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 Volume #2                    November 8, 1995                     Issue #5
                       CONTENTS FOR VOLUME 2, ISSUE 5
     Column: A Synopsis of The Story So Far  . . . Robert A. Fulkerson
     Column: From the Belly of the Dough Boy . . . . . . .  Matt Mason

     Swing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph W. Flood

     One Tongues . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Richard Todd

     Tuki Mila Pahi  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Richard Todd

     Speechless  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Julie Schneider

     Woman -- A Terza Rima . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Janan Platt

     Nostalgia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Janan Platt

     ponderings of a beached poet  . . . . . . . . . . . B.H. Bentzman

     jazzbender's sermon under the stars . . . . . . . . B.H. Bentzman

     jazzbender makes the aquaintance
                          of old salt charon . . . . . . B.H. Bentzman

     The Greatest Escape . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B.H. Bentzman

     Testicular Trauma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Drew Feinberg

     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 5.  _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 ASCII and World Wide Web formats.  All
 literary and artistic works are Copyright 1995 by their respective authors
 and artists.

                               EDITORS' NOTES
   o "A Synopsis of The Story So Far" by Robert A. Fulkerson
   First off, I'd like to apologize for the extreme lateness of this
   issue. Many things (which I won't list in gory detail) have prevented
   the issue from being published on it's proposed date. In fact, we're
   almost two months overdue with this issue. We appreciate your patience
   and understanding. Rather than rush the issue out the door, we wanted
   to make sure everything was just right.
   Now, to move on to things changed. Since last I wrote a real column,
   over 5 months ago, many things have happened, both in my personal life
   and in the world of Morpo.
   Personally, I left the corporate business world as a programmer for
   Tandem Telecom and took a position at the University of Nebraska at
   Omaha as a full-time instructor of computer science. It's not that I
   didn't like my job at Tandem, but rather it was more a feeling like I
   was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. After so many years
   in college (six with an almost-masters degree), I grew accustomed to
   the whole environment. I thrive on interaction with people, and
   sitting quietly in my cubicle at Tandem wasn't feeding that hunger.
   Now I interact with people every day (well, every
   Monday/Wednesday/Friday) and absolutely love it.
   I was also promoted to the position of Vice President of Novia
   Internetworking, an Internet Service Provider in Omaha, Nebraska.
   Between teaching full-time and vice-presidenting 3/4 time, life is, to
   say the least, rather hectic.
   Morpo-wise, we've added two new major features to our World Wide Web
   site. First, we've added real-time audio samples of some of the pieces
   in this issue being read by the author. Currently, Janan Platt can be
   heard reading two of her poems, Woman -- A Terza Rima and Nostalgia,
   and Richard Todd can be heard reading his two poems, One Tongues and
   Tuki Mila Pahi. Currently, only users of Windows or Windows 95 can
   hear these samples, as we're using the TrueSpeech audio technology.
   There should be a Macintosh and a Unix player soon. We'll also be
   adding Real Audio support by the next issue.
   This is very exciting, as I think that while the literature should
   speak for itself, it always casts a new and different light on the
   work when I hear the author read it. Matt Mason, the Poetry Editor for
   Morpo, has written hundreds of poems which I've read on-line and had
   my own interpretation of running around in my head. It wasn't until
   the summer of 1994 that I got to hear him read some of his own poetry,
   which was a truly wonderful experience, as there were subtle nuances I
   never noticed before. In the future, I hope we can do more here at
   Morpo with the spoken-word aspect of the works we publish. We'll also
   be looking at integrating some multimedia presentations into future
   publications, including re-printing a video file presentation of one
   of our previously published poems.
   Additionally, with this issue, we'd like to announce the grand opening
   of the Morpo Review CyberCafe, a World Wide Web-based conferencing
   application. We searched high and low for a Web-based "chat" program
   and finally found one we liked for its simplicity and elegance. Now,
   after reading Morpo online, stop by the CyberCafe and chat with other
   literature lovers in one of three rooms: General Discussion, Fiction
   Discussion or Poetry Discussion. In the future, we'll be hosting live
   conferences with some of your favorite Morpo authors. You can visit
   the CyberCafe at
   So, there's a five-month synopsis of what's been going on. Though it
   sounds unlikely, look for the next issue of Morpo to hit the virtual
   stands around December 1st.
   o "From the Belly of the Dough Boy" by Matt Mason
   We've secretly replaced Matt Mason's normal column with new Folger's
   Crystals; let's see what happens:
   Everytime I open a magazine or newspaper, it seems that there's
   something new on the World Wide Web. I, myself, am pretty fascinated
   with that whole tetrazini, though a few things keep me from really
   piddling around there.
   Sure, I've been over at a friend's place in awestruck fascination as
   we waited for that whole damned file to transfer so that we could hear
   Godzilla roar on the Godzilla page. I've seen the nifty Morpo page and
   lots of other places.
   But, truth be told, I'm still working off an Apple iie, a computer so
   outdated that if it breaks I'll have no choice but to use it as a
   suitcase, a candleholder, or perhaps a nice casserole dish as there's
   no one left who fixes these things.
   I guess, technically, I do have Web access. Of course, with my
   computer's ASCII graphics and primitive ways, everything would look
   like Elton John's wardrobe closet put through a shredder, so it just
   ain't worth it.
   And you out there may ask, well.. hey.. you edit that keen electric
   rag called Morpo.. why not just take all the cash flowing in from that
   enterprise and buy a laptop or a UNIX system.
   Sadly, Morpo doesn't pay as well as it used to. Sure, I remember the
   old days when we'd be coated with expensive champagne, swimming in
   lentil-shaped pools full of marinara sauce and kiwifruit. But those
   days are over. Stiff competition from scads and scads (and scads) of
   other ezines has forced us to tighten our budget, eat more rice, and
   operate on Apple iie's.
   And.. oh.. wait a minute. That's not us. We never had a budget. You
   want that ezine three doors down, the one with the plastic flowers and
   the ceramic gnome in the yard.
   And why does everything smell like coffee?


                                   "Swing" by Joseph W. Flood
   I inherited the swing records. The box full of ancient 78s had been
   unceremoniously deposited in my room. A day later, the equally old
   phonograph player arrived. My father was cleaning out the last of
   Grandpa's things, one minivan load at a time. He hated the whole
   affair, going through the odds and ends of an old man's life,
   searching through dusty closet after dusty closet, encountering only
   Dad put the records in my room because he had run out of space for
   them in the garage. He could have put them in his office; none of
   Grandpa's old stuff was in there.
   "Here," he said, letting the box fall to the floor. I was lying on my
   bed, TV idly by, thinking of awful high school stuff. "You like music,
   don't you?" Dad tried smiling, lamely. He was just looking for a place
   to dump all this crap.
   That night, I opened up the box and discovered records. Records!
   What's a record? The records had pictures of men playing trombones on
   them. There were illustrations of people in uniform, neatly lined up,
   playing instruments. I took the records out of the sleeves and ran my
   fingers across the deep vinyl grooves. It was so different from a CD.
   "You'll never guess what I was checking last night," I told my
   friends. We were gathered at a lunch table in the Commons. They were
   eating junk food and scoping for women.
   "What?" someone said.
   "LP? Who's that?"
   "Records, idiot. Long-playing records."
   "Huh." They were utterly uninterested.
   When Dad hauled in the old phonograph, I pretended to be annoyed at
   the imposition. On the way out, he carefully shut the door behind him.
   I dragged the heavy phonograph across the room to a socket and plugged
   it in. The cover had a rusty metal latch. The speed of the turntable
   was controlled by switches as big as my hand. A plate on the side said
   that it had been manufactured at Versatile Manufactures in Cleveland,
   Ohio. I cued up the record and dropped the needle into the groove,
   just like I had seen them do it in the movies.
   Nothing happened. Then I found the round volume knob on the front of
   the box. I turned it and.... Sound, rich bass sound, poured out of the
   tiny speakers. It wasn't like my stereo, the music wasn't clear, it
   somehow was overlaid with background noise and static. I could see the
   needle tracing the groove, feeling the vinyl, and knew that that was
   where the sound was coming from.
   The music was rhythm, it was a song, a melody, like something from an
   old movie. I had never heard it before, ever, but knew that if I heard
   it more than once I'd be whistling the damn thing. I really hated
   myself but it was true--I liked this old crap. The mind tried to
   resist but was borne away by song.
   Who could I tell? I couldn't tell anyone. Grandpa was dead. If I told
   my friends, I'd be laughed out of Sun High. This was beyond old
   people's music--this was dead people's music.
   I went through the box and listened to all the records. It was a sick
   kind of fun, using this ancient technology. I liked the fact that the
   records were so big, much bigger than a CD. And heavy, the box full of
   them must have weighed fifty pounds. I liked watching the records spin
   inside the old box; I would see a scratch coming and then hear (and
   see) the record jump. I didn't worry about Mom or Dad finding me
   listening to all this fogey stuff--is our son weird? They both worked
   late and were never home. When they were, Dad tended to hole up in his
   office, typing, working on a spreadsheet. Mom would sit in the kitchen
   and work the phone, calling clients.
   There was still a lot of work to do with Grandpa's estate. Dad traded
   e-mails with my aunt regarding the "final disposition". He told me all
   this as if I cared. I couldn't see how it mattered very much--Grandpa
   was dead, all that was left was his stuff.
   Dad had finally emptied Grandpa's apartment. "It was like a rat's nest
   in there," he told Mom. She was standing in the kitchen, portable
   phone in one hand. Something was cooking in the microwave. Dad was
   still wearing a tie and the sun was washing over him, making him
   "I couldn't believe how much shit he had saved. There were his old
   report cards, from the thirties. Timeslips from his first job--ten
   cents an hour. Letters from Mom, when he was fighting in the Pacific.
   Shoeboxes of old pictures, of their first house, of me, of those crazy
   picnics in the back yard. Pictures..."
   "Maybe we can put them on a CD-ROM?"
   "And do what then?" Dad loosened his tie. "Who would have time to look
   at it?"
   The microwave beeped. Cooking was finished.
   Mom carefully peeled the plastic sheet off of the plastic dish, steam
   escaping. The air conditioning kicked in, a loud whir that shook the
   "Well, you have to do something about those things in the garage,
   those boxes and furniture. I hate to leave my car on the street."
   "It's got an alarm," Dad said. Mom gave him a look. "But you're right,
   we need the garage back."
   Mom took her dinner out to the living room.
   "So," Dad said, opening the freezer, "we have Budget Gourmet, Weight
   Watcher's lasagna, bean burritos, Szechwan Chicken..."
   I delved more into the music. I can't remember the songs, I can't
   remember the bands. They had names like old white people--Miller,
   Herman, Dorsey.
   And the song titles were a laugh--Jersey Jump, Woodchopper's Ball,
   Chattanooga Choo-Choo. They were simple songs about spring and trains
   and love, always on the way to love, or pining for lost love, or
   waiting for love to arrive on exactly the right train. No tales of
   teenage angst, suicide, self-mutilation.
   Then, one day, my records were gone. I found Dad in the living room,
   rocketing through cable channels, not looking at anything in
   particular. I stood there watching him until he noticed me.
   "What do you want?"
   "What'd you do with the records, you know, Grandpa's old records?"
   He turned to face me, setting the remote down. "I took them to a
   record dealer. Sold them."
   "Uh-huh," Dad said. A strange smile crept across his face. "You didn't
   want those old things, did you?"
   "No, it's just, it's just like it was Grandpa's stuff. I thought we
   might keep them."
   "No room. You heard your mother."
   "Yea, right."
   I walked out front and sat down in the driveway. Gnats buzzed around
   my face. I sat with my arms over my knees. Some kids I knew from
   school rode by on bikes, yelling obscenities at each other. Dad was
   inside watching cable TV. I sat in the dark, doing nothing but


                                "One Tongues" by Richard Todd

my language is strange
to this place I know in my heart
let me then my friend
use your tongue

fat and fluttering
on flutes of rivers and wind
moaning in grass
wailing like night to stars

it wraps around thunder
bends to strike its drums
bellows spring
in flood and rumble of hooves

let me speak vowels
to dust and consonants to ice
take name to be spirit
holy as breath

so that spirit speaks spirit
and nameless live in words
and we touch together
edge of the sacred

touch together
unspeakable light
touch together
and feel the same touching

so we may talk
in common tongue
sacred earth holy sky
and the hoop that joins them

joins us
One Tongues
speaking together


                              "Tuki Mila Pahi" by Richard Todd

we gather shellfish
edges of knives
cracked to scrappers
of flesh and hair

whetted like teeth
to cut water
beneath our hands
to peel skin

we gather shellfish
rooting muck
with bare feet
touching the dark

flat curves
foot to fleshy foot
and string mother
of pearl in pendants

we gather shellfish
the old way
between fast
and slow rivers

in warm water
deep with hair
thick as milk
we grope mud

and gather shellfish
blades to pry
lock and twist
binding muscle

to scrape clean
the end of flesh
and dress bones
in new skins


                                "Speechless" by Julie Schneider

Your brother, angry
that you weren't at his wedding
refuses to speak.

You were too busy saving your life
drying out in detox
dancing on the head of a pin.

Even now, this second marriage is
and he's still angry.

Funny, how some grudges
last longer than

are stronger than

what difference does it make now
except to the


                           "Woman -- A Terza Rima" by Janan Platt

At the club with pool and courts,
sweating on the gray carpet,
the copper woman in bike shorts,

busy like a sprocket, fit,
well not quite. When her head
weakens, her thighs remit.

Knees, a heart shape desired.
My mind reviews womanhood.
Her small muscles curved

and whittled like rosewood.
And I see her on the mat -
when I took dance I could

make ropey triceps like that.
A few wrinkles lined her skin
that was otherwise flat.

But her curves showed their sin
each muscle dipping under,
enough to hold a man's grin.

Each shape a spiral, going lower,
contour draped in worth.
And I felt this image's power

deep as seawater and birth;
how her movement pulls as yet
from a force outside the earth.

Distanced, she wasn't a threat,
a faceless icon. The men's
hot eyes loosened her step.

                                 "Nostalgia" by Janan Platt

Cheese puff crumbs
still savory
and neon orange
in the floor cracks,
nail clippings pulverized
between the mattress
and the headboard,
rose-colored sweater
fluff fluttering
in the heater grates,
dander, thread,
lipstick and flecks
of skin chiseled
by the wind and the blue
heat of the sun;
a woman
who reconciles fifty,
works the tines
of her fingers
through the ravelings
of gray and consults
the dust for a
simple answer.


                       "ponderings of a beached poet" by B.H. Bentzman

cautiously stepping past the line of debris
of things the sea has not had time to digest
watching its restless skin clawing the beach
thinking about jazzbender laboring for preservation

this is religious truth jazzbender had instructed
you don't encounter raw experience in books and films
but must stay afloat on chaos the mother of us all
who's not malicious but indifferent to her sons
our ships imposing order on her the neversame
and if the captain's not god he's damn well moses


                    "jazzbender's sermon under the stars" by B.H. Bentzman

we collapsed in a field without
losing our grips on the bottles of beer
and gazed up at the many stars
jazzbender took another pull from
his bottle and pontificated

i got preached at by this baptist
who thinks his little dunking
gives him more wisdom than a sailor
he thinks he's got his hand on the tiller
can navigate the sea he's only scratching
believing it was created for him god damn
a whole sea miles deep and endless wide

if god made the oceans three feet deep
and lukewarm then i might have agreed
but he thinks jesus was a sailor
because he walked upon the water
hell if he could walk upon the water
what need would he have of us sailors


    "jazzbender makes the acquaintance of old salt charon" by B.H. Bentzman

to be a sunken galleon in a tropical sea he said
where beyond the landlord's reach dreams like colored
fish would sway among the shelves and desk legs
in the watery twilight of the captain's cabin

in every city jazzbender found a river lapping docks
the sea's slender tentacles grasping at continents
the one road for a thousand exotic ports
how easy to slip the knot and drift back to sea

who would have thought a swabbie couldn't swim
the corpse drifting as far as the brackish harbor
to be found bobbing in the polluted slick and foam
knocking against the rusted hull of a stranded ferry

                            "The Greatest Escape" by B.H. Bentzman
   Normally my tour at Con Edison finishes at midnight. This wasn't a
   normal night, but then this is New York where anything that smacks of
   being normal is banned. This city is the fertile soil for the unusual.
   Only the seed of the world's unusual can take root here and blossom
   here. The rest either run away or are worn away. I was born in New
   York and I'm still here.
   My relief didn't arrive at midnight like he was suppose to, so I
   called the supervisor. Apparently Jim, the night tour guy -- my name
   is Arnie, or Arnold, which ever is easier for you -- anyway, Jim got
   sick at the last moment, possibly a heart attack, so his wife took him
   to the hospital. We later learned it was nothing but heartburn. My
   supervisor went down the list before he could find someone to cover
   and they took a while getting in. So I ended up riding the subway home
   at a very late hour.
   At three o'clock in the morning my car of the train was without
   conventional passengers. A young couple passed through the car, their
   hair bizarrely cut and standing on end. They wore black leather cycle
   jackets decorated with chromed chains. An elderly waitress, still in
   uniform and determined not to smile, passed through my car while
   clutching her purse. She was making her way closer to the conductor,
   changing cars at each stop.
   Only four passengers remained with me in my car. A skinny white guy,
   not dressed warm enough for the cold, was huddled in the far corner.
   He was forever reaching into baggy pants with those thin arms
   scratching and picking at God knows what. His problem, imaginary or
   not, had him dancing and jerking and keeping him from sleep.
   There was an old white woman not having any trouble sleeping, curled
   up against her several plastic bags filled with garbage that must have
   been her worldly possessions. She sat with her back to me, but I had
   noticed when I got on that she was missing a leg from the knee down,
   and this made me feel very sorry for her. She and the itchy guy
   probably lived here at night, on the subway. I was in their bedroom.
   The two remaining passengers were both Blacks -- I'm a white guy,
   something you wouldn't know unless I told you. Anyway, the one sitting
   farthest from me was real tall. He wore a dark green trench coat and a
   fuzzy fedora with a ridiculously wide brim. It was also a shade of
   green and had a colorful, five inch feather in the band.
   The black man sitting nearest to me, almost directly across from me,
   was drunk. You knew he was drunk because the stink of alcohol floated
   about his person. He was snoring, his body slumped forward, his head
   hovering just above his knees, his thighs supporting his forearms. His
   large hands and head bounced and bobbed with the movement of the
   train. While I was amusing myself with watching this little dance of
   his appendages, he suddenly jolted bolt upright.
   It had startled me, but it seemed even more of a surprise to him. His
   bloodshot eyes were wide with shock. He had broad shoulders and a very
   powerful build. I couldn't tell if his face was scarred or just deeply
   wrinkled. Coarse hair grew on his cheeks and a glimmering drop of snot
   was precariously hanging from one wide nostril. At first his eyes did
   not seem to see. Then they began to focus on their environment, and,
   sure enough, they found me. They locked on me.
   This big guy began to stand. With tremendous difficulty, he pulled his
   huge frame out of that seat using the adjacent pole, and I admit I was
   worried. Not that he was going to hurt me, big as he was, he was just
   plain too drunk to do that. I was afraid he was going to make a mess
   on me, that he might puke, or at the very least drip that hanging snot
   on me. With a push, he launched himself in my direction, swaying,
   coming most of the way, then stumbling a few steps backwards. The snot
   fell harmlessly to the floor and I was partially relieved. Finally he
   made the crossing, grasping the bar that ran over my head. After he
   was securely fastened he said, "Excuse me sir, but would you be so
   kind as to tell me where I am?"
   "You're on the E, guy," I told him.
   "The ee-guy?" he asked.
   "No, the E, just the E," I said.
   "I beg your pardon, but I am afraid I do not understand? I see we are
   on a train and that it must be night."
   "That's right, guy," I said. "You're riding the subway between
   Lexington Avenue and the Twenty-third Street and Ely Avenue station."
   "The subway!" he exclaimed, tossing his head from side to side to take
   it in. He seemed to be genuinely thrilled at finding himself on the
   subway. "I'm in New York! I made it! I did it!"
   Being in New York did not strike me as much of an accomplishment, yet
   he was overwhelmed with his being there; mind you, we're not talking
   about arriving at Carnegie Hall, merely the subway. He stared at me
   again, his eyes about to pop out. "Please tell me, what is today's
   "March twenty-fifth -- no, the twenty-sixth," I informed him, while
   remembering the lateness of the hour. But no, he wanted to know the
   year? So I told him, 1982.
   The news was too much for him. Upon learning the year he seemed to
   faint, his body twisting and falling. I put my hands out to keep him
   from falling on me, but he caught himself, swirled, and plopped into
   the adjacent seat. I noticed the man in the fuzzy fedora was watching
   us and grinning. The drunk next to me was breathing heavy, as if
   exhausted, and mumbling New York and the year over and over. Once more
   he turned his attention to me and announced, "I did it,"
   "Did what, exactly?" I asked.
   "I'm alive." With that he looked at his big hands with their dirty
   fingernails. Once more his expression became one of shock and he
   gasped, "Schvartse". He looked at me in alarm. "My God, I am a Negro,"
   he said.
   "Comes as a surprise, does it?"
   He rose from his seat with unexpected grace and confidence. "Permit me
   to introduce myself," he announced in a booming voice that filled the
   car. While holding the nearest pole in one hand, he flamboyantly
   tossed his other hand in the air, and acclaimed himself, "I am the
   great Houdini!" He swung his arm across his waist and proffered a
   theatrical bow. He was unsteady.
   I could see past Houdini to the broad smile of the guy in the fuzzy
   fedora, who seemed to laugh, but not aloud. The skinny-itchy guy in
   the far corner took no notice of us, he was now scratching himself in
   his sleep. The old, crippled woman lifted her head, looked over her
   shoulder at us and acidly shouted, "Hey, Harry, can you keep it down?"
   She was instantly back to sleep. Houdini concluded his bow. He seemed
   dizzy for it and quickly sat down again.
   "Perhaps in 1982 you do not know of the magnificent Houdini?" The guy
   was astute, he could see my skepticism. He leaned a little closer with
   that awful breath of his. "I have accomplished the greatest escape of
   all time," he said to me. Then he leaned back and loudly announced,
   "soon the whole world --" He stopped short. This time his eyes
   appeared sad. "Nineteen eighty-two?" he whispered.
   "Nineteen eighty-two, guy," I reassured him.
   He leaned his head against the wall, just staring at nothing. I could
   see his strength dissipating. "Eighty-eight years," he murmured.
   "Is that how long you've been dead?" I asked.
   "No. That's how long I've been married."
   "Oh my God. Beatrice, my darling. All this time I have been trying to
   get back and you, my sweet darling, must have died and gone on to
   I sat quietly, just watching this hulking black man, his eyes squeezed
   closed. "I feel weak," were his last words, that is to say, was
   Houdini's last words, and he fell over.
   We were coming into Ely station. The guy in the fuzzy fedora was still
   grinning at my predicament, this heavy drunk lying across my feet.
   While the train was stopped in the station, no one getting off, no one
   getting on, I tried lifting Houdini off the dirty floor to get him
   back into a seat. He woke, somewhat, but gave only slight assistance.
   Unexpectedly, he pushed away. "Hey mahn, what chyu doin'?"
   "Just trying to help."
   "Well keep ya hands off me, I don' wan' no help." Without any further
   help from me, he stumbled to a seat and went back to sleep. He was
   still sleeping when I got off.


                              "Testicular Trauma" 
            Thoughts of Designer Imposter Body Spray by Drew Feinberg
   I can remember the first time I saw the commercial vividly, for I was
   scarred eternally, not unlike the first time I had a woman look me
   square in the eye, force a smile, and mumble "Don't worry, I heard it
   happens to a LOT of guys." While channel surfing a few months ago, I
   found myself landing on MTV. It was The Real World Two that was on,
   and I couldn't change the channel because it was my favorite one,
   where Tammi purposely wired her mouth shut to lose weight. I was
   thinking about taking up a collection to keep it wired shut forever,
   but alas, I digress. A commercial interlude began with a Mentos
   commercial, and I was appalled to find myself mouthing along "Mentos,
   the freshmaker!" with my television. That was bad enough, but when I
   realized I was actually holding my remote triumphantly, not unlike the
   girl holding up her mighty Mentos, I knew I must turn off the
   television and get some fresh air. I reached for the "off" button on
   the remote, but found myself unable to hit it. Instead, I my eyes were
   glazed as I heard my RCA beckon: "The following demonstration has been
   made suitable for television." It piqued my interest, I figured I'd
   watch the commercial. Big mistake.
   It was a naked woman prancing around the screen with a spray can,
   covered only by two blue bars that followed her around covering her
   breasts, and her holiest of holies. Now, seeing an attractive naked
   woman bopping around on a television screen, this is not what scarred
   me. Don't you worry. In fact, it made me laugh hysterically. A
   voice-over was explaining "First, spray Designer Imposter Spray on
   your arms, and then spray some on your (beeped out the breasts), and
   the same time the woman was spraying it on the described areas. It
   went on to describe all the different places one could spray it, while
   the woman, seemingly in ecstasy, followed suit. It was truly a
   ridiculous image, the quasi-orgasmic quality of spraying some
   cheap-assed imitation perfume all over herself. She wound up spraying
   every part of her body really, as the voice-over told me that spraying
   this poisonous smelling fluid all over feels so good "you could spray
   them everywhere". But this of course, is not true. She missed a spot.
   If she was to spray the faux- spray in one particular place, shall we
   say, below the equator, this would not produce the ecstatic result as
   it provided elsewhere. I believe the correct word to describe the
   result would be "agony". But, thankfully, she missed that spot, so the
   commercial, which I thought was over wound up being just silly, not
   traumatic. Little did I know that in just ten seconds, I would be
   huddled in the corner of the room, rocking in the fetal position, hand
   immersed in my pants, a la Al Bundy.
   It seemed as though the commercial was over, as they showed a bottle
   of the stuff on the screen. But then it happened. Like all horrible
   things in my life, I saw it in slow motion, like when Marsellus
   Wallace in Pulp Fiction had Zed give him a proctologic exam without
   the courtesy of a sigmoidoscope. A nude man appeared on the screen,
   bottle in hand, blue bar on crotch. The voice-over triumphantly
   announced, "Available for men too!" The man, with a smug as hell grin,
   SPRAYS HIS CROTCH AND CHUCKLES! He laughs with this smirk on his face,
   as if it were the most euphoric and wonderful experience he had ever
   experienced. .And the commercial was over. It was an overload for my
   brain, I believe that was when I went into shock. In my trauma induced
   state, my entire life passed before my eyes. Well, okay, not my WHOLE
   life, but an incident in particular that involved myself, and my
   I flashed back to seventh grade, I must have been around twelve or
   thirteen years old. I remember being twelve quite well, it was when I
   was a tiny 5'4 boy, and knew that someday I would grow and grow and
   finally be able to conquer that freaking sign that said "YOU MUST BE
   THIS TALL TO GO ON THIS RIDE". Now I'm twenty-five. Hey, it's not that
   I'm still not allowed to go on certain rides, I just CHOOSE not to
   okay?? I could go on any ride I want, I just don't like waiting in
   line! Wait, I'm mixing up my traumas. Let's go back to my being
   My dream girl, Penelope Horowitz, had asked me whether I wanted to go
   over her house on Sunday and study with her for an algebra exam. I
   could hardly sleep that night, knowing what would happen when I was
   alone with her, perusing the subtle nuances of algebra. I knew in my
   heart of hearts, that in the midst of studying, we would look up from
   the book, stare into each others eyes, admit our undying love, have a
   torrid affair, get married, have children, and happily grow old
   together. I just had to make sure everything was right. Sunday
   morning, I spent two hours getting myself absolutely perfect for the
   big study date. When I felt I was ready, I started to leave the house,
   but ran back into the bathroom.
   As I was singing along to "Islands in the Stream" on my radio, I
   realized I had forgotten the key to getting a woman to think of me as
   real man. Cologne. So I covered myself with my dad's English Leather,
   not thoroughly unlike the naked woman in the Designer Imposter
   commercial. But what if Penelope begged me to have sex with her? This
   was a real possibility. The prospect of her finding me "not so fresh"
   was strictly unacceptable. So in the middle of singing the Dolly
   Parton part of the chorus, I pulled out the waistband of my underwear,
   and did my final spray. "Islands in the stream...that is what we
   AREEEEEEEEEEEEGHHHHHHH!" I had never experienced such excruciating
   pain in my entire life. I had to cancel the date. I spent the
   remainder of the day holding my wounded huevos and cursing the day I
   had tried to spray myself "there". Penelope went on to date and marry
   my best friend. Oh Penelope, I miss you so...if you're reading this
   give me a call, I know I can make you so happy...
   Back to the story at hand. the man in the commercial had made the same
   mistake I had made, yet suffered no ill consequences. It was the most
   unreal and unjust act I had seen since Marisa Tomei had won the Oscar
   for Best Supporting Actress. But like the Tomei tragedy, this wrong
   could be righted, I knew it. I knew then why I had been put on this
   earth. It was to get that commercial modified. I wrote letters. I made
   urgent phone calls. I boycotted using the product. Okay, I hadn't
   really used it in the first place, but hey, manufacturers didn't know
   that. Yet every day that blasted commercial would come on time and
   time again. Hundreds of times, I saw that smug bastard spray his
   crotch. Was there no justice in the world? The horror, the horror. But
   just as I began to give up hope, it happened. The commercial began the
   same, bimbo dancing around in her Imposter glory. Same guy, blue bar
   on privates. But this time, he sprayed his CHEST, smirking and
   chuckling. Glory, hallelujah! Can I get an amen? There's no need to
   thank me. Just knowing that I might have saved one pubescent boy from
   making the same mistakes I made is enough. All I ask for is a page in
   the history books documenting my selfless effort to make the world a
   better place to live. Or maybe a statue.


                                      About the Authors
   o B.H. Bentzman ( was born in the Bronx in 1951.
   "My greatest achievement is to earn the companionship of a splendid
   woman, to whom I have been married for eight years." He earns his
   income working for AT&T as a Communications Technician. "And I am
   presently alive and well in a suburb of Philadelphia."
   o Drew Feinberg ( is twenty-something and resides
   in East Meadow, NY where he is currently a full-time philosopher. He
   enjoys watching movies and then bitching about them, joining crusades
   he knows he cannot win, and singing TV theme songs to anybody within
   earshot especially the "Facts Of Life." Drew and his partner-in-crime,
   Jen, are starting their 'zine "Marvin Nash's Ear" in the very-near
   future so they can rant as long as they like to make the world smile
   and/or think, preferably both. For a free subscription, just send a
   request and the name of your favorite childhood board game to
   o Joseph W. Flood ( had this to write:
     "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano
     Buendia was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took
     him to discover ice."
   Unlike the doomed Buendias, my family always had ice in the freezer so
   we escaped one hundred years of solitude. Instead, I grew up
   peacefully in Wheaton, Illinois, a small town on a commuter line
   outside of Chicago, IL . After fourteen rather mundane years, my
   family left ice and snow for sand and sun (sort of like those kids on
   Beverly Hills 90210 but in a more modest income bracket). We arrived
   in Orlando in the middle of summer and still stayed. I spent my high
   school years in Florida. Then, graduation loomed (unlike those pesky
   kids on Beverly Hills 90210) and I had to go off to college. I chose
   American University because they actually gave me some cash and
   because I wanted to do more with my life than just hang out at Daytona
   Beach, like, you know? I majored in International Relations and
   minored in Literature. College has a way of cooking the interest out
   of you. You start fresh and excited about a subject and four years
   later all you can think is, "Get me the hell out of here!" After I
   graduated, I worked for a couple years for a banking consulting firm
   as an Information Assistant. Then, I moved back to Orlando to work on
   the Great American Novel. Instead, I wrote the minor Florida novel. My
   Inheritance (that's the name of my 65,000 words) is the first-person
   account of a high school "burn-out" who escapes his abusive father
   (and some legal troubles) by running off to college and masquerading
   as a college student. It's completely fictional--my parents are
   wonderful. My friends loved it and a couple agents actually read it
   but getting a first-novel published is a 1,000,000 to 1 shot. So, I
   moved back to The District and a got a job at The World Bank.
   o Janan Platt ( was born in Redding, California in
   1957. She has published one chapbook of poetry (Alpha Beat Press,
   1993) and her poems have appeared in Poetry Flash, The Tomcat, tight,
   and Recursive Angel. She is also a contributing editor of The Albany
   Poetry Workshop, a World Wide Web Internet poetry forum
   o Julie Schneider ( is a past winner of the
   Washington Poet's Association Totem Award and has the requisite degree
   in English Lit. She works as a LAN Administrator and among other
   talents can find lost icons while you wait. Favorite poets are Molly
   Peacock, Erica Jong and Robert Frost. This is her first published
   o Richard Todd ( grew up at the confluence of
   North and South Platte Rivers in western Nebraska. When he came of age
   he wandered from Nebraska to New York City to Montana to Colorado and
   back to Platte forks. He now writes, grows kids and lives on the edge
   of the valley. Recent work of Richard Todd is found on the web "When
   Arcs of Circles Touch" at
                                          In Their Own Words
   o Swing by Joseph W. Flood
          "Like the protaganist in Swing, I have lately developed a taste
          for the music of earlier generations. At first, I was
          embarassed by my new like and would hide the offending CDs from
          visitors, but now I proudly display my Sinatra box set."
   o One Tongues by Richard Todd
          "One Tongues is about discovering languages. Tongues we all
          know but which we forgot or misplaced or which were taken from
          us. To relearn these ways of speaking and touching. These are
          languages of this place called Great Plains. Written after
          thinking about Great Grandmother Christina who refused to learn
   o Tuki Mila Pahi by Richard Todd
          "Tuki Mila Pahi means 'to gather shellfish knives'. Lakota name
          for North Platte River in western Nebraska. We mucked the
          marshes barefoot searching for shellfish. A strong way to touch
          the river, to root in it. In the search you lift to surface
          many other things hidden in the mud. Some can be made into
          useful tools. Others scare the hell out of you."
   o Speechless by Julie Schneider
          "This is the quintessential 90's dysfunctional family poem.
          Apathy, denial, hidden anger and lack of communication; it's
          all there, with the hope that things could be different. It
          speaks for itself."
   o Woman -- A Terza Rima by Janan Platt
          "In Woman, I wanted to show the reader a bit of that heavy-duty
          nonverbal environment in today's typical health club. For
          months I tried many different versions and recycled two grocery
          bags full of crumpled paper. Then, in Scott Reid's Albany
          Poetry Workshop on traditional poetic forms, the words seemed
          to find their place within the Terza Rima framework. Poetic
          forms, to me, feel like tap dance rhythms."
   o Nostalgia by Janan Platt
          "I write most of my poems hearing other people's voices, not my
          own, reading the words. That was the case with Nostalgia, a
          short poem about the beautiful and simple way some women view
          the world and themselves when no one else is looking."
   o ponderings of a beached poet, jazzbender's sermon under the stars,
          and jazzbender makes the aquaintance of an old salt charon, by
          B.H. Bentzman
          "The three poems selected here are part of a series of eight
          poems written about a friend. Over many a good glass he
          exhanged his experiences at sea for my experiences on land. I
          then took his stories and character and embellished them. He
          was pleased at my attempts to metamorphosize him into a
          semi-mythical sailor. What is ficticious and what is true about
          Jazzbender (not his real name) I leave to the reader's best
          guess. This much I would like the reader to know, that the poem
          jazzbender makes the aquaintance of old salt charon was
          composed before my friend took his own life. Those of us who
          knew him were never surprised by his last act. We couldn't stop
          it from coming. It made us angry, but it didn't stop us from
          loving him, nor do we want to stop remembering him."
   o The Greatest Escape by B.H. Bentzman
          "My short story, The Greatest Escape, was developed from an
          entry in my notebook/journal. Following a dull period of
          several days in which nothing noteworthy was happening in my
          life, in a desperate act to make my notebook/journal
          interesting, I concocted this story about my late night ride
          home on the subway. A friend, who later read the entry, thought
          the late night tale true. Years later, I extracted the story
          from my notebook/journal, removed myself and invented a
          fictitious persona to tell the story."



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A: We accept poetry, prose and essays of any type and subject matter.  To 
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           Our next issue will be available around December 1st, 1995.