Issue #3

(July/August 1994)

lightning bugs - #3 Cover

cover drawing by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe


Table of Contents

full or partial text is availablefor highlighted items




(Updated July 9,1996)

© Copyright 1995 EchoesMagazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright andmay not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copyingor by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permissionfrom Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyrightby their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and bythe artists.

How Close She Is to Killing Him

by DeMorge L. Brown

Following is a brief excerpt from the story:

. . . Erzulie is fourteen years old, with arm-length braids of black hair escaping from the Yankees cap on her head -- braids that are so long they touch the bed. She sits with her blue-jeaned legs crossed in front of her, popping a hardball from her throwing hand to the soft mitt on her left hand. Popping and retrieving the ball. Pop! and retrieve. Pop!

She is not alone in her room. Clemente, a.k.a. B.S. (for Butter Skin) is there sitting against the wall opposite her, a stupid, stupid look on his face as he watches her pop the ball. Gady is next to him, arms crossed and squeezed against his chest. His eyebrows are low, his lips are tight, his face a scowl, and Gady is not the only one who is sick and tired of waiting for Him to show. Erzulie is pissed, too; if that doesn't show in her face it shows in the Pop!! of her ball into the padded mitt. . . .

Erzulie at home

illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© Copyright 1994 DeMorge L. Brown

DeMorge L. Brown is a 28-year old film actor and developingwriter who lives in Boston. "How Close She Is to Killing Him" is partof a novel he hopes to be able to complete within a year. DeMorgetells us, "I write to learn and I write to understand. There's a lotI don't know, so I guess my work is cut out for me!"(6/94)


[Table of Contents]


by Bob Sloan

following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

My name's Don Reynolds and I live here in Linden. I'm making this tape with the Veteran's Administration Troop Sightings Project, and I'm supposed to say I know I'm under oath.

I'm a contractor, commercial stuff mostly, fast food and things like that. I'm married and have two kids. My Troop showed up the morning of July twentieth, waiting by the truck when I went outside to drive to work. He was from the Dominican Republic.

. . .

I was a Third Class Boatswain's Mate in the Navy, '64 to '69. When the government put Marines into Dom Rep in '65, I drove an assault boat until we landed all the grunts off a transport. Then the jarheads send word back to the ship they needed truck drivers, and my division officer sent me and a bunch of other guys ashore to help out.

I earned a Troop on the day I drove a platoon of Marines into an old part of Santo Domingo. The grunts were doing a house-to-house search for someone or something, and I was leaning against my truck, having a smoke, hoping they'd get done before dark. Those streets were a mean place once the sun went down.

It was over real fast. I saw somebody raise up, silhouetted on a roof, aiming a rifle at some Marines a block away. He didn't see me or my M-14, and after he pitched off the roof into the street I didn't see him again. I was sure he was dead though.

So. I knew who my Troop was, when he showed up. . . .

one of the

illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© Copyright 1994 Bob Sloan

Bob Sloan is a Navy veteran whose stories and poetry haveappeared in Appalachian Heritage, Kentucky Poetry Review, andseveral others. He has completed two novels and is working on athird. (6/94)

[Table of Contents]


by Lisa Parker

for Fay Whitt

Looking through the frosty window,
old tinted glass cracking with winter sketches,
I can see August.
Even through the attic cold,
I can feel that sticky heat.
Thunder air, heavy with silent noise,
evening cool grass, summer burnt brown,
prickly and hard on the soles of our feet.
Jumping around under the big oaks with their
gnarled, time-worn branches and roots
imbedding our family's past and future.
Sweaty hands carefully placing green lightning bugs
into the Mason jar Grandma gave us,
holes poked in the lid, grass to make them feel at home.
Soft country sounds slow our pulses, make our eyelids heavy:
Crickets and locusts, frogs and night owls.
Y'ins get in here and warsh yer feet!
Usual evening retreat past the shed,
past the caterpillars clinging to the cannery walls,
past the hole in the porch where the wild kittens play,
into the flour-spotted folds of Grandma's skirt.
Holding our jar of flashing green and yellow
as she scrubs our feet with a cold washrag
and hums "The Old Rugged Cross."
Up the stairs now.
That old red carpet,
soft on tingly-clean feet,
up into the old room with its high twin beds and
patchwork quilts.
Grass-stained clothes in a pile by the door,
cool in one of Grandpap's tee-shirts,
Laura and I scramble up onto one bed,
Tracey and Trish into the other.
Grandma puts the lightning bug jar
on the window sill between us.
Y'ins have nice dreams now.
Laying on top of the quilts, their soft patches
drawing the August hot out of our bodies,
we watch heat lightning flash across the cornfield,
leaf shadows on cracked plaster.
Sleep comes slowly on the wings of lightning bugs.
Even now, in the attic cold,
I can see August.

fireflies in Mason Jar (
illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© Copyright 1994 Lisa Parker



by Lisa Parker

Nine seconds
of red air
crashing through blood and bone
melting gold caps and wire glasses.
Twisting every bike for as far
as you can see.
If you can see.
Burning flesh, driven by blind eyes
into the relief of scalding water.

Nine fingers on a newborn's hands
no thumb to suck for comfort
Mother's milk sour with radiation
crying into ears burned deaf.
Doctors who will never recover from
what they've witnessed:
Skin melted over empty eye sockets
dangling from arms like a shedding
dog with three legs.

Nine suns on one spot of earth.
A man coughing ashes
gray and white bone flakes that whirled people apart on
scorched wind.
And we gag at Hitler's crematorium?
I was taught that Hiroshima
was a symbol of American triumph,
The A-bomb made a mushroom cloud, and
World War II ended.
There was no discussion.
There were no pictures of people writhing in agony,
mutated babies and eyeless witnesses.
Only a black and white of the mushroom cloud
reminding me of cotton candy.

In college I learned
Those who can not learn from the past
are condemned to repeat it,

and I'm wondering now why
someone taught me nine was just a number
and the bomb was victory.

© Copyright 1994 Lisa Parker

Lisa Parker [was] a recent graduate of George MasonUniversity, in Fairfax, Virginia, where she studied creative writingand poetry. She writes to explore the different facets of her life,including a job as a volunteer EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) inrural Virginia. Lisa is considering a position with VISTA, workingwith inner-city children and hopes to use poetry to capture some ofthe oral history of Appalachia. Lisa's "MemorialDay 1993" appears in the 1995 Memorial Day issue of Echoes, and"Progress" appears in the July/August 1995issue.(6/94)

[Table of Contents]

Love Letters

by Jim Wright


following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

 Tommy picked up his pencil and began writing, the words now perfectly formed in his mind.


He then painstakingly drew two large boxes on the paper, and wrote "Yes" under one and "No" under the other. He drew a large arrow towards the Yes box, and colored it using the Indian Red crayon. His favorite one.

He smiled when he was done. Yup. That oughtta work. In the year since kindergarten, he'd gained vast experience in the art of love. Susie would be his, he knew; she'd hit him at the swings during lunch, and he'd thrown a dirt clod at her. The relationship was progressing nicely. . . .

Dear Souzie
drawing by Cora Sugarman

© 1994 Jim Wright

James Wright, 30, has been testing software for WordPerfectCorporation for the past 6 years. He began writing fiction in 1993;since then he has published four stories in as many genres, and wasrecently admitted as an associate member of Science Fiction andFantasy Writers of America. In his spare time, he also performs as astandup comedian. (6/94)

[Table of Contents]

Dark Sound

by Brent E. Betit

For My Grandfather

Deafness is just dark sound,
All the light gone out of your ears.
He could hear as a boy, then
He remembered sounds like colors:
The bright white of bells on Sunday morning,
Floating over the hills like dandelion puffs;
The iron blue of a hammer ringing an anvil,
Pounding holes in the colorless air;
The rainbow of voices singing, or just
Whispering something softly,
Nuzzling his ears like a warm, yellow quilt
Or the kiss of red lips.

It would have been black without her.
She bought pads the size of playing cards,
Scribbled down the words he could not hear,
And placed them in his hands gently,
As though she were delivering babies, or
Some other kind of life.

I remember television, she on the couch
He in his easy chair,
Her fingers moving on the page
Like the slender, delicate legs of a dancer,
Then flicking the pad across the room,
Its whiteness flashing in the lamplight
Like the wings of a descending bird,
And then he'd laugh or shake his head, always
Watching the tv as he read,
Remembering the things that she would put words to, forever
Just behind, like the bang of a far-off carpenter's hammer,
Whose last blow hits your ears
As he reaches to pick up his lunch box.

They bequeathed me some sounds:
His quick laugh, like a crow startled into flight;
A sound like skis on fresh powder as he lit his pipe;
A wood rasp on rough-cut oak as he reached with rough hands
To touch my face or pat my shoulder;
And the soft sound of that pad floating across the room,
Flapping gently as it sank,
Like a white dove descending on extended wings,
With the last light of day clasped softly in its beak.

© Copyright 1994 Brent E. Betit

Brent E. Betit lives with his wife and children in Putney,Vermont, where he works at Landmark College--"the only college in thenation specifically for dyslexic or learning-disabled students." Hesays that he resumed writing seriously after his first son was bornin 1989, and considers himself "primarily a fiction writer."(6/94)

[Table of Contents]

In a Cabin

by Lane Wiemann

In a cabin dark and lonely
mother labored, thinking only
that our father shortly would come home.

She had cleaned and swept our dwelling,
though a dungeon, never telling
all the dreadful secrets hidden there.

Now she cooked her husband's meal,
waiting, trying not to feel
the foreboding that preceded his return.

As she toiled, under tension,
filled with fear and apprehension,
the potatoes she was boiling slightly burned.

She removed them from the fire,
made their water level higher,
hoping that her man would never know.

Soon she saw her husband walking,
nervous, greeted him by talking,
asking how his day of work had gone.

Sitting, hungry, not much telling,
he asked, "What is that I'm smelling?
Did you burn my supper once again?"

"Potatoes scorched a bit while heating,"
she said. Then he started beating
on her head and pulling on her hair.

He'd raged before and now, repeated,
kicked her to the ground, defeated,
as she cowered on the floor and sobbed.

In a lull in her man's fury
she escaped, though could not hurry,
hindered by her pain of flesh and soul.

With blurring tears and glasses broken
stumbling she hid. Groans unspoken
in the past swept upon her now with words:

"I'd leave my husband if I could,
but I shall not, because I should
stay on to help my youngster boys.

And if I took them all with me
he'd surely find us--it could be
worse than if we'd never tried to run."

So she returned to that dread house,
and shrank from woman into mouse.
We, her sons, have seen it for ourselves.

illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe


© Copyright 1994 Lane Wiemann

Lane Wiemann, age 44, lives in Montana with his wife andchildren, and has worked on an Indian reservation there for manyyears. After not writing much since his school days, Lane resumedwriting poetry as an outgrowth of journaling his own emotional andspiritual journey. He especially enjoys writing about the road manyof us must travel to attain wholeness, healing, and joy in life.(6/94)

[Table of Contents]

Shave and a Haircut

by Phillip Good

following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

 . . . Pinkie's image in the mirror is distorted, partly as a result of a series of cracks which run the length of the glass. His hair is thick and matted, still black for the most part, but with streaks of auburn where the sun has bleached it, and flecks of gray. He will brush his hair later, trying to restore its body, but he knows it will not look the same as it did only a few months before, when he lived indoors. He needs a haircut, or at least a trim, but this, too, will have to wait. For tonight, he will just brush his hair, then plaster it down against his head with water and hope it will hold there while he dances.

Pinkie shaves himself carefully, trying to avoid even the tiniest nick, though it is hard to concentrate with half his attention focused on the door behind him. He is prepared to whirl and defend himself at the slightest suggestion of an intruder.

The clean-shaven part of Pinkie's face contrasts with the almost burnt red of his neck and shoulders. He frowns at his image, concentrating on forming a huge bushy moustache. As always, the moustache doesn't quite come up to his expectations. His sideburns, too, appear ragged and straggly, the results of the uneven cutting they received the last time he shaved.

The secret to a good shave, he thinks, is to get the face thoroughly wet beforehand and to wash the cheeks and the neck carefully with soap and hot water. It is not easy to get soap and hot water when one lives on the beach. But if he plans, if he waits the evening before until someone walks away from their fire without putting it out, and keeps the coals together, glowing brightly, until morning, why then he can start the fire up again and heat a can or two of water for a quick wash before he shaves. . . .

Pinkie tries to shave

illustration by Ferrilyn Sourdiffe

© 1994 Phillip Good

Phillip Good has been writing since age 5; four of hisstories have appeared in print, but he has many more stories and anovel or two in search of a publisher. For many years, he was amagazine columnist on the microcomputer industry; and in 1986 wasappointed Calloway Professor of Computer Science at the University ofGeorgia. Of the Pinkie stories, of which "Shave and a Haircut" is thefirst, Phil says "there but for the grace of God go I." (6/94)

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