Short Works by PC Writers

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

1
A Writer Writes: Not John — A short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
2
A Writer Writes: BULLETIN BOARD — A poem by Ann Neelon (Senegal)
3
“Sirens’ Sweet Song” by Gerald Karey
4
“Living with the Bomb” by Gerald Karey (Turkey)
5
“There Is No Such Thing as a True Story” by Ellen Urbani (Guatemala)
6
“St. Pete” — Gerald Karey (Turkey)
7
Jon Anderson (Gabon 1974-77) Two ‘Flash’ Stories
8
Urban Legends by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
9
A Mother’s Kept Promise by Rudolph Keith Dunn (Dominican Republic 1990-92)
10
A Game in the Sun by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)

A Writer Writes: Not John — A short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  Not John by Mark Jacobs first published in The Critical Pass Review • Three minutes into his conversation with Weather Woman, Marco Slivovitz knew it was a test. It took two Bushmills and thirty more minutes of talk to be sure that the test had nothing to do with sexual conquest. An objective observer of Marco, looking down from a safe location, would have said it was about escaping. Marco knew better. He was being tested, all right, but the subject of the exam was his shifting self. The Tangiers was the kind of bar Marco gravitated to any time he found himself in a new city. Small, one of a kind, protected from the hard-knocks crowd by high-priced drinks, it took up just enough space on the ground floor of a boutique hotel called The Craddock. The Craddock’s website used the word “cognoscenti” to describe its clientele. A bit . . .

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A Writer Writes: BULLETIN BOARD — A poem by Ann Neelon (Senegal)

  BULLETIN BOARD Ann Neelon (Senegal 1978–79) • When I discovered that all the postcards of black authors had been defaced, I heard my voice crackling, as in a radio transmission from outer space. The world was waiting for me to deliver an important message, but I was an ______ astronaut, not a poet. The best I could do was paraphrase someone else’s efforts: “That’s one small step back for a man, one giant leap backward for mankind.” Through the window of my classroom, I could see the Columbia Point Housing ______ Project rising up in front of me like a lost planet. Asphalt and cinder blocks were its most distinctive surface features. I remembered the alien boy who had landed from there in my classroom. When I called on him to read, he had inched his long black finger across the page, sounding out each syllable as if he were in . . .

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“Sirens’ Sweet Song” by Gerald Karey

• Sirens’ Sweet Song by Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965-67) • The Sirens, Homer tells us, enchant all who come near. Anyone who draws to close to their island and hears their singing will never be welcomed home again. The Sirens sit in a green field and warble to death men who try to join them, with the sweetness of their song, Homer says, or words to that effect. Odysseus sailing home from Troy after the Trojan War orders his crew to put wax in their ears so they cannot hear the Sirens. But he has himself lashed to his ship’s mast, so he may hear them. Their song is irresistible and Odysseus begs to be freed from his bonds so that he may join the Sirens. His pleas are ignored, or perhaps his crew simply cannot hear, and Odysseus is borne safely past on the waters of the wine-dark sea. . . .

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“Living with the Bomb” by Gerald Karey (Turkey)

Living with the Bomb Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965–67) • Duck and Cover Miss McGinn rapped her desk with a ruler to quiet her sixth graders as a bell sounded throughout the school. “This is no joke,” she said sternly. “It’s a drill. If this was a real attack, your lives could depend on it.” We knew the drill. “Duck and Cover.” We scrambled under our desks, crouched down, and covered our heads with our hands. Miss McGinn turned off the lights and hurried to the three tall windows in our classroom to close the shades. It was something of a lark, getting on the floor under your desk. But after several monthly drills it was boring routine — until I caught a glimpse of Sandra Epstein’s white panties. At that precise moment, Sandra turned her head and looked at me. She smiled and hiked her dress, revealing even more of her . . .

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“There Is No Such Thing as a True Story” by Ellen Urbani (Guatemala)

Ellen Urbani (1991–93) emailed me this article and note: Not that this has anything to do with Peace Corps, but an essay of mine came out in The Rumpus yesterday. It’s one that was almost 15 years in the making; hard to tell, but important, I believe. Please feel free to share if you’re so inclined. http://therumpus.net/2016/03/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-true-story/ • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TRUE STORY BY ELLEN URBANI. There is no such thing as a true story. I know this because my daughter insists I told her to put her dirty dishes in the sink when I know I told her to put them in the dishwasher, and because my sister swears that on a late summer night in 1990 I deliberately flicked a Japanese beetle into her mouth when—cross my heart and hope to die—I only intended to swat it off my mother’s shoulder. I know this because my . . .

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“St. Pete” — Gerald Karey (Turkey)

St. Pete Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965–67) • Death was a frequent visitor to the Ebb Tide Retirement and Nursing Home in St. Pete. It usually arrived during the night – perhaps there was a biological or psychological reason for that – but whatever the reason it allowed the staff to deal quietly and discretely with it, in order shield the residents from the grim reality that death had taken another. Not that it made much difference to the residents who knew Ebb Tide would be their final stop on what Mrs. Daphne Delacourt from Piscataway, New Jersey – who as a young woman appeared in a number of amateur theatricals and was given to dramatic gestures and phrases – liked to call life’s great journey. But while the residents didn’t dwell on dying or talk much about death, most shared a resigned acceptance about its inevitably and it was never . . .

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Jon Anderson (Gabon 1974-77) Two ‘Flash’ Stories

Jon Anderson is a liberation ecologist intent on empowering the impoverished through expanding their bundle of rights over resources; making markets work better for the poor; and linking to technical solutions and problem-solving. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in school construction in Gabon (1974 – 77) and was a rural animation volunteer in Mali in 1977.  He served with USAID, USDA, FAO, the MCC (Resident Country Director for Mali) and with the private sector in the US and Africa. He has taught at both Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. One of his favorite biological processes is fermentation.  This process helps him write. Almost Perfect By Jon Anderson As soon as he awoke and went downstairs, he saw a young, grubby kid at the door.  Here, kids replaced telephones – they seemed to be the most frequent means of . . .

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Urban Legends by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)

Chris Honore’ was born in occupied Denmark, during WWII. After the war, he immigrated to America. He went to public schools and then attended San Jose State University and the University of California, at Berkeley, where he earned a teaching credential, an M.A. and a Ph.D. After teaching high school English for two years, he joined the Peace Corps. He’s a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His wife owns a bookstore on Main Street. His son is a cinematographer, living in Southern California. Urban Legends by Chris Honore’ PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEERS were known, at least within the ranks, for telling stories, urban legends of a sort, passed along over a meal or coffee. Many were humorous, some anecdotal, often embellished to make a point, others so improbable as to require a suspension of disbelief, many possessing a dark edge of frustration and cynicism and resignation. One popular story that . . .

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A Mother’s Kept Promise by Rudolph Keith Dunn (Dominican Republic 1990-92)

Rudolph Keith Dunn (Dominican Republic 1990-92) is a Spanish teacher at Starling International Learning and Childcare Center in Richmond. He also tutors children in creative writing. A former freelance journalist for various newspapers over the years, as well as an ESL instructor with Catholic Charities and a Reading and Writing Tutor with the Richmond Public School system. This story, “A Mother’s Kept Promise” was published in the 2015 March edition of the Linden Avenue Literary Journal. It  won the Virginia Writers Club Literary Competition in 2013. A Mother’s Kept Promise by Rudolph Keith Dunn Roaring flames devoured his mother’s flesh, and the small boy smiled. Achebe noticed the soft brown skin was now black and charred, the delicate nose, full lips, and piercing eyes had disappeared. The beautiful, elegant, form of Ashanti, the envy and pride of her village, was no more than a roasting dark mass of skin, muscle, . . .

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A Game in the Sun by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)

This story by John Coyne (Ethiopia  1962-64) was published several times in various magazines. While there were missionaries and missions in Ethiopia, mostly Sudan Interior, Seventh Day, and other protestant domination’s, they were always  (well, almost always) helpful to PCVs. In no way did an incident like the following occur, though it would have made a great story to tell at the Close of Service Conference. A Game in the Sun Betsy was not allowed to play croquet with her husband and the Reverend, so she sat in the shade of the trees at the top of the mound. The mound overlooked a lush rain-forest which grew thick and dense to the edges of the Mission Compound. The view was compelling and frightening to Betsy. The close steamy jungle made her feel insignificant and as she half listened to Mrs. Shaw’s chatter, she watched the bush as if it were . . .

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