Short Works by PC Writers

Short works by RPCVs that do not reference the Peace Corps experience.

1
“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)
2
“2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)
3
“Jungle Softball” by Anson Lihosit (Panama)
4
“One Monsoon” by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal)
5
A poem of peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)
6
A Poem: “Minorca” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
7
“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)
8
Tony D’Souza: Summer in Sarasota (Cote d’Ivoire)
9
“The View from Birauta” by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal)
10
“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)

“Pay The Price” by Robert Gribbin (Kenya)

  Pay the Price by Robert Gribbin (Kenya 1968–70) • I WATCHED HIS TWO BROWN FINGERS thump against my arm. “Aha,” he muttered under his breath, then I saw the needle poised slowly before it plunged into the vein. Has it come to this? I thought morosely as I slipped away into somnolence while my blood dripped into the bag. Shortly, I awoke with a start to find Mamadou grinning down at me. “Okay, Jimmie,” he grimaced, “all done.” “You rest until dark, then go. Arrangements are in place. You’ll be safe.” I nodded assent. I was indeed ready to go.   TWO AND A HALF YEARS in Sierra Leone was more than enough. I had dawdled and procrastinated, found myself bound by slippery ties to a place that I didn’t really like and to a culture that I could not fathom. Yet that is partly why I stayed to try . . .

Read More

“2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown” by Susan O’Neill (Venezuela)

  2016 — The Year of the Creepy Clown by Susan Kramer O’Neill (Venezuela 1973–74 • IT STARTED WITH RANDOM GUYS who showed up in public places, their very presence disturbing the peace. Rumors flew that some attempted to entrap children. I doubt they accomplished it. Children are smarter than adults; they know to be wary of the white face, the painted grin, gigantic feet and orange hair. I remember one picture: a lone clown, hands on hips, head tipped to one side, across from a rural apartment complex somewhere down south. Just standing. Watching. It creeped me out. In no time, the clowns claimed 2016. They owned it. I must add this disclaimer: There were good clowns in the year’s mix. Lovely, heartbreaking clowns. Muhammed Ali; Prince, and Bowie. Gene Wilder. The wry Zen master, Leonard Cohen. These fine clowns will be linked with 2016 only because that was . . .

Read More

“Jungle Softball” by Anson Lihosit (Panama)

  Jungle Softball by Anson Lihosit (Panama 2015-17) GETTING A BASEBALL MITT proved difficult. A Peace Corps Volunteer’s salary was not enough to buy a new one. Back in the United States, my father rummaged around the garage and blew dust off an old utility mitt I hadn’t used in years. He mailed it with a hometown baseball cap to the father of a Peace Corps pal since my pal was briefly going home to attend a wedding. He brought it back to Panama on the return flight. I had a four-hour long bus ride to the capital to pick it up, then four hours back to my tiny jungle truck stop, Torti, located halfway between Panama City to the west and the Darian Gap to the east —that stretch of roadless jungle between Panama and Colombia known for smugglers and armed rebels. Cleats were much easier. I bought some cheap . . .

Read More

“One Monsoon” by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal)

  This essay by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65)  appeared on December 2, 2016, in The Common, a print and digital literary journal published biannually, in the fall and spring. Issues of The Common include short stories, essays, poems, and images that embody a strong sense of place.  The Common Online publishes original content four times per week, including book reviews, interviews, personal essays, short dispatches, poetry, contributor podcasts and recordings, and multimedia features. Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, the magazine is supported in part by Amherst College and The Common Foundation. •   ONE MONSOON Don Messerschmidt December 2, 2016 One Wednesday morning late in the rainy season of 1964, I sat at the open window of my room overlooking the tiny hill town of Kunchha, Nepal where I lived. I was watching huge clouds expand overhead, upward and outward across the blue Himalayan sky. I knew that by noon the temperature and the humidity would rise proportionately. . . .

Read More

A poem of peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco)

  Tolerance, Freedom, and Peace by Julie R. Dargis (Morocco 1984–87) • Pitch with us tolerance, freedom and peace In churches, synagogues, temples, and mosques. Stand up with our friends at home and abroad. Let respect choose the words we use wisely. In Morocco, Mali, throughout Asia, Eastern Europe, across the Middle East, Peace Corps volunteers are welcome in homes. We live together as one in global Communities, Humanitarians Working in Turkey, Greece, and Syria Attest to the same. Islamophobic Rhetoric, spinning in news cycles, is Staining our communities with chatter. Can you not hear all our cries to stand down?     Julie R. Dargis is a poet, a writer, and an intuitive. “Tolerance, Freedom, and Peace” was taken from her recently published collection of “memoirs, sonnets and prose,” White Moon in a Powder Blue Sky. Previously she published a creative non-fiction book drawing on her Peace Corps experience, Pit Stop in the . . .

Read More

A Poem: “Minorca” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

I first went to Menorca in the fall of 1967 having just finished a tour as an APCD in Ethiopia. I was looking for a place to live while working on my novel. In my last months in-country I combed the back pages of advertisements in the old International Herald Tribune looking for a place to rent, and it was Mark Foster (Ethiopia 1965-67), reading over my shoulder one day, who spotted an ad for an apartment in Mahon, Menorca, that was renting for $1 a day. “I’ve been to this island with my mother,” Mark said. “We sailed over from Mallorca. No Americans ever go there.” That was just what I wanted to hear! I left Africa in early September and spent the fall of that year on the island. I have been returning to Menorca ever since. Here’s why.     MENORCA From the red tile terrace of the Port Mahón Hotel I . . .

Read More

“The Peace Corps Radicalized Me” by Thomas Pleasure (Peru)

The following article was published on Argonaut Online — the web presence of The Argonaut, a local newspaper for the westside of Los Angeles — on June 1, 2016 under the title “Opinion Power to Speak.” We are delighted to have received permission from the author to repost it here. •   •  The Peace Corps Radicalized Me by Thomas Pleasure (Peru 1964–66)   SINCE FRANK MANKIEWICZ’S DEATH in 2014, activists, historians, cineastes, journalists and spinmeisters had been awaiting publication of his posthumous memoir, So As I Was Saying . . . My Somewhat Eventful Life. I imagine we all felt that Frank — son of “Citizen Kane” writer Herman Mankiewicz, nephew of director Joseph Mankiewicz and a political force of the 1960s and ’70s in his own right — had a special message for us. We were right. Movie buffs will lap up Frank’s tales of growing up in Hollywood and his conversation . . .

Read More

Tony D’Souza: Summer in Sarasota (Cote d’Ivoire)

  I’ve lived all over the world, and I’d never be able to explain to my foreign friends how important summer is to my American identity. Lots of them don’t even have summer. In West Africa where I was in the Peace Corps, the only seasons were hot and hotter. Central America was like that, too; and in far northern Japan, where I studied the Utari indigenous people, summer was a starving time when the sea ice melted and the seals and whales they hunted headed farther north, leaving them with nothing to eat. But when I was a child in Chicago, summer was a golden season. It meant release from school, from long underwear, from interminable evenings in front of the TV with the world outside dark and frozen and nothing else you dared to do. Summer was like someone had turned the lights back on and we were . . .

Read More

“The View from Birauta” by Don Messerschmidt (Nepal)

  When Don Messerschmidt (Nepal 1963-65) graduated from the University of Alaska/Fairbanks, cass of 1963, he was only vaguely aware of the Kingdom of Nepal. With a degree in education he thought he’d become a teacher in the Alaskan bush. But, by accepting an invitation to join the Peace Corps that summer, his life changed dramatically. By September he was in Nepal doing development work in the (then) remote central hills. Since 1963, Don has lived and worked in the Himalayas as a development advisor, anthropological researcher, teacher, and writer/editor. The epicenter of Nepal’s April 2015 Gorkha Earthquake was very near Don’s Peace Corps village. After the quake, he returned twice to help with the recovery work and documentation, under auspices of the all-volunteer non-profit Gorkha Foundation. As a member of the Board of Advisors, Don helps raise funds for rebuilding schools destroyed in the quake. Don can be contacted at . . .

Read More

“The Nzeogwu I Knew” by Tim Carroll (Nigeria)

   Editor’s Note: In February 2015, Roger Landrum (01) 1961–63, in the email below, alerted the newsletter staff of what he believed to be an interesting story about a friendship that had developed in Nigeria in 1965 between Peace Corps Volunteer Tim Carroll and a young major in the Nigerian army. Jim. I recently read Achebe’s Biafra memoir, There Was a Country. It has a brief section on Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, one of the five military majors who led the coup that triggered the chain of events leading to the Biafran secession and the civil war. Achebe calls Nzeogwu “a mysterious figure.” Maybe not all that mysterious! There was a Nigeria PCV named Timothy Carroll posted in Kaduna who was friends with Nzeogwu. I’m trying to convince Carroll to write a piece for the FON newsletter called “The Nzeogwu I Knew.” I think Nigeria RPCVs would find this fascinating. It . . .

Read More

Copyright © 2016. Peace Corps Worldwide.