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{ the swan grows visible, trailing { her indicated wings down the horizon } { And I can hear }

{ the giant, dark blooms }

of sunflowers crackling open . }

{ And in the sky. . . }


ABC 2 Bridges Review

Volume 2, Fall 2012 New York City College of Technology City University of New York 2BridgesReview.org


The 2 Bridges Review is published by New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

Cover Art: Michael Kellner Images: iStock


ABC 2 Bridges Review Kate Falvey George Guida Rita Ciresi Stephen Soiffer Yue Chen Krisdat Kutayiah Wing Sze Chiu Michael Kellner

Editor in Chief Poetry Editor Fiction Editor Managing Editor Web and Logo Design: Art Director Assistant Web Designer Graphic Designer Cover Designer

Monique Ferrell and Kate Falvey, Co-founders


ABC Contents POETRY

La Bagarède

13 Galway Kinnell

In Medias Res

14 William Logan

The Storm

15 William Logan

Little Compton

16 William Logan

Poem Not Titled Elegy in My Other Windowed Room

17 Sean Thomas Dougherty

Gabriel Plays Scratch Nineball

19 Sean Thomas Dougherty

21 Sean Thomas Dougherty

Want Ad Poem

Benedictions 22 Allison Joseph

Mosammet Hena

World of Love

37 Lara Dolphin 39 Lynn McGee

Words That Don’t Exist 40 Lynn McGee in Any Language

E and His Little Mouse

41 Molly Peacock

Kimono 55 William Heyen

Night Missions

56 William Heyen

Of Covenant

57 William Heyen

How Far Away We Are

64 Ada Limón

I Remember the Carrots

65 Ada Limón

Jump rope 66 Claudia Serea

Longbeak 68 Claudia Serea


Iowa Landscape

70 Peter Covino

Eternal Mercy Hallmark Card

72 Peter Covino

from Invettive e licenze 74 Dario Bellezza (translated by Peter Covino) from Proclama sul fascino 76 Dario Bellezza (translated by Peter Covino)

to live with regret

78 Monique Ferrell

black water: for 80 Monique Ferrell lashaundra armstrong

Tubers 83 Virgil Suarez Recitative While Listening 85 Virgil Suarez to the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider”

Interplanetary Celebrity Haiku

88 Ed Luhrs

93 Tim Suermondt

One Last Time

Saturday Night On 13th Street, 94 Tim Suermondt Thank you

At the Zebra Crossing

The Mad Girl Hums “I Got Along Without You Before I Met You”

95 Jessica Barksdale 97 Lyn Lifshin

1996 110 John S. Blake

His Big Romance 112 Joanna Clapps Herman

Spirit Track 113 Annie Lanzillotto

Brighton Beach 116 Bradley Fox

my sister at sea 118 Amanda Bales

Bird Feeder Sociopathy 119 James K. Zimmerman

The Dream About Death 120 James K. Zimmerman


The Other Colors in 134 Richard Vetere a Snow Storm

The Rest of My Life 135 Richard Vetere

On the morning cold 136 Robert Gibbons (for Giacomo Leopardi)

If Hounds 140 Deborah Hauser

the painted crucifixion 141 R.G. Johnson

The New Sun Worshippers 156 Nathan Hunt

Dedication 158 Michael Cirelli Playing for the Lower Juniors 159 Steve Griffiths Hologram 161 Linda Lerner with grateful acknowledgment 162 Linda Lerner to Wallace Stevens Tiresome 163 Jeff Campbell

The Exit After the One 182 Jeff Campbell You Should Have Taken

Raoul the Boulevardier 183 Joel Allegretti

Dear Dwight Frye 189 Ruth Foley

Composition 190 Russell Jaffe

Brooklyn 192 Russell Jaffe


FICTION

Coming to Nothing 23 Geoff Burns

Married 44 Karen Brown

Confetti 58 Anne Panning

Better Than Sex 121 Bob Shar Tabatha 143 E.G. Silverman The Substitute 164 Abdel Shakur NON FICTION

There’s No Such Thing 89 Kathleen Collins as Crack Pie Babies

The Moscow Muse 98 Natasha Lvovich

Three Balled Salvation 185 Emily Asad ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Handwritten La Bagarède

Boo 2

Body Power

For Show

12 Galway Kinnell 38 Eleanor Leonne Bennett 69 Orly Cogan 82 Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Untitled 87 Phillippe Diederich Liz's Secret 117 Orly Cogan

Untitled 142 Phillippe Diederich

Bright 2 157 Eleanor Leonne Bennett

Entering 193 Ellen Mueller

ABC


Editor’s Note Sometime in the foggy past, I was given a gift of a poem by a man who was about to die. The poem was Galway Kinnell’s own handwritten version of “La Bagarède” –– a lovely lyric from the mid-sixties. I can only resurrect shadows of this time and this exchange: the man’s name was Peter and he was a kind and gentle soul; he was scrawny and seemed to be a lot older than me – maybe in his late thirties; we were both studying with Kinnell; Peter and his wife hosted our poetry group at their apartment; he was blondish, bookish, quick-witted, and much too young to die. I assume Kinnell gave this little treasure to him though why he gave it to me, I can’t at all recall. More shadows fray and another poem yields to the half-light: one Kinnell was working on in the early eighties and gave to our class in draft — something with milky seed pods? A fleeting sense of surprise when this poem resurfaced years later… my surprise? Kinnell’s? Was this scrap of poem hoarded with other written mementoes of my past, then swirled out in the flood waters with other basement-stored afterthoughts? The kicker is that none of this may be true. All I know for sure is that after last August’s Hurricane Irene decreed that the sodden, muddy leavings of my years be junked, there appeared “La Bagarède,” framed and matted , protected by some larger prints and paintings. All hoarders and writers know that images spill from any rough tangible fragment – forgotten lines in forgotten notebooks, feverish marginalia in a musty paperback, a patent leather baby shoe, a worn sweater mothy with ancient consequence. There is, of course, the fragile hope that the objects will bring whatever there is to bring back, or that those pressed roses and old attempts at novels show you that you lived at all. When


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saving the past, we don’t reckon that our relics may not trigger reliable impressions, that memory can fail utterly, or that we may hold a smooth white stone and wonder when and where it was pocketed. Did it sparkle in the early morning Adirondack brook or was it nudged from the obscurity of a Rocky Mountain trail? No clue. Truly no clue. Which may be why lyric poetry is so achingly essential. Kinnell’s simple French meal, Ada Limón s pink furry slippers, Tim Suermondt’s slice of pepperoni pie, the surprise of Leaves of Grass on a table in Geoff Burns’ story of homecoming, Linda Lerner’s lost and found black cats….and anything chanced upon, spied, chosen for remaking, then given over to someone else’s memory – a stone for someone else’s pocket. In “How Far Away We Are,” Ada Limón longs to feel and keep a moment of relational correspondence: “But I want to feel the exchange, /the warm hand on the shoulder, the song coming out /and the ear holding on to it.” In Kinnell’s “La Bagarède,” bread and cheese yield to Orion, a shock of icy spring water clears perception and the faintest of the Pleiades, she who married Sisyphus, “shines.” The only keepsake is the seeing.

Kate Falvey Editor in Chief


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La Bagarède Galway Kinnell 1 I take the dogs into town and buy chèvre and a bâtard. Back at La Bagarède I eat this little meal in the dusk and sit a long time, until the swan grows visible, trailing her indicated wings down the horizon and Orion begins to stalk the last night of the summer. 2 The black water I gulp from the spring hits my brain at the root. And I can hear the giant, dark blooms of sunflowers crackling open. And in the sky the seventh of the sisters, she who hid herself for shame, at having loved one who dies, shines. w Poem from Body Rags (1968) Used with permission from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.


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In Medias Res William Logan The whale looked like a portly burgher smoking his pipe of a warm afternoon. — Moby-Dick, chapter 61 We woke to the advertisement for our lives. Heat withered the air in the listed flat with its horizontal slit-windows. We looked at nature through a turret. The ceiling had already begun to turn to salt. w


William Logan

The Storm William Logan “What do you talk your hog-latin to me for?” cried the cripple. — The Confidence Man Rags of cloud east, in ordinary time, brought down the chimney and burst the ancient window, as if an elbow had gone through it. The orchid sky feathered the gables, and a last yellow leaf flagged on the evening breezes. The lateen angle cut the dead housetops, the shadow fierce and particular, like a wandering Jew. It was a world of almost nothing, or almost of nothing. A single star hung on the backdrop like an ornament. w

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Little Compton William Logan Young Doctor Von Trapp, one of the singing Von Trapps, aimed at my knee with the reflex hammer, its rubber head a pink triangle of gum. The leg leapt forward on its own. They also called it a tomahawk hammer. w


Sean Thomas Dougherty

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Poem Not Titled Elegy in My Other Windowed Room Sean Thomas Dougherty I once wrote a poem called Elegy in my Other Windowed Room which was an utter failure, couldn’t find the language for what I was feeling long ago in a one room apartment high on weed and valium and my neighbors upstairs arguing again, and the radio playing this strange song by Radiohead that sounds as if whales were singing or a song that whales would write if they had hands to hold instruments, or the song my daughter’s doll might hum if she had a voice, though she has one as my daughter whispers, baby takes nap or baby sleeping, or baby won’t sit, and drags her baby one armed limping like a wounded-bird-doll across the floor—she is learning something here, assigning these feelings to things, much as the writer in me does, when she pulls the baby doll’s head right off its shoulders and hairless it rolls across the hard wood floor, rolling like the nine ball I saw my friend Randy send across the felt toward the corner pocket in a big money game, and the head like the nine ball and the nine ball like the head just keeps rolling but then somehow as if an invisible hand touches a finger to it, it stops, the doll’s head stops just before it hits the wall, the way that nine ball stopped just short of falling in the far right corner, and Randy stood there dumbfounded, silent before he ran up to it and yelled pointing you fucking whore, you dirty fucking whore. And this is the point in the poem it would be beautiful to say the ball fell in, fell in at the moment of his worst despair—that ball not emptying his pocket so much he didn’t have gas to drive home, but it didn’t drop. Because that’s how it goes: things don’t fall when they should and break apart when they shouldn’t and don’t come back together again. Like me and my wife’s son a decade ago — how our words failed us, rearranged us, and I lived with him in that room without walls, and the shouting through the ceiling a hard rain to pummel me like the words his mother and I hurled, and how


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without a car I carried him through the snow to that dreaded day care, the kind of place where only poor people have to send their kids, and the fat white woman there who I knew was not nice, who months later was fired for tying a two-year-old’s laces together and laughing as he tried to run, and how a part of me died every time I had to leave my son there. And has been dying ever since. And perhaps you are wondering where this is all going? Going to say, perhaps something about the rain outside falling across the city streets, and the empty tracks, and the train trestle where boys still spray paint the names of their lost lovers, and their dead. My daughter is now talking to her baby doll’s decapitated head. Cooing to it as if it will speak.. w


Sean Thomas Dougherty

Gabriel Plays Scratch Nineball Sean Thomas Dougherty felt him bend shroud of smoke cue he holds eye to hand sewn and seamed the table runs stuns one bank hard left he is up can claim the world’s wager plays safety no one speaks aimless faith lets a wrist flick slow roll

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hits good goes on for a week months years disappear until he drains a thin cut off shape the cue ball of the moon eclipsed w


Sean Thomas Dougherty

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Want Ad Poem Sean Thomas Dougherty someone weeping and walking to register translations of coal houses and taverns, someone to cast iron and use it to cook jambalaya for the retarded children staring outside of the store, someone to make the bed and clean, clean up the collapsing spilling out of whatever, clean up the unmentioned memories and that sting, stripped naked dance anyways claim escape and not disappear no weekends, overtime pay, someone to speak sacred, to speak the places our bodies fit, to speak the liberated wholly imagined, the metamorphosis of the dispossessed into whiskey and a slow dance and the sound of the last train arriving at the station where you are waiting to clean up the ones left behind is not the position requested, what is asked for is a resume without words, for the new words will arrive right where what is whirlwind and rebirth arrive, as they try to deny us, to make lies of us, ask us for ID, them for you is your job to stand up, grab that broom, push that pail, we need someone to kick over the bucket, let the dirty water rise like a giant wave out of the Mississippi Delta, sleep walking is not required, that is a separate position, this is an application for someone to compost the impermeable, to cross the gauze, to lift the veil and there late of the infinite and the woolen cap you will find what is gone and what is left behind are parallel tracks we need you to ride, someone not shy nor sober but who lives outside the rooms of regrets, in that place made of testifying some hymn the body earns with its hands, a kind of hunger, who is a kind hunger, someone seeing the dead, someone to walk out of the door to pray, and there you will find the place to earn, which is the place to sign, we need you, please apply for this black grieving goodbye, this last place untouched by the terrible is waiting, for you to compose with your breathing. Whatever it takes, we will pay.


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Benedictions Allison Joseph Ink, paper, notebooks. Hands to do my bidding. Fingers that arch, flex, itch to set phrases on yellow pads or furtive scraps, elusive slips tucked in pocket or purse. Ink for days, inexhaustible, flow as unceasing as breath, lifeline from page to page, from dog-eared paperbacks to recalcitrant hardcovers. Paper, notebooks, secrets scribbled by some shaky version of self, newly familiar. Notebooks, sketches, plans, lists, details, numbers: none of which will make me rich, or happy, but will make me flesh, make me skin, the unendurable now made into a tenable present, gift I can hold until I can’t, until the pen drops from my fingers, fingers ceasing their nervous twitching, heart’s thin walls no longer taut with that bare beat. Ink, fingers, dust—give me just one more afternoon, one more afternoon. w


Geoff Burns

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Coming to Nothing Geoff Burns The cottontails peeled off the roadside like cards from a deck as he rounded Salmonson Corner, the willows drooping over the fallen log homestead. That hadn’t changed. The secondary ditches were gone, plowed flat with the rest of the meadow so that wheel line sprinklers could move the jetted spray efficiently across the fields. That meant there’d be no Charlie Phillips left, or anyone like him, the dribble down his whiskered chin, pipe dangling. No need for canvas dams and shovels, the meandering daylong walk to control the flow. He wondered if there were still horses to buck and rear in the copper light before a storm; perhaps they’d been plowed flat and tame, too, four wheelers lined up in their place. He felt that pain inside, somewhere deep in memory, at the sight of the barn, chinked split log from the early days, the branding record carved into the tack room door: eighteen sixty-five. He remembered the feel of it, quiet and warm, the horses blowing as they shifted their weight, tails flicking, the smell of manure and hide, hay dust floating in the filtered light. How long had it been since he’d been on a horse? Almost forty years if he didn’t count the time he and the kids rode around the ring at the county fair. Forty years since he’d swept these meadows with a buck rake or tightened a cinch in the rain, the hand-rolled smoke sharp in his lungs as the water ran off his felt hat and the horses circled and side-stepped in anticipation. He really had been here, mounting the roan in the yard outside the barn. He drove by, not so slow that anyone would notice, them looking out the window wondering who it was with the out-of-state plates, just as he would have done all those years ago. Not much had changed; he could see that. There was still hay to stack and cattle in the hills that needed checking when it rained. A ranch had its rhythms, after all. He didn’t want them gawking and guessing, there’d be time enough for that. He drove past politely slow enough to keep the dust from rising. He passed the cemetery on the bench above the road, a backhoe digging, the dark earth piled neatly on canvas next to the hole. At the highway he hesitated before turning away from the Inn. Sylvia would still be in the spa; he had time. A quarter mile up the road he turned in the lane, just two tracks winding through the willowed dredge ponds.


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How long had it been? Twenty years, maybe longer. The small meadows opened to a rise where the old log house sat listing on one end, over one hundred years since Old Man Meresworth skidded the first logs down from Williams Creek. The truck was in the yard but no dogs came barking; Marla would be in the fields bucking the hay in, only herself to count on now. The window box was full of red petunias; the door was open. Dishes sat untended in the worn enameled sink, the Madisonian spread out on the slab table. A log sofa faced the river-rock fireplace, its stained brown plaid cushions dotted with cigarette burns. A green corduroy stuffed chair covered with a crocheted throw sat next to the couch, the table and lamp between them. On the table, face down, Leaves of Grass. He picked the book up and read the open page:

In paths untrodden, In the growth by margins of pond waters, Escaped from the life that exhibits itself. . .

So after the years of struggle, a gentleness had ensued. He thought of all the conversations he might have had, wondered if there was some wisdom that might have been imparted. Outside he heard the tractor revving, then, through the window, shooting above the willows, a shock of hay. The beaverslide, he realized, built by Marla’s father after the baler accident. She was out there in the meadow, a team hooked to the sweep pushing the piles onto the deck and then the pull of the tractor flinging hay skyward; her one good arm, the firm, tan arm that had held his brother, shifting gears and adjusting the throttle. He drove back through the town, past The Longhorn Café, still there with the same name after all these years, where on Sunday afternoon, the cook’s day off, his father would treat him to steak and eggs and a chocolate shake, in that first summer when the adventure of the ranch was still new and held them there, and past Clint’s where his brother once slouched at the bar, the ten-gallon pulled down ’til it turned his ears, speaking with a twang that was almost authentic; past the Ruby Hotel where Bud would traipse when the company grew stale at Clint’s, shots lined up like fence posts cold in the wind. It was all still there. He drove three miles to the Vigilante Inn, a grand lodge with cabins placed along the river, an overdone replica of the old west as it is imagined in urban centers: a vestige of Warner Brothers and Twentieth Century Fox. He felt uncomfortable there, in the three-fifty a night room, alongside


Geoff Burns

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guests from Los Angeles and Chicago costumed in L.L. Bean and Patagonia. It was the only real change in the valley and Sylvia’s idea; a treat for him, this luxury, but foreign to his remembrance of things. It wasn’t how he had wanted it to be. But then what is, he thought as he turned in the gate, down the carefully coiffed lane as pretty as a picture. Perhaps it had all been illusion: the smell of his sweat in the fields, the orchard grass and brome swirling in the breeze, the collar turned up in the wind high on a ridge with the roan neighing. No different than a picture show; he’d just had a good seat. He found Sylvia in the room, wrapped in a robe. “How was your massage?” he asked, thinking of her relaxed on the table, foreign hands gliding through lotion on her naked back. “Just divine. There is something about the mountain air. I can see why you loved it,” she said and just then he remembered forking out ninety years worth of manure, tromped hard as concrete in the loafing shed, the ammonia so sharp it stung his lungs. They pitched it in the wagon, then towed it through the fields spewing shit from longhorns trailed from Texas in the 1860s when the gulch was full of prospectors and claim jumpers and the range was wide and free. “I think you should go fishing tomorrow. You could do it in the morning, before the funeral.” “I didn’t bring my gear,” he said, not telling her that he had left it purposefully after reading the website she had forwarded: eight miles of the river tied up, leased from the ranchers; the stretch through the old meadows with the grassy banks, and below the dam, even the dredge ponds behind the house. Somehow he felt a claim to that water: he had rights to it; he’d be damned if he’d pay to fish it. “Darling, they provide the gear. It’s all included.” “But five hundred a day,” he complained. “It would be worth it, wouldn’t it? To fish your river again.” He lay back on the king-sized bed. A picture of Chief Joseph hung on the wall opposite him; the bitterly twisted mouth, the look of betrayal and permanent loss pulsing from his eyes, once a moment in time as real as any other, now reduced to an expected decoration: the romance of the west. “I thought we could drive up Williams Creek and over the hill, take in the ‘City’, walk the boardwalk like a couple of dudes.” “I am a dude, Bryce, and so are you. Your cowboy days are in the distant past.” “I suppose I always was a dude, even when this was my home. I didn’t know it at the time, but we were pretenders, just passing through.”


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“Except your brother. He stayed.” He remembered his brother’s face, the same weary look of betrayal as hung on the wall, without the fierceness. It was thirty years ago, after five in the city, the ranch gone along with their parents’ marriage, not a patch of ground to stand on. He remembered as he hadn’t remembered in years the early morning phone call from the tavern down by the river where the railroads used to run. “I can feel myself dying,” Bud had sobbed into the phone. “I’m disappearing right before my own eyes. I just wanted to say good-bye.” And then he did disappear. It had been a hard winter, the snow and gloom piled dirty into March. He turned into himself, whiskey his only companion. One day he showed up at the police station confessing to crimes that hadn’t been discovered. He was held in a cell for a few days, the detectives questioning, threatening, until they understood that the gory deaths existed only in Bud’s imagination. After six weeks in the State Hospital he was released to Bryce’s couch where he sat smoking and trembling, intensely studying something no one else could see. One evening a spring storm blew in, the trees bent over, the pounding of the sky wet and fierce with flashing thunder. He had turned in early, Bud fidgeting on the couch, and snuggled deeply into sleep. In the morning the skies had cleared and robins pulled at worms seduced to the surface by the rain. The only sign of Bud was a saucer on the arm of the couch filled with cigarette butts and ashes. Bryce left it there for days as if it were a talisman that would draw his brother back. After a week his father reported Bud missing. How could his car disappear, they wondered? He must have driven into the river. But no one was interested. Three years later Bryce got a card: “Working as a line rider in summer, feeding cows in winter. It ain’t much, but it’s a life.” His family was furious. “Technically, he came back,” he said. “I know. You’ve told me the story,” she said, turning the page of the Vigilante Inn brochure; a thousand times, her inflection said. “I’m looking forward to dinner,” she said. “You should see the menu; it’s to die for!” “I know. Only forty dollars to have the trout you caught braised in French wine,” he snorted. “So refined, here in the valley. A genuine postcard experience.” “I’m spending a small fortune here; I’d like to enjoy it.” She snapped the brochure shut, sitting up on the edge of the bed. “You could work the room. You never know what might turn up.”


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It was true; the Vigilante Inn was perfect ground for him: nothing but high rollers. He wouldn’t have to qualify anyone; they were all cherries. He made his living by moving in the right circles and telling people what they wanted to hear. He moved their money and some of it stuck with him. He was good at it: pleasing people. It was a skill he’d learned in his family. Always avoiding conflict, he was quietly everyone’s confidante. He had thought of it as a weakness, not being courageous enough to take a stand. All he did was listen to them as they aired their grievances, each against the other, hidden safely in the shadows. When they lived on the ranch the land had allowed them all some forgiveness; it absorbed just enough of their pain to give their lives some semblance of order. When it was lost to them the pain became like a centrifuge, casting each of them randomly from the center of things. Bud dropped out of college and soon was drafted. It was the sixties, the time of Vietnam, and marijuana and LSD. Bud was high all the time; it was the beginning of his inward turn, hallucination the landscape for his pain. He was discharged from the army, unfit for service, and returned to the city where the rest of his family struggled to create their own new realities, and a string of odd jobs and occasional “holidays” at the state’s expense. Bryce got a job in an electronics store, a vast expanse of neon and steel; the gleaming vinyl-tiled floors polished each night, as cold and dead as the ranch had been alive and warm. There was no grass weaving in the wind, no straw hat or roll-your-own; no cocksuckers or motherfuckers or sons-a-bitches; no reins held in thick-fingered hands, sparkling eyes betraying the stoic jaw, the hay stacked in the meadow. No, his landscape now was manicured nails and clip-on ties and aisle upon aisle of inventory needing to be moved: refrigerators and dishwashers and color TVs. And he was good at it, listening to their stories just as he had listened to his family’s stories. “Twenty years married and never once he washed the dishes.” “This ought to quiet her. Get me top of the line; I don’t want no complaints.” He was salesman of the month, and then the year. The commissions rolled in. He moved into a bigger apartment and bought a new car. But it was just appliances, after all. He wanted more: a suit, an office, respectability. He got a job selling stocks and bonds, mutual funds and limited partnerships. It wasn’t much different than selling appliances, he learned: listen to them and tell them what they want to hear, just as he had always done. Within a year he was again salesman of the month,


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and then the year, in a three-piece suit and a corner office. When he walked down the street in the city women noticed him; he had become a man of substance. That was how he met Sylvia. Her husband had died, leaving her a thick portfolio. She didn’t know anything about investments, she said, she’d always depended on him. She needed help. It was almost too good to be true, a rich widow walking through his door. And a looker. It was just business at first. He’d take care of her, he’d said. And her portfolio grew beyond her hopes; it was the biggest bull market in memory. He was a genius, she said. She so admired that in a man. He’d grown bored with his second wife, who once had seemed so much more exciting than his first wife, had been part of the transition to the more substantive life of a stockbroker. But with Sylvia’s attention he felt like he had finally arrived. She was a woman of culture and sophistication who had seen plays on Broadway and been to the opera in Milan. All he had to do was listen, be the attentive, sensitive man, and she came to him, just as everything had always come to him. But now, in the room with her, he felt like something was slipping away from him; something ancient that had been stirred in him, driving up the valley. He didn’t want to let go of it. He felt like taking a stand. “Suppose I quit,” he said. “Quit what?” she said. “Working rooms, measuring people by how much money they have, angling to make some of it mine; telling people what they want to hear instead of the truth.” “What are you saying, Bryce?” “What if I quit my job? We could move here. You have enough that we could buy a small place; run a few cows, put up some hay. You could breathe the mountain air every day, fall asleep to the sound of a brook. We could live a real life, Sylvia.” “You’ve lost your mind, Bryce. How do I fit in? Dutiful wife pulling your boots off at night, fresh bread in the oven?” “No, I’m serious, as serious as I’ve ever been. My whole life, ever since I left this valley, has been nothing more than going through the motions, doing what came easily. But here, in this landscape, a man can really get a measure of himself. When I was just a kid I built the straightest, tallest haystacks in the valley. It meant something.” “My God, Bryce, anyone can build haystacks. You have so much more to offer.” “Like what? Kissing ass all day, picking people’s pockets? There’s more


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to it than just stacking hay. It’s the smell of your sweat mixed with hay dust. It’s the way you feel in late afternoon when the storm clouds roll in, watching them bounce back and forth off the mountains, the smell of rain in the air. It’s the tiredness you feel in your bones when you lie down at night. It’s the knowing you’re a part of something, something bigger than you.” “I’m glad you had that experience, Bryce. It obviously made an impression on you. But people grow and change. You went on to build a great career; that means far more than some haystack. We have a wonderful life, Bryce. Let’s get a bottle of wine and celebrate your remembrance, and then we can go have dinner.” He looked at Chief Joseph on the wall; Bryce wondered if the picture hung in every room. Reduced to a curiosity, the noble man might as well have been stuffed and mounted in the lobby. But he had lived once, his very being entwined with the landscape in which they rested. By the time the picture was taken it was too late for the Chief, but it wasn’t too late for him. Bud had done it, made his way back. Always the black sheep, the failure in the family, Bryce now saw the dignity of his life. It was a dignity he himself had known in his youth but had let slip away. The great open room, all varnished logs and fir plank flooring, was dominated by the rock fireplace rising to the gabled tongue and groove ceiling; in front of the fireplace a sitting area with large overstuffed sofas and Navaho rugs, copies of Field & Stream and Orvis catalogs on the coffee tables. The entire west wall was a bank of windows and glass doors looking out past an expansive deck to the dark waters of the river meandering through the meadow. Sylvia picked out a Pinot from the Napa Valley and she and Bryce mingled with the other guests. They visited with a mortgage broker from Chicago, a commercial realtor from Seattle and a couple from Los Angeles who had brought their teenage boys, who were playing video games in their room, to Montana so that they could “rough it a little and gain a true appreciation for wilderness.” Sylvia was vibrant, engaging everyone with charm and sophistication. Bryce managed to listen sympathetically and make an appropriate comment or two, but it was Sylvia’s presence that filled the room. “He’s in investments,” she managed to work into each conversation, “a simply brilliant man.” They dined at a table next to the window looking out at the meadow, river and rose-hued granite peaks beyond, the evening’s light reflected by the dark cumulous bellies floating above.


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“What could be better?” Sylvia sighed. “Maybe a Great Falls Select with the boys down at Clint’s?” Bryce wasn’t ready to surrender. “Could you behave yourself for just a little while?” “How long’s a little while? Another thirty years?” “I was thinking of the rest of the evening.” “Don’t you see how out of place all this is, Sylvia, this island of luxury surrounded by ranches where the people who stack the hay, brand the cattle, repair the equipment, the people who live and work here, can’t even fish the river because it’s reserved for rich people from L.A.?” “I don’t feel out of place at all. As a matter of fact, I think I am in my element here, looking out at that marvelous view, drinking a divine wine, eating a scrumptious meal and conversing with intelligent people from across America. These are the moments I live for.” “I tell you, I feel guilty just sitting here. I should be out there with them.” “Who? Who should you be with?” “Chief Joseph.” “What?” Sylvia looked at him as if he were losing his mind. “Chief Joseph. There’s a picture of him on the wall in our room. These fat cats we’re having dinner with stole his land, then, when he fought back they chased him all over Idaho and Montana killing his women and children. He finally had to surrender, move onto the reservation with the rest of us.” “You’re not making any sense. I think your brother’s death has you unsettled.” “It hasn’t got anything to do with Bud. It’s about them, these fucking rich bastards who won’t be happy until they own every goddamn square inch of this earth; until they’ve squeezed the life out of every man and woman that actually knows how to do an honest day’s work.” Bryce’s voice rose with his emotions. He ordered another bottle of wine. “Are you O.K., Bryce? Perhaps we should go back to the room.” “Stop patronizing me, Sylvia. I know damn well what I’m talking about. There was a time when I actually did an honest day’s work; ten hours a day, seven days a week during haying season. When it rained and was too wet to put the hay up, we were up at four in the morning, the horses saddled and us headed to the summer range to check on the cattle. There are people here still doing those things, giving their sweat and blood and lives to this land which they can’t even fish on because it’s all reserved for these assholes who think the Vigilante Inn is roughing it.” “If you don’t calm down right now I’m going back to the room.” He was crossing the line; he could see that in the severity of Sylvia’s


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expression; she was serious about it. But it felt good, standing up for something for once in his life. “Take that fat fucker with all the turquoise, for instance.” He pointed at the man sitting with his wife not more than four feet away from them. “I heard he’s buying the Olaffson place and turning it into a golf course. There’s going to be stables and riding trails so he can make a fortune selling million-dollar homes that a bunch of rich bastards will live in one or two weeks a year. Meanwhile the local ranch hands that have lived in this valley with dignity for generations will be turned into butlers and pool boys. No wonder Chief Joseph weeps.” The man he was targeting grew red in the face, staring at Bryce. His thick fingers clenched the tablecloth until the silverware fell to the floor. “Yeah, that’s right pal. I’m talking about you, you fucking cocksucker!” The words thundered up from his diaphragm, rolling off his tongue like a golden tablet delivering a long forgotten message. Bryce felt the surging bigness within him, stunted and festering for years. He glared crazily at the man, who, kicking back his chair rose to a much greater height than Bryce had anticipated. Bryce flew like a human battering ram head first into the man’s midsection, throwing them both to the floor, where they rolled kicking and biting, knocking tables and patrons asunder. Sylvia vaulted them screaming, the carefully groomed seams of her life slashed open; the ugly sore she had not sensed suddenly exposed, infecting her with its putrid truth. The other diners were joined by the staff in separating the two men, snot spewing from their flared nostrils, each struggling to get at the other, their crazed eyes locked in a beam of rage. After hasty but firm testimony from the other diners Bryce was forcibly removed from the building. He made his way back to his cabin. The door was locked. He knocked softly, calling out to Sylvia. He knocked harder, demanding that she let him in. The curtains were drawn; he could see nothing. After a few minutes he stumbled to the road. The sun had set behind the mountains, its light now reflected off the highest clouds coloring the peaks to the east in pastels of pink and blue. The forested shoulders of the mountains darkened like deep waters above the sage-covered benchlands; the hayfields and willows, brilliant yellow, gold and green in the day’s last burst of light, were now softened, the earth submissive to the coming night. Bryce noted how still the world had become. He walked through the fading light absorbed in the evening calm.


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The trout would be feeding now, rising indiscriminately, the flash of shadow through the water, the balletic leap into the sky twisting and kicking, the crashing splash and tug, the thrilling run: the fierce determination of life. He could do it without Sylvia. He didn’t need to own land; he could start out like Bud did, feeding cows in the winter, looking after them in the high mountain range in the summers. He would become a part of the landscape; it would nourish him in ways no woman could. Finally he was back home. Walking into the quiet night Bryce planned his new life. He hadn’t read Whitman or Thoreau since college, but now they would be his constant companions; he would live shoulder to shoulder with them. He was almost sober when he walked into Clint’s; the dim lights above the half-round bar, the syrupy twang from the jukebox, the faces of the slumped figures turned toward him hoping for some relief, some elevation, a moment’s entertainment. His buoyancy pierced by the opening of the door, the sudden remembrance of the room’s reality, he hesitated a moment, as if to retreat; then realizing that he had nowhere else to go, he stepped forward, walked steadily toward the bar as if no one was looking and sat apart from the half dozen other patrons. He was keenly aware of the staring faces: some worn out, barely cognizant, others menacing with their sneering grins; the women eagerly evaluating, imagining the weight of him, the thrusting, the size of his wallet. He nodded nonchalantly, as if he lived just down the road. “Two shots of Jack,” he told the bartender, a big-breasted, big-toothed woman well past her prime, thin brows painted over store-bought eyelashes. “Set them up and bring me a Select.” “They ain’t made Select for years,” she said, wiping the bar in front of him. “Well then, bring me a Highlander.” “Look Mister, I don’t know where you come from, but you got your choice of Miller, Bud or Coors.” “You ain’t from here, are you, mister?” Bryce squinted across the bar to locate the figure from which these words had emanated. “You dressed like a city boy, ain’t cha? Don’t he just look like somethin’, Beef ?” Bryce found the man, a short stocky figure, the pearl snaps of his short-sleeved shirt half undone, his straw hat set back on his head. He was smiling at Bryce but there wasn’t anything friendly about it. “He somethin’ alright, Scrapper,” the giant next to Scrapper answered. Beef ’s beady eyes and fat cheeks rested corpuscularly on his broad sloped shoulders, from which massive arms projected, too thick to rest at his side. “Did you see them shoes, Beef ? Look like dancin’ slippers to me. Hey


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mister, you one of them ballet guys?” Scrapper rolled his head toward the giant, the both of them snickering. Bryce had wanted to wear tennis shoes and a sweatshirt to dinner. They were in Montana, after all; no need to dress up, he’d complained to Sylvia. But she had insisted that he wear the tassel loafers and blazer with his jeans. “That’s an appropriately casual look for the occasion,” she had said. “Ah, you tore your shirt, honey, and you got a black eye. Did you have a little argument with your boyfriend?” Scrapper was digging in, extracting as much sadistic pleasure as possible from this unexpected encounter. Bryce calculated that it was too late to make a peaceful exit back into the quiet night. “My wife and I are staying at the Inn. I used to live here, just down the road. I didn’t enjoy the company at the Inn; I wanted to come to a place that I remembered from the past, have a drink with the locals.” “Your wife, huh?” Scrapper winked sarcastically, poking Beef in the ribs. “Hey Beef, put on some dance music. Mr. Pretty Boy is goin’ to give us a dance lesson.” Bryce looked pleadingly at the barmaid, hoping for intervention. “Ain’t you gonna drink them shots?” she asked flatly, her dead eyes fixed on his. I've got a tiger by the tail it's plain to see….. The same lyrics had played in this dingy room for nearly forty years, eliciting in the occupants some emotion that the alcohol could wrap itself around. Scrapper slipped off his barstool and shuffled across the floor, his arms raised in a festive pose, hips swaying and boots kicking. “Hey Beef, how am I lookin’?” he called across the room, his false teeth gleaming through sneering lips. “You could use some help all right,” Beef contributed to the skit. “That’s what I was saying, Beef. Ain’t I lucky Mr. Twinkle Toes come along?” Scrapper swooshed across the worn linoleum floor and grabbed Bryce’s hand, jerking him off his stool. I won't be much when you get through with me…. “Ah come on, Honey, I just want a dance,” he said seductively to Bryce, who again looked beseechingly at the barmaid.


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“I think she needs a little encouragement, Beef.” On cue, Beef moved in and, with his hands in Bryce’s armpits, maneuvered him around the room like a puppet. “I know what’s wrong; she forgot to put her makeup on. Hey Sally, get me your lipstick.” “Let him be, Scrapper. He don’t mean no harm.” “Don’t you be talkin’ back to me!” Scrapper’s rage shot out like a projectile. “Just get me your goddamn lipstick.” The room froze, everyone watching Scrapper fearfully. Chastened, Sally slid the lipstick across the bar. “Now hold still, Missy,” Scrapper said tenderly, the cruel thin smile back on his lips, as Beef ’s massive hands immobilized Bryce’s head. Scrapper smeared the rouge on Bryce’s lips. I'm about as helpless as a leaf in a gale…. “Don’t you look pretty!” Scrapper gushed. “Just look at her, Beef. Ain’t her mouth sexy? I get a hard-on just lookin’ at it. I don’t think she’s in the mood yet, though. How about if I buy a round for the house; would that get you in the mood, sweetheart?” Scrapper grabbed Bryce’s wallet and tossed it on the bar. “Here, Angel. I’m buying the house a round.” The barmaid looked in the wallet, then started pouring shots and pulling schooners, the rich foam rising above the sparkling ale, as the jukebox wailed its song of woe. Bryce sat propped at the bar, wedged in by Scrapper on one side and Beef on the other. “You drink up, Honey,” Scrapper said to Bryce. “We’ll all relax and get in the mood.” Angel took some bills from the wallet and handed it back to Scrapper. “Take a look at the I.D.,” she said to him. Scrapper opened the wallet and looked at the driver’s license. “So?” he said. “See the name? Bryce Douglas?” “He’s Bud’s brother, Scrapper. Bud’s brother for Christ’s sake, and look what you gone and done to him.” Sally’s courage returned. “Yer just plain mean, Scrapper, and now you done desecrated the dead, and Bud to boot.” “We didn’t mean nothin’, did we Beef.” Scrapper said as Beef slid over a few bar stools toward Sally. “We was just havin’ a little fun. Nothin’ wrong with a guy havin’ some fun, is there?”


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“No hard feelin’s, ain’t that right, Bryce.” Scrapper stuck out his hand to Bryce who, ignoring him, used a napkin to wipe the lipstick from his face. “That’s what ya always say, Scrapper. ‘No hard feelin’s,’ ‘never meant nothin’ by it.’ Like the time ya hit that horse with a shovel and blinded him in one eye, not to mention what you done to me. Yer as worthless as tits on a boar, Scrapper, an ya always was. If Ole Bud was here he wouldn’t stand for it; he’d tell ya like it is.” The moment had turned in Sally’s favor and she was riding it. Scrapper glared at Sally who was half hidden by Beef ’s bovine presence, then swaggered to the juke box and studied the song list that hadn’t changed in a decade. The door burst open into the clear night and Bryce sprinted across the road. Vaulting the barbed wire fence, he splashed through an irrigation ditch and then cowered in some willows, watching the door of the bar for a few minutes. The building looked benign, inert; the name “Clint’s” spelled out in white bulbs, arched over a red neon bronc rider. The parking lot light hummed steadily as it cast a conical beam across the deep black sky, lighting the three lonely trucks nestled up to the bar. Bryce inhaled the rich grass perfume released by the evening dew, was carried into the chanting of crickets and frogs, and gradually his beating heart slowed. He looked up into the sky, the light of a million worlds just beyond his reach. He should have stayed, he thought, and asked them what it was in his brother that they loved. He was in Dutch’s meadow, a small refuge of the native nut grass grazed for millennia by buffalo, only a quarter of a mile from the ranch house. It had been so long; he had nowhere else to go. The blue light flickered in the house window; beyond, the barn and shop, painted flat on the night’s dark canvas by the yard light, sat silent, still. A figure darted from the shadows into the barn. Hushed footsteps climbed the stairs to the prickly soft bed of hay, the womb of youth, sleep. Dawn’s light filtered through the slat roof, particles swimming in bars of light. Outside, the engine of a truck turned over, gears ground into place and the whine of the transmission faded into the distance. Bryce rose slowly to consciousness, like a free-diver returning from a bed of pearls. Standing back where he could not be seen, he looked out the loft door. The ranch was quiet. Across the road he could see the cemetery, where the undertaker was readying the casket to be lowered into the ground. Soon, cars would carry the mourners to the graveside and he would stand among them, Marla and Scrapper and Sylvia, as they bowed their heads, joined together by the thread of his brother’s life.


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For a moment he felt that the world was in its place. He was in the barn again, looking out at the willows and sagebrush hills; Bud was just across the way. In the evening, after the hay was stacked, they’d grab their poles and head to the river. The morning wisps of white, feathering the sky, would build to afternoon towers of light and shadow, voluptuously embracing the mountains. The air would still in the softened light, enticing mayflies to their dance toward daylight and the frenzied feeding of cutthroats and browns. After, the fish lined up in the grass, he and Bud would sit quietly, waiting for the dark to come.


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Mosammet Hena Lara Dolphin February second I click on the headline: KEPLER SATELLITE FINDS HABITABLE ZONES possibilities for life on Earth-like planets in transit around Sun-like stars. Beside the article, a picture of a coiling cluster of stars I click another headline: BENGLA TEEN WHIPPED TO DEATH sentenced along with her cousin, who raped her then fled the district of Shariatpur, to one hundred lashes for a forbidden affair. After seventy hits with a bamboo cane, she surrendered to the blackness then bled to death in a hospital several hours later. Beside the article by some small mercy there is no photo. What happened to Mosammet Hena after the fatwa? I see her at the milky center of our spiral galaxy swathed in a billow of ethyl formate blended with the warmth of a thousand sighing suns, which neither falter nor fade, dining on raspberry mousse as airy as clouds and delicious sponge cake rum-flavored and golden. w


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BOO 2 Photograph by Eleanor Leonne Bennett


Lynn McGee

World of Love For my autistic nephew Lynn McGee ET hobbles up the space ship’s silver ramp and waves to the boy who found him, standing now in moonlight, face glazed with tears. I ask Patrick, who demanded to ride in the front seat of the limo that carried his mother’s casket, who pointed to every dial on the dashboard, grinning — I ask if he knows why the boy in the movie is sad, and he says Sure, and then Actually, no. He’s losing his friend forever, I explain. It makes him sad enough to cry. To cry? echoes Patrick, and he backs up the video, watches that scene again, hits rewind and watches once more, thumb jabbing the slender remote, sound muted in the dark room where he studies the world of love for clues. w

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Words That Don’t Exist in Any Language Lynn McGee No language I’m aware of has a word for that brisk whisper produced, thumbing through a book, thick pelt of lint peeled off a dryer screen, blurring of objects passed at fast speed, or deep whir that whines down to silence when a computer closes down. There’s no graceful word to name the bliss when just waking, walls blue with dawn, still warm from a dream, and feeling certain someone we lost has been alive, all these years, after all. w


Molly Peacock

E and His Little Mouse Molly Peacock E loved life underground and owned his mines, Elemental Excellent Mining Company. A shockingly tall, burly boy he’d been, yet possessed of the elegant balance of an egg poised on an internal point. Other boys envied him. Now he was a huge man with a schnaz as big as a bull walrus proboscis. But no matter what he did he couldn’t get rid of an embarrassing petite voice within, his mouse, whose wee alarm went off when danger came close. As a boy E became a bully. His mother, Maman, egged him on, reaching up on her tiptoes to pat his head and call him Ma Petite Souris, her Little Mouse grown up so tall. He took joy in extracting the mouse cry from other boys, joy in heaving them down, in hearing their eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! With full elegance he bullied them. He bullied his miners in his underground playground, and he edged out his competitors. Eliminate. Erase them from the Earth. A lone woman called her mine Excellent Mining. How dare she! That’s my mine! Petite Souris squealed in the phone to her when E meant to be gruff. Old dangers, when one has grown, become so embarrassing. Then E called everyone in the mine world

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and turned them against her. Unable to eradicate her the way he excised his wives and expunged one of his daughters (the other daughter fled – and no sons were born) he diminished Excellent Mining, but still it was a voice whispering. Every week he called Maman. When her failing esophagus stopped up, she whispered her chatter to him. At last he went to her. And when she couldn’t eat, not even the spoonfuls he held for her, and could barely say Ma Petite Souris all grown up, he said, Oh Maman! Oh my man! she whispered, curly and fancy. And then she was gone. E dug. He dug and he dug. Then he bunked in the motel near his mines. The cleaning ladies took care of him, but when E heaved his bulk on top of them near to orgasm, Petite Souris would open his tiny pink mouth wide, and out would come his cry, eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Embarrassed, E only did each of them once. All this time he never shed a tear. At last E erased Maman. Only Petite Souris remembered her. Even when E’s whiskers were gray and he ignored the maids in the mining motels Petite Souris lost none of his resolve.


Molly Peacock

As long as E lived, Petite Souris guarded E’s feelings and only let them erupt when E’s back was turned. As E breathed his last in a hospital room and as his room in the motel was being cleaned by the next woman on the schedule ready for the next occupant, Petite Souri made E’s last sound eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! The mouse eternal escaped though the vapor of E’s breath and returned to the universe where emotions circulate. They do not die. They do not even fade. They enter the universe and wait for those who can, to feel. And for those who can’t, they wait and become the embarrassing animal sprung from emotions inside the walls of the mines. They are the elements, the elements underground. w E and His Little Mouse is part of a book-length poem, AlphabeTique: the Lives of the Letters as Written by T.

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Married Karen Brown The night we went to the bar to see J.B. play the drums the summer sky was marked by heat lightning’s dry shudder, the air charged with ozone, spiked with magnolia. We had just sent our children off to Ton-A-Wondah, Illahee and Arrowhead, places whose hot, close cabins and lonely smell of pine were put out of our own memories. Each year we anticipated this moment like a great, peaceful void, but what happened instead was suddenly too much time spread out in front of us, gaps and lulls to consider the issues of love and happiness that always emerged when the house was empty, and nothing prevented us from having sex wherever and whenever we wanted. Cherry’s Alehouse was tucked into a strip mall close by some railroad tracks filled in with weeds. No one had any idea what the band would be like, except that they played old classics by Badfinger and Thin Lizzy, and their most recent gig had been a Daytona Beach biker rally. J. B. had given our friends Julia and Cash his assurances that no one in the band was the least bit biker-like. The guitar player was a postal carrier, and the bass player was a mortgage lender. The lead singer, Johnny Dryer, was nothing but the lead singer, making four times what the hired musicians made since The Johnny Dryer Band was his. He lived in Chapel Hill with a wife and two children, and flew down to Florida for gigs. The regular drummer was sick, and J.B. had gotten the call at the last minute —Friday and Saturday night, three forty-five minute sets, which had been nothing years ago before he had children, when his wife, Pattiann, was just his girlfriend who hung out in the bar with him, and there always would be people he knew in the audience, regulars long since resigned to changing their lives, attending AA meetings, or working real jobs that required they get up at a normal time in the morning. J.B. had his own day job now, running a commercial real estate company, but it wasn’t often that he got the call to play anymore, so he jumped at the chance. My husband Will had known J.B. since high school, but I had met him when he was playing in a club that I went to with a group of friends, all of us carrying fake IDs. I had come to see the guitar player, a ropey, tall boy with a mop of blond hair, who played with his eyes closed, and hid


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out in the dressing room behind the stage so no one could ever approach him. You had to stand in front of him during the set, deafened by the P.A., and hope that he looked down and saw you, and smiled, or slit his eyes, or sometimes, bent over and touched your hand. If you bought him a drink, and set it at his feet, he might be inclined to whisper something to you with a hoarse, Southern drawl that I could still, to this day, recreate in my mind. Will had come in wearing his collared shirt and Topsiders, the kind of boy who promised the life my parents wanted for me, the one I thwarted by refusing to attend the college they paid for, by spending my nights watching bands in bars, pining for a guitar player’s meager attention, a hand warm with sweat, an imagined sidelong glance. As usual I loved someone who didn’t love me, and I had grown tired of that despair. Watching Will at the bar with his beer I remembered all of my low points — standing at a friend’s medicine cabinet in the bathroom’s cold, white ceramic welcome, and considering the pain pills, or the razor blades. I saw that I couldn’t make the ones I wanted love me, so I settled on someone who did. Someone who always had something to say to me, who brought me little gifts like lip gloss and poems written on the front of envelopes. Who gave me rides home, hesitating in the darkened car, so that I had to kiss him first. Who stared at me until I had to look away. And I married him, expecting never to feel unloved again. The night at Cherry’s Alehouse, Julia and Cash met us out front near the tables set up with umbrellas for the restaurant customers who we assumed had eaten and gone home. The door to the bar was open, and cigarette smoke spilled out, and Julia stood impatiently beside Cash. She wore a bronze-colored sequined tube top and jeans slung low on her hips. Her long, dark hair was pulled back with a clip that later that night she would take out, letting the hair hang loose in waves around her dampened face and neck. “Cash wouldn’t go in,” she said. “He’s got a problem.” Cash held out his hands, palms up. “I don’t know what she’s talking about.” He took off his round, wire-framed glasses, and placed them in his shirt pocket. I wanted to slip into his arms, rest my forehead in the hollow beneath his collarbone. I wanted to breathe in the scent of his skin. Beyond the open door of the bar I could see shadowy people watching us through the smoke. The band had not yet started. Julia twisted her hips and kicked up one high-heeled shoe. “I want to dance.” “I wanted to rent a movie.” Cash grabbed Julia around her bare stom-


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ach and pulled her in, and she needed both hands to shove him away. Will watched them, his eyes on Cash’s hands around Julia’s waist, his mouth shaped into a patient smile. Later, I knew, he would lean over and tell me it was obvious Julia didn’t love Cash, that Cash was being made a fool. “That’s me,” he would say. “In love with you.” I would have to reassure him that wasn’t true. I would take his shaven cheeks into my hands and shake his head slightly back and forth. “No, it isn’t,” I would say. “No, it is not,” until his face lost the glazed look of alarm that creased the space between his eyes. Inside we sat at a shaky square table in four captain’s chairs. The smoke hung close to the ceiling, a crossing of bare pipes and watermarked acoustic tiles. There was a horseshoe-shaped bar on one side and the stage, a foot-high raised platform, directly in front, where J.B.’s red-sparkle drums were set up, and he stood with a man wearing Converse tennis shoes who turned out to be Johnny Dryer. We could see that they were discussing starting, or waiting until more people arrived. The bass player wore his bass guitar, his long legs in tight jeans showing below the instrument’s shining body, and the guitar player leaned against an amp with his hair over his eyes, both of them waiting in the dim lighting, both donning the moody, quiet presence of musicians about to take the stage. The rest of the square tables were empty, but the black vinyl bar stools were filled with patrons who had just met and gotten drunk together, who were boisterous and ready for something to happen. The bar smelled of Aramis and hair spray, mixed with sweat and cigarettes and spilled bourbon and rotting citrus. It was the kind of place where people threw their cigarette butts on the floor and ground them out with the toes of their boots. Cash glanced behind him when the bar patrons whooped, and then J.B. came over and swatted him on the back. “We’re in high cotton!” he said. J.B. grinned at Will. “Glad you could make it,” he told him, taking first Will’s hand, then mine. J.B. acknowledged Julia last, and I noticed he had held back, just as she had, twirling a piece of her hair, enjoying delaying the moment of their hands touching and their eyes meeting like everyone else’s. I could imagine J.B. as a younger man in OP surf shorts and leather flip-flops behind the wheel of a boat churning up the murky bay water, the radio loud and the wind blowing back his long hair, blowing open his shirt to show a tan, hairless chest. In high school, Julia said, he had smoked a lot of pot, which had made his eyelids heavy, and gave him a disinterested look, and I could see Julia remembering him like that, replacing the man he was now with this memory.


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Julia and J.B. had slept together a few times recently. The last time, in the backseat of her Audi at the End, a cul de sac near the bay where the teenagers still went at night to drink beer, he had said he was in love with her. We had been in my backyard when she told me, the patio table littered with the remains of our meal, highball glasses of melting ice, and empty bottles of wine. That afternoon’s rain still pooled along the curb and the night was steamy and languid, the porch lights blurred by the humidity, the martinis, the joint Julia and I smoked, secretly, around the side of the garage behind the birds of paradise. Cash and Will stood by the dock planning to go out on the boat. Julia leaned into me, her perfume rising off her shoulders into the pocket of air over our heads. “He was sweaty and it was dark, and he whispered with this strange voice, and I can’t be sure he meant much of anything by it.” She waved her hand in front of her face like she was shooing away a mosquito. I pictured their lovemaking in the narrow back seat, the night outside the windows creating a private space where J.B. would fumble with the condom he had bought earlier that day at a remote 7-Eleven, and Julia would continue kissing him along his rough neck, her hands in his wiry chest hair, moving down to cradle his hips, waiting impatiently for his entry and his ending, and whatever came afterwards to fill the awkward space, which this time had been his admission of love. “What do you think it means?” she asked me. She wore a look of concern, as if under threat. In the folds of gathering darkness I smelled the canal’s sour mud, the potted jasmine, the citronella torches, William’s cologne lingering in the folds of my blouse, on the places he had pressed his mouth and hands before Cash and Julia arrived, when he had me spread under him on the bed. Behind me the house was lit up, the children’s rooms vacated, their clocks blinking from the last storm’s resulting power outage, their bureau tops swept clean of the water balloons, the firecrackers spilling explosives, the CDs and glitter make-up in tubes and stacked clear plastic cylinders, the bed covers undisturbed and eerie in their perfect tucks and drapes. The water in the canal splashed against the sea wall, and I listened to Cash and Will’s low voices, imagined Will worrying over our passionless sex, and Cash telling him, in his calm, amused manner that he had what he wanted, didn’t he? I lit a cigarette and shrugged. “It could mean he wants you to think he loves you.” Julia pulled her hair back and made a face. “Do you think he thinks I want him to love me?”


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“He may just love you,” I said. And Julia shook her head, her eyes wide with horror. “Good God, really?” she said, the ordeal of being loved too much for her to bear. *** In Cherry’s Alehouse, Will leaned toward me and put his mouth in my hair. “Julia is a phony,” he whispered. “God, I hate her.” We had all ordered long-necked Miller Lites, which seemed like high school, but William had insisted on a gin and tonic. He had lit his first cigarette of the night, and sat on the edge of the chair with his elbows on his knees, as if he might spring up at any moment to leave. A few more tables filled up, and J.B. went up to the stage to join the other band members for the first set. They opened with the Doobie Brothers, “China Grove,” a dizzying sound through the P.A., Johnny Dryer’s voice rich and clear, the guitars buzzing and thrumming. When the music played it was impossible to talk, so we all just nodded at each other and bounced our heads to songs that we’d made out to in ’75 Firebirds, in wood-sided LTD wagons, in the velvety interior of our boyfriends’ fathers’ Continentals. I had not always loved Cash. There was a time when I thought nothing of him, and he had been in love with me. He would confide in me, confess his troubles with Julia, kiss me hello and goodbye, tenderly, on the lips, lace my fingers in his. But I had been pregnant, or preoccupied, or otherwise immune, and this had been so long ago I could not remember much of it, only that at the time, I had no idea he loved me. Now I see that we do not always know if we don’t want to. Back when we were building our house, picking out fixtures and fabrics and counter tops, I would not have noticed how the boy at Castellano & Pizzo looked at me when I ordered the filets, or asked where the ladyfingers were. I wouldn’t have thought much of the way he ducked his head before he spoke, or believed that he moved off down the aisle quickly out of a need to get away from me. But when he rang up the purchase at the counter he allowed his eyes to meet mine, and they were pale blue and full of an ache I only then recognized as desire, suddenly a language I could read. I stared at Cash while he reached for Julia’s hand, or poured her beer into a glass, or lit her cigarette. His love for her was plain, an uncomplicated adoration. He gave her anything and she knew that he would be happy as long as she asked for things and he could give them to her. We had all been married for thirteen years. Our husbands had been friends since the


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eleventh grade, when Will had gotten his girlfriend pregnant, and Cash had been the girl’s brother, and they had all met uncomfortably around the parents’ dining table one night while the parents were vacationing in Jamaica. The solution had been Cash’s suggestion, and he had later done the driving to the pink stucco clinic, with Will and the girl in the back seat, separated by their feelings of foolishness and the bulky leather armrest. That was the beginning of their history together, the one that would define, inevitably, what we would be to each other. In Cherry’s Alehouse the crowd thickened. Julia had been ordering the drinks, and with the last round the waitress brought shots of tequila and wedges of lime and salt, and the tabletop now was cluttered with the empty glasses and the smell of tequila and lime rinds. Will had progressed to his third gin and tonic, and settled back in his chair. He and Cash had their heads together, laughing at something, probably a story suggested by one of the songs, one I’d already heard a million times. I glanced at his profile, the way his hair was trimmed around his ear, and knew there was nothing between us except what we pretended out of habit and familiarity and long use, and how there was nothing wrong with that, how that kind of thing kept people happy their entire lives. Halfway through Bad Company’s “Movin’ On,” the bikers came in, two women and two men. The men had bandanas tied around the crowns of their heads, and dark sunglasses propped on top. They wore thick leather vests, t-shirts and jeans, and heavy black motorcycle boots. The women wore the same jeans and boots, and their shirts were scooped to reveal the tops of their breasts. They were all young and attractive and neatly dressed, as if they were actors come to the bar to practice the roles of bikers. One of the women had a haircut that looked recently professionally styled, a perfect shoulder-length blond bob, blow-dried straight and thick. The other woman was a brunette, with wide hips her jeans stretched tight to fit. They didn’t appear to be paired in any way, just four people roaming in off the street. They circled the rim of the dance floor and waved to Johnny Dryer, and he waved back. When the song ended, they made a request. “For my friends from Daytona,” Johnny yelled back, and the band started into Steppenwolf ’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” and the four bikers surrounded an empty table and the two women sat down. The men stood for the length of the song, one of them leaning against the wall, his long hair showing at the back of his bandana, his arms folded across his chest to reveal the muscles in his arms, and the other shorter and wiry, moving around to the music, the two of them like the pensive, brooding leading


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man and the comic sidekick. When the song was over the two men sat down, and they ordered pitchers of beer that the blond woman poured around. She took a long drink from the foam at the top of her glass, and when she set the glass down I saw that she was beautiful, with a classical soft roundness, nothing sharp or hardened with sadness, the kind of woman with the foresight to always know what she wanted, who never made the mistake of sacrificing one thing for another and in the confusion have it turn out wrong. The night Julia told me about J.B., Cash and Will had not gone out on the boat after all. They didn’t have enough gas, or it was too dark or they had forgotten where they wanted to go. They had wandered back over to the table into the light from the torches, and Will had gone inside to the kitchen, and Cash had pulled a chair up beside me and taken my hand. “You tell your husband you love him for me,” he whispered. I looked over at Julia sipping from her drink, watching the lights come on in the houses across the canal, thinking about the softness of J.B.’s mouth, weighing its softness against his profession of love. Then I leaned forward into the crook of Cash’s neck and placed my lips below his ear. “You tell him,” I whispered. “I love you.” Cash had sat back, unsmiling, unsettled. He rubbed his hands on his thighs as if there was something on them he needed to wipe off. I realized that I had pricked the protective casing that held everything true in check. The truth had escaped, a clear bubble floating prismatic and dangerous above our heads. Will came out then and sat back down, and we all looked at each other, the silence weighty, everyone muted by a longing to say things we could not. Now, in the amplified confusion of the bar, I watched the blond woman light a cigarette, her eyes on the band. And then the tall biker leaned over and said something to her, and they both looked up at me across tables and torsos and bottles of beer. The woman smiled, and the tall biker stood and moved around the seated and standing people, making his way toward me. He leaned over at the waist. “We should dance,” he said. His hair held the smell of rain that had obviously fallen without our knowledge, beyond the doors and smoke of the bar. Will froze, his cigarette mid-air. Cash raised his eyebrows. Julia took her own eyes off of J.B. and spun around, curious. The band played Steve Miller’s “Take the Money and Run.” I thought later that it was the way the biker said it, like a prescription to remedy something, rather than a request, that had made me want to say


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yes. But I never danced, and Will knew that. He had already begun to smile, enjoying the refusal he expected before I even gave it. “Maybe later,” I said. The biker’s eyes searched my face. His arm braced his weight against the tabletop, the muscles and veins pulsing under the skin. I smelled the outdoors in his hair, the leather of his vest. He stood slowly to leave, hesitating beside me, his hand moving into my hair, the fingers brushing my neck. And the set ended, and Johnny Dryer thanked the crowd and told them to remember their bartenders and waitresses, assured them the band would be back after a short break. In the moment of silence after the band stopped, before the taped music came on over the P.A., the biker stepped away, his hand sliding down my back, his fingertips last to leave the skin bared by my halter top. I glanced over at Will, and saw his mouth tighten. He looked down at the drink in his hand, pretending he hadn’t noticed anything. Cash held his eyes level with mine across the table until Julia jumped up and took my arm and led me out the door of the bar to one of the tables on the wooden platform. Rainwater dripped from the roof ’s edge, and the plastic chairs were wet, so we didn’t sit down. She had two cigarettes, taken from Cash’s pack, and she handed one to me, and the man at the door rushed over with a lighter, a stooped, older man who grinned rakishly down my shirt. The parking lot smelled of wet asphalt and car wax and the weeds that grew up between the railroad ties on the tracks. Julia blew smoke into the humid night, into the parking lot’s fluorescent glare, the outline of a moon vague behind clouds. The bikers’ two Harley-Davidsons, gleaming and expensive, leaned beside the steps where the bikers and the women might, if they needed, make a quick getaway. Julia smoked thoughtfully, and then spoke without looking at me. “I mean, I think about him constantly,” she said, “and I’d rather not be compelled to do that.” I wondered where J.B. was now, searching the darkened bar for her, waiting in some prearranged place behind the stage, expectant and tense and sick with love. “Don’t see him,” I said, realizing how obviously easy and yet impossible this was. She gave me a look of exasperation. “There’s no answer,” I told her. “You just have to forget.” Julia put her face in her hands and began to cry. I saw her sequined back shake. When she pulled her hands away, tears marked her cheeks. I


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stood with my mouth open and no words coming out, my cigarette smoldering between my two fingers. “I’ll just tell him at the end of the night, after the band finishes. I’ll just tell him then.” She wiped the tears away with the backs of her hands. Inside the bar, the band started up, and Cash came to the doorway. “Your boyfriend is looking for you,” he said. Beside me, Julia stiffened. But Cash was talking to me. He pointed at me, and laughed, and turned casually, waving us inside. “Just kidding,” he said over his shoulder. He was drunk, and bumped into the doorframe, and the man at the door stepped out of his way as he disappeared into the tobacco-colored bar light. Julia sighed, her crying episode ended and little on her face to show she’d had it. She looked at me and shook her head slowly, and I knew she was going to tell me how lucky I was, how much she envied my happiness, and I wondered if I was happy with my sadness, and this was what everyone noticed. Inside the bar the band had started up and Will was sitting with his arms across his chest. Cash was ordering more drinks from the waitress, and hadn’t seen that the night was over for Will, whose mood had turned, who could not look away from the tall biker seated at his table. I knew we should leave, but Cash grinned at me, and raised his tequila glass, toasting to something I could not hear, and Julia stood up and went out on the dance floor by herself. A group of women circled her to include her, and I drank with Cash and smoked his cigarettes, taking his lighter from the palm of his hand where his fingers, curled around it, had to be pried open one at a time. The band played The Guess Who when Will made his first mistake. It was the last set of the night, and the biker had gotten up and approached me again. He stopped a few feet away, and signaled to me, mouthing his question, and Will swiveled in his seat to glare at him. “Get the fuck out of here,” he said. His eyes, always readable, narrowed with fury. He stood and his chair fell back behind him and hit the floor. Will rarely swore. I could remember only one or two times—when we had brought our newborn son home from the hospital and he had spilled from Will’s arms, a blanketed formless bundle, landing face down on the bed. When he had put off playing golf with his father and his father then had died of a heart attack on the ninth hole with no one to save him. In the sepia-colored light of the bar, the biker’s face remained impassive. He stood his ground for several seconds, then turned and walked back to his table, shaking his head, consulting with the blond woman, who


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mocked a disappointed look. I watched all of this in a daze, my hand on Cash’s leg under the table. During the moments before the biker turned away, Cash had been on high alert. I had felt his leg tense, his hand move instinctively to brush mine away. But nothing would happen until the band quit at the end of the night, and I had gone to the ladies room, and Cash had followed me down the dark hallway, catching my arm at the end, pulling me with him through the ladies room door. He had me up against the closed door, and I was where I’d wanted to be all along, and he was drunk and smiling, his eyes creased at the corners. “You want me, don’t you?” he said. The ladies room was painted pale green, the plasterboard walls chipped and marred, the water dripping into the rust-colored sink, the air hot and thick with the last occupant’s perfume. I could not breathe. I placed my hands on his chest, on the soft fabric of his shirt. His breath smelled of limes. His upper lip shone. I should have kissed him, he was so close, but I was too surprised by his question. “Do you want me to want you?” I asked him. Cash didn’t answer, his eyes laughing, as if the answer didn’t mean anything. And I knew, even then, what would unfold: the weekday afternoons at the Sunny South Motel, my mouth and hands greedy for him, the room chilled from the noisy air conditioning, the thick drapes pulled closed, the bed’s damp white sheets revealed. The room, at the end of the row, backed up to a nursery where the proprietor sold tropical plants. He had a bell on the chain link gate that customers would ring for service. On our way out of the room, we would hear first the bell, then the customers discussing the species for sale—the five-gallon frangipani, scarlet hibiscus, sweet viburnum and ginger lily —their voices and the odor of the plants becoming part of our separating, a necessary balm. Cash would never say he loved me. I would kiss the palms of his hands, longing for him to. The chain of regret would begin instantly, spiraling out from the moment his mouth found mine later in his car that same night, after I forgot what had happened in the ladies room, which was nothing, just his pleasant surprise at having deciphered my desire. Then came noises from the bar, one of the swiveling stools upturned, a few women’s shrieks, a dull thud resonating through the plasterboard and into the tiny space where I stood, pressed against his shirt. No one would know how the fight started. Julia was somewhere else, outside in the alley with J.B., his hand sliding down the front of her jeans.


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Cash ran out and pulled Will up off the floor. The biker stood a few steps away, his hand flexing, ready to shape itself into a fist again. Everyone had moved back, and the floor was covered with some broken glass, and Will, once righted, blood on his face, charged the biker with his shoulder, halffell into him with one arm flailing so that the biker had to take a step or two back to hit him, something he did almost effortlessly and so quickly no one made a move to stop him. This time, Will stayed on the floor, his eyes glazed over, his hair damp and plastered to his forehead. He sat with his back against the bar’s brass rail and put his head in his hands. And Cash stood over him, clenching his jaw. I saw the quickened rise and fall of his chest, his shirt smeared with blood. He said something to Will under his breath, with gritted teeth, and the biker retreated to his table and sat down and drank from his mug. We held Will under his arms, and had moved to the door when the bikers got up to dance. The place had almost cleared out, and I was stumbling in my high heels under Will’s weight, thinking about Cash saying I wanted him, and not knowing anymore what I wanted until I saw the blond woman stand up, finally, and lead the tall biker to the dance floor. They were beautiful together, his hands holding her hips, her arms raised, her body turning one way, then the other, dancing with him and around him, as if the way they danced showed us all how it was supposed to be done. Out in the parking lot, Julia was nowhere around, and we had to wait, with Will spread out on Cash’s back seat, a towel from Cash’s golf bag held to his nose, and Cash and I in the front with both doors open and the chime going off, telling us the key was in the ignition. Cash had his glasses on, one lens broken at some point in the bar, and we sat staring out the windshield, silent, stunned by the memory of the flimsy punches, the embarrassing blood, the anguish of pretending, all this time, there was only one person we would love.


William Heyen

Kimono William Heyen Even though in a minute or two she will cease to exist, we are glad to know about Mrs. Aoyama. Mrs. Aoyama happened to be pretty much exactly right below detonation point zero in Hiroshima. Hers was perhaps the fastest death in history, human or otherwise: before even one nerve cell could sense pain, before any scintillation of brain intuited her into awareness, Mrs. Aoyama vanished as though she had never been…. And we?: we’ll remember this woman as the very definition of translation, from the here to the gone…. Let us picture her before she vanishes into then. Let us remember that Mrs. Aoyama experienced Point Zero pain. w

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Night Missions William Heyen In bombers named for girls, we burned the cities we had learned about in school. — Randall Jarrell The Karin, the Hannelore — I fly them dreamed over Norway & Germany, drop my seed into them … O how they flame … the one who slays me, Oslo; the one I marry, Berlin. w


William Heyen

Of Covenant William Heyen In Vilna Ghetto in 1942 the SS allowed the Jews a library. In his diary, Yitskok Rudashevski notes the circulation of the 100,000th book, but does not mention its title. “The book unites us with the future,” he writes, “the book unites us with the world.” Surely in that book there were words in Hebrew or Yiddish for water, wind, fire, for prayer, pupil, heaven, tree, holy, candle, son & daughter, sin, angel, & thousands more. Surely, the killers knew what most were, but not their order or the power by which the soul comes to eventual volume, to aleph, to Israel in our new bible’s skull. w

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Confetti Anne Panning My mother could have blamed the bee, or she could have blamed the overgrown patch of peonies with their sugary, succulent centers; she could have blamed bad luck or poor timing; I suppose she could even have blamed the impetuousness of love, but instead my mother chose to blame me for my father’s death due to the sting of one tiny bee. Let me explain. My father, Vincent Fitzgerald Goodhue III, had recently been appointed United States Ambassador to Thailand. This was no small feat, something he’d been working toward most of his career as a foreign diplomat first in Korea, then later in Vietnam. It was her hope that not only would I, her only daughter, fly back to attend the ceremony, but that I would agree to have my wedding in Thailand instead of the United States, during that same week. “You can kill two birds with one stone!” she’d said brightly. Having spent most of my childhood and adolescence in Asia, I wanted an ordinary, domestic wedding. I wanted the sound of lawnmowers puttering and basketballs thumping in driveways. I wanted ham sandwiches on buns and pasta salad and a keg of beer. I’d been campaigning for my wedding to be held in my childhood home, a modest center-entrance colonial which sat on the edge of the woods in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York. The yard was a luxurious acre of green, and lilac bushes drooped romantically to form a cozy perimeter around the fence. My goal, in fact, was to schedule the wedding just right so the lilacs — periwinkle, white, and a fresh new variety, Confetti, a deep aubergine — would be fully in bloom. I imagined being photographed with my fiancé Brett beneath their splendor. My mother fought me on it for months. Finally, I won. *** I carried a nosegay of Gerbera daisies, deep reds and yellows against an ivory shantung strapless gown. Brett, ever the traditionalist, insisted on a black tuxedo with tails, despite an unseasonable May humidity so unrelenting it actually wilted the smocked crepe-paper wedding bells hung so carefully around the trellis (so, too, did it wilt my expensive chignon donned with sprigs of baby’s breath).


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The wedding was as small as we could manage, which is to say that instead of all my mothers’ friends and acquaintances, she agreed to invite just half of them, leaving us with a 150-person guest list, triple what we’d wanted. As a gift to us, my brother, William, a set designer in New York City and also a smashing tenor, sang a version of “Amazing Grace” before the ceremony so beautifully that people actually stopped chatting to listen. When everyone had settled in the white folding chairs, I developed an anxious stomach. I could see my father standing proudly down the center of the aisle, our big old beech tree sending spangled shadows all over his face from the bright sun above. My mother was off to his right, all shimmering elegance in champagne satin with pearls. I knew she was upset that I hadn’t wanted the wedding in Thailand because she’d said so numerous times. “It’s so hard on us to fly back and forth like this,” she’d said. “We’re getting too old.” This was not exactly true since they were in their midfifties and played tennis and swam laps almost daily at the American Health Club in Bangkok. Still, she’d made a big show the day before of dragging her suitcases around the house, sighing and struggling. “We hardly had any time to pack with your father’s induction ceremony just two days ago!’ she’d said. Then: “I hope I remembered my heels,” which, of course, she had. After William was done singing, he blew me a kiss, took my mother by the arm, and sat her down in the front row. The vows we’d written ourselves; mine borrowed from a Rumi poem: “May this marriage offer fruit and shade like the date palm.” Brett stumbled over his words and there was polite, supportive laughter. The minister called us “kids,” though I was inching closer to thirty every day and Brett had passed the mark some years ago. Then, finally, it was time for the rings. “I now pronounce you husband and wife,” the minister said. “You may kiss the bride.” I wore no veil; my bare face met Brett’s and as our lips touched softly, I heard the sound of my father yelping. “I’ve been stung!” he shouted, then fell to the ground, grimacing. Pandemonium followed, during which my mother screamed and ran in circles. “Get his EpiPen! Get his EpiPen!” But no one knew where to go or what to do. “It must be in his jacket pocket!” she said. She knelt down in front of my father and began patting him down. “Vincent, where is it? Vince, where? Where!” My father’s eyes rolled back in his head and he began to shake. I knelt down to help while my brother called 911 and my mother continued to search in vain for his EpiPen. His severe allergy to bee stings always had been with us, hovering like a dark and ominous cloud through


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all the hot and tropical places we’d lived over the years. Perfumes and colognes were forbidden in our family; there was his orange bee-sting allergy ID tag around his neck — always. And always the EpiPen. Brett began yelling at the guests now to figure out whose cars were the most accessible. The long curved driveway was clotted with SUVs and Volvos and Jaguars. “The EpiPen’s in his other bag!” my mother shrieked. “Or he forgot it! I don’t know! We have to try to get the sting out!” But she was shaking so hard she couldn’t do it. I tried. My father’s head, turning red, then purple, lay in my mother’s lap. And I did the only thing I knew how— I used my freshly-polished fingernails to gouge out the stinger. I knew the longer it stayed inside his body the more venom would be injected into his bloodstream. I dug; I scratched at his swollen skin while my mother wailed and still cried out for the missing EpiPen. My father’s wheezing slowed down. His breaths became shallow. When his chest began to steady, I didn’t know if this was a good thing or a bad thing. I thought I had gotten out the stinger, but I couldn’t be sure. He was by this point unconscious. “Benadryl!” my mother called out. “Someone at least grab some Benadryl from the upstairs medicine cabinet!” At least twenty people fumbled toward the house at the same time. “Oh God, help us,” my mother cried. Finally, we heard sirens in the distance. Within minutes, a white stretcher was flying across the lawn at breakneck speed. A policeman arrived to gather information and to calm us. My father was still breathing. As they loaded him into the ambulance, the policeman said to me, gesturing at my dress, “Some wedding, huh?” He shook his head, hands on hips. “I’ll get you to the hospital fast. Follow me.” As we rode in back of the cruiser, I remembered my father’s first bee sting. We’d been eating lunch at a French restaurant in Saigon, celebrating my mother’s fortieth birthday in the open-air courtyard with steak salads and a bottle of red wine and a beautiful bouquet of red ginger flowers. The bees had taken to the ginger blossoms with a vengeance and swarmed persistently around our table. My father tried to swat them away, but one stung him angrily in the crook of his arm. We’d raced him, wheezing and pulling on his chest, to a clinic down the street. You must never, the Australian doctor ordered, never, ever leave the house without an EpiPen. ***


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Brett and I divorced six months later. Having lived in Asia all my life, I was utterly helpless against its superstitions: any marriage begun under such inauspicious conditions was doomed to fail. Brett became a lobbyist in Washington D. C. for a pharmaceutical company specializing in antidepressants. We owned nothing together save for a host of frequent-flier miles that we donated to charity to make ourselves feel better. Within days of hearing about the end of my marriage, my mother begged me to come to Bangkok. She needed, she said, someone to hold her hand. Without hesitation, I bought a one-way ticket. Forty-eight jetlagged hours later, she herself did not meet me at baggage claim, but sent the driver, Sarawut. This alone should have tipped me off: she was not yet ready to forgive. The family house in Bangkok was palatial and ornate in a way I never found comfortable. Cool marble floors, thick pillars flanking the entryway, seven enormous bedrooms with seven enormous bathrooms, plus a guest house replete with its own maid. I found my mother in their dark air-conditioned bedroom, knees clutched to her chest, barefoot in pale blue capris. She hugged me silently. Her toenails, polished deep burgundy, shone like wet black rocks. She had kept herself up, I was glad to see, although her eyes held back something I couldn’t name. “How are you?” she asked. Her small hand rubbed circles around my back. The light was bright outside the window, and the monkey pod tree rattled against the glass. I wanted to say: I’m so sorry. Do you hear me? But I said, “Tired. Hungry.” I could have added, “sad,” or ‘devastated,” but I didn’t want to take anything away from her. “Let’s send Pradtana out for some noodles.” My mother stretched and walked away. I followed her down the long open-air hallway. We sat silently in the kitchen, which overlooked a koi pond in the backyard that my father had installed himself. Beyond the pond was a small Buddhist fountain surrounded by bonsai trees and small-box topiary. I halfexpected him to walk in with his tennis racquet and ruffle my hair with his fingers. He was a charmer, prone to whistling, and without him the big house echoed. Soon Pradtana brought a takeaway box steaming with tamarindslicked noodles and emptied them onto a plate for me. I squeezed lime juice over the crushed peanuts. I tore basil leaves and sprinkled bean sprouts on top. My mother slid me a glass of water across the table, all the while looking pensive and helpless. I could tell she was working up to something. “So we’re both, now, single women,” she said. There was a kind of laugh in there somewhere.


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“That’s one way of looking at it.” I wanted, more than anything, an actual drink, preferably bourbon, but I knew my mother needed a stable daughter, one who did not drink hard liquor midday. “And how is Brett doing with all of this?” My mother watched me eat as you’d watch monkeys picking each other’s nits in the entrapment of the zoo. I knew she harbored a theory that somehow I had failed Brett and bankrupted the marriage. Brett came from a family of Midwestern bankers, wholesome and reliable and stout. I’d met him at the big Bangkok post office, of all places, where he was trying to ship a beautiful jade Buddha statue back to his mother in Minneapolis. I approached him with an offer of help; Brett never would approach a strange woman, and told me later he thought I had been a bit “forward.” He had immediately impressed my mother, however. “To think he’d take all that time and care to send his mother a gift,” she’d said, sighing. Now, since our divorce, she seemed more concerned about him than her own daughter. “I bet this is all so hard on him.” “Yes,” I said. “Very hard.” Suddenly I could not eat another bite. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I need to lie down.” She pushed in her chair and stood behind it. I rested my chopsticks against the plate. “I miss Dad,” I said, and my voice betrayed me. I could hardly swallow. “Well,” she said, and wandered down the long hallway, out of sight. *** I stayed on with my mother indefinitely. When my brother asked me in an e-mail if I was now living with her, I wrote, “Not sure.” I never fully unpacked my suitcases, but kept folding fresh laundry and placing piles inside my luggage on the floor. One day deep into my stay my mother asked me to accompany her to an International Women’s Day Luncheon at The Chaophya Park Hotel. Since my father had died, she was occasionally called upon for cameo appearances, though the requests were growing fewer and fewer. I had no reason to decline, other than it was a relentlessly hot and humid morning, and I wanted nothing more than to stay in the shade of the umbrella tree and go for my morning swim in the pool. I missed Brett, but in an oddly chaste manner drawn more from familiarity than passion. I loved the way he rested his hand on my thigh when we went to sleep. I missed him letting me have the front section of The New York Times first. I liked how he made sure to iron his clothes the night before work so he wouldn’t wake me with the squeaky ironing board.


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My mother and I took a tuktuk since it was much faster to get across the city than by car. My mother and I were smashed together, sweating, the scent of her Chanel perfume cloying yet deeply familiar in the heat. At every street corner, enormous gold-framed photos of King Bhumibol showed his pinched angular face and huge out-of-date glasses. The driver bowed as we passed every one. On the way, the driver also tried to con us into stopping at Rama Jewelry, which was a blue sapphire scam we knew well and had tried to help others from falling prey to. Luckily my mother spoke some Thai and was able to scare the driver into following her orders. “Honestly,” she said, and I began to wonder how much longer she would be able to withstand Thailand without my father. At the entrance to the hotel, we ran into a large Thai wedding party. A line of monks in squash-colored robes filed through the doors. The bride and groom wore the traditional pook mue, a sacred cord draped around their heads that connected them. A line of drummers beat a rhythm that was deafening. My mother, lips pursed, stood back to let them pass. “Look,” she said. A man carried in a tiny spirit house — ornate, made of balsam wood, curls of pagoda roofs and steep pointed peaks. When I was younger, I’d thought they were dollhouses for children, but quickly learned they were to provide shelter for benevolent spirits who would otherwise reside in the heavens. “I had one made for you and Brett,” my mother said. “It was small, hand-painted red and yellow and white. Your father wanted to surprise you with it once you settled down.” The wedding party was enormous and we could find no way to politely cross the line. “You can still have it if you want,” my mother said. “You may need it.” I couldn’t read my mother’s tone. A huge white cake was rolled in — real yellow roses as its crown. At last, the wedding party was through. “It’s about time,” my mother said. “Go ahead, honey.” Inside, stepping around scattered petals, we followed the noise of the drums.


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How Far Away We Are Ada Limón So we might understand each other better: I’m leaning on the cracked white window ledge in my nice pink slippers lined with fake pink fur. The air conditioning is sensational. Outside, we’ve put up a cheap picnic table beneath the maple but the sun’s too hot to sit in, so the table glows on alone like bleached-out bones in the heat. Yesterday, so many dead in Norway. Today, a big-voiced singer found dead in her London flat. And this country’s gone standstill and criminal. I want to give you something, or I want to take something from you. But I want to feel the exchange, the warm hand on the shoulder, the song coming out and the ear holding on to it. Maybe we could meet at that table under the tree, just right out there. I’m passing the idea to you in this note: the table, the tree, the pure heat of late July. We could be in that same safe place watching the sugar maple throw down its winged seeds like the tree wants to give us something too — some sweet goodness that’s so hard to take. w


Ada Limón

I Remember the Carrots Ada Limón I haven’t given up on trying to live a good life, a really good one even, sitting in the kitchen in Kentucky, imagining how agreeable I’ll be — the advance of fulfillment, and of desire — all these needs met, then unmet again. When I was a kid, I was excited about carrots, their spidery neon tops in the garden’s plot. And so I ripped them all out. I broke the new roots and carried them, like a prize, to my father who scolded me, rightly, for killing his whole crop. I loved them: My own dead bright things. I’m thirty-five and remember all that I’ve done wrong. Yesterday I was nice, but in truth I resented the contentment of the field. Why must we practice this surrender? What I mean is: there are days I still want to kill the carrots because I can, and there are days I envy the carrots — the easy happiness of being no big deal. w

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Jump rope Claudia Serea Which one of us can jump higher and hide behind the moon’s eye circle? Which one can peel a day down to its last second? Who can eat time zones faster, like orange slices? Which one can knit with quick feet a dance to chase away death? Who can flip, and turn, and burn lower in the earth’s pit, and spring back in spring? Which one of us can lie and jump through rings of fire and survive the net, the noose, the rope?


Claudia Serea

Cin-de-re-lla dressed in yellah by mistake she kissed a snake. How many doctors did it take? Did she make it to the ball? Did she make it through the fall? w

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Longbeak Claudia Serea Longbeak could pluck a cherry of fire from the tree that grows at the center of the earth. He could find a pearl in the ocean and my earring lost in the pitch-black sewer. Longbeak had tall robot legs and a metal crane body. He could build a skyscraper overnight, even an entire city in which no one lived. When his work was done, he let out a shriek, hoping someone would hear it. Longbeak got lonely when the construction workers left. No one loved him. No one talked to him, except the clouds that mumbled in his ear. Longbeak stretched his neck and tapped his long beak on the moon, a closed door in the sky. Knock-knock. No one answered. He went back and built another empty city. w


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BODY POWER Art by Orly Cogan


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Iowa Landscape Peter Covino Leave the blinds open so I can click on the Internet photographs of alluvial rain — as the Biblically swelling plains swallow days four to six without more than three hours sleep. T. reminds me we need these preludes: and there’s probably no second life of the virtual kind (we haven’t made love in months), no hermaphroditic avatar. He scolds the dog, loudly, harshly, as it heads for the pond — a Portuguese Water dog (mine) in the settlement after fourteen years. Take nothing else friends advise otherwise you’re braided to the narrative to the money-mongering lovelessness driving 146 miles across CT each weekend. Iowa. Thousands of miles of biofuel and rising stocks like the tobacco ghosts of my youth — the rutted smoke shacks where they dry soy beans? Consider the effulgence of these salted pills, the thin shell the jaw clenches and how tofu raises estrogen levels, sobbing across Pennsylvania’s thick August green undulating hills and the barely noticeable anything else that first separation. Cleveland, five missed exits behind us… who would ever pay $300 a night


Peter Covino

for a Motel 6 in Sandusky? The aspirin’s starting to kick in and the sudden tenderness of his voice as he cried when I pulled away. Such an unexpected burst of emotion catches our throats after a rare morning of scissored thighs and arms in that impossibly Chagallesque TV movie where, during rain, a rabid dog rides an Iowa brown cow in Florida. w

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Eternal Mercy Hallmark Card Peter Covino He spanned the straight years; last link to the almost wife & then my parents’ three-year silence — Dr. Bjordahl supremely patient — slobbering fool I was barely able to see the euthanasia line, the toll-free numbers for pet-grief counseling — can you believe there’s such a thing? Friday. End of the week lull. A scotch. Then the last sedative for Sweetie. Please don’t put my cat in a plastic bag. (I can’t bear it.) Not the plastic we wrap the Southern plants in, the fig tree plastic…. So I phoned my mother who offered to speak to the doctor although she doesn’t speak English —


Peter Covino

“just leave him in the carrying case!� The Delta pet carrier which I did and Dr. Bjordahl promised to wrap him in a towel to keep him in the icebox, until the cremation man picked him up, sometime the next week. w

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from Invettive e licenze Dario Bellezza Di la’ ti masturbi senza lode per la tua masturbazione. Poi la luna mi sorride sprofondato in un lupanare d’angoscia Non e’ tuo quel bianco corpo diventato brunito per il sole. Non e’ mio. Basta, pieta. Che tutta questa caducita mi riempa fino a soffocare. w


Dario Bellezza

(translated by Peter Covino) From there you masturbate without praise for your masturbation. Afterward the moon beams on me collapsed in a brothel of anguish That’s not your white flesh tanned by the sun. It’s not mine. Enough, pity. If only this transience could permeate me until I suffocate.

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from Proclama sul fascino Dario Bellezza Addio cuori, addio amori foste i benvenuti, gli adorati ascoltati meno per non intrecciare meschine figure, o suicidi. Cosi’ si scriveva una volta: carcasse di ingenuita’ per volare alto, sacrificare al nemico, infinito. Oggi tutto ha perso senso senza tregua minaccia anche voi amori, anche voi cuori. w


Dario Bellezza

(translated by Peter Covino) Goodbye hearts, goodbye loved ones if only you were welcomed, adored heeded less in order not to engage petty figures, or suicides. That’s how we used to write: carcasses of ingenuity to fly high, to sacrifice the enemy, infinity. Today everything’s senseless without a truce it threatens even you, loved ones, your hearts.

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to live with regret Monique Ferrell if you spend enough time in the company of women eventually they will lay down their souls and what they confess is sometimes unexpected thrown in amid their reflections on bad dates god awful sex and remember whens and just when everything feels easy and you are grateful for your girlfriends happy that there is someone aroomfull ofsomeones with which you can commiserate one of them

lays herself low

I’ve been told we are only as sick as our secrets and that there is safety in numbers so then and there it seems right to speak a truth and we know how to crawl down onto the carpets or the tiled floors in a house or an apartment past the empty bottles cups of ice and pizza boxes forming once again the amen choir granting the confessor penance and peace a temporary reprieve from the ancient hurt face down limbs spread like a drunken false christ without a cross a guttural moaning out of what sounds like mercy is really the word murder an admittance that she placed the lit cigarette between those cracked lips body wasting away from AIDS drug addiction her sister’s jet black locks splayed about her head and the hospitalwhite pillow what a beauty she used to be all of the boys whistling as she walked that affected walk developed to make even the heads of little old ladies seated at their windows tisktisk at the sight of it but there was also the blame and beatings she took on her sister’s behalf because mommy would not believe her beloved firstborn daughter guilty of any offense


Monique Ferrell

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no comfort for the good stillliving second daughter a virgin until she married in church every sunday a good catholic girl just what felt like a deep one sided maternal wishing for the daughters to exchange places and who could stand to be so muted in a room filled with chatter and fawning so she gave her that cigarette because she asked for it because she was always sneaking them anyway but also because she wanted to shut her mouth felt a little smug almost self-satisfied for a fraction of a second that the mighty had been brought so low but she crossed herself like a good catholic girl wishing away the basic human instinct to survive be cherished and instead walked away leaving her alone in the house forgetting that oxygen flames and sleep are enemies as are often mothers daughters sisters and memory and it didn’t matter that the doctors gave her sister merely weeks more to live or that the authorities found no malice in the action when you are a good daughter what matters

is what you think you owe

whether or not you can enter the gates of heaven unblemished worried that your mother will get there first and bear false witness and that even in heaven they will still

have each other and like the good daughter

you will stand off to the side and there even before the face of god

w

still expect

nothing


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black water: for lashaundra armstrong Monique Ferrell I’m tired is a very strong statement even worse when seconded by I’ve had enough but to be followed up by I’ve made a mistake all within a twenty four hour period a good and mighty splitsecond well over the cliff of your life when you will never make a bad decision again and it’s too late to adjust the worst one ever it is much too much for anyone to bear and tomorrow I will wake up dead and fuck me for trying no one not no one ever tells you that it is going to be like this that every child does not come into this world hoping free and full of promise I have been a lifetime of damage bone deep to the molecules and have taken these children with me and how and why do they get born with a wide universe knowing I will do such a thing there is no god there just can’t be why wouldn’t he rewind this blaspheming nightmare couldn’t this seeping wet making its way through sole of shoe and stocking-ed winter feet pant-leg crotch and the wretched frigidness of our sealed tomb be instead a wet dream find me maybe in my bed finger clenching the sheets re-living the night I conceived these children I’d settle for a night terror that I am imagining this vile trauma and have yet to go this far let me awake matted hair t-shirt nighty soggy and clinging to me bed linen strewn about the floor panic crunched down into a deep red ball in my throat and the water is the still dreaming sweat between my toes squishing down in the carpet fibers as I on tip toe exit the bedroom searching and listening clammy fingertips before me on the walls in the darkness edging me along until I find each child in their beds asleep moonlight through the mirror windows and I can hear each breath laced with a vivid dream about tomorrow tomorrowtomorrow another sunrise some ridiculous doll or video game of the month silly song sung by another silly singer flavor of year years upon years of she’s bothering me get out of my room you make me sick graduations first menstrual blood condom and birth control talks scholastic aptitude tests college and weddings sweet joy such a sweet fancy joy


Monique Ferrell

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all this you get from the miracle of lying down and letting someone enter your body and take with them a piece of your spirit a wet kiss thirsty and long all this the bride price of love but not before the countless air and sound barrier piercing cries of mommmmy… unlike anything you’ve ever heard before it is a sternum opening wound to a caring mother finding a skinned knee broken arm hurt feeling or a child who just wants to know that you are close by not far just mommy mommy who is close ever so close by I have done wrong here I know now yanked back from a wish that will never be mommyisn’t safe mommy is too close tragic tomorrow morning’s news and it’s why mommymommy please that has my terrified futile hands clenching at buttons and levers believing what that car salesman said about driving in reverse I have done this thing delivered them to and from water and here on the edge of losing everything and my faith god is a little boy stronger than me one sweeping act of grace left in me hands on his pantlegs praying he knows that I am not holding him back but it is me yesterday’s me urging him forward and do you hear me son mommywaswrong

w


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FOR SHOW Photograph by Eleanor Leonne Bennett


Virgil Suarez

Tubers Virgil Suarez gnarled arms, broken fingers, twisted dreams of hungry infants– my father brought them in yute sacks from the hill regions of Cuba where yucca grew and for which he bartered rabbits, and my mother boiled them, served with mojito criollo, this mix of garlic, olive oil, and sliced onions, my grandmother made glue from their starch with which to permanently seal

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her letters to El Norte, people she knew from the eight years she spent as a child in Manhattan where she saw the bridge go up, so much steel, entwined, crooked like these sacks of tubers my father brought on his back, so broken and twisted. w


Virgil Suarez

Recitative While Listening to the Allman Brothers’ “Midnight Rider” Virgil Suarez When I lived in Tucson for one year, I drove back to Los Angeles every weekend, hauled ass behind eighteen wheelers, night’s foggy-hot breath on my hands and neck, speedometer about to burst, and in the night silver dollars hung from the ink-blackness in front of me as I drove through sand storms, nocturnal creatures ghosting on the path, my dead father thumbing a ride, his Cuban clothes tattered, and he’d tell me as soon as I stopped to pick him up that he arrived in this land with nothing but these clothes, a self-made man, an indigo bunting molting into such blue feather that it made me blind. Nothing’d catch him, or catch up with him, and man was born to ride on, la movida — Except for death, except for that which makes a man drive on through the night, sleep deprived to induce this image of his father as a young man saddled upon a horse, smoking one last

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cigarette before galloping over the hills toward shadow toward innocence toward wife, children, toward bad jobs bad drink bad food bad times toward the idea that home could never be found again. My father and I driving through the night, his life already consumed into myth, mine well on the way, the moon chasing after us begging for details, for that which burns in us. w


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UNTITLED Photograph by Phillippe Diederich


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Interplanetary Celebrity Haiku Ed Luhrs The ship came down from space. Oprah Winfrey greeted the lone alien. w


Kathleen Collins

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There’s No Such Thing as Crack Pie Babies Kathleen Collins I love my New Yorker. Its presence regularly confirms my comfortable and cozy status as a member of the cultural intelligentsia. Never mind that I barely have time to complete my cartoon reading, much less begin an article, before the next issue comes hurtling toward me. Around this past Thanksgiving, though, I enjoyed unhurried communing with the Food Issue. So much time, in fact, that I even leisurely perused the lovely, transporting advertisements, like the two-page spread for cookbook publisher Clarkson Potter featuring Ina Garten, Bobby Flay and Martha Stewart amid elegant tableaux of wine, cheese, roasted poultry, a flower arrangement, and a four-layer Red Velvet cake. Included in this spread, however, was something that initially struck me as more Onion-y than New Yorker-y. “Want to serve up satisfying comfort?” read the teaser. The text offered a suggestion to “follow [Ina Garten’s stilton and walnut crackers] with celebrated dessert chef Christina Tosi’s appropriately named crack pie, a staple of the New York sensation Momofuku Milk Bar so addictive your guests will never get enough.” The rest might well have said, “Offer your posh guests a new stimulant for dessert! They’ll love it so much they’re sure to come knocking at your door at all hours in various states of dress, coherence and paranoia begging for just one more bite!” I assume you know from crack pie – if not on a carnal level, then on a water-cooler conversation level. If, however, you don’t live in one of the hard hit urban areas or have just emerged from a cocoon, crack pie is the invention of Christina Tosi who made it for a staff meal at WD-50. As it happens, both crack concoctions (cocaine and pie) began fortuitously, not unlike the creation myths of the Toll House cookie or the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Real crack came about when it was discovered that everyday baking soda could be used in place of ether to process cocaine, and crack pie was born when Tosi wanted to make chess pie but didn’t have the right ingredients. The concept of pie, bursting with American-ness and inclusiveness, is nothing if not honest and simple – and, paradoxically, crack pie really


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couldn’t be more so. Tosi’s recipe, now codified, calls for an oatmeal cookie crust and a filling of sugar, butter, cream and egg yolks. These are basic pantry staples, not a speck of anything that you couldn’t get at a deluxe 7-11. The first time I heard “crack” used as a simile/metaphor factor, it was also pie-related, and I was undoubtedly pretty late to the party. It was 2004, and a friend was describing the pizza at a new thin-crust joint whose crust, she said, was “crack.” I was sure she meant to say “crackly” or “crackerlike,” but it seemed pedantic and a waste of breath to nitpick about her verbal laziness. It took about two more years of intermittent contact with the verbal stylings of voguish New Yorkers before it dawned on me what she meant: the crust was awesome and she would very much like more of it. (The use of crack in the food world has since mushroomed further still.) Lulled though I was in my cultural cozy comfort zone, the reference to crack in this quiet, even-toned, high-cult New Yorker context nevertheless got me thinking about its unsettling oddness and simultaneous unsurprising juxtaposition. On the one hand, one could take umbrage at Clarkson Potter’s nonchalant reference to a devastating societal crisis, one that predominantly affects a demographic that presumably does not intersect with its or the New Yorker’s readership. On the back of the same hand, it seems of a piece with the worshipful relationship Clarkson Potter’s and the New Yorker’s readership has developed with food over approximately the last decade. The first New Yorker food issue appeared in 2002, and it has been far and away my favorite issue every year since. I even consider reading the articles before the cartoons. Each food issue is fit to bursting with cross-disciplinary takes on food and its central place in our modern lives. It feeds right into the middle and upper class fixation with what, how and where we eat. But we, the food-as-lifestyle set, seem to have co-opted “crack.” Our enjoyment of and enslavement to crack pie is a tormenting vice that provides us with empathy for the underclasses ravaged by crack addiction. Its satanic encroachment upon our psyches has earned us the right to say to our co-crack brothers and sisters, “We know irresistible craving, too. We all have our vices. And we’re no strangers to addiction. Look at the ruinous CrackBerry scourge.” An addict of true crack is unlikely, however, to think anything other than crack is “like crack.” Would a crack cocaine addict think crack pie was like crack? My guess is that it wouldn’t come close. So in that sense, the pie’s name is a tad pompous. It’s not really all that. Also, though it might be a favorite among pregnant Manhattan- and Brooklynites, their babies won’t be born addicted to it.


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I am only using the New Yorker and certain boroughs as glib shorthand for class distinction to make a point. As a long-time subscriber and admirer of the New Yorker, I do not begrudge its often rarefied food coverage. Nor do I fault Clarkson Potter’s sassy touting of its author’s famous pie (Momofuku Milk Bar, published October 2011). C’est l’advertising. It’s a simple formula at work: on one side of the equation is Things That Cause Suffering for Lots of Poor People and on the other Things That Rich People Enjoy with Gusto. For example, a slogan for a camping vacation might read: “Go homeless for a few days!” or, “Enjoy almost entirely empty pockets – use your platinum card!” or (this one may be taken already) “Eat nothing for two mealtimes each day – starve yourself to a rail-thin silhouette with Nutri-Something!” To further illustrate the divide I am herein trying to articulate, note that you wouldn’t see an ad in the New Yorker that reads, “Your guests will be looking for the nearest 12-step meeting after over-imbibing on these chocolate truffles!” Least of all would I blame the postmodern dessert artiste Tosi for creating and naming crack pie (or the possible grateful co-worker who first christened it after taking one fateful bite). How was she to foresee a hurried, whimsical snack going public and taking off as it did, especially given all the other treats that she devises expressly to appeal to the “hungry” hipster masses? The name is grabby and addictive in its own right, and virtually everyone likes to say the word “crack.” It provides a satisfying, expressive release, like any one-syllable word ending in – ck. And the drug association gives it an edgy, dangerous, inner-city quality that makes ordering and eating it all the sexier. After hearing about crack pie via drooling friends and various food lit and podcasts that cross my path, I finally tried it myself and…well, how can any non-vegan possibly turn away from those comingled ingredients? Sure I wanted more. But the $5.25 cost of a slice (which is roughly equivalent, I’m told, to a small nugget of crack) is a little more than I want to pay for seconds. I’ve never tried crack, but I imagine it’s slightly easier to politely say “no thanks” after one slice of pie than after a piece of the rock. There’s plenty of scholarship on the class and food argument (just Google Scholar “culinary capital” to get started). A common theme in the literature is this: Food is not the great democratizer. In the preface to Foodies: Democracy and Distinction in the Gourmet Foodscape (New York: Routledge, 2009) authors Josee Johnston and Shyon Baumann write that one of the stories about food “…asks foodies to look in the mirror and think about their relative social and economic privilege.” So, if you have a mirror app on your iPad, you can pause and do that now.


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Foodist culture is divided by class to such an extent that we can make a reference to crack within that insular world and not worry about offending anyone because they wouldn’t be there to hear it anyway. So it’s not that absurd and Onion-y after all for such a lighthearted allusion to street drug addiction to appear in the pages of the venerable New Yorker. It is simply one of many indicators of the current social value of food. It makes perfect sense that in a perceived (though unacknowledged) gated cultural community, it is a generally cozy, comfy, safe place where one can walk safely and express oneself freely in our own vernacular at any hour of the day. Maybe the ad is very forthright in this way. Not an ill-considered oversight but an inside poke, a way to make us New Yorker(er)s feel even more clubby than we already do.


Tim Suermondt

One Last Time Tim Suermondt My father loves The Blue Angel more than Marlene Dietrich — and how he loves Marlene Dietrich. We sit in old family chairs and I watch him as much as the film, keeping an eye on his advanced age. He doesn’t snooze once, concentrates throughout like the Intelligence Officer he was, and at the film’s end says: “That’s why I like The Blue Angel. It’s like life — it doesn’t end well.” And he smiles, something he so seldom does I can’t remember when he did it before. I walk him to bed, tuck the blanket around him. It defies logic, but his face seems to be getting younger — could a world long gone be coming alive one last time, for an instant? I turn off the light, leave the door shut halfway. The winter night’s still young. What do I do now? w

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Saturday Night on 13th Street, Thank You Tim Suermondt I almost blurted out “I’m in heaven” as I gazed at my pepperoni pie on the table, its sauce bubbling with ardor and perfection. The ballgame started on the TV above me, my team opening a big lead in the first inning alone and my love was on her way, wearing a red dress she said I’d really love on her. I could have floated around the bar restaurant and not felt the least bit foolish, the weight of the world on me lighter than a pizza slice. w


Jessica Barksdale

At the Zebra Crossing Jessica Barksdale Zebra is a Persian word, or so the driver tells us as we hurtle through a bright spring London night in his C class Mercedes. In Afghanistan, he tells us, zebras carefully pick their way up the craggy mountains, carrying the Mujhahadeen and their grenades. At night, he says, the zebras and the men wait for daybreak to make their attack. The sun rises, the men trot down the steppes on the backs of their stumpy, striped steeds, and kill everyone.

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The traffic lights turn red and then yellow and then green. It’s London, after all. Cars drive on the left hand side, the lights flash in the wrong order, zebras are from Persia and carry invaders into the dreams of sleeping villagers. Not even later, when I look up the word can I stop believing in his story, so incorrect, but so true, in the end. Everything bad is disguised by something. w


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The Mad Girl Hums “I Got Along Without You Before I Met You” Lyn Lifshin down Union Street in warm mist, knows when you write some thing it often becomes true later. Cocoa eyes stare back in the mirror, for once, not the color of red lilacs that still haven’t bloomed. She thinks how when she scrawled “more” it looked like “none,” of those blue sheet May nights, remote as fishing villages past Stockholm, how if you stare at the sun too long it can take days of darkness to see again. And even then, there are ghosts w


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The Moscow Muse Natasha Lvovich “I drew off my shift and straddled him (which he did not seem easy with, in a woman). ‘This is the manner of the Muse when she visits her poets,’ I whispered, and felt some of the listlessness go out of my limbs. ‘…It is always a hard ride when the Muse pays her visits…She must do whatever lies in her power to father her offspring.’ ” — J.M. Coetzee, Foe Immigrants and exiles, who are geographically and culturally uprooted, who express and represent themselves in a language not their own, are often suspended in the middle of their stories— some in an elegant pirouette and some in an awkward contortion or split, lacking elegance and balance. In the duress of their position, in the attempt to maintain some form of homeostasis, they first bend in one direction only, learning, building, and acquiring new loyalties and self-images. But then, the past slips from their internal picture; the previous generation dies out; their children don’t talk to them in their native language; memories threaten to fade and to vanish; and the secure intimacy of home disappears with the language it was expressed in. We can’t resuscitate the dead, but we can bring to life the forgotten, the pre-existing. The psyche gives a second life to unfulfilled desires and unattainable dreams, inflates them, redecorates them, and places them in the center of a new narrative, in which rupture is patched by a newly translated scenario, piecing it to the present. Then we can work through, articulate, and own our losses; we can finally see ourselves whole. Over and over again, for several years, I dreamed of a young man from my youth, unrequited and unattainable, shape-shifting into other men, languages, poems, and books —The Love of my Life…Why now? *** The bakery (bulochnaya) across the street from my school is a fancy pastry café now, but I can still taste a ten kopek flat rye lepyoshka that I always preferred to those popular bulochki s izyumom (sweet rolls with raisins), equally ten kopeks worth, that other girls usually got during lunch break. I hear us laughing and yelling, crossing the street on those exhilarating


Natasha Lvovich

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spring days, when we’d sniff the air filled with the smell of melting snow, of fresh bread, and of childhood, when life is ahead of you, endless and bright. School Number Ten Specializing in French was the official sign on a school building with a pompous porch, marble steps, and plump pillars. On an impulse, I am ready to walk in and greet an omnipresent ageless Tyotia Anya, school custodian (in English), simply called nyanechka in Russian (homey, cozy, endeared), who was always hanging around in the large marble-floored lobby, mumbling and helping us look for lost tennis shoes, keds, or tapochki (home shoes or slippers) during the mandatory shoe change, our home-made fabric bags hanging on hooks in a huge wardrobe. Mine is labeled by grandmother Yulia’s hand, embroidered, light blue on black: Natasha Lvovich, 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B and so on until 10 (one school, one building, one class from the first to the tenth grade), every year marked by a sewn revision of passing time. Girls looked like nuns (brown dresses, black aprons); boys looked like mice (grey suits). The principal, slim and short Ludmila Nikolayevna, whom everybody called Direktrissa, strolled the hallways in her fancy Yves Saint Laurent suits, never smiling and always clenching her keys, menacingly jingling at every one of her Tourette’s-like head and shoulder movements — impeccable French, incarnated power .I had never been to her office; had anybody ever left it alive? Thanks to her contacts in higher places, a group of French boys and girls from Grenoble visited the school on an “exchange program,” which made the word “exchange” quite puzzling, since none of us ever went in the opposite direction across the iron curtain. The school floors were cleaned with a tooth brush, and for an entire month classes looked like socialist realism movies, with model well-behaved Soviet kids reciting their lessons, girls wearing white aprons instead of black (maids versus nuns), and red pioneer ties ironed every day. Potyomkin Villages. Because of my progress in French and in spite of my Jewishness, I was entrusted with one of these bewildered visitors, a real French boy, to be invited for dinner with my family. He gave me an Eiffel Tower key chain and I hoped he would marry me, but he disappeared beyond the iron curtain, behind the iron lace gates of the Winter Palace, behind the Berlin Wall—forever. The school was famous for its French Theater, the winner of school drama festivals in Moscow, with shows aired on TV as reward. We staged Anatole France’s Abeille and I was chosen to play the evil tyrant, la Reine des Ondines (the Queen of Mermaids). I wore a dress made of dyed aqua-


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marine gauze sewn by someone’s mother and a water lily crown. I made my captive, Georges, kneel and shake with fear when I uttered my solemn French lines (…”Je suis la Reine des Ondines, et dans mon royaume…”) and performed my mother’s dramatic arm flaps, promising him love and heaven, while around me girls in gauze dresses, representing my mermaid subjects, swirled in imaginary French waters. When I appeared on the stage in my mermaids’ kingdom, it was illuminated by blue and green spotlights in the dark, and although at that moment I regularly stepped on my own dress, and was horrified by the sound of ripping, I was empowered by the beautiful fairy tale with clearcut good and evil, by the audience staring at me with admiration, and by French words and sounds that stood for theater, reincarnation, and beauty. That theater was our common cause, and we enthusiastically rehearsed, designed and painted scenery, and fell in love with each other in the process. It was a happy and authentic experience — as authentic as theater could be, as authentic as life in the Soviet Union could be. I am standing there in the middle of a Moscow street almost forty years later staring at a big rusty lock hanging on the school’s iron gates, and I realize it is summer, and there is no one there. Madame la Directrice must be long dead, and Tyotia Anya —Tyotia Anya, could she really be ageless? *** For our date, the Love-of-My-Life picks me up in his car, and we are speeding through streets and avenues, which used to be wide and empty, like Astrakhan steppes, and are filled with heavy flow now. When traffic gets too dense, he veers, with the same crazy speed, into smaller streets, and when those are jammed, he cuts off right over sidewalks, maneuvering around cars crookedly parked right on them, as if left there in catastrophic emergency. If there are traffic rules here, they are never enforced, neither are most laws, as the only existing regulation is corruption. Hungry cops just stop cars whenever they please, and one has to say the magic words, “Let’s think of a deal here.” Then a bargain ensues. And yet sometimes laws are selectively enforced — hence the infamous Khodorkovsky’s case, an unlucky Jewish entrepreneur, whose wealth at the brink of becoming a political force was perceived a major threat to centralized power. He was, at the time of my return to Moscow, awaiting trial for evading taxes, a “show trial” and Siberia, his life going down the drain.


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When I ask my companion, a well-known journalist, about it, he mumbles in response something about the rich guy being full of himself and not being careful…That’s it?! He can’t be serious! I am trying hard to translate into Russian my optimistic American discourse, with its translucent notes of fairness and hope for the new post-Soviet legal system, and he stares at me in disbelief: “Oh God! Now I get it…You really live THERE!” HERE, in Moscow, in this torrential Niagara Falls of unregulated life and of automobile madness, one easily develops a car and a street phobia, and I begin to understand President Putin’s popularity. Someone here called him a savior, a protector against anarchy and the overflowing capitalism that threatens to run you over. At a street crossing or as a passenger in a car, I become a forlorn child, who can hardly refrain from screaming “Maaaaa!” I squint with every lurch forward and nervously squeeze my seat, jerking my feet in ridiculous braking movements. My American experience tells me that the only way to overcome fears is to be on top of them, at the controls–but alas! – no matter how much I brake with my feet, the car doesn’t slow down. Like most women in Russia, in my previous life I had to ride in the passenger’s seat. If only we could switch seats now, me at the wheel, him next to me. Or even better: we’d be in my car and on my turf, in New York. Then I could be in control, my new self, the independent professional woman I have become in America, not a trace of the vulnerable dependent Jewish girl I used to be, the mushy Natacha-la-romantique. Hey! I want to yell, I am a driver now, not a passenger. When I talk about my “American making,” I read contained disapproval in his eyes. He would like a woman to be just a woman — don’t we all know what he means?— perhaps with an accomplished professional life and a degree of entertaining intelligence, but only within reasonable limits (that he is the one to define). Those American feminists, career women, control freaks, who dare support themselves (and their children) solo, without men’s help, and with that, can afford the life of the mind and les hauts idéaux. Defensively, he terms women’s autonomy and self-sufficiency as repulsive “belligerent feminism” and accompanies that with a crooked smile. Or have I just filled that smile with those intuited words?


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My American friends imagine that gender equality practiced during Soviet times has taken deep roots in Russian conscience and has transformed family dynamics. And it is true that Soviet women are equal to men — to work, to have careers and education, and, in some rare cases, to become commissars, public figures (Yekaterina Furtzeva), and even astronauts (Valentina Tereshkova). At the other end of the equality spectrum, Soviet women, war and terror widows, have taken over traditionally male jobs of hard physical labor. They drive tramways, work heavy machinery, build roads, and clean streets. They embraced both genders’ roles in public life throughout the prolonged and frequent physical absence of men, which led to subsequent psychological absence, alcoholism, depression, and loss of economic and social advancement. During hungry Brezhnev years, women roamed the city searching for food, stood in long lines during their lunch breaks, before and after work, and then inexhaustibly cooked dinner, checked homework, and managed all aspects of family life. In her essay, Women’s Lives, Tatyana Tolstaya,1 a prominent contemporary Russian writer, speaks of modern Russian women’s matriarchy and controlling nature as a response to the harsh Russian history of continuous blood-shed, of czars’ and Stalin’s tyrannies, of devastating barbaric wars, of famine, of distorted Soviet social realities, and of lingering servitude. She translates a popular Soviet proverb: “Women can do everything, and men do all the rest” and she grants them, besides their heroic powers, “sensitivity, reverie, imagination…patience that permits survival in what would seem to be unbearable circumstances….” During the post-war Soviet years, unable to support their families on their (equally) miserable salary, bringing their wives to co-exist and to raise children with their parents in tiny apartments, and falling into an all too familiar pattern of alcoholism, Russian men had to splinter between their traditional patriarchal significance and the humiliating Soviet “equality,” which resulted in what might be called Soviet gender role syndrome. In this ironic cultural twist, women became de facto heads of the household while still pretending to follow traditional cultural scripts in preservation of social appearances. Akin to Soviet shadow economy—the dual existence of

1 Tatyana Tolstaya, Women’s Lives in Pushkin’s Children: Writings on Russia and Russians,

Trans. J. Gambrell. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003)3-6.


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the official and the black markets — the dual family structure of “shadow matriarchy” and patriarchal dynamics, patched together by the Soviet ideology of equality, became the cultural norm. Cultural pressure still prescribed matrimony, with women in positions as servants and housekeepers and men as the heads of the households. During Soviet times, the players’ functions, the signified, radically changed, while signifiers, cultural codes of family dynamics, stayed the same. Men sat at the wheel and women rode in passengers’ seats, though the women may have built the road. The “at the wheel” position was not only tolerated but encouraged by political and social forces — and by women themselves, who simultaneously degraded and adored their men, allowing them to play with favorite toys (cars, soccer games, and even the bottle), as long as they were physically present. The Russian language, as usual, stubbornly perpetuated anachronistic cultural meanings, proclaiming the defeated and often dominated men sil’niy pol (stronger gender) and their “commissar” wives slabaya polovina (the weaker half) in a hypocritical lingua-cultural twist. In the process of acculturation to an American “culture of glamour,”2 Russian immigrant women of my generation, who had perfected their survival and managerial skills, do better overall than men on the final exam of immigration: they undergo a blitz Americanization and usually learn language and socio-cultural skills faster, gaining financial freedom and the desired social and professional status. Yet, studies3 show that many of them have no concept of marriage as partnership and continue to display in the Promised Land the familiar Soviet model of gender role syndrome and shadow matriarchy. *** Moscow streets are spinning in the car window, and I furtively glance at my super-hero, who, like most Russian men, is sublimating his masculinity, lost in other battles. Trying to sneak a quick look at my own reflection, I am catching his self-confident smile in the car mirror. Does he see me as a pathetic divorcée, deprived of the statutory husband (and even of a husband’s name), as a mat’-odinochka, a pejorative double-entendre, which defines single mother as one, single, and solitary? Or, is it my own selfloathing, reflected in his mirror, filtered through mother tongue? I can 2 Vera Kishinevsky, Russian Immigrants in the United States: Adapting to American Culture

(New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC, 2004) 3 Ibid


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either succumb to this cultural attitude or explain myself in lengthy American scenarios…. I immigrated, I struggled, I earned a doctorate, I ascended an academic career ladder, I published a book, I made excellent friends, I got tenure, I divorced, I own a nice home in Brooklyn, I raise children by myself, I am nobody’s shadow and I am not eager to have anybody shadow me. But the Russian language fails my modern American woman’s telling, in which single woman and single mother are neutral words, without any underlying attitude marker, at least this is the way I have lately experienced them. I have earned nothing but respect in America for the work I do both at home and outside of it. So who is defensive here? If only I could use English to prove and to defend myself! But my hero is complimenting me on my “well preserved” Russian and on my “balanced multilingualism,” and to please him, I monitor myself to prevent any code-switches. At times, I stumble at the distorted image that I am projecting, imprisoned in my ancestors’ discourse, and I wish for silence, for telepathic communication, or for the book I wrote in America to miraculously re-appear from the back seat of his car, where he had thrown it with a quick “thank you.” It is probably still there, under the piles of his broadcasting scripts and interviews, my well-balanced, solid, optimistic, printed in non-Cyrillic Multilingual Self, a more likeable script than the one I was projecting onto him, and seeing in his car mirror: this Russian woman I don’t want to be, let alone a Jewish one. Yes, that too. Even thirty years later, I forget to mention this other important piece of my liberation, the taboo, supposedly non-existent in Russia “Jewish question”— which in fact doesn’t exist in my New York American life. I “forget” to tell him— and my forgetfulness is significant, like the absence of a plural indefinite article in English: zero is a semiotic unit. With him, I continue to pretend it is not there; with him, I crave to be like him; with him I am more Russian than Russians. As a youngster, I fell in love with young men who I knew would never love me back. They were earthly shadows of romantic heroes from Russian and French novels, an unfathomable mix of Little Prince and Prince Myshkin, of Eugene Onegin and of Count de Monte Cristo, these goldenhaired popular “jeunes premiers,” Slavic Don Juans of the 70s, young men who played the guitar and (preferably) wrote poetry. I molded them into images, ideas, and reflections of all that I could not be in the Lacanian “hall of mirrors.” What Lacan called “the imaginary,”4 les chateaux en Espagne of my own Soviet design, blissfully separated me from aching Soviet and fam-


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ily disjunctures, from lies, from ugliness, from the ordinary, from the petty, and from the unwanted Jewish. What exactly made me Jewish, if being Jewish means to observe or at least to be inspired by Judaism? Once or twice a year my family held secret celebrations of major Jewish holidays, usually on Soviet revolutionary ones, in my grandparents’ house, which mainly consisted of eating Jewish dishes prepared by babushka and listening to grandfather’s shtetl childhood stories. Honestly, I did not particularly like gefilte fish or matzo balls. I really preferred good Georgian shishkebab, Ukranian bortsch or cherry vareniki. And, as a child and an adolescent, until I gained some means of individuation, I resented my family for passing on to me the fate of innate marginality, of being outcasts, and victims, constantly fighting (and not winning) the battle for acceptance by the mainstream, to which I felt I should have belonged rightfully and legitimately. I have never been physically beaten for my Jewishness, like some other kids, but I have been repeatedly called zhidovka (kike) in school or on the playground, the curse which took more subtle and more serious forms later, when I grew up. At home I was told horrific stories about pogroms and anti-Semites and I had to absorb constant sermons about studying harder and behaving better not to give “them” a chance to crush me. As a Jew, I was told, I would always get a lower grade from an anti-Semitic teacher (and I did); I would never get a job I deserved (and I didn’t); and I would never know who my friend really was (if this person was not Jewish). At an entrance college exam in Russian History (all exams, except for Russian composition, are orals), I left the examining committee bewildered when, in response to the rolling lava of their questions on a particular period of The Great Patriotic War (World War II), I recalled not only the year and the historical context of events and battles, but the month, date, and hour! I was told later that despite the “Jewish quota” and the examiners’ “normal” anti-Semitic feelings, they just could not find an excuse to fail me. In the 70s and 80s, the only synagogue in Moscow (where they say the rabbi was a KGB agent) was a place of protest rather than of religious

4 Jacques Lacan, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan: Book 1: Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-1954

Ed. J. A. Miller. Trans. J. Forrester (New York: Norton, 1988)


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observations, and during the decade of my family’s refusenik 5 life we went there on Simkhat Torah to schmooze with others like us, at the risk of being arrested. Fighting for their exit visas or patiently waiting for better times, many refuseniks studied Hebrew in clandestine classes, organized seminars on Judaism, and performed Purim spiels at each other’s homes. The refusenik movement, a form of protest, not religious by nature, in a sense “de-assimilated” Russian Jews, but did not make them more Jewish. Its religious and cultural significance was a marker of a political moment in the long history of Jewish wandering, persecution, and assimilation. When emigration from the USSR became possible, many Russian Jews abandoned their interest in Jewish life when they were no longer being persecuted. In his autobiographical novel, Fateless, Imre Kertész,6 a Holocaust survivor, poignantly captures precisely this concept of “non-Jewish Jewishness.” If there is a logical explanation for the genocide, his character, an innocent assimilated Hungarian Jewish boy, the survivor of several most horrible Nazi death camps, does not quite understand his morbid Jewish fate: he is fateless because he is “Jewish-less.” For Kertész, who survived not only the Holocaust but the Soviet occupation of Hungary, European anti-Semitism, including the Holocaust, and the politics of selective exclusion and selective inclusion have become the definition of Jewishness. Home is elusive for a Wandering Jew, even the one who seems to be quite settled: in Europe he/she will always remain “svoy sredi chuzhikh, chuzhoy sredi svoikh,” at home among strangers, a stranger among his own. If the sense of connection to something larger than ordinary life can be described in religious terms—recently posited by neuroscientists as “God” in higher brain functions—the Russian Orthodox Church, versus the synagogue, always made me feel “closer to God,” to the soul, to beauty, to cosmos, and to all the things that I couldn’t express but longed for. For hours, I stood with my friends in a crowded incense-fumed golden church on Holy Friday, staring at the icons of flat Byzantine martyrs and Madonnas, whose suffering I internalized via textual and living Karamazovs, Rakhmetovs, Margaritas, and Larissas, then marched in a dense anxious 5 Refusenik is a status of persona-non-grata applied to Soviet Jews who were refused the

exit visa/immigration to Israel. This status signified complete social, professional, and economic ostracism. 6 Imre Kertézc, Fateless. Trans. C.C. Wilson & K.M. Wilson (Illinois: Northwestern

University Press, 1992)


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crowd of the forbidden Easter Procession and half-jokingly received triple kissing (khristosovanniye) on Easter morning. Was it my full socialization into Russian culture or the prohibition of religion in general, the sense of imminent danger and of togetherness on the barricades that made Christianity so cool and so desired? Or was it the sublime, dense, and awe-inspiring Russian language and literature that filled me, from an early age, with visceral Russianness, “velikiy i moguchiy” (“the great and the powerful”)7 , the “…untrammeled, rich, and infinitely docile Russian tongue” in which I thought, felt, and expressed myself, constructed the world and even my own oppression, both with Jewishness and Jewishlessness. Sholom Aleichem in Russian translation was the only Jewish text (not easily found in Soviet Russia) I read, and my grandparents’ limited Yiddish repertoire (nakhes, schlimazel, zai gizunt) the only Jewish I heard. I hadn’t been “wired,” neuro-linguistically and lingua-culturally, as a Jew; I was “fateless”— language-less, text-less, and wordless. Like Kertész, I was defined by persecution, formed and framed by nothing else than a sense of amorphous differentness. And, therefore, perhaps it is not ironic that in the U.S. we are referred to as “Russians.” Isn’t this, frankly, what we had been all along? *** He takes me to a fancy white tablecloth restaurant called Traktir, a matryoshka in a Versace dress. Classical Russian literature describes traktirs as popular eateries for “simple people” (prostoy narod) serving cheap Russian food like traditional pirozhki (knishes), kasha, and schi (beef cabbage soup), but this one is a parody in a new Russian style: fashionably expensive and even ceremonious, with a maitre d’ and three waiters in long aprons waltzing around our table. A lavish marble-tiled ladies’ room with gilded appliances, toilet paper in every stall, and a paper towel dispenser was chicly above and beyond an average public place in Russia. They bring us zakuski: smoked fish, golden baby potatoes, and pickled tomatoes. “Kakuyu vodochku prikazhet’e-s?”9 the waiter asks us with a bow, acting out the traktir theme. And we order some grams of the newest 7 Common expression referring to Russian language originally attributed to Maxim Gorky. 8 Vladimir Nabokov, "On the Book Titled Lolita" in Lolita (New York: Vintage Books,

1997) 316-317. 9 “Which vodka would you like?”


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brand, called “Russkyi Standart” (the “Russian Standard”), the smoothest I have ever tried. The tiny crystal shots are elegant, and the dishes are aesthetically pleasing, but predictably, I have no appetite and I whisper into my backyard consciousness that, out of practice for so many years, I may get easily smashed. I warn myself not to allow the lachrymose stage of inebriation to get hold of me, which will be the end of it, whatever it is. “Do you think it could work out — it could have worked out — between us?” he asks. In Russian the conditional is tense-less, timeless…It is merely a hint, an indication of complicity, a signal of momentum. When we are finished with the food and the table has been wiped clean, he pulls out a big envelope with a potpourri of photos. So this is what is going on —his own “Misteriosa Fiamma della Regina Loana,” 10 his mirages, reflections, and perspectives, his own “desire,” in Lacan’s words, “eternally stretching forth towards the desire of something else.” 11 My handsome Narcissus is contemplating himself, bouncing his looks and his life against my radical changes. Here we are, at somebody’s house, crazily dancing at Moustaki’s “Nous avons toute la vie pour nous amuser, Nous avons toute la mort pour nous reposer!” 12 Here are the spoofs we pulled on stage of Maurice Thorez College of Foreign Languages (now Moscow Linguistic University). Here is our famous hilarious lampoon of the choir of the German Language Department. And here is the lyrical part, singing Georges Brassens in duet: “Dans l’eau de la claire fontaine elle se baignait toute nue…” 13 Then the pictures turn to a summer in Astrakhan steppes: dirty and tanned, we are picking famous Astrakhan tomatoes, crimson juice all over our faces and our tshirts, fingernails with never fading green manicures. I am sitting next to him on the train, smoking and shooting a hopeful glance in his direction; he is standing on the train platform holding a huge watermelon and competing in height with a telegraph pole. The pictures are in black and white; memory supplies the colors.

10 Umberto Eco, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. Trans. G. Brock (Orlando: Harcourt

Inc., 2004) 11 Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: A Selection. Trans. A. Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977)167. 12 Georges Moustaki’s song, “We have the whole life to have fun, we have the whole death to rest” 13 Georges Brassens’s song, “In the clear waters of a fountain, she was bathing naked…”


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Then he flips pictures of his children, of his official and unofficial wives, of friends, mistresses, and girlfriends. He tells stories of vacations and getaways, of weddings and divorces, of moving in and moving out, of apartments and dachas, broadcasting studios and jobs. Ah! Why can’t he stay in the past, in our common past, forever young and forever enchanting? Why must he step out of the screen, disobediently and incongruously, like a protagonist in Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo? I give him a kiss on the cheek and say a quick goodbye, holding back my tears. That last night in Moscow and then in New York for two years after that, I weep in wordless rage —until the camera rolls back for just enough distance and just enough English language for me to really see. For all the years in America, I had not reminisced and I had not looked back, but I had deeply missed my old friends’ warmth and our close ties. I missed my supportive tiresome enmeshed family. I missed grand Russian literature and art. I missed the Russian language, most of all, my own linguistic creativity, and layers of untranslatable meanings. I missed its wit, its gusto, and its dark humor that disappeared from my life along with people who spoke it. I missed Moscow, my city, every little corner of it. But I did not and I do not miss being who I was, a naïve and romantic Russian Jewish “French” woman, whom I did not particularly like. I cannot correct, rewrite or revise my past, bring back to life my dad and my aunt, restore the sisterhood with my cousin, or save my broken marriage. I cannot return to my childhood and to my family romance — to my family, to my native language, and to Russia itself. I cannot be young again. And I cannot — even if the proposition seemed plausible for a moment — satisfy my perennial desire for a certain young man, who can never, ever, including right now, love me back. “…And somehow, in ways so obscure, so labyrinthine that the mind baulks at exploring them, the need to be loved and the storytelling, that is to say the mess of papers on the table, are connected.”14

14 J.M. Coetzee, Slow Man (New York, Viking, 2005)238.


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1996 John S. Blake

First time I decisively kissed a man, I was twenty-six. Not for coke or heroin, not for warmth or shelter. Our facial hairs made sounds; static, distortion, and gentle crack of fire-hued leaves. It was New Year’s Eve, and my wife was on the other side of the ballroom. I asked him about his resolution, and he said his was to come out. His tongue tasted like an oak desk from the ’70s, like newspaper ink off the front page.


John S. Blake

My heart stuttered, my wedding band, just six hours old, trapped by a knuckle, glimmered in strobe light, danced in the salt of Lott’s wife and all of her open-mindedness. w

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His Big Romance Joanna Clapps Herman Stop dancing with death I insist A fling like this — it’s Tawdry, unbecoming. One creepy kind of love. Resist! Especially now! So silly, so full of risk Stop faffing around God damn foolish, you fool I’m pissed. If Falstaff were brilliant He’d be you. Call it off — Desist! Don’t waste our time. It’s little enough we’ve acquired — a crumbling schist. w


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Spirit Track Annie Lanzillotto Yellow trucks revolt, Digging up layer of tar all over the earth, Peeling tar and cement facemask of Mother Earth. Now only raw dirt is left, combed dirt. We need birds to come with seeds in the winds to scatter all over the earth. Church bells six o’clock. Ambulance lights red flickering. Traffic washing over the bell song in waves. It sounds like Ave Maria. Could this miracle happen daily in my neighborhood and I not know? Not come to 1st and 8th every sunset to hear these bells the traffic washes over? Ah, the red light and with it silence. The song plays in full and is over. It is another moment now. Evening now. And I must continue up the hill. If I am lucky I will have tomorrow to come listen to the bells. Come fai nel vento? How are you doing in the wind? The wind has the rain folding in on itself. The Arctic loses an inch of ice and the sea rises salty around young Venice While you drive through it all. I hope you got an early start. Grandma Rose said life is a dream as her eyes floated into the light and time blurred. She snapped stringabeans into a little aluminum pot. She sewed white underwear with white thread. She patched up my clothes when I was asleep. Socks would be made whole and laid out in the morning She said life is a dream. And I know how I wake up, sometimes startled out of the images in sleep that run like a narrative film, sometimes I eased into wakefulness with growing light or distant sounds, sometimes I’m just lying there, remembering what it was like to wake up as a child, watching my feet grow down the bed under the blankets as years passed. But those memories bring me to the Bronx family that made my lungs seize


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and who wants to go back there to cannelini beans in cans, anchovies, a gallon of olive oil, a desktop Saint Anthony, a box of papers and the green hose hissing outside the church every July 16th, its neck duct taped up to the wall with the cardboard sign: HOLY WATER. Am I awake? Did I sleep? One thing is certain, you were there, in the night and morning light. Il vento e te accanto a me. The wind and you beside me. A string has pulled my heart. It spins like a top. The rest, love, is unsaid. Your nose sliding up my clitoris, bone rubbing, hot, the ceiling blowing off . Walls in beveled waves. And how you open gently crying for more thrust. I will leave the ground soon enough. Know I am loving you and in that love we are free, protected, boundless, eternal, unconditional. Hella! as they say, Come! Summon my soul and she will arrive on time. I am celebrating through the lament. Grateful for your open channel and encouragement to get me on my spirit track. I see you shining a billion lights in your strutting toward the car, toward me. Overcome by our connection, looking into your eyes in all their expressiveness is to plug into the electric socket of the soul and to taste the oceans – surrounded and filled by gold light. There’s a pulmonary nurse on the eighteenth floor I met when I overdosed. I wanna say, Hey, meet me with an eighteen gauge I.V., Start the flow of my carotid gold, remove my sutures, unclamp my belly, let my spleen grow in a trashcan on the corner sterile caps, tegaderms, all glorious blood transfer devices carrying my life sustenance, hemoglobulinic love within cell wall integuments, osmotic love, don’t give a damn in bodies and wandering souls in racecars, airstreams, catheterize me, tourniquet, betadine and shave anesthetize me till my eyes glow with infinite mortal flame, syringe my core of marrow, take it to your bench in the sun with pine needle hair. My marrow wants to travel into the tunnel from my posterior ileac crest up the spinal ladder, out the top of my skull, the hottest skull in the universe and machine gun stars


Annie Lanzillotto

Of my hand on the shoulder of Nonna in front of the peeling plaster wall cracked with years when I am just starting, Of her dress, I rest my hand on Nonnarell’ La Nonn’ Rachelina Lerario, I pull on your dress gently, Your smile wider than my hands, I face forward to the certain future, the curl sprung off to the side of your forehead, Of black silk that peeks out of your dress, of your neck muscles, Of strong arms that hold me in this light even now As I dream of your touch, kiss the things I hear you say. Hold me with one arm. I am light as il centro del pane pieno di aria, the center of bread filled with air, Chiangiulina, Chiangiulina. I know I will leave your strong shores But you, you Nonna, you will, you will never leave mine. Il tuo sorriso sarà sempre sulla mia guancia, Nonna. Ti sento. Ti vedo. Ti tocco. The cracked wall is far behind us now. Wearing your cappello as the sun dips into an orange alleyway in Hoboken, Staten Island is a hill in the distance coming up to Lady Liberty’s knees. Manhattan wears its sun glistened mask on every building. This is the pier we used to make love on, before it was a pier, when it was a slab of broken concrete dipping into the river’s wave, when the edges of the city marked the start of our journeys. Now the mayor made this pier fancy, the gay cruising spot paved with fake wood for the masses to hold hands on. A safety bar to watch the river through And one more Nooyawkah treasured in these streets is aborted by the landlords in this town and knows you don’t know New York till you live in her street When New York is nine million doors and you have not one key.

w

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Brighton Beach Bradley Fox Bonfires burning beach-bright into the night, aglow with youthful shadows slow chanting, rapping, dancing, making their own moonlight as they pass bottles in old summer rites. The silent sea rolls softly through dark sands, following destiny as midnight bands wander the shore, while two will stay behind outlined in starlight, entwined as one finds black rocks a thousand years upon the shore. All swear to love, swear friends and loud lyrics against the stars, they swear to live evermore, confident they see through all life’s old tricks. Like a ruined universe crashed on earth Coney Island shows like stars at their birth. w


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my sister at sea Amanda Bales I thought handful by handful, the way of people in movies, but you dashed that stark, cruel man against the rocks like an Olympian sand dusted from your hands as you adjusted lipstick and hair, and your teeth never stilled, though I ratcheted the heat, and the car still smells of kelp and salt water w


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Bird Feeder Sociopathy James K. Zimmerman like telemarketers on a morning coffee break in Peoria or Bangalore sparrows huddle together and hug the fence looking for someone to talk to who will really listen just listen and then oh great here come the rowdy starlings with their cockney accents and cocky attitudes and it’s blimey this and bloody that strewing beer cans and butts all over the yard and crapping white streaks on the patio chairs and oh even greater the muscle-bound grackles dressed all in black like kids from Columbine pushing through the crowd weighing down the feeder and spewing invective and pumpkin seeds like bullets in their wake and oh how sweet a pair of stoned-out doves wander in like old fart hippies with their peace man and far out mumbling toking up on whatever lands on the ground and up on the roof in their nervous blue uniforms two jays shriek back and forth like crossing guards or chicken little or something and the sparrows and the doves and the starlings hear the sky is falling the sky is falling and only the tough-guy grackles with their bulging Smith & Wesson pockets hear look out here comes the cat w


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The Dream About Death James K. Zimmerman the dog was good tethered the cats were sweet for once the millipedes stayed in the bathtub with the large pink worms we all wore sunglasses and dark tears w


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Better Than Sex Bob Shar They discovered the horse at dawn, belly up in three feet of water. Zelda and Gretchen blame me, their 62-year-old baby brother. “I’m sorry, Joseph,” Gretchen says, dropping charred toast onto my plate, “but I don’t understand. The doors and windows were locked when we went to bed. They’re still locked, and the burglar alarm never went off.” “Had to have been an inside job,” says Zelda, 73 years old and channeling her inner gumshoe. “Mechanical horses don’t bungee microwaves around their necks, stroll out on lanais and drown themselves in swimming pools.” “Maybe not in Boston,” I say. “Maybe not in Indianapolis. We don’t know about Naples.” “They don’t do it in Naples,” says Gretchen, second oldest and hostess for what is beginning to feel like the Fine sibling reunion from hell. “So, Dmitri’s back,” I say. “He’s in Poland,” Gretchen says. “You know that.” Zelda and Gretchen keep glaring at me, tsk-ing tongues and shaking heads. I try ignoring them. They ignore my attempts to ignore. Someone has to be the grownup here, so I rise, snatch my Walkman off the counter, walk to the guestroom and close the door. I can still hear them yammering. “I’m sorry,” says Gretchen, “but he can’t think we don’t know.” “Mom and Dad let him get away with murder,” Zelda says. “You’d think he’d have grown up by now, but, clearly . . .” “Idiots!” I shout, plopping down on the bed, putting my headphones on and fiddling with the Walkman, which, technically, hasn’t worked since


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1983. I close my eyes, sit up, execute some Stevie Wonder moves, belt out snatches of “Superstition” and try conjuring up images from happier days. Scenes from yesterday elbow in on all others. Barely preferable to the here and now. Irrepressible, though. Persistent as Fines on a mission. *** Saturday, 8:45 a.m. Humid, even by Florida standards. Zelda, Gretchen and I stagger out of the house squinting into the sun, determined to represent the family at the memorial service of our gay cousin, Philip. The service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in Boca Raton. We’re in Naples, 108 miles away. Gretchen will drive. She’s been tossing apologies around like confetti since daybreak. She’s apologized for the early hour and cursory breakfast. The imperfection of the omelet. The tartness of the melon. She’s apologizing now for the humidity, the fact that not everyone can ride up front, the inconvenience of Philip’s death, the frailty of man. Zelda and I snicker. “Shotgun,” says Zelda, hobbling toward the front seat. I climb in back behind Gretchen, who apologizes for her inability to position herself further forward, a feat that would necessitate her driving from the other side of the windshield. Merging onto I-75, Gretchen apologizes for not having heard about Philip’s death in a timelier manner. Then she apologizes for not having made it clear over the years to Philip’s long-time partner Austin, that the family would want to know about Philip’s medical emergencies; that, if God forbid, Philip should die on a Thursday, his family would expect to be notified promptly, and by some means other than a call from an acquaintance who stumbled across the obituary in Friday’s Sun-Sentinel. “That’s Austin’s fault, not yours,” Zelda says. “What kind of person doesn’t notify family? I’ll let him know we’re not happy when we get to the funeral.”


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“Memorial service,” I say. “I’ll set him straight about that, too,” says Zelda. Zelda had lobbied long and hard Friday for this excursion, beating the family obligations drum with unnecessary zeal. We’d been sunbathing on the lanai, splashing around in Gretchen’s pool, enduring exposure to familial flab all week. A road trip in funeral attire seemed just the thing. “I must say,” Gretchen says, “you two look stunning today. Stunning! And me?” she chuckles, “I’ve just let myself go.” “Cut the crap,” says Zelda. We all look alike, give or take a decade. We’re all big-bottomed, all wearing black. We all sport the brow of Einstein, the cheeks of Dizzy Gillespie, the chins of Peter Griffin. Gretchen, barreling along at 94 miles per hour, shrugs and swerves around some buzzards congregating over what I think might have been a dead panther. We observe a moment of silence. Then Zelda, retired middle-school vice principal from Boston, sighs and reflects on Philip’s life: “He was truly a large man—literally and figuratively. A flamboyant presence.” Another moment of silence. “Gretchen,” Zelda prods, “what do you remember about Philip?” Gretchen stares straight ahead, as if concentrating on her driving. Zelda turns to me. “What did you think of him?” “Well,” I say, “he was really, really gay.” “Eloquent as always,” she sighs.


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“Eat me,” I mouth, and turn back towards the window. “I’m sorry, Zel,” Gretchen says. “Maybe we could talk about other things now. It’s going to be a long day.” “Gretchen?” Zelda says. “Can you suggest a more appropriate topic? Philip was family!” I shift again, root through my backpack, retrieve the Walkman. Zelda shoots me a look, letting me know she’s as disgusted with me as we both are with Gretchen. Gretchen fell out of favor forty-two years ago for abdicating the Fine name, becoming a Moscovitz and a stay-at-home wife to boot. Her estranged husband Dmitri is a motivational speaker whose once barely detectable accent has returned with a vengeance of late. He is, reportedly, all the rage on the Slavic circuit these days. Large in Lódz. Hardly missed in Naples. It’s been decades since, as Gretchen puts it, she and Dmitri “conjugated.” One conjugation thirty-eight years ago, produced orthodontist extraordinaire Edward Moscovitz of Kennebunk, Maine. Edward and his wife Carol, a 32-year-old telemarketer, produced four children in six years of marriage. Gretchen spends more time in Maine than she does in Florida. She’s convinced, despite indications to the contrary, that Carol is a horrible mother. “Did I tell you about the last time I was in Maine?” Gretchen asks. “Probably,” says Zelda. “Sorry. Did I tell you about the horse?” “The what?” Zelda asks, and off Gretchen goes, explaining how she needed to be in Kennebunk for William’s third birthday, how she bought her own ticket online, and so on. I’ve got my headphones on, but they’re attached to my nonfunctioning Walkman and do nothing to drown out Gretchen’s narration.


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“William’s birthday was coming up,” she says, “and he’d been jabbering about the rocking horse he rides at daycare. Well, I told Carol I’d get him one for his birthday. She said ‘Don’t!’ Wanted me to get him a book instead. Can you believe that? He’s about to turn three! What’s he want with books? What kind of gift is that?” Zelda sighs. I bang my head gently against the backseat window and Gretchen proceeds to tell how she hectored Carol about the horse over the course of her three-week visit. “Two days before the birthday,” Gretchen says, “I asked her for the zillionth time if she’d given it more thought, and she got huffy. ‘If it means that much to you,’ she said, ‘get him a rocking horse.’ But she told me it had to be small because their house is cluttered as is.” “So you went out and bought her a bigger house,” I say, not bothering to remove the headphones. The Caddy veers off road, left tires rumbling over the shoulder. “Sorry,” Gretchen says, regaining control of the wheel. “So,” she continues, “I went to Elite Toys that afternoon to pick out a nice mediumsized horse and found out they all required assembly. It was going to take a week before the assembly guy could get to it. Another two days to have it delivered.” Gretchen slows down out of respect for the highway patrol car on her right. “Shit,” she mutters. “Sorry.” Zelda sighs. “What’d you do, Gretchen?” “You saw Horace in my front hall,” Gretchen says. “Four feet tall? Looks like a big dog if you’re coming up the walkway? He’s one of those Giddyup-N-Go Ponies. Holds up to 150 pounds. You sit on the saddle and he walks. You steer by his ears, he makes clicking noises like he’s galloping, and he goes wherever you steer. Very neat. Elite Toys sold out of them in December, but now, there was Horace, fully assembled, waiting to be taken to a good home.” “Jesus, Gretchen.”


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“What? I should get William books instead? Give me a break, Zelda.” “Can you get me an apple, Joseph?” Zelda asks. I open my eyes, point to my headphones. “An apple,” she repeats, loudly. “From the bag. Beside you.” I give her an apple and an eye roll. “Okay,” Gretchen says, “Tuesday morning, William’s birthday, I snuck out to the garage, took Horace out of his hiding place, tied a big green bow around his neck, schlepped him around to the front door and rang the bell.” It occurs to me Gretchen might never stop talking. She yammers on, describing her four grandchildren standing in the doorway behind their mother, Carol seeing Horace and uttering the F-word. “Those poor kids,” Gretchen says, biting a knuckle, shaking her head. “Well, maybe hearing her swear didn’t scar them for life. Maybe they were too focused on the horse to notice. They were smiling big, breathing fast and jumping up and down,” she says. “Carol just stood in the doorway with her hand over her mouth, so I swung my leg over Horace’s saddle, gave a whoop and rode him in. Those kids were loving it! Running around the living room, each one screaming for a turn.” Gretchen describes Carol wandering off to her bedroom and closing the door. I pass a little gas. Zelda sighs and cracks her window. “The kids each rode Horace around the living room twice,” Gretchen drones on, “and I explained to them that this was William’s present but if he and his siblings couldn’t share nicely, the horse would get sick and have to go away. No problem. They were hugging and loving that horse. Happiest I’ve ever seen them.” The Highway Patrol Car exits I-75. Gretchen floors it and keeps talking. “Then Carol came out of the bedroom fixing me with a look and talking


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to the kids in that saccharine voice of hers.‘Who wants cake, now? Who wants ice cream?’ It was 9 a.m. Too early for sweets.” Zelda shifts in her seat and recloses her window. “So, I told her ‘I’m sorry, Honey, but isn’t it a little early for sugar? Let them enjoy the horse.’ Well, she looks me in the eye and says to the kids, ‘How about some candy with that cake and ice cream? How about some soda?’” I close my eyes and try to sleep. Gretchen keeps talking, describing how Carol grabbed her elbow and told her she’d have to take the horse back. That it was too big, and that no matter what the kids may have promised, they’d be fighting over it by day’s end. The Cadillac veers again onto the shoulder. Gretchen overcompensates, straddles lanes for an instant. I sit up straight, open my eyes in time to see Zelda stomp her foot twice on the floorboard. Gretchen makes the proper adjustment, apologizes, keeps talking. “Well, it felt like I’d been punched in the vagina! I told her I was sorry but I couldn’t take back the gift. I’d be an Indian giver and the kids would never forgive me. I offered to give her the receipt so she could take it back, and she reminded me she was a working mother who didn’t have time to clean up her mother-in-law’s messes.” “What a bitch,” says Zelda. “Well,” Gretchen continues, “I called Edward at his office and told him what was going on. He told me I needed to honor his wife’s wishes.” “What a bastard,” says Zelda. Gretchen slows down approaching a tollbooth. Zelda and I pat our pockets, but Gretchen’s got the money on the dashboard. “It’s nothing,” she says, and stomps on the gas soon as the gate lifts. Gretchen tells us how hard it was informing the kids the horsey couldn’t stay. “The kids were crying into their ice cream bowls,” she says,


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“and it was killing me inside. But I bit my tongue. Didn’t tell them the horse couldn’t stay because their Mommy was a b-i-t-c-h. Excuse my French.” “Excused,” says Zelda. “So, Elite Toys wouldn’t take it back?” “I decided to ship it to myself instead.” “Training for the rodeo?” I ask. “I want the kids to ride Horace whenever they come to Naples,” she explains. Gretchen tells how the kids would ask about the horse when she talked to them on the phone. “One day,” she says, “I decided to make them a picture book narrated by Horace. I snapped photos of Horace in my driveway, standing beside a stack of suitcases; standing on the front porch, nose to the doorbell; at the kitchen table looking at a real homemade cake; Horace with a Miami Heat hat on his head, standing in front of the large-screen TV with a giant Slurpee and a bowl of popcorn on the coffee table beside him. The book ended with Horace looking out the picture window, telling the kids not to be sad and not to worry. That he’s having a grand time with Grandma and Grandpa, that he’s waiting for the children to come visit and that, no matter what, he’ll always be their horsey.” Gretchen reports having Fed-Ex’ed the book to the children, knowing none of them could read worth a poot. “Jesus, Gretchen. You’re supposed to be the nice one,” I say. “What’s that supposed to mean?” asks Zelda. “Means she’s one of us.” “Well,” Gretchen says, “I was just doing what Carol wanted: sending William a book he could share with his siblings. Edward called me and told me it wasn’t nice and that I’d made the kids sad all over again. Well, I’m as sorry as could be about that. But you know what?” Gretchen asks, slowing for the Boca exit. “Mailing that book off, knowing Carol would have to read it? I hate myself for saying this, but that felt” — here she lowers her voice and arcs her eyebrows —“better than sex.”


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We ride the rest of the way in silence. *** There had, apparently, been much hugging, handwringing and networking in the clubhouse of Philip and Austin’s gated community as prelude to the actual memorial service. We stumble in a half-hour late and haven’t missed a thing. There’s no casket in sight. No rabbi. No cantor. There will be no Kaddish, and no tearful trip to the cemetery. The service starts at 10:40 with a slideshow. Photos from various stages of Philip’s life, set to show tunes. Not my cup of tea. A picture of 4-year-old Philip in plaid shorts and blazer, black hair parted Alfalfa-style, draws catcalls. Slides of Philip looking uncomfortable with an equally uncomfortable prom date, Philip not fitting in at what appears to be a frat party, and Philip the stunned college grad, also draw laughs. There are slides of Philip in drag, more of Philip aging alongside Austin. The final two slides consist of words only: “Sleep well, sweet prince” and “Philip K. Fine, 6/12/1945 – 7/14/2011.” Several individuals of questionable gender tell stories about Philip. Some are funny, some poignant, some boring. The final speaker simply stands at the podium, clears his throat, sobs, blows his nose into a bruisepurple hanky, mumbles “sorry,” and hobbles back to his seat. Then balloons fall from nets hung overhead and the Hairy Pitts Review, an a cappella quartet, storms the podium in drag. The group performs an array of risqué songs, presumably Philip’s favorites. I hate them all. There is more laughter than expected. More than Zelda can tolerate. She broaches the subject with Austin during the buffet that would have to pass for the mourners’ meal. “That was quite a program,” she begins. “Entertaining, and inappropriate. Not what the family would have wanted.” Austin apologizes for not having consulted the family, but explains that Philip wanted nothing to do with his relatives and, it had seemed to Austin, the feeling had been mutual.


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Maybe there’d been strife between Philip and some family members,” Zelda says. “It’s possible some relatives disapproved of his lifestyle. But family is family. And Philly was Jewish. He was circumcised, bar-mitzvahed, the works. He deserved a Jewish funeral – not a party on the Sabbath, with balloons and show tunes.” Austin says he and Philip had talked about religion a lot, and that Philip often referenced Richard Jeni’s analogy in describing his own affiliation. A Jew in the sense that a cow, raised in a tree, would be a bird. Zelda plows ahead. “If you’d done any research, if you’d bothered to consult with any of Philip’s relatives, you could have put together a service that would have been less offensive to the family.” One of the Hairy Pitts, a curvaceous, fifty-something blond baritone wearing too much eye shadow, overhears. “Clearly,” he says, squeezing between Austin and Zelda, “there was a reason Philip’s family wasn’t contacted. Sweetheart,” he addresses Zelda, “this really isn’t the right . . .” I admire this Pitts’ chivalry, but Zelda? Not so much. “Sweetheart,” she says, “I’ll tell you what’s not right. Denying a Jewish man a Jewish funeral. Holding this ’memorial’ service on the Sabbath when his relatives can’t attend.” “And yet you came,” the baritone observes. “Get off your high horse, sister. Seriously.” Touché, I think. “Seriously,” Zelda says, “you should stop playing dress up.” “Shit!” says the Hairy Pitt. “You people make me sick.” Something clicks inside me. I step between Zelda and the Pitt, puff out my chest and say, “What do you mean, ‘you people?’” Other guests gravitate toward the confrontation.


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“I’m sorry,” says Gretchen, now standing beside Zelda, “but calling us ‘you people’ is not okay.” “Christ. I’m Jewish too,” says the Pitt, his voice getting louder by the second, “so don’t try playing the anti-Semite card. It’s you holier-than-thou assholes I can’t stand. Doesn’t matter what religion. You keep poking your beliefs into other people’s business. You shit all over other people’s feelings and ride off into the sunset feeling righteous and superior.” Nearly everyone in the clubhouse is paying attention now. I find myself wishing I’d worn something a little flashier. We stick out like Hasids at Hooters, here. We are definitely not Hasidic. We grew up secular Jews identifying grudgingly with the history of our ancestors, breaking our teeth when necessary over the liturgy, and scoffing at most rituals. We’ve never been mistaken for holy rollers. Never pictured ourselves defenders of the faith. Yet, here’s Zelda in full bull-dog mode, letting her need to win one for the family subjugate all else. She plays the Holocaust card. “It’s a slap in the face of six million martyrs,” she rails, “to cremate a Jewish body unnecessarily.” “That’s a crock,” shouts someone in the crowd. “Reform Jews do it all the time.” “Reform Jews don’t count,” I say, though I’ve no more respect for Orthodox or Conservative Jews. I also have no appetite for public confrontation, but I can’t leave the girls to the wolves. I’d never hear the end of it. “You owe Philip’s family an apology,” says Zelda, tapping her middle right finger on Austin’s chest. And here Austin snaps. “Fuck you,” he says to Zelda. “And fuck you, too,” he says, eyeing Gretchen and me. “This is how you console a dead man’s family?” Zelda asks. “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on,” Austin roars. “We don’t have to take this,” Zelda says and leads us out of the clubhouse at last.


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*** “The nerve,” Zelda mutters twice on the trek through the parking lot. “The nerve,” she mutters a third time. Shut up, I’m thinking. Please shut up. All three of us are panting hard and soaked with sweat by the time we climb into the Cadillac. “Turn on the air,” Zelda says. “I’m dying.” Die, I’m thinking, rummaging for my headphones. Please die. Gretchen apologizes for not having left the A/C running during the service and cranks the engine with shaky hands. Nobody says a word while Gretchen navigates out of the development and through the streets of Boca. Zelda breaks the silence at last. “The nerve,” she says again, almost meekly. “The eye-shadow,” responds Gretchen, merging back onto I-75. “I’m sorry, but, Honey? Someone needs to teach those people how to use mascara. And some of those outfits. Honestly.” “Call that a funeral?” says Zelda as the Cadillac picks up speed. “Memorial service,” I say. “Burlesque show,” counters Zelda. Zelda’s feeling better now, and Gretchen must be thrilled at the realization that any regrets incurred in Boca will be hers to relish once Zelda and I have gone north. “Bunch of fruitcakes,” says Zelda. “Momma’s boys,” says Gretchen.


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There’s a pause. My turn to speak. Traffic is light, no cops are in sight and the Cadillac’s thundering down the interstate like God’s chariot, carrying us back to Naples in triumph. “Idiots,” I say at last, the idea rearing its head.


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The Other Colors in a Snow Storm Richard Vetere Orange is a lit window in the dark or a rooftop on the other side of the sky. The colorless sound of a dog’s bark or an Oriole on a branch before it flies. There is a fireplace glowing on the hill where imagined strangers sit around and talk. I was one of them once, a long time ago, standing at an open door, watching it snow. Blue is the snow on the fields at night and the cars on the highway passing by, and the color of your eye when you flash on a light and the moon rising in the sky. I never see much red in the winter months except for the sun rising above my bed. Can you feel the wind as you dream? Does it matter what all the colors mean? White is the darkness that never goes away stretching to the horizon in the middle of the night. White is the glare of a thousand years of day burning with the illusion of a warm, lingering light. I remember you laughing as we lay in the snow helpless as the world tilted for an afternoon. What are the other colors in a snow storm? What moments do we choose to shed, or to mourn? The rainbow lives in a driving wind though everyone else is tucked away safe inside. You were once right here, where it all began, waiting for your clothes as they dried. I wonder who else sees only the snow blasting through the heavy, hungry air? What separated you from me, and everything else? Where do all the colors go, after all the colors melt? w


Richard Vetere

The Rest of My Life Richard Vetere It starts right here, or so I imagine it does. Somewhere between ice storms and heat waves as life-long friends, mostly dead and buried, do sing-alongs at parties held in my head. Naps bring me the most vivid images of women mostly; my mother, long ago girlfriends, sometimes my brothers make an appearance in the old house. We’re young, jumping around, talking a mile a minute, doing things we never did, as real as just now and in minute detail, exploding across the screen. Human beings like to create ‘start’ and ‘finish’ lines just so they can stick a price tag on ‘time spent.’ But they are arbitrary and never last long. What does have meaning is the rest of it facing us like a bowl of pasta. It all tasted great, the sauce, the meatballs and the parmesan cheese; but you left some and you don’t know why. w

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On the morning cold (for Giacomo Leopardi) Robert Gibbons sidewalk glazes white frosting doughnuts tires sound breathe crunch this careful isolation observation trees disappear waits until spring on this morning cold the dark would not goodbye the light spy splatters overwhelms arm ageddon end nears just beginning on this morning cold pick myself up dirty laundry survive this alcoholic temperature rims ear burn to hear blank book a dark grey muting buy building its reportage its observation slips second avenue where urban children mimic caged birds without tree only entertainment coops the dormant ferments To occupy an attic


Robert Gibbons

this time the snow had its agenda ushering up top flight a maroon to the end room in the back have seen it all before like placing squares in an uncomfortable design on a quilt square rooms and circular teapot mediocres feeling out of place like eating cheese drinking wine on the portico of Mt. Vernon lamenting the milk stains and mildew from years of this story the smell of the wash we grow past some of this but yet we hold on to this album with pink funkadelic afro sheens dashikis old school tiki bar remnant but being pushed to an elevation where the heat rises this winter wonders of bobsleds toboggan mufflers the sweater a collection of things a collation kept out of sight from the public from the window could see constitution lands maybe in aristocratic Washington or gilded New York or tony Connecticut maybe the servile or the servitude for me to ever think I would ever escape dark hands cleaning Woodrow Wilson china the one he collected behind glass like Thomas Jefferson’s green embroidered books

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I felt collected like a Basquiat or a William Johnson Aunt Jemima sat on top of the mantel her red mop covering discolored from years of entering her world with slick finger the fade of the patina I occupy this space for now so better hold Louis Armstrong they cut out for you it takes guts to be transmogrified like Aaron Dupuy who shined the secretary of state’s shoe withdrew his pee pot history they occupied this attic so why should I care they tell me these stories like some griot apparition I occupy this space for yet I am addicted to this subtext this antique wood stock and as much as I tried to run from this no matter they find me in the red barn back in Robert Livingston’s partition for his servant they tell me there is no where to run because Charlotte told Aaron she was leaving she was not staying in this attic she is taking the children to Baltimore she wants to be free it’s not quiet here the heat rises the walls surmise I want to hide and slip behind a secret wall like an enslaved servant at seven gables hoping to blend in with the wall paper the burden of Phillis Wheatley standing at auction only a piece of carpet exposing her crafts only exposing her goods as they whisper in the shadow of the kitchen


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I want to run as far as I can but the snow bound walls in this winter’s wonder come back ans embody it told the stories like in Durham, in Tupelo, In Wildwood in Eatonville it wanted me to say I put the hay beneath James Madison’s bed it trundles with it fondles me this the reason I can’t end. w

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If Hounds Deborah Hauser After Genevieve Burger-Weiser There is the traffic light at the edge of town reliably changing from red to green to red granting permission to leave, then demanding you stop like a deer in headlights; like a dream that lurches into night terrors; or the shiver in your teeth when you hear the thud of another doe downed by the hounds. Hounds rip the still beating heart from the chest of a pregnant doe; early snow covers their tracks; the unborn fawn a memory by the time spring thaws the meadow. Hounds obey no seasons, but follow their hunger plotting the shortest distance between prey and meat — like the beast who cracked your rib and tore through your stockings before you turned to barbed wire. w


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the painted crucifixion R. G. Johnson there have been times when I gazed into this stark oily remembrance and felt as if I were being executed: beaten, broken, pierced and hung up for slow suffocation now I know I am not the Lamb, but a gnarly Roman hammer-swinger just out of frame clad in shiny bronze barbarism and laughing aloud in untold agony it hurts me more this way isn’t that the goal? w


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UNTITLED Photograph by Phillippe Diederich


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Tabatha E.G. Silverman Ten o’clock is past my bedtime. When you get up at five-thirty every morning to catch the train to New York, you need your rest. But not this week. I have other things to tend to. Summer at Horses 2 Water is a perpetual spring break, packed every night with tan bodies, kids bragging about how fucked up they got last time out, slapping palms and banging knuckles and downing shots. Everybody smokes. Everybody’s pierced. Everybody’s tattooed as if they’re comic book heroes. The girls twist the end of every sentence into a question mark. Everybody wants to get laid. I met my wife in a Jersey shore bar like this, except that back then we didn’t believe in turning our faces into shish kebob and the only pictures on our skin were drawn with fingers and saliva. We were both spending the summer working at arcades on the boardwalk. One night we found ourselves sitting beside each other at a place called Mak’n It. We started talking and then went for a walk on the beach. But that was a long time ago. I fit in then. Now I must look like I’m somebody’s father and she’s given me the slip. I’ve been here four nights running. I have two more reserved at the motel, but this is my final stand at the Horses 2 Water. I get lucky tonight, or it’s lights out for me. I’m becoming an expert on backs. I’ve had plenty of time to study them. Mostly what I’ve learned is that they don’t mean shit. Look at this one. Skin like butterscotch pudding, draped with a silky blond mane. A halter-top begging to be untied. But when she turns around, she has a beak that if you colored it right, it could be on a box of Fruit Loops. The bottle of Bud on the bar in front of me isn’t even cold enough for the glass to sweat. I peel at the label, like in that stupid Sheryl Crow song playing on the jukebox. All I’m missing is the matches to burn.


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By eleven-thirty, I’m thinking it’s time to pack it in and call it a night. Maybe I’ll call it a life too while I’m at it. The beak-girl beside me has been replaced by another halter-topped tan back. The girl it belongs to is being kissed so hard she might as well go ahead and get fucked while she’s at it. Sheryl Crow is on the jukebox again and I’m peeling a fresh Bud label, scrutinizing it like a crystal ball. I can feel the girl’s ass in little jean shorts and I swear she’s rubbing it against my thigh on purpose. Then she’s giggling and if she gets any closer, she’s going to be sitting on my lap. Sheryl is trying to have some fun and my beer is empty. I close my eyes and I can see my wife. I’m going over what she told me, what she said. It’s impossible. I want it to go away. All of it. Everything. Me. I hear my wife’s voice saying, excuse me, and when I look to my left, there’s a girl with her hip against the bar, facing me. She smiles as if she’s been waiting for me to notice her. Her skin is too dark for a tan. She’s maybe half black or from South America or perhaps Indian or Iranian, but her face could be anything, with eyes as dark as coffee before you stir in the milk and hair as shiny and dense as freshly-laid asphalt, short and straight like a thick black hat. She’s wearing a tube top of turquoise swirls, yellow and pink clamdiggers, and red leather sandals. “I am Tabatha,” she says and she extends her hand for a formal shake, the kind I’m used to, no knuckle tapping or finger wrapping or fist topping or elbow bending or thumb gymnastics “I’m George,” I tell her. “My friends bet me twenty dollars that I could not get you to do a line of coke,” she says, taking a drag of her cigarette. She turns her head and blows out the smoke. “I accepted the bet.” She points to a group under the Heineken sign by a dartboard that’s never used. A couple of the girls wave at her. “So, what do you say?” she says. She has big perfect white teeth, the kind you think only exist in toothpaste ads, and the light from her smile makes her eyes glitter.


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I feel her take my hand in hers. As we walk out together it’s as if she’s my girlfriend, as if we’re lovers. As if she’s my wife. Not now. Before. Or maybe to be. I glance back towards the bar and there’s a guy in my seat, the girl with her back to him being kissed so hard she’s practically falling onto him. Tabatha leads me by the hand out through the parking lot and then down the street. “Aren’t your friends coming?” I ask. “Do you want them to?” “What about your bet?” “They will trust me.” Then when I don’t saying anything, she says, “Do you trust me?” “I don’t know.” “Good. So I will teach you something.” She has a slight accent that’s hard to place, as if she’s known English all her life, but learned it outside the U.S., hints of Spanish or Italian, faintly dark, deep, and exotic. Her car is parked at a closed Dairy Queen, a black Camaro with fuzzy seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a carwash air freshener in the shape of a pink pig hanging from the rear-view mirror. It smells like a bottle of vitamins when you first open the plastic seal. From her purse, she produces a compact and a vial. She lays out lines on the mirror and digs a little straw from her purse. She does a line and passes the mirror to me. After a while, I stop counting how many we’ve done. Mozart’s on the radio, and it’s as if it’s really him, the notes rushing along, tripping over each other, racing, cavorting, frolicking like water over a falls breaking into cascading droplets.


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She puts her paraphernalia away and asks me if I’d like to kiss her. I tell her I haven’t kissed anyone but my wife in a long time. “Close your eyes,” she says. “You will remember.” Her hand caresses my cheek. As she kisses me, the Mozart becomes Bach. The notes sound so even and mannered and gorgeous, as if they are marching in a parade, or a marvelous dance where everyone is dancing a different step and yet they are all together, perfectly matched and synchronized. I lose track of which is her tongue and which is mine and then I don’t care. It is the most sensual, most sensuous, most thrilling romantic titillating kiss of my life and yet I am so lost in the music that I forget about her, forget I am kissing her, forget I exist. Then the music stops. There is a pause and something else comes on, some composer I don’t know, something strident and Russian, the notes practically bursting out of the speakers. She smiles and leans back against the door. I should climb on top of her, but the Camaro has bucket seats and a stick shift and it is impossible. Tabatha says she needs to go back to the bar to let her friends know she is leaving. I hate to let her go, but before I can say anything, I am alone with the triumphant French horns and then flutes that sound more like trumpets, majestic and insistent. I know she isn’t coming back. I can see myself at the bar when she comes in and I’ll still be there when she leaves. Or perhaps she will stand with her back against me, kissing some other fellow. In the glove box, I find a hairbrush, some nail polish, hair bands, two tampons, a map of New Mexico, a lottery card, and a change purse. Nothing to identify her. In the change purse I find a joint. I haven’t smoked anything in years. Not since our first child was born. But what the hell. Why not? A Brahms violin invites me to crawl inside its journey and I sadly slip away. My wife and I smoked a joint on the beach the night we met. We did lines of coke in her room on a narrow bed, a blow dryer, curling irons, brushes, and makeup scattered on the floor beside a mirror leaned up against the wall, a Southside Johnny tape blaring from a boom box. We lay


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naked on that skinny bed after we had made love, sweating and alive, unable to get enough of each other, so sure of our perfection. I can see her gazing up at me. That is when I knew how love felt. There is a tapping on my window and when I open my eyes, Tabatha is there with a bottle of wine and a smile. We finish the joint, drinking wine from the bottle, and then kiss to Brahms, still wailing and soaring and dive-bombing. “We will go to my place now,” she says. She pulls out onto the main drag, empty at this hour, and heads up the island. We pass a movie theater, dark and quiet, and a hotel with an Irish restaurant on the first floor, an old man stumbling out the swinging door, and a gas station with a convenience store, lit up like Disneyland, a halfdozen cars lined up with the engines running, the windows down, bass and drums thumping. Brahms has given way to something else foreign to me. I close my eyes and ride the piano on a million notes then quiet then explosion then violin then piano and then the whole orchestra joining in the party. We park at the end of a side street near the beach. The houses are dark. Tabatha settles back in her seat and waits for me. I kiss her and touch her until she comes, until she’s clutching me as if she’s afraid of falling on slippery ice and she moans like blowing across an empty soda bottle. She says, “If you love me, you can tell me.” I’ve never loved anyone but my wife, but if I don’t love her anymore, then what is there to keep me from loving Tabatha? “You too,” I say. “There is a bench on the beach at the edge of the dunes. I will take you there.” There are wooden stairs at the end the street. We climb up through the sea grass and across the dunes to the bench, where we are alone with the ocean, the sky, and the stars. I put my arm around her and she rests her head on my shoulder. I try to forget.


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“I love you,” I say. It’s good to say. Even if I don’t know who I’m saying it to. “You are sweet,” she says, smiling at me. “But do not say it unless you mean it.” I ask her if she has a husband or boyfriend or regular lover. “Is that what you want to be?” she says. “I don’t know. I don’t know anything.” She lights another joint. I close my eyes and listen to the waves. It would be wonderful to be like this forever or to fall asleep and never wake up or to have the air lift me and carry me onto the water and let me drift into darkness with only the stars to gaze at. Then Bach is playing in my head and I can see the notes as if they are real, as if they have substance, as if they are dancers leaping and swirling and the patterns are sharp colors— reds and blues and dazzling yellows and black — black-on-black as sharp as white. They ride on the waves so graceful, elegant, and fast. Her fingers are unbuttoning and unzipping my clothes. I lift myself up so she can pull down my shorts and she drops them into the sand. Her head is down, her mouth on me. I am transfixed by the back of her neck, the short black hairs that sprout like new grass freshly mowed at the edge of a meadow and I yearn to kiss her there and to smell her, but she is out of reach. I want her naked, but I am afraid to touch her. If only I could remember when my wife last did this. She used to do it. Not a lot. Sometimes. Then she stopped, but I can’t recall when the last time was. Like so many things that went away. I smell the ocean. I see the dim white lines of breaking waves. I hear the water collapsing onto itself and then the sigh as it seeps into the sand and catches its breath, inhales, gathers itself, and then there is another white line and another collapse. I want to touch her hair, stroke her back, caress any part of her, all of her. But I am afraid she will stop, so instead I drape my arms over the back of the bench and let my head fall backwards. The sky is everywhere. “You came hard,” she says.


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“You do that well.” Time passes and she says, “Why are you here?” “You brought me here.” “I mean why were you at the bar?” “To meet you.” “Why are you not with your wife?” “I’m with you.” “What was the fight about?” “It wasn’t a fight. We don’t fight.” She laughs at that. “If I had a husband, we would fight. We would have ungodly fights. I would throw things at him and he would hit me and I would throw more things and it would be a miracle if we did not kill each other. I would not be surprised if I came at him with a butcher’s knife. If he could not stop me, I probably would kill him.” “What for? What did he do?” “How should I know? I have not even met him yet.” “Then how do you know you would fight with him like that?” “Because that was how my parents were. How they are still.” “But since you’ve seen this, doesn’t it make you want to be some other way?” “I tell you, it looked like such fun to me. The way they yelled holy terror. The glorious cursing. The pots crashing against the wall. My mother’s hand slapping my father’s face with a crack like the sound of breaking wood. Her eyes ready to pop out of her head in anger when he hit her. I swear she was so beautiful then, I wanted to be her.”


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“You wanted to be her when he hit her?” Tabatha stands in front of me with her hands on my shoulders, locks eyes with me, and says sternly, “Is that what you want? Do you want to hit me?” “I would never hit you. But I am not your husband.” “I thought you wanted to be my husband.” “Why? So you can throw pots at me?” She thinks about that for a moment and then says, “Tell me about the fights you have with your wife. Tell me about this latest fight that has brought you here.” “My wife and I don’t fight.” “You do not fight? How can you not fight? Everybody fights.” “We don’t. We don’t fight.” “Is it because you love each other so much that you do not fight?” “We don’t love each other at all anymore. I think we used to. We must have. Yes, what am I saying? Of course we did. We surely loved each other.” “But not now?” “No. Not now.” “It is funny, is it not? How you can truly love someone and then it stops. You would think if it is truly love, then it would never stop, no?” “That’s what we thought all right.” “Then what happened?” “I don’t know.” “How can you not know? You must know.”


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“I just don’t.” “Then you have not tried to find out. You are making me mad. I tell you, if I had a pot, I would throw it at you now, even if you are not yet my husband.” “But what would be the fun of it? There are no walls for it to crash against.” She laughs a firm, quick, sparkling laugh, like an engine turning over and catching right away. “I will tell you a secret. My mother kept a special pot on top of the others though it was never used for cooking. It was as big as a lobster pot, metal and indestructible and sometimes I wondered if one time when no one was home she had tested them and it was the one that crashed the loudest against the wall. And I will tell you another secret of hers. My mother had aim as good as any marksman and she could throw that special pot of hers to within an inch of my father’s head, but in the thirty-five years they have been married, not once has the pot hit him.” She has herself another laugh and then says, “Well okay, once it did, but he deserved it. And she took him to the hospital herself and held his hand while they put the stitches in.” “So that’s what I have to look forward to? That you will hold my hand while they put the stitches in?” “Me? I will suck your dick while they put the stitches in.” “Do you think they’d let you?” “When they see what I have done to you, they will be so terrified that they will do whatever I tell them.” “Is that the only time you’ll suck my dick, after you’ve hit me in the head with a pot?” “I will suck your dick every day if that is what you want.” I laugh at that. She pretends to be mad and orders me not to laugh at her. To make me stop, she kisses me and the kiss goes on and on.


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“You still have not told me what you and your wife were fighting about,” she says. “She was with another man.” “I am sorry.” “Yeah, I’m sorry too.” We sit staring out at the dark ocean while the words sink in. Then she says, “Tell me how you found out.” “She told me.” “Oh shit. Why would she do such a thing?” “She wanted me to know.” “She wanted you to know? She sounds like a witch.” “No, she’s not a witch.” “Okay, so perhaps not a witch. But then tell me why she would do such a thing.” “Because she needed to feel special. She needed to feel loved.” “Of course. Who does not?” “She said I don’t make her feel special. I don’t make her feel loved.” “So she found herself some shit who would?” “Yes. That’s what she did.” “If you ask me, he is a worthless fuck who is only after her pussy. If that makes her feel so special, she is a fool.” “But my wife thinks she might love him anyway.”


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“This is awful. If I had that pot I would throw it at her. And I would not miss. She could go get the fucking stitches herself. Get this shithead to hold her fucking hand if he is so wonderful.” “But she is willing to give me another chance. That is what she said. What she called it. Another chance. Can you imagine? I am her husband and she has been with another man and it is I who gets another chance.” “The pot is not good enough for her. This is where I need the butcher’s knife. She deserves to be stabbed in the heart.” “If I want another chance. That’s what she said. I have to decide if I want another chance. I have to let her know.” “Another chance for what? What is it that this godless bitch wants?” “To feel special. To feel loved. That’s what she says. Do I want another chance to make her feel special? To make her feel loved.” “But how can you do this if you do not love her? And how could you love such a woman?” “That is a good question.” “What did you tell her?” “I told her I needed some time.” “Some time for what?” “To decide everything.” “It is your decision to make?” “If I can make her feel special, make her feel loved, then she will stop seeing this other man.” “I will tell you what I think. I think this woman is a shit. I think you should tell her to go fuck herself.”


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“But she is my wife.” “Do you not hear what you are saying? You do not know if you love her. You must put on a performance to convince her of this love that you do not know exists. What about her? Who does she love? Why does she bear no responsibility in this matter?” “She says that she has tried. That she is tired of trying. That now it is my turn to try. If I want to that is. If I don’t, then fine, she will go elsewhere. She is the kind of person who thinks something out, and once she arrives at a position, it is very difficult to sway her. She is very logical. Very rational.” “Give me that butcher’s knife and I will slice her throat. Then we will see how logical she is.” “So that’s why I’m here. I’m here to decide.” “Fine. I will help you.” “Okay, help me.” “You must tell this bitch to go to hell.” “Then what do I do?” “What do you mean, what do you do?” “She is my life.” “Then your life must be shit.” “Okay so my life is shit.” “Get rid of her.” “And then?” “You must start again.”


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“Yes, I must start again. But what of my children?” “How many children?” “Two.” “Well at least there is that then.” “But she will take them.” “I tell you she is a godless bitch. That much is for certain. Forget her now. You are with me.” Her sweet head is against my shoulder and I hold her tightly to me. We kiss long and soft and I feel her floating away. “I am with you,” she says. My eyes are closed and all I hear is the air and the water. I think that if only I could sleep I would wake at home in my bed with my wife of old and none of this would have happened, not with me, not with her, and I would not have to decide. “Hey, you are falling asleep,” she says. “We must go for a swim to wake you up. Wait here while I get us some towels from the car.” I watch as she strides away down the wooden walkway until she is gone and there is only the dark sea grass and the dunes. I sit with my arms spread over the back of the bench, my eyes closed, listening to the surf. I can see my wife on the narrow little bed, that first night, after we had made love. She was disheveled and beautiful and I said to her that I still did not know her name. “My name is Tabatha,” she said.


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The New Sun-Worshipers Nathan Hunt This kind of weather makes everything better. Cops grin their way through murder scenes. Psychiatrists thank God for Seasonal Affective Disorder and stop prescribing drugs. Steve scrubs the toilets with a whistle on his lips. Commuters cook their breakfasts on sidewalks. My father’s surgeon comes out of the open heart surgery with a thumbs up and a bloody apron. The President drinks rosé on the White House lawn. At my father’s funeral the Bishop gets up to lead us in a rousing Gospel chorus of Now Thank We All Our God. Dragonflies have their orgies on the surface of Paul’s pond. In the cemetery we can’t stop laughing at the neighbor girl and her chin dribbling with ice cream. We walk out of the graveyard in slow motion. At Morning Mass the next day we brag to the Christians that our Sun God dies for our sins every night and is reborn each day. w


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BRIGHT 2 Photograph by Eleanor Leonne Bennett


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Dedication Michael Cirelli The robots have been disassembled. The gold teeth melted down to a fork. I wrote my uncle into a syringe and hurt his feelings. Inked myself Sonny Corleone and that wasn’t exactly true. What I paraded across a page sometimes I should have left to them. When I held her bifocals to six sentences, I gave my poor mother agita. When I sang my critical race theory, they all thought I wanted to be Black. Many times I’d pick the thread on the wooden buttons that kept another’s secret snug, and spread it across a stanza like fondant. I’m sorry. I’m different now. I know it’s hard to believe, when I show up covered in margarine, with tofu shoes on my feet, threatening to flop into the East River from the Williamsburg Flea. But it’s true. Mom, I know you want me to keep you out of my poems, but people need to know that you remember them by how they like their eggs, that when I asked about the certificate framed on the wall of our small restaurant you told me, while refilling my coffee, that the Mayor sent it for thirty years of doin’ this. w


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Playing for the Lower Juniors Steve Griffiths The excitement of transgression in the eyes of little boys shone down the concrete slope to the garage where we had no car, saying, we know what you are. Not who, but what: bastard, a technical word. There was something smutty afoot. I had no idea what they were talking about. It was still the Fifties in our town. They had the advantage of me, common knowledge, neighbours overheard as they lifted the corner of our family blanket with index finger and thumb as they might lift a teacup with little finger cocked, revealing what I wouldn’t know till my mother let this cup drop when I was thirty-one, to my wife over the washing up. The emotional sense of this stood ankle-deep in some unnamed liquid I hadn’t noticed. My marks were poor in Chemistry. She worked her socks off. They took a liberty. Mystified, confirmed in my oddity, I turned my face to the new wall and resumed


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chipping the scuffed football onto it and back, half-volleying with an echoed thwack on the door of the empty garage. I did it better than any of them though it was harder in the mud with the heavy boots and the dunked leather and the other people about on a churned and studded pitch now frozen under clacking feet. Our cries went all the way to the endless sky when a goal was scored. I hung about on the wing in clean kit, waiting, sometimes cheering. w


Linda Lerner

Hologram Linda Lerner she lived three decades down from him real as the steaming coffee that heated his insides seated across from her after the last lecture when “I’d like to continue this relationship” sent him tumbling down stairs he never saw into the last back seat car ride of his youth with the woman he almost married unmade up beautiful and as stubborn and work driven as he this woman whose reality he doubted she reminded him of those words will you that never made it to the end of the sentence where she waited lost in the free spirit winds of then he now reaches out for what he knows and because he knows cannot be had w

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with grateful acknowledgment to Wallace Stevens Linda Lerner snow thickened the ground outside my bedroom window was all I saw of the world that day the monotonous color of its coldness not a single animal’s footstep marked the small area my neighbor’s fence blocked off and worried about what happened to two black cats I’ve been caring for out front missing now for two days, sat at my desk unable to concentrate when I looked out the window and saw that black bird from Wallace Stevens’ poem pecking for food in the snow that rose up to him which like an eye followed me out to where the cats stood waiting for me to feed them who’d never really been gone except in my need for them not to be and feeling better than I had in a long time looked out the window for my bird who’d vanished and was never mine anymore than this poem I borrowed him for will be once released w


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Tiresome Jeff Campbell The leaves Rusting, as they are on the trees, Have lost all boldness. Even my despair is tiresome. Even My Despair. There is this cold. It penetrates. The wind, and the wind and the despair and the wind. I will not speak of those gray clouds. What else could they be? But those gray clouds. Even my despair is tiresome. What does it profit a man‌ The rest of the question does not matter. Here is the rub: What does it profit a man If he does If he does not With those rusting leaves Rusting leaves like butterfly corpses And the despair, and the despair, And the wind and the despair. w


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The Substitute Abdel Shakur I pulled into the parking lot of Frederick Douglass Middle School thirteen minutes late for my first class as a substitute teacher. In the mirror, I could see I needed a shave, but there hadn’t been time for that. I threw in some eye drops and straightened my tie. I grabbed the folder with the readings I had photocopied the night before and the notepad with my class assignment. 5th grade. Mrs. Sherwood. A few students were scurrying in late and I could see warm lights from classrooms in session. Two squat trees out front were shushed with green and yellow leaves. The breeze gave me a chill and I put on my jacket and re-fixed my tie. An armada of candy wrappers and soda cans floated in puddles nearby. At the curb was an empty car with chipped paint, missing hubcaps, and School Police stamped on the door. A couple of girls in tan and purple school uniforms giggled while they took the stairs two at a time and disappeared within the large purple doors out front. I rushed up after them and was out of breath when I reached the top. When I opened the doors there was a short woman with a purple blazer and a yellow school patch holding a large walkie-talkie. She chided the latecomers, thumping the walkie-talkie against her leg. “Latresha, Aaliyah,” she called after them. “Now you know better than to be coming to school late. I hope I’m not going to have to speak with your grandmothers.” “Yes, ma’am,” said the girls as they hurried down the hall. A display case held trophies and a collage of smiling children. The floor was muddy from wet sneakers, and fluorescent lights buzzed overhead. The hallway smelled like old dishwater. On the wall a large sign proclaimed, Yes We Can! She flashed a polite smile. Her skin was light coffee and her cheeks were red. “I’m Principal Starling,” she said, offering her hand. I went to shake it, but her hand slipped from my grasp as if she suddenly remembered she didn’t want to be touched.


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“I’m Cotton Farnsworth,” I said. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Farnsworth,” she said. It was strange, but even though she was half a foot shorter, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was the one looking up at her. Her dark purple pumps matched her lipstick. Two crystal globes dangled from her ears, their orbits widening with each turn of her head. Her hair was trimmed into a neat Afro and her eyes were intense and brown. Her brow curved with a question. “I’m here to teach,” I blurted, still out of breath from the stairs. She blinked like she hadn’t heard me and slapped the walkie-talkie against her thigh again. I checked my notepad. “I’m substituting for Mrs. Sherwood’s class,” I said, offering her the pad. “I’m the substitute.” “Mr. Farnsworth, you’re late.” Principal Starling frowned and looked up at the clock above my head. I panicked for a moment, transported back in time to grade school, worrying she might call my parents. “My dad’s been very ill lately,” I said. The lie came out quite naturally. So naturally, in fact, that it seemed like no lie at all. My voice was so earnest that it seemed like some important part of what I’d said was actually true. Besides high blood pressure, my dad was not ill. In fact, a few days before, taking advantage of my mother’s strategic absence, he’d been well enough to give me an ultimatum: get you a job or get out my house. “He’s not doing well. At all. I’m having him stay with me so I can keep an eye on him. It was a struggle to help him out of bed this morning.” She looked suspicious, but softened when I nodded and smiled sadly. She looked like she wanted to say something, but sucked the words back in a quick breath. “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, finally. “But in the future, please let us know if you’re going to have a problem getting to school on time. You’ll be in room 230. You’ll find Mrs. Sherwood’s lesson plan on the desk. You’d better hurry.”


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*** The hallway on the second floor was decorated with long banners painted with rainbow colors and silver glitter, encouraging good behavior and teamwork. Halloween was only two weeks away; pumpkins and witches cut from paper plates hung on strings from the ceiling. The water fountains in the hallway were covered in masking tape and white paper signs reading Don’t Drink!, frowny-faces printed in the margins. There’d been something on the news about public-school drinking water being lead contaminated, which explained the two large water coolers at the ends of the hall. I was encouraged to hear the strains of the Black National Anthem coming from a room nearest the stairs. My dad insisted I know the words to the song, even though we hardly ever sung it, except at Thanksgiving and Kwanzaa. The voices in the class were young, strong, and mostly in harmony. Through the window in the door I could see a woman with thick glasses, closed eyes, and pursed lips directing the melody with sweeps of her yardstick. All of the students had their hands over their hearts. A couple of doors up, a large woman in an orange dress sat behind an orange desk, scribbling on a piece of paper. The students had their heads down in their books and it was very quiet. My shoes were still wet and they squeaked while I walked. The large woman looked up; I kept going. On the door of the next room hung a construction paper sign written in black marker: Officer Jackson. A man’s voice on the other side of the door sounded like a growl. When I got to the end of the hall, I could hear the kids in my class through the door, carrying on as if they were trading shares on the stock exchange floor. According to the roster, there were thirty kids in the class, but it sounded like twice that. I opened the door and stepped inside. My plan had been to show the little brothers and sisters that I wasn’t on a power trip, but I also needed to let them know that I wasn’t going to be intimidated. That way we could deal on a level of mutual respect, instead of some tired old hierarchy. The only hitch to this plan was that I didn’t realize how intimidated I actually was until I was standing in front of the little brothers and sisters, shook.


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Nearest the windows, a group of kids stood atop their desks like surfers at high tide. In back, a girl was removing braided extensions from another girl’s hair. They were laughing at something that sounded very funny and important. At the front of class, a caramel boy with a peanut head was sketching a large yellow Fuck on the chalkboard. I hadn’t meant for the door to slam, and everyone, including me, froze for a moment because a slammed door was the universal sign of an adult about to get some kids in trouble. But it was immediately clear to all of us that I didn’t know what to say, so a few rolled their eyes and the rest shouted even louder. I thought about opening the door, running down the hallway, down the stairs, past the lockers, back through the front door, out to my car. Instead, I took a deep breath and walked to the front of class. The little boy was stretching on the tiptoes of his Air Jordans to outline the top of his K. “Brother, can you please hand me that chalk?” I said. He stared up at me like he was ready to fight. His hair was in small cornrows and three neat lines were cut into his left eyebrow. He had on a black shirt with T-MURDA printed in thick blue letters across the front. He smiled. “You gone make me erase that, ain’t you?” he said, eyes soft. I nodded. The kids standing on the desks swung their hips from one side to the next, swinging the desks forward on their metal feet, like staggering robots. I couldn’t help but marvel at their technique. “Can’t I just write one more quick thing, please?” asked the boy. I nodded, and had to restrain myself from complimenting his politeness. I turned back to the class. “Listen up, brothers and sisters,” I said. My voice was croaky. “I’m going to need all y’all to settle down, okay? You are going to have to get off of those desks.” The children feigned deafness. I waved my hands in front of the class like I was directing a plane; Mrs. Starling would be at my door any minute, but they still paid me no mind. My shirt was getting heavy with sweat and I


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could feel my pulse thumping in my ears. One of the desk-standers tried to hop both legs of his desk and fell to the floor with a loud crash. He jumped up, smiling, and pointed to the chalkboard. On the board behind me: Fuck Esha! The laughter got louder. “Excuse me, Mr. Substitute, or whoever you is,” came a sweet voice from the back of the classroom. It was one of the late girls I had seen with Principal Starling. “I know you didn’t tell that ugly li’l black thang to write my cousin name on the board.” The artist threw up his hands, like he was signaling a touchdown, and smiled. The desk standers cheered. “And you better be not be talking about me, either!” shrieked another girl, whose stiff black hair was pulled back like a thorn bush. I wasn’t able to appreciate the boy’s cleverness until I saw the class roll and realized that half of the girls in the room had the Esha motif in their names. Alesha, Falesha, Myesha, two Quamesha’s, and a Latresha. The artist’s name was Thomas. “I said,” the sweet-voiced girl was louder this time. “Mr. Substitute, or whoever you is, can you please tell that ugly li’l black THANG to stop playing before I go over and slap the taste out his mouth.” I turned and the boy handed me the chalk with a smile. He flopped down in a seat up front, feigning a heart attack. I was trying to find a blackboard eraser when the door opened and Principal Starling walked in, hollering, “This noise is completely unacceptable.” She stomped her foot and her earrings swung like wrecking balls. “I will not have you disrespect your teacher, your principal, or yourselves in this manner.” She assessed the room and picked out the worst offenders. “Get off of those desks!” she said. “Put that hair away! Sit up straight like you have some dignity about yourselves.” She covered her mouth when she saw the front board. “Who is responsible for this?” The class was silent and everyone was looking around like they had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t want to be a snitch either.


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“Do you know who did this, Mr. Farnsworth?” The best I could come up with was, “Excuse me, ma’am?” “Mr. Farnsworth, I need to speak to you for a second in the hallway.” I followed her out the door. The kids went ooo, and giggled. “Look, Mr. Farnsworth,” she said. “I know you’re new here and you’re in a temporary position, but I need you to keep this class under control, do you understand?” I nodded. Her face was flush and a thin layer of sweat was working on her makeup. “We cannot allow this kind of disruption to affect our children’s learning. Lord knows they are behind enough as it is. I realize this is a difficult assignment, but we can’t allow that kind of behavior. I’ll check in on you later.” Principal Starling stomped away. I opened the door and the kids laughed like they hadn’t almost cost me my job. I wiped the chalkboard clean and wrote my name. I told them to return to their seats. The girls near the window packed up their hair and combs and sucked their teeth at me before they sat down. I found the class roll on the teacher’s desk and was about to do attendance, but the girls who had been shouting at Thomas weren’t ready to sit. They peered at each other across the room and all around them were giggles of anticipation. “I don’t know who you calling black, Aaliyah,” said the girl with the helmet hair. “You black enough to stop time.” The class oooed its approval and all eyes turned to Aaliyah. I’m not proud to admit it, but I paused for a second, wondering what she might say. Aaliyah took a deep breath. “For your information, Latresha, I was not even talking to you,” she said. “Besides, you so poor, you can’t even pay attention.”


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Latresha turned to the girl with pink barrettes sitting next to her. “I don’t play with children,” she said. “Trust me, I will slap that little bitch.” I stepped toward them, but forgot what I was going to say. Suddenly I heard buzzing. The girl in the pink barrettes screamed when she saw a large black and yellow bee come to rest on Latresha’s hair. “Bee!” she said, pointing. Latresha swung at the air like she was slap-boxing a lion. The girls all screamed in terror and ran to the side of the class near the door. The boys laughed, but backed away at the noise. The bee sounded like it was running on a jet engine. I was afraid of getting stung, but before I could think I had pushed Latresha aside and was facing the bee. The thing looked like a walnut wrapped in a fur coat, and had legs that looked big enough to pick up a flowerpot. I snatched a folder off a desk and rolled it in my hand. The bee thudded up against the ceiling and then did two laps around the room, seeming to gain velocity with each turn. Then it flew at me and the kids screamed. I closed my eyes and swung the rolled-up folder like a bat. The contact was surprisingly loud and the bee rolled to the wall. The kids screamed again. I could see the bee wrestling around in a circle, trying to find its legs. I picked up a dictionary off the shelf and threw it. The sound of the crunched bee and slammed book quieted the room. The red dictionary sat peacefully, like it had always been there. The kids rushed up beside me. “Did you kill it?” said Aaliyah, hanging on my sleeve. “What you think?” said Latresha, on my other sleeve. “I wasn’t even talking to you.” “Well, don’t get slapped.” I reached down and turned over the dictionary. The bee was painted against the bottom. Everyone was quiet again. I asked the children to sit in their desks and they were too spent to refuse.


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I used the seating chart to do attendance and then I looked at the lesson plan. The whole day was scripted to the half hour. I figured it might be better to stick to the schedule for now and try to teach the lesson I really wanted to teach later in the day. We had already missed the first twenty minutes of their math lesson, but I passed out the worksheets on word problems anyway. “I don’t know how to do this,” yelled Thomas in the front row, slamming the paper down on his desk. “That’s why you in school for, dummy.” Latresha rolled her eyes and patted down a strand of loose hair. “Bitch, you better shut up before I come over there and backhand your ass,” he said. “Bitch?” she said. “Who is you calling a bitch, nigga? You think you tough, but don’t let me get my cousin to come back up here and knock your ass out, again.” The class oooed once again and I went over to Thomas. “Come on, Brother,” I said. “You got to go.” I put my arm on his shoulder and he shook it off violently. “What?” said Thomas. “Don’t be trying to touch me. I didn’t even say nothing to that little trick. She always trying to start with me.” “I don’t know who you trying to call a little trick,” said Latresha. “I’ll come over there and show you a trick.” Thomas rose sullenly from his desk and I thought for a second he might try to make a run at Latresha, but looking at her again, I realized that she wasn’t the kind of girl to pick a fight with. She was wiry and looked ready for battle. Thomas passed her and flinched like he was going to strike. She continued scribbling on her worksheet, unafraid. “Punk ass,” she whispered. Thomas sulked after me out the door.


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The hallway was quiet, so I figured Thomas couldn’t get in too much trouble. “It wasn’t even my fault. I didn’t even do nothing to her,” he said. “Young brother, you can’t go around talking to our women like that,” I said. “That’s not cool.” “I ain’t your brother, nigga,” he shouted in my face. I had to restrain the impulse to slap the boy upside the head myself. “And she ain’t no woman either. I’m tired of this school.” I took a breath. “Look, just chill out here for a minute, don’t make any noise, and I’ll let you back in. Besides, y’all are going to Computer in a little bit.” “Why don’t I just go now?” he said. “I got to check my e-mail.” “No, stand here,” I said, pointing to a spot. I could feel myself getting angrier. “Be quiet until I tell you to come back in.” When I went back inside, it took several minutes to get everyone quieted down again. After we finally got lined up in the hallway to go to the computer room, Thomas was gone. A small white woman with cottony hair held open the door to the computer room. She smiled at me for a second, but lines gathered on her face as the kids ran past. She closed the door and let out a pterodactyl-like shriek until the room was quiet. *** My classroom was a mess when I got back. Desks were turned in all different directions, papers were scattered, and tufts of hair extensions tumbleweeded across the floor. I got things in order and sat in the teacher’s chair, looking again at Mrs. Sherwood’s lesson plan, written in perfectly curved script, like a computer font. Officially, we still had Language Arts and Social Studies left, but I wanted to hurry through that stuff so I could do a lesson on Huey P. Newton and how the Black Panther Party got started.


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A framed picture of Mrs. Sherwood, standing with her arm around the waist of a younger, much bigger man, sat on her desk. They were posed in front of a small blue house with toothy smiles. Mrs. Sherwood didn’t look half bad — she probably was fine back in the day. Her eyes were sharp and it looked like she had a sense of humor. Inside the desk drawer, besides the neat rows of pencils, erasers, and paper clips, was half a pack of Virginia Slims. I had smoked Kools in college, but I pocketed one of the cigarettes anyway. Further back, a prescription bottle of Valium rolled from side to side. I checked my watch and figured I had enough time for a smoke, if I hurried. At the custodian’s entrance downstairs, I propped the door with a crushed soda can. Birds were chirping in orange trees and the sun was warm against my cheek. The cigarette felt good between my lips and I could feel myself drifting when the smoke filled my chest. “They driving you crazy too, huh?” A woman with purple-tinted glasses appeared. She wore a large T-shirt with Ask Me If I Care printed across the front in faded red letters. The shirt held snugly against her round body and her arms rested on her sides. A ring of keys jangled on her belt like a wind chime. She flipped out a lighter and lit the cigarette dangling from her lip. She took a long drag and held the smoke. “I’m a substitute,” I stammered. “I know who you is,” she said. Her words came out in a gray cloud. “You got Mrs. Sherwood’s class, right?” I nodded. “Them kids is B-A-D,” she said, shaking keys at me. “There ain’t nothing else you can say about them. They need to take them kids right on to the jailhouse, because that’s where most of them headed anyway. They sure ain’t here to do what they supposed to be doing.” She tapped her ash on the ground and took another drag. The tip glowed. “Actually, the kids haven’t been that bad so far,” I said. Something about this woman got on my nerves. Her face was pinched and she was


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nodding like she was in the middle of an intense argument with someone I couldn’t see. “See, that’s the problem,” she said, gesturing with the cigarette. “Once they started taking the Bible out of the schools, these kids started acting like they didn’t have no sense. It’s a shame what they did to Mrs. Sherwood. After she lost her son, they were on her like wild dogs. She loved them kids like they was her very own and all they did was take advantage. Poor woman probably ain’t never coming back. They asking us to teach these kids, but we too busy trying to survive these kids.” Her chuckle turned into a cough, which turned into two belches of gray smoke. “What’s your name?” I said. “Ms. Bullock,” she said, with a professional nod. “I’m the custodial manager.” “I’m Cotton Farnsworth.” “Cotton,” she said. “How about that? My uncle had the same name. Could play the piano like it wasn’t nobody’s business. Play anything you wanted to hear. He taught me how to play that one song, ‘Stand By Me.’ Have you heard it? That’s my favorite song.” Ms. Bullock’s gold front tooth glinted in the sun as she hummed the melody. “See, that’s part of the problem right there,” she said. “These kids don’t have no good music, and that’s why they be acting crazy like they do.” She hummed some more. I checked my watch and told her I had to go. *** Mrs. Sherwood’s room wasn’t large by any measure, especially with all the students crowded in the large rows of desks, but it was obvious that she took great pride in her space. There were bright colors everywhere and the bulletin boards on all four walls were filled with student work. A large shade plant sat in the back of the room, tilting towards the scratched windows nearby. The front of class featured the standard collage of Black History figures: Douglass, Tubman, DuBois, M.L.K., Langston, Oprah, Colin, Condoleezza, Obama. I was tempted to get up on a chair and take Condoleezza down, but then I heard footsteps.


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The door slammed and Thomas nodded me a weary greeting. “Man, I can’t stand that class,” he said. He took a long sip from a paper water cup, let out a long ahhh, crumpled it, and jump-shotted it into the trash. Then he looked up and slapped at one of the cutout ghosts hanging from the ceiling. “Hey, Brother, stop that,” I said. I wasn’t about to take any more from this little boy. Thomas stopped and looked at me. Then he looked back up at the ceiling. “If you jump up there again, I’m going to inform Ms. Starling,” I said. Inform? I didn’t know whose voice was coming out of my mouth now. I had been going for authoritative and ended up at whiny. “Go ahead and snitch to her all you want,” Thomas said. “She ain’t my mama.” He jumped again, but didn’t swat at the paper. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and walked toward the front of the class. “Where have you been?” I said. “I never gave you permission to leave the hallway.” “Man, I can’t stay out in that hallway. Principal Starling be tripping when she see me out there. She already be trying to get me in trouble.” “Well, why aren’t you in Computer?” I said. “Man, she kicked me out, too,” he said. “For nothing.” “That doesn’t sound right. How could she kick you out for ‘nothing’?” “I know, right?” agreed Thomas. He plopped down in a chair nearby. “I don’t hardly be doing nothing.” He snapped a rubber band on his wrist. “They always yelling at somebody or trying to get somebody in trouble.” I asked him why it was always someone else’s fault. I told him that a man had to take responsibility for his actions and that the way to become a


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man was to be responsible and that you couldn’t just go through life pointing fingers at everyone else. He frowned at me and it took me a second to hear how loud I had gotten. The scent of Pine-Sol was strong; the room must have been bathed in the stuff. I pointed to his shirt and asked him how long people had been calling him T-Murda. “Naw, that was my cousin’s name,” he said. “He dead. Where’s Mrs. Sherwood?” I told him she was sick. “She ain’t sick. She just sick of coming up in here dealing with us. They be lying.” Before I could think of something else to say, Thomas launched into the three-month history of his fifth-grade year. He almost didn’t graduate the year before because he got in a fight with the principal’s nephew. Then his mother got locked up during the summer and he had to stay with his grandparents. Mrs. Sherwood had been his favorite teacher when he had her in second and third grade. Every morning she met her class at the front of the school building. She’d smile and give them hugs and ask if they had enough for breakfast. Even if they lied and said they had, she would give them granola bars for morning snack. Mrs. Sherwood also had a son who helped her whenever she went on field trips or had to move something heavy. Thomas liked Mrs. Sherwood’s son because he made her laugh. Not just a regular laugh, but a laugh like they were all at home, eating dinner. After her son died, everyone said she turned mean. She didn’t meet anyone in the morning or give out snacks, she just yelled. In fact, she yelled at Thomas every day, even when he wasn’t doing anything. Last week, she had just left. I didn’t know why, but I felt guilty. “You don’t look like no teacher,” he said. “What do I look like?” I said.


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“I don’t know, but it sure ain’t a teacher. What did you do before you came here?” The question startled me because when I was in school, I couldn’t remember being aware that teachers had any other lives besides teaching. Teachers were teachers. “I used to be an activist,” I said. “I’m an activist.” “What is that?” he said. “Basically I help people protest things that they think are wrong. I just try and fight injustice.” “Dang, you should have met my cousin,” he said. “He got shot by the police, but he didn’t have a gun or nothing. My auntie got her a lawyer and they about to sue the city for like forty million dollars. The police ain’t about to get away with that.” Thomas frowned to himself and I almost felt compelled to give him a hug. I touched him on the shoulder instead. He snapped back. “I’m aight,” he said. “Do you think she’s coming back?” “Who?” “Mrs. Sherwood.” “Why, do you miss her?” I said. “She just a teacher,” Thomas said, with a shrug. “I’m going back to Computer.” Thomas left before I could think of anything else to say and the classroom was quiet again. *** About twenty minutes later I heard the kids running down the hall. The door swung open and they scampered into their seats. They snapped their books open and squinted at the words like they were translating Aramaic. The room was quiet again.


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Ms. Bullock barged through the door, taking a moment to catch her breath. Her keys jangled. “Where he at?” she said, walking towards the front of the class. The children studied their books intently, with only a few giggles. Ms. Bullock stopped in front of Thomas, who was holding his book upside down. He smiled at her. “See, he’s the main one,” she said. “You think it’s funny now, but you won’t think it’s so funny in a second.” A vein in her neck pulsed with every word. I asked her what the problem was. “The problem is this little boy don’t know how to control hisself. He think he’s cute. That’s the problem. He always got something smart to say and I’m tired of it. It’s like I told you, they ain’t got no respect. Like they parents don’t teach them nothing. They was carrying on in computer lab, and Principal Starling sent me up there to get the class back in order before they burnt the school down. When I told this one to be quiet, he want to tell me to get off his you-know-what.” Ms. Bullock looked surprised when the class broke into laughter. Thomas smiled into his book. “Don’t laugh,” she said. “It’s not funny. It’s not funny to be disrespectful to people. All y’all doing is acting like a bunch of little ghetto niggers. Just like they expect you to.” She nudged Thomas. “Come on boy, we going to go talk to Officer Jackson. With all that ruckus, one of them computers in there got tore up and I think you the one that did it. Come on.” Thomas sprang from his seat and strutted out the door, to the approving laughter of his classmates. Ms. Bullock followed him. The class chattered, but everyone got quiet when we heard a man yelling outside. I went to the door window and saw Thomas looking up at Officer Jackson, the students crowded in behind me. “You bad?” said Officer Jackson. He was definitely the man with the growly voice I’d heard earlier. “You the man around here, right? Well show me you the man.”


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Thomas’s face was a fist. “That’s what I thought. You need to get it together, little man. Otherwise you going to end up locked up or shot dead before you get to high school. If an adult tells you to do something, you listen. You understand?” Officer Jackson was hunched over and was jabbing his finger in Thomas’s chest. The scene reminded me of something out of Eyes on the Prize or one of those old Civil Rights documentaries we used to watch in school where people get sprayed with water hoses. When I turned around, all the students were behind me, angling to see what was happening. They looked up at me, and then back out in the hallway. I figured if there was ever a time for me to do something, it was now. I didn’t want to get into it with the police, but Thomas needed some help. I opened the door and stepped into the hallway. I thought the students might try and follow, but they stayed where they were. “What’s going on here?” I said. All three of them looked at me. “You just in time,” said Mrs. Bullock. “This little boy is saying that you gave him permission to go to back to Computer, even after he got kicked out.” Officer Jackson seemed taller now that I was in the hallway. A black pistol rested on his hip in a shiny leather holster. “I know you’re new here, sir,” he said. “But Principal Starling doesn’t want teachers to send students back and forth through the hallways without supervision.” Mrs. Bullock nodded and pursed her lips. “That’s not true,” I said. “He left on his own.” “He told me I could go,” Thomas said, pointing at me. “I told you to stand outside and not go anywhere,” I said. “I came out here trying to help you out, Brother.” Officer Jackson and Mrs. Bullock looked at each other.


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“That nigga be lying,” Thomas yelled. “He ain’t no teacher.” “Who are you calling a nigger?” I yelled back. I could hear my dad’s voice. The anger that tightened in my neck had come quickly and surprised me, but something about it felt right and justified. For the first time that day I felt strong, like I knew what to do. Thomas just stared at me with his lips poked out and I leaned over and grabbed his shoulder. I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe I could shake some sense into him, or get him to at least admit he knew he was lying. To admit he knew he couldn’t blame the world for his problems. To admit that he knew I was trying to help. Instead, as I clamped my hand down on Thomas, I was shocked at how he felt, his bones so hard and small. I stood there for a moment, everyone looking at me, my heartbeat suddenly thrumming in my ear. Thomas shoved my hand off and punched me in the gut. The blow made me queasy, but the rage in his face almost knocked me to the floor. Officer Jackson wrestled him to the ground while Ms. Bullock hollered into her walkie-talkie. She asked if we needed the rest of the school police, but Officer Jackson told her he had it under control. Thomas was wriggling around on his back like an upended beetle. “Let go of me, bitch,” he yelled. “Little niggas like you make it harder on everybody else,” said the policeman, wrapping the front of the boy’s T-shirt in his hand. “I don’t care how mad you get, you don’t be trying to hit on people just because you feel like it. You hear me? You better listen. Stop struggling, boy.” He stopped, but shook with quick breaths. “Do you understand?” Thomas looked up at me again, but I avoided his eyes. I walked back to class and closed the door behind me. The kids stared up at me like I was a ghost. “Damn, Mr. Farnsworth, why you do Thomas like that?” somebody asked. I ignored the question. I told them all to go back to their seats, and they did. Pain swelled in the back of my brain and my mouth went watery. I didn’t feel up to talking, so I handed out copies of my Black Power lesson


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and told them to read it quietly. When the final bell rang, the kids laughed and tramped out into the hallway, copies scattered everywhere. I was struggling with the safety cap on the Valium bottle when Principal Sherwood appeared after school. I thought for sure that she was going to tell me I was fired. Instead she said she wanted me to come back the next day and that Ms. Bullock and Officer Jackson had given my handling of the “Thomas situation” high marks. “With the way our kids are,” she said with a nod, “we need more brothers like you.” She almost patted my hand, but offered a smile instead. *** On the drive home from school, the nigga in my stereo was yelling about how it felt to be a soldier. He told a story about a nigga who was a real nigga. A nigga who went to war with the world. I liked my music loud, but I had never turned the volume so high. The music buzzed the car frame and the voice beat against my ears. I kept a foot on the gas, the concrete rumbling beneath my tires.


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The Exit After the One You Should Have Taken Jeffrey Alfier Who says you can’t find a good room for the night where Happy Hour is boxed wine and a dusty six-pack forsaken by the last night clerk fired, and something the weak imitation of pizza beside a bowl of apples shriveled like hearts. Your best view of the sunset comes filtered through interstate silhouettes, barreling past not a hundred yards off. For alternate scenery there’s the new wing of the motel that’s been ‘Opening Soon’ forever, barely eclipsing the view of gentlemen’s clubs that encircle a joint like this; Gideon Bibles, like strippers, outflanked and outnumbered. For one man, the hour’s over too soon, but a short bumble to Legacy Liquor says he’s waivered-in, a good buzz to surf his clock into evening. You watch him go, join the chorus of shaking heads and snickers, guess how long he’ll last in this heat, picturing the fool stumbling back through dust – a specter trapped in amber, tie loose, booze-fevered sweat a fresh self-inflicted wound. Worst of all, he’s humming all the songs you hate, as you drop wearily on some ancient mattress, to find yourself well-rested come dawn, nothing louder than your coat fallen by the door. w


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Raoul the Boulevardier Joel Allegretti Welcome to Avenue Victor Hugo, who — the man, not the avenue — began defining our poetry at 24, yet had such an attraction to distraction that he ordered his servant to hide his clothes so he could attend to his mistresses, by whom I mean the pen and the page. In my own episodes of residential nudity, I can distance myself from everything except the full-length mirror on the wardrobe door. I admit it. I’m an auto-eroticist. * The Olympia on Boulevard des Capucines is called the Olympia for a reason. It’s where I caught Jacques Brel — Belgian, you know — and Charles Aznavour — Armenian, you know — and Siouxie and the Banshees — Goth, you know. * Over to the right is Rue Saint Denis. The red glow at twilight isn’t from the setting sun. (We named Rue Marie-Stuart for Mary, Queen of Scots. Centuries ago, it was a streetwalker assembly line known as Rue Tire-Boudin, which means “Sausage-Puller Street.”) I have a dinner engagement this evening, so if you happen to amble through Rue Saint Denis when the moon is out, ask for Odette and give her Raoul’s love. She won’t charge you for a sweet nothing.


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* Can you think of a more suitable emblem of the motherland than the Eiffel Tower? When Gustave Eiffel started erecting his namesake structure for the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition, he wasn’t uniformly applauded. Guy de Maupassant and Alexandre Dumas, to cite two naysayers, judged it an affront to French taste. One day I was taking in the view from the monument’s third level and observed four American high-school students shooting paper airplanes over the side. Dear Guy, Dear Alexandre, did you foresee it coming to that? I’m leaving in two days for a vacation in New York and made a mental note to launch an éclair from the top of the Empire State Building.


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Three-Balled Salvation Emily Asad Most folks in our society use the phrase “juggling” rather lightly, a passing mention that someone needs to juggle their schedule or accommodate their kids. For me, a literal image pops into my head of a businessman in a gray suit surrounded by floating calendars, or perhaps a soccer mom under a cloud of teenagers and mini-vans. I can’t help myself. I’m a juggler. I really do juggle children.* There are lots of people who can juggle, but that doesn’t make them Jugglers. Conversely, just because a person performs in Las Vegas doesn’t mean they’ve embraced juggling, either. Maybe they’re just doing party tricks to make money. I don’t claim the title lightly. See, it’s a lifestyle. Being a juggler means you’re a person of determination and creativity, with a modicum of humor and the ability to learn from others. It means that you indulge in other quirky pastimes that society overlooks or even ridicules. (How many jugglers have memorized pi to the hundredth digit? More than you can imagine…). It also probably means that, as a member of a small but global group (notice I didn’t use the words clique, club or organization), you will most likely treat other jugglers with instant kindness and enthusiasm. Like Star Trek fans whose code of honor allows them to see past gender, citizenship, or indoctrinated ideologies, jugglers greet each other with open arms. And like zealous missionaries, we’re always ready to pass along our skills to anyone who will learn. How was I converted? As the younger and smaller half of a competitive twinship, I always heard how my brother was just so amazing. He could run faster and hit a baseball farther than any of his peers — including me. One day, when we were thirteen, the circus came to town.

* There's a form of juggling called "body juggling”: I push three children around a stage (on their feet) in a rotating figure 8 pattern. Three gymnasts can do a horizontal version of the pattern, tossing themselves through the air, rolling into position, and standing up to do it all over again, but that's a more advanced version of what I do with the kids.


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There were jugglers, of course, and after a minute of watching them, my brother claimed that he could juggle, too. I bet him he couldn’t, and the race was on. When we returned home, he picked up three rocks from our driveway, and within minutes, he was juggling like a pro. Not to be outdone, I tried… and tried… and tried… It took me nearly two weeks to be able to juggle without dropping. By that time, I had invested so much effort that I wanted to surpass him. So I kept going. The cool thing about juggling is that any girl who can braid can apply the same principles to air. All I had to do was imagine that I was sending strands of hair into the sky, and all of a sudden I had created my own tricks. Of course, I found out later that most of my tricks had already been invented and had names like Mill’s Mess, Rubenstein’s Revenge and Burke’s Barrage. (We jugglers are literary sorts who appreciate alliteration). But at that time, it was enough that I knew several tricks while my twin could only do a basic cascade and a single trick called the “shower,” a circular pattern instead of a figure-eight. He gave up after a while, so juggling became my thing. My very own thing…. Imagine what this meant for a budding teenager with a mountain range of zits, frizzy red hair and no fashion sense. I was already a nerd, so juggling couldn’t possibly damage my reputation any further. In a strange way, it actually helped improve my standing. Not only did it allow a gawky and clumsy kid to experiment with balance and movement, but it forced me to face my peers. In Northern Minnesota, winter is so harsh that we weren’t allowed to go outside for six weeks of the year, not even for recess or Phys Ed. Those six weeks included a Juggling Unit for tenth-graders. By the time I hit high school, I was a solid enough juggler that I passed the juggling test the first day the course started. But B.J. Sisk, the Phys Ed teacher, didn’t let me withdraw into my success. She pushed me to try new props – clubs, rings, torches – and loaned me videos of tricks to learn. She even overlooked the fact that I had a tendency to blush and stammer whenever I found myself in public situations, so I soon found myself leading my classmates. For a girl who had mastered the art of being a wallflower, being in charge was new and scary. Knowing I’d be standing so close to my peers – shoulder to shoulder, in some instances, perhaps with a cute boy – forced me to experiment with hairspray, mascara, and deodorant. I did learn a few new beanbag tricks, but my most valuable new trick was confidence.


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My juggling lessons didn’t stop after those six weeks. In the summer, Miss Sisk invited me to attend a convention over in Fargo, where I met other jugglers. A unicycler named Jay Gilligan introduced me to juggler’s jokes: “Hey! Don’t touch my balls!” and “It’s best to shower with a friend.” Ben Schoenberg (one of those brilliant jugglers who can recite pi forever) introduced me to numbers juggling. He could weave five and seven balls more easily than I could handle three. Some of the other jugglers were physicists who revered Claude Shannon, the Father of Information Theory, and who enjoyed postulating theories about the height and velocity of beanbags versus the rate of acceleration or something like that. They showed me their own equations, but I was sixteen. I didn’t care. What most caught my attention was the Combat Juggling ring, a fearsome circle of jugglers armed with jewel-tone clubs who seemed to be knocking each other’s brains out. As a juggler, I was fully accustomed to the occasional black eye, split lip or popped knuckle, but Combat Juggling looked like actual war. When I expressed doubt about joining the circle, a handsome young man named Sean McKinney simply took my hand, walked me over, whispered something about chess and strategy, and pushed me in as the new round began. Even though the goal was to be the last person juggling, it turned out not to be vicious at all. The more experienced jugglers could just steal clubs from their competition and add them in to their own cascade. I thought I was so clever by staying close to the edge of the circle, away from the combat – my wallflower strategy had served me so well in life – but it only carried me so far. Out of a circle of thirty, I was surprised to discover that I had made it to the final three. I don’t remember the third person, but Sean walked up behind me and shouted “Boo!” I immediately dropped my clubs. Perhaps the strongest impression I got from the convention was how kind and supportive everyone was of each other. Competitors congratulated each other and were humble enough to exchange ideas. Experienced and famous people mingled with amateurs. Nobody made me feel inadequate because I was just a beginner. On the contrary, whenever I asked a person to teach me a new trick, they never held back. Over the years, I’ve thought about this a good deal. What if we humans greeted new cultures as potential friends instead of automatic enemies? What if we celebrated our quirks instead of hiding them? What if we, as professionals or as a society, were to exchange our own trade secrets so freely? The juggler’s code would serve us well.


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Over the years, I’ve done my share of impromptu performances. I think most jugglers will break out a trick, eventually, even if it’s only in a grocery store with three oranges to soothe a squalling toddler. I have a real life with a real job, but I’ve also organized juggler’s clubs, written and directed high-school renaissance festivals and talent shows, and run a Jester Academy as a summer library program. All of this because I wanted to beat my twin at something. This useless hobby changed the direction of my life. I am a better person because I juggle. Now, when you use the image of “juggling” to indicate how you handle frantic busyness, breathe a moment and allow the real meaning of the juggler’s code to wash you in goodwill, determination, and confidence. Maybe “showering” with our friends would make us all a little happier.


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Dear Dwight Frye Ruth Foley Hunchback, hair-puller, fly-eater, namer of spiders and rats, you deserved more than to end snap-limbed on your twisted back in a dungeon or at the narrow foot of a curved stone staircase. To be lifted again and again from your feet by our horrors, shaken by the throat, tossed from the battlements, an expended prisoner. You understood the lunatic eye — so much of you left behind on the floor of cutting room after cutting room. Your motivating murders, your dangling feet, your back-whipped broken men. You understood the abandoned cries from the asylums and the cells. Dear Renfield, dear assistant, dear graverobber, dear battered spirit: you feared you could not be more than half-gargoyle. Did you also distrust your swelling, slowing heart? Did you grow to despise your own thickening blood? The time stolen from you, pulled from your chest like through the broken planks of a mouldering casket— your terrified nightmare awaking in you as you fell. This is what you are, and— worse — it is enough for us. w


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Composition Russell Jaffe • Course conclusions: • Animals look like animals, • Turn their heads like animals, • Walk selectively like nature, decompose gradually, • Sit and take notes in an irreverent way, • Leave backpacks next to their desks like paw prints in the soft banks. • Stand with an arm on your elbow. • A wrist in a hand, be that person who looks more carefully, • Who applies what they do in class to the animal kingdom, • Who learns selectively. Who flexes their brains like muscle tendons • Which the textbook asks plainly that you do in your first essay. • You take an easy route calling students • The animal shapes you do appearing in the doorway late like from brush. • Memory’s always like a watering hole and wild Africa’s wild Iowa • When you’re in flux. • Students this way/Animals that way. • Note the difference in spinal curvature. • Agriculture studies and zoology share the same uncomfortable terrain. • Bones like the masts of a wooden ship • Dry paper like surf beaten sails. Class, begin again. • Come to think of it, pens and pencils are writing • Like the arithmetic of the body and skin like


Russell Jaffe

• Tarps over cages and cages of African prey • I saw on that Planet Earth show. • And I’ve learned to say “that show” for irreverent protection. • And they call the channel Nat Geo to be irreverent for you, students • Who gather like the lions and the elephants • At the watering hole. • An uncomfortable coincidence of water • Turned to an awkward exchange of groups staring • Licking their lips • And coursing the lengths of their hairs with bone fingers • In which you are afraid to speak out loud • For fear you’ll be tackled to the ground and eaten. • You chase the tail of an animal • And we’ll design a syllabus of secret rewards and nighttime eyes. • I have a thing • For white boards and teeth. • Put together the parts of the whole wild • And navigate the established tracks of this. w

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Brooklyn Russell Jaffe You comfort me in a concrete way. All your nails are glass. Your eyelashes slits between. You find yourself looking out while preening. You’re a tall, jagged mirror in which your downtown is refracted north, west, and into the dark drink of Atlantic. Against the docks in lower, western Brooklyn you wave nonchalantly to the ships passing by. Perhaps you are brushing them away. There is a good chance you notice how small the Statue of Liberty is and perceive yourself, also, as a gift. You hunger for angular, greasy pizza. It rains an oily rainbow. You would prefer to pay 99 cents per store every block for a million miles. There is a long Eastern road that ends in an island. You are one. Perhaps you are cover of night, and like a cloak. When you hear someone yelling “Hey Mah,” or screeching breaks or skateboards hitting the tops of hydrants, there you are: a sprawling cloak whose ends touch into the sea where the maps keep going but in real life it’s the end of the Earth. Underneath that ineffable sprawling cover your vulnerable spinal column tapers out onto Staten Island and then is gone by the time you hit the metal framework castles of New Jersey’s industrial outer crust. To call something in the center a heart is a term askew: a center is a passage between lungs, one filled with water, one with factory smoke. Perhaps, though, you are a wrought iron heart, cast and welded over my own. w


Russell Jaffe

ENTERING Photograph by Ellen Mueller

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Contributors JEFFREY ALFIER , is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose poems have appeared recently in Connecticut River Review and Vallum (Canada), with work forthcoming in New York Quarterly. His chapbooks are Strangers Within the Gate (2005) and Offloading the Wounded (2010). His third chapbook, Before the Troubadour Exits, will be out this fall. He serves as co-editor of San Pedro River Review, www.sprreview.com JOEL ALLEGRETTI is the author of four collections, most recently, Europa/Nippon/New York: Poems/Not-Poems (Poets Wear Prada, 2012). His second book, Father Silicon (The Poet’s Press), was selected by The Kansas City Star as one of 100 Noteworthy Books of 2006. His poetry has appeared in many national journals, including Smartish Pace, The New York Quarterly and PANK. He wrote the texts for three song cycles by Frank Ezra Levy, whose work is released on Naxos American Classics. Allegretti is a member of the Academy of American Poets and ASCAP. EMILY ASAD is a high school English teacher and young-adult author whose novels are published on Amazon and Smashwords in both print and e-book format. Among her thirteen books are, The Juggler’s Journey, The Jester of Corona, Survival in Style, Destination Paraguay, and Code Name: Whatever. She winters in Michigan and spends her summers in Paraguay, where she sometimes juggles with the local street performers. www.emilyasad.com AMANDA BALES hails from rural Oklahoma. After leaving the prairie she fell in love with mountains and bummed around several before landing on a (large) hill in Ireland. Her previous work has been nominated for the Best New American Voices series and has appeared in journals such as Bateau and The Southern Humanities Review. JESSICA BARKSDALE is the author of twelve novels, including Her Daughter's Eyes and When You Believe. She is a professor of English at Diablo Valley College and teaches online writing classes for UCLA Extension. Poet, novelist, and playwright DARIO BELLEZZA was born in Roma in 1944 and died there in 1996 of complications resulting from AIDS. His work was championed by Alberto Moravia, Elsa Morante, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, among others. Early in his career, he was close friends with Amelia Rosselli whose work influenced Bellezza and vice versa. Other notable influences


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in Bellezza’s edgy, political, and self-referential work include poets as wideranging as Catullus, Rimbaud, Genet, Allen Ginsberg and, of course, Pasolini. Among his eleven books, the best know volumes of poetry include Invettive e licenze (1971), Morte segreta (1976), winner of the prestigious, Viareggio Prize, Libro d’amore (1982), Libro di poesia (1990) and Proclama sul fascino (1996). The posthumous collection, Dario Bellezza: Poesie 1971-1996 appeared in 2002, edited by Elio Pecora. ELEANOR LEONNE BENNETT is a 16 year old internationally award winning photographer and artist who has won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organization, Nature’s Best Photography, Papworth Trust, Mencap, The Woodland Trust and Postal Heritage. Her photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. Her art is globally exhibited; she has shown work in the Environmental Photographer of the Year Exhibition (2011) , and in London, Paris, Indonesia, Los Angeles, Florida, Washington, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan, Australia, and many other locations. She was also the only person from the UK to have her work displayed in the National Geographic and Airbus run (The Bigger Picture global exhibition tour for the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity 2010). eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com JOHN S. BLAKE recently received his first Pushcart Prize nomination (2011). He’s been published in Malpais Review, Adobe Walls Literary Journal, Beyond Race Mag, In The Fray Magazine, Red Fez, Love And Car Crashes Zine, Urban Views Weekly Review, Criminal Class Review, and The Naugatuck River Review of Narrative Poetry. He co-curates a poetry reading and co-facilitates a writing/performance poetry workshop in Richmond, VA. His first full collection of poems, Beautifully Flawed (Foreword by Marty McConnell, Urban Publishing NYC) debuts in September of 2012. His memoir Wildflower - A Man Remembers A Remarkable Woman, and his travel essays, Sharing Breaths With Gods, are soon to follow. In July 2012, he co-coached a band of young writers to compete at Brave New Voices, an international youth poetry slam and festival, in which they are now ranked third. This he considers his greatest achievement. KAREN BROWN’s first collection of short stories, Pins and Needles, was the recipient of The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction and published by the University of Massachusetts Press. Her stories have been chosen twice


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for inclusion in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, appeared in Best American Short Stories 2008, and in literary journals that include Epoch, The Georgia Review, American Short Fiction, New Ohio Review, TriQuarterly and Five Points, among others. Her newest story collection, Little Sinners and Other Stories, won the 2011 Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and is forthcoming from University of Nebraska Press. She teaches at the University of South Florida. GEOFF BURNS began writing just over a year ago, after many years of working on ranches and construction sites throughout the west. His recent work has been accepted for publication by The Long Story and Cirque Journal. JEFF CAMPBELL is a teacher to adolescents with behavioral and emotional challenges. He lives in New England with his 3 amazing children and 1 amazing wife; after careful contemplation he’s decided that this is much better than 3 amazing wives and 1 amazing child. Jeff tends to write and perform his poetry in spurts: it is an often an attempt to derive and share the deeper things in life. More poetry and contemplation from Jeff can be found at http://jeffsdeepthoughts.wordpress.com/ MICHAEL CIRELLI'S newest collection, Everyone Loves The Situation (Penmanship Books, 2011), deconstructs MTV’s hit reality show, Jersey Shore, flipping the cultural zeitgeist on its (gelled and sprayed) head. He is also the author of Vacations on the Black Star Line (Hanging Loose Press, 2010), which was named in About.com’s Poetry Picks “Best Books of 2010,” and Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Hanging Loose Press, 2008), which was a NY Times bestseller from an independent press and was featured in the “Debut Poets” issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. His work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, Hanging Loose, Texas Review, World Literature Today and King Magazine, among others. He is the Executive Director of one of the nation’s largest youth literary arts organization, Urban Word NYC, and has authored two poetry curricula, Poetry Jam (Recorded Books, 2010) and HipHop Poetry & the Classics (Milk Mug, 2004). He has also appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Brave New Voices. Born in Jaffa, Israel, ORLY COGAN has a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art and has studied at Cooper Union in New York and in Europe. She has exhibited her work internationally; highlights include: The Museum of Art and Design & The Hudson River Museum in New York, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut , The Riverside Museum of Art in California, The Textile Museum of Canada in


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Toronto and The Textile Biennale at The Museum Rijswijk, Netherlands. Cogan currently works with Carl Hammer Gallery in Chicago, the Wexler Galery in Philadelphia, and the Charlie James Gallery in Los Angeles. Her work has been reviewed in numerous publications, such as The New York Times, The Chicago Sun Times, The LA Times, Art News, Art in America, Fiber Arts, Interior Design and Elle . She works with vintage embroidered fabrics, stitching her own witty versions of women’s lives and struggles. Her work can be found in books, such as Push Stitchery , Juxtapoz Books’ Handmade, and Contemporary Textiles, to name a few. http://www.orlycogan.com KATHLEEN COLLINS is an associate professor and librarian at the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has written for such periodicals as the Journal of Popular Film & Television, Critical Studies in Television, FlowTV, Bitch: Feminist Response to Pop Culture and Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly and is the author of Watching What We Eat: The Evolution of Television Cooking Shows (Continuum 2009). She has a Masters degree in journalism with a specialization in cultural reporting and criticism from New York University and a master’s degree in library science from Long Island University. Poet, translator, and essayist PETER COVINO is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Rhode Island. His poetry collections, both from New Issues, are The Right Place to Jump (2012), and Cut Off the Ears of Winter, winner of the 2007 PEN America/ Osterweil Award. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, The Paris Review, and The Yale Review, among others. He also co-edited, Essays on Italian American Literature and Culture for Bordighera Press (2011). PHILLIPPE DIEDERICH is a freelance photographer, writer and educator, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Mexico City and Miami. His award winning photography has been published in national and international publications including Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Toronto Star, and U.S. News and World Report among many others, and exhibited in numerous galleries and museums including the El Paso Art Museum and the Southeast Museum of Photography. He is the recipient of many awards, including an Artist Fellowship from the Florida Department of Cultural Affairs. His nonfiction and fiction have appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Sarasota Magazine, The Miami New Times, Cigar Aficionado, The Eckerd Review, The Houston Literary Review, Quarterly West, among


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others, and is forthcoming in High Desert Journal. His short stories have won honorable mentions in the 2008 Atlantic Monthly’s Student Writing Competition and the Association of Writing Programs Intro-Journal award in 2011. His eBook, Communism and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which includes an essay and 40 black and white images is available for most tablets at Amazon, Barnes& Noble and the iBookstore. He currently teaches photography at Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. www.phillippediederich.com LARA DOLPHIN is a writer and poet. Her work has appeared in print and online in such publications as Fogged Clarity, Orbis, The Foliate Oak Literary Journal and Calliope. SEAN THOMAS DOUGHERTY is the author or editor of 13 books including the forthcoming All I Ask for Is Longing: New and Selected Poems 1994-2014 (BOA Editions), and Scything Grace (2013 Etruscan Press). He is a great secret lemony light radiating from the shores of Lake Erie. MONIQUE FERRELL writes both fiction and poetry and is the author of two poetry collections — Black Body Parts (Cross Roads Press) and Unsteady (NYQ Books). Anthologized in such collections as Out of the Rough and Token Entry, her writing has also appeared in North American Review, New York Quarterly, Valley Voices, Puerto Del Sol, and Antioch Review, among others. Her short fiction collection Impetus and latest poetry collection Attraversiamo are forthcoming; additionally, her feminist criticism text Her Own Worst Enemy: The Eternal Internal Gender Wars of Our Sisters is due to be released in 2013. RUTH FOLEY lives in Massachusetts, where she teaches English for Wheaton College. Her recent work is appearing or forthcoming in Adanna, qarrtsiluni, Redheaded Stepchild, and Umbrella, among others. Her poetry has been nominated for the Best New Poets, Best of the Net, and Pushcart anthologies. She also serves as Associate Poetry Editor for Cider Press Review. BRAD FOX, a life-long Brooklynite, is completing a dissertation in Milton Studies at the Graduate School and University Center, City University of New York. He has been teaching composition, literature, and technical writing at New York City College of Technology, CUNY since 1996. He has also published poetry in Sixty-Six: The Journal of Sonnet Studies.


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ROBERT GIBBONS is a poet living in New York City. He has recently published in the Uphook Anthology. He has also published in the Palm Beach Post, Riverdale Press, and Tribes. Also a performance poet, Robert has featured in many of the venues around New York City such as Smalls Jazz Club, Cornelia Street Cafe, and Otto’s Shrunken Head, just to name a few.

STEVE GRIFFITHS was born in Anglesey, an island off Wales, in 1949.

His sixth collection, Surfacing (Cinnamon Press), was published in 2011, and he read from it in New York in the Spring of 2012. His Selected Poems appeared from Seren Books in 1993, and were followed by fifteen years of silence. He has read on BBC radio at regular intervals. He works as a researcher and consultant in health and social policy, and is a campaigner against the erosion of disability benefits in the UK. DEBORAH HAUSER is the author of Ennui: From the Diagnostic and Statistical Field Guide of Feminine Disorders (Finishing Line Press, 2011). She has taught composition and literature at Stony Brook University and Suffolk County Community College. Her poetry has been published in The Wallace Stevens Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, -gape-seed- (Uphook Press) and many other journals and anthologies. She has read her poetry at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA), New York University, Newman University, Bluestockings, and Bowery Poetry Club. She has presented her academic work at the Feminisms and Rhetorics Conference and graduate conferences at City University of New York and Stony Brook University. http://deborahhauser.com JOANNA CLAPPS HERMAN’S memoir, The Anarchist Bastard, was published by SUNY Press in 2011. She has recently co-edited two anthologies, Wild Dreams and Our Roots Are Deep with Passion. Two essays, “My Aboriginal Women” and “My Homer,” have just been published in the anthologies Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Wash, Women and Word, and Speaking Memory. She has also published poems in Word(s), Voices in Italian Americana, Inkwell, and Feile-Festa. She has published extensively in every form. In addition to teaching creative writing courses at The Center for Worker Education she teaches in the Manhattanville graduate creative writing program in Purchase, New York. WILLIAM HEYEN is Professor of English/Poet in Residence Emeritus at SUNY Brockport, his undergraduate alma mater. A former Senior Fulbright Lecturer in American Literature in Germany, he has won NEA,


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Guggenheim, American Academy & Institute of Arts & Letters, and other fellowships and awards. He is the editor of American Poets in 1976, The Generation of 2000: Contemporary American Poets, and September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond. His books include Pterodactyl Rose: Poems of Ecology, The Host: Selected Poems, Erika: Poems of the Holocaust, and Ribbons: The Gulf War from Time Being Books; Pig Notes & Dumb Music: Prose on Poetry and Crazy Horse in Stillness, winner of 1997’s Small Press Book Award for Poetry, from BOA; Shoah Train: Poems, a Finalist for the 2004 National Book Award, and The Confessions of Doc Williams: Poems from Etruscan Press; and The Rope: Poems, The Hummingbird Corporation: Stories, and Home: Autobiographies, Etc. from MAMMOTH Books. Carnegie-Mellon University Press has published his first book, Depth of Field (LSU P, 1970) in its Classic Contemporaries Series. Etruscan Press has recently published A Poetics of Hiroshima, a Chautauqua Literary & Scientific Circle selection for 2010. NATHAN HUNT lives in Portland, Oregon, working as a freelance writer and editor. His poems have been featured in Iconoclast, The Houston Literary Review, Poetry Quarterly, and Pennsylvania Literary Journal, among others. He is the co-founder and co-editor of the upstart literary journal Cartographer. His poem “St. Johns, Oregon, Soon After My Grandfather’s Death” won an Honorable Mention award from the 2011 Vella Poetry Prize. RUSSELL JAFFE is a former Brooklynite living in Iowa City and teaching English at Kirkwood Community College. He is the author of the chapbooks note/worthy (Scantily Clad Press, ’08), LITEROAST (Differentia Press, ’09) and forthcoming G(*)D (Pudding House Press). His poems have appeared in The Portland Review, elimae, MiPOesias, Shampoo, and others. R.G. JOHNSON lives in the Piney Woods of East Texas. There’s a beautiful and misguided woman who lives there with him. He writes offensive poetry and psycho-billy music. He is a negative and ornery misfit with whom normal folks don’t associate. Rumor has it that he once bit the head off of a live rattlesnake to win a 2 dollar bet. He has most recently been published or accepted for future publication in The Clockwise Cat, Gutter Eloquence, Opium Poetry 2.0, Negative Suck, Black-Listed Magazine, Paradigm Journal, Aberrant Journal, Burning Houses, Literary Burlesque, Exercise Bowler and Poetry Monthly International. ALLISON JOSEPH lives and writes in Carbondale, Illinois, where she directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University and helps edit Crab Orchard Review. Her latest book is My Father's Kites (Steel Toe Books, 2010).


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Renowned poet and translator GALWAY KINNELL is the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Book of Nightmares, When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone, A New Selected Poems and, most recently, Strong is Your Hold. His 1982 Selected Poems won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He served as poet laureate of Vermont and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and was awarded the Frost Medal by the Poetry Society of America. He was Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing at New York University for many years. ANNIE RACHELE LANZILLOTTO is a Bronx-born poet, author, director, performance artist. Lanzillotto’s memoir L is for Lion is due out in 2012 from SUNY Albany Press. Recent works include her unpublished book of poems, Schist, her independent c.d. release Eleven Recitations, and her band’s album Blue Pill. Her poem “Triple Bypass” won the Paolucci Award in Poetry of the Italian American Writers Association, and was published in the 2002 anthology The Milk of Almonds: Italian-American Women Writers on Food and Culture, edited by Edvige Giunta and Louise DeSalvo. Solo shows include: Confessions of a Bronx Tomboy, Pocketing Garlic, How to Wake Up a Marine in a Foxhole, a'Schapett at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market in the Bronx. Lanzillotto has received performance commissions from Dancing In The Streets, Dixon Place, Franklin Furnace, The Rockefeller Foundation. LINDA LERNER was born and educated in New York City. Her most recent collection, Takes Guts & Years Sometimes, was published by New York Quarterly Books in June, 2011. She’s previously published thirteen collections of poetry, including Something Is Burning In Brooklyn (2009, Iniquity Press/ Vendetta Books) Living In Dangerous Times (Presa Press, 2007), and City Woman (March Street Press, Fall, 2006), the latter two Small Press Review’s Picks. Two previous collections also had that honor; she’s been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize. In 1995 she and Andrew Gettler began Poets on the Line, (http://www.echony.com/~poets), the first poetry anthology on the Net for which she received two grants. She’s published in the New York Quarterly, Onthebus, Louisiana Review, Paterson Literary Review, Ragged Lion Anthology, Chiron Review, Danse Macabre, Tribes, Van Gogh’s Ear, Home Planet News, New Verse News, Rusty Truck, et.al. She has read widely across the United States. Recent books from LYN LIFSHIN: The Licorice Daughter: My Year With Ruffian, from Texas Review Press, Another Woman Who Looks Like Me, from


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Black Sparrow at Godine, following Cold Comfort and Before It’s Light, Desire and 92 Rapple. She has over 120 books & has edited 4 anthologies. Also out recently: Nutley Pond, Persephone, Barbaro: Beyond Brokenness, Lost In The Fog, Light At The End, Jesus Poems And Ballet Madonnas, Katrina, Lost Horses, Chiffon, and Ballroom. And just out: All The Poets Who Have Touched Me, Living And Dead, All True: Especially The Lies. Forthcoming books include Tsunami As History, from Poetryrepairs.Com.; For The Roses: Poems For Joni Mitchell., and A Girl Goes Into The Woods, from New York Quarterly Books. Her website is www.lynlifshin.com ADA LIMÓN is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck (Autumn House Press, 2006), This Big Fake World (Pearl Editions, 2007), and Sharks in the Rivers (Milkweed Editions, 2010). Her work has appeared in numerous magazines including, The New Yorker, Harvard Review, and Poetry Daily. She is currently at work on a novel, a book of essays, and a new collection of poems. WILLIAM LOGAN'S new book of poetry, Madame X, will be published next summer. His Deception Island: Selected Earlier Poems was published in 2011. NATASHA LVOVICH is a writer and scholar of second language acquisition and bilingualism. She teaches at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, and divides her loyalties between the academic and creative writing. She is an author of a collection of autobiographical narratives, The Multilingual Self, and of a number of articles and essays. Her creative nonfiction recently appeared in academic journals (Life Writing, New Writing, Lifewriting Annual) and literary magazines (Big.City.Lit, WHL Review, Post Road, Paradigm, Nashville Review). Her piece, Balakovo, has been nominated for 2011 Pushcart Prize. ED LUHRS has held various positions as a public relations coordinator for Long Island school districts, a copy editor for local newspapers, and a teacher at a juvenile detention center. He has M.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from SUNY Binghamton and currently teaches composition courses at the Suffolk County Community College Grant Campus. LYNN MCGEE'S poems appeared recently in The New Guard— one a finalist and another a semifinalist in that magazine’s contest, judged by Donald Hall. Other poems of hers have appeared in the Bijou Poetry Review, Kennesaw Review, Laurel Review, Ontario Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Phoebe, Pittsburgh


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Quarterly, Southern Anthology, The Sun, West Coast Review, and other journals. Her chapbook Bonanza won the 1996 Slapering Hol national manuscript contest; she received a MacDowell fellowship and earned an MFA from Columbia University. ELLEN MUELLER has exhibited nationally and internationally as an interdisciplinary artist exploring the shared, everyday challenge of resisting change and maintaining control. Recent exhibitions span a variety of venues including CNN.com, the Cardiff Story Museum, and the Taubman Museum of Art. Recently, she has been selected for residencies at Vermont Studio Center, Ucross Foundation, and Santa Fe Art Institute. Mueller is currently an Assistant Professor of Art at West Virginia Wesleyan College. ANNE PANNING’S short story collection, Super America, won The 2006 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and was favorably reviewed in The New York Times. The Boston Globe, Publisher’s Weekly and others. She has also published a book of short stories, The Price of Eggs, as well as short fiction and nonfiction in places such as Beloit Fiction Journal, Bellingham Review, Prairie Schooner, New Letters, The South Dakota Review, The Florida Review, Passages North, Black Warrior Review, The Greensboro Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Kalliope, Quarterly West, The Kenyon Review, The Laurel Review, Under the Sun, Five Points, The Hawaii Review, Cimarron Review, West Branch, South Loop Review, and Brevity. Anne recently published her first poem, “So” in 32 Poems. Four of her essays have received notable citations in The Best American Essays. Her novel, Butter, will be published in October 2012 by Switchgrass Books. She is currently at work on a memoir, Dragonfly Notes: A Memoir of Motherhood and Loss. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children, and teaches creative writing at SUNY-Brockport. MOLLY PEACOCK is the author of six volumes of poetry, including The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New & Selected Poems, both published by W.W. Norton and Company. Her poems have appeared in leading literary journals such as The TLS, The New Yorker, and The Paris Review, as well as in numerous anthologies, including The Best of the Best American Poetry and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She is the Series Editor for The Best Canadian Poetry in English and serves on the Graduate Faculty of the Spalding University Brief Residency MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her latest work of nonfiction is The Paper Garden: An Artist Begins Her Life’s Work at 72, published by Bloomsbury.


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CLAUDIA SEREA is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. Her poems and translations have appeared in 5 a.m., Meridian, Harpur Palate, Word Riot, Blood Orange Review, Cutthroat, Green Mountains Review, and many others. She was nominated two times for the 2011 Pushcart Prize and for 2011 Best of the Net. She is the author of To Part Is to Die a Little ( ervenå Barva Press), Angels & Beasts (Phoenicia Publishing, Canada), and A Dirt Road Hangs from the Sky (8th House Publishing, Canada). She also published the chapbooks Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and With the Strike of a Match (White Knuckles Press, 2011). She coedited and co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, An Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011). ABDEL SHAKUR received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Indiana University and served as Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Glint, The Other Journal, and Scissors and Spackle. He now teaches 9th grade English and lives in Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Lucy. He blogs at http://misstraknowitall. blogspot.com BOB SHAR is a former newspaper reporter, burned-out little magazine founder/editor/publisher (The Crescent Review, 1983-1988), disreputable bar mitzvah instructor and recently retired librarian living in WinstonSalem, NC. His short stories have appeared in Greensboro Review, South Carolina Review, Cold Mountain Review, and other magazines. E.G. SILVERMAN'S fiction has appeared in South Dakota Review, Harpur Palate, Beloit Fiction Journal, Fugue, Berkeley Fiction Review, G.W. Review, and many other literary journals. VIRGIL SUAREZ was born in Cuba in 1962. Since 1974 he has been living in the United States. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and poetry. Most recently the University of Pittsburgh Press published 90 Miles: Selected & New. The poems here will be published in Indigo, a forthcoming collection of poems. When Mr. Suarez is not writing, he is out riding his Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic up and down the Blue Highways of the Southeastern United States. TIM SUERMONDT has published two chapbooks and two full-length collections of poems, Trying To Help The Elephant Man Dance from Backwaters Press, 2007, and Just Beautiful from New York Quarterly Books, 2010.


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He’s had poems in many magazines and online, including: The Georgia Review, Poetry, Poetry East, Blackbird, Poetry Northwest, Atlanta Review and Bellevue Literary Review, with poems forthcoming in Southern Humanities Review, Prairie Schooner and Stand Magazine (U.K.) among others. He has poems in Poetry after 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets (Melville House Publications, 2002 ) and Visiting Walt (a Whitman anthology from the University of Iowa Press, 2003.) He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, the poet Pui Ying Wong. RICHARD VETERE’S published novels include the critically acclaimed The Third Miracle (Simon & Schuster) and Baroque (Bordighera Press), The Last Detective (Seagull Press) and his published books of poetry include Memories of Human Hands (Manyland Books) and A Dream of Angels (Northwoods Press). He co-wrote the screenplay adaptation of The Third Miracle starring Ed Harris and Anne Heche, directed by Agnieskza Holland and produced by Francis Ford Coppola. His other feature films include Viglante (called a cult-classic by the NY Times) and How to Go Out on a Date in Queens and the teleplay stage adaptation of his play, The Marriage Fool starring Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett, which was the highest rated CBS TV movie ever. His stage plays published by Dramatic Publishing and produced around the world include Caravaggio; Machiavelli; One Shot, One Kill; Gangster Apparel, The Engagement among many others. His Last Day just had its world premiere at Gloucester Stage and three of his ten minute plays have been anthologized in Smith & Kraus since 2009. In 2006 the Frank Melville Library at Stony Brook created the Richard Vetere archives. He holds a master’s from Columbia in Comparative English Literature and has written movies and TV show for ABC, CBS, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, New Line Cinema and A&E. He was just made a Lifetime Member of the Writer’s Guild and his play One Shot, One Kill produced at Primary Stages was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is currently teaching a playwrighting workshop in the master’s program at NYU. He was born and still lives in NYC. JAMES K. ZIMMERMAN is the winner of the 2009 Daniel Varoujan Award and the 2009 & 2010 Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Awards. His work appears or is forthcoming in anderbo.com, The Bellingham Review, Rosebud, Inkwell, Nimrod, and Vallum, among others. He is also currently a clinical psychologist in private practice, and was a singer/songwriter in a previous life.


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Acknowledgments The editors of the 2 Bridges Review wish to express their deep appreciation to the following people: Russell Hotzler, and the Administration of the New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York for backing and encouragement. Stephen Soiffer, for technical, administrative, and intellectual support. Nina Bannett, and the City Tech English Department faculty for continued advocacy and inspiration. Martin Mitchell, for editorial help and support. Barbara K. Bristol and Galway Kinnell, for permission to print the handwritten version of “La Bagarède.”


{contributors} Jeffrey Alfier i Joel Allegretti i Emily Asad i Amanda Bales Jessica Barksdale j Dario Bellezza j Eleanor Leonne Bennett John S. Blake i Karen Brown i Geoff Burns i Jeff Campbell Michael Cirelli j Orly Cogan j Kathleen Collins j Peter Covino Phillippe Diederich i Lara Dolphin i Sean Thomas Dougherty Monique Ferrell j Ruth Foley j Brad Fox j Robert Gibbons Steve Griffiths i Deborah Hauser i Joanna Clapps Herman William Heyen j Nathan Hunt j Russell Jaffe j R.G. Johnson Allison Joseph i Galway Kinnell i Annie Rachele Lanzillotto Linda Lerner j Lyn Lifshin j Ada Lim贸n j William Logan Natasha Lvovich i Ed Luhrs i Lynn McGee i Ellen Mueller Anne Panning j Molly Peacock j Claudia Serea j Abdel Shakur Bob Shar i E.G. Silverman i Virgil Suarez i Tim Suermondt Richard Vetere j James K. Zimmerman

2 Bridges Review Vol.2  

The celebrated East River Bridges (Two Bridges) – the Brooklyn and the Manhattan, connect downtown Brooklyn with downtown Manhattan. Between...

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