Friday, December 16, 2005

Happy Holidays!

Blog faithful, I have been in a tizzy trying to figure out what to post you for Christmas this year! Some of you would surely enjoy a (somewhat) traditional Christmas tale sent in by Musea's Tom Hendricks...but since Tom's been a naughty boy and posted it to his Musea site first, we'll save internet space and just link you over there.

Most of you will send me nothing but coal this Christmas because i used the potentially-offensive word "Christmas" instead of the more generic "Holidays." If anyone was offended, please pop over to the Red Roach World blog to read an intelligent post on the benefits of saying "Happy Holidays." Personally, i prefer to say "Bah Humbug" and avoid the controversy entirely.

No doubt the youth among you are bored by all these poorly-written words of mine! You want something exciting for your Christmas...i mean...Holiday Adventures blog post. Well, for you i have a special treat: the newly renovated ULA Multimedia page! Wow! Hear some ULAers reading their work, singing random songs, and...we've even got a video! Have we got a video? YES!

Ah, as usual i feel that my holiday gifts to you all have been inadequate. I AM A FAILURE AT GIFT-GIVING! I don't know what you want...looking at me...with your EYES! I am going to mark my Christmas by jumping off a bridge...unless an angel disguised as a stranger intervenes and shows me how great and important i am. Any angels want a piece of that action? Didn't think so.

In any case, i hope we all enjoy the holidays, and i hope you blog readers get something out of the meagre scraps i've thrown your way. How's about another holiday tradition...the New Years Resolution we won't keep!? Here goes: I, Adventures Blog Editor Pat, do humbly resolve to post quality stuff more frequently on this blog in 2006. Furthermore, i resolve to...oh, never mind.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

This Thanksgiving, Try Some
Wolfe With Your Turkey!

Patriotism Redux
By Jennifer C. Wolfe

“When a whole nation is roaring Patriotism at the top of its voice,

I am fain to explore the cleanness of its hands and purity of its heart.”

--Ralph Waldo Emerson

Claire Dawson sat in front of her living room television set as she waited for her egg-timer to announce her frozen sausage pizza was fully oven-baked. The newly-re-elected US President had made a major press conference announcement: His chosen, prior-term Attorney General would remain in the position for his newest, final term. Claire shook her head as the President congratulated a familiar man, with a dour facial _expression, whose squinted-eye hateful glances and perpetual frown, combined with his fiery anti-terrorism rhetoric, had been demonized by political commentators and editorial cartoonists alike the world over. The President was managing to make the entire announcement very Presidential…, Claire thought, sarcastically. She disliked the current US President, and she disliked his chosen Attorney General even more so. She, along with a great majority of the rest of the country, had been gravely-disappointed by the recently-held November Presidential election. There were so many things, going wrong with the US…, she inwardly-surmised. …Skyrocketing poverty levels; dwindling Social Security funds; Lack of affordable health care, for hardworking families; Disappearing US jobs, etc. There were enough problems with the how the President was conducting his Administrative business, in the US, to, as her Southern Belle Aunt often ascertained: ‘Choke a horse.’ And then there was terrorism

Claire continued thinking, as the President and his Attorney General held their hands aloft in a victory salute, before the wildly-cheering press conference assembly. …The President was embroiled in three universal wars, with terrorism. The war against terrorism, being waged in Afghanistan. The war against terrorism, being waged in Iraq. And perhaps the most important: the war against terrorism, being waged against American dissent. This war clearly drew its battle-lines from the heated political debate of ‘National Security VS Civil Liberties.’ Claire gritted her teeth as the Attorney General readied himself to speak, stepping to the podium, bearing the US Presidential Seal across its front. The President stood to his immediate right, slightly behind him. “My fellow Americans…,” the Attorney General began, scanning the attending crowd, with a non-smiling, sour glance, as though he were sizing them up. “…Today, we celebrate a great victory, for both our President and our nation,” he continued, as the crowd erupted in applause. “Speak for yourself…,” Claire spoke, disdainfully, addressing the television screen as she vented her frustration. “On January 20, we will see the swearing in of our President for a glorious second-term-of-office.” “I haven’t heard of any leader’s term being called ‘glorious,’ since Adolph Hitler,” Claire commented, scowling. “Ve have von a victory, for our glorious Third Reich!” Claire impersonated a thick German accent. Undaunted by her unheard verbal innuendo, the Attorney General continued. “The President, having been given his mandate, for strong leadership by the voters, has now-honored me with a mandate to expand our resolve against terrorism within our nation!” The crowd members erupted, wildly, with applause, many of them jumping to their feet. “Expand our resolve against terrorism within our nation?” Claire repeated the phrase in her humorous Parrot’s voice. “And, how might we go about expanding our resolve against terrorism within our nation?” she demanded. “I am proud to announce, at this juncture, a new section, and phase of terror-preparedness, within our great Department of Homeland Security…,” said the Attorney General. “…The Department of Homeland Security has added a new wing. This wing is called the ‘Domestic Terrorism Enemy Combatant’ wing. Its sole purpose and function exists to target those individuals living within our great nation who seek to undermine our anti-terrorism resolve.” “DTEC—isn’t that precious???” Claire scoffed, her scowl deepening. “There are those within this country whose protest actions against the President and the policies of his Administration, directly-aid the cause of terrorism,” the Attorney General warned, attempting to sound charismatic. “Oh, please…,” Claire snorted. “…We’ve heard this recording, before.” “We must unite together, as one strong nation, if we are to defeat the forces of terrorism, on our home ground!” implored the Attorney General. Once again, the crowd leapt to their feet, cheering and applauding, wildly! “I want to make it extremely-clear, that we cannot tolerate dissent with our President’s policies, or distrust of his leadership…” Claire’s eyebrows rose in mild concern at this statement. The Attorney General continued. “…Terrorists live to fight another day—and continue to fight against and threaten—our great nation, in part, because of those individuals who engage in domestic dissent.” The Attorney General scanned the crowd for their reaction before expounding upon his chosen theme. “Those who protest the War in Afghanistan, or the War in Iraq, dishonor our brave men and women who are fighting—and, in some cases, giving their very lives—for the cause of liberty!”

Bullshit!” Claire now became angrily-animated, as she faced her thirteen-inch color television screen. “People protest the war in those places because they are fought against hopelessly-outmatched countries with no military capabilities to speak of—Because the cause of ‘liberty’ in those countries has turned into the cause of ‘occupation,’—And because no matter what you or any of the President’s miserable cronies say, don’t tell me the wars do NOT have anything to do with the OIL!!!” Claire shouted, her blue-green eyes narrowing into squinted, angry slits as she spoke. “We must understand, my fellow Americans...,” the Attorney General elaborated. “…In order for us to realize a truly-solid, beneficial margin of safety against terrorism—we cannot abide dissent with our leaders. Questioning our President and his Administration’s leadership only leaves us vulnerable to terrorists. We remember September 11, 2001. And, next year, which is the tenth anniversary of this heinous act of terror aggression against the US, we should only strengthen our resolve as a nation—as we re-install our great President—to never tolerate those who would willfully-engage in domestic terrorism!” The crowd rose to its feet with heartfelt applause! “USA…USA…USA…,” they began chanting in unison. “Unbelievable!” Claire was horrified at the direction the Attorney General’s remarks were taking. More horrifying, however…, she reasoned. …Was the surrounding crowd’s reaction to them? “Our President is the leader of the greatest nation in the world! The US must remain the beckoning beacon of freedom to all those countries who are striving for liberty!” affirmed the Attorney General. “Beckoning beacon?” Claire repeated, fighting the impulse to giggle. “Nice alliteration……Did you think of that, all by yourself?” she commented, wryly. “My fellow Americans…,” the Attorney General droned on. “…We must remain committed to our goals of supplying liberty to any/all Middle Eastern countries who wish to embrace it! We will not be defeated in this admirable goal! And, most importantly, we will not be deterred by those domestic terrorists within our own country who attempt to focus our attention away from faith and trust in our elected leadership!” The crowd, once-again, rose to their feet, applauding, as a fresh round of “USA…USA…USA,” was chanted around the room. The Attorney General focused his direct attention at the cheering crowd assembled before him. With his fiercest facial _expression, plainly visible, he glared directly into the eye of the main camera lens focused upon him. “My fellow Americans…remember these two affirmations carefully—for, we, at the US Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security, will not back down from the anti-terrorism mandate handed to us by our President! So, remember: You are either with us, or you are with the terrorists! You are either for us, or you are against us!” With that said, the Attorney General fell silent as the crowd lurched to its feet in smart-unison. Their applause and cheering screams were thunderous!

For the first time in remembered history, Claire noted the corners of the Attorney General’s thin lips turned upward in a demonic smile. Claire often equated the events she encountered within her life with memorable moments she had witnessed in Hollywood film. Listening to the Attorney General’s closing remarks had prompted a scene from the 1959 Warner Brothers movie, Ben-Hur, to come to the forefront of her troubled thoughts. In a dialogue-exchange, between the film’s two chief protagonists, villain Roman Tribune Messalah and Jewish Prince Judah Ben-Hur, Messalah has asked Judah to speak to his fellow-countrymen about not causing violence or unrest against the ruling Roman Empire. Judah had related to him that he had already spoken to a number of people on this topic, stating a great many of them agreed with him—though, not all. Messalah demands Judah turn informer, and tell him the names of his countrymen who do not subscribe to obedience to Roman rule. Judah stubbornly-resists telling Messalah the names, insisting he will not simply hand over his friends for Messalah to have them killed. Messalah utters a grandiose rebuttal to Judah: “Judah—you have no choice. You are either for me, or you are against me.” To which a heartbroken Judah felt compelled to reply: “If that is the choice—then, I am against you.” That is how I feel…, she pondered. If the choice offered by the Attorney General consisted of: ‘You are either with us (i.e. a US President and Administration she despised and had no faith in), or you are with the terrorists (i.e. those individuals who used their US Constitution-guaranteed rights to question the leadership of their freely-elected government)—then, I guess, I would have to be classified as being with the terrorists. Then, again…, she inwardly-continued. …I already was a terrorist—a domestic terrorist—since I have never been shy about voicing my dissatisfaction with the President and his Administration? A new incarnation of a favorite anti-terrorism term, “Enemy Combatant,” sprang to mind. How long might it be—if the majority of the US adopted the Attorney General’s attitude—before she, herself, was classified as a ‘Domestic Terrorist Enemy Combatant?’ Claire thought, setting her jaw-line in the wry, thinking philosopher’s posture she adopted when she was deeply-pondering something.

* * * * *

Claire awoke from a deep trance some fifteen minutes later. The CNN news reporter was in the midst of summarizing the Attorney General’s speech. “And, so, Marla…,” he commented to a very pretty young woman with sandy-blonde, shoulder-length straight hair. “…the Attorney General, delivering a stirring address, this evening, before a capacity crowd in the White House Press room.” “It was stirring…,” Claire resumed her dialogue with the television as she brushed a strand of blonde hair out of her face. “…It stirred my stomach, into nausea.” “I’m sure those both watching and listening to this press conference are wondering the same thing we are this evening?” “Yes, Steve, of course…,” the news woman agreed, showcasing her gleaming white teeth. “Oh, this should be stunning…Please, tell us exactly what it is we are wondering this evening, Steve?” Claire commented, sarcastically. “Does this new hard-line approach, to domestic terrorism spell the death-knoll for American Civil Liberties in the US as we currently know them?” CNN reporter, Steve Roberts, questioned. At this juncture, Claire’s egg-timer let out a lengthy, shrill clanging sound. “There’s the bell, tolling, right now!” Claire admonished, sardonically, racing to the kitchen to pull her sausage pizza out of the oven.

* * * * *

Claire was in the middle of her third slice of sausage pizza when the cordless telephone to her immediate right began ringing. Seated at the end of the living room sofa next to it she brought the receiver to her ear. “Hello?” she asked. “Rah-rah-siss-boom-bah! Some speech, from our precious Attorney General, hey?!?” the voice of her closest friend, Kelli Sprent, was soon heard. Claire laughed, nearly choking on her pizza! “Well, didn’t you hear CNN’s Steve Roberts?” she inquired, in-between giggling and chewing her food. “This is the supposed ‘death-knoll’ tolling for American civil liberties in our country as we know it.” “Careful…,” Kelli warned, clucking her tongue, comically. “…Sarcastic references like that regarding our magnanimous Attorney General’s ‘stirring’ comments, will get you labeled as a ‘Domestic Terrorist Enemy Combatant’,” she continued, struggling, not to giggle herself. “Pppft!” Claire snorted, derisively. “Our ‘magnanimous’ Attorney General, indeed! The only thing he’s magnanimous about is his tearing down of the US Constitution!” “Here, here!” Kelli applauded. “Seriously, though…,” she then continued. “…Some pretty creepy stuff, huh?” “Yes,” Claire agreed, growing serious. “But, we can’t dwell on the negative…,” she continued. “…We can only fight, for the positive,” Kelli finished one of Claire’s signature rebuttal-lines. “Right,” Claire affirmed. Shortly, a set of recurring, ominous-sounding clicking noises were heard over both girls’ telephone receivers. Claire’s eyebrows rose in mock amusement. “Oh—and Homeland Security, or Government, or whoever else might be happening to be listening in on our conversation, here is a lovely spoken-word poem, expressly-composed for those of us within the ranks of those you consider: ‘With the terrorists,’ for simply speaking our minds:” “Ready?” Claire asked of her best friend. “Ready,” she affirmed. Claire and Kelli, simultaneously began the poem the two friends had put together one particularly-drunken evening:

The President is a mighty, strong man,

And, his wife is a handsome, fine lass,

Though, we hope when we’re dead, to be buried, upside down,

So, the President can kiss our ass!”

Both friends collapsed into gales of giggles as they finished the makeshift poem. Several more ominous clicking sounds were heard over both girls’ telephone receivers. Claire yawned, widely. “I really need to get going…,” she told Kelli. “…I have an early day tomorrow.” “Me, too…,” Kelli replied. “…Just wanted to gage your reaction to our loving Attorney General’s speech.” “Gag me, with E.T.’s finger, as per usual…,” Claire stated, matter-of-factly. “Buh-bye, then,” Kelli stated, comically. “Bye,” Claire laughed, switching off the cordless receiver and placing it atop its base. She turned her attention back to the television. CNN reporter, Steve Roberts, was still droning on in his summarization of the Attorney General’s speech. “It’s a patriotism redux…,” Claire announced to no one in particular, preferring to spell (and refer to) the term “re-do,” in the more modern “cool” form of “redux.” “…If you do not stand with the President and his Administration, then you are not a good patriot…,” she further contemplated, speaking with a grand flourish as though she were performing in a Broadway play. “…Obviously, you are not a good patriot, since—if you do not agree with the President, that makes you a terrorist? If you are a terrorist, you cannot be a patriot. Hence, if you wish to be a good ‘patriot,’ you have to agree with the President and not challenge his leadership.” “It’s a Dick and Jane Patriotic Primer…,” Claire admonished, speaking at the television. “…See Dick and Jane publicly-criticize the President. See the US Attorney General have the Justice Department monitor Dick and Jane. See the Department of Homeland Security arrest Dick and Jane. See Dick and Jane classified as ‘Domestic Terrorist Enemy Combatants,’ and sent away to the nearest forest labor camp. The US can now sleep safer and more securely—knowing that Dick and Jane have been found-out as the terrorist-supporting scumbags they are—for daring to have the gall to criticize the President! Dick and Jane are never heard from again. The End.” Claire smiled. Reciting sarcastic commentary was one of the emotional-coping tools she utilized the most in the face of what she termed as: “The forlorn, discouraging political quagmire, the US was sinking in—on all available fronts.” Placing her jaw in her right hand, she wound back into her philosopher’s mode. Abruptly, a loud knock was heard, outside her apartment door. Peering through the peep hole, Claire glimpsed two tall men, dressed in smart, gray business suits. Keeping the chain lock to her apartment door secured, she edged open the door. “May I help you?” she asked. Both men flashed gleaming, police-like badges. “Department of Homeland Security,” they spoke, in unison.


Jennifer C. Wolfe has worked in varied fields of personal employment, ranging from ten years of music retail to fourteen months of branch secretarial duties within the Central Intelligence Agency. She casts her vote as an opinionated “Independent,” and feels a grave disturbance, in the Force—until the 2008 US Presidential election, anyway.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Spooky Literary Treats
in lieu of razor blades & candy,
from the friendly ghouls of the ULA...

Halloween Horror Haiku!

by Leopold McGinnis

Hooked killer on loose!
Young couple hear thump, drive off


Spider bite on cheek
Itchy, inflamed and swelling


By J.D. Finch

I’m not going to tell you what happened, step by step, because I never was the analytical sort. That and you’d call me crazy if I tried. But maybe you’ll see the truth if I lay it out plainly to let you decide for yourself. After all, you know and trust me. So why am I getting stressed, right?

It was in that blown glass shop we used to go to – the one with all those tacky front porch flags for sale. (I never really "got" those things. But the country’s ever-plummeting intelligence level leads me to believe folks can’t be bothered to remember names anymore. Easier -- and less mentally rigorous for the poor drones -- to identify each other by symbols: "Oh, here comes ‘cow jumping over moon.’"; "I wonder what ‘sailboat on the bay’ has been up to lately?"; "When did ‘juicy slice of watermelon’ get back from vacation?")

But when a stiff breeze blew through the shop I thought it was a bit threatening, considering the large collection of delicate glass pieces. It left one flag tangled amidst itself and revealed behind it a woman who looked nothing like you. You’re probably wondering why I’m telling you that. It’s akin to saying "the news tonight is there’s no news tonight", right?

Anyway, her mirrored image, refracted by a hundred glass balls in a fragile domino-like row was you. Though there were variants in much iteration, I managed to pick out my favorite version of her. That is, of you.

Another breeze arose and the flags that had remained untangled fluttered their own images across the glass balls creating a Technicolor film strip of you in movement. Perhaps dazzled by the balls a few moments too many, when I looked back the source of your reflection was gone.

And then I began wondering if I had unconsciously reversed reality: was the truth of identity in the images and not the brief glimpse I’d had of the source?

I made my way carefully through the shelves and racks of glass art and decorations. I pushed through the rows of garish flags, my progress fed by my desire to find that living version of you I had seen.

The silks whipped the side of my face and kites hanging from ceiling strings grazed the top of my head. At last covering the entire space of the shop without success I approached the proprietress. She greeted me with silent disapproval.

"The young woman who was in here – do you know where she went?" I asked in rushed, clipped words that made me realize I was breathing heavily as my heartbeat raced.

"You’re the only one that’s been in here within the last half hour, sir. And if I may offer a bit of friendly advice, I think you should slow down. Are you always so…insistent? It’s not good for your health, you know. I had one like you in here a while back and next thing I knew, he was having a heart attack right on my sidewalk."

"Thanks for your interest in my welfare," I began again, trying in vain to sound unconcerned and relaxed. "But…"

"And besides, you might consider this," she interrupted and indicated an "If you break it, you bought it" sign behind her.

I turned away without comment. I was in no frame of mind to tell her that my health was just fine, while her opinions meant as much to me as a bicycle to a fish.

I began to make for the door, yes, now more calmly, I thought -- though my need to find you was slaked not at all -- when I was jerked to attention by an incredible piece of glass.

It had been blown, as had most of the others in the shop, but this one made those look like pretty but trivial bubbles a child blows on a lazy sunny summer day.

This massive ball, at least four feet around, was fluted with hundreds of indentations, each with tiny ridges, which worked in concert to create a wave effect across the entire surface of the piece. As it slowly spun on its turntable discrete spectrums of color inhabited these waves, which continued to merge and separate without end as they brightened and darkened with the sunlight and clouds that played a game of hide and seek through the front door and windows. Within moments I saw the waves take on the quality of casually hanging hair, while the light hit so two of the indentations stood out from the rest, like the eyes of a spirit. And then with another quarter turn I saw the face within the glass, terribly real, was you again!

"How much do you want for this ball?" I asked the proprietress, who on my return I startled so that I imagined she believed I’d gone.

"That’s strictly a display piece sir," she said politely, yet with her well-rehearsed ‘you don’t exist in my world’ aura. "It’s not for sale at any price."

"Rubbish," I said. "Everything has a price. Just name it."

Our argument didn’t last long enough to become heated. I can tell you that at its conclusion three things were true: I owned the ball; the shop’s front door had its OPEN sign turned to CLOSED; the proprietress now modeled one of her own silk flags – "Good Morning Starshine" was what they called the cheesy celestial design – rather too tightly around her neck.

But now, here you are. Or rather, here is your image, turning slowly in the light, where I can appreciate the shimmer of your multicolored eyes and the glinting highlights in your hair; earthbound starlight projected to meet a halo of changeling hues that undulate above you and make a small universe of you for my hungry eyes.

It’s almost enough to make me forget that you’re no longer here, in fact. To make me regret that after you coldly said I would never have you I jammed on the car’s brakes, sending you into the windshield, shattering the face and ending the life of the one I loved.

I don’t know who made this wonderful ball -- the proprietress didn’t live long enough to offer the information. But I know that local glass sculptors go to the town dump to get cast-offs, including windshields from car crashes. You see, I guessed I'd find you like this, but never imagined you'd be such a masterpiece.

I’ll go back to the shop after the shock of the murder there has passed. Maybe the new proprietress will know who created this thing of beauty.

But only I will ever know how beautiful you are turning for me so gracefully in the sun.



by Frank Walsh

Something ran across the television screen
when no one was looking.
The housewives, the eighth graders taking the vow of abstinence,
a creationist with a biological science text book in one hand
and a scientist with a Bible in the other,
thought they saw something and they wanted to buy it
for a song and a dance preferably from Walmart China.
From my sickbed cardboard rattled with tubes under the over-
pass, I thought I had seen everything in lieu
of what was, I tried to remember another time when
the police beat something to death with their moving violations
but it turned out I was wrong, every stone was left unturned,
because there it was finger prints written all over its face:
The Thing That Couldn’t Die.

Take it from one who never made out in the back-seat
of the Moonlight Drive-in on a Summer Friday night underage
when it dawned on me the Japanese physicists
in black and white three piece suits who covered up nuclear licorice
only scratched the surface and melted a runaway iceberg
burning the ravioli in the process, since what those little men
with big ideas had on their hands besides latex gloves
was the Thing That Couldn’t Be Killed For Certain.
Did it have a head in the sense we’d grasp in three dimensions
and, if so, did that head have mouths to feed
far superior to an inside trader conflict of interest or not?
Or no one could make heads or tails or else were too scared to call
911 and tell the Federal Reserve to watch the skies
for STDs and spermacidal.

But the shadow of a doubt never crossed my mind, it was, despite
the General Theory Of Relativity, the Thing That Couldn’t Die
riding at the head of the motorcade, waving its stump behind
bullet-proof windshields, blowing sweet nothings
to the crossing-guards from various holes in the argument,
without flinching because it didn’t have eyes but sun-glasses
polarized. The Thing That Couldn’t Be Killed changed shape
like you sometimes change socks and underwear. It was
cited in Church most every Sunday especially after
a Saturday of heavy drinking and domestic violence come rain
or shine performing marriages between a man and his private property rights.
Once a small child named Catfish reported to his parents as they sat down to a Last Supper at the nickel
and dime that he’d seen the Thing That Couldn’t Care Less
soiling the national past-time but that didn’t make a dent
they checked him for bite marks
and went back to their repast
at the fork in the spoonful but especially the knives.



A Creepy Sonnet

by Jessica Lynn Disobedience

With a straight-razor, you shaved off my scalp;
And a bonesaw cut through my delicate skull.
The bats escaped the belfry - I was a hull,
An empty shell, until you stepped in to help.
You took their place, inhabited the hell
That is my brain. Once infested with howling ghosts,
You came in, and then my head played host
Only to thoughts of you - and just as well.
The bats and ghosts were gone, but you were there
To keep me company, to fill my days and nights.
But one day you took off, without a warning;
Your presence missing from my brain, where
Now the bats have returned, to what is theirs by
And the ghosts fly about my skull, screaming and


by Wred Fright

Every night before Jennifer went to sleep she folded her arms across her chest to save the undertaker the trouble in the morning. She would try to lie as still as possible. The effort would snap her wide awake no matter how sleepy she had been when she had gone to bed, and she would keep her eyes closed tight, listening to the crickets serenade her through the open window in the heat of August, the cars whizzing by on the road in front of the house, her neighbor Mr. Moore bidding his cats good night, the occasional laughter from her parents watching television downstairs, and the creaks and moans of the house as it settled in for the night.

She would also listen to herself, the rise and fall of her breath, the rustle of the sheets as she would involuntarily kick or move; she even thought she could hear her heartbeat if she was quiet enough. She imagined the roar of her blood as it rushed through her body and felt the warm breezez stir the dirt and sweat that clung to her skin. In the flush of summertime, she could never seem to get rid of that dirt and sweat no matter how many times she washed her face before she went to bed. She could feel the grime lying there on top of her Sometimes she wondered if that was the cancer but she knew it was not.

After a long time of lying there, she would hear the television shut off, and her parents climb

the stairs. It felt odd to move again after lying still for so long, but she would uncross her arms quickly and lie still again, pretending she was sleeping. The floorboards would creak and the footsteps would draw nearer and she would almost want to sneak a peek but she kept her eyes closed tighter than ever. Her mother would kiss her on her forehead, and say, "Goodnight Jennifer. God Bless You," and then the footsteps would fade and the floor boards creak in the opposite order. She wondered why her parents couldn't tell she had cancer, but she was relieved because she didn't want to worry them like they had worried over Aunt Sally. That was when she had learned about it.

Jennifer remembered the arguments from the spring time. Her parents had been arguing a lot. She knew it was something about her. It was always when she was out of the room.

"She's too young Carl! Jennifer's only six years old. You seem to forget that. I'll stay home and she'll stay with me," her mother shouted.

"She has to learn about it sometime! She's my only sister Ann! I want Jennifer to know her before . . ."

One day the argument got very loud, and then there was silence. Her father came upstairs and told her they were going to visit Aunt Sally. Her mother didn't come with them. When she and her father got to the hospital, they rode the elevator to the third floor. Down the hallway, in a little white room was Aunt Sally.

She had her head shaved and Jennifer didn't recognize her at first. She smiled weakly at them. She was lying down and tried to sit up, but Jennifer's father said,

"Sally no! Lie back it's fine."

"Carl, leave me alone, I want to see my little Jennifer. Come here darling," she patted on the bed, "How's my one and only godchild."

And then Aunt Sally kissed her and Jennifer tried to stay still but she drew back. She felt Aunt Sally's dry and cracked lips on her cheek and a drop of spittle brushed off on Jennifer's cheek.

The next time she saw Aunt Sally was at the funeral home, the mortician's place, where people went before they went to the cemetery. It was there she saw Aunt Sally lie with her arms crossed and heard the word "Cancer" again and again. That night she had the first dream.

She was sitting in the field behind her house. It was a beautiful summer day. The letters appeared like on Sesame Street and begin to dance. First the "C," then the "A," then the "N," until the entire word arrived and began to chase her. The "C" hounded her, attempting to catch her in its hungry jaws with the entire word following like a train behind. She ran terrified, but it was always only one step behind. It was then she knew she had it.

She was determined no one would know. She didn't want her head shaved. She didn't want to go to the hospital and be hooked up to tubes, and be around nurses and doctors, and eat the awful food her parents talked about. If no one knew, she would just go peacefully in her bed. She knew there was no chance of beating it. Her parents had said that so many times while Aunt Sally had it. It had eventually become a form of shorthand. After meals, her father would sigh and say,

"It's only a matter of time, I suppose."

"Yes," her mother would sigh, and they would both stare into their cups of coffee. Jennifer had tried coffee once. It had tasted terrible. She wondered if it gave you cancer.

After dinner, they would always watch the news. She wasn't interested in it, but she wasn't allowed to go outside and play that late, and she didn't like being alone so she brought down some coloring books or some of her toys and played on the floor while her parents watched the news. Occasionally she would hear "Cancer" and look up. Something was causing cancer. Asbestos, saccharin, Cigarettes. She once asked her mother what cancer was. Her mother said, "When something good turns bad."

Jennifer wondered how she had turned bad.

On Saturdays and Sundays, she went with her mother to the indoor flea market. Her mother ran a booth and sold jewelry and glassware. It was a shadowy, dusty place but was cool compared to outside and she liked it. Everything was old, and seemed like it had been there forever. Sometimes her mother would play cards with some of the other venders when it wasn't busy. They would all comment on her, and offer her food or toys. Sometimes they would slip her dollars and tell her, "What a good little girl you are--always listening to your mother!"

She would usually play on the floor behind the tables, or just sit in her small chair swinging her feet, humming to herself, or counting numbers, "One, two, three, four, five . . ." seeing how far she could go up before losing count.

Because they knew everyone there, and she didn't have to worry, her mother would sometimes let Jennifer run the booth while she ran to the restroom or Ziggy's restaurant to get them lunch. One day, an old man came up to the table. He was dressed neatly in a faded suit and wearing a small brown rumpled hat that fit his head perfectly. He smiled at her and she saw he had a small hole in the middle of his throat. Jennifer wondered what that was for, but she was too polite to ask him.

He bent down and looked at the jewelry, picking up a piece and examining it closely from time to time. Finally, he picked up a bracelet, gazed at it intently, and spoke, his voice a harsh metallic clicking. She couldn't understand what he said. "Pardon me," she said, as she had been taught.

He spoke again, slower this time, "How much for this piece?"

Jennifer motioned with her hands to see it. The man passed it to her and their hands brushed. His skin felt dry and cracked like Aunt Sally's. She turned the bracelet over and over again in her hands but couldn't find the price. She didn't know what to say, and was relieved when she saw her mother returning from the restroom.

Her mother slid between the tables to enter the booth. "This one?" she said to the man, "I'm sorry. It's brand new. I haven't had a chance to price it yet. Um . . . five dollars sounds right."

The man smiled and held a finger up in the air while digging in his back pocket with his other hand. Jennifer looked up following the man's finger. She thought he had been pointing to something but she only saw the rafters of the flea market was located in. The old man paid her mother, and she gave Jennifer the bracelet to wrap and put in a bag. As she wrapped it up, she saw the old man take out a cigarette and light it. He put it to the hole in his throat. Jennifer handed the bag to her mother who passed it on to the old man. The metallic voice clicked, "Thank you." He smiled and tipped his hat to Jennifer. As he walked away, Jennifer saw puffs of smoke drift backwards.

That night she laid in bed with her arms crossed as usual, under the covers so her parents couldn't see. She thought of the man in the flea market. She thought he was a magic man, or a robot like in the movies. She had wanted to ask her mother about him but they had gotten busy and in the rush she had forgotten to ask. Now she remembered him, and again she seemed to see him walking away with the puffs of smoke drifting back. She remembered his finger and how he had held it in the air like a magic wand. She fell asleep.

In her dream that night, the cancer was chasing her as usual, when the man in the suit appeared. He spoke in his metallic clicking, saying each of the letters, "C!" "A!" "N!" "C!" "E!" "R!" and pointing at them with his finger. As he pointed at each one, the letters disappeared. The old man turned toward her then and tipped his hat just as he had done in the flea market. He faded away then leaving only a hole which puffed smoke. In the morning, her arms lay at her sides. For the first time in weeks, she woke up without surprise.


Nasty plugs and fleshy bits:

Leopold McGinnis lives deep in the bowels of, where he stubbornly attempts to re-animate the lit-scene with kooky projects like GameQuest!

J.D. Finch is an undead satyrist who plans to appeal his 1692 conviction at the Salem Witch Trials!

Frank Walsh is a poetic werewolf, stalking the streets of Philadelphia in search of fresh verse and warm blood!

Jessica Disobedience is the zombified midwestern ghoulette who starred as herself in the cult horror classic, Return of the Wanna-be Bride of Tom Waits! Issue number 9 of her zine, Sad & Beautiful World is possibly for sale here!

Wred Fright used to edit this blog, until a jealous & psychotic Pat Simonelli KILLED HIM IN COLD BLOOD! Or, married him off and forced him into exile. Wred's book, The Pornographic Flabbergasted Emus, is forthcoming from ULA Press!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Poetry by Hamilton & Hodder...


by Bruce Hodder

Where is your radical spirit, Allen Ginsberg?
I know you died in 1997
but since when would you let that obstruct you?

Allen, lawyers have stolen your words
and store them in safehouses
waiting for the next Harper-Collins contract

instead of letting the little mags have them.
That's not in the spirit of Beat.
Who gets the money, Allen, now that you're dead?

Allen, your fancy website makes you look
like some kind of millionaire dentist
who won the Nobel Prize for his charity work.

I know you wore silk ties in your dotage,
but the sex smell has gone out
of the Ginsberg Industry.

Allen, how come your secretary birds
don't answer our emails, like arrogant kings
too busy dealing with national affairs

to give time to the commoners?
They rode up the hill on the coat tails
of a scared queen writing in amphetamine sweats.

Allen, it's time you sorted this out.
Stop resting on your literal laurels
in Heaven, and come down and lash these bastards.

Give them the old fiery tongue.
Remind everyone that you were for danger,
and that Beat was once more than

just another way to sell books
to old men given to lying
about big lives they were too small to live.


Bruce Hodder lives in the UK where he runs Blue Fred Press and this blog:

The Joke Is On Me
by Damion Hamilton

I have refused to accept my life,
So the joke is on me
The boys in the warehouse know it
They drink beer after work and watch
The football games; they are
Not expecting much, nor aiming high
And the boys know this
The joke is upon me
I want too much out of life
And I am not happy
The boys don’t expect too much
And they are wise
The boys accept what is in front of them
From prison to prison
They accept and accept
And I am just a fool who has read
Too many books
Oh, that is not the way
The boys say while shaking
Their heads incredulously
At me and my foolish ambition
What does he want?
Why can’t he accept this?
Is he mad?
Yes, the joke is upon me
Firemen know this
A stock boy knows this
The UPS guy knows this
So do nurses and trucks drivers
The joke is upon me,
Reading these books and writing
This madness
This badness
The joke is upon me


Damion Hamilton lives and works in St. Louis.
His poems appear across the internet and here:


Saturday, October 08, 2005

ULA 5th Anniversary!

Today, October 8, is the five year anniversary of the founding of the Underground Literary Alliance. It began with the signing of a paragraph-long petition protesting a Guggenheim grant to millionaire author Rick Moody. Today the ULA's membership stands at 35 talented writers who aren't afraid to make some noise in the literary world.

Here's a brief rundown of the ULA's accomplishments & activities over the past five years:

*Invaluable press coverage in dozens of high-profile media outlets, including three shout-outs in the New York Times.
*Debates, protests and confrontations with literary insiders like George Plimpton, Dave Eggers, Rick Moody, etc.
*Grassroots efforts to help zinesters in need get back on their feet.
*Published four issues of Slush Pile, our communal zine.
*Published lit-muckraking Monday Reports every week since late 2003 at our website.
*Hosted at least one action-packed literary reading per year in major cities since 2001.

*Now we've launched a nationwide sales campaign to get six ULA-related books into stores and in front of readers.

Not too bad for a group that started as a handful of broke zinesters from Detroit!! Today, in lieu of birthday cake, we offer you a short story from one of the ULA's most unique writers. Enjoy!


Oinkel Sam

by James Nowlan

There stands Sam, on the mantel of the chimney that is seldom used since my spacious villa finds itself in a fairly temperate climatic zone which is lucky for him for it keeps him from being exposed to heat that might very well hasten the deterioration of his stuffed self and I wouldn’t want to see him rot and have to get rid of him since he was my first love.

We first met on a farm, one of the few in the rural region that I grew up in that hadn’t been given over to the ugly industrialization of agribusiness and where one could come in more direct contact with the elements that are sacrificed to sustain our lives. I don’t really remember much of this first encounter other than me and Sam rolling playfully around in the mud together; I guess it was just one of those special pastoral moments that gets cut and spliced by memory’s emotional editor so that it comes out as a commercial for bucolic bliss. Later episodes, me raising Sam and weaning him from his mother are so confused with the numerous snapshots that were taken of us at the time that I can’t distinguish memory’s images from the photographic.

The first day that truly stands out on its own is the fatal day that was to change our destinies; the 4h contest. I or I think maybe it was my parents had had the cute idea to dress up my entry as our nations symbol, Uncle Sam. Undoubtedly as a symbol of defiance towards recent attacks to our freedoms (can freedom be plural? Isn’t it an abstract noun? Okay maybe if you’re talking about constitutionally mandated freedoms) and values. Sam seemed to understand prancing pridefully along and even rising up on his hind legs to walk upright. A photographer for a national magazine happened to be on hand and caught a picture of us, Sam with his snout in the air star-spangled top hat and blue sequined tailed jacket, me beaming in my worn overalls and the picture made national headlines with the caption ‘‘Patriotic Piggy’’.

A few days later the phone rang with an offer that exceeded my wildest dreams. I was to be an actor in the spectacle of Eurodisney’s mainstreet parade. The farm boy with the star spangled hog come to proudly show the colors of his country in France. I was ecstatic about the idea of going to a place that was at the time so close to my idea of the cultural center of the universe, of course I would have been happier going to Orlando or better yet to the original Disneyland in Anaheim which though rather rundown is a more personal product of Walt’s genius but I was more than enthused by what I had been offered.

When I landed at Charles De Gaulle airport the welcome agent offered to take me on a tour of the city of lights. I thought it was one of the lands of Disney so I said of course but when I found out she meant Paris I demanded emphatically that me and my pig be taken directly to the magic kingdom to roam about soaking up the ambiance. I then led Sam off to his sty and then retired to my room in a theme hotel made up like a dude ranch. I woke up early the next morning and after putting on my coveralls and straw hat ran down to get my companion out. We then spent the first part of the day welcoming the crowds come from around the world to see this monument that America had offered to Europe. After the parade me and Sam had some burgers and some fries and then spent the afternoon like the morning. And so it went on and would have continued if it wasn’t for a strange group who had been hatching dark plans for me and my pig before we had even arrived.

Most of the other employees called them the Calartians after a school that they had all gone to that had some obscure connection with Disney. Someone once mockingly said that they were even more Saint Germain de Prés than Saint Germain de Prés and though I didn’t understand it at the time now the memory of their black clad beret wearing gitan smoking selves makes me smile instead of filling me with dread like their presence did at the time. They seemed to have some sort of special knowledge or power and what exactly their jobs were was hard to tell, they appeared to be there as a sort of malevolent presence. If I had known what they had had in store for me I would have taken the first plane back to Iowa.

The first contact I had with one of their number was the last. I was sitting in the cafeteria one morning eating my wheaties when I looked up to see the pale face of one of the few attractive female members of their clique staring intently at me. I was hypnotized by her large violet brown eyes. When I snapped out of the trance I don’t know how much later and she had vanished leaving me to wonder what had happened (from the medical examinations conducted later it was surmised that she had spiked my breakfast cereal with a heady cocktail of drugs including ecstasy, LSD, methedrine and several artificial opiates). Anyway I finished eating and hurried off to find my co-star.

I don’t know what sort of mind control technique this woman had used on me but several hours had passed and the parade was just beginning. I skipped out to catch up with the departing floats and costumed characters not really noticing the heady euphoria that was overtaking me. As we frolicked before the gathered vacationing families of the world I felt overcome by waves of joy emanating from the spectators. I remember looking at the twitching tail of my piglet and feeling an uncontrollable love for him and thinking that I must show the beauty of this love to everyone.

I woke up in a holding cell wondering how I got there. None of the police spoke English and I wasn’t able to get an explanation for my presence there until the translator arrived. He seemed overjoyed to meet me telling me not to worry and saying what a hero I was and that they would find a lawyer to get all of this sorted out. Then he had a call on his portable that he had laid out before him on the table and answered with a strange change of accent that made his voice almost unintelligible for me. He said, ‘‘yes I’m here with him now the american pigfucker yes I’m sure he’ll be glad to tell his story to your paper as soon as he gets out of here’’.

After that everything passed in a blur; signing the papers to get released then meeting with journalists, trying to explain what had happened, authorizing the distribution of the pictures of me and Sam copulating in front of the shocked crowd. Before I knew it I was rich and famous living in luxurious hotels dining in the finest restaurants, screwing vogue models on silk sheets while my pig pranced joyfully about. I tried reading some of the articles about what happened and they talked about scatological street theater protest and I didn’t understand a word of it. The agent that had been found for me advised me to only give prepared interviews. It seemed that the less I said the more they read into it.

I was soon contacted by a then famous artist Martin Gros who requested that me and Sam participate in one of his performance paintings. Large canvases were to be set out and me and Sam were to strip naked and engage in our amorous frolics upon them after being splashed with a special shade of paint called ‘‘Martin Gros Red’’ that supposedly resembled the shade of the blood that jets from the neck of someone who’s been freshly guillotined. I have one of the canvasses hanging now in the same room as Sam to remind me of that day which was to be one of the last joyful ones of our life together.

To get myself in the right mood I had taken the same drugs as the first time and afterwards I had to spend several days in my spacious hotel suite to recuperate. I was awoken by a knock at my door. It was a pink and pudgy girl with pointed ears and turned up nose. She had come to tell me about the coming armageddon and the saving grace of our lord Jesus Christ. I don’t know how she got into the hotel (maybe the security was drunk) or why I let her in (the drugs must have still been affecting me) but we sat on the sofa and she showed me some naively drawn photos of the end of days and the earthy smell of her got control of me and I sadly took advantage of her. She left weeping several minutes later and I felt a pang of regret that the photo numeric perfect bodies of the top models had never been able to solicit from me.

In spite of these feelings I had almost forgotten about her a month later when the call came. Apparently the lord had willed offspring upon us (glory hallelujah). She wished to know if I intended to do my christian duty and marry her and I was surprised to hear myself agree. For the third time in less than a year my life was completely changed so fast I felt as if I had been in car wreck. We moved into a small bungalow on the outskirts of Paris and spent our days going door to door to convert the unemployed so that they would take that miserable minimum wage job just like God wanted them to do.

We were often spit on and insulted and occasionally physically assaulted; sometimes welcomed in by some tragically alcoholic individual who would invite us to have a drink with him and then spit on us insult us and attack us when we refused. But soon my wife was too large to get through the gates and doors of those who needed to hear of the approaching apocalypse and I made this sad circuit alone as she sat at home with the pig who bit her hand whenever she tried to pet it and gave me a look of sullen betrayal when I came back.

I wasn’t too successful in finding new soldiers for the end of days so the church let me go and we had serious money worries. We had just about run out when a call came. It was Martin Gros. He had been following the story of my life since my fall from fame and had a new project for me. A documentary that was already presold to french television and for which my share of the receipts would take care of my little family for the rest our lives.

The film was planned as a sort of counter propaganda against the aggressive pimping of the American dream by the numerous rejects of the American elite in Europe at the time. An american couple reduced to abject poverty would be forced to slaughter and eat their family pet (my unfortunate pig) in order to survive. The camera followed me to the local dump where I searched for garbage to feed to Sam and observed the progressing obesity of my first love and my second.

The final scene was difficult and it would have been impossible if it had not been for the wise tragic look in Sam’s eyes; knowing, understanding and forgiving as I slit his throat.

A crew of work men have come and gone and Sam is now in a specially constructed humidity and temperature controlled glass case that is guaranteed to preserve him for decades so he can look down beneficently on my children and grand children as they squeal and prance about on the carpet their round pink cheeks, upturned noses and pointy ears twitching joyfully. Which is only just, since it is he, my patriotic piggy, who has made this, our beautiful life, possible.

James Nowlan is an ex-pat writer living in France. His novel, SECURITY, is coming soon from ULA Press. Click here for more info about James.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Zero Station
(prologue to the new novel)

by Greg Ippolito

October 4, 2001

Ready for your first song chunk?

It’s an easy game to play. I give you a chunk of song lyric, you give me band name and song title. Ready? Go:

emancipate yourself from mental slavery

Wait, stop. Too easy. Consider that a warm up. Let’s try again. Ready? Go:

phony Beatlemania has bitten the dust

That’s right. The Clash. “London Calling.” Well done. Andy would’ve nailed that before “has.”

Andy and I play this game all day, emailing each other back and forth, passing the time at our respective jobs. I emailed this one to him just this morning:

my hands are tied

—and within seconds, a new message popped up in my Inbox. I double- clicked his name and read: body bruised... dude, stop. this is insulting.

Far too easy. Fuck me. Maybe I’ll hit him with a lyric from the White Album.

He always struggles with those.

It’s been 26 months since either of us has stumped the other—and yours truly was the unlucky contestant. Early one rainy July morning, Andy hit me with (of all lines): “Music is a world within itself”—the opening to Stevie’s “Sir Duke.” But my head was still echoing with some Sex Pistols I’d been blasting in the car on the ride in, and my brain just failed to search the R&B files that lay in the recesses of its music library.

We hadn’t been song chunking in quite a few weeks—since before 9/11. It just didn’t feel right. But when I walked in this past Monday, the vibe felt a little lighter, a little closer to normal. So I shot him an easy R.E.M. chunk—the first line of “Rockville”—to get it started again…and just like that, the handcuffs were off.

Anyway, I was in a particularly good mood on Monday because I’d just finished my book—the book you’re about to read. And I was at my desk earlier today with nothing to do (as usual), so I stared writing this introduction. I should say, I was staring at my monitor, watching the cursor blink, trying to think up a clever way to launch this thing, when the “new message” tone sounded and I gladly clicked over to my Inbox. It was Andy, of course, chunking me with this:

let your soul and spirit fly

…into the mystic. Jeanine’s favorite song. Not that Andy knew that. A serendipitous chunk, to be sure.

Jeanine, my mom, died about seven months ago. Lung cancer. What a fucking cliché. You never think about how you might die, but no one wants to die of a fucking cliché. She spent her last two weeks in hospice. The people there were lovely, lovely. She died in her sleep, all morphined- out—just sort of slipped away. It was a long time coming, no surprise to anyone, so I don’t think it very surprising that I didn’t cry.

I did cry three days later, the night before the viewing. My brother Billy and I went to the funeral home to see her body. I knelt down by the casket and looked at her powdered, waxy face…and I wailed. I wailed and convulsed, clutched the taffeta trim around her pillow. I pounded her chest and pinched the heel of my fist on the wire caging under her blouse. My mom was gone, really gone. They didn’t even leave her flesh for the worms.

Everyone was there the next morning. It was moving to see how many people came out to say goodbye or show support or pay their respect or whatever. Andy was a pallbearer. But above the solemnity, I carried an odd bitterness with me that day—I felt pissed that she didn’t hold on a little longer, just long enough for me to finish this book. She was, to a large degree, the reason I wrote it. I always felt I owed her an explanation for what happened during those three days in February 1991. You know, let her get into my head and understand what was going on from my point of view; show her that I wasn’t just a totally heartless fucking asshole. Almost ten years I’d been working on this fucking thing, and I was almost done… Ten years. And I’m pissed at her for not waiting longer. What a joke.

Ten years. Shit, that’s a long time. Or is it? It’s a long goddamn time to be writing something, anyway. I just hope that, over that stretch, I maintained some level of clarity. Andy and I had this kick-ass history teacher back in high school, Mister Zanello (who makes a nice little appearance in this book, actually). He said something once that I wrote down, and have since read it and re-read it and copied it a million times. He said:

“The truth is clear and pure as water---but man, while
gazing into that pool but unable to see it, can lose his
mental grip and spill salty tears of shame and broken
dreams, adding his own hazy drops of subjectivity.”

You should keep this in mind as you read my story. I mean, as honest as I’ve tried to be writing it, I can’t really vouch for how technically accurate it is. I did what I could with the past. The details may be pieced together from selective memory, many of them massaged and reconstructed for certain, but that’s not to say they aren’t the truth. The brain and the heart have their own will, I think, and we’re wise to give them a good amount of our faith; so I let the important things come back to me as they would and wrote them down; I trusted them to tell the tale. And I’m guessing that the parts of this story that are most wistful-- the rare moments that pluck the very note that makes me quiver from the inside till I just about fall apart--must be the ones that are most true. Or maybe, these are merely chunks of nostalgia… gems that somehow formed in the cloudy mineral tank of my personal history while my conscious mind was somewhere else. To be honest, I don’t know which are more precious.

Andy just emailed me:

dude, you there? i chunked you an hour ago. what up?

Oh yeah, Van Morrison. Almost forgot. I better go put him in his place. Hit him with “lizard on a window pane” and let him choke on that for awhile.

Man, I just wish Jeanine were here. Here to read this, to absorb my full
explanation line by line. Then finally, maybe, she’d understand. Would have understood, I mean. That’s one devastating change in tense, isn’t it? The fucking past, man. All the good memories you have: moments you can never live again. And all the bad ones, those unspeakable things you did (or failed to do): regrets in stone cold cement.

Well now you know me, more or less. And what follows on the other side of this page is my account of what happened to me during the last three days of the Persian Gulf War. No, I wasn’t there (in Iraq, I mean). This is a Jersey story (mostly). But it’s a war. You’ll see.

Ready? Go.

For more information on the author or the novel Zero Station,
please contact Mr. Ippolito at

Monday, September 05, 2005

Sadness & Outrage in the Aftermath

Gulf Coast communities in Mississippi, Alabama, & Louisiana--especially the ruined city of New Orleans--are suffering in what is likely the worst natural disaster in American history. The vast damage done by Hurricane Katrina has been exacerbated by human depravity in its aftermath, including the incompetence & indifference of state and federal leaders, and criminal actions by a small portion of the local citizenry taking disgusting advantage of the chaos & lawlessness.

Over a million people have been displaced, thousands are dead, many billions of dollars in damage has been done & countless lives have been ruined. The entire city of New Orleans has been ordered evacuated and will likely be shut down for at least three months. The psychological effect of this disaster is enormous for its victims and those helping in rescue and cleanup efforts. Even when New Orleans gets back on its feet, it will be a haunted city for generations, just like Oklahoma City after 1995 and NYC after 2001.

Possibly the hardest aspect to stomach from the New Orleans disaster is the slow response especially from federal "leaders" & agencies like FEMA and the so-called Department of Homeland Security. Days went by and people lost their lives from rising floodwaters, lack of food, potable water, medical care, sanitary shelter & protection from the elements & violence. While this is an overwhelming situation, why didn't our leaders anticipate what could happen if a major hurricane and flood struck this coastal region? Why weren't they better prepared to respond to this---isn't that their job?

It's scary to see demonstrated (yet again) just how vulnerable we are to all kinds of disasters. It's evident the government cannot be counted on to help us. Some have raised voice that the socio-economic and/or racial identity of the vast majority of Katrina's victims might have fostered a slower relief response. Would it have been handled differently if Martha's Vinyard was in a similar situation? Others have pointed out that the president has our soldiers & National Guard stretched so thin & far across the world that it takes a week for them to deploy to a major American city.

New Orleans is (or was) home to a vibrant zinester community. As an activist writers group with roots in the zine community, we of the Underground Literary Alliance will do all we can to help zinesters who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina. While our financial resources are limited, we can help get the word out about those writers in need, and hopefully aid their recovery & rebuilding efforts. If you're a small press writer who's been displaced by Katrina, or if you know someone who's been affected, please email

Look to the literaryrevolution
webpage for a ULA Monday Report about this real soon. In the mean time, consider helping all Katrina victims in any way you can. Donations of as little as $5 can be made to reliable organizations like the Red Cross, goods can be donated to groups like the Salvation Army, or you can volunteer labor for the rebuilding effort with Habitat for Humanity, or in the DIY spirit, start your own collection & relief effort. If you're unable to do anything like this, then keep all the victims in your thoughts & prayers.

Now it's time to bring some poetry back to this Adventures blog! Talented writer Doug Draime is just the guy to do it with these four poems that express a bit of outrage. Hope you enjoy them, and thanks for reading my longwinded speech. --Pat Simonelli


Four poems by Doug Draime....

Spiders And Madmen

Madmen hold their

greasy fingers

on the buttons,

while pigeons shit and


in Pershing Square.

As the fly is devoured by the

spider in the corner

of your living room;

its huge web a maze of

fly corpses.

Madmen trade your name

to other madmen.

You are nothing but a series of

numbers to them.

Or a piece of meat

meant for the butcher block.

Madmen think you are

nothing but a body to be

bought, then destroyed in mass

in the middle of a bright

full moon night.

Madmen see you as profit

or loss broadcast on CNN.

They don’t care about your

immortal soul, and curse

you and your descendants behind

armored doors.

While pigeons still shit and

congregate in Pershing Square,

as thousands of fly corpses

fall down from the web in your living room,

blocking your frantic escape.

War Mall

There could be time

enough, and even

energy enough,

but the will stumbles back

into unrepairable


The lungs have inhaled

marijuana, and the

day is dark, moving like

a snail uphill in fog.

Everywhere there is

preparation for war ...

where the big countries

bomb the little countries.

The mall is full

of robots called American Consumers,

blind and dull

as door jams.

I forget where I parked my car,

and almost desperately

search one row at a time.

And I find my beat-up, ‘92 Ford Tempo

at the end of the 5th row.

Some days I can’t walk into a mall

without being overwhelmed by the

mentality of war.

There is something blatantly

ostentatious, something

bellowing greed and arrogance,

that disgusts me!

On other days I am better.

I can come with my wife shopping for family

and friends, and be a regular guy.

Yeah, it must be the ganga, or the gloomy

dark Oregon day,

as I speed down the freeway for

home, like an army deserter

running from the front lines,

and more than happy to be one.

Requests To The Muse

Come rattle my cage.

I am in here somewhere

Washing dishes, doing laundry,

Or vacuuming the floor.

Arguing over what the local

News means by fair weather.

Lost in domestic pointlessness,

Which screams for worship

And souls to lynch

Come rattle my cage.

Prod me out of here.

Show me some hope,

A glimmer of anarchy.

Make me a poem to stop the

Deadening roar of the machine.

Still the rumble of complacency,

Battering down around me like

War mongering politics.

Hold me close with your true

And tough love.

Open my chest, eyes,

Ears and pineal gland.

Free the groin and the heart.

Stand me on a cliff overlooking

The Caribbean sea

And never let go of my hand.

Show me something, show me

Some hope, a glimmer of anarchy

Trip To Nowhere

Where I found answers I

could not find questions

for. The middle was not

in the middle but off

to the right side, positioned

like an open grave. Voices

spoke In English making

no grammatical sense. I

grabbed hold of

the edge

of something freezing and fierce,

which took off all my flesh up

to my elbow. There was no moon

or sun or stars or sky

only rain and movement all

around me like

speeding trains on

rusty tracks. No entrance, no

exit, no way of telling light

from dark. My bones

broke like pencils

against monolithic structures everywhere

I turned

and everywhere was nowhere

and somewhere was slaughtered with

no purpose and no direction.

Suddenly there was a sound like


of breaking windows,

smashing in echo chambers

over and over. I knew then, somehow, I had broken

through and that my bones would

heal, I would form new skin on

my arm, and the questions were something

in the middle once again. The moon, the

sun, the stars and the sky were

there too.


Doug Draime began publishing in "underground" newspapers and in the small press in the late 1960's. Most recent books include: "Slaves of the Harvest" (Indian Heritage Publishing, 2002), "Unoccupied Zone" (Pitchfork Press, 2004), "Spleen" an e-book (Poetic Inhalation, 2004), and forthcoming from Scintillating Publications "Spiders And Madmen. Mr. Draime lives in the foothills of the Siskiyou mountain range in southern Oregon, with his wife, Carol.