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a literary and arts journal

spring 2010

Salvatore Attardo Adam Braffman Jenny Scheuch Chen-ou Liu Karen Schubert Eric Blanchard

Bibliography The Witch of Agnesi Starbucks Invented Nothing Exodus Neighborhood Moon in the Water What I Heard After the Funeral Indigo Night A Time to Kill Letter The Rain Begins

Howie Good


George McKim

Inside Trees

John Tzikas Siobhan Marie Credits

Angst To The Sea

Thomas, Pamela. 1984. Bridal Guide. A complete guide to weddings in churches and synagogues. 5th Avenue Publishing, Lacrosse, WI. 3rd ed. Lauersen, Niels and Colette Bouchez. 1991. Getting Pregnant. What couples need to know right now. Fawcett Columbine, New York, NY. Sears, William and Martha Sears. 1993. The Baby Book. Little and Brown, Boston, MA. Renfrew, Mary et al. 1990. Bestfeeding: Getting breast feeding right for you. Celestial Arms, Berkeley, CA. Jones, Sandy and Werner Freitag. 1991. Guide to Baby Products. Consumer Reports Books, Yonkers, NY. 3rd ed. Lansky, Vicky. 1996. Vicki Lansky’s Divorce Book for Parents: Helping Your Children Cope With Divorce and Its Aftermath. Book Peddlers: Minnetonka, MN; 3rd ed.

Salvatore Attardo Bibliography

Salvatore Attardo

The Witch of Agnesi, a Feminist Reappropriation Here we have a woman Maria Gaetana Agnesi, born in Milan in 1718 a child prodigy who spoke seven languages by age nine, who is practically a saint (her father having denied her request to join a convent she bargains down to not having to attend dances), who after ten years of work publishes a two-volume treatise of mathematics which enjoys widespread success and was the classical textbook in the field until Euler’s own work, who then drops mathematics entirely and dedicates herself to the care of the sick and starts a hospital motivated only be her love of humanity…

It’s a long story, the usual one: Maria Gaetana studied a curve (already studied by none other than Fermat) called “versiera” from the Latin “vertere” which sounds like “avversiera” meaning “the adversary” or someone associated (you guessed it) with the devil. Add to this John Colson, Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge who mistranslates “curve” as “witch” and there you have it: the saint becomes the witch. Men, I swear!

Sorry to interrupt, but what’s with the witch already?

Salvatore Attardo

Starbucks Invented Nothing

Omar Khayyam, in 11th century Persia, between glasses of wine, demonstrates the problems with Euclid’s fifth postulate. Six centuries later Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri a Jesuit, trying to show that not assuming the fifth postulate leads to contradiction, derives the major theorems of hyperbolic geometry (which two centuries later will make the fame of Bolyai and Lobachewsky, not to mention Riemann) and not realizing what he’s missing proceeds to declare them nonsensical and to be rejected. Saccheri taught philosophy in Turin, between 1694 and 1697. Near the Consolata, where he’d catch the morning mass he sipped “Bavareisa” a concoction of chocolate, coffee, and milk and looked at the pretty girls he could not touch.

And it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty. -Exodus 3:21

Years ago, when aunt Suzie’s name was still indistinguishable from the sound of a blouse rubbed between my fingertips, grandma Lorraine still knew who I was (yeah, Johnny’s firstborn son), and mother was restless as leavening bread, we sat at table shut-lipped with eyes pasted to place mats, waited for the garlic sharp draft like rusted wrought iron to upturn our noses, not talk: the slow crack of bread, syllables broken off like crumbs to plates.

Our chatter was the clink on bowl bottom of spoons pushed through matzo balls, or an in-law’s blush— sometimes flushed enough to choke up a giggle. Grandma talked of Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah, and grandpa eyed his bowl, never raised his head, just stopped spooning his soup when she said, But Johnny never wanted that. Back in this room, father rests his hand on my shoulder, and I want to brush it off like a dead leaf. But leave it. Nothing is here, nothing but damp wood and the dust of chair cushions; our chatter has gone, and the bowls sit down-turned like stones on the trodden weeds of graves.

Adam Braffman Exodus

Adam Braffman Neighborhood

How brittle, though built of brick the houses are. A mother sits after work, drinks wine in front of the TV, the mirror. Her sons are there too: beyond the screen, but her nails scrape the plastic keys and buttons. Beyond the French doors, an Akita pants in southern sun. Clumps of white hair cling to the mother’s chewed cuticles, so thick-coated, thick-skinned: never meant for this heat. She used to chase grackles, or the rats that sometimes find themselves in the filters of the in-ground pool. Now the sparrows almost taunt her: building nests above the porch fan, the nestlings’ full-throated chirps. Back inside, her husband sits in his office. A squirrel lives in the attic above; they fight for what is theirs. At night when he sleeps, she opens the French doors and her robe to the wind and to the stars.

Adam Braffman Thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground. -Genesis 4:10 All night we lie, two heads in a womb, to keep the dream close. Like hands that cup a match in wind, we try to keep it still and straight, but under the sheets our knees rattle. In my dream, I unsheathe his bones and put them in a jar. On the desk, they stare. His eyelids are heavy as leather. I wake to slip my arm from under his neck: he beats my chest and falls into it. I keep him there like a moth in a bell. I give breath, flap of lung. Look, the moon still glints in rainwater and crickets call. His eyelids flicker up and fall.

Moon in the Water I go to the sink and pick off my face the skin, scald my fingers under the tap. This room is an urn whose walls chip and thin. The mattress slip is cold against my thighs, now part the blinds. Father, look at the hands, the knees, the morning’s many suns that blind; look at the tongues like sick coals that crack teeth, ready to sing psalms, wanting to pray, while your palm of clay keeps our throats unsung, and one fly on the sill carves two names in dust.

Crash the night sky peel the darkness from white light Set heavy pieces by the curb carry the rest when you walk Throw your gray fear by the handful into stiff steady breezes don’t watch or look back Press your palms to clear patches of earth or together and talk to God

Jenny Scheuch What I Heard

Jenny Scheuch After the Funeral

Beyond billowing blankets amber depths receive hushed expanse of eternity Swirling souls arise and fall mingling moments held in parallel spaces Pulled toward earth enveloped entangled Evaporating like rain on scorched asphalt Leaving the breath misting love Only Love. Love.

Chen-ou Liu Indigo Night

a V of wild geese soar into the sky voices dripping with grief drive me to walk the rising harvest moon weeps in silence the cold mouth of night utters no single word

Chen-ou Liu A Time to Kill

maple branches etch the inky blue sky stars seek one another to bear witness I set fire to my murderer, pondering teardrops on the cheek of time

Karen Schubert Letter

The brown-gray foods and nothing blooming, the new year’s new number he rehearses to remember. Even from her city a drive away, she follows him from room to room, he hadn’t told her things, he will write them. Her life is like a Scrabble game when you can almost make a word with seven tiles, just one vowel is off, and you spend your turns trading in near misses, watch the board fill with words, and you might make a smaller word and give up the big chance, but if you wait for one letter that never comes you’ll lose everything, and you rub your eyes, can’t remember what winning is. Find someone better than me, he tells the air, the words stick in his throat, he stares into gin. If the clouds would just break, if he could wake from this tired bed, find the hole in the scrim. He weighs the pen in his hand.

Eric Blanchard The Rain Begins

It almost smells like autumn. Your bags are packed and stacked neatly by the bedroom door. I know you don’t like chaos, so I dress quietly in the dark and leave for work early. I make a mental note: get a winter coat before coming home. The rain begins, as I catch the train to the city.

I will use whiskey only for gargling. I will argue

I will see myself spiraling down

that dogs are U.S. citizens, too.

in orange flames. I will admire

I will compare work to a strip search.

the dainty feet of a hugely

I will stare at you as if you were

fat woman. I will place birds

someone else. I will call it war

like commas around the yard.

rather than armed conflict, and in my head,

Howie Good Resolutions

inside trees long gradual limbs. thin & nippled red waiting

George McKim Inside Trees

to explode with mansions of green.

knots. cauterized like knuckles.

your too quick white blossoms are failed weddings.

stiff amputations in the dirt hissing and coughing. my bitter eyes are marbles stolen from orphans.

Acrylic, nylon, gortex, silk trepidations Oh what to wear, oh what to wear Wooly excerpts acute refinement Subtle arrangers thoroughly implement naturism Éclairs, goobers, bunnies, doughnut frustrations Oh what to eat, oh what to eat Efficiency, aggression, testosterone Fury unapologetic, defiled girl’s exuberance Worriers, obsessive encumbrances Angst burdening cataclysms, nascent betrothal conglomerations Committees bequeathing simulators Oh what to watch, oh what to watch Woes are trampling circumstantial happenstances Hardcore barren overtures Drivers return more flustered Strings looping, threading doubts Natural fraternization legion, normal bedtime activities Oh what a game, oh what a game Maturation, liaisons, birthrights Aspirations, needs, goals, schemes, themes Thrusting, holding, entangling, melding, engaging sex Oh what angst, oh what angst

John Tzikas Angst

Follow now with me to the thundering sea Feel its shivering glory and listen To a story that needs to be told I want you to hold onto it…forever Never to lose its sound, but let it go So it’s found again By all men, as they follow To the sea to feel its icy glory and hear The story that must be told For us to hold onto…forever Never to lose its sound, but let it go And have it found again By all men as they follow the thundering sea

Siobhan Marie To The Sea

Rust + Moth Spring 2010

Layout and Design by Josiah Spence ( Issue Photography by Josiah Spence and Matthew Payne. Editors: Matthew Payne, Josiah Spence, Michael Young, and Suncerae Smith. All contributors retain individual rights to their works upon publication. Thank you to all of our contributors and to all of our readers.

Rust+Moth: Spring 2010  

The Spring 2010 issue of Rust and Moth Literary and Arts Journal.

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