Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

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M. F. McAuliffe

Epic, Untitled


The sky is raining
clouds and medication
morning is broken
only 2 megs remaining

I must write away

Belmont Chevron 18.02
Pacific Power 49.59
Aero Sanitary 41.95
North West Natural 32.41
(BandAid Medical 422.02)
(BandAid Dental 63.61)
Ambient Properties 700 bucks

Belmont Chevron 22.02
Protection Services 92.85
Portland City Water 148.34
(BandAid Medical 422.02)
(BandAid Dental 63.61)

I must write away

Belmont Chevron 27.05
(BandAid Medical 422.02)
(BandAid Dental 63.61)
Ambient Properties 700 bucks

I must write away for a 20-dollar

The idea of America is a mail-in rebate

The idea of America is a flickering screen
The idea of America is a toy from China

The idea of America is a gaping warehouse
The idea of America is a condo conversion
The idea of America is no work forever

The idea of America is camouflage gear
The idea of America is go-go-go
The idea of America is a medevac liftoff
The idea of America is a burning jungle
The idea of America is an empty sky
The idea of America is death in the desert

The idea of America is an automatic weapon
The idea of America is urban warfare
The idea of America is fighting for crumbs
The idea of America is justice denied

The idea of America is a mechanized wheatfield
The idea of America is a free-floating billboard

The idea of America is to steal what you rescue

The idea of America is a sunset to ride to

The idea of America is only one limousine

The idea of America is its own 5th Amendment

The idea of America is a helicopter thwopping
The idea of America is Special Forces now

The idea of America is an airborne disease

America's the other side of the wind.


My father worked at General Motors
He retired after 28 years.
The previous 10 had been spent in the Great Depression
no work, little work, fear.

So far I've worked 36 years
But my father worked 30 hours/week
And I work 40.
So for every 4 years my father worked
I've worked 5 (since coming to the States)

(2008-1982)/4 = 6.3 + 26 = 31.3
So altogether I've worked
(1 = p/t, looking for work, etc.)
+ 31.3 = 41.3 years

and I have to work another 10
(= 12.5 barring death)
= 53.8

I want to devour the midnight and the morning.
I want the creaminess of cloud.
I want the secret life of flames.


I want to be a Chinese punk
spiky black hair & singlet & jeans
cigarette & swagger

I want to strike sparks from concrete
kick holes in the horizon
break the neck of Heaven

I don't want a job.

I want a future.

M. F. McAuliffe’s “Epic, Untitled” was first published in Cordite 31: Epic (2009). The guest poetry editor for this issue was Ali Alizadeh.

M. F. McAuliffe

I was born and educated in Adelaide and Melbourne. I have an Honours degree in English and some graduate stuff in photography and anthropology.

I've taught technical writing, media analysis, and basic TV production to engineering and applied science students; Business English to business students; and Film Study to high school students. Since moving to the U.S. in 1982, I've worked as a political pollster, technical editor, and crypto-librarian. I made my US publishing debut in Damon Knight's Clarion Awards and have published fiction and verse in The Adelaide Review, Overland, Australian Short Stories, Cordite, WORK Magazine, and in Tema and Poezija (Zagreb).

In 2002 I co-founded the award-winning, Portland-based magazine, Gobshite Quarterly (coming back to print after a too-long hiatus). I continue there as contributing editor. GobQ is now also publishing books: Curse and Berate in 69+ Languages (GobQ /Softskull, 2008), El Gato Eficaz / Deathcats (GobQ / Publication Studio, 2010), and Golems Waiting Redux (GobQ / Publication Studio, 2011).

Cataclysms and Seattle are the first of the GobQ e-books. We are planning several more in the near future.


A Typical Day At Work 

A typical day at work always begins with the 11-mile commute along the Columbia River: Canadian geese, wood ducks, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, crows, cranes, Pacific gulls; low-lying islands with Mohawks of cottonwoods and dogwoods; growing marinas of houseboats; pale current-patterns in the water and water-skiers in summer, feathers of fog rising from oily stillness in autumn and winter. Mt. Hood walks slowly across the horizon.

And then I: let myself in through the security-door; write the daily and weekly work-schedules; unsnarl the printer and the Word docs and the resumes and the term-papers; process new books, de-process the old, make lists of books to order; answer the phone, help download ebooks, lend laptops, process returned laptops; answer the phone, unsnarl the printer, direct people to the programs, sign people up for classes; sign for deliveries of federal tax-forms and store them for the New Year; unsnarl the printer; see everything's secure, alarm the door on my way out.

The 11-mile commute: home ahead of me, away, warmth, food; the great white triangle of Mt. Hood behind me, an unbelievable snow-cone in a small, ovoid, oblong mirror; ahead of me, beside me, behind me, the long, out flat to both horizons, the trafficless, tempting, pseudo-asphalt of the river.