east coast ink issue 009 | WARMTH
C O N T E N T S EAST COAST INK | Issue 009 | WARMTH
L E T T E r
f r o m t h e e d i t o r 2
P O E T R Y 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 4 . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .................. .................. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..................
For James Agee manos Remember This House Styles Considering Paint Swatches 7. Broken Faucet Untitled No. 1 Untitled No. 2 english Convenient Deities ethanol Like Light to the Flies
F I C T I O N 2 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . T h a t O l d S a w A b o u t t h e R o w b o a t .................. Real Life in the Library
M I C R O F I C T I O N 3 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . S a i n t O l g a . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . H a b i t s .................. The Permanence of Impermanent Things
N O N F I C T I O N 3 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . P r o d u c e
.................. Mastrovito’s Game: A Lifer’s Parable
e a s t c o a s t E V E N T S , W i n t e r 2 0 1 5 - 2 0 1 6 4 1 r e v i e w s 4 5
.................. The Necessity of Participation in Rilke’s Poetry
c o n t r i b u t o r s 5 1
ISSUE 009 EAST COAST INK Winter 2015-2016
eci staff owner, editor-in-chief Jacqueline Frasca associate editor Austen Wright fiction editor Erika Childers nonfiction editor Jill Shastany
East Coast Ink Issue 009, Winter 2015-2016: Warmth. Copyright © 2016 East Coast Ink ISBN 978-1-329-77920-4
Cover image by Jacqueline Frasca. Images inside front cover, inside back cover, and on pages 13―14, 18, 29―30, 41―44 and 54 by Jacqueline Frasca.
East Coast Ink magazine is produced four times per year and is an individually owned and operated publication. For additional content , please visit ecimagazine.tumblr.com and connect with us @ecimagazine. Pitch us your creative nonfiction and submit fiction, poetry, micro fiction, book reviews, mixed media artwork and photography to ecimagazine@gm ail.com. Copyright of all materials reverts to the individual artists and authors. No materials may be reproduced under any circumstances without written permissions from the editorial staff.
letter from the editor W h e n we we re you n ge r, my b est friend Kyle and I used to sleep in absurd c o n d i t i o ns in winte r; I’ m ta lking flannel sheets, three c otton blanket s, two q u i l t s , a t le a s t o ne f le e ce b la nket , and an elec tric blanket c ranked all the way u p . It wa s ju x ta p os e d by neve r wearing winter c oats bec ause anyt hing othe r t h a n a h o od ie wa s f ra n kly u nc ool, and wandering around Cape Cod woo d s in t h re e fe e t of f re s h , wh ite s now to ret urn to t he house soaked through and e a g e r to s h a re ice cre a m with her Gram py. D e s pite th e s e a n tics a n d others, inc luding snowm obiling in New Ha mp s h i re with my d a d , I a m a c reature of hotter c lim ates. I never lear ne d to s k i . M y k ne e s h ave b e e n r u ined sinc e I first learned to c rawl, so I ’m afra id o f i c e s ka t i ng. I p ra ctica lly live for t he sm all handful of days Massac huset ts s e e s 9 5 - p l u s d e g re e s o f b r igh t s u n shine. I c rave literal warm t h, bec ause c old ne s s f ro m o t h e r pe o ple is o ne th ing I find m ore unbearable t han any tem pera ture I c o u l d e nd u re . T h e co ld cu ts right t hrough m e to a purely elem ental leve l . B u t a s I p re pa re to move b a ck to Boston in t he first week of January, I ’m no t wo rr i e d a b o u t wh a t a ll my Southern friends keep questioning: “What ab o ut the c o l d ? ” I d e a lt with Ne w Engla nd winters for 21 years; t here are ot her ways to ke e p yo u rs e lf wa r m. T h i s is s u e , we a s ke d ou r c ontributors to c onsider warm th beyond a l i te ra l s e ns e . T h e s co rch a f fe ct ion c an swell in your c hest , how a touc h ca n s e t yo u o n f ire , h ow a me re mem ory or m om ent of déjà vu c an c om plete ly ro b yo u o f h o m e o s ta s is . Or, h ow cold other people c an leave you. How do you f ind wa r mt h wh e n yo u ’ re lon e ly, when you’re blue? Winter is notorious for l e av ing u s c o l d i n more ways th a n o ne. We invite yo u to s tave off the winter sadness by reading t hrough this c o l l e c t i o ns of s torie s a nd poe try from writers all along t he E ast Coast . B e s ure to d e lve i n to th e f ictive u nive rse c rafted by M at t Lowe on page 24 and the v iv i d i ma ge ry Re b e cca Ogle invokes on page 35. We’ve also got a list of eve nts h a p p e n i n g a lon g th e co a s t th is winter to help keep you busy unt il spring , s o t h e s h o r te r d ays h ave le s s of a c hanc e to bring you down. Rem em ber, wa r me r d ays a re ah e a d . Yo u r s ,
“crowd: Girl Rising,” sarina mitchel
[ poetry ] 14.
Margaret Mar y Riley I lost my head shut it up under the house shoved dirt inside the mouth to stop it from screaming at night now the crowd wants to see they are crying for the headless wonder their fingers are shutting closedopenclosedopen but if you touch me I will fill your mouth with dirt—everyone knows fingers tumbling down my neck my rapist broke my collarbone do you want to touch it? for a conversation I will take your eyes place them inside my neck this house fucking kills me he burned my neck— he wanted to talk, are you scared my sister said I never learned respect that’s fine if you want I can burn for you.
for james agee Robin Wyatt Dunn
Low on the lengths of lawns the soul understands Agee’s legacy, not the length but the lawn, its frail and fatal grass, its urgent memory, of what had come before, and what was soon to follow, not 1917, not the Great War, but the Greatest of All Wars, for the human heart—
Low on the lengths of lawns my soul is washed and is at ease, in the chemical grass my own DNA is made, urgent and unsurprisable, for it knows everything— near enough to everything, asymptotic to everything—coded hard and spirally bound, a notebook for the ages.
Hear me and be delivered, and ask not what you can do for the grass, but what the grass has done for thee—everything and everything my son, it has done everything, and what it shall do for you today is erase your memory, and encode within itself the time the memory of who you were before, before you were you, when you were other yous, your ancestors, still felt trembling against its blades, our eternal savannah shall not fade, our eternal savannah is born countless times like a deep ocean in the bull and gut of our cosmos and awareness, a bull pulling and humming its journey up and into us:
Low on the lengths of lawns, my father has coiled the hose, and its journey, from the rubber plantations into my father’s hands, and the water’s journey, from the vast but finite water table beneath our feet , onto our greenness beyond green, already chemically fertilized in 1917 . . . this grass shunts and shirks us, yes, but more, it understands us, it demands us, it binds us like my father’s hands to our work, American and shrewd, hard-nosed and open-faced, laundered in the sun, my eyes struggling against the resiliency of our American fervor, our religious and American fervor, black and luminescent sweating in the sun, delivered into my body—
Low on the lengths of lawns delivered my hopes—not spurned but merely gathered, like sheaves—delivered my hopes into my hands, precious and few, monstrous, forgettable, binding as gene spirals into the eternal cosmos and my father’s warmth, his galactic smile and imperfect dentures the curves of cut glass in a church window yet unseen— perhaps unseeable—that I dream of even as I close and nap on the grass, as it reminds me:
He will not tell me who I am but in not telling me he has told me, for I am unnameable. I am American but I am everyone, burnt in the savannah, starving in the night , howling for fuel and food, unforgettable and forgettable at once for they are the same thing, bonded to light , and dancing, even in silence, dancing even in motionlessness, our atoms humming to the eternal band, a quiescent fury of green-throated atoms bursting and drinking in the juice of life:
Kate Ciavarra cold hands pressed in prayer and i wonder what weâ€™re doing tell me again that story busted lips and bruises flighty fists and stitches and cold cold hands
remember this house Steve Klepetar
how it seems to fall away from the hill like a great stone, rolling
scent of bread baking on winter Saturdays pine-scented cleaner the day company arrives how it looks among drifts of snow before the plow comes throughâ€”
orange chimney brick and trees bent into thin white trolls in the front yard
brown slush from your boots melting on white tile inside the black-scratched door how your legs ache, how cold fingers feel, how strong coffee tastes
when you finish shoveling, and how, careful as you try to be, it always burns your tongue.
Gar y Beck Warming weather heralds changes fewer garments, the younger the girls the less they wear. Old Eastern Europeans clad in heavy coats stroll the alien streets too dazed by reversal of fortunes, Americans staying home, foreigners going abroad, many to America where the Euro commands respect , requires service.
“find my mind,” sarina mitchel
considering paint swatches Jacqueline Frasca
Enough will never be said about the light of winter’s 7 a.m. There’s too much peace within such Little Dipper hues, so unnatural to give, readily as reproach, to a race whose carnal instinct is to dominate, spread their legs for men who call their reifications God, who is fallible beyond recognition, past the ambition we so often mistake to be virtuous, rather than a cannibalistic manifesto. Staying present is less a task than feigning a smile, though less muscles are exhausted. A fairytale or delusion derived through consistent high and low tides—wet lines of sand crawling such simple routine while I spent morning’s gentlest light nodding in and out of conversations and dimensions, lapsing and contorting against any grain of sanity. I spent afternoon’s sleepy summon nursing a disquiet , harrowing, petulant mind only sensing abandonment—can only place blame in its own mailbox, can’t erase escalation of Billowy Down progressive entangling. Sometimes an acute absence forgets to remind you to slip back out of your mind’s alleys, to waft like smoke or gas underneath the door, softer than Wave Crest wordless whispers crooning That’s enough— wintry draft , thin insulation realization to forward stationery thinking, defend different despondencies—if every man were empathetic, nuclear bombs would be buried, cast away like child rapists who deserve each other’s unrelenting denial of redemption, baking and tearing in Feral Sand.
There’s too much peace in the Soft Sky hue of 7 a.m. in winter; I’m erasing Evening Hush hope from my bones that I can leech the Morning Moon from pigments of your skin. Clawing crevasses in the construction, your anatomy is suffering; I feel the reluctance of your rib cage and the starvation of your cells. I don’t want the pigments of your skin— such a want is war and only hatred can recognize the humanity that saturates all intentional destruction. Your beliefs are hatred— they are a man before a congregation pointing, blind and erratic, at who you should defame, who should burn with the same cross at the base of your throat when the sky turns Aubergine. War is as humane as erasing lives like Phantom Mist chalk phrases on blackboards, sending anonymous men to the field with their gravid guns splintering young bones, young psyches unable to support the weight of losing their religion. I am a soldier for the pigments in your skin, up in arms about your trepidation, about every word stifled by silence in the rising rivulets of neglect and rank, every tremble mars morality to murmurs.
Margaret Mar y Riley most days I place my tongue between my teeth and lodge a stone underneath I’d like to know what happened when I died if the stone stuck in my mouth or if the nurse dug it out either way, I had to find a new stone volo domare— nunc possumne
Broken faucet Michael Mira
I hate to give you bad news after you’ve had a long day at work, but I must tell you that the faucet in our kitchen is broken, and that it has been flowing since morning, steadily pouring water into every crevice of our house:
flooding the living room where we love to argue; the dining room where you tried to stab me; the laundry room where we had sex that one afternoon; our bedroom where we learned to ignore each other’s silence. I hate to give you bad news after you’ve had a hard day trying to keep your life from falling apart , but I had to tell you that the faucet in our kitchen has been broken for a very long time.
untitled no. 1 Kaitlinn Estevez
As winds escalate and howl, I am coerced to stand firm. Yet , if I stiffen and refuse to sway I snap and disinherit my pith.
As air turns frigid and bitter I yearn to decorate. While I paint in vivid colors these are not dresses I keep to wear. As days shorten abruptly, the sun forbids to kiss me so I inquire within me, all that Iâ€™ve hoarded and stored. As winter crawls, I know soon it will run colliding with me like last and years before.
I hear it singing, swelling beyond the outskirts, only a faint whisper, Yet , in the city streets, it hums. It somehow slinks past the barricade of skyscrapers. It is loudest at night , augmented without the light .
I sing along. And though it sings every year, reaching an outro we resist the arctic bite its notes reach.
Forgetting, every November, the fervor our choral response makes. Forgetting, it brings us a cadent warmth summerâ€™s heat is inept to yield. So let my body will dance with it , for I will strengthen and grow. And rid myself of what dies, for I will return with blooming hands.
untitled no. 2 Kaitlinn Estevez
We say “as constant as the sun,” but what an insult to her fury. We are still children coloring yellow circles on our pictures.
Although I’ve seen the routines of her dance, have noticed a rhythm, I have also been befuddled by her untimely scorch and rage. We forget , in our seats, perhaps too far from the stage that she is rumbling above us, collapsing and caving in to emit out .
We taste her spots and winds, but only grumble by its inconvenience forgetting by only a fraction closer we would obliterate, we would scorch. As spectators we have become illiterate in the language she speaks, and although we adorn thrones for her rule, we forget she does not sit . We have deemed her a crown, but it burns off on her head In one flame, she possesses more gold than the galaxy could forge.
Have you not seen her flirt with the moons in our skies? Rocks that are reflecting her, erecting her into the sky as they leave. It must be that my soul was designed by her hands, and perhaps a flare escaped and was bonded within this cage I am bonded in.
And now I limp in winter months scythed by our tilts and sways A strife effort to go unnoticed, yet she sings above me and my skin is undone She whispers “come home” in her songs, so I gather the kindles sustaining my light to travel back to the stars.
Kate Ciavarra Letters do not stop time but Iâ€™ll keep trying to weave that kind of spell until the pages crumble and words are dust and we are all gone. Maybe Iâ€™ll still be here.
Convenient Deities Holly Day
The god of the bus stop tells me it’s going to rain today, reminds me that I have an umbrella under my desk at work, reminds me that I’m trying to quit smoking. In the days before the bus stop god moved in and chased away the other riders the occasional sleeping bum, I used to smoke a half a pack a day, but I don’t anymore.
The god of my office has already set my umbrella out for me, apparently tipped off by the god of the bus stop, or perhaps some random weather god I haven’t met yet , has already removed the spare change from my desk drawer so that I won’t be tempted to go buy a couple of cigarettes from the smokers in the warehouse during my lunch break. I have just enough money in my pocket for the bus ride home, and I thank the bus stop god for leaving me with that . At home, the god of my apartment lets me know how many times the electricity flickered on and off due to faulty wiring that my landlord really should fix and how many times he saved my apartment from filling with gas from my stove’s extinguished pilot light , lets me know my cats are safe with him in my home, that I need to do my laundry soon.
Samuel Augustine the quality of cranes lies in beyond the reach of words appreciation grows unraveling the sadness arises from once having harbored cranes, now stand humbled, adrift in history millet and other grains to be sown in order that the birds may not want , crane music and cranberries, in the marsh grid ironed drainage canals, specked new fields added aftermath of dept envisaged farms beset by frost sun-energy against the waste, grate pockmarks, burned field and meadow scars down to the sands, the old lake, hundred centuries rank sprang out of ashes remnant of unburned meadow grew poorer, fires deeper, larger cranes numbers cranes scarcer year by year cranberry growers plugging ditches solitude recognized valuable only by cranes, clouds will fall, tinkle of tiny bells then silence never to be broken perchance in some sandy region far pasture of the milky-way
like light to the flies Jacqueline Frasca
Those lashes greet my skin like the shine of wet ink and the hunger claws its way up my throat , heavy and pulling like a riptide takes the queen. I sing to you and my songs make you sad as they drip pieces of your mother into the room. You ask me not to sing, you ask me not to stand so still.
For every ounce of muscle I tensed, you held more loosely like succumbing to a hurricane that only loves at one windspeed. You went to save your neck from breaking as my bones splintered in their grip on the idea of you. Still in all my fury; a book never written that never opens, wakes, or speaks.
I couldnâ€™t help the holding when a swell in my chest tried to take the moon away. Then it rained and your fingertips found notches in my spine despite my skin, your teeth peeked out and I received them. Each thing you discarded when sunshine peppered, I folded into my bends and breaks, wanting the light but asking, regardless, for rain.
amelia laney hall
” s n o w m a n , ” s a r i n a m i t c h e l
[ fiction ] That Old Saw About the rowboat Matt Lowe
My Dearest Lady Exile: As I imagine you know, before the Death-of-Earth, her people loved riddles. They shared them across linguistic and cultural barriers, across generations, and later, across various social media. Today, I will tell you a new version of one of the classic riddles. Originally, it involved a man who needs to cross a river, ferrying not only himself but also a fox, a chicken, and a sack of corn. You begin to see, even if you’ve not heard this one before, where it leads: The rowboat’s only big and floaty enough to hold our man and one other item; he can’t leave the fox alone with the chicken or the chicken with the corn, or somebody gets eaten; and then our man will have a much less complicated riddle to solve. Fortunately, our man loves crossing rivers, so he doesn’t mind making multiple trips, and eventually everybody gets across, some of them more than once, and nobody gets eaten. Now in some versions the fox remains constant , but the other items are a goose and a bag of beans, and in others we swap in a wolf, a goat and a cabbage. And we aren’t allowed to ask silly questions like, Why does the river need to be crossed in the first place? or, Why would anyone want to cross a river with a man-eating predator? or, Why not just let the fox/wolf swim across? Evidently we’re meant to conclude that our man’s as keenly interested in preserving the local ecosystem as he is in chickeneatings, river-crossings, and riddle-solvings. All of that said, Dearest Lady, the version of this tale that unfolded today involves myself, a Houseplant , a young Outfox, a miniature Space-Giraffe, and three bags of what I desperately hope is Outfox puppy-kibble. We don’t usually get much backstory for our river-crossing, riddle-solving, fauna-preserving friend (was he too worn out , from rowing across the river five times, to recount the details?), and I’m too tired to relate much of mine, with everything else I must tell. But you’ll recall from my previous entries that Keener hadn’t been getting adequate nutrition from what I’d been feeding him; so the plan of raiding a passing Outfox ship, while admittedly desperate, became more attractive every time he gave me one of those Shakespearean looks— the lean-and-hungry kind, I mean. Boarding an Outfox ship isn’t that dangerous, I reasoned, for they are notoriously lazy (even with their radar) when they ’re not hunting. And if it seems unwise to have brought Keener along, well, his nose would be useful in finding the food he needed, I thought , as long as I could keep him quiet . And in keeping with the riddle, I couldn’t very well leave him alone on our ship to gnaw on everything in sight , was I? Would you much care for teeth marks all over your book-bindings, Lady?
So that’s how I found myself in the enemy ’s galley, with a leashed, muzzled, plaintively whining Outfox kit in tow, manhandling—womanhandling!— three giant feedbags into my tiny shuttle. The bags’ weight alone would have been a problem, but with Keener underfoot , yip-yap-yupping (such as he could, when muzzled) at the prospect of food, it was near impossible. Each trip from the Outfoxes’ feedingbay to my shuttle felt like a miniature river-crossing: keep your balance, Tillie, and keep the bag away from the fox! Just as I was dropping the third bag into place, of course, was when Keener decided to complicate matters, scenting something new and bolting, tearing the leash from my straining hand. If he should happen on one of the Outfoxes aboard— or if they should happen on him—well, lazy or not , it wouldn’t take them long to find me too, and to warmly issue us the wrong kind of dinner invitation. So I ran after him, calling his name in a half-whisper, half-gasp, and ’round a few corners (thankfully deserted), I found him and what he’d scented. There in a cage, next to a pile of disturbingly recent bones, was something I can only describe as roughly like a baby giraffe. Even looking at him now, when we’re safely home and he’s curled up in a sleeping ball of legs, the “roughly like” part fits. If I handed you a square of green-and-blue plaid flannel and said, “Please, Sweet Lady, make me a giraffe,” you might hand me back an origamied bundle more closely resembling a lumberjack’s laundry-pile than a Giraffa camelopardalis from dear departed Earth. Yet somebody got at least a few of the details right when they made him: The ossicones knobbing the top of his head are about right , and so are the eyes and tongue ( you must not ask me about the tongue just now, Lady!), and when I look at those, and at the long, awkward neck and legs, my mind says, Giraffe. Or SpaceGiraffe, I suppose—but something like a giraffe, even if it’s nothing like a giraffe. That is what my mind says now. What my mind and mouth said then was something else, with which I will not scandalize you, Dear Lady. At any rate, there I was, desperate to leave, quietly. There Keener was, equally desperate, it seemed, not to leave behind the Space-Giraffe—but whether for food or companionship, I couldn’t tell. (Why does that never enter into the rowboat-river riddle? What if the fox was not hungry but lonely, or wanted to make sweet courtly love to the chicken? Or supposing the chicken didn’t want to eat the corn, but to plant it , with aspirations of leaving the riddle entirely, becoming a cornbread-producing version of the Little Red Hen?) And then there was the Space-Giraffe. “Wanna come out , boy?” I whispered. “If you don’t come with us, you’ll probably join that pile of Recently Gnawed Bones by dinnertime.” “Mayo,” he replied affably, giraffably. “Mayo, gafaelaf.” Or words to that effect . Taking that for a yes, I opened the cage, hoping he wouldn’t make a run for it like Keener just had. But no: He moseyed out , showing no fear of Keener, only curiosity. After an awkward exchange of snifflings and whifflings that I don’t have the space, time, or patience to describe, I grabbed Keener’s leash and tried to lead us all back to the shuttle. But Space-Giraffe held back, and walked back into his cage, mayo-ing in the direction of a smaller cage behind his, which his plaid folds had hidden from my view, and just out of reach of his protruding neck. Inside the smaller box was a tiny houseplant , ceramic pot and all: a bit like jade, or stonecrop maybe, as I look at it adorning my writing-desk. Yes, as you’ve guessed, the plant had to come too, because I needed to leave quietly, and Keener wasn’t going to come quietly without Space-Giraffe, and Space-Giraffe wasn’t going to come quietly
without Houseplant . I think that was when I began to envy the simple problems faced by our man in the rowboat . No, wait— it was when I began to hear the menacing pitter-patter of Outfox feet; only a little ways further down the corridor from us, I guessed. Yes, that’s when I began to envy that guy. Partly because we’re never told why he needed to cross the river, but it’s a pretty safe guess that nobody crosses a river five times if something wicked-hungry this way comes. I stepped around Space-Giraffe’s cage and grabbed Houseplant’s box. “Keener, come!” I hissed, and darted back the way we’d come, with Keener happily keeping up and— please, God, for I didn’t dare stop to look back, everyone knows Outfoxes run faster if they see you looking over your shoulder!—Space-Giraffe hopefully right on our tails, now that I had his food/friend/decor in hand. Lady, I’ve heard the stories of road-trip vacations from before the Deathof-Earth: cramming the station-wagons and the crossover-vehicles full, to take everything a family might need. I can promise you that few of them were packed as tightly, or as quickly, as I packed my family into my crossover vehicle today. Unlike our man’s rowboat , there was room here for me and more than one item at a time, but not much more: never mind that the feedbags seemed to take up half the space in the shuttle, everybody pile in! Make sure everybody ’s compatible, and keep them away from their comestibles. Keep the Space-Giraffe just close enough and not too close to Houseplant , keep Keener away from both the puppy-kibble and SpaceGiraffe, just to be safe; now everybody exhale, slam the hatch and lock it tight! Not just to keep out any influxes of Outfoxes, but because the airlock’s opening— and here comes the river. Again, that rowboat guy had it easy. My river isn’t like his; it’s a black vacuum, deathly cold. But it was warm and cozy inside the shuttle—maybe a little too cozy. And Keener, being an Outfox, whined and pawed at the porthole, wanting what all Outfoxes want: to go out , unless they ’re already out , at which point they want to be Infoxes, indoors. And I remember thinking, if the Outfoxes back on their ship get a clean shot at us, there will be a draft in here, and it will get cold in a hurry, and Keener will get to go outside after all but he won’t be very happy about it then! But as Outfox ships are accustomed to hunting in packs, they missed their chance, and by the time they were ready to come after us we were home and piling back out of the rowboat and getting away safely before they could call for help in the hunt . Or maybe I should say, we were trying to pile out; because Space-Giraffe, what with being all folded and smushed around on the trip across the river, and having one of his legs lightly nibbled on despite my best efforts, well, by the time I got him un-origamied and out of the shuttle, I’m pretty sure some of his plaidflannel folds are creased in different places than where they were before, though he doesn’t seem bothered at all. Far from it , Lady: He had a snack in the Willow Cabin, while Keener gobbled his new kibble and I made sure the Outfoxes weren’t tracking us, then settled down for a nap. But now he’s awake and nuzzling his way around my desk, trying to get to Houseplant , and I can hear Keener starting to gnaw on something. So I suppose it’s time to end this entry and take them both for a walk in the Cabin. But I’ll steer clear of the stream. I’ve had enough crossings for one day.
real life in the library Dee Travis
She breathed in through her nose, relishing the smells of old books and neglect . Smell was the sense most frequently absent on the Alternate. She breathed out through her lips, trying to expel her fear and shame and failing on both counts. She didn’t dare look up, instead surveying every detail of the floor. She had already taken in the room: 12 women, not including herself, 14 men, mixed ages. Just start, she thought . No script , no bullshit; just start telling the truth. One more swallow, and she spoke. “My name’s April,” she said, voice buckling, “and I’m a VR addict .” The resounding “Hi, April” came stronger and louder than expected, giving her just enough hope to push forward. “I’m 34 years old. I’ve been on the Alternate for at least a few hours every day since I was six, so some quick math I scribbled on a napkin tells me I’ve probably logged between eight and 10 years in artificial reality.” Fear flowed back into the silence that followed this admission. Keep talking. “Some part of me knew I was spending too much time with it , but I didn’t know how to stop. I hardly ever saw my parents, and when I did, it was online. And then one day I woke up excited… maybe the last time I woke up excited in my real bed…” She felt tears forming in the sides of her eyes. “It was my 12th birthday. I ran in to see what my parents had planned for the day, and they were just lying there, wired into the Alternate… they forgot my fucking birthday.” She wanted someone to tell her she could stop talking; that just showing up and saying this much was enough, but no one did. If felt like a high wire walk; knowing there was a safety net didn’t change the fact that she was all alone up there. “As the real world got worse, I spent less and less time in it . My school, my relationships, my friends, my job—everything happened online... and then somewhere in there, I discovered the sexual stuff that the Alternate had to offer…” April’s chest tightened as her voice gave out . This was the side she felt the least comfortable showing, even to herself. She doubted she was the only one, but she wondered if her secrets were darker. While most of her friends went online to drink and drug, April had plummeted into virtual sex, blowing past every boundary she thought she had. She cleared her throat; there might come a time to say more about it , but not today. “It took years for me to seek help, and then it took days to find this meeting. Almost every recovery group for everything meets on the Alternate, but I guess this one doesn’t for obvious reasons.” A smattering of nods and laughter. “I’ve been offline for 10 hours, and I’m pretty sure this is my first time in a real-world library since I was a kid; I can’t even remember the last time I was with so many real people in one place… and I guess what I want to say is that I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know how this works. I’ve been living in a fantasy for so long, and all I’ve got are lost years and baggage and…” She closed her eyes. “I don’t know how this works,” she said again. “But I’m here. That’s all I can
say for sure right now. I’m offline, I’m broken, but I’m here.” It was a confession, an exposure, almost a prayer. She sat in her chair, unsure and cold. And then something amazing happened: Voices enveloped her like a warm blanket . A chorus of encouragement came stronger and truer than she could ever have anticipated, speaking all at once. “Thanks, April.” “Thanks for sharing.” “Glad you’re here.” “Keep coming back.” She opened her eyes and looked around the circle, knowing she would never forget the way that felt . Glad you’re here. Keep coming back. She knew it wasn’t the beginning of total sobriety. It didn’t feel like the beginning of anything perfect— just the opposite. It felt like something real.
[ micro fiction ] Saint Olga
Emma McPherson Nothing, I was almost nothing. I repeat it over and over, blades of grass staining the fists I crush them in, every small action a self-hemorrhaging mantra. I tattoo it in loathing on the inside of my skull. I repeat it to myself until every other word I utter in this life will echo it beneath. This is not really grass and I am not really anywhere. A man is talking to me about the Fear and I tell him, staring at the whiteness and trying to focus my eyes with no focal point , “It doesn’t matter if you stop them.” Nothing. I was almost nothing. The man sighs and sits down beside me, falling the last foot to the ground with a thud. I release the grass, staring at my arms without seeing. They are bandaged up, trying to heal. The body is doing what they ’ve programmed it to do; the mind is erasing itself, swipe by swipe. I am not really anywhere. He is watching wide, blank eyes as he mutters, “You never have to go back out to the Highway. You can live now.” “It doesn’t matter if you stop them,” comes my voice, whatever the ownership of the concept can mean to someone. The chords in my throat have lost the ability to utter any other speech pattern. I stare and stare at my wrists, watching them unravel—layers of skin, the nerves firing, muscles stripping their strings, veins unfurling, then back together again. Bandages layer back on after they cut themselves back open. Over and over. Her image, Olga, bursts before me and I reach to clutch it and feel nothing. I feel her destroying her own hands so she wouldn’t be found, so no others would go. And I was so close. I was so close to her. My wrists are banging themselves into the ground. The man leaps over to restrain me. My head slams instead, over and over. The weight of him I’m calculating down to infinitesimal amounts, smaller and smaller until the scale of it is massive. He stops my head; I bite my tongue to choke on blood. Each segment of consciousness presses in and spans out before my eyes and he is screaming as if it matters, as though it’s anything. As if we’re somewhere. He shoves his wrist between my teeth and I stare at the sky, the lack of everything, and wait to be free. “Nothing!” my voice shouts. Absolute longing. “I was almost nothing!”
“arms around me,” Kat Lanser
“Once it hits the lips!” he moaned while taking the first sip of his first one. How many he will have tonight will depend on a great many things and sometimes nothing at all. Certain days it takes several to have the desired effect; the one you always chase after a long day, the one you discovered when you were too young to care and first found a way to facilitate that apathy. Sam, however, had none of these reasons to drink; he had complacency. He simply liked the taste, preferred it to water and preferred it to anything else. He was a happy drunk, friendly by nature and friendlier by the third pint , opening up the conversation to the neighboring drinkers and newcomers as they ’d take their seats and have their first sips. I admire him from the other side while pouring us both a shot of rye. “Ah, once it hits the lips!” The walk home through the early mist of dawn offers a bright clarity. I welcome the last beautiful days of fall and breathe in the first chilling signs of winter. The sky is always a gradient from a deep blue to orange with pink hues erupting into morning. The last fallen leaves have been crushed beneath our feet . I replay the conversations had during the long night while alternating humming with whistling, Lou Reed, Etta James, Otis Redding… I recount the hours and wages and always burst out laughing; shortchanging comes with selling yourself short . I pick up my pace to match my racing brain that knows there is a bottle waiting right where I left it . Tucked in my otherwise empty bed and under the pillow, my mistress pipe available for if Red Label hasn’t got what it takes. Certain days it takes more to get the desired effect and after a night like this, when the recycled casual conversations have turned the blood to ice in my veins it will take much to thaw the stoicism from my heart . I make it to my door and stumble through the dark to my room where my lovers are waiting. I take off all my clothes and climb into bed and take Johnny into my arms. I fill my belly with drink and my lungs with smoke and finally start to feel the blood flowing, bringing it to a boil as it bubbles to my beating heart . “Oh! Once it hits the lips!” It hits and heats and brings the warmth the cold night could never bring.
the permanence of impermanent things Emma McPherson
My nail is broken and my dog is beside me. I’ll let it stay with me, catching in my hair, until the feeling of its separation morphs from the sadness that its leaving into horror that something gone is still clinging. The sickness of it is with me, mute as I am with the phone loose against my ear. I know that fear; I relive it every January, when at odd intervals I’m back in that unfinished basement with his arms vice-like around me, and he’s sobbing into my stomach like I’m the one leaving him but all I can feel clearly is the couch against my shins, aching to run, shaking with forced stillness. He stood and kissed me when I had to leave and I left through the back door, no one to watch me leave. I haven’t left . “It’s unreal to hear your voice.” His is like listening to ice enter my stomach and re-solidify, like letting a paper cut bleed itself out . I sit down on the bed to try and quell the pacing, put my head in my hands. “I still think of you when I’m with other girls.” No wonder it always feels like he’s still between my legs. The pacing wins. “I can almost feel you in bed with me now.” I punch a frame off the wall. There’s glass in my knuckles and he is still on the other end of the phone, blind to the blood, the ache, his voice poison in my veins, cauterizing as it burns. Do I still have the necklace, do I still have the bruises? I search my body for them, convinced nothing changes. My nail is broken and my dog is beside me.
[ nonfiction ] produce
Rebecca Ogle Poppy seed Possibility is a colorful expanse gliding by at 80 miles/hour. My bliss is the fact that this, too, is February: a standing army of green saguaro giants, presiding over tangled cholla, flanked by mountains that catch the snow before it can fall where I ride, 7,000 feet below the peaks, on a two-lane highway in the car that brought me charging away from Death; still I charge, and this packed vehicle is all I’ve got . I can’t handle much more. Over the past two weeks, the dry high desert grass collapsed; through the cracks here rise blue lupines. Now the earth warms enough for soft green to take its place. Tiny white and purple flowers become familiar faces, though I do not know their names. Pink evening primrose spills onto the shoulders of the road, their petals cupped, transparent , glowing with reflected sun. Soon, this Superstition Freeway and the harsh mountain range will soften with the influence of gold poppies, yellow and white daisies, red-orange hummingbird flowers, the first soft bloom of a long growing season. Without my flight , you wouldn’t stand a chance.
Blueberry I try to explain blueberries to my friends here. They are not the dull, sweet , fat imports we buy year-round. I notice that despite my desperation to get away, much of what I say makes it sound as if I am proud of where I came from, where my mother raised me, and was herself raised. I maintain you haven’t tasted fruit until you’ve had it fresh. This goes for berries, lemons, tomatoes: everything. You must try it before it’s ready to fall to seed, while it still swells to be taken miles away by foraging bears or soaring birds or hungry rabbits. In true wild blueberries, you taste the sun. The depth and complexity of flavor is literally the difference between living and dying. Living: before its lifeblood and flesh degrade to simple sugars. Dying: like cut flowers, bred for consumption and forgetting. I feel like a foreigner here, my praise of the exotic fruit falling flat on politely interested ears. I am quaint . I traded away my summers for their winters. You will not , perhaps, grow up with my summers, unless we can extend our visits over weeks or months, but you will grow up with my memories, roughly translated. Damn! I can’t convey the massiveness of Grammie’s backyard meadow, my fat
little hands grasping white violets and clover, which in sweaty fist I’d deliver to the giantess at the kitchen window. Dutifully, she’d drop them in a Dixie cup with water. Do toddlers in the desert make bouquets? What of the fairy umbrellas? Through the ferns and last year’s leaf litter, pine needles and mossy rock, under tall trees, toward the thawed skating pond (which I wanted to know was still there when winter ended), she shared the myth I took as fact . Of the ferns, she said: “Umbrellas, for the little people. I bet you’re little enough to fit under one. Go on, pick one, just like that—see? Now carry it above your head, and you’ll be dry when it rains.” “What about you?” “Oh, I’ll just get wet . It’s okay. You know, the Little People like children, so they might let you see them. They hide from adults and they aren’t always nice to us, but they ’re nice to little kids, so you shouldn’t be afraid.” “Grammie, am I little?” “Yes, you are. But someday you’ll grow big like me. The Little People, they never grow big— but they have magic powers, so if you see them, be nice and they might give you good luck.” We had a knack for finding four-leaf clovers. You, however, might commiserate with my mother, who had no such Irish-American intuition. But she did know when the blueberries would ripen. Of course, now I know too: late July or August , through the end of summer. There is nothing, I’ll tell you, as I tell my friends here, like cramming handfuls of berries into your face after hiking for a while, when you reach the summit or a clearing where the sun’s path to the ground is unimpeded by trees. You’ll find them, clustered baubles beside low ferns, dry pine needles, fallen leaves, and carpet moss resembling tiny topographies. What a treat! They used to grow in the woods around our house. Later I learned why they stopped: the ground is full of seeds just waiting for the right conditions. While the berries thrived, they unwittingly readied the soil for maple and sassafras, then oak. The baby trees would grow and cast shade. By the time little pines sprouted up to a child’s height , the bushes could no longer bear fruit; they die back after some fruitless seasons. Their seeds wait in the ground for another time, another clearing when they can start over in the same place. So death’s not the end of the line; nothing is. Pomegranate They keep comparing you to food, but don’t worry: as top predators, I can assure you nothing will eat you until you are already dead of unrelated causes. Besides, I’m not sure about some of the fruit comparisons. They must do it because it’s cute, and an easy point of reference, but , for instance, there is no stage of fetal development in which you’ll share the dimensions of a banana. Lengthwise, yes, but if you actually grow into a banana shape your father and I will be very upset . I digress. The fruit and seed metaphors are obvious, deep, cliche, ancient , natural, Eleusinian, trite, reverent , taken for granted. You are born into more poetry than you can ever hope to absorb, but you’ll find patterns and construct a kind of wholeness—dynamic, yes, but whole as anything. Truthfully, who the fuck are you is my first question and I’m not accustomed to waiting so long for an answer, nor having the answer seep glacially in over years beyond my years. Oh well. I only know myself,
I can only ride my own stream; that will not change. They say I, and everything, will change when I hold you in my arms, and I believe that’s true, because you will become a delight rather than (or in addition to) a series of farts and awkward symptoms. The first time I tried pomegranate, I was 12 or 13. My best friend shared one with me. You rip open the papery husk and there, like blood vessels all lined up, is the fruit . Child, I am in my body more than usual because you’re in my body too. Your quick heartbeat came too soon like everything about you; I don’t mean I didn’t want you but rather that 80 miles/hour was too fast to take in the late winter desert and even if I’d stopped to look, I’d be too small, too pressed by hunger and cold and a need to move on, and besides there would be more. I hope you don’t inherit this, but some days I lie in bed while the Earth turns a half-revolution, my mind focused on existing meaningfully somehow, my heart shattered and scattered across every meaningful memory and hope I’ve ever experienced, unable to contract , just pumping out . Out and out , just searching for a place to be safe, which will never happen; not in any lasting way. Ha! and here you come, and where you’ll go. All along I hope, I’ll strive to represent the warmth I keep for you now. It seems daunting, but rather likely given the pattern of things, and that is a comfort .
Mastrovito’s Game: A Lifer’s Parable William C. Crawford
Infantry soldiers in the Nam detested lifer bullshit . Except when we were in direct contact with Victor Charlie, our top priorities focused mostly on beer, drugs, mail and sex—depending on personal proclivities. Written regs and proper military procedures were dismissed as absurd aberrations valued only in strack garrison life back in The World. By 1969 growing anti-war sentiment and the hippie drug culture had infiltrated the ethos of our jungle based infantry. Changes in our lifer leadership—company commanders, platoon leaders, and senior NCO’s—were viewed with true trepidation. We were primarily draftees, and we followed orders (for the most part) in combat , but many grunts nurtured grave doubts about the competence of the Green Machine. We knew from chilling experience that we were just obscure cogs in a fucked up military apparatus that clunked along in pursuit of aberrational combat and foreign policy objectives. Our superiors daily passed down sketchy orders reinforcing the widely held axiom that inside the Machine shit flowed downhill even as we resided at the bottom. As our First Sergeant (Top!) rotated to a new assignment , we imagined a big impending shit storm. A new Top fresh from uptight stateside duty could pose real trouble. Things might even permanently tighten up! We prepared for his arrival with apprehension. Some grunts hid their grass in stashes around Landing Zone West . A few shaved for the first time in weeks. Peace signs, hippie jewelry, and anti-war slogans on helmets disappeared. Top arrived precisely on schedule: sawed off and very Italian. Fast talking, raspy, and really loud! He would meet us en masse at an early morning formation. Our collective anxiety approached grief ! We stood at disheveled attention in our assigned platoons. No officers in sight , just us enlisted stiffs. An early arriving Chinook strafed us with stinging grit and dust from its powerful prop wash. As the big bird finally lifted away we were still locked at attention waiting for Top’s next (first!) move. He puffed up to his full 5’-6’’ and thrust out his barrel chest with ceremonious pomposity. (Here it comes!) From his inflated, keg like body we heard these words grating from deep within his chest: “Mastrovito is my name,” he roared. “And masturbation is my game.” Hardened combat vets laughed until we were bawling. Somewhere down the adjacent bunker line a cassette player boomed out Joe Cocker. It was, after all, 1969. And we were still alive, unsafe most of the time, and trapped in the Nam. But we were laughing with a squared-away lifer.
“effacing,” sarina mitchel
“warmth,” wendy vance
e a s t c o a s t e v e n t s winter 2015-2016
FINAL WEEKS: “The Hunger Games” Exhibition Until January 3; New York City, NY
You have a little time left, so run to Times Square and celebrate the end of The Hunger Games trilogy! The exhibit showcases costumes, props, set recreations, and interactive features tied to the popular book series and movies. Visitors can explore seven galleries, giving a look at Panem’s districts and the games. thehungergamesexhibition.com
FINAL WEEKS: Seriously Silly!: The Art & Whimsy of Mo Willems Until January 10; Atlanta, GA
The High Museum of Art celebrates the work of children’s author and illustrator Mo Willems in the Seriously Silly! exhibit. Willems began his career writing and animating for Sesame Street, before making his successful picture book debut with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003). This exhibit brings together art, family activities, and theatrical productions inspired by Willems’ books. high.org
FINAL WEEKS: 26th Annual Children’s Illustration Celebration Until January 15; Northampton, MA
R. Michelson Galleries will host the 26th Annual Children’s Illustration Celebration, featuring more than 200 new illustrations from children’s book artists. If the idea of inviting a T-Rex to your dinner table tickles you, this is an exhibit not to miss! rmichelson.com
Magic City Comic Con January 15-17; Miami, FL
Magic City Comic Con entertains attendees with lots of comic books, video games and celebrity guests. Dedicated fans can celebrate their favorite franchise in various cosplay and costume events. Artists, celebrities, and entertainers provide photo ops and fun as well as a view into their careers and creations. Guests can also enjoy gaming, film, artwork, and more. magiccitycomiccon.com
24th African American Children’s Book Fair February 6; Philadelphia, PA
This literary afternoon will be packed with activities that promote the power and joy of reading. Authors and illustrators will make presentations from their books, and The Literary Row distributes book related
promotional materials free of charge. The Educator’s book-giveaway also distributes brand new books to teachers and librarians to use in their classrooms, but this is a true fair with a wide selection of affordable literature for purchase. This event is also a part of the African American Literature Book Club’s PRESERVE A LEGACY, BUY A BOOK initiative to put books back into homes. aalbc.com
Savannah Book Festival
February 11−14; Savannah, GA
Where will Geraldine Brooks, Erik Larson, Sara Gruen, and Joshilyn Jackson be mid-February? The Savannah Book Festival, where you should flock for book sales, keynote addresses, signings and so much more. Festival Day is free to the public, so if you’re in town, head to Telfair, Wright, and Chippewa squares to be amongst your literary people. savannahbookfestival.org
Deckle Edge Literary Festival February 19-21; Columbia, SC
Deckle Edge is South Carolina’s literary festival, and in its inaugural year, the weekend-long festival will feature readings, book signings, panels, exhibitions, workshops for writers, activites for children and young adult readers, and so much more. While Deckle Edge has its roots in the storied tradition of South Carolina’s literary life, the festival is committed to forging new ground, challenging existing boundaries, and broadening the conception of the literary South. deckleedgesc.org
Festival Neue Literatur
February 25-28; New York, NY
The Festival Neue Literatur is the only event in the United States that showcases German works of literature. Each year, the festival invites six of the finest Austrian, Swiss and German writers to come to New York City and present their works to an esteemed audience of critics and authors. The event showcases both established and emerging artists, providing guests with a unique glimpse into the world of German lit. festivalneueliteratur.org
2016 Teen Tech Week
March 6-12; participating libraries nationwide
The Young Adult Library Services Association will host Teen Tech Week on March 6-12 at libraries nationwide. The official theme will be “Create It At Your Library,” with an emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) skills. The annual event showcases the many digital resources and library services available to help teens find success in school and beyond. teentechweek.ning.com
The Virginia Festival of the Book March 16-20; Charlottesville, VA
Produced by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH), the largest of the fifty-six state (and territory) humanities councils, the festival is a program of the Virginia Center for the Book, an affiliate
of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. Programs range from traditional author readings and book signings to a StoryFest day of childrenâ€™s authors and storybook characters; from a panel on how to publish a novel to a discussion on running a book club to a workshop on bookbinding. All programs are open to the public; with the exception of a few ticketed events, programs are free of charge. The festival is the largest community-based book event in the Mid-Atlantic region and has attracted audiences of more than 20,000 for each of the past twelve years. vabook.org
13th National Black Writers Conference March 31-April 3; Brooklyn, NY
With Rita Dove serving as Honorary Chair leading the 2016 NBWC Honorees Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson and Charles Johnson, the 13th National Black Writers Conference is sure to be inspiring and productive. Events and panels include a Youth Day program, an Elders Writing Workshop, NBWC reading series, poetry readings, talkshops and more. centerforblackliterature.org
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[ book reviews ] the necessity of participation in rilke’s poetry IN THE COMPANY OF RILKE: Why a 20thCentury Visionary Poet Speaks S o Eloquently to 21st-Century Readers by Stephanie Dowrick 350 pp. Penguin Group. $24.95. Review by JACQUELINE FRASCA
Critics of poetry often mistakenly assume that others will read poetry—and poets—as they do. Rainer Maria Rilke, the product of his time, is a voice that cannot be unriddled. This is not merely because his origin language, German, must be translated for his poetry to become accessible to most people, but also because Rilke’s true gift as a poet is his deep, braiding contradictions about love, God, and death. There is the simple fact that each reader will receive a poem differently, especially poems by Rilke that often contain such outrageous beauty and hesitance; each new reading is a translation itself. When you’re dealing with a poet who asks questions regarding what intrigues and troubles every person—beauty, love, inwardness—how do you dissect him? And should we dissect , or simply experience? In the Company of Rilke may not be the best source for attempting to answer this question, if an answer does indeed exist—not that a single answer would ever do. Reverend Stephanie Dowrick, PhD undoubtedly has intense passion and respect for Rilke, as well as an extensive wealth of knowledge regarding the different translations and translational masters of his poetry (Bly, Burrows, Snow, Hass). She also seems more than capable of writing extensively about a poet , considering her five best-sellers and renown as a literary critic. However, whatever she is attempting to say regarding why Rilke “speaks so eloquently to 21st-century readers,” the question she poses in her subtitle, is muddled in the absolutely cluttered and disorganized chapters. I truly wish this book had been outlined in two sections: one about Rilke’s God being a “metaphor for the creative act” as Judith Ryan, famous writer and
critic of Rilke, says, and the second about Dowrick’s view that “Rilke’s poems are . . . not an escape from this world but an invitation to stand more squarely upon the earth, to experience the world and ourselves-in-the-world as participants in the poetry and not spectators to it” (88). Instead, the book exists currently in two parts: “Reading” and “Yearning,” neither of which is discernible from the other. Each section is made up of eight chapters ranging from ten to twenty-five pages in length, with titles that are not very distinctive from one another, or in their content . Rather than read like a whole, comprehensive piece, In the Company of Rilke is so fragmentary that it reads as a series of disconnected essays. Rilke was born “René Maria” in Prague, 1875, to Sophia Entz and Josef Rilke, who were anything but happily married. His childhood was full of half-identities and small failures: unable to be the daughter his mother mourned over and dressed him as, unable to be the soldier his father wanted. He did not change his name to “Rainer” until urged by Lou Andreas-Salomé, the one true love of his life whom he kept close correspondence with always; when he was dying from leukemia, he implored doctors to “ask Lou what is wrong with me. She is the only one who knows” (80). His marriage to painter Clara Westhoff in 1900, with whom he fathered Ruth, was never legally ended despite his constant affairs and absence from their lives; he never met Ruth’s husband or child, and did not want his wife or daughter to attend his funeral. The preface is promising; Dowrick establishes that Rilke as a poet is no small topic of conversation, but rather a force in the subversive art of poetry that resonates widely amongst a diverse readership. Dowrick says the most crucial reason Rilke is so thoroughly read and translated is because “there is tremendous longing in Rilke—for direct experience but not for certainty ” (xii). By this point (the second page of the preface), I was agreeing wholeheartedly with Dowrick; that was certainly where my interest in Rilke was sourced from. That longing for experience is evident in Rilke’s work no matter who is translating him, and it is a universal pursuit for questioning minds. His poetry is beautiful for its uncertainty—for his uncertainty—which has the tendency of echoing our own. My first experience with Rilke was from “Book of Poverty and Death,” in a similar translation to the one Dowrick provides:
Lord, give each one of us our own death, a dying that emerges from each life, from the way we loved, from meanings we made. And from our needs.
For we are nothing but bark and leaf. That great death that each of us has within is the fruit , around which all else turns. (39)
I found great acknowledgement of the immense differences in human experiences in this passage; the tree metaphor, where within us the essentials to keeping us alive really make up our “great death,” resonated within me. That acceptance of the individual’s struggles and experiences in life creating an “individual death” felt to
me like a larger metaphor for poetry as well—the many different ways in which one poem can touch different readers. When this is addressed by Dowrick, she asks, “How do our own images, projections, assumptions, yearnings and desires determine what we find on the page?” In the margin of my copy, I wrote “100%”; she answers herself, “to gain the most from reading Rilke, we need to read with as few presumptions as possible” (127). That hardly seems like a way of participating in the poetry, as she’d written earlier as something Rilke’s poems help us to do. As the first chapter begins, this steady stream of thought and exploration from the preface varies its path. “God is Still Speaking” opens with one of Dowrick’s personal anecdotes about seeing the title phrase on a church sign; it then trickles down into a conversation about what makes life worth living. There can be no doubt that religion and Rilke are walking hand-in-hand down the path of poetic history, and while delving into Rilke’s relationship with God throughout his life would naturally occur in such a thoroughgoing literary criticism, to spend half of the book on it is hardly warranted. After this first chapter, which asks who God is speaking to, who is listening, if God is a failed artist , how poetry is “the natural home of ambiguity ” (17), and how much courage it takes to create something, Dowrick moves on to “Translation and Reception” of Rilke. Here lie annotations and analyses of different translations of certain poems, which is comfortably anticipated in such a work. And then, just as the reader has mentally settled into Rilke’s words and the necessity of inwardness, God immediately reappears in “The Nature of Poetry.” And God consistently exists in nearly every other chapter proceeding. Again, Rilke could not get away from religion or a sense of mysticism in his life at any point from childhood onward, so it very well may have been Dowrick’s device to utilize such repetition as a mirror to Rilke’s religious struggles; this would have been fine if structure had been introduced to accompany the concept . On one page you have Yeats and Rilke greeting poetry and religion as forever tied, on the next a discussion of how we use language as a connective, on the next Rilke’s relationship with Lou—there is simply no way of consciously following it for just shy of three hundred pages. With significant structural revision and a focused reordering of thoughts, Dowrick’s ode to Rilke could have been quite the mystic adventure, rather than a plethora of biographical essays haphazardly stitched together by an extraordinary collection of his poems. In the chapter “Husband, Father, Lover—Poet ,” Rilke is exposed as not being an entirely moral figure in the lives of the women he loved, especially the one he fathered, Ruth. Dowrick does not use these pages to talk all at once about Rilke’s parents; she decides instead to pepper them throughout the rest of the book, even though this chapter opens with Rilke’s mother naming, dressing, and treating him like a little girl as a means of mourning for his late sister. His parents reside largely in the last few chapters with titles having nothing to do with them; one is called “Mysticism and the Holy ” and the other “The Soul’s Search for God.” Immediately, “Husband, Father, Lover—Poet” jumps into Rilke’s perception of his own poetry, and then, predictably: God. What this chapter does offer through its weavings is a lot of critically relevant opinions on why Rilke was a better poet than father or husband. Galway Kinnell, for example, is quoted from “The Essential Rilke” as saying certain readers believe “an artist’s human deficiencies, as well as
any attendant human wreckage the artist might leave behind, are simply the price that must be paid for great art” (103). While this is hardly going to help us forgive Rilke for not taking the time to go to his daughter’s wedding or meet her husband and child, the insight is useful to the reader, for Kinnell helps them to see Rilke as “less an authority on how to live than as a sufferer telling in brilliant confusion his own strange and gripping interpretation of what it is to be human” (103). It is not our place to forgive Rilke for being a bad husband and father, which Dowrick did well to point out; to us, Rilke is poetry, and that he certainly gave himself to fully. The heart of Dowrick’s expedition seems to appear briefly in “What Are Poets For?” Finally, 127 pages through the deep tresses of the religion wilderness, a potential answer to why Rilke speaks to 21st-century readers appears: “Precisely because his subject matter is, broadly, inwardness, reading his work allows his readers to participate in a range of discoveries. . . . They include Rilke’s idea; our responses to his ideas; our ideas about poetry (what is it for?).” The reason these words, and indeed the rest of the chapter’s twelve pages, are able to so aptly recapture the attention and comprehension of the reader is because it is about poetry and its significance in our lives, and therefore Rilke’s significance in our lives. As a reverend, perhaps it was difficult to move past God in Rilke’s work as, reverend or not , religion is undeniably present—but there is more to Rilke’s work, all his longing and wandering and wonder, than religion alone. Poetry is often not about one specific fear, struggle, or vexing problem, but rather the journey of suffering these lifelong questions and tribulations—something 21st-century readers know well.
Dowrick does not use these pages to talk all at once about Rilke’s parents; she decides instead to pepper them throughout the rest of the book, even though this chapter opens with Rilke’s mother naming, dressing, and treating him like a little girl as a means of mourning for his late sister.
â€œlong prairie, minnesota,â€? jack savage
amelia laney hall
[ contributors ] warmth, winter 2015-2016
Samuel Augustine, a contemporary American artist, works across many disciplines including illustration, sculpture, audio/video, painting, and poetry. A graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Samuel has shown work in various group shows and solo installations while juggling nomadic tendencies and working various jobs. Samuel likes to live out of his van, skateboard, sleep outside, and disappear with his lovely fiancé for extended adventuring. Samuel’s art is a product of life, believing decisions and circumstance are great mediums of creation. strangepagan.com
Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director, and as an art dealer when he couldn’t make a living in theater. He has 11 published chapbooks. His poetry collections include: Days of Destruction (Skive Press), Expectations (Rogue Scholars Press), Dawn in Cities, Assault on Nature, Songs of a Clerk, Civilized Ways (Winter Goose Publishing), Perceptions, Displays, Fault Lines and Tremors (will be published by Winter Goose Publishing), and Conditioned Response (Nazar Look). His novels include: Extreme Change (Cogwheel Press), Acts of Defiance (Artema Press), Flawed Connections (Black Rose Writing), and his short story collection, A Glimpse of Youth (Sweatshoppe Publications). His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes, and Sophocles have been produced off Broadway. His poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City.
Kate Ciavarra is a 24-year-old princess. She loves murder mysteries and histories and really anything interesting. Kate loves running around with her students and talking books with her peeps at Barnes & Noble. Favorite foods? Pad Thai and sweet potato sushi. Favorite outfit? Big, baggy sweater, leggings, thick socks, boots, scarf. Favorite season? SPRING. Fall is nice, too. For poetry, Kate likes to let the words spill on the page until they start making sense. Kate would shrivel up like a prune without music, art, laughter, family, the Oxford comma, and energy drinks. evereverafterly.tumblr.com
WILLIAM C. CRAWFORD
William C. Crawford was a grunt and later a combat photojournalist in Vietnam. He now is a social worker, photographer, and writer living in Winston Salem, NC. Over the past few years he has finally begun to write about the war.
Holly Day has taught writing classes at the Loft Literary Center in Minnesota, since 2000. Her poetry has recently appeared in Oyez Review, SLAB, and Gargoyle, while her recently published books include Music Theory for Dummies (3rd edition), Piano All-in-One for Dummies, The Book Of, and Nordeast Minneapolis: A History.
ROBIN WYATT DUNN
Robin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. His first book of poetry, POEMS FROM THE WAR, is now available from Popcorn Press. robindunn.com
David Dyte is a full-time statistician and part-time photographer living in Brooklyn while striving hard to maintain his Australian identity. He aims to share his love of places by capturing unusual sights and angles that others may have missed. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign, he released his first book of photographs, As Seen in Brooklyn, in 2014. seeninbklyn.com
DV is an amnesiac who writes in attempts to remember. The free thought analytical observations are left unedited and are never revisited by the author, in case there is something to forget.
Kaitlinn is 22 years old and lives in Queens, NY. She writes poetry and personal essays on her blog, krpoetry. wordpress.com, and participates in local poetry readings in NYC and Long Island. She has performed with TrueVoices, Performance Poets Association of Long Island, Writer’s Guild of Forefront NYC, and Brooklyn Poets in their “Yawp” workshops. She is always finding new places to share and expand her comfort zone, which is why she was so excited to submit her work to ECI. After graduation, she plans to go to business school for Nonprofit Management in hopes to create programs for outreach and ministry within New York City.
Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared worldwide, in such journals as Boston Literary Magazine, Deep Water, Expound, The Muse: India, Red River Review, Snakeskin, Voices Israel, Ygdrasil, and many others. Several of his poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize (including three in 2015). Recent collections include Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013), My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press, 2013) and Return of the Bride of Frankenstein (Kind of a Hurricane
Kat is an illustrator that has been published in the American Illustration Annual, and has exhibited work around the U.S. in places like San Francisco, New York, Raleigh, and Savannah. She focuses toward a younger female audience with themes of beauty, sadness, love, and feminism. Her current work is concentrated around the idea of portraying a girl who is very much an abstract embodiment of herself. She has been working a lot with text and “one liners,” doing compositions based off of sadness, or questions regarding a significant other. They are often tender, quiet, insecure, and sincere, like looking into an intimate moment of a girl wondering if “he loves me or he loves me not.” hatemailillustration.weebly.com
Matthew Forrest Lowe (Ph.D., McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario) is a freelance writer, editor, and professor. His nonfiction work includes several articles and book chapters; his short fiction has appeared in Setting the Scene (Polar Expressions, 2012), as well as in previous issues of East Coast Ink, and he is working on a science fiction novel, of which the present issue’s story is a part. He blogs — less often than he should — at lonelyvocations.blogspot.com.
EMMA M C PHERSON
Emma McPherson spends entirely too much time in the past, which can make the present relatively impossible. Though reality is largely lost on her, she won’t be found without something to physically write on. She wants to say she is a watercolor painter but it’s just not true. Her ideal form of escapism is a bottle of wine and a good book, a.k.a. someone else’s life. Ultimately, she aims to work in children’s book publishing. email@example.com
Sarina Mitchel is a visual artist currently based in Providence, RI (the coolest small city around). Among many other things, she loves laughing (her sound waves may reach you at the other end of the hallway), learning things, dessert (especially cake!), numbers and math and shapes, active listening, bats and other cool animals, rainbows, life, 4-space and 4-cubes (a.k.a. tesseracts), drawing and erasing (but mostly erasing), sending letters, anything that she can research or memorize, and—of course—the myriad of lovely people who support her in her ongoing adventures in life and art. sarinamitchel.com
MARGARET MARY RILEY
Margaret Mary Riley grew up in rural Georgia speaking Cajun French. She received a B.A. in Political Science from Agnes Scott College and has been published in Inpatient Press, Type House Magazine, and Corvus. She periodically updates a blog in between working on bicycles and avoiding her roommate’s cats. rileymargaretmary.wordpress.com
Rebecca Ogle lives in Phoenix with her boyfriend, his sassy 9-year-old son, and their two dogs. At the time of writing, her fetus is the size of a green olive, moving swiftly toward prune, and she has not told her parents yet (there will be an ultrasound photo in their Christmas cards). Rebecca has a wild notion that she will at some point write fiction. A technical writer by trade, she also works at the Arizona Renaissance Festival as a fortune teller, continues her childhood studies in ballet, and watches a lot of Star Trek.
W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books including Imagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (wjacksavage.com). Jack
and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, CA.
A lifelong lover of great stories, Dee grew up reading books of all sorts but was especially drawn to the imaginative writings of Tolkien, Asimov, Bradbury, and others. He began composing film criticism in grade school, and while he still enjoys reviewing movies, his attention has turned increasingly to fiction. Dee has penned numerous short stories and recently completed his first novel. He would be delighted to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wendy Vance has always wanted to study photography ever since she picked up a camera in high school. Her first experience in the darkroom is what uncovered her passion for the craft. With her traveling Air Force career and motherhood to two amazing daughters, her pursuit of photography was placed on hold until her retirement in 2007. She is now in her fourth year at The Art Institute of San Antonio pursuing a BFA in Photography. She is drawn to photographing women and dogs and loves bringing joy to her subjects, not only in the experience, but in seeing the results of the beauty captured in themselves. She hopes to continue to explore and learn all facets of photography as she nears graduation.
ea st coast ink | issue 009 | WARMT H
We’re struggling past the season of wither; the days are already shorter, the cold is already biting. The grips of Seasonal Affective Disord...