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L’Allure des Mots

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Contents 8 A Night in Room 928 by Nicholas Wong

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9 Peels by Valentina Cano

50 Time, Love, and Consciousness by Rikki Payne

allerleirauh

photography by Tawfick Espriella

10 Outrage! Outrage! by Frank Roger

54 Eden by Rebecca Jones-Howe

13 Becoming X by Jéanpaul Ferro

60 L’Heure Bleue by D.L.W. Pesavento

16 The Law of Unintended Consequences by Jéanpaul Ferro

61 Points of Attraction by Laura LeHew 62 Artist Feature: Dave Levingston

18 i’ll call you sometime by Edgar Bagayan 19 Plastic House by Collin James 20 ...and it happened in a car. photography by Wolf189 28 She Can’t Breathe P. A. Levy 32 Un Amour Infini by Rajat Chaudhuri

78 Who Art Thou in Heaven by Akia Banks 80 Sunkissed photography by Daniel Clavero 86 Sunday photography by Jeffrey Irwin 92 Artist Feature: Eduardo Capilla


Letter Welcome to our first issue. Art should make you feel something. Whether it’s images in front of your eyes, or in your imagination, or words in your ears. It should provoke a change within… make you sense the world around you a little differently afterwards. We want to use this platform to combine some of our favorite things that make US feel. Literature, both classic and contemporary. Artwork. Moving images. Sexy European-style fashion. Things that inspire us to alternately grab life by the horns and gently caress it by the light of the summer’s moon. We hope you feel the same. Profound thanks go to our contributors. This adventurous band of dreamers and storytellers from all over the world has walked with us in the dark and made all of this possible. And lest we not forget our lovely models, without whom our audiovisual books would just be audiobooks. So it is with great excitement (as well as some fear and trepidation) that we present to you this first collection of creative works known as L’Allure des Mots. Katherine Villari and Sam Beasley Editors-in-Chief


Frank Roger was born in 1957 in Ghent, Belgium. D.L.W. Pesavento hails from America’s Heartland, His first story appeared in 1975. Since then his stoinstilled with a mystic sense of the wondrous, writing ries appear in an increasing number of languages in poems and throwing them to the wind. all sorts of magazines, anthologies and other venues, Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who and since 2000, story collections are published, also in spends whatever free time either writing or readvarious languages. Apart from fiction, he also produces ing. Her works have appeared in Exercise Bowler, collages and graphic work in a surrealist and satiriBlinking Cursor, Theory Train, Magnolia’s Press, cal tradition. These have appeared in various magaCartier Street Press, Berg Gasse 19, Precious Metals zines and books. By now he has more than 800 short and will appear in the upcoming editions A Handstory publications (including a few short novels) to his ful of Dust, The Scarlet Sound, The Adroit Journal, credit in more than 35 languages. Find out more at Perceptions Literary Magazine, Welcome to Wherwww.frankroger.be . ever, The Corner Club Press, Death Rattle, Danse Jéanpaul Ferro is a novelist, short fiction author, and Macabre, Subliminal Interiors, Generations Literpoet from Providence, Rhode Island. An 8-time Pushary Journal, Super Poetry Highway and Perhaps cart Prize nominee, Jéanpaul’s work has appeared I’m Wrong About the World. You can find her here: on National Public Radio, Contemporary American http://coldbloodedlives.blogspot.com Voices, Columbia Review, Emerson Review, Black Born East London but now residing amongst the hedge Magnolias Literary Journal, Connecticut Review, mumblers of rural Suffolk, P.A.Levy has been pubSierra Nevada Review, Portland Monthly, The Provilished in many magazines, both on line and in print, dence Journal, Arts & Understanding Magazine, and from ‘A cappella Zoo’ to ‘Zygote In My Coffee’ others. He is the author of All The Good Promises and many places in-between. He is also a founding (Plowman Press, 1994), Becoming X (BlazeVox Books, member of the Clueless Collective and can be found 2008), You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers loitering on page corners and wearing hoodies at (Thumbscrew Press, 2009), Hemispheres (Maverick www.cluelesscollective.co.uk Duck Press, 2009) Essendo Morti – Being Dead (Goldfish Press, 2009), nominated for the 2010 Griffin Prize Collin James works in Energy Conservation and is a in Poetry; and Jazz (Honest Publishing, 2011). He is great admirer of the Scottish landscape painter, John represented by the Jennifer Lyons Literary Agency. Mackenzie. He currently lives along the south coast of southern Edgar Bagayan is 26 years old and currently lives in Rhode Island. Website: www.jeanpaulferro.com * Los Angeles. He recently published works in Compass E-mail: jeanpaulferro@netzero.net Rose Vol. XI, Ink Sweat & Tears e-zine, and Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine Vol. 5.

L’Allure des Mots || Summer, 2011 || Issue No. 1


Rebecca Jones-Howe dropped out of university in order to pursue her dream of writing dirty short stories with ‘literary’ merit. She lives in Kamloops, British Columbia and can be found online at: http://lifesgarbage.com Nicholas Wong is the author of Cities of Sameness (Desperanto, forthcoming) and the winner of several awards, including the Sentinel Quarterly Poetry Competition, nominations for the Best of the Net and Web Anthologies in 2010. He is currently a poetry editor for THIS Literary Magazine and a poetry reader for Drunken Boat. Akia Banks LaTravious Collins is a 25 transexual writer/rapper/poet, born and raised in Orlando. Also known as Missteaymanmade she is literary talent and a force to be reckoned with. Rajat Chaudhuri has published one novel – Amber Dusk. His fiction and reviews appear in Eclectica, Underground Voices Magazine, Indian Literature, Notes from the Underground, The Telegraph, Asian Review of Books and other venues. www.rajatchaudhuri.net

Rikki Payne is a 27 year old mom from Orlando, Florida. She’s been writing all her life, but kept it under the radar. She works at Starbucks and wants to write, critique films and music, or teach, or all of the above. Tawfick Espriella Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia Edgardo (Tawfick) Espriella has always been surrounded by the arts.In 2001, he moved to Miami to start culinary school but after working for a while in that industry, he discovered his passion for fashion was stronger than his love of food.In 2007, he enrolled in Miami Ad School’s Fashion Photography Program to expand his skills and knowledge in the world of photography. Today Tawfick’s work appears in Ocean Drive Magazine, Trendy Magazine, E&W Magazine,Icon magazine and he works with local model agencies Mc2, Next and Front as well as clothing clients We Love Colors, Funky Sexy Couture, Hotpink, among others. Wolf189 loves mathematics, physics, poetry, beautiful women, good people, photography and cinema. …among many other things. www.wolf189.com

Daniel Clavero lives and works in New York City. You Laura LeHew Laura LeHew loves zombies, Dexter, can see more of his work at www.danielclavero.com. and Anne Carson [in a purely platonic-poetic way] she is hoping for a non-CGI comeback of Werewolves; she Jeffrey Irwin has been a photographer for the past six has one husband, seven cats [Tessa, Mr. Socks, Baby, years. Although his main source of work deals with Dorian (yes he is grey), and the Army of Darkness portraits and interior photography, he also enjoys (Raven, Shadow and Smoke)]; she never sleeps. Laura shooting film that ranges from Polaroids to wet-plate. is the editor of Uttered Chaos www.utteredchaos.org.


Katherine Villari and Sam Beasley || Editors-in-Chief Cover by Wolf189 info@lalluredesmots.com


Special thanks to... Tiana Bailey Jazmine Cesar Aguilera


Poetry:

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A Night in Room 928 by Nicholas Wong With you, I prefer my single bed, proximity so naked. Your birthmark unhiding, a reminder of life-long imperfection. When I turn around, I hear its breathing – Defects have a life of their own. We sadly check into this room for its queensized bed. So we can roll over each other like many foolish others. We know this bed has been unmade by different faces, our bodies not brand new. We know. Your body curls towards the other side of the bed, about to fall. But you won’t know it in your deep sleep. Your limbs securely at rest, perhaps limning secrets that you once wanted to tell but finally held back. Even the thought of any action is a duty in love. I sit afar, watching reality shows running on marathon. Reality only shows; it never be. Like the beddings, the mattress. And our distance on it, on rent always, always make-believe.

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Peels by Valentina Cano You’ve acquired a sticky lacquer to your skin that traps dust and panicked flies as they roam by. I don’t know if it’s a new thing, an appendage that has overgrown its sheath, or if it was always there and I was too convoluted like oily water to see it. When I touch you, my fingers jerk back ragged, ripped like torn notebook paper, bleeding in silence. You carry my skin on your flytrap covering. You carry it as you shower and tie your shoes, always swirling around you, trying to catch your misguided attention. One day you’ll glance down at the flap of suffocating skin and realize I’ve probably bled to death.

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Outrage! Outrage! by Frank Roger It was only nine o’ clock in the morning and I had already survived a bomb attack and a suicide squad action. This was one of those days. Here at the office at least you somehow felt in relative safety. As usual Hilda was already present, busy pushing stacks of paperwork about, a frown of intense concentration on her forehead. No doubt she had been here for an hour or so, totally absorbed in her tasks of really tremendous importance. “An old spinster like Hilda has to devote her life to something,” Mr. Berger, the Department Head, tended to say in this respect. Berger himself hadn’t turned up yet, but the others were now arriving one by one. As always it was a relief to see that all staff members had made it one more time. Quickly we discussed today’s situation. “So you managed to get out of the subway station before the bomb went off too, Derek?” Paul said. “Oh, yes I did. I was on my way out when it happened.” “Lucky you. The subway station’s a smouldering ruin now, the whole area is littered with corpses. It’s a goddamn battlefield. I wonder who will claim responsibility for this one.” “No wonder the morning rush hour was such a complete chaos.” Xavier came tumbling in, completely besides himself with rage, and yelled, “This time they nearly had me. That suicide squad was a near miss.” “Terrible,” I replied, compassionately. “Tell us all about it, pal.” “This gang of evil‑eyed blokes came running up the station square and sprayed some instantly acting poison all around. They were the first ones to die, but not exactly the only ones. It was simply horrible. I could barely get out of there in time.” I nodded. I had only gotten out in the nick of time myself. Pure luck. Gosh, what a world! These days survival meant being in the right place at the right moment. Life was quickly turning into an endless series of terrorist actions. “I could use a cup of coffee,” Mr. Berger said as he too finally entered the office. He was panting, his face lined with deep concern and feelings of torment. No doubt he too had barely managed to escape his doom. Hilda rushed towards the percolator, the sense of duty personified as ever. A wish of Mr. Berger’s, however subtly put into words, was regarded by her as an order, to be carried out right away. Mr. Berger slumped into his chair, waiting for his coffee. A few blocks away, a bomb went off. We exchanged glances, shook our heads. “There are no safe places anymore,” Mr. Berger mumbled. “Even here, at the office... Do you guys remember last Thursday?” As if we would ever forget that day! One terrorist organisation or other had added vast amounts of laxatives to the meals at Murphy’s Snacks, the cozy restaurant down the street where we always went to have lunch. During the afternoon, our office was transformed into a gigantic

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inferno of faeces, with all of us wallowing around in it, groaning and moaning in utter misery, and meanwhile steadily adding fresh supplies to the mess. It took us a few days to get the office back in shape, not to mention ourselves. Mr. Berger kept waxing philosophically: “Society’s going to the dogs, guys. It’s a miracle we can keep the economy running. All we can do is navigate between the terrorist actions. There are no standards or traditional values left, we’re surviving in the middle of pure chaos, which is changing constantly in completely random patterns. Terrorists determine the face of the earth now. All we can expect with absolute certainty is the unexpected.” “Your coffee’s ready, Mr. Berger,” Hilda happily announced. She handed him his steaming cup, then served the others. The coffee lived up to our expectations and presently we were all working. About half an hour later it began. Mr. Berger was the first one to notice the effect and immediately understood what was happening. “The tap water,” he said, dabbing his forehead with a handkerchief, “they’ve added something to the tap water.” Then we all felt it; we had all drunk coffee made with the same tap water. “My God,” Hilda said, alarmed, realising she was indirectly responsible for what was to follow, whatever that might be. “Hilda,” Mr. Berger said, “Hilda.” He was sweating profusely now, tore away his tie, unbuttoned his shirt, and fixed his gaze on Hilda, who started sweating herself. The first beads of sweat were appearing on my brow as well. Mr. Berger kicked off his shoes, and said, “I’m terribly sorry, Hilda, but I can’t resist this urge.” Then he also took off his socks, his pants and his underwear, and it finally started to dawn on us. “An aphrodisiac,” Xavier exclaimed, panting. He too started taking off his clothes. “That’s what they’ve added to the water. No doubt this will propel our lust to unprecedented heights. I wonder who’s behind this.” “Not that it matters much,” Paul remarked. “Oooooooh.” Lecherous groaning filled the office. Soon the floor was littered with clothes, quickly taken off and partly torn to shreds. The effects of the diabolical chemical hadn’t spared Hilda, who was now trembling like a leaf. Shapes no man’s eye had ever rested on were now exposed for all to see. Judging from her expression of sheer horror she realised this was only the beginning, and what was in store for her would add a new dimension to her notion of a “terrorist action”. Then a tidal wave of lust washed all over us, pushing all our inhibitions and our capacity for rational thought to the furthest corners of our minds. As Paul threw himself on Hilda, Mr. Berger dove smack on top of both of them, and the three of them got furiously down to business. Like starving wolves, Xavier and the others and me joined the quivering mass of heaving bodies and thrashing limbs, that quickly grew into a wildly spinning merry‑go‑round of flesh. As the first

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bout of sexual fever wore off, we ran outside, still stark naked, and cast hungry glances in all directions, hunting for new partners. We clearly weren’t the only ones who had consumed tap water: there were people all over the street and the sidewalks, passionately giving way to their sexual urges gone berserk. Some street corners and traffic‑saturated intersections were now the scene of orgies of unprecedented proportions, counting a steadily rising number of participants. Then the fire in our loins flared up once more and we rushed towards our newly detected targets, across the street that was by now dangerously slippery. This titanic Battle of Testosterone lasted until its participants collapsed onto the battlefield, totally exhausted after a final rapid‑fire of orgasms. Nobody emerged victorious from the arena of hormones, now littered with burned‑out, drained losers. Only when the thousands of victims of the aphrodisiac attack rose from their stupor did they notice they were scattered naked and helpless all over the neighbourhood, extras in a surrealistic still‑life conceived by a megalomaniacal artist. Then we all scraped together our last bits of energy, struggled to our feet, and groggily and uncomprehendingly trudged back, in the middle of the traffic that was now resuming its usual hectic quality, to our offices where the call to battle had been given. But we realised life had to go on. We stumbled into the office and put on the tattered rags we had torn from our bodies. We ate and drank a little (carefully avoiding tap water) to restore our energy, and prepared to get down to work. And then gas was pumped into all the offices in this entire block through the air‑co system, stripping us of our inhibitions and stimulating our aggression and our thirst for blood out of all proportion...

L’Allure des Mots || Summer, 2011 || Issue No. 1


Poetry:

L’Allure des Mots

Becoming X by Jéanpaul Ferro I could no longer grow in the ground with any impact, the brown shards of me spread out along the bottom of the river, all my signifiers indistinguishable without all of our modern electronics; because we all want lives as soft and comfy as a pop song, relationships like when we first meet: so subversively surreal—it feels like crawling down from the ledge at the very last second. But I could not escape my own underground, broadcasting myself so I’d trip through my brain all day long, my perfect soul spinning around and around in the hurricane, my gun going off all over the campus— until I become somebody really important.

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Section: Video:

Title by body copy

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Excerpt from Hamlet William Shakespeare

Part of this issue’s audiovisual book set Click here to download!


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The Law of Unintended Consequences by Jéanpaul Ferro At the beach she asked me if that other girl, the one with the red bikini and long dark hair, was prettier than she was; I was tired of being stormed in, and I was tired of so much self-doubt—always telling the blue-chrome sea how absurdly perfect it always was; knowing that she would never poison my drink, I said: she’s pretty like you; the next week she told me that she had to take a trip to find herself—people take a lot of trips to find themselves lately; I received several letters from her in Venice, each one postmarked a day after one another; how I longed for Venice day and night; soon letters arrived from Tibet, where these words like Potala Palace and 15 days of Losar slowly began to replace me; months later she was sending letters to me from the west coast of the United States, little torn pieces that would reverberate forever; there were all these sayings she kept repeating: there is always more than one way; if you think you know, chances are you do not know anything at all;

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months past; months that ate the house out from the inside: a wide horizon that kept opening up into a blue nowhere-land; until there was silence, when the postman only went next door; until this one day when a package arrived for me with only a little red bikini inside of it.

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i’ll call you sometime by Edgar Bagayan We triumph, yet our victory becomes short and ugly and we don’t care. We steal, yet they don’t know it still. Though to us it was given, we run off into the night like thieves.

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Plastic House by Collin James I learned how to drive in its soft corners, smoked cigarettes on the cracked wooden stairs. Dogma sandwiches were lovingly prepared in a sarcastically white kitchen. Young, young women wandered about making distorted but accurate prophesies of when we would die.

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...and it happened in a car. photography Wolf189 model Miss B


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She Can’t Breathe by P.A. Levy Down by the oily river I’d been drinking dirty water with the girl in the glitter Clash T-shirt and DM boots. We threw stones at glass towers, shouted obscenities for hours, with red raw throats and defiance on our breath I tasted the ethylene sweetness of her lips when we crimson kissed.

On landfill landscapes and rotten carcasses of council house estates we pissed and spat marking out our territory, laid a claim to our tiny piece of England. Our Jerusalem.

We made love on a bed of nettles and brambles, she said it saved all the effort of self harming. Spared her the tiresome burden of listening to gloom doom music by candlelight, and although no nudity required, she clearly got her thrills telling me how cute she can look wearing nothing but waterproof mascara, and a razor wire tiara daubed in ancient DNA from hip to hip. We built buff kites from top secret government files, made flags of independence out of coloured plastic ribbons. Nothing could take off. Nothing would fly.

She said clouds were an invention from a Newcomen Atmospheric Engine, we need machines clever enough to recreate the winds, caring enough to make sky.

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We got drunk on the dirty water; cue the tears, then the fights, she said it’s pointless making flags and kites, without a breeze, without the sun, our futures are all lost and gone, when we were planting trees and making compost.

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Section: Video:

Title by body copy

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Sonnet 30 Edmund Spenser

Part of this issue’s audiovisual book set Click here to download!


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Un Amour Infini by Rajat Chaudhuri It was certainly a chance encounter and an odd one at that. How old would I have been then? Not much, having just scrambled through Part I of my grad school exams – if I could somehow repeat the feat with Part II, I would be a free bird. The wisdom of economists, Economics was my Honours subject, went miles above my muddled brains and bunking classes I watched Hollywood flicks. At dusk, I trawled the market street of Hatibagan, hoping to catch a naughty hint in the glancing looks of progressive ladies who came shopping without their men and at first light, driven by a fancy, I would be attending French classes in the musty smelling halls of the Alliance Française de Calcutta. We had just got a telephone at our Calcutta home. Fastening a tiny lock to its dial, father declared, “This is only to be used in emergencies, never make calls unnecessarily.” But I would make calls on the sly. Picking padlocks was something we had learnt at boarding school. The girls who came to study Economics were snobbish and stuck up. Desperate for affection and left with no other option, I had to test my luck making blind calls. Undoubtedly most of these drew a blank and I wouldn’t waste your time going into the sad details of those wasted efforts. Leafing through the fat telephone directory, I would stop at a feminine sounding name which seemed promising and dial the number and from the other end a hoarse baritone would declare, “Major Tarini Bhat-charge speaking,” or something worse than that. So, defeated and disillusioned, I had been wondering if I should take the help of a numerologist when out of the big beautiful blue an idea swept me away. Focusing on the key-pad of the push-button phone I conjured up a string of logos and symbols. Among those that came to mind immediately, was the bow legged M of McDonald’s, the well known red ribbon of AIDS awareness, the simple U of the Roman alphabet which in today’s breathless age is just y-o-u in a hurry and the famous Circle-A: Ⓐ that the anarchists had adopted. I remembered many others. I imagined tracing these signs out on the keypad, ending up each time with a sequence of numbers and I began to play. Dialling one number after other, leaving the rest to luck – I began my experiments with the U and it turned out a dud because the first two numbers are 1 and 4 and there was no telephone exchange in Calcutta in those days where the phone numbers began with 14, and it’s still like that I suppose.

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0 Like this a few more calls threw up nothing worthy. On the bargain I got cursed and threatened for making crank calls. Right then, the circle-A of anarchism struck my fancy. Tracing out the “O” and then the “A” on the keypad, I dialled the new sequence of numbers and a husky feminine voice answered, “Parveen,” she said. It was a whispery, sensuous voice and as it licked my ears, a nest of cobras reared and hissed inside my guts. Bringing my wits about me, I said, “Me Arjun.” I was grabbing the receiver tight – my hands shivering in excitement, when she said, “Not now, call me at night.” Now imagine my situation – looking out for an oasis on a long desert trek I had suddenly found myself in the middle of an ocean. Let me not go into the details of what I did for the rest of the day. I had a friend called Sahadeb who lived in the same street as us. Now this is not the kind of name that goes well in a milieu of young college guys and assorted good-for-nothings, and so we called him Debu. Debu was my partner in these telephonic fortune hunts. If one of us had any news that looked promising, he used to share it with the other, in the right spirit of camaraderie. Unity and sharing is essential for the nation’s progress, was the lofty principle that guided our attitude in these matters. That evening I went to our carom club and taking Debu aside said, “You have to stay at my place tonight.” Then I told him about that voice which made snakes hiss in my guts. He laughed. “Your Jupiter is on the ascendant buddy. Kama-deva also seems quite happy. Don’t irritate those Gods now. I am suffering Shani-deva’s wrath. The fires of Kama are singeing me from inside but I have to suffer it. This should go on for a while. Then only my karmic accounts would be in the black again. Don’t call me now, unless you want this to end in disaster,” Debu said. I protested, I bargained, I issued threats but he didn’t budge and sent me off wishing me luck. I bought a pint of Old Monk rum with some money I had stolen from my private tutor. As soon as dinner was over and my folks had turned in, I bolted my door, lit a Charminar and fished out the stainless steel glass and the bottle of rum. I took small sips of the Old Monk and kept staring at the lazy minute hand of the table clock. Around quarter to twelve I dialled the numbers, tracing out the familiar pattern

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of Ⓐ. The phone began to ring at the other end. My hands shivered as I counted the rings and was wondering whether I should disconnect, when the receiver was picked up at the other end. “Is it Arjun?” “Yes …” I was suddenly tongue-tied. All witty openers slipped away beyond reach and my dulled brain went soggy-wet as if it was being marinated in a tub of vinegar or sour curd. Actually it was neither vinegar nor sour curd but testosterone. “Don’t you sleep at night?” Her prodding interest gave me time to recover from the happy shock, “The government’s telecom department – I mean God – seems to have taken care of that,” I said. “I see … so your government has a fine sense of humour. I mean your God does. Are they the same guy?” “I have heard some cool-headed German philosopher said something in those lines and we know from bitter experience. Both are invisible, quite ruthless tough guys and they make a difference between sin and virtue,” I said. Two pegs of rum had taken care of inhibitions. “Don’t you believe that there is sin and there is err … virtue?” “Tell me how could I separate the two? Nobody could say quite clearly how each one looked – I mean does sin grow a beard and the other, does it wear glasses? Aren’t they like Siamese twins joined right from birth?” The laughter at the other end was like a Gypsy tune playing in my heart, playing on an instrument whose name I would never know. Even to this day those notes ring in my ear, reaching out to me from a strange and distant land. “I know whether sin grows a beard. I will tell you, if you would listen to me,” she said. You can well imagine what the moon was doing to the ocean. The water foamed and frothed and bubbled, rushing into rivers, creeks and streams. And it was no ordinary tide but a rumbling turbulent bore. Great was its speed, uncounted its secret currents, varied its moods, mischief and tempers. The nightly chats grew longer. There was so much we talked about that one would never finish if one tried to tell it all. And some of these were … err … intimate. One couldn’t possibly speak such things here, but if the gentle reader has had the chance to dial fantasy phone numbers in Europe or the States, it won’t be difficult to form a fair idea about how it went between the two of us. *** I am not the sort of buffoon who would ask a woman her age, but going by her voice I guessed she was a few years older to me. So it was a toy boy situation and this got to my head, further kindling the kama-fires that had begun to lick my poor self. Parveen said she lived at Choku Khansama Lane near the Sealdah rail terminus. They were old aristocrats of that neighbourhood named after a khansama -- a male cook who would double up

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as house steward. Those years we used to live in a rented house in the Manicktala area, which is further up north. Even if one walked, it didn’t take more than twenty minutes to reach Sealdah. This teasing proximity fired up the desire to meet her. I would waste the day replaying conversations of the previous night, in my head. My college attendance thinned out even further. But Part II exams were drawing near and to top it all a ruthless summer had arrived. To sum it, this was turning into what they call a pressure-cooker situation. But Parveen avoided any suggestions of a date. She would say, “Let us get to know each other a bit more, then maybe,” or “What if the meeting ends the trance? Why won’t you let your mind create what it likes, don’t you know how different the picture of your imagination could be from the real person?” There were other such inane excuses she made. I was however not to be persuaded by two-penny abstractions. Of course I had a picture of her in my mind – hair down to the waist like that shampoo girl, curvy like the Tamil heroine who was the queen of Bollywood then with night lights in her eyes – so what? My desire to meet the flesh and blood woman grew relentlessly. The day would be spent waiting for night and night, when it arrived, slipped by too quickly and I would fall asleep at dawn with my head full of her voice. Gradually, the outside world began to look distant and weird. As if I was watching everything from far away. Needed glasses, did I? When the sun had set, the Bedouin brushstrokes of red, orange and ochre on the Calcutta sky seemed to be the beckoning of a beautiful new world. Daybreaks, no more pregnant with worries and foreboding, brimmed with the possibilities of rejuvenation. It seemed that our battered, chaotic, ravaged city was dressing herself up in the clothes of a new bride – is this what they call Utopia? *** Round about this time there were thundershowers one night. It was the kind of cyclonic weather we get when there is a depression in the Bay of Bengal. Finding the water god Barun, in this frothy mood, I advanced my plans post haste. Bringing on a grave voice and a tone of finality, I told Parveen, “If you are not meeting me tomorrow, we will never meet again.” As if I didn’t care, while what I was banking on was the soul-quenching night rain. If she had anything like a heart she wouldn’t be able to turn me down! “So kiddish,” she said then thinking something, “but you may not like to see me in the daytime, maybe in the evening …” No more maybes – I took a swig of Old Monk and said, “OK, six in the evening at Coffee House, first floor.” I had been drinking and had not been listening closely. If I had, maybe I could have been prepared for all that happened afterwards. However I doubt if it is at all possible to be prepared for the events that followed. Again she was silent for a few moments, then she said, “No it’s not possible, not there.”

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“Why? What’s the issue with Coffee House now? Ex-boyfriend drops in, eh?” Silence. “What’s it now, tell me?” “No. Don’t ask me to meet you like that. You come somewhere, I will also be there,” she said. “What? So we still can’t meet face to face – what is this now?” “Not yet. Don’t ask me to meet you just yet. It’s a bit difficult. I can’t explain. For now, let us be together at some place. Let me see if you can recognise me. Some other time – ” Hard as I tried, I could not steer her out of this odd arrangement. Finally I agreed to her proposal. But I couldn’t share this with the few girls in college who went out for that odd date; they would have made fun of me. In fact I had to keep this from Debu also. There was a Hollywood romance with Brooke Shields in the female lead, running at The Globe those days. Endless Love was drawing huge crowds because Brooke Shields was the darling of every college boy and perhaps also because of that catchy tag line – She is 15, he is 17, the love every parent fears. We decided to watch Endless Love in the evening show, but on that harsh condition – there wasn’t the slimmest chance of meeting face to face. Next day I got my ticket early and hung around the box office. The crowd was mostly college students. Some older fans of Brooke Shields also in the queues but I couldn’t pick out the Parveen of my dreams from that crowd. After the show, I took the tram home with a heavy heart. The chiaroscuro of the evening, the dreamy rattle of the tramcar and maya – thick and sweet as tal-patali on the old streets and alleys of Calcutta – somewhat lifted my spirits by the time I reached home after buying two packs of Charminar. It was ten at night. “You didn’t tell me that you smoke” Parveen told me that night. Really? But how did she find out? I asked her how. “Simple. You smoked so many cigarettes outside the cinema hall and then went out during the interval again. You must have smoked then too.” My goodness! So she had really come to watch the movie, I couldn’t recognise her! I really hated myself for this. But still to be sure I asked her what colour shirt I was wearing, the name of Brooke Shield’s character in the movie and so on. She answered all my questions. “I was in the row just behind you, you didn’t recognise me.” It was an accusing tone laced with sadness. “I am sorry. I don’t know why I couldn’t, but it can’t go on like this. We have to meet like ordinary folks do – I won’t have any of this any more.” “Who said I am ordinary? Why don’t you assume something else? That you came and watched the movie sitting so close to me, quenched the thirst of my soul. You know – the smoke of your Charminar is still caressing me, wrapping me like a blanket. You are still here with me,” Parveen said. But this was getting desperate. I felt I was losing my mind. I blurted it all out to Debu one day over a garage drinking session. He listened and warned me, “I smell trouble here, back out man.”

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But a storm had been brewing. It was impossible to calm those winds. And Parveen remained equally adamant – she wouldn’t meet me face to face. She would come but wouldn’t show herself. She would watch me in secret. I would fail to recognise her. Like this we went to the movies a few more times and then once to the planetarium. Gradually the weather got worse and I was caught up in a full-fledged desert storm. The violent khamsin blasted sand into my eyes and mouth – I was blinded, bleeding and choking fast. The darkness was deeper than anything I had known before. At one point it seemed that they were pulling down the houses of our old city, digging up the avenues, chopping down the shade trees, tearing everything apart and bulldozing the debris into the slow-flowing Ganga. *** Finally, after a string of prayers and petitions I did make some headway, though this was still a kind of half way house. Parveen agreed to meet me but now there was a new twist – talking was banned. What the hell! What a girl – first invisible, now visible but incommunicado. But anyways, it was decided that the venue for this silent date would be an old Mirazpur Street eatery – Favourite Cabin. The appointment was sharp at noon. At midday this place is usually empty, and because it was near her home she knew it well and told me where I should sit. I was supposed to arrive sharp at twelve and sit at the nearest table on the right. The heroine of the silent film would pop in at quarter past twelve and sit at Table 4 and have tea. Cut! If my patient reader has ever heard that Gypsy tune playing on that instrument without a name, in that far away country that is not on a map, they will understand that this guy had not quite gone bonkers but was getting more than obsessed perhaps. I tiptoed into Favourite Cabin at noon and sitting down at the pre-assigned table whispered my order – tea and patties. The tables were old-fashioned with heavy marble tops that were cold to the touch and just sitting down there calmed my mind. Three people were at a table near the back talking and whiling away their time. The eatery was empty otherwise. Along Mirzapur Street, trams rattled by one after the other, some headed for College Street some Rajabazaar. But I was quite oblivious to my surroundings, my gaze fixed on the wall clock. Exactly at fifteen minutes past twelve a very fair girl pushed through the door, looked this way and that and went and sat down at Table 4. Her hair was done in the 40s Hollywood style and her shiny skin had a strawberry ice-cream blush. She was wearing a deep blue salwar kameez embroidered with arty chikan work. There was a light brown tinge to her hair which could be the colour of mehndi or brown naturally. The moment she came in the flowery scent of nargis-attar wafted through the eatery. Everyone looked up. Beautiful eyes she had. They were bright brown and it seemed as if the hints of some lost feeling lingered in them. But where was the hair of the shampoo girl and the curves of the Tamil screen goddess? If reality and imagination – like good friends – take the same packed bus

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and ride pasted against each other in the choking crowds, then one half of the joys of creation is squandered among flies. Yet what struck me most was her age. This girl would be at least five years younger to me. She couldn’t have, by any means, left high school. Was I making a mistake then? It was proving really difficult to imagine this teenage Hollywood sweetheart behind the sensuous Gypsy voice on the phone every night. I was staring at her like an idiot. Suddenly I remembered that there were other people there. However she was busy sipping tea from her cup, her gaze lowered. There was nothing in her gestures that said she was conscious of my presence. Once I thought I would go up and introduce myself but that would be a breach of our agreement. So I haplessly sat in my chair and tried discreet means to attract her attention. It was no use. I couldn’t possibly beat out a tune with my spoon and saucer, could I? Did she see me at all? Who knows – The wall clock struck half past twelve. I was about to get another cup of tea when suddenly the girl rose, paid her bill at the counter and walked out of the shop, her head lowered all the time. As soon as she had left, a waiter crept up to my table and slid a chit of paper into my hand. “The girl who just left, asked me to give it to you,” he said. I hadn’t expected Parveen would completely ignore me, so I had been sinking fast in the dumps. On getting that chit of paper, excitement wrenched me out of that state, right in the blink of an eye. In a slanting calligraphic style she had written: Won’t be able to talk tonight. Come home tomorrow, after seven in the evening. Blimey! Come home tomorrow! It was surely not my lot to cipher out this sweetheart of a girl. So be it, I decided. I already had the directions to her house. *** At seven in the evening the Sealdah area was bustling with coolies, brokers, businessmen, touts, middlemen, traders, shopkeepers, office-workers homebound and bachelors out for fun. Tramcars rolled from north to south or from east to west – along Mirzapur Street rattling on towards College Street and places even further. Men on their way home went bat-hanging from buses while rickshaw pullers ringing finger bells, manoeuvred their loads of paper shreds, freshly printed books, sweet boxes and starry-eyed lovers through the dingy lanes and by-lanes of north Calcutta. Some of them were coming from the warren of side streets of Baithak-khana Bazaar while others went on their way to Budhu Ostagar Lane to deliver fresh reams of paper to the antediluvian printing presses. Customers jostled for their orders at the telebhaja shops – the aroma of fish fry and eggplant fritters making them water at their mouths. The blaring of bus horns, the tinkling of finger bells, the rattle of tramcars, the cackle of hookers, the cussing of rowdies, the lie-laced speeches of political dadas, and finally, one among a trio of graceful drunks who had just emerged from Tower Bar, bursting into a song – all gave it a festive flavour. It seemed, the whole city had assembled at Sealdah, with the agenda to draft an Anarchist Manifesto that night.

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*** The sounds of the city begun to fade as soon as I crossed Mirzapur Street and entered Choku Khansama Lane. The narrow lane was flanked by old residential houses. In fact it was not wide enough to be a lane but was more like what is called a gully here. Something was bugging me – last night I had called Parveen and was greeted by a recorded “this number does not exist” voice. I know, I shouldn’t have called – she had asked me not to – but that the number would vanish just like that, was something that continued to escape me. The lane was poorly lit. One or two fluorescent lamps that were fixed by brackets to the houses, threw some light on the patches of asphalt and a faint light filtered through the windows. Their house was near the end of the lane – You could tell; it was a very old building. Sprawling and massive it hardly looked like the dwelling place of the middle classes. The arabesque windows set with stained glass, the balustraded balconies leaning out of each floor like drunken sultans and the serene geometry of pointed arches all indicated a clear influence of the Islamic style. I gave the great wooden door a little push when my knocking didn’t draw any response. It opened just enough to let me in. My Titan watch showed it was twenty minutes past seven. The anarchist’s festival had delayed my arrival – There was a mosaic courtyard inside and a flight of stairs went round it to the inner chambers of the mansion. On two sides of the courtyard were rooms with their doors closed while the far side was pitch dark. There must have been a power disruption in this house because the only light came from a hurricane lamp in the middle of the courtyard. The scent of nargis-attar hung lightly in the air. I was wondering whether to knock on one of those doors or climb up the stairs when someone said, “Come upstairs.” It was a male voice and he sounded like a middle-aged person but in the thick darkness of the upper floor I couldn’t see him. I began climbing the stairs. The wooden railing looked old but it was sturdy. Somehow the assault of termites had been held-off. At the top of the stairs was a wide crescent-shaped balcony with rooms on one side. But for one at the far end, all these rooms had their doors shut. “Come here,” someone from inside that room said. I walked up to the lighted doorway of that room. It was big as a hall, tastefully decorated with antique furniture. At the centre was a half-circle of walnut armchairs with a row of high-back mahogany chairs at one side. A violin was lying on one of the high-back chairs as if someone had just finished playing and kept it there. At the back of the hall was a massive chest of drawers with intricate carvings while a grandfather clock was set against another wall. The clock had stopped. Between the walnut armchairs, a Persian carpet was laid out and on it was a fancy table with mother-of-pearl inlay work. A leather bound volume had been kept on this table – an old French encyclopaedia. Along the walls were more tables of hand-carved mahogany with silverinlaid bowls and braziers, brass displays and a red and black amphora that looked pretty old. The mosaic floor of the hall had beautiful floral motifs and from the ceiling hung an ornate Napoleon

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III bronze chandelier, all its candles blazing. But where was Parveen? The gentleman who had called me in had risen from his armchair. He looked somewhere in his early fifties – healthy and fair with a thick walrus moustache and bright eyes. He was wearing spotless white kurta-pyjamas and his face had a radiance, which was difficult to miss. It seemed as if his presence had lit up the hall more than the candles did. Asking me to take a seat he clapped twice and in a flash a man wearing a fez hat appeared with a glass of rose syrup and setting it on the table disappeared. “Did you get a basket carrier to come here?” When he saw his question draw a curious stare from me, he knit his eyebrows and said, “But, I didn’t hear any horse carriage outside so I thought a basket carrier must have carried you here?” I was wondering if he was just kidding me or being saucy for no apparent reason and was about to say something, when someone from the balcony said, “Sir, basket carriers and horse carriages have stopped plying more than a century ago. Men do not carry men on their heads anymore. It has again slipped out of your mind.” Must have been the fez wearing rose-syrup man. The man nodded and looked at me strangely. I don’t get scared too easily but a knob of fear suddenly choked off the air supply. Should have told Debu before coming here, flashed through my mind. Now if I am finished off by ghosts or ghouls no one will ever find out. Right at this moment that rose-syrup man might be getting ready to pounce on me from behind and break my neck. The gentleman seemed to intuit my fears and said, “Don’t be scared young man. We are not man-eaters, but …” again he was lost in thoughts. Having regained some courage I said, “Well, I wanted to ask you something, I mean … does Parveen live here?” His voice seemed to come from a locked wooden chest now. Speaking slowly he said, “No. The plague took her away long ago; while I remain invincible,” there was a long pause, “who knows how many years have gone by since then. No one but the mysterious European Count knows how this grizzly old cat, could slip out of maw of Time.” Before I could get the flow of his conversation he went on, “I used to be the chote-nawab’s khansama then, you know, like a chef. The young nawab enjoyed what I cooked for his family and he liked me a lot. One day a good friend of his came down from England. This sahib liked my mutton rezala so much that he went on telling everybody. Chote-nawab heard this and ordered that from then on I should cook for the sahib and accompany him on his travels. How old would I have been then? Just as you see me today – fifty or fifty-five at the most. So anyway, I went south with the sahib and stayed with him in Madras for three years. There in Madras sahib got introduced to Madame Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society. Sahib used to visit her house often. Her face is still fresh in my memory. Soft-spoken and well read, she looked just like a wax doll and she had this special weakness for badhakapir-ghonto. You know badhakapir-ghonto?” I nodded, remembering the flavour of the cabbage delicacy. His face told me he had crossed his fifties but what amazed me was his voice. I felt I was listening to a youth of twenty now. It’s difficult to explain how I felt in his presence. He continued to speak, “So my sahib invited Annie

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Besant to his house one evening for dinner where among other things he wanted to treat her to my special badhakapir-ghonto. She came, accompanied by the European Count. Tall and athletic, his eyes had a splendid glow, as if a torch was always burning behind them. I had prepared an elaborate meal for the special guests with a spread of dishes – badhakapir-ghonto of course, then mutton rezala, lamb korma, Hyderabadi biryani, kakori kebab, aarbi halim, three kinds of desserts and so much more. Everyone enjoyed the food but the Count didn’t touch a single dish. He sat in a couch at the far side of the dining hall leafing through the pages of a dictionary. His face devoid of expression, as if he didn’t see or hear us – or imbibe the aromas of the food for that matter.” He paused for a moment then went on, his gaze now distant, “I was alarmed. I dreaded he was not happy with my style of cooking. When he saw that I was nervous, the Count called me to his side and told me a few things. Just a few sentences, like that. How could I explain it to you? … It seemed my sahib knew all this from long before – he became a card carrying theosophist later, but that’s a different story. Besant memsahib saw us talking and asked the Count not to discuss those things with me but then he had already begun to speak. And when one hears what he was saying, whose curiosity won’t be piqued? Would you believe me if I tell you that it is possible to imprison Time like this, in your fist?” The gentleman held out his fists before me. His skin looked butter-soft like a child’s. There was not a fold, not a wrinkle anywhere. He could give any fashion model a run for her money. I was awestruck and kept quiet. Taking the glass from the table I took a sip of the rose-syrup. I kept staring stupidly at his face. He went on – “So, I too fell for it. Forsaking everything, my cooking, my love for good food and drink – I began to lead the life the Count had revealed. When hungry I would eat a gruel of boiled oats seasoned with the bark of the arjun tree and then I began doing those secret kasrats – the exercises. Hunger surrendered to me meekly one day, it doesn’t bother me any more. So, the Count left that night but before he went he related such astonishing anecdotes. If a man on the street heard him, he would surely call him a charlatan. Why, I myself thought he was one, when I first heard those stories. But not any more … After that evening we have met so many times. He comes and sits just there, where you are sitting now. He tells us tales of far away lands and people … But let us not go into this any further. You became Parveen’s friend, so I was thinking of sharing more with you. But you are young, it’s not the time to delve into the Great Secrets.” Then he suddenly looked lost. The rose-syrup man appeared from somewhere and began massaging his head. He began to speak again, “Hmm … I lost so much by choosing this life. My daughter left me at such a tender age. Must have been a century ago; try as it does time can not finish me off. There were just a few houses in this neighbourhood then. This house of ours, the church there and the mansion house of the rajas of Kasimbazaar. And there were some one-storey buildings of small traders. So many kinds of horse-carriages plied the streets those days; there were the ekkas, the landaus, the juris, the phaetons. My child wanted to ride horses. I took a lot of trouble to send her to Collin sahib’s stables so that she could learn horse riding. And then she loved to watch the

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shongs perform their pantomimes. They gave shows out there in the courtyard. But I couldn’t save her … The plague took her when I was away in Madras. Where did all those familiar people go? Now this house is my refuge. Till the time I hear Israfil blowing his trumpet, I will remain here. But who knows, whether I would even hear that angel? Look at this servant,” indicating the rose-syrup man, the head massage stopped abruptly, “he too crossed hundred a decade ago,” and the massaging resumed, “he takes care of all my needs now. I read books, play the violin. But one by one you finish all your lessons. An endless day, it gets bigger – I have jumped in that darkness of time and I am falling, falling – plummeting through the abyss and I wait for ever, for my feet to hit the ploughed earth, teeming with life and the warmth of mortals. Rich with the bones of the dead, throbbing with the energy of procreation.” He went on talking like this, sitting in that great candle-lit hall. His voice had taken on grey undertones, “I hear so many things – the sahibs have left, India is a free country now. Good no doubt, but would you be able to keep it like that? I have also heard stories of electric lights, they say these are bright as the sun and then this servant told me of trains that run through tunnels under the earth,” he slapped the rose-syrup man lightly and the man gave me a toothy smile, “but I don’t believe all that. And what does it matter even if these are true? I don’t wish to see any of it. Both the wheels of Time are cloaked in the same darkness, no matter whether you move forward or step back, no matter whether you illuminate the world with your electricity or use candlelight. When my child left me, I lost interest in it all. I have solved the riddle of maya but it doesn’t help me at all – death animates the world and makes it worth your while, mortality makes life precious and worth fighting for. Look there,” he pointed towards the chest of drawers, “one of my friends drew that portrait for me; see how sweet my girl was. If the Count comes again, I will tell him this time – show me the way backwards. I want to go back and see my child.” I moved my gaze up, above the chest of drawers. Candlelight from the massive Napoleon III chandelier was brushing those cheeks that had a quiet strawberry ice-cream blush. An impish smile played on her lips and in those limpid brown eyes lingered the hint of a feeling that had been lost for ever. A fog of sadness enveloped me. I took leave of the gentleman and rose from my chair. “Don’t call her again. It troubles her,” he said. I nodded sadly. Waving a goodbye, I hurried down the stairs. I pulled open the heavy wooden door, and walking out, walked a few steps and was blinded by the light of fluorescent lamps and my eardrums seemed they would burst under the assault of compressed air bus horns. It was twenty minutes past seven still but the second hand of my wristwatch had sprung back to life. And the fragrance of nargis-attar, followed me for a few steps before falling quietly back. ***

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Many years later, I came to know the Count’s name – Count Saint-Germain. He was the same man about whom Voltaire, in his letter to Fredrick of Prussia had written – A man who knows everything and who never dies. Later I have heard him mentioned in several other places. That old house on Choku Khansama Lane stands no more. I went there a few days ago and found that the signboard of a real estate company has sprung up amidst the demolished pile of mortar and brick. Ambrosia Builders and Developers it says or something in those lines.

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Allerleirauh photography Tawfick Espriella stylist Victoria Cameron makeup and hair Brianne Chappell model Katie at Wilhelmina


all bodysuits Norma Kamali all furs Adrienne Landau all jewelry Laruicci fur sleeves stylist’s own


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Time, Love, and Consciousness by Rikki Payne Perhaps it was the blankness that woke her. In the second before she opened her eyes, she felt the warm confidence of her bed and the anticipation of waking up to the face she loved most. Heavy eyelids rose with a sleepy smile and drank in shock to the rest of her body. A billboard greeted her through glass. Where, when, why, were all she could think, desperately, with less words than waves of feeling. Disjointed facts came to her one by one. She was in her car, alone. She left the concert before it started, and didn’t want to miss it. I’d better get back inside. Looking around, she felt dread creep up. No cars in the parking lot. She grabbed her phone for the time, squeezed the button on the side. 4:24 AM. Her heart morphed into lead and sank through her stomach. How? I missed the whole thing... Shawn, where are you? She opened her phone to call him, and realized he didn’t bring his tonight. Head spinning, mind blank from confusion, she opened the car door, stepped out. Fresh air was comforting, but somehow helped her realize how awful she felt. Did she really have that much to drink? She didn’t think so... She stepped around the side of the car to see if Shawn was on the ground. Ashamed that was her only choice, she turned in a circle, hoping to see him from a distance. As it dawned on her that she wouldn’t see him, a recurring theme took her blank thoughts over... My heart just sank. That sinking feeling... Sinking feeling... Sinking... It was all she could think. She looked up at the billboards for the tourist district that lined the buildings on the edge of the parking lot and felt a bitter sadness. They had looked forward to this concert for so long. It wasn’t a serious fight, just a small disagreement. Why did she leave while the opening band was playing? Flash of a plastic cup in her hand, pink liquid halfway up. A friend of Shawn’s said it was strong, but it was her first drink. She was hesitant, but it was a special occasion... She looked down at the keys in her hand; a small SUV with flashing yellow lights was crossing the parking lot behind her. There’s no way. Who would do that? Flash from the balcony, where she went to smoke a cigarette right after the drink. Her mind was clear, but she was losing motor function. Dropped her cigarette over the edge, two people laughed but it sounded like fifty. The walk back to the table was fuzzy at best. She laid her head down on the table, hoping to rest until the headliner played. She couldn’t wait to hear her favorite band fill the room... “You can’t do that,” some alien said from close but far away. She picked her head up and looked

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around with closed eyes. Shawn was there; she leaned on his shoulder. “Hmm?” Get a grip, you can’t miss this, she thought. “They stopped a guy for stumbling. If they see you with your head down, they might throw you out. They’re really looking for drunks tonight.” Who is this girl? Why does she have grade-school rules about concert activity? Shawn agreed with the alien and pulled her off his shoulder. She could see the drink getting to him too, but he seemed to be responding more energetically. She felt separated from him, like the crowd had pulled them to different tables. Leaning in to his ear, she whispered, “I’ll be in the car.” Seven hours later, she gripped her phone and stared at the billboards. They promised fun, and magic, and music. Not roofies and getting stranded until four in the morning. Bastards. Her heart had risen again, to her throat, and changed from lead to acid. She had no choice but to drive home without him. Suddenly her phone vibrated in her hand. “Shawn? Where are you?” She heard a deep breath before the slow response. “I’m at a hospital. What happened?” She sighed. “I don’t know, babe. But I’m coming to find you.” She got back in her car and set her teeth against the spinning world.

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Section: Video:

Title by body copy

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Selected Haiku Matsuo Basho Part of this issue’s audiovisual book set Click here to download!


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Eden by Rebecca Jones-Howe Richard squinted when he looked up from the leaf-clogged water wheel of hole sixteen. The sun was setting beyond the highway overpass, tracing turret shadows of the castle and its antiqued chipping paint. The faded afternoon light made all the torn segments of the greens look artistically intended, as though the trail around the medieval golf course was some sort of patchwork wonderland instead of just falling apart. Somewhere outside of the grounds, a female voice was calling. It wasn’t his wife, though. Her voice was always nagging, telling him that he never spent enough time at home. “Hello?” This voice was soft, a siren song calling from the ocean of ambivalence that extended beyond the chain link fence. When he looked out at the For Sale billboard in front of the property, Richard noticed the girl standing at the gate. The wind pulled at the curls of her hair when she smiled. “Can I help you?” He tensed when he walked up to her. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five, but she stood there in her forest green tank top and her cut-off denim shorts, her curious expression reminding him of the female students he’d taught in his earlier years, the students who blushed whenever they asked him a question in class. He wound his fingers together in front of him, twisted at the ring on his left hand. “I just noticed you from my hotel room.” She nodded at the Accent Inn across the parking lot. “Yeah?” “You looked lonely.” Her eyes were brown, earthly. “I’m just doing some maintenance, really.” “Well, I’m not really interested in buying, but maybe you could give me a tour?” “I...” “I’m sure it can’t be in that bad of shape.” He couldn’t think of anything to say when she slipped her fingers through the diamonds in the chain-link. Richard swallowed, stepping forward, the apple bobbing so hard in his throat that he was sure she noticed. When he dug into his pocket for his keys, he felt the tension tightening in his chest, beating like a heavy knock on a door. He opened the padlock to let her in.

*

Her name was Evelyn. She picked the red ball for their round of golf. Richard picked blue. They took their time through the front nine, Evelyn taking her turn after Richard. She seemed like an intruder when she started asking him questions, personal ones. They were questions that Richard hesitated to answer, but she dug, prodded at him until the words ended up slipping past his lips

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like relief. He told her what it was like when school let out for the summer, what it was like to not have to spend all his time marking an endless pile of high school essays. He told her how great it felt to sit in the office with a beer under the counter, and how when nobody was paying attention he’d lean back in his chair and put his feet up on his desk, acting like he was twenty-four and still working at that call centre. “What about your wife?” Evelyn asked. He felt her gaze on his hand when he lined his shot in front of the castle drawbridge. “We’re kind of in a rough patch right now.” He pulled the club back, skewed his putt. “It’s been that way for a while, actually.” The blue ball coasted into the left pocket hidden behind the iron gate. It emerged out of the pipe on the other side of the castle, stopping several inches away from the cup. “Is that why you’re selling the course?” Evelyn paused before she tapped her ball straight up the drawbridge. When it slipped out of the pipe, it rolled straight in line for the hole. A hole in one. She was winning. “It wasn’t really my choice to sell it.” He was lacking the guilt he should have felt when he watched Evelyn bend down to retrieve her ball. His gaze traced the deep V-neckline of her shirt. He swallowed, feeling his blood rushing down. “Did she make you?” He paused. “She just...she wants me to spend more time at home...just to keep up with everything.” He cleared his throat as they walked to the next hole. “But...what about you?” The wind caught her hair again, and he noticed her shadow when she tucked the strands behind her ear. The uneven surface of the ground roughened her silhouette, making it look worn and jagged, almost broken. “It’s just easier being here,” he said. “I never know what to say.” Evelyn didn’t respond. She smiled, her lips a softened pastel pink. She smiled as though noticing that he was still handsome despite the weathered look of his face and the outgrown layers of his hair. Richard noticed the feeling, the internal sensation of her manicured fingers running over his ribs, tickling him in his chest, deep down. The pace of his heart started to throb when she nudged him. “You should just fix this place,” she said. “I like it. It’s charming.” They walked over the bridge spanning the course’s stream. The water wheel at the end was spinning freely, unclogged. They never finished their game.

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He still had a case of beer in the office fridge. He shared it with her as the sun set, expanding the shadows over the golf course. Richard recalled the way his wife had reacted when he showed it to her the first time, how she’d pointed out the ant infestation in the castle and how she’d kicked at the widening cracks in the pavement. While he talked, he felt his nerves growing uneasy, shaking with his fingers when he opened another can of beer. “I don’t want to sell it,” he finally said. He felt the alcohol pulling him, cracking his voice. “I don’t know what to do.” Evelyn slid her hand over his knee. She kissed his jaw. She kissed his cheek. She kissed his mouth with her soft pink lips. He hesitated, pulling back. When he breathed in he caught the blossom scent of her perfume. It was light and airy and relieving. He eased his hand up her arm and over her shoulder. The curls of her hair slipped through his fingers, cutting at him, opening wounds that made his eyes wet when he blinked. “It’s okay,” she said. Her words were a whispered breath, slipping against his ear. “She’s not here, Richard. It’s just us.” She eased him back on the grass. Her lips tasted sweet, like fruit. Richard said nothing when she undid his pants. She pulled off her clothes and slid her hand down his chest, sending a rush through his body, a gasp out of his mouth. He looked up at her and watched as the shadows shook like tree branches over her flesh. The twigs were thin, like blackened veins of a living thing reaching, breathing, beating with her chest while she rode him. Her breaths grew heavier as the sky darkened, turning a deeper blue before turning black. The lights in the parking lot flickered on, a spotlight. Richard reached for the ripeness of her, cupping her breast in his hand. She leaned forward. Her hair slipped over his face like curled leaves. “This is our place,” she said. “Look at it.”

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It didn’t look the same after he walked her to the gate, after he noticed the way the night veiled her face when she disappeared into the void of the empty parking lot. He went back to the patch of grass and picked up the empty beer cans, the numbness tightening in his chest. He looked at the course in the darkness, at its blackened spots of age, its weathered greens, it’s crumbling foundations and chipping paint. His phone vibrated in his pocket. When he pulled it out, his wife’s picture was on the call display, her face looking bright. He didn’t answer. He let the phone reverberate in his palm, up his arm. The shakes twisted through him, snaked through his ribs. His heart ached.

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L’Heure Bleue by D. L. W. Pesavento And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ~Anais Nin~

The blue hour perfume hesitates a turquoise tear, before falling cerulean through her hourglass night a mauve nocturne of low saxophone notes and amaretto sorrows echoing footfalls of younger years departing her dark almond-forest hair and she listens, eyes kept closed so as not to awaken a dream about to come true, blossoming within herself an indigo rose unfolding lavender lovers pressed violet against her lips.

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Points of Attraction by Laura LeHew in memory of Paul O. Williams it didn’t matter people thought you were his daughter that you always exclaimed we’re “just friends” it didn’t matter so long as your feet were bound tight in 4” leather high heels as you stood and stood and stood your feet throbbing to be released it didn’t matter so long as at the end of the night he could walk you to your apartment could grasp your calf slip your shoes off one at a time—strong hands stroking lotion deep into your skin his thumb deeper into the points of your soul

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Dave

Levingston LAdM: When did you first pick up a camera (and what kind was it)? Levingston: I was a sophomore in high school when I discovered photography. I started with an old cheap 35mm camera that my mother had. But it was pretty bad…I think the lens was f/8 and it didn’t really have controls. I bought some kind of cheapie 35mm camera out of one of the photo magazines. I think it cost about $15. It was a sort of rangefinder with a fixed lens. It broke in short order. Eventually I saved up enough money to buy my first “good” camera. That was a Yashica-Mat 124 twin lens reflex. With that camera and some 3200 ASA Royal-X pan film I took some photos at a nighttime high school football game. I developed the film and made prints and took the prints to the local daily newspaper the next day, long after deadline, of course. But I think they were so impressed that I had managed to get photos of a night game with that camera that they ended up offering me a job as a photographer apprentice. I was 16 years old. When I started that job they handed

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me a Nikon F and a light meter. I think the main reason they hired me was because I had a car…a 1952 Ford with a flathead V-8 that I had rebuilt myself… and the chief photographer’s car was in the shop for major repairs. So for the first two weeks of my apprenticeship I drove him to all his assignments. It was a great opportunity to watch a very good photographer at work. By the end of those two weeks I knew what a newspaper photographer did. Are there other artists in your family? Not really. Art wasn’t a part of my life as a child. We were poor. My stepfather was an auto mechanic and never made much money. I didn’t really learn

anything about art until I went to college. But I was very fortunate to have some very good teachers at Ohio University and that whole world opened up for me. I also happened to be at college at a very good time to have some special experiences with art. For example, John Cage and Merce Cunningham performed at OU when I was a 17-yearold freshman. Seeing that concert changed my life. I remember it to this day and it influences my work. A new dance department at OU had just been started up by Shirley Wimmer when I was a freshman and one day I wandered into the department’s original location in a third-floor walk-up above a drug store on the main street near campus

“John Cage and Merce Cunningham performed at [Ohio University] when I was a 17-year-old freshman. Seeing that concert changed my life.”


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looking for something to photograph. For some reason that I’ve never known, Ms. Wimmer took a liking to me and opened up that whole world to me. I fell in love with modern dance and continue to photograph it to this day. LAdM: Tell us about your involvement in Free Speech Coalition et al v. Holder. Levingston: I’m one of the 15 named plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to have the law commonly known as “2257” and “2257A” declared to be unconstitutional. I decided to join this suit because I consider this law to be a serious violation of my constitutional rights as an American citizen and I believe it is the responsibility of citizens in our democracy to stand up and do something when the constitution needs to be defended. This is a great country and we have a system that lets us resolve issues like this. I hope that eventually through the legal system this law will be removed from the books. The legal process grinds slow, though. Our initial suit was dismissed by the judge and that decision is now being reviewed by the appeals court. I expect the suit to be reinstated and go to trial, but it could be some time before that happens. I expect the full process to take as much as 5 years before it is finally resolved.

How does that affect your creative process? I’m not a lawyer and not qualified to explain the law, so don’t take this as a legal explanation of the law. This law requires extensive record keeping for any photographs that fall under it. The definitions of what falls under the law are confusing, vague and inconsistent. But pretty much anything that involves real or simulated sex appears to be covered. Many other photos that might seem completely innocent could also be found to fall under the law. The law also requires anyone to keeps the required records to make those records available for unannounced inspection at least 20 hours a week, every week. In effect, if you keep 2257 records you have given up your right to be free from warrantless searches of your home or studio. And failure to keep those records in the form required by the law, and have them available for those unannounced inspections, is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. I am not willing to give up that very important constitutional right, so I have decided to not create any work that would fall under this law. This has prevented me from doing some work that I would have done if it were not for

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the law. I’m angry that the government has put in place this law that violates my rights as a citizen and prevents me from doing perfectly legal photographs unless I’m willing to submit to these warrantless searches. Again, I am not a lawyer and am not qualified to explain the law. The best source for an explanation of 2257 and 2257A from a photographer’s perspective that I’ve found is Stephen Haynes’ book, A Photographer’s Guide to Section 2257. Stephen is a friend, but I don’t get any kickback from his book sales. He is a former lawyer and a photographer of nudes, so he brings a lot of understanding to the subject. It was reading his book that got me so worked up that I decided to join the lawsuit. What is your inspiration? I guess in my favorite work I’m able to combine two things that I love, the beauty of nature and the beauty of the female figure. I think I was about 9 years old when I started grabbing a blanket and wandering out into the woods to spend the night. I love being in the woods. And I believe that the female figure is the source of all our ideas of what constitutes beauty. So, to me, combining the female figure with nature is the most natural thing that I could possibly do. And it does come naturally

“I consider [law 2275 and 2275A] to be a serious violation of my constitutional rights... I hope that eventually... this law will be removed from the books.”


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for me…when I’m out in the woods with a model I just keep looking around until I see the place that the figure belongs in the natural surroundings. I just seem to instinctively know where that place is. It works on a level that isn’t conscious thought. That’s the way I’ve always composed photos…just looking and knowing…not thinking about it. But in the case of the figure in nature, it’s the most natural “right” experience I’ve ever had with photography. What do you find special about photographing figures in nature compared to in studio? One of the things I love about working out in nature is the lack of control. In the studio I can control everything and make the light do just what I want it to do. But that tends to limit more than it liberates, at least for me. Outdoors you never know what’s going to happen. And you can’t control, you have to adapt and adjust and work with what Mother Nature has decided to offer to you on that particular day. I often think of the Zen concept, “Playing ball on running water.” Having to adapt to what is there can sometimes lead to discoveries and ways of seeing and using light that would never have occurred to me in the studio. I like to say that there is no “good light” or “bad light” only easy light and challenging light. Of course, I’m not always up to the challenge, but working with what I find outdoors, and sometimes struggling to get the photo I’m looking for, is good exercise, both technically and aesthetically. How important is color to your work? Of course, as a newspaper photogra-


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“One of the things I love about working out in nature is the lack of control.” pher in the 1960s, I started out working in black and white. I still appreciate the beauty of good black and white work. But over the years I found myself becoming more and more interested in color in my personal work. Black and white is, after all, an accidental

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byproduct of the early photo processes. That way of seeing the world didn’t exist until the medium of photography came along. But, I’ve never been particularly interested in the myth of “correct color.” One of my best friends who I’ve known

nearly my entire life was at one time a custom color printer. His tales of the trials of that work convinced me that there are so many variables involved in making and viewing a color print that there can never really be anything that can be called correct color. I’m much more interested in the way light interacts with both the environment and with the equipment and materials used to make a photograph. I’m interested in the way light reflects off the walls of a slot canyon and makes everything at the bottom of the canyon glow red. Or the way a green forest modifies the light


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filtering through the leaves and what effect that filtering has on a figure placed in the green scene. Rather than try to control the color of the final print to be some arbitrary norm of color temperature, I like to let those color effects happen and show them. My work with color was a major reason that I was an early adopter of digital methods. I had been struggling for some time shooting color negative film (which provides vastly superior quality than slide film) and not being happy with the prints I got from labs. When digital came along I was able to get a

printer and take control of the print making part of the process again. How has your work (and yourself) evolved over the years? I’m a slow learner. I spent many years doing work for other people and also shooting for myself, but not really knowing what my direction needed to be. I did photojournalism but gave it up when I came to the realization that the news is just the same things happening to different people every day. I had an “anything for a buck” portrait studio, shot model portfolios for agen-

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cies, shot glamour nudes, did documentary work, shot for a variety of magazines, shot modern dance in performance and in the studio, but hadn’t really found my “thing.” Then one day I arranged to do a shoot that I’d always wanted to do. I drove up to Maine to work with a couple good figure models on the rocky coast. Suddenly I knew I had found my place, my work. That was the thing I was meant to do with photography. It was the natural fit for me. That was in 2002 and the figure in nature has been the main focus of my work since that day.


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What feelings do you hope people have upon viewing your photographs? I like to make beautiful photographs. I want the viewers of my photographs to enjoy them and appreciate them for their beauty. I believe that when I make a beautiful photograph in some small, almost but not completely insignificant way, I add to the sum total of the beauty in the world. I think that’s a good thing. Do you have a favorite poem? Not really. But I love poetry and think it is very important. Everyone should read or hear a poem every day. It makes life so much better. I try to get my daily poem from Garrison Keillor on his “Writer’s Almanac” show on NPR. But, being from the ‘60s there are some poems by Mason Williams that I’ve always loved and remembered. Here are two of them: Isn’t life beautiful Isn’t life gay Isn’t life the perfect thing To pass the time away And: Love is a journey The moment it begins The journey’s all it is No matter where it ends

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Who Art Thou in Heaven by Akia Banks Who art thou in heaven, high and mighty home above thee, water and sun to the leaf, birthing both peace and beast. Let there be love in the windy breeze, come tumbling and swaying and blowing on me. Encrusted in the crevices of it’s graceful gust, travel this way a heart, a heart can trust. Arms perfectly made to web and weave, Strong enough to hold, gentle enough to keep. Who art thou in heaven, watching down on us beneath, life to the un-breathing sea, colors of the butterfly wing. Let there be love descending within the rains, come pouring atop the shatterings, until just the pure remains. Yonder the dreadful bygones with an unclothed nakedness bathed in the honest rains, unchain this resentfulness. Allow it to immerse and imbue into the skins, if there is a lamb within, leave me to drench.

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Who art thou in heaven, with ears to every bending knee, air beneath the greatest leap, earth beneath the deepest deep. Let there be love in the grass and the trees come founding, grounding, surrounding me. In bites of fruits from your apple tree give chance to impossibility, with love for the unloved, grab hands and take lead From valley low to mountain peak.

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Sunkissed photography Daniel Clavero makeup and hair Agi Brown model Femke at Wilhelmina


Couleur Caramel Cosmetics Wolfe Face Art & FX Aveda Hair


Sunday photography Jeffrey Irwin model Andressa


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Eduardo Capilla LAdM: How would you describe your style? Capilla: Style is something I consider that has become more important; I try to be genuine - not from a primitive place such as a game, but from actions that become consequences with lines of thought preceding them, creating a brief whereby I permit certain things and others not. Aesthetics, which I feel is the necessity of order, is important for me much as Ethics is; and the construction of something aesthetic, naturally following it’s convenient forms, is how I would define the shape of my style. For me the value of these forms is one which directly proximates me to the “good”, this in sum is the intimate “motive” of my work. What are your greatest influences? Early 20th century Russian abstract art such as Kazimir Malevich; indeterminists from the United States in the 1960’s like Walter De Maria and Yves Klein. Your early work was done anonymously. Why did you choose not to attach your

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name to your work then? I didn’t think it would add to the work, and furthermore hoped the encounter with these works in public spaces would occur without any pre-contextual evidence of them as works of art as such. In these installations there was no text at all. Tell us about EGO x GEO. It’s a phase of a project I began researching around 1980, called “notion” and in a way, acts to comprehend from a modality different from knowledge evading the subject/object relation. In a way this phase assumes another hierarchy, human in front of the “cosmos” - frank like a recommendation to assume the role it must, sacrificing it’s ego and acting with humility as a support, reevaluating natural beauty. How did you first become interested in ikebana? From a very early age I was attracted to flowers, the trees; later I discovered the more acute vision of ikebana - in terms of the fact that it deals with a live series.

“Aesthetics, which I feel is the necessity of order, is important for me much as Ethics is.”


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“From a very early age I was attracted to flowers, the trees...”

Especially, the elegance which doesn’t correspond so much to a cultural tendency, a thought, an ism, but a natural beauty which describes the forms of growth - something like the the elegance of the creator. What are you working on now? Designing and preparing the arrangements for the next presentation of Ego x Geo which shall be with men only, editing another book. I’m also painting and producing works for my next exhibition, which will take place in October 2011 at the Braga Menendez Contemporary Art Gallery in Buenos Aires. What sort of reactions do people have to your performances and installations? Talking about Ego x Geo, in general the flowers as well as the beauty of the people together in the arrangements have produced an extremely illuminat-

Click the still at right to see Eduardo’s film “Larga”.

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ing situation. The reactions I’ve perceived to date are close to something happy although still shy at moments. Painting is quite a solitary endeavor, while performances are inherently social. Do you prefer one over the other? I also work in cinema where there’s always a team, if prefer to work in a team, to share creativity is very interesting, it’s what led me to paint together with María Medica during recent years. Do you find your artwork to be a representation of yourself? In consequence of the modality of “notion”, I am the “other”, all work hopes to find it’s “being” in the other. Who are your favorite authors? In my youth Spinoza, Borges, and Hemingway all inspired me immensely.


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Section:

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Title by body copy

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L'Allure des Mots Issue 1  

L'Allure des Mots Issue 1

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