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Scrap Paper Review
Issue #41
May, 1999

1999 A.D. Sullivan
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Manhattan  Gaye Campbell
No Rain  A.D. Sullivan
Seize The D-Day  Christopher Curial
The Essence of Solitude  Kenneth Lumpkin
Sony  A.D. Sullivan
Fast Food  Mary Kay Smith
By The Side of the Sea  Holly Lalena Day

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Manhattan

Named for those
Who sailed pure waters
Round an island ocean girt

woke to clear and pristine mornings
slept beneath white silver stars
heard the whisp'ring of the snowfall
walked the lush and verdant grassland
now the white man's monoliths
somber steel and eyes of glass
tower above the scurrying millions
foul the once crystalline sea
blur the sun and dime the starshine
rend the earth for its corruption
Grey sky overhead a roaring
with the man made hawk's harsh thunder
Heaven crying down the rain
mourning for the long lost beauty
and the raping of this island
weeping unheard among the raucous
sound and fury of the city

Gaye Campbell

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No Rain
by A.D. Sullivan

"Rain, damn it!" the old man shouts, a battered pipe clutched between his jaws like a bullet.

Over his shoulder he wears an old grey horse blanket from a war that he won't date. He says that the layers of wool and cotton and leather beneath it keep him cool. Yet still sweat drips from his brow and from the pink flesh visible around his mouth the grey blanket of his beard fails to cover.

It hasn't rained in two months. Sixty days. And the river normally swollen at this time of year, shows its ribs, the pipes from the factories dribbling vulgar liquids to its bottom. At other times, these pipes remain hidden by the bulk of water.

The old man glares down at them, then grimaces in pain.

He is tempted to ask: "Is this really progress," but hesitates, knowing that I've heard his ranting on this subject too many times before. So he sighs instead and sits back and watches the sparrows circle instead, sparrows like hawks above us, swirling in some current of air we cannot feel.

"Rain," he mumbles, still puffing on his long dead pipe.

He is too lazy to relight it, too wearying with the heat to restuff it with tobacco from his pouch, a pouch he keeps tucked under his shirt next to the picture of his dead son.

The boy, whose age he never told me, died in yet one more war, the old man won't talk about, yet boy and the war that killed him are the center of constant allusion, quotes and anecdotes from birth until drafted into service: Ben, Jr. did this or that before most people ever thought to, according to the old man.

But even these stories have worn thin with most listeners, though I bear it better than some, finding that many of the boy's accomplishments seem beyond those of his father, traits so grand I suspect he inherited them from his mother.

"Rain!" he roars, his voice echoing across the nearly empty face of the waterless falls, a weak, shrill voice that sounds like a bird call.

Today, the hot and dry air taunts him, though his expression suggests some deeper disturbance he will not discuss.

More sparrows come. And their flight becomes a tangle of fluttering wings, all forming private patterns above us and the river.

Down, down, they fly, rushing at the ground like the Japanese Zeros out of the old man's stories of war, each aiming its beak at the crusty floor of the lower river, pulling themselves up just before they crash.

The old man stares them, and then, in a dramatic change of mood, winks at me, before going off again on another tirade about rain.

"We had a spell like this back in the early 60s," he tells me. "Only we didn't have so many factories then, just a handful of paper mills. None of these chemical places we got now, springing up like poison ivy, taking possession of the banks like they owned them all along. There used to be beaches here and we used to come here to swim, like people now go to the sea shore to do."

Looking at the river bottom thick with shards of glass and the pools of brackish water, I shuddered at the thought, wondering what kind of crazy man would think of story like that up..

The people at the diner think he's crazy, partly because of the insistent way he gestures when he speaks, waving his hand at the water as if Moses willing it to part. But when he points I look, like now, showing me the thick black cables that stretch like serpents along the bottom, running from bridge to bridge, and down the falls, all the way down the river.

"People are always trying to hide their dirty work," he says, sucking on his dry pipe, the sound of which seeps into their silent air like leaking gas. "They're too ashamed to let us see how bad they mess up our world."

Then, he grows sad again, having no explanation for acts like that, as if greed was not part of his vocabulary, the way it wasn't part of the mind set of the Lenape Indians who lived here first.

The birds circle, dancing in the air, touching the water with splashes. Then, Ben speaks again, as if out of memory.

"I saw J.P. Morgan once," he says. "He's one of the bastards that started the whole thing. No. There were others before him, the Hamiltons and Jeffersons and Jacksons, and before them, bastards just as bad in Europe, who came here when they had ruined the rivers there."

I've heard this stuff before, about how bankers starved people, how the government has duped us into believing foreign people were bad, like the Russians and the Chinese, his talk making me feel as dirty as the river.

Then, the wind comes, chasing the old dead leaves away from the year before, stirring them out of hiding as if with a stick. Some touch the water, but most settled onto the mud and slowly sink, buried beneath the weeping yellowing arms of the willows.

At times like these I understand why they are called weeping, and confuse their falling limbs with tears. The maples and oaks sit back more, like proud fathers, below them, just at the water line, youngsters, obviously of that very same breed begin go crop up. Most of these wither over time, a few do not. Some, too close to the river, get sucked in by the invisible hands of the catfish that dig at their roots for food.

All these things seem as exaggerated as the old man's lies, part of the pollution, of which the sparrows, sea gulls and geese have become a part, birds circling, rising and falling, but rarely landing, seeming to fear the land, the mud, the drying cracked earth, lies, lies and more lies.

Lies swaying with the promise of rain, swaying with a dry wind. The reeds listing and rustling, crumbling to dust, limbs littering the water like corpses.

In that dry wind I hear whispers, talk of survival, cynical cries. The gulls come and go, bemoaning some new infraction on their freedoms, a new fence, a new factory, gulls flying at the arches of the turnpike as if they can't see them, mistaking the monstrosity perhaps for something more natural such as Jonah's whale. The gulls crying out through the air, just as the old man does, each croak calling for rain.

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Seize The D-Day

Awake to the day of obvious events
greet further mourning planted
in robot smile that
quarantines all things from all things,
nourish the falling dogs
with a slab of our non supportive flesh,
seize the d day!

Control but do not confine your parts
for they do not end
but deeply spring from the rest
all the greens wave below and above the sun
softening my thoughts,
coloring them less violent
not telling the directional bent
insuring it, yes!

The fighting from wasting skies,
the ledger not kept and not forgotten,
whisper of full rays and what they light,
the glowing cliffs that hold us
still trust us,
these wood finds newer forms
deduced from our necessities,
our power to inspire in this new season of growth
I dance the millionth dance,
the future in my pocket
I occupy the widest road
grinning from end to end.

Christopher Curial

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The Essence of Solitude
Alternative Micro Environments
by Kenneth Lumpkin

The essence of the theory of solitude is that the individual may dislocate him or herself from their society, culture, community, family, friends, business acquaintances, etc., create an Alternative Micro Environment (AME) but still be able to function with the society without being effected by it.

This is in contrast to escapism since the individual in this case realizes the importance of retaining his or her ties with the world at large, but sees no reason for full immersion, for it is society that ensnare him/her into becoming outraged and lonely while supposedly being in the midst of it.

This scheme works well for burned out Marxists Utopians who finally figure out that the world is not going to change for them, and they certainly won't change, so they adapt by surrounding themselves with the kind of nature, though and people, that is most acceptable to their wants and needs. It is important to note that transference to this other state is different from mere daydreaming and is markedly easier when facilitated by the mytho symbolic ritual.

By mytho symbolic ritual, we mean whatever personal facilitation needed to expedite transportation to an AME. This may be an actual ritual such as prayer, meditation, a hike in the woods, sacrifice, a moment of silence, privacy or the simple act of opening a book. It is highly personal and ideally should be the preference of the individual.

All this brings us to literature and why it is an essential form of releasing oneself into another world or AME. The most successful literature, especially poetry and fiction, is that which in a few well chosen lines transports the reader out of the everyday, mundane and alienating experience, and into the magical, mythopeic world of the poem or prose piece.

Noting that the Zohar the background of the Jewish Cabala consisting of esoteric and mystical commentaries on the Torah has God creating the universe by the utterance of a few sounds ie letters, words, phrases, etc, we try to create alternative worlds or AMES by writing and reading or hearing of a few special words.

This kind of literature works best when the poet or speaker read it; the listener, closing the eyes, is able to shut out all stimulation to the other senses. The ideal situation is, of course, privacy and intimacy, either between a reader and book or between poet and listeners.

To achieve this abracadabra effect, or alchemy of the word, as Rimaud called it, is, admittedly, a rare experience. However, when an AME is sought for and found, there is the immediate effect on the reader on being transported mentally, if not psycho physically, into the realm of the text. What is being said here really is that language can be the most powerful force on earth. We create the universe by simply saying "Ma," the Hebrew word for "What."

I do not suggest we liken ourselves to God or the powers thereof, but do insist, like the symbolists would have, that our literature concentrate on the kind of description that actually lifts the reader out of the everyday reality and deposits him/here in an entirely different one. In this sense, the poem or passage becomes a reality or alternative world all in itself.

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Sony

The only thing she ever really wanted
was a Sony, color TV,
She -- described in the whispers
of children's night time room--
as the wicked witch of east and west,
toothless, badgering,
laughing over Johnny Carson monologues,
protected by her quilt,
knees jerking to every joke,
her exposed toes yellowed from
decay and cancer,
she claimed she got from microwave transmissions
announcing one day her husband crazy
as she ordered him committed,
taking him out once a month
to sign his veteran's check,
he sleeping in his room like a sedated squirrel
until time for her to take him back,
He always regretting the lack of money
that kept him from actually marrying her,
and she, hating him all the more when years later
she was denied his insurance benefits,
and still later, cursing her children from the grave
when they refused to honor her last wish
to bury her with the TV set.
A.D. Sullivan

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Fast Food
by Mary Kay Smith

The rotund lady is intent on devouring her greasy fried chicken. The neon lights behind her reflect off her peroxide blonde hair. She fidgets in her seat as she argues with her husband.

"You told me to take that money out of the account," she practically screams. The people eating near her pretend to ignore the outburst and look the other way.

"Shut up," he hisses as he swivels around in his chair. His face is harsh. His eyes are dark and unfeeling.

"Don't you remember?" she whispers. "We talked about it in the car."

They continue to dispute the issue until she gets up disgusted and waddles off to the ladies room. Her Gucci bag wiggles on their arm as she wiggles her Vanderbilt ass.

Shortly she returns, blows in his ear and whispered. "You were right, of course, dear."

"I'm glad you finally agree," he says.

She puts her arm around him and says: "Now lets go up to Bambs and see if that dress I wanted is on sale. I may want to buy it."

He pats her as ass he gets up, then obediently follows her, leaving the paper dishes and crumbled napkins littering the table.

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By The Side of the Sea
by Holly Lalena Day

The Dying Gaul had finally managed to push himself upright. His eyes focused on the walls of what had once been a magnificent art gallery, now reduced to a heap of rubble. One of the Three Fates had pulled herself away from the frieze she had been trapped in and was sitting across from him, perched on a pile of twisted metal and rock.

"You've been hurt," she said, shaking her head.

"I was made that way," he answered, carefully raising his hand up to his side. There was a thick sludge of gray blood running down the platform he was displayed on. He felt the wound carefully, pulling out the sharp spearhead that he had suspected for centuries must be there. He grunted with the effort, eyes squeezed shut with pain. When he reopened his eyes, he and the Fate were sitting in the middle of a green field, the remains of the museum buried beneath a hundred years of mud slides and rain.

"Do you feel better now?" she asked, the sun rising and setting at an impossible speed behind her. Her face was crinkled up with concern.

"Oh, yes." He sighed and tried to stand. He was incredibly weak. She got up and walked toward him, the grass dying and being reborn beneath her feet. By the time she reached him, the world was a desert as far as his eyes could see. She put his arm around her shoulder and pulled him to his feet. He leaned against her body, grateful she had been made so large. She ripped off a piece of her robe and tied it around his waist to staunch the flow of blood.

"I hope that helps," she said. They walked on for a while, neither of them sure where they were going. Both had been imprisoned for so long--she with her Sisters, he with his injury--that just the simple act of walking was enough for now. Behind them, chasms yawned wide and snapped shut, mountains bloomed and fell to nothing, stars streamed like fireworks in the night sky. Creatures evolved to the point of claiming the statues their own creations, then died out to be replaced by others.

The Dying Gaul and the Fate walked on, ignoring the galleries built up around them where they stood, always reaching the far wall long after the structure fell completely apart. They finally came to the shore of a great tumultuous ocean, the fires of a thousand sunrise sunsets flickering blood-red on the churning waters. The Dying Gaul was strong enough to walk by himself now, but still held onto the Fate's arm. Boulders broke into sand beneath their feet.

"This look like a good place to stop," he said. The Fate smiled in agreement and held the Dying Gaul steady while he lowered himself to the ground.

She sat beside him, stretching her legs out until her sandled feet almost touched the water. Behind them, civilization was built and destroyed and rebuilt.

The moon disappeared completely from the night sky, and the days grew longer and hotter as the Earth was drawn closer to the sun. The Dying Gaul put his arm around the Fate and tried to pull her closer. And after a few centuries of resistance, she finally smiled and leaned into his body, the top of her head resting against his cold stone chest.

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Copyright 1999 A.D. Sullivan
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