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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 each).

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 grenade toss.

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.

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