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 Volume #2                     July 27, 1995                       Issue #4
                       CONTENTS FOR VOLUME 2, ISSUE 4
     Column: Brief Encounter . . . . . . . . . . . Robert A. Fulkerson

     Column: Toward the Philosophic Mind . . . .  Kris Kalil Fulkerson
     Jericho to Jericho  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Amelia F. Franz

     The Projector . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matthew Franz

     At the Party  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Samuel Barasch

     Houses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Tara Calishain

     Early Spring  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Michael Kei Stewart

     The Charred Language  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matthew Franz

     A Review of Dr. Seuss' _Green Eggs and Ham_ . . . . .  Matt Mason

     A Girl and Her Dog  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mark Bothum

     Post-Suicide  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Tara Calishain

     In the Attic  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  William C. Burns, Jr.

     Girl at the Prow of the Ferry . . . . . . . Helen Crombet-Beolens

     Balloon People  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arthur Shotmind

     The Glint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Matthew Franz

     Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Thomas J. Hubschman

     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 4.  _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 _Brief Encounter_ by Robert A. Fulkerson
   I'd like to take a brief moment to discuss eSCENE, the new anthology
   of the Internet's best on-line fiction, and then I'd like to turn the
   reigns over to my wife for her first column in _Morpo_.
   Earlier this year, Jeff Carlson decided that he would put together an
   anthology of the best fiction published online during 1994. He asked
   the staff members at literary magazines from around the globe to
   submit what they believed to be the best fiction that they published
   last year. It was an odd feeling, choosing and submitting works from
   your own magazine for consideration in a "best of" magazine. Now I
   know how all of the authors who submit works to us feel when they
   confirm sending email to
   _The Morpo Review_ had two stories chosen to be include in eSCENE, in
   which only nine stories from three magazines were chosen.
   Congratulations to David Pellerin, who wrote _Why They Run_, and
   Leland Ray, who wrote _Pool Night_, for having their stories selected
   and reprinted in eSCENE. Congratulations and thanks also go to Jeff
   Carlson for a highly successful first year publishing venture. You can
   read eSCENE on the World Wide Web at, and it should be availble in
   ASCII, Postscript and Adobe PDF formats soon.
   o _Toward the Philosophic Mind_ by Kris Kalil Fulkerson
   About two months ago, a doctor called me into a room to tell me my
   grandfather was terminally ill. As I absorbed the fact that Grandpa,
   the man who never got sick, was dying, my perspective on the world
   reversed itself. Things that seemed important became trivial, and what
   was once normal became extraordinary.
   Up until that day, normal for me was having Grandpa in my life, day in
   and day out since he and my grandmother moved in with us when I was
   five years old. It seemed perfectly reasonable to have grown up with
   Grandpa greeting me in the morning with breakfast, sending me off to
   school with a sack lunch, and waiting for me when I came home to take
   me with him to go eat or shop or seek out garage sales. Even when I
   became "too busy" for such excursions in high school and
   college, he was still there as I left for school or work, pressing a
   grilled cheese and ham sandwich in my hand and saying, "Here's a
   little something to eat on the way, honey."
   With the discovery of his illness, I began to realize how profoundly
   my grandfather had influenced my life. Like most of our family,
   Grandpa had a gift for telling stories. In my eyes he was a magician,
   crafting words into marvelous tales, with the images carried on his
   resonant voice being shaped and unfurled by the movement of his hands.
   With Grandpa, the line between fact and fiction was fine one, for
   real-life people and places invaded his tales of make-believe and
   exagerration always seemed to nudge his real-life stories into the
   realm of being "mostly true."
   Grandpa's storytelling was the bread of my upbringing. His episodic
   adventures in which my friends and I were the heroes nourished my
   imagination, while his nostalgic tales of his family and life in
   Detroit provided me with a strong sense of tradition and heritage.
   Through Grandpa's stories, I learned his basic tenets of life: always
   take care of your family, always look for the good in people, and
   always find humor in things. Grandpa articulated these beliefs not
   only in his stories, but also in his actions, which were consistently
   kind and selfless.
   The reality of his death is just beginning to settle in my mind. My
   habits of thought are shifting from, "Oh, I'll have to tell
   Grandpa" to "I wish I could tell Grandpa." Rather than
   expecting to hear his "Hi, honey" as I walk in the door of
   my parents' house, I find myself anticipating Grandma's more practical
   "Hi, Kris." But amidst all of these adjustments, I cannot
   assuage my need for sharing those magical moments of storytelling with
   him. As much as my love of reading enriches my life, there is
   something intoxicating about the bond generated between the teller of
   tales and the listener. While the teller gives the words life, the
   listener gives them meaning.
   Therefore, to both honor my grandfather and to satiate my craving, I
   go each week to the cemetery with flowers and a book. Sitting
   cross-legged next to his grave, I choose a passage or poem from
   whatever it is I have brought with me, and I read aloud. The very act
   of releasing my voice to the open air fills the void that Grandpa's
   death created like nothing else can. And as the breeze rises to meet
   my words, I believe that somehow my grandfather is listening.

 "Jericho to Jericho" by Amelia Fortenberry Franz
   Don Allen Poole is a pure-dee criminal. That was John Cole's first
   mistake, the worst thing he could have picked to say to me today. That
   was enough. But did he stop, does he ever stop after he gets started?
   You don't know him of course but the answer to that is no. Okay. But
   here's what did it, the very last nail in John Cole's casket: Does it
   run in the family?
   I forgot to say Don Allen Poole is my boy cousin. He is being held in
   the state pen at Parchman. I think about it sometimes.
   And of course I tried to explain how it was to them at the office,
   hoping I wouldn't get the electric paddling machine that is kept in
   there, which I'm wondering lately if it's a lie to keep kids like me
   from doing things like busting John Cole every once in a while, going
   upside his head when he needs it. A attitude adjustment, like I heard
   Don Allen say one time. He was talking about a different thing of
   course, but the principle is exactly the same. There are some people
   in this world who just simply do not know when to quit.
   Which makes me tired lately, which wears me out, having to defend him
   from not just people like John Cole anymore who don't count but even
   my own mother who is his aunt and has been knowing him longer than I
   have been alive and so loves him more. At first though, before it got
   to me I wanted to testify it at the trial for him, that he could not
   have done what they said he did which is shoot a man in the stomach
   from Tutwiler so he had to have surgery for it and nearly died. And
   one of the reasons I was going to give them, a plain one they could
   see and understand is I have seen things about Don Allen that none of
   those jury ones have ever seen, like the time a couple years back when
   he hit his own brother Keith Poole for doing nothing but cutting off a
   piece of cheese to put in a mousetrap. Now tell me this, how can a man
   that could not even stand for a mouse to be hurting, which can not
   even talk to you like a man does, shoot a person in the stomach where
   everybody knows is the most painful and takes the longest to heal and
   then drive off to Clarksdale and shoot pool with a black man and a
   Choctaw. He couldn't, that's the answer. Which I could have told them
   if they had listened. I could have changed the whole thing, maybe.
   But they stuck me for the day with Rosemary Spinks and her fat aunt at
   their rickety trailer, playing cutouts and Slapjack and hospital. On
   television they would say a man's life is at stake here, a man's life.
   But forget about trying to explain anything to Rosemary and Hilda
   And that mousetrap is not the only reason about Don Allen. All they
   had to do is talk to him for a while and they would have known. He has
   got a pet bird in there now I hear, that he caught and tamed and is
   keeping and all the rest are wanting from him.
   So that is the way things are with Don Allen Poole, my cousin, and how
   he got in Parchman in the first place. I have been writing letters to
   him since December, saving them up for when I get to go up and visit
   him on a Sunday, which I have been promised for a while. I tell him
   things like this: Hang on Don Allen, People like John Cole don't
   count. This town is full of people who don't know when to quit, who
   would have stood in line waiting and hoping for a chance to put their
   very own nail in Jesus. Is your bird all right, what do you call it?
   Do the fields get longer and flatter and dryer the closer you get to
   Parchman, Is the air there still and heavy and bright when dusk hits
   and you are sure this entire world is ready to fall apart, burn up,
   explode, when you do not know where you stop and the rest of it
   starts. Does the whitest slice of pine ever miss the tree they stole
   it from, If a bomb is dropped on China what happens to the souls of
   them who never knew Jesus, who never had a chance, who never stood in
   line and paid a dollar a hit to pick up a hammer and take a swing. Do
   you get as tired as I do of trying to explain, Do you think much about
   Elizabeth Spears.
   I don't need to ask the answer to the last one, I know he does. And
   some other things I don't need to ask the answers to either, like what
   is it you do from the time you wake up until the trustys call lights
   out at dark, because the real name for Parchman is not Mississippi
   State Penitentiary like they wrote on the sign but Parchman Farm. It
   has made a lot of money for the state of Mississippi from what I
   heard, which I'm thinking lately does not say a whole lot for the
   state of Mississippi. So I know what they have got him doing at
   Parchman, he is chopping cotton like the field hands that you drive by
   and see but never really have looked at, picking and chopping down the
   long rows with the heat dancing silvery and bright in the still air
   where they are chopping and picking. Why don't the warden and the
   trustys worry about letting them out of lock-up? They don't have to
   worry because they have got that one solved. Nobody can get loose
   because they have got tracking dogs watching, that were born and
   raised up for nothing in the earth but sniffing out convicts and
   running them down. They sit up chained all day just hoping and praying
   one of the convicts, and I know which one it is they have been
   watching close lately, will decide he has had as much as he can take
   and will try to make it to the woods and find a shack or a deep ditch
   to hide in, and then the tracking dogs understand finally why they are
   standing there chained, what it is they were born to do. A black
   convict named Bukka White wrote a song about it one time. Which maybe
   is the reason for the dream that has been worrying me that I had.
   I was being driven by a man I could not see through Rome, Mississippi,
   down the blacktop that leads to the gravel road that leads to the
   Holiness Church where I asked him to stop. Where I was standing in the
   doorway but not inside looking at the women in that church and
   wondering who it was they were praying for, who are always fat and
   moley, speaking in tongues and flopping like chickens, popping their
   hairpins out and then falling slain in the spirit like they call it,
   and somebody finally reaching down and covering them up with one of
   the blankets they keep stacked on the front pew for people that are
   slain in the spirit. Standing there seeing how hard they were praying
   and wondering could it do any good and deciding I think that it was
   better than nothing and then back on the blacktop again with the heat
   bouncing up and the rows blurring past, like legs of a giant centipede
   starting to run together. Passing through the gate like we didn't need
   to stop and passing the women's part where the wire is not as high and
   stopping where I knew he was and being inside asking for Bukka White
   who was the only one that could take me to Don Allen and not finding
   Bukka White or Don Allen Poole or anybody else I could see and then in
   the lock-up myself, holding on and biting even the bars that were wide
   like poles, staring down the cells at all the rest of me's, looking at
   us looking back at me, held in Parchman Farm.
   That dream made me wish almost that I was not the cousin of Don Allen
   Poole, that I had never been inside the Rome Holiness Church, that I
   was one of the others even, one of the ones not set apart like me and
   Don Allen and Bukka White who had to leave his wife and baby girls for
   Parchman. Which the only good thing about is you cannot chop cotton on
   a chain, it is not like television where they are keeping the lick
   with one of them singing about silver and gold and laying the track
   and crossties with the rest of them saying ump in time and swinging
   the big hammers high and then bringing them down. That is one thing he
   will never have to do I tell myself but if you have ever chopped
   cotton in the delta you know it is not much better even off the chain.
   And it bothers me too lately that the rest of them, the ones like John
   Cole and the jury ones that voted him in there and the rest of them
   that love to tell me not to think about Don Allen never seem to get
   theirs. They sit in the cool while others are smelling the fertilize
   from the planes always flying over dusting, burning in your nose and
   stinking. They would not lift a hand, would not pick up a finger to
   help him out, to wipe the sweat off his face or hand him a cool drink
   of water. I have heard the Parchman Farm Blues by Bukka White, and he
   had the right idea.
   Which makes me think all over again about the dream, about Don Allen,
   about how when a convict got loose we used to sit and wait after Mama
   and Daddy had left with knives from the kitchen, me always behind the
   couch wondering how hard do you have to stick a man to take him down.
   Is it between the ribs you need to get him, or do you go straight in
   for the stomach. That's how I looked at it. That's how I used to
   think. Which is all right, I don't blame me, how could I know? But if
   a convict was to break out tomorrow I would not be waiting behind the
   couch with a knife. I would do this, hang a red ribbon out the window
   just like a woman named Rahab did that was in the Bible. Jericho was a
   strong city too.
   I hear them calling me to get dressed because today is Sunday and we
   are driving to Parchman which means I can take the letters. Which
   means we drive past the Holiness Church with all the women praying
   hard as they can for somebody that is trying to bust free somewhere.
   Which also means we pass the women's prison and the shiny wire and are
   inside and looking straight at Don Allen, right in his face. But the
   truth is I am not feeling so great. I am not feeling so hot today.
   I'll stay here instead and finish the letter I started to him last
   night because Don Allen understands anyway about things like people
   being sick. I'll tell him this: I could not make it due to sickness.
   Your suffering is not forgot. Rahab was not a good woman but did the
   right thing. Jericho was the strongest city ever built.
 "The Projector" by Matthew Franz 

The blank screen flapped violently
rolling itself up the wall.

The projector had begun to make
that horrible chattering sound.
Frames jumped out of order.
Faces appeared in duplicate.

In the back of the room sat the elderly schoolmarm
patiently waiting for the situation to correct itself.
The pupils became restless -- eyeing their wristwatches
inscribing dead words with their pen-knives.

When the film ended  (the presentation not quite perfect)
they formed shadow-birds on the projector screen
blocking the lint-filled beam with their fingers
flapping like the slashing blades.

And they dug deeper into the wood
carving initials like epitaphs.

 "At the Party" by Samuel Barasch 

the purplered
of the sweaty flashing
and crowds of
pressing too close
beer breath
guitars drums distortion
smokey LSD,

I saw the strap of the black, felt dress slip
her perfect milky back.

 "Houses" by Tara Calishain 

I started by loving the windows, moved to shutters
opened the wide eyebeams of longing and wrote love songs to mortar
palm against brick, hips to wall
translated the message of digested stone through chest and belly
being sweet with the framework, a statue with back to the road --
with no voice to you I called to your house
bribing the gardens and listening endlessly
the weary gossip of the surrounding flowers and
you became the heretic beyond the dark
beyond the shade, beyond intent
another framework I hoped would contain me
wander through opaque fires and go unpunished.
But I am too slim for you to choose
there is not enough to me and I'm sorry
but the green grass over and under testifies, and tastes sweet --
I love you with all my intensity, and your house loves me.

 "Early Spring" by Michael Kei Stewart 

Blue sky's an intrusion
when the cloudy dims
and branches softly wave
their welcome to the rain.

Then the sun's a stranger,
and the yellow light
is hard upon the poor old snow
that waits for water cold
to wash it down the drain.

Rain turns all to smoky day;
the grey clouds close my eyes
and turn me
back in memory
to moors unvisited, and that grey rock
where clutched my hands
green lichen
on the cold, damp rough.

These tired beginnings
are like sleep:
When seasons change
we want just five more minutes to remain
before becoming something new.

 "The Charred Language" by Matthew Franz 

I am provided new hope
by the sharp straight sticks
bark peeling from the trees
unwrapping itself down the trunk
layer by layer
the moments
the residual years
the dead flesh cleansed
by peroxide-foam.

Lower the ear slightly to hear
this silent language bubbling anew.
Waft the mediciny aura
to clogged nostrils.
Probe the dark cavities.
Feel the eyelids
of reconstructed dinosaurs open.
Spray the bones with distilled water.
Splash the tarnishing of time:
foreign bodies bonded
where the flesh used to prickle
where hair stood on end.

 A Review of Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" by Matt Mason 
   _Green Eggs And Ham_ is a book which certainly caught me by surprise.
   I hardly expected a book with a bright orange cover and a goofy feline
   in the upper-right corner saying "I Can Read It All By Myself:
   Beginner Books" to be such a stunningly frank analysis of human sexual
   maturation. But Seuss certainly defies the reader's expectations, and
   he does so wonderfully.
   The book begins with one character rolling across the pages with a
   sign reading "I am Sam" (3) and then "Sam I am" (7). Seuss starts off
   with a blatant Judeo-Christian Yahweh image, recalling God's response
   to Moses on Mt. Sinai when Moses asked who was speaking to him, and
   God replied with a resounding, "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). Here, Seuss gives
   us a softer "I am," cleverly mixing the Christian with the
   pre-Christian in the form of Sam, a character who begins with the
   omnipotent cry of the Biblical God but whose name and playfulness hint
   that he is also to be considered a Pan-like character.
   We then see Sam approach the book's other character, an unnamed
   Everyman whom he offers the green eggs and ham. The eggs are clearly
   symbolic of the female ovum, the ham (the meat) being the male penis,
   and the green coloration is a common symbol of springtime, new life,
   the awakening of sexual urges. So Sam is not simply offering food, Sam
   is questioning our young Everyman about sexual desires.
   At first, Everyman only sees these urges as an unwelcome distraction,
   proclaiming, "...That Sam-I-am!/ I do not like/ that Sam-I-am!" and
   then denouncing the green eggs and ham, striking out at and denying
   the strangeness and discomfort of the biological stirrings working
   within (9).
   And so Sam begins testing Everyman. He begins in a simple yet
   existential way, asking, "Would you like them/ here or there?"
   effectively asking if Everyman would prefer that sex be in a
   conservative, imaginable fashion in the "here" or in the unexpected,
   the different, distant, far-out "there" (14).
   But Everyman refuses to even consider it, turning away from Sam.
   No sooner has Everyman's back turned, though, and Sam appears again
   and demands attention. This time, he asks, "Would you like them/ in a
   house?" (19). Sam attempts to see if Everyman's doubts about sex stem
   from the fear of possibly starting a family and being financially
   unable to care for them; if Everyman was prosperous, owned a house,
   would that soothe Everyman's negativity towards sex?
   Sam also takes this opportunity to ask, "Would you like them/ with a
   mouse?" indicating a timid partner for Everyman (19). Sam wonders if
   the sexual experience scares Everyman, and perhaps a submissive,
   non-threatening partner, symbolized by the mouse, would be what
   Everyman needs to be comfortable with his/her own sexuality.
   But, again, the answer is resoundingly negative, a denouncement of the
   natural gifts represented the by green eggs and ham.
   Our plucky little Pan is far from satisfied, though, and returns in
   Everyman's path, asking, "Would you eat them in a box?" (22). His
   earlier question about the house was, perhaps, not relevant; so Sam
   wonders if Everyman would prefer simple, more hardy circumstances.
   Nothing fancy, nothing expensive, just the spare setting of a box.
   Like before, he joins this with a second question, asking, "Would you
   eat them with a fox", an obvious counter to the timid mouse-partner of
   before (22). Now Sam asks if Everyman would prefer a wilder partner,
   someone beautiful and inventive; the fox representing not only beauty
   in the American fashion, but the wisdom and cunning of older, European
   But Everyman simply repudiates all of Sam's offers:

        Not in a box.
        Not with a fox.
        Not in a house.
        Not with a mouse.
        I would not eat them here or there.
        I would not eat them anywhere.
        I would not eat green eggs and ham.
        I do not like them, Sam-I-am.  (24)

   Everyman claims empirical control over these boiling urges. By
   stating, "I would not eat them anywhere", Everyman steadfastly refuses
   to give in to any aspect of sexual curiosity. Even so, we can see that
   it's unsettling, as the frantic and lengthy reply to Sam shows.
   And then Sam tries a different angle. He wonders if what Everyman
   needs to "turn on" is something technological, modern, perhaps
   electrical or synthetic. He asks the bold question, "Would you? Could
   you/ in a car?" (26). Sam hints in Freudian terms that perhaps sex
   could spur on Everyman's movement of the ego through the
   transportation symbol of the car.
   But, as before, Everyman rejects this.
   So Sam counters with, "You may like them/ in a tree!" (28). If
   technology may seem a bit shaky to Everyman, it seems logical that
   nature, symbolized by the tree, is what it takes to make this Everyman
   recognize and respond to his inner stirrings, inner stirrings which
   can be said to be nothing more than common and natural in all living
   Steadfast and determined, Everyman again rejects Sam's questions, but
   the lengthy answer (again rejecting the box, fox, house, mouse, etc.)
   shows that Sam's (nature's) persistence is unsettling Everyman.
   So Sam immediately hits with, "A train! A train!/ A train! A train!/
   Could you, would you, on a train?" (33). Sam is tempting Everyman by
   exclaiming (four times! just like there are four compass directions,
   four corners of the world, etc.) a symbol of even larger ego movement
   than the car! Here, Seuss uses a strong symbol of fertility; with its
   phallic shape and sexual rhythm, when trains were first introduced to
   less developed nations, sometimes women would gather near the train
   tracks and lift their skirts as the train passed, believing the virile
   train would fertilize them. So here, Sam tests to see if what Everyman
   desires is great power, growth, and fertility.
   Again, Everyman curtly refuses, lamenting, "Not on a train!! Not in a
   tree!/ Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!/ I would not, could not, in a
   box," etc. (34).
   This train section's placement is particularly important. In Sam's
   inquest, I mark nine clear sections (counting the car and tree as one
   section, similar to "box and fox" and "house and mouse" since they are
   clearly paired up as opposites) and this is the fifth, the central
   one. This section clarifies that the issue preventing Everyman from
   giving in to Sam's questioning is deeper than a physical impotence, as
   Everyman is here symbolically offered great virility. It's Seuss' way
   of letting us know that we should be looking deeper when Everyman
   replies "I would not, could not."
   Sam then continues, testing to see if what Everyman wants is mystery,
   perhaps danger, asking, "Would you, could you, in the dark?" (36).
   There's no reason to believe that Sam here refers to a sinful dark, it
   seems more a darkness where inhibitions are lowered, a more soothing
   venue in which Everyman could feel more comfortable and less
   self-conscious about sexual expression. It could also be a dark of
   fear, as Sam must honestly admit that sexual expression has many
   frightening aspects in the forms of diseases, unwanted pregnancies,
   the pain of giving birth, etc.; Sam moves from the easier, fluffier
   approach to a more honest one with this.
   And Everyman gives the constant reply, "I would not, could not..."
   Sam then tries to see if sex for more hedonistic reasons would appeal
   to Everyman. "Would you, could you,/ in the rain?" (38). In almost all
   mythologies, water represents life, as that's what rivers and spring
   rains bring to agricultural societies. So would Everyman have sex if,
   not just being life-creating in the form of offspring, it were a
   life-giving act for Everyman, a refreshment, a germination, a baptism
   into new life, new awareness?
   Again, No.
   Here, then, Sam stops and asks simply, "You do not like/ green eggs
   and ham?" (40) to the expected reply of, "I do not/ like them,/
   Sam-I-am" (41). I find it fascinating that Sam here returns to the
   basic question. This underscores how far Sam has come from that basic
   question and shown many facets to human sexuality.
   And then Sam continues, "Could you, would you,/ with a goat?" a
   surprising and pivotal question at this point (42). At first we wonder
   why Seuss would bring in such a bizarre animal here, but the answer,
   of course, comes from the ancient Greeks. As most competent drama
   students could tell you, the Greeks had a ceremony where they would
   take a goat and ritually place the collective sins and problems of the
   village on the poor beast, then beat it and send it away as a
   purification of the village. Here, Sam tries to show sex as a
   purifying act, asking Everyman to see that sins and hang-ups have no
   place here, they can be exorcised as God is not the prudish God of
   some interpretations but an earthier God who asks us to embrace our
   sexual natures.
   And then, finally, Sam asks, "Would you, could you,/ on a boat" (44).
   Sam indicates a more massive movement of the ego than either the car
   or the train of before. Slower, yes, but larger. Plus the entire
   purpose of the boat is to travel on top of the water, on top of
   life-giving forces vastly larger than the rain Sam brought up earlier.
   Yet Everyman still replies:

        I would not, could not, on a boat.
        I will not, will not, with a goat.
        I will not eat them in the rain.
        I will not eat them on a train.
        Not in the dark! Not in a tree!
        Not in a car! You let me be!
        I do not like them in a box.
        I do not like them with a fox.
        I will not eat them in a house.
        I do not like them with a mouse.
        I do not like them here or there.
        I do not like them ANYWHERE!  (46)

        I do not like
        green eggs
        and ham!  (49)

        I do not like them,
        Sam-I-am.  (50)

   As Everyman says this, notice how it slows down from an orderly list
   of what Everyman does not like to the shifting of the structure into
   smaller, enjambed lines. This change is actually best conveyed by the
   illustration which Seuss uses at this point in the book. His drawing
   shows the boat, which Sam had just brought up, sinking to leave him
   and Everyman immersed in an ocean: no longer floating atop life and
   nature and mystery but actually swimming in it!
   Here, the narrative leaves the theoretical, as Sam no longer asks, he

        You do not like them.
        So you say.
        Try them! Try them!
        And you may.
        Try them and you may, I say.  (53)

   And Everyman finally gives in! Out of sheer exhaustion, he takes a
   bite and is immediately electrified:

        I like green eggs and ham!
        I do! I like them, Sam-I-am!
        And I would eat them in a boat.
        And I would eat them with a goat...  (59)
        And I will eat them in the rain.
        And in the dark. And on a train.
        And in a car. And in a tree.
        They are so good, so good, you see!  (60)
        So I will eat them in a box.
        And I will eat them with a fox.
        And I will eat them in a house.
        And I will eat them with a mouse.
        And I will eat them here and there.
        Say! I will eat them ANYWHERE!  (61)

   It is a long journey, but Seuss shows that the persistence of nature
   (or our God-given biological urges) can eventually wear down anyone.
   As Everyman goes through the full journey of sexual maturation,
   Everyman discovers all the things that sexual expression can be,
   until, in that climactic scene, everything falls into place; Everyman
   is both worn down by Sam's persistence and fully aware of the
   complexity of all the facets to a blooming sexuality, causing Everyman
   to try and then to joyfully embrace the "green eggs and ham."
   Through this simple narrative, Dr. Seuss has created a brilliant
   account of human coming- of-age. It also contains a message that sex
   is not something to feel ashamed of, for did not even the
   Judeo-Christian God ask us to "go forth and multiply" (Genesis 9:7)?
   Seuss shows us that a well-informed, even skeptically approached
   sexuality can be a good thing, as this is no ignorant, uninformed
   desire; Everyman is careful, realizing all that sex can be before
   embracing it!
 "A Girl and Her Dog" by Mark Bothum

  DAY 1
   "That dog of yours is completely useless."
   "He's a dog. What's he supposed to do? "
   "Just look at him. What's he doing now? Is that legal? Wow, he's
   really going at it. Not in Texas. That's gotta be illegal in Texas."
   "How many beers have you had? And I thought he was both of ours. You
   even picked him out. Said he was a li'l cutey. But geez, you're right,
   does he ever get tired of that?"
   "I wouldn't. Hey, you realize he ain't got any thumbs? He'd be a lot
   more useful around here if he had thumbs. Maybe do some chores."
   "You should quit drinking. I'll talk to the vet again tomorrow."
   "You sure talk to the vet a lot, what's the deal?"
   "We've got a lot of pets. Noticed?"
   "Just the smell."
   "Drop it."

  DAY 2
   "The vet says there's a Procedure."
   "What's with the capital 'p'?"
   "You capitalized 'procedure'."
   "Well screw you! You put it in quotes!"
   "I did not! Those aren't quotes! Those are...I forget. "
   "Never mind. The vet says he can help us."
   "Help us what? Are we moving again?"
   "You're drunk. We're getting thumbs for the dog, remember?"
   "Oh. Sure. Thumbs. Have we located a donor?"
   "You need help. AA maybe. No donor, he's got a tail."
   "Why use his? You've got plenty to spare."

  DAY 7
   "Jesus, he's got thumbs, and fingers. Kinda furry though."
   "I talked to the vet. We decided that just a thumb would be
   "You decided? No wonder it took the whole tail. What did this cost
   "Seventeen thousand dollars. And change."
   "Seventeen thousand dollars? We had seventeen thousand dollars?"
   "Well, no. I sold the boat."
   "We had a boat?"
   "Well kind of. It was your mother's boat. She died last week."
   "My mother died? That's...and nobody told me?"
   "Your sister called. You were drunk. I said you were at work."
   "Thanks. I think. Why didn't you tell me?"
   "About your mother?"
   "No! Dammit, I loved that boat."
   "Would you have sold it?"

  DAY 27
   "I taught him to pay the bills."
   "Get outta here."
   "Really! There's this extra cool Windows program.
   "I'm sure. Bill Gates can't run Windows well, but our dog can?"
   "It's really neat. Little icons flash when the bills are due."
   "And the dog knows this?"
   "Yes! See? The electric bill's due, and the little lightbulb comes
   "Yeah. And the grocery store flashes this little doggy bone icon."
   "This is getting really weird."
   "It gets worse."
   "Should I care about any of this?"
   "Probably not."

  DAY 41
   "Hey! What's the deal? I just got home!"
   "Oh. Uh, he drank all your beer."
   "Pardon me?"
   "The dog got into the fridge and drank all your beer, okay? I'm
   "Where's he at now?"
   "Sleeping it off on the bed. On my side."
   "Why your side?"
   "Because my side doesn't have vomit on it."
   "My side of the bed has vomit on it?"
   "Is that why I've been sleeping on the couch?"

  DAY 55
   "So how was your day?"
   "It was great. They canceled my project. Yours?"
   "The dog's been depressed lately, so I got him a pet."
   "Our dog has a pet?
   "Why not? I got him a cockatoo."
   "What the hell's that? Is that legal, in Texas?"
   "We're not in Texas, you idiot. But yes, it's legal."
   "There's a little black dog in our backyard. I can see it from here."
   "That's ours, did you happen to stop at the bar?"
   "Maybe. He's digging up the flower bed, should I shoot him?"
   "You really are an idiot. He's planting tomatoes."
   "Dogs don't plant tomatoes, they piss on them. I was gonna do that."
   "You were going to do what? Plant them or piss on them? And just
   "Oh. Nice. You know I'm overloaded. Gimme a break."
   "Right. You've got 'action items' and 'tequila' on your daily
   "That's a fairly negative attitude. You may need counseling."
   "Ninety five dollars an hour."
   "Then again, you're probably fine."

  DAY 72
   "What's he doing on my computer?"
   "Surfing the Net."
   "Surfing the Net?"
   "Surfing the Net."
   "Surfing the Net?"
   "Surfing the Net. You're almost making sense. Bar burn down?"
   "What do you know about that?"
   "Nothing. Directly."
   "What about him?"
   "Him? He's a dog. What could he know?"
   "I think he stole my credit card."
   "No, that was me. You weren't using it anyway."
   "It was maxed!"
   "The dog and I fixed that."
   "Fixed? You can't do that. Wait. Did I save any money?"
   "No. But between the two of us we got your limit increased."
   "What about the interest rate?"
   "What about it?"

  DAY 98
   "He screwed up some of my directories. What the hell is he doing?"
   "You're the one said they went graphical 'so women could use it too'."
   "I didn't get slapped for that one?"
   "Check your right temple."
   "Christ, that feels like a burn."
   "Fireplace poker."
   "You smacked me with a hot poker?"
   "No, the dog did. He's getting a stronger grip."
   "Why did he do that?"
   "You're the one that had him neutered. He's very Equal Rights."
   "He has political opinions?"
   "No, not really. He just doesn't like you very much."
   "But, I buy his food! I support his ass!"
   "Well, not anymore. He has a separate account."
   "Where did he get any money?"
   "From me."
   "Where did you get any money?"
   "From you."
   "Oh. Then I guess it's okay. Wait. Where did I get any money?"
   "From your mother."
   "I think I need a drink."

  DAY 100
   "Ms. Brown? Hello? Pick up if you're there...okay, well this message
   is just to tell you that we intend to continue the search for at least
   another week. If your husband's out there, we'll find him. We've got
   some of the best dogs on the West Coast involved. Although I must say,
   that dog you volunteered seems to be leading the pack around by it's
   nose. It's uncanny..."

 "Post-Suicide" by Tara Calishain 

Fingers spread, gripping the cold
hips heavy on the plaster, head down
eyes clenched like fists, teeth showing
in a threat-grin, smiling at the floor.

   The phone's ringing. Who is it?

They'll find me in a fetal rictus
being born and protesting all along
a hydrogen bond is my only lover
to keep me flesh, agony, hips to floor.

    The phone's ringing. Who is it?

Now if it was a noise or something, a gun or howl
something they could examine
something they could pronounce incorrect
instead of this mosaic insanity

     The phone's ringing.
     Never mind

instead of this mosaic insanity
they could fix me but I hear
there's no cure for this.
I hear it makes your spine shrivel
I hear it makes your eyes turn colors
I hear it sets you in cancer for life.
Maybe if I freeze carefully
maybe if I make it a magic ceremony
maybe if I break without bothering anybody
No time like the present, no shrine like a carpet
Fingers digging through the weave
Eyes sealed and streaming
Face burrowed in the maelstrom
smiling at the floor.

 "In the Attic" by William C. Burns, Jr. 

         I remember you
         The smell of you on the sheets
         The feel of you
              slick with sweat
         A parade swelling
              in the summer heat
         Pounding with noise

         I whisper your name
              in the dusty attic

         Nothing moves

 "Girl at the Prow of the Ferry" by Helen Crombet-Beolens 

          Holding your baby-doll
          dress so as not
          to expose
          your skin,
          you stand at the prow
          of the ferry,
          knowing you are observed.
          There is about you
          a self-conscious posing
          as you stand and stare
          at the scene before you--
          balancing the beauty
          against discomfort.
          I would not choose
          to stand so long,
          though I understand
          why you do.
          The scene almost demands
          this sacrifice of privacy
          as a declaration
          of fidelity.
          The winds whip around
          and across you, teasing
          your dress as your hand
          uncomfortably holds
          the skirt in place--
          all the while
          trying desperately
          to appear casual
          as you do it.
          What right have we,
          the observers of observers,
          to allow such painful
          consciousness to mar the view?

 "Balloon People" by Arthur Shotmind 

Their heads are filled with helium.
That's why they float
Above the rest of us
With their feet dangling.

They are the balloon people.
Hummingbirds are their enemies.
They call their fathers Dad,
Never Pop.

They fight a lot,
But, unless they're cornered,
They never fight dirty
Or blow things
Out of proportion.

Sometimes, though,
They seem to enjoy
Making derogatory remarks
About solid-headed folk.

They are not good dancers,
But their songs are among
The merriest on earth.
They giggle and blush
If you talk to them
About freedom.

Last week one of them
Forgot to stay outdoors.
Now he's stuck at the top
Of my cathedral ceiling.

You can't simply climb a step ladder
And pull the guy down.
He'll just bite and kick and scratch
And mutter nasty things about your sister.
But eventually he'll just shrivel up
And fall to the floor.

That happened once before
And I came home one afternoon
And found the dog
Playing with the poor devil's
Little paisley bow tie.

I yelled at the dog
And accused him of killing
The little balloon man.
The dog just stared at me and growled
In a silly, high-pitched voice.

 "The Glint" by Matthew Franz 

It has been alluded to
in past conversations
discussed in darkness

the vision forming
while you circled the body
(your compass needle spinning)

Inklings, agitation --
the voice behind your ears

The aftertaste on your tongue
the echo of dead words
lost in the vacuum

Slowly (but not as unexpectedly as you might think)
the idea surfaced, emerged
like the naming of an era
Inevitable, predestined, perhaps even deliberate
but logic, religion, the sciences of delusion
provide no answers

Because you wished for it
wept and fasted, wept and prayed
nearly tearing your hair from its roots
Studying the prophecy
ignorant of the consequences

You failed to see how the audience was growing restless
how the language had become a mere catalog of verbiage

They spoke to hear the sound of their voices
They listened with forced smiles
and subversive laughter
impatiently looking at their wristwatches
wishing it would soon end
hoping for a distraction

But now it seems so timeless
as if it were ever different
The past erases itself
unless assigned a purpose

What is left in the world of the quotation mark?
the annotated source, the etcetera?
where  the unique
is but a black form, a shadow-puppet
tangling its strings in the wind

What has become of the comma, the period
the exclamation mark?
the unmailed letters?
the telephones left ringing?

There is nothing
but the sound  of muffled breathing on the line

The void
has been extended
indefinitely, perhaps infinitely

These glass walls thick and clinky
(like an antique Coke bottle)
The sucking  of air
slowly pumped from the bell jar

You cloud the glass with your breath
(though breathing has become more difficult)
wipe away the fog with your squeegee-hand
Curse your reflection in the mirror

The greenhouse-sun soaks through
warming the air
though eventually
it will become cold & quite comfortable

You notice the eyes that glisten, pierce
how they sparkle on the lens, penetrating
They melt, burst, run down the face
in the shuddering glare
like the beetles you cooked as a child
holding the magnifying glass to the sun
to focus the beam

 "Company" by Thomas J. Hubschman 
   Some people are hopeless. Jack and I have known each other since we
   roomed together in college. I've been wining and dining him and his
   various wives for the better part of two decades. Never once did I
   suggest he was an irresponsible child, a big baby who bolted from
   every serious relationship he's ever been in. I even let him sleep on
   my sofa after each of his marital fallings-out. I loaned him money
   (some of which he actually paid back). I let him borrow my cars, which
   he ran into the ground as if they were his own -- correction: as if
   they were _not_ his own. I put up with his tirades against capitalism,
   organized religion, and anything else which he imagined I held dear. I
   never forgot his kid's birthday or failed to buy his current wife a
   Christmas present.
   But no more.
   We have him over two or three times a year. He lives in Park Slope
   now. Jennie and I are still in the same brownstone we bought in Cobble
   Hill when Jack lived over this way with his first wife. Carol was a
   sweetheart, pure Marymount but without the Mounty's sharp tongue or
   prissy manners. She doted on Jack, actually supported him so he could
   paint his watercolors. He's a good artist, though not as good as he
   likes to think. Until last Saturday we hadn't seen him since the
   summer. We spent most of August in New Hampshire at an old farm my
   partner owns. I offered our brownstone for that time to Jack and his
   present mate, but he declined -- said the "vibes" were wrong.
   He always brings a bottle of wine to these get-togethers, the same
   generic Bordeaux Rouge. I think he's trying to make a statement: "I'm
   just an ordinary bloke, a man of the people." I don't mind that he
   doesn't bring anything better than vin ordinaire. I couldn't care less
   if he brought nothing at all. In fact, I'd prefer it that way. It's
   not _my_ fault nobody buys his paintings.
   I was standing at one of the big windows on the parlor floor when I
   spotted him and Mona coming down the block, Jack in his
   twenty-year-old raincoat, Mona in something off the rack from the
   Salvation Army. The wine was tucked under his arm. They were neither
   of them talking, and Jack looked especially glum. I remember thinking,
   'Uh, oh,' because since the baby arrived last January, we don't have a
   room to spare. 'It's the YMCA for you this time, my friend,' I said,
   turning my attention to the Coopers' West Indian cleaning woman who
   was shooing a scrawny stray from the garbage cans in the areaway.
   Which reminded me of something that happened the week before. But I'll
   come to that later.
   "Something for the spirit," Jack said, handing me the wine. I mouthed
   some words of gratitude, noting the $2.99 price tag. But subtlety is
   lost on that man. He beamed as if he had just presented me with a '67
   Chateauneuf du Pape. Then Mona offered her cheek and I suggested that
   we have an aperitif in the parlor.
   We redecorated last spring. Rewired the entire house, had plumbers and
   plasterers in, and finally restored the oak parquet which was laid on
   original cherry planks at the turn of the century. With the paint job,
   the work damn near cost a second mortgage, but the house's value
   increased fifty percent. Not that we're thinking of selling. Tanya's
   only in kindergarten, and Bobby starts Trinity High School in the
   fall. We also bought a new sofa and armchairs -- ordered the patterns
   directly from Braunschweig. To fill up some of the white space on our
   new walls we bought a couple oil paintings from a local artist I'd had
   my eye on. One is a huge floral arrangement, slightly out of focus,
   the other a beach scene. They each measure four foot square, but you'd
   have to see our parlor walls to appreciate how well they look.
   I made the mistake of hoping Jack would approve. I should have known
   better. It's not as if I don't have plenty of his own pictures hanging
   about, although not in the parlor where they would be lost in the
   sheer expanse of that mammoth plastering job. He'd already seen the
   oils last summer when we had him and Mona over for pesto and steaks in
   the yard. He wrinkled up his nose at the still life before turning his
   attention to the beach scene. For a moment I thought he actually might
   say something positive. But he just grinned maliciously. "You can
   almost feel the sand between your toes," he said, and asked if I had
   any beer in the house.
   He never even glanced at the pictures this time. He just plopped down
   on the sofa and crossed the legs of the old polyester slacks he wears
   for these occasions. He had on a pale blue cashmere pullover -- Mona's
   Christmas present. He needed a haircut but knows he's still
   good-looking enough that it doesn't matter. Mona herself had on a dark
   sweater- and-skirt combination. She's a few years older than Jack, but
   still quite attractive -- lucky for her. I didn't like her at first,
   but she's grown on me. I've even come to feel sorry for her. Jack was
   a bit of a pill to live with twenty years ago. I don't imagine he's
   gotten any better.
   "Cinzano and soda?" I asked, feeling more than a merely social need
   for a drink myself. Mona agreed, but Jack gave me the amused look he
   puts on to make me feel as if I've just made a fool of myself.
   "Budweiser for the gentleman?"
   I went back downstairs for the drinks, leaving poor Jennie to hold the
   fort. When I returned Jack was holding forth about co-oping in the
   Slope -- greedy landlords and Yuppies who will pay any rent and drive
   honest citizens like himself out of the neighborhood. He hasn't forgot
   that I was a landlord myself until my salary was such that I could
   make the mortgage payments without renting out the top two floors.
   "Why don't you try another part of the city?" I suggested. "It's still
   possible to find a reasonable rent in Greenpoint or . . . Long Island
   He eyed me icily. He always brings out the tease in me. It was Mona
   who broke the silence.
   "No way," she said, most of her Cinzano gone. "This is as far from
   Manhattan as I go."
   "Greenpoint is actually closer to Wall Street than where we live now,"
   Jack told her.
   "Makes no difference. I'm not moving anyplace other than Manhattan.
   You can _have_ the boroughs." Jack gave her an even chillier version
   of the cold glare he had just shown me. It's hard to gauge the state
   of a relationship from just a few minutes conversation, but on the
   basis of what I'd seen of Jack's previous matings, I gave this one
   another six-months-to-a-year.
   We headed back downstairs for dinner. Jennie had prepared prawn
   cocktails, followed by filets minions bordelaises. I put together the
   salad myself. We don't eat like that every night, and I said so. But
   Jack's comment that this was the first decent meal he'd had in weeks
   did nothing to improve the climate between him and Mona.
   "I made you lasagna just last week."
   "So you did."
   I offered them Italian bread that's still baked fresh every hour at a
   shop on Henry Street. Mona glared angrily into her dish of prawns, but
   now that he had successfully insulted her, Jack's own temper was much
   "Did you tell Jack and Mona about the visitor we had this week?"
   Jennie asked. She had been bouncing up and down to see about the
   filets. I was grateful for the change of subject, but I would not have
   raised this particular one on my own.
   "It was the oddest thing."
   I went on to relate how I had heard the doorbell ring when I was doing
   some touch-up work in the kids' bathroom on the third floor. A moment
   later Tanya came bounding up the stairs and said there was a "dark
   man" at the door. I thought immediately of the plasterer who still had
   work to finish on the basement level, and cursed under my breath
   because we were expecting company that evening.
   But it wasn't the plasterer. It wasn't anyone I had ever seen before.
   "Yes?" I said through the glass door. The young man -- he looked to be
   in his middle twenties, "dark" all right, but not negroid -- was
   smiling broadly. He was dressed in jeans and a flak jacket. It was a
   damp, chilly day, but he didn't look especially cold. "Yes?" I said
   again, having no intention at that point of opening the door; there
   had been a number of break-ins in the neighborhood recently. But he
   kept on smiling and pointed a long brown finger at his chest, then at
   me, as if there were no chance of his being heard through the glass.
   By this time I had him figured for a salesman or, worse, Jehovah's
   Witness. We could have gone on with our charade indefinitely, so I
   decided to open the door. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I
   figured I outweighed him by twenty pounds.
   "I would _never_ open my door to a stranger," Mona put in. "I don't
   even open it for Jack unless I can see him plainly through the
   "Which you rarely can."
   "I'm nearsighted," she replied. "If _you_ were nearsighted you'd
   I fumbled with the key -- we rarely receive visitors on the parlor
   level -- until I finally succeeded in worrying it through the ancient
   lock. The man never hesitated. He was into the vestibule even before
   the door was fully open. I positioned myself between him and the
   inside entrance. "Yes?" I said again, this time with authority.
   "Hi," he replied, offering his hand and an even brighter version of
   his big smile. His teeth were whiter than Tanya's piano keys. His eyes
   were black. "My name's Alonzo. I'm homeless. I've been asking folks in
   the neighborhood if they can help me out with some canned goods or
   leftovers they might have in their fridge. I used to have an apartment
   on Court Street, but the landlord evicted everyone so he could
   renovate for condos. I've been out of work for more than a year since
   I injured my back. I'd appreciate any help you can give."
   I like to think I'm no fool when it comes to spotting a con man. But
   it was only afterward that I realized I should have asked what he
   would do with canned goods if he was homeless, not to mention how he
   was surviving with just that cotton jacket to keep him warm. I guess I
   was hypnotized by his big grin. Even so, my mind was working overtime
   calculating how far I was from the nearest weapon (the poker in the
   parlor fireplace would do), whether it was likely he had a knife or
   gun concealed under his jacket, and if Tanya was still up on the third
   floor or, more likely, was hovering just behind me, her thumb in her
   Of course, I left out these deliberations in the story I told Jack and
   Mona. As I said before, if Jennie hadn't raised the subject I would
   not have brought it up on my own. I knew Jack would try to turn the
   incident into some kind of joke at my expense.
   I told Tanya to run downstairs and tell her mother we had company.
   Half a minute later Jennie appeared, in her usual dither, but hardly
   expecting to find this dark stranger in her parlor.
   "This is Alonzo," I said. Even before I could finish the introduction,
   he was pumping my wife's hand and treating her to his hundred-watt
   smile. "He's a homeless person," I added, and sure enough, Jennie
   looked as if I had said he was an Egyptian mummy. But Alonzo's grin
   never flagged. "He stopped by to ask if we had any extra food we could
   Comprehension finally registered on Jennie's pale brow. "You're
   collecting for the homeless? Why, that's wonderful."
   "No, ma'am," he corrected, "I _am_ homeless. I'm collecting for
   myself." And then he gave her the same smooth rap he had laid on me
   when I first opened the door.
   I figured this game had gone on long enough, so I told my wife to see
   if we couldn't spare something from the pantry. "Aren't there also
   cold cuts in the fridge?" I called after her as she was hastening back
   to the stairwell. She hesitated, showing a look that made me want to
   burst out laughing despite my own apprehensions -- I still didn't know
   what Alonzo's real game was, and by this time he was ensconced in my
   parlor, having a look at the beach scene.
   "Would you like to . . . sit down?" I asked, indicating a wooden
   rocker that wouldn't be offended by his weathered denim. But he
   favored our new Braunschweig sofa. He fingered the lush pattern
   "Very nice."
   "How long have you lived in the area?" I asked. "I mean, before you
   were evicted."
   He spotted the still life and got up to have a closer look. When he
   replied, it was in the manner of someone who had more important things
   on his mind. "Two, three years."
   "You're not sure?"
   He completed his appraisal of the still-life. "What difference does it
   make?" he said, his grin gone stale around the edges. Then, perhaps
   realizing how I, his benefactor, might take his offhanded tone, he
   added, "I mean, what does _time_ matter? It's all karma anyway." He
   sat down again, this time in the rocker, and looked as if he had no
   intention of going anywhere else for the rest of the day. "You like it
   I replied that we liked it well enough, but I was wondering what was
   taking Jennie so long to throw a few cans into a paper bag.
   "I don't come from these parts originally," he said. "You can probably
   tell by my accent."
   Actually, I hadn't noticed he had any accent at all -- a sure sign, I
   then realized, that he was not a native New Yorker. "Where _do_ you
   hail from?" I asked.
   His dark eyes -- they had become oddly bright -- fixed on me as if for
   the first time. "I already told you," he said, "I'm _homeless_."
   Just then Jennie appeared, staggering under the weight of two full
   shopping bags. I never asked our visitor to clarify his response, and
   he didn't seem inclined to pursue the subject. I gave him something
   short of the bum's rush to the door, but he made a point of putting
   down his shopping bags on the top of the stoop and shaking hands in
   full view of the neighbors.
   "My _God_!" Mona said when I finished the story. "He could have been
   an ax-murderer!"
   "I doubt that," I replied, sipping some pinot noir. The steaks had
   been first-class. "He was too skinny to have something as bulky as an
   ax concealed on his person."
   "Even so . . ."
   "More likely he was putting you on," Jack said, helping himself to the
   scalloped potatoes.
   "Putting me on how?"
   "Goofing on you, man. Conning you."
   "Oh, I don't think he was," Jennie said, shocked as always at any
   suggestion of mendacity. "Do _you_, honey?"
   I made a reach for the creamed cauliflower and shrugged. "The thought
   crossed my mind. But what difference does it make? If he actually
   needed food, then we did a good deed. If he didn't, what did we lose
   -- a few cans of tuna?"
   I spoke offhandedly but was expressing a conclusion that had taken me
   the better part of a week to come to. I had felt very foolish indeed
   when I still thought the entire episode might have been an elaborate
   "Of course, he may also have been casing the place," Jack said.
   But I was tired of the subject. I turned toward my wife, who had
   become very quiet, and suggested that we have coffee up in the parlor.
   After we were settled again on the sofas, Tanya came down for her
   goodnight kiss. Mona immediately lost her preoccupied look and opened
   her arms wide to the child. Jack watched with ill-concealed disdain.
   Mona had no children of her own, although her first marriage had
   lasted fifteen years. Jack had a son living in Connecticut, a nice boy
   a couple years older than my Robert. As I watched Mona fuss over Tanya
   I realized that she probably wanted nothing more from life than a
   child of her own. _Fat chance_, I thought, keeping one eye on Jack,
   who preferred even the beach scene to that of his woman showing
   affection to another human being.
   After Tanya had headed upstairs for the night, Jack asked, "How much
   did you pay for them?" nodding toward the still-life.
   "Actually, we got a good deal. The artist was relocating and wanted to
   travel as light as possible. We probably paid less than half what
   they're actually worth." I had no intention of giving him a dollar
   amount. No price would have seemed right to someone who hadn't sold
   any of his own work since last year's Promenade exhibit. Besides, I
   _liked_ the paintings.
   I brought out a bottle of kirsch to wash down the coffee, put some
   evensong on the stereo, and as we all sat sipping, a rosy glow seemed
   to permeate the room, a sense of good fellowship, however slightly out
   of focus, like my still- life. I reached for Jennie's hand, thinking
   how lucky I was to have a loving wife and family, good health, and,
   yes, an old friend like Jack, however trying he could be.
   Then through a haze of ecclesiastical reverberation I heard, "Of
   course, the same fate could happen to any one of us here. The way
   things are going, we could find our asses out on the street just like
   "What are you talking about?"
   "You don't believe there's a 'safety net' that catches us if a real
   calamity strikes? Suppose you fell ill or lost your job because of --
   I don't know," he gestured with our Swedish crystal "-- professional
   misconduct. It isn't only doctors who get sued for malpractice, you
   know. Or, take my own case. Where would I be if Mona lost her job and
   couldn't find another?"
   My mood was ruined. I suspected that whatever ideas I had been putting
   into Jennie's mind for later were also in jeopardy.
   "What are you talking about? Even if we did lose my income
   temporarily, Jennie could take up the slack. Just as _you_ could," I
   added, no longer concerned about stepping on his delicate ego.
   "Suppose you both got ill at the same time? Suppose one, or even both
   of you, were in a serious accident? It happens, you know."
   "Yes, of course it happens. And when it does people fall back on their
   savings, or their insurance, or in the last resort on their families."
   "Your brother lives in New Mexico. Would you be willing to relocate to
   New Mexico?"
   "If I had to, certainly," I said, feeling my wife's fingers tightening
   on my own. "My God, Jack, you have this maudlin imagination that
   always thinks the worst. I mean the preposterous!"
   "It's not so preposterous. There are thousands of people on the
   streets of this city who would have also thought the idea
   'preposterous' if you told them a couple years ago they would be
   sleeping on subway gratings. What about your Alonzo? Didn't you say he
   had a good job before he lost his apartment?"
   "He was obviously lying. You said yourself he was a con man."
   "Then, why did you give him food?"
   Mona let out a big sigh and looked at her watch. When she did, the
   animosity I had been feeling toward her mate suddenly included her as
   "To get rid of him," I said.
   My wife turned toward me with saucer eyes. "Really? You didn't believe
   "Well, I did and I didn't. Giving him what he asked for just seemed
   the easiest way to get him out of our hair. Look," I said to Jack,
   "what are we arguing about anyway?"
   "Who's arguing? You just got taken, man, pure and simple. You feel
   foolish, but you don't want to admit it. It's a human reaction."
   "Thank you very much, but I don't think I need you to tell me what's
   Jennie pinched my arm as if I were a sleepwalker heading toward an
   open window.
   "Actually," Jack went on, "you're right. People like you _don't_ have
   anything to worry about. It's only poor bastards like Alonzo who end
   up on the street. _You'll_ weather any kind of calamity, and your kids
   will go to Ivy League colleges. That's what the American Dream is all
   about. Your own father was a laborer who broke his ass so you could
   become a professional. You send your kids to private schools instead
   of those retarded parochial schools we had to go to. Your kids meet
   the right people and become high-powered business types. You don't
   imagine they'll settle for being lawyers or doctors, do you? Hell, the
   professions are for the children of Jews and immigrants."
   Never mind that he had already done a 180-degree turn about Alonzo.
   Never mind that we were both drunk enough to be able to claim
   afterward that anything we said should not be held against us. _In
   vino veritas_, I say. The next thing I knew I was on my feet, heading
   for the same parlor entrance which hadn't been opened since I let
   Alonzo in.
   "Here's your coats."
   "Gerald!" Jennie cried in protest.
   Jack accepted his ragged raincoat with a sour grin. We were both
   swaying from the kirsch, but I had already decided that if he tried to
   throw a punch I would hit him right back.
   He did nothing of the kind. He put on his coat, then helped Mona into
   hers with more solicitude than he had shown her all evening. She
   looked too terrified to speak, but just as I was about see them out
   the door she turned toward me, looking as if I might hit _her_, and
   asked if she could please use the bathroom.
   Suddenly I felt like an ogre.
   "Of course," I replied. "And I'll call you a cab."
   "No need," Jack said. "We'll take the bus."
   There was an uncomfortable minute while we waited for Mona. Jennie
   asked nervously about Jack's son and the boy's mother. Jennie and she
   had been rather close for a while, but after Carol and Jack separated
   she avoided us for some reason. I still felt bad about how I had just
   acted, but there was not the slightest trace of anger on Jack's
   handsome face.
   Mona joined us again, wearing a fresh application of lipstick. I was
   sorry for the scare I had given her. "Come see us again soon," I said,
   leaning toward her freshly powdered cheek. But she averted her face,
   leaving my kiss hanging in midair. Neither of them said good night --
   not even to Jennie, who was close to tears.
   "Goodbye and good riddance," I said as I watched them walk down the
   block, Jack's arm through Mona's to keep her from tripping on the
   I haven't heard from Jack since and I have no intention of calling.
   Jennie's asked if she should go ahead with the plans we had for a
   surprise party to celebrate his fortieth birthday.
   I told her to put it on hold.

                              About the Authors
   o Samuel Barasch ( is currently fininshing his
   last year at Beloit College where he is a computer science major. He
   has started Beloit's own internet literary journal, _Highbeams_. It
   can be found at He is planning to have
   this piece printed in a magazine called _Poettechnitians_.
   o Mark Bothum ( is originally from Klamath Falls,
   Oregon. Mark dropped out of school in his junior year to pursue a
   career 'shooting pool and driving around in old trucks.' He is now
   somewhat surprised to find himself employed by a Fortune 500
   mega-company near Seattle, Washington.
   o William C. Burns, Jr. ( is an Artist,
   Poet and Engineer (APE). Poetic and illustrative works have appeared
   on the cover of _Ebbing Tide_, _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 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 Tara Calishain ( fixes computers and
   does marketing consultant work for a living. When she's not doing
   that, she writes, composes music, and plays _Colonization_.
   o Helen Crombet-Beolens ( is a 25 year old PhD
   student and tutor in the English department of the University of
   Auckland. She has been writing poetry on and off for many years, but
   she has never had any of her work published before.
   o Amelia Fortenberry Franz ( teaches English and history
   in the San Antonio area. Her writing has appeared in _The Texas
   Review_ and _English in Texas_, and she edits (along with husband
   Matthew) _Gruene Street: An Internet Journal of Prose and Poetry_.
   o Matthew Franz ( is a graduate of Texas A&M
   University and currently teaches middle school history in San Antonio,
   TX. His poetry & fiction have appeared in _The Inkshed Press_ and
   _Portland Review_. He co-edits the e-journal _Gruene Street_ with his
   wife, Amelia.
   o Thomas J. Hubschman ( was born in Teaneck, NJ and
   educated at Fordham Prep and Fordham College in Bronx, NY. He's lived
   in Brooklyn for twenty years. He's married and is a free-lance editor
   and consultant to Black Excel, a scholarship service for minorities.
   He has had two science fiction novels and short mainstream fiction
   published in _New York Press_, _The Free Press_ and _Voices of
   Brooklyn_ (ed. Sol Yurick). He's currently marketing _Billy Boy_, a
   contemporary novel about a rudderless young man who becomes involved
   in a murder; and _Park Slope Stories_, a collection of short fiction.
   He can be found on the World Wide Web at
   o Michael Kei Stewart ( is a documentation manager
   in Massachusetts whose desk faces a window. He often looks out that
   window. He graduated from college with a degree in painting, and
   sometimes still thinks about that. With his wife, he visits Disney
   World and tries to write stories for children. They have two cats.
   Life is odd.
   o Arthur Shotmind ( has had other poems published in
   _The Morpo Review_.

                           In Their Own Words

   o _Jericho to Jericho_ by Amelia Fortenberry Franz
          "The central idea of _Jericho to Jericho_ sprang, strangely
          enough, from my own experience as a young girl growing up a
          short distance from the Mississippi State Penitentiary at
          Parchman. I wanted to capture the thrill of a manhunt and the
          emotional effect that might have on a precocious young girl. I
          actually remember plotting strategy with my brother and sister,
          for how we would disarm and immobilize 'the convict' if/when he
          came around looking for trouble."
   o _At the Party_ by Samuel Barasch
          "In this piece, I have tried to simulate the chaos of a really
          wild party. The narrator escapes the chaos, however, when he
          perceives the target of his desires."
   o _Houses_ by Tara Calishain
          "_Houses_ was written after I stayed up all night with _The
          Fountainhead_ and _The March of Folly_. Somehow they got mixed
          up in my mind and spat as a poem."
   o _Early Spring_ by Michael Kei Stewart
          "_Early Spring_ is one of many attempts I have made to document
          the feelings I experience when rain threatens. In this case, I
          was sitting at my desk on a spring day, watching the clouds
          thicken and the wind stir the trees outside my window. A sudden
          glimpse of blue sky seemed very incongruous. Rain often rouses
          a visceral feeling that seems to be part anticipation, part
          awareness of some ancestral memory, and part sleepiness. Rain
          is a strong force to me, probably because I experienced Kenya's
          rainy seasons when young."
   o _A Girl and Her Dog_ by Mark Bothum
          "I'm currently involved in a joint effort to produce a
          high-tech action-adventure novel, while maintaining a carrer in
          engineering. Time management is critical and stress a constant
          companion. I wrote _A Girl and Her Dog_ over a weekend when
          ideas for the novel weren't flowing. Rather than stare at a
          blank screen and drink beer, I blasted the short story out as
          an exercise in dialogue. My girfriend never read it."
   o _Post-Suicide_ by Tara Calishain
          "_Post-Suicide_ was an attempt to express the notion of
          'super-sanity'; the erroneous perspective that one can see all
          possible outcomes of all possible actions and is thus reduced
          to immobility."
   o _In the Attic_ by William C. Burns, Jr.
          "There was a summer, back in 1973, when I sat in the window and
          watched the fans on the roof of the cafeteria all night. She
          sat there beside me, and we didn't say a word the entire time.
          I wonder how she remembers it."
   o _Girl at the Prow of the Ferry_ by Helen Crombet-Beolens
          "The poem was written some time after the event described, when
          I was again travelling on the ferry-- this time feeling perhaps
          more self-conscious myself :-)."


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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 
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   The deadline for submissions is one month prior to the release date of 
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           Our next issue will be available on September 15, 1995.