the rivers of it, abridged

New York City skyline at night


Fall 2008



Frank Murphy

Open School Night

A giant peanut butter & jelly sandwich
stands in the cafeteria between two green oranges
demanding a higher education.
The tuna fish on white bread swims back and forth
in the tomato soup while above the dry musty
potato chips float like clouds.

And this is the beginning of the rest of your life.
This is geography: Canada is north, Mexico is south,
and California is far out. This is room 206.
You raise your hand to leave the room only
to find out you have volunteered to write
the complete history of the rise and fall
of Hopewell Junction, New York.
And, "No, you may not leave the room."
And this is the first moment of the rest of your life.
You spend it looking for a pencil sharpener.

Today we will study the unknown alphabet.
It is used to spell everything out,
to give you the words you should have said,
to find the words you can never find,
to read between the lines,
and to know the meaning of life.
Listen carefully, I will say it only once
in a language you don't understand.
And tomorrow you will be tested.


May 28th
for Phil, Frank, and Bob

On this day in history Steinbeck's Tortilla Flat
was published and Mr. X sat in the automat
drinking coffee
and everyone wore hats. Jim Thorpe
was born, fire was invented and Mrs. Y
wondered why the subway was so

On this day in history The Duke of Windsor
died, the first lie was told by a politician, a
king burped, the 1st indoor swimming pool opened,
and four sisters got stuck in an elevator.
On this day in history four pounds of
Brussels sprouts were eaten, the wheel
invented, the big bang banged and
Severinus began his reign as Catholic Pope,
and said nope in Latin twenty seven times.
on this day in history Fire in Cincinnati nearly
destroyed the Reds' grandstand, bread was
baked for the first time, writing invented, and
Mars began drying up. Fred Landry (aboard
The Parader) won the 26th Preakness,
Margaret Truman played the piano for the
first time to her father…and
this was the day the Attorney General said
it was legal for women to wear trousers anywhere,
the 1st night game was played at Washington DC,
Griffith Stadium (Yankees 6, Senators 5) and
Thales Miletus predicted a solar eclipse,
and Rockefeller sang "John Henry"
oh yeah, and Morse sent the first
telegraph message and
this was the day
the first joke was told, the missionary position
invented, the first fish crawled onto land and
Chrysler Corporation merged with Dodge Brothers, Inc.
On this day in history
Elvis Presley performed live in Fort Worth, TX.
The U.S. sent 400 Stinger missiles to Saudi Arabia.
toilets were invented, the first song sung, the first
handshake shook, and Ian Fleming was born.
On this day in history
GOD was born, art was created, a dinosaur got
sick, it rained, snowed, the sun shined and
hats were invented — and later.
everyone wore them.



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