a magazine of literature and art
featuring a colorful desolation - a barren tree losing the love of your life in Venice a sorrowful eye - an icy maelstrom waiting for the annual renewal of spring
Cover art: “Break” by Jaimee Newman The staff of Glassworks Magazine would like to thank Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Program Rowan University’s Writing Arts Department and The Glassworks Advisory Board: Ron Block, Martin Itzkowitz, Lisa Jahn-Clough, Andrew Kopp, Jeffrey Maxson
Cover Design & Layout: Katie Budris
EDITOR IN CHIEF Katie Budris MANAGING EDITOR Andrew Davison SENIOR EDITORS Joan Hanna Steve Royek Kaitlin Zeilman
Glassworks is available both digitally and in print. See our website for details: RowanGlassworks.org
POETRY EDITORS Amanda Baldwin Carly Szabo
Glassworks accepts literary poetry, fiction, nonfiction, art, photography, short video/film & audio. See submission guidelines: RowanGlassworks.org
FICTION EDITORS Kathryn Brining Denia R. Martinez Michael Nusspickel
Glassworks is a publication of Rowan University’s Master of Arts in Writing Graduate Program
NONFICTION EDITORS Leslie Martinelli Jessica O’Shea
Correspondences can be sent to: Glassworks c/o Katie Budris 205 Hawthorn Hall Rowan University Glassboro, NJ 08028 E-mail: GlassworksMagazine@gmail.com Copyright © 2015 Glassworks Glassworks maintains First Serial Rights for publication in our journal and Electronic Rights for reproduction of works in Glassworks and/or Glassworks-affiliated materials. All other rights remain with the artist.
MEDIA EDITORS Andrew Bates Kevin Coopersmith Amanda Kozlowski SOCIAL MEDIA & MARKETING Jude Miller
glassworks Spring 2015 Issue Ten
MASTER OF ARTS IN WRITING GRADUATE PROGRAM ROWAN UNIVERSITY
Eucalyptus | 6 Rolling Stone | 7
The Oak Tree | 4
Sleeping By Firelight | 3
Will Harris, After Sappho Fragments | 26
Stone Heavy and Immaculate | 23
Lowell Jaeger, Some Things I Refuse to Tell | 45
Kindling | 20 Little Key (Clavicula) | 21 Elizabeth Langemak, Married Words | 50 Kate Peterson
Trapped Bird in Hospital Corridor | 57
Brianna Pike, Forsythia | 47
John Schneider, Kite Flying | 48
Ralph Sneeden, Fiddler Crabs | 17 Alaina Symanovich, 1 x 1 | 22
Billions of Cicadas | 58
No Longer Afraid | 59
Fiction Kristin Faatz, Dandelion Wish | 30 Dan Leach, Visiting Hours | 51
Jeffrey S. Markovitz, Threads | 8
JC Reilly, Camminare a Venezia | 41
Meditating Horse | 46 Naked Tree | 5 Allen Forrest
Surrey Central University | 56
Vancouver Gastown | 18
Break | cover
There You Go | 24
Ana Prundaru Once Upon a Dream | 40
The History of Glassworks
The tradition of glassworking and the history of Rowan University are deeply intertwined. South Jersey was a natural location for glass production - the sandy soil provided the perfect medium, while plentiful oak trees fueled the fires. Glassboro, home of Rowan University, was founded as â€œGlass Works in the Woodsâ€? in 1779. The primacy of artistry, a deep pride in individual craftsmanship, and the willingness to explore and test conventional boundaries to create exciting new work is part of the continuing spirit inspiring Glassworks magazine.
Sleeping by Firelight Fred Dale
In the throat of our house rises a scent of limb familiar to the oak trees that spider over us. They must remember themselves as we burn their light to fall asleep, the bedroom ticking away, becoming the table prairie. Rolled into blankets of skin, I have heard the shelterless, how mountains scatter firelight over them. I have cut everything else away, leaving stars that speak so coldly through forms of their own, depthless light. Gathered in charts of firelight, my thoughts are moths that break-up on walls and windowed plains, spreading as fluvial chance onto intractable lands. In the morning, the stories in the wood are forgotten. After all, it was their atmosphere, not warmth, that was needed. We awake, picked clean by flies and sleep.
The Oak Tree Fred Dale
lets everything in. Its bark, broken rivers of space for the tree to expand amongst us, gives entry to all sorts of the curious. The roots billeted in the ground have no say in this, nor the top branches, made of different stuff. Life gets into an oak. It allows itself to be lived in so that when it is summoned from the sky, it knows exactly what it will be.
Naked Tree Toni Bennett
Eucalyptus Caroline Cottom
My sister is backlit by an early evening sun, her curls aflame inside the windowâ€™s dark wood. She leans toward me, grazes my cheek with her palm, smiles wryly at my worry. Her confidence at thirty-two shakes me. She will beat the odds, fourth stage out of four. That sun, those curls, that certainty I remember as the drunk undertaker misses his cue to lower her into the ground and the eucalyptus trees that sway overhead moan.
Rolling Stone Caroline Cottom
It’s in the news: raging wildfires, drought across five continents, monster tornadoes, two hundred species dying each day. But here in Oaxaca it isn’t touching me. Outside my window five fat birds roost in a skeletal tree, pale olive breasts puffed against the cold. I fancy they’ll leave and return, but they don’t come back. In my mind Bob Dylan’s singing how does it feel when you’re on your own and without a home. Nearby, orioles gather in the casahuate tree, orange, russet, amarillo, black, flurry among snow white blooms. Deftly hooded and capped, some wear finely crafted masks like players in a Shakespeare tragedy. Flitting from branch to branch, they dip and exit stage left. I hear them sing, how does it feel when your planet turns to stone, when there’s nothing left of home? Is this the way the world ends, another day and we’re just not coming back? Oh, it isn’t touching me.
Jeffrey S. Markovitz Our mortality is a wound not yet seen. -Evelyn Emma When my mother died, I stared at her library for a long time, taking out books at random, leaving gaps of slender knowledge, and refiling them as succinctly as they were first positioned. Her bookshelves at oddly inconsistent heights, positioned as precariously as skyscrapers, held fortitudes of knowledge: a lifetime read, dog-eared, margin-noted. Highlighted passages and the passage of her life—perhaps I, a highlight—all that remained of her. I wondered if she wondered what would happen to all of her books when she was gone; if someone would select them, inherit them, cherish them as she had—their multi-colored goodness evidenced by the care and wear. Probably, I thought—not cruelly—they would be donated. By me, of course. A thrift store, for poor browsers to find her words on accident, scrawled into the off-white margins left for fresh ink to bond. It saddened me that I wasn’t reader enough to keep them. But before I could part with them (the only things my left-thinking mother could hoard like a modern-day materialist) I withdrew a particular volume in French I did not know. It was entitled Aucun
de nous ne reviendra, by a woman of whom I had never heard (pictured, presumably it was her, on the cover) but here, amongst the other texts in various languages, she reminded me of my mother. She didn’t look like her, but the way she hoisted her chin, a pressed cigarette waiting between two fingers…that was my mother. And in the way that moments such as that can succeed to all the moments that will have to be, I realized I would never see her again, and it nearly killed me. She would have shaken her head at such melodrama. Flittering through the pages, as I did just to feel their wind, they stopped on their own accord (as books do when they are so marked) by a small, once-folded piece of paper. It was newsprint, the typical age-yellow of the paper clinging to the pages of the book that held it, like a decades-served prisoner so comforted by his cell that freedom is his only fear. The saved page had two highlighted lines: Essayez de regarder. Essayez pour voir. I tried to look for a French-to-English dictionary to see what they meant, but failed, and so pulled the newsprint from the armpit of the spine and unfolded it. It was from 1944 and it was in German. A German text interloping in French print:
The way she hoisted her chin, a pressed cigarette waiting between two fingers…that was my mother. And in the way that moments such as that can succeed to all the moments that will have to be, I realized I would never see her again, and it nearly killed me. It was a small article, one that didn’t even warrant a picture; a deeply buried (surely) story about a German war plane that had crashed. I stood there, the book in one hand and the loose sheet of paper in the other, wondering how much the propaganda machine ate holes in the story; truthfully, I was shocked it was even printed. It didn’t seem the Reich-way to publicize any—even if small—military
defeat; but there it was, black on yellow for the world to see. A crashed German plane. I read crashed, not downed. Apparently, this was a mechanical, rather than Allied, tumbling. So there it was: my mother’s war relic. At most it was a cultural artifact from WWII. At least, my mother’s eccentricity. But her only daughter, left as I was with a bundle of paper, held it between finger pad and opposing thumb with such force as to pulverize the print into the dust that she was, that we’d all be, that she almost was: then. She wasn’t a survivor; that was the name they gave her, afterwards. She was my mother, that fateful, accidental thing between us—a shared body, for a time— that keeps us, through death, through abomination, together. But what I’m afraid of is that I’ll forget her, her face, the way I have my beloved family dog; who I pined for, then cried for, and swore I’d never forget; now just a ripple of audible yawns and the sweet stink of dog breath my fallible memory tries to reconsider. I’m afraid I’ll forget my mother the same way, the way you write a name in sand though the spiteful moon sends waves to melt it away. So I do all I can to collect memories in consideration of nostalgia, worried about a deathbed with
Jeffrey S. Markovitz | Threads
a 1944 pun at which my mother must have smirked when she placed it. She, of course, being German, could read what was there; I, her shameful American daughter whose childhood was spent pretending away my diversity in sacrifice to the gods of assimilation, knew only a passable bit.
nothing to think back on. And the The utility of creation. It made me books’ pages go whif. think of motherhood, though I was sure I would never bear a child, If the walls of the Altenburg no matter how sure I was—that factory were invisible, you’d be deeply internal holler (like a voice able to trace the smokestacks down saying, “You will. You will. You to cauldrons. Those spires of will.”)—when I was a little girl. industry, announcing civilization I was an older girl then, and as from the horizon to distant trav- proof that my squandered potential elers, led through the roof and motherhood had suffocated that down to furnaces that were always internal voice, I was rapt by the gears angry, and I was the educated wom- of the production. an who kept them growling. Or Jesus said, “Forgive them perhaps not. Perhaps any true utility Father, for they know not what they of mine was just a futile rouse, in the do”; and neither did we. We knew existential sense. Maybe, like every- not what we created. Gun muzzles one, I over-underscored my purpose; tempted their vicious innards inches maybe I counted too many paces from our backs, and so we fed the to a place, and forgot all about the cauldrons, we stamped the steam, we steps behind. Maybe, I don’t know. sorted the screws. (This last thing, Maybe I was just like the screws my job.) And I was ironic enough to that went by. quote Jesus. The factory was an amazing thing. Every day for months (I didn’t No matter how many days went by, have the advantage of chalk to no matter the bizarre looks I received hash out, in marks, the days of my from my comrades, whose eyes were imprisonment—how taken for perpetually down, I gazed out. The granted they were by my teachers, conveyors that wound along as if as they scrawled the chalk to nubs dislodged from a tight-wound ball with arithmetic and Latin. I loved, of string, the steam stampers (my oh how I loved, to read), every day name for them), the cauldrons. I’d been marched there, the miles to The walls with no windows. These Altenburg, to sort screws on that things, functioning together, taking conveyor. The muzzles behind, an inserted material and producing a buzzing with the audacity of trigvaluable component: a thing; some- ger fingers. How audacious the very thing useful. Of course I dreaded thought of being human is: such its use, whatever it was that we were small things with such big designs. producing at the factory; but I mar- And my sorting screws was no more veled at the ability of construction. menial than running a country.
it is time for those people to start listening to us and not to history. History has never been honest; it is like blank forearm skin, available for anyone to cut and store ink, while I was there. So I know. History is bitter medicine, but it is worse when it is filtered through human imagination.) There are too many stereotypes to account for, these so many years later. It’s the negative sublime, the thing you stare at and cannot describe because it is a palette the colors of our brains cannot use to paint. It is experiencing the white light of the divine, and pondering why it so seldom shines. Why miracles only happen in the Torah. How does one beautifully describe emptiness? Silence? These words are near useless. The endless elementary schools, the endless beautiful young children with their hopeful schoolteachers, asking questions though only half-interested—perked up to not be rude, and I, expected to warm them with a smile, an anecdote, a cheerfully foreign accent. Would it pain them to know the traces of langue étrangère they heard in my voice were German? Sometimes the schoolteachers bake yellow-star cookies with Jude in black icing on them, which are eaten ravenously by the children.
Jeffrey S. Markovitz | Threads
An army. Than ignoring what was happening in Europe. No, my sorting screws was no more tedious than thinking, even for a second, that being a human is something special. Some of the screws were as large as my hand (which, wasn’t very large) and some were as small as the pads of my fingertips (which, were quite small) and I had to sort them, as they glided by on treads, roller controlled underneath, into bins according to their size. Every once in a while, I slipped one of the largest into my apron pocket. I believed (I had to believe, with God so elusive, in something) that the largest were the most important. Because I was an animal, because of gravity, I had to believe the biggest things were the most important. Screws. Men. I never received a tattooed number. That was lore. That was only in some camps. It meant you were a laborer; so what all the following generations would scoff at was a sign of survival to those who bore them. Tattoos meant you were to be counted, and that counting was a subtle, profane indication of life somehow valuable. They were not used in my camp. My forearms were clean of ink, of blood, so I didn’t have the reassurance of survival. (I know how much it must pain people living today to read that, but I think
According the Nuremburg Laws, I was a “Mischling of the first degree,” which were, “Persons descendent from two Jewish grandparents but not belonging to the Jewish religion and not married to a Jewish person on Sept. 15, 1935.” This bought me time; this and that I inherited the luckier traits of my two other grandparents, leaving me all sand-blond hair and sea-blue eyes; that and of course the fact that I’d never stepped foot in a synagogue. But those things only saved me for so long. Once, back in the Altenburg factory, a comrade saw me put one of the large screws into my apron pocket and exclaimed, “Do not do that; you will be killed.” To which I responded, “I am dead already.” But the muzzle never nuzzled my nape, or my back, or my head, for that matter. Perhaps they never saw. Or perhaps the soldiers were just as bored as they looked. Most of them were beautiful children with misguided schoolteachers, too. I was efficient enough to sort with my non-dominant hand, so no one seemed to pay much attention to the other hand, buried deep into the pocket, with the screw. Infrequently but steadily, I snuck my hand into the pocket, which also contained a nail file, and clumsily brushed the abrasive grain (my father’s three-hour beard stubble!)
against the shaft of the screw. Over time—this was all we had: a surplus, a deluge—I learned to file with delicacy, drawing the file back and forth with only the tips of my fingers (second knuckle and above) so that the sinews of my forearm didn’t flex or undulate. Eventually, I could wear down the threads of the screw’s shaft to near nothing, smoothing flat what was designed to grip, before withdrawing the screw, placing it in its bin, and beginning again with another.
Once, back in the Altenburg factory, a comrade saw me put one of the large screws into my apron pocket and exclaimed, “Do not do that; you will be killed.” To which I responded, “I am dead already.” When I arrived at the camp near Altenburg from Dresden, they found the file in my pocket (this had been a different pocket; I had been stripped of my previous clothes, made to stand naked long enough to be humiliated, before being given new rags), as they found all of the things in the world that had belonged to me. They took everything, but the
submerged, and so I filed clean the threads of a screw or two a day, no more superficial an action as any other we demand our simple bodies to do. But, of course, the screws had to go to something. We all knew what the bellowing factory was a part of, even if we didn’t see the direct result, and it was a human thing for me to do, to hold out hope that my extended toe into the aisle might cause one of them to trip. I wondered, flightily, as girls did, what people would think and how they would remember all of it. I knew it would end, eventually. How like everything. But posterity—what would it think of this final conclusion: the realization that despite our millennia of egotistical arrogance in thinking we were the champions of the Earth, that we were truly tiered at some class far below the animals. A hundred years hence, when the necessary reality ceded to the eventual mythology, how would the writers appropriate what that was for prose? They would have to, of course; the sound waves from our mutable voices would only travel so far; but how would the new voices sound? How would they carry the legacy of this suffering? Could a poem ever be properly impregnated with the dissonant fugue of such rancid melodies? I feared the noblest of
Jeffrey S. Markovitz | Threads
file. This they let me keep, out of mockery, to laugh at the absurdity that, despite my haggard condition, I could do something as superficial as shape my nails. As my teeth rotted, as my hair thinned, as my muscles betrayed the bone underneath, as my tongue became sandpapered like the blade of the file itself; they’d frequently ask to see my nails—the round clean shape of them, the kept cuticle, the finish of an ocean-loved shell. They’d call to me during marches, “Show us the nails,” and I would raise my hands— surrender and spectacle—for them to examine. And their yellowed laughter would seem to catch the sky, echo as if we were all cloistered somewhere. The sound of it triumphant as church bells, psychotic as air-raid sirens, alluring as isle-stayed Sirens, noxious like a snake’s kiss. They never worried I’d stab someone: them, myself. The joy of the anachronism blunted their boredom and I had fine nails until they began to break. Eventually, they forgot all about it, and so I had the file, and the screws. I didn’t know what good filing the screws would do; I just had to have purpose, some rationality. I had to have something that was mine, just a little agency I could call upon that was geared toward the future. Even if it was a carrot on a string, even if it was so close to nothing that I could laugh at myself for even thinking of it (laughter, even in self-hatred, was balm). It was breath while I was
future scribes would only be able to get this as a myth, a Trojan Horse, a golden-threaded labyrinth, the words of the Torah flying away from the fire of their own burning pages; but perhaps that is all the past is: a broken circle beyond which the voices of sufferers tremble out into nothing. A recent evening, I had a nightmare. I was on an interstate, heading from somewhere to somewhere, but there wasn’t a single exit offering reprieve from the infinite stretch. All that existed was flat road—long grey expanse bisected by yellow paint and flanked by high concrete dividers. No shoulder, no green signs marking the impending escape routes. It moved on forever, road to horizon like the prize-winning photographs of the American desert, but I was horrified. The interstate in its grandiosity, linking one side of the country to the other, zagging like a heartbeat blip across the landscape: north/south plummets and hikes with marginal east/west progress. My rational mind would know that ocean was inevitable, but my dreaming mind interpreted Eisenhower’s web as suburban murder. It was all going and no stopping, all destination and no journey. How horrible it was to go on forever and never get off. How horrible to see all the things one could experience just beyond the shoulders, but be caught in a racing thing only interested in forward so that all those roadside
attractions became blurs of the stuff memory lusts for, but like in dreams, are gone the more one tries to remember them after waking. It’s because of words; it’s because we try to use words to describe dreams, and they are not the things of words. They are beyond words. Dreams and nightmares both. I remember when my mother first told me of the screws. We were on a trip to Philadelphia, a city she loved; it was the first place she lived in America and I always thought this brought her some kind of affection for the place I thought was rather dirty. She wanted to walk me around her old neighborhood, a place she painstakingly plotted out on maps but had trouble, on the ground, locating. We wandered, presuming which direction to go (her head shaking negative at how quickly, how much, things changed) until we eventually just decided that where we were was in fact the neighborhood in which she once lived. It was a simple selfdeception, the ruse of it just a platform of nostalgia; and for her, it worked. She gleamed with pride at the concrete of the sidewalks upon which she may or may not have ever walked. I was less astonished, the evidence of this in my face or in the small action of my kicking away a piece of trash rather than stepping over it. To all of this, she replied, “What is the greater talent, loving Paris? A place everyone knows to love? Or loving Philly, a place you have to work to love?
collegiate mind, there in that café in Philadelphia, for whatever reason, found the screw filing to be an act of futility so mind-numbing that I could not help the slight tone of condescension that entered my voice. “What I really want to know, Mom, is why people didn’t really resist. You know? I mean, they were outnumbered, right? I mean, how could you just let that happen to you? Take it like it was okay?” This was the most defeated she’d ever looked at me. She, so manhandled by life, could do nothing but muster disappointment in her only daughter. And so she responded by saying nothing. It occurred to me, just like in my dream: no words. Essayez de regarder. Essayez pour voir. In front of her bookshelves, the page her newspaper clipping marked remained open in my hands and I realized I had been standing for an unknowable amount of time. I had conjured this memory of her, in the café, suddenly, without spur. But as I looked back to the yellowed dryness of the newspaper clipping, it suddenly occurred to me that the memory was not, in fact, conjured from nothing. It was there in the article. Perhaps my passing German had neglected it,
Jeffrey S. Markovitz | Threads
Isn’t there a greater talent in loving something that isn’t so obvious? Expectations are really just a matter of consensus.” “Beauty is Truth,” I said, quoting a literature class, of which I was then in the throes. I was a college student then, and pretention was no less an exercise of common course than waking to resume breathing— having forgotten that one breathes all through sleep. “Beauty is no such thing,” she said, becoming serious. “Truth—who’s truth? Beauty is most in what is false, what isn’t obvious.” She told me about the filing of the screw threads in a café toward the center of the city, where we sat as two women with independent drinks and a shared cheese danish. She explained the nail file, the clandestine wearing-away of a screw-or-two-a-day in opposition of some phantasm. She told that story with a sense of pride that I could not understand; I could not see the heroism, the valiance she purported to own in this small act of courage. I was, generally—as most people were and should have been— in awe of my mother and what she had been through. Embarrassed as a small child—at the attention she got, at her fame— the feeling ceded to admiration as my high school then college classes matured me to understand what all of it was and what it meant for her to have survived. But my precocious-if-arrogant
or perhaps I wanted to unconsciously fail at realizing it, but there it was, seemingly the boldest word in the paragraph. The crashed German war plane. Just after taking off from the Altenburg airstrip. A faulty schraube. And Philadelphia was beautiful. And I looked up at her bookshelves, wondering what other impossible stories of false beauty—the best kind— lived in the pages there. At the shoreline I write my mother’s name in the sand. The ocean comes, incessant as history, sacred as the whole world, and tries to erase her. I stand between her name and the water, guarding it with my feet. Like the words of the Torah, the letters fly.
Fiddler Crabs Ralph Sneeden
after Ruskin and VanGogh
Everything we wanted to know was like chasing the light inside a fridge, crouched behind our screen of spartina waiting for that glimpse, the sand suddenly coming alive in concertâ€”another conversation we couldnâ€™t hear. Their holeopenings filled with themselves, pathetic bodies dwarfed by claws. Hours we spent panicking to pry them out after they retreated as one, ramming two fingers down their perfectly augered hallways, dreading the moment of contact.
Vancouver Gastown Allen Forrest
Kindling Tayler Klein
Mom at the kitchen table, ball-point pen tapping Formica: Do you like girls? Have you ever thought you liked girls? Mom waits. I gather words like kindling before the spark. I wasnâ€™t questioned, nineteen and naked on his deflating air-mattress, half-empty bottles like rattling bones on the floor. Or at four in the morning when I answered the burden of his muscle and heaving, my shouldersâ€™ half-crescent moon-blades scraping the wall. No, I say, and the twitch of her head toward window is neither relief nor upset. Outside, a finch shifts on the feeder. Mom hands me a glass of iced tea clinking like stones on a window. Quiet together, we watch the finch fly across the lawn.
Little Key (Clavicula) Tayler Klein
Thus if any one is ignorant of the structure of the bones it follows necessarily that he will be ignorant of very many other things along with them. –Niccolo Massa, 1559 In bed, you shift your weight to your elbow. At the neck of your shirt, white collarbones, skin pale and tight as a drum head. The hollow between the bones is a worry stone, a fissure in the ebb of the body speaking of your very blueprints: marrow and nerves, blood cells and spirit, cartilage and pity and thirty-three vertebrae linked in hook-and-eye clasps. I want to press my thumb to the pit between each bone and feel something deeper— something stronger—than skin, heart, blood.
Alaina Symanovich Focus on the times-table quiz. You and Nell drilled these numbers daily during recess for weeks so that one of you might beat Daniel Lee. Read 7 x 8 and think 56. Do not think best friends, open-palmed sun, four legs collaging at the top of the spiral slide. See 8 x 11 and scribble the loop-de-loop answer. Do not notice the absence of a friendship bracelet clinking along to the motion. Do not remember that Nell gave you the spirits charm because you thought kindred was an ugly word, because she understood how much things like that mattered to you. Fill in all the easy 0 tables. Think about that—nothing. Not tomorrow’s gym class, when Nell won’t stand in front of you and catch every dodgeball. Read 3 x 5 and try to feel relieved that you won’t need to buy her a birthday present on the fifteenth. Focus. When your hand shoots up after 62 seconds and your classmates gape at you in awe, lower your eyes and pretend you are invisible. Do not look at Nell not looking at you. Pass your paper forward and file outside for recess and ascend the slide’s throne alone. Remember that you won.
Stone Heavy and Immaculate Anna Ivey
A light makes slats across my thighs once we are alone. The night is thickening--swollen stone heavy and immaculate. If nothing else I clench electricity now because the star-filled cloak is too dim for much use anymore. We evade the ruptured cuneiform thinking a few hours would be enough. I unfashion the order of sentences into movement of a tongue. I have been ready to start over though you have only seen the latticework of poets. What you say might be put on a page at any time is how I warn you I write again. See. Consider the volumes of stilled Incan rituals since my hands find the roughened edges of your jaw.
There You Go Jaimee Newman
After Sappho Fragment 6,9 Will Harris
Your quivering lip invites. How can all not help but feast? When your eyes swell, we carryâ€¨ the taste of hibiscus long afterward. Go then, run, so we may see and not be seen, your dress winded, a pennant carried overhead by victors, your sunlit neck, arms, back pleasing like milk, honey, chocolate.
After Sappho Fragment 39 Will Harris
the feet covered by spangledâ€¨ straps beautiful Lydian work an unpainted small toe alone among sisters a crescent scar aligns yourâ€¨ right ankle that moon eclipsing your vein-less arch unreal moon resting on its slope your calf to me
your foot so common I know them well
After Sappho Fragment 84 Will Harris
Your reproach rises in my head delicate and windblown as sparks. If you draw the bow, Artemis, I will not bolt.
After Sappho Fragment 103 Will Harris
the one with violets in her lap is loveâ€™s own child restoring melody to the parched voice reigniting the eyeâ€™s flare others may desire what cannot be possessed but in this moment I praise your beauty which is past and present and futureâ€™s violet with possibility
Dandelion Wish Kristin Faatz
The baby had been born too early. Too small. Livy stood on the driveway between her parents’ house and the Mawhinneys’. The aspirin she had taken earlier hadn’t gotten rid of the cramps in her legs. Her feet throbbed inside her sandals and the May sun beat down on her hair as if it had been the middle of July. On the other side of the pristine white fence, Mrs. Mawhinney knelt in the grass. Her floppy straw sunhat, pinned to her thatch of curls, had a festoon of green ribbon on it to match her gardening gloves. “A month is a long time to be early,” she told Livy. She stuck a pulling tool in the ground and yanked up a dandelion. “Now, I hear some of these doctors know their business pretty well these days. They know what to do with these babies.” Yank. “Still, I think you ought to save your money, Olivia. I don’t mean to discourage you, but you’ll need that money later on.” Livy wished she could edge back around Daddy’s Chevrolet and put its brown bulk between her and the older woman, or that she could creep back into the house and shut the door. It was too late to do that. It had been too late since the second Mrs. Mawhinney spotted her. In fact, it had been too late since the day Livy
had slunk back here to her parents’ house with her tail between her legs. Yank. “You’ll want to help your parents out,” Mrs. Mawhinney said. Yank. “They didn’t count on this, you know.” They didn’t count on this? As if Livy had. As if Livy had wanted nothing in the world but to be here right now. Mrs. Mawhinney pulled another dandelion with a sharp snap. Livy saw the broken taproot’s white flesh staring through the dirt. “You’re lucky, you know,” Mrs. Mawhinney said. She drove the puller back into the ground after the rest of the root. “Some girls in your position wouldn’t have had anywhere to go. Of course, you were a good girl growing up, so I guess your parents...” Livy didn’t hear the rest. She was lucky? Her baby lay under a plastic shell in the hospital and Livy’s legs and head hurt and the front of her yellow sundress puckered over her stomach. She shouldn’t have tried to wear normal clothes again so soon. Maybe her body would never shrink back to the way it used to be. She couldn’t talk back to Mrs. Mawhinney. Good girls didn’t do that. Instead she clamped her battered brown handbag under her arm and tried to smooth the front of her dress as if that would wipe her shame away. Quick footsteps came down the walk behind her. From the other
Kristin Faatz | Dandelion Wish
side of the car, Mama said, “Good she added, “Let’s go.” morning, Cora.” Livy let herself carefully down onto the seat. The upholstery smell made her feel sick and the She couldn’t talk back to leather’s heat bit through her thin Mrs. Mawhinney. Good dress and into her bare calves. At sitting took the pressure off girls didn’t do that. least her feet. Instead she clamped her The car door shut with a solid battered brown handbag thump. Livy clutched her purse under her arm and tried in her lap, leaned back against the headrest and tried to hold to smooth the front of her breath against the heat and her dress as if that would the smell. In the side mirror she could see Mama standing very wipe her shame away. straight, looking somehow taller than she should be able to, facing Mrs. Mawhinney put down the Mrs. Mawhinney but not taking pulling tool and dusted dirt off her one step closer to the fence. Livy hands. “Good morning, Rose. I was couldn’t hear what they were sayhaving a talk with Olivia here.” ing. She didn’t try. “I see that.” Mama came around After a minute, Mama came the car, slim and elegant in a neat back around the car and got in. white blouse and beige skirt. Her Livy gulped the breath of air from powder-blue driving scarf shielded outside. She waited until the car her hair. “Nice to see you, but we eased into the street before she have to rush. So much to do.” She rolled her window halfway down, unlocked the passenger’s side door. so that if Mrs. Mawhinney called Mrs. Mawhinney said, “Yes, Olivia anything after them, she wouldn’t told me what you all were doing to- have to hear it. day. But I told her, I said, she ought At the bottom of the hill, to wait and see if - ” at the corner of Stanhope and When Mama opened the Bexhill, Mama said, “I thought door, a rush of hot air and the we’d go to Coblentz. They have chokingly thick smell of leather the best quality for the price.” upholstery caught Livy in the face. Her voice sounded the way it “Waiting and seeing won’t get things always did now when she talked done,” Mama said. “We’re going to to Livy: as if, even in the stuffy get ready as best we can.” To Livy car, they somehow breathed two
separate batches of air. “Okay,” Livy said. She closed her eyes and let the warm slipstream from the open window float across her face like a scarf. The light breeze mussed her hair. She used to be able to twist it up into a knot, but it hadn’t yet grown enough out of the pageboy Theo used to like. Stray strands tickled Livy’s cheeks and the tip of her nose. Theo. He didn’t deserve her thinking of him. He probably wasn’t thinking of her, wherever he was. The morning after she told him she was pregnant, she had woken up in their one-bedroom apartment to find the bed empty beside her. The sheets looked horribly smooth pulled up over his pillow. Somehow she had already known she would not find him sipping a mug of coffee in their galley kitchen or leaning on the rail of their tiny back porch. The single toothbrush in the bathroom and lone pair of slippers by the bed had only confirmed what she knew. His closet door stood open a sliver, enough to see the emptiness inside. If only her own body had been as empty. How fast and how silently he had managed to strip the place. She had stood for a long time in front of that closet door. Already, with the pieces of her wrecked life scattered around her, she had known where she would have to go. What choice did she have? No, Theo wasn’t thinking of her. If he had been, Livy wouldn’t have been here in this car with Mama right
now: she would have been with her husband, where she belonged. Even so, she couldn’t help remembering how, on this road, he would have hit the gas and rolled both windows in his battered orange coupe down all the way. He would have clamped the wheel with one hand while the other, fingers curled together like a baseball mitt, hung out the window to catch the air. Livy could still see his hands clearer than she should. Those same square fingers had run down her bare arms lightly enough to make goosebumps spring up on her skin. Those palms, callused from lawnmower handles in the summer and shovels in the winter, had cupped her cheeks. So she didn’t have to work to picture them now, the same way she didn’t have to work to feel the thumpa-thump of the bass pounding through the coupe’s upholstery and floor when Theo cranked up the radio to blast Jerry Lee Lewis and Bobby Darin. The sun fell on Livy’s closed eyes, turning the darkness hot orange behind her lids. She saw Theo’s hand on the steering wheel and his sunburned forearm with twists of dark hair springing out of it. She traveled up that forearm to the elbow, where the edge of the sleeve of his favorite shirt touched his skin. The shirt was faded denim with a patch of brightly flowered cloth across the chest. Livy followed the bright patch to the row of white buttons that ran
The store was a single big box of a room with a wooden floor and tall windows. Ceiling fans ran incessantly. Long bars of sunlight lay on the floor and lit up the racks and shelves. Dust swirled, sparkling. A clerk in a gray pinstriped suit hurried over. His shiny black shoes rapped on the floor. “Good morning, ladies. May I help you?” Mama drew her shoulders back. She had taken off her driving scarf and her hair gleamed in a shaft of sun. Livy’s hair was the same color, exactly like milk chocolate. Theo had once said it was the first thing he had noticed about her. “Good morning,” Mama said. “We’re looking for baby clothes.” “Yes, ma’am. How old is the baby?” Mama looked at Livy, who felt herself redden. “Newborn,” she mumbled. The clerk’s little eyes, far away behind thick glasses, took in Livy’s dress and the shape of her stomach. “Your child, miss?” Miss. Livy had taken her wedding ring off months ago, when she first came back to her parents’ house. She should have kept it on. “Yes,” she whispered. A smile glided across the clerk’s face, as smooth as milk. “Congratulations. Is it a boy or a girl?”
Kristin Faatz | Dandelion Wish
down the breastbone, and there was shirt’s open collar, framing a triangle of sunburned skin. And there was the round hollow of his collarbone, and the line of his neck... Livy opened her eyes. Glare off the road made them smart. The halfformed shape of Theo’s face burned away. The Chevrolet pulled up at the intersection with Fitzgerald Street. Before Livy could stop herself, she glanced out the window and traced the gray line of Fitzgerald until it disappeared around a curve. Mama said, “We’ll go there later, after we take the things home.” Livy jerked her eyes away from the window. How had Mama seen her looking? She knew she ought to say “Yes,” or “Good,” or even, best of all, “Can’t we go now?” She ought to want to go first thing in the morning and stay till last thing at night, but how could she, when she wasn’t allowed to do anything there except sit helpless? If she had wanted to go anyway, maybe she and Mama could breathe the same air. The sign for Rockvale Center came up on the left, blue neon letters on a white backboard. Mama turned into the lot and parked as close to the entrance of the Coblentz Store as she could. Livy opened her door before the ignition shut off. Heat from the baking asphalt beat up against her bare legs and the sun hit her hair hard enough to scorch.
Why did he act like it was something to celebrate? Prissy little man in his prissy pinstriped suit and shoes. For one second Livy let herself see Theo’s strong square hand again, his fingers bunched into a fist... “Livy,” Mama said. “It’s a boy.” Livy gripped her handbag tight in the crook of her arm and stared down at its crumpled zipper as if she had never seen it before. “Congratulations,” the clerk said again. “Follow me, please.” The black shoes rapped their way to the back of the store. Mama followed, head up, shoulders back. Livy trailed behind. Racks and shelves went past in a blur. The waxy, lemony smell of floor polish made Livy wish she hadn’t eaten breakfast. The clerk stopped in front of a corner shelf. “Here we are.” “Thank you,” Mama said. “We’ll take a look.” “Take your time.” The black shoes mercifully rapped away. Livy looked at the piles of tiny clothes. There were layettes and onesies, shirts no bigger than a handkerchief, socks so tiny that one would barely have fit over Theo’s thumb. There were pastel blues and pinks, greens and yellows, all soft and clean and perfect. A week ago, blood had stained Livy’s sheets. The glass doors of the tan building on Fitzgerald Street had swished open to let her into the throat-burning stink of disinfectant
and a haze of white fluorescent light. She lay on a narrow white mattress while waves of pain piled on her like heavy quilts. After, when the worst had ended, they had put a bundle in her arms. A tiny red squinched- up face. Arms as thin as pencils. They had only let her hold it for a minute before they took it away again. Mama picked up a blue-and-white striped shirt. “What do you think of this?” For an instant, Livy imagined the scrap of fabric spread out over Theo’s callused palm. Mama said, “It’ll be big for now.” She could have been talking to any stranger woman she had decided to help. “He’ll grow into it. They grow so fast, you know.” “Okay,” Livy mumbled. She forced herself to take the shirt. The fabric felt so thin that her bitten-down fingernails could have torn it. The baby’s skin had been too red. His shallow chest, even to her inexperienced eyes, had heaved uneasily as if the lungs inside didn’t know what to do with air. “A month is a long time. You ought to save your money, Olivia.” Mama had a white onesie. “You’ll want a few of these. They’re easy to manage and it’s nice and warm now. He can wear them all summer.” Livy took another scrap of fabric. She could have crumpled it and the shirt together in her hands. Mama touched the pile of onesies. “You
across his back, and his broad shoulders and deep chest. What high school boy had ever looked like that? And even then she kept looking, noticing the way the dark curly hair sprang up on the triangle of skin inside his open shirt collar, and the way the faded sweat-stained cloth lay against his sunburned neck, and finally her eyes inched up the last tiny distance to his face. Not handsome. Square, with a crooked nose, a hard jaw and stubble blackening the chin. But he saw her watching him, and he looked straight into her as if every thought she had ever had hung shining up in the sky for him to see. His eyes were blue, the color of smoke. They had a laugh and a dare in them. Livy Brennan was a good girl, but those eyes held the whole world. In the store, in front of the piles of baby clothes, Mama held Livy’s chin tightly enough to hurt. “This isn’t the time,” she said. Livy whispered, “Mrs. Mawhinney said we shouldn’t buy clothes yet. She said he’s too little. He probably won’t live.” The tiny red face in the folds of the white blanket. Those eyes had opened once while Livy held him. They were blue, the color of smoke. She didn’t notice when Mama
Kristin Faatz | Dandelion Wish
look through these and pick a couple more you like. I’ll look at sleepers.” Livy shuffled forward. She held the two pieces of clothing slack in her fingers, but didn’t touch the pile. Mama held up a blue flannel sleeper with a yellow duck on the chest. “How about this one?” Livy shook her head. She stared at the brown straps of her sandals, stretched across the tops of her swollen feet. “Do we have to do this now?” For a second she didn’t think Mama had heard. Then a strong hand gripped her chin. “Olivia North. Look at me.” North. Theo’s name. The surprise of it dragged Livy’s head up. Mama said, “You need to get yourself together. You have responsibilities.” Livy’s fingers went limp. The baby clothes fell on the floor. “You don’t have to tell me I was wrong.” “Olivia.” “I shouldn’t have married him. I know it’s my fault.” Theo North, Yard Work. Livy Brennan was a good girl. Livy Brennan shouldn’t have looked at him, but he pushed the mower back and forth across the neat velvety lawn, and her eyes rested on those hands and traveled up the sunburned arms with the taut lines of muscle under the skin. She took in the faded denim shirt with the patch of color across the front, and the dark sweat stains under his arms and
let go of her chin. Then fingers closed around her arm and she stumbled in her mother’s wake down the row of shelves. At the cash register, the pinstriped
Livy closed her eyes, not to see up the road toward the hospital, where the baby lay in a tiny cot with that plastic shell over him... The doctors said she should not touch him, not with a fingertip or even a breath. clerk smiled. “Did you find everything you need?” “Yes, thank you.” Mama sounded as calm and polite as if she were passing the time of day with a neighbor. The clerk reached for the pile on the counter. Livy watched tiny clothes move through the sparkling dust in the air. The blue striped shirt. A white one. A green one with a white teddy bear on the front. Three onesies. Two sleepers. When had they picked up all those things? She heard a snapping noise. Mama had opened her purse. No. Livy fumbled for her handbag and unzipped it, but Mama shook her head and counted money out of her own wallet. Then the shop bell
jingled again and they were back outside in the sunlight. In the car, Livy sat with the white paper shopping bag on her lap and her handbag at her feet. The heat wrapped around her like a wet towel. She wanted to open the window, but her skin felt so thin, her face so swollen and fragile, she thought the breeze might tear it. Mama didn’t say a word. Livy stared at the dazzling surface of the road. Ahead, at the intersection with Fitzgerald Street, the traffic light was green. Maybe it would stay that way and they could sail right through it. The light changed. The Chevrolet pulled up at the intersection. Livy closed her eyes, not to see up the road toward the hospital, where the baby lay in a tiny cot with that plastic shell over him. The chair beside the cot was made of plastic too, hard and green. The edge of the seat dug into the backs of Livy’s thighs when she sat and watched the baby sleep with his bare red chest jerking up and down. The doctors said she should not touch him, not with a fingertip or even a breath. “Livy,” Mama said. Livy opened her eyes. Maybe Mama was going to get angry at her. For a second she even wished she would. Mama said, “I’m going to tell you something.” Livy couldn’t read her expression. She tried to straighten up in the seat, even though her body wanted
parrot, repeating every word she heard. “He was drunk?” Mama glanced at her. “You’ve seen him walking home from the bus stop after work,” she said. “You’ve seen those brown bags he always has.” That was true. Ever since Livy was little, she could remember Mr. Mawhinney walking past their house with his briefcase in one hand and a squat brown bag in the other. Mama said, “Why do you think Cora never lets him drive their car?” The Mawhinneys’ blue Cadillac sat in their driveway for the whole neighborhood to see, but come to think of it, Livy had never once seen Mr. Mawhinney get behind the wheel. The car sat there all day while he was at work, unless his wife went shopping. Why hadn’t Livy wondered about that before? Stanhope Road came up on the left. Mama signaled and made the turn. “Now,” she said, “that day he locked himself out, Hap could have done all sorts of more sensible things. He could have used our phone to call a locksmith, or he could have tried to get hold of Cora, or at the very least he could have stayed at our place till she got home. But I gave him the axe and went back inside, and after a few minutes, I heard the glass smash.” Livy clutched the bag of
Kristin Faatz | Dandelion Wish
to melt into the upholstery, or maybe turn into mist and blow away. “Yes, ma’am.” The light changed. Mama looked back at the road and pressed the gas pedal. “When you were a baby,” she said, “one afternoon your father was at work and I was home with you, and Hap Mawhinney knocked at the door.” Hap Mawhinney was Mrs. Mawhinney’s husband. Livy didn’t know what this had to do with anything. Mama rolled her window down partway. The fresh air played with her scarf and washed across Livy’s face, as cool as a damp cloth. Mama went on, “Hap told me that he’d locked himself out of his house. Cora wasn’t home. He asked me if he could borrow an axe.” “An axe?” From somewhere outside herself, Livy heard her own surprise. “Yes,” Mama said. “He wanted to break the front window so he could get in.” Break the window? The Mawhinneys’ bay window was one of the prides of Mrs. Mawhinney’s life. In good weather, she washed it at least once a week. Mama said, “Now, this all might make more sense if I tell you that I could smell the whiskey on him from halfway across the porch.” Livy straightened up to stare at Mama’s profile. Tall, gangly Mr. Mawhinney always wore suits and perfectly pressed shirts and ties. He sold insurance for a company in the city, but he looked like an investment banker. “Whiskey?” Livy said. She felt like a
clothes in her lap. “He really did it?” Mama glanced at her again. Livy saw a smile play around her mouth. “He did.” Livy pictured the bay window with the glass broken out, and Mr. Mawhinney trying to climb through headfirst, his long legs in their elegant pants thrashing around in the air. Before she knew it, she burst out laughing. Mama joined in. The small neat houses on Stanhope glided past, and there Livy and Mama were, laughing together in the fresh air that streamed through the open window. Finally Livy caught her breath. “What happened then? What did Mrs. Mawhinney say?” “I don’t know. Hap got the door open and brought the axe back over before Cora got home. In a couple of weeks, they had a new window. Cora never said a word to me about it. I’m not even sure she ever found out where he got the axe. But do you know what?” “What?” They pulled up at the stop sign with Bexhill, next to a bank of lavender azaleas. Mama turned to look at Livy. “That’s why I gave it to him. Because I already knew all about Cora.” For a minute Livy didn’t know what she meant. The mailboxes on Stanhope went past, and their own came up, with the neat letters spelling “Brennan” lined up on the post.
Mama pulled into the driveway. On the other side of the white fence, Mrs. Mawhinney’s green ribbon fluttered in the breeze as she inched on her hands and knees through the grass, scanning for dandelions. Then Livy understood. “Mama, when Adam’s old enough, I’ll teach him to wish on dandelion seeds.” She didn’t know where the words had come from. After all, according to some people, her tiny, fragile, too-early baby might never come home at all. But when Mama looked at her, Livy knew the two of them pictured the same thing: the seeds dangling from their tiny white parachutes, hovering in the air and drifting wherever the breeze took them. Even between the bars of the pristine white fence. Mama’s mouth twitched. “Good. Now let’s get busy.” Livy opened her door and pulled herself out of the car. The sun streamed down on her like a hot shower. This afternoon, the glass doors at the hospital would swish open to let her in. Down a disinfectant-smelling hall, she would find a little cot with a plastic shell over it, and a waiting empty chair. Livy held the clothes bag tight and looked out over the grass. Paintbright yellow splashes dotted it everywhere. Yes. She could see him there on the velvety lawn, her son Adam, a sturdy
Kristin Faatz | Dandelion Wish
little boy in a T- shirt and shorts. His arms and legs would be sun-brown. One small, square hand would grip a dandelion stem. Above his fingers, the head of the flower would be a perfect white sphere of seeds. His mouth would open into an â€œOâ€? when he drew breath to wish. His milk-chocolate hair would gleam in the sun. His eyes would have a laugh, and a dare, and wonder in them, and they would be blue, the color of smoke.
Once Upon a Dream Ana Prundaru
Camminare a Venezia: A Poemoir JC Reilly Prosecco In Venice, every walk ends in a glass of Prosecco. As this one does. It’s the only way to cope with turning down another wrong Calle and finding a bank where you expect to find a book shop, a church where you meant to find a jazz club. Twice today you end up at Schiavi—once on purpose, the other an accident of misdirection, or weariness. (You are thirsty; the wrong way deserves a glass as much as the right way does.) “Un secondo?” “Sì.” The barkeep does not look at you, just pours the pale gold wine that fizzes like canal spume, carries on his conversation with a red-haired goddess. You drink Prosecco and eat crostinis with ricotta and pistachios or sundried tomatoes and mint (five Euro for the lot) on the bridge over the Rio di San Trovaso, catty-corner to a gondola factory. Three gondolas, like sleeping cats, dry in the sun. Black lacquer gleams like spoiling bananas. A man—not the barkeep—gestures as the tourists tramp over the bridge, signals you to move along. His hands slice through the humidity and lacquer fumes like fine paddles. A short distance from the bridge are stairs that lead to the canal; you sit here, gulp down half a glass, recoil when a water taxi zips and splashes you with green jade water. Your skirt and shoes soaking, but your drink untainted, you pick up to move again. Another walk, another bar, another Prosecco at some point. Venice sways in the boozy afternoon like wind chimes. Piccioni In Venice, pigeons in Campo San Stefano are circumspect about your visit to the bench on the south side of the Chiesa until you prove yourself worthy of attenzione. This morning one pigeon, a purple swath across his breast like a Lenten veil, makes the rounds, strains for bits of bread among the disappointment of cigarette butts and paper flecks. You’ve brought GrissinBon toast rusks (le fresche biscottate con farina integrale) from breakfast—what in America you’d call Melba toast, nothing that interests you—and you’ve crushed it in its pack to make it easier to throw. You open the wrapper, toss a large crumb to the one pigeon, and he looks at you as if he’s not sure that your offering will please, but he snags it in his quick arrow of a beak, coos encouragement, “più, più.” You toss a handful of crumbs over a wider field. He wobbles after them. His head bobs the way the prows of gondolas bob on the waves on the Grand Canal. A few pigeons scuttle as morning commuters barrel towards the #1 or
#2 water bus. They fly from other areas of the square, land before you, wait till you throw more. You do. They grab what they can out of each other’s way, sometimes flapping their wings at each other in warning. No manners among them. “Più, più,” they demand. It’s always more with pigeons. Some larger pieces have fallen into the hem of your skirt. A fat white pigeon, the one all week you’ve called Lorenzo, eats from your skirt. Stiff as the monument of Doge Franceso Morosini in the center of the square, you think of the white pigeon your sister caught in chubby toddler hands when she was three. He was Lorenzo too. You want to give him more, but there is no more. No more Melba toast, not until breakfast tomorrow. You no longer interest them. The pigeons leave one by one, then in a curtain of gray. Vabbé. Molti In Venice, all the plurals known to me end in i—amanti (lovers), gatti (cats), ponti (bridges), musei (museums), scrittori (writers). But this I is alone, walking as I am from the hotel to the Ponte dell’Accademia to the Rio Terrà Foscarini, to the Fondamenta Zattere, the southern edge of the peninsula (it is a peninsula in my mind, like a distorted lower-case cursive s, or a devil’s thumb). I pass a gated house and garden with crepe myrtles and geraniums and take a picture of the sign: Brodskij Iosif (1940-1996). Grande poeta russo. Amò e cantò questo luogo. I neither love this place, nor sing of it—though, poetry is a song of sorts, and I will write it into a poem. Were we due, I, like Brodsky, would ask you this: “Who needs a fish when you’ve got caviar?” (We’d rather the fish, though, if we were a we, a plural.) But I am singular (mostly)—few others are out this morning: three Veneziani unloading supplies on a flatboat, a man dragging a small brown cigar butt of a dog. A woman leans against the Punta della Dogana di Mare, an art museum in the old customs house, though it is too early to enter and I do not know it is a museum. She is taking pictures, or will, her camera hungry, snapping at the air like a mouth desperate to locate the correct panorami for her collection. As I round the point from Zattere to Salute, I turn up at the Basilica, or rather, it turns up at me, white and rococoed and immense. There are a dozen turisti on its steps, with notebooks, cameras—burdened with guidebooks and bags. I sit a moment on the steps and eat a handful of apricots. I will go inside—but not, if you were here, to pray. Instead, we’d roll out what we remember of art history, study the dipinti (paintings) from the 14th-17th centuries, and comment on the flaking paint of croci (crosses) and Vergini (Virgins) like know-it-all Americani brutti. What do we really know but that this art is holy, huge, and many? But you are not here to know this.
Chiuso In Venice, the shops are nameless, and sometimes numberless. You guess locations by the bridge count, and hope not to find yourself stranded in an unexpected strada, knowing, as you do, how they all look the same. I cross four bridges, I think, to find the little shop off Campo San Barnaba on the Calle Botteghe Dorsoduro (although there are at least two alleys with this name, the one I live by clearly not the one I seek). One map calls it Calle Pedrocchi Dorsoduro, and another names it not at all. A dislocation. The first time I look into the dark window, I see the glass cat brooch, its head glancing over its shoulder green as seafoam, in a tray with other Murano trinkets, a menagerie of cats and panda bears and foxes and a snake so long you could only wear it on a coat lapel. My Mother has promised to buy me a gift; it will be this cat, when I can enter. But at seven p.m. one does not expect the shop to be open and I vow to come back. The next day, earlier, around ten, I find myself near Campo San Barnaba again; I cross the square, cross the Rio di San Barnaba (the same canal which Katherine Hepburn fell into in 1955’s Summertime), and find it locked again, despite “Aperto” listed on the door. No one answers my knocks. A third time, closed. A fourth time, closed. There are no published hours on the door. The last time is the day before I leave, it’s nearly six, and the alley is wet with rain. The door is locked. The cat stares over its shoulder as if waiting for me.
JC Reilly | Camminare a Venezia
Sono sola e reverente. Alone, I am reverent.
Aperto In Venice, you can never be sure that the wet of bricks or cobblestones is canal, or cleaning, or piss. In some ways, it’s all the same—unwanted on your shoes, a reminder that everything will dissolve, become water green as wine bottles. This ancient city—the Titians, the piazzas, the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute—will all succumb to sinking. On the Ponte dell’Accademia, there are locks that lovers have left along the handrails—that I might have left, tossing the key into the Grand Canal, to keep our love intact, impermeable to change, did I but know the symbol, as all these other lovers know. “Per gli amanti, per gli amanti,” says a man, as I riffle through some locks: M + L 2013 and Jeana <3s Alan, others uninscribed. If Venice is for lovers, why are you six hours in
my past? Why donâ€™t you wander with me among the tourists, the gondoliers, the women tugging their children along or rolling their dogs in prams? Our love, like this city, is being pulled down, we are always under water it seems, sinking, sinking. When I get home, someone will ask me about the time here. Someone will want me to say that I loved this place, its timelessness, but I see only slow sinking and murky water, treacherous and sharp as venom, and all those locked loves. The locked ones will sink someday too. Oursâ€”unlocked, untetheredâ€”wastes no time.
Some Things I Refuse to Tell Lowell Jaeger
behind the stables gypsy singers camp laugh swap lies and wait till the windows of the mansion go black i lie awake on my blankets disassembling constellations while the masterâ€™s mares bicker and snort haltered in their stalls who am i to defend the horses or note which direction the gypsies gallop whipping their stolen mounts
Meditating Horse Toni Bennett
Forsythia Brianna Pike
This summer, my father buried my bay pony beneath the forsythia. Earlier that fall, she lost her love: our old black gelding laid down one frigid morning, stretched his nose toward the sun and died, soon to be hauled out back to clusters of yellow blooms. I imagine their carcasses meeting beneath my feet, their flanks brushing, quiet whispers when coarse hair meets coarse hair. Black manes and tails streaked with white, twining together like thick roots. I wonder if they will see our labrador, her coat the color of black olives, or my first cat, an ornery longhair who dug his claws into human hands. A burial ground below my motherâ€™s favorite shrub, a collection of rotting hides and bones feeding the lilies above. Our black gelding used to stretch his neck over the plank board fence and nip tender buds of forsythia, chewing the fresh green shoots.
Kite Flying John Schneider
The two of us stood at the sink Never a word between us. She washed and rinsed Slowing her pace While placing the large plates In my small hands For me to towel dry, With a pause between each exchange Until she felt I had a grip. The squat stool I stood on made me almost tall as her Its short legs wobbling When I reached on tip-toes To set a plate on the counter. One evening my father came home late. I kept drying while my mother made him dinner, Warming up and serving his beef stew. He was quiet, my mother fidgety. What I havenâ€™t said yet is that He spilled his water and mumbled something. When I asked my mother what was wrong with daddy, In her best low-toned voice She said he was tired from a hard day at work.
John Schneider | Kite Flying
Then she suggested I go outside to fly my kite. So on a cold November night I grabbed my jacket and ran down the sidewalk in the dark Fast enough to get the kite to lift off Determined to make it fly under my own power Lost in the pleasure of The lightness of the string in my hand The feel of it tugging my arm As I streamed down the sidewalk The kite soaring on a dark and windless night Convinced I could keep it afloat forever If I kept running.
Married Words Elizabeth Langemak
You say, I am tired of summer. We are in bed and what we have used of August lies strewn around us like fourteen shirts we are too lazy to wash. August is summer’s Sunday, its every joyous now half-crushed under the weight of tomorrow and almost. I say, Oh, like I do when I am thinking something but am wondering whether to say it aloud. In the first year of marriage I believe this trick is private, unlike when I say Fine, which you have discovered means Fuck you. I give you a word and it means something else. Before our wedding words meant what they do now, though it does not always feel that way. Words are a game of tennis at high speeds with flashing biceps and skirts not quite meant to cover our asses. When we spoke our vows on my lawn yours were short and mine long but we both cried a little because we knew the words would be parents to others of all lengths and also to silence: not the absence of words, but more words not spoken. I could speak now but I don’t and the words I don’t use are like an open door to a room I can see but choose not to enter. This room has you, and is nicer. I am not yet so tired of summer, I think, and then I look at you, wordless, and inch up my skirt.
“Why not?” “Sleep ends.” Dan Leach I wanted to talk some more, but a nurse, the one with the birthSo then I said, “But what comes mark on her face and the hair like a nest, came into the room. She after?” “Nothing,” she said and finally told me visiting hours were over. stopped toying with the tube that “Look,” she said, the next day. ran under her nose. “It’s like this. When were you “Nothing?” born?” “Nothing.” “85,” I said. “But what is nothing like?” “Okay,” she said. “So where I said. “I don’t think you understand,” were you in 1984?” “What do you mean?” she said, closing her eyes and “Exactly what I said,” she leaning back in the bed. “I’d like to,” I said and helped replied. “I don’t understand.” her with the covers. “Can you help She winced, I’m pretty sure this me?” She winced, but I don’t know if time on account my question. “In 1985,” she continued, it was on account of my question. slower than before. “You were “Compare it to something,” born. You were here. You existed. I said. Right?” “Right,” I said. I wanted to talk some “But what about before that? more, but a nurse, the Where were you before that?” “You want me to say that I one with the birthmark didn’t exist. That I was nothing. on her face and the hair Or, no one, I guess, right?” like a nest, came into the “No,” she said and ran her finroom. She told me visit- gers through what little hair she had left. “I want you to say whating hours were over. ever it is you believe.” “Well I don’t believe I was “I can’t,” she said. “That’s the nothing.” “What then?” she said, smilpoint. It’s nothing.” ing in a way that reminded me of “Like sleep?” I tried. before. “A spirit? An angel?” “No.”
Dan Leach | Visiting Hours
“No.” “Well what then?” “I don’t know,” I admitted. “But not nothing.” “Well,” she said. “Wherever and whoever you were, it couldn’t have been too bad.” “Why do you say that?” “Because,” she said, pushing the button on the control that, by then, never really left her hand. “Wherever you were, you can’t even remember it.” “How are you going to tell me about wagers?” she said, sitting up as far as she could. “You’ve never once beaten me in poker.” “Just think about it is all I’m saying.” “Oh, trust me,” she said. “I have.” “And?” “And what?” “What do you think?” “I think if you’re going to insist on trying to save me,” she said. “You need a different angle.” “That so?” I said. “Why?” “This Pascal guy,” she said, struggling to bring the straw to her lips. “Let me do that,” I said, taking the cup and positioning the straw between her lips. “What about him?” She took several small sips and said, “I don’t think he read his Bible much.” “Why would you say that?” “Because,” she said, shooting
me a look like I should have already known what she was about to explain. “Even I’ve read enough of that book to know that God doesn’t want people who are just looking to avoid Hell. That wager you told me about, that’s basically what it does. It tries to scare people into accepting God.” “Then what kind of people does God want?” “People like you, I suppose.” “You were once like me, weren’t you?” “Good memory,” she said. “But that was a while ago.” “It wasn’t that long ago,” I said. “No,” she said. “Not in terms of years it wasn’t.” “So what happened?” She closed her eyes when I said that and fell back into the pillow. For a while she didn’t say anything, but then she started humming. Even then, her voice was something beautiful. It was soft, but I could make out the song. It was “Amazing Grace.” I would have known it anywhere. Then, her humming turned to singing: “I once was found, but now am lost. Had eyes, but now I’m blind.” She opened her eyes and smiled, trying to get me to admit that it was funny or clever or whatever. I didn’t. “Oh, come on,” she said. “Can’t I at least get a sympathy laugh? You know, because of my condition
The next day I brought her some wax bottle candies and a magazine that made fun of celebrities. I was almost to her room when a nurse told me I couldn’t see her. “Trust me, sweetheart,” she said and patted me on my shoulder. “It’s not one of her better days.” I left the candy and the magazine with the nurse and used the back of a prescription slip to write her a note. “Here’s to better days” was the last thing I wrote, although, driving home, I wasn’t sure how she would take that.
A couple of nights later, we were still talking about it. Even though The Allman Brothers were on the radio and we were playing Go Fish with a deck of forty-eight cards, we could not help but talk about it. “That’s it,” she said. “What you just said is the difference between you and me. The fundamental difference, I swear.” “What? What did I say?” “You said you don’t want to believe in oblivion.” “I don’t.” “I know. That’s my point,” she said. “I don’t either.” “Wait a minute,” I said, as confused as I had ever been since we started talking about it, how ever many days ago it was that we started. “You just said—“ “I said,” she interrupted. “That I believe in it. I’ve never said that I wanted to.” “I think you lost me,” I admitted. “You believe in what you want to,” she said. “I believe in what I’m convinced is true. Can’t you see the difference?” I thought about it. Then I said nothing and I pinched the space between my eyes and the bridge of my nose so hard I saw spots and, then, when it still hadn’t come to me, I thought about it some more. “I’m sorry. You’re going to have
Dan Leach | Visiting Hours
and all?” “I’m serious,” I said. “Thing is,” she said, coughing. “So am I.” She left me no other choice. So, I said it. I said, “Was it Madison?” What was left of the smile disappeared from her face. I saw the muscles in her neck go tight and a slight tremble came from the place beneath the covers where her fist would have been. “Thanks for visiting,” she said, turning over on her side. “But I think I’ve had enough excitement for one day.” I’m not sure or anything, but, when I was walking out, I think I heard her crying. I could have sworn I heard her crying. That was never my intention.
to explain the difference,” I said, not trying to seem slow, but not willing to pretend to understand her point either. “Just because you want something to be true, that doesn’t make it so,” she said. “Of course not,” I said. “Heaven doesn’t exist because I want it to.” “Look,” she said, shaking her head in frustration. “Heaven exists or doesn’t exist regardless of how you or I feel about it. But that’s not the point.” “Then what’s the point?” I said, beginning to get frustrated myself. “The point,” she said, loud enough to start her coughing again, “is that if we can’t prove that something is real, then all we have is faith, right? I mean, if we can’t put our hands on something and know, really know, that it exists, then it’s a matter of whether or not we believe it.” “Exactly,” I said, still unclear where our disagreement was. After that I didn’t say anything, which leads me to believe that she read my features and figured that I was still lost. Not once in twenty-two years did I hide a single thought from her. She had me down, always had. “Your faith is based on a truth that you find attractive,” she said and squeezed my hand like I was the one who was dying. “Mine is based on one that I find compelling.” I understood, or, at the very least, thought I understood.
“So what’s compelling about oblivion?” I said, the words practically falling out of my mouth. And then, without hesitation, as if she had been waiting for that question all night, she said, “He’s not there. That’s what so damn compelling about it.”
If we can’t prove that something is real, then all we have is faith, right? I mean, if we can’t put our hands on something and know, really know, that it exists, then it’s a matter of whether or not we believe it. I guess, in a way, it had been years since we talked about Madison. But what I realized when she said that last thing was that, in another way, we had been talking about her all along. We never stopped talking about her. And then, towards the end, when it got really bad, when they pumped her full of something, and her eyes got all dim and slack and not like her at all, and she could only speak in little bursts, we stopped talking about it altogether. Instead, I would just sit beside her
On that last night, I remember she motioned for some water and I brought the straw to her lips. She had been coughing all day. After the nurses came and gave her something, she let out a sigh and looked at me in way that told me she knew it was almost time. And then she said, “Tell me.” I knew, in that way that you just sometimes do, what she was asking for. “Tell me,” she whispered again. I took her face in my hands and held like it was something invaluable. I wiped the tears from her cheek with the edges of my thumbs. I nodded to let her know that I had understood her. “The first time that I saw you,” I started. “You were walking down that red-dirt road out by Freedie’s fishing hole.” She smiled, remembering. “You were a scrappy little thing, maybe six or seven years old and you were wearing those shoes that I had never seen before. And when I asked you what they were, you said ‘Jellies.’” She nodded and mouthed the word Jellies. “Well, when you told me that,
I asked if I could have a bite of one.” Something between a laugh and cough came from inside her. She pressed her button with one hand and held onto me with the other. I was crying too by then, but I continued anyway. I continued, “See, I thought red meant that they were cherry-flavored. And, as you know, cherry always was my favorite.” And, from there, I just kept talking, kept telling the story of us. At first things came out in order, but after a while, I lost track of all the dates and ages and just started letting whatever bits and pieces of her that I had in my memory come out the way water spills out of a dropped glass. I talked about everything we had done, all the places we had gone. And when everything else had been said, when I couldn’t think of anything else to tell her, I talked about Madison. I talked about those four hours that we held her because I remember more about each one of those hours than I do entire years of my life. I talked about our little girl, smaller than my open hand, but, to her, more beautiful than God.
Dan Leach | Visiting Hours
in the quiet dark and she would take my hand in hers and we would sit there and just be us, like we had, in one way or another, since we first met.
Surrey Central University Allen Forrest
Trapped Bird in Hospital Corridor Kate Peterson
A bird trapped in a house, they say, is good luck. I think of telling you this when we find three in the empty fireplace. But I say nothing. In the hospital the children are all asleep, curtains drawn. Itâ€™s as if the sun never came out today; too many clouds. I wait it out. A child screams down the hall, no! no! no. Just this morning those small words were in my mouth. A bell rings down the hospital halls when a baby is born. I wonder what sound I might make â€” wings fluttering against a pane of glass.
Billions of Cicadas Jameka Williams
I wait for the swarm to besiege my house. The trees hum with the brood. A modern plague, like nuclear meltdowns and childhood obesity. How I’d love to stand on my porch, sickened to swaying by the rattle of the bugs, knowing they haunt other neighborhoods, knowing they torment other brave people. I will crumble inside at the tickle of a winged buzz on my neck. I will write a poem about that kind of fear. Irrationally certain fear, despite not seeing, like the man who nailed a board to his door, convinced that was enough for the hurricane. Let armageddons happen, but not to me, because praying breaks to begging with just a quiver in the throat. This world betrays the fearful, as the Thai learned, having watched their queen drown, forbidden, on pain of death, to touch her.
No Longer Afraid Jameka Williams
Seventy years on, or seven seconds, my life leaps from the windshield, whistling straight as if sprung from a bow. Another life wears blinders, no turn-signal to identify his next move. Our lives, strange and ill-fitting, like a sleeve stitched on the ribs, pass each other with a furious screech. But I am not afraid, despite the boneyard of cars and their restless passengers, because dying beats on with ease. How death swallows thunder claps, a beached man ticks away the seconds on his fingers before the bolt meets the sand. I may follow in that manner or another, no longer appalled by the silken touch of love and how it runs the length of the arm. No longer shocked at how quickly the days escape me, seven seconds to seventy years. I say:â€¨ I will follow.
He currently works in Vancouver, Canada, as a graphic artist and Toni La Ree Bennett, writer painter. and photographer, attended the University of Washington where Jaimee Newman’s work has been she received her Ph.D. in English successfully exhibited nationwide and a Certificate in Photography. in contemporary galleries, hoVerbal work has appeared in Puer- tels, and restaurants, and has been to del Sol and Hawaii Pacific Review, commissioned by many high-end among other publications, and she residential home owners. She holds has several poems in the anthology a BFA in Illustration from The The Muse Strikes Back. Visual work School of Visual Arts in New York has appeared in Stickman Review, City and Certification to teach Art in Tryst, Pierian Springs, Gin Bender Poetry New Jersey. Some of her clients and Review, Blue Fifth Review, and Atomic gallery showings include the Petals with imminent publication of permanent collection of NYLO five photos in Gravel. Her work has Hotels, The Society of Illustrators, appeared in many exhibitions in The Magic Gardens, The James the Seattle area. Oliver Gallery, and The Ice Box Gallery in Philadelphia. Her teachBorn in Canada and bred in the ing practice has brought her to U.S., Allen Forrest has worked in schools in New York City, New many mediums: computer graph- Jersey, and Philadelphia resulting in ics, theater, digital music, film, nothing short of rewarding and video, drawing, and painting. He fulfilling experiences. studied acting in the Columbia Pictures Talent Program in Los Ana Prundaru works as a Angeles and digital media in art legal translator in Switzerland. Her and design at Bellevue College. He writing and art have appeared in is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby such publications as The Citron ReHonor for Art at San Jose State view, SmokeLong and Inky Needles. A University’s Reed Magazine and poetry chapbook is forthcoming his Bel Red painting series is part from Etched Press. For further of the Bellevue College Founda- information: https://posthaltelei. tion’s permanent art collection. wordpress.com glassworks 60
variety of print and online journals. His short-story chapbook, —for Olivia, was published by The Head and the Hand Press (2013) and his novel, Into the Everything, was published by Punkin Books (2011). He can be reached via his website: jeffreysmarkovitz. wordpress.com
Kristin Faatz is a pianist and teacher. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Potomac Review, The Kenyon Review’s KROnline, Arlington Literary Journal and Reed Magazine, among others. Her first novel, To Love a Stranger, was a finalist for Schaffner Press’s 2015 Music in Literature Award, and she is currently at work on a second novel, It Wouldn’t Be Make-Believe. onfiction Kristin lives in the Baltimore area with her husband Paul and feline JC Reilly is the author of the contingent Max and Alafair. chapbook La Petite Mort and a 25% co-author of an antholDan Leach is a writer from Greer, ogy of occasional verse, On South Carolina. He graduated from Occasion: Four Poets, One Year. Clemson University in 2008 and She has had work published has since published in The Greens- in or forthcoming from Dirty boro Review, The New Madrid Review, Chai, Flyover Country Review, Deep South Magazine, and elsewhere. Kentucky Review, Cortland ReHis short fiction and poetry can be view, Apeiron Review, and others. accessed by visiting dan-leach.com. She lives in Atlanta with her He is currently at work on his first husband and cats. novel.
Issue 10 | Contributors
Jeffrey S. Markovitz is a Professor of English and Creative Writing and is the Director of the Creative Writing Certificate Program at the Community College of Philadelphia. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in a
Poetry Caroline Cottom, PhD has published two books—one a guide to spiritual awakening, the other a memoir, Love Changes Things, Even in the glassworks 61
World of Politics, based on her experience of taking kindness, compassion, and unconditional love into the halls of Congress. Carolineâ€™s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Crack the Spine, Broad River Review, Cumberland Poetry Review, negative capability, Morning Glory, Unitarian Universalist Poets, and others. Her personal essays have won national and international awards, including first place for Transitions Abroad. She has lived in Fiji, Ecuador, and Thailand, and now leads spiritual retreats and teaches meditation in Mexico.
creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, Existere, MELUS, Reunion: The Dallas Review, and Storyscape Literary Journal, among others. Anna Ivey is currently working on a PhD in poetry at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Her most recent publications have been featured in So to Speak, The Unrorean, Antithesis, Stone Highway Review, and West Trade literary magazines. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014 and was offered a fellowship by the Summer Literary Seminars to attend a writing program in Lithuania in 2008 and 2013. She teaches high school English and lives with her husband Chad and her daughter Aralyn. They are expecting a second child in August of 2015.
Fred Dale is a husband to his wife, Valerie, and a father to his occasional jerk of a dog, Earl. He is a Senior Instructor in the English Department at the University of North Florida, and his poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Forge, Chiron Review, Wild Violet Magazine, mojo, Stickman Review, Juked, and Perversion Magazine. Lowell Jaeger is founding editor of Many Voices Press and editWill Harris was born in San ed New Poets of the American West, Antonio, Texas into a military an anthology of poets from 11 family, and later joined the Western states. He is the author of military himself. After two staff five collections of poems and was tours in the Middle East, he left the awarded the Montana Governorâ€™s military and moved to the Unit- Humanities Award for his work in ed Arab Emirates, where he and promoting civil civic discourse. his wife still live. His critical and glassworks 62
John Schneider lives and works in Berkeley, California where he practices Psychoanalysis and writing.
Kate Peterson earned her MFA in Poetry from Eastern Washington University in Spokane, Washington where she lives and works as an adjunct professor. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many literary journals such as Barnstorm, Medical Literary Messenger, The Examined Life Journal, The Naugatuck River Review and The Sierra Nevada Review. Links to her work can be found on her website, katelaurenpeterson.tumblr.com
Ralph Sneeden’s poems and essays have appeared most recently or are forthcoming in Agni, The American Poetry Review, The Common and Harvard Review. The title poem of his first book, Evidence of the Journey (Harmon Blunt, 2007) won the Friends of Literature Prize from POETRY magazine, and others have appeared in The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, The New Republic, Slate and other magazines. He was born in Los Angeles and teaches English at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. In the summer, he directs the Damariscotta Lake Writers’ Conference in Maine.
Alaina Symanovich is a Master’s candidate in creative writing at Pennsylvania State University. Her work has appeared in Word Riot, Switchback, Elizabeth Langemak lives in Fogged Clarity, Skin to Skin, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. other journals.
Brianna Pike is an Associate Professor of English at Ivy Tech Community College. Her poems have appeared in Gravel, Heron Tree, Transcendence Magazine and Mojave River Review among others. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband.
Issue 10 | Contributors
Tayler Klein received her Masters in Creative Writing from Pittsburgh State University. She has been published in magazines such as Lalitamba, Analecta, and Nimrod International Journal. Tayler lives in Kansas City with her husband, her guinea pig, and her ever-growing collection of books.
Jameka Williams earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from Eastern University in Philadelphia. She is currently pursuing certification to teach English literature for middle and high school, and an MFA in Creative Writing is on the horizon. Her poetry has been published in Eastern Universityâ€™s The Inklings and Crux Literary Journal online. Her criminally underused blog of what inspires her can be found at: jamekaangelie.tumblr.com.
Jeffrey S. Markovitz
Anna Ivey Lowell Jaeger Tayler Klein
Nonfiction JC Reilly
Elizabeth Langemak Kate Peterson
Issue 10: a magazine of literature and art.