation of mass problem. Don't you
   remember that episode of I Dream of Genie, where she loses her powers
   and what's-his-name get them? Remember what she said to him when he
   wanted to do the same thing?"
   Yafmenn shook his head, "No, not really. I actually didn't pay much
   attention to the dialogue."
   "She said, 'If you make it rain in the desert, you may empty a river.'
   Conservation of mass."
   "Ok, so I can't affect the physical world, what about knowledge?",
   asked Yafmenn.
   "What about it?"
   "I've got questions I'd like answer to: One, Dark Matter, what's is
   made of. Two, what's the deal with Cold Fusion. Three, the guy in the
   next office has been working on disabling the AIDS protease. He's got
   a bunch of chemicals he's testing. I'd like to know which will do the
   trick so I can tell him."
   "What, I look like Robin Williams? You figure you have 3 wishes I have
   to grant?"
   "No, no. I don't want you to answer them! Look. I worked hard to get
   here. I studied, thought, stayed away from wild women, only did a
   small amount of drugs. I was expecting a little transcendence; a
   glimpse into the mind of Infinite. I thought I could do something good
   for the world. Maybe you've forgotten - or maybe you've never been
   incarnate - but his place needs a lot of help! Besides, I always
   thought I was going to so something special in with life."
   "You're starting to sound like Oprah! But I understand. You're still
   attached to this flavor of your being. That's why you have all these
   desires. And you also have the limitations imposed by the laws of
   Nature. But if you tried to drink from the pool of Infinite wisdom,
   you're head will explode! And I mean that literally! To bring back the
   answers to the questions you seek will take painstakingly careful dips
   into the Infinite Pool. It would take just as long for you to find the
   answers as it would for anyone else. As far as Cold Fusion is
   concerned all I can say is that there are Universes that follow other
   'I thought so!', thought Yafmenn. 'They somehow tapped into a parallel
   "...And one such universe is the one that Ponns and Fleshman inhabit.
   All by themselves!"
   At this, the Luminous being roared with laughter. This went on for
   several minutes. At one point It fell to Its knees and pounded on the
   floor, repeatedly. Yafmenn looked on with irritation. Finally the
   laughter began to subside.
   "Sorry", It said and sat back down. This time in one of the rolling
   chairs that rock. " But those guys crack me up..."
   "So what do I do now? I don't see what good came from any of this. I
   can't perform miracles; can't access the Infinite Mind; can't bring
   anything back to the world to help."
   "Your journey is your gift to the world. So just go on living your
   life. There's really nothing else you _can_ do. You see, gaining
   enlightenment is like winning the lottery: you don't change as a
   person, you just don't have to live 'paycheck to paycheck' - 'moral'
   paycheck, that is. Besides, you'll notice little changes in yourself
   from this experience."
   "Well, you might start wanting to change your cats' water and litter a
   little more often. At least, _they_ hope so!" The Luminous Being
   'Boy that is little', Yafmenn thought.
   "And, as an added bonus, you might find yourself able to stay awake at
   those chemistry seminars."
   "If anything, this conversation has been enlightening", Yafmenn said.
   The Luminous being stood. "Well, that's my queue. I've gotta go. But
   if you need me for anything, just click your heels 3 times." The
   expression on Yafmenn's face, made the Luminous being add quickly, "It
   wasn't my idea, a standards committee came up with it..."
   The Luminous being smiled and began to fade. Yafmenn thought he heard
   it chanting, "Living in the material world...". As he turned back to
   his computer, he saw his IMSS float the next random inspirational

 "The Honeymoon" by Jim Esch 
   Cynthia peels the wedding dress from her lithe frame and falls onto
   the stiff motel bed. She didn't want to do this, why, she didn't even
   plan to do this, yet here she went and did it.
   The bathroom door opens and in walks a gorilla dressed in a burgundy
   tuxedo. The gorilla curls his eyebrow and speaks in a suave, albeit
   husky voice. "Well baby, this is the moment we've _both_ been waiting
   Cynthia doesn't know what to think. He really isn't a bad looking ape,
   and he has a nice demanor. The setting sun tinges his fur orange. She
   hops under the sheets.
   "We have to hurry so I can get to sleep before midnight."
   "Why," she asks.
   "If I don't fall asleep by midnight I'll turn into an insurance
   "God forbid. Let's do it."
   They spend the remainder of the evening in ecstacy, until 11:30 PM,
   when the gorilla swallows two Sominex tablets and promptly nods off.
   Cynthia has a dream. She dreams about primates. Thousands of cackling
   chimps in Pampers. Gorillas too. She has to change them all. There's
   not enough baby oil. The gorilla sits above her in a recliner puffing
   an El Producto. He shouts to her, "That's my girl, haha!"
   She wakes the next morning to the smell of cologne. The gorilla is
   fitted in his best pressed summer suit.
   "Where you going?" she asks.
   "Get up, we've got mass this morning."
   "You mean you're Catholic?"
   "That's right."
   She groans. "Oh God, not a Catholic."
 "Corn Lover in Winter" by William C. Burns, Jr. 

Barely disturbing the stainless snow
   on the rusty corn husks
The echoes of your memory
   dance across the painted porch
The winter air crackles
   with your presence

The unswept oak leaves curl
   in your wake
      a whirlpool lament

Your laughter
   just at the threshold
I lean
      poised to listen

 "Mabel" by William C. Burns, Jr. 

I would trust Mabel with an afternoon
   or money
      or love for that matter

Her large dark eyes shine
   hiding nothing
Her long dark arms
   harboring every lost kitten
      dog or man child in the neighborhood
Her simple skirt revealing
      just a bit of leg...

Mabel is the kind of woman that
   holds a family together
A woman that touches her children
   her man
      her life
With abandon

 "HAIKU #337" by William C. Burns, Jr. 

ghost indians
   chase rusty leaves
   empty parking lots

 "Does He Limp?" by Leonard S. Edgerly 

A girl in my fourth-grade class
moved away then came back and told
about her new school. When she came
to the name of her new principal
I joked from way back in the back row,
    _"Does he limp?"_

I knew immediately it wasn't funny-
a dumb, smart-kid comment
on the thick shoe and swinging left leg
of Mr. Madson, our principal, who limped
through the hollow halls of our school
like a circus act you didn't dare stare at
for fear he'd notice you watching that shoe,
that exaggerated rise and fall of his shoulder.

From way back in the back row I nearly threw up
after joking about the limp, about that shoe
unlike any fast sneaker we kids would race on out
onto the playground-and soon the whole world
where now about once a month I still feel
that same sickening rise from my stomach
when some careless word of mine snaps
me back to that fat black shoe
clumping along, minding its own business,
wondering if that boy ever forgave himself
for being so damn clever.

 "< homesick for the lost continent >" by Ray Heinrich 

        there's an answer
        on my machine today
        in between all those messages
        some of them from my father
        from each stop on his trip
        some of them from you

        i remember sitting
        across the table from you
        you looking at me
        and each of us
        so homesick
        for the lost continent

        i'm waiting
        for that lost continent
        to come back from the ocean
        i'm waiting for the water to drain
        from its caves
        i'm waiting for the moss
        to take hold again
        and for the seabirds to come

        i am homesick
        for the lost continent
        i am staring at you staring at me

        in the space of time
        the earth regains a tree
        i have regained you
        but we both still sit
        and when we stare
        at each other
        we are still homesick
        for the lost continent

        we have become
        and our time is slowed
        and trees can be
        like fountains
        coming from the earth
        and the seasons
        come fast enough
        to produce
        the sensation of motion

        we are waiting
        the parts of us are waiting
        for the next salesman
        coming to our door
        selling the promise of rebirth
        making us homesick again
        for the lost continent

 "A Box of One's Own" by Matt Armstrong 
   When Carrie was brought to her new home by her mother and introduced
   to her new family, with her new father who awkwardly offered his lap,
   not sure if a girl just into her teenage years would appreciate the
   gesture, and her new sister who regarded her with as much indifference
   as could be afforded an unwanted roommate, and her new older brother
   with his bulky oversized body ensconced in his own private world, she
   was too numb to care. As she explained to Sarah, her sister _pro tem_,
   there comes a time along the lines of watching your father's slow
   disintegration under the pressure of cancer that you realize there is
   no longer any safety, so why bother. Well, she didn't exactly say
   this, but she had always wanted to when Sarah would cast a stony look
   her way and ask her what it is like to have a dead father.
   Besides, Sarah wouldn't understand. She has found her place of safety.
   She knows exactly where to hide. She has her box; that monstrous
   construction of unfinished oak that sits at the foot of her bed. Its
   sturdy grain is stenciled around the border in a light pastel of pink
   two-legged pigs with little patches of red and blue flowers gracing
   the corners. It has a lid anchored by a simple hook that for the most
   part is left dangling, because the weight of the lid is more than
   enough to hold it down. It could easily house every old toy or shoe or
   piece of clothing in their room, but it remains empty, doubling as a
   bench mostly.
   It is in this box where Sarah hides when Pete shuffles down the hall
   every few nights from his comic book dungeon of adolescent delights
   and climbs into Carrie's bed. It is also what Carrie focuses upon when
   Pete rolls on top of her and stokes his pecker against her stomach and
   pinches her nubile budding breasts between his slurping lips. Sarah
   always leaves her yellow pompoms on top of it, and they hang off the
   sides reminding Carrie of the golden epaulets that always adorned the
   shoulders of the handsome prince in one of her father's bedtime
   stories. But the stories are gone now, dead like her father.
   It must be dark in there, she thinks, looking over Pete's fumbling
   head towards the box. It must be a darkness so pure, so perfect, that
   you can't even see your hand before your face. It must be so quiet in
   there that the only sounds are your own. Breathing must be so loud,
   she thinks, how melodious is the batting of an eye. Yes, safety must
   be found in there.
   These thoughts hurt her, though. Like the fresh sting of his dull
   teeth pinching her nipples. And she is pulled back to what is
   happening to her right then by the turbulent gyrations of the ball of
   fat that is riding on top of her. He releases himself all over her,
   and it oozes around in the dark, soaking into her clothes and sheets,
   and he collapses on top of her. He slinks off the bed, not even
   looking at her, then slides his pants back on in a dark that has now
   become darker, and shuffles towards the door with his head bowed. When
   the door closes, Sarah pops out of the box and climbs back into her
   They lie in silence for a few minutes.
   "When are you going to do something about him?" Sarah asks.
   "He's your brother," Carrie says. "Besides, he said he'd kill us."
   They remain quiet contemplating this. Sarah has nothing to fear, they
   both know he won't commit incest; he's just sick enough to obey this
   taboo. So as long as she is able to crouch in the box of safety, why
   would she care?
   "Do you really think he would kill us?" Carrie asks.
   Neither of them sleeps that night.
   The next evening, they sit down together to a light dinner, which they
   pass in the customary, but tasteless routine of questions on daily
   life and answers which border on careless resplendence. Carrie hides
   her doleful demeanor behind a somewhat false account of her goings on
   in junior high. Her new father seems interested, but caters more to
   Sarah's silly accounts of cheerleading practice and some fight over a
   new head cheerleader. Sarah's usual mendacities, however, have been
   tempered today by last night's exhaustions, and Carrie can detect a
   note of indifference in her description of the day's activities.
   Carrie is alarmed, though, because she notices in Pete's eye that he
   is planning to pay another visit tonight. He is looking right through
   her. She considers telling her mother, but she is reticent, worried
   about the effect such a revelation might have on the first happiness
   she sees in her mother since her father's death.
   Alone in their room, she sits before the box, tracing with her finger
   the outline of one of the pigs. Their pink is so soft, like the petals
   on the roses her father once grew, so delicate they gave themselves
   over to the wind and drifted carefree into the sky. The pigs all face
   the same direction, each with their nose in the butt of the one before
   it, like a carousel of pigs, and those patches of flowers in the
   corner, made by the lightest dab of a brush, astound her with their
   frankness. She can still see the brush strokes. The creator left her
   mark. She flicks absently at the dangling hook.
   All she would have to do is climb in. He would walk in and she would
   be gone, lost in the box, lost in the world Sarah is able to flee to,
   a world of impenetrable darkness and a silence broken only by one's
   self. She would be away from this world that causes so much pain. Her
   sister walks in and sees her slumped over the box. Carrie looks up at
   "I need a box of my own," she says to her. Sarah looks down at her,
   silent, but with her eyes filling with tears.
   In all their months together, this is the first actual look she has
   received from Sarah. Though a hug or any type of touch seems
   appropriate at the moment, they decline and dress for bed in a clouded
   As they climb into their respective beds, the low hiss of the swaying
   trees filters into their room, and the night rescinds into a tired
   silence. Through the midnight light which her eyes slowly adjust to,
   Carrie can see those epaulets hanging on the box, and she begins to
   tremble. Up the hall, she can hear the faint clicking of her brother's
   door, sliding open, but she can't be sure because it sounds no
   different from the house settling.
   "He's coming," Sarah says, suddenly standing at her bedside. “Quick,
   get into my bed." She pulls back the covers and drags Carrie towards
   the other bed.
   "Get in," she orders again.
   Carrie climbs into her sister's bed and pulls the covers up tight. Her
   sister then jumps into her own bed. Carrie manages to whisper, "He'll
   know it's you," to her before the door opens.
   He walks in like he always does, cautious, a guiding hand drifting
   before him as he stumbles across the dark room. Carrie glides out of
   bed, confidant that his eyes still burning from the outside light are
   unable to discern her features. She lifts the lid, pink pigs faintly
   visible in the darkness, and steps in. She crouches down into a ball,
   rolling into a fetal position, as the lid clamps down on top of her. A
   cold darkness envelops her, and this she imagines--or remembers--is
   what it must be like to be in the womb, with the slightest movement
   pulsing in her ears and a liquid blackness that hides even her hands
   before her face.
   She hears a faint sound, however. It is a sound that drifts in between
   her breaths, between her slight movements to find comfort. It is a
   quiet whimper, like a baby's cry, seeping in from the outside, and
   this makes her think of her father, who in his last days, just before
   the cancer had totally eaten him up, had told her that hell knows no
 "Fine Wind, Clear Morning" by John Landry 

                        some day after the wind
                        and the rain and gravity
                        have flattened Fuji and all
                        the woodblock prints are eaten
                        a dream will still remember
                        and 10,000 children will pile
                        on top of one another
                        to imitate its shape

                        not ever afraid of silence
                        above the tree line
                        my hat and red bandanna
                        the only shade there is
                        until a cloud comes by
                        like a friend to lay a hand
                        on my sad shoulder
                        or a stranger not walking
                        when the sign says WALK
                        to lay a dollar in
                        a stranger's paper cup

 "Boat Returning in a Storm" by John Landry 

refusing to believe the ocean ate them
the grieving fishwives sit and listen
to the lashings on the wharf scrape
the pilings where secretly at night
ghost boats tie and dead crews
empty into dockside bars

 "Baton Rouge During the Gulf War" by John Landry
  war journal 1990-91
  for Denise Levertov

On my bicycle crossing LSU
ponytail bouncing off my backpack
Faggot  Dopplers from a pickup truck
one driver, one passenger
between them a child.

Before the capitol Huey Long had built
and was shot down in
crowds of flags are waving
T-shirts rank with ragheads
and camel jockeys  insensitive as
briar back home under snow.

Staties were called for controlling the crowd
for protecting flag and capitol
not the small contingent of folks against the war
So many insults so many threats
against like-skinned like-capped people
living in the same sorry state.

I ride my usual trail atop the levee
along the quiet lip of Mississippi
and there the threesome stand
the child yells there's that guy!
the driver hushes him
I stare the three
straight through the eyes
and see the river swirling
Eve'nin'  is all I offer them
with thick down Maine Yankee accent
bow and pedal on to the bridge base
and return right past them one last time
watching the Southern sun go down again.

 "Oh Cat" by Gail Reichert 

Creeping diffidently you nestle into my crooks and hollows,
chin reaching to seek the blunt touch of an articulate hand.
I hold my breath as you settle onto me soft as a drift of feathered snow.

To move now would be to scatter your gentle trust, so hard won,
to still the delicate prickling rhythm of your paws,
the rasping stretch of your pink washrag tongue,
the ceaseless drone of your rumbling tide-song purr.

Time stops. We float in this small, calm moment, and dream.

 "Soren at the Sweetwater" by Todd R. Robinson 

                Trailer-park trash and tart PBR's
                their orange tye-dyes gleam
                through the smoke and stench
                of the Sweetwater tavern.

                Sun-stroked women
                and beer-buzzed men
                some long legged beauty
                takes her seat.
                Soren tries not to stare
                but his eyes are tired--
                they settle in her hair
                and rest there a while.

                "Es wird," he mutters,
                (because he has forsaken Danish)
                "etwas geschehen."
                Something is going to happen.

 "Degrees of Separation" by Michael S. Adams 

 "As yet I have not found a single terrestrial animal
   which can fertilize itself."
        - Charles Darwin

then she gets up and tells me all she wants is a cigarette
and maybe a cold glass of water and where do I keep the
damned cups in this place anyway? on the counter next to
the sink, but to me we'd just had sex and I loved it but she
was so uncomfortable and for all her years more than me
and experience I probably hurt her or embarrassed her or
disgusted her because now she's walking around my
apartment when just two minutes ago I was inside her and
maybe it wasn't sex at all and we just fucked, and I always
thought women wanted to cuddle afterwards and men were
the insensitive ones and then why am I sill laying here
breathless while she's more or less in routine just like
she was a hooker not the girl that I've known for almost a

Everything turns backwards
as she slowly clothes herself,
zipper up, button up,
tucks everything in,
and I think I get the hint
   because I get up to pee
and suddenly I feel
   so cold being naked and put on some
   underwear and a t-shirt that my mom
   just mailed me from up north.

It's not even past midnight
   and she's halfway through the door,
her features exaggerated by the light
   that the moon and lamps both pour-
Only halfway out the door because she remembers
that she left something behind and this sends her
eyes through my apartment too see
something, skipping over me.

        Tapping like drums or like hard fingernails
           on polished tables, beats my heart through thick jailhouse rails,
        and some mystery suggests
           that maybe evolution is not in the slick pyramids of Giza,
        but in the terraced steps
           of the mastabas, or tombs in Mexico, or neither.

        Fighting, crying to be born,
        the Earth was shattered and torn,
        by lightning, rain, and thunder storm-
        in that same mold my life is formed,

        hinting only that maybe the
           absence of, say, thunder
        might inhibit our birth
           from water, from under
        the sea where we emerged and began,
        but one ingredient spoiled and then . . .

What becomes of this Earth, my life?
Like it was never commanded, "Let there be Light!".
Some repression of what would make me mature,
closure - my bitterness as she closes the door.


to your fingers

no matter how many times
you soap your hands in
ritual lather

you cannot erase
those brown stains
of a life marked by choices:

What color
will my next lover be

What space
will we inhabit

Whether dreaming
to carry his lust to term

or to consciously abort.

only in the course of a dream
or a dreamt of visit

in phone calls and letters we chart
each others progress through foreign places.

Our litany of being:

We are stretched across a cable under the ocean
voices pressured, muted, stressed

by the slow weighted water poured
in a basin.

are the ghost at the other end of the cable

your voice
a fist closed
on my heart.

 "I Remember ..." by Ben Wiebe  

I remember...
me as a child
far away in another world
where water drains
the other way (they say)...
but the memory
comes in snapshots
mental kodachrome
or video clips
silent, all too short

Jan. 4, 1995

 "A Surprise Party" by Chuck Kershenblatt 
   "Oh, man, you gotta be kidding me," said the Moose.
   He was sitting back in his office chair with a phone receiver in one
   hand and a cigarette in the other. The ashtray was crammed with
   Marlboro butts and he was flicking his ashes into an empty Dr. Pepper
   He nodded his head and exhaled grey smoke through his nose, then
   rolled his chair up to the desk and rubbed his eyes.
   "For fuck's sake, the truck was due in Pittsburgh two hours ago," said
   the Moose into the phone. "Yeah, alright, I'll call them. Right, you
   too. Bye-bye."
   "Hey, what's happening?" said a voice from the next room. "Come on,
   Moose, let's get out of here. We were supposed to leave a half hour
   ago." Thomas was standing by the doorway with his field jacket on,
   scratching his head.
   The Moose said, "Alright. I'm finishing up now," and he stretched out
   a hand behind the computer and flipped the switch.
   Thomas wandered over to a cluttered table and quietly dumped a jar of
   hard candy into his green wool cap. The Moose sat in his chair for a
   few moments more, then lurched up and tore a long computer print-out
   from a machine the size of a Franklin stove. He stood there ripping
   the roll at its perforated edges, carefully placing the sheets in a
   neat pile on a clip board. His body was tall and broad, with thick
   shoulders and a front lineman's neck. He had straight greasy reddish
   hair and a narrow face marked with a two-day beard. There was a tattoo
   of Bullwinkle on his forearm.
   "Jesus," he said, hanging the clipboard on the wall. "It's been like
   this all day. I haven't had single break. The district manager is out
   This was back in late '93 when the Moose and Thomas were still in
   South Jersey living in that apartment in Elmer, fighting poverty very
   hard with jobs that they could not wait to quit. The Moose had been a
   truck dispatcher for Leaman Chemicals eleven months now and he had
   begun to drink very heavily. Thomas worked the Camden aquarium as a
   seahorse, waving at the weekend crowds and standing next to
   three-year-olds in his floppy yellow outfit, saying over and over:
   "Welcome, welcome!" So they had remained for that strange period since
   college ended, living the precarious life of the underpaid and
   unmotivated, living in the same dirty apartment, eating the same Taco
   Bell burritos. Having leaking ceilings and unpaid bills and bounced
   checks and credit card collectors howling from their answering machine
   about "one last chance," having no spending money and no women; having
   no backyard.
   Now it was well into December. Occasionally they would spot a
   stout-bodied fly in the apartment that had outlived the death of its
   peers and survived for reasons they could only guess at. Gathering any
   money they could find, they would purchase the largest, cheapest
   whiskey bottle available, and a game would begin whereby each
   contestant would toss back a shot of the bottom- shelf whiskey and in
   turn would attempt to dispose of the Uberflea. With each failed smite
   the game would demand double the amount of shots. Any object could be
   used to assassinate the insect except of course a traditional
   fly-swatter. Thomas tended to go for the rolled magazine or newspaper,
   while The Moose claimed he could succeed with a hammer. Soon they
   would be facing at least six shots of the sickening golden spirits,
   which they would examine with very long and very slow concentration.
   Throwing back the sixth sticky glass, immediately one would begin
   climbing upon the cracked folding chairs, swinging their arms madly,
   inefficiently trying to conjure a German accent as they stalked the
   black two-winged beast, screeching: "I vill get yoo, yet, Herr
   Uberflea!" And once again the mutant fly would narrowly miss the
   drunken flail, and once again the contestant would face an ever
   extended line of shots that in very little time would leave him
   gagging on the cold hard ground outside, hugging a tree and spewing
   his guts, begging for a gun.
   So you can see that almost any diversion from the routine was welcome.
   And when the two of them were invited to Jake Casey's surprise party
   in the yuppie suburbs of Philly, with hints of free booze and tons of
   food, their feelings about the celebration took on a crusade-like
   importance utterly misplaced, but understandable. It had been months
   since they had been invited to anything other than court appearances.
   They jumped on the birthday party and refused to let the fact that
   cops would also be attending ruin their anticipation.
   No one had forced Jake Casey to become a cop, no one had even
   suggested it. The Moose claimed it was some Irish thing: priests or
   cops, take your pick. Thomas had known Jake ever since high school,
   back when Jake was a scrawny pot head from Brigantine, a thin pimply
   kid with too many Moody Blues albums and never enough real women in
   his life. Jake used to fall in love with only the most beautiful women
   in Atlantic City high school, and never do anything about it but write
   two-chord love songs and paint abstract watercolours which he claimed
   captured their "essence." Maybe marriage did change everything; Jake
   had married Marian Dore almost four years ago and, who knows, maybe
   his instincts had become skewed. Marian came from money, made lots of
   money, and had that kind of haughty modesty which only true arrogance
   breeds. First Jake had given up drinking, then he gave up coke, then
   he finally let go of his massive marijuana habit; he gained weight,
   loads of it, his chin separating into three new countries, his belly
   jiggling like Jell-O. And then it happened: police academy, criminal
   law classes, his own semi-automatic. But somehow Thomas had never
   really foreseen the outcome, had never grasped that this one-time
   drunken and stoned buddy, the guy who used to play Neil Young till his
   fingers bled, the pal who used to drink cheap Port wine under a rainy
   spring sky and then try to break into abandoned houses--was now armed,
   on the force, chasing down the unlucky with the rest of the men in
   blue. Jake. Six-string cop.
   The Moose had freed himself and was locking the office door behind
   him, with his hands in front of him fumbling with the key, and Thomas
   was waiting in the car, sitting behind the wheel of his battered Delta
   88, singing along with the Gin Blossoms on the radio.
   The Moose swung open the heavy passenger door, got in the car, and
   rubbed his chin.
   "Don't sing."
   They drove out of the parking lot and stopped. The Moose jumped out
   and uncovered a key from inside an orange cone by the side of the dirt
   drive. He locked the gate behind them and then returned the key.
   "Some security you got there," said Thomas.
   "Sure is."
   "Which way do I go?"
   "Commodore bridge, then straight up the Blue route."
   Leaman Chemical Trucking Company was just off the Delaware river so
   they found themselves back on the road to the bridge very quickly.
   "Are we picking Carmine up, too?" said Thomas.
   "Yes, and he better be there," The Moose said anxiously. "He's the
   only one who knows how to get to Jake's new place."
   "Think there'll be any single women there?"
   "I don't think so," said The Moose. "I don't think so."
   The Moose was older than Thomas, older and very wise. He was
   twenty-eight and his judgment was highly respected by his roommate.
   "Let's drink tonight," said The Moose.
   "Then what?"
   "Then we can drink some more."
   "Then we can consider the situation."
   The Oldsmobile's shocks were worn and they bounced along a bad stretch
   of 322 before getting onto the freshly paved Blue route.
   "Why's Jake a cop?"
   "It's the authority thing. Women go for uniforms and all that. It's
   really not that bad. He still plays guitar, still hangs out."
   "I don't know, " Thomas said.
   "Hey, that film major in Montana ever write back to you? What's her
   name? Sally?"
   "No, she never wrote. Kinda sucks, you know," said Thomas.
   "Falling in love always sucks."
   They reached the exit. Thomas pointed the Delta 88 off the three lane
   highway and suddenly emerged into one of those faceless suburbs with
   identical strip malls and matching BMWs. The Moose lit a cigarette.
   Thomas said, "I know. Carmine's house is down this street on the
   right. Right?"
   "But we're not picking him up there. He's at work. Hang a left."
   They pulled a sharp turn and got behind a mini van doing twenty on a
   single-lane street with traffic lights at every other corner. Carmine
   Correlli worked at some kind of computer tech company which The Moose
   pointed out after they had missed the entrance. Thomas swung around
   and came in through the exit, just missing a head-on with a large
   white Mercedes.
   "Did you see that guy?" said Thomas. "The fucker gave me a dirty look.
   Let's go back and feed him to the wolves."
   "There are no wolves in Montgomery county."
   "Guess you're right."
   They parked in front of an office complex called CompWrite and Thomas
   cut the motor and grabbed his jacket. It was a cold, cloudless night,
   and the sidewalks and darkened windows glimmered from the street lamps
   and full moon. The Moose flicked his cigarette butt into the gutter
   and walked ahead towards the twin glass doors. A receptionist buzzed
   them in and then picked up a telephone receiver: "The two
   grungy-looking guys you were expecting are here, Carmine." She was a
   small young woman with bright red lipstick, mousy permed hair, ample
   bosom. Thomas shook some of his long hair out of his eyes and gave her
   a nervous smile. The air smelled of brand new carpets. Carmine
   appeared and waved them back to his office.
   "I think your secretary likes me," said Thomas.
   "How's it going, Carmine?" said The Moose.
   "Hey, guys," said Carmine.
   "She's terrific. Invite her to the party!" said Thomas waving his
   "No, can't do that," said Carmine. "Got to keep a low profile. She
   would know too much."
   Carmine used to be a roommate back when they were younger and had
   rented a house off- campus and thought Pink Floyd's _Wish You Were
   Here _combined with bong hits was as good as life got. He was huge and
   resembled a kind of Italian Gerard Depardieu. His nose bordered on
   colossal and his hair was always pushed back from his forehead, only
   to fall back again in long oily strands. He still smoked Dunhills with
   a gold-tipped cigarette holder.
   "Well, well. What you guys been up to?"
   "Not a lot."
   "How's life in Elmer?"
   "How do you think life is in Elmer?" said Thomas.
   They examined Carmine's office, a pleasant room with a window looking
   out onto a woodlot and a hidden creek; a framed print on the cream
   colored walls of some Monet. Carmine's computer sat on his desk and
   computer manuals stood on the shelves. A framed picture of his wife
   Debbie rested next to his keyboard: Debbie staring into the sun and
   wearing an orange bikini.
   "Guess we better get going," said Carmine.
   They crossed the hallways and met the receptionist once more. "Oh,
   wait, I got to give Debbie a call," said Carmine.
   Thomas leaned his elbows on the reception counter. "I work at an
   aquarium," he said to the young woman.
   "It's over in Jersey. Do you like fish?"
   "I guess so."
   "Sure you do. Jesus! Look at you. You're beautiful. Give me a pen."
   Thomas scrawled his phone number and handed it to her. He shoved the
   pen in his pocket. "Just give me a call, really. I'm also very
   interested in chemicals. I minored in psycho- pharmacology, you know."
   Carmine finished his call and joined them outside.
   "What did she say?" Carmine asked.
   "She said she's interested. We're going to do some acid and take in a
   Flyers game. It looks good."
   Thomas was twenty-three; five whole years younger than The Moose,
   though the same age as Carmine. He was fairly tall and chubby, with a
   lot of black hair and an almost Native American looking face which
   made him seem older. He had been a film major in college and had once
   created a fifteen minute black-and-white film about a philosopher who
   loses his umbrella. He moved slowly and lazily and had the habit of
   looking away when speaking to someone.
   Carmine said, “Mind if we stop at my place first and pick up my
   "You got any beers?" The Moose said.
   They were about ten miles north from where Jake Casey used to live.
   His brand new condo was on this road somewhere, Carmine assured them.
   They drove on a winding country road which no longer was a country
   road at all as the surrounding woodlots and orchards had been replaced
   with apartment complexes and condo complexes and strip malls and real
   malls and Blockbuster Video. The traffic moved very slowly.
   At a small turn in the road Carmine pointed out an entrance to a very
   unfinished outline of what would soon be new and expensive condos.
   "This is their place," he cheered. "Pull in all the way down there.
   Marian said to hide the cars."
   Carmine's wife Debbie stood by the entrance of Jake's new property,
   surrounded by a freshly landscaped green lawn with tiny young pines
   planted in discreet patterns. Except for the condo directly opposite,
   the rest of the complex was sorely unfinished and more than a few
   heavy machines stood silent amidst the upturned earth and construction
   materials. "Hey, guys!" Debbie said, as she leaned against the massive
   front door. "How you doing Moose? Hey, Thomas."
   She shook the set of keys in her hands: "I can't get the door open!"
   Carmine set down his guitar case and peered through the windows.
   Marian had left her with a set of keys and a list of instructions.
   They were to bring in the food (a super hoagie the length of a
   javelin), carry in the booze (two cases of Yeungling beer, a twelve-
   pack of nonalcoholic beer, a bottle of Tanguray gin, and two bottles
   of Absolute vodka), hang up the decorations (a coruscated banner with
   birthday greetings in capital letters, three helium-filled balloons),
   and unload the refrigerator of its assorted snacks, hors d'oeuvres,
   and onion dip.
   Carmine attempted opening the door but did not have much luck. While
   the rest of them tried to see if they could sneak in the back
   entrance, Thomas grabbed the set of keys, picked one that seemed would
   work, and placed it in the gold-painted lock. It opened immediately.
   "Hey, guys!" he yelled.
   He opened the door and stood in the polished foyer. "Oh Jesus," he
   said slowly. The two- story condo was brilliant, immaculate,
   tastefully decorated, spotless. It offered a very tall fireplace and a
   grand piano. The ceiling in the living room was also quite grand,
   terribly so, and the architects had proudly placed a giant mirror
   directly above the mantle of the fireplace to really drive the point
   home. "Look at this place!" Debbie said.
   The Moose opened a case of beer, Carmine spread out the sub, Debbie
   poked in the refrigerator, and Thomas hung the banner across the
   bottom of the giant mirror with some scotch tape. They finished the
   preparations in about ten minutes and stood around under the bright
   kitchen light. The Moose was on his second beer and Thomas was
   drinking the Absolute straight from the bottle. Soon the other guests
   Police officer Lawrence R. Malloy entered the party accompanied by his
   wife, whose name no one could remember. The latter was dressed in
   something perhaps homemade, perhaps once seen late on TV back in 1973.
   It was checkered and it was long, it was cotton, maybe, and it
   successfully enveloped her figure like a starched stretched table
   cloth. Her head was awkward and not quite aligned with the rest of her
   body; it looked uncomfortable. One could not really discover any neck.
   Her face held an exceedingly wide smile, and throughout the evening
   the smile never once dared to free itself. It clung to her pale face
   like a barnacle. The former ("Just call me Larry") sported the
   standard issue mustache, as well as a head of hair which perhaps once
   belonged to some helpless animal. His brown polyester pants were held
   up by a lighter brown leather belt, upon which hung a thick key ring.
   Officer Malloy shook The Moose's hand. "Hey, man," The Moose said.
   In an instant Peeve and Ingrid entered, followed shortly by officer
   Paul O'Brian, who came without company and had a head full of curly
   ginger hair, a genuinely shy smile. Peeve surveyed the party with his
   all-weather smirk. His thinning hair seemed to have been recently
   making a run for it, and he no longer bothered trimming his deep black
   beard. Ingrid appeared thinner than usual, her face displaying an
   obvious gauntness around the eyes. She smiled at The Moose and asked
   for a beer.
   "Help yourself," said Carmine as he bit into a mound of hoagie,
   mayonnaise dribbling down his chin.
   Peeve uncovered Jake's new Sony Professional 8 video camera and soon
   felt more comfortable coming up to the guests and zooming in on their
   nostril hairs. Thomas and Debbie decided to take a tour. He followed
   her up the winding stairs, in one hand his vodka bottle, in the other
   a beer which trailed foam behind him.
   "This is nice." Debbie said in an awed whisper.
   The master bedroom was suitably huge and they could not help
   themselves from examining the master bathroom as well. They gazed at
   the sunken tub which could easily accommodate Siamese sumo wrestlers.
   "We better keep a look out," Debbie said, "it's quarter after seven."
   Ingrid joined them and they moved to the next room which Jake used for
   storing his amplifiers and guitars, and offered a better view of the
   street. They leaned against the cold new windows in the dark.
   "What exactly are we looking for?" said Thomas.
   Debbie said, "It's a big black Bronco. Marian just bought it last
   Thomas drained his beer. "There you go," he said, "that's it, isn't
   The three of them peered intensely at the headlights coming up the
   deserted street. Debbie tore from the room, shouting from the landing:
   "They're here! They're here! Turn off the lights! Oh, and Marian said
   we should wait on the steps, okay?"
   The house lights were darkened, the conversations muffled. Thomas
   stood behind Debbie, while Carmine stood behind The Moose. The rest of
   the guests huddled close together. "Sshh!" someone said.
   Peeve aimed the camera and they listened for the door. They heard the
   first footsteps, the sound of keys tossed on the dining room table.
   Jake was saying something about the Bronco. They waited. Suddenly he
   came into view beneath the stairs, his donut belly protruding from his
   unzipped bomber jacket. "SURPRISE!"
   Jake turned to his right with the stealthiness of a puma. His right
   hand had the 9mm semi- automatic Glock pistol out from his waistband
   holster before the greeting had even closed its second syllable.
   It was one of those suspended moments one hears about but rarely
   experiences. The happy message of goodwill crashed against his sleek
   black barrel and actually seemed to hang there, as if the moment were
   not sure which way to go. Though no one on the stairs had time in
   those few seconds to observe it, their faces had undergone exquisite
   changes, instantly turning bewildered- looking, paler, a collective
   life force in distress.
   Jake's mouth hung open, his eyes hollow. Then the awful seconds let go
   their hold and Jake jerked his hand back and the faces regained their
   smiles. Yet, as Jake tried to fit the pistol back into its hidden
   holster, an eerie silence seemed to drown out the giddy laughs and
   nervous conversation. Marian hugged her husband and smiled, her eyes
   almost tearful with strained nerves, and one by one the guests
   descended from the stairs and greeted the birthday boy. The Moose and
   Thomas stared at each other.
   "A burglar doesn't stand a chance in this house, huh?" said Thomas.
   "Not a chance," said The Moose.
   "I saw my life pass before my eyes. Only it seemed shorter, you know.
   I think I left out a lot."
   "Good thing we were in the back," said the Moose.
   "Yes. I don't think the first clip would have got us."
   "Maybe a stray bullet."
   They were the last to greet Jake and Marian. While the Moose shook
   hands with Jake, Thomas hugged Marian, whose voice was gone from some
   sort of laryngitis. her mouth opened, and it seemed as if she formed
   something resembling words, but the sounds were lodged in her throat,
   feeble. "I'm so glad you came," she managed to say.
   "Hey!" Jake said, his eyes still paralyzed.
   "Hey," said Thomas.
   They hugged each other and then Thomas shrugged his shoulders.
   "How you been?" Jake said.
   Thomas looked at his empty beer bottle and nodded his head. "Okay," he
   said. He shuffled away and strode to the refrigerator. "Okay," he said
   to himself.

                             About the Authors
   o Michael S. Adams ( is a funky dude living somewhere
   in the backroads of eastern Florida, where's he's working on a silly
   tan and collecting notes for his book on Oprah's favorite recipies.
   He's available for dramatic reading at parties and Bar Mitzvahs of his
   own, family-oriented poetry.
   o Matt Armstrong ( is a recent graduate of The
   University of Kansas, where he received degrees in English and
   Philosophy. For the past few years, he has dedicated himself to the
   task of feeding himself on an endless diet of rejection slips. This is
   his first published piece.
   o William C. Burns, Jr. ( is an Artist,
   Poet and Engineer (APE). Poetic and illustrative works have appeared
   in _The Morpo Review_, _The New Press_, _Beyond the Moon_ and _Sparks
   On Line_. Having no shame, Bill has held public readings at the local
   Barnes & Noble and Open Book book stores. He is an artist as well.
   Many of his murals and sculptures are on permanent display at various
   colleges as well as numerous, privately held works. He is indigenous
   to the eastern part of the planet and sustains his family teaching
   electrical engineering courses. Other occupations have included
   pumping diesel, mining coal, peddling heavy equipment and fixing
   traffic lights.
   o Leonard S. Edgerly ( has published poetry in _The
   New York Quarterly_, _High Plains Literary Review_, and _The Morpo
   Review_. A member of the Western States Arts Federation Board of
   Trustees and the Wyoming Arts Council, he makes his living as a
   natural gas company executive in Casper, Wyoming.
   o Jim Esch ( is a writing skills specialist at
   Washington University in St. Louis. He is also is a freelance writer.
   Originally from Pennsylvania, he co-edits the literary 'zine,
   _Sparks_, with his wife Stacy.
   o Ray Heinrich ( is an ex-Texas technofreak
   and hippie-socialist wannabe who writes poems for thrills and
   attention. He likes dogs, owns a blue fish, and is a real smart-ass.
   You'll only encourage him if you send him e-mail. He regularly posts
   poems to the newsgroup rec.arts.poems and always puts his initials
   "rh" in the subject line. He also emails one or two poems every Friday
   to a small group of people including his sister. If you would like to
   be in that group, send him e-mail.
   o Chuck Kershenblatt ( is a native of
   south Jersey and spends half of the year working at The Brandywine
   Zoo, studying the Tamarins and Marmosets; the other half of the year
   he collects unemployment and reads Jules Verne. In his spare time he
   collects hairballs and empty beer bottles.
   o John Landry ( is from New Bedford Massachusetts.
   He has lived in San Francisco, Austin, Texas, Louisiana, Washington,
   D.C. and on the islands of Maui and Patmos. He has survived as a
   factory-worker, quahogger, scallop-shucker, library assistant, AIDS
   educator and shelter worker. He's read his work at _City Lights_ (SF)
   and (at the invite of Gwendolyn Brooks) the Library of Congress.
   o Clem Padin ( is currently a senior
   programmer analyst at Dupont Merck Pharmaceutal Company. He's helping
   to implement a LIMS system there. He has too many interests, is
   married and has a 9 year old son.
   o Gail Reichert could not be reached for a biography by press time.
   o Todd R. Robinson is happy to announce his impending nupitals on
   Saturday, June 24th. He currently earns his daily bread at the Mutual
   of Omaha Companies, but hopes to escape to the dubious comfort of
   graduate school in the Fall.
   o Ronald E. Tisdale ( is a software programmer,
   literary enthusiast and Internet junkie who occasionally writes
   poetry. He has been writing and publishing poetry since 1983. He has a
   World Wide Web page at
   o Ben Wiebe ( is 29, a writer, a cynic, a fan of
   art (literary, musical, cinematic, etc.), a member of the Pickle
   Suppositories Movie Club, a Mennonite, a Canadian born in Brazil to
   parents of German descent, a soccer nut, still a student and engaged
   to Rachel Anderson.

                              In Their Own Words
   o _A Box of One's Own_ by Matt Armstrong
          "Most stories arise out of nothing tangible, and this is a
          prime example. I have no first-hand experience of the events of
          which I write, but the characters are so archetypical that they
          are easily recognizable. I was attempting to address the
          absurdity of a prison, that even when you're free of it, your
          thoughts continually revert to your confinement and to those
          you left behind."
   o _The Honeymoon_ by Jim Esch
          "_The Honeymoon_ depicts a classic 'missing the forest for the
          trees' scenario. Relationships commonly harp on details,
          leaving fundamental incompatibilities aside in a repressed
          netherworld. In this case, the religious hangup overshadows the
          husband's species. It seemed like the short-short format was
          the best way to dramatize this point. Beyond that, any
          symbolic/comic significance is probably too predictable to
          mention here."
   o _A Conversation Between A Luminous Being And An Enlightened Soul_ by
          Clem Padin
          "I occasionally have these 'experiences'/awakenings. They
          usually come after spending a concentrated amount of time
          reading/thinking about some philosophical issue. But after a
          few days, the 'mist' re-descends. This latest one (which
          prompted me to write this story) came after listening to Joseph
          Campbell. What hit me this time was that nothing changed, only
          my perception. No one could tell anything was different in me
          and I couldn't communicate what was happening. It was like that
          joke: 'someone broke into my house, moved everything in it,
          then put it all back exactly how it was before'. That's part of
          what I wanted to say. I also wanted to have a little fun with
          some recent scientific ideas (although Cold Fusion is a bit
   o _Corn Lover in Winter_ by William C. Burns, Jr.
          "My grandfather's porch seems to show up in a lot of my poetry.
          It covered three quarters of the house and it was painted
          battleship grey. In my youth, we often ate dinner on the porch
          then watched the day dissolve sitting in lawn chairs and on the
          rails. It was a place of family passions, mint juleps and grand
   o _Mabel_ by William C. Burns, Jr.
          "The last line of the poem kinda says it all, Mabel is the kind
          of woman that holds a family together. Yes she is a real
          person, but Mabel is not her real name."
   o _HAIKU #337_ by William C. Burns, Jr.
          "Spring is the most difficult season. Its like when you stop
          someone from committing suicide and they slap you. Consider the
          terrifying, eerie power of the engine that forces dead matter
          to rise, hold itself erect and dance."
   o _Does He Limp?_ by Leonard S. Edgerly
          "This poem has no right to be good poetry, since it was such
          good therapy, and the two usually do not share the same page. I
          was in an airport kicking myself for a dumb comment I'd made at
          a business meeting when I remembered the exact same feelings
          (and sick stomach) 35 years ago in fourth grade. Writing the
          poem was embarrassing and painful, but it seemed to help. I
          still say dumb things at work, but they don't seem to take such
          a toll any more."
   o _< homesick for the lost continent >_ by Ray Heinrich
          "_< homesick for the lost continent >_ started as a novel which
          became a short story and the basis for a ballad that lost its
          music in a legal action. The small collection of words that
          remained, refused to die, and became the poem published here.
          Though I am constantly accused of making up most of my poems,
          this is not the case. They are discovered in the course of
          everyday life and are exactly what you think they are. Feel
          free to write me at and explain this to
   o _Fine Wind, Clear Morning_, _Boat Returning in a Storm_, and _Baton
          Rouge During the Gulf War_ by John Landry
          "In general, my poems bear witness to the real dizzy world in
          which we try to operate. _Fine Wind..._ happened from 3 points:
          a mtn. trip, looking at Hokusai woodblocks, and the actual
          response to a streetlight in D.C. _Baton Rouge_ was all fact, a
          response to the dangers at hand. The harbor poem, something
          inside everyone who's every lived by the sea and known families
          who live from its resources. Transience is maybe the main
          point; everything changing, impressions remaining. Maybe some
          lessons learned along the way."
   o _Soren at the Sweetwater_ by Todd R. Robinson
          "I'm reluctant to tarnish the enigmatic luster of my poem, but
          suffice it to say that it sprung from a seething cauldron of
          Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Kierkegaard's _Fear and Trembling_, and
          a very limited knowledge of German."
   o _Degrees of Separation_ by Michael S. Adams
          "I like this poem. I've showed it to a few friends (including
          Ms. Susan Mitchell, National Book Award finalist, author of
          _Rapture_ [HarperCollins; 1993]) and they all ask, 'is it
          true?' or 'who was she?' To which I answer, 'that doesn't
          matter.' And this is strange, because I love to talk about
          myself. But back to the poem, there's a lot going on here. In
          the textures, in the layering, in the language, the images.
          There's a very condensed, thematic development happening, as
          suggested by the title. To hear some more of my comments, call
          me. Only two bucks a minute."
   o _I Remember ..._ by Ben Wiebe
          "_I remember..._ was writen during one of those times when I
          feel particularly homesick for Brazil, the place where I was
          born. I was seven when my family emmigrated to Canada, which
          leaves me with scattered pictures of my childhood in Curitiba,
          or the small Mennonite colony where I was born. I have not been
          able to return, even for a brief visit."


                        WHERE TO FIND _THE MORPO REVIEW_

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                         SUBMISSION GUIDELINES FOR TMR

Q: How do I submit my work to The Morpo Review and what are you looking for? 

A: We accept poetry, prose and essays of any type and subject matter.  To 
   get a good feel for what we publish, please read some of our previous 
   issues (see above on how to access back issues). 

   The deadline for submissions is one month prior to the release date of 
   an issue.  We publish bi-monthly on the 15th of the month in January, 
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   If you would like to submit your work, please send it via Internet 
   E-mail to the E-mail address  
   Your submission will be acknowledged and reviewed for inclusion in the 
   next issue.  In addition to simply reviewing pieces for inclusion in 
   the magazine, we attempt to provide feedback for all of the pieces that 
   are submitted.

   Along with your submission, please include a valid electronic mail address
   and telephone number that you can be reached at.  This will provide us with
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   regarding your submission.

   There are no size guidelines on stories or individual poems, but we ask 
   that you limit the number of poems that you submit to five (5) per issue 
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   text.  If you are converting your word processing document to ASCII, 
   please make sure to convert the "smart quotes" (the double quotes that 
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   before converting.   When converted, smart quotes sometimes look like 
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              Our next issue will be available on July 15, 1995.