Contributors

We invite letters and articles from our readers that delve on our theme of how others see us. If you are an American expatriate, or a non US citizen with first-hand knowledge of life in the United States, we would be specially interested in your comments.

E Pluribus Undecim

There are only a few copies left of this first edition, and they are not available to the public.  No reprints of “E Pluribus Undecim” are scheduled; however, the first five stories of the anthology will see print as part of a new anthology, “Underground Stories from a City Not Somewhere Else,” scheduled for publication early in 2018; while the remaining six stories will be reprinted as part of a subsequent anthology scheduled for publication in 2019.

Gil Tower-Meadow

I Remember

A black man is president. Wow! I remember all the television reports about the marches in the south and the busing in the north and then meeting so many black guys in the marines and the black guys in college who were there because they could play football and how isolated they were. One especially named Bill Coleman who was a marvelous artist. And the black guys always had the best pot and laughed the loudest even louder than me. I remember when five of them came back into the dorm at the beginning of a semester steamed because they had been walking down the main street of Durango, CO. and had heard passing drivers yelling "nigger" at them.

I remember when I went to the March on Washington in 1968 and on the way back to the car a black woman on her porch, a dump, yelling at me to do something for black people!

I remember Queenie our maid coming once a week . I remember my sister's maid in Atlanta and talking to her and her son. There I volunteered to be a adult representative for black kids accused of various crimes and not being able to get through to them at all, not even understand them because I simply couldn't make out what they were actually saying.

I remember a black guy when I was in the brig bragging about killing a guy in St. Louis. I told him he was full of shit and boy did he get mad. The fact that he didn't come at me proved he was lying.

The actor who played the character Verville in the workup of my play Back to Back at Sundance was Nathan Cooke and he was the coolest black dude I ever met and now he dead because he got into so much cocaine in Hollywood. He had been on the tv show White Shadow. Remember that one? I remember alll the black guys who played Verville in Back to Back in its productions around the country. Almost all of them had trouble memorizing lines and studying the part. The kid in L.A. just couldn't cut it and he was so scared but wouldn't admit it. I remember getting nominated for an NAACP Black Image Award for writing Back to Back. I remember other black actors always uneasy because of being in such a white world.

I remember Ballew, my squadleader in Vietnam for a time. When I got shot in the leg he came down the hill with the rest of the squad to get me and ended up getting shot in the chest. I still recall the sound of the bullet buzzing over my head and then the "thump" when it hit him. He was medevaced to the Repose, the hospital ship, along with me. Unconscious on the floor of the chopper his head rolling around, the bandage on his chest bloodsoaked. He was on my ward and when we got to the Phillipines for the ship to be resupplied and he got off because he was going home. He was on his second tour already in 1967. As they wheeled him by me he said "see ya partner." Ballew had always hated me, especially since I had mistakenly fired at him on a night ambush. He hated every white person who ever lived but at that moment his hatred had calmed. I remember him as the toughest guy I ever met. He still holds that title. I remember another black guy on that ward who had his right leg blown off. I remember him moaning and I remember in the middle of the night when they wheeled him out of the ward because he had died. I remember wishing I was black because I wanted to fight a just fight.

And I remember when I was about eight years old. A black family moved into a house around the corner from us and a mob formed and began throwing rocks and bricks through their windows. The sound of the crashing of the glass still rings clear. I was seated on my bike and the training wheels were still on it. The cops just watched. Can you imagine the family hiding inside. What they were thinking and feeling.

Barack Obama Unbelievable. I'll always remember him, too

Al Brown, Hood River, Oregon

Waiting for the Terrorists - by Richard O'Connell

Poem written in 2003 (after C. Cavafy's "Waiting for the Barbarians")

Why are we waiting, desperate for information?
Because the terrorists will strike today.

Why has Congress adjourned and gone into hiding
and set up a secret shadow government?

Because the terrorists are on their way,
muffled, dressed like cut-rate dervishes,
and they'll abolish speeches and elections.

Why did our president evaporate
on a jet, spirited to a distant site, 
enthroned in a lead vault deep under ground?

Because the terrorists will strike today
and the President and his advisers must
survive to issue proclamations and appeals 
for public calm and broadcast patriotic hymns
surrounded by bright panoplies of banners.

Why are so many generals on television 
parading their medals, beating the drum
for prophylactic war with loud boasts about 
our unprecedented military might? 
Why is the press in bed with mad Procrustes? 
Why is criticism greeted with derision?

Because the terrorists will strike today
and one person's patriotism is another's prison.

Why have our moral leaders disappeared?
Why have our laws and civil rights been trashed?

Because the terrorists are on the way 
and death's their only concept of due process.

Why do we see nightmare in every face
we encounter? Why can't we sleep? Why are our cities
impoverished for the sake of imperial projects?
Why do we hide in our homes afraid to speak?

Night falls and the terrorists are still not here.
Rumors abound that they have been destroyed
by a virus they were carrying to envenom us.

Now what will become of us without the terrorists?
Those people were some sort of a solution.

Richard O'Connell

RICHARD O'CONNELL lives in Hillsboro Beach, Florida. Collections of his poetry include RetroWorlds, Simulations, Voyages, and The Bright Tower, all published by the University of Salzburg Press (now Poetry Salzburg). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Margie, National Review, The Texas Review, Acumen, The Formalist, Light, etc. His most recent collections are American Obits, Fractals and Dawn Crossing. (Email: rocon100@comcast.net)