This Broadsheet of THE FLEA is conceiv’d as a small tribute, or, it may be, a mini-Festschrift (or FLEA-schrift), compos’d by some of those Poets who have been so singularly privileg’d, as to discourse with Alan Sullivan, learned Magister of the Arts of Poetic Versification; insomuche as he was a Mentor, under the tutelage of that able Muse, Erato, to many a stumbling Aspirant who would drink of the fountain of the pure Hippocrene.

Yet so zealous was Alan in the pursuit of poetic Excellency, & so forthe-rightly vehement in his quest for strict adherence to clear poetic Vision, that he was quaintly & familiarly styl’d, in a jouial but respectful manner, ‘The Editor from Hell’; or EfH in the abbreuiated Moderne use-age. Lucky indeed was the versifier who encounter’d, during his poetick Quest, this Editor from Hell!

His poet-friendes, enlighten’d by the spiritual lampe of Msgr. Roberte Laliberte, have woven together this small Garland for the Muses, to honour the Memory of that Upright Man who was their companion & skillful guide. Occupy’d as I was with my Daughter Adriana’s nuptiall Celebrations in distant Spain, & in furthering my studies of Sangria & Tapas in that most pleasant of lands, Mr Timothy Murphy stepp’d boldely forthe, & ably undertook the Solicitation of contributions for this XIth FLEA-ish Broadsheete, to such noble Effecte as the Reader may presently perceive.

THE FLEA is honour’d to entertayn Doctor John Donne, Dean of St Paul’s, as its Guest Editorial-writer for this Broadsheete; who, together with Your Humble & Obedient &c., wishes to thank all Friendes who have handsomely contributed to this small, but neare-perfectly form’d, Tribute to Alan Sullivan, Editor from Hell, & Pilgrim towards Heavene.


An Upright Man

Upon this earth, a man cannot possibly make one step in a straight, and a direct line. The earth it selfe being round, every step wee make upon it must necessarily bee a segment, an arch of a circle. But yet though no piece of a circle be a straight line, yet if we take any piece, nay if wee take the whole circle, there is no corner, no angle in any place, in any intire circle. A perfect rectitude we cannot have in any wayes in this world;  In every calling there are some inevitable tenptations. But, though wee cannot make up our circle of a straight line, (that is impossible to human frailty), yet wee may passe on, without angles and corners, that is, without disguises in our Religion, and without the love of craft, and falsehood, and circumvention, in our civill actions. A Compasse is a necessary thing in a Ship, and the helpe of that Compass brings the Ship home safe, and yet that Compasse hath some variations, it doth not look directly North; Neither is that starre which we call the North-pole, or by which we know the North-pole, the very Pole it selfe; but we call it so, and we make our uses of it, and our conclusions by it, as if it were so, because it is the neerest starre to that Pole. He that comes as neere uprightnesse as infirmities admit, is an upright man, though he love some obliquities. To God himself we may alwayes go in a direct line, a straight, a perpendicular line; For God is verticall to me, over my head now, and verticall now to them, that are in the East, and West-Indies; To our Antipodes, to them that are under our feet, God is verticall, over their heads, then when he is over ours.

—Nov. 5th, 1626


Alan Thomas Sullivan was born August 14, 1948, in Brooklyn, NY, the only son of Betty and Andrew Sullivan, and died July 9, 2010 in Aventura, FL. A 1970 graduate in English from Trinity College, Hartford, CT, he moved to the Midwest with Timothy Murphy in 1973. He lived in Minneapolis, MN, then Fargo, ND, for 32 years. Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2005, he relocated permanently to the Fort Lauderdale area of Florida to pursue medical treatment and be near the sea he loved so deeply and missed so dearly during his decades on the prairie. 

—Paul Mussell


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