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Cover art: Amanda Tobin ’17 Title page art: “Closing” by Emma Rothkopf ’15, Hasselbald 501c Contents page art: “Boundary Waters Sunset 2” by Jake Stimpson The aim of Circus is to represent the most outstanding and diverse creative talent that Amherst students have to offer. The Circus editors truly enjoyed reading and evaluating each and every submission, and hope that you continue to help us achieve our mission by submitting your best works to circus@amherst.edu.


CIRCUS | VOL. 17 | WINTER 2014 | NO. 1


ONTENTS

Letter from the Editors

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Pause

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The Yes Man

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Jacob

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If She Leaves

12

Study Break in Beneski

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Lions in Winter

15

Hallowed Ground

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É Luxo Só

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Potholes! The Geological Wonder of Shelburne Falls, MA

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A Hum from the M96 (After Gwendolyn Brooks)

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Artist Draws Celestial Gift

34

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Artist Draws Imaginary Landscape

35

You Call Yourself a Feminist

25

A Family Trip

36

Indirect Flight

28

Gum

38

Blind Contour of Three

29

Southern Leopard Frog

39

Vulnerabilidad

30

40

Grandfather Clock

31

The second thing I shouldn’t have told her

Millipede Spiral

32

Profile

41

Shorn

19

To Hide in Costumes

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Thinking Like Lola

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Mirroring


NOTE FROM THE EDITORS This issue of Circus is dedicated to David Foster Wallace ‘85. We chose his speech “This Is Water” as our theme for the issue because we want to hold up Circus as a mirror to the Amherst bubble. Everyday, we trudge through the snow that smells faintly of salt, slouched in our coats; we follow the crowd into Val, reaching a halt behind someone at the Traditional Side before checking what we were in line for; we idly sift through table tents; we go to Frost and decide, in between the double doors, which of our well worn study spots we are in the mood for; in a few hours, we realize too late that Frost Cafe has closed; we head back to our dorms before the midnight announcement makes us; we hit snooze a few times before it begins all over. Operating on mind numbing routine, so thoroughly centered on the self, we let go of our freedom. We forget to engage, deliberately and meaningfully, with others around us, and forget to taste the water, to even realize that we are swimming in water. For a brief moment, art allows us to see, breathe, hear, feel. We experience the world through another, and our own world and our own selves become a little more clear. We hope you enjoy the wonderful works in this issue, and encourage you to seek out the minds behind them and start a conversation. Perhaps you, too, will be inspired to create something of your own from water. JinJin Xu and Katarina Cruz Editors-in-Chief EDITORS-IN-CHIEF: JINJIN XU ’17, KATARINA CRUZ ’17; DESIGNER: BRENDAN HSU ’15; ARTS: HEATHER LEE ’15, EMMA HARTMAN ’17, CHLOE TAUSK ’18, DARYA BOR ’18, ANGELA LIU ’18, MOLLY BORDEN ’17, NORAH OTERI ’18, EDEN LYNCH ’18; POETRY: JULIA PRETSFELDER ’18, EDEN LYNCH ’18, NOOR QASIM ’18, AMBER BOYKINS ’18, TYLER VIDANO ’17, KATY ROSE O’BRIEN ’17, SYEDA MALLIHA ’17; PROSE: MEGAN DO ’18, NOOR QASIM ’18, FELIX EDWARDS ’18, HADLEY DORN ’18, JULIA ROCH ’18, YEILM YOUM ’18, CHLOE TAUSK ’18, CAROL CARRIAZO ’18, ALURA CHUNG MEHDI ’18


There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?” —David Foster Wallace at Kenyon College, 2005


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PAUSE S PE NCE R J Q U O NG ’ 1 7 CHARCOAL AND GRAPHITE ON WHITE WOVE PAPER


THE YES M A N K ATARI NA CRU Z ’ 1 7

A lot can come with “yes” to rice Say it once, and you’re forced for twice. Then soon rice will be all you eat And you’ll scream “RICE” when offered meat. That happens with all sorts of things; It’s why people buy wedding rings. Expectant, one falls to his knees. Diamond in hand, he hopes to please. Her head screams “no” but she says yes. Next thing you know, she’s in a dress. Tears in her eyes, she walks the aisle She says, “I do,” with a faux smile. Often “yes” becomes too routine: a blanket term that’s lost its sheen


JACOB | KELLY KRUGMAN ’17E | STEEL WIRE SCULPTURE


IF SHE L E AVE S HADL E Y DO RN ’ 1 8

Four months after her wedding Evelyn planted a poplar tree in her backyard. She dug a hole the size of a small grave and went about setting the roots. When it started to look dry she gathered her tears and spread them on the branches. When April turned the sky to faucets she held her hands up to stop the rain. In time the leaves of the tree began to turn a bright red. It was a spectacle no townsperson had ever seen. During the day she kept hidden in her garden tending to the poplar. During the night she hung at the window listening to it moan with the wind. She doubted there was anything else in the world with such dark beauty. Most nights her husband came to her side, gently pulling her back to bed. Other times she stood alone all night with blank eyes, listlessly clutching at her stomach. She wondered when he would come back, if he would say I love you. There were times when he said it in a daydream, speaking to the wall as if it were another woman. Evelyn never had the words to respond. Six months after the wedding she decided to plant another poplar. No thing so tortured should have to stand alone, she thought. One day she started to put seeds in her husband’s cereal. I was thinking of taking a walk she said softly. He nodded and flipped over a page of the paper. He could not taste her sadness. After the third tree was planted she began to have fainting spells. Her physician announced that she was anemic. She had been to the doctor several times over the past year, but only decided to tell her husband about this one. You toil all day with these blood sucking trees it’s no surprise you’re so drained he replied absently. His beard had become a thick underbrush of brown hairs. She poured maple syrup on his pancakes and wondered why he came home in the morning for breakfast but never came back to shave. When they were first engaged everyone was jealous of the happy couple. You’ll have such beautiful children the women cooed. Her husband had a wealthy family and it was assumed that their son would be the next heir. His vows were short and plain. I am happy to make you mine. She wanted to spread her arms like branches to the sky. To say everything she felt, the pain, the uncertainty. She could only muster a few words. I am happy to be yours.


Their wedding went on, and the flowers were sprayed with bright colors, and the guests were drunk on champagne, and her smile was as white as her gown. When she was taken back to the house that night Evelyn saw the gates on the edge of the property. To keep you safe her husband whispered. That night she knew little of men and less of the world. That morning she woke up with cotton in her eyes and sap in her mouth. She knew enough. At first she had her friends over for tea once a week. You have such a beautiful house they gawked. What pretty china. Your children will be so happy here. You are so blessed. Her smile was as sweet as her pastries. After a few months the visits dwindled to phone calls and the phone calls dwindled to silence. With each tree, Evelyn wilted more and more. One day she fell sick for a week and at the end the doctors discovered she was pregnant. She was ordered to bed rest, Unable to move from the room, she could not see her poplars. When the baby was born they said it was a miracle that a woman so sick could have a child so happy, so fresh. She had lost a lot of blood. She said she was too weak to hold him. The leaves on the trees grew darker. Once she and the baby were well enough, they returned to the house. The gate closed behind them with an obtrusive thud. Later that day she took a hatchet to her poplars. She gathered them unceremoniously in a pile and set them on fire. She gazed into the flames and thought about the baby. When the wood turned to ash she wanted to bury the remains. The powder slipped through her fingers and destiny followed with it. She turned to go inside, letting the remains fly away with the night. She did not turn back. She picked up her baby and mounted the stairs. With each step she whispered. We do not always want the things others say we must have.

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S TU D Y BRE A K I N B E NE S K I BRIA N B EA D Y ’ 1 7 PENCI L O N W HI TE W O V E PA PE R


LIONS I N W I NTE R CARO L I NA C A R RL A Z O ’ 1 8

A bay. Cream-colored skies hide the descending sun that proves too erotic for winter. A man stares at his lighter flame, gaunt face fixed with morbid wonder. He whispers, I could burn down the world if I wanted to, just like this. By the docks a woman kisses her beau with the fever of young love. She thinks marriage, he thinks nights of sleepy passion, and pretends to smile. What question she had rounded on her lips slowly fades. I watch these people under the overcast sky voiceless, wanting, creating warmth – their xanthic bodies glowing fire yet feeling none, like zealots in winter.

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HA LL OW E D G ROUND JULI A RO CH ’ 1 8

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She lights up a cigarette and watches the black coats bundle back into their cars. Those things will kill you, Nick says, but doesn’t try to stop her. White puffy clouds meander slowly overhead. It looks like the snow will hold off until tomorrow. Thank god, she thinks. They’re lucky the ground has yet to freeze. Want to catch a movie, she asks as the last of the spectators vanish from the parking lot. Jesus, he says, you’re unbelievable. He walks away, then, in protest, and every step looks like a struggle. He wants her to give in first, to call him back, but she’s always been stubborn and he’s always been weak. When he makes his way back over, she hands him a cigarette and lights it with the tip of her own. Fuck, he breathes as their white smoke becomes invisible against the sky. Watch your mouth, she says. I’m still your mother.


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É Luxo Só ADRI A N CAS TI L L O ’ 1 7 NEX US 5 CA M E RA


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POTHOLES! THE GEOLOGICAL WONDER OF SHELBURNE FALLS, MA ADRI AN CA STI L L O ’ 1 7 NEX US 5 CA M E RA


SHO RN C L A I RE JI A ’ 1 5

She was the left-behind; she was the ex-girlfriend, the ex-best-friend; she was the remains of him, and him, and him, and she was the empty night sky, expansive, knowing, lonely, substanceless and heavy with her freshman year – but she was twenty-three and long gone, tasting only the smoke and the stale one-dollar cheese pizza of a tired New York City dawn. What a cliché, she’d always thought, to be the girl out of school and still searching for herself, missing a boy, drowning in Merlot, living with strangers in Brooklyn and eating the same brunch over and over again, out at the clubs at two am and burning the same bridges and the same photos of the same pair of leather shoes. She wondered when she’d ever be someone undefined by the amount of men she fucked – her teachers scolded her for her short skirts when she was twelve and boys’ eyes wandered, ‘how’s your love life?’ was the first question Beth always asked her – the first question she always asked Beth, too – and the mention of Fitzgerald, the Killers or winter still brought to her mind the memory of his lips. She kissed a girl when she was eighteen – in the stairwell of the Phi Delt house, with a bottle of André in her hand –and it was warm and soft and nice but just nice, and she was disappointed that she didn’t love this girl, and she hated herself for only loving the rough touch and overblown egos of the boys down the hall, who wore their jerseys slung over the shoulder and their pride up high. When people told her to “do-it-yourself,” she listened, because she always listened, but every time she did it the image of her parents cutting a Thanksgiving ham would come to mind and she’d scream and stop and feel like a horrible daughter and feel like a horrible sister and horrible woman and horrible girl and through it all she forgot she was a human being, first and foremost.

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TO HI D E I N C O S TUMES C ARO L CARRL A Z O ’ 1 8

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Kate’s mother died on Halloween. We tried not to notice the girl or the occasion; business as usual, because we’re too old for this now. Some of us paint our faces or put on suits and play pretend but only as a final goodbye to Spring. I saw Kate shuffle past my driveway in the blue thickness of the evening, and caught her fragile smile in the yard lights. I wanted to say something, or just walk alongside her in the dark knowing I would help to bear the weight of heavy knowledge – but I was stranded by a crowd of seven year-olds pounding my lawn chair, so I looked on from where I sat, hoping she would notice. My eyes fell on the boy who fell into step with her quietly, his old man’s fire helmet like a red beacon in the night. No one would have guessed he lost his father; he tried hard with those easy smiles, and they convinced us all except her. But now he sank, tired of pretending. I watched the perfectly practiced expression


disintegrate slowly and I could see him bleeding onto the pavement as he raised the palm of his hand to his cheek and breathed, reluctantly brave. A group of teenagers passed the intimate pair, and - knowing the situation well enough from the day’s whispering – hurried on, violated by a reminder of mortality. Their deafening thoughts pierced the silence: “I don’t want my watercolor stream of life to turn against me, I don’t want to learn how to be brave, I don’t want to swim, just let me go. Just let me go.” But no one said anything; It was Halloween and we held onto our costumes like the last day of Spring.

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THI NK I NG L I K E L OLA HADL E Y HEI NR I C H ’ 1 7

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I can feel the street heart, insistent against the soles of my feet. It’s invading my pulse, replacing bone with sheet metal thin, slammed into the most efficient form, a rough mixture of fighting forces it makes me run faster my hands can merge with the buildings better now I watch them, the hands they’ve gotten rougher after only a few blocks undertones vibrating through the palms my pulse visible on the palms I paint the walls and sidewalks with this new palette now the walls are beating too desperation latent on the tongue iron-fisted, punching into my mouth oxidizing my words into the staccato beat of feet losing their substance even as the streets grow stronger with this desperation feeding off my molecular formula, the city is stronger when I run the hungry static buildings leaning in to feast on my image department store windows mimic movement, twisting my form like taffy, let’s reverse-engineer: these are feet, how they pound these are hands, how they bleed interesting, this mirror-child interesting, adrenaline, the skin grows more poignant and the sky widens


with this spike in heart rate they’re hungry with continuity, they need destruction to displace their roots move a little through the soil, explore, just a little shift after a hundred years of enduring they can imagine this running figure broken up on the sidewalk easy dissolving under the rain. They would gladly take her, varnish their windows with the light of her look she’s approaching activation energy perhaps she will be generous and afford them some movement in turn, they would replace the massive insubstantial structures in her head replace them with real steel and concrete easy dreams are not too hard to reproduce now, this undercurrent of blood, this racing river there is no language to span it, no rope or rod long enough to find the bottom or identify an end to the complexity rootless mobile this is what a building would want.

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MIRRO RI NG K ELLY KRU GM A N ’ 1 7


YOU CALL YOURSELF A FEMINIST ABIGA I L BE RE O L A ’ 1 5

What hurts you most is not that he may have hurt another woman. It’s that he wasn’t the one to tell you. You heard from a friend who heard from a friend. When you bring it up one Saturday afternoon in your apartment as you sit on the couch with your cat in your lap and he rummages through his bag, he looks at you sheepishly, his hand scratching the back of his neck. “I didn’t do it,” he says. “I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you.” “Okay,” you say. A few seconds pass. “Do you believe me?” “Of course.” If you believe anything to be true, you certainly believe that. He looks relieved. “I love you.” It comes unexpectedly, bursting into the conversation. He has said it before, but this feels misplaced. As if love makes a rape accusation better. You are quiet. Then, finally, you say, “I know.” You call yourself a feminist. Not the male-bashing, bra-burning kind, but the nomeans-no, sex-positive, women-should-have-equal-pay kind. Like good food, your family, and your cat, you hold your feminist consciousness close to your heart. So when you find out that the guy you have been seeing for eight months has been accused of raping two women, it throws you for a loop. You know him—or at least, you feel like you do—and you don’t know these women. Shouldn’t you be on his side? Eight months is a long time to be dating someone. There is so much you have learned about him. You know that he grew up in Arizona. You know his friends. You know that he likes his coffee black and leaves his socks on during sex. You know he doesn’t drink. You know which side of the bed he prefers. You know his favorite restaurant and ice cream flavor. You know that he loves you and loves you fiercely. ‘No matter what, life goes on,’ your mom always says, but this experience is the first time that you have really felt it to be true. Over the course of the next month, life continues on as usual. He comes over for dinner. You discuss the possibility of getting a dog together. You do laundry at his place. He brushes his teeth at yours. You have sex. Twice. Three times. You watch reruns of Dexter and he tries to convince you to start Breaking Bad, while you tell him that Scandal is a worthy match. You act like nothing has changed, even though everything has. You can’t look at him without wondering if the smirk on his face is the same smirk he had on as he was pinning down another woman. You can’t kiss him without thinking about the possibility that the last person who was on your side of things

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didn’t want to be there. You can’t love him without wondering if you’re wrong for it. But you can’t hate him for loving you either. Sexual assault begins to pop up everywhere. There are stories of young girls hurt by men on television, a billboard for a rape crisis center while driving, a story about a high school boy sexually abused by his English teacher in the newspaper, students fighting for Title IX reform and demanding justice from their universities on the radio. In order to concretely remain on your boyfriend’s side, you have tried to avoid any and all details in the case against him, but it seems you have exchanged hearing the story that involves him for the stories of many others. One evening after driving home from work, you find him waiting for you in your apartment. “I figured you’d probably be tired by the time you got home, so I decided I would make you dinner,” he says. “I thought maybe we could have a quiet night in.” You nod, silently grateful that tonight won’t be another dinner consisting of whatever is easily accessible in your apartment, likely wine, tortilla chips, and chocolate. He leads you to the kitchen where some sort of red sauce is simmering over the stove. You pull open the oven and see breaded chicken cutlets baking. “Chicken parmesan,” he offers. It’s your favorite comfort food. “How long have you been here?” You ask him. “Maybe an hour. I was waiting for you at first, thinking we could cook together. But I thought you’d be hungry, so I got started.” You kiss him lightly on the lips, tasting marinara and spices. That night in bed, you take turns holding each other. “We’ll get through this,” he says absently, brushing his fingers up and down your back. You’re not sure if he says it for your benefit or for his. More time passes and he seems like he’s always on the verge of a breakdown, though he never hits it. You are quieter, preferring to listen more than you speak with him. He tries to compensate for the silence by filling the space between you with words. You spend a lot of time with one of your closest friends, Maya, and inadvertently find yourself volunteering the small amount of additional time that you do have at a rape crisis center. You don’t connect it to your current situation, preferring to connect it to the many anti-sexual assault messages you have seen lately, and you don’t tell him. He feels your distance, but he thinks by allowing you that, maybe you will return. He begins scheduling time with you in order to ensure that he gets to see you. One Sunday afternoon, one that you have dedicated to seeing a movie together, he asks you if you want to go to court with him. And when you say yes, he kisses you. “When this is all behind us, everything will be better.” You smile, small and contained. Twelve months isn’t a long time to be dating someone. There is so much you don’t know about him. You don’t know his family. You don’t know who he would choose as the


best man for his wedding. You don’t know what his aspiration was as a child. You don’t know if he is capable of raping someone. “What are you thinking?” He asks you that night, as you lay awake in his bed. “Nothing,” you say. “Are you thinking about the trial?” He prods. “We might reach a settlement out of court. The lawyers have been discussing it.” His fingers lightly graze your arm. You pull away. “I’m tired,” you say, turning away from him. In the morning, he slams the cabinet shut after pulling a glass from it. The glass clinks loudly as it hits the countertop. “What’s wrong?” You ask him. He turns to look at you. “If you don’t believe me, why are you still here? Why do you say yes when I suggest we do something together? This is obviously bothering you.” When he says ‘this,’ he gestures at the space between you two. “It’s just a lot to process,” you sigh. “You’re choosing to process it alone,” he tells you, clearly exasperated. “You don’t have to process it alone.” But he knows you don’t want to process it with him. “Talk to Maya. Or someone. It doesn’t have to be me. But this is getting between us and I don’t want it to.” You don’t say anything for a while. Then, “I love you,” slips from your mouth. You’ve said it before, but this feels misplaced. “I know,” he tells you, a sigh escaping from his lips. “We should talk about this.” You gently shake your head. “Just tell me one thing. Did you do it?” “Do you really think that little of me?” You stand in silence for a while. Then you grab your stuff and leave his apartment. You run, down the stairs, out of his apartment building, around the corner. You keep running until you are out of breath. You’re not sure if you will return.

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INDIRECT FL I G HT VICTO RI A L U I Z Z I ’ 1 7

I. Winter: the heart shifts, worm in a gall. Secret thing, chews out through ribs, lifts, later—if only I had veiny wings instead of this fear. Maybe I’m rushing into this—cold things have to freeze to something; I chose you.

28

II. Overwintering again. Colder: slower sleep. So I’ll wait for spring, runoff season—I won’t tell, or I will—it won’t matter. I know why my heart shifts. Wings pressed, unfolding now, I make a cradle of my chest.


BLIND CONTOUR OF THREE | KELLY KRUGMAN ’17 PEN WITH BLACK INK AND WATER-BASED MARKER ON WHITE PAPER


VULNERABILIDAD | KELLY KRUGMAN ’17E | LINOLEUM BLOCK PRINT


GRA ND FA THE R CLOCK JULI A RO CH ’ 1 8

I learned when I was young: if you hold your breath and plug your ears, and wait just for a while, you can hear the way your heart thumps, steady inside your chest. My grandmother died when she was eighty, and Mother said it was from old age. That’s when I knew that people lived short lives, compared to those of clocks. And I thought, if peoples’ hearts are soft and you have to strain to hear them, it’s no wonder we can’t live so long. The clock that lived in my house had a ticking that was so loud, I could hear it from my bedroom on the floor above. On those nights that I was listening, I felt my heart match its thumping with the clock, and I imagined it was me that filled the house with steady sound.

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MILL I PED E S PI RA L GRIFFI N HA RRI S ’ 1 7


A HUM FROM THE M96 (AFTER GWENDOLYN BROOKS) JULI A PRET S FE L D E R ’ 1 8

I have waited at the Bus Stop all my life, Where I pace like a mad housecat caressing the glass reveals of the grid below, Where I trace my routesmy connections, my transfers along maps withered by my gnawed fingertips. I’d rather take the train Downtown, Where the branches antagonize straight edgesWhere the Subway car preacher, who found Christ at Lincoln Center, would blast my so-called misdemeanors (Judaism, a bad tongue, and whining) as sins. Before I go to Hell, I want to go Downtown and maybe walk down some Alleys, Where real cartoon sinners play, pretending I know Where to go and finding it along the Way, cause I need to leave the Bus Stop today.

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ARTIST DRAWS CELESTIAL GIFT | AMANDA TOBIN ’17 CONTÉ CRAYON, CHARCOAL, AND CHALK ON WOVE PAPER


ARTIST DRAWS IMAGINARY LANDSCAPE | AMANDA TOBIN ’17 CONTÉ CRAYON, CHARCOAL, AND CHALK ON WOVE PAPER


A FA MIL Y TRI P JINJI N X U ’ 1 7

Her tombstone is adorned by blue flowers, that sing our sorrows that they have acquired. Perhaps they only bloom with the breath of Spring, un-watered by our tears, fall withering. Yet I will never know, for we only visit on mornings that taste suddenly of April. We pile into the car. It’s stuffed with oranges and plums and hand-crafted offerings. We drive away from city dawn, smelling of dusty sleep. Our lips yawning on chests, on angled elbows, cramped between an “uncle” or a “cousin,” seen last Spring.

36

It’s easy “recognizing” them. I utter to sweating, balding ones, “hello, brother,” and call the texting, acne-faced ones “uncle,” hair gelled in spikes, their shiny spectacles are pushed up by a single forefinger. The sun’s heat draws other drowsy drivers onto the road lined with awakening trees. The cars, chock-full of fruits and uncles, speed wobbling toward the distant mountainside. The staggered rows of rounded stones, divided by men with crimped precision in hand, who calculated the mass of nameless, new bodies, and then ignored what made them men. The mountain sighs as cars arrive again, it is the day the stones come back to life with flowering sobs, the families reunite.


I wondered who had eaten the fruits I placed, which left untouched, many offsprings would grace. They freshen our hold on life annually, by summoning this strange family odyssey.

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GUM JULI A PRET S FE L D E R ’ 1 8

Play doh’s kinsman Of the chemically inflated name Smoothes across the palette Only for mangling more, For wrestling meaningless And innocent battles In the grips of the tiniest jaw, To make limp, Insipid, and overwrought By the then tired tongue To feel a pop of pride When manipulating sapped Strips to surging bubbles Through unasthmatic wheezes Whose perky pink Bouncy-house walls deflate Like clumsily-handled footballs, Resuscitated by pensive, wavering sighs, Meticulously sculpted balloons Become over-capacitated and snapped By rambles and caustic curses, Cooler than the mint flavor But much less fleeting As rebellious ruptures repeat With malleable finesse Until there is no song or suspicion To exhale into fragile confines. 38


S OU THER N L E O PA RD FRO G GRIFFI N HA RRI S ’ 1 7

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THE SECOND THING I SHOULDN’T HAVE TOLD HER WILL I AM HERM A N ’ 1 7

It’s a struggle to find something more revolting than imagining your parents having sex. This is weird because there seems to be a rationale behind why you might love the scene, its costumes, set, and stage directions included. But you don’t. It’s gross—the kind of gross that makes a kid want to offload his horror onto another by, for instance, picking up that severed worm and holding it up to the other kid’s face, grazing his nostril hairs, or if it’s really bad, it makes the tearful kid want to dash home, sight-unseen and curl into the fetal position on his parents’ bed. The prepubescent kid can do that, be intimate with his parents’ bed, be comforted by it. The bed is warm and unmoving. His parents root him to his existence. Though I guess Freud thought the kid kind-of intuits this link to existence based on his parents’ providing for his needs, he only subliminally puts two and two together, in the sense that their bodies are involved in this existence production. It’s not vivid to him; he hasn’t seen the script. So this E.P. is all beautiful and re-assuring; the kid loves his parent’s bed. Sex isn’t part of his universe. But it is part of ours. And that’s why the following sexalogical rationale doesn’t hold up. See, we might say, in a moment when “life is good”—and by this I just mean that we want it to keep going—, that we feel gracious toward that which is making it (unlike the times when it’s shitty). In such a moment, we’re often moved toward the romantic or the sentimental. We vividly imagine this thing that’s doing the good making; and the ultimate good making thing, the principle “let there be light” type act, is our parents’ having sex. Happy folks seem to be obsessed with Genesis so, why not your dad gripping your mom’s naked thighs right below the knees, little bits of fat rolling over his thumbs, thrusting, and grunting, and being beautiful? What goes through their heads? Inquietudes and apprehensions about obsessively crash-tested minivans and zoisha grass lawns? Do they have romance or is he just a dripping proboscis and she an incubating egg? Whatever it is, it’s gross.

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PROFI L E EMM A HA R TM A N ’ 1 7 C HA L K O N G RAY L A I D P A PE R

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