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 Volume #3                    February 8, 1996                     Issue #1

             Part I of a Special Second Anniversary Double Issue!

                Part II will be published February 22nd, 1996.

                       CONTENTS FOR VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1

     Editors' Notes . . . . . . . . .  Robert Fulkerson and Matt Mason  

     Porky  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Tara Calishain

     At the Gates of Hell   . . . . . . . . . .  Bruce Harris Bentzman

     What's Out There is More of Here . . . . . . . .  David Alexander

     Another Poem Written on Company Time . . . .  Robert W. Howington

     Chant  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Dr. William F. Lantry

     Amazed By Her Beauty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Appell

     Narrowing the Meanings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Bardofbyte

     Wisdom's Maw (an excerpt)  . . . . . . . . . . Todd Brendan Fahey

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

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

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

 Assistant Editor                                            Fiction Editor 
 Kris Kalil Fulkerson                                           J.D. Rummel                             


 _The Morpo Review_.  Volume 3, Issue 1.  _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 1996, Robert Fulkerson, Matthew Mason,
 Kris Kalil Fulkerson and J.D. Rummel.  _The Morpo Review_ is published in
 ASCII and World Wide Web formats.  All literary and artistic works are
 Copyright 1996 by their respective authors and artists.

                               EDITORS' NOTES

   *** Robert Fulkerson, Editor
   ++ Life, Morpo and Everything
   I spend a good portion of most of my days doing one of three things:
   spending time at the University of Nebraska at Omaha two days a week
   being a full-time instructor in computer science; spending time at
   Novia Internetworking two or more days a week (and many hours online)
   being a partner in an Internet Service Provider company; or any of a
   number of other projects that I'm involved in, which includes editing
   Some of our long-time readers may remember that a little over a year
   and seven months ago, I married a wonderful woman. That same
   wonderful, beautiful woman stands by me or is in my thoughts
   throughout each minute of every day. On the average, we probably see
   each other awake about an hour or two every day. Her full-time
   graduate school schedule and work schedule don't overlap with my
   activities very well, and therefore we don't get to spend too much
   time together. But the time that we do spend together, although we're
   both usually fairly exhausted, is a wonderful, refreshing time. It
   sounds flaky and corny, but it's true. It's the fact that she's there
   or that she _will_ be there when I get home or when she gets home that
   is very invigorating. It keeps you going.
   _Morpo_ is celebrating its second birthday this issue. Ten issues
   (that's two years to you and me) ago, we went to press with an issue
   that we were very proud of. Ten issues later, we're going to press
   with an issue that we're very proud of. What has never ceased to amaze
   me is the constant quality of the material we receive for each issue.
   I'm no more proud of this current issue than I am with the first,
   third or eigth issues. They're all special in their own ways, they all
   have their own distinctive slants and curves. If pressed, I wouldn't
   be able to pick a "favorite" issue or a "best" issue. Nor would I be
   able to pick a "best" or "favorite" poem, story or column.
   In the past three months, _Morpo_ has received some very favorable
   reviews and mentions. In December, we were reviewed as a five-star web
   site in the premiere issue of _Internet Underground_. In January, we
   were selected as a "GNN WIC Select" site. Now, in the February issue
   of the popular Internet glossy, _the Net_, we received a B+ rating
   with high marks in both content and technical web savvy.
   But, when you boil it down, the staff of _Morpo_ is receiving these
   accolades. Unfortunately, we're just four folks we read submissions,
   discuss them at Barnes & Noble or a homeless shelter and print what we
   believe to be the best of what we've received. Except for the
   occasional column or poem, we're not really _Morpo_. _Morpo_ is all of
   the authors that we've published over the past two years. They've
   taken pieces of their lives, shaped them with pieces of other peoples'
   lives, and shared those creations with us. Our authors and you, the
   gentle reader, are what keep _Morpo_ going.
   ... and it's my lovely wife that keeps me going when I'm feeling tired
   and peaked. It's my loving wife who tells me that it's okay to spend
   time in the computer room to finish writing a column for the current
   issue of _Morpo_, so that it can all keep going on ... and on ... and
   ++ Live Web Chat with Todd Brendan Fahey
   On Thursday, February 22nd, 1996 at 9:00 PM, CST, _Morpo_ will be
   hosting its first ever _Morpo Review CyberCafe_ conference. This first
   conference will be with the author of this issue's book excerpt,
   _Wisdom's Maw_. To participate in the conference, which will be open
   to about 30 people on a first-come basis, you will need a graphical
   World Wide Web browser (preferrably Netscape, as the Microsoft
   Internet Explorer appears to have problems with the chat site) and a
   connection to the Internet. Point your browser at and follow the instructions from
   there. This should prove to be interesting, if not a bit chaotic!
   ++ Censorship on the Internet, American Style
   By now, you've undoubtedly heard that the United States Congress has
   passed the 1996 Telecommunications Regulation Bill. Nestled inside
   this bill is the dreaded and ill-intentioned "Communication Decency
   Act", a bill proposed by a senator from my own home state of Nebraska
   (is it any wonder he's not running for another term?).
   I'm not going to stand on a pedastal and shout that our First
   Amendment rights to free speech are being stomped on. We all know
   that. In a statement issued by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on
   their WWW site at, they state
     "[The CDA will] create a new "access crime", equating the posting of
     material on a web site, or even the provision of basic Internet
     access, with willful transmission of indecent material directly to
     minors - harming the online service industry, and retarding the
     development of the electronic press ..."
   "Electronic press", of course, means _Morpo_ and any of the other
   literary magazines and magazines on a variety of other topics that can
   be found solely on the Internet. This is an unfortunate state of
   affairs. Does this mean that stories or poems published in _Morpo_
   that contain references to sexual matter, or that contain "foul
   language", will fall under this new "access crime" category? Probably.
   Does this mean that _Morpo_ will stop publishing literature that
   contains references to sexual matter, foul language or other items
   that could be considered "indecent"? We certainly hope not.
   Since this bill affects everyone on the Internet, including our
   friends in foreign countries, I would encourage everyone to take a few
   moments to read up on this heinous intrusion on our basic human right
   to free speech at some of the following sites:
   The Electronic Frontier Foundation

   The EFF Action Alerts Section

   The EFF Blue Ribbon Campaign

   Latest CDA Update From CDT (just send a blank message for an info-bot

   Center for Democracy and Technology

   CNN Interactive's Telecom Bill Web Page

   HotWired's Net Censorship Crisis Update

   *** Matthew Mason, Poetry Editor
   Having survived the Holiday Season, the air still seems to have
   holiday images swimming through it like the jolly Salmon of Goodwill
   returning in their late-winter spawning run.
   And so with snow still slushy on the streets of Omaha, I think of two
   things (besides jolly salmon): Elvis and cows.
   In a similar spirit, I left my post here at Morpo-Central and spent
   Thanksgiving with The King on a roadtrip to Memphis, as, hey, Paul
   Simon sings about "Poor boys and Pilgrims" making the trip, and I'm a
   poor boy and Thanksgiving's the time of Pilgrims so why not?
   And, indeed, it was a holiday to remember: Elvis already had his tree
   up and the lights of Graceland were no less than a kingly display of
   holiday wattage. It really got me set for that ol' holiday spirit,
   even though I had to do it without solid gold sinks and bell-bottom
   jumpsuits; it's the essence that matters, not the trappings.
   And cows. What would winter be without cows? Kicked out of their
   stable 2000 years ago by an innkeeper packing in paying customers in
   any closet, hole, and stall he could get them to cough up a few coins
   for, it is those noble cows freezing in a pasture, running in a panic
   as bright angels appeared above them and the poor beasts couldn't lift
   their heads to see that it was only flying androgynous harpists up
   there as they stampeded over the stray shepherd or two.
   And so in this bovine spirit o' the season, I'm introducing Morpo's
   first ever "Cows N' Elvis of Christmas Past Poetry Contest!" Submit
   your finest poems featuring a cow or an Elvis by April 30, 1996 and
   we'll award fabulous prizes such as.. uh.. as.. well, seeing as we
   don't have a budget (except that one time when Bob bought everyone hot
   chocolate, but that hardly counts), we'll publish you in the Mayish
   issue and give you something keen to put on a cover-letter (and won't
   the New Yorker be impressed to see that you got a Runner-Up award in
   that "Cows N' Elvis" thing!).
   The number of awards will depend on how many entrants we receive.
   Poems need not be holiday or even winter poems. Some restrictions
   apply. Your mileage may vary. Previously published poems ok, though
   non-published preferred. You can do what you want but stay offa my
   blue suede shoes. Please clearly mark your submission as part of this
   contest (hopefully we'd notice, but you never know).
   Good luck, and have a Holly Jolly Valentine's Day.

"Porky" by Tara Calishain

Porky withers and smiles in the reeds.
Thirty years gone to a stuttering heart
a smooth skull amiable in the low tide
all corners rounded by time and the lapping wave.
Sixteen-year-old Porky, they remember you
around the dining table, over dinner
Porky the dire warning, Porky the victim
Porky the foundering archetype -
Granny tells you in a tale smooth as a bone flute
(Porky the marble under her tongue)
He is a die with no faces, a mood gliding
into my conciousness, lean with a fluttering sail.
Granny makes you into a bundle
feeds you to us, Porky the memory
and I dream of Granny dancing you alive
passing you around, and how you smile
with leaves over your eyes
and how you sink beneath for the last time
traceless, ageless, utterly white.


"At the Gates of Hell" by Bruce Harris Bentzman

   Once every two or three years I return to the old neighborhood,
   where I grew up, to visit with my parents. Most of my friends from
   that time have moved away, having not returned to their suburban
   homesteads after graduating college. My parents are good folks who
   allowed me to take a Wanderjahr after graduating high school, but as
   one year stretched into ten, they developed an attitude of
   disappointment in their wayward son. They were worried that I did not
   possess the ethical fiber to hold a steady job, and they could not
   appreciate my constant happiness in various trials at hard labor in
   European industry and agriculture.
   They feel better about me now that I have reasonably steady employment
   as a journalist, my contributions usually being to American and
   British car rags, and sometimes travel magazines. It isn't a whole lot
   of money and it doesn't arrive with any kind of regularity, but my
   parents don't know that. They are especially proud that I am married
   and have a daughter, but do not realize that, as a fairly renowned
   stage actress in France, my wife, Jeanette, actually supports the
   family. They say, "if you have a good job, why does your wife have to
   work?" She does it because it brings her happiness. Of course if she
   appeared on Broadway, or in the Hollywood movies, then they might
   grasp the value of her accomplishment. It doesn't count to them that
   she has had several small roles in European films.
   This was a special visit, because it is rare that my wife can
   accompany me to America. We left Giselle, our daughter, with
   Jeanette's parents because she still had to attend school.
   The dinner was my mother's specialty, tuna noodle casserole, made with
   cans of tuna and cream of mushroom soup, sprinkled with chopped
   cashews when we had company. This meal was probably the greatest
   challenge in Jeanette's professional career, but she pulled it off
   convincingly. After dinner, my wife and I decided to stroll, while Mom
   'wanted' to wash the dishes, and Dad 'had to watch' one of his
   favorite television shows. I was grateful to be alone with Jeanette.
   Dinner was rather humbling and I wanted to apologize. Jeanette
   interrupted me, putting her finger to my lips. "You have no need to be
   sorry," she spoke in French. "They are quite adorable and I love them
   because they gave me their son." She smiled, she kissed me, and then
   she asked in English, "this tuna noodle casserole, it is a popular
   American dish?" She grinned. Recognizing sarcasm, I was formulating a
   witty response, when our paths crossed with that of Doctor Samuel's.
   Doctor Samuel was Suzie Little when she was living in her parents'
   house across the street from my parents' house. She came galloping
   from the other direction wearing fleece pants and sweatshirt. I did
   not recognize her as quickly as she recognized me, bringing her
   exercise to a sudden halt and gaily calling out "Flower". It was an
   old nickname I hadn't heard in a generation. Still, I was as delighted
   to see her again as she was to see me, and I introduced her to
   Jeanette. Later, I had to give Jeanette the details to this particular
   nickname. For you, dear reader, let it suffice that it was short for
   flower child, as I was a self-styled hippie in my youth.
   Suzie took the opportunity of this chance meeting to inform me that I
   had just happened to have arrived on the night preceding our high
   school graduating class's twenty-fifth year reunion. We had both
   graduated from Eisenhower a quarter century earlier, and it was the
   reason for Suzie being back in the neigbourhood and visiting her
   Jeanette insisted on dragging me to the Ramada Inn, where the
   twenty-fifth reunion was being held. I really didn't want to go. High
   school had nothing to do with my life. It was more of an interruption
   to my life and education, the longest postponement to self-improvement
   and creativity I have ever had to endure. It was not a tragedy.
   Tragedies are eventful. High school, for me, was drudgery, a long and
   tedious Hell.
   Furthermore, my ego didn't feel sufficiently accomplished to make an
   appearance. Had I been carrying the Nobel Prize, or at least the
   Pulitzer, under my arm, I would have enjoyed this opportunity to
   gloat, to show that everyone had been wrong about me. If only my
   novels would get published, if only I would finish writing one. Still,
   Jeanette insisted that we try to crash the party, and it was easier to
   relinquish than to resist her indomitable spirit. So I permitted her
   to play Virgil to my Dante.
   We had difficulty finding the Ramada Inn. In the quarter century I
   have been away, occasionally returning for the briefest of visits, an
   enormous number of malls, stores, townhouse developments, hotels and
   office buildings had popped up where once were woodlands, farms, or
   just a grassy knoll. Everything was new. In contrast, it is the long
   history, the continuity with ages past, that keeps me in Europe. The
   Ramada Inn was built just outside the city limits, one among several
   gigantic dolmens rising from a field of black asphalt. It was
   difficult to determine the front of the building with certainty, and
   we drove once around this faceless slab to be sure of the proper
   entrance. This building was never intended to stand for centuries as a
   model of the aesthetics of this or any era. It was just doing its job
   being indifferent; a pragmatic and temporary compromise trying to
   avoid offending any taste.
   No sooner had we arrived than some people on their way to the rest
   rooms began recognizing me from afar. How it is that everybody can
   identify me I cannot explain. Since leaving Eisenhower High, I have
   sported a beard and have grown bald. Who the hell were these people? I
   had little memory of most of them and couldn't identify them without
   first reading their name tags. Sometimes not even then.
   My fellow graduates urged us on, inviting us to join them in the
   ballroom where the class had gathered. They couldn't see the harm in
   it, so long as we didn't eat the dinner. Several said they had empty
   places at their tables where people did not show. I was hardly dressed
   for the affair; a leather jacket, no tie, and blue jeans. Still,
   Jeanette was keen on trying. Her slim, graceful body always bore an
   elegance regardless of whatever frock she chose to wear, but that
   night she was also wearing blue jeans, a man's white shirt, and she
   sported a suede matador's jacket, dyed red, green, and blue, by a
   French designer whose name escapes me.
   A pair of plain double doors, one pair gaping wide, presented
   themselves. Above the door a plaque read "Ballroom", but for my
   reaction should have announced "lasciate ogni speranza, voi
   ch'entrate" -- abandon all hope, ye who enter here. It was sufficient
   to speed my breathing and upset my stomach. I remembered sleepless
   nights agonizing over the homework and studying I could not bring
   myself to do. I could remember the frequent illness I would endure on
   bus rides to school, when I had not prepared for tests on subjects
   that held no interest for me.
   When we tried to enter the ballroom, the others went ahead to their
   tables. The ballroom at the Ramada Inn looked more like a gymnasium
   than a ballroom, which seems befitting the memory of our high school's
   proms. Just inside the doors of the ballroom the hotel had
   considerately set up a stand to serve refreshments. I stopped to order
   a drink from this cash bar with the hope of reinforcing my courage,
   while allowing the time to collect myself. There were bottles of
   vodka, gin, scotch, but not the famous brands, two large jugs of New
   York State wines, one calling itself Burgundy, the other Chardonnay,
   two plastic three liter bottles, one of Coke, the other of ginger-ale,
   and some Buds and Millers on ice. Nothing excited me and I could not
   make up my mind.
   During my delay a very tall and angry fellow, not anyone I recognized,
   was quick to intercept Jeanette and me. He rudely interposed his tall
   frame between me and the bar causing me to instinctively step back.
   "Excuse me, but who are you?" he asked with a belligerent voice. He
   had already nailed me as a crasher, probably because of my clothes,
   and didn't feel it necessary to first introduce himself, or ask if I
   was invited, or if I carried a ticket granting me entry. I gave him my
   name, the last syllable having cleared my lips when he shot his next
   question at me. "This is a private affair, do you have a ticket?" I
   told him no. He sharply turned to the elderly woman who was managing
   the bar and who was evidently part of the hotel staff, and he severely
   reprimanded her for trying to serve us. "You are not to serve these
   people anything." I could think of two hundred ways he might have
   politely informed the woman. She had no way of knowing the difference
   between paying guests and crashers. I looked at the slip of paper
   stuck to the chest pocket of his jacket. Hello, my name is Ted
   Bradley. Underneath was his photo-copied image from the yearbook. I
   had a vague memory of him being the popular quarterback and I had the
   notion that he was one of the bullies that used to threaten me. As the
   old woman had gained her composure and was reacting to Teddy with
   indignation, I searched the room for familiar faces.
   These were people older than those I remembered. The men wore suits
   and the women wore evening gowns, and their clothing suited them. We
   appeared incongruous when we wore such adult costumes in our youth.
   Still, it seemed inappropriate that such richly dressed adults should
   now have to sit on folding chairs of steel. Then Teddy stepped around
   me and placed himself into the center of my view, again stepping too
   deeply into my personal space, again inducing me to retreat a step.
   "If you want a drink, or if you want to eat, the hotel has a bar and a
   fine restaurant. Why don't you use them? You have no business here,"
   he asserted. He stretched his long arm towards the doorway, fingers
   "This is my class, the class I graduated with."
   "You went to Eisenhower?" So he had as little recognition of me as I
   had of him. His arm came down, but I don't think he was believing me.
   He took another half step towards me and I another half step back.
   "Yes and this is my class." He had me repeating myself and it was
   uncomfortable bending my neck to look up into his face. I tried to
   look at other things, not wanting him to think that he was important
   enough for me to regard, yet every time I tried to glance around his
   trim frame, he reinserted it into my view. He was determined to keep
   me from seeing old acquaintances if I was not paying for the
   "Can I see your tickets?"
   "I don't have tickets." His face darkened with restrained anger.
   "If you want to stay it will cost you fifty dollars apiece." He
   extended his palm for immediate payment. He became Charon, the
   ferryman, demanding his fee. I tried to get a peek past him to see if
   there was any reason worth staying and once more he shifted to block
   my view. "You can't stay if you don't pay." The veins were popping out
   of his forehead and neck. Briefly, I felt a rush of fear and wondered
   if he took traveler checks.
   In that moment, with Teddy's face glowing red and green from the
   effort of stifling his intent to damage me, I recognized that old,
   familiar fear that had once plagued me in the halls of Eisenhower
   High. I had entirely forgotten the sensation. And that fear passed as
   quickly as it had arrived, because I am no longer that hapless
   adolescent I was in school. My brain calculated the consequences of
   Teddy attacking me. Bigger he was, yes, stronger, yes, but I would
   hurt him, too, and from the start, I could endure any pain he was
   likely to administer. Hell, afterwards I could have him arrested and
   sue him; furthermore, before it could become serious, others would
   surely come over and intervene. The situation with Teddy was less
   dangerous than some of my close calls on the amateur racetrack.
   It occurred to me, here was the old school bully puffed up with the
   only moment of power that this life could afford him. It was no wonder
   that this vacuous affair was so important to him, his only chance to
   relive the times when he had power and popularity, before he was cast
   adrift in the real world. He stood before me prepared to defend those
   few short years of history during which he flourished in a tiny corner
   of the planet, and from which he had never wandered very far. It must
   have been he, among others, who tracked classmates, organized
   reunions, and sent out invitations.
   The absurdity of the situation was that he was keeping me from
   rejoining a time and place that held no attraction for me. I thought
   of teachers who dictated rules, trying to project themselves as the
   sole authority of "true knowledge" and "right morality". Teddy, you
   old high school rah-rah, you who with the other rah-rahs believed you
   were the sole determinants of "coolness", the only ones privileged to
   discriminate and exclude others. You elected yourselves to the student
   governments, to join clubs and such, as if the pretentious roles had
   any significance.
   I was no longer frightened of this pompous guard of the sacred high
   school memory, he who was defending his last bastion of personal
   success. I actually found myself trying not to offend him by laughing.
   "If you aren't willing to fork out the fifty dollars entry fee --" he
   "No, wait," I interjected, trying to choke back the laughter bubbling
   up inside me. "You don't understand." How was I to explain it to him.
   He was thinking that I was trying to come up with an excuse for
   entering his precious reunion, and I was tickled from the silliness of
   being kept out of where I never wanted to go. "I don't even want to be
   here." I was unable to conceal my laughing, which goaded this stern
   fellow. I was trying not to burst, and I grabbed Jeanette by both
   shoulders and bodily shifted her between me and this tall bouncer,
   thinking she would protect me. She was more deserving of taking the
   brunt of this ill-humored protector, as she was the one who wanted to
   crash the party. "Talk to her," I explained to him, "she is the one
   who wanted to come, not me." And now I was wickedly laughing out loud,
   my head tucked into Jeanette's back between her shoulder blades.
   Poor Jeanette, I didn't recognize it at the time, but she was
   intimidated by this tall bouncer, whom she found menacing. Nervous and
   confused, she began rattling off an apology in French. Teddy had no
   French. She was saying how we'd only stay a minute, that she just
   wanted to meet some of the people with whom I passed my childhood.
   Then she turned to me. "Were you so bad in school that they will not
   now let you come back?" she asked.
   "Me, bad? No, no my love. It is nothing like that," I said, then added
   in a French whisper, "this is Cerberus, the three-headed dog who
   guards Hades, only he's confused and is keeping us out instead of in."
   I took her hand and led her away. "We Americans are more materialistic
   than sentimental," I explained when we were out of earshot. "He is
   probably protecting his interest. For all we know, he might be getting
   a kickback from the hotel for this."
   Being thrown out of my twenty-fifth high school reunion was wonderful.
   It made the day for me and made me feel jolly good. I thanked Jeanette
   for making me attend. That stern Teddy, who blocked our entrance,
   reinforced my deep belief that high school ran counter to my nature.
   He was high school personified; strict, self-confident, provincial,
   and completely clueless as to the real world. Fifty dollars a head,
   what was the money for? We found out.
   Jeanette and I plopped into a comfortable couch in the hotel's lobby
   beneath a seven story atrium. We had the waitress bring us a bottle of
   the hotel's best Champagne, my reward to Jeanette for making the
   evening so wonderful. And that was where Doctor Samuel found us.
   "I heard you were out here," she said. "Why don't you come in."
   "Is it worth it?"
   "Well, actually no. The chicken is really dry and disappointing, and
   to think I spent fifty dollars for it."
   "Well, then, why don't you join us and have a glass of Champagne."
   She sat and we talked a long time. I was made to explain what happened
   to me after high school. I hadn't really thought about it for many
   years, yet at that moment, explaining it to Suzie, I realized high
   school actually did play an important role in my life. In our senior
   year I was in an advanced English class, and in that class we were
   made to read William Somerset Maugham's novel _The Razor's Edge_.
   Larry Darrel, the subject of that book, became my model. After high
   school, I went bumming in Europe instead of partying in college. It
   was my intention to spend my life abroad reading, studying, and having
   conversations with great minds. These were things I did not believe
   were available to me in New Jersey. I was not as accomplished as the
   fictional Larry. I did not have his ability to acquire other
   languages, although I learned to manage French, nor did I have Larry's
   power of concentration to sit and read for hours on end. Also, I did
   not have Larry's income that permitted him to be independent. So
   events unfolded differently for me than they had for Maugham's
   fictional hero. In the end Larry returned to America. I was just
   That was how the evening concluded. Various old chums, upon learning I
   was out in the lobby, abandoned the ballroom to meet with me and my
   wife, and to complain about the food and the money they had spent. So
   many forgotten friends re-entered my life that evening. I had not
   expected so many. Resting against my wife on that deep couch, she who
   is my greatest success in life, her arms around me, I suddenly felt
   that I have succeeded in life. I would not have changed a single iota
   of my past actions because of the possible risk that fate would not
   have brought Jeanette and me together. While we held court there in
   that comfortable lobby of the Ramada Inn, not one hundred feet from
   that stark ballroom from which I was exiled, my darling was asking of
   my classmates for the stories that would most embarrass Flower.

"What's Out There is More of Here" by David Alexander

   Yin and yang revolve in endless permutations, and every action
   contains the seeds of its antithesis. Marty, now Tulku, is neither
   Marty nor Tulku, for both follow the path of becoming. Only the
   process of becoming is real, and even this is illusion. Neither Tulku,
   nor the steam grate outside the building on Park Avenue upon which
   Tulku squats in the lotus position, have any true substance. Both are
   manifestations of _samsara_, the world of phenomena.
   When Tulku was Marty Kellerman, a computer technician for the Sperry
   Rand Company, he lived in a co-op apartment on York Avenue not far
   from the steam grate upon which he now sits. When Tulku was Marty
   Kellerman, he pulled down sixty grand a year, minus bonuses and perks,
   administering the sprawling LAN into which hundreds of PCs, printers,
   modems and other hardware were plugged and which was itself plugged
   into the global Internet. When Tulku was Marty Kellerman, he liked
   having drinks at Manhattan's preferred watering holes, betting on the
   ponies and trading up to a new Mazda each year. He knew nothing of
   metaphysics and cared even less. Marty Kellerman was nuts and bolts to
   the core.
   Just the same, Marty's samsaric yang was already evolving into Tulku's
   nirvanic yin. Marty just didn't know it yet. By the ineluctable laws
   of _dharma_, his co-op in the doorman building on York was becoming
   the steam grate on Park. His Pierre Balmain suits the grimy layers of
   second-hand clothing he now wore. His wife a divorcee. His computer
   LAN the all-embracing Vishnu-network of the astral plane. His former
   life dissolved, as though it had never been. All of this had happened
   barely two years before, and the moment at which yin and yang began to
   switch position was the Archimedian point about which all of these
   cosmic perambulations turned.
   The van that departed the Club Med at Vishakapatnam one humid
   morning was rented as a joke. Marty and his wife Eileen had gone to
   Club Med for all the usual reasons. But the endless round of eating,
   racquetball, fucking and watching half-naked women flirt with
   three-quarters naked men by the pool and at beachside became boring in
   the extreme. Eileen wanted Marty to attend yoga class with her, and to
   this he reluctantly gave his assent. It was at yoga class that they
   met Dan and Dawn, who were agents of Bodhisattvahood, only they didn't
   suspect it.
   "You know, they say there's a holy man up in the hills near here who
   gives audiences," Dan remarked after yoga class one day. "Dawn and I
   and another couple were thinking of renting a van from one of the
   navvies and having a look. Care to come along?"
   "I don't know," Marty opined. "I basically just want to catch some
   "Come on, Marty. Let's do it," Eileen pressed.
   "You wanted to work on your tan this week, honey," Marty countered,
   hoping she would get the message that he wanted to lose Dan and Dawn,
   who were obvious flakes.
   "Oh, forget the tan," she insisted. "This is much more interesting."
   So the following morning, despite a big argument that night, and Dan
   and Dawn's bowing out at the last minute, they did as Eileen wanted.
   The other couple, Al and April, were two aging hippies -- who referred
   to themselves as "newageinarians" -- from San Francisco. They lit up
   joints and attempted to pass them around. Nobody in the van accepted,
   except for the driver, who exhaled the smoke in the face of the
   securely bound chicken which lay beside him.
   "This is just fucking great," Marty said. "I'm so glad I came. Thank
   you Eileen. Thank you a thousand times."
   "Don't spoil this, you bastard," she snarled. "For once I'm having a
   good time. She took the joint from the driver and inhaled some grass,
   avoiding the wet end as much as possible. "Is it far?" she asked the
   Indian at the wheel as she gave the joint to April.
   "Holy man live in cave up on mountain. Today good day. He comes out of
   cave on good days."
   "How do you know?" Marty asked. "You phone him or something?"
   "He is very holy," the driver said with a little laugh.
   "What's his name?"
   "Holy man is called Rama Om," replied the driver. "You sick, he can
   cure you. You sad, he make you happy. Whatever you know, he knows
   "Sounds like my mother," Marty quipped.
   "Yes. He is like mother. Like everybody's mother," the driver replied.
   After a lengthy journey up winding mountain roads, the van finally
   came to a stop at the crest of an escarpment overlooking a defile in
   which a muddy river sluggishly flowed. Not far from a small cave, a
   figure was seated in the lotus position on the bare ground.
   The driver approached first, bowed reverently, and then spoke to the
   holy man, telling him that foreign devils had come to seek an
   audience. The driver next presented the holy man with the now
   moderately stoned chicken, leaving it tied up on the ground. The holy
   man beckoned to the four other people who had disembarked the van to
   draw near him.
   "Fire your stockbroker, Marty," he said to Marty, "he's ripping you
   "This is a joke, right?"
   "No joke," the driver said, shaking his head. "Rama Om knows all. This
   I tell you before." On the fringes, the chicken squawked
   halfheartedly, as if in assent.
   "Give me the medicines," the holy man next declared, addressing the
   two aging hippies standing to one side of Marty and Eileen. "I would
   like to try them."
   "What medicines?" asked Al, in the serape.
   "The ones which bring sublime visions to the mind."
   "You hear that, baby?" exclaimed Al to April. "He knows we brought
   "_Give_ him some, Al," his wife urged. "This is really getting
   incredibly strange."
   Al reached into the stash pocket of his serape and held out two
   gelatin capsules filled with white powder. He placed them in the
   cupped palm of the holy man's extended hand. Rama Om asked Al if there
   were any more. Al gave him another two capsules.
   "Look, guy," he warned the holy man, his face wearing a pinched,
   worried look. "You better not do this. We believe you."
   Rama Om swallowed the four LSD capsules anyway. For several long
   minutes, he sat contemplating his audience with a faint smile.
   Otherwise his expression was completely blank and he did not move a
   "This is interesting, but it is not the genuine _bhiksu_," Rama Om
   finally said.
   "I don't _believe_ this!" an awed Al exclaimed. "He should be going
   apeshit by now with all that acid in him!"
   "Far out," April asserted boisterously. "Far fuckin' _out!_"
   "Bullshit. It's a setup," grumbled Marty. "These two guys are shills."
   He meant the two from Frisco. "And the old guy on the ground is a con
   "Hey, who you fuckin' calling 'shills,' asshole?" Al replied.
   "_You_, dickwad," Marty hollered back.
   "Behave yourself, Marty," Eileen warned her husband.
   "Okay. We'll see who's an asshole. I wonder if you could tell me the
   address of my orthopedist?" asked Al of Rama Om.
   "You do not have an orthopedist," returned the holy man. "But you have
   a dentist named Doctor Driller, who recently performed root canal
   surgery on your left rear bicuspid."
   "See, you putz," Al yelled at Marty. "This guy's for real!"
   The holy man then turned to Marty, and said, "The vegetable peeler you
   have lost has fallen behind the dish washer."
   "What?" Marty looked stunned. "What did you say?"
   "The vegetable peeler you lost last spring," Rama Om repeated
   placidly. "When you return to your apartment you will now have two."
   There was no way this guy could have known about the vegetable peeler,
   Marty knew. He had forgotten all about it himself until Rama Om had
   brought it up. It was a little thing that had nagged at him in a major
   way, like a hangnail. Marty had used the peeler to make his Sunday
   morning cucumber salads until it had disappeared. Despite turning the
   apartment upside down he'd never found it. Ultimately he had bought a
   new one.
   Marty felt as though someone had just brained him with a two-by-four.
   Now suddenly he too knew that Rama Om was everything he had previously
   not accepted him as being. He knew that Rama Om was for real.
   Marty was not at that time aware of what Zen adepts called "the
   transmission of the lamp," but this is what in fact had occurred. Yin
   and yang had begun to pivot on the axis of infinity. The veils of
   illusion had begun to part. Enlightenment glowed through the mists of
   It took another six months before Marty became Tulku. Back on the
   Upper East Side, in familiar surroundings, his experience in India
   could for a time be dismissed as an unimportant trifle. But ultimately
   there could be no denying what had taken place.
   Marty had received enlightenment. Nothing looked quite the same to him
   anymore. Not the Upper East Side. Not his job. Not Eileen. Not the
   ponies. Nothing.
   "Marty, it's not normal you meditating in the middle of the living
   room all day," Eileen would tell him on Saturdays as he practiced the
   _samadhi_ exercises he had learned at Club Med. "Let's go out for
   Marty stared at the _mandala_ on the floor and did not utter a word in
   answer to his wife. On occasions such as these Eileen customarily left
   the house in tears.
   Though Marty continued to go through the motions of his obsolete
   existence, it was nevertheless crumbling all around him. He still rode
   the Lex to his office every morning, still performed his salaried
   duties, still returned home at day's end. But these were mechanical
   functions. The wheel of _samsara_ still turned, though Marty felt its
   motions inexorably grinding to a halt.
   Soon it would stop entirely and begin to turn in the other direction.
   Soon yang would become yin and _samsara_ transcendence.
   "I'm leaving you, Marty," Eileen told him one day, over the phone,
   while he was at work. She was calling from her lawyer's office, she
   "The bridge flows. The water does not," Marty told her and promptly
   hung up.
   He returned home to an empty apartment. All the furniture had been
   taken away by Iraqi immigrants from the Nice Jewish Boy with a Van
   company and even the carpet had been stripped from the floor. Marty
   smiled. In the midst of turmoil he was at peace. _See how it all
   dissolves_, he thought. Eileen was a cosmic catalyst, an embodiment of
   the _shiva_ principle, helping along the dissolution of the old Marty
   into his new _dharma_ body. On the bare floor lay the only thing she
   had left him. His _mandala_.
   Marty sat on the floor facing the _mandala_ and tucked his legs under
   him. He rested his hands on his knees and began to perform his breath
   control exercises. He stared at the _mandala_ until it opened up and
   his consciousness entered its sacred portals. There, he saw a vision
   of himself squatting atop the steam grate of a building on Park
   Avenue, and he knew the name he was destined to take.
   The following day Marty went into his boss' office to tell him he
   was quitting. Marty bowed respectfully and apologized for not giving
   the company two weeks' notice, but his _dharma_ compelled him to act
   immediately. Marty left the office and went to his bank where he
   transferred all the money in the joint account he still retained with
   his wife over to Eileen.
   He was now penniless. Technically, he could still occupy his apartment
   for another sixty days because the month's rent had been paid and the
   month's security was still in force, but he did not want to remain
   chained to the cosmic wheel a moment longer than was necessary. Tulku
   had no possessions. No connections to the world of illusion held Tulku
   in thrall. Tulku needed only Tulku and the enduring light within.
   By that afternoon, Tulku had found the steam grate outside the Lincoln
   Building that he had seen in his prophetic vision while meditating
   before the _mandala_. Below the grating, immense pipes carried waste
   steam from the fifty story skyscraper's boiler room up to street level
   where it could vent into the air in warm, humid clouds of
   stale-smelling vapor. Tulku was now without food, without shelter,
   with nothing except the clothes on his back.
   But Tulku did not care. Though it was late autumn and the nights were
   growing chilly, the steam would suffice to warm his body. If Tibetan
   holy men trekked the frozen Himalayan wastes with only the flimsiest
   robes for protection, Tulku could survive on his steam grate on Park
   Avenue. All that mattered was that he had severed himself from the
   wheel of _samsara_. Whether he lived or died was beside the point. All
   consequences would flow from his act of casting off his chains. Events
   would begin to shape themselves.
   Autumn became winter. Tulku sometimes augmented the warming power of
   the steam that rose from beneath the grate with a large cardboard box
   scrounged from trash awaiting pickup on the curbside. Otherwise, his
   daily regimen seldom varied.
   He sat in deep meditation, never looking at passersby, never speaking
   unless addressed. When asked to move on by the doormen of adjacent
   buildings, Tulku moved on, but inevitably returned to his steam grate.
   Though he never begged for alms, passersby frequently threw coins into
   his lap. With these donations, Tulku bought what little food he
   required to sustain his life in nearby coffee shops and delicatessens,
   where he also relieved what meager bodily wastes his virtuous life
   During these times, Tulku sometimes chanced to glance at himself in
   the bathroom mirrors, or glimpsed his reflection in the plate glass
   windows of the neighborhood shops. The reflections were of an
   enlightened being wholly different from the mundane terrestrial dross
   that had once been Marty Kellerman.
   This new being's hair grew long and matted, and an equally long, thick
   beard covered his face. The frame upon which the crazy quilt
   assortment of ragged clothes hung was gaunt to the point of
   emaciation. Yet Tulku moved with a slow, graceful gait that the
   ever-hurrying Marty had never displayed.
   No other homeless people ever tried to usurp Tulku's position on the
   steam grate. Some revered him as a saint, others feared him as a
   sorcerer, but all left him in peace. When Tulku reassumed his position
   atop the grate and commenced his meditations, the bliss he experienced
   radiated from him from avenue to avenue and from block to block.
   Time passed, and it was again early fall. Tulku had spent another
   round of seasons atop his grate, and had ascended to yet a higher
   plane of enlightenment. To the residents of the neighborhood Tulku had
   by now become a legend. Dogs, leashed and stray alike, would stop to
   lick his hands. Young girls and little boys would bestrew his steam
   grate with flowers. Stories circulated about how the wizened homeless
   man squatting atop a steam grate would spontaneously divulge
   extraordinary things about people whom he had never before met,
   accurately foretelling their futures and revealing long-buried secrets
   from their pasts.
   There was, for example, the heart specialist who had scoffed when
   Tulku had told him he had three weeks to live, but died exactly three
   weeks later, struck by a crosstown bus in front of Tulku's steam
   grate. There was the Lotto pool of doormen which accurately played the
   winning number Tulku had given them. There was the blind woman who
   could suddenly see, after accidentally striking Tulku with her cane,
   the mugger who beheld God when attempting to steal Tulku's meager
   alms, and countless other stories of a similar sort. Some, including
   beat cops, cab drivers, and other reputable witnesses, even claimed to
   have seen Tulku levitate above his gridiron perch, amid a pungent
   cloud of rising steam.
   One of the new arrivals to the neighborhood, a young stockbroker
   named Adam North, had also heard these stories, although he
   disbelieved them and scoffed at those who gave them credence. His
   wife, Beth, had told him about the holy man of Park Avenue and said
   that she had personally witnessed the snow melting around him due to
   some strange, inner energy which his person gave off. Adam, a graduate
   of Princeton University, who held a Masters degree in Business
   Administration, was a dollar-and-cents man and ridiculed such
   superstitious tales as nonsensical hogwash.
   Besides, he had more important things to think about, such as how to
   keep his six-figure-a-year job with Merrill Lynch. Responsible for
   handling the investments of some of the firm's most high-profile
   clients, he was a sleek greyhound running the financial fast-track.
   There was no going back for Adam. In his world you were either moving
   forward or falling behind, and those who fell behind were toast.
   Adam had, of course, passed Tulku's steam grate every day on his way
   to and from the Lex, and frequently on weekends when he went down to
   buy the paper and bagels and lox for breakfast. Often he even passed
   Tulku's flower-strewn grate in the company of his wife.
   But on all those occasions, Adam had deliberately not looked Tulku's
   way. He shut the squatting mendicant from his mind, just as he
   expelled all the city's other homeless beggars from his thoughts. Adam
   didn't believe in giving charity to these parasites. On the contrary,
   his attitude was that they should be taken somewhere en masse and put
   out of their misery. This so-called "guru" was no different from the
   others. He was just a whacko with mental problems. Why should Adam
   make anything special of him?
   Just the same, on one cold winter evening when Adam had drunk a little
   too much with some clients after work, he reached into his pocket on a
   whim as he passed the steam grate and tossed a handful of change into
   Tulku's lap. Tulku did not, as usual, so much as glance up to
   acknowledge the gift, and Adam, with a little snort of drunken
   laughter, prepared to hurry upstairs to his duplex condo.
   "Thank you, Adam," Tulku said before his benefactor had a chance to
   take his first step, and the remark stopped Adam cold in his tracks.
   "How did you know my name?" he asked Tulku. "My wife told you, right?
   Or you overheard it on the street."
   Tulku was now uncharacteristically looking up at Adam, and Adam's
   first thought was that his eyes were beautiful. They were two large,
   round pools, within whose limpid depths a great wisdom seemed to stir.
   "Why do you hate me, Adam?" Tulku asked in a soft voice. "Is it
   because you fear what you will become?"
   "Hey, I don't _hate_ you, and I certainly don't _fear_ you," Adam
   retorted with a show of contempt that surprised him. "And I sure as
   hell won't ever _become_ you."
   "Do not grieve for your brother Edward. He forgives you," Tulku said.
   Adam gave Tulku a long, steely stare. He opened his mouth to say
   something, but Tulku had already turned his face to the sidewalk and
   had sunk into deep meditation. Adam hurried home through the biting
   wind, thinking to himself that there was no possible way that the guy
   could have known about Eddie.
   Twenty-one years before, Adam's kid brother had drowned in a lake near
   Allentown, Pennsylvania, the town where he had grown up. Nobody knew
   that he had been responsible for Eddie's death. It had been an
   accident and he had never told anybody about it. Not his wife, not his
   parents, not the cops, though they'd tried every trick in the book to
   get it out of him. Yet somehow, the homeless guy had known all about
   what happened, just as though he'd been able to read Adam's thoughts.
   That night, Adam continued the drinking he had begun at the bar near
   his office, and his wife had begun to be more concerned than she
   usually was on such occasions.
   "You're white as a sheet," Beth remarked with trepidation. "What's
   wrong, honey?"
   "Nothing," Adam told her. "Leave me alone."
   When she persisted, he went into the bathroom and locked himself
   inside, sitting on the toilet seat with the neck of the bottle gripped
   tightly in his hand.
   The following day, Adam stood in front of the holy man. Tulku looked
   up, his face a tabula rasa.
   "How did you know about Eddie?" he asked.
   "Do not fear this knowledge," Tulku replied. "He does not blame you. I
   do not care."
   "I asked you how you know," Adam pressed.
   "I do not know how I know," Tulku answered with a guilelessness that
   could not be disbelieved. "I just know."
   "Okay," Adam said with a nod. "Tell me some more, then."
   Tulku did. He told Adam about things Adam had not only told no one
   else about, but did not even realize he himself knew. Adam was
   dumbfounded, and he hurried away again, unable to accept what his eyes
   and ears revealed to him. When he told Beth about the conversation
   later on, she was amazed. She was even more amazed to hear Adam
   announce his intention to have the holy man come up to the apartment
   as a guest.
   If you would like me to go with you, I will," Tulku said when Adam
   put the question to him on the cold, darkened street sometime later
   that evening. Rising from his steam grate, he followed Adam along the
   Upstairs, Tulku sat in the Norths' living room and meditated, showing
   the Norths how to do the basic yoga postures and breathing exercises
   he had himself learned a lifetime before, while vacationing at Club
   Adam's invitations to Tulku became more frequent as he and Beth
   became more involved in yoga meditation exercises. Adam began growing
   a beard, and eating macrobiotic foods. His after-work drinking stopped
   and his interest in money and how to manipulate it began to be
   replaced by concerns of a more spiritual nature. For his part, Tulku
   began to become a fixture at the North household, often staying
   overnight at their behest. Meanwhile, flowers continued to strew his
   steam grate and alms were left at its side, even when he was no longer
   Early one morning, Adam rose from the crosslegged meditation posture
   that he, Beth and Tulku had assumed on the living room carpet to leave
   for work. After he was gone, Beth spoke candidly to Tulku.
   "I've been meaning to tell you about something," she said to him. "But
   I don't know how exactly."
   "Speak," he said to her. "Just say it."
   "I want to have sex with you," Beth told him.
   Tulku looked at Beth without registering any emotion.
   "If you would like me to have sex with you," he told her, "then I will
   have sex with you."
   Afterward, Beth told Tulku that she had felt herself levitate when she
   climaxed. It was definitely a religious experience, she went on. She
   didn't feel dirtied by it or anything. She didn't even feel like she
   had cheated on Adam or anything either. In fact, she felt as if it
   somehow bound them all together even more closely now.
   How did Tulku feel about it, she wondered? Did he feel the same way?
   Tulku just looked at her.
   "The buffalo down the hill," is all he said in reply.
   Several days later, as they sat in the Norths' living room, Adam
   came to Tulku with a request of his own.
   "I believe your steam grate is a holy place," he told Tulku. "I would
   like to sit there."
   "If you would like to sit on my steam grate," Tulku told him, "then
   sit on my steam grate."
   Adam's hair and beard had grown into a long, thick mass of tangled
   curls by now, and with the layers of clothing he wore to keep out the
   November chill, he looked enough like Tulku to be his fraternal twin.
   With his head bowed in meditation, none of the passersby on the street
   had any inkling that Tulku was in fact up in the Norths' bedroom
   having sex with Adam's wife Beth, or that Beth's climaxes were of
   consistently cosmic proportions.
   The following morning was a Saturday, and Beth awoke to find Tulku
   meditating in the lotus position on his side of the spacious,
   queen-sized bed. She pecked him on the cheek, and informed him that
   she had just had a visionary inspiration.
   "Share it," Tulku told her.
   "I was thinking you should cut your hair and shave off your beard,"
   she explained to Tulku. "You would look much cuter that way."
   "If that is what you would like to do, then cut my hair and shave my
   beard," he informed Beth.
   A little while later, Tulku was shown his image in the mirror that
   Beth held out in front of him. She had cut his hair and shaved his
   beard, just as she had seen in her vision.
   "You know, you look a lot like Adam this way," she remarked. "Even a
   little better. In fact, you could be his brother. It's just amazing."
   Later that morning, Tulku, wearing a quilted goose-down parka and
   tailored jeans was sent down to Gristede's to buy bagels and lox and
   then to the candy store to fetch the Sunday newspapers. On his way to
   the store, he passed the steam grate where Adam sat meditating.
   Peeling open one of the parka's Velcro pockets and reaching inside,
   Tulku came up with a handful of loose change which he tossed to Adam,
   and knew that yin and yang had once again completed another
   permutation of their eternal mystic dance. Adam, who had become Tulku,
   did not look up, and Tulku, now Adam, hurried to the store, his mind
   on Beth's shopping list.

"Another Poem Written on Company Time" by Robert W. Howington

Jesus, the philosopher (I don't
call him the Son of God, but
that's another poem), once told
his fans, "For the wages of sin
is death."

I sit here at my desk at work,
a career paper pusher for Uncle
Sam, thinking I'd much rather
plunder, rape, murder, pillage,
fuck, gamble and consume drugs
24-7-365 than work 8-to-5 for
40 years in a boring office,
plus be a goody two shoes the
whole time, and fucking die


"Chant" by Dr. William F. Lantry

    "give him the darkest inch your shelf allows... "
                        --Robinson, on Crabbe

 There's something in the half-forgotten words
 she spoke tonight that lingers flickering
 like candles on an altar with these prayers
 abandoned to a broken window's wind;
 there's something in this ritual that sings
 of waves and broken wood.  This evening

 when souls are said to walk unbodied, I
 again find incantations on my shelf
 inadequate, like these few words, and hear
 her lingered voice repeating what the nights
 compile in their darknesses of sound,
 those silken rushed confluences of hers

 shipwrecked or saved or saving-- take the waves
 as echoes of her voice continuing
 and I, in this torn robe incanting on
 this undetermined vision of return,
 as if this very repetition of
 her rhythms could reconjure her to me.


"Amazed by Her Beauty" by David Appell

   Please, just let it be quiet.
   Nothing can be worse than this. The noise; and the screaming. We were
   just sitting there, on break. Wilkins made a joke, something lame.
   Jesus, what did he say. It came out of nowhere, landed behind them.
   Couldn't have been more than fifteen, twenty yards away. When I was in
   the air I saw Ronnie's body, bending around, saw him jerk like a
   marionette, slow motion, I'm tellin' you. Then his leg was yanked
   away, like it was no longer his. Like it was theirs. I hit and sucked
   in my stomach and pressed into the ground, made myself as small as
   possible. Smaller. Jesus. I had my hand over my helmet when the
   shooting started, and all I could think of was get my fingers away,
   get them down so I didn't lose any. My uncle lost one in an accident,
   and I always thought it looked ridiculous, a hand with three fingers
   and a thumb, with a big gap between them. So I shoved my hands under
   my face, shook, prayed, listened. I swear I could hear the bodies rip.
   Jesus God, what did Wilkins say.
   And now there's screaming, just scared, coward-screaming. Who cares.
   It sounds like laughter, the way all the individual screams mix all
   together. Who would have thought. Now this one big mixed-up scream's
   gotta life of its own, coming down from the trees and the hills and up
   from the ground, and this bastard scream is mocking everything, even
   itself. Who knew there was so much screaming in war.
   Focus. Focus. God, there's dirt in my mouth. Dry, flat-tasting, like
   that year in Pony League. Came into second, not sure about sliding,
   and I decided too late. I heard my leg snap and knew right away it I
   broke it. No pain at first but then like a flood, and I knew. I rolled
   over and laid there with my face in the dirt and started crying. I
   didn't care. Dirt; fine, light brown, kinda dusty. Dirt nothing was
   ever going to grow in. The coaches came out, people standing around.
   My tears fell into that dirt and made little spots, black and moist,
   made it look fertile, like dirt in a garden, like my grandma's. Just
   like this dirt. Like that's all it takes for the possibility of life,
   a tear here and there.
   I was thirteen. Kinda old, but I cried. I couldn't help it.
   Oh shit that was close. I heard it zip. Oh Jesus, I'm gonna die. I'm
   gonna die. Nothing's gonna survive this. Face it. Jesus, I don't wanna
   die. Everybody says that but shit most of the time it's just talkin',
   just some lame joke. It doesn't mean nothing. What else is there, but
   living? Dying wasn't real - not growin' up, not in Basic, not even
   after I got here and started walkin' around this damn jungle, wet and
   sore and tired all the time. Dying - I mean, Jesus, that's what
   happens to other people, to old people, something that happens in the
   city. Come on, not here. Not now. I got people I told I was comin'
   back. Family, cousins. They made me promise. I promised.
   It's not gonna matter. Dig in deeper. Dig it does matter God dammit.
   Pictures in my vest, I can feel'em.
   A wallet, worn, cheap leather. I keep it wrapped in plastic, keep it
   dry. A picture my mom gave me, the morning I left - the house, from
   the front. Green grass, rose buds next to the porch. Shit. Another one
   in front of my grandparent's garage, a big game of poker on a card
   table, my cousins and an uncle, my pap and me. We'd started with fifty
   pennies; a pop cost five cents. My little sister Megan would run
   inside and get you a loan from the piggy bank but you had to promise
   she could stand in front of your chair, between your legs, and let her
   play your next hand. We let her win, and my pap drove us out to
   Harkins for ice cream, and she paid for it. My pictures.
   Suddenly. . . nothing. Just like that, quick again. I'm not lookin'.
   I can't even breathe normal; I got my face buried and I'm just
   listening. Like never before. No movement, no screaming. Some moaning,
   some crying. Someone's sucking air like through a pipe. Someone's
   gonna return fire. Someone's gonna come around, check for wounded or
   call a retreat. Someone's gonna stand up and do it. . . not me, shit,
   but someone. . . don't even know where my damn rifle is. That'd happen
   your first fight, they said. I'm just stay here, wait. Stay small.
   The wallet's jammin' in my ribs, pushing, pokin', like it wants in all
   the way. It's gotten fat, mostly Kristie. There's a way to take the
   taste of dirt outta my mouth, to make this all go away, lose all this
   in the night and then let her hold me until this whole thing is over
   with, like a bad dream the sun takes away. I was with her, just that
   once, two days before I left. We talked about waitin' 'til I came
   back, 'til we were married, but leavin' got too much, we got too
   close, and there was only one way to get closer. God we shoulda done
   it a thousand times.
   She lived four houses down Cleary Road, like she'd been there
   always. Growing up I didn't pay much attention; I played ball, rode my
   bike, pissed around in the woods with Ricky and Steve. The girls,
   they'd point at us, whisper and giggle, we'd shout something and ride
   off, confused and embarrassed and kinda proud too about somethin'.
   That summer I broke my leg I didn't know how, how they could make us
   feel all those things at once, and without Kristie I mighta never
   knew. But one day when I was laying half-naked on the couch in our
   living room with that plaster cast propped up on throw pillows,
   killing flies and sweating and wantin' to be anywhere else, she
   knocked on the screen door and asked if she could come in. She had a
   pie her mother baked and some ice cream and a book, and she said she
   felt sorry for me having to lie there all alone when it was so hot,
   and so she came to read me a story. I went to put on my shirt but she
   smiled and said, don't worry, I've seen a boy's bare chest before.
   Without much to say I laid there and ate pie and ice cream and watched
   her read _Catcher in the Rye_. She came back the next day and read
   again, and by the end a that summer she'd gone through a few more
   books that I don't remember, but I began living for her knock on that
   door and the way she smelled and to see what kind a ribbon she had in
   her hair that day. Towards the end she started putting the book down,
   kinda bold, and told me about her little sister, about her daddy's new
   ridin' tractor and her plans for freshman year. I was still on
   crutches when school came in September, and not even asking she just
   came by in the mornings, took my books and walked me slow to the bus
   stop. And I started noticing how people began talking not to me or to
   her but to us, and they didn't laugh or smirk or roll their eyes like
   in Junior High.
   It was still another year, almost two before we started goin' out. By
   then we were best friends, and the rest came just like dandelions in
   June. Only once was it rough, in our junior year when Bobby Murdoch
   started lookin' at her, talkin' to her with his long hair, and one of
   her girlfriends said, why not, it'd expand her horizons. Kristie
   wanted to see other people, said it'd be good for us, said she
   decided. It was two months, worse for me, but after we got back
   together there wasn't much doubt I don't think for neither of us. We
   coulda done it then. We did everything else that last year. Then just
   after graduation I got my draft notice.
   The moans are getting quieter. I can hear the birds again, high up;
   they sound pissed, I can hear it, resentful, but seem to know it won't
   help. I can hear. . . there's. . . shit, there's someone, I think,
   someone walking, maybe us maybe not. Jesus, don't move, can't if I
   wanted to, can't look, can't think of nothin' else. Oh God, let it be
   someone who's come to help. Please. Please. Please.
   Shit! they're talkin', somethin', not too loud, but shit oh God it's
   just quick and oh shit real fast like they do and something's rippin'
   my heart out all of a sudden it ain't us, no one comin' here to help
   us, just them, comin' in to clear the area, just like we'd do if we we
   laid down fire. Oh man how're they here already there's another one,
   another voice, high like they have, and oh no a quick burst and oh
   fuck. . . .
   They're killin' the wounded.
   Oh no no no I gotta think I can't think I can't and Jesus there's
   another one ain't there any of us left but me and no it can't be no. I
   gotta stop breathin', I gotta try just real small in and out like I
   ain't and maybe they'll think I'm gone, leave me alone and what else
   is there to do. . . ah another shot more shots they're probably
   shootin' everyone just to make sure just like we'd do too admit it
   that's what we learned not back there in Basic, God that was nice,
   that was easy, nothing at all, but after we got here there's rules
   Wilkins said and then there's rules Oh Jesus God damn them.
   But I gotta breathe, more, this ain't enough, I gotta, real small, it
   hurts, maybe like dying hurts, but I'm real scared what else am I
   gonna do. I want to breathe, I can't. . . like underwater, like below
   the surface of a lake or somethin', ripples and the sun shimmerin' off
   the surface lookin' up, when I look up, air and life and everything I
   ever wanted but I know that I can't come out there's worse things than
   not breathin' ain't there there is. God God it's a baptism
   never-endin' just water just dunked in water and not allowed out and
   what am I gonna do I gotta end it end it myself there's no choice and
   I can't even cry and. . . clench my teeth, real tight, try to suck
   some air just a tiny bit into me don't move don't let them know just
   suck and don't move anything at all Again! another burst just over
   there closer God God loud no listen some loud drawn-out shit hell
   Ronnie isn't it yes it is Jesus what was he thinkin' lying there all
   this time with only one leg.
   Oh no after everything, after what's comin' up when I get back, not
   like this after those hot hot summer days playin' ball swimming down
   at Jacob's falls cold water and fall and winter sled riding until we
   were half-froze, coming in to thaw out hurtin' when our feet started
   to warm up and it was OK to cry? Jesus there wasn't enough and now I
   want waking up next to Kristie every morning and in the evening dusk
   walkin' with her and lookin' just lookin' and is it all gonna end with
   me lying here in this dirt alone like this just like this and now I
   ain't never gonna see her with no baby God I was lookin' forward to
   that. Both her sisters got real big with theirs and one day it struck
   me how there ain't nothin' better and once last summer we went out to
   Brady Lake and she was tan and smooth and I asked her to stick her
   belly out. . . up and out far and I ran my hand over it and 'round it
   and then I took her picture her actin' all swollen up and tryin' not
   to laugh but her eyes sparkling and just then I snapped it and got it
   now in my wallet and that's all it's gonna ever be is a picture ain't
   it ain't it?
   Jesus Christ another shot something air leaving and a branch snapped
   and my heart is pounding to explode and run run the legs won't move no
   for sure they'll get you just stay here don't let it drive you fuckin'
   crazy the fear don't breathe don't move don't move. Just a few! feet
   away three three quick shots and something stops they are so close
   hurts my ears some words I don't understand and what are they doing
   just standin' there my face is in the dirt and I can't tell. . . How
   many just two or a whole platoon and oh fuck they're probably lookin'
   around don't breathe to see who else is alive those bastards killing
   just like we do what else we got comin'? towering over me I can feel
   them big and big and thinkin' they got the power just cause a that gun
   in their arm just like I seen guys in my company and if they knew
   maybe dead now they do how just all you want is bein' alive.
   Them sharp words commands don't breathe and FUCK! someone steps in my
   direction I can tell I can slowly but I know it I know everything now
   this wallet I know it and FUCK! it's all I got all I have left just an
   image of what there was and oh but how important that is right now
   just this paper these symbols and maybe I'm gone but maybe they won't
   and maybe what's left will keep them safe and that's what I want now
   nothin' else and the hell with me they can take me but not these
   they're mine and they don't know no not me not me not me.
   Don't move don't but move and move, lean so they can't tell, roll roll
   don't breathe get my back 'tween the wallet and the guns an don't move
   but I gotta have to not and have to breathe soon and just do it now
   for once just do it and just DO IT and. . . no no no. . . oh how it
   would feel breathin' but no but someone yells and someone else i can
   hear i can and oh God Pap wasn't that great and Megan that hair the
   way it would blow and my mom kiss on the cheek just once more and and
   i can't even smile now that i have to. . . oh my God. . . stick my
   belly out Kristie i see you the lake all that air and my belly out now
   got it out can't get it out no further don't care gotta breathe how
   many no no and it's wet Kristie but no more and. . . and. . . gotta
   now gotta move AIR!! and there it is i'm comin' up i'm breakin'
   through the surface and the sun is so bright Kristie and . . . oh my
   you are so. . . beautiful.


"Narrowing the Meanings" by Bardofbyte

Were I to say I love you what precisely would I mean?
Love, the word is used too often.
Don't the sages of conscience dictate that love
is what I should feel for all humanity?
So how can the same word cover
what I'm supposed to feel for both you and them?

Take a gold brick, a good solid piece,
it has weight and depth
and all its worth can be embraced
in just one hand.
Now exploit its malleability,
hammer it, hammer again, and again,
pound it to a sheet a mile square.
What results?
almost transparent, with hardly any weight or depth.
Try covering a multitude with such a sheet;
a twitch of a finger, a drop of rain
and the sheet shreds.

What other word could I use to describe
my feelings for you?
An honest, lawyer-like accurate word?
Exhibit A,
this wide angle photo of you at Coney Island.
My eyes become telescopic,
so many other faces surround you but I
sharply and instantly
on you.
My eyes resolve
the design on your blouse
and even the freckles on your face.
The surrounding faces are blurs.
The objective eye would discern different details,
but to me
are my focus,
my focus.

"Wisdom's Maw" (an excerpt) by Todd Brendan Fahey

   Visit Todd Brendan Fahey's web site to read more about his
   soon-to-be-published book _Wisdom's Maw_.
   Jack Kerouac stepped off the plane at San Francisco International,
   everything he owned in a rucksack, a scowl pinching his sunparched
   face. Raising his eyes to a stewardess, he started to say something
   but couldn't get the words out, and settled instead for an embarrassed
   shrug and the involuntary flapping of hands at the waist. The lights
   of the terminal hurt his eyes, which were moist in their sockets and
   rimmed in shades of vermillion. He lit a cigarette and shuffled slowly
   to the entrance of gate 42, where Neal and Carlo would be waiting for
   him, if they weren't still sucking each other's cock at Carlo's
   apartment, or off speeding God knows where, oblivious to the haggard
   traveler from Long Island with phlebitis in his legs and a heart so
   heavy it felt like it could sometimes damn near fall out through the
   stomach floor.
   The writer grimaced as he pushed his way through a thicket of spades
   blocking the exit. Everywhere he looked, some foreigner, a Jew, sat
   savoring an evening in an America he used to have doing tricks for him
   through a hoop. He walked past a man in a turban and caught a waft of
   body odor so bad that he spun around and screamed at the man to take a
   bath or get out of his country, for Chrissakes. The man stared, saying
   nothing, until Jack waved him off, muttering something about being
   poor once, too.
   Seeing only a seething, unfamiliar mass, he sped to a jog and ducked
   into the nearest cocktail lounge, where he tossed his sack under the
   barstool. "You gotta Jameson's with 'ol Jack's name on it?" he
   The bartender nodded slowly. "I've got forty two kinds of liquor, with
   blanks for just about every name in the book. Jack's as good as any, I
   Kerouac leaned forward. "Bet'cha never poured Jameson's for a living
   godblessed author."
   The bartender set two ounces of whiskey down in front of Jack. "Last
   week I served a creme de menthe to Saul Bellow."
   A flush of violet passed over Jack's stubbly jowls. He slapped his
   hand hard on the counter. "Saul Bellow, well, well! I wish I coulda
   been here, barkeep. You gotta tell me, was Saul with the other rabbis?
   Herbert Gold, maybe? Ha!" he bellowed, drawing stares from every
   direction. "Piss'n their creme de menthe. Another whiskey for the King
   o' the Beats!"
   Carlo and Neal heard Jack raving from two gates away. By the time they
   reached the lounge, the bartender had cut off his tab and was
   threatening to call security. Carlo pulled him off the stool, while
   Neal flung the heavy sack over a shoulder with a snap of his left
   "H'lo Carlo, Neal," Jack grinned sheepishly, staggering out into the
   terminal. "Guess I kinda made a fuss back there, huh?"
   Neal Cassady was nursing one of his long silences. He walked with Jack
   and Carlo, bobbing his head every so often until reaching the parking
   lot, where Jack laid a sodden stare on a mint condition two-toned
   Hudson, complete with spare tire affixed to the trunk.
   "Thought you said you was broke," Jack gaped. "Damn, that's a
   beeeuuuuuutiful machine, where'd you steal her from?"
   Neal said nothing, just nodded his head and shrugged.
   "We put a downpayment on it Friday," Carlo answered. "Neal got a small
   settlement from the railroad for ruining his thumb."
   Jack looked down and noticed for the first time a huge dirty bandage
   covering half of Neal's right hand. The tape was unraveling, and a
   section flapped against his wrist.
   "He broke the thumb at the nail. Infection set in," Carlo frowned.
   "Neal's pace isn't conducive to injury, I'm afraid."
   Neal pointed at a tube in the breast pocket of Carlo's shirt.
   Carlo shook his head. "You've had enough already, Neal. You're wired."
   Then he offered a tab to Kerouac, who hesitated briefly, before
   popping it into his mouth.
   "This isn't going to be some big queer session, is it?" Kerouac
   muttered. "I don't go in for that stuff anymore. Wasn't big on it to
   begin with, y' know."
   "I know, Jack," Carlo nodded, and began driving down the coast.
   Jack stared out at the water, feeling the amphetamine course through
   his veins--a chill that ran clear through to his fingertips. The late
   October surf smashed against the cliffside, turning to foam, then out
   again, gaining strength to beat down upon the jagged rocks. Jack
   rolled down his window. The frigid air whipped his overheated forehead
   and snapped his neck back stiffly. He inhaled deeply, but instead of
   sea salts drew in a stinking, vaporous iodine so vile he grabbed the
   handle and reeled the window up furiously. The scent he kept to
   himself, but the reaction sucked him down into the passenger seat and
   saw him pulling his coat tightly around his chest as Carlo sailed down
   Pacific Coast Highway, dragging heavily on a joint and bobbing his
   head to a John Coltrane riff blasting out of the tape player in the
   Neal straightened up from the back seat, pushing his head over Carlo's
   shoulder. "Can you hear it? The reed vibrating so perfectly, so
   acutely aware of the moment, not the past or what's going to happen
   two seconds from now, but NOW, right this very heavenly second when
   the tongue and the teeth come in contact with that stiff li'l reed and
   Jack Kerouac smiled for the first time in many weeks. "Good to have y'
   back, Neal, you crazy angel."
   Neal patted Jack on the shoulder and kissed him fast on the cheek.
   "Never gone, Jack, just restrained from the spoken element of the
   moment. Every once in a while even a motormouth like your's truly
   needs a li'l calm and respite in his life."
   Jack reached down into his sack and grabbed a bottle of whiskey by the
   neck and gulped down the last two or three ounces. "Know've a good
   liquor store 'round here, Carlo? Looks like I'm outta sust'nance."
   Carlo shook his head. "Try some of this," he smiled, passing him a
   Jack shrugged several times, then began to whimper. "Oh...c'mon, pal.
   I'd score you a lid if you ran out of smoke. You know I would. C'mon,
   I'll just be in and out. Look, I've got my own money," he nodded,
   pulling out his wallet and flashing two hundred dollars in crumpled
   bills. "I just cashed my check from Esquire for the piece I wrote on
   what's left of us Beats."
   Carlo smiled and kept driving as the Hudson sped smoothly down the
   California coastline, thick masses of fir engulfing the hillside
   toward Big Sur.
   Neal leaned up and over Jack, sticking his broken Roman nose out the
   window. "Heaven can't smell much better than this, m'friends. And in
   fact, it would not surprise me one tiny iota to find at the inevitable
   moment that the Pearly Gates open up right here where it is we're
   going. What about it, Carlo?"
   Carlo chuckled, mumbling something about a poem in Neal's primitive
   Christian instincts: "`A Heaven on Earth, and Its Name is Big Sur,'"
   Carlo giggled.
   To Jack it felt like Hell. Every so often, he would dig deep into his
   sack, just to see if he might have smuggled some lone mini-bottle from
   the airplane. Defeated, he finally took the joint from the ashtray and
   began frantically sucking its marrow. The station on which Coltrane
   was blowing his horn fell to static in the fog of the wriggling
   coastal highway. Jack tried not to hear Carlo and Neal laughing at
   him, or notice the big, sinister trees on the sides of the road, like
   something he had seen once as a child under a high fever, the gnarled,
   hairy arms that stretched over the road, fondling the stolen Hudson,
   dropping bits of nature's filthy decay onto the windshield.
   "Hurryup," Jack grimaced. "There's cops all over this road. One look
   at us, and we're on the inside fr'at least a week."
   "Alright, Jack," Carlo said calmly, sensing Kerouac's desperation.
   "We're almost there."
   Neal put his hands on his old friend's shoulders and began rubbing
   them, filling Jack with nausea at the memory of his sporadic
   homosexual encountersDnights of stoned youth, stumbling back to some
   grungy North Beach rooming house he had shared with his road partner,
   full of wine and gage and the tender euphoria of Neal Cassady fucking
   him in the ass. Jack pushed Neal's hands aside and crouched forward
   into a rumpled ball.
   The Hudson pulled to a soft dirt trail and came to a stop in front of
   a rambling, splintered cabin. "Ours for the weekend, Jack. Isn't she
   Sack clutched tightly in his fist, Jack bounded out of the Hudson and
   stretched his legs, breathing the fragrant mists of Bixby Canyon. A
   bluejay hopped down a thick bough and began screeching at him. He
   cringed and ran into the unlocked shack and almost over a stately,
   silver-haired man who sat in the livingroom, drinking a glass of port.
   The man recoiled upon seeing his friend's bloated red face.
   "Jack!?" he smiled, his right eyebrow raised askance.
   The traveler nodded quickly, then began rifling through the kitchen
   cupboards for something stronger than wine.
   Carlo and Neal walked into the cabin, whereupon the former apologized
   to Harve Serengeti for their friend's general lack of decorum. "He's
   in terrible shape, Harve. I hope he won't ruin your taste for
   Serengeti shook his head and was silent for a long moment, watching
   helplessly as Jack poured more than a pint of whiskey down his throat.
   He loved Jack. They all loved Jack. Crowds of noisy street-poets in
   front of his Holding Hands bookstore in 1954 filled Serengeti's
   memory. Carlo standing full of nerves and wine, letting out for the
   first time the majestic stanzas of Growl, the unruly audience falling
   into an anxious calm. In the stillness, Jack had raised his jug of
   burgundy, and began chanting, "Go, Go, Go..." And then Neal
   intertwined his own methedrine rap, and within minutes Harve Serengeti
   was host to the birth of a revolutionDCarlo Marx stripping off his
   white tunic and dancing naked at Broadway and Columbus, dozens of
   pipes sending a pungent cloud through the air and into the straight
   world only a street away, and Jack, sweet Jack, clapping so oblivious,
   and not one policeman intervened.
   "How long has he been like this?"
   Carlo shrugged and shook his head. "He's been living with his mother
   on Long Island since '61. He doesn't speak to anyone. It's really
   nearly a miracle that something in Neal's letter got him out of the
   Jack screwed the cap back on the bottle, smiling through a bleary
   mask, then hugged Serengeti tightly around his shoulder. "Don't worry,
   'arve, I'll pick up a coupl'a replacements. Jack's no freeloader,
   y'know. Not like Neal," he spat. "When'sa last time you paid fr'yrown
   liquor, Neal? Bought y'rown pills? Huh!? Nobody ever called Jack a
   freeloader, no, no."
   "I think it's time for some food," Harve whispered. "I thought we'd go
   the cafe at Nepenthe."
   Neal shuffled through his pockets, then scratched his chest.
   "I'll...ahh...stick around and watch the house, Harve. How about
   "Let's go, Neal," he nodded. "I'm sure there's a couple times I never
   paid you for watching my store. We'll call it even with dinner."
   Neal's head bobbed spasmodically, his face brightening as he threw one
   arm around Harve and the other around Kerouac. "I know you don't mean
   it, Jack. You've been, and will always be, my brother."
   Jean Louis Kerouac sobbed quietly and continuously from Serengeti's
   cabin to the restaurant, wiping the tears quickly and frequently on
   the sleeve of his flannel shirt, hoping no one would notice. Nepenthe
   reminded him of an old wine-and-coffeehouse in North Beach, where he
   used to write for blocks of ten hours at a clip, after cracking open a
   couple benzedrine inhalers and dumping the camphorous strips into a
   cup of black Turkish coffee. Neal would come over to his table all
   excited, pointing out the shortest skirts, and Jack would shoo him off
   like a dungfly with his left hand, still pounding out fifty-words a
   minute with his right. He finished On the Road in twelve days. That
   was 1952. Now his stomach turned just thinking about that camphorous
   A cluster of long-haired men sat laughing and passing a joint around
   their table on the sunbathed redwood deck. "Bet they're communists,"
   he mumbled to himself. "That, or fairies."
   A table was waiting for Serengeti near a window which overlooked a
   forest of thick scented pines. Neal nodded appreciatively, rubbed his
   stomach and squeezed Serengeti by the bicep. Harve patted Neal's
   shoulder and smiled.
   Kerouac refused a menu from the waitress. "A fifth of Canadian Club
   and a bucket'o ice," he growled.
   Carlo leaned forward. "How about a hamburger, too?"
   Jack crouched in his chair, grimacing. "Quit looking at me! All I
   want'sa goddamn bottle of whiskey! Jeez, y'racting like Mom."
   Carlo started to say something, but Harve waved him off. "There's
   nothing anyone can do," he smiled thinly.
   Jack nodded his head furiously. "Thass right. Nothin' anyone can do
   f'r'ol' Jack. Pity don't work, can't get any respect from the
   criticsDthe Jews. Y'wanna know how much I made last year? Huh?"
   Serengeti lifted his shoulders in an embarrassed shrug, but said
   "Eighteen hundred dollars, thass what! Nobody buys my books anymore.
   Kids steal 'em, the Jews call 'em trash. Say I'm a imbecile, brain's
   gone soft," Jack shouted, his eyes full of tears. "I just got so tired
   of waiting, 'arve. Took the Jew bastards five years to figger out On
   the Road was some kind'a genius. They said they couldn't take it,
   'cause it was written on a big roll of teletype paper. Said it looked
   like a salami. Said it was weird. Five years. A man loses part of his
   spirit wait'n 'round that long," he whispered, raising the glass to
   his lips. "Gotta get some comfort somewhere."
   After dinner, Carlo rubbed his huge beard, then his tummy, and told
   the men of his standing invitation at the Esalen Institute, and of its
   24-hour redwood hot tub. Jack shrugged and nodded, breaking into
   something of a smile. The Hudson rolled south down Highway 1 about
   seven miles, then fell abruptly down a steep driveway overlooking the
   great, rippling blackness of the Pacific ocean. Esalen availed itself
   as a week-long session in self-discovery to those who could afford it.
   But neighbors said strange drugs were used; there were hints of
   orgies, and muted howling could be heard on clear nights.
   Carlo looked at his watch and walked into the lodge at 9:45 p.m.,
   where he recognized Milosz Grosz, the Czech "migr" who served as
   Esalen's staff therapist. The poet approached the doctor with a smile,
   hand outstretched. "We met last year at a symposium for the American
   Academy of Psychedelic Therapy," Carlo said.
   Dr. Grosz nodded distractedly. "Of course. You are poet-revolutionary
   with unfortunate surname."
   Carlo laughed loudly and clapped his hands. "Maybe some day I'll have
   it changed. I've brought some friends, and we'd like to make use of
   the hot tub. Of course, if--"
   Dr. Grosz shook his head. "Make yourself comfortable." Looking out the
   window, he took notice of the three companions. "You must excuse me. I
   have work. A pleasure to meet you again, Mr. Marx." The doctor trotted
   into a conference room, closing the door solidly behind him. General
   William Creasy sat at the head of the oblong table, surrounded by most
   of the staff of Project MK-ULTRA. "Most unusual visit, General," he
   said. "Two of the famous Beat writers wish to bathe in our tub."
   The word "Beat" snapped Creasy's head upright from where it had hung
   over a pile of clinical profiles. "Who?!"
   "The poet Carlo Marx and three of his friends. I know only Mr.
   Kerouac, not the others."
   Creasy giggled like a child on his fifth Twinkie. "Doc, do we have any
   LSD on the premises?"
   Dr. Grosz shuffled in his seat. "Well..."
   "Get it," Creasy grinned. "And give it to every one of them. Slip it
   in their drinks. I want to see what happens."
   The doctor hedged.
   "Goddamnit, I've been left out of the loop for nine years now, and I
   demand to see results."
   Dr. Grosz left his seat and picked up a phone in the corner of the
   room. After some whispering, he cradled the receiver and returned to
   the table. "I will leave before it takes effect. I do not condone this
   type of practice."
   Creasy waved off his complaints, and returned to a thin folder.
   "You've studied the file, doctor. What can we expect from Franklin
   Dr. Grosz opened a copy of the chart from the Menlo Park Veterans
   Hospital. Nodding slowly, an upturned crease developed in the center
   of his gaunt face. "Young Mr. Moore is amazing patient. He possesses
   almost perfect control under tremendous psychological strain. His
   verbal and mathematical skills while under LSD-25 are the highest I
   have ever had the pleasure of analyzing. Will you have him as part of
   your government, perhaps? He is born leader."
   General Creasy smiled. "He'll be well-placed, doctor. Thank you for
   your concern."
   "If that is all," Grosz nodded, "I will retire to my bungalow. I wish
   to know nothing of the activities of Mr. Marx and his friends," he
   frowned, then slipped out a side door and walked in the moonlight
   through a thicket of trees to his cabin.
   Carlo, Harve and Neal each slid completely out of their clothes and
   into the hot tub, leaving Jack in a well-worn pair of boxers, pacing
   back and forth in indecision. His bloated stomach stood as a grim
   testament to years of excessDno longer the stocky athletic build of
   his football years at Columbia, but almost corpselike in its advanced
   state of putrefaction. He coughed violently, registering to the
   painful spasms in his gut. Before a handsome waiter could kneel to
   serve the men in the tub, Jack swiped a glass of wine from the tray.
   "Compliments of Esalen," the waiter said.
   Carlo smiled back at the man, winking through his heavy black frames.
   "Care to join us?"
   The waiter issued a professional apology, placed a stack of oversized
   towels on a chair, then disappeared inside the lodge, leaving Carlo
   somewhat anguished.
   "It's hell getting old," he said. "I used to be able to attract the
   loveliest menDall over the world. I remember in Tangier--"
   Neal moved closer and laid his head on Carlo's hairy chest. "I'll help
   you out, if you need it, old friend. Can't count the times you've
   parted your various orifices for me in my times of desperate carnal
   Harve smiled at the two, then excused himself to savor his wine on a
   reclining deck chair, wrapping himself in a towel. Jack had polished
   off his glass in two gulps and was looking fruitlessly around for
   more. He finally sat down beside his patron and publisher.
   "Bright little buggers," Jack said, staring up at the crowded,
   blinking sky. "Feels like they're talking to me," he giggled. "`H'lo
   up there. H'lo...whadd'ya think they're trying to tell me, 'arve? Must
   be pretty important, for all the chatterin' they're doin'. Look at
   Harve Serengeti stared at Jack Kerouac, then into his own wine glass,
   feeling the trees beginning to come alive...the sounds of the ocean
   more restless as the LSD entered his brain. "It's okay, Jack. Have fun
   with it," he said, then whispered to Carlo and Neal, who were heating
   up the tub. "Do you feel something? I think our drinks are salted."
   Carlo smiled, his head resting back upon the lip of the redwood tub,
   Neal's bandaged hand pumping vigorously underneath the water's
   surface. "Oh, yeah. I feel everything."
   Jack continued to talk back to the stars, his mind racing from one
   delirious tangent to the next, trying to make sense of the insanity
   that had overcome him without warning. "Yeah, well, whadd'you know!"
   he shouted to the sky. "V'you ever been lonely? Fuck you! Not like
   them. Was never a communist, thass who's after Jack. It's 'cause I
   won't lay down for the Reds, like m'friend Carlo. Makes 'em mad. Well,
   fuck 'em every one of 'em!!" he shrieked.
   Jack dropped his head and shrugged to Harve, who was paralyzed as
   equally by the acid in his own drink as he was by the chemical
   schizophrenia to which he was bearing witness in one of his oldest
   friends. Jack stripped off his shorts and walked toward the hot tub.
   He swayed uncertainly at the steps, then stepped back in horror as
   thin strands of sperm floated to the surface and Carlo sighed and Neal
   hopped out of the tub with a hard-on.
   "Goddamn fruits, m'best friends are fruits. Everyone's got it out for
   Jack...aaaAAAUUUGGGGHHH!!!!" he whinnied, gripped in a terrified
   dementia. His clothes clutched wrinkled in his paw, the Beat avatar
   ran up the driveway and out onto Pacific Coast Highway, and kept
   Neal stood puzzled, oblivious to the nature of the foreign sensations
   in his body and head. "What spooked him?"
   Ten minutes later, the lights of Neal's Hudson flooded the shoeless,
   stumbling, and dazed form of Jack Kerouac. Tight in his grip was an
   almost empty quart of whiskey, which he finished off while blinking at
   the Hudson from a shoulder of the road. Carlo jerked him by the wrist
   into the back seat, where he belched what smelled to be the essence of
   his bile duct.
   "How 'bout it, Carlo? How 'bout a blowjob, f'r'ol Jack," he sputtered,
   unzipping his pants and pulling out his organ. "One f'r the road. HA,
   HA, HA...haacckkksshhppt," he chortled, coughing up a thick wad of
   mucus. "Put'cher head right down 'ere'n do what'cha do best. C'mon.
   I'm old and fat, and haven't had a decent girl for years. Juss whores.
   Whadd'ya say, Carlo?"
   "You're drunk and you're sick, Jack. You should be drying out in a
   hospital with healthy food and some rest."
   Jack scoffed, calling Carlo various derivatives of "cocksucker," until
   they arrived at Harve's cabin, where all but Jack went immediately to
   sleep to distance themselves from the odious presence.
   When they awoke the next morning, Jack was slumped over a kitchen
   table littered with at least two gallon's in empty bottles, including
   the cheap sauterne Harve normally used for marinating the local trout.
   He was twitching uncontrollably and whispering about pain and all
   manner of death, his eyes wide like half-dollars. Harve gave Jack a
   big glass of water and half of a mild tranquilizer, then carried him
   over to the sofa and sat down and cried as the Dharma bum fell asleep.
   At five o'clock that evening, Harve Serengeti drove a groggy Jack
   Kerouac to the airport and deposited him onto a plane back to Long
   Island. "Try not to let him drink," Harve said to the stewardess.
   "He's a sweet man, but he has no control."
   Jack nodded and shrugged, held his friend briefly, then left
   California sick, desperate, a word, beat.
                                      About the Authors

David Alexander ( collects packs of sugar from
restaurants all over the world. 
David Appell ( grew up in the mountains of western
Pennsylvania, where he watched the Viet Nam war on television and worried
that he might have to go when he got older.  He is now an MFA candidate in
the Creative Writing program at Arizona State University.  His work can be
found online in _Kudzu_, _Webrunner_ and (to appear) _The Blue Penny

Bardofbyte ( is a biology teacher and has
been for many years (since before Darwin). He has been writing poetry, off
and on for many years also. He has had poems published in many magazines,
such as _Small Pond_, _Oregon East_, _Blue Unicorn_ and many others. Lest
you think he's on an ego trip, he has been rejected by far more. 

Bruce Harris 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." 

Tara Calishain ( fixes computers and does
more and more writing for a living. When not busy with that she composes
music and plays fetch with Herbie the Wonder Cat. 

Robert W. Howington ( runs DEAD MEN
SITTING AT TYPEWRITERS PRESS and publishes the critically-acclaimed
DRIVE-BY BOOKS and BROADSIDES. To get a sample book send $2 cash only to
4405 Bellaire Drive South #220, Ft. Worth, TX 76109-5103. 

Dr. William F. Lantry ( is a professor of English at
Slippery Rock University. A former recipient of the Paris/Atlantic Young
Writer's Award, he has given readings in Paris, Rome and Monte Carlo as
well as throughout the US. 


                                          In Their Own Words

"Porky" by Tara Calishain: 

"_Porky_ was written after my grandmother related a story of a
neighborhood kid who drowned in Kerr lake forty years ago. There was no
emotion to the story.. it had been smoothed away long since. There was
only the stillness of the telling.. I could almost hear Porky lying there,
the lake shifting all around him." 

"At the Gates of Hell" by Bruce Harris Bentzman: 

"One of the perks of being a writer is revenge.  You can selectively take
details from an event in your life, modify it to your own glory, and, if
you're lucky, your representation will outlive your enemy." 

"What's Out There is More of Here" by David Alexander: 

"Some of my principal objectives in writing the group of stories from
which _What's Out There is More of Here_ were to create fictions that
resisted easy categorization, crossed boundaries of style and form, and
preserved, as far as possible, the rhythms and cadences of spoken
language. Most of all, I was interested in writing stories that were
epiphanic, revelatory; that challenged conceptual norms, and that avoided
the studied irrelevancies of most contemporary commercial fiction.
Privately, I coined the term "rap fiction" for some of these stories,
"enigmas" for others, and one or two more for the rest. But lately, I
don't like tags. I would prefer to let the stories stand on their own and
speak for themselves." 

"Another Poem Written on Company Time" by Robert W. Howington: 

"I wrote this poem at work last summer. The quote from Jesus I had read in
some litmag and it got me to thinking. The result of that thinking is the
poem itself. I wrote the poem at work, scribbling it onto some note paper.
I write most of my stuff at work because that's where I'm trapped for 40
hours a week.  If you're a disgruntled worker slave like me I suggest you
check out" 

"Chant" by Dr. William F. Lantry: 

"I wrote this poem across a modem, using vi on a s5r4 Unix machine as part
of The Electronic Poetry Project.  It was written on a midsummer's eve,
and I was hoping to catch, in electronic meter, some of the mystical
nature of that evening-- hence the calls to candles, rituals, and wind.  I
hope it also includes a feeling of loss and of limitations and of
possibilities, inside the strictures of formal realism-- hence, the

"Amazed by Her Beauty" by David Appell: 

"I had been reading a story which ended with a soldier's simple death, but
I thought that all the fascinating and most important details had been
left out.  I often wonder what goes through the minds of those within an
extreme situation like war or torture or a terrible accident, and suspect
that until I experience it firsthand some dark but crucial corner of the
universe will necessarily remain unknown to me." 

"Narrowing the Meanings" by Bardofbyte: 

"My main interest in this poem was to play with word "Love." The word has
so many meanings that it's meaningless. It's too easy to say you love
someone or something. What about the person or thing do you love? Can you
define it? Can you put it into words? Love is not only the word that has
been overused to incomprehension, there are many other words such as:
values, faith, morality. There is nothing wrong with the words, or in our
intelligence and ability to use them. The fault is in our basic dishonesty
with ourselves and with others. We make meanings foggy then hide in the
fog. We won't focus on the truth. That is the philosophical background, in
the foreground is the image of a former girlfriend." 

"Wisdom's Maw" by Todd Brendan Fahey: 

Enchanted by the history surrounding the CIA's notorious LSD experiments
of the 1950s and 60s, Todd Brendan Fahey has sought to recast Project
MK-ULTRA in the form of a novel, altering space and time as if in the
powerful throes of an acid trip, and with the dimensions redrawn to
benefit certain human agents who may have been neglected proportionally by
state-approved historians. 

The result is _Wisdom's Maw_, perhaps America's most controversial
unpublished novel (as believes author Ernest Gaines).  In the excerpt
published herein, Fahey retells the infamous nervous breakdown that claimed
Jack Kerouac while at poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti's cabin near Big Sur,
California.   As Beat and psychedelic generations collide, according to CIA
plan, and through a powerful lysergic lens, we witness the death-knell of
innocence, and the beginning of the end of Jack Kerouac.


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             Our next issue will be available February 22nd, 1996.

  This will be the concluding portion of our Second Anniversary double-issue.