Editor's Notes : Volume 4, Issue 1 by Matt Mason
published in Volume 4, Issue 1 on September 4th, 1997 The East Coast. I'd never been east of
Cleveland before, so once I found myself with a tangible
checking account, I decided it was time. Quit the job,
quit the other job, load up the car, and assure the other
Morpo editors that I'd be home before Haley's Comet
(though they probably didn't even notice my absence,
seeing as they all average somewhere around 4.3 jobs
And I headed for places like Maine,
Boston, New York, DC. Then down to the Carolinas,
Kentucky, Mississippi and Louisiana, staying with friends
and relatives or in my tent at State and National Parks.
So what all did I find and see? Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow, for one. And I don't mean that
adoringly. Sure, there was a lot out there, things like
the Library of Congress, the Appalachians, the Atlantic
Ocean, and an alarming number of Dunkin Donuts, but it
was Longfellow who followed me, haunting my steps.
Sure, you're going to encounter the guy
in a place like Boston. He's got a bridge named after him
that I walked over to get from my friend's place in
Cambridge into Boston. He's got a house that's now a
National Historic Site which I toured. He's got a nice
little poem about Paul Revere that got a lot of mention
when I took a National Park Service tour of the Freedom
Trail. The town's like a Longfellowpalooza, so it's no
surprise to find him about.
But then he followed me out. The worst
and most vivid was a dream I had while in Maine. I was
working at a Pizza Hut and on that night it was
traditional for Longfellow to lead an army of trolls and
ogres to that restaurant and beat up the clerks and
generally trash the place. This year, I wasn't going to
take it and worked out some defenses. The poet showed up,
dressed all in black, the forest full of his scowling
underlings. He scoffed at pathetic, minimum-wage-earning
poet me until I blew his butt up with a lucky hand
I figured that was it for our
relationship and, apart from a small marker about
Hiawatha which mentioned him, I seemed to be right.
Fast forward to Louisiana. I'm just
minding my own business down on the bayou, driving around
fairly randomly when I pass through the town of Saint
Martinsville. I was kinda curious why everything down
there was called the Evangeline this and the Evangeline
that until I saw the roadsign pointing to Longfellow
State Park a few miles up the road. Besides the return of
a small facial tick, I was fine. Really. Didn't bother me
or make me wonder at all just what the HELL he was doing
on MY Louisiana vacation. Not at all.
So I go back through Saint Martinsville
and look around at all this Acadian stuff made legend by
a lengthy Longfellow poem. And then I fled the area.
Once I was back home and safe in Omaha,
I figured I should maybe read some Longfellow, maybe
exorcise his presence that way. Looking through my
anthologies, I could only find one of his poems,
something obscure called "To The Driving Cloud"
that the book used as an example of dactylic pentameter.
Well, it was something, maybe it would liberate me from
his restless spirit. The poem began: "Gloomy and
dark art thou, O chief of the mighty Omahas..." I
now sleep with a hand grenade beside my futon.