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CIRQUE A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Volume 10 No. 2

Anchorage, Alaska


Š 2020 by Sandra Kleven & Mike Burwell, Editors

Cover Photo Credit: "Nibs" by Jim Thiele Table of Contents Photo Credit: "Cycles in Blue," Nard Claar Design and composition: Signe Nichols ISBN: 9798631386884 ISSN: 2152-4610 (online)

Published by

Anchorage, Alaska www.cirquejournal.com All future rights to material published in Cirque are retained by the individual authors and artists. cirquejournal@gmail.com


Drunk on Love

Twelve Stories to Savor Responsibly

By Kerry Dean Feldman

New from

CIRQUE PRESS “For the characters that haunt this provocative collection of stories and poems, Love is their god, its pursuit their religion. They do so with reverence, abandon, and, best of all, with humor.” Don Stull, coauthor of Slaughterhouse Blues

“An offbeat Tom Robbins-esque romp that stands tiptoe on the brink of erotica and oozes with sexual energy and honesty that will skip your heart, cause a belly laugh, and have you ponder exactly what the fairy dust of love-lust is really all about.” Monica Devine, author of Water Mask


New from

CIRQUE PRESS

Wide Open Eyes SURFACING FROM VIETNAM

Stories by r e d e a H k r i K l u Pa

"Each story in this collection is cut from flesh – believable, bearing witness of their own survival, and depictions of this scrum where life is lived on the edges." —James Crumley, Author of The Last Good Kiss "Paul Haeder is an American voice from an America most people forgot exists... except those living in it. It is a postcard from the dark shadow land of western consciousness. Read it." —John Steppling, Playwright, Critic, Teacher

Includes Beautiful Photographs by Photographer Makenna Haeder and Paul Kirk Haeder

Available on Amazon


New Release by

Vivian Faith Prescott

From Cirque Press, Silty Water People is a collection of poems exploring the effects of assimilation on contemporary Tlingit/Scandinavian families in Wrangell, a small island community in Southeast Alaska. Two hundred and twenty years after colonization began, through the complex themes of intergenerational trauma, identity, racism, and history, Prescott uses mythology, geological time, and a deep connection to place to weave Silty Water People.

“...universal resonances within its sense of place...” - Ishmael Angaluuk Hope, author of Rock Piles Along the Eddy

“Deeply personal and powerfully written...” - Nicole Stellon O’Donnell, author of You Are No Longer in Trouble and Steam Laundry

“...characters landing like words, like rain, onto the text-peppered page...” Available from Cirque Press, your local Indie bookstore, and Amazon.

$15

- Kersten Christianson, author of Curating the House of Nostalgia

“We won’t soon forget the bedrock exposed in these poems.” - Emily Wall, Professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast, and author of Flame, Liveaboard, and Freshly Rooted


Cirque Press proudly announces

Life Revised A MEMOIR

Life Revised

by Leah Stenson

A MEMOIR

Life Revised A MEMOIR by Leah Stenson

Leah Stenson is the author of Heavenly Body and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems (Finishing Line Press, 2011 and 2014); a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-editor of award-winning Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out (Inkwater Press, 2014). Her full-length book of poetry, Everywhere I Find Myself, was published by Turning Point in 2017. She serves on the board of Tavern Books. More at www.leahstenson.com

Life Revised is a literary montage of poetry, narrative prose, essay, newspaper reportage and images in which the author examines her reactions, as a child and as an adult, to the simultaneous loss of her grandparents— one by suicide and the other the unintended consequence of that suicide. This unflinching and revealing exploration of personal tragedy takes us beyond the author’s suffering through her creative, emotional and spiritual development and ultimate healing. “…a moving and courageous book….” — Lex Runciman “…elegant prose and heartfelt poetry… fresh and vital to the last page.” — John Sibley Williams “…wise and compelling.” — Penelope Scambly Schott

Sandra Kleven—Michael Burwell Publishers and Editors Available on Amazon or email: cirquejournal@gmail.com $15 Memoir

Author Photo by Anthony Bruzzese


Cirque Press proudly announces

HOLY GHOST TOWN by TIM SHERRY

Tim Sherry’s latest volume of poems, Holy Ghost Town, tells the story of a place in the wilderness that is more than trees. In plainspoken language, he takes the reader to Holden Village, an abandoned mining town turned into a Lutheran retreat center in the North Cascades of Washington state. And there he explores the balance between faith and doubt, escape and reality, history and hyperbole, the serious and the hilarious—in the wilderness, a place to find answers beyond the questions of everyday life. Holy Ghost Town is a remarkable book-length evocation of a very special place. In the genre of place writing, it compares to Paterson by William Carlos Williams. Whereas Williams focused on the city in the person, Sherry gives voice to the community in the person, the community that embraces its interrelatedness with the other-than-human world. I admire how these poems honor and enact grace, ecology, hilarity, and diversity. As they seek divinity, they do not shy from religious language and ritual. At the same time, the wisdom offered here tells us that sometimes we need to skip church and follow our feet into the woods where stillness, silence, and attention become prayers in the divine mystery of wilderness. Derek Sheffield, Poetry editor of Terrain.org and author of Through the Second Skin

Available at Amazon or, email cirquejournal@gmail.com $15 POETRY

Tim Sherry, after earning a B.A. in English from Pacific Lutheran University and an M.A. in English from the University of Chicago, was for a long-time a high school teacher, coach, and principal in and around Tacoma, Washington. Not published until 2002, since then his poems have appeared in Crab Creek Review, Rattle, The Broad River Review, Cirque, The Raven Chronicles, and others. He has been a Pushcart nominee, had his poetry recognized in contests, and in 2010 he was an Artsmith Artist Resident on Orcas Island. One of Seven Billion, his first full-length collection, was published by Moonpath Press in 2014. Sandra Kleven-Michael Burwell Publishers and Editors


Cirque Press proudly announces in the Spring of 2019

K A R L A L I N N M E R R I F I E LD Mystical and visual—Karla Linn Merrifield’s latest volume of poems, Athabaskan Fractal, takes the reader on a monumental journey across the Far North of the American continent. Here is a collection that is surpassingly beautiful. Here is a reverence for nature where lush descriptions abound. Here is life in all its extravagance and austerity conveyed in poems of intimate details of texture and form and set against the vast sweep of endless space from sea to shining sea. You’ll quickly discover why Merrifield is widely regarded as a supreme observer of the Earth’s majesty. “In poems of intimacy and celebration, elegy and generous mythologizing, Karla LinnMerrifield’s new book is teeming with the ‘minute particulars’ of her Alaskan travels. Here you will find that the fir trees, the mists, the creatures, the stones themselves come lovingly alive. But in our 21st-century world of ecospheric drama and disarray, the ‘field guide’ reveries are shot through with the stark realities of our desecrating human footprint. Athabaskan Fractal will take you places that Frommer’s and Lonely Planet can only dream of!” Ralph Black, Professor of English, The

College at Brockport (SUNY), and author of Turning Over the Earth

Available at Amazon or, email: www.cirquejournal.com

$25.00-POETRY

Sandra Kleven-Michael Burwell, Publishers

Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-inResidence, has had over 700 poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 13 books to her credit, the newest of which is Psyche’s Scroll, a book-length poem, published by The Poetry Box Select in June 2018. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is assistant editor and poetry book reviewer for The Centrifugal Eye. She is a member of Just Poets (Rochester, NY), the Florida State Poetry Society, the New Mexico Poetry Society, and The Author’s Guild.


Cirque Press proudly announces

BY: CLIFTON BATES “Whether the journey is to Southeast Asia, Southwest Alaska, or into the depths of the human heart, Clif Bates has a knack for illuminating the exotic within the ordinary. Celebrating our shared humanity, this engaging collection of poetry and prose will have you begging for more.� Deb Vanasse, author of Cold Spell and Wealth Woman The many years Clifton Bates spent living and working in rural Alaska and his time spent traveling in parts of Asia are the basis for much of his writing. It is writing with thoughtfully chosen words that are calm and culturally intimate due to very sensitive and watchful eyes. No axe to grind here, no flags to wave: just scenes and experiences captured truly and with a purpose in mind. There is certainly a wide range of subject matter and presentation styles displayed between the covers of this book that has its own distinctive voice and awareness. The varied pieces within have appeared in publications in the US/Alaska, England, Germany, Paris, and Malaysia. Clifton Bates learned through his experiences and travels, for example, that villages along the Kuskokwim River in Alaska and villages in Northeast Thailand share many similarities: elders are respected, there is a strong sense of community, extended families and neighbors support each other, and everyone watches out for everyone else. Be it a village in Asia, a village in Alaska or any place, any where, it is a fruitful world full of the most interesting humans that just call out to be put down on paper and, if one is interested, one tries to do so the best one can.

Available at Amazon or, email cirquejournal@gmail.com

Sandra Kleven-Michael Burwell Publishers and Editors

$20 LITERATURE


APPORTIONING THE LIGHT BY ALASKAN POET KAREN TSCHANNEN

Poems so compressed the page itself trembles. So brave, in dark places, the reader clutches the poet’s sure hand. Apportioning the Light shines. It shines. AVAILABLE AT AMAZON OR BY EMAIL:

cirquejournal@gmail.com, $16 - CIRQUE PRESS Sandra Kleven & Michael Burwell, CIRQUE Publishers

“A life lived to its fullest, a craft perfected so that it seems seamless, the highest compliment I can give to any writer. I read it from its beginning to its end without putting it down. Kudos to Cirque for publishing Apportioning the Light.”

– TOM SEXTON, ALASKA POET LAUREATE

Karen Tschannen has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ice-Floe, PNW Poets and Artists Calendar(s), North of Eden (Loose Affiliation Press), The Sky’s Own Light (Minotaur Press), Crosscurrents North, Cirque, and other publications. Tschannen was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016. Her perceptive verse is notable for the care taken with language in both the sound of a phrase and the appearance on the page.


john sibley williams P O E T RY E D I T I N G C OAC H I N G R E P R E S E N TAT I O N MARKETING O N E - O N - O N E WO R K S H O P S —provides honest, meticulous critiques on individual poems, chapbooks, and full-length manuscripts, including line-by-line editing, structural and thematic concerns, and advice on every aspect of a collection, including publisher suggestions. —acts as writing coach/mentor, including regular prompts, check-ins, editing, publication assistance, and other ongoing work. —writes press releases, publisher query letters, and marketing plans. —represents selected books as a literary agent. “I have never received such detailed and genuine feedback of my poetry. With a keen perception for theme and style, he understood completely the purpose and intended message of my manuscript. His feedback that was both holistic with a general overview and specific with line edits where needed. I will return to his editing services time and time again.” —Daniel Lassell “I call John Sibley Williams trusted friend and reader now. When I shared my most recent manuscript with him, his responses were extremely thorough and sensitive. John deeply respected my poems and my intent, even when he had thoughtful and honest suggestions to offer. He was always cognizant of his approach versus my own, a rare gift.” —Amy Small-McKinney

Contact John at: jswilliams1307@gmail.com For more information, visit: https://www.johnsibleywilliams.com/literary-agent John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous literary awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and teaches for Literary Arts and The People’s Colloquium. He also works as a poetry editor, writing coach, workshop leader, and literary agent. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Rivier University and an MA in Book Publishing from Portland State University. Visit him at https:// www.johnsibleywilliams.com.


by Monica Devine University of Alaska Press Picture Alaska--her braided rivers and Arctic tundra, her tidal shorelines and thrashing salmon. Water Mask reflectively captures these Alaska experiences alongside stories of New Mexico deserts, Wyoming horses and family ties both near and far…making accessible through lyrical essays this remarkable American landscape. —Page Lambert, author of In Search of Kinship and Shifting Stars In Water Mask, Monica Devine explores the unmapped edges of the human spirit with the same poet’s eye that she describes her raw encounters with the natural world. This is a book to be savored, the way one might sip the first rays of sunshine cresting the peaks of the Chugach Range. —Kaylene Johnson Sullivan, author of Canyons and Ice and Our Perfect World

Amazon, Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite bookstore


Novelist, essayist, journalist, sentimentalist

Larry F. Slonaker

Larry F. Slonaker, writer of both fiction and nonfiction, is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern. He is the author of "No More Ever," an excerpt from a novel in progress, Nothing Got Broke. He was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana, and worked as a writer and editor at the once-renowned San Jose Mercury News, and the continuously renowned Stanford University. There were a few stops at never-renowned places as well. He and his wife live on a (very) small ranch in Northern California with a few horses, a few dogs and the Last Cat Standing. Nothing Got Broke is a novel of the American West, specifically Montana, and its people and its myths. It’s also a story about how, even though people sometimes go there to get lost, they can be found‌and found out. See "No More Ever" in Cirque #20. To read more, visit www.larryslonaker.com


Brenda K. Jaeger Art Studio Paintings and Private Online Lessons Now accepting new students brendajaegerartstudio@startmail.com (907) 350-4539 P.O. Box 142252 Anchorage, AK 99514


49 Writers CRAFT | CREATIVITY | CULTURE

JOIN US. Because we are a community-supported nonprofit, your contributions play a vital part in providing creative writing workshops and author events, building a community of writers across the state, and more. Thank you! Members get invitations to special events, discounts on classes, and priority in applying for limitedregistration events like our annual Tutka Bay Writers Retreat.

Join Alaska’s statewide literary community. Register for classes. Attend events featuring acclaimed authors. Write and learn at workshops and retreats. Listen to our Active Voice podcast. Donate to begin or renew your membership.

49writers.org/join


Joseph L. Kashi Attorney at Law ~ Accidents and personal injury claims ~ Business sales and purchases ~ Commercial and business law ~ Real property litigation 907 – 398 – 0480 kasha@alaska.net www.kashilaw.com 205 East Beluga Soldotna, Alaska

Joseph Kashi’s photographic art can be seen in this issue of Cirque.


EDITING RESEARCH PROOFREADING --Will edit/proofread your poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and technical writing. --25 years’ experience as (1) a technical editor and writer; (2) teaching college level creative workshops, and grammar, composition and literature courses; (3) perfecting online newspaper database searches, and (4) founder and co-editor of Cirque. --Generally, I charge $35.00 an hour with shorter jobs at $2.00 per page, but these rates change based on the amount and depth of edit needed. --Send a few sample pages, an estimate of document length, and your deadline, and I will quote you a rate based on the amount of editing I think you need: mhbpoet@gmail.com www.michaelburwellpoet.com

MIKE BURWELL recently retired to Taos after 30 years in Alaska writing environmental impact statements for the Feds, doing maritime and shipwreck research, and teaching poetry at the University of Alaska Anchorage. A chapbook of his poems North and West was published by Heaven Bone Press in 1989 and his full-length poetry collection Cartography of Water was published by North Shore Press in 2007. He founded the literary journal Cirque in 2009.


Our mission: to build a literary community and memorialize writers, poets and artists of the region.

From the Editors Dear Friends of Cirque, Your support has carried us through ten years. The velveteen rabbit has long been real and may soon become an institution. The work that is Cirque has been carried forward by Sandy Kleven and Mike Burwell with the help of hundreds. We celebrate with you presenting an issue that was curated by our first guest editor, Cynthia Steele, a poet, writer and, what’s not too well known in the world of lit, an actress. Her discerning eye found the pieces that make up Cirque #20, our largest issue to date.

Cynthia Steele

Cirque #20 begins with “Free and Open to the Public,” an important interview with Rachel Epstein, past director of Campus Bookstore Events. For nearly 20 years, the UAA Bookstore hosted over 900 events. Rachel Epstein talks about what happened and what was lost.

Andy Hope Award Andrew Hamilton has been awarded the Andy Hope Literary Award for his poem of recovery, “Samaritan,” in this issue. This prize awarded annually recognizes an outstanding piece of prose or poetry from the pages of Cirque. A Tlingit poet and writer, Andrew, "Andy" Hope III, was a political activist, who lived in Southwest Alaska. In 2008, at the age of 58, Andy died after a brief battle with cancer. The Andy Hope Literary Award is the brainchild of two Alaskan poets, Vivian Faith Prescott and her daughter Vivian Mork, who practice the art of mentoring with Alaskan artists and writers. Andrew Hamilton


Pushcart Nominees 2019 Congratulations! Martha Amore, “Winterkill” Julien Appignani, “Slattery's, Capel Street, 1999” Brenda Ray, “The Most Beautiful Thing” David McElroy, “Ars Poetica” Jessica Mehta “mURDERED & mISSING iNDIGENOUS wOMEN” Chris Dahl “They Took” Cirque Press Meanwhile, our young press has been printing, with fifteen titles in print or coming soon. The journal, Cirque, was established to provide a home for work from writers (and artists) of the Northwest and Alaska. Cirque Press continues this mission, publishing the work of those you first discovered in our pages. We are celebrating these new titles: Drunk on Love, by Kerry Feldman, Oasis Earth, by Rick Steiner, Silty Water People, by Vivian Faith Prescott, Wide Open Eyes by Paul Haeder, and Life Revised by Leah Stenson. Our “coming soon” list includes, The Fox Boy by Gretchen Phelps, The Dream that is Childhood, by Sandra Wassilie, Seward Soundboard, by Sean Ulman, and Loggers Don’t Make Love, by David Rowan. They join the ranks of Cirque authors, Karen Tschannen, Carey Taylor, Kristin Berger, Clifton Bates, Karla Lynn Merrifield, and Tim Sherry who we published in 2018 and early 2019. Ten years! Here’s to the next ten! —Sandra L Kleven ~ Michael Burwell, editors

Cirque: A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim Sandra Kleven and Mike Burwell, Editors Signe Nichols, Designer Published twice yearly, Summer and Winter Anchorage, Alaska


CIRQUE

A Literary Journal for the North Pacific Rim

Volume 10 No. 2

INTE RVIEWS Sandra Kleven Free and Open to the Public - An Interview with Rachel Epstein Sean Ulman An Interview with Poet John Sibley Williams 33

29

INTE RVIEW AND REVIEW Paul Haeder On the First Nuclear Disaster of the 21st Century Poets Sing the Body Nuclear 39

FEATURE Paulann Petersen Once a Laureate

47

REVIEWS Ann Chandonnet A Review of You Are No Longer in Trouble by Nicole Stellon O'Donnell Gerry McFarland A Review of In the Presence of Absence by Richard Widerkehr 51

49

POE TRY Christianne Balk Holding Teo 53 Ray Ball Small Stones (Cento) 53 Tim Barnes Buckskin Boy 54 Gabrielle Barnett Groundwork (after a few lines from Joan Kane) 54 Toni La Ree Bennett Leave No Crumbs 55 Kristina Boratino Resurrection Bay 55 Nicholas Bradley Horace, Epistles I.II.27 56 Teri White Carns Halibut on Land's End Beach 56 Kersten Christianson Of Alderaan 57 Linda Conroy Another Dream of Going Back to Work 57 Mary Crane Encounters at the Edge of the Continent 58 Chris Dahl They Took 59 Scott Davidson Diffusion 60 Noelle Dennard Lahu TV 60 Steve Dieffenbacher Bivalve 61 Katie Eberhart Uunartoq Island, Where the Vikings Soaked 61 Kerry Feldman Men and Men and Almost Men 62 F.I. Goldhaber Dear Facebook 63 Alfredo Ocaranza Gonzáles Reflections on the American Dream, an ekphrastic sequence Leanne Grabel Mimicry 65 River E. Hall Never Steal from Wolves 66 Andrew Hamilton Samaritan 67 Kim Hamilton Una of Tor House 68 Jim Hanlen Road House Guest Book 69 Beth Hartley “Jesusita en Chihuahua” (a Mexican polka) 69 Branwyn Holroyd Pam Houston says, you have to be your own cowboy 70 Imagine it is possible to remain 71 Sarah Isto Again to the Winter Cabin, Anniversary Poem 72 Eric Gordon Johnson Momentary Birds 73 Ariana Kramer Digging Up a Fin Whale 73 Shannon Laws Four Minus Three 74 Eric le Fatte A Wedding by the Garden 75 Kelly Lenox Extinction 75 Linda Martin Joining the Chamber of Commerce 76 David McElroy No Trout 77 Tempeste Mavys The Well of Mercy 77

64


Ron McFarland Heritage 78 Jessica Mehta mURDERED & mISSING iNDIGENOUS wOMEN* 79 Carolyn Mericle Yellow Birch 80 Karla Linn Merrifield Aleutian Summer Solstice 81 Jesse Minkert Paso Doble 81 John Noland Cougar Pause 82 Leonard Orr Missing Person 83 Bruce Parker Wine Dream 84 Vivienne Popperl Asylum seekers, newly arrived in Skala village on the Greek island of Lesbos 84 Diane Ray Green Lake Suite 85 Jesse Rowell Problem Breathes Down 85 Mala Rupnarain ferry wait at langdale 86 Siavash Saadlou De - part - ure 86 Rebecca Salsman Choctaw Women Set Apart 87 Matthew Sanford She Wore Paths Through Me 88 Vinnie Sarrocco Regulars 88 Peter Schettkoe The Day I Met Kim Stafford and He Challenged Me to Write a Really Long Title — That Was My Takeaway 89 Suzanne Simons first color pictures from another planet, 1965 90 Scott Starbuck Man and Black Lab by Fire 91 Leah Stenson Mud 91 Tor Strand from Redeemed (Part II) 92 Carol Sunde High Desert Wetlands 93 Mary Ellen Talley Lunar Maria 93 Lucy Tyrrell Red dresses 94 Margo Waring Shalimar 95 Sandra Wassilie The Emissary 95 Vandoren Wheeler Imaginary Art Project: Painting 96 Richard Widerkehr Prophet On Railroad Avenue In Bellingham 96 John Sibley Williams Little Fiefdom 97 Jenny Wong The Lightning Demise of 323 Reindeer 97 Christian Woodard The Indigestible 98 Nancy Woods I Would Have Texted You by Now 98 John Yohe Tower Point Lookout Blues, Chorus II 99

NONFICTION Aslan Demir LOSS 101 Paul K. Haeder At the Brink of Extinction on the Coast Near the Salmon River Hamish Todd The God Thing, Chapter One 109 Beth Hartley Toilets Around the World: An Incidental Traveler’s View 118 Ellen Reichman Tiny Thing 124 Cynthia Steele El Condor Pasa (If I Could or the Condor Passes) 125

104

FICTION S.W. Campbell Simple Syrup 128 Kerry Dean Feldman Rules of Thumb Among the Amazons 132 Ryan Hickel Hunza: A Novella, Chapter One 137 Larry Slonaker No More, Ever 141 Kimm Brockett Stammen Azures 146

P L AYS Kemuel DeMoville Shit Maybe Sh;t 152 Mercury Sunderland My Skin is Covered with a Thin Layer of Peanut Butter 162

CONTRIBUTORS

170

HOW TO SUBMIT TO CIRQUE

178


Barn on McCormmach Road, detail

Jill Johnson


29

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

INTERVIEWS Sandra Kleven

Free and Open to the Public – An Interview with Rachel Epstein I could write more, Lady Epstein, and I may, but wanted to get this much in the mail to you ere the time runs out. —John Haines In August of 2019, word came down that the function of the University Bookstore would change. The bookstore element would be limited to sales of online textbooks and the retail operation would move to The Alaska Airlines Center, a sports venue constructed a few years ago. Since 2001, Rachel Epstein has been the manager of bookstore events. Under her direction, over 900 presentations have been held in the bookstore, many of great importance to students and faculty. The bookstore also offered a venue where emerging voices could be heard.

SK: Were you the first to manage the bookstore presentations? RE: I had organized events before the position was created. Faculty Authors’ events were planned with other bookstore staff. SK: Did they follow the same format then? 5 pm, coffee and snacks offered? Where were they held?

These changes have dismayed some in a community already rattled over changes caused by devastating cuts to the State budget. The university itself may soon be unrecognizable, much reduced from past stature. The loss of the programming that Rachel represents is also serious and important though largely overlooked when so much else is in peril.

RE: From 1999-September 2005, the clothing units were moved around to make room for seating. Many events were held in the afternoon. Chef Vern's chocolate events filled the floor with just enough standing room. Highlighting faculty authors and their new publications became an annual event. From 2002, we sponsored a November event with Alaska Center for the Book (Carol Sturgulewski and Lila Vogt) to celebrate Alaska Native/ American Indian Heritage Month. In 2005, the upstairs loft area was built. The first event held there was on September 12 with guest speaker Katie Quan (UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education) who discussed globalization. After 2005, most events were scheduled from 5:00-7:00 pm so folks in the community could attend after work. We had free coffee, tea, cookies and offered free parking in South Lot and in front of the bookstore.

Rachel agreed to this interview (via email exchange) in the fall of 2019.

SK: At the bookstore were the events always connected with faculty “authors” or did they become more general?

Sandra Kleven: Bookstore events seem to have a long history. I have been involved on the literary side, but I think they span all departments: science, history, business, and more. When did this programming begin?

RE: I wanted to highlight new books by faculty, and then I included panel discussions to bring faculty in different disciplines together—those who were interested in similar topics. Guest speakers who happened to live in the area or who were coming to Anchorage for a conference were welcomed to speak, too.

By November, Rachel had moved to an office in The Alaska Airlines Center and a few fall programs are being held in the library, some blocks away. There is still no commitment to future programming.

Rachel Epstein: My position was created in 2001.


30 The 1999-2019 events list I compiled gives you an idea as to the types of events that were held: student forums, historical themes, events hosting Alaska Native speakers, University of Alaska Press author events and a number of events cosponsored with the UAA Confucius Institute. Events did not have to be linked to a book. SK: Did you begin to have a method of organization, a template, a table, to keep all this straight? RE: For each semester, I would make a list once an event was confirmed. Decades later I started to organize the events by year and theme. SK: I just finished organizing five events, holding back on the sixth to avoid confusing myself. How many can an event planner manage at once? RE: Once I had five events in one week, two in one day. It is not that I had planned to do this. It is just that when an opportunity had come to have an event; it was difficult for me to pass on it. I had to be flexible given other people's schedules, too. SK: Did you have staff? RE: I had a number of very creative student graphic assistants who helped design posters. For book sales outside the bookstore, student staff would help with book sales. The general book buyer (Carol Stephan and later Kristi Michels) created the POs for the books ordered by phone. SK: Share some of the unexpected or especially fabulous. RE: Linda McCarriston first recited her poem “Indian Girl” at a UAA Campus Bookstore event. When the poem received a wider audience, much hurt was expressed due to the portrayal of Alaska Native women, Native identity, indigenous traditions and maligned imagery in the poem. Later, at an open mic poetry event that featured Linda McCarriston, Diane Benson attended. (I think her lawsuit was in place at that time.) Diane recited a poem about Snail House, her clan, which was a fitting response to Linda McCarriston. The poem can be found in the chapbook Spruce Tips on the Fog. This poem is remarkable on many levels. One of my favorite and striking poems by Linda McCarriston is “A Castle in Lynn.” I believe the poem “Snail House” can stand beside it. I wish more people paid

CIRQUE attention to the poetry in that painful time than to the sensation of two women, who were once friends, fighting. Joan Kane first spoke at the UAA Campus Bookstore when she was pregnant and admittedly a bit emotional. That was before she became a renowned poet. Raised in Anchorage, she discussed her family from King Island and going to the Muldoon Library to read books and study. She wanted to be a doctor and learned medical terminology. Unfortunately, at a surgery lab she fainted at the site of blood. Her love of etymology can be found in her poetry. Joan attended Harvard and Columbia University. At the event, her stories about New York, friends, and classmates were simply wonderful. There have been many exceptional events throughout the years. The panel events “Love is a Many Complex Thing,” “For Love of Fishes,” “Does Academia Need A Home?” and “UA Land Management,” each brought much to think on. Of course, the Alaska Writer Laureate Panel will always be special since that is when I met John Haines. I was familiar with some of his poems but after picking him up at the airport, we became close friends. I began to read his poems with a different attitude, not as a poem from an anthology but as a poem with deep intent. One of the most extraordinary human beings I met in planning events was Anand Prahlad. Sharing his life experiences through the most honest storytelling, his memoir The Secret Life of a Black Aspie simply does not belong in one literary genre. This is from the book description. For the first four years of his life, Prahlad didn’t speak. But his silence didn’t stop him from communicating— or communing—with the strange, numinous world he found around him. Ordinary household objects came to life; the spirits of long-dead slave children were his best friends. In his magical interior world, sensory experiences blurred, time disappeared, and memory was fluid. Ever so slowly, he emerged, learning to talk and evolving into an artist and educator. Anand Prahlad’s soft-spoken voice was mesmerizing. And beyond the unimaginable, he also shared his difficulties with women and broken relationships. The events that highlighted sexual abuse and rape were quite profound. David Holthouse offered his only public reading of Stalking the Boogeyman; Jan Harper Haines read sensitive sections from Cold River Spirits: Whispers


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 from a Family’s Forgotten Past; and at the open mic event ”Woman Scream: International Women's Poetry Movement,” Anchorage Chapter, Alaskans in many voices came together for strong, unwavering, and unforgettable poetry. Sandy, I could go on and on. The tribute to Theodore Roethke was outstanding. Especially when so many students became captivated by the literary, visual experience. SK: I remember. It’s another piece of history now. We published the play in Cirque. Did we also show the film? It was so haunting.

31 appeared more as themselves than the artists they portrayed which made the whole experience memorable and probably non-duplicatable. SK: That took place six years ago when I was young and innocent, just starting with Cirque and facilitating Poetry Parley, the future circling above us. Actually, I was 68 and dangerous. Your account of the Roethke event really elevates it. That may have been the first performance. The actors were selected almost randomly. A small bit of magic...This brings us again to the Alaska Writer Laureate Panel and John Haines. How did you happen to connect that day? When did you begin to correspond?

RE: Here is the event description: RE: I had invited John Haines to October 28, 2013, 5-7 p.m. UAA participate in the Alaska Writer Campus Bookstore. The UAA Laureate event, organized with Campus Bookstore presents “I Kathleen Tarr and held at the UAA Teach Out of Love” and a short Campus Bookstore. March 15, 2009 film “To the Moon: A Tribute to was the first email that included his Theodore Roethke,” by Sandra home address and then another Kleven, author of “Holy Land.” email on March 16 that confirmed This special event also includes his travel itinerary. I picked him up a reading of poems written by at the airport. Somehow, we got on Rachel Epstein Roethke’s former students and the topic of the Weimar Republic. I a segment from a play by David Wagoner called reminded him of someone he knew at Harvard who was “First Class” that shows Roethke holding forth in the also "talky." The letter correspondence began when he classroom. returned to Fairbanks and continued from April 9, 2009 to January 23, 2011. I remember students watched intensely the Blue Moon film (“To the Moon: A Tribute to Theodore Roethke”}. SK: How many letters do you think passed between you When the person sitting next to them stood up and during that period? transformed into an actor/poet, they found that they too became part of the performance—having folks look at RE: Between us, over 100. I think I have over 50 cards/ them next to the dramatization. letters from John. I replied with 50 more. Besides the devotion his students had for him throughout their lives, Theodore Roethke's struggle with mania and relationships, coupled with his poetic accomplishments let students at the event embrace the view that life can be a complex struggle, no matter the accolades, successes and highs. I think something unexpected and precious happened at that event. It has to do with a spontaneity of attention and underlying emotion that filled the air. The performers

SK: It seems you were both absorbed in the correspondence. What can you say in general about the content of the letters? RE: John would send me cards with humorous sayings and add his own comments that were charming and funny. The first letters mentioned Eric Weitz’ book Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy that I read. It is full of photography from that time and includes chapters about art and culture that John found fascinating.


32 In the correspondence, John responded to my questions concerning some of his poems, Alaska, history, and his day-to-day life. He was finishing his book Descent and thinking about life and what is important. What started as a thoughtful exchange became more personal. We both had connections to New York and California, which were referred to in the correspondence. He sent me a funny limerick and the hemlock solution did come up early in our correspondence. Woven in the laughs was a brilliant mind. He said he cherished my letters and that people didn't write letters anymore. He appreciated what I wrote and responded earnestly. I guess, underneath it all, we both liked to get to the heart of things. SK: Some call him cranky. Maybe curmudgeon is a better word and even this may be unfair. Did he air his grievances with you?

CIRQUE compilation is titled "May the Owl Call Again, A Return to Poet John Meade Haines, 1924-2011." I showed it to Fairbanks author Jean Anderson (Human Being Songs: Northern Stories, University of Alaska Press, 2017) and she gave me wonderful feedback. I am extremely grateful for her honest insights. Others had a difficult time following it since my letters were not included (they would have been in John’s possession) and there were many historical/ literary references that had nothing to do with Alaska. A major obstacle concerning the letters is that due to copyright laws, I do not own the rights to their content. I tried to contact his literary estate and heirs but no one responded to my inquiries.

In John Haines' last book Descent, we find that many of his experiences during WW II RE: Many people describe John became factors for his later life Haines as a curmudgeon. I think it choices. For instance, out of is a dismissive term used by people boredom, constrained on a ship, who do not have much to add when he turned to art. The veteran John Haines by Lila Vogt it comes to characterizations. benefits he received steered him to art school and to homestead land in Alaska. And his SK: When did the letters end? WW II experiences connected him to other generations of veterans, and his passionate anti-war convictions gave RE: I received his last card on January 23, 2011. The card him material for his prose, poetry, and essays. was called Red Squirrel by Hans Hoffman (1578), It was a painting of a red squirrel, sitting up, with its fingers Where his goal early on was to honor the men he met around its mouth, perhaps nibbling on something. around Richardson—the miners, whom he learned so Here is the last paragraph from his last letter: much from—during the later years of his life he is reading and rereading Irene Nemirovsky, Rosa Luxemburg, and I could write more, Lady Epstein, and I may, but sharing stories about women in the Resistance during wanted to get this much in the mail to you ere the WW II. I find all of this interesting. time runs out. I would sure love to have some crunchy nuts or seeds to munch on! We bushy folks in the trees, John Haines gave us so much that it is easy to pick and etc., need a bite when we can get it! choose what one wants to see in his poetry and writings without trying to understand the complexity of his work. Love, as always… His essay “On the Street,” if read carefully, can explain why signed John he embraced Richardson. ~~~ SK: What will you do with the letters? RE: It is difficult for me to explain why I am in a layoff/ demoted position and that events will not continue. RE: Years after he died, I transcribed his talk at the Alaska Although many people at UAA have expressed their Writer Laureate panel, as well as the cards and letters. The genuine, heartfelt concern, I cannot defend the monetary


33

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 value of my services. Sadly, freedom of expression through bookstore events has taken a blow, too. What comes to mind now is, again, John Haines. Academic institutions never wholly accepted him, and, perhaps, this is what endeared me to him in the first place. Snow blows across the highway before me as I walk - little, wavering trails of it swept along like a people dispersed. The snow people-where are they going? Some great danger must pursue them. They hurry and fall; the wind gives them a push, they get up and go on again. —John Haines (from “Snow” printed in Permafrost, Fall, 1979)

Clouds Passing Snow

Matt Witt

Sean Ulman

An Interview with Poet John Sibley Williams As I prepare for this interview, the hard-hitting words and pound-for-pound prestige of Portland poet, John Sibley Williams, make me conjure a prize fighter. As new champion of two heavyweight belts, the Orison Poetry Prize and the Backwaters Poetry Prize, Williams has just published back-to-back, mind-cracking books: As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Books, 2019) and Skin Memory (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). These are his third and fourth collections of poetry. At times they seem like the same book. They were published seven months apart, and as I switch off reading them, similar themes and symbols arise—ancestral culpabilities, searches for home, blood, bone, skin, fire, war, violence, silence; all amidst the hopeful beacons of stars and sky. Clinical in his exposure of humanity's dark vulnerabilities, Williams dips the lamp closer to history's black eyes in both collections. The details of these bruises carve deep in their press to diagram the harm. Williams hardly lets the reader off the ropes. Zero punches are pulled and in place of a saving grace or silver lining, the poems, instead, often reveal how the bad is worse than you thought.

There is grace, a surplus, in the poet's silver lines. From the poem "Small Treasons" in the collection As One Fire Consumes Another: Somewhere...a body moves across another without harm, as if taking a knife to the sky... [...] ...Somewhere, we are sorry; I assume for our silences. Bones ache & char & must burn, somewhere... ...Even our ghosts have left us. [...] ...Where we love with more than body & hurt & know when we have hurt. Somewhere a less flammable history, at least where the sparks fly upward before falling back to ash. "Advice Picked Up Along the Way" from Skin Memory: Sometimes it's best to kneel, stained & sea-slick, torn, bloody as a body can be among the tidewrack. Some-


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CIRQUE

times it's good not to see the bottom or know you've made it that low.... [...] ...Life may not get easier or harder or different than we imagined, but the weight feels right for the deeds we drag behind us. Or the silences, sometimes heavier. Not an anchor son, it's best to be a whetstone scraped smooth by the tides; for those wide white waves to break briefly for your body, as if finally, son, finally you've made an impact. "We Are Already at War" from Fire: ...Son, it's not always about more than survival. [...] Close your eyes. Unhook me from this impossible cloud you've hung from an impossible sky... "On Being Told: You Must Learn to Pray" from Skin Memory: ...The silence we resist in ourselves as much as for the silence we honor in others. [...] ...For a nearly empty handful of grandfather's thinning hair. The wars he retreats to at night while starlessly coughing into a pillow... "Of Milk and Honey" from Fire: ...Sure, my grandfather knifed your grandfather... [...] ...We are an unsettlable people. To have made it this far yet still stare vacantly at our own hands like exorcised ghosts. To repeat into belief: I have no home, then to take it with us wherever we go.

John Sibley Williams

Sean Ulman: These books were published close together, but did you feel they were a pair prior? Is there a shared story behind their creation? Like, were these two collections written at the same time? And do you feel that some poems could be traded back and forth between the books, without altering each's knockout effect? John Sibley Williams: Well, thematically, I think we all write about what haunts us, what keeps us up at night, what questions we just can’t find answers for. So, in that regard, many of my books explore the same larger human concerns, be they personal or cultural. The themes are interconnected, are threads that together form a single tapestry. Be it national prejudice or fears of how I’m raising my children, our bloody history or the search for self when the self just keeps vanishing into the communal. Certain collections may push one or another theme more to the forefront, often based on our current political climate or internal changes that have reprioritized my daily life, but in the end, I recognize pretty clear thematic threads running from my early chapbooks all the way to Skin Memory. So both books can easily be considered a pair. Their structures vary, and Skin Memory includes more intimate, personal work than the culturally charged As One Fire Consumes Another, but in the end they are asking the same questions and are answered by the same silence. The story behind each book is actually quite different.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Fire was a specific experiment for me, an entire collection consisting entirely of short, newspaper column-like prose poems which are meant to capitalize on my favorite aspects of free verse and prose poetry. I wanted the narrative flow and inherent conceptual linkage associated with the latter and the frequent, tense line breaks of the former. I found that happy medium in those boxy column forms. And the poems in that book feel like newspaper clippings, in a way, so the structure melded with the content. Editing Fire has an easier process, and I intuitively recognized when the book was complete. I submitted it to a few awards and, miraculously, it won the Orison Poetry Prize less than six months after I completed it.

35 Skin Memory was a wholly different beast. It had been in the works for over three years, endured 50 rejections, and, in the end, I revised it top-to-bottom seven times before Kwame Dawes chose it for the Backwaters Prize from the University of Nebraska. Each of the seven revisions involved cutting about half the manuscript, replacing those poems with newer material, and wholly restructuring it, trying to re-balance the various elements and themes for it to read as smoothly as possible. It was a pretty grueling process, but it taught me a lot about myself as a writer and editor. I’m sure a number of poems could be traded between collections without harming the flow of either, though, as I’m happy with both, I would need someone else to tell me which ones. SU: Thanks for providing some specifics for comparison. That's interesting to hear about the disparity regarding how the books came to be (and that they were written years apart). Fire was hot off the press, more or less. And Skin Memory, stuck in the press (or grafted to it), majorly reworked and a stack of rejections to remind you (and us) that all the toil can pay off in the form of a book. Winning competitive prizes is something these books have in common. Prizes are awarded anonymously, so it all weighs on the words. In these cases that was solely based on the scorecards of two star poets' (Vandada Khana and Kwame Dawes). How rewarding were those book-clinching wins? JSW: I cannot put into words how honored I felt in both instances. I also felt a bit confounded when Skin Memory was picked up, as, after two decades of writing and publishing, suddenly everything was happening all at once. It was a whirlwind of incredible news that I didn’t, and still don’t, feel I quite deserve. My partner has to keep reminding me that it’s not all a dream and that, yes, my words did actually resonate this clearly and potently with two amazing judges. This has been a surreal year, for sure. SU: I imagine a lot of time spent rewriting as


36 well as the passage of time contributed to Skin Memory's win, but with both books' successes I am thinking more about timing, or the times. Right now, there seems to be a need for your kind of art - ugly truths examined in depth with beautiful arrangements of accessible words. We recognize the high-praising notion of "an artist ahead of his time." You strike me as an artist who is precisely on top of his time, and hungry to react. Is there something to that? Might your manuscripts have been chosen because both judges felt each collection had a very current vitality, a direct relevance to the climates of the present, a raw demand to keep staring into its dark? JSW: Although I cannot say with any certainty, I feel you’re probably right. Hopefully all poetry, regardless of theme, is both timely and timeless, but during times of socio-political struggle and cultural upheaval, when words are wielded as weapons to divide instead of unify, poetry of witness is especially crucial. I like your phrase “raw demand to keep staring into its dark.” That is how I see both of my new books. And I try to stare deep into myself, my lineage, and my privilege to recognize how much blame I share. Simply pointing fingers isn’t helpful. We must witness and empathize. We must try to find those shards of light in the darkness. It certainly may be true that the “raw demands” in both books were factors in the judges’ decisions. SU: You seem steeped in a well-rounded writer's life as a poet and publicist of your own poetry (or book tour taker). And you are also a small-press agent and dynamic instructor. So, I rank you as a high-quality source across a variety of literary topics. I'd like to tap into that, and I think a good way to start is by asking you to compare your experiences of when a client or student of yours secures a book deal vs. you winning either of these prizes. JSW: My joy in both cases is similar, though when it’s another’s work I don’t suffer from that same self-doubt. I can simply celebrate their achievement without these pesky mixed emotions. And I don’t have any illusions; I know I’m only one part in a student or client’s path toward success. With writing students, all I can do is help them see their own work with a fresh set of eyes and provide them with new tools and contexts. With authors whom I’ve represented as an agent, I’m really only demystifying the publishing process for them by condensing their own vision into a format that might

CIRQUE resonate with editors. It’s as much a science as an art. In the end, whatever role I play, I’m deeply honored to assist other writers on their journeys, and their successes feel like my own. SU: I like that concept, "condensing their own vision to something that might resonate with editors." Every book project is different. But could you please expand on that nugget or polish up its lustery facets? What are some common adjustments you have made to submission packages to improve a writer's chances? JSW: Well, when I critique poetry, I naturally play a more active role in shaping a manuscript than when I assist an author with publication or marketing. With the latter, I work to balance the author’s vision with what an editor expects to see in a query letter. Submission materials require a set structure and a more distant voice. I need to “sell” the book without sounding “salesy.” Many authors have trouble walking that linguistic tightrope. How does one explore the major themes, plots, settings, and characters in one or two brief paragraphs? How to pique an editor’s interest without sounding either desperate or prideful? So my role with these authors is to uncover the book’s elements that are absolutely essential for an editor to know, that might tempt the editor to read the author’s story, without giving away too much or leaving too little said. It probably sounds more difficult than it is. SU: Good stuff there - uncover a book's essential elements and get it in the query. Thank you. As a writer who works in the field of his art, a writer who has twin toddlers, two book tours, and nine appearances and workshops in the northwest in the month of October alone, how are you doing? Like how do you pace yourself? Is knowing that the main time to push or work a book is now (upon its release) part of how you manage the pace or access energy reserves? JSW: I have to admit I have no idea what I’m doing. It’s a bit of a blur. I’m working on little sleep and emotional energy, given my twins’ boundless vitality, and I’m just trying to keep that creative flame lit while pushing the outward-focused aspects, like tours and workshops and my editing/agenting job. Unfortunately, I haven’t been writing new work as often as I’d like, but I’m finally at a place in my life where that’s okay. I am learning to forgive myself the lack of fresh creativity because meeting new readers is equally important. We may all write from an


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 internal need to explore language, but what are words if they remain on the page and don’t have the opportunity to make a difference in the world? So, I don’t know where this energy comes from, but it’s there, and it keeps me going. SU: The ultimate chance to "make a difference in the world" must be on every artist's mind from time to time. You clearly aren't messing around when it comes to this. Your caring emails and newsletters accurately portray a humble, grateful person. You are a nice guy. Your poems are nothing nice. They have fight, in manner and message. Is this a good balance for you as a person and poet? And do you think one of the poet's most important roles is to speak up, and speak for others; and to add to the texture of the times? JSW: Well, thank you for these kind words. I always try to be “nice,” by which I mean kind and empathetic, but I don’t believe gentleness or aversion to necessary fights are a part of that. Sometimes we have to speak up for ourselves and others. Sometimes being ungentle with the truth is what a poem requires. It’s what society requires. If no one holds a mirror before us, how will we recognize our beliefs and actions for what they really are? And this applies equally to me as a white male born to certain cultural privileges. I feel it is my responsibility to explore my own born, not earned, advantages and how they contrast against those born or raised without them. Even when it’s not overtly discussed, that recognition of privilege and what it means as an individual and a member of a larger community hums beneath all my poems. But more directly to your question, yes, I feel all of us whose privilege allows us the space to write freely, who aren’t judged by superficial qualities, who needn’t fear police or politicians or bosses who could withhold that one paycheck that makes our children go hungry, we need to investigate how we got where we are and what we can do to expose such inequities. However, all this said, I don’t believe in shoulds. Who am I to demand every poet write about these themes? If a privileged poet writes exclusively about flowers and parenthood, that is their choice. We write what we need to write. And not all of us need to write about our privilege. But I do. It’s one of the ghosts that haunts me. The only way I’ve found to deal with it is by looking it square in the eye and admitting my role in its creation.

SU: Privilege is prevalent in your poems (there is a poem titled "Privilege" in Fire). It's a heavy concept, one you've made less abstract through introspection. There are concrete things in your poetry too: animals, landscape, tools...I really love that long poem in Skin Memory "Dear Nowhere" subtitled with a series of places. Here's an excerpt: {Elsewhere in North Texas} Screech owl. Hummingbird. Mockingbird. They say a few red wolves remain in the outskirts of dusk. Be faithful first to the heavens, then to yourself. Third must be the world. I’m sure third is the world, the armadillo balling up when we poke it with an oak branch. How do you make symbolic things like wildlife fit in poems about concepts people struggle with like privilege? JSW: That’s a great question. I suppose it comes intuitively, in that I don’t set out with a given theme or larger personal or cultural meaning that I need to communicate. I usually begin a poem with a series of images. Then I try to create a world for these images to inhabit. How are they connected? What mood do they convey? And as I fashion that world, the themes organically emerge. From an empty silo: hunger, class issues, and a family falling apart. From a tire swing: the horrors that once hung from that same tree. From a gut-shot doe dragging itself into a tree’s calm shade: a son trying so damn hard not to be like his father. I try not to overthink it, lest the themes feel forced. Instead, the images themselves seem to birth their own grander meanings. While editing a poem, however, I do insist more heavily on connecting any loose threads. Now that the themes have surfaced, I revisit each image to ensure it’s the most evocative way of expressing those themes. Would a sycamore be more haunting than an alder? Should I vanish the bridge I’d placed over that overflowing river; does the bridge imply a degree of safety that doesn’t fit? SU: What a cool insight on your writing process - begin with image, create poem world, watch for emerging themes, check back to images. With book publications a writer's work can shift away


38 from new writing toward publicity. We are at an evolving time when it comes to reaching readers and writers. You write personal emails, send interested fans poems in the mail, and give countless readings and talks: old school ways to connect. You also use Facebook and Twitter. During the ride of this two-book year, how have you improved at getting your poems to readers? What are some advantages of connecting the old way (one to one) vs. connecting via a social network platform? Do you find yourself trending more toward the new ways or sticking to the old? JSW: As these are my third and fourth books, I’ve experimented quite a bit over the years and have honed my strategy in various ways. But it’s always a challenge, balancing cost, time, and potential benefit. I’m still trying out new things and dropping others. In general, I feel both traditional and social medias can be hugely valuable, as long as I’m being honest with myself. For example, I’ve created but never used a few social media accounts. I realized I just didn’t have the time, energy, or desire to post regularly on multiple accounts. Like many poets, I write, work, and am a parent. I also find social media can grow into a distraction from life’s other beauties and responsibilities. So, yes, I actively use a few channels, but not as much as hundreds of other tuned-in poets.

CIRQUE spiritual interest in understanding nature would be one quality I am thinking of. What comes to mind for you as far as shared characteristics? Are there qualities that you notice in Alaskan poetry that make it stand out? JSW: I fear I haven’t yet visited Alaska so cannot speak personally to that connection. But I do love a number of Alaskan poets, especially those writing about the indigenous experience and its struggles to retain what has been taken from them. Indigenous poetry is finally reaching a larger national readership, and many share themes that resonate across races and generations. Who were we? Who are we now? How did we get here? And how can we retain our unique beliefs, rituals, and cultures in the face of compelled American assimilation? These themes affect and inspire me. They explore the lack of this privilege I enjoy. Northwest poetry has long celebrated indigenous voices. In a more general poetic sense, I agree with you that a strong sense of landscape often infuses our shared literature. The ruggedness. The simple wildness of it all. The wide-open fields abutting sky-raking mountains that separate green from arid desert or snow-fat valleys. I’ve lived in a number of places in my life, and our coast exemplifies America’s animal diversity. I’m thrilled to be raising my kids in a place that sees the world as song…and that loves so much to sing it.

I spend most time contacting journals and other media for coverage, and, though it too carves out months of time from life, I find it less emotionally distracting. I can send off review copies and then return to writing without that internal voice chanting “get online, get online!” And readings are by far the most rewarding of experiences. There’s simply nothing like connecting with new friends and readers face-to-face. The conversations that emerge inspire me. So, all-in-all, I really do love the whole process. Don’t we all want our work to be read and discussed by strangers? Don’t we want to try to move them in the same way our favorite poets move us? SU: Portland is a city that has always held a certain mystique for me. I've been there once. I want to spend more time there. It's an artistic and cultural city with direct flights from Anchorage. We are close as far as time zone. Both places get plenty of rain. I realize I am thinking very generally when I wonder about what artists in the Northwest have in common with artists in Alaska. A

Beast

Nard Claar


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2

INTERVIEW and R E V I E W

This milestone is as powerfully illustrative of the power of the inhumane drive of technocrats, scientists, militarists and corporatists to throw civilization into what has amounted to be tailspin of economic, ecological, educational, equity, energy schizophrenia.

Paul Haeder

The so-called greenies – I am not just talking about plain liars (marketers) and greenwashers, but also green porn peddlers – but the lot who are actually shooting for a world powered by nuke energy—they have drunken from the font of nuclear Kool-Aid. Imagine that, 400 power plants on earth now spitting out toxic by-products, but then some green advocates want to replace fossil fuel with that devil product, nuclear energy. Think over 12,000 nuclear power plants peppered all around major metropolitan areas.

On the First Nuclear Disaster of the 21st Century — Poets Sing the Body Nuclear Book review and interview with Leah Stenson, co-editor of Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out

You know, if we’re going to fully replace fossil fuels, we will have to build 12,000 new reactors around the globe. There are about 400 now. So that’s a big upscale in nuclear power. There will have to be nuclear power stations outside of every major population point. Now, there’s all kinds of problems with cost, versus renewables.

Sometimes a poet can grasp the human significance of a technological failure better than a scientist. We are fortunate to have these poetic voices from Japan collected here. May we hear them and, more importantly, may we heed them. —John Pearson, MD, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility I’m thinking hard about ecosocialism and retrenchment and revolution against the capitalist state — this from the Oregon coast, with stranger climate unleashed daily -- a heat blob off the Pacific, now – and then all these cetaceans (whales) beaching and dying. Add to that horror story plastics in the bellies of birds, closed beaches because of human sewage overflows, the spraying of Agent-Orange-like chemicals on our clear-cut forests, acidification of our waters.

But the thing that most keeps me up at night is the health effects. We really don’t know what the health effects are for sure. This is heavily disputed. There has been no big study. The Chernobyl records show that health effects at low doses of radioactivity are severe and that they run through a population, causing people to feel — before

Never mind the mercury in the bodies of apex fish. Then there is the ever-releasing hot waters of Fukushima. And, of course, just a few months ago: Anemic Global Remembrances for Hiroshima 74 years ago, August 6, and August 9 for Nagasaki.

Leah Stenson observes damage in the nuclear exclusion zone

W. Stenson


40 they die, before they get cancers, before they’re reported as acute effects, the subacute effects cause people to have a sort of a full bouquet of health problems, that make life just miserable on a daily level, makes their work productivity quite low, makes the joy of living non-existent. I’m afraid that not only could it happen here, but, in fact, it already has happened here. Our biggest nuclear power plant, in Hanford...in western — eastern Ukraine — I mean, I’m sorry, in eastern Washington state, spilled 350 million curies of radioactive waste into the surrounding environment during the Cold War production of nuclear arms. We tested — we’re the only country in the world that tested nuclear bombs in our heartland, in Nevada. Those hundred nuclear weapons that were blown up on the American continent spread billions — not millions like in Chernobyl, but billions — of curies of radioactive waste around the American country. And so, we have had spots of radioactivity in Tennessee and the Chicago area that were as high as near Nevada. And what we have is a public health crisis that we have not yet fully addressed. We have rising rates of thyroid cancer, rising rates of pediatric cancers, which used to be, in the 1930s, a medical rarity. Whether there is a connection between these troubling health statistics and the kind of contaminants, including radioactive contaminants in the environment, is something that we need to address. –Kate Brown, author and activist against nuclear energy Thanks to a first place for a two-part story voted on by the Society for Professional Journalists in the magazine category, not only did I get to feature the mind and spirit of Kate Brown, but others tied to the crimes of our government and technocrats and bureaucrats against Hanford, the Tri-Cities, Washington, Oregon, the Japanese, the entire world — the place that seeded the nuclear isotopes for one of those bombs used to murder people vis-a-vis Oppenheimer: Hanford — From Nagasaki to Fourth-Generation Spokanites: As They Get Sick, Age, and Die, Will Downwinders Tell The Story of Nuclear Dread?

CIRQUE Nuclear Narratives – When Cold War Starts, the Hot Milk Gets Poured: Survivors Downwind from Radioactive Releases Push Through Complacency, Amnesia, and Secrets In an Age of Millisecond and Nanosecond Info, Poetry Really Counts Now this is how life is – I meet a Cirque author at a Portland reading, and lo and behold, she gifts me her collected poetry anthology on Fukushima by Japanese poets. Leah Stenson’s heart is where I am going now as a writerslash-reviewer: Certainly, she follows a path back to a place of reconciliation, regrouping and re-appropriating the power of collective action, collectivism and stopping the monsters of greed running the world. Here’s just on poem from the collection: Helen Keller, on a return trip to Japan in 1948, visited Hiroshima. She directly touched the A-bomb survivors’ keloid scars and came to understand the horror of the Atomic Bomb. […] If Helen were to visit Fukushima now and touch the ground with her fingertips, what kind of scream would pierce her skin and shake her soul? —Masanori Shida, “Helen Keller’s Fingertips”


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 The gift of this poem by Shida and dozens of other poems from other Japanese poets comes to me through a two or three degrees of separation story in my life: I was at this Cirque Journal reading in Portland at the end of August 2019. I and 12 others read from our work featured in a just-published edition of Cirque Journal.

• I was at a pre-reading publisher event. I was there with my Army veteran buddy, Danny, and my engineer friend, Larry, meeting as buddies, reconnecting, but it was also part of my rendezvous with Cirque co-editor Sandra Kleven and this other writer I for whom I had just been introduced: Leah Stenson. Leah and I both have very different books coming out in 2020 from Cirque Press (my short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam, and her memoir, Life Revised).

the lies of corporations and lobbies tied to EVERYTHING I have studied that has caused physical, mental, and spiritual despair in humanity and all of Gaia’s nature the masculine madness of genuflecting to industry, to chemicals, to industrial logging, ag, mining, harvesting of resources the flagrant psychological manipulation of entire groups and societies by the oppressors — capitalists and their battalions of little Eichmann’s

Leah’s co-editor, Asao Sarukawa Aroldi, was part of the growing anti-nuclear movement in Japan following the disaster at Fukushima. Leah credits Asao for getting Japanese poets to be part of this book, by Inkwater Press. Much of the discovery took place from a book edited by Hisao Suzuki: Farewell to Nuclear, Welcome Renewable Energy: A Collection of Poems by 218 Poets (Coal Sack Publishing, 2012). This book is a virtual goldmine of powerful poets, many of whom reside (resided) in these areas directly or near the Fukushima disaster. Five authors in this collection are residents of Fukushima Prefecture — Masayuki Nemoto, Hiroshi Suzuki, Takao Ota, Tamiko Kido, and Jotaro Wakamatsu. Three were born in Fukushima Prefecture — Setsuko Okubo, Chihiro Uozumi, and Shonai Haga — and one, Makoto Yoshida, is deceased. Here is part of one of her works in Leah’s anthology:

Leah Stenson with activist poet Jotaro Wakamatsu

W. Stenson

Someday nuclear power will certainly turn its fangs on people. ……………………… To forever reject this monster — therein lies our raison d’etre. ……………………. If we should be negligent in this then surely our grandchildren will someday ask: “What did your generation do?”

After talking, meeting, and reading at a Lutheran Church, and then confabbing with libations and food at the Rose City Book Pub, Leah made sure to get me this book, Reverberations from Fukushima: 50 Japanese Poets Speak Out.

24-hour News Cycle Brings Us all the Wrong News – United States of Amnesia

This book, like a Santa Ana wind on a cool summer night, ties into so many issues I have recently been journeying with: • the military industrial complex now embedded in almost all things Capitalism

Today, we are at the juncture where very little attention is paid to Japan and other places attempting to disseminate all the suffering the people of Fukushima underwent at the time of the meltdown and what continues today as a vast cover-up by governments, the so-called nuclear

—Makoto Yoshida, “Heavy Days and Years”


42 energy industry, the military, and the sciences wedded to this ghastly form of boiling water for electricity. That earthquake that struck at 2:46 pm March 11, 2011 was the most powerful in Japan’s history. The tsunami (Japanese word for harbor wave) hit the nuclear power plant one hour after the quake. Water poured into the basement of the plant’s off-site batteries which were designed for the generator to keep the cores cool. This design is a violation of nuclear safety principles, and the plant’s cooling system sizzled off, causing the meltdown of the fuel and an explosion of excess hydrogen. There is no absolute safety with nuclear energy, but the nuclear industry purports this all the time: “clean, safe, renewable energy.” Bullshit! In the poem, “To Give Birth,” Rumiko Kora looks at the element in the Chinese character to give birth as a depiction of a baby being born: In the olden days, when a woman left the hut after childbirth, she ducked under the waves and swam through the waves at dawn on the shore of the Japan Sea to return from death. For the Japanese, women needed to be cleansed by the waves because giving birth also meant going to the afterworld in order to give birth to a new life — in the cycle of life and death: Women have given birth in this way, have kept on giving birth, but the birth canal has eventually led to the nuclear power plant, has it not? In the poem, “A Land of Sorrow: A City Spirited Away by God,” Jotaro Wakamatsu looks at Pripyat City, a town near Chernobyl. Eight years after the accident weeds push up sidewalks, and from some appearances things look normal with flying swallows and swarms of mosquitoes and butterflies on flowers. However... Yet, it is a city with no human voices. It is a city where not human walks. It is a city where 45,000 people are hiding.

CIRQUE […] Everything is headed for ruin, competing with human lives and the city build by humans in the race to ruin are: strontium 90 with its half-life of 27.7 years cesium 137 with its half-life of 30 years plutonium 239 with its half-life of 24,400 years. We Let the Takers Mutate the Leavers – Why? Capitalism’s MIC (military industrial complex)! The madness of humanity post-Fertile Crescent ascension, post-bronze age, into the industrial age/revolution is exponentially ramped up year after year with more and more systems, tools, products, and consumables of death and oppression. How many do we grieve for just for World War II? Seventy million? How many countries has the USA bombed just in the 20th century? How many millions killed by the USA? At every turn, we see the results of the inhumane, the rampant reliance on the takers, as those of us in leaver society find it more difficult each day to be human beings. The problem is that man’s conquest of the world has itself devastated the world. And in spite of all the mastery we’ve attained, we don’t have enough mastery to stop devastating the world – or to repair the devastation we’ve already wrought. We’ve poured our poisons into the world as though it were a bottomless pit – and we go on pouring our poisons into the world. We’ve gobbled up irreplaceable resources as though they could never run out – and we go on gobbling them up. It’s hard to imagine how the world could survive another century of this abuse, but nobody’s really doing anything about it…Only one thing can save us. We have to increase our mastery of the world. All this damage has come about through our conquest of the world, but we have to go on conquering it until our rule is absolute. Then, when we’re in complete control, everything will be fine. We’ll have fusion power. No pollution. We’ll turn the rain on and off. We’ll grow a bushel of wheat in a square centimeter…And that’s where it stands right now. We have to carry the conquest forward. And carrying it forward is either going to destroy the world or turn it into a paradise. —gorilla, talking to journalist, Ishmael, Daniel Quinn


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 As I have repeated many times in my stories and polemics, poetry can bring meaning to individual experiences with the power of perception and words, bringing that personal view to a universal understanding. That despoiled land or war-torn city, any of those harrowing human travails can be the conduit of enlightenment and healing. We are basically living in a house of mirrors, a carnival of horrors, and a nightmare of deep proportions invented by the overlords — throughout human history from around 12,000 years before the present era. Yet the catharsis we see in these poems in Reverberations from Fukushima is deeper than personal trauma healing and more about recounting what is human universal truth and strength — memory and remembering the sorrow. We are part of a great collective consciousness if we as individuals are capable of releasing the ego and moving toward the collective view. These poets sometimes come to Fukushima and sometimes live inside the disaster crumbling their air, soil, sea and water, and they seethe with a sense of desiring answers and reclaiming truth:

Bamboo poles for sale! Bamboo poles for sale! Bamboo poles for sale! No one seems to be buying any bamboo poles. Outside the windows the sky is clear, like in Hiroshima. Oy vey! Did he turn at the street corner? The voice of the traveling salesman, Einstein, is fading further away. — Hiroyoshi Komatsu This anthology is both clarion call and dirge, a recollection and a plea for future generations to bear witness and move to action. And that action is clear — stop the nuclear madness, in both the boiling water to turn turbines to give electricity, and those nuclear-tipped weapons of genocide. There’s an amazing poem, “You’re Gonna Get It!” by Ken Yamaguchi.

Einstein’s Voice He starts: “Bamboo poles for sale! Bamboo poles for sale!” While I am reading the newspaper, reclining in the afternoon on a summer’s day, I hear the sing-song cry of a man selling laundry poles.

The Japanese archipelago, completely surrounded with fifty-four nuclear plants, is like a prison in the ocean isolating the prisoners. He ends:

The atomic bomb, Little Boy, was dropped on Hiroshima at 15 minutes and 17 seconds past 9:00 a.m. August 6, Tinian Time. It is said when the news reached Einstein, who had contributed to the Manhattan Project, he just uttered a groan: Oy vey! And in similar words in a will he wrote five months before his death: If I had my life to live over again, I would like to be a tinsmith or a traveling salesman, not a scientist or a teacher.

August 15, 1945, we lost the war. The Myth of Invincibility of the totalitarian emperor system collapsed. You, who are trying to follow a fallen path, You’re gonna get it! We all relish the moments when the masters of this calamity and chaos are “gonna get it,” for sure. We all have lost that war, with tumbling Fat Man and Little Boy. And we are losing the war now as perverted politicians laugh at their power to drop MOAB’s — mother of all bombs. This collection edited by Stenson and Sarukawa Aroldi gives the world shadows from which to peel away the


44 false dramas coming out of that house of mirrors. We are here, on the Pacific, eating the dredges of Fukushima, each radioactive ion encapsulated in the very flesh of the fish we so desire as benediction and nutrition. We can dine with the poet, as we perish, and suffer, and wonder why humanity has turned against itself. In The Editor’s Own Words – Why This Collection? The impetus of a review is getting the author to spar with some questions a hard-boiled writer like me can offer up. Leah Stenson does some fine cruiserweight sparring, back and forth, in the following: Paul Haeder: Do you think the poets in the book would agree with the following statement? Could you elaborate? Human beings should only use technology which, if the worst case happens, it leads to an acceptable damage. Definitely nuclear energy is not in that category. I want an industrial world where people are allowed to make errors. Because human creativity has to do with being allowed to make errors. We want an error-friendly environment. —Hans-Peter Durr

CIRQUE LS: I would say I am now more optimistic about the power of ordinary people to bring about change on the societal level. I was also surprised by the number of people who supported me throughout the process—from concept to publication to arranging for readings. As soon as I determined to do the book, doors of opportunity opened for me, one after another. I was especially fortunate to team up with Asao Sarukawa Aroldi who pointed me in the direction of Coal Sack Publishing Company in Tokyo. Coal Sack’s founder, Hisao Suzuki, gave me permission to use the poems anthologized in Reverberations… and thanks to him I was able to obtain permission to tour the nuclear exclusion zone together with several activist poets. Working on Reverberations…strengthened my conviction that even a few people, working with a unified purpose, can bring about change. It also reinforced my belief in the power of the written word. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction in being able to make a cause for the good of society. As a writer, editor and anthologist, I feel a sense of mission to speak the truth, political or personal, and to write and publish with the intention of creating value. PH: Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons go hand in hand. I wonder if you sense that the Japanese are more worried about the issue of bombs than about reactors?

Leah Stenson: I’m sure all the poets in Reverberations from Fukushima would agree with that statement—especially those directly affected by the dire consequences of nuclear power gone wrong. We absolutely should not be messing around with any technology capable of inflicting damage so great as to render large geographic areas uninhabitable. The Japanese people have paid a heavy price for TEPCO’s (Tokyo Electric Power Company) “errors” in siting the reactors, assessing the risks, and dealing with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster. Many in Fukushima prefecture lost their homes, their livelihoods and their health. Despite the nuclear industry’s repeated assurances that nuclear power was “safe,” the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima wasn’t designed to survive that kind of Force Majeure.

LS: At the end of WW II, Japan renounced the right of the nation to wage war. That was 70 years ago. Now, Prime Minister Abe and certain segments of the population want to revise Article 9 of the constitution in favor of arming Japan. Although Japan’s interest in nuclear energy has always been driven by the need for an inexpensive source of energy, one wonders whether nuclear weapons, created from the byproducts of uranium-based reactors, could have a place in the future of an armed Japan, especially given the rapidly shifting balance of power in the region. That said, I find it difficult to imagine that the Japanese would ever consider dropping a bomb on anyone.

PH: How have you changed personally and as a writer as a result of researching this book, working with your fellow editor and providing this platform for Japanese poets to express their emotional, intellectual and ethical reactions to Fukushima?

LS: I wanted to open the eyes of American readers to the dangers inherent in uranium-based nuclear power. I wanted them to see, feel and understand—through the words of Japanese poets—the terrible consequences of nuclear power gone wrong. I also wanted to draw attention to the self-serving political and economic

PH: Why did you pick this project?


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 forces that promote nuclear power—not only in Japan but around the world. On a more personal level, I might say that the project picked me. I have a deep personal connection to Japan, having lived there for 16 years. My husband and daughter were working in Japan when the disaster occurred, and I was only days away from the nuclear plume in Portland, Oregon. The Fukushima nuclear disaster was the first nuclear disaster of the 21st century, and I’m afraid it won’t be the last. If we have any hope of preventing another Fukushima, it is necessary for people to wake up to the perils inherent in nuclear energy. Sticking our heads in the sand will only pave the way for an increasingly hellish situation as nuclear power plants proliferate around the world. PH: Have you written any poems about the disasters of nuclear energy or war? If so, can you share them? LS: I don’t usually write about such topics, but I suppose some of my poems could be considered “political”—one about my father serving time as a POW in WW II, another commemorating the death of Nelson Mandela and one about Holocaust survivor Alter Weiner. I did write a poem about Fukushima—but only after Reverberations…was published. Although the poem talks about the disaster, it’s really about the power of poetry to spread the truth: For My Poet Friends in Fukushima In requiems for the dead and prayers for the living, the voices of poets rise and reverberate from the wasteland of Fukushima defying a silence broken only by the caw of crows and the clanging of metal in the breeze. On the winds of hope their words arrive on American soil. Like seeds, their truth will be sown in the hearts of people who, in a unified plea, speak out against

the nuclear demon that must be vanquished to keep all people safe. PH: Can you give us an elevator speech (to a non-poetry aficionado) about this book? LS: The 50 poets in this anthology speak out against the nuclear industry and the dangers it poses not only for their fellow citizens but also for people everywhere who live under in the shadow of nuclear reactors. Their poems— some from poets directly impacted by the Fukushima accident—offer passionate, compelling testimony to the dangers of nuclear energy and the dangers of government regulatory failures and nuclear industry collusion. The book also includes essays by the editors, Japanese activist poets and nuclear experts. PH: You've given readings in various venues, I would imagine, and have encountered diverse reactions. What are two that stand out after a reading of Reverberations from Fukushima? LS: I’ve given readings throughout Oregon and Washington. Everyone was always appreciative of the anthology and my efforts in compiling it. I never encountered anyone who had a negative opinion of the book or the poems, probably because I was preaching to the choir. The warmest response to the book I encountered was at Greenlake Library in Seattle. Thanks to the founder and director of the PoetsWest reading series, J. Glenn Evans, the room was packed with at least 40 people on a gorgeous sunny Saturday afternoon and the reading was recorded. I also received great support from Fairewinds Energy Education’s Maggie Gundersen who published a review of the book in the organization’s newsletter (https://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-energy-education/ tag/Maggie+Gundersen). Paul, I also deeply appreciate the chance to dialogue with you in preparing this interview article and the support of Sandra Kleven and Mike Burwell of Cirque Journal in publishing it. PH: How did you begin writing poetry? LS: That’s an interesting question—not many people ask me that. I guess I was impressed by the power of literature at an early age, especially after I understood its capacity to address sensitive subjects not usually discussed in daily life. I studied literature as an undergraduate and at the


46 graduate level and then worked in publishing in New York City for several years. At that time, I wrote book reviews and articles for various periodicals. It wasn’t until I moved to Portland, Oregon in 1993, after spending 16 years in Japan teaching and raising two daughters, that I began writing poetry. In Portland, I joined a poetry writing group, but got sidetracked for several years working as the Managing Director of Oregon Peace Institute. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I began writing poetry seriously. PH: What is your next project to be published by Cirque Press? LS: My next book—Life Revised—is a hybrid memoir comprised of prose, poetry and images which offers insight into the transformation of personal tragedy via the resilience of the human spirit. In the same way that Reverberations from Fukushima is a book about reactions to an apocalyptic event shrouded in lies and deceit, Life Revised is about my personal apocalypse, all the more devastating because, like Fukushima, it was shrouded in silence and lies.

CIRQUE plant present unimaginable technical challenges. Unless we speak the truth about what happened—and what is happening—how can we avoid another Fukushima? Despite the grim situation in Fukushima, there is hope on the horizon. In a surprising announcement only hours after his appointment this September as Japan’s new Environment Minister, Shinjiro Koizumi said that Japan should scrap—not retain—its nuclear reactors. He issued a strong cautionary statement to the effect that earthquakes are unpredictable, and Japan would be “doomed” if another nuclear accident were to occur. We can only hope that the government of Japan will act in accordance with the desires of the Japanese people and turn away from uranium-based nuclear power. The question is whether other countries will learn the lesson of Fukushima before they too suffer a similar fate. I am reminded of a Buddhist proverb: “The cart that overturns on the road ahead is a warning to the one behind.” We have much to learn from Fukushima. Our future depends on whether we are listening and can learn the lesson.

PH: Is there anything you would like to tell the public about Japan's nuclear disaster? LS: I am troubled by the lack of news coverage about the ongoing situation. Eight years have passed since the catastrophic accident at Fukushima, and TEPCO, the pro-nuclear lobby and the Japanese government are all doing their best to convey to the Japanese people and the world that everything is under control and the cleanup is simply business-as-usual. In fact, a number of events of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games are slated to be held in Fukushima Prefecture. Moreover, 140,000 “nuclear refugees” displaced by the accident have now been told it is safe to return home. It looks as if the persistent dangers in Fukushima are being swept under the rug in an attempt to show the world that Japan has risen from the ashes of nuclear disaster. The reality is that the cleanup at Fukushima is far from over and multiple serious issues remain. TEPCO will soon run out of space to store oceans of contaminated cooling water. Mountains of plastic bags filled with an estimated 2.5 million cubic meters of radioactive soil dot the landscape. Onsite storage of spent fuel rods, and the long-term decommissioning and dismantling of the

Self Inflicted

Sheary Clough Suiter


Vo l . 10 N o . 2

FEATURE Paulann Petersen

Once a Laureate Words from This Whitman From 2010 to 2014, I served two terms as Oregon’s Poet Laureate. Yes, served. As OPL, I was in a diplomatic service. I had the great good fortune of being an ambassador for poetry in the state of Oregon. For those four years, I went all over Oregon, ultimately making appearances in all 36 counties and covering over 27,000 miles. Traveling over mountains, across high plateaus and sagebrush flats, along river valleys and rock-rimmed coastline, I had the honor of being an ambassador for poetry at libraries, schools, art galleries, grange halls, and senior centers.

47 keynotes or dedications because they’d been reading and cherishing poetry all their lives. But others came because they had no idea what a poet laureate was, and they simply wanted to find out for themselves. Countless times, people approached me after a reading to tell me they’d thought they didn’t like poetry, but were delighted to find out that they actually did. More times than seem possible, people told me they’d never heard a poem read aloud before. I was tempted to say, “Oh, surely teachers read poems aloud to you in a classroom when you were a kid!” But I didn’t. They were telling me how they felt, and I honored that. I thanked them for being there to listen, glad that my reading had brought the sounds of a poem alive for them, enough alive that they might think they were hearing—for a very first time— someone give voice to a poem.

When, as OPL, I gave workshops— hundreds of them to writers of all ages—I included some time for the participants to read aloud (for the rest of the group) some of what they’d just written. What emerged from those workshops (and its ink was barely dry on the page) was exhilarating. The imagery! A native Oregonian, I was born The voices! The narrative threads! in and have lived most of my life The marvelously unpredictable in Portland although for three metaphors and music! Poetry’s life Paulann Petersen decades I did live east of the was thriving—is at this moment Cascades, in Klamath Falls. So, thriving—in every pocket and corner of every landscape. by 2010, I’d already seen a great deal of my native state. But my tenure as OPL took me to tiny Oregon towns I As I recount these memories to you, I’m reminded of hadn’t known existed. My tenure took me on highways Whitman. Walt Whitman teaches us the democracy of and roads through countryside I’d never even glimpsed poetry. Whitman exhorts us, compels us, to remember before. that poetry is not the domain of the few, of the select. No. Poetry belongs to us all. Poetry is large. Poetry contains My tenure as OPL taught me something I merely thought multitudes. I knew: the vast and remarkably varied beauty of Oregon. And, as I was mile by mile learning this, I was also learning I was born a Whitman. Paulann Whitman, daughter of about something else: the remarkably varied life of Grace and Paul Whitman. I’m a grateful member of a poetry in our world. Whitman family. And I feel my Whitman heritage most deeply when—as Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita—I Poetry’s life. What a rich and lively and deep life that is! can continue to be among the fortunate ones who call Many people came to my workshops or readings or themselves ambassadors of poetry. Reach to the Clouds Susan Biggs


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CIRQUE

A Sacrament

Appetite

Become that high priest, the bee. Drone your way from one fragrant temple to another, nosing into each altar. Drink what’s divine— and while you’re there, let some of the sacred cling to your limbs. Wherever you go leave a small trail of its golden crumbs.

Pale gold and crumbling with crust mottled dark, almost bronze, pieces of honeycomb lie on a plate. Flecked with the pale paper of hive, their hexagonal cells leak into the deepening pool of amber. On your lips, against palate, tooth and tongue, the viscous sugar squeezes from its chambers, sears sweetness into your throat until you chew pulp and wax from a blue city of bees. Between your teeth is the blown flower and the flower’s seed. Passport pages stamped and turning. Death’s officious hum. Both the candle and its anther of flame. Your own yellow hunger. Never say you can’t take this world into your mouth. —from Poetry, Vol. CLXXVIII, No. 4, Modern Poetry Association, and The Wild Awake, Confluence Press, 2002

In your wake the world unfolds its rapture, the fruit of its blooming. Rooms in your house fill with that sweetness your body both makes and eats. —from A Bride of Narrow Escape, Cloudbank Books, 2006 Merman Mother told me there'd be all kinds— he-men, beefcakes, pretty-boys, wolves—but she never mentioned this: someone who'd risk it all just to rock in the caulky cradle of a boat; a man who says he could walk into a mountain lake keep walking, and breathe; a lover who craves the taste of salt inside me. —from The Wild Awake, Confluence Press, 2002

Handwriting —for Greg Simon Vowels open their bodies— cup, chalice, sloping bowl, they spread out in a string of sound. From their depth a breath, breathing rises. Each word takes its time on the page, easing from left to right— each a source of light, the line of ink simply its shadow left behind.

The connections are long and curving. Dips of a wren's neartouches to the earth, strokes of this skater's journey across a new moon of ice.

—from Poetry, Vol. CLXVIII, No. 3, Modern Poetry Association, and The Wild Awake, Confluence Press, 2002


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2

REVIEWS Ann Chandonnet

A Review of You Are No Longer in Trouble by Nicole Stellon O’Donnell White Pine Press, Buffalo, NY, 2019 A substantial collection of more than sixty finely-honed prose poems and flash essays which add up to an engaging memoir, You Are No Longer in Trouble traces the life of its author, Nicole Stellon O’Donnell. The zig-zag “plot” switches back and forth in time, from a flood in Fairbanks to students who are lost to death or disaster, from feelings of loss haunting the author; from the author’s own schooldays when she ate pencil erasers and yearned for stickers; from teaching as an adult in a bush Alaska school to witnessing, as a youngster, a junior high production of the musical, “Bye, Bye Birdy”; to a long series about her father, who worked as a school principal. The collection paints an admirable portrait of a life that has not been easy. In her youth, O’Donnell writes, she suffered delving into typical adolescent problems of her own: the grave disappointment of not being picked in second grade; long trips in cold school buses; a broken arm in a cast for a whole endless summer. Frustration and budding desire take center stage. A missing grandfather pops up like a bad dream.

The portraits of her adult life include fearing her first child will have Downs’ syndrome, to a variety of reactions to a death on a long airplane flight, the female principal who “becomes every boss you ever had,” to strange poems assigned to her by her students serving time in a Juvenile Detention Center, from auto accidents (personal and otherwise), to the density of the language of teaching contracts and protecting her Alaska Native students from rude photographing by white tourists. Day after day, year after year, hundreds of tardy slips and dozens of permission slips pile up, accompanied by “confiscated kick-me post-it[s] taken from someone’s back.” The threats of daily life are far from idle. For instance, when O’Donnell—the Imported White English Teacher— attends a staff meeting at a school in the village of Togiak, she observes her fellow employees puzzle out how to react to the Imported White Science Teacher swinging a bat. Violence lurks everywhere, even in the treatment and diagnosis of her dying father. The fifth grade playground features a stash of used needles beneath the slide. The subjects are modern and moving. The variety is impressive. Words are not minced. Because of the book’s loosely but strategically knit structure, the reader can dip in anywhere and feel in the swing of things as the scene zip-lines from Chicago to Fairbanks and back to Chicago. One long poem, “The Drill,” scoots easily from the hovering threats of The Bomb to threats of terrorists to young children; to going into labor for the first time; to her own daughter’s log kept

In adolescence, she frequently wished to “unhusk” herself. Her poems/essays about these years include subjects such as greasy hair and slept-in clothes, to an eating disorder, to the necessity of having hair removed from her jaw and the continuing emotional distance at which her mother keeps her. The sum of these events causes her to cut her wrists—although she approaches that act indirectly. Nicole Stellon O’Donnell


50 during a school lockdown. It memorializes how a mere red phone or shadow on the glass of a covered classroom doorway can lead to thoughts of death and destruction/ fear for the future. Family secrets going back generations are laid bare. In too many of Anne Sexton’s familial poems, the use of a rhyming dictionary has forced Sexton to say things

CIRQUE among third graders at recess rather than her own marriage. She also slyly drops a reference to one of T.S. Eliot’s most famous lines. There lurks a vein of blame in those poems where the author criticizes the reactions of other teachers, her parents and society in general. But the suggestions offered for apt behavior show that O’Donnell believes her readers are able to change their ways—particularly when confronted with crying girls. “Milking every hurt” is not the point in this well-crafted collection. It is not reading for educators or parents only. It cannot be summed up as “one credible threat after another.” It is a careful remembering, a fever chart, recording challenges and successes in one woman’s life. As her title, You Are No Longer in Trouble, signifies, O’Donnell has walked through the fire and emerged only slightly scorched. Surrounded by the enemy, she has found ways to escape and thrive. She accomplishes bringing up her two daughters with methods different than those used by her own parents. She has survived.

she probably did not originally intend. O’Donnell, on the other hand, unleashes her pen from both the demands of rhyme and the constraints of fixed forms. The freedoms thus enabled serve her well. Although O’Donnell refers to getting weathered in and the glory of late winter sunrises, she carefully avoids the temptation of belaboring the reader with trite truisms of the Upper Forty-Eight. She has mastered “swallowing her nerves.” She picks the perfect detail, but doesn’t ride it until it is lathered and snorting. All is not suicidal, dour and doomed between O’Donnell’s lines. She expresses humor in poems like “The Bossy e Meets His Match” and “Marriage.” “Marriage” (the seventh poem) appears to be a sly joke aimed at readers trying to put the poems in chronological order. This is marriage

Life Goes On

Catherine Broom


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Gerry McFarland

A Review of In the Presence of Absence by Richard Widerkehr MoonPath Press, Tillamook, OR, 2017

and death, love and loss, blend together in verse that is at once simple and complex: I had a biopsy in April, and the light that afternoon was a mouth. The tongue, a root. The teeth, a rake. The dead, such as you, streamed around me, Father. The artful title of this collection gives us something of the story--the deaths of each parent, then a reminder of his own mortality: an encounter with cancer and lengthy, painful treatment. The absences of both mother and father remain with him not as ghosts, but as the simultaneity of memory and presence, memory as presence. This present absence is a sustained theme throughout the book, a thoughtfully considered use of the present, present tense, and past. Widerkehr balances memory of his parents' lives with their passing in a manner that enhances both.

Richard Widerkehr's full length collection of poems, In the Presence of Absence, takes up illness, death, loss, recovery, rehabilitation, love, travel, family, humor and faith; an unstated self-discovery within a kind of revolving spiritual door that opens only outward, with broad strokes, to an exploration of life and death. He employs humor frequently, perhaps to balance what in lesser hands could be an overwhelming sense of loss. In a paean to his frequent visits to the Mexican city of Akunal, Widerkehr exults in his sense of humor:

Widerkehr creates a thread between loss and remembrance that recurs throughout this collection and that anchors the poems. The reader may find the presence of absence while reading about it. These poems balance presence with its twin, absence, suggesting the duality of loss and remembrance, while simultaneously reminding us that we are still here. That we have work to do. Widerkehr remembers his mother and father, and takes in the simple joy of being alive, and working, deep in the world, with his long-time love, Linda.

After lunch, we bask as frigate birds glide high like spiritual advisors so deep in their mystique they won’t tell us which restaurant to eat in. He reflects on his life as a poet, the death of his father, then his mother, as well as his own brush with serious illness, prompting reflection on his own mortality. Illness Richard Widerkehr


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Lil Peep

CIRQUE

Jodie Filan


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2

P OE T RY Ray Ball

Small Stones (Cento) Clouds of blackbirds drop from the sky1 the envy of uncultivated trees.2 The river’s metaphor is frozen,3 but the wind is a kiss this evening.4 I imagine God sighing into clay.5 It must have been an endless6 breath from the fathoms.7 Reaching

Sheary Clough Suiter

This house is made of honey logs.9 This pile of wood wished to be a stairway10

Christianne Balk

Holding Teo Fourteen weeks old, my grand nephew pushes his fat feet against my thighs, locks his knees, and stands. Wobbling between my palms, left, right— he keeps his eyes latched on his mother’s face as if she were the moon breaking through clouds, rising just for him. His heft presses me closer to the deep comfort of the curved, rich, mantled ground, shoving away sorrow the way choppy waves at high tide erase long salt lines streaking the weathered pilings of the wharf bridging surf to land. Lap-safe and hand-held, he reaches—serious, oneminded—for his mother. With gravity he leans, tracking the causeway of her smile.

Stone at Netarts Spit

Across the window a whispering screen.8

Matt Witt

over the rumblings of history;11 the days are leaning towards something definitive & vague12 and soon so many small stones, buried a thousand years,13 appear like fixed stars in clouds of night.1⁴ _________________________ 1 Julia B. Levine, “At the Hog Island Oyster Company” 2 Luis de Góngora, “Solitudes,” translated by Edith Grossman 3 Michael Chitwood, “Baptist” 4 M. Stone, “Between Two Mountains” ⁵ Jack Bedell, “Revenant” 6 Margaret Atwood, “The Butterfly” ⁷ Jen Rouse, “Aurora Borealis” ⁸ Charlotte Mary Mew, “From a Window” ⁹ Joanna Lily, “Coming to My Senses” 10 Yuki Tanaka, “Evidence of Nocturne” 11Jorge Luis Borges, “Texas,” translated by Edith Grossman 12 Kimberly Anne Southwick, “Phlox Moon, Cloudcover” 13 Mary Oliver, “Lingering in Happiness” 1⁴Margaret Cavendish, “Of Sense & Reason Exercised in Their Different Shapes”


54

CIRQUE Gabrielle Barnett

Groundwork (after a few lines from Joan Kane) She defers the moment: gathering thyme, covering the chard, heeding the inevitability of a hard freeze. Questions throng thick, always the same: if, when, how much longer? Den of Wolves

Tim Barnes

Buckskin Boy Alone in your room, you put on the clothes your mother left on the chair for someone else. If this was really your life they would be buckskin and fringed, a flintlock leaning against the wall. Soon there will be a knock on the door and you will return from the book in your lap

Arthur Kwon Lee

Birch reminds of what then: a view beyond between branches. The emptied horizon. Frost strikes somewhat predictable: after dusk, before dawn, once earth orbits sufficient to bring long shade hemispherically, adjusting for aspect, incline, elevation, proximity to open water and other variables. A failing heart and ravaged lungs follow no such rule of thumb: with no almanac accrued there is no forecast.

where you have been trapping beaver along the Musselshell and camping cold with Bridger and Meek in the spring of ’34 and pretend to be a boy your mother knows because you must be careful in Indian country. Contemplation Invitation

Tami Phelps


55

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Kristina Boratino

Resurrection Bay They say no man is an Island—this must be true. My first love is getting re-married today, as I cruise through the Kenai Fjords, to Fox Island. Cobalt waters and a thousand twisted trees are both the perfect muse, and distraction. I’ve come to prefer solitude and adventure to romance, though liberation Tunnel

TA Harrison

Toni La Ree Bennett

Leave No Crumbs Breathing in rhythm with my shuffling sandals that scrape the pavement in a listless two-step, my hair suddenly rises, electric as the crest of an angry cockatoo. At first, I chalk it up to an approaching thunderstorm. The storm veers to the coast and in its absence, I am ghosted by the presence of another— just a flick of a presence not really a full-blown equivalency of another person, maybe just a winged thing, slurring its appendages near my ear, threatening to interrogate me on my livelihood, pecking at my slack skin like an insistent insect, not understanding this person has now become an antonym.

suddenly bites less sweet, and more sour. I’m supposed to be letting go, but fear if I do it’ll cause internal bleeding. Bleeding, like what happened to my feet after years of walking on egg shells, tip-toeing around ruby rage. No wonder repressed volcanoes erupt under water. They say no man is an Island—this must be true. Only a woman could give birth out of her fierce, fiery past, and create something so bountiful.

Somewhere a button is pushed – my neurons start transmitting antipodal ideas. A whirr somewhere between my ears reverts me to illiteracy, instructs me to fling all identity cards into an abyss, warns me not to leave any crumbs of the sticky past to trace a return route. My cheerleader heart drums a skyrocket cheer. I blink— and walk out of my shoes.

Cave

Catherine Edgar


56

CIRQUE

Nicholas Bradley

Teri White Carns

Horace, Epistles 1.11.27

Halibut on Land’s End Beach

caelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt Whenever I cross the seas I change my mind,

slippery petals what’s left of spring-white blossoms on the path

my spirit, and my body. When the ferry

The girl, maybe seven years old, crouches over the dinner-plate halibut on the rocky beach. She has a stone, gray, of a size to fit her hand. She bashes in the head. Pink rubber boots, blue jeans with rhinestone butterflies embroidered on the back; a pink hoodie; hair tied back in a messy ponytail.

reaches the far dock, nestling into its lusty berth, the skies are bouleversed, the inconsistent

Death accomplished. She stares at the distance between the fish and the cooler where it must be taken – eight feet? She pushes with her boot, to edge it back into the net. No luck. She finds a stick, black with cold ocean water, pokes the fish. It slides away. Again. Again, the white-bellied thing slips under the stick. She nudges it with the rock, slippery from the fish’s death. She tries to wiggle the rim of the net under the fish – anything to not touch this fish with both eyes staring from its flat head.

land animated by contrary creatures, my mutant head consumed by beastly and fishy thoughts. Currents run in all directions at once. In a trance, as if lost in soggy woods

She calls her brother. He stands, older, superior, with his foot on the head of the codfish that he caught, its eye a dull gold. It lies next to the white-side-up halibut on the stone beach. He kicks the halibut. It flops, and lies back down at the toe of the pink boot.

or waterlogged pages, I book my ticket for the late sailing back – fickle as a Zodiac

I leave them there, the girl looking north up the beach, for salvation to come from the hundred gulls squawking over the ferry dock, or the eagle watching from the light pole hoping that she will abandon the fish. Her brother kicks at the codfish.

with the motor cut, the wind picking up.

waves tumbling gray rocks together alone under the gold moon Shadows of Futile

Mohammad Ali Mirzaei


57

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Linda Conroy

Another Dream of Going Back to Work Suddenly a whole caseload of families I don’t know, and hours are going fast. The office is so crowded; no longer do we sit in separate rooms. The parents, children, ramble in between our chairs, lie in the aisles. What use are desks in times like these?

Big Girl Panties

Sheary Clough Suiter

Kersten Christianson

Of Alderaan I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra. —Carrie Fisher I don’t know if Princess Leia covets superhero status, if over-the-ear cinnamon buns convey signature style. When the neighborhood boys,

Someone bumps my arm, points to a short, pale man with home-cut hair. “He’s one of yours,” she says. He smiles, is friendly, but won’t tell me where he lives. “I’m not allowed,” he says, as if his adult status is in doubt. “I’d like to meet your kids,” I offer, “see how things are going at home. Let’s get the help you need.” He laughs and disappears. Now I’m floating in a swimming pool, and only partly dressed. Why are these people watching me? What are they waiting for? I’m worrying about the list of names, but those two babies bother me the most, one born in last February’s cold, the younger child at home still new. I’ll be in trouble if I don’t find them soon. How will I know those children, see their individuality, say if they’re alright? A face appears. The friendly dad points to his partner in the crowd. She’s dressed in red. Arms reach for her. She smiles. She’s handing babies out, such small ones, looking all the same.

my brothers and I played Star Wars along boulderpiled coastline and forested paths, I was Leia, not sidekick metal-bikini Leia, but hero Leia, swooping in for rescues, saves and smart decisions. I was Leia of the Star Chamber and the Star Chamber was mine. Women of Wool

Jack Broom


58

CIRQUE

Mary Crane

Encounters at the Edge of the Continent 1. Gastropod

Still affixed to mountains, I now reside at the first rise of snow capped oxygen starved volcanic peaks. An earthquake fault lies under my feet. Foothills are tender piedmont in the east. From east to west, one loses compass points. Counterclockwise displaced in space, ocean and tides beckon from the wrong side.

All that remains is a membrane which separates muscle from shell,

Raven sucks tube worms at low ebb from early morning sand, like backyard robins from my childhood in Massachusetts.

shattered ellipsis from succulent tissues within.

A hazy view of white bald heads encircle a dozen eaglets, one wounded, where surf meets river edge.

Why do I empathize with the soft bellied demise of a lowly gastropod

They rise and spiral round at my approach. The earth's rotation encompasses the sun. I am the interloper. I am home.

without gelatinous pulse or cold seawater throb? I was tossed on this beach by a frigid singular wind with razor clam, raven and worms.

3. Tidal Flats Cold feet wander a quiet bay, onto a mosaic of wet seaweed newly revealed by a receding tide.

Hydrozoa Velella velella blue membrane of skin sailed in with the deepening tide.

Red leather Gigartina papillata, olive Fucus, delicate Ulva pale-green fenestrated sea lettuce

Sandpipers reel in a wave at the brink of the waves, sand as the marrow of bones.

by water so still I hear the crackle of one celled membranes sifting ocean through sand,

2. Compass Points Always three hours from the ocean, east or west, Atlantic or Pacific, some form of mountain covers my back.

Out of the Hourglass

My first view was gentle rolling autumn postcard old historic hills, stone walls, maple, birch and elm. I left for dark and rugged hemlock, naked glaciated granite, fell hard in love with the earth beneath my feet.

Catherine Broom

air so still the whining of ring billed gulls echoes through fog off distant invisible bluffs.

What has this to do with me? Heron plucks mollusk from surf, rises, undulates away from my encroaching step feeding beyond my view, An eagle swoops down to a tidal flat scatters heron and gull, imbibes the most bountiful meal.


59

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Sun burns through to wet sand, swells of steaming heat surround me, from an outer bank gulls reappear cautiously.

They took screw after screw that held some important structure solid. I think it was memory. They took a wolf. As they hauled it away in their caravan full of sparrows and songbirds to sell in foreign bazaars, it howled.

You and I have no part in this drama.

They took my grandmothers’ bones to gnaw on around their campfire. They took silt from my heart and pressed it into a nugget that grates at softness. The sun dimmed. And for several nights, the stars disappeared, too. Salton Sea Structure

Steve Zimmerman

Chris Dahl

Whatever it is that keeps me from wailing at the encroaching dark, they took. They might as well have taken the moon.

They Took the lavender-jade and ruby ring. They took the peridot with its diamond circlet. They took empty boxes. They took the Blackhawk Ruger— and the shotgun to be passed from first son to first son. They took the rifle paid for one prairie dog carcass at a time during the Great Depression. They took the promise of keys and left us a broken casing. They took drawers— Drawers from the closets, drawers from the dressers. Who has seen such furniture, open-mouthed and foolish? They took mosaic pieces; they took the pattern. They didn’t take everything, but they took enough. Silver. Coins. Bangles and scarves. My wedding garter.

Taiga Memories from the Train

Tami Phelps


60

CIRQUE

Scott Davidson

Noelle Dennard

Diffusion

Lahu TV

Cataracts came all at once in summer. Softballs vanished then were there again. Lighted windows and the moon were sunflowers –

I’m thankful to my dad because Back when I used to think too much And doubt all that I knew, He pointed out some things in life That made no sense at all, Like how hot tea is sometimes better On the hottest days, And looking at the stars Can make you feel so cold and small.

centers of blackness, yellow rings, then black again, unending. Don’t believe submission makes you safe. Weakness changed how I felt the cold, what I thought about neediness and shame. The beacon between the main house and bungalow spreads its arms like faith unraveling. Now that I’m free I’m always on guard, sleeping in daytime, tethered at night to a circle in the yard, to this pole I lean on, my heat at the center of light.

He used to tell me that we’re just Like caterpillars on a leaf— Much too insignificant to understand the world— And he would stare at fire Just like I would watch TV, Watching as the different-colored flames Would crackle and unfurl, Cracking jokes and asking questions As we sipped our tea— He doesn’t even drink tea. Not these days, anyway. How strange, to think he doesn’t even drink tea. Maybe in the details, my memory has failed me. To think about the power of just one man’s honesty… And I never felt I was an imposition. I’m in a position, now, To share about the caterpillars And the Lord’s original TV. It comes down to me, and I am so small, But I am not alone in this at all. The flame that powers my religion Burns and brightens me, Underneath the stars and running down the moonlit streets.

Smoked Alaska II

Tami Phelps


61

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Katie Eberhart

Uunartoq Island, Where The Vikings Soaked

Face to Face

Matt Witt

Steve Dieffenbacher

Bivalve

Oregon coast You gave it to me as one hands over an old coin, a whitened oval made beautiful by ocean living. You were smiling, said, “I have mine already; this is for you.” In my palm it sits like the rough brush of a workman’s hand, a careworn symmetry. Under its carapace, smooth undertows sit pulseless, like the skin of your back turned away. We looked behind at houses on the bluff as we cupped it together for a moment, remembering our soft cores given freely in rooms not yet cold. At home, we handle our lives like Egyptian cotton, too precious to touch. But the sea wrack lingers, the castoff wrappings like over-large sleeves where once our fingers curved firm around a shell open to what was missing, made of the same bone.

Zodiacs zip like water bugs between ship and sandy cove, Uunartoq we're told is an uninhabited island, but we see two houses, tents, and a wire mesh fence surrounding a rectangle where plastic bouquets nestle by white crosses (this is the difference between residing and traveling). We walk over a small hill, treading the route to a hot spring pool that dates (they say) to Viking-time. Since then what has changed? Our bodies remain the same, more or less, only growing or sagging, our minds—that's a good question— considering our penchant for technology. I toss the ball-of-time back and forth, how would I do in the ninth century? Or the Vikings, now? Sometimes we pretend, like the man with long red-blond hair and a braided beard in Reykjavik, at the Viking Ship museum, who patiently answered our questions in polite English, time suddenly convoluted . . . like when beer foams out of the bottle or the fracture of hot water hitting an icy glass. Beside the pool, a round-ish hole in the earth, our group—ship people—stand in the short grass peeling off layers, down to bathing suits. By the time I step gingerly onto the algae-slicked stones and sink neck-deep in warm water, the pool is full of thirty or forty people. We were the only ones on Uunartoq Island that day. Warm water bubbled up through coarse sand tickling my feet and hands. We stirred up flakes of green algae, making the water cloudy— the same as always.

Favorite Beach

Catherine Broom


62

CIRQUE

Kerry Feldman

Men and Men and Almost Men 1. Rodeos erupt on prairie. Men ride their fantasies, outlined by dust and a small town’s boredom. Measured-seconds of manhood disappear into applause while he ate popcorn, a boy new to this, delighting in wild horses conquering unfairness gripping their mouths. Women watched.

Grazing on hills, in damp arroyos— cows and calves, fatherless, as many families now, surviving the illusion any of us has a Protector.

He watched them watch and became a cowboy in his mind some afternoons.

Barb wire fence crib, detail

2. Dawnlit roundups, men and men and almost-men scarcely awake, warmed by coffee and each other’s aloofness, unload horses from trailers. Prairie monks dressed in boots and hats and spurs for a ritual to which his circumcision bound him.

The procession begins, monks chant to their horses, perhaps seeing a woman’s sweetness in the swaying cows they herd, feeling power over calves tangled in barbed wire. When it’s over, hot irons of ownership, needles drained of medicine, horns gouged from sockets, steers’ tubes of life, slit, their bowels loosened upon boots, caking their own blood.

Jill Johnson

3. Women watched, served pie, fried chicken, beer cooled in troughs for men to eat and drink. Their manhood intact, his aching because it seemed, to a boy, so inescapable.


63

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

F.I. Goldhaber

Dear Facebook Dear Facebook, just because my little sister and her husband adore baseball and worship the Mariners, Does not mean I will "like" Facebook pages promoting that professional sports team or any other. The fact that I am "following" journals and magazines that have published some of my poetry, Does not require me to "like" every periodical that has set up a Facebook page. Just because long ago I graduated from a University in Seattle, Does not obligate me to "follow" its athletic department’s pages on Facebook. Just because my crazy cousin chatters about libertarian positions, Does not mean I believe Rand Paul should ever be president of the U.S. Just because I "liked" a professional group of which I am a member, Does not mean I will "follow" any organization ever formed. Just because I "follow" someone who’s running for city council. Does not mean I’ll "like" every bonehead seeking election. Even if I "follow" the business page of our client, I am not going to "like" all existing B&Bs. Just because I "follow" bookstores that sell my books, Does not mean I’ll "like" every other store. Just because I am "friends" with those authors, Does not require I "like" their pages. I don’t "follow" celebrities. Your algorithms don't work.

User Defined

Sheary Clough Suiter


64

CIRQUE pearly buttons; evening light; chandelier reflecting; conservative footstepping into the dress. Wear your clownsuit proud. 3. Where have I been? Before the exploit and the chemicals. How simple it used to be. How simple it was to do it for love. Now the vine grows wildly and poisonous. Splintered mahogany. My skin burns with the heat. My skin stings with the snow. Everything for a cold cup of success. What happened to loving?

Makenna Haeder

Alfredo Ocaranza Gonzáles

Reflections on the American Dream an ekphrastic sequence

1. Imagine: a cornucopia of opportunity. Wild berries spilled on mountains. An equality garden, green with choice. Perpetual abundance. A seal of purple majesty. And then penumbra, lurking beside sunflowers and stalks of wheat. 2. Party time— razzle and dazzle. Heavy lies transparent on the chest and the cinch of human rights sitting at the waist. Black shadows;

4. Close to the heat—don’t be afraid. Open the iron—sweet batter. Eat—in His name. Danger—is engraved. 5. A girl swam in that river. Haloes around her. Crystalline. Diving deep and certain, lilypads bathed on her breasts. Petals sank to her long hair, the color of sin. But the river dried up for her and became another man’s opportunity. 6. Not me. Not mine. This world wasn’t ready to see someone like me doing the things they do. Not ready to see how the music could also flow through my veins, how I could feel every line scratched by the pick. This was not for me. No, it was the white man’s, Crosley, after work. But not “hard” work. He came home to a hot meal and Paul Revere. I would not have been home at all had I been here. 7. I can taste the light and there are only two ways out.


65

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Leanne Grabel

Mimicry My husband is a master of mimicry. He can imitate just about any sound that he hears. He can even do double sounds, melding accents, airplanes, animals, machinery. We were walking along a river early in our courtship and he mimicked a Polish Jew with a Chinese accent. Then we sat down for coffee and he mimicked a Frenchman with a lisp and an airplane in the background. The waiter and I were laughing so hard, we were acting 3. Yesterday, 35 years later, my husband perfected radio static. It was perfect, hilarious. We were hysterical, and we deemed it our new song. We decided that every time we hear radio static, we will stop, mimic, and express momentary gratitude for our coupling. I bet my husband could imitate the sound of gratitude. What is it? A soft Nepalese whoosh? A low whoopee behind an old lace handkerchief? A graceful muffling. I can almost do radio static, but not quite. Mimicking sounds is no talent of mine. My lips are slow-moving, the only part of me that is. And I often don't listen, as if my ears just get up leave the room. But when my husband mimics static, and we laugh like that, like we're 9 or 12 or 30, our marriage is again the center of the bonbon--the goo in the heart of the chocolate. Delicious.

Radio Static

Leanne Grabel


66

CIRQUE

River E. Hall

Never Steal from Wolves There is no neatly-folded laundry in the undressing of the wild dead, the opening of soft under parts, the cracking of femur to release marrow, nor the toothy shaving of flesh from bone. There are no ashes cast in the wind, no embalmed easing of final agony, no flowers, no headstones, no will. The headless vertebrae curves poised to hoist antlers. The ribs are trimmed unevenly by determined gnawing ragged edges embracing a lung-less hollow. I stand in the aura of decay in the presence of the fed and the fed upon. I know I am not alone. Raised hackles make no sound. The forest shades out their watchful eyes. Still I want a souvenir, proof I stood in their presence, walked where the wolf walked. I begin to depart, long jawbone hooked over my forearm. I feel the deepest gripping, the static of fear. Not your elk. Not your kill.

Jaw

I set it down—head low, I leave much quicker than I arrive. --Previously published in the online journal Sisyphus

Lucy Tyrrell


67

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Andrew Hamilton

Samaritan 2020 Winner of the Andy Hope Award Caught myself grinning after one hundred days. Drowning in student debt, dead sober in the driver seat, I grinned in my rearview mirror at one hundred days twisting spare car keys to start ignition, smothered without directive, clicking the engine empty under dull jumper cable clouds, dry voltage and acid fumes hazing the desert lonesome lot, sick battery, headlight busted from the fuse and not the bulb, autozoned in Siri Land, where police wrote me a ticket, half-grand for nullified car insurance, out of gas, now I owe my cousin rent plus utilities minus transportation to work, part-time guitar lessons, and I grinned after one hundred days. One hundred days. Two thousand and four hundred hours and my troubles felt divinely inspired—perhaps predestined, perhaps by chance, perhaps I could never afford grocery bags with fake plastic cards stuffing my wallet after thirty, sixty, ninety, twenty-four hour coins caught me grinning, grinning, grinning. I grinned by scrounging up my loose sober change and throwing each glittery silver, red, gold, and green coin across the parking lot. Grinning in panic I bear-crawled over the asphalt crazed with scuttling monstrous insect legs like Kafka’s Ungeziefer flailing untranslatable horrors under the vehicle of a stranger to scavenge the precious breadcrumbs of every worthless cent for my spectacular recovery in shambles beneath the muffler’s shadow. I searched for one hundred days of Genesis, Exodus, and Revelation from delirium as each coin spun like quasars flashing paradise under the powerless tail lights, dropped like planes crashing across the pavement, rolled like stones tumbling dice down the gutter through the drain into the dismal sewer. One hundred days backstabbed, bankrupt, broken. What a loss. What a collapse. What an utterly Black Tuesday. Such a Greek tragedy must have appeared Shakespearean beyond the cracked foundation of my own private hell. From master of music to destitute guitar tutor scurried under the Brady Bunch Station Wagon, ferreting four shiny coins— anonymous monopoly money—spinning my lifetime of loans in futility across the dark sunspot tar but still I grinned. Strangers from the sidewalk worried for my soul: “Is he homeless, sadistic, deranged? Why else would a full-grown man crawl across the lot, under parked cars, half-laughing to himself?” But then a mother and her son grinned back at me, waving my lost sobriety found beneath the rubber tires of her Pathfinder, where I described one hundred days to her, and each fragile cent counted up the seconds, minutes, hours, days, and weeks over three months

Seattle Door

Cynthia Steele


68

CIRQUE

of sober teeth shining through her smile stretched open to one hundred days of laughter at my pain and personal anguish— she caught myself laughing. Her son laughed when she laughed. I could have been hit by a speeding bus. Plowed like morbid roadkill and they would cry from shock, trauma, and deep mental disturbance, but I would remain a laughing corpse—some dead desperado grinning in my own pool of blood at the infinitesimal odds, at the slice of serendipity, at the microcosmic condition, I waved farewell to Mother Samaritan and her son— farewell to car and parking lot, farewell to Safeway, farewell to every busy American citizen, and farewell to the red alder forest paved into a shopping center cupped by Cascadian mountains, farewell to infinity from affinity of happenchance and whim. I grinned and grinned and grinned, because everything is here. Grin at the graveyard, smile at your urgent flight delay, and laugh at the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles because something so bizarre exists and clicks with humankind, giggle at the space rockets—at the mission to Mars! Laugh at freedom and President Trump, Kim Jong-un, Dennis Rodman the diplomat, grinning through ISIS, lies, ignorance—chuckle at corruption, propaganda, cold American cruelty, smile at your face in my rearview mirror, where the leopard blinks your reflection alive in the jungle with comets, pyramids, Moscow, Mt. Fuji, and Manhattan— laugh out loud at the earth speeding through sheer capacity, naïve beneath the wide blue air with cloud streaked skies, then laugh at me, laugh at yourself, laugh until you cry, because a decade before these one hundred days, I forgot how to smile. Now I can laugh with coins in my pocket.

Kim Hamilton

Una of Tor House My body was a book of spells with a broken spine and red unraveling thread. Holding fast to fistfuls of mane, I rode while the mare pulled stones from the sea. In the sand garden, we buried a child. His friends mailed stones from Giza, from their own great walls. Each day a stone arrived, rose, bone, rain gray. Stone loved stone in the tower beside the house he called Hawk.

Northern Harrier in Spring

I was never warm again. I play Moorloch Shore on the melodeon to drown the skree of gulls. The whole room vibrates, a sounding board. Still the narwhal tusk twists in the mantle. In the fire I hear the hiss and drop of lines, the calling through water.

Matt Witt


69

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Jim Hanlen

Road House Guest Book Your pancakes could cover the pot holes so generous, they’d droop over the pavement. It's the journey not the destination. It’s the blasted journey. I'm thinking of leaving my gravelly children behind. Where is the turn-off for the road to Damascus? I counted eight ravens on the right side. Sally saw one eagle out the left window. I believe my girl friend came here 20 pages ago. Really beautiful. Freedom. Haven’t seen a fence since we left. Where is the mountain? We saw fog in London last week. You'll be hearing from PETA about the reindeer sausage. I‘m on top of the world.

Exposed

Jim Thiele

Beth Hartley

“Jesusita en Chihuahua” (a Mexican polka) Jesusita, You reckless wretch! Ayáhahaha! You led me down the garden path Your trumpets blared violins plucked Mariachis cried As we blithely Skip, skip, tap Skip, skip, tapped Spinning around the elephant on the dance floor… No me dijiste, pendeja, That his true love Sat at the back table With a rum and coke Tapping his knee

Open Doors

Cheryl Stadig

Just waiting For the music to stop.


70

CIRQUE the block and find himself in his desired direction. You might

Branwyn Holroyd Two Poems

Pam Houston says, you have to be your own cowboy but I’m still arguing with thunder. Which is to say I want my own compadres, company. Someone who returns my questions: bits of dross. Helps me shake them into beauty – don’t tell me I’m obtuse. When I said I didn’t get Eileen Myles, I meant I wanted to connect. Always trying to distinguish authenticity from performance, generosity from gestures

not understand I’m trying to tell you how little I know of love: its contours and pleasure, confidence as if the world has your back. Imagine: someone holds you even when they don’t. I know all distances are countries I need to travel and cross. Even cowboys get love. Actually cowboys always get the girl and leave her. Mostly. As a child I decided alone was better. Sawnie says it’s a love poem, Branwyn. How will I know if that’s true?

intended for audience. Which is, the same place I reside, at the edge looking for motion in terror, trying to find the poem. It’s dark. I admire. Twinkle lights in trees don’t look like stars, or remind me of stars, but do recall a woman who, after cataract surgery, saw lights in trees – ordinary trees appeared brighter with new eyes. Unclouded. I don’t know it’s true. But I keep looking for that tree. This morning a man in an SUV, red & shiny, blocks my narrow street. I watch him make a clumsy U-turn and think he could drive around

Friends

Nard Claar


71

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Imagine it is possible to remain Forget childhood burdens. Hands, that shaped desire twisted, small, knotted. Imagine muscles that elude you. Hear the yoga teacher’s cue: tilt the pelvic floor. Imagine the body awakens to her direction. Finds subtle gestures – no more big muscles bossing smaller parts. Imagine the dots connect a different pattern. It is possible to live in your body not as armor but pleasure – that love beats your muscular heart. The teacher says curve yourself open, to the sky as if the heart could burst its shroud with rays of light: think Mary and the Mexican tin heart by the door. Imagine no apologies for the tongue’s code, slant of words, pauses you make between breaths.

faces in black and white: your mother’s shoulders stiff in a man’s embrace, stubs of candles half-burned, rattle of three remaining matches, tattered cardboard box with a red bird on the cover, your father’s jazz collection slowly warping in a climate-controlled unit, the weight of your books, monthly fees you pay to keep it all. This is the summer you learn everything burns – if the heat is high enough what you save will be lost if not in fire then in flood. This is not regret but arrival. No angels or devils, your dead hover at the shoulder: a company of friends who love you even when you don’t, forgive them all sorrows. Respect alone, what is theirs. Every step more airborne even failures at love no longer hold you down. Not that you begin again

Imagine you can leave everything you’re saving for the future:

rather, are becoming

weightless

like a kite scrap of childhood blue blanket, box of jars rinsed and joined with matching lids, paper bags folded and tucked, photographs of strangers with your parents’

un-tethered & loosely strung. Ride the breeze sing.

whistle


72

CIRQUE

Late Afternoon Light on Snowy Marsh

Lucy Tyrrell

Sarah Isto

Again to the Winter Cabin Anniversary Poem As always, hard work the first day hauling the loaded sleds uphill. Frost from our steamy breath stiffens our ruffs and eyelashes. You ski ahead breaking trail, sun glistenens your grooves in snow. I count my steps and calculate the heavy minutes into hours. Finally the cabin, the hand-welded stove warming log walls and planked floor. In our largest pot, heaped snow dissolves to water. Then the soup and pilot bread, sweet tea and resting around the table. Dusk replaces day then slips into dark. We do not light the lamp.

The full moon rises orange patterned as if with strange oceans. Shadows of spruces ripple blue across the curving drifts. Moonlight streams through our window to streak the rough-hewn ridgepole, to honey the rafters and glow your face already closed in dreams. I ease down beside you as if into soft snow, sinking toward our close-pressed sleep, the moon’s caress on my eyelids. The first day done again. Again first night begins.


73

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Ariana Kramer

Digging Up a Fin Whale I am in the whale. She is buried in sand. I stand in a trench, four feet deep shovel in hand, uncovering her skeleton, 38 feet long. I track the line of heavy vertebrae thrust my blade, listen for the clack, clack of metal hitting bone.

Shroud

Sheary Clough Suiter

Eric Gordon Johnson

Momentary Birds I watch workmates who, for gleeful sport, rip sticks and mud from girders of a bridge, dropping down to kick puffed up nests perched on piers into glacial torrents below. Lobbing rocks, they chase the bobbing rafts of twigs. Outstretched necks with baby beaks gaping as for food. They laugh at tiny wings with frantic feathers sinking beneath the cloudy water’s sun-dumbing daze. The scene takes me back to when, at the school bus stop, a friend strutted up and bragged of shooting chickadees with a thirty-ought-six. Feathers floating to the ground. He died riding his horse on his own dare into the Chitina River. His horse rolled in the raging silt and came up empty-saddled. Feathers floating down.

We take turns – a handful of volunteers sent by the Marine Mammal Stranding Network to unearth a fin whale: a species second in size only to the blue whale, called the greyhound of the sea, for speed. She was hauled to Fort Stevens State Park last September, after an auto-transport vessel named Ruby Ray dragged her dead body from the Pacific Ocean into the Port of Portland. Her demise – killer whales who ripped out her tongue. She was young – six years, with a life expectancy of ninety – buried at the seashore where her flesh can rot off bones destined for a museum display. We are here too soon. Her bones not yet clean – muscle and blubber cling. Vile stench burns our nostrils. Volunteers slip away to breathe fresh air, to vomit. I brush away sand, expose ribs – one set arcs above my knees the other plunges below my feet. Her organs are long gone, but a rough, brown stone sits in the sand, in the place they once occupied. I slip it in my pocket. In the years that follow, if I have years, I will breathe in the still-acrid smell of this rock, listen for the lub of her heart. Held in hand, its weight will be her resilience, buoyancy, decay – that great, dark animal.


74

CIRQUE

Rose Petals

Cynthia Steele

Shannon Laws

Four Minus Three The sanctuary of four tulips in a heavy glass jar atop the round dining table bathe in the afternoon sun Church is found in the smallest folded places Between petals Between panes A god does not determine who lives or dies It is simply which seat you sat in at three a.m. when a moose moves out from the brush Three bleed-out inside a crumpled-ball of car while one if asked by any nurse or doctor could tell you what the family ate for dinner yesterday


75

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Kelly Lenox

Extinction If I had a boat

Brenda Roper

Eric le Fatte

A Wedding by the Garden Vows entwine and take the shapes of paper streamers, carried in the breeze. They flutter together like the missing words of psalms across the marigold

That ache one feels for the condor, the North Atlantic right whale, dwarf wedgemussel. And yes, the Rio Grande ragweed. It is the lover gone missing. A Bach Three-Part Invention without violin. An incisor in Earth’s toothy smile knocked out.

border of the vegetable garden, where chimes and iridescent pinwheels deter sharp and hungry beaks, and dirt is always cheap. They will land in the tomatoes, or by the banana slugs and stale cups of beer, or aphids on the kale, or where caterpillars chew lettuce for their wings, or if they're lucky, in the row among rows where runners climb the trellis and there’s a future for every bean.

Catacomb near West Lake in Hangzhou

Donald Guadagni


76

CIRQUE

Redoubt

Linda Martin

Joining the Chamber of Commerce If I were to move from this place, I would tell my new friends of the bear that crosses my flower garden each fall, her fat ribs jiggling, her black coat glistening. I would tell of the young bull moose tugging down the clematis vine, winter stars and bare birch branches crowning him king of the neighborhood as I look up at him from the bedroom window. I would tell flights of ravens against a sunset, storms of curling waves, Mount Redoubt steaming. I would remember the creek running quiet under ice, the mountain wearing black behind gold willow leaves. I’d describe the languor of eagles riding thermals at the ocean’s edge. I’d recall the pleasure of owning a boat, of skimming toward Seldovia, skirting sea-otter pods, sighting a humpback whale, spending the night in a sheltered harbor. I would tell of an hour’s paddle across Kachemak Bay to Gull Rock, of circling the seabird rookery, of puffin, murre, cormorant, and me in my yellow kayak, alone with a cell phone, eating an orange. If I were to move from this place the stories I’d tell would draw me home again.

Cynthia Steele


77

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

David McElroy

Tempeste Mavys

No Trout

The Well of Mercy

It was hard getting by. No trout. No fur. We gardened and farmed, sold milk to the local creamery’s low prices, sold apples out the back of our car.

I am the well of Mercy I've been looking for my whole life. And I hand it out freely, to even those I've begged for it from. And I'll hand it out until maybe one day it kills me. And when I die the mercy will spill, it'll fill the whole world right to Lafayette Louisiana, and then the flowers in Romeo will spring like they never have, and maybe they'll even feel something like they never did. And their chests will fill and slosh with the mercy until it's spilling from their eyes, watering the whole earth. Oh how nice would that be, if the mercy just drained right out of me.

Just a dreamy boy, what did I know? I would be a trapper of mink and beaver with flannel shirt and birch bark canoe. I was Robin Hood with cudgel and bow. The last elk killed in Wisconsin hadn’t bugled in a hundred years. Every wilderness was a fenced quarter of a quarter section. Cleaning the barn, shoveling manure, filling the wheelbarrow, pushing it up the plank to the Mayan pyramid growing in the barnyard was not adventure, was impediment to climbing trees or swimming naked in Freisinger’s creek. We walked a mile and a half to school, as they say, up hill both ways. But 4-H club led me to take a heifer to the county fair. I washed her tail, curried her rich brown coat, and Big Barbara said, “Feel inside my sweater.” One night a security guard on a horse galloped down the crowded fairway whipping a drunk with the ends of the reins, the man bleeding, also the horse. I rode the Hammer, I rode the Tilt-A-whirl. Dizzy and rich as I’d ever be--bright lights, my calf, music from the Merry-Go-Round, that second soft warm firm breast in the world.

Angel

Morning Williams


78

CIRQUE

Ron McFarland

Heritage Deep in his father’s closet, Dad recalled, lurking among his double-breasted serge suits, among his father’s starched dress shirts awaiting their celluloid collars, he happened once upon the cross-emblazoned white robe of the Klan. My grandfather prided himself in that small Ohio coal town, took considerate pride in helping Bohunk and Polack miners sign their names under the legal X. He managed the lumberyard where Dad grew splinters after school.

Combined Forces

Sheary Clough Suiter

Briefly, my great-grandfather taught all eight grades at Chestnut Level taking pride in himself as an educator. Both of my father’s sisters taught school. Everyone in the whole fam-damly, Dad claimed, believed in education. Somewhere in my father’s footlocker, labeled with his name and rank, rolled into a cloth bag rests my grandfather’s red fez emblazoned in gold and silver thread: “Aladdin.” Pride of eastern Ohio, Dad once said, that other civic club.


79

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

The Women

Richard Nickel

Jessica Mehta

mURDERED & mISSING iNDIGENOUS wOMEN* A girl gotta grow up, leave the rez, & do we talk about it? Igido called twice for bail but both were after a Tahlequah fall, & high with opioid they drove right through a gate. Bolted up the highway—bare feet & all—hitched a ride via lifted truck to take her far away before 911 with, The devil up & took the car. Dad left right outta jail, headed to the Pacific, & gave away that plot of Cherokee a year later. You’da hated it & I probably would have. No folks gonna talk of them gone ones anymore. They look at me all, Got some bless’n on y’all—after all, no cop has got me (yet). No reason, really. Everyone else, the hole fam’ly, gone & sear to memory the creak of a cell’s cot frame long ago. None of y’all can fathom at the places gonna call for me. They gone & settle prefrontal cortex, & that seems an okay place to some. At 15, we 3 bunked all day 4 an aged wee-jee game: We’d all be dead by 23, and we laughed and made a bet 4 the chance. An ATV ate Ann at 18 and then a fancy cable hung by Althea came next. Hadn’t even nudged me 4 that plan. And when death happen that way, we can’t talk any decent way. No one talk anythin’ of funeral 1 or 2 & I kept lookout for a face I knew while the Catholic father went on & on about killin’ another or you & prayin’ for both. Father, what type of Native turn Catholic, anyway? Who tuck that in their brain? All thru junior year, neither talk of church or nothin’. Creator not have way to fix it, then?


80

CIRQUE

Who up and say so long to that god? Why do NDNs stand for that nat’l song? So many of us wash away, walk away, drag and drug away, and nobody’s com’n back from that havoc of war. Some of us hate a couple, “wo,” tacked to the 1st of what we call big boys. But with Tsaligi it’s fixed—Asgaya, male. Agehya, female. Why make that “M” all a mess, wave wide those legs & smile? It’s the 1st of the alphabet, debut of music, the call all of us made as we slipped to this place. & maybe that’s the space us Agehya go to. The alpha, the basis, the middle of this wasted home. I ran away, still a kid, and my mama said why why why until pills kick’d in. With my dad and sis, Luv y’all was last. With my mama, I try and say I try. I try. I try. When they ask where we went, where we go, why gone permanent cloys & flanks so close, why holes & channels swallow w/ ease & no one asks or even seems to say that’s strange, remember. Remember: those who are gone never go that far. We are here. We stay. To be forgotten means an agreement’s complete—that’s not ever gonna happen & *This poem is written in a lipogram style, part of the oulipo family. The first stanza is missing the “m” in the phrase “murdered & missing indigenous women.” The second stanza is missing the “u.” This pattern repeats as the stanzas spell out “murdered & missing indigenous women.” (Once the poem has been read once, the missing letters continue to repeat by returning to the first stanza).

Carolyn Mericle

Yellow Birch The silence breathes. I watch the tree watching me. My eyes see chartreuse pebbled with light. I taste the sweet green probing my tongue. My cheek laid bare on smooth slippery bark. I smell her thoughts, her thirst, her thighs bursting with sunlight and rain.

The silence sighs. The tree watches me watching her.

Bright Tree

I feel her presence in the dark, moist places. She feels with her silent, hungry roots, tilling the soil, touching the unseen in me.

Jack Broom


81

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Jesse Minkert

Paso Doble Mist stood upright on the bay. Splashes slapped the sides of the skiff. Circles in the surface expanded. Branches disturbed the patterns. Voices through ribs of water spoke to her. Claudia folds her legs beneath her on the carpet on the floor. Studs in the walls shrink and warp moan and cough as they dry. Screws rise out of countersunk holes.

Shore

Nard Claar

Karla Linn Merrifield

Aleutian Summer Solstice I hear the wind is not the river; I hear we pass the first pass into the Bering Sea; I hear the coned mountain I see first is Pavlov’s volcano, the adjacent peak its modest Little Sister; I hear another rugged erupter within eyesight has but a small caldera opening (as do I) and is named, like a man I once knew, Ragged Jack; I hear of old war clouds, hugging modern human history— the Japanese Zeros and their zealous kamikaze pilots who almost, almost conquered the great blue ocean’s islands; I hear Time pealing in illuminated midnight tides at Solstice along an unpredictable ring of fire around my storying life.

A bright bulb inside a paper shade. As if her face were captured in a standing spot features smeared in the glare. Sun stripes carpet through the blinds. On a vinyl LP a guitar plays in the Classical Spanish style a paso doble on the volume of air.

I may be blown away—for the wind is a river— a river of young thought before old memory.

Tributaries

Jim Thiele


82

CIRQUE

Iridescence Over Pilot Rock

Matt Witt

John Noland

Cougar Pause He pauses aware of something we may never know Softly, he places a foot down, wedging toes between blades of frozen grass silent intent he knows beyond what we can guess perhaps

it is history written in stones guarding the trail, a story changed from what he knows perhaps it is the way the world fits together, whole but wrong, some branch maybe out of place he cannot see but feels in textures of trees a shimmering

rainbow or mirage he can barely taste whatever it is it is also him as he holds the world together and breathless one paw lifted


83

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Leonard Orr

Missing Person Now the places you exalted come back nightly and insist I visit. The dry, wind-twisted Russian olive trees in our parks by the Columbia or the thick pines and oaks which marked us with needles and sap or scraped our knees and arms with rough bark entered our blood. We must have entered those brown seedpods and white, breeze-blown gliding parachutes that touched our backs and necks, clung to the soles of our shoes as we returned to the paved world. That’s just the one place in a series of seasons. Try to add all the high viewing points where we stopped all along the interstates constructed by governments to allow the panoramic views, great vistas, for awe, for the Romantic sublime. We stopped at every one we passed. The way people follow tornados, we were sublime chasers, reckless with desire. Add in the icy, snowy, scary trips, near-death journeys over the Cascades, there’s derangement of the senses

Resilience on Cape Flattery

Roger McGinnis

enough for any poets. We were ecstatic and surprised at not dying and celebrated life. We entered the windy Columbia Gorge and your hair blew wildly and your hat flew off towards our old loving grounds in the east. An oak, familiar with your scent, snagged it that night. In the morning, a blue lazuli bunting took it to give to his lover. Now add to all these places I would raise plaques for future visitors (you must come back with me to be certain) on the cold, rocky beaches on Whidbey where we took walks and sat on boulders and tree stumps and picked up seaglass where we heard and watched the marbled murrelets, the whimbrels and the merlins, the loons and cormorants, the he-birds, the she-birds, the they-birds all heard us and watched us.


84

CIRQUE

Vivienne Popperl

Asylum seekers, newly arrived in Skala village on the Greek island of Lesbos —photo in the New York Times, January 14, 2016 Friends

Nard Claar

Bruce Parker

Wine Dream The wine cup holds the wine like a hand wound around a wine cup. Reading I nod off then wake from a dream of your profile exactly your image behind my eyelids a design. The night is quiet with electric light while in my brain a celebration is going on. I am old and doze and you are fine. Before I sleep again I will hold you like wine in the cup.

Say something about ponchos: How they glitter gold. How they billow from shoulders rather than drape softly. How one hand at the neck keeps them closed. How the crinkly Mylar maintains body heat. Say something about eyes: How they are somber, exhausted. How children’s eyes smile. How women’s eyes stare, guarded. How men’s eyes watch, shaded by eyebrows pulled together into a frown. Say something about hairclips: Two red plastic bows hold back a small girl’s dark curly bangs. Were they the last small treasures she grabbed, heart beating, as she ran? Say something about landscape: How boulders provide support for the women. How the ground welcomes children’s damp feet. How trees offer shade, a windbreak. Say something about weather: Clouds loom over the shore. Sunlight throws shadows. A chilly wind rises at nightfall, rustles the gold ponchos. Say something about cardamom and cloves: How, stuffed into pockets of a black robe, they hold the scents and hopes of home.


85

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Diane Ray

Jesse Rowell

Green Lake Suite

Problem Breathes Down

* On a morning like this lake falls into sky, and I’m held in the palm of an oyster shell world.

Production

* Three ducks on a log, small, bigger, big, a line of Matryoshka dolls, a feathery iridescence. * A whirl of child stops to say: When I grow up, I’m gonna be a artist who paints the way the sun falls in the ocean at night. * The rain animating the lake. The gold leaf lingering late. If only I could ebb and flow so unprotestingly…. * At play on the pipes of their light bones, small birds dart among berries with flits and spins as phrases, splendid in each new place where they land and they leave in glass shards of a glance. * Street lights cut glow wands in the lake under the thinnest wedge of moon as tonight’s determined runners circle round and round. Do they doff their work-day residue to catch pink’s wandering, backlit swirl to cerulean, sky of grace over Green Lake? I had to lose my job to see here.

Distill a problem into its smallest components, she tells him. Decouple. Simplify the process. Couple. Validate the resolution. Copy the code again and again, like lovers wrestling on a college bed but never consummating to an expansive end, never connecting in a way more meaningful than words. Our words go up or down like our bodies, limited in scope by the ladders of a staff or the space of geography. Reproduction When he breathes out it tastes like the sea. Barnacles in his nose, sea urchins in his mouth, a bestiary of ocean life tickling his lungs. Sitting still makes the ocean inside feel calm. When he moves it sloshes like a pail of water hauled up a hill. We are ocean, he tells her. The woodwork resonates with harmonic feedback from her voice, but he doesn't understand her words. A finger on the lip of her wineglass circles and circles with sound, liquid pressed against the geometric curve of time, space and matter. We rest on liquid strings plucked to send us singing words that reproduce images that reproduce words that reproduce images. Reduction Wine cooks down to its essence, sulphites evaporate, and flavors crust against surfaces. So what happens to us, she asks him, when we cook down to our essence? Words evaporate, melodies end, and images crust against our surfaces. The ocean grows still, but we hear it breathing in someone else now.

Lily at Vernon Lake

Matt Witt


86

CIRQUE

Mala Rupnarain

ferry wait at langdale the three of us are stifling can’t keep the car idling with AC so we make like opossums for a harvest lick of breezy shade i gaze at silk fans and say nothing hoping the vendor will ignore me instead he stirs peaches with his tongue spits the pits with the lascivious ardour of a long-toothed velociraptor and then garry glitters a purple wingspan squid inked ejaculations over creped butterflies and cherry blossoms something less ostentatious, please i offer 10 for something functional and move on amy and sharon cycle through a peloton sorbet, artisanal flavoured kale mango beet as gross as it sounds we’ve been told to return to our lanes acrid smoke haze fingers the mainland how does our time together always burn so fast

Agony Ecstasy

Siavash Saadlou

De - part - ure I look out the window and see the reflection of a blond lady, smiling, adamant to find out if we would like any drink. “Red wine?” she gushes, as the blood of her own drink spills from her thin-lipped, protesting mouth. I carry Sara’s scent in my bulging pockets, and Neda’s blood in my narrow veins— Grandma’s craggy face in my watery eyes, and Mom’s unfurled chador in my unyielding grip.

Misc Photos 3

Jill Johnson

Arthur Kwon Lee


87

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Rebecca Salsman

Choctaw Women Set Apart Hoollo. Sanctified to Ishtohoollo, to God. Life givers. Women set apart to welcome new souls into the community. Choctaw women, my ancestors. My great-grandfather's first wife, who died giving birth. These are the women I should be surrounded by. These are the women that should help me forge my path into motherhood. I want to strip off my eyeliner and jeans depart from white walls and find a stream to lay down mats next to and build a covering from the land give birth on earth to my ullosi, my babe that is a part of me. Bring him back to a part of us. Our chukka house built of clay and hay with all the women there to greet us, to teach us, how to feed, and sleep, and breathe, in a way that praises earth for allowing me to give birth. Women to navigate me through the sea of blood. Women who will slip their shoes off and pound toes against stone encircling babe and me with rhythm sticks and drums. Women's new babe breasts praising Ishtohoollo encircling us with dance, with song, with movement. Fertility to be celebrated with people of my own skin. But whose skin am I in?

Free as a Bird

Zsanan Narrin


88

CIRQUE

Matthew Sanford

She Wore Paths Through Me where I didn’t know desire fell. It was a stubborn and confused landscape, the lee end of a turmoil, a mud flat strewn with bleached and gnarled wrecks, and the field of reeds that buffered. The logic? Not man-made, Nolita

perhaps attempted. The suggestion of hedgerows.

Vinnie Sarrocco

Her light footsteps bent the grasses,

Regulars

claiming dry and solid ground as locust claim forgotten fence lines. And like a restless bird I sought the bramble of her branches, wove a nest there amongst the thorn and fruit, and sheltered.

Come Sit a While

Ann Schlotzhauer

Jim Thiele

It’s something like Cheers only older and angrier and one of them dies off every mid-season arc the rest of the cast remembers and drinks to remember and the tontine pot grows and swells like a tampon dipped in clamato juice then one day the lead rolls in saddling a mobility scooter and the youngest one of the bunch has a liver with too much quit and he grows and swells like a tampon dipped in clamato juice and I laugh, red-faced at their jokes and fights and the wood stain chips off the ancient bar and the copper taps rust and I laugh, red-faced into the clairvoyant’s crystal ball at all the mistakes I’ve yet to make


89

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Peter Schettkoe

The Day I Met Kim Stafford and He Challenged Me to Write a Really Long Title — That Was My Takeaway it was just a Saturday to me I wore black jeans and a faded black t-shirt my ragged brown boots getting another day out I recall the weather decent it was 4 days ago after all but really what I’m saying is I met a poet laureate motions of handshakes and names and the good ole’s of politeness I didn’t know what I was gonna say I just turned and there he was and you’re not gonna NOT talk to a Poet Laureate I didn’t know what I was gonna say not the place to talk universe or can you read all of my poetry ever and love it? he asked “what do you write?” … I write about love, I think, or the heart or loss of heart human connection a eulogy of the heart about land beauty hope, I hope! corn, also clouds make their way in dusty roads and rusted time wasted time lost time found time where are we going and where are we from the universe and its weird gift, everyday me you, even but I responded “stuuuuff” and I’m not sure I can respond a different way.

Spinning Planet Earth

Zsanan Narrin


90

Jellyfish

CIRQUE

Sandra Hosking

Suzanne Simons

first color pictures from another planet, 1965 a long time ago before blu-ray and dark chocolate were a thing, a cadre of (mostly) (white) men with crew cuts and a couple beehived women – jet propulsion lab control room team – duck out to woolworth’s, buy pastels of burnt sienna, mauve, russet. ecstatic and impatient, they can’t wait the hours for mariner 4 pictures of mars to be processed. golly, they color-code the data like a paint-by-numbers set. heck, they are spot on, confirmed by pictures of landscape like jordan. imagine – getting to play with color after plotting logarithms, jowling yellow #2 pencils for years. not looking for the glee of color, but a klondike of dreams. and look what made them happy. back here, ducklings like egg yolks embark on their maiden voyage across a small lake, in tow behind their mother. neath the 5th ave. bridge, clumps of jellyfish turn water the color of moonglow. a friend lets her hair go silver, wears frosted pink lipstick and a cherry miniskirt. at a nearby bistro, voices of burgundy, smoky blue quietly inhabit a corner table. really, life is color. the difference between staid and breath. surely the world(s) didn’t have to form this way, with flowers growing in monet tableaux and rainbows still giving us pause under every type of climate. “free,” the cardboard sign says i find by a curb, venture to bring home a pink plastic table-top christmas tree with white lights to make my bedroom pretty. mariner 4 x-terminated by micro-meteroids, yet lasts longer than expected as a zephyr carries whispers of awe from earth.


91

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Leah Stenson

Mud Denali August

Tami Phelps

Scott Starbuck

Man and Black Lab by Fire 10,000 years hunting together on every continent

Mother warned me never to track mud in the house, or else…so I was always careful to scrape it off my shoes. Grandma scowled when I played in a puddle, muttering only hippos and pigs wallow in mud. My ninth-grade teacher alerted us to mud as metaphor, hurtful words to sling at enemies in arguments, a timeless tactic employed by politicians. Later I learned how mud could kill, sliding, entire hillsides burying people in their homes. Mud, a dirty word, never meant anything good.

and keeping company through storms, hunger, loss.

Shakyamuni taught that Bodhisattvas of the Earth emerge like lotus flowers—roots sunk into the dark, wet, life-giving mud of the swamp—faultless fruition seeding and blossoming simultaneously.

Fishing buddy in all kinds of weather.

Deep in mud, I now understand I’m exactly where I need to be.

They survive in a world that takes and takes and rarely gives. This is the one photo space aliens will keep on their walls recalling Earth that was, and could have been.

Two Streams Join Together

Matt Witt


92

CIRQUE

Tor Strand

from Redeemed (Part II) II.

For a Heart to Heartbeat What falls away is always. And is near. —Theodore Roethke

Passing for a shape of branches. Maybe the world breaks When the underside of a bridge Becomes a stranger’s face So full and disappearing. Father, the crumbling decay. Will you be okay—

Trying to write of you I hear a woman say, You know, you’ll be driving home In the dark now, will that be okay?

This day, or the next, out for a walk Or long drive when you see his face in yours, Bones of a rearview mirror

And you form like an ocean wind In the darkness over the deep. You, who did not receive this question.

Suddenly fade with winter light, Take up the colors of a tile wall, Remember a beach wind, release—

Will you be okay? In some cannery, Some seventeen years old, Your cloud-rushed gut Distracted with living. Your musk, fish scales, Chainmail, watery blinks, Black dye, bait bucket, Seward sky— Sea spray and rubber, This salt, does it matter? Yes, it always will

You know this simple And terrifying desire. Are you okay? Yes, because there is nothing But to be here in the strength Of this burden, in the ache Of what never falls away— Can I join you there, Singing the distant song Of a brain gone lost and bleeding, The long note of an ocean wave, A child to be born.

As you run south in the rain Of another city, another family, No, it cannot be. And I find you Long down California coast, Moongone on the freedom a young Body craves out of. Will you be okay? Each night blushed By blood of before, Each passing thru Terria Walters Vanderhuerk Mural

James Temte and Michelle Xiao


93

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Carol Sunde

High Desert Wetlands Step into the Malheur night in this haven for the avocet, monarch, mink, and tranquility; you can grab a fistful of stars without interference from any city’s bully lights.

Winners Circle

Zsanan Narrin

Mary Ellen Talley

Lunar Maria

Perhaps you’re reminded of the Sabbath— Muir would have seen all the temple we need in the boundless serenity of marshes and sagebrush, the view all the way to heaven with uncluttered time enough to reflect on pools the ibis probe, witness moss greening erratics—

Moon is a concrete word, divot in the atmosphere, splat without a hat that changes form all through the strife-shelved month. It swirls. I keep confusing rotation with orbit so much that I am living in sidereal confusion. I request commutation of synodic interventions.

and you put aside grievances to praise.

No one but the underserved and undeserved know what I am attempting to understand. The planetarium exhibit for preschoolers puts it in a simple story. Still, we feel time wax and wane, spinning disappointment’s craters on dry terrain. Sea of Crises, Sea of Tranquility. Basalt bores hard core as we forget we’re spinning apart.

Hidden Lake at Dawn

Lucy Tyrrell

The moon will be full too late for lovers this year and anyone who needs an interrupted sky will have to wait one day to rub a child’s back or touch a waning hand. Our last breath doesn’t seem concrete, but is, the leaden weight of hearts hanging by a slender thread.


94

CIRQUE

Lucy Tyrrell

Red dresses hang from low pine limbs— like flags that line rez road— sway and twirl as fancy dancers with red shawls. Invoke Ojibwe word— miskokonaye— like deer hung after hunt, she dresses in red, bright blood finding air, for Native women, girls— found on rodeo grounds, pulled from gray river. Each daughter-dress soft, limp, wails a wordless cry for all the never-found, pleading for redress.

Rust Rose

When I drove through Rd Cliff May 5 & saw rd dresses hanging from the white pines at Veteran’s Memorial Park south of the casino & more rd dresses on posts & branches farther along Route 13, I sensed that these dresses represented mrdrd & mssng Native women—but I stopped at Buffalo Bay Store to ask; yes, a day of awareness for mrdrd & mssng indigenous women & girls, & a walk that day would end at the casino; so I said, seeing those rd dresses is very moving—&, because I didn’t want to insert my whiteness into what was happening on the reservation—I asked whether it would be OK for me to hang a rd dress near my house, & she replied that it would be, it would be perfectly acceptable to do that, & I knew she knew my question came from a white woman who often stops by the store for a soda; I photographed those rd dresses, & while I thought, who am I to display a rd dress, my relatives aren’t mrdrd & mssng, & would my action be misinterpreted, the rd dresses spoke; on Monday, although the rd dresses that hung suspended on Sunday were all gone, I was determined to buy a rd dress; I found a gauzy one for $3 at the thrift shop in Ashland; I offered whatever silent solidarity I could by hanging the rd dress near my porch & I felt ashamed—white governments of the U.S. and Canada would not investigate mrdrd & mssng indigenous women & girls, but would when such persons are white; I read on the web about REDress (irony of rd dress & redress), about thousands of women who become the never-found, about a mother who said, can you imagine pulling your daughter from the river, & about names; after that, rd dresses became stories—about Henny & Hanna & Harriet—stories that lingered long after I noticed the pines & rd dresses.

Jim Thiele


95

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Margo Waring

Shalimar

Sandra Wassilie

My mother worked hard for little pay X-raying and cleaning children’s teeth, caring for a disabled husband. She never travelled far. Except once, to a conference in Portugal-sunshine and old buildings with bright tiles. She mentioned a swimming pool and striped umbrellas. On her way home, at the airport, she bought me a bottle of perfume— Shalimar. Fluted Baccarat crystal bottle, broad shouldered, slim hipped, tied at the neck with gold twine, nestled in a silk lined box; scents of exotic places— floral and amber-woody Jasmine, frankincense, sandalwood. Was she thinking of Mumtaz, beloved wife of Shah Jahan, sitting in her Lahore Gardens, the Taj Mahal she would never see? Or 1920s flappers drenched in this oriental scent? Was she wishing one of these for me? I placed it on a shelf, never opened the bottle. The perfect seal so tight no scent ever escaped.

The Tree

The Emissary She would send me when I was too young to disobey “Tell your father I want to see him.” Besides I am eager to escape her tear-stained face and younger siblings rattled by a slammed door each of us cowering. What could cause such fury? Each scanning recent misdeeds for clues. Did I have something to do with it? Outdoors the mosquitoes seem tolerable. I find Dad maybe down at the lake fixing the outboard motor or at the airfield tinkering with the plane something always in need of repair. I deliver Mom’s message. “Tell her I’m busy.” Back I walk the tightrope of tension. “Tell him to come now.” I imagine I am a scout in buckskins returning once more to enemy camp with one hand on the reins of a spotted horse, the other held up to show I bear no firearms. He shoots me anyway. “Goddammit, tell your mother I’ll come when I’m damn well ready to come.” I consider the delicacy of my situation and take my time leading my horse back. I feign cheer when I tell Mom “He will be here soon.” And get up on my horse.

Chris Laskowski


96

CIRQUE Richard Widerkehr

Prophet On Railroad Avenue In Bellingham the beautiful ruins of the past... —Natasha Tretheway

Dandelion Design

Steve Zimmerman

Vandoren Wheeler

Imaginary Art Project: Painting

Her face reminds us of scorched trees, ash-gray, almost silver. Asphalt, tar, and rain, she shouts. Gonna melt your cities-haloes and eyes. She’s all the news we cannot want to hear. A blast furnace in our basements, is she sent by a god, not done till she’s done with us? I stuff three bucks in her cup. Here, eat this seed, she says.

I bought a thrift store painting I hated, repainted its same ocean scene over top: sea foam hamming it up against the rocks with its eternally surging martyr complex, the ocean wave swooning as if an orchestra in it splattered glory everywhere every few seconds, the sunset above promising to always love whoever looks up… I remade the melodrama over and again, practicing the scene to get it right, to pour the gushy mess through the sieve of a brush, distill its syrup into something clearer, clear as a mirror: true rock and moving water stilled without commentary, or judgement. But every time I try, the stupid scene brushes me, slathers this easy, lavish, unrelenting, drunk-on-rosé-in-early-afternoon light across my stubborn, needy, ordinary—goddamn it— beautiful face. So I toss each attempt back into the sea.

Untitled

Brenda Roper


97

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

John Sibley Williams

Little Fiefdom What once appeased the gods is still what satisfies them. Fiery devotion. Effigies gone to ash. A heart crowded with stillness. A heart with only one door, winterized, bolted from the outside. A long-awaited envelope with no letter in it. How we blame but shouldn’t the crows heavying the battlefield’s branches & the clock on the mantle’s unholy insistence. How we’re made to view our bodies with doubt, to touch them from a safe distance, as if already dead. As if the world is curled up & ready to strike & our snow-cracked roads are hardly worth repairing. Is it true the light burning from the darkness between stars only exists in our fealty to it? How at night in the moments between invocation & troubled sleep, when the shrink film keeping the cold at bay peels back to let in some air, we ask not for grace but a lover’s fingertips. When it’s sure no one is watching, how the candle we cup our palms around so it won’t flicker & fail flickers & fails, & everything we’ve freely given for that one searing assurance returns, essentially unchanged: fragile, sincere, lightlessly rapturous.

Moai at Dawn

Lucy Tyrrell

Jenny Wong

The Lightning Demise of 323 Reindeer I am reminded of reindeer today.

Illumination ends so many possibilities.

How one bolt of lightning drew kinship to the fractals of bone borne high above grazing heads, lured by a want to be encased under skin, leaving a herd of arrested hearts bleeding light into the ground.

The calves lie still in the grass, their antlers little velvet bumps barely ideas in their minds.

Perhaps I am reminded because a single word, a gathering storm in our minds, now confirms its existence, traced on our daughter's x-rays, a growing darkness curled between the white wisps of her ribs. Cipher

Jim Thiele


98

CIRQUE

Christian Woodard

Nancy Woods

The Indigestible

I Would Have Texted You by Now

Only if the lover & beloved arrive from opposite shores can they remember the sea as a shared homeland. It is impossible to learn another by heart. I have visited our country at night, soaking papers with her tears & wringing them into vials. Seeds gleaned for the dry times, when everything refuses to grow in the corners of my eyes. We were born with many hearts, as the cow’s stomachs, for making sense of the indigestible. Each organ more reticulate than the last, more arrhythmic, more likely to coordinate with only a few others, or only one, half a world away.

I would have texted you by now But I’m entering my password Re-entering my password So I can open my phone I would have sent you a message by now But I’m blocking a friend Dealing with hackers To maintain my presence online I would have emailed you by now But I’m deleting spam Talking to tech support About how technology is saving me time

Ask a cow to point to her fifth stomach & she will gesture to the grass. So we locate our hearts through recitation, by chewing the herbs of another’s language. In learning you by heart I position my own hidden fears: to remain ugly, of my faltering drum, correspondent, half-dead, to give up on the eyes, medicating my guts instead from the vial. That the stolen tears might not be seeds, but solvent, waves absorbed in sand.

Hondo City

Tatiana Garmendia


99

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

Blue Door

John Yohe

Tower Point Lookout Blues Chorus II socked in northwest zephyrus wind last night in the cold sky something fell to earth glowing beams of yellow light across the Star River burned out south beyond horizon I want to walk in the trees + lose myself 1760 Road down a mile + a half to the crossroads the 1750 right or left will take you out the shorter rougher way or the longer smoother I like the first but recommend the second to friends it's all been interesting even if sometimes bad living a life of becoming rather than just being tho sometimes days (now into evening) feel like just being which makes me restless + guilty but we need these days to rest recover + gather for the next adventure to make a clearing in our lives a base camp tomorrow to Prinetucky + Redmond last week last few days on the rock before unreality up here you cant get hurt by people or hurt anybody just flies + yellowjackets with extreme prejudice wind blows harder on this ridgetop funneling like water through narrow arroyos pouring up over the cliff down back not complaining—kept the bugs down + me cool in July I worry about the news + politics + lies below grateful to be out of it tho wondering if avoiding what could I do to help? call a bought politician?

Jim Thiele


Echos

Jim Thiele


101

Vo l . 10 N o . 2

NONFICTION Aslan Demir

LOSS Uğruna ne canlar yitirdim ey körolası özgürlük Ne çok dışlandım, katledildim, oysa kaderimdi Kürtlük Lives I have lost for your sake, you bloody freedom I have been ostracized, slaughtered Yet it was only my destiny to be Kurdish —Aslan Demir It was the beginning of spring, still the doldrums of the year as the mountains and hills were still shrouded in white. Nature was yet virgin, quiet and bashful. But the wind already had begun to warm, prophesizing spring. The trees that were naked and brittle were going to grow over the span of a few moonless nights. The sunrays piercing the heart of shrouded mountains and hills were going to hit limbs pointing the red bud of the new life stirring at the tips of the crackly brown bark. Soon, the snowdrops were going to make their appearance, not letting white disappear on the skirts as snow jilted. Even though the high mountains of Kurdistan mostly stay shrouded in white, like a damsel’s scarf, year round, as the sunrays pierce their chest, the snow melts layer by layer, envying the hectic life in the valleys and providing water to the inhabitants. Soon, the hills behind Texchan were going to blossom, and within a few sunsets, Texchan village was going to be the prettiest place on earth. The newborn lambs and goats were going to jump joyfully around their mothers, appreciating life, while shepherds mounting hills after them working off their wintery rust. Like the plants and animals, the children of Texchan sensing the coming of the sun were going to greet it wholeheartedly by joining the joy of spring. Soon, the snow melt was going to unblock the roads to the city, and peddlers were going to bring the balls, toys, popsicles, and ice cream children have been so looking forward to. And children were going to run after the ice cream man, showing their appreciation for showing up. Mothers were going to cook fresh vegetables after having dried stocks throughout winter, and fathers were going to buy fruits if they could. People were going to breathe in the smell of soil and touch it, and cultivate it, and feel it appreciating

its fertility. After all, they all knew it’s what they came from, and it’s what they were going to return to. Yet that fertile virgin soil was not just prophesizing spring, but so much more to come that would change our lives forever. Everything was in harmony; everything, until they showed up. In a chilly morning, they came. They rammed our doors and stormed into our houses. They searched the houses with dogs barking breaking our things. They gathered men of age in the center of the village and handcuffed them backward. They bent them on their knees. Some of those resisted and got hit with the butt of their rifles like my uncle. And they took them away. They took my father away. Thus, Texchan village was not the prettiest place on earth anymore. For two months, we anxiously waited in fear, but my father didn’t come. Snow melted, and the village was stuck. Mud flowed from the hills and mountains around. Early blossomed nature got hit with frost, and the red buds of the new life on limbs shrunk in their brown cradles. Some of the trees remained naked, and with wind blowing, they looked like deserted dogs barking at heaven. It rained a lot, as if nature was trying to purify the earth of sins. Thus, I didn’t go out much. There was nothing out there that I cared to see. I didn’t see children running after the ice cream man. Maybe he didn’t come at all. The peddler did come, but he didn’t stop in our neighborhood. Who cared, his toys were already stupid cheap stuff. My father’s handcarved dolls, cradles and toys were always my favorite ones. On the first day of my school life, before sending me to school, he gifted me with a wooden pen. It was elegantly handcrafted from wood and Jin Jiyan Azadi


102 (Woman Life Freedom) was written on it. I knew he made it for me with his own hands. I still keep it and I write my life with that pen. Being accused of helping enemies of the state, two months later, one of them limping, my father and his friends appeared at the court in bruises. They were found innocent and released. However, on their way home, someone in a WHITE TOROS cut their road, claiming to be working for the state, arrested my father again, as his friends reported. The WHITE TOROS cars were known to be used by Jitem at that time, and their appearance was regarded as a bad omen. One would better be dead than being taken by them. People rarely returned back to their families once taken by them. And those who did come back were never the same. Even though JİTEM’s (gendarme intelligence and counter-terrorism) existence was denied for years by its Headquarters and Main General Staff, in Kurdish regions every man and woman was familiar with their loathsomeness, assassins, and drug dealings. People of Kurdish regions were used to seeing them dominantly dressed like guerrillas, or sometimes like civil folks, casuals. They could dress like anyone and do anything they wanted. No laws were applied to them. They were the law. That year, in autumn, they also took my uncle, S.H., who was the elected mayor of the town from the Kurdish political party HADEP. They disappeared with him for a long time, and when he was back, he was not the same. He could barely walk, eat, or sleep for a long time. He was tortured so much, which later became the cause of his

CIRQUE partial body paralysis. That’s what I meant when I said one would better be dead than being taken by them. After my father was taken, things were never the same. My mother stopped weaving rugs, and she cried whenever she was alone. Thus, I tried to not leave her alone as much as I could. During the day, as the relatives and neighbors were visiting us after we kids were sent out so not to hear their scary assumptions, as if there was a scarier thing than being an orphan, they were talking about how worried they were, showing empathy, which was again leaving my mum in tears. During the night, thinking we were asleep, she was crying again while watching the roads like dust on the window until dusk was in the scary woods on the hills beyond. Days were flowing like waters of the Dicle River, but even water hurts if it’s a wound it flows through. Days were flowing, taking along the hope, since no good news was to be seen on the horizon. And hopelessness was consuming my mother. She became so thin that her finger couldn’t hold her wedding ring. She was listening to a lot, but was not hearing much. Her heart was not ready to digest what people were telling her. She didn’t have that strength. None of us did. She was barely eating. Her grief was affecting my baby brother, too, and he was crying all the time, for she could not breastfeed him enough. If she would ever fall asleep, exhausted from tears, she would wake up screaming. In short, after my father, life was like death, but nobody died. Yet. For two months we waited, but no news came. Meanwhile, my mother visited police stations over and over again carrying us with her. But there was no such record of my father being taken again. They said they released him among others, and they could not be held responsible for what had happened to him afterward. Initially, they pretended to be concerned by making phone calls and said we were welcome to check everywhere we could. But we knew that wouldn’t change anything. They asked if we had enemies or honor killings. Later on, as our visits yielded no benefit, they made it obvious that they were being disturbed by our visits. They started making fun of my mother. But my mother was not a spiritless woman. She insulted them back, and they threw us out in the end. Finally, they said they were going to put us in jail if we would Makenna Haeder


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 ever come back and disturbed them again. Mom was not afraid of them for herself, but for us. If she was put in jail, what would become of us children? She strictly taught me how to get back to the village with my baby brother and younger sister if ever such a thing happened. Mom tried to reach people who had powers. But they all were getting stuck at some points saying something beyond their power was going on. Every door we knocked for help, was shut back on our face. And every time we returned back, emptyhandedly, the face of Texchan Village was changing for us. I was praying to God to send a storm to knock the walls of wherever my father was kept (as neighbors speculated). I was praying constantly for this corrupt system to decay fast, but, deep down in my heart, I knew it was my mother that was going faster. Watching the endless empty roads through windows became part of my mother’s life. She wanted to believe that he would return to us someday. And, like a quivering flame of a candle she wanted to light the way back to us for father. Like a lighthouse. But the father was not lost to the sea. Not to anything natural of that kind. Rather, to a kind of Gog and Magog. Life, fertility, peace, compassion, mercy and so many similar virtues Finite are attributed to mothers. That’s why we have mother earth, mother language, motherland, mother soil and so many more attributions in other languages. But, unfortunately, after we lost my father, my mother also lost her life and her peace. She became like a desert as our neighbors gossiped. They blamed her for not taking care of us well. But we knew it was not true. They didn’t leave us in peace. So, one day, mother came home, saying she had rented a place in the city, and we had to move. There was not much for us in the village anymore. Besides, coming to the city every week twice or thrice for father was not easy for mom, as we were dragged after her. We didn’t take all we had because she said soon we were going to move back once father was back. So, we loaded

103 father’s van with essentials, and left Texchan village with the sunrise. That summer morning was going to be in my memories for the rest of my life. The village was still silent, like a grave. I could hear the waters hitting the stones in Axur creek. Leaves were fighting a battle with the wind on the branches of the trees that went in line along the creek. The fresh dewy grasses were bowing allegiance towards whichever side the wild wind was attacking. I could feel the wind on my face and my dewy eyes. The roads were still empty when the sunrise broke the day. Mom started the engine and left our narrow street, getting on the main road towards the city. In the neighborhood, a barking dog was chasing us. Mother killed the barking with the accelerator. The village disappeared in the dusty roads. Going to police stations every week twice or thrice, we came to know that there were thousands of others lost like my father. We were hearing people whispering such stories in fear, but we didn’t know someone personally who had lost a family member. I was old enough to know that Kurdish names were forbidden. That’s why most of us had two names; one for our lives and one for the state. Listening to Kurdish music was also forbidden; that’s why our music cassettes were always kept hidden. Patients were thrown out of Sheary Clough Suiter hospitals for not being able to speak in Turkish. Students, some of them were my friends, were constantly slapped or somehow punished by teachers at schools for not being able to speak Turkish. Not that they were trying to annoy the teachers, but that was all Turkish they knew, learned from their teachers or TV. Family members were getting lost, and people who were going after them were facing the same fate. Whenever someone was trying to rise against the injustice and oppression by becoming a sound for the innocent and the oppressed, he or she was disappearing or somehow silenced. And there was not a single competent or judicial authority willing to change the misfortune of these people. It was then that I promised myself to grow up leading a life for this cause.


104 Standing against injustice with the oppressed, regardless of their dissimilarities. It was then that I promised to be their sound. After I lost my father. After we moved to the city, mom was leaving me at home to take care of my siblings, and was going to meet with others to look for father. Every day, she was leaving home after I was coming from school, and was coming back with the dark. A few months later, mother went back to the village and brought her weaving loom. She started knitting again. But this time, she started embroidering dark figures, wild animals, owls, and shrubs, all looking formidable. Circles into circles, windows into windows and doors into doors all were getting smaller and smaller, until your hypnotized eyes were led into a puzzled dark nothingness. When we needed the money, she also started accepting orders and knitted rugs for people. I was also helping her, and we started making enough money to pay for lawyers and others who were helping us. She did have a huge collection of special rugs. But she refused to sell them, even when we couldn’t pay the bills. I knew they were important to her. They were her memories. Her memories with my father that she wove into the rugs knot by knot. Darkness wove over the sun. Snow wove over the earth. The earth wove its way around the sun. Days over days, seasons over seasons, and lives over lives were woven lustfully, cheerfully, artfully, but nothing different over our lives. Mom stopped going to police stations and started to meet with other people who had also lost their family members. Not a day was going by without a new missing case of a father or a son whispered in fear in the dark corners. Years passed, but nothing changed. They started working with associations that stood for human rights. There appeared a group of mothers gathering, known as Saturday Mothers. Years passed. I am not sure whether it was time or its inflicted pain that hit my mother harder, her eyes repented to the colors and went dark. We gave up on finding father alive; we just wanted his dead body to be delivered. Have any of you lost a father? I did. And even now, at the age of 41, every time I see a father and a daughter walking hand in hand, I feel that pain branded under my left rib. I never found him to lose. I never had his body to bury, to have a proper funeral, to say prayers, to read the Quran beside him, to cry and mourn after him, to know where he lay, to visit his grave on Holy Eids. That’s why everything that I couldn’t do became part of my life for the rest. That’s

CIRQUE why my mother’s tears and elegies never stopped until she passed away. Day and night don’t make any difference; being an orphan always has the same dull color. There is no such thing as forgetting the pain, I just got used to it, and I learned living with it. It’s like death, but I still breathe.

Paul K. Haeder

At the Brink of Extinction on the Coast Near the Salmon River To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour. —William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence” A crossroads is the big X in my life, like the symbol of the thunderbird in many myths of original peoples of the American Pacific Northwest, Southwest, East Coast, Great Lakes, and Great Plains. Of all the places I now am rooted in and adapting to -- the Central Oregon Coast -- I am thinking long and hard about

what it means to have traveled through body, soul and mind in a 62-year-old journey. I’m thinking about how I ended up in Otis, near Cascade Head on the Pacific. From birth in San Pedro, California,


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 upbringing in the Azores, formative years in Paris, France, and learning teenage years in the Sonora, from Arizona to Guaymas, I am here reinvigorating what many elders I’ve crossed paths with as adopted vision quest instructors have taught me. When you are ready, come to me. I will take you into nature. In nature you will learn everything that you need to know. —Rolling Thunder, Cherokee Medicine Man I was told that very lesson by friends’ dads and aunties from so many tribes – Papago, Chiricahua and White River Apache, Navajo, Yaqui, Tohono O'odham. Even at the bottom of the Barrancas del Cobre, several Tarahumara elders imparted the same wisdom: In nature you will learn everything you need. I received the same tutelage in Vietnam by ethnic tribes leaders near the Laos border 25 years ago. And I learned the same points in my life six years ago on the Island of St. John from a turtle hunter who had grown up in Dominica. Ironically, just a few days after welcoming 2019 into my life, I received the same sort of holistic “how-to-live-inharmony” message from a social worker friend who is also an enrolled member of the Grande Ronde tribe. He texted me this: “I chatter, chatter as I flow to join the brimming river, for men may come and men may go, but I go on forever.” This from a tribal elder who I worked with on independent living programs for foster youth. One of our clients was from the Grande Ronde tribe living in Clackamas County receiving services for developmental disabilities caused by fetal alcohol syndrome. My former colleague waited five minutes before a followup text came to me: “Bro’, that’s from Lord Tennyson, so don’t go all Dances with Wolves on yourself...haha.” That text came to me while I was solitary, across from a sand spit where 20 harbor seals were banana-splitting in their favorite haul-out near Cascade Head, where the Salmon River pushes out freshwater ions, tannins, soil streams into the Pacific just north of Lincoln City. The pinnipeds were cool, but listless. Instead, I was busy espying two bald eagles swooping down on the sand a hundred yards from the seals who then began pecking and ripping at a pretty good-sized steelhead carcass.

105 The moment before the incoming tide shifted hard and was about to isolate me on a lone rocky outcropping, I was thinking like a mountain, sort of – at least I was deep in the afterglow of having just reread Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac: A deep chesty bawl echoes from rimrock to rimrock, rolls down the mountain, and fades into the far blackness of the night. It is an outburst of wild defiant sorrow, and of contempt for all the adversities of the world. Every living thing (and perhaps many a dead one as well) pays heed to that call. To the deer it is a reminder of the way of all flesh, to the pine a forecast of midnight scuffles and of blood upon the snow, to the coyote a promise of gleanings to come, to the cowman a threat of red ink at the bank, to the hunter a challenge of fang against bullet. Yet behind these obvious and immediate hopes and fears there lies a deeper meaning, known only to the mountain itself. Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf. How did I get here, Oregon’s Central Coast? How did I end up learning about eagles pecking at the afterbirth of sea lions in and around the rookeries here on this coast? Why is the eagle, a talisman for me since my early years traveling throughout the American Southwest and into Mexico, so important to me now? Adaptation or extinction, change versus stagnation. For so many reasons, change and evolution have been part and parcel of my life – newspaper journalist, novelist, college professor, case manager for adults with disabilities, social worker for homeless veterans, and a million more intersections in a world of apparent chaos. The Mexican flag of those Estados Unidos Mexicanos is an eagle on a prickly pear cactus with a snake in its mouth. I learned as a high school junior that the ancient Aztecs knew where to build their city Tenochtitlan once they saw an eagle eating a snake on top of a lake. The beauty of the American eagle adapting to the toxins in DDT is clear: Homo Sapiens seems historically to never employ the precautionary principle for both ourselves as a species and others in the ecosphere when creating and dispersing new powerful technologies and chemicals. All of this was coursing through my mind as I scampered


106

CIRQUE those with substance abuse challenges both mocked and misunderstood, and those not on the neural normal scale — assisting them to adapt to their own hard histories and epigenetic bad cards dealt to be self-enhancing people.

Finite

across large sloughed-off rocks and boulders where the Pacific was now tangling with the Salmon River. Eagles there dining on entrails and then in my memory cave, like a magical realism moment, other eagle quests flooded my memory — and I was there, in the now, with a river otter toying with me just offshore, and then studying that tidal estuary, hoping to keep my Timberlines dry, ruminating about age, and all the adaptations I’ve made easily and also kicking and screaming, yelling, “No more change . . . no more upheaval.” Like Don Quixote: “When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams — this may be madness. Too much sanity may be madness — and maddest of all: to see life as it is, and not as it should be!” Another one of my muses, Gabriel Garcia Márquez then came into focus while those eagles were picking apart muscles of the steelhead and then clouds only this part of the Pacific can incubate started swirling above me on cue -- The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good. I am still waylaid by that concept, eliminating the bad [to] magnify the good. I am coursing through understanding myself in this walkabout, here in Otis, not exactly the center of anyone’s universe. But then, the nagging Márquez again, and a quote I used to deploy to students in El Paso to think beyond their false hopes: “He who awaits much can expect little.” I have lived most of my life working with the so-called “bad” — disenfranchised and economically strafed people,

There seems to always be an eagle overhead when I am going deep into the recesses of memory. In Spokane when I was with a battle-scarred veteran friend who was at a cemetery ready to commit suicide. When I put my sister’s ashes into the sea near Hyder, Alaska. The moment I was called in Vancouver when my brotherin-law died. Then, it hit me while driving away from Cascade Head — those eagles Makenna Haeder have been my talismans for six bloody decades! The words of writers, from the minds of people like Louise Erdrich or Jorge Luis Borges, or way back to Beowulf, and farther back to Muhammad alTulmusani, are also my talismans of sort, but the eagle has been my vision quest. Not the brown eagle of the Aztec incubation, but the bald eagle. These galvanizing moments are serious times of not just reflection, but ruminating and cultivating change. Adapting. My father said when I was born in 1957, several bald eagles from Catalina Island were spotted near the San Pedro hospital where I was delivered — Little Company of Mary Hospital. Here, 62 years later, I now have the sense to take that “sign” to my grave — bald eagle vision quest. I’m thinking about 36 million years ago, when the first eagles descended from the kite line. I’m thinking reptiles, and 66 million years ago when birds evolved from the lizards. Looking at the ocean broiling up in Whale Cove will do that to the mind. Millions of years of adaptations, brother, sister, eagle, and then Thoreau ends up dredging from me a fractal of thought every single day in this tidal wetlands as tides in and tides out signal climatic climaxes yet to come: “Wildness is the preservation of the World.” Adaptations for this American symbol, Haliaeetus leucocephalus — as the continual use of DDT (and other pesticides) spread throughout the country — was a world of constant trials and tribulations. And near extinction.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 From 1917 to 1953, the adaptation of Alaskan human salmon fishers to an abundance of salmon was to harvest more and more runs, intentionally killing more than 100,000 bald eagles as a threat to their catches. The lack of adaptive abilities of a species like the bald eagle when faced with the unnatural distillations of chemicals by humanity should have hit us hard fifty years ago: birds with that weigh in at 10 to 14 pounds, with wingspans of up to 8 feet, having strength and agility to pull salmon out of the sea while underwater themselves, and a lifespan of up to 30 or more years in the wild can’t weather manmade toxins. If the 36-million-year-old eagle can’t make it under the assault of better living through chemistry, then it’s easy to understand humanity’s lack of adaptive skills (how many short years of evolution have we been messing with our adaptations?) to stop business-as-usual industrial and lifestyle processes like spraying DDT. We too are now experiments in the grand cauldron of chemicals produced and released daily. The effects of that process of humanity “adapting” their She Watches the Beach environment to their needs — industrial agriculture demanding insect-free habitats with these pesticides that Rachel Carson, mother of the environmental movement, discussed in her 1962 book, Silent Spring — was the near extirpation of the American symbol of strength, power, independence and persistence! Haliaeetus leucocephalus, from Greek, sea, hals and eagle, aietos and white-head, leukos kephalē ! Recall from our Baby-Boomer high school biology books — DDT and other pesticides spread like a slow-motion tsunami across America, sprayed on plants and then eaten by small animals, which were later consumed by birds of prey. Today, we call it bioaccumulation. That poison did its dark magic “art” on both adult bald eagles and their eggs. The egg shells became too thin to withstand the 36-day incubation period, often crushed under the weight of one of the parents.

107 Again, what I learned in the 1970s as a high schooler — eagle eggs that were not crushed during brooding mostly did not hatch due to high levels of DDT and its derivatives. Large quantities of PCBs and DDT ended up in fatty tissues and gonads. The maladaptation of the eagle to pesticides was to become infertile due to man’s maladaptation, or in the case of Homo Sapiens, the rearrangement of ecosystems and organic pathways. That was me in Tucson, Arizona, scrambling through desert-scapes. I was a junior in high school when DDT was officially banned in 1972, largely due to Rachel’s amazing book and petitioning. That was eight years after she had died (April 14, 1964) at age 56 from cancer (many attribute breast cancer to the poisons of her time). Eagles were listed in 1967 as endangered on one listing and then later, 1972, nationally through the Endangered Species Act. I remember eagles as brothers and myth carriers from many of my buddies who were Navajo, Zuni, Apache and Hopi. Their mothers and uncles would tell us many stories about eagles. I remember traveling to El Paso for a wrestling match and seeing Jan Jung the Thunderbird burned millions of years ago into the Franklin Mountain range. This amazing natural formation of red clay on the mountainside, watching over the Chihuahua Desert, captured me then, and later when I was a reporter and teacher in that part of the world. I was touched then as a 17-year-old wrestler visiting a place where a huge eagle to me (thunderbird), was there with outstretched wings and head tilted to the side as if protecting us all from predators, who I knew even at that age were us, Homo Sapiens. Ten years later and for two decades I was there at that sacred place, a mountain along the Paseo del Norte, straddling Juárez, El Paso and New Mexico. In the 1990s developers were wanting to move (bulldoze) more and more up Thunderbird Mountain for more and more eyesores, AKA tract home subdivisions. Writers and artists on both sides of the border came together to not only stop that sort of desecration, but also to stem the tide


108 of pollutants in the Rio Grande and the denuding of the fragile Chihuahua Desert. On one of our 10-foot wide protest banners we held along the US-Mexico border, the bald eagle was painted on large and brilliantly, as a symbol of resistance and a “comeback kid story” because man’s chemicals were banned. For many thousands living and working in Juarez, their offspring came out stillborn or with anencephaly — parts of the brain and skull missing. Those industrial chemicals from the American-owned twin plants have not been banned. Proof of Homo Sapiens’ chemicals prompting maladaptation in our offspring. So, here I am in Otis, Oregon, thinking about that El Paso Thunderbird while watching the estuary bring in swampcreating waters from the Pacific. What does it mean that I am adapting now in Otis, the town that was up for sale in 1999 for $3 million. That’s 193 acres (another auction occurred in 2004). I have coffee at the quasi-famous Otis Café which was not part of the town’s auction (it never got bought). The café owner’s grandfather bought the land from descendants of the Siletz Indians for $800 in 1910. As a direct result of the DDT ban, on June 28, 2007 the Department of Interior took the American bald eagle off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Species. The reality of putting the bald eagle in peril, and then its eventual recovery and broad habitat colonization means that they are seasonal residents near Yaquina Head. Eagles like those proverbial human Snow Bird residents of Oregon who end up in Arizona or Nevada or even Hawaii to get the chill of Pacific rainforest winter out of their bones. Here is the adaptation for the eagle — they go into the rookery of the murres, which have a major nesting colony at Yaquina Head. The eagle swooping in and taking the occasional adult murre isn't the problem, scientists point out. It’s the encroachment of "secondary predators" that is having a negative impact on the murres' reproductive success. An adult eagle is expert at swooping in and grabbing an adult murre and flying off. That’s not putting the murre species in peril. It’s the crummy hunter juvenile bald eagles who end up landing on the rookery. All the adult murres then scatter into the air.

CIRQUE That door then opens for brown pelicans and gulls to alight and grab eggs or murre chicks. These secondary predators will destroy hundreds of eggs in minutes. Adaptation and re-adaptation. Ecosystems out of balance, and now in Otis, I am adapting to the reality of the human footprint; even a small one like mine, is significant to each and every micro-biodome I come in contact with. Soon, maybe, the eagle will be put on the hit list, and they too will feel the hard impact of game wardens’ bullets taking them out because, again, adaptation for the bald eagle means things get more and more out of balance. Murres or eagles? People or salmon? Crab cakes or whales? The weight of place, and being one with geographic and ecologic time always culls my disparate attempts at calm and inner self-exploration. Otis, the Pacific, the entire riot that encompasses rowdy sea lions and the humpback’s 12foot blowhole sprays, all those murres and double-crested cormorants, petrels dive bombing, black oystercatchers waddling at the tide lines, now are gestating into entire “memory palaces” for me. I think of my place alive in the world. The mutable feast of learning in my walkabout is a continual journey of adapting. I am looking at an amazing gift of words, and from the Oregon Humanities Magazine, a serendipitous parallel moment for me and the works of Melissa Madenski, who in her essay “Unclaiming the Land” is talking about this same geographic arena, where she’s lived for more than four decades and just recently left. She talks about spruce, alder, hemlock and maple and their powerful bio-nets and biological relationships through their interconnected forests of roots they share: Unlike me, they don’t question or worry — that is the wisdom I project on them at least — a symbol for acceptance of what is. I’m coming to believe in my own memory palace that lives in my roots and the roots of my children, a stability that remains even as visible markers disappear. Look at the big picture, I tell myself. You got to live here for over half of your life; your children were able to grow up here; you got to love the land and leave good soil. Today, I foist my emotional and spiritual rucksack loaded up with my own learning and traveling as I engage with Otis, the Central Oregon Coast, and the people and cetaceans, alike, a repository for my next learning, my


109

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 new series of adaptations. The bald eagle for all its battles and all the mythological connections, is my talisman and vision quest.

where humans can’t see clearly. The boy adapted and loved his people, even though the journey to the Sky Land was always with him and in his stories of adventure.

But I feel like that Zuni Eagle Boy who came upon an eaglet that had fallen out of the nest. The boy hunted for the eagle, foregoing working in the fields while the rest of his clan worked and worked.

I am here, looking for my own Sky Land, but cognizant of the fact the love of my clan — family, significant other,

His brothers resented the boy for raising this chick, who got big and healthy, big enough to fly away. But the eagle stayed with the boy. The clan was ready to kill the eagle to get the boy back, returned to the fields to grow corn and squash. The boy saw that the eagle was downtrodden in his cage, and asked why. The eagle said he had grown to love the boy for saving him and raising him but had to leave so the boy could go back to his duties and be a boy with his people. The boy wanted to leave with the eagle, and finally the eagle succumbed to the boy’s pleas. The eagle told the boy to fill pouches with dried meats and fruit and blue corn bread and to put two bells on the eagle’s feet. The boy climbed on the eagle’s back and they flew off. They ended up in Sky Land, in the city with thousands of eagles who looked like people when they took off their wings and clothing of feathers when they entered their homes. The boy received wings and feather clothing. As in many stories of rite of passage and adaptation by Native tribes, the Eagle Boy disobeyed the orders of the Eagles to go south, and once the boy did, he thought it was a beautiful and safe place. Until people of bones — skeletons — chased him. He made it back to Sky Land, but he was not welcome there for disobeying. Finally, the eagle that the boy had raised said he’d help him fly back to his people. The boy took an old cloak of feathers and made the arduous journey back. His friend the eagle circled above him the entire way to make sure he made it safe, and once Eagle Boy landed, the eagle took the cloak of feathers and flew away. The Eagle Boy lived with his people, who honored him because they knew that Eagle Boy wanted to be with his people, even though he could fly away at any time. Like Eagle Boy, I look to the skies and smile at the eagle’s graceful and wide veronicas as thermals take them up

Softer

Wendy Wimmer

daughter, friends — is the uplift I count on to make it through the ever-changing evolution of my mind and body. I can be an eagle on the ground, scampering through gravity-fed fields, hoping to understand how I might lay claim to finally understanding what all the adaptations mean in a life so lived.

Hamish Todd

The God Thing Chapter One About a group of Seattle Writers in the early 90s (60s upside down). They have many literary adventures; including a trip to San Francisco to the Poetry Slam. They host readings and start a newspaper, and more. We didn't have any more shows lined up. The "God Show" had been so huge, taken such a tremendous amount of energy to pull off, that we were all welcoming a good rest. It was August,1994. I don't know where Carlos had gotten to. He was probably well on his way to some more trouble. He'd been exploring heroin and delving into the world of pornography. Skinny as the blue district in Seattle had become, there was still plenty of everything for those who wanted to look for it. Carlos would be weened on pornography in Seattle, only to go on to New York, where he would really become immersed. Forget


110 about peep shows, The Lusty Lady, New York came to hold such dark charms for Carlos, that he'd find it ultimately as difficult to kick as heroin, or cigarettes. He would become addicted to pornography, to cocaine, to running in the dark, wet streets; addicted to New York City. "I can only sleep with whores," he'd tell me years later, on one of his many return trips to Seattle. We were in a car, getting on the ferry, going home to my new wife Annie, to our newly acquired land, on Vashon Island. I was glad to see him; it had been years. My life had come full circle. I'd been sober for two years, I'd bought some land and a house, and he was helping me transport some French doors from Home Depot. He said it like he was fishing, the whore thing, looking out the corner of his eye, wondering what I'd say. "We all feel like that sometimes," I said. "I used to be attracted to whores. You've just got to meet the right woman." But he hadn't gone back to New York yet, he was just busy somewhere, doing his own thing. Polly was still reading a lot around town, specifically at the SoinSo Slam. Carlos, Roland and I had had enough of slams. Jack had dropped out of the poetry scene altogether. Between our experiences at The Spider, which we all knew would be impossible to top, and our adventure in San Francisco, the remaining three of us had had enough and were awaiting the next great thing. Polly loved slams though. She was determined to go to another national convention like the one in San Fran, and this time, she was determined to win. She was obsessed. The rest of us just wanted to hang out, walk Seattle, Volunteer Park, make plans that would never come to pass; get some sun, rest. The gang at this point, consisted mostly of Roland, me, Ron, the giant stoner of a man, who fished eight months out of the year in Alaska, and one or two other poets or writers form Roland’s writing program at the U. Polly would still join us sometimes, as would whatever woman I was seeing at the time. I'd see Jack McMurtry at work, occasionally we'd go out drinking. But, Jack was getting serious about life, about work. He was only tending bar a couple of nights. And usually when he was working, I was off and vice versa. He'd put down writing and was working towards something bigger, a wife, a family. He'd made good with Jennifer Johnson, Jenny’s old friend, the Guilds bookkeeper. They'd fallen in love in the early days, when we first picked up a paint brush and got ready to open the Guilds offices and literary salon. I missed him, but I was glad he was going somewhere, and we saw each other often enough. He'd

CIRQUE end up being my best and longest running friend, the guy that would always be there for me, but I didn't know it yet. I was still so lost and caught up, running around with these crazy characters and thinking I was in the company of great writers, like I so desperately wanted to be. When I wasn't hanging out at Roland's or bar hopping with some girl, I was at home with Dave, Duncan, my dog, whom I loved like a son, and Thatcher, my blessed purring twelveyear-old cat. Roland hosted little dinner parties, the lot of us sitting on his floor, getting stoned and drunk as you like before, during, and after dinner, often well into the wee hours of the morning, before passing out in some corner, or crawling off home to sleep. Sometimes we'd have these little gatherings at my and Dave’s place, but Roland was a better cook. We used our place for big raucous parties, or just to watch TV, but if we were going to be having a dinner party, we invariably ended up at Roland’s. We'd been talking for a long time, about how the death of God had led to a general state of apathy amongst our peers. "God was dead," the papers said. The whole Grunge thing was out of control, Generation X. Slackers! Music, the news, everything supported the thesis that God had abandoned Humanity. The Christians had it wrong, God wasn't a god of wrath. God didn't work on television through Southern Baptist Ministries; God, didn't want to see the planet paved over with strip malls and Niketowns. "God doesn't want anything, because God is dead," Ron said. We knew it was a lie. "That's bullshit," I said. "God exists, just look around here. Look at my eyes, look at Polly’s tits, look at your own giant hands." "Why did any one thing, any supreme being have to Cree-ate anything? Maybe things are just the way they are," Ron said, looking himself all the world like some Grecian god. That long, well cared for hair, the body of a triathlon athlete, his chiseled Romanesque features. Roland jumped in: "I gotta go with Seamus," he said. "Just look to the sunsets, in the rivers, in the fabulous shrouded peaks of the world’s mountains. God speaks through every living thing, it's man’s soul that's dead. If there ever was a god, then man has killed him. No god could suffer such an ignorant creature, who would destroy the very playground that same god provided." "That can't be true," Polly says. "And never mind my tits you pigs. It can't be true because we, who the old guard Republicans and conservative blue haired old


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 women on the street so love to call heretics—we know God as well as any suit or set of golden robes. God is just misunderstood. God is there, it's just that no one's listening." "People are soul sick,” I said. “…the whole country is soul sick and dying because they don't see enough stars, don't walk enough, don't walk through the mountains and the forests, don't talk enough; to each other, to their kids, their wives—America has lost her way." I jumped at every chance to give some little speech like this. And I believed it to be true. But more than anything, I just liked to see people get all fired up. I dug stimulating conversation. Everybody had something to add, even Brian, Roland’s buddy and fellow classmate from the U.W. Brian was from L.A., clean cut; a handsome devil, and though I'd never seen or heard any of his writing, he said he was a writer and I guessed that if he said it, it must be true, or why would he be hanging out with this crazy group of fools. And then we all got over being hot and bothered and agreed that, yes, we all agreed. America was sick! And we'd laugh and pass the bottle, pass the pipe. We were out to set things straight, through the words of America’s new poets, the twenty something, thirty something hipsters who'd never gone away. The poets that were just lost to the world at large, missed by the media, passed over in pursuit of the almighty dollar. Not that you'd know it. Everything was happening. Ginsberg was still touring. Rhino Records had just released a bunch of Burroughs with rock music behind him. Jesse Bernstein had been dug up by Sub Pop. MTV was taking poetry and clipping it down to thirty second video snippets about the general, or sneakers, or condoms. Poetry was enjoying a comeback in America. Everything was. The economy was booming. The media was hungry to talk about anything and everything it could pass off as news. Hell, this trend we'd used to our own advantage. We had gotten quite friendly with several local reporters, who wrote about our mad events. "It's the Paris of fucking America!" Roland would say. And everywhere you went, there were hip little coffee shops popping up, cafes, breweries, boutiques. And every coffee house, every cafe, had new art on the walls every month. Most had, or at least had tried to have, the odd poetry reading. It seemed the youth of America had nothing better to do than sit around in coffee shops, smoking cigarettes and talking about the most terribly meaningless things under the sun, what a boring wonderful place in the universe was Seattle. We were bitter. We were a walking contradiction of ourselves. It was

111 our angle. We were having one hell of a good time, and we were getting some real writing done, though we saw the way it was going. America’s passion for development. And we hurt for America's wildernesses. Roland worked out of his apartment. His mad, bohemian apartment, with the futon bed on the floor, tapestries and strange artifacts filling every nook and cranny of his many bookcases. Turkish and East Indian incense burners. Charms from Indonesia. Japanese printing blocks. And on the walls, his career: from photographs of himself, taken with friends in the Peace Corps, to cartoons, drawings, writings from his own fertile imagination. Photographs of us, his friends, and letters, rejection notices, insults, praise, everything documenting his life as a writer, pasted and tacked upon his wall. Roland wrote for an environmental magazine, out of the East Coast somewhere. He lived in a world that might have been designed by Franz Kafka. Each month, a large package would arrive via UPS. You could tell when it was nearing the beginning of the month, or when he was broke. He would check the mail incessantly, sometimes three times a day, despite the fact that he knew nothing was coming. When the package finally did arrive, Roland would disappear into his apartment for a week, sometimes two. He'd stop coming around, stop calling, and when he answered the phone, he was short and didn't want to talk. "I've got to get some work done." It was luxurious work. I would have killed to have his job, to work from home, to set my own hours. He wrote for a living. But I'd come to find what he did was less like writing and more like annotating. In these packages, were dozens of magazines concerning the environment. There were membership magazines to Sierra Club, Greenpeace. And there were hard scientific journals, government reports regarding environmental impact studies of one sort of another. Reams and reams of all sorts of reading material, covering everything from apple farming in Washington, to dwindling zebra populations in East Africa. All this material came with post it notes concerning certain articles. These articles he was then to read, change about the language some, condense, then send back to the company in the same box, along with the original materials, back to from whence they'd came, so that they might publish said rewrites in their own magazine. For the first year or two that I knew Roland, he was quite secretive about what he did for a living. Then one day, I happened to be there when the package arrived. By now, we'd become quite close friends. And Roland said it was fine if I stayed and hung out, but I'd


112 have to excuse him, while he got to work, now that his package had arrived. "I'll work straight through for a couple of days, maybe three, then we can get on with it," he said. "What exactly is it that you do?" That's when he told me. "That's fucking fabulous," I said. "It's a living," he said. "It gets to be a drag, I know too much about what's happening in the world. Every river full of poison, every animal that slips into extinction, every natural disaster, weather trend, the side effects of DDTS in frogs in Iowa, the price of tea in China—I tell you it's all too much." "It sounds great to me." "Yeah, you wouldn't say that if you were me." "I don't know." "Shit, I'd trade you jobs any day of the week. You're always at one big party. There's women throwing themselves at you, everybody who's hip and out, man, I'd love to have your gig." "Yeah, you don't know the half of it. Wait till you have some asshole you've gotta cut off want to rip your head off. When some chick you don't want to see comes in every night, and sits there, staring at you, while you're trying to work. Or wait till there's some chick you do wanna see, and she's getting blasted and hitting on some other cat, right there in front of you." "Oh yeah, your job's a killer. Free booze, tons of girls." "I'd rather work from home for two weeks every month and have the other two weeks off." "Yeah, I guess everyone wants what they don't got." "That is the absolute truth," I said. And I meant it; we both agreed that envy was a bad and wicked thing, and were temporarily happy with our lots in life, knowing that someone else would unknowingly wish it upon themselves. ***** The poets who were making it were of two types: academics, who were only read by other academics; or rock stars, who'd put down their guitars, fired their bands and gone out on tour to do "Spoken Word." And that was our point of contention with the nation at large. Spoken word was fine, just as storytelling was fine, or drama, or improv, or comedy, but too often they were all thrown in the same ring and advertised under the same banner, as poetry. It was blasphemous! Some of Dick Hangman’s poets, from The Nowyerpekin Cafe were making a big

CIRQUE

Gone to Rodeo, Pendleton, Oregon

Jill Johnson

splash, writing books and going on tour. But I'd gone to see Meagan Stepp at the MTV Slam Final at the Soinso Club. She was doing the same material she'd done two years ago when I'd seen her in New York, only this time she had a band. And the band sucked, and the music didn't even go with the poetry, which was more comedy, more a little play, than it was poetry. I didn't understand why Roland and Carlos and Polly, and I weren't doing as well, if not better. It was all who you knew. Still, although Seattle was becoming the chicest city in America, you had to go to New York if you wanted to get anything done. Poets, we felt, were obligated to be not only cultural leaders, but spiritual leaders as well. Poets were the world’s barometer for love and loss. It was our job to safeguard the environment and call people to arms to protect the interests of the few, over those of the Corporate demigods. And we wanted to be on television. We wanted to be in the spotlight, talking to Charlie Rose and Larry King. We wanted to lead the nation to new heights, teach people to reject consumerism, to appreciate the quiet and the glory of God. We wanted a name of our own. And one fine dreary day, Roland had coined it. "The Generation of Light," he said. "That's what we'll be called, The Generation of Light." None of us knew exactly what it meant, but man, we liked the sound of it.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 "Just wait till I get on the talk shows," Roland said. I wondered what he'd say to Larry King. He'd probably get thrown off the set. David Letterman maybe, but Larry King? I doubted it. ***** Roland and I were going to see Kurt Vonnegut read at the Hub, some place at the UW. Roland had read something in the newspaper: "He says he's hanging up writing, because young authors don't look to the old guard anymore. 'Computers and the television have killed writing,' he says. The article was a tiny little paragraph, barely a side note." Roland was furious that a writer of such stature would quit because young writers didn't care about the writers who preceded them. It was absolute bullshit. We cared. It was just that no one knew. "Hell yes," I said. "Let's go. We'll take him some of our books. We'll tell him he can't quit." It didn't matter that I'd never read any Kurt Vonnegut. I'd tried to read Slaughterhouse-Five once, but it read like a play, and I absolutely didn't dig it. But I knew Roland had. And he was as good as any writer I knew, so I knew it must be a good idea. And so, the day arrived when Vonnegut was going to the U to tell all of us young whippersnappers to hang it up, that it was futile. He was reading, or lecturing, or quitting, or whatever he was going to do at seven. I got over to Roland’s place about five. Roland, in his traditionally graceful manner offered me coffee and some lox and bagels, which I accepted gladly and munched and sipped, while he smoked pot and did stretching exercises while Beasty Boy music blared from his little stereo. He'd gathered up a collection of our chapbooks. Roland had done several before we'd ever met, cute little books, all telling a different story, some full of poems and cleverly illustrated, which he doled out for nothing or sold for a buck at readings. And together, under the auspices of The Writers Guild, we'd produced several of these types of books together. Roland was the artist of the bunch, and in no time flat, with pen and ink, he'd create the greatest book jackets. I couldn't draw very well, but I could type, so I usually did the typesetting. Then we'd be off to Kinkos with a brown bag. I could never figure out how to lay it out, so the pages lined up, so the story on page three would be continued on page four, being that the other side of page three was page thirty. It involved too much math, so that was Roland’s department too. But I would cut and paste, help to pay, and generally oversee the entire production. Together, we had quite a little stack of these chapbooks. If

113 you wanted published, then to hell with the middle man, you did it yourself. Such was our philosophy. We'd recently finished our greatest achievement yet, a fifty some page booklet, comprising of the best works we could find from all over Washington, as well as a couple of writers from New York City and one from Denver. It was an impressive collection, aptly titled, The God Thing. I'd bought a car, a little brown Toyota for $500 on First Hill, from a little Thai woman. I'd seen her drive by one day and taken the number off the “for sale” sign in the back window. I figured any car that could drive back and forth was worth $500. She was selling the car because she and her family were moving to Los Angeles, and I did all the paperwork with her at a little Formica kitchen table, while her husband buzzed back and forth in the kitchen, "You take some food?" she said. Well, it was something else. Real, authentic Thai food, sizzling in woks and pans on the stove. "Yes, thank you very much," I said. The whole transaction had been an absolute delight. "Bye now, take care of caw fo me," she said as she walked me out, reluctantly handing over the keys. I knew it had been a good car for her, and I was proud to be the new owner. It was in excellent condition. I wished I could have gotten to know that family better. All around me, in White Center, was a huge Cambodian community; on First Hill and West Seattle, Mexican and Asian families. My part of town was black, American. Old men, rocked on their front porches, watching the world go by. Young men gathered in gangs on the corner, across the street. And on Sundays, the whole world sang out from the church just below my back yard. The sound of all those souls testifying and singing did my hungover heart a lot of good. In the Hood, God was alive and well, at least, on Sundays. I loved my neighborhood, but I didn't know too many of my neighbors. I wanted to know everyone. Dave wasn't around, working his temp job, so just Roland and I were going to see Vonnegut. We took our books and hopped into the Toyota and drove to the U-district. When we got there, Roland told me where to go to park. Because he'd been a student there, working on his master’s for the last two years, he knew the campus inside and out. I got lost whenever I went there unescorted. We paid the cover of $12, which Roland bitched about profusely the whole time, until I finally said I'd buy drinks later. "Twelve dollars?! Man, I'm not gonna charge shit when I'm old to come and speak. Literature should be for free." I'd had this debate with both Carlos and Roland a


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dozen times. With Carlos it was different, he just thought books and readings should be on a sliding scale. And while it might be fine for my friends to pay, him and his shouldn't have to. There was something uncouth about it, he said. With Roland, it was just that he was cheap about certain things. "Look," I said. "You sell a book, you want people to throw down for it, right?" "Yeah." "Well, what's the difference?" "Twelve dollars? It's a University. I mean, I think he should get paid. I just think the University should pay him and not us." "Yeah well, in a perfect world. C'mon, let's just go." Inside, the place was filling up. Big collegiate crowd, a sea of mostly white faces, well dressed and eagerly waiting to see one of their literary heroes speak. "Alright, let's do it." And together we began to work the crowd. "Hey, you want a free book?" and we'd hand them one. The little chapbooks with The God Thing on the front, looked for all the world like a Christian Handout and we were getting some strange looks, me this longhair and Roland in his Indonesian wool and hippy beads. Some folks wanted nothing whatsoever to do with us, simply turning their heads like they didn't see us, or raising a hand to indicate they had no wish to be approached. It didn't take long to unload our payload. We'd left our coats and Roland’s bag at seats at the far-right end of the third or fourth row. We met back there and quickly agreed that yes, it was the only way. Roland stayed put, while I walked very casually up to the front, jumping quickly up to the podium where we knew he'd be coming and placed three of our books, The God Thing right on top, where he absolutely couldn't miss them. "Yeah!" I said, taking my seat, a little excited, hoping we wouldn't get busted. But, no one made a move to take them away. Kurt Vonnegut would see our work. "Hey, how ‘bout people thinking we were handing out Religious paraphernalia," Roland said, a touch of the devil in his eyes, glad to cause a stir amidst his academic brethren. "Aghh, you could offer them Jesus on a platter and they'd turn you down, man. Too much time on public transportation. They're just afraid. Everyone's always handing them some shit. Can't really blame them." Vonnegut came out. He was dressed casually

enough, little half-moon glasses with black frames half way down his nose, carrying a battered brown leather briefcase, from which he pulled some papers and placed them on the podium. If he saw those chapbooks, he never let on. He just went about giving his speech. And that's what it was, a speech, not a reading. He was quite funny, quite charming. He drew diagrams on the blackboard, explaining how different stories were set up. It was as though he were addressing a first year Freshman Creative Writing Class. And judging by the looks of the crowd, he was. He never said a thing about quitting. He just said he was getting old. And that he liked it. "Life is for frittering away," he said. "Don't let anybody tell you any different." And that was that. He bowed gracefully, playfully and left stage right. ***** Roland couldn't believe his good fortune at falling into an organization such as The Writers Guild. He thought it was the sexiest, fastest, craziest organization that he'd ever come across. And years later, I'd find that he came to resent it, that even as he was helping to shape it, it was in fact, an integral member, that he himself, had never quite felt as though he belonged. But, even at the height of his success in Seattle, Roland was careful to remember his roots, in Denver, Colorado. That's where he'd been when he first started making his chapbooks. That's where he'd been when he got out of high school, a punk rocker with piercings and dyed blue hair. That's where he'd been when he left, got out, away from his family for the first time and joined Peace Corps, where he spent, what in his mind had become the greatest year of his life. Peace Corps had taken him to Nepal, where he so thoroughly enjoyed himself, that it seemed to forever after ruin America for him. What was his girl’s name? It was something exotic. Naomi. He'd met Naomi in the Peace Corps, where he'd been this interesting, drug ingesting, engineering degreed writerly type, full of life and feeling accomplished. They'd had something in common. Naomi was a hot Spanish Salsa of a lady, whose blood burned with passion and whose quest was for adventure. They'd hooked up in New York when their respective tours with the Corp had ended. There Roland was just another dull white guy, trying his best to make a buck and keep a roof over his head. He couldn't compete with all the fat daddies who could show Naomi the town. She liked the Theater. She liked fine restaurants, nice cars, expensive wines. She was a lavish creature and she sought after a certain type of lifestyle that Roland simply could not provide. He


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 wasn't the type, had he even had the money. Things fell apart, the hottest sex he'd ever had, complete with love/ hate fingernail raking ecstasy that he was afraid he'd never experience again. Roland had been telling me and Dave about this Redwing character for as long as I could remember. He'd showed me one or two of his poems, which were indeed, the real thing. Well, Redwing was coming to Seattle. He was coming to check out this crazy happening scene, in this far out town, which Roland had been telling him about for about a year and a half now. He was sure that Redwing and I must meet. "Three great minds," he said. "Oh, it scares me to think of what will happen when we all get together." And he'd built him up so much that I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to meet this legend, known only as Redwing. He'd taught Roland a great deal about writing, he told me. "And he can help you. He's a hell of a teacher." Well, that was alright by me. I hadn't met many people who could teach me shit, and it wasn't for lack of trying. Redwing was half black, half Apache. He'd been to Nam, been a suit, a lover, a father, a husband, a two-time loser, a landslide winner. He'd worked in radio, once held a vintage car collection, been quite rich, and pissed it all away on women and drink. He occasionally freelanced in the trade rags. But mostly, according to Roland, he was the greatest poet that ever lived. Well, hell yes, I wanted to meet him. He sounded like the greatest poet that ever lived. I wanted to race cars with him. I wanted to steal a car with him. But mostly, I just wanted to meet him, to see the man behind the myth. We were planning a show, a grand production. "It'll be our biggest show yet," we said. It’ll be bigger than the God Show, The God Thing will be epic, Roland said. Everyone was involved. Most everyone who was in the book, and dozens who weren't, and bands and comedians, everyone would be in this show. And everyone would come to this show. We had planned all this, in no small way, to coincide with the arrival of the legendary Redwing. He was hitchhiking from Denver. He'd called from somewhere along the way and was right on schedule. As for the show: It was to take place over three days, in three different venues, all over the city. It was three completely different shows, with different line ups, different titles, different hosts and different themes, all under the roof of this one event: The God Thing. We'd made some friends in the papers and one friend really loved what we were doing. Leo Carmantine, a Mexican American cat who worked for the A.P. had agreed to do a story about the God Thing, "A

115 three-day trans-poetic debate on the nature of the divine, played out in poetry, rants and dance." Seattle had never seen an art happening to rival it. And in a few weeks, the whole country would learn about what we were doing. These were good times. Everyone was getting along great. Ron was in town, staying with Roland and I'd just come off another doomed relationship, so I had plenty of energy to dedicate to making the show a success. I didn’t know, that in some respects, I was at the pinnacle of my life. I was happy, had community and friends, and while I lacked a lover now, I was confident in my own abilities and felt truly lucky to be in such a position. ***** So special was Redwing’s visit to Roland, that even though Redwing himself was hitching, Roland decided to rent a car to pick him up. Ron was in town, staying on Roland’s floor, as he most often did when he wasn't flopping with some woman he'd met while on shore leave. Neither Ron nor I had a car decent enough to make the drive, and Roland’s car was parked. And tiny. And, more importantly, permanently and irrevocably broken down. My roommate, Dave Fewster, didn't have a car. So, it was all decided: we'd rent a car. Ron had more girlfriends than I did. How nice it must be, I thought. To say, "sorry baby–– duty calls," then disappear, out of reach of the telephone. Out of reach, far away from aching broken hearts, afraid to let go. Me, most every woman I went with for any length of time, ended up stalking me like a madwoman, till any affection I'd ever had for her was deader than President Lincoln. And not nearly as fondly remembered. Roland would gush over how well I did with women, "I've never seen anything like it. You walk into a room, and every woman in the place has her eyes on you," he told me once, walking down Broadway, trying to find an interesting place to drink. We'd drank at them all, and knew full well, no such place existed. But we'd get tired of walking and Roland would say, "Well, we ought to do something." "It's not so much where you are, as where you're at," I'd say, and we'd turn into one of the familiar doorways. We always ended up at one of the same few places: Eileen’s, Shcmos, The Dying Sun, or Barbies Tavern; they were all tired. Seattle was such a small town. When he said that bit about my being so good with women, I'd felt mighty proud. Every man wanted to be thought of like that by every other man. Even if it wasn't true. I loved women to a fault. I was as hooked on women as I was


116 to booze, always looking outside myself for a solution to my problems. While Roland was moping and lonely, I was invariably in the middle of some mad dissolution, breaking down crying, fielding phone calls from angry, obsessed, jilted lovers, lonelier and sadder than I would've been if I'd stayed alone. Oh, if he only knew. I didn't enjoy his envy, I wanted more than anything for him to be happy. And if finding a woman would make him happy, then I wanted him to find one. I tried to help him, but he was hopeless. I've never seen a full-grown man, so charming, so good looking, and so well educated, at such a loss with women. He absolutely would not let them see him. It wasn't that he always fell apart, like some quivering nervous teenager, he just never followed through. He got too serious. And I could never figure why he just couldn't go ahead and be himself. Always had some reason why it would never work out. "Work Out?! Work out? Who cares? Who said anything about working out? I'm just talking about having a plain, old-fashioned good time. Don't worry about what will happen, just focus on what's happening now. Anything that happens after that is just exactly what it is. You can worry about that then." But then he'd look all thoughtful and dejected, "I don't know..." "I'm telling you." "Yeah, maybe you're right." But I got the impression that he never really believed me. The trouble with Roland was that he was looking for the perfect woman. He was perfectly smitten by countless of the friendly young beauties that were all over Seattle, but he always shut himself down before he ever got out of the gate. It was maddening to watch. Ron, on the other hand, always had a woman hanging round him. He had a semi-steady girlfriend now, a substitute teacher by the name of Nicola. When things with him and her were good, we'd barely see him. But, if they were off again, then he was staying on the floor, his pack and sleeping bag, propped up just outside the bathroom, not far from the front door, in case he had to make a quick run for it. Ron was like that, you never knew whether he was coming or going from one minute to the next. And though he looked like a mercenary, a biker, with his huge frame and tattooed forearms, he was a great teddy bear. I never saw him raise a hand to another man. He didn't have to. He had nothing to prove. Carlos had screwed Ron out of several thousand dollars once. Some deal involving dope, Carlos blasting off to New York without paying up. Ron had been plenty

CIRQUE pissed off. There was talk of breaking legs. Kneecaps. Teeth. Never of breaking necks, never of death, but of a fair trade for outright betrayal. "That son of a bitch better stay in New York," he said through clenched teeth one night when the subject came up. But Roland and I loved Carlos and while we may have admitted he had it coming, neither of us wanted to see him get hurt. "I think if he said he'll pay you back, then he'll pay you back," Roland said. Then he added with a wry smile, "Or not." "You should have never fronted him the dope," I said. "What does that have to do with it," Ron boomed. "It's dope. I mean, that shit happens. I don't mean to be a prick, but that's what you get for fronting him the goddamn stuff." "Baggh, He just better stay in New York, that's all. I'm not gonna go looking for him, but if he were to turn up..." Well, we all knew he had it coming. I just hoped Carlos would pay him off or stay well away from him. And I knew Carlos well enough to know he'd never pay up. He was a runner. He did have some balls. Ron was more Roland’s buddy, but I liked him, and we got along fine. At the moment Ron and Nicola had called it quits, so he would be going with us to pick up Redwing. We were all excited that he was coming, particularly Roland who was beaming like a little boy about to be reunited with his long-lost hero, father. Redwing had provided Roland with a kind of validation that he wouldn't see again until he met me and Jack and Carlos, and that was worth a lot. Redwing was his first! We were to rendezvous at Paradise Ridge, atop Seattle’s overlord, Mount Rainier. The three of us walked Downtown together from Roland’s. Walking and talking about how fat the God Thing was gonna be, and Redwing and books and everything we were gonna do when we got rich. Ron was gonna buy an island or a ranch and grow illicit drugs of one kind or another. "In Montana you can get sixty acres for a hundred and twenty thousand," he said. "I'm gonna hire a plane and go looking from the sky until I find just the right place." The way he said it, made me believe he would do just that. He made enough money fishing, but I wondered if he'd ever be able to stay straight long enough to put enough away to make it happen. He was a typical fisherman. He worked real hard. And he played real hard when he was through. It was a good deal: work for six months, take two off. But, life


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 on the boat was such a hard life, void of women or drink, that when time came to roll into port, there was a great deal of catching up to do. Ron didn't drink. Never saw him touch a drop. And I was glad, because teddy bear as he was, loaded and pissed off, he was a guy you simply wouldn't want to piss off. If he was a drinker, Carlos might very well turn up in a dumpster somewhere. Ron was living proof, you didn't need to drink to have a good time. He had a penchant for Harley Davidsons. Always roaring up on some great motorcycle that we'd all drool over. He treated his women to lavish suppers and weekends in hotels. But he was always trying to double his money the easy way. But then there were problems like Carlos, and debts to be paid to the people who set him up. It was a dangerous game. I hoped he'd get what he was after. Roland was gonna travel, travel and write, and have some fine wife and a fine house in Katmandu and a lot of other shit like that. "Yeah, I'm gonna get me a fine little wife, maybe an Indian chick. Oh man, you should see some of the Indian chicks I've laid my eyes on. They think Westerners are great. You could treat them like a queen on hardly any money. Not like the chicks around here, who all want diamond rings and fancy dinners." Ron and I didn't think the chicks around here were too bad, they were pretty accepting, pretty cool, really. But we knew there was no point in arguing. Roland just wanted some subservient dark-skinned woman to feed him grapes, fan him, and stroke his big blonde ego. Who were we to shatter his dreams. We just nodded our heads and said, "Right on." Me, I was gonna start a viable press in Seattle and make sure people like Marion Chimes received the credit they were due. It was a nice walk, the sun still high up in the sky, the Space Needle looking so grand, the arches of the Science Center, our prettiest skyline in the entire country, twinkling Puget Sound, the Olympics, snowcapped and fabulous in the distance. We got to the bottom of Denny and went to Avis Rents, where we used my credit card to rent a big 93' Chrysler LeBaron, just one year old. Luxury car, with big purple leather seats, a tinted skylight in the roof, ashtrays in the back seat. Once we'd gotten out of there, Roland said, "I'm gonna get me a big old Cadillac. And I'm gonna have gold rims and a gold grill, looking just like the wickedest pimpmobile you ever saw." We were on I-5, heading South. Ron was driving. Roland rode shotgun, and I rode happily hungover in the expansive, plush backseat. "Me, I'm gonna get a Jag, an old one, an XJ 6. I

mean, just listen to that. Even the name has balls, it defies words, 'The XJ 6. Man, there's nothing as sexy as a Jag. I'll put a Chevy engine in it and paint it midnight flake metallic blue. Yeah, that's what I'm gonna do." It was a long-time dream. I'd share it with my sister. She could have it on Wednesdays and Fridays. We'd share the expenses of insuring the thing and paying for its upkeep. Jaguars aren't cheap. "I've seen old Jags for five, six thousand bucks, if you don't care what goes under the hood," Ron said. "I don't want it stock. All I care about is that fine body." "Just like yer women, eh?" Ron quipped. "Hey, I loved every girl I ever went with. At first." And we all laughed, Roland repeating the punch line over and over, "At first. At first, Agh ha ha ha.!" We were zooming past the Rainier Brewery. You could see Boeing Field, all those interesting planes, the Sunny Jim and Wonder Bread factories down below the highway. This was some of the last of fabulous Old Seattle. "I've always wanted to wear a red cape, with a big white R on my chest and jump around in tights, amidst the steam coming out of the roof of that place," Ron said, talking about the breweries roof, which shot out steam, just above highway level. "Think of all the accidents you'd cause," Roland said practically. "That's why there's no Rainier Man," I said. "Yeah, I'd still love to do it." Everybody, including Ron, thought about Ron in tights and a cape leaping about at traffic from the roof of the brewery and we all laughed hysterically. It was a beautiful, carefree moment. Sunny Jim would burn to the ground in a few years. Wonder Bread would be moved, and the building demolished to make way for some new sports stadium. Rainier hadn't made a cool commercial in years. And much to my chagrin, they would stop producing stubby bottles. We had no idea at the time, and no room for such gloomy thoughts. We were on the road, like Kerouac and Neal Cassidy, and we were going to pick up old Wild Bull Lee.

Still-life reflection in B & W

Brenda Roper


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Beth Hartley

Toilets Around the World: An Incidental Traveler’s View Over the years, I’ve come to really appreciate my toilet at home. I have spent hundreds of hours on or above other people’s toilets and I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get out of bed in the morning with eyes half shut, shuffling down the hall, my slippers on the wrong feet, bathrobe unhinged toward the bathroom, not having to worry about who will see me or who has been on my toilet or what may have been left behind on the floor… (husband excluded)

There’s the loo in Britain. Really? Loo? It’s an English thing, I’m sure. “I’m going to the loo, Besty dahling. I’ll be back momentahrily.” This implies that whatever happens there, doesn’t stink. I’m here to tell you that that is simply not true. But, public loos, also known more commonly as WCs (stands for Water Closet) are kept pretty clean, relative to what we find in the U.S. Noticeably. You can find WCs around the world, these days, and, yes, most do have water.

Toilets I’m guessing anyone who is reading this has used a toilet. A toilet, by any other name is still a toilet (except perhaps the wall in the alley). Crapper, pit, john, WC, loo, honey bucket, baño, escusado (I love that one), outhouse, bedpan, leaves, tree, forest: I’ve availed myself of all.

Then there’s the bidet (/bi day/) - French for pony. No, really. In the 15th century, bidet was the term used for the little pet ponies French royalty kept in their chateaus. Fast forward to the 19th century when the first porcelain cleaning devices were developed by the Europeans for “cathartic, purgative and contraceptive reasons.” Truth. They kept the name because, apparently, when you use the device, the seating method resembles that of sitting on a pet pony. I have never used one – a bidet, that is (I liked pet ponies when I was small enough to ride them) - not through aversion but because there was no one to show me. I learn by modeling, but how could I go to the concierge in Austria (my first encounter) and say in English - because I do not know Austrian, French, or German “Please, Monsieur, could you show me how to use the bidet?” He would inevitably have raised his formidable right angle of an eyebrow and, without saying a word, let me know in the most certain terms that I was an idiot American and, of course he would tell me how it worked if I insisted, but that would be the very extent of that. And then, of course, he would go into the back office and laugh hysterically along with his office manager after he told her the story. I can’t even ask my friends. I think they should have the same detail of instructions for the bidet – with pictures – that they do for the cable TV remote.

Have you ever given any thought to how important toilets are in our lives? Most of us use them at least once a day or more. I’ve heard of a few aberrations - like the guy who decided not to take a crap for over a month just to see what would happen. The doctors were not happy (I’ll spare you the details.). Neither was the guy, but I guess he survived. When I travel, the bathroom is always the first thing I look for beginning at the airport (or train or bus station). Some people - like firemen, policemen and thieves – scope out the escape routes first and then the bathrooms, but not me. Of course, it doesn’t help that I can drink an 8 oz. cup of tea and then be heading to the toilet in exactly 8 minutes. One minute per ounce. I’ll probably get stuck in a bathroom stall somewhere during an earthquake or tornado and everyone else is either cowering under the seat banks in the traveler’s lounge to protect themselves from flying glass and falling light fixtures or has run screaming down to the storm shelter and there I’ll be wondering how in the world to duck and cover under the toilet and thinking, maybe being hit by flying glass would be preferable to crouching on dried urine. Bathrooms are a linguistic phenomenon of themselves.

How do you sit on a public toilet? It’s personal preference and your personal level of gross-a-phobia. I squat. Why, I’m sure you are wondering, would I prefer to squat over a toilet than sit? It’s my mother’s fault. She grew up in Minnesota. Maybe a lot of you have had mothers like this. She wasn’t a germaphobe, - well, maybe she was - but she


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 grew up using non-water closets – otherwise known as outhouses - with Sears Roebuck toilet paper. No, not toilet paper from Sears, but the actual pages from the Sears Roebuck catalogue, which can be a little rough on the bum. There were no bidets in Minnesota where she grew up. Outhouses can be pretty stinky. Even if they are clean where you sit, the flies love what’s underneath and so it’s a great home for their little fly families. So, often, in the outhouse, there’s either a fly swatter or lots of hanging fly catchers that you have to dodge like unhinged prom crepe paper streamers in the gym but with little black fly dots on them. I gave up trying to swat flies as I did my business in the outhouse and would just randomly flail the swatter around behind my back to keep the little buggers off my bum. I only fell off the stool once aiming for a big horsefly. By extension, in my mother’s mind, public toilets were probably not so sanitary, either. Mom always encouraged my siblings and I to line the toilet seats with a double row of toilet paper (when available) before sitting on it because you never knew what might be on that toilet seat! (She never discussed what you might find around the seat. Sometimes you just have to choose your battles.) As I child, I simply went with the (ahem) flow. But, after countless times of having no available TP or just not wanting to touch the seat at all, I just started to squat over the toilets. This is now my behavior on public toilets. If I really need to sit, I will put my paper sheath down, but I lean so only one cheek is on the seat. You know, to keep at least part of me from getting contaminated. The wafer thin paper liners provided in public bathrooms today in no way provide the level of protection offered by my twolayer tissue paper. The problem with trying to use any liner these days are the electronic sensors that flush the toilets after you’re done doing your business, or before, or during. Do not move if you do not want one of those to go off under you. And good luck laying down your preferred liner! I learned my lesson the day I tried to lay down the tissue paper, and then stood up to unbutton my pants. The toilet flushed. There went my liner. After the third try (I’m a slow learner) and a large quantity of unused paper down the tube, I unbuttoned my pants, held my legs apart so they wouldn’t fall, bent over to carefully lay my protective sheath – always put the horizontal TP on the front first so the vertical pieces are less likely to fall in or fall off - and, without standing up, whirled around and sat. (I even

119 forgot to sit on just one cheek!) Success! New practice! Works pretty well, most of the time. Travelling Loos We should speak briefly about the toilets on planes, trains and busses. As always, I scope them out first. But it helps that toilets and exit rows are always pointed out by our friendly flight attendants or drivers. On the plane the biggest challenge to going to the toilet is figuring out how the door opens. Do you push in? Do you pull out? Did someone forget to shut the door completely so the occupied sign isn’t on? Upon entering, how do you avoid stepping on the spots on the floor where others have missed the hole, I mean, really, there is only room for maybe two and a half human feet either facing in or facing out - I feel sorry for folks with larger anatomies trying to turn around to use the airplane toilet in a lateral space only big enough for a 90 pound dog. And then avoiding coming out of that tiny closet feet puckering up on the floor like a dehydrated octopus, sticky with urine. My guess is they actually steam clean airline bathrooms after about 50 hours of flight. If you are ever on an overnight flight, ALWAYS wear your slippers into the bathroom! Just sayin’. And what about those air pockets? All of my best squatting just goes out the door (or really, onto the floor) as I’m holding on the handrail just to keep my feet on the floor! Try cleaning that up! It’s like playing a solo game of Twister. Advice? While on the plane, go to the bathroom before it gets bad. And if you need to go number 2, don’t think that the woman behind you can’t smell your farts just because the little air fans are on. She will spray you with the most vile perfume known to woman trying to protect herself. Bother the people next to you to get out. Just do it! Advice for the bus? Go BEFORE you get on! Tiny little bathroom space! Made for tiny little people that used to live back in the 1500’s. The bus toilets very often don’t have any service items in those little bathrooms like airplanes do. You can’t even expect to dry your hands on your jeans because there is no water or hand sanitizer to wash them. My friend has a little bottle of sanitizer hanging from her purse. I think it looks dorky, until I have to ask her for some. Advice for trains: Toilets on trains are called drop chutes or hoppers. Drop chute, as it’s name implies, drops the refuse out of the train onto the side of the tracks. If any of you are thinking of walking down a train track with a hobo stick or a backpack with your dog, beware! Who knows what that


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CIRQUE Advice for boats under 40 feet: “Heads” - as toilets are called on boats, except for big cruise ships - are again slightly bigger than airplanes, but not typically as pretty and usually twice the size of a bus toilet. The rule is simple on boats: Do. Not. Go. In. The. Head. If. It. Is. Rough. Water. But if you do, the good news is there’s usually a little water hose to wash things off down into the holding tank or wherever things may go out.

Red Vase

dog might be eating? And check your shoes - frequently! Of course, in the U.S., train toilets are called hoppers since the toilets (should) have a holding tank because we are neat-niks here and the EPA would come down on them like white on rice. (Someone told me this – about us being neat-niks.) Train bathrooms I’ve frequented are slightly roomier than planes – fitting most sized people, at least sidewise - and are usually clean unless you are travelling on the train between Beijing and Xian, China and have a serious case of General Tso’s revenge. This is where I became aware of the true nature of drop chute toilets. With two fingers, I gingerly open the lid to the commode and, to my total surprise, I see the train tracks zipping by 4 feet below the hole the commode was sitting on - the seat I was going to squat over. First I thought something was wrong with the train, second, I worried that my glasses would drop through the gaping hole, but then realized: (1) there was nothing wrong with the train, this WAS the toilet, (2) I wasn’t wearing my glasses, (3) I was very grateful to have my shoes on and a roll of toilet paper in my pocket, and (4) I just didn't care. I couldn't even worry about the terrible pollution this drop chute implied – there was no option. This was not a toilet that would even tolerate a 4-ply paper seat cover – and I did not have a second left. I would have been happier, just squatting over the hole above the speeding tracks holding onto the sink for dear life rather than sitting on the commode that hadn’t been cleaned since before Mao Tse Tung died. So, I squatted holding my shirt over my nose.

Loos on the Ground China, is really where I understood the true meaning of Water Closet. In China, except for more modern facilities that cater to tourists, the Chinese use pit toilets or basins in the floor – some are truly pits, and Jim Thiele some are very clean and nicely kept and have running water. You stand - really you squat (if you stand, you’ll have problems) – over a basin that, for most of the modern pit toilets either has a water pedal or a bit of water running. Those are the tourist and fine establishment toilets. In the Forbidden City, they have star ratings for toilets. I have personally evacuated in a 5 Star toilet there. It was very nice, very clean and they even had a couple of stalls with “American style” toilets. I didn’t use them. I liked squatting over the basins. They were 5 Star! I also came to a clear understanding of why Chinese couture sports capri length pants as a standard. The Chinese rural or off the beaten track non-water closets (and even some of the non-star rated WCs that did have water) were more of a challenge. Most were basins or pits covered with wooden seats (like you find in cabins in the woods) without the Sears Roebuck catalogue (BYOTP). And you hope you NEVER get General Tso’s revenge in these locales! And you NEVER place your purse or backpack on the ground in the vicinity of these toilets if you would like it to come away free of ants, cockroaches, rats or other fecal material. The water may or may not work. One of the nicest pits was in a place where there was a large barrel of water with a scoop right next to the basin overlooking a river where you could watch a local fisherman and a flock of ducks paddling around. There was a little wooden channel leading from the commode for the refuse to trickle down hill to, you guessed it, the river. (Make sure your Peking duck is well cooked!) This worked quite nicely.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Then, there’s the social nature of using the toilet in China. Having stopped at a jewelry shop enroute to the archeological site in Xian, I needed to use the bathroom. The women’s bathroom (at least I think it was just for women) consisted of an open bank of pits covered by a painted plywood bench with seat holes cut out for each pit and a roll of TP by each. The hand sink had a grimy towel next to which sat a couple of well used and equally grimy Lux soap bars. There was a colorful curtain that gently wafted between us and the jewelry showroom. As I went in, another female employee also came in. Awkward. Twice. First, I imagined the employees and guests in the showroom thinking to themselves – “Listen to those farts!” or “Boy, she must have had a lot of tea this morning!” Second, I had never sat down to pee in the presence of another – not even in boarding school, not even in front of boyfriends. I value that much of my privacy, anyway. In boarding school there were stalls and doors to keep us at least from watching each other. That did not, however (as we all know), keep us from talking to each other. I have gotten in terrible trouble more than once for glibly gossiping through stall walls in the girl’s bathroom when the victim of the gossip walked in to hear everything. Things did not end well. So, in this Chinese, very public bathroom, I took down my pants keeping one eye on the curtain and the other on my companion two seats away, and semi-squatted over one of the cleaner looking seats. The seat bank was pretty high, anyway, so I was almost standing. The other woman had plopped down comfortably on her seat and now looked at me. I looked back at her, sideways, still keeping an eye on the breezy curtain. I knew two phrases of Chinese one of which was hello (ni hao) and ni hao did not seem appropriate in this case. I kind of smiled. She kind of smiled. It was really hard to go (I guess this is how guys feel when they’re being watched), but I managed to get it all out and finished up with a modicum of grace and let myself imagine that I had effectively cleaned my hands at the sink with the cold water and brown streaked soap, wiping my hands discreetly on my pants. The lady got up and left the room with another glance and kind of smile, the curtain waving a cheery goodbye as she entered the showroom. We never really said anything and I never felt any particular type of camaraderie with her. I’m not sure if she really even went to the bathroom. I had the fleeting thought that she was actually curious about what the rest of my very foreign self looked like. There was another bank of toilets like this on the top of the section of the Great Wall we visited. But this toilet at least had stall doors that hooked shut. I had to

121 pay the equivalent of 3 cents to use this one. That refuse trickled and slid down the steep mountain slope that the toilets were hanging over. Again, one of those startling moments upon opening a toilet seat when you think “Is this structure really stable?” I just didn’t look down. That was probably the quickest potty break ever. I came across a surprise pit toilet in Tanzania, Africa. We were on photo safari in Ruaha National Park. Of course, I needed to pee. If you need to go when you’re in the woods, or even the desert, here at home you often just find a spot behind a cactus or a tree to relieve yourself. Or there may be an outhouse nearby with a Sears Roebuck catalogue. I was thinking this would pretty much be the same procedure out on the savannah. But no. There are lions and cheetahs, elephants and hippos, dangerous ants and Tse Tse flies and other wild creatures that would make doing your business next to a spreading acacia tree or in the undulating roots of a baobab anything but relieving. Of course, the locals (and probably the Nature Conservancy) also want to protect the pristine nature of the preserve so they have provided well camouflaged locations for picnics or perhaps camping. Otherwise, the savannah seemed a wide open wilderness. Our driver drives up to a small wooden shelter,, invisible to the naked or untrained eye, and pointed to a spot on the ground and said “there is the toilet.” I couldn’t see anything until I walked around the one, tiny, wooden “privacy screen” to find a pit in the ground surrounded by one layer of mortared bricks. Ah. The toilet. Right next to a large termite mound that had been destroyed by the rangers. Well, we did have some TP with us. The toilet worked no water, of course. And no termites were around to be harmed in the process. At our lodge on the reserve, the water for our use (including the toilet) was filtered up from the nearby river. The river was full of hippos. They have this amazing deep, grunting laugh “a huh hauhauhauhau.” Hippo language would be an interesting one to learn. But never go outside at night! A baby hippo will roll right over you as it’s chomping the greens around your hut. A congress of baboons lived on the other side of the river. They are called a congress for good reasons. Imagine the British House of Lords on a busy debate day shouting and cursing at each other and you’ll get the picture. At night, the frogs, who croaked their lungs out in the middle of the night the minute the full moon appeared from behind a cloud and shut off just as quickly when a cloud came back over, made


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their living on the banks of this river. Fortunately, at least while I was there, there were no crocodiles in that part of the river. Animal poo was clearly a main ingredient in the river. The lodge “filtered” the river water for human use (it was not potable, no mistake) but the smell and color was, well, kind of like copper meets seaweed - Odeur du Hippo. That was OK for the toilet, but I also was washing my hair with this water. The lodge owner’s dismissive comment to my squeamish concern about shampooing with hippo water was “Well, it’s good for your hair!” Admittedly, my coarse wavy hair was silky soft after the shower. I have unwittingly or negligently plugged or flooded more than one friend’s toilet in Mexico thinking that it was the same as if I were going here at home. This is because many Mexican toilets look and act like our toilets, but they are not (except in the nice hotels). Plumbing is basic and often old in many places in Mexico. Water is precious and is not used in the copious quantities for just about everything like we use here in the U.S. Thus, most Mexican and Latin American toilets are not made to remove more than basic human refuse. Paper is a problem. Paper plugs the toilets. Their solution? The trash can next to the toilet. Put the paper, yes even the very dirty paper, into the trash can. So, I can apply my 2 or 4 ply seat cover on a Mexican Toilet, but I cannot flush it down without serious consequences. And, unless the trashcan has a cover, it can be almost as unpleasant an olfactory experience as using the outhouse. My solution to that – in both the outhouse and near smelly toilet trash cans - is to put my shirt over my face and breathe inside that. It never really works. It just makes me feel better – as if I'm not inhaling all those germs that float around in toilet smells. It does keep the flies out of the nose, though.

they come out in the early morning hours covered with impenetrable armor, can weasel through the thinnest of cracks, have their own tiny insecticide masks, and will, according to the most accomplished scientists, survive the apocalypse. And they love poop. I was shocked into sobriety the first time I saw one of the foot long monsters in a Mexican bathroom (OK – that’s an exaggeration, it was probably 6 inches – OK, 3.5 inches) and have ever since, gingerly checked around the toilet before I use it. If there is a cockroach nearby, I squat, jump up real fast, slam dunk my paper into the trash can and get out as fast as I can. (Just thinking about this gives me the willies!) Alaskan Loos Running water and therefore “regular” toilets can be hard to find in rural Alaska. Living in Anchorage and most of the hub communities, you can expect “American style toilets” with various stages of functioning or malfunctioning plumbing. When you travel in the “bush” or rural Alaska, the story changes dramatically. Most communities in Alaska have access to the satellite grid and Internet service (very “connected”!) and have varied combinations of kerosene, heating oil, propane, natural gas, and/or wind-powered electricity to cook, clean, and keep warm with. But many are still off the grid for running water. The State is still working on that. Since the 1960’s. It’s not that creating running water systems in the Arctic and subArctic is easy. It costs money, and the environment has to be cooperative. If not done right, the first deep freeze can and has destroyed the expensive attempt. Every now and then an initiative for setting up local sewer systems

There is another issue to be aware of with your basic Mexican public toilet. Cockroaches. When you come back from a party and need to use the toilet for clearing the alcohol from your body, you are probably not going to pay close attention to the quality of cleanliness on the floor under your knees. I would suggest that you do not, either, look closely behind the toilet. Cockroaches are very clever creatures. It doesn’t matter how clean a bathroom or house is. It just doesn’t. They are prolific, Waves

Chris Laskowski


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 gets passed by the legislature and a village gets set up with a functioning running water and sewage system. Barrow, now Utqiaġvik, in the most northern part of Alaska is a good example of a highly functioning arctic sewage and water system. Big silver wrapped, heated water conduits thread their way around the buildings and T-junctions route water into and out of each home. Refuse is burned in a thermal oxidation system. To be fair, Utqiaġvik also has had significant revenue generated due to the oil extraction industry in their region to fund their infrastructure although my cell phone still doesn’t work there. I will not name names, but it is not AT&T. Not so for many other rural communities and their residents who do not have near the economic resources to set up running water systems necessary for flush toilets. So, for many villages, it's the “honey bucket system” or “buckets in, buckets out.” The term “honey bucket” is a euphemism. Really. Running water for these villages requires that one totes water from the village water tanks for washing, cleaning and cooking. Or, to have the house 50-100 gallon water tank filled, as needed. The water may or may not be potable. In one village in which I worked, the water tower was the source of water for the laundromat and public showers. Since only the school and teacher housing had running water, the school would hand out passes for the locals to come use the showers in the gym. This is one of the many ways schools often serve as the community center. A more traditional way of bathing involves a steam bath or “maqii” in the Yup’ik language, for example. Fire heats rocks under a large container of water in a very enclosed space with wooden slats for benches. Bring your own soap and washrag. Very hot! And effective at steaming out anything that shouldn’t be on you or in you. But, it is not for the faint of heart, believe me! If you are in a village or part of a village that does not have access to a running water/sewage system, the first part of your job in setting up and using the toilet is hauling water to your home. The second is collecting a sturdy bucket or container (buckets work well as their shape is very toilet-like), a heavy plastic liner, Lysol, some way to cover the container (toilet seats work well) and, if you’re lucky, a chamber or room for that container. The Lysol is so you don’t have to hold your nose so tightly when the honey bucket starts to fill up. Now days, there’s Febreeze® and other scent inhibitors that make using HB’s much more bearable. (Somehow HB doesn’t carry the

123 same euphemistic weight as WC.) To cover the honeybucket, some folks just stick a toilet seat on top. Others actually make a nice little commode. Of course, flushing is a challenge. It would have been a great idea to have a bucket of water standing by like the Chinese commodes, but where would the water go? In any case, when the HB gets full, you either haul the refuse out to the holding pond on your 4-wheeler in big, double-thick plastic bags, or, in some villages, they have a pick up service. This is nice. Not long after I moved to Alaska, I flew up from Anchorage to work with the teachers in a far north village. It averaged minus 20°F during the day. To get a warm shower and take advantage of the functional toilets, my colleague and I would walk to the school from the itinerant housing located a 5 minute walk across the frozen tundra. The bathrooms were kept quite clean with stainless steel commodes – an unusual benefit. The facilities were used by all staff and students. In these, I usually applied my squat method (since they were public) unless I needed the paper sheath method. However, those facilities were not available 24-7. My lodging housed a small closed-in closet that served as the bathroom for the honey bucket. (The water tank was empty because no-one was actually living in the house.) It was my first honey bucket. I asked for a gallon of Lysol to control the pervasive scent. They only gave me a 2-quart bottle. Then they gave me one more bottle after my piteous, pinched-nose pleading, and then would not give me any more. Not only was it expensive, it was clear that I was simply a silly new teacher fresh up from the Lower-48 – a Cheechako - a person who is new and doesn’t know s---t about living in Alaska. The Lysol only sort of worked – local folks were inured to the smells. I, however, with my city sensibilities, was not. The refuse smelled like fresh pine-scented…well…shit. Even through the closed closet door. Fortunately, they had a pick-up service. Most often I stay in teacher housing or at the school when I visit the villages so my toilet experiences fall into the normal range. We have occasionally lost power and that’s when the emergency honey buckets are put into use in the school bathrooms. The repositories usually consist of fairly large and, hopefully sturdy, cardboard boxes or plastic tubs with heavy gauge trash bag liners. One box for #1 and one box for #2. One box each for elementary and secondary bathrooms (these are K-12 schools) – for all


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the kids. You do the math. I squat. And, I hold my nose and breathe through my mouth (No surprises there). My most recent favorite was a loo with a view on a small village landing strip. The village electric company very kindly placed a nicely situated honey bucket between the airstrip shed (where they keep the big snow plow) and the large electrical junction box for the village. Most village airstrips have no facilities at all and are all far enough away from the town that you cannot run and knock on someone’s door to ask them for assistance. You always go before you leave for the plane. Otherwise, it is usually a squat on the gravel or tundra behind the snow-plow shed if you are desperate. At this airstrip, three sides of 6-foot-tall plywood surrounded a plastic bucket situated on a small platform. The bucket was lined with a black trash bag and topped with a tasteful black toilet seat. In their accommodating manner, the company had also provided a plastic container of multipurpose wipes for the use of any traveler needing the bucket. If you were a guy, though, you just peed behind the junction box. The view toward the mountains across the bay is lovely as you sit shivering in your snow pants and parka to relieve yourself before your air-taxi arrives. This is why I don’t wear bibsnowpants! Summer, of course, is much nicer, but then you need the Lysol®! When I get home from any of these trips and any travel, it’s not just my own bed that I am so happy to lie in, but my own toilet to sit upon. I don’t have to carry extra TP with me, or worry about other people’s germs. I can just get up and shlep off to the bathroom with my biggest worry being trying not to trip on the cat.

Ellen Reichman

Tiny Thing Please just let me make it home. Please. Goddamn red lights. When I stop, I think. I can’t think. I just need to make it home. Hold it together, Ellen. Hold it together. Think about anything else. Think about the weather. Think about your family. Think about your huge feet. Think about anything other than the last 20 minutes. But all I could think about was the last twenty minutes. I was still in one of those glamorous hospital gowns having an ultrasound. All because of this tiny thing I felt in my left breast. It’s not like I felt sick, or dizzy, or short of breath or had chest pains. I just had this … tiny thing. I hesitated about making an appointment with my doctor to check it out. It was so tiny. And I did just have a mammogram. Following my instinct, though, I did go to see her. She confirmed feeling a tiny thing and ordered an ultrasound to get a better look. I took the first opening I could get even though my husband was out of town and couldn’t accompany me. I was assured I wouldn’t receive the results until the radiologist read the report and informed my doctor. I didn’t expect the technician to call in the radiologist as we both stared at the monitor. He entered the room without acknowledging me. Tall, dark and a liar. When I asked about this tiny thing, he mumbled, “Not sure yet. Could be cancer.” He spoke into his armpit rather than looking at me. His tone was nonchalant – as if he stated, “Not sure of the weather today. Could start to rain.” Liar, liar, liar. Just drive, Ellen. Drive. Blast the radio. Open the window. Breathe the air. Just drive.

After the Rain

Jack Broom

Remember the operative word – could.


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 By the time I made it home, my breathing became labored. I raced upstairs to the bedroom and changed into my pajamas. It was then my phone rang. My friend asked how it went. In a shaky voice, I told her what had happened. She said everything was going to be ok. I lost it. Not meaning to, I took my fear and rage out on her. “How do you know everything is going to be ok!” I shrieked. I ended the call and let my tears come. Tears I feared would not stop. Little did I know I would never shed another tear. Dr. Personality Minus turned out to be right. It could be cancer, and it was; the tiny thing was a malignant tumor and not so tiny. After an MRI, two more not so tiny malignant tumors were found. Almost overnight, I entered the world of the sick: Bilateral invasive breast cancer. Double mastectomy. Chemotherapy. Exhaustion. Nausea. Reconstruction. A Cancer Patient. I will never forget my first chemo infusion. As I entered a large room holding my husband’s hand, I whispered, “I feel so sorry for these people.” He kindly peered into my eyes. I get it. I am these people. All because of a tiny thing.

Bubble Reflect

Nard Claar

Cynthia Steele

El Condor Pasa

(If I Could or the Condor Passes) —I'd rather be a sparrow than a snail / Yes, I would / If I could / I surely would… --Daniel Alomía Robles, Jorge Milchberg, and Paul Simon Throughout my life, two persistent images have haunted me: a married couple into whose basement I was never to go, and a Hispanic woman who appeared to me in dreams. Many mornings, at ages 5 and 6, just after our parents’ divorce, the Melvin’s brocade couch served as our bed. Their adult son who was “not right” lived in the basement. Mr. Melvin, a train conductor in blue and white striped hat, and his wife, a white woman in a housedress, lived in a modest suburban house in Anchorage, fed us cereal, and let us watch Captain Kangaroo before school. This was when my 21-year-old, slim, long-haired mother, a grocery checker for Bi-Lo, did not come for her girls after nights out. During this time, I was famous for inventing songs, memorizing poems and lyrics, and holding my breath until I passed out. In my Bluebird Troupe, I pledged: To have fun; To learn to make beautiful things; To remember to finish what I begin; To learn to keep my temper in. An odd child, I’d push my arms against the door frame with its cracking white paint, and float to the sky, seeing people with an objective curiosity. At home, I ate pretend dinner outside in the cement stairwell, with paper plates and a complete family. In reality, we’d seldom see our father’s foot taller frame, just remember shadows of an early John Wayne: high forehead, long chin. He no longer wished to play drinking games with my mother while we, behind a bedroom door, wondered how loud it would get. In my yellow Snoopy T-shirt, I had my stuffed monkey he’d won me. I’d listen to Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Sterling Holloway, until, one day, at his apartment, he’d give it away. My sister was drawn to dangerous things, this time the basement at the Melvins’. She kept secrets. He’d do them to me if she told. Once, I tiptoed down the basement steps, and she was there, behind the door. She


126 stood up and screamed, “Get out!” He covered his lap with a blanket. She slammed the door, staying there with him, letting the ropes of her bridge fall free. I, knowing nothing, walked back upstairs and ate tomato soup with Mrs. Melvin. I didn’t know how I’d lost her—the powder of crushed innocence seeping out like fumes from a gas stove, poisoning those it left behind. In early photographs, my sister held me in a death grip, arm around my neck. Later, we stood apart. She’d stop whispering to me on the couch, stop wanting me near her. When Mama shuffled in at night, giggly with drink, I had often been dreaming of a cara española, the image of a Spanish woman’s face. A woman I did not clearly remember. In a painting class with Mariano Gonzales at the University of Alaska, I found her identity. His works are “reflections on seeing and being seen.” He encouraged me to “reach for this illusive woman” and determined that I “see her.” At 19, I was still young enough to try. An assignment: create the image of a “significant person.” I first drew her vaguely with kind eyes and wavy, dark hair. Gonzales asked, “Who is she?” “No one I’ve ever seen, but she appears to me, often.” “Then,” he said, “she is not no one. Explore this idea. Perhaps she will come.” Finally, there she was—“mujer misteriosa” the mysterious woman. I painted her with a deep orange background. Showing my mother, her eyes focused as if it were a photograph. “Yes, I know her. She watched you when you were very little.” She was real. I ached from my chest to my eyes. If she noticed, I could not tell. “How long?” I asked. “What?” “How long did she watch me?” “You were a baby. I needed a break. I already had your sister. It was too much for me.” “How long?” “A few months at a time, a few times. I don’t know.” Then, she walked out to her Valley greenhouse with its tiny, fragrant, ripening tomatoes and bees. The conversation ended. That is how it is with her. The windows of the past open a crack every few years. Then shut again.

CIRQUE

Gypsy Soul haha

Jodie Filan

Picture books of our childhood lay in trunks that only my mother may open. I saw them as a child, but I don’t remember seeing the woman. This is the Great Past of which we do not speak. My sister and I, separately, dared open the trunks in her absence. Adrenaline surges. Brief glimpses, like clouds breaking on misty mornings in Valdez where the sun seldom shines. Spectacular, flooding over the water. Like this, my childhood is cloudy. The past. Then, slam the trunk and run. She doesn’t want to see anyone from the past. But, I am from the past. Anna. Perhaps my mother spoke it under her breath, but I cannot ask. My mind fills in blanks: Anna holds me on a South Dakota trailer porch. We eat strange food, laugh, and she sings in lengua española. I sleep amid singsong intonations. Anna, caregiver of my first years, was all that was good and right. I relish the time at a cheap, wood easel, cramping hands, making a stranger real. But in the basement of the Melvin’s, I would do anything to unknow what I saw: a kneeling child and a blue blanket—the stuff of nightmares that separated two sisters.


Ladybug

Gordon Harrison


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CIRQUE

FICTION S.W. Campbell

Simple Syrup Jolene wanted pisco sours. Eddie didn’t really care for pisco sours, he wasn’t a big fan of raw egg whites, but that wasn’t really pertinent to the situation. She had mentioned it casually, more of a statement than a request, taking a puff on her vape pen and blowing it out with a satisfied purr. Eddie had done his best to ignore her, sitting at the kitchen table, gluing together a model ’75 Trans-Am, snatching the occasional snort from the tube of modeling glue. “Did you hear me?” Eddie thought about another snort. It would be pleasant to do a little more floating, but no, that would just be trouble later. “Yeah, I hear you.” “Can you make me one?” “Can’t you do it yourself? I’m a little busy here.” “Eddie.” Two of Eddie’s fingers had dried glue on them. Eddie rubbed the unnatural surfaces together, relishing the strange sensation. A dry chitinous shell. The victim of a science experiment gone wrong. Once a normal everyday man, Green ladder now imbued with the powers of an insect. With great power comes great….. “Eddie.” Eddie got up and looked through the bottles on top of the fridge. Most were half full or less. Jolene was a woman who enjoyed a life full of variety. Eddie rarely touched the stuff, unless Jolene insisted. Too much down with too little up, but sometimes she insisted. Certain moods gave Jolene certain preferences. Not letting her drink alone sometimes had its benefits. Sometimes. The bottle of pisco was near the back. It had been awhile since she had wanted pisco sours. It had been a bit since Jolene had felt the need to float down the current of memory to her younger twenties, slutting her way across South America. Cavorting with a wild abandon.

Never envisioning her future a decade later, her bony ass firmly planted on the flowery couch that Eddie’s mother had given them. The couch Eddie had pretended was the batmobile when he was a child. Eddie’s mother had a nicer couch now. It was naugahyde. It in no way resembled the batmobile. “Eddie.” “We have the pisco.” “What about the rest?” Eddie looked in the cupboards and the fridge. Lemons, bitters, and eggs. The thought of the goopy texture of the raw egg white in his mouth made Eddie shudder a bit. Once Jolene got drinking pisco sours she’d start telling stories at an uncomfortable level of detail. The eggs in the cupboard made Eddie uneasy. Eggs belonged in the fridge. Jolene claimed that they didn’t keep eggs in the fridge in Europe. She’d shown him a couple of articles on her phone. Eddie didn’t give a damn. Eggs belonged in the fridge. “We have everything but the simple syrup.” “Do we have sugar?” Brenda Roper “Yeah.” “Then make some.” Eddie drummed his fingers on the kitchen counter. He looked back at the half done Trans-Am. Agent Kurt Wilder needed his car to be done. The agents of DREAD were closing in. He had to escape with the microfiche. It was his day off. Eddie had to go back to work at the Shell station the next day. Jolene had it off. She worked four tens at the tire center. It would be nice to get the Trans-Am done. “I don’t know how.” “You just heat sugar and water. How hard can it be?” “I don’t know.” “Fuck.” It used to be when Jolene got frustrated she


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 would at least curse under her breath. Those days were long gone. “If you don’t want to make any then go to the fucking store and buy some.” “It seems kind of a waste when it’s so easy to make.” “It’s like fucking two dollars Eddie.” Eddie looked at the Trans-Am model again. Agent Wilder would have to wait another day. Maybe he could evade for another twenty-four hours. Maybe not. It didn’t matter. The die was cast. Eddie looked down at his pants. They were faded, but didn’t have any holes. His t-shirt was also acceptable. A few stains here and there, but nothing too serious to worry about. He was just going to the store. He went into the living room and sat down on the couch to put on his shoes. Jolene was still sucking on her vape pen. The air smelled like watermelon Jolly Ranchers. The television was playing Into the Wild on Netflix. Agent Wilder felt betrayed. He thought he could trust her. “Do you need me to grab anything else?” “Grab a melon if they got any. A melon would be good for breakfast.” “What kind?” “I don’t know. Not a honeydew. I don’t like honeydews.” “Me neither.” Jolene gave Eddie a sideways glance, her lips on the vape pen’s tip with her cheeks sunk in. Eddie watched her, but felt like some kind of voyeur. There was a crack in the ceiling behind her. Cobwebs too. Pisco sours. She always told her stories about South America when she drank pisco sours. “What if I just got some wine instead?” “Eddie.” Her voice was like the snap of her fingers. Eddie rose on command and headed out the door into the bright sunshine of the balcony. Their apartment was on the second story. He should have brought sunglasses. He would look cooler in sunglasses. He wasn’t going back inside. Eddie let his eyes adjust and headed down the row of doors to the stairs at the corner of the building. The Dorsey boy was sitting on the top of the stairwell. Eddie wasn’t surprised given the noises coming from the corner apartment, the landlady's apartment. The boy was ten, playing Candy Crush on an iPad, the world muted by ear buds. When he saw Eddie he scooted over a bit to let him by. Eddie stopped on the landing and looked back. The Dorsey boy didn’t notice. He kept

129 his eyes screwed to the screen on his chunky lap. Eddie went down to the parking lot. It was warm out. Not uncomfortably hot, but definitely warm. Eddie thought about Jolene’s Taurus, but quickly let the idea go. She’d need the gas day after tomorrow. Eddie gave the car a last once over, waved at the two men smoking in the corner of the lot under a half dead elm, and started walking. The moment Agent Wilder’s foot landed on the cracked concrete of the sidewalk, he was forced to accept the fact that Prague wasn’t what it used to be. It looked nothing like Jolene’s photos. The ones she insisted on hanging in their room. Intermixed blocks of crumbling concrete and no sidewalk at all, just dirt and gravel. Faded paint and chain link fences. Graffiti. Old pop bottles, cigarette butts, and a pile of dog shit at the end of one block. Weeds desperately clinging to life in every single one of society’s chinks and seams. Yes, Prague had definitely seen better days, but then again, so had Agent Wilder. It didn’t matter. He was free now. Five years of captivity. Five years in the jungles of a country that had seemed exotic when he had first arrived. Five years of starvation and random beatings. It didn’t matter. He was free now. All he had to do was avoid the agents of DREAD for another twenty-four hours. One more day, then he could escape. It was all set up. It wouldn’t be long until he was finally home. He just needed that damn Trans-Am to be finished. A car came cruising down the street, an Audi, waxed and flashing in the sun. Eddie tensed. Were they watching him? Was this going to be it? He reached underneath his shirt to the waistband of his pants. Cool and casual, that was the way to be, don’t let them think you're reaching for your gun. The car moved past, the driver looking straight ahead, but a kid in the back staring at Eddie. It was him. The one they called Little Boy. One of the most dangerous assassins in the world. Little Boy’s hands were out of sight. Agent Wilder tightened his grip on his Beretta. Little Boy’s eyes narrowed. Eddie’s phone rang. He pulled the old flip phone out of his pocket. It was Jolene. “Eddie.” “Yeah.” “I want a cantaloupe.” “Okay.” “Hurry the fuck up.” “Okay.” The line went dead. Eddie put his phone back in his pocket. It wasn’t the code word he was expecting. Was the whole mission scrapped? Agent Wilder looked for the


130 Audi. It was gone. What if the damn corner store didn’t have any cantaloupe? What the hell was he supposed to do then? Eddie sure as hell didn’t want to walk clear to the WinCo. That was over a mile away. Would they even have simple syrup? For just being a corner store it had quite a variety of stuff. Eddie kicked a rock with his foot. The soccer ball went skittering out ahead. Eddie moved forward and kicked it again. Defenders moved to intercept. Eddie easily dodged around one and then another. The roar of the crowd rose to a fever pitch. Thousands of camera flashes filled the stadium. Eddie didn’t let it distract him. He moved forward with purpose. None of the defenders were fast enough. It was just him and the goalie. He juked I Am Climbing Beyond left, reared back, and kicked. The goalie dived to intercept. The rock went skittering into the street, well wide of the goal. A passing car honked its horn, the driver holding a middle finger into the air. So close, but yet so far. Eddie ignored the car and crossed the final street to the dilapidated windowless concrete box that was the corner store, the entrance a portal of glass and metal bars. A man stood near the door wearing a hoodie despite the heat. He was a nervous looking man. An open sore graced his left cheek. His eyes were furtive in their motions, a hunted animal trapped beneath layers of trembling flesh. Eddie gave the man a wide berth when he entered the store. The door gave off an electric ding when he opened it. It was larger than it looked outside, with mostly snacks and packaged goods, but a small selection of fruit on one side and an impressive collection of beer and wine. Behind the counter sat the proprietor, a skinny man of South Asian origin who eyed his customers with a combination of grace and suspicion which marked the gaze of those who worked long in his profession. He smiled when Eddie entered, because Eddie was known to not be a thief, and Eddie smiled back, though neither had any idea of the other’s name despite their association of many years. Eddie went back to the small fruit section and began his hunt. The queen needed the most choice and

CIRQUE freshest of melons, and he, her most loyal knight and retainer, must retrieve it for her. The pickings were slim, bruised apples and brown bananas, and for a moment Eddie feared that his quest would take him the distance to WinCo, but luck was with him. There, on the end, sat two sad looking cantaloupes. Eddie eyed them with the discerning air of a man who knew nothing of what made a good cantaloupe, and after a minute of hefting each individually, and giving both a light knock with his knuckles, selected the one that was the less ripe of the two. Breakfast taken care of, Eddie switched focus to the primary objective of his quest. Eddie followed his instinct and moved amongst the shelves to the small overpriced bags of flour and sugar, Jan Jung but the simple syrup wasn’t there. He wandered aimlessly a little more and then forced himself to accept his ignorance, going to the front to ask the proprietor for help. The little man smiled as he approached, so Eddie forced himself to smile once again. “Do you have simple syrup?” The man’s answer was melodious. “Simple what?” “Simple syrup.” “Isn’t that just sugar and water?” Eddie shifted the cantaloupe from one hand to the other. “Yep. Do you have any?” “Maybe with the mixers, over by the wine.” The owner pointed towards a far aisle. Eddie gestured at the counter with the cantaloupe. “Okay if I leave this here for a sec.” The proprietor shrugged. “Sure.” Eddie put the cantaloupe on the counter. The wine aisle was magnificent to behold. Rows of bottles, fluorescent light flashing through their red and white contents, flanked by boxes and the gallon jugs containing the lowest of the low. At the end of the aisle were the mixers. Margarita and daiquiri buckets, small bottles of bitters wrapped in paper, tomato juice for bloody marys, and rows of club soda and tonic water. Eddie leaned over to look along the bottom shelves. The door dinged as


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 somebody came in. Much to Eddie’s disappointment the store had simple syrup. A few dust covered bottles on the bottom shelf. Eddie brushed the dust off of one and with it in hand, straightened his back and looked around. The nervous looking man from outside was inside, fidgeting and examining the bags of jerky opposite the front counter. He looked up, and for a moment he and Eddie locked eyes. It was at that moment that Eddie knew what he was going to do. It was all one fluid motion, a beautiful symphony of movement that broke all expectations given by appearance. The man spun and pulled a handgun from the pocket of his hoodie. The proprietor fell back in shock, his eyes wide, his mouth open. The robber’s face was contorted by manic delight. “Give me the cash fucker!” Eddie dived down below the level of the shelves, the bottle of simple syrup dropping from his grasp. His heart was beating like mad. Out of sight, the proprietor was evidently too slow to follow commands. “I said give me the fucking cash man!” The sound of jittery hands fumbling with buttons, suddenly unsure of a task so often done on automatic. Eddie nervously rubbed together the hardened surface of the dried modeling glue on two of his fingers. With great power. No, it was crazy. The fingers were still stumbling on the cash register buttons in their blind panic. “Hurry up, I’m going to blast you fucker!” The proprietor was crying, his frightened voice forced through choked sobs. “Please. Please no. I’m trying. I’m trying.” “Hurry the fuck up!” The wine bottle came flying over the top of the aisles. It was one of the big cheap bottles. A gallon of glass and syrupy burgundy sailing across the expanse. The robber saw the glint in the corner of his eye, started to turn, and caught the bottle full in the face. Down went the robber. Down went the wine, shattering into a thousand shards and a quickly spreading red sea caught in the madness of a violent tempest. Eddie followed the bottle, a mad rush of screaming frustration. The robber was trying to rise, the gun still in his hand. Eddie’s foot slammed into his wrist. Bones crunched. The robber screamed. The gun fell to the floor. Eddie kicked the robber in the head. Once. Twice. The robber quit moving. Eddie leaned over, picked up the gun, and deposited it on the counter in front of the shocked proprietor. Eddie’s entire body was vibrating. He was nearly hyperventilating. The proprietor’s mouth moved a few times in silence before words came out.

131 “You’re a hero. You’re a fucking hero.” Eddie smiled at the man. One of the most genuine smiles he’d had in years. “Call the police.” The proprietor was still stammering. “Hero. Thank you. Thank you.” Eddie bent forward and patted the proprietor on the shoulder. “It’s okay. Call the police. I’m going to get out of here.” Eddie scooped up the cantaloupe and headed out the door. The proprietor, face beaming, watched him go. Eddie paused for a second outside, letting his eyes adjust to the bright sunshine, and then he started back the way he came. The sunshine felt good on his skin. A bird flitted from electric pole to electric pole, staying just ahead of him, pausing only here and there to let loose with a few snags of song. The men weren’t smoking under the tree anymore when Eddie got back to the apartment complex, but the Dorsey boy was still sitting on the step playing Candy Crush with his chubby fingers. The raucous sounds were still emanating from the landlady's apartment. Eddie pushed his way past the boy and slammed on the corner apartment’s door with the flat of his hand. “Quit kicking your damn kid out on the step you slut!” The noises inside stopped. The Dorsey boy stood up, he looked at Eddie, confused and shocked. Eddie gave the boy a nod and headed down the balcony, whistling as he went. Eddie opened the door to the apartment he shared with Jolene. She was still sitting on the couch, puffing on her vape pen. Her eyes fell on the cantaloupe in his hand. “You forgot the fucking simple syrup, didn’t you?” Eddie turned around without saying a word. He walked back out onto the balcony and closed the door behind him. Jolene’s muffled voice was calling his name. He retreated back the way he came. The animalistic noises were coming from the corner apartment again. The Dorsey boy was back sitting on the top of the steps. Eddie breathed in and let out a sigh. He tapped the boy lightly with his foot. “You shouldn’t have to deal with this shit. Do you want to get a pop or something?” The boy pulled out one of his ear buds and looked at the man towering above him. “What?”


132 “I said do you want to get a pop or something? You know, so you don’t have to sit out here.” The boy’s eyes narrowed. “What are you, some kind of a chimo? Fuck off.” Eddie took another breath and let it out again. The Dorsey boy was staring at him with hostility. Eddie pushed past the kid and went back down the stairs. He stopped in the middle of the parking lot, alone but for the cantaloupe still in his hand. A police car glided slowly past down the street. It was getting hot out. Things were heating up. Agent Wilder ran towards the abyss as fast as his legs could carry him. With all his strength he threw the bomb in his hand out into the emptiness. It hung in the air, the timer rapidly approaching zero. The throw had been just in the nick of time. The bomb splattered itself

CIRQUE across the asphalt of the street.

Kerry Dean Feldman

Rules of Thumb Among the Amazons For instance, the common-law doctrine had been modified to allow the husband 'the right to whip his wife, provided that he used a switch no bigger than his thumb'— a rule of thumb, so to speak. —Del Martin, report on domestic violence in the U.S., 1976

I watched them while I waited for my hotdog. They raised their diplomas to San Francisco Bay, beyond Coit Tower, closed their eyes. They chanted like nuns, in unison, Ommmmmmmmmmmm mani padme huuummmmmm. They looked at each other, held hands, screamed to the gates of The City below: FUUUUCKKK YOUUUUU! Joy. Three women who, prior to mid-life, completed bachelor’s degrees in art, something I did but less appreciatively five years earlier. I completed my degree because you go to college at my age, graduate, but theirs was an adventure, a choice later in life. They’d scaled Everest, looped together, by the bonds of time and being women. Wind from the bay billowed their dresses, Amazons ready to fly on any future's wind. This, a new truth in their lives, was about—them. Another graduate, a younger woman, ran up, Smoked Alaska I Tami Phelps draped in a paper dress on which we scribbled our names and satirized art. She flung her arms around the three older women. A jazz band entertained us in the corner of the openair square, Sonny Sharrock’s restrained guitar frenzy, seizing rainbows. I watched the women dance, laugh, unwind. I knew the blonde woman, Jenny, from my art criticism class. She waved to me; come join them. I never met the other two because I was shy around attractive women but also because of their age. Somewhere in their mid-thirties. I was twenty-seven, never fit in well with anyone who knew themselves well. A script took shape in my mind, watching them, during their final year. A film for my graduate thesis, about how truth evolves. Three women, thirty-something in age, enter art school as undergraduates. My story—how completing the degree brought truth into their lives that had eluded them before. How? I would figure that out in Professor Jenkins’ film thesis class in fall. The Prick—Jenkins. One of the three friends, Kaerin, was married and sometimes brought her young son to class or met her husband at the water fountain after class. Her husband wore sports jackets with leather patches at the elbow, ill at ease with the inchoateness of the Art Institute. Kaerin was a rare student at the Institute: a happily married woman. Most of us


133

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 worked out the angst of our young lives, real or imagined, through art. Rape, incest, parental abuse, hooked on heroin—The City wasn’t all grassy parks and bridges and a place where you left your heart after a sweet summer love swoon. The woman that intrigued me most, though, was the auburn-haired woman, Eve. She seemed an older Carol Alt, but weary around her eyes. She never spent time with anyone other than her two girlfriends. Her quietness suggested fragility, a trait I also had but which limited me. In her, the trait offered a guiding light, allowed her deeply, fearlessly, into darker regions within herself. There, in those dark regions, our instructors proclaimed, we should look for our inspiration. Where art lived. I saw it in her oil canvases—primordial blacks and reds colliding, sparks, the ache paint brings when you drip that fucking art-truth shit on… Scuse, me. I got carried away. That’s what I wished I could do in film. Rashōmon, baby. Kurosawa. But I noticed a change in Eve during her final semester, as if she’d overcome whatever emotional burden brought her to art.

Closeup of woman—her mind is elsewhere. I went to the men's room, combed my hair, gave myself a talking-to, went back more internally distanced, mature. "Arthur’s coming off a love affair," Jenny kidded Eve across the table. "Be gentle." The laughter which followed, once everyone checked to see I enjoyed the comment, felt good. Their laughter put my two months of confusion into perspective. Eve looked at me, did not join in the laughter, put her hand on my knee, out of sight of others. Silently consoled me. The look, her touch, her unspoken concern— what was it? I felt overwhelmed with the desire to have her know me. I sensed no need in her to challenge me to a male-female duel, or an endless negotiation about what we might not mean to each other. I summoned my courage before midnight, asked if she'd like to go with me to a bar where there was live music, a blues band. She kindly refused, explained she would meet someone later. Her refusal, so delicately delivered—I felt only slightly embarrassed. The someone she met—my film instructor. They excused themselves. I wandered alone back to my flat.

I responded to Jenny's urgent waving, joined the circle of Amazons, dancing. * Later, the graduated, almost-graduated, and a few instructors, went to Henry Hawaii's for the rest of the afternoon and into the night. "A rule of thumb," Eve told me over her third margarita, “was the width of a stick a husband could use to discipline his wife, noted in early U.S. southern courts. Only as thick as your thumb, Arthur. Beyond that, illegal wife-beating. Thoughtful, weren't they?" Eve smoked a cigarette, comfortably engaged in a mild form of, it seemed to me, flirting with and lecturing a younger man, obviously enchanted by her. I pictured myself in a film. Evolving truth. Long shot—young man of average looks, cleanshaven, which is unusual for the times, sits at a table beside an attractive older woman. Closeangle—camera waist-high near him. He moves, puts his elbows on his knees, gazes hound-like at the woman. She wants him, too, he can tell.

Winter Ferry to Friday Harbor

Zsanan Narrin


134 I never liked Professor Jenkins, the ponytail, Lacoste cardigans or sweater draped around his neck. I refused to accept him as my guru. Without my bow at his shrine, he had little interest in my filmic work. The delight Eve evidenced in his presence, her renewed confidence in living, explained the change that came over her the past semester. Why had I not seen them together before? When I woke the next morning, Eve’s presence camped at the edge of my mind. Was the Samurai’s Wife innocent? Seduced against her will, or was she willing? A week later Jenny phoned, frantic. "It's Eve. She's here and needs to talk. Kaerin's on duty at the hospital and I’ve got to run to the airport to pick up friends. Can you come over? Right-fucking-away, Arthur!" Two buses later, I was at Jenny’s apartment in the Castro District. Jenny met me on her way out. "It's Jenkins. He got engaged and never told Eve. She feels like an idiot, is hurt. Let her talk. See you all soon as I can. Don't let her leave alone. There's wine and cheese in the fridge. Thanks, Arthur." Eve sat on the sofa, legs curled beneath her. She'd been crying but smiled when she saw me. Soon she cried again. I sat on the sofa, held her while she buried her face in the curve of my neck, calmed herself. “Sorry,” Eve said. She got composed, touched her hair, poured us glasses of wine. She suggested we talk in the back yard where the morning fog might bathe her mood. The grove behind Jenny’s place offered peace. * “I don’t care if he asked her to marry him, Arthur. I wasn’t in love. But we’d been close, I thought, open and honest and vulnerable to each other. That’s all I wanted, to share the experience with him. No reason to hide his engagement from me. He probably asked her before our last time together and what hurts was that was the best time with him. I wanted to remember that time and now he’s made it meaningless. I knew he always wrote her, that she’d return someday, they might get married. I would have been glad for him. What fried me is they teach us to be open, to be vulnerable in our art, then he plays games with me. My husband was like that.” I didn’t know Eve had been married. That explained her frayed look when I first saw her in art classes.

CIRQUE “How’d you learn about his proposal?” “A friend. A woman who didn’t know we were seeing each other. Hardly anyone knew about us.” I held Eve’s hand. “I never dated here, Arthur. Two years without a date after my marriage ended. Just bar-hopping with a gang, or a casual lunch. I came here from a Seattle psycho ward—and months at home. I took pills after my divorce. I was careful here, getting my bearings. Jenkins seemed different. I trusted him. I want to call him now, tell him, I forgive you. I never wanted to be naive at thirty-five.” “I think Jenkins is in love with his image, Eve. He tries to be open but he’s a technician. He knows what should happen in a film, how to reach an audience, but he can’t do it himself. That’s why he teaches instead of making films. Maybe remember the good times with him as all he was capable of?” “I’m scared, Arthur,” she said. “I’m starting to hate myself again. Walk me home, please? Jenny will need her place.” Eve and I walked through the Castro District, bought fresh fruit. I bought her a rose from a street vendor. “Thanks. Why didn’t Jenny introduce you before?” “I’m shy.” She studied me. “Shy is not a disease, Arthur.” * Her apartment looked like my flat—a collage of art supplies, books, posters, dirty clothes and dirty dishes. Eve seemed more herself when she stuck bagels in the oven, cut up an apple, played the role of nurturer to a young man. I watched her, the amazing alternation a smile brought to her face, aligning muscles in a way that made her eyes larger, lips softer, more prominent. Some people look like wilted lettuce when they smile. But without a smile, Eve's face was a cardboard mask, flat, scarcely three-dimensional. "Annie left me because I was sexually inadequate,” I told Eve. Pow, there it was. My truth. Laid out like I couldn’t ever admit to myself. “Let me be specific, Eve. This embarrassed me so much that when she left, I asked her not to tell her friends.” “About what?” Eve said. “I could not perform the Gentleman's Courtesy for her." I gave her knowledge of my own failure with


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 someone I cared for. I had endless insecurities but found them defanged around Eve. Why Jenkins couldn’t be open with Eve was his problem, not hers. "The Gentleman's Courtesy? What is that? A twenty-something rite of passage?" I became bolder. "Pleasuring her with that which allows me to be loquacious and pronounce the letter, L. Okay?" "Oh. That. None of my business. Seems ridiculous, though. Sex evolves between people. There shouldn't be little rules." "No little rules of thumb?" "Ah, yes. A good way to look at it. You in love with her?" "Sort of, I think. I don't know." * A week later, Kaerin's marriage became rocky, a week Eve learned to put Jenkins out of her mind and I felt whole again. Jenny and Eve knew of Kaerin's relationship with a student the past year but assumed it would quietly end when she received her degree and Kaerin moved on. But when Kaerin received her degree, she became unresponsive to her husband. That confused him because he thought she would be grateful for allowing her to go back to school. Kaerin told her husband about her romantic relationship, which at first her husband seemed to accept since he had a relationship also when her interests turned more to her art than to him. Her husband wanted to know more about his adversary. Kaerin told him her lover and friend was a black man. Her husband dissolved under the weight of the man's imagined prowess. He went nuts. Her husband seemed a confident sort of guy to me. A history professor at a local college. One night he slashed Kaerin’s paintings in their garage, work to be part of her exhibition. "Those aren't just paintings, they're me," she told him, in tears. "If you beat me, maybe I'd forgive you, but those are my soul you destroyed." She moved into Jenny's apartment with her young son, Ricky. Jenny asked if I could take them for a while at my flat because I had a spare bedroom. Suddenly I had a woman and a child in my life, and a crazy husband who suspected me of being her new lover. Her son acted out his confusion by becoming ill, throwing up throughout the night, lying on a couch

135 in front of the TV during the day. Kaerin continued her shifts as a nurse to support them through the mess and I became Ricky’s babysitter. Jenny and Eve helped me as much as they could. We five became a commune. Weekends we would picnic and sun at North Beach, take in the zoo, show Ricky the planetarium and pigeons at Union Square. Get a babysitter for Ricky on Saturday nights to allow us an evening out for a play or dinner. Kaerin's husband began what seemed would become a long custody battle, but our companionship eased her depression and guilt. One afternoon, after Ricky's father took him to a movie, neither of them returned. The following evening, Kaerin phoned the police. On the fourth day without her son, detectives came to my flat. "You were sleeping with this other guy for how long?" a detective asked Kaerin. Kaerin had been crying for days, the question broke her spirits. I asked the detectives to come back later. "Sorry, lady," the detective told her when he left. "If we’re after a kidnapping-father, we have to know what it's about. To know his anger, how far he might take this. Understand? It's his kid, too, you know. Maybe you should have thought about..." I told him to get the hell out. "They'll find him, Kaerin," Eve told her. "You don't have to put up with that attitude by the police." "He fought me every step of the way on my art degree,” Kaerin said. “The house was a mess, meals never on time, not enough money for canvases and on and on. I needed an identity of my own is all, I told him. He couldn't see why. I wish to God I'd never needed one." "Of course, you needed your identity. Don't feel guilty about that, ever," Jenny told her. "I feel so dirty," Kaerin said through the tears, hair unwashed, face showing terror. "Malcolm's afraid to see me now, afraid he'll make things worse. He became the support I needed, a friend. That whole year we were only with each other a few times. We controlled how we felt for each other. I knew I was changing, experimenting, opening-up, but I wanted my husband to grow with me. He wouldn't or couldn't and I needed intimacy and trust and, Christ! I needed someone to believe in me. In me as me, not wife, mommy." "These things happen," Eve said. "What evolved in you must have seemed an overnight flip to your husband. Men don't see why they're not enough. Why a


136 woman wants her identity, outside of wife and mother. They haven't been prepared." "I tried to tell him,” Kaerin said. “It made less and less sense to him. I gave up trying to explain. Maybe I stopped respecting him, is that what happened? I loved him but couldn't respect him? Malcolm never pushed anything between us beyond a friendship, that part of it was me. I needed him, wanted him, wanted to feel SOMETHING. He had his battles to fight, too, and I tore up his image of himself as a black-power rebel. He feared wanting to make love with me made him a cliché, desiring my white skin. Finally, he saw me as a woman and skincolor made no difference." She was working it out in her mind in our presence. When I watched them chant their mantra at the graduation, part of my envy had been for their camaraderie as they reigned over the city. I thought they had some sort of mystical women openness. But their deepest self-judgments had not been shared, or, perhaps, their evaluations of each other’s decisions. Perhaps their friendship would have collapsed if any judgment had been rendered, and without it each woman could not, alone, take on the world and its expectations of women. My Rashōmon film about them dissolved. I’d never understand such complexity. My film was now about me. * My ex-girlfriend, Annie, looked surprised to find three attractive women in my apartment. I was surprised to find Annie at my door. "Hadn't heard from you. I missed you,” she said. “Who are these people?" "Friends. I'll explain later," I said. "Just wanted to talk, have lunch. Are you living with one of them?" "No. I'll explain. Sure, lunch is fine. I'll introduce you and we can leave. My place is more theirs than mine now anyway." Eve gave me a supportive look when Annie and I left, a supportive but cautionary Amazon look. I smiled, gave Eve a thumbs-up exit. That night we ended up at Annie's for dinner. Fettucini with Alfredo sauce. The extent, I knew, of Annie’s culinary expertise, and I appreciated her willingness to cook for us. Annie lived on frozen dinners, creamed cheese, raisin bagels and apple juice. After dinner, she suggested we make love.

CIRQUE I put intimacy with Annie as far from my mind as I could for two months. Without much ado, we went to bed. And there it was—the mystery. Annie hot and moaning, the fettucine working in me. Her legs wide, she lifted her bounty for my errant tongue. I performed the Gentleman’s Courtesy for her very well, best I could tell from the unusual sounds she made. Almost a song. Which led to questioning, much later, as to the source of my newly discovered lack of inhibition. “Just discussing it with that woman, Eve, dissolved your problem?” "When I tried it before on you, Annie, I saw a baby's head ready to emerge. That vision has vanished." "You didn't practice with Eve?" There seemed a taste of jealousy in her words. A sweet taste, to me. "Does it matter?" "I’d just like to know, for Christ's sake. I mean, a miracle, like water-walking. Awesome, Arthur." "I told you. We just talked." "I can't believe it. You acquired consummate skill. That takes practice." "I'm not a machine. Don't wreck it for me, okay, Annie?" I sensed, as I took the bus home, that my caring for Annie sloughed from me sometime during my excellent performance and riding that bus, me alone on the planet with my evolving truth, except for my commune. Amazons or Sirens? At home, I found Kaerin asleep on the couch, Eve finishing a week's dishes, waiting up should I return that night. "You okay?" Eve said, her hair rolled in a bun, frayed strands backlit by the bare bulb above the sink, her jeans stained with soap and pizza below an Institute sweatshirt. "Yes. No. I don't know. Is Kaerin alright?" "She’s fine. Police called. They found her son and husband at her husband's sister's home." "Ricky?" "Doesn't seem to know anything weird happened. Just an outing with his father. Kaerin will have Ricky back tomorrow.” "Good. I'll walk you home," I said. "I can take a cab, Arthur. You need space now, I think. You look wiped." "I want to walk you home," I said. “It’s late. The dark time when crazies roam.”


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 "Okay, thanks. But it's a long hike," Eve said. “And if we’re attacked, Arthur, let me handle it.” At Eve’s apartment I cried, quietly. I don't know why. She didn't ask for a reason, made us tea, put on music, Shaka Khan singing one of my favorites, “Ain’t Nobody.” …I want this night to last forever… Eve stands above me, arms folded across her chest, her hip juts to the side as the other takes her weight. Amazon woman. She takes my cup, places the cup on the coffee table, guides me to my feet. We hold each other, dance slowly, our cheeks gently touching. "I'm going to Chicago for graduate school," Eve said, "although I'll have to stay here till January because I missed their fall deadline. They liked my work. They really liked my work, Arthur. I heard from the department chair today. I'll have a full scholarship." "I'm happy for you. May I visit you? Chicago?" "I haven't left, yet. We can be with each other, all you want. Beginning tonight." We undressed, held each other in her bed. Her lips softer, warmer, more informative, than any woman’s I ever tasted. When I performed the Gentleman’s Courtesy on Eve, I felt like Adam must have felt, in the Garden, but so perfect I would never know a Garden like that again. Eve moved down, said, “Arthur, I want you to know a woman’s welcome. Lay back. There’s nothing, now, for you to do. I will take you to that place on my canvas where black and red collide. Never been there myself, yet.” “What?” “I said not yet, Arthur.” * I never made my Rashōmon film. Switched schools. I got to know the winds that blow off Lake Michigan and how much I needed to grow the fuck up. * Eve told me, later, “Her name is Chaka Khan, Arthur.”

Ryan Hickel

Hunza: A Novella Chapter One The bus, in my memory, is an American school bus. And the reason I question the accuracy of that recollection is because I’m in Pakistan, and buses in Pakistan look almost nothing like buses anywhere else in the world. If the Indian bus is its closest cousin, the American school bus stands as its most distant proto-ancestor. Every PakBus is different, and yet all are identifiably a PakBus at a single glance. A PakBus is a bus: long and fourwheeled, with rows of seats inside, separated by a single aisle. But that is where the similarities end. The exterior of a PakBus is a riot of coloring, usually ensorcelled by the flowing Arabesque script of Urdu and often capped off with a choice phrase or three in English; usually something short and declaratory on the front and back like: “Honk!” or “Blow Horn!” or maybe something hopeful like “Allah Protects” or more philosophically fatalistic like “Inshallah” (God Willing). There may be Crayola-color landscapes depicted on the flanks: white-topped, seagreen mountains and cerulean, rushing rivers. There may be famous Pakistani buildings: the Red Fort in Lahore or some modern and gargantuan Islamabad mosque. Depictions of people are usually absent; however, I do remember seeing a portrait of Rambo on one rear door. Such tangible representations are not what predominate though, indeed distinguishable subjects are often wholly absent. Most of the designs of a PakBus are not separable from each other. There is just too much going on; it all congeals together into a confectionary mass: tassels of colored rope swing from the roof rack below sconces of artificial, merlot-colored roses standing sentinel above evergreen leaves; cascades of beadwork fringe the wheel wells and bumpers, swaying inches above the road like the brushes of a festive, lilliputian car-wash; gleaming mosaics of multi-hued glasswork tile the hood while wreaths of gold necklace the grill. Inside, frilly draperies and more manufactured flowers billow: bursts of multibulbed rhododendron explode in the aisles like gravitational gatherings of lavender super-novas. And always, always, a curtain of shimmering compact discs hangs above the driver, dancing and flashing half-chrome, half-color as the driver shifts and steers. Traditional music, or just as often, recorded religious harangues blast


138 from the speakers. Every PakBus is half-bejeweled Gypsy Bride, half modern machine, garishly trundling along, belching black smoke all the while. Perhaps though, my memory is basically correct and fittingly so, because right now I’m on a bus out of traditional Pakistan, which means the province of Punjab. All that is fading behind us now. We are about 6 hours into a 24-hour bus ride to the Northern Areas, to the valley of Hunza and the surrounding Karakorum and Himalayan mountains. We are on the Karakorum highway, we three. Jack is my best friend from college, travelling companion and general all-around adventurer. Jack is marked by his shortness, his quiet determination and his potent smartassery. Patrick is Jack’s friend from their high school years in Oregon. He is marked mostly by his traditional good looks, his casual American West Coast-ness and his growing unhappiness to be in Pakistan. Jack informed me that Patrick was joining us in the latter stages of trip planning, right before we applied for our Pakistani visas. Jack mailed both of their passports to me and I sent all three onto the Pakistani embassy in San Francisco. Our passports arrived just a couple of weeks before we left, complete with new visas inside that proclaimed the right to enter The Islamic Republic of Pakistan as tourists for a total of 90 days, allowing multiple entries if needed. This was as we applied for, though on each visa was scribbled a mysterious official caveat that we could only stay in Pakistan for up to 30 days at a time. There is no rhyme or reason to be gleaned from this; such are the inscrutable and un-appealable whims of the visa officer. Our passports also boast freshly printed Indian tourist visas, obtained in Islamabad. Carsick, Patrick’s head rolls back and forth on his shoulders, while the tiny window, stuck halfway down, allows only a meager wind to blow in, mostly missing him. I don’t understand car sickness, but I have been various degrees of sick for weeks of traveling now, so it’s hard

CIRQUE for me to sympathize with a malady that seems mostly psychological. Jack and Patrick fill the expanse of their two-seat row; I flaunted a complete row to myself for a hot minute when my neighbor disembarked at his village stop. But that was shortly after we picked up an entire platoon of Pakistani-Army-Officers-in-Training in Abbottabad. That’s when I became popular. Hello sir! I am Ali! Ali jumps into the seat next to me. It was Hassan before him. Hassan was my first visitor and had informed me that all the student-soldiers on the bus attended the Pakistan Military Academy in Abbotabad, but were all from the Gilgit area, just a few hours south of Hunza, and were now heading home for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha: the Festival of the Sacrifice. This holiday commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, before God stopped Abraham and said, “Hold up Makenna Haeder there buddy, only joking, I just wanted to see if you would really do it for me. And ya didn’t disappoint.” Hassan had been some sort of infantry officer: bigger than Ali, 23 and with a respectable moustache. Ali has no moustache. He looks young and small, but athletic. I exchange greetings and ask his age and his expertise. I am 20 years old. I am training to be a commando. Twenty seems young to almost be a commando; I’m 24 and don’t think I’ll ever be old enough. Firing the bazooka is my favorite thing. No one can stop you with a bazooka. Not even in a tank. Of course, there is so much more to learn to become a member of the Special Forces. He has the electric assurance and unblinking stare of the very young when talking about something they love. He has a question for me now. Have you ever fired a bazooka? I’ve never been in the U.S. Military. It was neither an obligation nor a desire. I ask him later if he ever wants to visit Alaska. He tells me only if he is dragged, drugged or bribed. You have many glaciers in Alaska?


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Yes. Very many glaciers. You have heard of the Siachen glacier here in Pakistan? Yes, I have. There is fighting on it between Pakistan and India, I think? Not much fighting now. The Indians control the whole glacier and the high ridge above it. Even though all the old maps show it as part of Pakistan. Even your U.S. Army maps show it as part of Pakistan. But Indians are thieves and thieves have no honor. Even U.S. military maps show it as part of Pakistan? Yes, of course. Everyone knows this. I don’t know about any of this. The only thing I really know about the Siachen glacier is that far more soldiers on both sides have been harmed and killed by frostbite, crevasses and altitude than by enemy fire. Even war can only burn slowly and fitfully when it’s fought on a 20,000-foot tongue of ice. So, I ask him: It seems like a very hard place for any side to totally control because of the harsh environment? There is a lot of suffering because of the cold and elevation there, right? Yes, nature is very cold there. And it is so high. So, there is suffering….but there is glory too. We once held the high passes and we will take them again. I’m sure it’s possible. But, do you think that the Siachen glacier could one day become a neutral ground between Pakistan and India? Would it be good to maybe have the whole glacier be the border? No one can really live up there anyway, right? Ali looks at me like a student who has failed to

White Lights

139 grasp a simple lesson. His words now grind out with a new frustration. We are living up there. Legally. So are the Indians. Illegally. For many years now. So, you must see that when a man moves into another man’s house that does not make it his. The Indian Army is a thief and trespasser. One day we will show him the door, I think is the English expression? Inshallah. I’m about to ask a question about the other war in Kargil when one of the other officer-cadets calls out from the back. Ali turns in his seat and rejoinders and the crowd erupts into the mysterious, unknowable laughter of a foreign joke. Ali’s face had grown increasingly grim during our conversation, but now it splits like lake ice into a fluid and wry grin. He turns his head back to me. They said to be careful with what I said. They joke that you might be CIA. And I told them not to worry, that I was ISI and know every CIA agent in Pakistan personally. I laugh, slightly more uncomfortably now. Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is Pakistan’s intelligence agency. It’s the rough equivalent to the CIA and FBI, but all wrapped up in one agency. Before I can think of a response, Ali quickly ends our conversation. While watching Ali’s return, looking back, I catch the eye of another officer. He quickly gets up and fills the seat Ali has abandoned. This, it turns out, is Hussein. Not to be confused with Hassan. Hussein also has a moustache though, but a pencil thin one. He is tall too, but not as bulky as Hassan. He has a scholarly look about him. It turns out he is training to be an intelligence officer. Really, so you are going to be part of the actual ISI? Hussein offers a tiny smile and politely crosses his arms. Maybe, maybe not. I can’t really talk about it. But…I can talk about anything else. He settles back into his seat. For instance, did you know that Abbottabad was established and named after a British officer? Major James Abbot. He settled there on East Indian Company business, before the start of the British Raj. They say he loved the beauty of the area and was heartbroken Jack Broom to leave. All invaders leave eventually though,


140 even the strongest. What do you think of General Musharraf? I guess I only know what I’ve read, which isn’t much. What do you think of him? He has brought stability back to our country. It is fortunate that he has taken charge. Well, stability is an important thing. Yes, but perhaps you think that freedom is more important? Smiling eyes accompany his abrupt, yet perceptive question. Well, possibly. Sometimes it is. You know, an American once said that those who sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither. His smile now spreads to the rest of his face. Actually, what your Benjamin Franklin said was that those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little, temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Wow, you know your American founding fathers. Yes, and perhaps a little better than you, I think. His face reddens slightly now, perhaps embarrassed at the escape of his sharp appraisal of my ignorance, though he continues on. But the key word here is temporary. We are not talking about gaining a little temporary safety; we are talking about saving our country. I take a second to recover from his verbal ambush and then respond: Ok. But maybe the bigger key word is essential. As in essential liberty. Hussein holds up his hands. If a man is afraid to walk down the street but is still free to speak his mind or vote for a corrupt scoundrel, how much essential liberty does he really have? I can find no response to that, but he relents. But enough of politics! All of our chit-chat is keeping your gaze away from our beautiful countryside. We will continue our conversation later. Many years later, I would again hear the name of Abbottabad. It was where Osama bin Laden had been found, living in seclusion with his family, squirreled away in a large, specially constructed house, just down the street from the headquarters of the Pakistan Military Academy. And where he was assassinated by U.S. Special Forces in a nighttime, helicopter-borne raid. Later, information would arise that members of the ISI had been sheltering him, allegedly with General Musharraf’s blessing.

CIRQUE *

*

* * * * * * * Two weeks ago Jack, Patrick and I arrived in country. Two weeks since we flew into Karachi from Istanbul, then a train ride to Lahore and a bus ride to Islamabad, where we began the process of obtaining Indian visas for our eventual onward travel. Negotiating the famously labyrinthine Indian bureaucracy proved to be further slowed when trying to do so in the country of their traditional enemy. We surrendered our passports to a beefy and mustachioed Sikh consular officer who openly disparaged our choice of securing Indian visas in Pakistan of all places, and informed us that it would take at least a week and probably more before the desired visas could be pressed into our passports. After a day of watching beetles and ants crawl up the walls of our grotty hotel room, we decided that it would be much better for us to wait out the Processes-of-Bureaucracy in the mountains. The nearest accessible range to Islamabad was the Hindu Kush to the northwest, near the Afghan border. There, in a bucolic village guesthouse, surrounded by the conifer-covered hills of the Swat valley, I thumbed through a copy of Times Asia and read an article about a Saudi mujahid, a holy warrior, named Osama bin Laden. Apparently, he was now currently based with his band of badmash, called Al Qaeda, just on the other side of the Afghan border; a welcome guest of the current Taliban government. I had vaguely heard about this bin Laden guy and tribe of cave-dwelling culprits before; they were the terrorists who were supposed to have been behind some U.S. embassy bombings in Africa. In payment for that, President Clinton had shot some Tomahawk cruise missiles at Al Qaeda’s training camps in Afghanistan. These missiles had been impossibly fired from U.S. Navy vessels floating somewhere on the Arabian Sea, which is approximately a million miles away from northeastern Afghanistan. When the missiles struck their targets though, hardly anybody was home. Al Qaeda seems to have been warned about the coming strikes and although it wasn’t stated openly at the time, years later it seemed probable, even likely, that elements within ISI had sounded the alarm. Reading on, I was surprised to find out that bin Laden had begun his fighting career against the Russians during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, with the aid of CIA-supplied weapons. The article finished with the supposition that the U.S.S. Cole, which had been bombed


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 in a Yemen harbor only a few months ago, was probably bin Laden continuing his old, bloody work against his one-time sponsor, now new enemy. *

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Hussein has long since returned to his seat. Which is good because I wanted to punch him in his pedantic mouth after his verbal rebuke. I’m sure he’s right though. Right and annoying. I stare out the window. Miles of achromatic mountains and the river-chasing-road. The river below is the Indus, has been the Indus for miles and miles, will continue to be the Indus until its place of birth high on the Tibetan plateau. This river has been famed in the West since before the time of Alexander, who crossed it along his march of victory through the Hindu Kush. When he came to an eastern tributary of the river known then as the Hydaspes and today the Jhellum, the summer monsoon had arrived and the river was swelling in flood. Moreover, the Hindu King, Porus, was waiting for Alexander and his Macedonian/Persian army and their Indian allies on the far side. Waiting with his army and 200 fighting war elephants. Taking advantage of the cover of a thunderstorm and splitting his forces, Alexander managed to cross the Hydaspes, yet barely beat Porus’ army on the other side. Ironically, this hard-won victory left his exhausted, interminably-marched army with a sense of defeat. Soon after, Alexander’s generals would balk before reaching India proper with its reports of eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and a Tolkienesque six thousand fighting elephants. Alexander would eventually acquiesce to his generals’ demands after days of sulking in his tent; he had no other choice. Although he had come to adorn himself with the trappings of an Asiatic despot during his wars of aggression, many of the Macedonian and Greek officers who served under him came from proto-democratic traditions and in the end, thought and acted for themselves. The expansion of Alexander’s bloody conquests reached their zenith here in the Indus watershed and it was his own men who finally stopped him. It would be more than thirteen centuries later before another foreign invader, an Afghani Muslim Sultan named Mahmud of Ghazni, would raid further into India. No Alexandria would be built by the Ganges. The last was built here in what is now Pakistan, downstream, far to the south. * * * * * * * * * *

The road continues to narrow while the sun sets early, hemmed in by the clustering mountains. Soon there is only the darkness and the lurching of the winding road and the rhythmic press of the window’s edge on my left shoulder. Hours pass. Suddenly the bus straightens and slows as we enter a village. I look out the window and see buildings and the now familiar faded blue background and bilingual white lettering of Pakistani signage:

Larry Slonaker

No More, Ever I have carried a heavy load on my back ever since I was a boy. I learned then that we were but few, while the white men were many, and that we could not hold our own with them. We were like deer. They were like grizzly bears. —Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, speech at Lincoln Hall in Washington, D.C. (1879) Harold and Joe pulled into the parking lot at the battlefield just before 9:30 in a GMC pickup whose various sections—hood, driver’s side door, roof—were painted in shades of black and primer gray. Except for the tailgate, which was yellow. A gun rack was visible in the back window. Ours were the only two vehicles in the lot, but Harold pulled up and lurched to a halt just about 18 inches away from us, pointed in the opposite direction. As he squeezed out, he kept one hand mashed down on his hat while the wind grasped at it. He grinned as I brought my window down. “Mornin,’ Mr. Ross!” he said. “Kinda breezy today!” He had to raise his voice; the wind seemed to swat the words away from his mouth. “It’s just ‘Ross,’ ” I said. “Eh?” “Never mind. Where are your horses?”


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He shook his head. “Turns out Nelson has his herd out movin’ cows this weekend. Now why the heck would he be doin’ that this time of year?” “That would be hard for me to say. What about the cast? When are they coming?” Harold switched hands on his hat. It was a blue flat-brimmed hat, with a yellow crossed-swords insignia at the front. The rest of his ensemble was also blue: denim jacket, denim pants. “What, now?” “Where is the reenactment cast? The cavalry? The Indians?” “Oh.” He gave a dismissive wave of his free hand. “They couldn’t come, neither. We really don’t need ‘em. Joe there’ll give the speech, and I’m the general.” He bent slightly to peer inside the cab. “Miss Thao said she was just interested in the surrender, anyhow, for her news story. Right?” Harold’s cheeks were growing redder by the second. “And Dane can get his pictures.” “Seriously?” Thao said. “You’re going to reenact the entire Battle of the Bear Paw with just you and Joe? On foot?” “Yeah, but Joe’s gonna do the speech. He practiced almost all night. He’s still practicin’ now.” Harold pointed at the GMC, and we obligingly looked

Cherry on Top

Sarmonica Jones

that way. Joe was facing downward. He wore a broad red headband, which contrasted starkly with his black hair. His lips were moving. “We can do it right here,” Harold added. “Makes it more authentic, anyhow. You all were right. Makes no sense to do it somewhere else.” “Fine. Shall we get going?” “You bet! Let’s get the show on the road!” He scanned the area. “Good thing nobody else is here. We can do it right over by the rock.” He pointed to a large stone at the end of the parking lot. “Same exact spot as where it really happened. You folks gather up over there. Joe and me’ll get ready.” He pulled the cap down almost to his eyebrows, hopped to Joe’s side of the pickup and tapped on the window. “This is going to be even worse than I thought it,” Duane said. “I wouldn’t give them any forty dollars.” “What can you do?” Thao said. “Nelson is moving the cows.” We got out of the cab and into the wind. Thao was blown a half-step sideways. She put her head down. “My…god!” “We’ll be right over!” Harold called out. He tapped again at the window. We pulled up our jackets tightly and walked the 20 yards to the stone. Affixed to it was a bas-relief tableau depicting the moment of surrender: Joseph facing a bearded Miles, his hand raised. The iconic proclamation floated over their heads: From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever. Next to the monument, mounted on a post, there was a wooden box with pamphlets inside. Thao pulled one out, and shoved it into her jacket pocket. Other than the gravel parking lot, a flapping flag on a tall flagpole, and the monument, there wasn’t much to distinguish the battlefield area from the surrounding rangeland. Whoever had raised the flag was not around now. The terrain consisted of gentle grassy slopes that descended here and there into gullies and draws. A narrow trail formed a rough oval that corresponded with the boundaries of the battlefield. An enclosed picnic shelter stood about a hundred feet from us. None of the slopes rose into anything that would qualify as a hill. In fact, the sightlines were such that the modest Bears Paw Mountains were clearly visible in the distance. Thao produced an elastic band and pulled her hair, which had been whipping wildly across her face, into a ponytail. Her cheeks were also growing red. She cupped her hands around her mouth and yelled, “Can you please hurry?” As each word came from her mouth, the wind


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Vo l . 10 N o . 2 obliterated it. Harold put his free hand up to his ear. She made a beckoning gesture. He held up a finger, indicating, presumably, one minute, although it potentially could mean one hour, or any other unit in his unique space/time continuum. But no, he soon bustled over to the driver’s side of the pickup, crawled into the cab, and emerged hatless, carrying a gun. It appeared to be a shotgun. “Now I see why he’s glad nobody else is here,” I said. Joe emerged from the pickup. He wore a buckskin blouse that hung to mid-thigh, jeans, and a pair of moccasins. He had something in his hand—a piece of paper, which he was cramming into a breast pocket. Harold held out the shotgun to him. Joe accepted it and they started walking, Harold talking as they approached. Joe walked with a very slow, stately gait, the butt of the shotgun tucked under and behind his armpit, the barrel pointed downward. Harold would get two or three steps ahead of him, and have to wait for him to catch up. But when they got within about 10 yards of the monument, Harold stopped talking, and his pace also slowed. He pointed to their left; Joe headed that way, descending down a path into a draw. Soon all we could see of him was the fluttering black hair with the red headband. Then that was gone, too. Harold approached us. “So, what exactly—” Harold held up his hand. He was glaring at the spot where Joe had disappeared. “Oh—he’s already in character,” Duane said. “I’d better start making pictures.” Thao had her pad and pen out. She manipulated them in her gloved hands with some difficulty. Duane photographed Harold frowning, putting his hands behind his back, pacing back and forth. At one point he stopped and faced the spot in the draw. And back to pacing. A full minute passed before he stopped again. “Come out of there, Joseph,” he yelled. “You are surrounded by the United States Calvary!” There was no movement, other than the dry grass shuddering in the wind. Harold cupped his hands to his mouth, as Thao had done. “Come out of there, Joseph!” Nothing. He walked a few steps forward. “Hey! Come on up now!” Still nothing. Harold walked on, nearly to the lip of the slope, stopped, and waved. Then he trotted back to us. He

wheeled, wheezing, and pointed back toward the draw. Slowly, Joe’s black hair and red headband became visible, followed gradually by the buckskin blouse, his jeans and moccasins. He was walking even more deliberately now. He held the shotgun cradled across his chest. He looked not at us, but off to the southwest. His face was grim; each step seemed slower than the last. When he got within five paces, he stopped. Still, he did not look at us. “You better give me that gun, Joseph,” Harold said. Instead, Joe put the butt on the ground and held it by the top end of the barrel. Harold stepped forward, his hand reaching toward the gun. Joe raised his chin defiantly and shook his head. “Oh,” Harold said. Everyone was still but Duane, who was moving around, clicking off shots from different angles. Harold licked his lips. “Well,” he said. “Do you have anything to say?” Joe gave a slight shake of his head. “You’re surrenderin,’” Harold said. “Right?” Joe stared at him for a good eight or 10 seconds before he pulled out the paper. He unfolded it and held it with both hands in front of his face, letting the barrel of the shotgun balance against his hip, and began to hesitantly read. “Tell Howard that I know...” He cleared his throat

Glacial Melt, Denali

Tami Phelps


144 and started again, much more loudly this time. His deep voice cut into the wind. "Tell… Howard… that I know … his heart.” After completing the sentence he put one hand on his heart. The paper flapped smartly in the wind. He viewed it numbly, then took hold of it again with both hands. “What he told me before …I have in my heart.” This time he just glanced downward, in the general area of his heart. “I am tired of fighting…. Our chiefs are killed…. Looking Glass is dead. Tu-hoo-too... Tu-hil-hoo... Tu. Hul. Hil. Sote. Is Dead.” Pause. “He is dead,” he added somberly. “The old men are ALL dead.” He spread his arms wide, in an “all” gesture; the snapping of the paper sounded like firecrackers. Harold started to something—“Oop”—just as the wind snatched the paper cleanly from Joe’s hand and shot it away, several feet off the ground, for a good fifty feet, until it dived to the earth and caught up against some scrub brush. Joe took one step in that direction, but before he could take another, the paper jerked upward as if it were pulled by a string, and flew off, toward Chinook, and probably by day’s end, somewhere in Canada. “Uh-oh,” Harold said. He started to add something, but Joe interrupted him. “Now the young men make the decisions!” he said. “It’s cold. We don’t have nothing to eat. Where is everybody?” He looked around. Harold looked around, too. “Probably out there freezing! I don’t know where my kids are, neither!” His face had taken on almost a ferocious expression. “Do you?” Harold shook his head, no. “Hear me my chiefs! I’m sick of this! Where the sun now stands, I will fight no more. EVER.” He picked up the shotgun and abruptly extended it away from his chest. Harold took it. “Thanks, Joseph,” he said loudly. “That was a fine speech.” Without a word, Joe started walking back toward the GMC. “Gol-dang,” Harold said. “He memorized the whole thing word-for-word! How ‘bout that?” “Yes. Impressive,” Thao said. “ ‘From where the sun now stands.’ How ‘bout that?” “Yes,” Thao repeated. “So—the program is over?” “Pretty much….” Harold surveyed the empty lot. “Nobody’s around. I guess we could shoot off the shotgun a time or two….” “Please, no, thank you.” She pulled an envelope

CIRQUE from the same jacket pocket where she’d put the map, and offered it to him. He took it, started to open it, changed his mind and crammed it in the pocket of his jacket. Duane had switched to a longer lens. He was still photographing Joe—or more accurately, Joe’s back. “You maybe want a picture of me with the gun?” Harold asked. He held it up to his chest. “That won’t be necessary.” “Oh.” Joe finally reached the pickup. Instead of getting in, he walked beyond a few paces. Facing the southwest, he paused, arms folded, motionless. He took off the headband, turned around and got in the pickup. “OK,” Harold said. “Guess we’ll hit the road. Hope you enjoyed our show.” “Yes, very much,” Thao said. Harold shook hands all around. “Real pleasure,” he said. “Real pleasure.” Then he scurried back to the pickup. When he crawled into the cab, he did not take the time to put the shotgun back in the gun rack. The pickup pulled out immediately, tires spinning on the gravel. Duane replaced the long lens on his camera. He ambled off, taking photos along the trail. Thao wrote a few more notes in her notebook. She pointed toward where Joe had been staring. “Canada?” “No. You’re turned around. That’s the southwest, more or less where they came from.” “The Wallowa?” “What? “The Wallowa.” She pronounced it WALL-ohwuh. “It’s Wal-LAU-wa. Let’s get out of the wind.” We made our way to the picnic shelter. Barn swallows darted here and there. The shelter was walled on three sides, with protection against the west wind. Thao leaned against a picnic tabletop. “Whew! What a relief. I’ve never ever felt wind like that.” One wall held a map of the battlefield. She pointed to its southwest corner. “So this is the direction they came from. Howard, too.” She pointed back toward the coulee where Joe had disappeared. “And the Nez Perce were there.” “Right. But Howard was always hopelessly behind them.” “So it was Miles who surprised them. And he came from there?” She pointed to the southeast. “Right.” “And he had 500 soldiers.”


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 “He did? Plus there were Indians with them, too. Crow.” “Yeah, I read that, too. I don’t get that. Why were there Indians helping to chase the Indians? The Nez Perce had hoped to join up with the Crows, but instead the Crows helped the soldiers.” “It’s like I said before. Tribes are inclined to take care of themselves, and fight other tribes. They decide on who’s their worst enemy at a given time, then ally themselves with anybody else to fight them. Crow scouts supported the 7th Cavalry against the Sioux and Cheyenne at the Little Bighorn, too. Some of them got killed right next to the soldiers. And Miles had Cheyenne scouts with him at the Bear Paw. The Indians switched allegiances from year to year. The fact that they were all ‘Indians’ didn’t make them part of one homogeneous group. Some of these tribes hated each other as much as the Hutus hate the Tutsis.” Thao pointed to the top of the map. “If only they’d gone a little farther. Just 40 more miles to Canada. How disappointing. But they must have been exhausted, coming all that way.” “Yeah. To have Miles’ cavalry suddenly descend on them, catch them by surprise. Take their horses. Really, without the horses, they had no chance. And then it started to snow, and the wind was blowing, of course. And it was a wet snow. I don’t know if you’ve ever been wet and cold like that. I mean, wet through and through, every piece of cloth, your hair, your eyelids, your shoes and your feet. Out here, if it’s just cold—and even if it’s just cold and the wind is blowing—people can usually find a way to deal with it, because the air is dry. I mean, it’s miserable, but you can deal with it. But if you are wet on top of that—you can’t. At some point, you just can’t convince your body to keep trying. So here you are, exhausted and freezing, and a bunch of men are trying to kill you, and your lifelong friends and your brothers and the women and children you’re responsible for are dying all around you. It’s hard to imagine how hopeless they must have felt. All he could do was give up.” “But the Army tricked him, didn’t they,” Thao said. “They shipped his tribe off to Kansas and Oklahoma, even though Joseph thought they had a deal to go back to the …Wallowa. They had to live in this terrible swampland and they were overcome by disease. More of them died in Oklahoma than all the battles they had.” “Really? I didn’t know that. I’m supposed to be the local expert here, but you seem to know about as much as I do. But yes, the Army tricked them. Because

145 they had to be taught a lesson.” “My point is, maybe he shouldn’t have given up.” “And what…let them kill every member of the band who was too young or old or slow to run off? Miles had the 7th Cavalry with him, with its proud record of slaughtering Indians of any age and sex. No, sometimes you just have to admit you are defeated.” “He must have been devastated.” “More like relieved, I would think.” “Maybe a little. But mostly, I bet he was really sad. If only he could have known that he’d end up being this revered figure.” “Revered. That’s the white person’s version. Or, in your case—not to put too fine a racial line on it—the yellow white person’s version.” “Ross, most people don’t really refer to Asians as ‘yellow’ anymore. Maybe you haven’t heard….” “OK. The point is, it’s the western—or in your case, the eastern-western—fixation on narrative redemption. The fact is, the true story of the plains Indians is one without redemption. That’s why no one wants to hear it.” She tapped the notebook that peeked outside her breast pocket. “Oh, my readers will want to hear it, all right. They’re not going to be able to resist the YellowWhite Eastern-Western redemptive version.” She pulled out the pamphlet and unfolded it. It was the same map and diagram that was on the wall. “So let’s get going. A little breeze isn’t going to stop us. Let’s go see—” She peered closely at it—“markers A-Z or whatever.” We went first to the ravine from which Joe had appeared. Duane was there now, at the bottom, which was somewhat protected. We came onto a marker, where visitors had deposited items around it—whole cigarettes, some dimes and quarters, a beaded bracelet. Thao read aloud from the description of the marker in her pamphlet. Ollokot fell here. “Do you think this is really that spot?” “Oh, who knows. I’m sure everything here is just a best guess. But at least there were eyewitnesses on both sides—as opposed to, say, the Little Bighorn—so they probably were able to put together a pretty good idea of what happened where. You’d think they would be at least close on where Joseph came out. Miles and Howard were both there, and Wood, of course, taking notes while Joseph spoke, and undoubtedly embellishing it in his head at the same time.” We walked the path around the site, moving slowly and stiffly. Thao stopped at each marker and read


146

CIRQUE

the description aloud. This rock ...Looking Glass was shot… he stood hoping … to their aid. About half of what she read was audible. The wind swallowed the rest. Maybe 40 minutes later we were back at the surrender spot. Thao ran her gloved fingers over the tableau. It was pocked with dings and dents; its coppery symmetry undoubtedly made for prime target practice. The artwork depicted Joseph—a single feather sticking out of his head, one hand balancing a rifle with its butt on the ground, as Joe had done—standing before Miles and reaching skyward. “From where the sun now stands,” Thao read. “See, he’s pointing to the sun.” “I don’t think so. He’s just pointing to his destination. ‘Ready to go there!’” “Ross, stop it.” She placed her index finger against Joseph’s raised hand. “No,” she said firmly. “The sun.”

Nevus

Jim Thiele

Kimm Brockett Stammen

Azures Sky Frank woke afraid. Blackness, like the sea far below a cliff, swirled under his clenched eyelids. Leaning back into the bed pillow, he forced himself to concentrate on the smells of Nashville’s Germantown suburb in autumn: roasting coffee, barbeque brisket, spilled beer. Anesthetic from the outpatient procedure still tinged the back of his throat. “Well?” Arnie’s feet slapped against the wood floor of their bedroom. “They said you would be able to see clear right away.” He paced, the sound of his footsteps receding. “Or that maybe it would take a few weeks. Or that maybe your vision won’t improve at all.” The footsteps returned. “Are you awake? Look around!” A minute breeze puffed Frank's cheeks, he smelled wet clay, and knew Arnie was waving his hands as he talked. Somewhere down the street the metal security door of a tavern clattered; it must be late afternoon. Frank had had the procedure in the early morning, and they’d sent him home after it, groggy, with his partner and a packet of pills. His eyes didn’t hurt; the radial keratotomy was as quick and painless as promised, but no one had mentioned how terrifying it would be to first open his eyes. “Come on, come on.” Something sizzled and whapped! against the far wall; Frank’s eyes flew open. The slatted blind swung, giddy and lopsided, and beyond it the last azure before evening blazed through the bedroom window, filling the room with a nearly neon glow. Frank gasped. He put his hands over his face. The brazen sun stroked the backs of his hands, an uninvited lover, and under his palms he felt the contours of his cheekbones, nose, jutting brow. All his life he had worn glasses for nearsightedness, and now his face, his eyes, his self, felt uncovered and vulnerable. “I keep telling you not to yank the cord like that!” he snapped. After some moments Frank peeked slowly at the sky through his fingers. He’d always taken off his glasses and set them in the case on the nightstand before getting into bed; he’d never been able to lie in bed and see out the window before. The sky was not a solid wash of blue, but speckled with cobalt, cerulean and teal, and splashed with turquoise, as if color had been slopped on with the


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 sponge Arnie used to apply pottery glazes. He spoke again without looking away from the sky. “You’ll break it.” Sprays of vivid plum leaves edged in scarlet, foliage of lemony yellow, ripe orange, lustrous gold and orange pierced the blue. The leaf veins and the contrast between their edges and their background sliced like knives. There was no longer a gentle blur between colors, no bleeding or blending. Beneath the sky clustered the Victorian buildings of Germantown, the lines of mortar straight and clear between each red brick. It was the oldest neighborhood of Nashville, an immigrant enclave then and now—filled first by Germans, and now by trending restaurants, gay bars, tattoo dives, laundromats, needle exchanges and renovated brownstones. The neighborhood was still full of those who fled from elsewhere and, arms outstretched, blindly ended here. “Quit looking out the window! Can you see me?” Arnie was never patient. Frank tried not to think about how they had done this, the tiny cuts to his corneas, the folding and reshaping and minute suturing. He brought a hand up to his face, automatically pushing at the bridge of his nose with an index finger. There were no glasses there, and he rubbed his nose awkwardly. “They said you might be doing that for a while,” said Arnie. “Yep. Old habits and all that.” His chair squeaked, his feet padded and then his weight sagged the bed, his big potter’s hands grabbed Frank’s shoulders, trying to turn his attention away from the window. His hands slid up Frank’s neck, the strength in the fingertips kneading, and molded his face. “Tell me. Hurry up. Look at me.” His breath was sloppy with fish and butterscotch. The white plastic blind slats clustered lopsidedly at the top of the window’s century-old dentil molding, fastened at one end by a tangled mass of string, hanging loose and broken at the other. The slat edges cut against the dark oak woodwork with clarity as sharp as the mottled sky, the veins of the leaves, the lines between bricks. With a feeling of disbelief Frank turned finally, and looked into Arnie’s face. He put his hands over Arnie’s— the hands that still held his head, as if it were a lump of wet clay ready to be flung on the wheel. Salt and pepper stubble sprinkled Arnie’s chin, his nose was bulbous and lopsided. His hands were clammy and hot against Frank’s jaw and neck, his breath humid, his hair gray and straggled like the slip that dripped from his fingers as he formed a new pot at his wheel. Like a god he created from clay: bowls, vases and plates curvaceous and elegant as the man himself was awkward. They brimmed

147 with colors as startling and deep as the sky, as vivid as Arnie’s own eyes were pale and watery and frighteningly, unmistakably, lovesick. Frank pried Arnie’s hands away. Turned away, closed his eyes and rubbed them with the tips of his fingers. “Are they sore? Should I call the doctor? Damn that bumpkin if he’s botched it.” There was the sound of Arnie’s big fist slapping into his palm. “Oh, Arnie.” Frank put his hands over his face again, and began to laugh, because it was so like life to relieve him of one fear and replace it immediately with the inklings of another. He laughed until he felt the hot sting of tears. “I can see. I can see fine.” Water Frank used to leave his glasses in the locker room basket and step, naked and blur-blind, into a steam cloud that obfuscated the lurking edge of the athletic club pool. He used to slide his feet along the soggy grit of concrete, hand out, toes like antenna. It used to take him long minutes to move through the humid-thick air, listening to the shouts and echoes of water slapping against tile, hunched forward, until one hand closed thankfully around the aluminum railing. He used to lower one foot slowly onto the first step of the shallow end, the water licking his sole with sharp chill. Now the line of white tile cut straight against the shimmering aqua of the pool’s edge. He could see granules like spilled salt in the cement floor, and even read the rules posted on the farthest wall. He stood straight, striding towards the pool as if he knew where he was going, and liked the feeling. How unfamiliar it was, he thought--perhaps even unprecedented—to be able to see, unaided, even a few steps into the future. Frank and Arnie had been together nine years, but their partnership, he saw now, had always seemed like an accident, a reaction, without plan or intent. A fumbling middle-aged response to the painful gnarl of their lives. They met in an art gallery, each picking up shards of a broken indigo plate. Before that, Frank lived in San Francisco with the love of his life. When Frank remembered Monty now, he was always sitting on the day bed in their Hollywood Regency condo, sewing notions strewn around him. One side of the living room window fluttered with yellow chiffon, while Monty handhemmed the curtain panel for the other side, the material cascading over his torso and his blankets like midwinter sunlight. Frank wondered where those curtains went, or if they were ever finished. The years Monty spent dying


148 were crisp as pain; the time after a blur. His belongings and memories as lost in the wasteland of the late 80’s as Monty himself, and all the others who had withered and fallen like leaves. Frank stepped to the edge of the shallow end. “…bright like teal but more intense, deeper, with more meaning somehow. I want pots of that color, pots and pots.” Arnie’s big hands flopped as he talked, hurrying up behind Frank. His paunch swayed. “No running,” said Frank. Arnie laughed and scurried past him towards the deep end, raising his voice as he moved farther away. Other swimmers looked up, dripping annoyed glances. “And bowls you can put your face into. I’ll need a layer of cobalt, and a layer of navy silica and potash with it,” he called. He stepped with a splayed gait to keep from slipping on the slick tile, elbows crooked, toenails jagged. From across the pool Frank saw what he never could have before, that his partner’s swim trunks were threadbare in the back and sagging with worn-out elastic. At the far end now, Arnie shouted his dream-talk about glazes for a series of oversized, asymmetrical plates. “This pool is almost the right shade, if you kneel right down and put your face up close you can almost smell the color.” He knelt and put his face to the deep end, his ass in the air. “It’s just chlorine,” muttered Frank. Arnie stood and cannonballed. Droplets leaped into the air, other swimmers glanced up with looks sharp as ice shards. Frank looked down at the shallow end, stepped Statue onto the first step, and was surprised to see his own toes wavering in the tepid aquamarine. After Monty died—which took forever and yet hit like a face punch when it happened—Frank had somehow made it to the airport. There was a flight to Nashville, and that seemed far enough, and preposterous enough, and there would be another insurance job there. He didn’t remember first walking through Germantown, but somehow he stepped into an art gallery opening. There had been wine in plastic cups, high heels and chatter. A big disheveled man with a backwoods accent

CIRQUE ranted about silica, oxides, and the exact right amount of alumina, standing next to a display of plates plastered with glazes. Crimson, lemon, sienna-slathered maroon. Frank did remember the plates; they’d been like colored lighthouse beacons punctuating fog. Stunning. The first things, after Monty's death, that seemed to hold any meaning at all. The big man waved his arms and with one motion knocked a painting askew and a pot off a shelf. Frank had knelt in the crowd of exclaiming, breakable people and helped pick up the shards, and gone home with Arnie. He saw now, clear as his own toes through the water, it might have been a mistake. “Ten laps,” Arnie called and began a splashing crawl, his frayed swim trunks bobbing. Frank stepped out of the shallows and strode to the other end of the pool. Full of chemicals, flanked by paint, fractured by wavelets and yet the impossible transparent color of a dream, the pool was a vault of sky, inverted. Not since he was a child had Frank been able to see to the bottom of the deep end. “Hey, hurry up, man,” Arnie said, swimming up. “If you finish before me, you’ll have time to go to the pro shop for a new suit.” “Whaa?” A boy who endured torment in a Blue Ridge town for growing up gay and an artist, Arnie had said once that Frank’s insouciance was the most restful thing he’d ever found. Frank stood up straight. His insouciance TA Harrison seemed to be gone. “You can’t wear that again. It’s embarrassing.” “We come here every Tuesday, why is it embarrassing now?” “Because now I can see it!” Arnie hunched his head forward and peered at him as if he were a pot that had slumped unexpectedly. “Just…go. God, I’ll meet you in the lobby.” The deep end shimmered. Frank clasped fingers above his head, took aim and dove.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Mountains It was holiday party season and the gay bars in East Nashville brimmed with boisterous drinkers, gigglers, flirts and carolers. Frank dove in to conversations. He got in with a group who knew of a friendly ski lodge at Gatlinburg. Arnie had a cold and was dripping snot onto 36 pots still left to fire and deliver to a holiday buyer, and besides that he was a terrible skier. For the first time since they’d moved in together, Frank left Nashville without him. He wrapped his nose in a scarf without being blinded by frozen fog on his glasses. His face reddened in the sun without leaving a raccoon stripe of white around his eyes. And when he entered the lodge lobby, a place that smelled of pine, ice and leather, he strode in without hesitation, no longer needing to pause and wipe away condensation on his lenses with a wet mitten. A younger man wearing a red turtleneck and an ankle cast lounged in the lobby of mirror and glassed mountain view. His jeans were pressed, one leg up on an ottoman, a whisky sour squatted by his right hand. Nearly every man who passed by greeted him, clasped his shoulder, called him Tom and called for his drink to be freshened. “Thanks, mate,” said Tom to a man in an aquamarine blazer, and turned his indolent Australian eyes on Frank. Frank felt a rush of hot vanity. He pushed up the glasses that were no longer there, and to cover, brushed hair away from his face. They stayed in for two days and nights. The sheets shifted, curved and set sail. They drank. There was a blur of room service fish and chocolate. Frank’s knees pressed into the hotel mattress, they rolled and skirmished. Later their sweated skins slapped against the full-length plate glass window, and Frank had never felt anything so smooth and cold. The mountains yawned and stretched behind them, their toothed crags hidden in the blue smoke glaze of their name. Frank erased Monty from his memory for the first time since he’d died. He had thought it impossible, but it turned out to be merely painful. As painful as cutting at his own eyes. After Tom left he did what he did not remember ever being able to do before, and was not sure he wanted to do again: he looked across the vast bedroom into a mirror and saw his own naked face. Eyes The studio stank of old coffee, congealed clay, body odor and the odd sulfur of glaze. Crumpled rags

149 littered the floor, unfired bowls dried on racks, plates of marled turquoise puddled on the counter, waiting for bubble-wrap. Asymmetrical vases Frank had never before seen—cantilevered whorls of yellow, cardamom and fuchsia—warmed in the window-light. Although he’d phoned, an awkward clipped message, to say he was coming back, he’d opened the door quietly and Arnie, in a concentrated hunch over the wheel, was startled by his entrance; he jumped up and knocked over a bowl of slip. The creamy clay and water mixture flung a shape like a gray comet onto the floor. “Dad blame it!” “I should have knocked.” “You never come in here!” Arnie wiped slimy hands on his smeared smock, as if trying to wipe away discomfort or the appearance of it. “Am I messy? Did you have a good time? Did you ski? How was it? Was there powder? I’m still searching for the azure,” he waved his arms. “The wheel is turning, I’m thinking of the colors…. underlying magenta…. Mexican cobalt…magnetic blue. I haven’t got it right yet, but when I do, you’ll be able to drink the sky out of my soup bowls.” They looked at each other, then Arnie’s eyes shied away and he plumped down and went back to work. The motor whirred, the stone oscillated. A lump choked Frank’s throat, as he watched clay rise into a column under his partner’s—his former partner’s? — thick-knuckled fingers. “You remember how we met?” he asked. “Huhh,” said Arnie. “Me breaking things, as usual. And you helped clean up.” “Is that how you see it?” Arnie curved his palm against the column, and it slid down into a twirling ball again, shapeless and ungainly as possibility. “Is something wrong? What is it?” Frank pushed at the bridge of his nose. Arnie flipped the pedal switch. The wheel slowed, thudded off-balance, and stopped. “We just…we just happened. Without plan. You just happened to be there. I just happened to need you.” “And now you’re seeing things different?” Arnie wrinkled his nose, as if he smelled something that didn’t belong. At first, they had just held each other, and talked, and served corn pone and Sloppy Joes on pottery rainbows. Frank found work, started paying half rent, walked around the new city in a haze. Somewhere along the way--when or where was unclear to Frank, he had been concentrating most on his own selfish grief--roommates had blurred into partners and partners, into bulwark.


150 Frank picked up a finished plate, a swirl of plum, coffee and sunset, with a wide, overly generous rim. Staring into its glossy depths, Frank thought he saw, almost as clearly as he'd seen them in the hotel's mirror, his features without glasses. Unlike the sky, the mountains, and the water Arnie’s art emulated, plates were for daily use, he thought: for serving up and treasuring what was here now. And plates were breakable. “I was with someone. It was a mistake,” said Frank. “I see,” said Arnie. Frank had never seen him moved with such dignity, never heard him speak two words so slowly. Arnie turned away, picked up the cutoff wire—thick strong wire with a wooden toggle handle at either end, used to free a finished piece from the wheel. “I never wanted you to get that operation,” he said. “I liked you as you were.” He pulled at either end of the wire. “Lots of middle-aged people do it,” Frank whispered, trying to pretend he was talking about keratotomy. Trying to pretend Arnie hadn’t said ‘were.’ “I didn’t think it mattered much. I’ve—I’ve cared about so little for so long. And then, after it, I liked looking good.” He shrugged, but he knew it was a deceptive gesture, because he felt again what he had when he’d first opened his eyes: sick with fear. “I wanted to see into the distance. I wanted to open the dishwasher without being blinded by steam on my lenses. I wanted to be able to see where I was going, without aid, because I doubted where I was. I wanted to end up somewhere because I planned it, because it made sense, for god’s sake.” He realized as he said it that making love with another man hadn’t been planned, hadn’t made sense, and was in fact the blindest thing he’d ever done. What he had feared was not being with the wrong person, but the immensity of being with the right one. “Arnie. Was that so wrong?” Suddenly he was young again, and Nashville seemed a long way away, as if he had never been there but was heading towards it. Towards the Smokies and the music, towards the city’s first suburb and the gay immigrants who rebuilt it, towards the repointers of brick, the repainters of dentil moldings, the decaying neighborhood reawakening under a sky that was an uncomplicated primary only until you really focused. Towards the man he’d found in Germantown, a second partner, a second life, a respite from pain, a pitiful awkward embarrassment of aggravating toughness. A man who had succored him with color and whom he hadn’t even known he loved, a man who talked forever while using the toilet, waking up, while fucking and

CIRQUE swimming and concocting glazes, and yet in the ultimate moment spoke only one syllable. “Yep.” Like a scythe Arnie swung his body, garroted the clay from the wheel and threw it in the sludge bucket. He stomped on the pedal and cleaned the whirring wheel with a potter’s knife. Without pausing he again picked up the wire, sliced a fresh hunk of clay from a plasticwrapped block and slapped it down. His hands dipped water and circled the clay with the invisible strength of long practice. First a round, and then with flattened hand and hooked thumb a plate rose, and as the shape transformed under his fingers, Arnie began to talk. “I came to the city, when the country was nearly all I was. I was broken. You were there. You helped me come to terms with who and what I am, helped me live so’s I didn’t have to hide everything every second. You bet I’m a bull in a china shop and I know it’s crazy cause I don’t think twice about nothin’ but plates and glazes but maybe I don’t need to because of you.” He cupped his hands around the lump of clay. “Maybe you didn’t just stumble across me, Frank. Maybe you made me.” Frank was crying. “Your irises are a different color now. Molten azure. As if the daytime sky were boiled down to its essence. It’s what I’ve been looking for, actually,” Arnie sighed. “Amazing how, when you find what you’re looking for, you sometimes no longer want it.” Frank sank onto a stool, covered his face with his hands and closed his new eyes.

Facing Fear

Sheary Clough Suiter


Roof

Lucy Tyrrell


152

CIRQUE

P L AYS Kemuel DeMoville

Shit Maybe Sh;t CAST: PLAYWRIGHT(S):

Can be played by one actor or many actors.

MESSENGER:

A messenger. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

TRANSLATOR:

A translator. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

ACTOR ONE:

A belligerent actor. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

ACTOR TWO:

A silent actor. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

ACTOR THREE:

A silent actor. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

DIRECTOR:

A foreign voice from above. Never Seen. Can be played by one of the Playwright(s) if needed.

TIME: Whenever. PLACE: Wherever. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Not shit. Not shit. Not shit. That is the mantra. Not shit. (Silence) Start. (Silence) Start.

Balloon Man

Jack Broom


153

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 (Silence) Do something. Write something. Start. Start. Not shit. What about a Greek thing? Root it. Classics. Layers of meaning. Calling back to the past. Maybe. Like a messenger Or a prayer? An opening prayer? That’s been done. I’m tired of praying. It’s expected. You know? Something like this, it’s expected. Cliché. Maybe. But maybe the messenger. There might be something there. A messenger who forgot the message. Yes. That could be something. It could be interesting. So start. Try it. Start. Not shit. The messenger enters. In a rush. Bursts through the door. Starts to speak. Looks like he’s about to speak. But stops. Bends over. Tries to breath. Catch his breath. It goes on for some time. There’s nothing interesting here. It’s a bit. It’s the set up. Let it happen. Give it some time. Maybe he rushes out of the room. Does a take to the audience then rushes out of the room. That could be funny. It could be stupid. It depends on how they play it. That’s not on you. Try it. See if it works. The Director can decide. Fine. So there’s the set up. A bit at the start. That’s easy. That’s the easy stuff. What does he say? How does he speak? Or she? Could be a she. It doesn’t really matter. Something poetic. Something that people could read into.


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Seem smart. Don’t be clever. You’re writing this so people will think you’re clever. As soon as you try to be clever you’ve lost it. If you have to try to be clever it’s bullshit. Still. It should be heightened. What’s the message. That’s the meat. That’s the whole point. If you’ve got a messenger, someone whose sole purpose of existence is to deliver a message then it better be one hell of a message. MESSENGER Sometimes when I get real lonely I make up names to carve in tree trunks. PLAYWRIGHT(S) What is that? Just getting things out. Shouting things out. See how they work. MESSENGER Dogs with hoses aren’t too friendly since they always squirt the neighbors. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Stupid. MESSENGER The moral here is not the chain, but in the fact the chain was rusted. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Stupid. Sounds pretentious. This whole thing is pretentious. MESSENGER When Dengue Fever strikes the hen house Col. Sanders starts to cry. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Get it out of your system. Get the shit out. It’s not the message, though. What’s the message? Think classics. Think Greek. Big stuff. Gods and nature. Cataclysmic forces. MESSENGER Oh, people! PLAYWRIGHT(S) But he forgot the message. That’s the whole point. The message doesn’t matter.


155

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 There is no message. Not anymore. So what is he doing? Just stands there for the length of the show? That could be cool. Like a silent sentinel. MESSENGER I am the voice of creation. PLAYWRIGHT(S) It could be a god metaphor. It’ll be the first thing a director cuts. An actor that stands in the back the entire time and says nothing or maybe says something right at the end. Maybe just starts to say something then blackout. But who wants to play that? What actor would want that role? It sounds ok, but it’s not practical. Theatre’s not practical. If you want practical go into accounting. I wouldn’t mind being an accountant. There’s something to be said for hard answers. MESSENGER Heed me! Heed me! Creation speaks! PLAYWRIGHT(S) Health insurance too. That would be really nice. I haven’t seen a doctor in years. I’ve got this weird pain in my side sometimes. MESSENGER I bare sad news. Or glad news. Sad or glad news depending on your point of view. PLAYWRIGHT(S) That’s an interesting line. You can build on that. Not much, though. It’s a start. What? Five minutes of a waffling messenger? It’s better than just silence. You lose the god metaphor. If anyone would have seen a god metaphor to begin with. MESSENGER I have something to say which may or may not bring sadness or joy. It’s all sort of relative. Some may even be ambivalent. Most of you probably. Because at this point you have no real investment in anything going on here right now.


156 PLAYWRIGHT(S) That’s the problem with this. That’s why this isn’t working. There are lots of reasons why this isn’t working. It’s shit. Not total shit. Save it. Maybe someday you can use it. The whole idea is just lifted from Forced Entertainment anyway. Their show: Showtime. Where the guy comes out with hotdogs strapped to his chest and is really awkward with the audience. That was good. Better than this. You can do something political, though. That might be interesting. That might work here. You can try it at least. Fine. Setting. Ground it. Give it a place. Get the feel of the place. Then write. Fine. Maybe the whole thing takes place in a box. Like a shipping container. Or a shack. The audience has to look through gaps in the walls to see the action. Like they’re spying. That could be cool. The actors are hostages and the director is holding them captive. Making them perform. It’s starting to sound stupid. Give it a chance to develop. Maybe the director only speaks through a translator. Doesn’t speak directly to the actors. Like the silent messenger? Don’t get too cute with it. Just write it. See what happens. Let it happen. Write it. Write. Now. Start. Not shit. Not shit. Write. Three actors. All with sacks over their heads. Captives. A translator enters. With guards. They remove the hoods. Sacks.

CIRQUE


157

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Doesn’t matter. They’re gone. The voice of the Director over the sound system. In a foreign language. Which? Doesn’t matter. They’re all foreign to someone. Gibberish. Not a real language. But similar. Then the sound stops. The Translator… translates. With a heavy accent. TRANSLATOR Hello. Welcome to everyone. I hope you are all well this evening. ACTOR ONE Fuck you! PLAYWRIGHT(S) The guards hit him. Or her. With a gun? Maybe. Doesn’t matter right now. Keep going. Just write. TRANSLATOR Please don’t interrupt. If you are asked a question you may speak. I was not asking you a question. ACTOR ONE Fuck yo… PLAYWRIGHT(S) Hit again. TRANSLATOR Please. Allow me to continue. I hope you are well. I hope you have eaten. I hope you have seen the sky recently. I hope you have not been beaten. I hope. But hope is… silly. I think that is your word. Silly. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Again. The Director’s voice. Echoing around the room. Almost too loud. Like the speakers are about to go out. Cobbled together. And once the Director finishes speaking.


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TRANSLATOR They call it playing ball. Have you heard the expression? Playing ball. It sounds rather enjoyable. Rather fun. Let’s all keep an open mind. Please. We’re here to try something new. PLAYWRIGHT(S) Not all that new. This has been done. Let it happen. See where it goes. It’s getting stupid. Juvenile. Write. TRANSLATOR Experimentation. I think you call it experimentation. Our process will be somewhat different from what you may be used to. I hope all of you will be up to the task. I have confidence in you. We all have confidence in you. PLAYWRIGHT(S) The Director speaks again. The other actors should speak. Give it time. It’s only just started. They’ll have a chance. TRANSLATOR We do not hope to be your friends. We merely hope to come to an understanding. A working relationship. We have been given permission to try a new means of discovery. The success of this projectdepends largely on you. Your cooperation will be blah blah blah blah. PLAYWRIGHT(S) This doesn’t work. I don’t know. It was starting to get interesting. It’s forced. The similarities between the language of interrogation and the language of theatrical discovery. (Makes a fart sound. A raspberry.) There’s nothing to it. Just a gimmick. Shit. Shit shit shit. Start. Write something good. Start. God damn it. I’m not sure what to do. Just sit for a second. Clear your head. (Silence) Was that a ghost? I think I just saw a ghost in the corner. It’s getting late. It wasn’t a ghost.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2

159

That’s stupid. This is getting old. This is getting really old. This stream of consciousness shit. Something will come. Something will come. There needs to be an idea. Something people can latch onto. Make them feel smart. Like they get it. Like they’re in a club. You always do this. You always always do this. Get a story. Find a story. Build from there. Not some gimmick or clever idea or anything. There was that article you read. A father ate his three-year old son’s eyes. Jesus! He was on something. Some drug. He didn’t know what he was doing. I don’t buy that. I don’t buy it. You have to know. When the cops came to the house all the kid would say was: “Daddy ate my eyes.” And people say some of my plays are dark. That’s the news. That’s dark disgusting truth right there. Is there a play in it. I don’t think so. Maybe. But I don’t want to write it. I don’t want to go to that place. Maybe the father can’t get the taste out of his mouth. God. I don’t know. It’s Greek. It could be interesting. But. But I’m not sure I want them living inside me. You sound pretentious. "A character is never the author who created him. It is quite likely, however, that an author may be all his characters simultaneously." Camus said that. A Camus quote. Because that’s not pretentious. Besides, it’s the same thing you always write. Always. You always do this. You engineer drama through violence. You go for the shocking. Life’s not like that. No, people don’t want life to be like that. They don’t want to believe life is like that. But that’s a part of life. Extreme violence. Unspeakable acts. Random, senseless, terrible terrible terrible things. That’s life. Along with joy and happiness and kindness and love. Let’s stop with the platitudes. Is that the right word? Platitudes? Who cares.


160

CIRQUE

That’s life. Be happy. Be kind. That’s life. But, ultimately, who cares. This isn’t writing. This isn’t getting anything on the page. You’re just avoiding any real work. Surprise surprise. Start. Start now. Not shit. Not shit not shit not shit not shit. Start. Write something. What about this? The process. A window into the process. It could be interesting. Could be could be could be interesting interesting interesting. Buzz words of the day. Most likely it’s not interesting. Most likely actors, directors, producers, whoever, are going to look at this and never want to do anything you write ever again. Still. It’s not nothing. It’s not empty pages. It’s not a messenger with no message standing on stage for two hours. I still think that’s a cool idea. It’s bold. Let’s just do this. It’s late. Everyone is tired. You should try one more thing. One more bit. What?! Really?! You did the messenger bit, you did the political bit, you should do something else. The rule of three. Two is plenty I think. I think we need to wrap this up. This really isn’t your best work. I don’t think this is what you think it is. There’s no craft. It’s sloppy. This started with a lot more promise. No pay off though. No proofreading either. It’s not nothing. It might be better if it were nothing. Still. Whatever. It’s bold. This isn’t bold. Someone might think it’s bold. Or interesting. I doubt it. We need a title. It’s got to have a title.


161

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Make a list. If you can get a cool title that’s half the play. A kick ass title and the play will write itself. Make a list: Palmetto Bug. A Very Mild Heart Attack Southerly Winds Sunshine Tomorrow. Disposeia. A Plummet From the Summit Beats a Fall Off the Wall. Who are you? Danny Kaye? Stone Lion. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit? Shit. That could be interesting. You could do the “I” as a semicolon. Like W;t. Don’t push it. Just end it. Put it to bed. Go to bed. End it. The end.

Bomber Betty

Sheary Clough Suiter


162

CIRQUE

Mercury Sunderland

My Skin is Covered with a Thin Layer of Peanut Butter Characters: HOOD: A teenage girl. Wearing a big, impressive red cloak, has lots of daggers strapped all over her, complete with a sword in a sheath at her side, and a shield. Has a piercing or two in her lip. BRICK: A teenage boy. Wears lots of pink and reddish brown. Wears overalls with a large assortment of building tools such as hammers and mortar smoothers sticking out. WOLF: An adult man. Intimidating, tough, and very, very tall and muscular, wears lots of gray, tattered clothes and has shaggy, gray hair. Carries a large assortment of bladed weapons on him, like Hood. HOOD and BRICK are in a forest. It is about dawn, the lighting is very dim. They are looking around for something. BRICK: -- And then I told her, look, if you can’t -HOOD: Brick, do us both a favor and shut up right now. BRICK: But, Hood -HOOD: I don’t care. We need to be quiet, or he’ll hear us. And we want to have an advantage this time. BRICK sighs. BRICK: Hood. I still don’t believe you when you say that he’s back. HOOD: Shut up. He is. BRICK: I could do without the rudeness. HOOD: (Threatening with one of her knives) Brick, honest to god, if you don’t shut up, I will personally turn you into bacon. Okay? Shut up. BRICK trembles. He curls up into a ball, terrified. BRICK: D-- don’t even joke about that. HOOD rolls her eyes. HOOD: I’m not actually going to do that. Just stop talking. Okay? If you don’t, Wolf will hear us -BRICK: Oh, come on. Wolf died. I ate him. In that stew I put him in after the little fucker tried to get into my house through my chimney. He tasted like vengeance and like turnips and apples from the farmer’s field


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 and the souls of the two annoying little brothers that I lost to him. I can’t believe you want to pull me along with this silly charade. HOOD: Okay, you’re forgetting that I also cut open his stomach to escape him after he ate me and my grandmother. Point taken? He’s back. Again. He lives through the stories that the humans tell their children at night, just like us, no matter how many times we die in them. I don’t see why he’s any different. BRICK: He hasn’t been seen in the three centuries we’ve searched, and in the time that everybody has searched. Everybody is convinced he’s gone. And so am I. I want to leave. He starts to go the other way. As soon as he is a step away from being offstage, HOOD sprints over and roughly pulls him back. HOOD: Don’t leave. You ain’t goin’ nowhere. He is back, and I can prove it. BRICK: Give me a break. He DIED! I KILLED HIM! YOU KILLED HIM! WE BOTH KILLED HIM! HE’S DEAD! There is a rustling in the foliage near them. They stop, tensed. HOOD: (Hushed) It’s him. She carefully draws out her sword. There is silence for a while. WOLF: Took you long enough. Dazed, HOOD and BRICK turn around. WOLF has entered the premises. Been a long time since I’ve last seen you, Hood. Same to you, Brick. They are too paralyzed with shock to answer. WOLF laughs. I still got the power I had all those years ago, I see. You two are related to some tasty creatures. Got any more grandparents I could munch on, Hood? Any more siblings for my snack, Brick? No? What a disappointment. He chuckles, amused with himself. HOOD comes to her senses. HOOD: Wolf, I hate to break it to you, but eating two little pigs and an old lady and then failing to eat a third little pig and a little girl isn’t that much of an accomplishment. I mean, you were dumb enough to think that blowing down a brick house with your own breath would actually work. Times have changed. She brings her sword to WOLF’s throat. She smirks. And I have gotten stronger. How’s your belly doing, if I must ask? WOLF gets very surly and his posture changes. WOLF: Dangit, Hood, I’ve gone through, like, fifteen surgeons to fix it and it’s still messed up. Don’t bring that up to me. I’ve gotten stronger too. Dang you. You ruined my dramatic entrance.

163


164

CIRQUE As HOOD and WOLF talk, BRICK scoots his way. He is trying to leave. He is terrified.

HOOD: Well, it’s good to know that my blade worked so well, even back then. My weapons have gotten -WOLF: OI! BACON! GET BACK HERE BEFORE I HUFF AND I PUFF YOUR HOUSE DOWN! BRICK turns around, horrified. BRICK: Did you just call me Bacon? WOLF: Uh, duh, of course I -BRICK: I will not tolerate slurs, Wolf. HOOD: “Bacon” is a slur? BRICK: YES, AND BOTH OF YOU CALLED ME IT! WOLF: Well, I don’t know. You’d make some good bacon. It’d be good for my next project on Not-So-Epic Mealtime. Beat. BRICK: You work on Not-So-Epic Mealtime? HOOD: Oh, you go on that bacon-and-beer cringeworthy cooking show. You’re one of those. WOLF: What? I just go through it, under a different identity. I just have this thing I want to do next, you take a deep-fried ball of peanut butter and cover it in bacon, and then you slather on more peanut butter, deep-fry it, then cover it in more bacon -HOOD: No, no, that is disgusting. I can’t believe you. I bet you’re one of those fedora-tipping lowlifes who spends all of your shit time playing Black Ops and drinking Mountain Dew and eating your damn Doritos while wearing fingerless black gloves as you rant about -- what -- a -- MENINIST you are, or, oh, sorry, why should I be one to protect your fragile old man heart, MALE SUPREMACIST. Silence. Was I right? WOLF: (Sullen) I was house-zoned and you know it. HOOD: WHAT?! She stares at him in utter disbelief. I can’t believe this. I already thought it was bad that you ate my grandmother and attempted to eat me. But now this. She runs off to the edge of the stage, her head in her hands.


165

Vo l . 10 N o . 2 BRICK: Are you okay? HOOD: I -- I think I need a moment. Beat. BRICK: My skin is covered with a thin layer of peanut butter. HOOD and WOLF look at BRICK strangely. HOOD: … What was the context of that? BRICK: I can feel it. My skin is covered with a thin layer of peanut butter. HOOD: What? WOLF: Are you feeling the future? Your future as bacon? HOOD shoots him a glare. He doesn’t notice. BRICK: I -- I think I am.

Paint Me

Beat. Something’s telling me that. I’m feeling how I’ll feel after death. On Not-So-Epic Mealtime. I can feel more peanut butter being slathered on me and -He clutches himself, falling on the floor. He is writhing in agony. AHHH! AHHHH! I’M BURNING! WOLF: That would be the deep-fryer. (Licks chops) Mmm, I can already smell the sizzling bacon. HOOD: (Points sword at WOLF) You’re gonna have to get through me to eat him. That ain’t happenin’, unless you’ve forgotten the demise of the three bears. WOLF’s posture completely changes. WOLF: … You wouldn’t dare do that to me. At least, I hope not. HOOD: Hey, good ol’ Goldie paid good money for me to kill of those porridge-eatin’, chair-sittin’, bedsleepin’ grizzlies. They got what they deserved. And let me tell you, she might’ve called Baby Bear just right, but if you ask me, it’s Mama Bear who’s just right. She was a just right cloak, after all. Her blood was even the just right shade to dye it. She twirls around, showing off her cloak proudly. WOLF clings to himself, horrified for if that might happen to him. And I have to say, Mama Bear wasn’t the only one that was useful. I now have a nice red blanket and pillow on my bed because of her two other family members I killed.

Jim Thiele


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WOLF: No, don’t make me your victim -HOOD: Oh, you think that’s bad? I had to be sent to go kill those two little brats who ate that witch’s house. WOLF backs. Oh, Hansel and Gretel deserved it. They ate that poor woman’s house and then they ate her after she baked in her own oven for long enough. WOLF: Okay, first off, her house was made out of candy and they had to kill her in self-defense so that they wouldn’t die. But -- I didn’t know -- that they ate her -HOOD: Yes, they did. They were criminals. And now, thanks to them, I have -WOLF: No, no. I don’t want to hear it. You are absolutely disgusting. HOOD: I could say the same for you, you ate my grandmother and tried to eat me, so I don’t know why you would find that kind of stuff revolting. Actually … Come to think of it, we both originate from an ancient Middle Eastern story about a goat, aka YOU, who eats his own children, aka ME. WOLF’s posture changes. WOLF: … You still remember that? HOOD: Of course I do. You ate me. And now we’re both back, because our stories keep on living on, changing. And I swear to god if you try to call me your daughter again, I’m gonna stab you. WOLF: (Looking up at the sky, a bit regretful, his hands clasped together in some kind of prayer) I won’t. Beat. I used to be two entirely different creatures. I remember being that goat who ate you. But I also remember being a wolf, in a story similar to today’s tale, recorded in London, in 1849, where Brick also tricked me with turnips and apples, on a farm, and a butter churn from a fair, before I went down his chimney. That’s where we came from, although I have no memory of the unrecorded life I lived before that. And then I evolved from both of those stories into the same character, in this story with me as a wolf, and you and Brick and all of his brothers being seven kid goats, and I impersonated your mother while she was gone by covering my paws with flour, and then all of you hid in the house and I ate all of you except for one, who then got the mother to slice my belly open when she came back, freeing the rest, and then my belly was filled with stones and I died. It’s bizarre, really. Beat. HOOD: And yet, today, even after all those years, being two different characters, who evolved into one, you still are pathetic. WOLF: What? HOOD: Come on. After all these centuries, you are a goat who consumes his children, you are a wolf, the


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 very symbol of death and danger in Middle Age Europe, you are destruction in every symbol that you have ever been, and yet you are pathetic. WOLF: I don’t understand. HOOD: Have you not read or seen the stories that the new people come up with these days? In every fractured fairytale I have ever read or seen by them, you are pathetic. You are the crotchety old man who struggles, you are the lonely guy searching for sugar who decides hastily that hiding a badly-hidden murder is a better choice, you are the guy who hides himself rather than admitting that you did something wrong. What is Brick? Brick is the lazy man sitting in Dunkin’ Donuts, he is the clueless traveler in the very fabric of space, he is the bullied geek on the playground. What am I? I am the deranged child who has turned to murder, I am the young girl who has lost her entire family and puts curses on people, I am the assassin who is broken inside and trusts no one. That’s what they say about us, Wolf. And you know what? From what I’ve seen, I think they’re right. Think about that, Wolf. Silence. Think about that. Death himself is pathetic. Silence. You know, Wolf, there’s a big bounty out for you. I could get paid lots of money for killing you. They say … Oh, nothing less than five billion pounds’ worth of gold. WOLF: You’re kidding me. As HOOD and WOLF talk, BRICK comes to his senses. He is no longer writhing, but holds himself with caution. He looks at his hands. BRICK: (Muttering to himself) I’m back to the peanut butter sensation. He walks behind the others. They don’t notice him. Quietly, he listens. HOOD: Nope, I’m not. I’ve gotten very famous for bumping off other fairy-tale people’s enemies, you know. But I’ve been looking forward to you the most. WOLF: Well, then, why did you bring that -- that -- pig -- that -- piece of bacon -- along with you? He seems to be able to tell the future. At least -- I hope that’s the future … HOOD: Oh him? He’s always been able to do that, but it’s never at will. He’s feeling the feeling after death -- the feeling of being deep-fried and slathered in peanut butter in the future as bacon. Trust me, me and Brick have worked together for a very long time to catch you, it’s been … Oh, give or take a few hundred years of searching with him. I know him very well. But if you must know … She runs her finger along the sword she points. My real use for him? (Smirks) He’s nothing but bait. BRICK gasps.

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I just wanted to watch the annoying little guy suffer a little bit before he met his demise. BRICK gets up. BRICK: I can’t believe you. BRICK tries to attack HOOD. She evades. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU! HOW COULD YOU -HOOD calmly turns her sword to BRICK. HOOD: Silence, little piglet.

All Everything

BRICK: I am not a piglet, I am a fully-grown pig, and you will respect me and call me as such. I cannot believe you. I trusted you. I TRUSTED YOU. After all these centuries spent side by side, and this is what’s been going on all along? Well, Hood, I think the other fairy-tale people will be very interested to hear about this side of you -HOOD: This side of me? They clearly would need to know about how you tricked your brothers. I seem to be the only person who knows about that. BRICK’s posture changes. BRICK: That’s a secret. HOOD: Maybe it won’t be anymore. WOLF: Wait, what’s going on? HOOD: Oh, nothing, just the fact that Brick knew that his brothers would die. BRICK: NO, DON’T TELL HIM, I’M BEG -WOLF: Wait, what? HOOD: He told them to build their houses out of sticks and straw. Because he knew you were coming. He wanted -BRICK: -- STOP IT, STOP IT, THIS IS A SECRET, I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU, STOP IT -HOOD: To get more of his mother’s inheritance. Who then -BRICK: -- FUCKING STOP -HOOD: -- Had me sent after to kill her, shortly after that. Beat. BRICK: That was a secret.

Arthur Kwon Lee


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Beat. Well, since you’ve revealed your secret to me, I guess that means that I can go tell all the other fairytale people, about this side of you, I guess I can, I never would have expected you to -BRICK screams in agony again, falling to the floor. BRICK: AAAUGH! THE BURNING! THE PAIN! THE -HOOD: (Laughs) The deep-fryer. WOLF: You’re. Fucking. Sick. HOOD smiles. She turns her sword to him, and holds it to his neck behind him. HOOD: You know … I do really want that money. And I do need a new rug. Most likely a red one. I like red. WOLF hems and haws. He is terrified. A thought comes to him. He begins to huff and puff. WOLF: I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll -HOOD throws him off before he can finish. She throws WOLF face-first into BRICK. He chomps into him on impact. HOOD wastes no time. She plunges her sword into WOLF. She takes out her sword, coated with blood. She wipes some of the blood into her hair, and puts it back into the sheath. She smiles. HOOD: You’ll huff, and you’ll puff, and neither of you will be living ever again. She picks up WOLF. She drags him to a side. His blood is the perfect shade for a new rug in my living room. This will be nice. She looks over BRICK. All that can be seen as an injury are deep bite marks in his neck. Perfect. People will have no reason to believe that it wasn’t Wolf who killed him. A howling sounds. She looks behind herself. Oh, look. The Not-So-Epic Mealtime wolves have come to get some new meat. (Sighs.) I’m pretty sure Wolf’s told them his idea. She grabs WOLF, and drags him effortlessly offstage. The lights darken. As they do, you can hear a faint, ghostly sobbing sound of BRICK, sounding very much like the words, “I trusted you, I trusted you”. You can hear a pattering of paws, and a tearing of meat. End.

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CONTRIBUTORS Christianne Balk's poems have appeared in Cirque, Poemoftheweek. org, Women Writing Nature, Floating Bridge Review, Nimrod, Terrain, Alhambra Poetry Calendar, and other publications. Her writing takes on a range of subjects, including her grandmother’s work as a WW I nurse on the front lines in eastern France; Georgia O’Keefe’s struggle to paint in Hawaii; John Muir’s journey to transcend childhood abuse; and her own experiences as a poet, naturalist, and mother. Her most recent book is The Holding Hours (University of Washington Press, Pacific Northwest Poetry Series). Ray Ball grew up in a house full of snakes. She is a history professor at UAA, a Pushcart-nominated poet, and an editor at Alaska Women Speak. She is the author of a number of history books and essays and of a chapbook of poems published by Louisiana Literature Press. Ray has recent publications in Elephants Never, Moria, and UCity Review. Tim Barnes taught in the English Department at Portland Community College for twenty-five years, where he was the chair of the creative writing department and advisor on the literary magazine Alchemy. He is author of several poetry collections, most recently Definitions for a Lost Language. He co-edited Wood Works: The Life and Writings of Charles Erskine Scott Wood and has edited “Friends of William Stafford: A Journal and Newsletter for Poets and Poetry” since 2011. Gabrielle Barnett is an Anchorage based writer, primarily a poet. She contributes work regularly to both Cirque Journal and Alaska Women Speak. Toni La Ree Bennett’s verbal and visual work has appeared in Gold Man Review, Gravel, Poemmemoirstory, Puerto del Sol, Hawaii Pacific Review, december, and Memoir among other publications. She is also a photographer and lives with a flock of feisty finches. Photography can be seen at www.tonibennett.com Kristina Boratino was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, where her love for beaches grew to outweigh her love for coffee. Kristina has been published in Compassion International Magazine, and is a regular contributor for Erase MS. She resides in Edmonds, Washington with her two children. Nicholas Bradley is a poet, literary critic, and scholarly editor. His most recent book, Rain Shadow, was published by the University of Alberta Press. He lives in Victoria, British Columbia. Catherine Broom, a Washington Native, is intrigued by nature's artistry: A tangle of vines, scattered stones, light on tree bark or sand on a beach. Following a 40-year career in healthcare and academics, she now spends as much time as possible outdoors. She shares her forest with beloved birds and her vegetable garden with native varmints. Jack Broom is a Seattle native who retired in 2016 after 39 years as a reporter and editor at The Seattle Times. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University in 1974. His work in photography began in the 1970s as a reporter/photographer for The Wenatchee World, where he worked before being hired as a reporter at The Seattle Times in 1977. In recent years, his photographs have won awards

at state-fair competitions in Washington and have been featured in previous issues of Cirque. He is currently President of the Puget Sound Camera Club, an affiliate of the Northwest Council of Camera Clubs. Mike Burwell’s poems have appeared in Abiko Quarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Ice-Floe, Pacific Review, Poems & Plays, and Sin Fronteras. His poetry collection Cartography of Water was published by North Shore Press in 2007, and in 2009 he founded the Northwest literary journal Cirque. He’s been a Taos resident since 2013 where he finally found home among the wild landscape and its wildly generous poets. S.W. Campbell was born in Eastern Oregon. He currently resides in Portland where he works as an economist and lives with a house plant named Morton. He has had numerous short stories published in various literary reviews. If you’d like to read more of his writing, check out his website: www.shawnwcampbell.com Teri White Carns publishes haibun (Japanese-style short prose combined with haiku), and occasional blog posts about all things wheaten, at Wheatavore. Her lifetime awards include best poem in the 1980 Alaska Bar Association’s paper, The Bar Rag for a humorous poem about fly-fishing and not catching fish. After a long hiatus, she returned to creative writing, earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction in December 2017 from the Antioch University Los Angeles’s low-residency program, and continues to study and write haibun. As an English teacher in Kodiak, Ann Fox Chandonnet once had a "Twentieth-Century Fox" sign pinned to her back. Chandonnet grew up in New England, earned a master's at the U of Wisc (Madison) and lived for 34 years in Alaska. She has been writing forever and refuses to quit. Some of her titles include two volumes of poetry: Auras, Tendrils; and Canoeing in the Rain; and a food history, Gold Rush Grub. Chandonnet currently resides in Lake St. Louis, MO, where she walks her dog, bakes bread and grows cherry tomatoes. Kersten Christianson is a raven-watching, moon-gazing, Alaskan. When not exploring the summer lands and dark winter of the Yukon, she lives in Sitka, Alaska. Kersten is the author of two books of poetry: What Caught Raven’s Eye (Petroglyph Press, 2018) and Something Yet to Be Named (Aldrich Press, 2017). She is the poetry editor of the quarterly journal, Alaska Women Speak, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alaska Anchorage. www.kerstenchristianson. com Nard Claar has studied Art both in workshops and academic settings as well as taught and presentations here and abroad. Through his art, Claar promotes non-profits who value the environment, arts, and community. An avid cyclist, in addition to his abstract, impressionistic paintings, Claar is widely known for his energetic bicycle paintings. His work is currently exhibited in Colorado at 45 Degree Gallery, Old Colorado City, Academy Art & Frame, Colorado Springs, Manitou Art Center, Manitou Springs, and Stone, Bones, & Wood, Green Mt. Falls, as well as at Stephan Fine Arts in Anchorage, AK, Attic Gallery in Camas, WA, and the Encaustic Art Institute in Santa Fe, NM. Linda Conroy is a retired social worker who uses poetry to portray the


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 simplicity and complexity of behaviors that make us human. Her work has recently been published or is forthcoming in The Penwood Review, Muse Pie Press, Plainsongs, Mezzo Cammin and local anthologies. Mary Eliza Crane is a Pacific Northwest poet who lives in the Cascade foothills in Washington State. A regular feature at Puget Sound readings, she has read her poetry from Woodstock to L.A. Mary has two volumes of poetry, What I Can Hold In My Hands and At First Light, both published by Gazoobi Tales Press. Her work has appeared in many journals and northwest regional anthologies including WA 129 Poets of Washington (2017) and Bridge Above the Falls (2019). Mary co-curates and sometimes hosts the monthly Duvall Poetry reading series in her community, continuously running more than fifteen years. Chris Dahl cups handfuls of murky pondwater to examine a different world half-hidden in this one. Her chapbook, Mrs. Dahl in the Season of Cub Scouts won Still Waters Press “Women’s Words” competition. Extensively published, she also serves on the board of the Olympia Poetry Network, editing their newsletter.

171 Katie Eberhart earned an MFA from the Rainier Writing Workshop. Her poems and essays have appeared in literary journals in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Berlin; her chapbook Unbound: Alaska Poems was published by Uttered Chaos Press (2013). Katie currently resides in Central Oregon where she writes, arranges music, studies accordion and plays violin in a community orchestra. Her manuscript, Cabin 135: An Elemental Memoir of Alaska, is finished but as yet unpublished. Website: katieeberhart.com Catharine Edgar: I am a Pacific Northwest girl through and through. I enjoy putting my toes in the freezing ocean and wearing sweatshirts on the beach. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington searching for star fish and piles of driftwood as jungle gyms. I am a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a BA in Art History. While studying, I fell in love with photography. I believe in good, raw photography with minimal editing. I'm not about gimmicks, trends, or over-manipulation. I want to show you what my eyes saw, not something made up.

Scott Davidson grew up in Montana, worked for the Montana Arts Council as a Poet in the Schools, and – after most of two decades in Seattle – lives with his wife in *Missoula. His poems have appeared in Southwest Review, Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing, trampset, Terrain.org, and the Permanent Press anthology Crossing the River: Poets of the Western United States.

Rachel Epstein moved to Anchorage in 1994 and found work at the UAA Campus Bookstore as a temporary employee, receptionist, admin. assistant, and events coordinator. Her academic life includes earning a degree in European History from UCSC and studying Tibetan Philosophy in Seattle and at U of W. Before venturing north, she worked at an International hotel/hostel in Venice Beach, Calif. where people from all over the world exchanged poetry, music, and travel stories. Rachel lives in Airport Heights and shares her life with Brian and 3 cats.

Aslan Demir is a writer from Turkey, born in Van, an eastern Kurdish city. He completed his bachelors, as a double major, on English Literature and the Urdu Language. Aslan is a former English teacher. He completed his masters, MFA in Creative Writing, at Lindenwood University Saint Charles, USA. His works have been published in several magazines, most of which were on the injustice and ordeals his kin, Kurds, have been going through. He Currently lives in the USA.

Kerry Dean Feldman, originally from Montana, is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Anchorage. His publications are found in British, Canadian, and U.S. books and journals, including Cirque. Cirque Press published his collection of short stories, Drunk on Love: Twelve Stories to Savor Responsibly, fall, 2019. He’s working on a novel set in the 19th Century West told from the POV of a feisty mixed-blood woman who lived 103 years, as told to her grandson.

Kemuel DeMoville is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced internationally every year since 2005. Recently his work was performed at The Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles, and was the recipient of both the Residents Prize for Playwriting, and the Hawaii Prize for Playwriting from Kumu Kahua Theatre. He is also the recipient of the 2017 Milken Prize for playwriting. Kemuel DeMoville is an Aurand Harris Fellow by designation of the Childrens Theatre Foundation of America. He has an MFA in playwriting from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and his MA in syncretic theatre is from Victoria University of Wellington in Aotearoa New Zealand. His work has been published by Spider Magazine, YouthPLAYS, Heuer Publishing, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, Meow Meow Pow Pow, and is included in 222 MORE Comedy Monologues an anthology from Smith and Kraus Publishers.

Jodie Filan is an artist in Saskatoon, born and raised. She has been published in RAR, Dark Ink press, Buddy Lit Zone, *82 Review, Aesthetica (Europe), Pithead Chapel, Nunum, Riza Press, Penultimate Peanut, unstamatic, The Raw Art Review (Spring 2019), High Shelf Press, and Please See Me, among others. Recently Ms. Filan also placed 6th in Fusion arts 4th annual B+W competition (May 2019) and a painting of hers was accepted at Art Lark in Albany, New York (Garibaldi Maritime Museum); and another at Greenway Art Festival. You can view her art page www. facebook.com/jodiefilanart

Noelle Dennard is an emerging writer from Honolulu, Hawaii. Her main focus is on short poems, and she is most inspired by the themes of God, nature, and family. Steve Dieffenbacher has lived in the North Pacific Rim most of his life. Its landscapes and people are continuing inspirations for his poetry and photographs. His full-length book of poems, The Sky Is a Bird of Sorrow, was published by Wordcraft of Oregon in 2012, winning a ForeWord Reviews award. He also has three chapbooks, At the Boundary (2001), Universe of the Unsaid (2010), and Intimations (2018), and he has won honors in writing and photography in his career as a journalist. He lives in Medford, Oregon.

Tatiana Garmendia is a representational artist with a conceptual twist. Her work synthesizes formal concerns and a humanist engagement with history and culture. “History is not a subject I just picked up from a dusty schoolbook, but things I’ve actually lived. I remember playing in abandoned missile trenches as a child,” says the artist, who was born in Cuba during the height of the Cold War. Repatriation from the Spanish government took the artist’s family first to Madrid, and later to the U.S.A. Garmendia has exhibited her work throughout the United States and abroad. Her works are in public collections in New York, Seattle, Miami, Illinois, California, Ohio, and the Dominican Republic. She is the recipient of a Washington State Artist Fellowship, a Pollock-Krasner Grant, and a CityArtists Project Grant from the Seattle Arts Commission. She is represented by Patricia Cameron in Seattle. F.I. Goldhaber's words capture people, places, and politics with a photographer's eye and a poet's soul. As a reporter, editor, business


172 writer, and marketing communications consultant, they produced news stories, feature articles, editorial columns, and reviews for newspapers, corporations, governments, and non-profits in five states. Now paper, electronic, and audio magazines, books, newspapers, calendars, broadsides, and street signs display their poetry, fiction, and essays. More than 100 of their poems appear in sixty plus publications, including four collections. http://www.goldhaber.net/ Alfredo Ocaranza González is a Mexican writer who bears the influence of the Nueva canción movement that took place in mid-20th-century Latin America. This influence allows him to write based on the feeling of tenderness, but also with a penchant for social issues, progression, and a little magic. He is currently studying Literature and Gender Studies at Boise State University. Leanne Grabel, M.Ed., is a writer, illustrator, performer & special education teacher (in semi-retirement). Currently, Grabel is teaching graphic flash memoir to adults in several arts centers and retirement communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. In love with mixing genres, Grabel has written & produced numerous spoken-word multi-media shows. Her poetry books include Lonesome & Very Quarrelsome Heroes; Short Poems by a Short Person; Badgirls (a collection of flash non-fiction & a theater piece); & Gold Shoes, a collection of graphic prose poems. Grabel has just completed Tainted Illustrated, an illustrated stretched memoir, which is being serialized in The Opiate and Husband, a collection of graphic flash memoir. She and her husband Steve Sander are the founders of Café Lena, Portland’s legendary poetry hub of the 90s. Grabel will be the 2020 recipient of the Bread and Roses Award for contributions to women's literature in the Pacific Northwest. Another Chicago Magazine will be publishing her monthly for the next year. http:// www.orartswatch.org/conversations-with-leanne-grabel/ Donald Guadagni was a foreign expert teaching in Taizhou University and Ningbo City College of vocational technology as one of the first foreigner experts involved in the Sino-US projects class programs beginning in 2011. He currently teaches middle school in the Chaoyang district in Beijing. Prior to teaching in China and Taiwan, he taught in the Arizona public school system as a certified educator and his education background includes a degree in computer electronics, teaching certification from Cambridge and course studies in justice, international law, education and educational technologies from Harvard, Louvain and MIT. Makenna Haeder: I love the magic and mystery of the natural world, especially the magic that floats throughout all of the Pacific Northwest. I appreciate the different dynamics each forest and meadow and rocky beach has to offer. Through photography I am able to see the world in a different eye and express my imagination in my photos. I will continue to show the world how I view the magical wonder of the Pacific Northwest through my photography. Paul Haeder: I've been writing non-fiction since I was 17 years old, making it 45 years. I have been a newspaperman, magazine writer, radio personality, poet, educator, activist, social worker, novelist, and script doctor. I live on the Central Oregon Coast. There are always bald eagles and a few brown eagles as my companions. River E. Hall is a poet, short fiction writer, and naturalist. Hall’s writing is deeply influenced by her work as a wildlife tracker, environmental educator, and wilderness survival instructor. In a forthcoming collection of poetry, Rite, Hall invites readers to reconcile humanity’s severance

CIRQUE from nature through reconnection with ancestry and sensual intimacy with the natural world. She holds an M.A. in Education and is a graduate of the Wilderness Awareness School’s Anake Outdoor program, an intensive nature connection immersion program. Andrew Hamilton graduated from Saint Mary's College of California with his MFA in Fiction. At The University of Tennessee he received The Margaret Artley Woodruff Award for creative writing, The Bain-Swiggett Prize for traditional poetry, and The Knickerbocker Prize for nontraditional poetry. His work has appeared in The Saturday Evening Post’s Great American Fiction Contest, San Antonio Review, Blue Fifth Review, Maudlin House, BlazeVOX, The Rush, Glassworks, Reed Magazine, Crack the Spine, and Yes Poetry with new work forthcoming in The Main Street Rag, Dream Pop Journal, Flash Fiction Magazine, Surfaces.cx, and Abstract Magazine TV. Currently, I live near Seattle where I teach English and History at Brightmont Academy while providing service work for the recovery community. I have nearly completed my first poetry manuscript called The Broken Jar Hotel: Poems in Recovery. Recently, I started submitting a chapbook of published poems called Polarity. I am also working on a short story collection called Future Stories. For more information, please feel free to visit my website: www.andrewhamiltonwrites.com Kim Hamilton is a Northwest poet, writer, and editor. Her work appears in The Atlanta Review, The Mid-American Review, Comstock Review, Iron Horse Literary Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Spillway, and DMQ Review, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. In 2014, she published Visitation, a collaborative work with Seattle artist Carolyn Krieg. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Jim Hanlen has written two poetry books. Poems have appeared in English Journal, Cirque, Rattle, Four Chambers and 13 Chairs. Jim is retired and lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Gordon Harrison is a Juneau printmaker and calligrapher. TA Harrison: I'm a writer and photographer from Seattle but currently traveling through Europe. Beth Hartley has lived in Alaska since 1989 as a teacher, consultant, college professor and horse drawn carriage driver. She stays active writing poetry, short stories, as is working on a Novel. Beth nurtures her summer flower garden and frequently enjoys worldwide travel adventures with her husband James, always returning, in the end, to Eagle River and their two well behaved cats. Someday they are retiring to Taos. My name is Ryan Hickel and I am a life-long Alaskan who has traveled widely through Asia, particularly the greater ranges of that continent. I love travel for travel's sake and walking for walking's sake. I also love wild places that have been touched by deep human history. The mountains of central Asia have seen many a human tide sweep and roll across their vastness; they remain touched by deep millennia of human contact and yet not utterly shaped or controlled by it. I find this combination of raw nature and ancient civilizations to be particularly enthralling. This excerpt is from chapter one of Hunza - a novella or short story that is to be part of a collection of such stories that I hope to publish sooner than later. It is fiction, yet drawn heavily from my own experiences. Branwyn Holroyd worked as a social worker for over twenty years;


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 many of her poems are informed by this experience. A graduate of the Red Earth MFA at Oklahoma City University, she has publications in Cirque, San Pedro River Review, Room Magazine and Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art. Prone to wandering, Branwyn finds home in many places. For the time being, she lives in the attic of an old yellow house in Vancouver, British Columbia. Sandra Hosking is a professional editor, writer and playwright based in Spokane, WA, USA. Publishing credits include The Spokesman-Review, Journal of Business, Glass International, Inland NW Homes & Lifestyles, Down to Earth Northwest, Insight for Playwrights, Joey, 3 Elements Review, West Texas Review, and Edify Fiction. Her plays have been performed in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Canada, and elsewhere. She is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America. Hosking holds an M.F.A. in theatre/playwriting from the University of Idaho and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Eastern Washington University. Sarah Isto lives and writes in Juneau. She reconnects with Interior Alaska where she was born and raised by spending spring and fall at the family cabin in the Kantishna Hills. She is author of two non-fiction Alaska books. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including Timberline Review, Tidal Echoes, Penwood Review, Minerva Rising, Gold Man Review, Perfume River Review and Cirque. Eric Gordon Johnson was born in Fairbanks, Alaska and raised in Anchorage. He is a retired Geotechnical Engineer and is enrolled in the University of Alaska, Anchorage’s Masters in Fine Arts program in poetry. He is also currently working on a novella and also writes short stories. He has a short memoir published in Anchorage Remembers, and has a poem accepted for Leaving My Shadow: A Tribute to Anna Akhmatova. He has also been published in the literary journal Cirque.

173 late in 2019 CP has published seven titles of poetry and literary prose. Ariana Kramer is a freelance writer and poet in Taos, New Mexico where she curates poetry events for SOMOS (Society of the Muse of the Southwest). She lived in Portland, Oregon for 15 years and holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Reed College and a master’s in Education with a focus on Leadership in Ecology, Culture and Learning from Portland State University. In 2017, she and composer Andrea Clearfield were awarded a writers’ residency from the Leopold Writing Program and embarked on a poetic-musical collaboration which explores Aldo Leopold’s changing understanding of wolves and their ecological roles. www.arianakramer.com Chris Laskowski: I am an avid landscape photographer and hiker. I always push my creativity with the camera, experimenting in ways that sharpen my skills and allow me to learn as well as pass this knowledge to other photographers. Shannon P. Laws, born Seattle WA, lives ninety miles north in Bellingham where she was honored with a Mayor’s Arts Award in 2013 for coordination of various poetry events and 2016 in recognition for her LP radio production work promoting northwest artists. She received the Community Champion Award, 2015, courtesy of the Writer’s International Network in Richmond, B.C., Canada for collaboration with World Peace Poets. Shannon’s publications include three poetry books, Fallen, Madrona Grove, and chapbook Odd Little Things. https://shannonplawswriter.com/writer-profile/

Sarmonica T. Jones is a multi-disciplinary artist with several years of experience. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe. When Sarmonica Jones is not writing her latest fiction, or poetry, she can be found pursuing a photography project, bagging the latest mountainous peak, working out at the gym, painting abstract paintings, or whipping gourmet dishes on the fly. Whatever she is pursuing (you can be certain), it is her passion that led her there!

Arthur Kwon Lee is a Korean American visual artist best known for capturing archetypal imagery through a combination of historical figures and cultural mythologies across the globe. He debuted his first solo at The Corcoran Gallery of Art at twenty years of age and continues his meteoric rise as the Eileen Kaminsky Family Foundation’s youngest resident artist ever. Lee has been awarded by George Washington University, the Overseas National Institute, the Korean Artist Association and the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Last year, Arthur Kwon was awarded as the DMV's Asian American Artist of 2018 by President Baek of the Korean Society of Maryland for his contributions towards the community through visual means. Lee's influences go across the board from his relationship to the Jung Society of Washington, social and financial investment into the local church community and a lifelong commitment in martial arts.

Jan Jung lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband. She enjoys walking in the woods, choral singing, photography, and visiting with her three children and five grandchildren. She has worked as a mental health counselor and an elementary/special education teacher for many years. Jan has a passion for capturing images that might otherwise go unnoticed. Her photos have appeared in Cottage Magazine, Cirque, and in the children's book, Bridges Cloud.

Eric le Fatte was educated at MIT and Northeastern University in biology and English, and worked as the Returns King at Eastern Mountain Sports, but currently teaches, hikes, and writes in the Portland, Oregon area. He has published poems in Rune, The Mountain Gazette, Windfall, The Clackamas Literary Review, The Raven Chronicles, The Poeming Pigeon, Verseweavers, US #1 Worksheets, Perceptions, and happily enough, in Cirque.

Poet and essayist Sandra Kleven has published work in AQR, Oklahoma Review, Topic, Praxilla, Stoneboat, F-zine and the UAP anthology, Cold Flashes. She was twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her writing has also won notice in the UAA Creative Writing and F’Air Words contests. In 2015, Kleven was named to the Northshore School District, Wall of Honor as an outstanding graduate. Kleven has authored four books, most recently Defiance Street: Poems and Other Writing (VP&D Publishing House). With founder, Michael Burwell, Sandra Kleven is editor of Cirque. She works as clinical supervisor for a Native corporation. In 2018, Kleven and Burwell established Cirque Press. As of this date,

Kelly Lenox’s debut collection, The Brightest Rock (2017), received honorable mention for the 2018 Brockman-Campbell Book Award. She founded the Erase-Transform Poetry Project (erase-transform.ink). Her writing appears in Split Rock Review, Timberline Review, EcoTheo Review, The Light Ekphrastic, Cider Press Review, Heron Clan V, and in the U.K., Ireland, and Slovenia. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Kelly holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and is editor in chief of the Environmental Factor at the National Institutes of Health. She lives in Portland, Oregon. (www.kellylenox.com)

Jill Johnson splits her time between Alaska and Eastern Oregon. Feels lucky.


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Linda Martin lives in Homer, Alaska, where she and her husband own and operate a small business. Her first book of poetry, I Follow in the Dust She Raises, was published by UA press in 2015. She received her MFA degree from Pacific Lutheran University (Rainier Writing Workshop) in 2011.

length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. Her Godwit: Poems of Canada (FootHills Publishing) received the Eiseman Award for Poetry. She is a frequent contributor to The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review, and assistant editor and poetry book reviewer emerita for The Centrifugal Eye.

Tempeste Mavys is a young poet, fiction writer, and labor worker. She spends her time aspiring to fame while working the factory life and taking care of her fish tank and family's cats. She graduated community college with a degree in the arts, and had her poetry and short story “Mallory” published in the Patterns magazine, earning the Blanche Redman Award. Tempeste has a deep love for good lyrics, wild flowers, any animal she comes across, and trying to inspire the people she cares about.

Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. In 2008, Wood Works Press published his collection of flash fiction, Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms. His work appears in over seventy journals including Confrontation, Floating Bridge Review, Poetry Northwest, and Harpur Palate. In 2017, Finishing Line Press released Minkert's poetry chapbook, Rookland.

David McElroy lives in Anchorage and is semi-retired as a commercial pilot of small planes in the Arctic. He attended the Universities of Minnesota, Montana, and Western Washington. A smokejumper, fisherman, and taxi driver, he also taught English in Guatemala and Seattle’s community colleges. He has three books of poems: Making It Simple, Mark Making, and Just Between Us by U. of Alaska Press came out earlier this year. He is a recipient of grants from the National Council on the Arts and the State of Alaska Council on the Arts and Humanities. Gerry McFarland served seven years on the editorial board of Floating Bridge Press; he has published poems in many journals: Crab Creek Review, Crucible, Limestone, Sanscrit, Zyzzyva, Contemporary American Voices, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, Talking River, Pontoon, Cider Press Review, Chautauqua, Salt Hill Press, and others. His awards include: the Sam Ragan prize; finalist in the Grayson Books chapbook contest; December’s poetry contest; The Frost Place competitions; and 2nd Place in the Gemini contest. His first full length book of poems, The Making, was released this year.

Mohammad Ali Mirzaei: I was born in Iran, Tehran. My BA is in the field of News Photography from the University of Culture & Art Isfahan. My works have appeared in various festivals in Iran and have been awarded: First place in "National Festival of Iranian people," Chosen for the 4th Festival "Women and urban life," Winner of Best Collection in “Festival of Film & Photo Young Cinema,” and Chosen for the Fereshteh Prize (Tehran 2015). Also, my photos have been published in Midway Journal, TAYO, Columbia Journal, Hawai’i Review, Oxford, The Missing Slate, Silk Road Review & The Adroit Journal. I'm a member of the artistic team Paradise Ocean Literary & Photography Team, with management by Seyed Morteza Hamidzadeh. Keith Moul is a poet of place, a photographer of the distinction of place. Both his poems and photos are published widely. His grayscale photos are digital, often striving for a charcoal drawing look and mood. http://poemsphotosmoul.blogspot.com/ Zsanan Narrin: Figurative abstract work and eclectic visual storytelling reflect my mission— to start a conversation, to create an uplifting space where balance and a bit of magic can happen, and to engage the fraught process of selection we—each of us—face daily—and a choice to look for pure possibility in what is around us.

Ron McFarland lives & writes in Moscow, Idaho. Roger McGinnis first fell in love with the Olympic Peninsula over 30 years ago, hiking and photographing its beauty. He has a deep appreciation for the patterns and rhythms of the natural world from his many years working as an environmental scientist. His nature photography has appeared on the cover of two books, displayed at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center and PA Library and selected as winner in the contest for the Dungeness River Management Team website. Jessica Mehta: I am the author of over one dozen books via traditional publishers. As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, much of my work focuses on identity, particularly in the midst of our current political climate. I am currently a fellow at Halcyon Arts Lab in Washington, DC. I am working on two projects. One is the curation of an anthology by incarcerated indigenous women and the other is integrating proprietary virtual reality software with a pop-up poetry experience. My full CV and bibliography are available at my author site at www.jessicamehta.com Carolyn Mericle, M.Ed., is a passionate artist, therapist and doctoral student in clinical psychology. She is lives in the magical Pacific Northwest with her daughter, Sophia, and two cats. Karla Linn Merrifield, a nine-time Pushcart-Prize nominee and National Park Artist-in-Residence, has had 700+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the newly released full-

Richard Nickel: Born October 1st 1969 in Rochester, NY. Richard Nickel received a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from State University College at Buffalo, New York in 1996. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Ceramics 2000 at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. Richard has been an active artist and educator and has been published in several books on ceramics. His work has been shown in numerous juried and invitational shows. John Noland has been a janitor, carpenter, farm worker, grocery clerk, soldier, poet in the schools, newspaper reporter and editor, literary magazine editor and professor. He lives and writes near the Ocean in Coos Bay, Oregon. Much of his inspiration comes from the rugged, yet beautiful nature of the Pacific Coast. Nicole Stellon O’Donnell’s most recent book, You Are No Longer in Trouble, was the 2019 open submission winner of the Marie Alexander Series in Prose Poetry, Her first collection, Steam Laundry, was the Alaska Reads selection for 2018. Her third collection, Everything Never Comes Your Way, is forthcoming from Boreal Books in Spring 2021. Her writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Brevity, Passages North, Beloit Poetry Journal, Zyzzyva, and other journals. She has received fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation and the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation, and a 2016 Alaska Literary Award. Her work as a teacher has been Recognized with a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching.


Vo l . 10 N o . 2 Leonard Orr has published three books of poetry: Why We Have Evening (2010), Timing Is Everything (2012), and A Floating Woman (2015), all from WordTech/Cherry Grove. His work has appeared in Poetry International, Rattle, Black Warrior Review, Cirque, and elsewhere. He teaches literature at Washington State University Vancouver. Born in Providence, Rhode Island, Bruce Parker holds a BA in History from the University of Maryland Far East Division, Okinawa, Japan, and an MA in Secondary Education from the University of New Mexico. He has worked as a technical editor, teacher of English as a Second Language, and translator. His work has most recently appeared in The Inflectionist Review, Common Ground Review, Perfume River Review, Cirque, and The Alembic. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he and his spouse, poet and artist Diane Corson, host the Portland Ars Poetica workshop. Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita, has six full-length books of poetry, most recently Understory, from Lost Horse Press. Her poems have appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The New Republic, Prairie Schooner, Willow Springs, Calyx, and the Internet’s Poetry Daily. A Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she received the 2006 Holbrook Award from Oregon Literary Arts. In 2013 she was Willamette Writers’ Distinguished Northwest Writer. A seventh collection of her poems, One Small Sun, is forthcoming from Salmon Press of Ireland in March of 2019. Tami Phelps is an Alaskan mixed-media artist using cold wax medium, photography, assemblage, and fiber. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, and the Museum of Encaustic Art in Santa Fe, NM. She has exhibited in Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington. She is invited for a fourth Artist-In-Residency at McKinley Chalet Resort, Denali, Alaska, summer 2020. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, where she works in her studio loft. Vivienne Popperl lives in Portland, Oregon. Her poetry has appeared in Rain Magazine, VoiceCatcher, an online journal of women’s voices and vision, The Poeming Pigeon and Persimmon Tree Journal. She was honored to serve as a poetry co-editor for the Fall 2017 edition of VoiceCatcher magazine. Diane Ray is a Seattle psychologist, poet, and essayist. Her writing appears in Cirque, Drash, Common Dreams, The Women’s Studies Quarterly, Voices Israel, In Layman’s Terms, Jewish Literary Journal, IFLAC Peace Anthology, and The Seattle Times. She invites you to read online at "Beyond Nuclear International" her expose: "The mad plan to store nuclear waste on the beach," (12/2018) as well as her spoof, same topic, current issue online: Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis. Diane won Honorable Mention, Reuben Rose Poetry Competition, 2017. Ellen Reichman: Ever since winning first place in a fire prevention essay in second grade, Ellen has loved to write. She taught/counseled youth for 32 years specializing in at risk students. She was a contributing columnist for the Bellevue Reporter newspaper, and CURE magazine. Articles, essays and poetry can be found in the Seattle Times, Issaquah Press, CURE/HEAL magazine and Cirque. She wrote a first draft of a children’s book through National Novel Writing Month. Ellen is a native New Yorker but she and her husband of 50 years have resided in the Seattle area for 44 years. Loves of her life are her husband, two grown children, two grandsons, a standard poodle, staying active, and close connections.

175 Brenda Roper’s love of travel still exceeds her financial circumstance but her love of walking prevails. A 40 day pilgrimage on the Northern Coast of Spain (Fall 2020) invites jubilation and daydream. Walking as creativity. A yellow arrow. An act of faith. Quietude and connection. Follow her walking meditations and other caminos here: brendaroper. com Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest has inspired Jesse Rowell's fiction and poetry for over 24 years. Publications include Impulse Journal and National Public Radio, and a positive literary review from Pulitzer Prize finalist Luis Alberto Urrea. Jesse received the University of Hawaii Hemingway Award for Fiction and Poetry nominated by poet Nell Altizer, and he is a Honolulu Magazine Fiction Award recipient. Jesse lives in Bothell, Washington. Mala Rupnarain’s poems have been published in the January 2019 issue of Eclectica magazine. She’s also been longlisted for the July 2019 issue of Magma Poetry and received a Critic’s Choice commendation by the Big Pond Rumours ezine. A past president of the Society for Technical Communications Canada West Coast chapter, she works as a software technical writer on the lower mainland. In her spare time, she composes piano accompaniment and thinks of terribly inappropriate band names with her open mic night comrade. Siavash Saadlou is a writer and translator from Iran. His fiction has appeared in Margins, and his poetry in Sons and Daughters, Scoundreltime, KAIROS, and Saint Katherine Review. His translations of contemporary Persian poetry have been published in Washington Square Review, Visions International, Pilgrimage, and Asymptote, among other journals. Saadlou holds an MFA in creative writing from Saint Mary's College of California. He lives in Tehran. Rebecca Salsman grew up in Juneau, Alaska and obtained a Bachelor’s in Creative Writing at the University of Alaska SE in 2014. During her time at UAS, she served as the Junior and Senior Editor for Tidal Echoes, the school’s literary and arts journal. She was a freelance writer for the Juneau Empire and Capital City Weekly for 3 years and moved to Edmonton, Alberta in 2016 to be with her husband Jerry. She obtained a Master’s in English studies at the University of Alberta in 2018. She now spends her time writing, dancing, and chasing after a busy 1.5-year-old. Matthew Sanford is a student, carpenter, and former bomb disposal tech currently living in Missoula, MT. Vinnie Sarrocco is a poet and raconteur hailing from rural North Carolina, currently exiled to Seattle, WA. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Coffin Bell, SPREAD, Rue Scribe, Beholder Magazine, & others. He is the author of the full-length collection Poems for the Garbage Man (Chatwin Books). Peter Schettkoe is a romantic nature writer of everyday suburbia with an awakeness to life surrounding, searching for the pure-heart of humanity that seems elusive these days. In between putting together for his second poetry book, Peter can be found posting some works on instagram @words.oh.words Ann Schlotzhauer is a Kansas City native and graduate of the University of Tulsa. Her poetry, fiction, and photography can be found in Foliate Oak, Alluvian, Cardinal Sins, and more.


176 Suzanne Simons: I am a professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and teach poetry and interdisciplinary studies. I helped found the city of Olympia’s poet laureate position, and am a member of the Olympia Poetry Network. I have taught poetry at the Washington Corrections Center and community-based workshops. My work has appeared in Passager, Aethlon: The Journal of Sports Literature, Western Friend, and at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture in Joseph, Oregon. Cynthia Steele, a published poet and nonfiction writer and award-winning photographer, has an MA in Literature with a published thesis on Jewish/English WW I poetry and a BA in Journalism. She served as editor of UAA’s True North Magazine and The Northern Light. As an adjunct instructor for several years, she assisted with editing and layout for Understory, UAA's creative arts journal and joined as an associate editor for Cirque, and she occasionally reads for Poetry Parlay. Larry Slonaker: Larry F. Slonaker was born and raised in Great Falls, Montana. A graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, he has worked at newspapers in Idaho, Washington, and California at the San Jose Mercury News. He and his wife live on a (very) small ranch in Northern California with a few horses, a few dogs and the Last Cat Standing. Cheryl Stadig grew up meandering the woods, fields, and waterways of Maine. She lived in Alaska for almost 20 years, at various times calling Teller, Anchorage, Ketchikan, and Prince of Wales Island (POW) home. Raising two sons on POW and the experience of everyday life in Alaska influence her work greatly. Her work has been published in Cirque, Inside Passages, and other publications. She currently explores from New Hampshire. Kimm Brockett Stammen's writings have appeared or are forthcoming in Typehouse, Rosebud Literary Magazine, Crack the Spine Anthology, Atticus Review, and others. Her short story, "Accordion Breathing," received a 2nd Place Award in Typehouse's 2019 Short Story Contest. She holds an MFA from Spalding University. Scott T. Starbuck’s Trees, Fish, and Dreams Climateblog at riverseek. blogspot.com has over 60,000 views from 101 countries. His book of climate poems Hawk on Wire was a July 2017 "Editor's Pick" at Newpages.com selected from over 1,500 books as a 2018 Montaigne Medal Finalist. He taught ecopoetry workshops at Scripps Institution of Oceanography in UC San Diego Masters of Advanced Studies Program in Climate Science and Policy, at the 2018 California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC), and at San Diego Mesa College. Leah Stenson is the author of two chapbooks, Heavenly Body and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems (Finishing Line Press: 2011 and 2014, respectively); a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-editor of award-winning Reverberations from Fukushima (Inkwater Press, 2014). Her full-length book of poetry Everywhere I Find Myself was published by Turning Point in 2017, and her hybrid memoir, Life Revised, will be published by Cirque Press in 2020. She serves on the board of Tavern Books. Please see www.leahstenson.com.

CIRQUE as the assistant nonfiction editor for High Desert Journal. He has poetry published or forthcoming in CatheXis Northwest Press, Caustic Frolic, Projector Magazine, and others. He currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska. Sheary Clough Suiter grew up in Eugene, Oregon, then lived in Alaska for 35 years before her transition to Colorado in 2011. Her encaustic fine art is represented in Anchorage, AK by Stephan Fine Art, in Camas, WA by the Attic Gallery, in Santa Fe, NM by the Encaustic Art Institute, and in Colorado by 45 Degree Gallery, Old Colorado City, Stones, Bones, & Wood Gallery, Green Mt. Falls, and Academy Art & Frame, Colorado Springs. When she's not on the back-roads of America traveling and painting with her artist partner Nard Claar, Suiter teaches at Bemis School of Art, Colorado Springs Fine Art Center at Colorado College, and works from her studio in Colorado Springs. Online at www.backdoordesigns.com Born and raised in Iowa, Carol R. Sunde now lives within walking distance of the ocean and loves being in the Pacific Northwest. She keeps saying, "Rain is good." Retired from a college counselor position, Carol delves into her lifelong interest in poetry by reading and writing poems & participating in classes, workshops, and writing groups. She holds a Poetry Certificate from the University of Washington. Her poems have most recently appeared in Passager and Raven Chronicles. Mercury Marvin Sunderland is a Greek/Roman Wiccan transgender autistic gay man who uses he/him pronouns. He's from Seattle. He currently attends The Evergreen State College, and his dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He can be found as @ Romangodmercury on Instagram and Facebook. Mary Ellen Talley’s poems have recently been published in Raven Chronicles, Banshee, Cirque, Flatbush Review and Ekphrastic Review as well as in the anthologies, All We Can Hold and Ice Cream Poems. Her poetry has received two Pushcart Nominations. Jim Thiele worked as a photographer for a biological text book company for several years before moving to Alaska in 1974. He has worked for The Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the University of Alaska as a biologist but now is a financial advisor in private practice. His photographs have been seen in several publications, including Alaska Magazine, Alaska Geographic, and Cirque. He lives in Anchorage with his wife Susan. Taking photos forces him to stop and really see the world. Hamish Todd: A fan of writing since a teenager, I started two newspapers: The Pioneer Square Independent & The Vashon Ticket which ran for nearly 8 years and had a readership of 10,000. It grew and grew, a real writer’s forum. In 1993 I read my poetry with Xavier Cavazos and Allen Ginsberg at The Act Theatre in Seattle. Some colleagues and I went and performed at The National Poetry Slam in San Francisco. We won the first round but went home disappointed. I’ve been writing poetry (and some prose) and reading out ever since.

Matt Stevenson is a student and part-time photographer.

Lucy Tyrrell's poems and art/photography are primarily inspired by nature and wild landscapes, outdoor pursuits, family stories, and travel. In 2016, after 16 years in Alaska, she traded a big mountain (Denali) for a big lake (Lake Superior). Lucy lives the spirit of Alaska deeply even while living near Bayfield, Wisconsin. Her favorite verbs to live by are "experience" and "create."

Tor Strand graduated Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing. While in school, he was a head editor of Linfield’s literary journal, Camas. As a senior, he worked

Sean Ulman lives in Seward with his wife, daughter and son. He leads a writers group that meets at the Senior Center and teaches writing for Kenai Peninsula College. Cirque Press is publishing his debut novel,


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Seward Soundboard this spring.

Artist in Residence at Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, Crater Lake National Park, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Mesa Refuge, and PLAYA at Summer Lake, Oregon.

Margo Waring lives in Juneau, Alaska, a defining place. Her work has been published in literary journals for a decade. She thanks her writers' group for their support, encouragement and discipline. Margo Waring celebrates her 50th year as an Alaskan in October 2019. Her poetry celebrates Alaska, friends, family and aging. Twelve years ago, Sandra Wassilie moved to Oakland from Seward, Alaska. She served as poetry editor for Fourteen Hills while completing her MFA in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University (2012), and cofounded the Bay Area Generations Reading Series (2013), which is still active. Her poetry has appeared in Alaska Women Speak, California Quarterly, Cirque, Oakland Review, The Naked Bulb Anthologies 2016, 2017, and 2018, Sparkle & Blink, Transfer, Vitriol, Writing Without Walls, and in online publications. New work is coming out in the Civil Liberties United Anthology in June. W. Vandoren Wheeler was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He has published poems in publications such as H_ngM_n, Forklift, Conduit, and ratemyprofessor.com. His book The Accidentalist won the Dorothy Brunsman Prize and was published by Bear Star Press. He teaches in Portland, Oregon, and is finishing a manuscript called Lonely & Co. Richard Widerkehr’s work has appeared in Cirque, Rattle, Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and others are forthcoming in Midwest Quarterly Review. He earned his M.A. from Columbia University and won two Hopwood first prizes for poetry at the University of Michigan. His most recent book is In The Presence Of Absence (MoonPath Press). He reads poems for Shark Reef Review. John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/ Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

Paxson Woelber is a creative professional based out of Anchorage, Alaska. His creative work has been featured by National Geographic, the Atlantic, the Huffington Post Canada, USA Today, Google Street View [Grand Canyon project], the American Alpine Club, and more. He has been the designer and web designer for Cirque since its inaugural issue. paxsonwoelber.com Jenny Wong is a writer, traveler, and occasional business analyst. She resides in the foothills of Alberta, Canada and is urrently attempting a sci-fi poetry collection, Brazilian jiu jitsu, and electric skateboarding. Her publications include 3 Elements Literary Review, Grain Magazine, Vallum, NoD Magazine, Sheila-Na-Gig Online, The Stillwater Review and elsewhere. Christian Woodard: I am a hunting guide, currently based in Laramie, WY. My work has appeared in Pudding, Blue Unicorn, Barrelhouse, Artemis, BlazeVOX, FriGG, and others. Nancy Woods is a humor writer, oral storyteller and standup comic. She is the author of two books: Hooked on Antifreeze — True Tales About Loving and Leaving Alaska, and Under the Influence of Tall Trees — Humorous Tales From a Pacific Northwest Writer. Woods is a recipient of the Andy Hope Literary Award. Born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Woods now lives in Portland, Oregon. https://nancy-woods.com Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/ busboy, bike messenger, wilderness ranger and fire lookout. www. johnyohe.com Steve Zimmerman is a photographer who has recently started using his imagery as a starting point to explore alternative interpretations within same said image. This usually includes applying various tools within Adobe’s suite to achieve something beyond the original recorded photograph; including interpreting them as digital paintings.

Morning Williams: Current occupation: animated dust. Wendy Wimmer is a Believer Magazine fiction fellow at Black Mountain Institute/University of Nevada Las Vegas. She is the fiction editor of Witness literary journal and the founder of UntitledTown book and author festival in Wisconsin. Her work has been published in Barrelhouse, Blackbird, Per Contra, ANMLY, Drunken Boat, Paper Darts, Non-Binary Review, Salt & Syntax and more, as well as nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes, AWP Intro to Journal and Best New Voices. Her short story collection was recently named a semi-finalist in the Hudson Prize. She was most recently a featured reader at Believer Fest 2018. She lives in Nevada but her heart remains in the Midwest. Follow her on Twitter @ wendywimmer or her very irregular website www.wendywimmer.com Matt Witt is a writer and photographer from Oregon. His photography and blog may be seen at MattWittPhotography.com. He has been

Main Street Grate, Pendleton, Oregon

Jill Johnson


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HOW TO SUBMIT TO CIRQUE Cirque, published in Anchorage, Alaska, is a regional journal created to share the best writing in the region with the rest of the world. Cirque submissions are not restricted to a “regional” theme or setting. Cirque invites emerging and established writers living in the North Pacific Rim—Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Hawaii, Yukon Territory, Alberta, British Columbia and Chukotka—to submit short stories, poems, creative nonfiction, translations, plays, reviews of first books, interviews, photographs, and artwork for Cirque’s next issue.

Reading Now for Cirque #21 Submissions Open for Issue #22. Deadline: September 21, 2020

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES Eligibility: you were born in, or are currently residing in, or have previously lived for a period of not less than 5 years in the aforementioned North Pacific Rim region. Poems: 5 poems MAX Fiction, Nonfiction, Plays: 12 pages MAX (double-spaced) Artwork and Photography: 10 images MAX accepted in JPEG or TIFF format, sent as email attachments. Please send images in the highest resolution possible; images will likely be between 2 and 10mb each. If you do not submit full-size photo files at time of submission, we will respond with an email reminder. No undersize images or thumbnails will be eligible for publication. Bio: 100 words MAX. Contact Info: Make sure to keep your contact email current and be sure that it is one that you check regularly. If your contact information changes, make sure to inform us at Cirque. To ensure that replies from Cirque bypass your spam filter and go to your inbox, add Cirque to your address book. Submit to https://cirque.submittable.com Replies average two to three months after deadlines, and we don’t mind you checking with us about your submissions. Cirque requires no payment or submission fees. However, Cirque is published by an independent press staffed by volunteers. Your donations keep Cirque Press going. You will find donation buttons on Submittable and you can also support us via Paypal to cirquejournal@gmail.com. Thanks for your poetry, prose, images and financial support.

Turquoise Road Sarmonica Jones


Profile for Michael Burwell

Cirque, Vol. 10 No. 2  

A literary journal for the North Pacific Rim

Cirque, Vol. 10 No. 2  

A literary journal for the North Pacific Rim

Profile for burwellm
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