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La Presa

Issue 2 May 2017

Embajadoras Press Ontario, Canada


La Presa Copyright © 2017 by Embajadoras Press, Ontario, Canada All Rights Reserved ISSN: 2371 – 7009 No part of this journal may be used or reproduced without the prior written permission of both the publisher and the copyright owner.

Editor / Editora Lee Gould Contributing Editors / Colaboradores de Redacción Paula Dunning Annie Smith Miriam de Uriarte Technical Consultants / Consultores Técnicos Jack Dunning Gregg Friedberg Agota Page Cover / Portada de la Revista: “Street Singers of Guanajuato” / “Músicos ambulantes de Guanajuato” Back cover / Contraportada: “Molinari”

by Martine Bilodeau

La Presa is a tri-annual literary magazine devoted to publishing poetry and prose in Spanish and /or English by writers from Canada, Mexico, and the United States. www.embajadoraspress.com Please direct correspondence to: leegould@embajadoraspress.com

Issue 2

May, 2017


Contents / Indice Anja Konig Vogelfrei

1

Barbara Ungar Accident Report • 2 Wyndemoan • 3 Lirio Garduño-Buono La Casa Azul • 4 Como Ella • 5 Carter Ratcliff Eurydice

6

Rocío Sánchez ¿Eres tú? •

8

Lee Gould Un—

9

Gregg Friedberg: two poems Traducciones en español: Humberto Hernández Herrera Gray, So Gray • 10 Gris, tan gris • 11 Ribollita Ribollita

• •

12 13

William Doreski Overflow •

14

Michael Nelson On the Kaw

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Kate Brown Berry Picking in Ukraine Stuart Bartow Long Time • 20 Ghost Orchestras •

17

21

Rosemary Adang Madeline Would Hear Him

Rafael Jesús González Tres caprichos lunáticos • Sitios sagrados • 25

22

24

Ann Aspell Devoted to the truth, I make the map • Poem with a Single Refrain • 27 Nick Barnes Beaumont

Erna Paris Chris and Jules Julie Suarez Seasons

28

30

33

Carlos A. Barreiro Jáuregui Amarillo oleaje de una a otro día

Jaclyn Piudik Questionable Eyes, Brown Hair

Annie Smith Poem from this time • 36 Red Riding Hood’s Rescue •

37

34

35

26


Desirée Alvarez Bird Sculpture as Whistle & Father Cante Tortilla • 39 Miriam de Uriarte Taino Eclipse • 40 Ducha media noche • Debby Mayer Climbing Fences •

38

48

41

42

Juan José Guzmán Andrade ¿A dónde vas? • 44 Peregrina • 45 Djelloul Marbrook Bail to Crucify • 46 Skullduggery • 47 Brandon Marlon The Great Synagogue of Constanta Rebecca Gould Precept—the Teacher Stephen Massimilla Ephemeridae

Robert Okaji Even the Light Eduardo Padilla Know Your Tools Empleado del mes

49

50

51

• •

Norbert Hirschhorn A Prisoner’s Dilemma

52 53

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Tom Robinson Populism and Democracy in Ancient Athens • 55 Rocio Barrón Arévalo Celda • 56 Michael Broek Anxiety • 60 Holed Up • 61 María la folclorosa Del día que rompí la piñata Kenneth Pobo An Atheist in Micah • Bloody Shorts • 65

64

Celia Bland Cherokee 1974 • 66 Pharmacy Clerk, Bryson City Peter R. Newman Learning from Joseph

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68

69

Contributors’ Biographies / Biografías de los Colaboradores

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La infancia es el caserón embrujado donde las coincidencias son las arañas que tejen tus cuerdas. —Eduardo Padilla

Who will it be with the grace to start dancing under the thumbprint of darkness? —Annie Smith


From the Editor: Welcome to the second issue of La Presa. Thank you for your enthusiastic response to the first issue. This issue contains more prose pieces than did the first: Tom Robinson’s essay compares democracy in ancient Athens to the current American version: will ours fail as did theirs? Kate Brown describes berry-picking in the Ukraine: how does radiation in the area affect fruit harvesting? In quite another direction, Maria la folclorosa details the terror she felt when confronted with a piñata, Rosemary Adang offers us a young woman’s yearning for a radio personality while Peter Newman focuses on medical practice in Luganda, Africa, particularly in relation to a young, self-reliant orphan. Rocio Barrón Arévalo invites us to think about what it’s like to find oneself in a cell: is it science fiction that her heroine “sees things” or is hallucinating a psychological response to incarceration? And of course there are poems: in a variety of forms, formats and subjects. With our October issue, we welcome a new editor: the Guanajuato poet and artist Amaranta Caballero Prado. There will be a section devoted to longer works: poem cycles, long poems, stories and essays – all continuing our commitment to literature written by authors in our hemisphere in the language of their choice. If you’d like to have La Presa in your hands as well as online, individual issues are available from Amazon Mx, Amazon Canada and Amazon US. For our submission guidelines, please go to www.embajadoraspress.com. Click La Presa. We’d love to hear from you. — Lee Gould, editor


De la editora— Bienvenidos al segundo número de La Presa. Gracias por su entusiasta respuesta al primer número. El segundo número contiene más piezas en prosa que el primero. El ensayo de Tom Robinson, compara la democracia en la antigua Atenas con la versión estadounidense actual: ¿fracasará como la suya? Kate Brown describe la recolección de bayas en Ucrania: ¿cómo afecta la radiación en la zona la recolección de frutas? En otro sentido, María la folclorosa, detalla el terror que experimentó cuando se enfrentó a una piñata, Rosemary Adang, nos ofrece el deseo de una mujer joven por una personalidad de la radio. Peter Newman, se centra en la práctica médica en Luganda, África, particularmente en relación con un joven huérfano y autosuficiente. Rocío Barrón Arévalo, nos invita a pensar en lo que es encontrarse en una celda: ¿es ciencia ficción que su heroína "ve cosas" o alucina una respuesta psicológica al encarcelamiento? Y por supuesto hay poemas: una variedad de formas, formatos y temas. En nuestro número de octubre, damos la bienvenida a una nueva editora: la poeta y artista Amaranta Caballero Prado. Habrá una sección dedicada a obras más largas: ciclos de poemas, poemas largos, cuentos y ensayos - todo eso continuando nuestro compromiso con la literatura escrita por autores en nuestro hemisferio en el idioma de su elección. Si desea adquirir impreso los ejemplares de La Presa, así como en línea, los números individuales están disponibles en Amazon Mx, Amazon Canadá y Amazon EE.UU. Para la entrega de textos, favor de ingresar al sitio www.embajadoraspress.com. Haga clic en La Presa. Nos encantaría saber de usted. — Lee Gould, editora


Vogelfrei Ginger: We’ll either die free chickens or we die trying! Babs: Are those the only choices? Chicken Run Once you’ve flown the coop, why stop, give up the open road, return to ground? Once you’ve taken orders only from yourself, why settle down? Once you’ve seceded why keep the queen? Go all the way! Once you’ve succeeded, drilled your own oil, minted new coin, why not dissolve your lonely country, disperse the tribe, dismiss your outer islands, count your only vote, elect yourself and sail a single acorn into space! —Anja Konig

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Accident Report Love skids slowly into the guard rail, wearing a negligee but no seat belt, tricked by a slick of black ice. The car’s wrecked, but Love limps away, shivering, crouches in bracken to call AAA with shaking hands. By the time the tow truck comes she’s borrowed a coat from a fox, who’s vamoosed, leaving prints like petals on the snow. —Barbara Ungar

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Wyndemoan We go down in darkness we go tilta-whirling away from our star into cold space Persephone descends the marble stair cold feet cold hands cold bed the hard ground Leaves whisper Japanese death poems like the snow our end too is coming my love —Barbara Ungar

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La Casa Azul Añil y rojo cochinilla luces y sombras de la casa azul. Comodidad geométrica de patios y de cuartos sucesivos, árabes, secretos, iluminados por el agua, por las ventanas del estudio por la mirada única de una mujer alada. La casa azul habla y vuela, no es de ladrillos ni cemento, es materia viva, palpitante, es un órgano móvil, una máquina del tiempo. Tuvo cajas para lágrimas, ventanas para risas, tuvo colchones y bañeras, baldaquines, libreros, gigantescas ollas y retablos, colibríes vivos, xolozcuintles. Tuvo pinturas de aceite jarabes de aguarrás, tuvo papeles y encajes almidonados, jardines y pirámides cubiertos de hojas elegantes. La casa azul es parlanchina, no hay nada que no cuente o que oculte, es por eso que es de todos y de nadie; es por eso que los pies deshechos aún la siguen transitando... — Lirio Garduño-Buono 4


Como Ella Aquí estoy como Sor Juana, escribiendo a solas en el claustro, cercada por la plata, por la hierba seca, por esa tierra de escasas flores de un rosa hambriento, por nopales como pies hirientes. Como ella, tengo un cuarto propio, una enramada al alcance de mis dedos, una música celeste, papel, tinta para caminar en y sobre el tiempo en y sobre la distancia. Como ella contemplo un cielo gris-azul y el blanco español de aquellas nubes. Como ella primero sueño después vivo — Lirio Garduño-Buono

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Eurydice Cognition is a kind of forgiveness, but how can it arrive at a head so translucent? I took long walks in that light and slept through much of the darkness. Awaking I found Eurydice seething up from the region where, she made as if to think, she had been cruelly abandoned. What a snob. I looked back but she looked down on life up here, where the seasons defer to one another. Eurydice preferred the season in hell, which kept interrupting all the others. And as her therapist helped her see, she identified with that hellish season. It’s an authentic insight, she often insisted. But now and then her manners would return, and in that hesitating moment time would feel strong again and flow in all its old directions, like light through petals or across the newly painted clapboard. She would join with the brighter objects in imagining that every object was Eurydice, 6


every circumstance her next. She thought it was nice, in a way, but a little tasteless. She preferred the taste of hell’s cold seed. So I sleep much of the night and wake up unrested because that snobbish love of mine realigned her snobbishness to life up here and eventually did come back. But never to me came back that churning of the seasons, never the billowing nor ever the lurch from latish spring to wide-hipped June. Here it is October and nearly always will be. An ultimate, genteel Hallowe'en and then there nothing will be. —Carter Ratcliff

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¿Eres tú? Me pregunto en mi alcoba Si eres tú O soy yo la que añora Aquellos momentos De espejismo juvenil De emociones añejas Que contigo sentí. Aquí estoy esta noche Oscura y febril Con esta pregunta que hoy descubrí ¿Eres tú? Quizá imaginé tu voz, tu latir... Y solo es mi anhelo de hacerte vivir. Tu voz me sonaba muy singular Pero hoy te escuchaba Y no me hacías vibrar Como antaño con solo pensar En tu risa y en tu mirar. Quizá he olvidado tu voz celestial Que en mi corazón resonaba Con solo invocar Tu frase que abría mi alma inmortal. Aquí estoy esta noche oscura y febril Con esta pregunta que hoy descubrí ¿Eres tú? Te busqué y no te vi. Aquí estoy esta noche oscura y febril Con esta pregunta que hoy descubrí: ¿Eres tu? Y no hay nadie que toque Mi cuerpo sutil. 8

—Rocío Sánchez


Un— I feel

untied as in put upon but more as though I were

tried loosened from

only partly invited in… Or inverted: put upside down, in the opposite position back to front as if I were somewhere else but not firmly so when you talk to me while I’m working I start pulsing as though counting, then a lurch – it’s not my stop but a loop de loop, a trick pilots in old days prided themselves on which must have caused nose-bleed— at least mentally; how come the co-pilot didn’t fall out which at moments like these feels exactly like that. —Lee Gould 9


Gray, So Gray, looking through me, your eyes. No, I wouldn’t have it any other way, never banish you from your spare niche, never not wake to your gray, sad gaze, to the gray quiet of your weary love. I work the blind through the night sometimes, play the moon so it silvers your dejected hair. No, no difference between your love and your tristesse, but yes, yes, difference between my room full of you and my empty room. —Gregg Friedberg

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Gris, tan gris, mirando a través de mí, tus ojos. No, yo no lo quisiera de ninguna otra manera, nunca desterrarte de tu nicho sencillo, nunca despertarme sin tu mirada gris y triste, sin el gris silencio de tu fatigado amor. Muevo la persiana en las noches a veces, juego con la luna así que ilumina tu desalentado cabello. No, ninguna diferencia entre tu amor y tu tristeza, pero sí, sí, diferencia entre mi cuarto lleno de ti y mi cuarto vacío. —Humberto Hernández Herrera

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Ribollita I make it sometimes when you’ve gone: What’s left over of your visit, seethed until it tastes of those to come. Because I make it when you’re gone, I sup alone, lift the spoon to your absent lips: just now engaged at a different table. Something’s off, you say, can’t quite tell what. Eventually it tells. When the spoon comes up empty, I tidy up, maybe write a little . . . after a while go to bed, work my fingers like they’re yours, because yours are in a different bed. —Gregg Friedberg

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Ribollita La preparo en ocasiones cuando te has ido: Lo que sobra de tu visita, hervido hasta obtener el sabor de la próxima. Porque lo hago cuando no estás, como sólo, levanto la cuchara hacia tus labios ausentes: en este momento ocupados en otra mesa. Algo sabe mal, dices, no sabes qué es. Con el tiempo se sabe. Cuando la cuchara se levanta vacía, limpio, tal vez escribo un poco . . . después de un tiempo voy a la cama, muevo mis dedos como si fueran los tuyos, porque los tuyos están en otra cama. —Humberto Hernández Herrera

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An Overflow The lake rose five feet last night. This morning dozens of boats explore the new shoreline, nosing over lawns and highways, scraping paint off knee-deep cottages. You’re swimming like a seal pup. You enjoy the fresh geometry, but I’m afraid of wading even a few steps into the flood. Crickets and saxophones compete as the village celebrates the erasure of tacky old camps and hot dog stands. Property tax receipts will decline, but wilderness has returned, jazzy with blue jays and decorated with swirls of circling buzzards. You swim heartily as an Olympiad, four limbs flaying a trough across the lake and back. The boats defer to you. A canoeist topples because so entranced by the mermaid sighting he loses his balance. Bobbing in life jacket, he gazes after your wake. Meanwhile I splash in the shallows and wish I had the courage to paddle to mid-lake to meet you under the great nave of thunder about to open. Then we’d sport 14


like characters in a masque; and when we returned to this shore, dripping like tropical fruit, we’d flop laughing in the heat with all of our senses brimming. —William Doreski

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On the Kaw Jake rocks in his skiff. He pulls up a trotline watching the baitless treble hooks that sometimes lodge in his flesh and carve their scars. A big cat’s on one. Fights the light of day. Jake knocks him dead with a Ten-High bottle, takes a few slugs, smokes an unfiltered Camel and some pot. Sinks into the heat, transfixed by the green-brown flow. His wobbly face emerges, his broken teeth. He jerks back, turns his gaze to the mammoth cottonwoods, their chatter lull him from the cracked edges. He’s changed his cell phone number again. Another meth girl he’s banged hunts him down. An eagle’s beating wings stuns him. He thinks of God, that motherfucker, and his mom who forgives him still. The college kids on kayaks come into view. Then a bearded professor-type, in his canoe, with fancy binoculars slapping against his chest. They kind of amuse him and piss him off. What have they done right to earn this bend in the river, to come so close to his chosen hole? —Michael Nelson

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Berry Picking in Ukraine The pickers ride along on bicycles or pile out of cargo vans. They are young, mostly women and children, lean, sun-tanned with hands stained a deep purple. Rural communities across eastern Europe are struggling to make ends meet, but in the last five years Polesian towns in Northern Ukraine have become boomtowns. Thousands of mushroom and berry pickers, joined by illegal amber miners and loggers, are changing the local economy, while enriching the global diet with radioactive cesium from the 1986 Chernobyl accident. We followed the pickers into the woods of Northern Ukraine, a land of lush pine and birch forests, spotted by lakes and streams with a beauty akin to Scandinavia. The pickers pedaled along forest roads, their bikes bobbing up and down on wildly undulating roads of mud and sand. Following them, our car soon halted deep in a watery hole, as the pickers on bicycles disappeared like rabbits down the black holes of the forest wall. We hauled out the car and waited while two men jacked the car up on planks propped up on birch bark logs to repair it. After that, we followed the pickers on foot, trying to catch their shapes materializing in and out of the dappled sun and shadows of the woods. The pickers covered a lot of territory quickly. They worked fast, using homemade scoops of cheap tin armed with thin teeth. With quick, efficient and repetitive movements, stoop, scoop, step, they combed the small soft blueberries from the low bushes on the forest floor. The spare, brown bodies swept along, followed by the brushing sounds of their scoops and the pinball roll of the berries hitting plastic buckets tied to their waists on strings. The chorus of pings and rasps echoed inside the cathedral-magnificence of the Polesian forest, which doubled as a seasonal, food-processing factory. The only sound missing was that of human voices. The child-pickers spoke little and, if so, in soft tones. Picking is serious business, not play. When their baskets filled, the pickers returned to the road, which was lined every few kilometers with women sitting under beach umbrellas near parked vans. The middlemenwomen weighed the berries and exchanged them for cash. 17


The pickers know the forest and where to find its fruits ancestrally. In this territory of mineral-starved soils, plows and wheat farming never thrived. Polesians instead have subsisted on forest products, game, fish, berries, herbs and mushrooms, while making their tools and homes from local wood and clay. What is new in the past few years is the industrial-sized scale of berry harvesting. Each roadside berry buyer purchases a couple of tons of berries a day in high season, and there are hundreds of buyers on the roads. Ukraine’s export to Europe of wild, organic Polesian berries has increased more than thirty times in the last few years. After the blueberry season, pickers would return to the forests in August for cranberries and in the rainy autumn for mushrooms. At the warehouse where middle women sell the day’s purchase, a radiation monitor swung a wand over the dark, purple berries studded with small emerald leaves. “Je, Je,” she repeated, indicating that the count of radioactive energy measured over the permissible level. Half the berries ended in the stacks above the permissible dose. Those berries would be mixed with cleaner berries to enter the global market. Galina is from a village that has no remaining store, no bus service. She said she made $25 a day picking. “I’m 52 years old,” she said angrily, “Where else could I make that kind of money at my age?” “Ok, say the mushrooms have Chernobyl, we still pick them and eat them. We don't look. We don't pay attention to where the radiation is. We eat everything without boundaries. You go to a marketplace and hear ‘Oh, Chernobyl, Chernobyl,’ but we have no Chernobyl. There is no Chernobyl for us. I work, I live, I carry on.” Social scientists would call Galina’s words “nuclear fatalism,” a symptom of people too passive or steeped in ignorance to take care about their exposures. Galina a few minutes later spoke of treatment for two bouts of “women’s cancer” and a stroke at age fifty. Both cancers and cardiac problems are medical effects from exposure to radiation. Neither Galina’s fatalism nor her health problems are exceptional. European consumers of Polesian berries also exhibit little curiosity or fear of the Chernobyl in their breakfast cereal or the Fukushima in their fish. 18


Long before Chernobyl’s fourth reactor blew, scientists understood that Polesian swampland, with its dense tangle of bogs, streams, lakes and quagmire, were very good at recirculating radioactive isotopes and channeling them towards mineral-starved plants, which hungrily drank up radioactive isotopes that mimicked minerals they needed to survive. Berries and mushrooms are classic forest products because they take what they can from poor forest ground. Polesians, also classic forest dwellers, have learned to do the same. No one ever recommended revitalizing the local economy by harvesting the most radioactive Chernobyl by-product, but then few consulted with Polesians about how to proceed after nuclear disaster. Abandoned to their fate in battling the world’s greatest technogenic disaster, Polesians have learned the arts of survival on their quarter of this ecologically troubled planet —Kate Brown

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Long Time It must have taken a long time of staring up at the stars to make plows and bears, hunters, goddesses, heroes, sea serpents and satyrs. Or not. Maybe the night spectacle just made itself in our imaginations. As a child I gazed into that vastness and knew the immensity I felt, concealed somewhere deep in that sparkling scape were beings more other than us. It has taken me a long time to see lions and twins and teapots in the heavens. To catch a hint of Andromeda, the chained daughter of a god, on the verge of being eaten by a fiend, saved by a guy on a winged horse. —Stuart Bartow

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Ghost Orchestras In an isolated old farmhouse in Cambridge, New York, out of the blue, a big band number from a vanished a.m. radio show would start to play at odd times in the kitchen or other rooms, the broadcast sometimes faint, sometimes clear. Armstrong or one of the Dorseys, Shaw or Ellington, the voiceless croon of Glen Miller’s band. Imagine a woman for whom the radio was companion and maybe her solitude so deep, and the music so loved, it imprinted on the ballroom ceiling of the night sky. That music a constellation sending out radio waves, an echo in search of its home. —Stuart Bartow

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Madeline Would Hear Him The key stuck in the lock of the door for a moment. Each time she tried lately it had been more stiff, but after a moment of silent swearing, squinted eyes, tight wrist, the lock broke loose from its cramped position and turned. She was finally home. Inside, she walked to the radio, turned it on, and sat on the floor beside it to listen. The same song was playing that was on that morning when she drank instant coffee and ate her boiled egg diet-food, not a bad song, just a little predictable, a little over-enthusiastic. Then that voice interrupted--evening radio was so much better than morning because he was the disc jockey, and his voice was like a warm bath, a glass of fine brandy, a slow and aimless caress-She looked down at her body as he talked, thinking how a person’s body is the most alien thing in this life, how she could look at it for hours and not see herself in it, how it seemed more a part of the empty room, the bus ride, the office chair than a part of her thoughts. And she thought, it’s no wonder. It’s no damn wonder I have no lovers. I have no body. She knew the diet was a crazy exercise; there was hardly enough fat on her body to regulate her temperature. It was as if the calories that she ate would go hissing through her skin. She supposed she dieted more as a study of technique than as a means to an end. Her long legs lay on the short-shag carpet; she thought they looked like a pathway through weeds. She smiled wryly at her own poetics; she was such a pathetic character. He was talking now in tones of buckwheat hot cakes and pure maple syrup--he could feed her--he had no idea she had no body. He knew how to make a woman happy. He must have a family--a pretty wife, vibrant children, a golden retriever, and a fireplace. He must have a body. She wished she had a story to tell; she wished he reminded her of someone she had lost or of her father or of herself, but it was not that way. He was a disc jockey, and she was just one of those people who sit in their apartments and try to make sense of themselves. 22


Again there was music; it didn’t warrant the time he had spent coaxing her to listen. He stood out so brilliantly from his shabby surroundings. Madeline was her name, such a great, romantic gesture that name was. Madeline, she could just hear him say it; Madeline, my love--Madeline, where are you? I need you--let me hold your body, Madeline, let me feel your thoughts. He could say it. He could say those words and not lose an iota of credibility. Madeline, my love, he could say, and Madeline would hear him. —Rosemary Adang

23


Tres caprichos lunáticos 1. Luna Plena Gong de Platino La luna plena, gong de platino, cuelga sobre un vasto horizonte de silencios; el golpe del mazo que le dió el ángel Erosel en un tiempo más allá del nuestro nos aturde — es asordante su quietud. 2. Luna Plena Candado de Plata La luna plena, gran candado de plata, cuelga en la puerta del cielo, una de las tantas estrellas, la llave que lo abra. 3. Luna Plena Prensa de Lagar En la luna plena, prensa de lagar, caen los racimos de estrellas que sueltan sus zumos de luz. Del vino que los años fermentan se embriaga el corazón.

—Rafael Jesús González

24


Sitios sagrados Xochicalco En el lugar de la casa de las flores donde la serpiente pluma de piedra ondula a través de los muros se oyen las voces lejanas de los guerreros y los sacerdotes, los astrónomos que marcan las trayectorias de los luceros; los cantos como humo perfumado llenan los rincones de las plazas y los templos, de los valles y los cerros. Tepozteco En la subida del monte hacia el sitio sagrado se encuentran ofrendas sacrilegiosas: botellas de plástico, botes de aluminio, cáscaras de naranja. Aun en las escaladas hacia los templos se encuentran pintadas las bobas declaraciones de amor: “Te amo Lupita.” Han huido los dioses y los ecos que predominan en las cortes es el parloteo de turistas. Palenque En la corte de los cautivos donde el Señor y su Señora Madre reciben los prisioneros de lo cuales algunos serán sacrificados se exalta la guerra. Por lo destruidos que sean los templos, lo extraño que sean los glifos, no nos sentimos ajenos — nosotros también exaltamos la guerra —Rafael Jesús González 25


Devoted to the truth, I make the map the dream requires, beginning on the outskirts where planes fall from the sky — the one balanced on its nose like a cross — drawing inward adding the armory boutique (as in gauntlet, cuirass, and greave), near the café where the indigents lunch. I mark intersections, but follow the road spiraling past the strange houses, entered at night and left before discovery is made. And where I lose my way I annotate, as early cartographers did, the edges of the unknown with lists of what to bring for trade: not feathers, not shells, not beads, only thread for stringing. —Ann Aspell

26


Poem with a Single Refrain The rhythms of sow and reap, but never the flowering. The hole dug in the earth, its deposit of words rehearsed by every wind. The face of the beloved, the vows repeated there. That which inexorably draws and releases us. The memorial at the place where the body was pulled from the water. Its cross, the chime of the bells over the river. Never the river, but each bend. —Ann Aspell

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Beaumont When we were 10 and forced-friends, the Gulf lapping our pretty privileged suited pant legs, how could I have known that here, off Galveston, where we began, would reside our end? How could I have known you would finally ruin me here? You’d had so many chances – the master, not just of castle, but of sand itself, of elements; of narrow, knowing eyes, coy through the window of your parents’ wood-side Chevy. [I would wonder: Does he lament, or implore gods? Study his own shoes, shuffle the beach? Just dig holes?] I caught you catching glimpses. You caught me catching you. * And oh, how the families were so holiday. This year at ours, next year at yours. Do you know we’ve never looked into each other’s eyes, sans partition – physical or otherwise? That you’ve never once looked into me as I went into you? Did you ever protest the arrangement: that I did your “Little Sis Magdalene” honest while you backpacked and gallivanted? Who was I to repair, in sloe and silence, to the den, in the mansion, where we all gathered, every year. Oh, yes: the dark one. “The boys are back from Beaumont!” they’d rejoice in chorus, where we all gathered, every year. It was a horrible refrain, and Beaumont was horrible too. I was slick with grit, sick on the gold of others, but that was where I knew you best, when you’d come and pretend, sneaking back to the hotel under cover of night, never leaving a number. So, the den, in the mansion, in the house, where we gathered. “She’s the queen!” they cried always; drunkenly regaled the seas, even when she was alive. It was 28


supposed to mean more now because she was dead. I was glad she was dead. You were telling stories about Versailles. “Thar she blows!” went up in a plague of gross, infected celebration when that profligate urn went overboard, from that rotten bow, into that choked sea -- the same cowardly vessel we struck with Nebbiolo when everyone else was abroad, on which we declared things eternal and drank Southern Comfort, then each other. Shall I tell them you never served the fields? That they, and I, were mere ornaments? Did you ever come for me when you were down, or maybe when you thought I was down? Because I was down, always. Today was the first time you’ve ever seen me. And I know it’s because you had to. But when you ask “What am I supposed to do?” you ask it like one checking luggage. When I say “Your mother is dead,” you grin and move profanely, like one who loves the idea of dancing, but never learned to dance. I move with you, and die for the thousandth time.

—Nick Barnes

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Chris and Jules In the early 1930s, newly married and hungry for adventure, Chris and Jules mounted a tandem motorbike and travelled from Toronto to Mexico, where they chanced upon Guanajuato, a Spanish colonial silver- mining town tucked into a mountain gorge several hundred miles north-west of Mexico City. Along the way they had camped and cooked their meals along the roadside, possibly within sight of the armed men on horseback who patrolled the unpaved Mexican highways. The violence of the 1910 Revolution, followed by the Cristero Rebellion – a furious struggle by religious conservatives against the anti-Catholicism of the new Mexican government - had only recently ended. My young parents were apparently oblivious. They were, on the other hand, memorably enchanted by the town. Conjoined houses painted in shades of yellow, blue, green and ochre lined the streets while similarly festooned quarters loomed over cobblestone paths that climbed the hillside slopes. They would have seen the imposing colonial haciendas, replete with wrought- iron balconies and flowered courtyards, that once were inhabited by the Spanish-Creole aristocracy that controlled the eighteenth-century silver mines on behalf of the Spanish crown. They would have seen the Jardin de la Union, a spherical plaza paved with interlocking blue-tiled walkways and surrounded by masses of white lilies, red hibiscus and dense green laurel trees. At this writing, some eighty years later, the Jardin is still the heart of the downtown. At dusk young people and families with children still circle the century-old bandstand in what remains of the traditional Spanish paseo, as mariachi bands serenade their passage. I too love this place. Not long ago I sat on a wrought-iron bench watching the sun glint off the surface of the laurel leaves and the gleaming water arch from the art deco fountain. Behind me, in the open-air Posada de Santa Fe restaurant, eleven mariachi musicians were serenading diners with accordions, bass, guitar, trumpet and charmingly off-tune voices. I recognized some of these musicians from my own early visits here in the 1970s; they, 30


and I, have grown old together. Their songs are the same: ancient, yet familiar. La Cucaracha, la cucaracha, dum-dum-dum, dum-dumdum. Seated on a nearby bench, another group of musicians dressed in sparkling blue shirts and black sombreros patiently awaited their turn. At one of the tables, a young father spoon-fed his baby from a large bowl of soup. The child jerked his head away as he listened to the musicians, his eyes wide open with amazement. A jaunty beggar wearing a permanent smile bounced from here to there, but no one offered him money. Perhaps his red leather shoes were enough to inspire a solitary happiness. When the mariachis had finished, a brass and wind orchestra in the band shell began to play the Toreador song from the opera Carmen before switching to something approximating the music of Bach. I thought that the great Johann Sebastian would have been delighted to hear his music played, even badly, in this remote Mexican town on the other side of his world. A young flower seller carrying roses and yellow lilies passed by me, coughing uncontrollably. Poverty. Half of all Mexicans continue to live a subsistence life, testimony to government and educational failure. Further away, at the edge of the Jardin, the shoeshine men waited patiently. Their customers, I have noted, are dark-suited civil servants with arrogance etched on their faces. Dusk fell, and on the terrace of the Posada de Santa Fe hurricane lanterns diffused a welcome yellow light. I seated myself at a table, ordered a drink. This restaurant and the hotel just behind, first opened for business more than a century ago, and both whisper of ancient intrigues. Hanging in a back corridor are large wall paintings from the lives of the 18th century aristocracy that exploited the silver mines. I always revisit these paintings because I am eternally curious about their subjects, the early generations of New World colonials. One depicts a real or apocryphal event in which a high-ranking nobleman, dressed in doublet and stockings of rich colour, has just gambled his wife away. He stands at a window looking morosely out on the street below while the man who has won his wife appraises her, a wry smile curling his lip. The woman is in a faint. According to legend, she died on the 31


spot. Her husband, ever true to his word, presented the corpse to his rival. Each time I study the details of this painting and read the legend scrawled in a lower corner in a flourish of old Spanish curlicues, I am reminded that the abusive treatment of women was endemic to New Spain; and that it is never far from the surface, even now. Across a narrow street facing the Jardin is the Juarez Theatre, a baroque phantasmagoria upon whose roof stand eight large bronze statues representing the muses of Greek mythology. The style of the portico is Roman Doric; the gilded interior is Art Nouveau. Inaugurated in 1903, the building was inspired by the self-serving fantasies of then-Mexican president General Porfirio Diaz, an admirer of all things European, especially French. The theatre stands as a monument to high culture in prerevolutionary Guanajuato, but the Porfirio era was stained by stark inequality, corruption, and political repression: a sad continuum in Mexican affairs. Electoral fraud triggered the revolution of 1910. Guanajuato was a fulcrum of these wars and thousands died during the ensuing conflict. But the theatre has maintained its vigil. And so has the timeless Jardin at its feet ………. On the spot, my besotted parents decided to retire to Guanajuato one future day; and in 1969 they packed up their Toronto household and drove directly south, this time by car. They wintered in the magic city for almost thirty years, until the January morning when my father died in his bed on the mountainside where he and my mother had built their home. My mother stayed until well into her nineties. Winnowed and frail, she could no longer navigate the cobblestone pathways of the beloved town. My siblings and I inherited their house on the hilltop overlooking the city below. At night, flickering lights pierce the darkness. They mirror the stars. — Erna Paris 32


Seasons This spring came and went without you. Lilacs burst and burnt themselves out; cold rain pasted mock-orange petals to the walk. I hardly noticed the changing of the birds. Wrens displaced our chickadees and loudly from the finial sang. It was a new order, a new world. I looked for you. Envelopes of seed you saved and labeled, Brandywine, Dragon-tongue, I sorted and set out, sowing and tending, half expecting to see you bending over the emerging rows. In the orderliness of first green I watched for a sign. Then summer. —Julie Suarez

33


Amarillo oleaje de uno a otro día… Praderas llenas de margaritas como un movible mar amarillo que ondula caprichosamente al viento, muy fragante pronunciamiento que poco a poco se extiende hacia la rojiza y muy serena fundición del crepúsculo, como si de tanto ondulante amarillo acariciando el aire se hubiera formado ya un mar muy púrpura, y ya apasionado color del amor que difunde el afán de sumergirse en ese claro oleaje de encendidas margaritas y tirarse de espaldas en la húmeda yerba para esparcir hacia arriba de ese campo amarillo ya el múltiple surgimiento de las estrellas, y también como si éstas fueran una copia taciturna y misteriosa de ese múltiple brillar amarillo de las flores que se dio durante el día, y así ante el maduro fluctuar de la mirada van apareciendo más astros nuevos como una vibrante y embelesadora escarcha en un trasfondo de terciopelo azul oscuro que serena alborozadamente el incesante fluir de la conciencia, hasta que el sueño recoja todas las imágenes de día y noche para prepararse a recibir una nueva y muy dulce alba de muy tiernos anhelos que seguirá vibrando de ensoñado rocío en el amarillo gotear de los múltiples pétalos de las margaritas. —Carlos A. Barreiro Jáuregui 34


Questionable Eyes, Brown Hair for Marguerite Duras What is heroic in watching a fly perish? Who is responsible for that raspy voice, the horn-rimmed glasses, the rice paddies? The body evacuates itself when necessary. I’d take her admission of promiscuity as invitation, but I am wed to a chain of eccentricities. Her city has entered my adrenals, giving off time-released doses of resistance and the sweetest architecture, the familiar monotones of the Rue Oberkampf. The greatest icons are the bashful ones, the brooders, immortal but never free from the burden of aging. What is heroic is how long it takes to die. Oh, if I could squeeze into that body when this and all others fail me. —Jaclyn Piudik

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Poem from this time You arrive from Mexico during the night you return to our bed touching me on the ribcage I put my own hand there I want to know what you know feel what you feel I yearn like the peach on the table leans into the pear held back by a different skin —Annie Smith

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Red Riding Hood’s Rescue In the beginning was darkness familiar warm and good. light grew up from it like a bean from the earth. What is it this morning that summons the hunter to dark from the crystalline brilliance of noon? The knife of the hunter slices the wolf’s heaving belly precisely. This wolf so heavy with human, the weight of their flesh makes him stupid and slow. The hands of the hunter enter adagio deep in the wolf’s hidden places inside he is touched by the sweetness he finds there. Notice the red bush of blood as it creeps out over the snow. Feel the hot white balloons steaming up from the body. Stop! What have we got here? Who will reenter the light from this fierce, red wet liberation? Who will it be with the grace to start dancing under the thumbprint of darkness? —Annie Smith 37


Bird Sculpture as Whistle & Father Once enchanted, I did not forget your voice, me encanta el sonido de tu voz. I took it from its dark sheath, to drag the twang by the metal strings, waiting in shame and fear of its raw song. Father, you are an angel painting feathers on the wings of a young angel. These legs are not mine, they dance me. This flesh is not mine, it swims in the brine of heaven. —DesirÊe Alvarez

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Cante Tortilla Red bowl shallow and wide, color of innards, clay the texture of fingers pressing to get out. Dish moving with what it once held, skin crawling to find a body. Sadness possessed, quiero mi dolor. Nana, teach me to make tortillas. Mix with hands, add two scoops fat. In the mango-painted kitchen slapping dough. Knead and squeeze in fist. Flour, water, crisis. Rest four minutes in a towel-covered bowl, maybe your long lost son will come home. Press dough on hot skillet. Shape me in sorrow, I will spread like a sun. —DesirÊe Alvarez

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Taino Eclipse* The moon is an amber heel in black waters Or a tiny scull dissolving in the sacred cenotes. On the floor of the sky it is a mushroom growing A perfect circle of light erased, darkly glowing Enclosed by a gold ring among the flora of stars.

In the dark forest of dreams I hear a quetzal’s cry, in passing, parrots shadow distinctive plumage.

It is the winter solstice. Another year gone.

—Miriam de Uriarte

*Tainos were the first people encountered by Columbus on the Island La Hispaniola. They believed at night the waters around them reversed and became the sky.

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Ducha media noche He necesitada la caricia de su tibia y delicada tentación el mojado dedo que corre por mi espalda para saber como es ser amada como es recibir el dulce calor de un abrazo inesperado. —Miriam de Uriarte

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Climbing Fences First light; temperature in the teens, snow waist-high and more, where it’s banked against the backyard fence. I’ve pulled on a jacket and stepped into boots, over my pajamas and sleep-socks. The dog is 16, almost blind and suffering from what the vet kindly calls “cognitive dysfunction.” When Cooper signals his need to go out, we go out. So we’re standing, Cooper and I, stock-still in a dog tunnel that I’ve kept clear through the snow for a month. Cooper doesn’t know that I’ve accidentally locked us out of the house just now, while my mind ricochets around the house, looking for re-entry. Resolutely middle class, I don’t really expect to freeze to death, but I don’t know what to do, and I’m scared. Dan, my husband in all but ceremony, had become visibly ill in May of the previous year and died, at 56, of brain cancer that August. In the maelstrom of those four months, I made some adjustments to living alone, and now it continued—one, living the life of two, and learning when to pull back, into the life of one. That winter was the hardest we’d had in 10 years. It began with an ice storm over Thanksgiving weekend and continued with an official blizzard on Christmas Day. By late January the back of my little white house by the side of the road was snowed in, except for the sliding glass door that led out to the deck. I shoveled tunnels through the snow for our two basenjis, Cooper and Lulu (sound asleep now, inside the house); they could have climbed the snow stacked against the fence and escaped, but basenjis are smart dogs and in winter, at least, these two knew when and where they were better off. We lived in a rural corner of Claverack, in Upstate New York, on a quiet, pretty road that didn’t go anywhere. In two miles there were some 10 houses. Our home was small and modest, but it had almost five acres and the advantage of a private backyard, hidden from view. During Dan’s illness, I had taken care of him and the dogs and neglected the house. Now the only way to lock the sliding glass door onto the back deck was with a broom handle sawed off for the purpose, and as I slid the door closed on Cooper and me that icy morning, I heard the broom handle roll back into place.

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And there we were, the ancient blind wanderer and his underdressed caretaker, closed out of their shelter by her stupidity. On the other side of the house, the front door was unlocked. I could bring Lulu to my dog-friendly office, but Cooper had retired from such activity. A neighbor would come at midday to let him out, and the only way to enter the snowed-in house was through the front door. So I unlocked it every morning as soon as I got up. Getting to the front door was now the challenge. In back we were buried, including the mudroom door that led into the garage and the gate that led to the back of the driveway, which was piled high with plowed snow. I could try to force the bedroom window, or break it, and then try to crawl through it. I could grab the snow shovel on the deck and spend an hour digging out the back gate and trying to un-jam its frozen clasp. Or, I saw, I could clamber up the snow and climb over the fence. Then I could force my way through the drifts to the part of the driveway that was plowed, and the sidewalk to the front door. It was ridiculous, but there was no other way. “Stay, Cooper,” I said. “I’ll be right back.” Cooper’s look said he wasn’t going anywhere. And I did it. Thanks to record-breaking snow cover, I climbed over a five-foot fence. Then I ran, in great high strides like the cartoon character that I was, in pajamas and jacket and boots, through crotchlevel snow. In less than a minute I had reached the other shore—plowed driveway, shoveled path, unlocked door. I tracked snow through the house, threw the broom handle aside, and rescued my ailing companion. So life went on: solving problems. Taking care of those I loved. Climbing the fences. —Debby Mayer 43


¿A dónde vas? La lluvia fina moja la ropa olor a humedad desde el sombrero a los zapatos Recargado contra la pared bajo una breve cornisa adosada la espalda a este muro añoso En el edificio del frente queda tu ventana es el tercer piso exactamente levanto la vista después de pisar la colilla todavía la estela de humo del cigarro mojado El automovilista infantilmente perverso levantó el agua de los charcos y una señora quedó totalmente bañada Malo en esta época de resfriados Ella sale del edificio cubriéndose con el paraguas gabardina y bufanda y el pelo mecido por el viento La sigo por la avenida escasamente transitada El corazón late de prisa y no me gustaría ser delatado Se perfectamente a donde te diriges después de seguir miles de veces este rito arrepentido de aquellos densos celos de esa pregunta sarcástica y violenta ¿A dónde vas con tanta prisa? —Juan José Guzmán Andrade

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Peregrina En la oscuridad te haces liviana, móvil Y me cobijas como una sombra plástica rampante, me recorres, te deslizas como suave viento moldeable, plegadizo y yo te aspiro y te transpiro por cada poro de mi piel áspera de todos los años que tiene la memoria de conocerte, de tantas y variadas formas reales y ensoñadas. En la oscuridad flotamos, nos friccionamos sofocados, me elevas y luego caigo como pesado lastre de plomo que en cierta forma te impide remontar el vuelo franco, ilimitado, en el instante eterno. Soy un viajero, pero siempre me ocupo de adquirir el boleto de regreso, no se me dan las aventuras improvisadas que me angustian, pero a ti te da lo mismo peregrina, de pronto te vas sin previo aviso, por eso es que tantas veces te he buscado sin poder encontrarte, sólo para después tropezar contigo en cualquier momento, en cualquier esquina de la ciudad o de la misma casa. —Juan José Guzmán Andrade

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Bail to Crucify I’ve lived more years than there are rosary beads, what has the supermoon to do with this? As much as my parents had with me. I’m the 60th and uncomplaining bead. Lament is not complaint. But I have not always been happy to be fingered by those praying for someone else or to be bail to crucifix. I've been wrapped around someone's hand, arraigned on someone’s lap, and expected to be the magic by which clouds are levered up and histories expunged. Will the supermoon dissolve my supple arrangements, absolve my many failures to deliver on my promises? Wouldn't it be nice to hear someone say I swear I left the damned thing here, nicer still if here need not imply there? Moonlight is counting me backwards to the clasp. When it gets there, among the succulents on the table, will there be an observance of my last gasp? —Djelloul Marbrook

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Skullduggery My skull is a homing device and when flesh will have fallen away a priceless relic. I hear your lurking submarines and signals of unimaginable creatures. Accordingly, my behavior would have you think I'm deaf if only to pretend we're not who we are nor do what we do. Baritone brothers sing from a choir loft over my right eye, sisters sing behind a rood screen in the corner of my left eye. Spheres play across the horizon of my skull and color an aurora of epiphanies. All this directionality is not to be laid to rest but to be an eternal instrument even when it's dust and as dust the particulates of gods. My skull knows where the oboes are, the cellos and the trumpets, it distinguishes your murmurings from the politics of frenzied news and sometimes holds your Delphic yearnings in reverence and awe as if it might exist for them and even when it forgets who you are it remains nostalgic. —Djelloul Marbrook

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The Great Synagogue of Constanta Amid the forsaken sanctuary grows a tree green and lanky, tilting with the wind ever since the roof partially collapsed. Standing sentinel is the yellow fleurette Star of David overseeing the amassed debris below, a congeries of chipped cement, smashed stained glass, plaster, and wood beams, ruins overgrown with shrubs, carpeted with dirt. Arched colonnades uplifted by blue pillars attest to the Moorish Revival design of a halidom once admired by Ashkenazim from near and far keen on the sublime; now only mean dogs frequent the detritus, foraging for kosher remnants of another sort. Where now there lies a rubble heap once stood a palace aglow with worship; where filth now strews the floor once stood congregants before the upraised scroll, devotees enthroning on their praise the divine, a hallowed scene enshrined in memory.

—Brandon Marlon

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Precept—the Teacher Don’t Bear a Grudge1 She Says. Why not he answers? Because it will eat you up inside. But it’s too late for that. So stop already. Stop what? Rehearsing. Oh. (he groans) I don’t think I can. Then tell them to sheket.2 It doesn’t work like that. It does. It doesn’t. Brain be quiet it won’t listen. Brain listen Oh.

quiet.

Pray. Pray? Pray. What, I haven’t prayed since Maybe you have. No, I haven’t. Just ask. Oh. Since today? —Rebecca Gould

1 2

Leviticus 19:18. Hebrew for quiet (also peace, silence, serenity). 49


Ephemeridae I. There was always the alternate version, coexisting in mind, the hint of the immutable moving past the unpredictable present. Keep the latches open for that self by the window to the Borgesian library, open archway full of windy folds, recalling which is itself an art, like rereading a long poem. II. In a dark garment shot with red threads, you paused breathing in a carmine circle, your eyes as if following a wide-turning swan, loitering to sense the feather-touch of blood in hurt valves, the curve of your thigh a late wave in the flushed crease of sundown. III. You know that reaching the precise end of summer—like a lure on a fishing line, the blur of not-yet-autumn in its wake— is no more difficult than catching smoke IV. with your hands. Immune to change is just a timeless turn of phrase in that ripple of reflected lights: the stone volumes, the propylaeum to other shows, the windows, the wet streets like mirrors running sky-lights to the port. Still, for that moment, through the frame in the fall of the children calling, of running hydrants, the ferries, of the fleeting, the spectral, the flowing, in the darkening, like a ruby, you wanted this thing that endures. —Stephen Massimilla 50


Even the Light You look out and the sunbeam blinks a difference in brightness on the drooping seeds. Some days nothing gets done. We live with the unwashed, with stacks of mail, the unfolded, the incomplete. Phrases pop out only to crawl away, and later, reincarnated in other forms, embed themselves just under the skin, calcifying. Scratch as you might, no relief appears. Your tongue grows heavy from shaping these words. Even the light subtracts. —Robert Okaji

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Know your tools

La metáfora es la navaja suiza que hace de todo. la vulcanizadora que te parcha los versos. la mujer fatal que hace nudos con la lengua. La metáfora es la venerable libertina que te propone ir a la cama y hacer un trío con el pulpo pero tú le quieres ser fiel a tu señora, ser literal, ser cornudo sin saberlo y ver sólo hacia el frente mientras jalas la carreta con los nabos. ¿Para qué caminas en línea recta si ella quiere serpentear?  La infancia es el caserón embrujado donde las coincidencias son las arañas que tejen tus cuerdas. —Eduardo Padilla

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Empleado del mes a Niko Perović Fluye el mundo en las afueras de mi negocio. ¡He tomado notas! Me pagan muy poco la hora. Hay bonanza en las colinas. He tomado fotos. Llevado a cabo sondeos. Hay una serie de números rojos que corren con la velocidad de un demonio atravesando el desierto saudita en línea recta (la Carretera 10 es pura recta). Hay un olor a moronga y aquelarre en el lobby de mi negocio. Yo digo que el próximo gran ajedrecista será una bacteria. Y si voy a ganarme la vida elijo ser la sirvienta que desempolva la clepsidra de un dios verdugo. —Eduardo Padilla

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A Prisoner’s Dilemma Horrid those middle years: mountains exploded, rivers ran backwards, men impaled babies, all crops failed. In that time of sorrow Master Wu Shei dispatched Monk Wei-Min to beg food, seek news, offer prayer. One day, on an empty stretch of dusty road, horsemen galloped out of a copse, seized Wei-Min, brought him to their bandit chief – a one-eyed man with hair on his palms. “Surely you see I’m a beggar monk, an orphan none will ransom. Let me go in peace.” “It’s true my men can’t tell rich from mouse-bitten,” replied the chief, sucking through his teeth. “Just yesterday we caught another of your useless kind. We keep him in a cave, feed him pigwort soup.” He waved his arm at the stunted scrub about them. “We’re on to you squittering hypocrites: stealing widows' hair to line your boots, sticking tiny dicks into each other's arse-holes. I’d lief enjoy a bit of fun, so here’s the game: “Accuse your brother monk of such depravities, you'll go free – though he'll never see sunlight again. “Unless, of course, he blames you too: it wouldn't do to let you both off; we'll just keep you as our goats.” "And if neither accuses the other?" "We'll slit your throats." Wei-Min remembered what Master Wu Shei taught: “Acquit our lives by deeds, while free to make mistakes.” Then gave his answer. –Norbert Hirschhorn 54


Populism and Democracy in Ancient Athens Populism and democracy have been dance partners since the beginning, and a notable example of this is provided by Athens, the birth place of democracy, in the fifth century BCE. While on the one hand it was a city state which produced lasting art that continues to thrill the world - in architecture the Parthenon; in sculpture the Hermes of Praxiteles; in poetry the Odes of Pindar; in tragic drama the Oedipus Rex of Aeschylus, the Antigone of Sophocles, and the Trojan Women of Euripides; in comic drama the Lysistrata of Aristophanes; and a great deal more), on the other hand it was an absolute beginner in democracy, with no book of rules to guide it. How well did it do? Structurally, it was a 'participatory' democracy. There was no party system as we understand it; lawmaking, along with major decision-making (like decisions on peace and war) were the job of the community of citizens, who were expected to attend, if they were able, the monthly meetings of their Assembly. The vote on every matter was by simple majority (fifty percent plus one), and it was final; there was no court of higher appeal (what body could possibly be higher than the people in assembly?). I say 'the people' in assembly, because that was how they were accustomed, as citizens, to call themselves. But in reality the citizens of Athens allowed into the Assembly were adult male citizens only, consisting of about fifteen percent of the population; excluded were all adult females, all slaves (possibly forty percent of the population), all resident foreigners, and of course all children, along with all juveniles up to the age of twenty. And how did one get to become an adult male citizen? By being born as a male child of two parents who were themselves citizens, and by reaching the voting age of twenty. Was the democracy effective, even if eighty percent (or more) of the people had no say in its management? The answer is probably yes, if one stresses the first fifty years of the democracy's existence, when the city was a major sea power, and richly endowed with a constant supply of money from its so-called allies, in payment for prospective protection by her if they were attacked 55


again by the adjacent empire of Persia. But power has a tendency to corrupt societies, including newly democratic societies, and Athens proved to be no exception. With nothing but a night's sleep, and a change of mind the next morning to guard against precipitate decision-making, the Assembly was led by charismatic, populist demagogues (the most famous being Cleon) into making decisions that might have been dangerous at any time, but proved calamitous during the twenty-seven year war that followed the fifty years of peace, when Athens found herself in a conflict to the death with her highly disciplined, autocratic rival, Sparta, aided and abetted by a good number of her long-suffering allies, tired of paying ‘protection' money which seemed to finish up so often as payment for yet another marvel, such as the Parthenon, to beautify the city of Athens. The decline began almost immediately, when the Assembly voted the death penalty for all adult males, and the enslavement of all women and children on the recalcitrant island of Mitylene. (The name of the brutal policy was andrapodismos). A ship full of soldiers set sail at once to carry out the deed. The next morning the Assembly had second thoughts about their decision, and hurriedly sent off another ship with orders to countermand it. They got there just in time, and Mitylene was saved at the last moment. A few years later, after the city had declared andrapodismos on the allied cities of Scione and Mende, there were no second thoughts. However, a Spartan commander, Brasidas, happened to be in the region, and saved both cities from a ghastly fate. But the Assembly was not to be stopped, and a decree of andrapodismos on the island of Melos in 416 was finally, dreadfully, carried through. But the Assembly saved the worst of its decisions till a few years later. In 406 their eight generals won a big battle for them at Arginusae, but unfortunately the Athenian casualty list was greatly increased by the numbers of their soldiers drowned afterwards during a great storm at sea. Led on by demagogues of the day, the 56


Assembly held the generals responsible for not rescuing more of the drowning soldiers, and - unanimously but for one person, Socrates - they voted to execute (!) all of the generals. And the sentence (with no appeal, of course) was carried out immediately. The next day the Assembly was, predictably, full of regrets at its decision. But it was too late. Their generals were dead. Two years later Athens lost a final battle, and went down to total defeat. One consequence of the defeat, it should be added, was that the Athenians decided that they really needed a chamber of sober second thought to protect themselves from themselves, and they instituted one. And the resulting democracy - with the power of demagogues now greatly curtailed - was so much better that, in old age, the philosopher Plato was prepared to incorporate a good number of its procedures into his final thoughts, in the Laws, on what would constitute a just society. —Tom Robinson

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Celda Abro los ojos lentamente al sentir la luz entrando por la ventana. Intento ubicar dónde estoy, pero este lugar me es totalmente desconocido y cuando intento recordar el cómo y por qué llegué aquí, mi memoria no coopera conmigo. Poco a poco intento levantarme del piso húmedo y ya cuando estoy completamente sentado, mi cabeza comienza a dar vueltas. Sujeto mi cara con mis manos e intento respirar calmadamente y después de unos momentos mi cabeza deja de dar vueltas. Decido intentar levantarme pero antes de lograrlo escucho una voz que me asusta y me hace caer. Enseguida de eso, puedo escuchar la misma voz riéndose a carcajadas lo cual me desconcierta un poco. Ya acostumbrado a la luz, puedo ver que estoy en una celda y justo al lado de mi se encuentra un joven. Entonces recuerdo que mi nombre es Alexander y eso es todo, bueno, algo es mejor que nada. -Perdón por asustarte, no creí que estarías tan fuera de ti mismo. -me respondió el joven sacándome de mis propios pensamientos. -

¿Quién eres tú?- le pregunte casi al instante.

-Oh cierto, me trajeron ayer en la noche, y no tuve el placer de conocer a nadie pero supongo que ya no importa porque tal parece que ahora somos solo tú y yo. Mi nombre es Leopoldo. ¿Cuál es el tuyo?- Me respondió con una sonrisa en su rostro. -Soy Alexander. ¿Qué quieres decir con que solo somos tú y yo? ¿Qué les pasó a todos los demás?- Le pregunté un tanto preocupado -¿Qué está pasando? ¿Por qué estoy aquí? -La verdad no lo sé, estaba a punto de dormir cuando escuché alarmas y casi al instante algún tipo de gas llenó el lugar y eso es todo lo que recuerdo. 58


En cuanto terminó de decir eso escuchamos pasos provenientes del pasillo y los dos volteamos al instante. Parecía ser un hombre bastante alto. Me levanté y me acerqué a la reja tratando de ver hacia dónde se dirigía y al ver que venía directamente a nosotros quise preguntar todo lo que tenía en mente pero algo me detuvo. Y es que mientras más se acercaba menos parecía un humano. Estaba completamente cubierto con pelaje blanco y unos ojos exageradamente grandes y completamente negros. Al ver esto caminé de espaldas hasta topar con la pared de mi celda. Ya estando enfrente de nuestras celdas comenzó a soltar una especie de neblina. Sentí como todo mi cuerpo perdía fuerza y me era difícil mantener los ojos abiertos así que poco a poco me fui recostando hasta que ya no pude más y cerré los ojos. Después de eso todo es obscuridad. —Rocio Barrón Arévalo

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Holed Up Then desire decided it was the night to call the season by its name, which was lean squirrels huddled in their dens not for nothing sucking on their little hands mumbling time, time, time So much the gray winter withholds its secrets the DNA of useless fingers grasping steam icicles splashing like silent sons weeping over the carpet for what cannot be changed— frozen breath, father’s wool collar’s decay, weight of a smell walking Scotch out & upright into the morning : this season of preservation season of sharpening knives Not for nothing the snow rolls over to gray and will call itself before all the others— steamed, flagging, inconsolate season of whitened trees standing still in the black of a moon who doesn’t see us —Michael Broek

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Anxiety A lemon, grapefruit, & lime lie on the wooden shelf against a cement wall— the lime cut in half like two eyes staring into a taxi waiting on the curb the grapefruit a wedge removed & lying beside like a sleeping woman’s open mouth tongue wet with remonstrations and the yellow lemon having lost a square from out its rind so there’s a window now as if you could peer inside suns what’s more lovely— the flesh removed or this concave wound & shape of want —Michael Broek

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Del día que rompí la piñata Desde niña las piñatas me han causado un conflicto grande. Me fascinan sus colores y la infinidad de sus formas. No termina de sorprenderme en cuántas situaciones distintas es momento de romper una. Cuando el aire les baila las tiras que les salen de los picos, haciendo que lo único que se oiga en la calle sea un murmullo de papel crepé, cuando el sol les arranca destellos a los adornos brillantes, siento los pies bien en la tierra, enterregados. Una piñata colgada a la mitad de la calle puede conmoverme hasta la sonrisa sola. Pero si la figura en cuestión está recargada en la pared a la entrada de la casa a la que voy a entrar, ahí sí la cosa es diferente. En ese caso la panza se me revuelve, y la mente se me algodona. Hoy, cuando cruzábamos la cochera donde antes jugaba con triciclos y pelotas a gritos de apache, vi las dos estrellas rellenas de dulzura que esperaban recibir su merecido (¿de verdad se lo merecen?). Como siempre, mis ojos las rehuyeron, y traté de pensar en la cena y en la hora de irnos, cuando de las piñatas no hubiera más que cántaro roto y cacahuates pisados. Inevitablemente, a medias de la fiesta, se colgó la primera piñata, una estrella roja, y empezó la apaleada. De a poquito traté de esconderme entre la gente, pero el orden genealógico terminó por delatarme. Mientras caminaba hacia el paliacate y el palo, pensaba en el curioso símbolo que es la estrella roja, y el montón de cosas que sí se merecen unos buenos chingadazos. Con los ojos cegados por el rojo, el palo ya no era un palo de escoba, ahora era el asta de una bandera, era un fusil, era mi puño en alto. Furiosa, me encontré frente al pleno de la Cámara de Diputados. Llorosa y con un temblor incontrolable en las rodillas y los dedos pude ver al presidente, y a una horda de granaderos. Tomé una bocanada de aire antes de sumergirme en el azul, el gris, el perfume barato y los chongos de las amantes. Con rabia 62


visceral y poco contenida les di en la cara, en las panzas grandes, les di en todas sus madres. Le pegué duro a la indiferencia, le arranqué los cabellos a la muerte y le di en el hocico al mentiroso Facebook. En medio de la euforia me costó darme cuenta de que volvía a sentir el cuerpo al oír los gritos alrededor, y pude ver por debajo de la venda que los dulces se salían a borbotones. Con las manos temblorosas recogí lo que pude y me alejé despacio del reguero de niños, acostumbrándome a la luz, al aire en los cachetes. Cuando abrí los dedos cayeron un tepalcate, tres cacahuates, un duvalín, dos chicles y un cuento.

— María la folclorosa

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Bloody Shorts Spring eats potato chips on our picnic table, uninvited but welcome until she sharpens a scary-looking blade. Winter told me how she dreams of Anne Boleyn’s head. Summer ducks, fears the perfectly placed swack, his own head rolling among dandelions-gentle spring with her bloody shorts. —Kenneth Pobo

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An Atheist in Micah I’m a box-open me and terrible things will happen. Farms will fail. Tornadoes will kill. Most feel sorry for me, misguided, hell-bound. Prayers bubble up as I pass. I’m also a river my neighbors fear to stand near lest they get pulled in the undercurrent.

—Kenneth Pobo

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Cherokee 1974 That was the year of throwing pebbles at passing cars. Of acid puddles at the A&P, a rat peeking from the cardboard stack, flattened butts, and rotting produce. On the front: some reservation Brave feathered for the tourists: alkie Cherokee, 5 bucks a snapshot. Next block: a black bear in a wire box. 5 bucks. The bear wavered like a bad signal, thick spit frothing its near-toothless gums of black sateen. Lurching on mangy feet like his Pops, drunk and blinded. He wanted 66


a stone that bearbright that wet. He would scratch his name and brain the drugstore Brave, the dancing bear. Either. Neither. Both. —Celia Bland

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Pharmacy Clerk, Bryson City She ferries scripts from counter to pharmacist’s hutch: diabetics, widows with “nerves,” vets with invisible quivering limbs. She grows rich in prescriptions: Oxy, Halcyon, Prozac, Lipitor, Amoxicillin, Percocet, Dilaudid. Fits and violent fits, melancholic stupors, anxious drumming on the counter. She presses the keys of the register, a numerological accounting: Pay for drugs. Drugs pay. Sometimes she rows from the center of need to a golden frieze of fulfillment avoiding the diamondtipped noses of the rattled addicts, the redbone eyes of cotton-mouthed addicts, gasping trout leaping from the stream. She can hear the click click slide into the slot of her brain: red lozenge of numb. —Celia Bland

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Learning from Joseph It’s only 7:30 AM as we set out to walk to the clinic on our first morning and my clothes are already sticking to my skin in the humid, equatorial sunshine. A loud, nasal haaaa floats through the air. I look up: a huge Hadada ibis with long, stretched-out neck and legs is watching us from its treetop perch. We meet schoolchildren on the dusty road, carrying their school bags. Some are barefoot; shoes are a luxury. But they are clean and dressed in spotless uniforms. I am moved by these scrubbed faces and clothes. There is no running water in the homes; to do this washing they had to walk long distances from wells, balancing water jugs on their heads. “Oli otya,” I call out, “how are you?” I’ve learned my first words of Luganda and am determined to start using them. “Gyendi,” they reply, smiling shyly, “fine”. The g in gyendi is soft like the gentleness of their manner. We reach a lawn outside the clinic. It is not yet eight but a crowd is waiting for us. One of the nursing sisters has counted them. “Five hundred and eight patients,” she says, and smiles at me. Five hundred and eight. I feel tightness in my throat. “Those from the farthest villages started walking before 3 AM to get their place in line,” she adds. I see that some have carried their sick children or elderly parents on their backs. But what do these villagers imagine we can do for them during a two-week mission? By our standards they have almost nothing. Facing the huge needs here, how do I dare to imagine that I can make a difference? The thought scares me.  They are dressed in their finest clothing, the women in long robes of 69


orange, blue and yellow. Quietly they stand in that long snaking chain: patient, regal, dignified, these people who have so little. The clinic has an outhouse with four small holes for squatting; they are shared by the patients and staff. There are no basins for hand washing. Joseph, a thirteen-year old boy in a dirty green shirt, sits in the chair in front of me. He has come to the clinic alone. His hair, like that of the other children I’ve seen today, is shaved short and shows large, bald patches on his scalp. Ringworm fungus, my eye registers. He looks down; his eyes are round and brown. “I would like the HIV test,” he says quietly. I nod. He hazards a quick glance up at me. “Of course you can have the test,” I say, and smile; his face relaxes a little. “Where are your parents?” I ask. “Died,” he says. He is still looking down. “Can you tell me about that?” “My father died when he was thirty. My mother died afterwards.” “How old was your mother when she died?” I feel a sudden pang of sadness. Keep your face composed, I tell myself. He is not here looking for sympathy from you, a rich white stranger. If you show your emotion you may trigger his, too. “She was twenty.” His face is expressionless. He fidgets with his torn green sleeve. Uganda, with 35 million people, has over one million AIDS 70


orphans. I’m feeling uncomfortable. I’m thinking how much this 13year old could teach me, a doctor of 70, about life. For that matter, what he could teach all us privileged people from the First World, we who imagine ourselves as sophisticates. We, who dramatize all our little adversities. I wait a few moments while my swirling thoughts settle. “How old were you when you were orphaned?” “Six years, sir.” Now it is my turn to have to look away. “All right, Joseph. Why do you want to have this test?” I ask. “To know if I have HIV.” He looks straight at me now. “To know if I will die soon, like them.”  In the long pause, a low murmur of conversation in the room hangs in the humid air. I wipe sweat from the back of my neck. “I don’t think you have HIV,” I say, putting my hand lightly on his shoulder. “Who do you live with?” “With grandmother," he says. “She is too old to look after me, so I look after myself.” When he came unaccompanied this morning, he says, he was shouted at by the clinic staff and told to go home. Kids under fourteen can’t be seen at the clinic without a parent present. When the staff started to chase him away, he was recognized by an older woman from his village who was standing in the line; she took him under her wing and brought him in as her own child. I write the order for his HIV test and he goes off to wait in line at our little laboratory. An hour later he is back in front of me. His face is stoic, unexpressive. I think about the kind of life that could teach a thirteen-year old such self-control. 71


“Joseph, your HIV test is negative,” I say. He smiles now. “And your malaria test is negative, too.” Like many of the kids I’ve seen today he has been having intermittent fevers for three weeks; most of those children have malaria. “So you are just fine,” I say. I stand up and give him a hug. I would like to hug him for a long time, but he will be embarrassed. My eyes are getting moist. I lean down and whisper in his ear: “I’m going to tell you something, Joseph. Listen carefully, because I really mean this.” He waits respectfully. “This is the truth, Joseph: you are a very, very fine boy.” He grins, walks away, and turns around at the doorway to give me a little wave. —--Peter R. Newman

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Contributors’ Biographies / Biografias de los Colaboradores Rosemary Adang is a writer of fiction, essays, and poetry from Seattle Washington. She has taught writing, literature, and women's studies in colleges and universities in the United States and China for over 30 years. Recently retired from teaching, she enjoys traveling, especially in Mexico and Greece, and focusing on her own writing, including a novel in process set in Greece in the late 1960s. Most recently, she has published essays in the Seattle Times, Seattle Post Intelligencer, and English Language Technology and Learning (Shanghai).

Desirée Alvarez is a poet and painter who has received numerous awards for her written and visual work, including the Glenna Luschei Award from Prairie Schooner, the Robert D. Richardson Non-Fiction Award from Denver Quarterly and the Willard L. Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her first book, Devil’s Paintbrush, won the 2015 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Award. She has published in Poetry, Boston Review, and The Iowa Review and received fellowships from Yaddo, Poets House, New York Foundation for the Arts and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Program. As a painter she exhibits widely and teaches at CUNY, The Juilliard School, and Artists Space.

Ann Aspell, a book designer and editor, teaches writing at Community College of Vermont. Her poems have appeared in Hunger Mountain, Poetry International, Magma, Spillway (forthcoming), and the anthology The Traveler’s Vade Mecum (Red Hen Press, 2016).

Nick Barnes lives in Upper Sandusky, Ohio with his wife, two sons, and several other creatures. His writing has appeared in AntiMuse, Pindeldyboz, Zoetrope All-Story Extra, Adirondack Review, Pontalba Press Presents, and others. His original music has also appeared online and in film.

Carlos A. Barreiro Jáuregui nació el 3 de Marzo de 1961, y reside en Guanajuato desde 1990. Estudio Letras Inglesas en la UNAM. Es maestro de español para extranjeros y también de Literatura Hispanoamericana en la Escuela Falcón. Ha publicado dos libros de poesía, Prisma de Imágenes, ganador del certamen de Poesía Efraín Huerta in 1992, y también Secuencias del Amar en 1997, además de poemas publicados en revistas de literatura. También es traductor. 73


Rocio Barrón Arévalo es una estudiante de la Licenciatura en la Enseñanza del español como segunda lengua. Tiene 22 años y es originaria de la ciudad de León, Guanajuato. Desde pequeña le gustaba echar a volar su imaginación pero no fue hasta una edad adulta que se dio cuenta que la escritura era algo a lo que le quería dedicar su tiempo. Celda es su primera historia en ser publicada.

Stuart Bartow teaches writing and literature at SUNY (State University of New York) Adirondack, where he directs the college’s Writers Project. His non-fiction work, Teaching Trout to Talk: the Zen of Small Stream Fly Fishing, won the 2015 Adirondack Center for Writing Non-Fiction Award. His latest collection of poems, Einstein’s Lawn, is published by Dos Madres Press. He also chairs the Battenkill Conservancy, a grassroots environmental group.

Martine Bilodeau’s colourful paintings, mostly acrylics on canvas, are inspired by nature as a doorway to dreams, which in turn, reveal our innermost secrets. She grew up in Chaudiere Appalaches, Quebec on 300 acres of wilderness. She exhibited her art work in Germany, Vancouver, Bangkok Thailand (as the first non-Thai woman to show at the Amari Watergate Hotel), Seattle, and Guanajuato; her art is in corporate and private collections in Quebec, Japan, Seattle (Adobe Systems Inc.), Vancouver, and Guanajuato. She's also on the credits of major movie and tv productions like Night at the Museum, Percy Jacksons, 7th Son, Tomorrowland, X-Men as a scenic artist.

Celia Bland published Madonna Comix, a collaboration with artist Dianne Kornberg, in 2014; a new collection of poetry, with illustrations by Kyoko Miyabe, will be published in 2017. Poems and essays have recently appeared in the “Second Thoughts” series posted on the National Book Critics Circle column, in Station Hill Press’s new poetry anthology, In/filtration, and in Gulf Coast, Tarpaulin Sky and Vela.

Michael Broek is the author of Refuge/es “winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award for poetry, from Alice James Books, and two chapbooks The Logic of Yoo, from Beloit Poetry Journal, which has been adapted to a staged reading, and The Amputation Artist, from ELJ Publications. His poetry and essays have appeared widely in places such as The American Poetry Review, The Literary Review, Drunken Boat, Literary Imagination, Blackbird, Fourteen Hills, and others. He has received fellowships to the MacDowell Colony and the Marble House Project, a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and a grant from the New Jersey State 74


Arts Council in Poetry. He is the Managing Editor of Barrow Street Journal.

Kate Brown, a Professor of History at UMBC, is the author of a number of books, including Plutopia: Nuclear Families in Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters (Oxford 2013), which won seven prizes including the American Historical Association’s John H. Dunning and the Albert J. Beveridge prizes, the George Perkins Marsh Prize from the American Society for Environmental History and the Ellis W. Hawley Prize from the Organization of American Historians. Brown, a 2009 Guggenheim Fellow, has published widely in such venues as the American Historical Review, Slate, Aeon, Chronicle of Higher Education, Harper’s on-line, TIME on-line, Al Jazeera America and the TLS. A 2016-17 Carnegie Fellow, Brown is currently writing a history of the Chernobyl Disaster.

William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).

María la folclorosa es el pseudónimo de una bailarina y matemático que vive en Guanajuato desde el 2011. Algunos de sus cuentos y poemas han sido publicados en la revista Los Nadie en Guadalajara, y en la revista Onomatopeya de la Universidad de Guanajuato. También han sido declamados y contados en las calles cuevanenses. Nació de viajes chiquitos y de viajes grandes, algunos reales, otros leídos y algunos escritos. Se dedica a desenredarse de a poquito el ovillo de hilo que trae por corazón para marcar el camino que va recorriendo.

Gregg Friedberg is the author of The Best Seat Not in the House (Main Street Rag, 2010, unabridged edition Embajadoras Press 2017), a sequence of poems concerning the relations between creator and creature, whether author and character, or God and man. And of Would You Be Made Whole? (Aldrich Press, 2015), a collection of “unruly” sonnets. Individual poems of his appear in High Chair and US1 Worksheets. He prefers writing poem sequences: loosely narrative, a matrix of themes considered from varying perspective, divides his time between Guanajuato, Mexico, and Upper Sandusky, Ohio.

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Lirio Garduño-Buono ha publicado Un viaje (UG, 2001), El duende de las cosas repetidas (La Rana, 2006) e Historias Naturales, con Nina Buono (2007, Casa Municipal de la Cultura de Gto.); Retratos pintados con agua (IQCA, Qro. 2011), Historias de Sueños y Señales (La Rana 2013, álbum ilustrado para niños); Visiones (Gob. De Qro, marzo 2015). En 2009 Ganó el Premio Internacional de Poesía Nicolás Guillén, (Universidad de Q. Roo y la UEAC) con Memorias de la Ropa... En 2011, el Premio de Poesía León por el poemario "Animalia Mexicana" publicado por el Instituto Cultural de León. En 2013 publicó "Retratos pintados con Agua" con el Instituto Cultural de Querétaro y en 2015 "Visiones" con la editorial de gobierno del mismo estado. Es fundadora de Lectura “Perro Azul” en Sn. Isidro, Guanajuato, y es traductora.

Rafael Jesús González, como profesor de literatura y creación literaria, ha enseñado en la Universidad de Oregon, Western State Collage of Colorado, Central Washington State University, la Universidad de Tejas, El Paso, y en Laney College, Oakland, California donde fundó el departamento de Estudios Mexicanos y LatinoAmericanos. Su poesía y artículos académicos aparecen en revistas y antologías en los Estados Unidos, México, y el extranjero; su colección de versos El Hacedor De Juegos/The Maker of Games publicada por Casa Editorial, San Francisco (1977-78), ha realizado dos ediciones. Una colección de sus poemas La musa lunática/The Lunatic Muse ( 2009) por Pandemonium Press, Berkeley, California también en dos ediciones. Se ha postulada tres veces para el premio Pushcart. Se crio en El Paso, Texas/Cd Juárez, Chihuahua, México y ahora reside en Berkeley, CA.

Lee Gould, editor of La Presa, is a poet, essayist and teacher; her poems and essays have appeared in Magma, Quarterly West, The Berkshire Review, The Rusty Toque, Passager, Salmagundi and other journals as well as anthologies including The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, Burning Bright; In/filtration; and A Slant of Light..Her chapbook Weeds (Finishing Line Press) appeared in 2010. Since retiring from teaching in public schools and Goucher College, she continues to teach contemporary poetry, guide workshops and curate literary events.. She divides her time between Guanajuato, Mexico and Hudson, New York.

Rebecca Gould has published in Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal about the Jewish call for compassion and her experience at the Western Wall. After leading teachings on Judaism and the Bible’s commandment to welcome the stranger, she published a blog called Opening Hearts, Opening Minds on the We Were Strangers, Too website (The Jewish Campaign for Immigration Reform). She has also published on RitualWell.org: Tradition and Innovation. In addition, she has taught 76


children, teens, and adults and has served as a religious-school director, program supervisor, and rabbi. She has received awards in spiritually motivated social justice as well as leadership and innovation awards.

Juan José Guzmán Andrade es de formación Químico, profesión que desempeñó en el campo siderúrgico, análisis de residuos de plaguicidas y control ambiental, previo a laborar en la Universidad de Guanajuato como profesor investigador, llegando a ser Director del Centro de Investigaciones en Química Inorgánica. Gran gusto por todas las expresiones culturales. Jubilado ha incursionado en la escritura, integrándose a la Academia Latinoamericana de Literatura Moderna, lo que le ha permitido publicar poesía, cuentos y artículos de opinión en la revista Las Mil y Una Letras, el periódico am express y el periódico digital IGETEO, por alrededor de dos años.

Humberto Hernández Herrera es de origen Guanajuatense, padre de cuatro hijos, apasionado por la vida, actividades culturales y deportivas. Cursó sus estudios en la Universidad Tecnológica de León, combinándolos con participación en el Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad de Guanajuato. Se ha desarrollado profesionalmente dentro del Sector Educativo en el Estado. Colaborador desde hace cinco años con Gregg Friedberg presentando sus obras de inglés en español y en el desarrollo de su próximo libro en ambos idiomas. Actualmente continúa su preparación en el área de Acondicionamiento Físico y en Desarrollo Humano.

Norbert Hirschhorn is a physician specializing in international public health, commended in 1993 by President Bill Clinton as an “American Health Hero.” He now lives in London. His poems have been published in over three dozen journals, and four full collections: A Cracked River, Slow Dancer Press, London (1999); Mourning in the Presence of a Corpse (2008), and Monastery of the Moon, Dar al-Jadeed, Beirut (2012); To Sing Away the Darkest Days, Holland Park Press, London (2013). His work has won a number of prizes in the US and UK. See his website, www.bertzpoet.com.

Anja Konig grew up in the German language and now writes in English. Her first chapbook Advice for an Only Child, from Flipped Eye Publishing was shortlisted for the 2015 Michael Marks prize in the UK.

Djelloul Marbrook has written six books of fiction and five of poetry, including Far from Algiers (2008, Kent State University Press), winner of the 2007 Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. Forthcoming from UK’s Leaky Boot Press in 2017 are four more books of poetry and four more books of fiction, including two 77


collections of stories and the Light Piercing Water trilogy, an adventure story in the tradition of the Odyssey.

Brandon Marlon is a writer from Ottawa, Canada. He received his B.A. in Drama & English from the University of Toronto and his M.A. in English from the University of Victoria. His poetry was awarded the Harry Hoyt Lacey Prize in Poetry (Fall 2015), and his writing has been published in 175+ publications in 24 countries: www.brandonmarlon.com.

Stephen Massimilla is a poet, scholar, professor, and painter. His coauthored volume, Cooking with the Muse (Tupelo, 2016), won the New England Book Festival Award and a US News Best Book Award. Acclaim for his previous books includes a SFASU Press Prize for The Plague Doctor in His Hull-Shaped Hat; the Bordighera Poetry Prize for Forty Floors from Yesterday (CUNY); the Grolier Poetry Prize for Later on Aiaia; a Van Rensselaer Award, selected by Kenneth Koch; and other honors. He has work in hundreds of publications, recently including Agni, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Literary Review, Poetry Daily, Provincetown Arts, The Southern Poetry Review, Tampa Review, and Verse Daily. He holds an M.F.A. and a Ph.D. from Columbia University and teaches at Columbia University and The New School.

Debby Mayer is the author of a memoir, Riptides & Solaces Unforeseen, and a novel, Sisters. Her short stories have been published in The New Yorker and numerous literary magazines. She is the recipient of two grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts, one in fiction, for an excerpt from Sisters, and one in creative nonfiction, for an excerpt from Riptides. She writes the blog 2becomes1: widowhood for the rest of us, at debbymayer.blogspot.com. The former editorial director of the Publications Office at Bard College, she is a contributing editor for The Columbia Paper. She lives in Hudson, N.Y.

Michael Nelson’s poetry, published infrequently since the 1980’s, was most recently published in The Missouri Review. He assists in judging the Cirardi Prize at BkMk Press where he was once employed as assistant to the editor. He divides his gardening life between the Flint Hills of Kansas and his home in Southern Sweden. He wishes that his nomination for a Push Cart Award had been awarded.

Peter R. Newman is a family physician and teacher of medicine whose practice has embraced full-spectrum, comprehensive care. His writing has appeared in Stories in Family Medicine and The Globe and Mail. He lives in Toronto, Ontario and Guanajuato, Mexico. Medicine and 78


curiosity have led him repeatedly to work in the Arctic, Israel, Dominica, and Uganda.

Robert Okaji lives and works in Texas and holds a BA in history. He is the author of the chapbook If Your Matter Could Reform (Dink Press, 2015), two micro-chapbooks with the Origami Poems Project, "The Circumference of Other," a chapbook-length work included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015), and Interval's Night, a mini-digital chapbook (Platypus Press, 2016). His work has also appeared or is forthcoming in such publications as Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art, Clade Song, Panoply, Posit, Eclectica, Otoliths, Shantih, The High Window, Gravel, and elsewhere. Visit his blog at https://robertokaji.com.

Eduardo Padilla (Vancouver, 1976) es autor de Wang, vector (Ornitorrinco), Zimbabwe (El Billar de Lucrecia), Minoica (escrito con Ángel Ortuño, publicado en la editorial Bonobos), Mausoleo y áreas colindantes (La Rana), Blitz (filodecaballos), Un gran accidente (Bongo Books) y la antología Paladines de la Auto-Asfixia Erótica (Bongo Books). Su obra ha sido publicada en Letras Libres, Tierra Adentro, La Tempestad, Mula Blanca, Luvina, Crítica, Metrópolis y Transtierros; en las antologías El Decir y el Vértigo (filodecaballos), Divino Tesoro – Muestra de Nueva Poesía Mexicana (Libros de la Meseta/Casa Vecina), Vientos del Siglo – Poetas Mexicanos 1950-1982 (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), Guasap – 15 poetas mexicanos súper actuales (La Liga Ediciones (Chile) 2016); y en las revistas Poet (Alemania, 2012) y San Diego Poetry Annual.

Erna Paris is the author of seven works of literary non-fiction and the winner of twelve writing awards for her books, feature writing, and radio documentaries. Her works have been published in fourteen countries and translated into eight languages. In 2012, she was awarded the World Federalist Movement – Canada World Peace Award. In 2015 she was appointed to the Order of Canada. www.ernaparis.com.

Jaclyn Piudik is the author of two chapbooks, Of Gazelles Unheard (Beautiful Outlaw, 2013) and The Tao of Loathliness (fooliar press, 2005/8). Her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals, including New American Writing (forthcoming), Columbia Poetry Review, and The New Quarterly. She received a New York Times Fellowship for Creative Writing and the Alice M. Sellers Award from the Academy of American Poets. Jaclyn holds an M.A. in Creative Writing from the City College of New York and a Ph.D. in Medieval Literature from the University of Toronto where she currently teaches. 79


Kenneth Pobo has a new book forthcoming in May from Circling Rivers called Loplop in a Red City. His work has appeared in: The Fiddlehead, Mudfish, Nimrod, Grain, Windsor Review, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and English at Widener University in Pennsylvania.

Carter Ratcliff is a poet and art critic. His books of poetry include Fever Coast, Give Me Tomorrow, and Arrivederci, Modernismo. His first novel, Tequila Mockingbird, was published in 2015.

Thomas M. Robinson was educated in Durham, Oxford, and Paris, and is currently a professor emeritus of philosophy and classics at the University of Toronto. A former president of the International Plato Society, he holds honorary degrees in Humane Letters and Sacred Letters, and is the author of Plato's Psychology and several other works.

Rocío Sánchez es poeta y artista michoacana, escultora y pintora con cuarenta años de trayectoria, egresada de la Universidad de Guanajuato, becaria del Fondo Estatal para la Cultura y las Artes del Estado de Gto. Docente en la Escuela de Artes Plásticas de la Universidad de Guanajuato y ha impartido cursos y talleres. Ha realizado exposiciones individuales y colectivas en Francia, Italia, Estados Unidos, Perú, Tailandia, Bélgica. En museos y galerías: Casa de México en París, Museo Pedro de Osma en Lima, Instituto Cultural de México en Washington D.C. Participó en la Bienal Internacional de Escultura de Guadalajara, (2010) . En 2013 en la Bienal de Florencia, Italia.

Annie Smith has had a love affair with words since she can remember. She began writing poetry in her teens. She was an English literature major at Middlebury. After many years on the east coast she moved to Santa Fe with her husband, a painter, and then to the Baja in Mexico. There she began writing full time again and was published in Rattle and other journals. She led a writing group for ten years and founded a monthly open reading group in the small pueblita of Todos Santos. She now lives in Guanajuato and has just completed a memoir about the death of her husband. She continues to write poetry.

Julie Suarez teaches writing and literature at Hartwick College. Her poems have appeared in Salmagundi, Phoebe, Women’s Voices of the 21st Century: Experiences that Shape Women, Tightrope, The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, The New York Times, and a variety of small press publications. Bright Hill Press published her chapbook It Does Not in 2006. In her small but exuberant garden, she grows lilies taller than 80


herself and finds the seeds of many of her poems. She lives in Oneonta, New York, with her husband David Hayes.

Barbara Ungar’s most recent book, Immortal Medusa, was chosen as one of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Indie Books of 2015, and won the Adirondack Center for Writing Poetry Award. Prior books include Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life and The Origin of the Milky Way, which won the Gival Prize, an Independent Publishers Silver Medal, and a Hoffer award. A professor of English at the College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY, she teaches writing and literature. She lives with her son in Saratoga Springs, New York. www.barbaraungar.net

Miriam de Uriarte, in her career as writer and museum educator, has published poetry, short stories, art reviews in museum catalogues and in the East Bay Express in the San Francisco Bay Area, California where she taught at UC Berkeley Extension for fifteen years. She founded the Berkeley Child Art Studio and worked as education director at the Mexican Museum; was director of the Stockton Children’s Museum, The Museum of Craft and Folk Art in San Francisco, and Director of Education at Museo del Barrio, in Manhattan. In 2003, she participated at the Getty Leadership Institute. She is bilingual, of Mexican heritage.

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La Presa, Issue 2, May 2017  

LA PRESA, published three times a year by Embajadoras Press, is a literary journal of poetry and short fiction, articles, essays, and other...

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