by Jack Swenson

The beginning of the end of terrorism occurred with the opening of an entertainment park called Terror World on a tract of land outside of Crawford, Texas, in the year 2038 during the administration of Jenna Bush, the first woman President of the United States.

Terror World was the brainchild of an aged Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the failed invasion and occupation of Iraq in the early years of the century. The elderly functionary generously credited former Secretary of State Colin Powell for sparking the idea with an observation in his memoir Mea Culpa published in 2008. Powell’s notion was that terrorism could not be understood nor defeated unless we were willing to consider the hypothesis that many if not all terrorists had no political agenda or ideology but simply liked to main and kill.

The idea that terrorism against the general population could be reduced or stopped entirely by addressing these base motives grew, Wolfowitz said, over the course of several years as subsequent events convinced him that Powell’s postulate was correct. An example was the failure in 2006 of the Iraqi constitution to undercut the insurgency in spite of the fact that, under pressure from the United States, the document had been amended to Pacify the Sunnis. Indeed, after ratification, violence increased, and before the withdrawal of our troops in 2011, a total of more than thirty thousand U.S. soldiers had died.

Dr. Wolfowitz said that he was also persuaded by his reading of dozens of transcripts of interrogations of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib prison. To a man the suspected terrorists were unmoved by news of the death of Osama Bin Laden in Islamabad in 2007, but with almost no exception they broke into tears when told that included in the terms of their parole would be the provisions that former prisoners were forbidden to possess weapons of any kind, that they could not ride on busses, trains, or airplanes, and they could not watch American television.

Terror World was an instant success. Planeloads of terrorists were flown in, all expenses paid, to a newly constructed airfield outside of Crawford. The visitors, almost all of whom were young men, many but not all Muslim, were in high spirits if a little rowdy on the flights, according to the stewardesses, although nothing like American football players, they said.

The guests gawked in wonder as they were greeted at the gate by larger-than-life-sized Disney characters in black hoods shooting AK-47s wildly into the air. They would try, often unsuccessfully, to guess the identity of the disguised figures. “There’s Mickey!” a bearded fellow would cry. “No, no,” his friend would say, tugging on the sleeve of the other man’s fatigue jacket. “Look. See the bill? It’s Donald!”

The most popular attraction at Terror World was the double-decker bus that suicide bombers were allowed to ride. The passengers were British felons. Another favorite was a ride on a jumbo jet filled with members of or employees of the New York Times. The jets were escorted by flights of F/A-22 Raptors to the border of California where the pilot was permitted to proceed to a target of opportunity in either San Francisco or Los Angeles. The inaugural flight reduced the Transamerica building in San Francisco to a pile of smoking rubble, eclipsing in the media, for a few days at least, the Barry Bonds, Jr. doping scandal.

Other attractions that were enjoyed by the foreign visitors were the Whack a Jew game and another called Pitch a Bible in the Toilet. The Virgin Brothel was also popular. Since no virgins of any age could be found in the South, the girls had to be imported from small towns in Iowa and Minnesota.

The number of terrorist incidents during 2039, the year following the completion of Terror World, dropped by fifty percent, and the results were even better the following year after an embassy was built and staffed within the confines of the park and the U.S.S. Cole was taken out of mothballs and transported to Lake Arrowhead.

The year after that the number of incidents dropped to fewer than two hundred, and by 2041 not a single terrorist action was reported, which led the President, during her State of the Nation address to declare, “The war is over. Bring the boys home!” And after a snappy salute, she added, “Mission accomplished!”

by Adina Kabaker

“So what do we do now?” says Mr. Finkl. “The cleaning lady used a butter knife to cut her bologna sandwich and it’s not kosher any more.”

“You must clean it in boiling water,” says Old Lady Mandelstamm, “and then bury it in the back yard for six days.”

“A month,” says Myrna, the old-maid sister of Mrs. Finkl, pursing her lancet of a mouth. “MY rabbi says a month.”

“Oy, I can’t believe it, that such a young girl is more frum than me,” says Old Lady Mandelstamm. “Six days is enough.”

“And I don’t believe YOU people,” says Aunt Feigie, the anarcho-syndicalist pinko who doesn’t believe in God. “If there is a god, he’s more interested in what comes out of your mouth than what goes into it.”

“You should talk,” says Myrna, “some of the things that you’ve had in your mouth. Since when are you a spokesman for God.”

“Didn’t you hear?” says Aunt Feigie. “I’m her confidante.”

Finkl’s father, the elder Finkl, who could care less about the knife says, “Ask YOUR rabbi. But be careful,” he says, “because if YOUR rabbi says six days and another subsequently says three, you have to go with the first opinion solicited. No shopping for opinions. The first one you got is binding.”

“Oy, listen to Pa, solicited yet,” says Old Lady Finkl. “That’s why you have to be careful who you ask. Myrna’s rabbi I wouldn’t ask.

Myrna looks huffy. She is forty-eight and unmarried. She is so religious and such a feminist she can’t find a proper husband. Some are feminist enough and not religious. Some are religious enough, but you try to find a religious feminist. All she talks about is shopping and nasty gossip about people and all the little frum things in her life. Did she tear enough toilet paper on Friday afternoon to have enough for the Sabbath, she shouldn’t have to tear. Can she set the electric coffee pot ahead, she shouldn’t have to boil before shul the next morning. She can’t talk about her job because she is the liaison from the National Security council to the CIA, and it’s all classified. She’s still mad because she wanted to say kaddish for her mother every day for a year after her mother died, and she knew there was a minyan at the National Security Council, but it was all men. They wouldn’t let her pray with them. One had said,” What do you want to say kaddish for, a nice girl like you? I’ll say it for you,” but she had taken a vow, and she felt like killing the guy.

The anarcho-syndicalist aunt was appalled that the National Security Council had enough orthodox for a minyan. What if the Iraqis decided to attack on shabbos? Would they refuse to answer the telephone. “We can’t come to the phone right now,” their answering machines would say. “Call back after sundown on Saturday. Have a nice shabbos,” Aunt Feigie often thought that modern technology would finally be the downfall of orthodoxy in religion, but the frummies just took it in their stride. Where once they had to hire a goy to light the fire on the Sabbath, now they had their goddamn electric coffee pots. The women, once shaving their heads and wearing clumsy wigs that looked like wood shavings, now wore sleek wigs from places like the Adora Salon or Marshall Fields, and were more of a temptation than they would have been with their real hair. And the answering machines so that they could obey the stricture against answering the phone (did God actually say that they shalt not answer the phone?) without missing an important message.

“So where’s this knife?” says Mrs. Finkl. “At least she didn’t put it back in the drawer, did she?”

“No, it’s on the back of the sink,” Mr. Finkl says. “You got her trained pretty good in that respect. And she knows enough to not mix the milk dishes and the meat dishes in the dishwasher and wait at least an hour before doing a load of one and then another.”

“Holy shit!” says Aunt Feigie. “You can’t do them together? This is worse than when I was a girl!”

“Feigl, your language,” Old Lady Mandelstamm says mildly. “Your mother would turn in her grave is she heard you.”

“She could probably use the exercise,” Feigie mutters under her breath.

by Donovan Chase

What follows will make no sense.
I intend for this to happen,
And so it will.
I want my poem to be considered deep, so I’ll have it make no sense.
I’ll use random bits of
pretentious nonsense,
To make a point
That doesn’t exist.

I’ll capitalize words for no reason,
Other than to make people think they’re important,
When they’re not.
I use words together that have nothing to do with each other
Like Purple Death,
just to seem morbid and deep,
when it’s not.

I’ll use “vague but disturbing imagery”
Like the idea of someone taking a cat
and putting it in a cheese taco
to make the poem seem to have meaning.

My poem will live forever
When english teachers ask students to interpret it.
To the students, it will seem like stupidity written on paper.
They’ll be right.

I wonder if l can get a grant from the NEA
for a poem that makes no sense.
Why not? It hasn’t stopped them before.

I think I’ll make up words
like “drizzable,” “scurned,” and “plewestry”
Just so people will think they’re deep and meaningful.

I m running out of’room

I’ll make oblique references to g-d
comparing Him to a Snickers bar
Just so people will think i have some deep philosophical point

But I see I don’t have the space to do So.

I’ll have to end my poem here.


It made sense after all.

by Sabrina Plum

They’ve got it all wrong.
Hell is not the fabled fire and brimstone
sulfur smelling torture chamber that
the Bible makes it out to be,
Nor is it an eternity in an
empty four walled locked door room with
three inherently dysfunctional occupants as
Sartre philosophizes,
But it is beautifull and peaceful and enticing and it calls and cajoles you and you play in its flowered meadows which flourish under a pale blue sky and you swim and drink from its slowly winding silver streams which feed into moonlit oceans…..
And that’s why it’s Hell . You believe in it.

by Christine McKeever

i hate her

the witch burned beneath my flesh

dissolving into my blood stream

absolving my affections

she is a part of me now forever

screams inside of me

bleeding internally-eternally

she’s seen only the eclipsed spectre of my forgotten wisdoms

she festers

i can never reclaim my reflection

she brings submission and flames

the vanquishing of my smiles

as obscurity triumphs

she is me after all is extracted

smoldering ashes of stale life

leaving me to pick up the withered remains

it’s always someone else’s veracity

crying, crippled in the somber tones of dusk

she’s the only one who cares

her death offers me a new skin

a ghost i cannot endure

with ninety-nine tracks and mystery lacking


by Jen Rubin

Most mornings I awake in the darkness,
With silence surrounding me.
All footsteps are outside my window.
And even in storms,
There is a bright blue star,
I can see through the clouds
When the curtains are drawn.

I awoke that day, though,
To the sound of smothered sobs and slippered steps,
Quietly crawling toward
My bedroom door.
I peered out through
The curtains of my window,
And the star was not there,
In the crystal clear sky.

My mother’s swollen eyes
Appeared in the darkness of my chambers before.
She switched on the light,
She climbed into my bed and curled up,
Under the fluffy cover.
She sobbed into my pillow about her loneliness,
And used my arms
To hold herself up.

by Lauren Numeroff

You stare down at her virgin,
soft, tiny hands,
Untouched by evil,
drugs, and pain.
Yearning for her life, freedom,
Or just $2 to buy ice cream after school.
Her eyes burn your flesh,
eyes too young to know poverty.
You mutter a muted apology,
Ruthless, ashamed.
She turns away,
she understands,
Mommy, your partner,
who you swore yourself to,
“In sickness and health,
For richer or poorer,”
She reaches into the cookie tin
and her hand emerges with a couple of paper bills,
Those empty paper scraps which run your life.
She brushes the hair out of the eyes
of the child you share,
and shoves the bills into her little jacket pocket.
All the while, giving you this look,
This look that further implies
what a failure you are.
You grab your tattered leather briefcase,
filled with nothing you were educated for,
The only trace of your education lies in those envelopes,
Opened with inept hands,
and stuffed in that briefcase your mom bought you when you graduated.
Your student loans,

You face the back of a turbaned head,
He turns to you,
and raises an eyebrow as he notices your beat-up Volkswagon outside.
“$17.50 for the gas. Would you like anything else?”
Of course you do.
Of course you don’t.
You open your torn wallet and shell out twenty dollars
To feed your car and your nicotine desiring blood.
You think of your daughter,
And her ice cream.
You pack your Reds and bring one to your lips.
The precious fire lights your drug,
And one lonely tear appears at the corner of your eye.
Inhaling, you let the contaminated blood trickle,
down, down, down.
You bury your face in your hands
Being careful not to singe your lashes with your

by Andy Manoff

Hello, it’s now time to begin
Every time we
give a speech
A large bill is left for you in excess
Japanese is difficult
There are 17 lightbulbs
Somedays it’s sunny
But often there’s nice weather inside
The fate of the puppy is in the picture
Three want to do it
My book is true
Your future…
Number Four storeroom
Let’s get at least 6 presents
Tomorrow there will be more red
Reciprocally hand it over
After the tub
It is a model dog
Yes, in that case
That every next seems to be
If you think you come in contact
With Snow
Eat Eat Eat
How many pears?
Three and now
Let’s divide the ordered food
How many pears?
Probably Probably Probably
Fast color
Temporary color
What kind of bunch
That’s why
You, in general
Hello, it’s now time to begin
Every time we
give a speech
A large bill is left for you in excess
Japanese is difficult

There are 17 lightbulbs

by Lisa Walsh

This night I seek your listening.

The insomnia of my fingertips,

write my words in longing call

for your ears and thoughts.

This night I reach alone for arms to hold mine

and crawl with me into empty corridors of time.

This night I seek your gentle touch

to draw me out of winter’s lonesome frost.

This night I ask shadows to reveal themselves

amidst the fear breeding in the air.

This night I call out to all the homes

of distant souls who want to hear.

This night I chisel away at walls standing over me

and deposit a piece of myself in your world-

and are you ready?

by Benjamin Jacob Blattberg

The thing that still sticks out of my mind most is how incomprehensible the whole thing was. The events were so inconsistent with the reality I knew, that it didn’t quite feel real. It felt like a dream, or actually, it seems like a story I would write.

I had lived in Syosset all my life, and my mom’s car had been broken into twice, and there was some other crimes I know of but can’t quite remember. But if I had ever wanted to see an actual robbery or such being committed, I always figured I’d have to turn on “Cops.” I was wrong.

Coming back from our Tuesday allergy shots, my dad and me, and my upper left arm was just beginning to itch and swell and ache. My father was driving our white limited edition Eagle Premier, graying black hair, where he had hair, and that was only in a horseshoe pattern encircling his head, tied back into a two inch ponytail, beard and moustache the same silvered black, more silver now than black, which covered the front of his face and joined up with the rest of the hair on his head through means of two sideburns. He was wearing his glasses, the ones which become darker when the world becomes brighter, and his deep voice came out of nowhere. Completely interrupted the song I was listening to.

“Do you want some chicken fingers?”

You know, I did. Some nice breaded white meat from Poultry Plus, with their sweet, but not too sweet, and spicy, but not too spicy, barbecue sauce. That sounded good.

“Yeah,” my voice was deep, started changing like five years ago, and I think by the time I was seventeen, which was then, it had stopped. I was sitting comfortably in the passenger side, seat belt on loose, leaning forward and playing with the ten preprogrammed radio stations. FM naturally.

“Let’s go now.”

Red light turned green at the corner of Jericho and South Oyster Bay, and we made a left. WE passed the Health Connection, the health food store where I worked over the summer. I was a stock boy - pure energy - moving, placing, counting, moving, cashiering, moving - heavy boxes, plastic crates of vegetables, vitamins, supplements, health chips like styrofoam, expensive water. They fired me, well actually, they let me go, after like four weeks. But that’s in the past, no hard feelings. I just don’t go in there anymore.

Anyway, we pulled up to the poultry store. I wasn’t too interested in going in, so my dad went in alone, and I stayed outside in the car listening to the radio. X107.1 - alternative rock, metal. Good station, I just found it this summer and now it’s one of my favorites.

Look up, father on line, two in front of him. Bad song comes on, change, 92.7, o.k. song, but look around some more. 92.3, Z100. Good song. But it’s the end and now it’s over. When I was younger I couldn’t find Z100 because I kept putting the tuner to 100 FM, but Z100’s frequency is 100.3. Anyway, song over, need new song. 104.3 - hard metal - o.k. song. Look around some more. 107 again. Hate this song! Switch!

Boom! What? Boom! Like a bass drum, but heavier, deeper, louder, closer. I looked up, catching a glance of my blank, impassive face in the mirror of the sunshade, folded down to keep early Spring sun from burning my beautiful blue-green-gray eyes. The sound was coming from the store and I naturally looked there first. I could see one of the men who had been on line before my father, his arms up, back to the far wall. The cashier was busy taking the money out of the cash register and putting it into a plastic bag. And the other man who was on line was now holding a gun. He wore a ski mask, something which he had just put on, and I couldn’t remember what he looked like. It took me a little while to take all of this information in, and then I realized that i couldn’t see my father.

That was bad. Before I was just curious and watching, but now I was frozen. And i didn’t care for the song that was on the radio.

The robber was out of the store, into a car and speeding out the road in the same time it took me to take off my seat belt. I didn’t notice the plates or the type of car. I was focused on the plate glass window of the store, empty, wondering where my father was, wondering about those gun shots, walking towards the door of the store, still in the middle of falling closed.

I rushed in, like ripping off a Band-Aid I thought it would hurt less if i did it quickly. i didn’t want to tease myself with first my father’s feet, then his legs, etc.

But even trying specifically not to do that, that’s what I did. Like slow motion. First there were his feet. Then his legs, and his left arm wrapt around them, his right hand shielding his head, curled into a little fetal ball, like I once was, breathing, no, crying. And then there were police sirens, and people noticing the holes in the roof, two .35 caliber bullet holes in the plaster/styrofoam ceiling. My father being helped to stand up by some concerned spectator, his face, his pants wet. Old creased face crying like a child, the saltwater tears matting his beard to his head. And all the fear I might have felt, or thought I did, wasn’t fear anymore. Father-protector. The feeling was more like shame, or pity, or loathing.

I don’t talk much to Bruce anymore, and especially not about that day. People tell us, and especially me, how lucky we all are, and especially how lucky I am, that neither of us were hurt, especially that my father was fine, and how we have the whole family together still. I don’t know what he thinks, but I can’t help believing that it would’ve been better had one of us died.

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