Short Works by PC Writers

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

1
“Rent Check” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
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A Writer Writes — “Why Trees Aren’t Just Colorful” by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia)
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Mark Jacobs’ new shortstory in Maple Tree Literary Supplement (Paraguay)
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A Writer Writes — “The Grownup Train” by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)
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Migrant Caravans and Social Justice by Mark Walker (Guatemala)
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About schooling kids in NYC by George Packer (Togo)
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A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)
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“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)
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A Writer Writes — “The Paperboy” by Chris Honore (Colombia)
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A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”

“Rent Check” by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

  Rent Check by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80) evergreen magazine • The question was did Janelle fuck Old Ray Taylor so they got the house. Grace drew a quick picture mental picture of herself, the sticks and circles of her that moment. On her knees next to the bathtub, kneecaps aching where they touched the tile floor. Washing Meadow’s hair because something was wrong with her granddaughter, Meadow always forgot where she was so forgot what came next, for example rinse the soap out. On the toilet seat, Grace’s pocketbook. In the pocketbook, a pack of L&M. Against Grace’s better judgment it was December, but so far she was keeping November’s promise not to smoke inside. She was asking herself did her daughter fuck the owner of the house Grace was living but now not smoking in. And how come it mattered so goddamn much. Ha! If she could answer . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Why Trees Aren’t Just Colorful” by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia)

  Why trees aren’t just colorful fall features for our region’s neighborhoods   by Roger K. Lewis (Tunisia 1964-66) President, Peace Corps Commemorative Foundation The Washington Post Oct. 25, 2019 • October’s changing leaf colors, along with intrusive leaf-blower noise, are signals every year that fall is definitely upon us and winter will be arriving in a few weeks. But these sights and sounds also remind us how wonderfully verdant the nation’s capital is. We are quite fortunate. Few cities match metropolitan Washington’s extraordinary amount of tree-covered, vegetated open space. Thousands of acres of interconnected, stream-valley parks thread around and through the region, which encompasses countless neighborhood public parks varying greatly in size, shape, topography, flora and function. Complementing our urban and suburban public parkland are hundreds of thousands of private outdoor spaces — front yards, backyards, courtyards — all contributing in different ways to the fall color display. Washington is . . .

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Mark Jacobs’ new shortstory in Maple Tree Literary Supplement (Paraguay)

    Wild Turkey Climbing the outside steps to Glynda’s apartment, Mick Garrity felt the gravity of experience slowing his step. The sky was spitting wet snow at him, paying him back for some screw up he could not put his finger on, just now. Glynda’s deadbeat boyfriend Murphy had beaten her up again. Dispatch said she was hysterical. She wanted the police to save her. Again. Across the universe a thousand cops were climbing the same steps hearing the same old story they had heard and told a thousand times. On the landing, Mick raised his hand to knock but Glynda was already opening the door to him. “I kept my word,” she snuffled. “I swear to God, Mick, I kept my word.” She looked terrible. The sleeve of her burgundy quilted robe was torn. Her hair was wild. She had always had a cute face, a sexy come-get-me . . .

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A Writer Writes — “The Grownup Train” by Chris Honore’ (Colombia)

  THE GROWNUP TRAIN By Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69) They stood on the train platform, eyes narrowed, bodies angled to the right, looking down the track, waiting. A train had just passed through. Another would be along shortly. They were hardcore, their posture and dress conveying a self-conscious, determined insouciance: shoulders hunched, knees slightly bent, baggy denim shorts riding precariously low on their hips, their hair a shag carpet of stiff, uneven spikes. Both wore frayed black T-shirts, the seams separating, revealing startling white skin. The taller of the two held a skateboard cupped in his left hand, the flat side pressed against his hip, the undercarriage revealing neoprene, day-glo wheels and aluminum axels, called, oddly, trucks. An oval yin yang decal, centered, declared, “I Found Animal Chin.” The nose of the board was shredded, the rails and tail ground down to bare wood. The shorter of the two stood . . .

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Migrant Caravans and Social Justice by Mark Walker (Guatemala)

    Justice & Responsibility The Plight of the Immigrants from Central America By Mark D. Walker (Guatemala 1971-73)   “Migrant Caravans,” made up of large groups of children and adults from the Northern Triangle of Central America, heading to our border to seek safety and a better life is problematic, both for those coming and for those waiting for their arrival in the U.S. The influx of undocumented immigrants has reached a ten-year high, with 66,450 entering recently, according to the Customs and Border Patrol.   The existing frenzied political debate and the false narratives it often generates make it difficult, if not impossible, to turn this crisis into an opportunity to better appreciate why so many continue to seek refuge here and to understand our own role, and that of our government, in sorting out the situation, responding in a humanitarian way to those coming and creating some viable solutions to . . .

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About schooling kids in NYC by George Packer (Togo)

    The October issue of The Atlantic has a true and fascinating article by George Packer (Togo 1982-83) entitled “When the Culture War Comes for the Kids” with the subtitle of “Caught between a brutal meritocracy and a radical new progressivism, a parent tries to do right by his children while navigating New York City’s schools.” Having raised a son in the Big Apple, and having experienced the same system that George and his wife are now enduring, I feel their pain. It all begins this way, Packer writes, “places at the preschool were awarded on a first-come, first-served basis. At the front of the line, parents were lying in sleeping bags. They had spent the night outside.” And it continues through middle school and high school. It is no wonder young parents flee Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx for the suburbs. Read George’s tale of terror of the public . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Oral Traditions in Writing” by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia)

A Writer Writes     Oral Traditions in Writing by Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia 1968-70) • Somalis are known throughout East Africa for their beauty and for their poetry. In this oral tradition, poems are used to communicate, to share news and even to settle disputes. A poet insults another clan in a poem. For example, “You have mistaken boat-men and Christians for the Prophet.” News and other communication had to be oral because the Somali language was not written even when I lived there in 1968.  This was due to a dispute over what kind of letters should be used. Religious leaders wanted an Arabic alphabet, business people wanted a modern Latin one. When Siad Barre, a military dictator, took over the county in 1969, his goal was rapid modernization under communism. He sent a delegation to China where Chairman Mao held similar views.  When Mao was informed about the dispute, . . .

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“The Visit” by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras)

      The Visit by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras 1975-77)   Armando Votto Paz wasn’t just any Community Development foreman. He not only got us what we needed but stood by us whistling away the dark clouds. I didn’t want to let him down but being young, my genes were jumping. I was in love and had just slunk back from a clandestine trip to Mexico City. Secrets (like a Mexican girlfriend) are easier heard than kept. I feared the worst when Armando surprised me at my La Ceiba office where I was typing legends for my own maps. He paged through my report’s appendix, checking calculations and smiled before suggesting that I take the day off. He had to visit another volunteer in an isolated village. Since I had never been to the place and he could use some company, he thought it a good fit. We climbed . . .

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A Writer Writes — “The Paperboy” by Chris Honore (Colombia)

A Writer Writes   The Paperboy by Chris Honoré (Colombia 1967-69)   My elementary school was called Allendale, a name I never gave much thought to. It was a massive, pale green, two-story Victorian building on a quiet neighborhood street. Two years before I headed off to Jr. High School, I suggested to my folks that being a paperboy would build character, or words to that effect, and solve my financial situation – I was always short of pocket change for, say, a comic or baseball cards wrapped in waxy paper along with a square of pink bubble gum. To sweeten my argument, I pointed out that the newspaper shack, where a cohort of boys gathered each afternoon after school, waiting for the bundles of newspapers to arrive, was less than a block away from Allendale. “Fine,” my parents said, with some reluctance. “Let’s see how it goes.” And so . . .

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A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”

 A Writer Writes     When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong By Paulette Perhach (Paraguay 2008-10)  Published on Matador Network April 8, 2016 BEFORE WORKING IN THE PEACE CORPS in Paraguay for two years, I had never even heard of Guaraní. Guaraní is not in the Latin linguistic family tree I was familiar with. In fact, to my ears, this language sounded like it was from another planet. “Hello” is “mba’éichapa.” “Goodbye” is “jajotopata.” There are nasal harmonies and glottal stops. The “Yes” sounds like saying “he” for a long time, while holding your nose. Water is just spelled “y,” but it’s pronounced like the last sound of a drowning man. There’s just one word for “he” and “she,” but two words for “we.” And, oh yeah, by the way, nouns change depending on who owns them. “House” is just . . .

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