AmLit Spring 1986

Page 1

PATRONS OF THE MAG

St. Paul Strauss

St. Judith Bowles

St. Edward Kessler

St. Kay Mussell

St. Chanah Springer

St. Jo Radner

St. Edith Tatel

St. Nando Smaki

St. Cy Cippycash

St. Chickie Nealon

St. Zack Lee

St. Jodoir T.C. Irwin

St. Claire Kearns

St. Lousy Laubach

St. Whoppee Williams

St. Deborah Payne

Harriet Marin

The Evil Gypsy Woman Steals Russell

I don't remember being stolen, not clearly. II recall the grasp of the hand, tight but gently guiding, taking me away as I always wanted to be taken away. The gypsy woman became as night and I was a part of her, estranged from all else that was not night. The darkness was always thick, miserly with help as l routed in the sediment for things that glowed, things that curled at my touch with a natural mechanics. I never found anything bad that I didn't find good. If they had never been there I wouldn't have missed them, but that they were there I couldn't live without them squirming in my hands and playing down my shirt back making me tremble. I have since thought of going back to where I was before my capture, but I'm not even in the same world anymore. All around are others looking for answers in the muck. And the muck is answering

VOLUME IV The Staff Editor n' chief Russell Atwood Poetry editor Mark Peters
copyright 1986 alm all ights reseved all ights revert to artists upon publication Roper 102 885-6414
Fiction editor Julie Otten Art editor Ray Gesumaria

IN THIS ISSUE

BENDING OVER BACKWARDS

THESE THINGS

ELEFUNT

IF I LOOK AT A BASIC READING TEXT

WILL I UNDERSTAND?

SCAVENGER HUNT (fiction)

FIFTY MILES AN HOUR

SUMMER GRIEF

WESLEY (fiction)

DADA EVENINGS

HIS MOTHER MINERS

SANDHEARTS

AUTOBIOGRA PH

LITTLE WOLF

LA BA YADERE

MORE FUN WITH

BRAIN -TEASERS & MIND BENDERS

MARIO WAITING DOWNTOWN

Gregg Shapiro4

Gail Ranadive5

Mock Peaches6

David Oleshansky7

Laurence Ma thews 8

D. W. Peck 11

Jane Obenour12

Audrey Wineglass 13

Ysella Fulton 15

Monica Richards 1 7

Mark Peters18

K.Servart Theriault20

Ysella Fulton22

Livio Giametta 23

Julie Otten24

Russe|| Atwood2 7

Christopher Gould29

Michelle Mahue30

Mark Peters31

Julia Sloan

Bending OyerBackwards

Not somuch addicledOhepilks nottgrde TwOEyey hreeor( OnYeA

NEhaejitenes

4

These Things

ld tell you of looking into a window and seeing a woman come up the sidewalk behind me, how she carries a six month old child

how I turn, know at once it's my mother and me before she gave me to strangers who got me to eat by telling a story per spooníul of food, how I could recite all the Mother Goose Rhymes by the time I was three when she took me back.

Il'd tell you of the mother, walking by with the child, how in her silence I'm both.

Elephants are gray long trunks sway by the waterhole look inscrutable

Lashes long as mothers a fly-swatting tale told to younger brothers... hot the humid shade.

Shoulder 'gainst a banyan crunching on a sweet palm planes fly, birds cry imperturbably munching..

Home the fetid root mass temple, low sun, slow life, hum the pygmy bow-string an iritating tickling..

Go away little two hand go play the pounding war drum our trunks aren't done with drinking, our child not done with swimming..

Where world's papers roar where turquoise silver falls in inlaid tusks and amulets there sounds a brethrensca

And wild fowl flight And gazelles leap And giraffes stride And lions creep...

are done, are dor are done. my friends are done for evermore..

Elefunt

If I Look at a Basic Reading Text Will I Understand?

It seems I've always known how to read or I've never, it seems, known how not to read.

I've always stood on rostrums and read aloud to block out the ducks in bow ties, Eskimo boy sleeping and second grade teacher forcing me to read, come on, at least one hoarse story thinking a stallion would charge and drag me like a skier through the brambles of literacy. Did she know l'd be forever scarred?

I never thought Icould get used to the broken law-but tatto00s on soles, palms, cheeks, lids and behind the ears like dirt you can't scrub or a speck in the eye you can't flush reading became and remains better than jumping so high a horse or belaboring cursive writing.

-David Oleshansky

Scavenger Hunt

A clock two tacos the yellow pages melting snow President Reagan. These are the things on my list. I stand at the black wrought iron fence in the snow to wait.

In my left hand I hold a brown wrinkled shopping bag that protects clock a the yellow pages and two crushed tacos l got the tacos before I got the phone book and when I put the phone book in my bag I forgot about the tacos and crushed them, by accident).

In my right hand is a damp, folded napkin. The eleven words in my mother's handwriting are beginning to smear from the snow and from the sweat on my hands.

I read over the list once again, and then look through the fence again, across the lawn past the fountain at the white alabaster columns.

( fold the napkin and return it to the pocket of my navy-blue parka. The white spotlights are on the House, and the snow continues to dance about me. There is no sense trying to bring her the melting snow now, as it will melt before I get home, and that doesn't count

(Besides--she forgot that she put melting snow on the list the last time, and when I raced back home she was surprised to see me so soon. She wouldn't count the water as melting snow, she said, and I was out for three days before I figured out how to get the snow to stay frozen until I got home).

This is our game. Every once in a while, my mother makes a list of five things, and sends me out into the city to collect them. We call it, "Scavenger Hunt." One of the rules is that I can't come home until I have everything on the list.

first At her lists were easy, like kitten menus candlesticks umbrella knife. That one only took two hours. But now, for some reason, they're harder. And I don't have time to plan, either. She slips the list into my pocket, pats me on the back, and turns me towards the door. Sometimes she puts a piece of bread in my pocket, and sometimes a Hershey bar. And then I'm out.

For my new list, the one smearing in my pocket, she was crying.

She and Russell, from the bar, were fighting. That was this morning,. It's eight o'clock now, and I still have to get President Reagan. I think he's home, but I can't tell.

You can never tell.

IfI see him, I'll show him the list and he'll come home with me, with the stuff in the bag. Boy, would my mom be surprised. There she'd be, in her flowered print robe, and all she'd be able to serve the President would be strawberry Pop Tarts. Those were on my list once. I had to steal them from Food King and I almost got caught. But I'm not scared now as I was then. All I have to do

is wait.

I look in my bag once againthe bottom's beginning to tear. And I take out my list, unfold it, and read it again. A clock two tacos the yellow pages melting snow President Reagan.

I pull the hood of my parka over my head and to watch the cars passing by.

turn

-Laurence Mathews

Fifty Miles an Hour

biini

I never knew driving could be contemplative. Moving solitude in perfect rhythm with unbroken lines. We were silent listening to Winston's Autumn.

Shadows of trees on the Potomac ice looked like

sculpted cracks. Abstract with imperceptible form.

I read road signs with detachment, not knowing where we were, with no desire to place us.

Emily Una Johnson -D.W. Peck

Summer Grief

Rain lies on the street. The cars (all silver), in a rare moment of rest, crouch in prayer to the clouds overhead. The sky is hungry orange and, numb from its cold, it feels heat. Like the cool air, it calms me. I nurse from its breast as, open-mouthed, I step outside. Though I am alone, the wind pulls me along like a loverhe blows on my face, wet with tears. I crouch beside the crouching cars and, hidden, offer my prayer to some greater thing without face or name.

Tonight I will try to forget you, my friend, the papers and pencils, the crazies in their wild dance, the avalanche. For though I am safe inside, I browse through the night, picking the parts of it that strike my grief.

AYA

Although I had reached the mature age of thirty, there was one doll that I could never give away. Wesley was a plump, extra large doll with large handscalloused hands. Over the years he had grown old and tattered, not because of mother-baby play either. Wesley had a special meaning to me. From the age of twelve, when I first brought him home from sewing class, I stuck safety pins and straight pins in him. I did anything I could

Viesley

callouses is hands. He was abnormally big eh a tummy that made the buttons on is shirt look like the navel of an orang ts hands and feet were huge like the es i him.

On my ing projectl received a C for creativity yv, Afterall my project didn't fit in with eeryone else's and neither did I. That dil natter though. Mother loved it. Thougl vas the most adorable thing. Wesley dirt strike my father one way or

waited in the lobby, I could hear Wesley's heavy feet hit the creaky stairs. He would look over me like a giant and place his calloused hand on my tender neck and gently guide me into the litle piano room where we could be alone.

You must understand. Wesley was an excellent teacher. He was very musical and graceful on the piano keys for such a huge man. He was friendly and patient. I practiced religiously. to hurt him. the other

Itook special care in the way I designed him. I used my least favorite dress for his skin and I stuffed him with underwear. While other girls used velvet and silk to make pillows, I used black thread, old buttons, and glue to make a rag doll. The black thread was for his stringy hair and the glue was for the yellow wart-like

No one it me knew about Wesley's special nenng. All the signs were there. Something vas wrong and no one took

the time ty 1otice.

I had waned to play the piano so much. Well I gt ny wish. My piano lessons started off vell and I progressed quickly. When We ttove to my music lęssons and

One day Wesley left the room after telling me to look for some mechanical pencils in his brief case. I never found them, but I did find some pornographic magazines. My curiosity peaked and I flipped though the pages, amazed at what ld never seen before. Wesley never caught me looking at them which I believe disturbed him very much.

Sueraya Shaheen

out three months later, after playing a ig, he told me we were going to work Jn thythm. I didn't think that this was odd. However, I began to feel uncomfortable when he told me to close my eyes. But, I did it. He tapped my shoulder slowly and counted out the beat of the song l had just played. Then he tapped the inside of my elbow a litle faster and then he tapped my knee. By this time the counting had stopped and all I could hear was heavy uneven breathing. My breathing was shallow and a heightened almost breathless pain made itself known in my chest. He tapped slowly and methodically up my leg, under my dress, and up to my secret area. I knew I should stop him, but was frozen. I was scared, excited, and guilt ridden because I knew that I should stop him. He slid his hand out from under my beige filthy dress. I opened my eyes to see that his usually white face had turned a deep red, like if I stuck a pin in it blood

pinkish and definitely nervous or excited,l couldn't, when we came out. Silently I pleaded that they would notice his face, the wet stuff in his mustache, or my poor little filthy dress that now had big creases and wrinkles in it like an old woman's face. They didn't. We got in the car and drove off as always. I was ashamed to tell my parents, afraid that they would think I was dirty.

called me fickle and a quitter because didn't want to play the piano anymore. When I turned eighteen I finally told them. My mother got angry at me and my father withdrew from me. They just looked at me as if I were dirty, exactly what I expected.

So when my daughter told me that her Girl Scout leader had "messed with her" as she put it, I became furious. VWesley, the doll had been in the closet for close to thirteen years and I had put him out of my mind. When this happened I felt al the old feelings as if they had never left. Now they were stronger and more intense.

That's why l'm sitting here with Wesley the doll and Wesley the man. My God! What have I done? His head is in my lap and blood is everywhere, even on the piano keys. His genitals are in a zip-loc bag next to the Wesley doll. His seemingly translucent skin has been painted with blood. I swear I don't remember doing this. would gush out all over him.

Before I left, he told me that no one would understand our special relationship, so I mustn't tell. He was still kind of

For five months this went on until one day I began to cry. Wesley became nervous and covered my mouth, begging me to stop. He dried my tears and told me that I would be transferred to his wife to continue my lessons. I didn't feel anything, not relief, not anger, not pain. Since l had become Wesley's new toy, had become withdrawn. Even after switching to his wife, I hardly practiced. played what I wanted and neglected what I didn't like. I dreaded the drive to my lesson. After a year of forcing myself to go to music, I quit. Even though I didn't have lessons with him, I still saw him and could feel him looking at me. My parents

-Audrey Wineglass

DADA VENINGS :

Soaen:

::Ay ..
4.
Trich ark

His Mother

A few months before she died A large Black clam invaded his dreams And ate him, bed and all.

Awake (and regurgitated) with screams She would be there, Brushing her weakening hands through his wet, clinging hair. Her pale and pasty face glowed with worry. He remembersafter she was gone, how he Used to scream in the darkness, Begging her not to come back to haunt him.

-Monica Richards

Miners

Eyes white, scared, wide as nostrils they shriek in the dark, seamed with memories red-black, red-black as the undug dead. Dully moving, no spark, they dare not bite the hands that feed them.

The touch is inside, it hurts, heavier when I breathe or raise my pick too hard or high, iron lung, hot lung, black lung, lung scream, rattle, splinter, spittle, dust foams inside, no place to hide.

Coal shines with sweat, absorbs it just as quick, That, and gas, that never comes, not yet, last year level C not not us, yet.

Stop, pressed flat on smooth seams, carts pass by, eating up ice blue miles, racing on rumbling chatter wheels, painful as dentists, screech iron on iron. Silence, spit and start again.

Thick tongues, quiet with waiting saving new jokes for junior, for family dinners, saving fundamental questions if I get out alive.. tasting little but the brittle mineral, foreign matter like us, in Pluto's bowels.

Rayd Seryart Theiasie

Sandhearts

A simple curved heart wraps around names carved in wavetrickled grains of smooth beach sand, encompassing love until the next high tide.

'., ii. .
-K. Servart Theriault

AutoBiograph

can take a shower in two and a half Bob Dylan songs. By the end of the third song I've put on my robe and towel dried my hair.

When the first side of the album is over, I've finished dressing.

I met Dylan in an all night Greek diner where I was working as a waitress.

He got a little uneasy when I bent down to give him the check. He didn't come back for a while.

The owner said it was too bad, he looked Greek.

I gottangled up in school, so I had to quit my job. I stopped by the diner to give them the news. Dylan was there and asked me for a beer. You're a big girl now, I think he said.

"Meet me this morning," he drawled knocking at my door. I did for a year and a half, but now he's found the Lord.

"l'm going to miss you when you go," I said putting my hands in my pockets. He nodded and flicked his cigarette into the wind.

If you see him, say hello.

Little Wolf

You, only you little wolf made my eyes as a magnet that goes insane whenever your steel moves upward me like a wave My head feels like a pixie stick when your hot hurricane blows toward me

Ifoundmyselfrunningwalls just because of a pink claustrophobic canary pigeon Body without gravity is yours and that's how | want you sister. Look behind, watch out a root in the upsidedown world, you I want litle wolf.

La Bayadere

In the second act, the shades blue edge intrudes upon the pas de deux. The lines of dead gestures, hovers, and retreats. This is what will haunt the audience. Not the lovers, lifted in the tuneful air, but a slender trail of corpses, fled from light.

Plucked from night, the crowd flees their corps. Worn bell tolls another hour gone; half its chime shred loose by a shameless siren. It was still there--not so much for your ear of time, but for its own toned shadow, as each siren wheels its own victim into dark.

Once, I painted the nails of a motionless girl. She gaped through her pulse-tuned wires. I hoped that her hands might dance color over a light instrument. And her eyes groped to focus, receded.

More Fun With Brain-Teasers & Eye-Benders

Look at it one way and it's the face of a litle girl, look at it another way, it's an old Woman. She tuns the sheet over and over trying to reconcil the one with the other. the other with the one.

On her birthday she turned a specific age. For her birthday she got a cold; running through the rain with a Post pressed close to her scalp; she shivered and her mind ached. She blew out all the birthday candles with a sneeze; the cake is still in the refrigerator, pieces intact, candles uprooted.

She was not alone for her birthday. She is still not alone. Myer is outside in the back of the pick-up truck, reclining on chaise lounge. He is playing with his face. He is thinking but obviously not about his face, which makes watching him so attractive. With one hand he rolls a yellow No. 2 pencil over his nose, lips, chin, throat, then back again. The contours are rough terrain, a jagged moon surface.

The pencil is dull at one end, sharp at the other--but not how you'd think: the graphite is unsharpened and the metal band which once held the eraser has been chewed to a point.

With the plastic, green and white chaise lounge set-up in the back of the truck like that, he looks like he's waiting to go somewhere, waiting to move and watch the sky not move. The truck is tireless, pedastaled on cinder; he's going no place, starting in the right place.

She plays with this image of Myer by shifting her head, letting the distortion in the window pane do the work of heat off a sun-baked highway. This way, without knowing it, Myer waves to her in the house, his whole body waves. Hello. Hi there. Goodbye. Bye there.

She's been having more fun with Myer today than she has in a long time, which says something.

Myer has thoughts too, it occurs to her. Deep ones no doubt. The pencil is caught in the gulley where his upper lip meets his lower. The pencil wheels back and forth, attempting one hill, retreating back, trying again. Is this the visual realization of his thoughts, or does he just like the feel of his bright bit?

She likes to feel anything, right now the sweat between each finger, eight warm/ cool receptacles.

If the two of them could stay like this all day, she's sure things would get better or get worse, but surely not stay the same, no, not that. Between the outset and the inset is change and she is spared by this change. Spare change. Hak-Hak. She coughs to herself (there's something soft in her throat), claps one hand so as not to disrupt Myer who she feels very close to, like she's in his lap, more so than when she is in his lap. She fels like she's looking straight up at him, watching him guide the pencil's tumble.

He is a great man with a small "g." She's certain great questions are being manufactured within, but where? Is the factory in his head, hands, feet? Spine, sternum, rectum? Nipple, cleft, lobe? Or is it without, in the pencil, engrained in the wood, remembered from the tree, sucked from the soil?

Her own thoughts are bathwater flushing through the valveless faucet. She can't stop them. If she plugged up the spout they'd just come showering down on her despersing, immersing. Better the flow, the flow pain cannot even check. And does she have pain. Right now her back aches from the bottle jabbing her kidney. It was there when she sat down in the armchair and it is still there, except now it's on its side. She likes the pain because she can name it and when she chooses, stop it. The bottle is her's because it's not Myer's; that's how things work here. At first she thought it was his, because she'd seen him with it earlier, but that was when it was brown-gold and full of a gulping sound. Working on the displacement priniciple, it is now full of Myer and Myer's full of it.

But Myer's always been full of it, even back when they had tires, gasoline, and a sense of motion, why else when he offered a ride would she have climbed up next to him and squeaked across the hot red vinyl? To get where she was going? Hak. She was going nowhere. For money? He never had enough. For a look-see? She'd seen one before. For the hell of it? Ah yes..the hell of it. That's why.

Myer has something in his ear. The sharp end of the pencil. But before that, there must have been something for the pencil to pursue. He's twisting and turning it deeper, twirling towards something, working his elbow behind it with all his might. The sound must be excruciating, but he doesn't stop and the pencil doesn't break. The thrill of the chase is on his face.

She yells, "Myer don't do that. Myer

stop!"

but that was a banana.

Myer's pencil has sunk to a stub by the time his furor abruptly halts.

She watches him be still for a long time.

She bets it's stuck. Yeah, that's what she bets. She'd lay odds it's stuck in Myer.

Hak.

She wonders why he can't hear her and wryly remembers an old joke. Hmmmm, What? She listens. Birds chuck noise up to the clear blue void. She listens. Her breath is rushing from her nose. She reads the fine print of the green grass. Some blades are straw yellow. Some blades are too dark and fertile all by themselves. The grass must be white under the cinder blocks. She'd like to pick up the truck and find out. Hak. Pick-up truck. Hak-Hak-Hak. She laughs to herself. We are our own best audience; the divine union of heckler and heckled.

Mario

wih the innocentsmile on yourclean boyish face. on barely noticed the gun strapped around your shoulder. That night, you ate dinner with us at the hotel in Esteli,.

| was so happy to find that you spoke French.

I, an English-speaking Norh American in your Spanish-speaking territory had finally found someone to talk to directly through a third language, even if it was just "Hello," and "How are you?"

Someone asked you about Marxism And you explained that it was not necessary to be told about Marx when one has lived through the brutal forces of history.

I thought yes, of course.

I had read Marx's "The German ldeology." Later, at the housing project near the barrio Ciudad Sandino in Managua, when I saw the woman building her own home with not a gun, but a large saw swung around her shoulder, and a proud smile on her tanned face, I completely understood, And she became our third language.

-Christopher Gould

Waiting

Time trips the canvas Into dead-dry parchment. Out of my window The winter solstice spills Its empty arms.

.

oights's hard curtain falls chain-mail.

ights that creep in trees are not ords but windbones chiming:

'sons of men sons of men... the vacant, the cold wait at soup kitchens, fingers burnt from buttends swollen to an ache from heroin..

O shuddering veil pulled round the white mausoleum, trembling downtown.

A man rubs sticks, scratches Scrapes, up jumps a fire of words a fire of ice; I see blood of the fresh, plump, lush grape, hard laugh of orange sunflowers fused to a depeopled street.

Downtown tonight.. down down down-town.

The door opens, the key turns, a vast space of stars reaches out to faint ghosts arguing dead poets.

I hear Spanish, Ethiopian an Australian dialect.. snow falls hushing all.

The broken loincloth bites red weals into his hips; at rush-hour comes the crunching of locusts, the mellifluous oozings of honey, bitten by jackhammers; the president lives on a black-edged card.

The wings of churches sweep on vast arcs, B rufling snows

released from clenched heavens, O j'embrace, mond sans coeur,

Beauty and terror are ghosts, I live on an island where mangoes grow on singing black beaches of volcanic snow watch the swinging women as they wash their children, to and fro to and fro.

She dropped her bag, shattered the bottle bottled pickles, olives, her favorite ones... a cat heard it all, and a little child in a smoking basement in Philadelphia; they dropped the bag man, cry then for our young.

Dark night under a steel eye; M night on the warm steel grill of our exhalation. a savage age under an ASAT; if thine eye offend thee.. pluck it out.

We sit by the fire I read my newspaper you bring me tea we hold each other, in this love is our hope; I argue with the iron trees, the senate of lies and rotten grains In love is hope.

Downtown
Raimondo Briata

THE 8 .

INDEX OF ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

Avis Turner

(Without Wings) Front Cover

Harriet Marin, photograph.

Juliana Netschert, woodcut....

Benjamin Smith, logo....

Julia Sloan, photograph.

Julia Sloan, photograph..

F. Verdoner Kan, woodcut...

Vivian Linssen, charcoal...

James Ronan, photograph...

Conchita Font, photograph.

Ceci Epstein, photograph....

Emily Una Johnson, woodcut...

Soonhee, Won, woodcut.

Sueraya Shaheen, photograph...

Harriet Marin, photograph...

Rebecca Campany, photograph.

Patricia Jackson, monotype.

Betzy Reisinger, ceramic mask..

Harriet Marin, photograph...

Joanne Shinn,woodcut.....

David Lingua (Lethal Intent)...

Michael Filippis, photograph....

Conchita Font, photograph....

Eliza Smith, photograph..

Trudy Califano, monotype..

Elaine Goldberg, woodcut.

Jeanne Tonelson, photograph....

Emily Una Johnson (Dumbarton Oaks)...28

Sinnagwin, woodcut...

James Ronan, photograph.

Raimondo Briata, woodcut.

Raimondo Briata, (King Raping a Maid)...3.2

George Hoefnagels, (Winter Trees)....Back Cover

1 .2 ...2 ....3 .....4 ..5 .6 ...7 .8 .9 ... 10 .....12 ...13 ...... 14 .15 .16 .19 ..20 .21 ..22 ... ..23 ..24 ..24 ..25 ...26 ..27 ..29 ..30 ....31

KK

111 4 .
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