Minetta Review The Modern Minstrel
Minetta Review The Modern Minstrel Spring 2014
Cover Art by Jeff Felker Front Cover: “but as for me, for you, the irresistible sea is to separate us” 15x19 oil on board 2010 Back Cover: “i too saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water” 20x24 oil on canvas 2010
Table of Contents Editorsâ€™ Note
Katherine Holotko Claudia Sbuttoni
Poetry Savuti Painted Leather Jacket In A Crooked Mirror: 1:38 am Feeding: A Birthday Poem The Art of Chrysanthemums Les cendres/Ashes Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle. Talk Nerdy to Me Blessed House of Figs If I Ended the Sun, And Thus the Earth, Am I > or = to God? Planting the Heart Fogo Island, Newfoundland Ai, Ai El Sueno Nocturnal Garden with Buildings The Art of Deception Huesca, 2013 Saint Brendan and the Whale Book of Fire Salt Up All Night All Mothers The Organ Grinder
Barbara Ryder-Levinson 10 Scott Brennan 18 David-Glen Smith 20 Robert Karaszi Ivan de Monbrison Joseph Mills
21 22 26
James Valvis Claire Farley Kristin Distel Kenneth Pobo Kenneth Pobo Gabrielle Freeman Francesc M. Franch David-Glen Smith Kristin Distel Claire Farley Henry Hsiao Leah Silverman Joan L. Cannon
50 52 53 60 61 62 80 86 94 95 96 102 112
Matthew Pawlak Carrie L. Krucinski Kevin Kiely Leah Silverman
28 29 30 46
Prose Eye Tea Sundays Bones and Rice Order In The World Lighthouse A Growing, A Longing, A Passing If You Get Far Enough Away, You’ll be on Your Way Back Home The Florida Visit The Fall of a Hundred Things The Silk Scarf
Melissa Pheterson Sophie Mindes Mariel Victoria Mok Marty Carlock Ivy McCall Spencer Sapienza Laura E. Britton
8 13 24 47 51 54 82
Néha Hirve Néha Hirve Néha Hirve Néha Hirve Leana King Leana King Mariel Victoria Mok Ramon Gutierrez
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 40
Nancy Davidoff Kelton Néha Hirve Kim Farleigh
88 98 103
Artwork just a passing bird untitled mecánicos Âllo Claude The Hand’s Card Black Horse untitled series Division of Chromosomes / Secret Visions Shared in Catacombs Sacrifice Your Lesser Self Ancient Mathematics Anima / Animus Leaving Station untitled float untitled 35mm film photographs of Greece and Italy Just Kids
Ramon Gutierrez Ramon Gutierrez Ramon Gutierrez Jesse Wheaton Stefanie Chan Stefanie Chan Stefanie Chan Patricia Sullivan
41 42 43 44 45 64 65 66
Taylorâ€™s Constellation Invade Your Imagination Bathroom Documentary Heavy Wishes Echo One Thousand Suns London Bridge by Night Saint Pancras Piano Player Two Not the One Waves Contributorsâ€™ Notes Masthead
Jesse Wheaton Jesse Wheaton Lucy Beni Kia Delgado Kia Delgado Kia Delgado Virginia Mastrostefano Virginia Mastrostefano Virginia Mastrostefano Kati Blackshear Kati Blackshear 105 110
69 69 70 74 74 75 76 77 77 78 79
Editorsâ€™ Note The Modern Minstrel is you, o reader. It is you who picked up this issue of Minetta Review, eager to unravel the question of who are we and why are we on a counter in this coffee shop? You are a testament that the arts are alive in New York City and in this World. Whether you opened our pages to absorb the breadth of creative prowess contained or to use the thick, luscious cardstock as rolling paper, we salute you. May someone see this on your bookshelf and think you are smart and sensitive and interesting for reading poetry, they might be right - art and its expressions are a necessary part of our lives. It is through this compilation of art and expression that we eulogize the extinct minstrel and herald in his successor. A European bard dating back to the Middle Ages, the minstrel performed songs crafted from the bowels of his imagination, depicting faraway places and pseudo-historical tales. A great storyteller and entertainer, he was eventually left by the wayside in favor of the more sophisticated troubadour. Many adopted a peripatetic lifestyle as wandering minstrels, perpetually in search of appreciation and artistic fulfillment. This issue is an ode to the Modern Minstrel: the busker, the street musician, the poet, the artist. To those skilled in their craft, deliberate with their actions, and uncompromising in their passions. To those who roam any and every street with an instrument, a pen, or a critical eye, absorbing their surroundings, interpreting their findings and representing them for an audience to laud.
The minstrel intrigues us because although he represents how stories were told long ago, today his presence is superfluous as he tries, often in vain, to find someone who needs him. He represents how something integral to daily life and important in expressing emotions has changed from necessary to peripheral. In this age of frenzied technological growth that seemingly renders most everyone an expert photographer, thinker and creator, we wish to dedicate this issue to the Modern Minstrel whose work is not always given the attention and recognition it deserves. As submissions to Minetta Review continue to increase each year, we remain hopeful as we strive to create and maintain an environment in which the Modern Minstrel can flourish. So to all our contributors, writers, readers, and minstrels out there, thank you for helping our mission. This is for you.
Katherine Holotko Claudia Sbuttoni Editors-in-Chief
At last, at least, I have an office of my own. True, it’s a converted closet, windowless and drab, with grainy mustard carpeting and a useless tapioca wall that can’t muffle the groan of pipes, but at least it’s not a cubicle. My heart quickens at the thought of all my liberties. I can eat garlic chicken, and scratch wherever I itch. I don’t have to smell rancid perfumes or overhear things I’d rather not, like how Myrna’s kids won’t stop vomiting and Leslie just can’t shake her yeast infection. The chitchat depressed me. It disgusted me. I’m too empathetic, my mother says. No wonder I failed at my work. My paralysis wasn’t judgmental; I wanted to chime in with my own woes, but loneliness is hard to articulate. My abrupt termination that frigid morning was the only time I’d kindled conversation: whispers in my wake. I got here at 8:30, accepted bitter coffee—don’t know the whole “cream and sugar” deal; I’d probably muck it up— and was sent here by the assistant to wait for my passwords and get “acclimated.” Now that I think of it, the air does seem thinner. I’m short of breath. It’s 8:34 and I’ve noticed every detail, or lack thereof. I’ve just shut the door to avoid looking completely useless. They don’t really believe I know HTML, do they? Everyone claims to know HTML when searching for a job. A little white lie, falling like a snowflake on the resume. I’m actually trembling a little. It’s not nerves, I scold myself; it’s just excitement over this new start. My ex-boss and ex-boyfriend both avoid me on the street. Maybe I shouldn’t have accepted the coffee today. Maybe I’m too sensitive to caffeine. My heart begins to strike its beat emphatically, like the keys on the laptops I’ve ruined with sticky fingers. The last time I felt this way was on Canada Day, a.k.a. Cannabis Day, when my ex fed me hash brownies. My tongue curled around imagined logs of cotton, I’d called my mother to bid her farewell, certain I was dying, and she’d grumpily told me to sleep it off and then break it off.
I cling to the scratched wood of my desk as my breath lashes around my lungs, which in turn clench around my thrashing heart. I can’t lose this job. They’ll declare me a medical liability, a preexisting condition, and COBRA’s fees are already killing me. I remember the sallow, hairy fingers of my ex-boss, stabbing my mistakes on paper as though they were ants, scrunching his steel-wool eyebrows. I remember the walk of shame into the elevator bank, security guards with guns (guns!) flanking me, lest I bolt and sabotage the computers in a sudden flash of competency. With jittery fingers, I type “heart palpitations” into the search engine, scan the results. Might I also, asks Google, want to search for related symptoms of sweating, faintness, and dizziness? As invisible leaden pincers squeeze my temples, a banner pops up promising relief for pregnant women suffering chest pain. Pregnant? I wish. Cruel, stupid computer. My cell phone shows no bars. I pick up the desk phone to call my mother, but the staccato-and-hum coding of beeps reminds me I haven’t been taught to dial out. The pincers turn and tighten. Now this is heartbreak. I never should have tossed around the term so carelessly. I want to email but I keep hitting firewalls. Walls close in. I’d even settle for logging onto Facebook, breaking my self-imposed rule never to post negativity. “I’m DYING, you guys. Advice?” Quit freaking out, I hear my mother scold. Do I know any yoga poses? Tantric breathing? From somewhere beyond the pulsing and buzzing, the twitching knot my guts have become, I hear a knock. “Eye Tea! Eye Tea Department. We’re not permitted to open this door without your express permission. I’m leaving a paper for you to sign.” A white square glides onto the mustard sea. “This will certify you have approved us to install a wireless router for your convenience and productivity.” My gasps land silently. “In very rare cases, in certain individuals, the electromagnetic radiation utilized by the router will cause heart palpitations and migraines, tumors, memory loss, and brain damage. Please answer ‘yes’ if you acknowledge this…” In my mind, a wide amber eye leaks drops of chamomile. I feel them sliding down my face, a blessedly calm creeping. THE END 11
sometimes it was early morning sometimes in later golden light when the air was clear perfect as diamond dust you did not hear them you did not smell them though I suppose if they were closer and the wind were rightâ€Ś one hundred feet away they silently appeared cutting the brown-green, dry bush you never knew when these gods entered our lives graced us with their presence the gray necklace of two or three slowly rolled in a band of liquid silver soundless constant unrushed sometimes a baby among the threes and fours sometimes an elder tusks bent, chipped, gnawed, or partly missing her belly less firm his hide scarred dry like old womanâ€™s skin old bulls missing their tusks are dangerous we are told they know they are vulnerable 12
every day, several times a day they appeared by some magic we could not understand they formed a line starting far away coming closer now moving across the sight line of our front porches following the scent of water we watch from our eucalyptus floors stretched out in our open wooden chairs under a canvas canopy acacia leaves matting under foot sage, wild African basil in the air all the colors of Africa tan, golden Hemingwayesque and the huge gray wall of leathered hide rolling slowly to the water at Savuti they came to drink in still silence we followed their massive trunks pulling in a liter or two raising heavy heads as they bring the water up releasing the river to quench their parched lives one old bull perhaps close to death not able to drink he draws in water but cannot raise his heavy head the water to run down his throat 13
over and over he pulls in massive amounts curls his trunk to his open waiting cradle the water gushes out never reaching his dry river-mouth a young bull sidles up this time as the old boy sucks the cooling life force the youngster supports the old manâ€™s head and he finally drinks to his fill mesmerized, we cannot speak we cannot look away
Sundays Sophie Mindes
On Sundays, the Wallaces wake to the sound of vacuuming. Emilia, the lady who comes to clean, gets there around 9:00 am and stays until it is too dark to see the trees outside. In return, she gets four or five rumpled 20s and a ride back to the Grosvenor Metro station. The Wallaces: last house on the cul-de-sac of Sulky Lane. Daughter doodles all over the newspapers; cat doesn’t know how to shit in the litter box. Wife is a journalist. Emilia has come to know this family, studying them as she stacks wooden chairs on wooden tables to sweep the dust balls underneath. Her Walkman plays lively Latina beats, and is attached to the fanny pack she wears wide round her sturdy hips. With her Walkman and the two Advil she took this morning, she can manage until lunchtime without difficulty. Sometimes he calls, but otherwise she is fine, no she doesn’t need a break, thank you though, Mrs. Wallace. On Sundays, the house is rank with the scent of vinegar; the secret to clean windows, Emilia knows, is newspaper rags dipped in vinegar. The Wallace girl retreats to the uninfected downstairs. The doorbell rings, and rings, and rings, the person ringing thinks it is broken. It’s him, he is drunk, he is wearing a Superman outfit six sizes too small for him, and he is crying. The girl opens the door, recognizing him as the man who sometimes drops Emilia off in the mornings. Where is Emilia, he says, lurching. She’s upstairs, can I help you? She looks into his eyes, soggy and rimmed with red. His crotch bulges at the smallness of his suit. I need to speak with her, shouting but not knowing that he is shouting. Somewhere in the house, Emilia turns up the volume of her Walkman, beats dust out of green cushions from the couch. =================================================
A man wakes up on a Sunday morning to the stagnant smell of syrup. He lives above the Pancake House on Democracy Boulevard, three bedrooms and a laundry machine that shakes and sputters when it runs. He likes his street, likes the name of it, even though it is always whizzing with traffic. Democracy, and it looks that way at night, too, when he comes back from the Rite Aid with a bottle of something wrapped in brown paper, red and green stoplights shining just for him, for this moment. Head abuzz, eyes alight. Invincible. But he is not so invincible now, as his head swims around the apartment, kept spotless except for this couch that he has claimed as his territory, cigarette burn by cigarette burn. His brain sloshes with yesterdayâ€™s drinks, the man groans. Rolls his body into sitting, blanket falling off him to reveal his sagged body clothed in a stained dress shirt, no pants. He stands, stretches into a walk. Beeline to the kitchen cabinet where she hides her vodka behind the soy sauce, the peanut oil, the sesame oil. Flavors and sauces for meals she no longer makes, dinners they no longer share together. He sits down with a tall clear glass of drink and the couch sighs into him as he too, sighs. And now the man begins his daily narrative to himself of who is he and how he came to end up here in this clean desolate apartment. There was a time before all this, he knows, before he lived above the pancake place on this ugly street, when he thought he would become a great writer. This was back in college, back in the city, where he smooth-talked women as he smoked down cigarettes to their stub and spoke boldly of his aspirations. Dickens, Hemingway, Shakespeare, he was going to read them all and absorb their words into his own, become somebody. The man reminisces of these days and his eyes glow bright with the remembering of it in the dark room on the dark dank couch where he sits. Before Emilia, there was only a bright shallow well where he put his faith in the future and flowed through life like water snaking through sidewalk cracks. A writer, a banker, a computer technician, he could do anything. He would be anything. After Emilia, life slid into the dreamplace where he lives today. The world bounces around in his head with too much color and brightness, brightness that can only be subdued by pouring drink after tall drink into the glass.
================================================== The air swims and wavers in front of him. His cape doesn’t go past his shoulderblades and he looks the Wallace girl blankly in the eyes for a moment before he pushes past her into the house. He follows the sound of the vacuum cleaner, leaving bootprints on the beige carpet. It is a Sunday afternoon and the sun shines in through the tall panes of the kitchen windows and that is where he finds her, scrubbing the inside of the refrigerator clean. He calls out her name. She stands up fully, rubber-gloved hands limp at her side. She scans over the drunkenness in his step, the marks on his neck from the cape pinned tight like a choker. Quickly she calculates in her mind how much money she has saved up; she cannot afford to lose another job this way. What are you doing here. What are you wearing, she says. Here I am, baby, I’ve come to save you. He grins and a spot of saliva gleams on his chin. He comes forth and tries to clasp her shoulders with his hands but she steps back, holding a styrofoam container of leftover Indian takeout between them like a shield. Her mouth barely moves when she speaks. Go home, please, I’m working. Please. Don’t you miss me? You work all day I never see you baby come here gimme kiss. Her hands grip the container tighter. I’m working, she says. He keels towards her, rocking, the seams of his Superman suit
split at the thigh, tear upwards to his side until his gut hangs out. The Wallace girl watches by the door frame, blushes when she spies the soft hairs trailing from his navel to the ripped Superman underwear. The girl looks into Emilia’s eyes, brown almonds set deep like caves. Honey go call your mom, tell her I can’t find the dish soap, Emilia says sharply and the girl leaves. The man is now slumped, staring into the marble facets of the countertop. She loved him once, she knows this, back in school when she wore the lipstick that he liked, when he’d curled her into him and only drank on the weekends. Now all she sees are his clammy palms, all she smells is his stinking breath. He sinks all the way down to the floor and now the seams come apart completely; he is shirtless but for sleeves that bulge red and blue. A wave of pity, she goes to him. Why on earth are you wearing that? It’s almost Halloween. I wanted to surprise you. And now tears glaze his eyes and she remembers how they met, a Halloween party and he was Superman, brave enough to talk to her. He had gone to Party City and found the only costumes left were the children’s sizes. He wanted to surprise her at work, like in the old days, spin her and take her out to lunch and her almond eyes would crinkle into a smile. He had a whole speech planned out in his head, I’m going to get my act together, I’ll find a job, maybe go back to school so you don’t have to keep cleaning people’s houses, so you can find a job that doesn’t give you back aches.
But her black hair is tied sleek back in a bun and she has nothing left for him. It is time to go home, she says, you are drunk. She grips his wrist tight and walks him out the door, up the street to the bus stop. Go home, she says, more gently this time. She is still wearing her rubber gloves. ==================================================
It is a Sunday night and the Wallaces have finished eating dinner and watching Wheel of Fortune; it is time to go home. She is quiet on the car ride back to the station, thinking. She will cook him one last dinner. Let him sleep one more night on the old couch in the apartment that reeks of syrup. Then he will have to leave. They pull up at Grosvenor Station. See you next week, Mr. Wallace waves cheerfully. The train thunders in and Emilia boards, clutching her black bag to her chest.
Painted Leather Jacket Scott Brennan
. . . Three horses leaping the broken slats of a fence, hooves turned soft by flames beneath a crescent moon, manes singed, the night sky like the Headless Horseman & Vengeance, an arroyo filled with wine. . . . . . A stencil of Uncle Sam on the back, “I Want You!” running down a sequined sleeve. . . . . . Yosemite Falls descending the other sleeve, and a wagon of war beside a church. Where? Mérida, circa 1865? In the portico on the bicep, estranged brothers weep in the Valley of Shared Memories--smallpox, priesthood, and banditry--then bicker over the fate of a man found babbling in the desert who holds knowledge of buried treasure, or so he claims, & uses it to barter for his otherwise worthless life. Thus he differs from the knifed sheriff trickling a final pint of sangria into the shadow cast by the gallows on the forearm. The man 20
who knows the secret--his skin blistered & scaly--breathes rapidly. His eyes (touched up with crimson nail polish?) move neither back & forth nor up & down but stare through the angels hovering. . . . Off dunes to the south of the breast pocket, a thunderstorm. Penned in silver Sharpie, an arsonistâ€™s graffito: The Best Time--Rain So Hard the Junkies Stay Indoors. A hydra, head cut off, grows back two. A deluge drums the tricked-out El Camino. A Styrofoam cup shoots through a sewer grate, the fastest way out, & there go the sheriff & the bandit & the priest. There fly the ashes that once were the horses. . .
In A Crooked Mirror: 1:38 am Feeding: A Birthday Poem David-Glen Smith
Stumbling in the dark between rooms, between moments before resolution to your greed, your unsatiated want— moments after the torrent extreme which demand all of my attention— in the calming of a darkened hallway we stand, our image framed in a crooked mirror: father and son, both present and future tenses combined under reflected glass. My koi-child, within my arms you twist, coil your shape into a crescent, then shift around to face me—and laugh, all arms and legs, swaying.
The Art of Chrysanthemums Robert Karaszi
We swing like silk or snow swept over mesa flats. Though in the pith of fall, leaves twitch red through the eddy, at eventide. We sit long-sleeved in a river house mull over music, that warms ice creatures. Today I raked a melody with syllables culled from your lips. But I miss you when you gather chrysanthemums each morning; and on return, float their painted tongues in glass bowls. Chrysanthemums round patio light remind me of our first autumn, when you held my glove in the Venus noon. Darling. This garden is art, verged on the obsessive but I heed the artistry in your labors, I hold them dear, their desires unafraid to conjure wings that they may conjure flight. Upon twisting your wrist, caught in the spindrift of creation, you could no longer heave soil to stack. I tended fresh earth in delicious seclusion, and laced your pond with chrysanthemum gold. So come! Meet me under ribboned white where autumn hovers, and the sun sidles nearas the murmurs of our harmonies hold.
Written and Translated by Ivan de Monbrison
au sortir du temps le geste qui décroche l’étoile à la fenêtre rend sa paix au silence sur l’arbre qui s’agite avec le vent tu as vu s’abandonner le rivage où s’étalent tant de corps nus de loin on dirait qu’ils sont morts la lumière qui migre d’aurore en aurore a l’apparence de ton esprit elle se réfugie dans la forêt durant le jour au sortir de toi-même tu étais la ressemblance qui glisse hors de la vacuité de l’oubli pour se vêtir du passé tu étais cet autre centre qui m’attirait et me repoussait comme la cendre comme les nuages comme la pensée comme l’arbitraire envie de se confondre avec la nuit quand meurt le jour ***
on the way out of time the gesture which unhooks the star on the window has given back its peace to silence by the tree tossing in the wind you have seen the surrendering of the shore where are spread so many naked bodies it looks like they are dead in the distance the light that migrates from dawn to dawn is similar to your mind it has found shelter in the wood during the day on the way out of yourself you were the resemblance which slides out of the emptiness of oblivion and is clothed with the past you were this another center that drew me and pushed me away at the same time as ashes as clouds as thought as the arbitrary will to blend into the night when dies the day ***
Bones and Rice Mariel Victoria Mok
i. The morning after my grandmother was cremated, with the damp of the night still in our eyes, we waited in silence and watched the thick coil of incense make its slow way, the orange of lit ash fading, the smoke losing itself to the air. Someone brought a transparent box into the centre of the room and placed it on the stand, clipping off the lid to reveal the power of what is no longer there. In a ritual of sad peace, we picked up the larger pieces of her bones from among the powdery remnants, laying them on red cloth. It is a wonder the bone does not empty itself down: a thousand Fahrenheit for two hours, obliterating everything but these fragments, each owners of a small piece of time, like anyone or anything else. I took some of the ashes and rubbed them like powder into my palms; the white outlining the paths on my hands, my hands holding a history of things created and destroyed, my grandmother, now returned to dust. People sometimes describe things as ‘bone-white’, but bone isn’t really white, and life leaves its traces on the very things that hold us together, the very structure of our being, leaden yellow stains even days after you are gone. Reddish-brown bruises mark out certain pieces from others – something poisonous seeped into that part, something foreign lived inside those bones. I began to read the bones like maps, tracing fingers along the valleys and hills, grazing the edges and indentations, and exploring the rough terrain. Parts worn away formed a bed of longing; like buildings that remain on maps and in our minds long after they have been demolished, we cannot always locate some likeness in reality. As maps, her bones depict the narratives of her body, its changes, projections, and the way she lived in it, moving through it, inside it, with it, and in response to it. From her bones I reassemble her body, but only in my mind. 26
ii. On the night before her soul would return, we knelt by the sack of uncooked rice, each pair of cupped hands diving in tandem into the pool of rice and surfacing with pieces of my grandmother’s new bed. In a slow ceremonial dance, we raised our heels and peeled ourselves off the ground, steps distilling love as we carried the rice, staring at the same leaden yellow of her bones. Carefully, we lay the rice down inside a box resting near my grandmother’s room, and as we ran palms over grains to level the surface, I thought about chaos theory and tried to figure out what it is I feel when I realise the wind slowly destroys sandcastles but never builds them. We roofed the box with a lid, and left it there overnight, waiting for my grandmother to visit, to sleep in the new bed we had made for her. I woke to the quiet of the morning light. No crickets were chirring, and the curtains heaved while the leaves remained asleep. No other movement as I watched my tea diffuse itself into the air, mourning each curl of steam crawling up and winding out of sight. I heard my mother coming down and stood at the bottom of the stairs waiting for the solemnity to be passed to me. She stroked my hair and whispered only, “go.” I went over to the box of rice and saw a box of rice. My mother came over to the box of rice and saw her mother. I looked again, staring - without time - at the bone-coloured grains, scrutinising the freckles and the dusty bruises, arranging the pale powdery texture into some semblance of my grandmother’s face, but I still only saw a box of rice. By then, everyone was looking at the box of rice: my father laughed and joked that my grandmother was like a celebrity immortalised along the Hollywood boulevard; one of my brothers refused to eat rice ever again; my sister and my maid cried. I looked at my hands, the same hands that held her bones and fed her ashes to the urn, the very hands that filled the box with rice and the very hands that smoothened the surface. Floating over the rice, my hands tried to align themselves with the indentations. iii. Bone is almost the same colour as rice. No body, no maps, but she found us all the same.
Jupiter descends in thunder and lightning, sitting upon an eagle. Joseph Mills
His arrival is unexpected. There had been nothing to suggest any kind of divinity, then suddenly a God descends complete with theatrical effects and, oddly, specified transportation. (Other plays don’t make a point of saying “Juliet Enters in Mini Cooper” or “Exit Hamlet. Sound of motorcycle.”) So what the hell is this? we wonder, feeling betrayed or, at least, confused. Is he serious? Mocking us? Lazy? But maybe this is the desired effect. A disbelief similar to wonder. What is more awe-inspiring, after all, than a God’s appearance, unanticipated, unasked for, and undeniably in front of you?
And, if we’re honest, we’ll admit a certain delight. We want to believe, and this seems, somehow, right. Everyone knows Gods have a flair for the melodramatic, and they’ll come when they feel like coming, regardless of what anyone wants or expects, then they’ll insist on rerouting the story like cops directing traffic around seemingly impassable accidents. When they’re done, they won’t stay to take questions or suggestions, they’ll just get back on their damn birds, and ride them, inscrutably, into the sky.
Talk Nerdy to Me Matthew Pawlak
i’m a grades whore you can find me lurking in your libraries working the shelves my eyes have no life left in them just red, just dry they closed on reality hours ago but still manage to shamelessly leaf through book after book as the hard-copy print leaves its mark on my retinas in the dim light and moves on i’ll do whatever you want essays, a little creative writing, exams (i even do take-homes) all night long don’t judge me they got me hooked on ‘A’ when i was too young to know better now I can’t stop i need it that hit, that number to validate me i snort every percent, trip out it feels good to matter to hallucinate
Carrie L. Krucinski
Her nipples are all I can see as she walks towards me asking for money. They pierce the thin fabric of her pink shirt. The size of quarters, telling me, I have children who use me when they are hungry. She wants 50 cents, a dollar to get something to eat. My breasts will never be so burdened, aching for little mouths; they will never be engorged, wish to be emptied. Meds take away voices, unnatural urges, killing anything that tries to take up residence. Sex is Russian Roulette; a baby would be the kill shot. She keeps yelling Ma’ am! It’s easier to tell her no if I don’t look her in the eye. Her nipples are my accusers, jury, judge. Saint Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of barren women, whispers to Christ: She’s a selfish woman.
House of Figs Kevin Kiely
the ‘Inbox’ lights up with ‘Bethany’ and clarions like room service from the distant past: ‘Ride the shock waves of changes, full circles, and settling or shaken perspectives…’ the feverish reply launched into the echoing miles of ether towards Washington in the Pacific North West: ‘how bleak the backlit Plutonian shores of Sligo...’ I am conflicted between images of you: one is the female crucified Jesus. Sunday school revolt, ideational acting out of the repeated headline: ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’ a saddle of calligraphy on each thigh from the ink-jetting pen anoint these sheets with the mask of your face strut those ghostly blue outline tattoos of Kentucky: the speeding boxcar, the saltshaker amidst healed scars and burns, while civilized life inscribed in law demands life be lived: ‘Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani’— what kind of lawful life produced a phrenology on your Lempicka thighs in the white room that grew goose-flesh walls the cuts around kneecaps released the flowing lifelines of wine down your sloping limbs
and through you, a lover can enter the house of figs the hazel eyes of the sphinx burn with fiery gems one eye for sunrise, the other sunset from where does our hope, our joy, our ecstasy come— from our tragedy, is your answer. Yet, your post-romantic ‘goodbye until.’ Turning into the alley with a wilting hand ‘some things last a long time.’ The moon shines stark from a broken cloud illuminating the goddess and her incense cigarette. ‘Some things last forever.’ I shall rise from the dead by your anointing I shall not need to ask of this world in this world: shall any woman forgive our desertion? shall any woman forgive herself for falling in love with a man? and the leaves of the fig tree shroud their fruit in the gale, beyond tragedy
just a passing bird NĂŠha Hirve
untitled NĂŠha Hirve
mecĂĄnicos NĂŠha Hirve
Âllo Claude Néha Hirve
The Handâ€™s Card Leana King
Black Horse Leana King
Mariel Victoria Mok
Division of Chromosomes / Secret Visions Shared in Catacombs Ramon Gutierrez
Sacrifice Your Lesser Self Ramon Gutierrez
Ancient Mathematics Ramon Gutierrez
Anima / Animus Ramon Gutierrez
Leaving Station Jesse Wheaton
untitled Stefanie Chan
If I Ended The Sun, And Thus The Earth, Am I > or = to God? Leah Silverman
I ate the sun I did First I put my thumb Base to face of it And pressed Like bubble wrap. The whole orb splattered Sun juices like icicles Like cosmic arrows Sliced the hairs on my wrists. I brought my blistered thumb To my mouth To suck the sun Off my arms And all of me Right then All of me just fizzed like a soda I even felt it in my nose When I swallowed the sun.
Order In The World Marty Carlock
The house looks wrong. ‘Where are we?’ I say. ‘We’re at Jack and Margaret’s,’ he says. ‘We’re going to stop in for a while.’ He seems to think that explains everything. It makes me mad. Before he finishes parking the car these people come out of the house, smiling and talking. He gets out and kisses the woman. I don’t like that. He and the man slap each other on the back. He comes around and opens my door. I don’t want to get out but he takes my arm and urges me out. Both these strange people hug me like they know me. They don’t have hats or coats on and I don’t understand why they aren’t cold. I have my long down coat on over my sweater and my short down coat and I’m still cold. I’m always cold. He takes my arm and she takes my other arm and they walk me into the house. It’s one of those houses where you go in and there are stairs up and down right away. ‘We’re going upstairs, Sandy,’ she says. How is it she knows my name? I watch my shoes going up the stairs. They look strange. They have straps that stick to each other instead of laces. I forget what you call them. We’re in a kitchen and she says, ‘Let me take your coats.’ I don’t want to take off my coat but he says we should. I take off my mittens, too, but I won’t take off my wool hat. She says, ‘Can I make you coffee? Tea? The pot’s hot.’ He says yes, so I say yes. ‘Which?’ she says. ‘Coffee or tea?’ She looks at me like she expects an answer. He says, ‘Coffee.’ They pull out a chair for me to sit down. It isn’t square to the table and I try to get it square and neat before I sit down. She won’t let me. She says, ‘I don’t think you can sit unless you pull it out more.’ It makes me mad when people do that. This strange man says, ‘Sandy, do you remember when I used to call your house and pretend I was taking a survey, and I’d say, I’d like to speak to the head of the household, and you’d say, You got her!’ It must be a joke because they all laugh,
so I laugh too. I don’t remember any such thing. The strange woman puts a cup of coffee in front of me and says to him, ‘She likes milk and sugar, right?’ I don’t know how she guessed that. He nods. She says, ‘Is this okay, Sandy?’ It isn’t full, and I try to show her. I put two fingers across the top but she doesn’t seem to understand. ‘More milk?’ She gets a bottle and pours more. She says, ‘Be careful, it’s pretty full.’ He sits down. There are couches and a television in this kitchen, I don’t know why. They all start talking and I drink my coffee. When they laugh, I laugh. Sometimes they say nonsensical things to me. I try to make them think they are talking sense. The chairs at the table are sitting crooked. They should be straight. I get up and straighten them all out. There should be some order. There seems to be no end to their chatter. I get up and walk around. On the counter I find a pad of paper with lines on it and words written on the lines. But not all the lines. That’s wrong. There should be words on all the lines or not any of the lines. I take the pad to the table and fold it right under the line with the last word. I crease it hard with my fingernail and slowly tear it off. It looks better, but now there is another sheet of paper underneath with blank lines. I’m thinking about what to do about that when the woman says, ‘Oops, be careful with that, Sandy. That’s my grocery list.’ He gets up and says, ‘Here, hon, don’t play with that,’ and takes it away from me. I’m very annoyed with him. It’s getting dark outside, and he doesn’t notice. I want to say, Tony, but I’m not sure that’s his name. I just know he’s the one that seems to be in charge and always telling me what to do. I point at the window and try to tell him. ‘It’s all right, Sandy,’ he says. ‘We’ll go in a little bit.’ Somebody pulls the drapes across the window. They catch on something, maybe this brown coat that’s slung on the back of the couch. I get up and fix the curtain so it’s straight. Things should be neat. I see some eyeglasses on the counter. I should be wearing them. I start to put them on. The strange woman smiles and says, ‘No, those are my glasses, Sandy,’ and takes them away from me. But she doesn’t put them on herself. Why do people do things like that? I don’t think I like these people. They keep talking. He’s talking a lot. I find my long coat on a chair and put it on. I find the snap under my chin and snap it, then the one below it and the one at the waist and
one more. I can’t seem to find the one below that. I smooth both sides of the coat down with both hands, but it’s not there. There is room for another snap, and there should be one. There should be order. He looks at me and says, ‘Sit down, Sandra. We’re not going yet.’ It makes me mad when he calls me Sandra. He knows I don’t like it. ‘Ten minutes,’ he says. ‘We’ll go in ten minutes. Just sit down.’ I don’t sit down. I want to leave. I put on my mittens. They keep talking. There’s a brown leather coat on the back of the couch. I should be wearing it. For some reason he’s sitting at the table now. I pick up the brown coat and start to put it on. He turns around and says, ‘No, Sandy, that’s my coat. You can’t have it.’ He takes it away from me and puts it on. We finally go out to the car. I reach for the door handle but he says, ‘You get in the other side, Sandy.’ He’s so bossy. The strange man hugs me and helps me get in. I avoid the strange woman, but he kisses her. I don’t like that. I think she says something about, If we can help you in any way. He nods and shrugs. It doesn’t make any sense. I’ve started ignoring things like that. That don’t make sense. He gets in and starts the car. The strange people wave goodbye. ‘Where are we going?’ I say. He’s sitting in his seat in the car, driving. I’m sitting in my seat in the car, going wherever he decides we’re going. At last things are the way they should be. The way I expect them to be. There should be order in this world. THE END
Planting the Heart James Valvis
I planted my heart in my garden just to see what would grow. nothing sprouted that first year or the second year or third. I blamed the conditions. On the fourth year the sunlight was better, we had good rain. Still nothing grew at all. The fifth year I forgot to water, and even the rosemary died. Ten years went by in a blink. I consulted a master gardener. She told me it was possible I buried my heart too deeply. No warmth could reach it. You had to soak the earth. She said also some seeds are duds, and will not sprout, and my heart might be one. She said try another, but that was my only heart, so I dug it up, brushed it off, and now Iâ€™m giving it to you to replant where you want, anywhere, that is, except here.
Lighthouse Ivy McCall
My hair is pulled too tight at the nape of my neck. It makes my head feel heavy. I’m burning up inside and even the December wind can’t soothe the fire. It just whips the jagged flames into a frenzy, does nothing to quell the rage. In the dining hall they were getting the room for Shabbat. I preferred it before everyone arrived. In the soft light even the cheap faux-wood furniture seemed to gleam. My head jerked back reflexively as I stepped into the night which was gathered like a garment at the edges of the buildings, as the shine of some girl’s hair, her legs bound in nylon shadows, caught and held my gaze like a snag in a fresh pair of tights. As I turned the corner I nearly collided with a group of friends - older, not college kids - walking freely towards the park, their limbs reflecting the glow of the Friday night, which seemed to offer a promise to return to youth, to right old wrongs and lie sweetly entwined with old friends once more, naively speaking of forever. One of the men was smoking, and I felt compelled to pluck the cigarette from his mouth as I passed, to place it between my own lips and take a drag. I imagined it would feel just like climbing into bed with an old friend, the action marked by a sigh and eyes full of premature regret. My father says I learned helplessness from him, which is deceiving because it belies his own self-sufficiency. I think it’s true, though, and I wonder if I learned sadness from him, too, this fire turning my insides to ash. My ribcage is already taut with cinders; all I’m missing is the rush of the nicotine. I wish I had the courage to do something raw and self-destructive, like get totally trashed and dance on a counter, my limbs swinging fearlessly. No, I don’t wish that. I want to sit in a bar alone and drown myself in pools of bitter syrup. I want to down a bottle of champagne and dance gracelessly along the daylight, let irony light up my frigid veins. I want to recline in the back room of some dimly lit tea shop, the over-18 section where the sweet-colored hookah smoke seems to permeate one’s cells with longing. I want to have wings that I have to keep hidden, tucked up under my coat, sprouting out of my off-kilter shoulder blades. I already walk hunched over. I want to have a reason for this pain that is my captain. I want a gentle guide to steer me to softer shores where I can sleep unencumbered, comforted by the warmth which pours from the bittersweet lighthouse of the soul. 53
Fogo Island, Newfoundland Claire Farley
Spatter of gulls, sieve through which the gray light reaches the taiga desertâ€” shore of Solomonâ€™s Shoal. I am the ghost in that light, someone to stand at the edge of the horizon line, prove the clouds are not unmapped islands on a setting sea.
County Road 1181 should have been bloody. It should have been a field of blood purchased, not with silver, but with the horsehead earrings and denim backpack stolen from a ten-year-old girl. No shoes, just small feet frozen in February cold, her riding boots gone. She wore no coat, nothing to separate a hyacinth girl from Ohio snow. When some rude hand has bruis’d its tender stalk— He covered the abandoned house with her blood. Men who found her plucked seedlings from what was left of her white tee and French-cuffed jeans. A fading lily droops its languid head— Anathema, an uncharted zephyr, stole her away from fifth grade. And bends to earth, its life, and beauty fled— Now, farmers plow the field’s dirt clods, stirring up frozen rubies to plant their winter wheat. So Hyacinth, with head reclin’d, decays. Apollo’s fingers plant hyacinth bulbs. Ai, Ai— poisonous to human hands. for Amy Mihaljevic 55
A Growing, A Longing, A Passing Spencer Sapienza
Shridhar Chillal knew he was dying. And like everything else he knew that was worth talking about, he told anyone who would listen. The papers- the kind that would still carry stories about Lefty- were puzzled as to why he had come back to India to die after his self fashioned exile. It made sense to me, but I am not one to talk on behalf of the deceased. He insisted on the white motif. The bed sheets were already white, as was his shock of hair. White painted walls were not a guarantee, even in a hospital, but insisting on it narrowed down his options. When Lefty settled on the hospital, it was just a matter of finding the room with cleanest white tiling. He had his choice of room and doctor. His brother was a benefactor, but he was positive doctors would fight to care for him. When I went on a tour with a representative of the hospital’s board he referred to the tile’s color as ‘ivory. ’ I thought this was a very peculiar choice of words for hospital decor. He sat with his good ear facing the door. From the hall he looked like any other patient- idle and frustrated. “Has Guinness called you back?” “Not yet, Mr. Chillal. They said it could be a while before they made any kind of decision.” I am sure you have heard of Lefty, if not you have at least seen pictures. He is known around the world for his work in television, film and philanthropy. Also for having the world’s longest fingernails from the years 1980-2000. “Well, Raj, you must alert me as soon as they do. I do not have much time!” “As you say, Mr. Chillal.” I walked into the hallway with my eyes to the ivory tile. I had never dealt with someone’s estate before, as both my parents are still alive and quite healthy. Lefty had expressed great concern for months about the whole process. ‘I must get my affairs straight, as they say. Straight before they curl like
these!’ And he would always motion to his famous hand, now immobile. Truth be told, it was not as insurmountable a task as he would have liked to believe. I had tied up every loose end he managed to leave in his long, freewheeling life. Pardon, I exaggerate- all except one. Over six or seven years I had been able to piece numerous stories together. He was not very interested in reflection; he felt there was too little time for that against his work. Lefty was born in 1938, in a small village just outside of Pune, India. He and his brother, Paarth grew up in extreme poverty; their father had died when Lefty was just a boy. To earn a living, their mother became a maid to some of the most powerful men in Mumbai. The clients’ homes were so large she would often have to stay overnight to ensure she cleaned everything thoroughly. While they remained a poor family, their mother’s many employers contributed to university tuition for each of the boys, where they both studied business. Lefty did not excel as a student, though he was quite popular. Paarth found success almost immediately after graduating and sold his share of a luxury hotel company around 1999. He is now retired, though Lefty and he have not had much in the way of correspondence in many years. I was making my way to the hospital cafeteria- they were serving my favorite gelatin based desert (green!)- when my phone rang. I did not recognize the number, but it was a Mumbai area code. “Hello?” “Is this Raj Paul?” His English was as broken as a fast after Navratri. “Yes, speaking.” “You are assistant to Shridhar Chillal?” “Yes, who am I speaking with?” “I was informed that Mr. Chillal is dying.” “He is not in the best of health... I will hang up if you do not identify yourself.” There was a moment of tense breathing on the other line. “I am a rich collector. If we move forward with my proposed transaction we can talk more...” After dropping out of school, Lefty was a self fashioned entrepreneur, working freelance in a variety of positions
throughout India. He told me that he met so many interesting characters across his three burgeoning careers (taxi driver, taxidermist, and CPA [filing taxes]) that he knew he would find success with alternative promotion. ‘But I could stuff the heck out of a tiger, and it made for interesting taxi decoration.’ After a year or two of working on his hygienic distinctiveness he found himself being recognized by strangers in his neighborhood. At first, he capitalized on his assets by becoming something of a socialite, spending nearly all of his time at parties and pubs- where he never had to pay for food or drinks. Eventually he was able to become a full time performer, first traveling around western India and eventually throughout the country. He was known for keeping his nails in a long black velvet bag he had custom made by a tailor in Mumbai and for his fondness for nightlife he had picked up before his career gained traction. He was a favorite subject of the youth culture, which had a very fascinating rise in India in the 1960s. Around this time he was first contacted by several large American circuses, which had something of a bidding war over Lefty. He moved to Los Angeles and fit right in with the glitz of Hollywood. He could be seen sitting in seats on the court of the professional basketball team the Lakers, his nails scratching the hardwood. You may remember the iconic advertisement for his nail care line ‘Size Matters by Shridhar’ in which he describes the three-step process of soak, scour, and spruce. “What exactly do you collect?” I asked the mystery man. There was mumbling on the other end, I was evidently speaking with more than one gentleman. “Curios. I have a special interest in Mr. Chillal. He is selling his nails?” “Well, they are not for sale, but something could be negotiated.” “Mr. Chillal is in need of money, yes?” This piqued my interest. No one knew of this besides Lefty and me, but in order to pay for plane tickets and hospital bills, he had had to sell his home and some of his more valuable world record related possessions. He was barely covering it all. This information was not readily available; clearly it was a very interested party.
“…Would you like to make an offer on the nails, sir?” “I am prepared to wire $100,000 American.” “Well, since Mr. Chillal had not entertained the idea of a private transaction I will have to let him and his partners know.” “I see. I am in Mumbai now but I may leave soon. Please call this number as soon as a decision is made. Thank you.” There was a click and he was gone. I hurried back to Lefty’s room. On May 21st, 1980 Lefty officially broke the record for longest fingernails in the world- though his achievement was undercut by the release of the film The Empire Strikes Back. He traveled the world and received awards, getting a key to the city of Pune (which Paarth had received nearly a decade prior) and was nominated for an Emmy and a Gandhi (ed.: Indian television awards) for producing the televised movie based on his life, Tales of Nails: The Shridhar Chillal Story. As the nails grew and grew they twisted and turned, clearly with a mind of their own! Lefty spoke of them as if they were mischievous children, playful yet deceptive. They got dirty and he cleaned them with a smile; they got stuck around the house and he laughed as he pulled them from a door or the drains of the restroom. They were his tools, his instrument. With the discipline of an athlete he kept to his many prescribed medications to strengthen his nails and his mind. Things were finally going smoothly for him, until Lefty was tried and rightly found not guilty for breaking and entering into the home of a former doctor and dietician. A complete lack of evidence assured his freedom- anyone carrying three to five large kitchen knives could have been responsible for that damage! After that Lefty was sure people were after him, even trying to kill him. He was wary of any food or beverage he had not prepared; except alcohol, whose sterility he could always rely on. Then, tragically, nerve damage took the use of his hand. Like any businessman, sacrifices needed to be made. The growth of his nails also robbed him of the hearing in his left ear. I became his full time assistant in 2006. When I met the man, he was no longer a record holder and had not left his
new home of Cupertino, California in nearly half a decade. He had been trying to get a science fiction novel and a book of recipes published to no avail. I remember very well the first thing he said to me in my interview, after pleasantries, was: “You will never have to accompany me to the rest room. Even with my hygienic distinctiveness, I am perfectly capable of doing everything necessary on my own. Everyone asks about that.” Needless to say I was excited when I was offered the job. When I began working for Lefty I had just moved to the States from a more well to do life in India. He relished the difference in our backgrounds that led to me being his servant. With his estate settled, he could be at peace. But from his perspective there was something glaring. Lefty had never found the time for a family- he had been too career-oriented for that. But with ‘no future for his brand’ he had become obsessed with donating his famous fingernails (‘Enrich the lives of the people with my gift, even after I’m gone!’). The city of Pune did not want them; he had fallen out of favor with Indians after his long, increasingly westernized, time abroad. He insisted I make calls to the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ripley’s did not want them, nor did any of the travelling circuses he had been with. All that was left was Guinness, and Lefty was almost too proud to have me call them.
When his world record was surpassed, he fell into a depression, refusing to leave his estate for months at a time. On the odd occasion he was invited to an event he found himself isolated. Most undiscerning people found Lefty’s company less enjoyable at a cocktail party than, say, Wim Hof, the man who can control his body temperature completely submerged in ice (And what a show off ! Always with that giant bucket!). As is the nature of record breaking, he was forgotten and forsaken by Guinness. But I called them anyway. They had told me their decision would take some time- but the gentleman I spoke with was chuckling. I was not expecting a call any time soon. He was soundly asleep in his all white room. I wrote out a note detailing the mysterious call on his personal stationary and left it for him on a table by his bed. I went to the
cafeteria. I was disappointed to find the green jello had run out. After settling in with some nice red I heard my name announced over the PA system. I was needed immediately in Lefty’s room and I ran there. A nurse was there, looking extremely worried. My heart sank when I saw the bed was empty. “What happened?” I gasped. “We were hoping you could tell us,” said the nurse. I was confused. I saw there was a note on the desk and I approached it. The sheets were pulled tight over the bed, but something protruded from underneath. I picked up the paper and pulled the sheets away to see what was hidden. Folded neatly were Lefty’s hospital clothes- perfectly white scrubs. Just below them in the bed were the nails themselves. Starting with the nail bed they twisted and curled all the way to the foot of the mattress. There was no blood, a clean break. Nearing shock, I opened the note. It was a response to the mystery man’s offer. It read: ‘Don’t let them screw me. I want $150,000 at least. Give it to the kids of Pune. I don’t need it... Maintain my brand, Raj. I expect a Van Gogh-like resurgence.’ I began to cry. On my knees at the bed, I clutched the nails close, running my fingers over them. The nurse realized he had something pressing to do in another room. Lefty was right, we were able to negotiate $200,000 for the nails. Most of this has gone to the Shridhar Chillal Leadership Scholarship for Accountantship, as detailed in his Will. It is a funny thing that fingernails continue to grow after death. The body has not yet given up, I suppose. Biologists were puzzled to find Lefty’s nails reaching further and further every week, while kept in the possession of Paarth, the mysterious collector. In fact, the only reported case of severed fingernails growing post-mortem. They estimate that in a few years, Lefty could hold the world record once more.
In my dream, animals drove people around in buses made of mist. We drove them around in silken word taxis. Above the bed, several former selves met in secret, argued, made threats. After I woke, Tree said he saw me smiling: “Hills were building beneath your lids.” Hills? More like opinionated rivers. Night, my fourth grade teacher Miss Lana told me, is like the monkey bars. Climb as you will but you’ll never touch Andromeda. How wrong she was! Morning, an ant on the bread board, bumps against a crumb, a new day stuck on each of his thirteen antennae. Painting by Frida Kahlo
Nocturnal Garden with Buildings
A yellow hibiscus dumps blossoms. Nightfall, purple tempera paint, makes our neighborhood vanish. The moon hangs onto Earthâ€™s leg like a three-year-old. Buds strain to open, feel death seize roots. Lightning aches along roads that turn to steam. Morning shakes in leaves--almost imperceptibly, they begin to begin to unfold. Painting by Gabriele Munter
The Art of Deception Gabrielle Freeman
If I knew how you liked your eggs, scrambled, over-medium, poached, over-easy; Iâ€™ve since forgotten. That, and your coffee. Black? And whether you took sugar or honey in your tea, or whether you drank tea. Fragile, memory. I feel the smooth blue shell found when I was six, but not the warm shell left by your nightly body, scrambled into nylon PT shorts, sun fragile breaking into dawn. Funny how easy it is to forget the taste of your honeygold skin, but not the taste of cafe au lait in New Orleans, beignets browned, dusted. To forget the sound of your seashell voice, lips to my ear, whispering honey, but not the sound of crawfish scrambling in a plastic bucket. To forget the ease of your lies, the ease with which my fragile heart shattered, but not the fragility of a nest beneath my window, coffeecolored twigs cradling tiny eggs. I eased it into a box, hung it so its shells, baby blue, would not be threatened by scrambling snakes. You swallowed me whole. Words, honey 64
from your mouth. I should have known the honeymoon was over, but I hate feeling fragile, and so I believed you when you scrambled your stories. The kid at the coffee-shop knew, for Christ’s sake. You were just a shell, hollow, an aching need. I made it easy for you to seem whole. It isn’t easy to admit being fooled, duped by a phoney like you. Afterwards, I would shellac my confidence on when I was more fragile than glass. Every morning, I made coffee, sweet, just for me. Just for me, eggs, scrambled. I could lie and make it easy: scrambled. But I’ve forgotten, dissolved like honey in coffee. I make feathers of eggshells beneath my fragile feet.
float Stefanie Chan
untitled Stefanie Chan
35mm film photographs of Greece and Italy Patricia Sullivan
Just Kids Nikki Tabibian
Taylorâ€™s Constellation Jesse Wheaton
Invade Your Imagination Jesse Wheaton
Heavy Wishes Kia Delgado Echo Kia Delgado
One Thousand Suns Kia Delgado
London Bridge by Night Virginia Mastrostefano
Saint Pancras Piano Player Virginia Mastrostefano
Two Virginia Mastrostefano
Not the One Kati Blackshear
Waves Kati Blackshear
Huesca, 2013 Francesc M. Franch
There was an angry gloom, a stifling stillness That trembled every minute on the dot, And inside, a cold breeze that rocked the lamp And danced a slow dance with the old man’s Memories. Most evenings I sat at a café In a mist with faint traces of glitter That smelled of alcohol, Valencia oranges And disinfectant. There I drank beer, I read, I watched my breath Curl up to heaven and dissolve Into nothing. Those nights, I met a one-armed spinster with blue eyes Who moaned with pain at midnight And wished she’d gotten laid more. I met a gypsy donning a goatee, Who sipped coffee with milk by the stairway And walked hand-in-hand with an IV Brimming with silver smoke. I met a pretty nurse who winked at 4 a.m. And made me a cup of tea. I met an ancient clown, makeup all smeared, Swinging by the neck beneath the chandelier Of the waiting room, his final frozen stare Fixed on the windowpane.
And so I walked the halls in silence, I read my book, I fidgeted And fled to my reveries. I even thought of you now and again. But mainly, I wept and watched The old man and my youth limp up the street With my first love In tow, Holding a parasol, a walking cane, my shoes And a book by Gabriel García Márquez. When I walked back, My dread was tempered by the frost And the memory of the dimly lit room, Which was eternally cloudy, Forever hopeless, but sweet Like a lover’s farewell. But all was dark now, the sun would not rise Ever again. The silence that remained Smelled of wilted embraces And the oceans of my childhood at low tide, Translucent in the blackness, Because my father Had died quietly at six in the morning, And I still held his shadow in my arms.
If You Get Far Enough Away, You’ll be on Your Way Back Home Laura E. Britton
I gave a blow job to a priest once, and it only took the guys at the bar a day and a half to find out about it. It made me the lowest in the bar, lower than the guy from Ninth Street who always pisses his pants, but I had to do what I had to do. I had failed out of automotive school just in time to be broke and I couldn’t move back in with my old man; he still introduced me to his friends as “My son, the screw up,” even the ones I had met before. So I hung around the park during the day, picking up what I could here and there. It was mostly older guys, lonely guys who wanted to talk and stroke my hair. Sometimes it was young guys, businessmen in suits and cars with leather interior. They liked my dirty boots and old white shirts. They asked me if I was into drugs, and then looked upset when I said no because I was ruining their dark romantic dream. Once some old queen tried to get me to smoke something glassy with him. He put my seat belt on while I was in the passenger seat and did that thing where you pull hard and quick on the belt and it sticks in place no matter how hard you try to slack it out. I didn’t really think much of it. Some guys, especially the old ones, are into that kind of stuff. But then he put his hand over the release button on the seat belt and tried to jam the pipe into my mouth. I had to pinch his balls hard to get away. But most of the time I never really had much trouble. Most of the guys who picked me up were smaller than me. The bartender at the bar told me about this guy she was out with who tried to cut her with these Japanese knives. The guy said he wouldn’t pay her unless she bled a little. She told me she had to deal with the rough stuff all the time. 84
I hardly got to go out with women. Not even old ones. There were no old rich widows with fake lips and fur rugs, not around here anyway. There was one old lady with paintings of herself all over her house. It was warm like my dad’s house when I was a kid. Her place was small but everything inside of it was made of shiny wood and she had this tiny dog with a pink bow in its hair. It was the ugliest thing I ever saw. She wanted me to pretend I was her pool boy. She gave me a pool skimmer and made me go out in the back in just my boots. She didn’t even have a pool. I dragged that thing along the pavement in her backyard for an hour before she came out in a nightie and finally let me back in. The damn dog kept running in between my feet in the bedroom. It barked the whole time. When she was all done I left through the back door. As I walked out into the street I made eye contact with the dog as it took a shit on the welcome mat. I was at the bar trying to ignore the group of regulars by the window calling me dick-breath when Jerome wheeled in. Everyone stopped talking, even the regulars. The bartender pretended to clean a glass. Someone stood up from a bar stool and leaned down to shake Jerome’s hand. “Good to have you back,” and “God bless you,” and “Stop by the restaurant, it’s on me.” And then he rolled over to me, in his metallic wheelchair and his army fatigues. “I need some help with my car,” he said to me. I nodded and followed him out the door. When we got outside I asked him what was wrong. He said he just needed a favor. When I asked him where his car was, he rotated his upper body in my direction to look me in the eye. “Do I look like I drive a fucking car?” We made our way past the park to a block of row houses. Jerome wheeled around to the side of his house on the corner and he wheeled up a wooden ramp into his kitchen. A woman was sitting at a small table pushed up against the wall. Before I could nod hello, Jerome told her to give us a minute alone. I knew Jerome wasn’t into guys—I’d known him most of my life—so I started thinking of alternatives. Construction 85
help? Figure model? Did he need a liver? Did he need a hit man? I’d begun to tell him that I didn’t kill people. Things were bad, but not that bad. “Man, shut up.” Jerome handed me a beer from the fridge. “You don’t have to kill anyone. I need you to do something for me. For my girl, for Marie, I guess.” Jerome told me about his tour in Afghanistan, and this one guy in his troop. “Shot me right in the back. We got in a fight and I was walking away and he blew a hole right threw my spine. Can’t feel squat from my waist down.” And then I understood. “Jerome, listen, you’re a great guy. I’ve known you since we were kids, but I can’t do that. That’s asking for trouble.” He insisted. He offered me more money than I had ever made. I looked at his legs. I imagined smashing my beer over them and watching his face stay stiff, pleading with me to screw his wife. I agreed. Marie led me to the bedroom towards the back of the house. Jerome didn’t want to watch, he wasn’t that kind of guy. I tried to tell myself I had done this before. I had had sex with the married, with men of God, college graduates and people on welfare with missing teeth. Men who were women and men who were nothing. The rich and poor and fit and bald and dying. I closed my eyes under the human race and felt them above me and their empty figures and nothing else. But as Marie sat between my legs, facing me, I felt her needing me to feel her. “Can I call you Jerome?” I nodded. Marie was small and shining like a high school cheerleader. She had short dark hair like a boy, cut close to her head. She sweat from her upper lip, and her eye shadow gathered in the creases of her eyelids. She giggled a lot. She called me Jerome like she loved me, and I imagined I was Jerome, and I was shipping off to Afghanistan the next day. Marie and my father and the guys at the bar would stay up all night with me and pat me on the back and buy me rounds and cry in pride 86
and fright. “Come home safe,” and “Your room is here when you get back,” and “I love you.” When we were all done, she and I lay next to each other smoking Jerome’s Marlboros. “Thanks.” She smiled with her crooked teeth showing. I smiled back. “No really, thank you. This meant a lot to Jerome.” She turned away, leaving one ruddy pink cheek facing me. I heard the kitchen door slam and the fridge open. Jerome popped the tab on a can of beer as Marie and I left the bedroom, single file, and made our way to the kitchen. And then we were all standing together, congregating between the stove and the table. I said goodbye to Marie. Jerome shook my hand. His hand was large, and his handshake was engulfing. My hand withered in his like an old piece of fruit. “I’ll see you around,” he said as he passed me a wad of cash. “Yeah, welcome home.” I swung the door open and inched down the ramp in my untied boots. It had just started getting dark. I watched the junkies in the park nod off on the benches next to old Italian women in black. A young man at the lounge across the street unwound its awning and then adjusted his vest. I turned back around and saw through the screen of the kitchen door that Marie had kicked off her slippers and climbed into Jerome’s lap. She kissed his face all over, forehead, cheeks, chin, lips. She was smiling and—after hesitating—he was smiling too. I headed back to the bar, cutting through the park on the way. Familiar cars drove by, slowing to show familiar faces behind the wheel, grinning in my direction, motioning me towards them. “Not tonight,” I mouthed to them, and I waved them by, down the block, further away.
Saint Brendan and the Whale David-Glen Smith
Hunched over and divine, the humpback whale dives into immeasurable fathoms of text, into handwritten gospel, dispensing metric counts of syllables within clouds of plankton or microscopic manna, lingering fogs of marine krill and left over scum of wandering monkfish—all the while motioning beyond the Known, the Seen. White-haired, ruddy-cheeked— even in his dreams Brendan gains the burning sensation of salt on skin, salt as a deity’s essence rubbing up against his humanity. The sea transforming the saint to manuscript, to sacred writ, planing down all that is mortal, reducing his form into codex, to bound papyrus. Erasure of the mortal frame into an illuminated scroll—arabesque calligraphy converting the body to holy text. Call him Leviathan. Behemoth. Ishmael. But do not limit him to these syllables or to the formula of these letters. On his small drifting boat, as he sleeps, the saint builds bridges, creates hyperboles between calfskin and blubber. He sketches rough maps in charcoal on vellum scraps, narrow strips of leather— detailed records of steps across green-gray water. Resurfacing, the whale shifts form to a creature of pebble and barnacle, echo and canyon— The tongue burns the hand with scripture. The Atlantic Ocean is to a book of gospels as a male hump back whale is to a cathedral: hallowed and sacred. 88
On the edge of the horizon his boat leans—a filament of meat caught between the teeth, between silence and the opening chant of morning mass, between burning match and exposed thumb— For there are times when a whale is not a whale but an island. The boat leans as a suggestive call from a street corner, syllables vibrate slightly upon release, rhythms tremble in the night air. The entire being of a baleen whale becomes the essence of his song, the filtering of memory into a personal re- sponse, an echoing chant into the fathoms of water which call out for recognition, or prompt an obscene overture, graceless and churlish— Sometimes a saint does not define himself as a saint. The notion of the baroque tenses within the mating call of a male humpback whale; his open desires reverberate thousands of miles underwater, his declarations translate to ambient scriptures, the slow drift of continents, the drag of glaciers. He becomes as a Latin phrase scrawled in pencil along the margin of a used book, the script mirroring waves, the curve of a tail-fin in apogee, or a hand gesturing. In return, he dreams himself leaning within his scriptorium, face lost in the depths of holy seas. He hunches close to the ebb and flow of fresh-inked scriptures, blue waves lapping against his coarse clerical robes. The saint’s shadow unfolds against the stone library walls, a blue-finned rorqual, breaching forward, then submerges into the tidal night. 89
The Florida Visit Nancy Davidoff Kelton
The best part about being on a plane: you can’t do much about your problems. You can’t always do much about them on the ground either, but in the air there’s no point in trying so you might as well enjoy the ride. My seatbelt was fastened; the take-off smooth. The captain reported it was sunny and 81 degrees in Fort Lauderdale. The weather, anyway, would be great. I started to unfold my Times, but put it in the seat pocket and closed my eyes. As a new mother, I used to fall asleep on the sofa in my clothes after putting my baby to bed. In my 40s, I conked out when I got home from the gym. Neither exhausted me in the way grieving for Dad now did. I drifted off. In my dream, my mother sat in her wheelchair on a stage of an auditorium, saying whatever came to mind, cracking up the entire SRO audience. My father, in the front row center, laughed harder than anyone except for the man beside him: Bob Hope. How come everyone found Mom amusing? Why were two funny men in the palm of her hand when I did not have one? The plane ride became bumpy. I opened my eyes. My seatmate, a plump, strawberry blonde, late 50s judging from her lined, puffy face, pulled a red thermos from her tote bag and took a swig, then resumed reading her Good Housekeeping. The captain turned on the Fasten Your Seatbelt sign. “Folks, it might get very rocky.” Oh Captain, my captain! It’s been rocky for so long. A half a century of dodging bullets with an occasional time out. I put my seat in an upright position. Turbulence. The turbulence between New York and Florida was in my stomach now. I clutched it, then the armrest, mumbling, “It’s like a bus ride in the air.” 90
My seatmate chuckled. “That’s cute.” Opening her thermos again, she took another swig. “Bloody Mary. You want?” I shook my head. “I have to drive.” A pit formed in my stomach. My father would not be at the airport. The days of calling him with my flight information were history. I would never again hear him say, “We’ll be there.” My seatmate continued, “I have to drive, too. I still drink my medicine.” Smiling, she finished every last drop. “My husband’s probably loaded now too.” She shrugged. “At 42, I should do what I want, don’t ya think?” I nodded. 42? Only 42! Does every dog have its day? I used to think marriage was life’s great equalizer. The equalizers changed. Children. Divorce. Disappointments. Regrets. Old age if we get lucky. Then a quick or drawn-out end game. If not during childhood, than after the prom, life messed with us all. I glanced at my seatmate’s profile. She still had beautiful features, particularly her chiseled nose. Some girls in my high school had plastic surgeons give them noses like hers. Then they looked like girls with nose jobs. Or like Porky Pig. I ran my thumb and forefinger along my own, notso-short nose. It has been with me for over a half a century. Together we’ll continue to go. My mother was not in the wheelchair line-up of rehab patients parked in the nursing home hallway or in her room. On her unmade bed was a tray of dirty plates. On the smallest one were chocolate crumbs. The empty bed by the window was made with freshly ironed white sheets. No clothes or dishes were on that side. Mom’s roommate must have gone home, back to the hospital, or died. At the nurses’ station, an aide, who recognized me, said my mother was in the lounge. “Sorry about your father,” said the security guard, pointing me in the right direction. “He liked kidding around.” The guards used to get Dad a wheelchair. The walk to my mother’s room tired him out. When I pushed him through this long hallway, I’d stare down at his bald spot. Coupled with 91
the palpable silence that replaced a lifetime of banter choked me up more than seeing Mom. I found her sitting near two other residents--a male and female both in hospital gowns-- watching or looking in the direction of the television, mounted on the wall. “There you are.” She smiled. “Hi, Mom.” I gave her a kiss. She wiped it off. “It’s about time. Do you know how long I’ve been waiting for you?” I didn’t. Neither did she, but I’ve learned not to respond. “You look good.” She did. “Real good,” she said. She seemed more relaxed than she had been as a shutin at the condo. Her short white hair smelled freshly shampooed. She wore Dad’s navy cardigan over a yellow jersey and brown cotton slacks with an elastic waist band. Her blue and red flowered canvas pocketbook was on her lap, the handle on her wrist. She bought the same pocketbook for me. It was on the top shelf of my hall closet still in the Burdines bag. “You do, Mom.” I stroked her hair. Her cute choppy cut framed her face better than the longer, all-one-lengthdyed-red hairdo she had for a zillion years. “Your hair’s more stylish than when it was teased and colored and sprayed.” She laughed. “You’re the one who looks good.” She gave me the once-over, her eyes resting on my orange tee-shirt. “That’s not as dreary as your other tops.” “I try.” I changed out of my brown v-neck to avoid her remarks about my dreary clothes that turned me into an eleven-year-old. “Should we go to your room, Mom?” “I don’t have a room,” she shot back. “I’ve been waiting to go to your house. If you won’t take me, I’ll go with Ma to Jewett Parkway.” She grew up in a house on Jewett Parkway. Grandma Cohen lived in the Jewett house until she died. Did Mom want to go there? Return to the past? Was reuniting with one’s mother a universal longing at the end? I smiled, moving closer. She smiled back. Her teeth were yellowing. She had spaces on the top. I put my hand on her knee. “Mom, I know Susan told you about Daddy.” She did not move my hand. “What a shame!” Her 92
voice and face showed no affect. She opened her pocketbook and felt her lipstick, making sure it was there. She peered at me again. In a distant formal tone she said, “My condolences to you.” To me? Was that her dementia talking? The proper response she thought a well-bred lady should make? Didn’t she feel an attachment to her husband? In her eyes, was I his mate? I took a deep breath. “Condolences to you, Mom. Daddy adored you.” Her eyes lit up. “You think so?” She looked at me as if I were the grown-up and she the child begging for The Truth. “I know so. You two were lucky.” She nodded. “He was a natural, your dad. You take after him.” She turned to the television, then back to me. “He wasn’t happy. Not with me here. If I’d been home, he wouldn’t have caught a cold.” A pause. “Are you sure the poor guy didn’t run off to the woods with a young girl?” I burst out laughing. “He didn’t, Mom. We had a funeral.” “Oh!” She seemed surprised. “Sadie and Jack didn’t come, did they?” I shook my head. My great Aunt Sadie and Uncle Jack died decades ago. “Other relatives showed up.” She went on. “Sadie and Jack don’t visit me here either. They took a cruise. Not to the Caribbean.” She stopped, as if something dawned on her. “To the other place. You know where?” “I think so.” Dolores, her favorite aide, appeared, switched what was on television to Oprah and waved to us as she wheeled the man to the restroom. “She’s done well for a colored girl,” Mom said. I think she meant Oprah, not Dolores. “Do you watch her show?” “No. I liked that guy before her better.” She rolled her hand. “What’s his name?” “Phil. Phil Donahue.” “Yeah, Phil. I liked him. Didn’t you?” “You bet!” Until my early 30s, I made sure to let her know 93
my taste was different and hipper than hers. No need for that anymore. Dolores now headed over with outstretched arms. “Nice you girls are catchin’ up.” She hugged Mom, then me. “It sure is,” I said. “And nice to see my mother looking healthy.” Mom patted Dolores’s arm. “Marge takes good care of me.” “It’s easy. You’re fun,” Dolores sat beside her. “Esther, tell Nancy what you told me before.” She giggled. “You tell her, Marge.” At home and now here, my mother called her favorite aides Marge. The original Marge, a caring Florida neighbor, used to visit daily with baked goods. Dolores looked from Mom to me. “She says she wants a man to neck around with.” Didn’t we all! “Cool, Ma! Any prospects?” She flicked her wrist. “They’re too old here. And that guy in my room wasn’t my type.” Maybe because her roommate was a woman. An honest mistake. The curtain between their beds was rarely open. They didn’t converse. An occasional glimpse of the woman’s slicked-back ducktail hair style—what we called a D.A. or Duck’s Ass in the 1950s--might have made someone even without dementia think the room had gone co-ed. I rubbed my hand along my mother’s arm. “If you find someone, see if he has a brother.” “Don’t you have boyfriends?” “Not at the moment.” Not wanting pity, I added, “I’ve had a few.” “Daddy,” she said. Daddy again. Ouch! Hadn’t her indifference and illness driven me to him? Dolores glanced at the clock. “It’s Esther’s naptime.” To Mom, “How ‘bout we go to your room?” My mother shook her head. “Nancy’s taking me to her house.” To me, “Aren’t you?” “We’ll talk about it.” 94
She shook her head again. “Please. No talk. That guy
in my room left without any discussion. His son came, packed him up, and off they went.” I turned to Dolores. “Where to?” “Her son’s house. He and his family live in Lauderdale.” “Isn’t that a good son?” Mom said. Is there room for my mother at the good son’s? Dolores pointed to the woman watching Oprah. “I have to take her to physical therapy. I’ll see you two tomorrow.” “No, you won’t, Marge,” Mom said. “Call me at Nancy’s. That’s where I’ll be.” Is there room at the good son’s for me? The End
Book of Fire Kristin Distel
Bent in first-grade prayer, my knees poked through the polyester threads of my raggedy purple nightgown, itching, but not daring to move or scratch—a little girl’s hairshirt. Streetlamp light crept through my open window, crawling over the whisper-thin pages of commandments and angry love. They fluttered through my fingers, too quick to burn the tips. I was scared of the Old Testament, Molek and his burned babies, and the poured-out animal blood that pleased my God. Murmured promises and prayers— Jesus, please forgive my sins and come into my heart. I don’t know what a covenant is. Don’t let me break it. Not loud enough for God to hear, just audible to a mother’s ear already pressed against my bedroom door. I worried for her soul when she took away my Bible. She didn’t care that she bent the edge of God’s word under her long fingernail or that the pages crinkled when she tossed it onto my bed. We both needed forgiveness. So did the man who had visited my classroom— a magician whose finale was placing the Bible in his palm and setting it on fire without burning himself. I told my mother what Leviticus looked like when it’s nothing but ashes on an elementary school floor, what it sounded like when my classmates cheered as the magician told us to call it the Book of Fire— that there was no Bible. I didn’t sleep that night, even after my mother closed my bedroom door behind her. I heard her damning a small-town magician for uncovering the lake of fire, for daring to defy the Word that she was removing from under her nails.
The pages of my Bible wouldn’t smooth, even under my hot little hand that burned because his, because hers, did not.
July, and I trace the nape of your neck the way we mapped the Dipper when the parking lights went dark.
Up All Night Henry Hsiao
Empty chairs, a quiet church, a still sun, slow steps, priest bows, and real vows, a train in the distance runs over a penny you placed right on its tracks. We could hear the copper flatten and the conductor sigh cigarette smoke, unbeknownst to him he had driven over a total of four dollars and twenty seven-cents worth of presidents you found on streets over the years. Why you threw all of your bronze luck into Lake Harriet, you will never tellâ€Ś You sleep on your back now as if New Yorkâ€™s greedy touch turned you into a dead piece of gold I wake up to. It makes you mad when we sit on the fire escape and look over the cemetery squeezed in between the apartments of East eleventh and tenth street. You ask me why you should sink into the lake with me when the bends are too heavy on our minds and lungs; 98
It’s because I think luck is always dropped or tossed away and rarely used – How could you say such a thing? Let these ashes dance in your pupils so you can retreat from the cliff, and accept your high to survive this city. But you don’t. Instead you curl up under the covers and become a sad dark thing who holds onto the blanket when she dreams. You slide over to my side of the bed, and then, with urgent caprice, come close enough to place your mouth over the Xs of moonlight on my back and make me promise that if tomorrow I find you, heads up, on the floor, I’ll pick you up and finally believe at least in this superstition.
The Fall of a Hundred Things NĂŠha Hirve
When the fish died on a Sunday morning in May, Serafina quit her job at the philharmonic and took to drink. Sheâ€™d discovered the fish to the sound of a Dave Brubeck record, floating on the surface of the tank, his once-gleaming yellow belly now sickly and bloated, mouth gaping and bulbous eyes perfectly reflecting the gated community of spiders on the ceiling, where they often hung out to smoke cigarettes and spin cobwebs. He had been a regal-looking fish. It was around this time of year that Serafina began to wake up early. First it was just on Sundays, and only a few hours, but eventually she began to wake before sunrise, and then before midnight, and then before she had a chance to go to bed. She spent this extra time mainly talking to herself, making guppy faces at the children across the street from her window, listening to the Dave Brubeck record that played the morning the fish died, and developing a newly-discovered nesting instinct which caused her to carry home the various paraphernalia that had begun to fall past her tiny bedroom window. The paraphernalia in question had commenced to fall after a particularly nostalgia-wrought night in which Serafina had drunk herself to sleep, remembering the way the summer light had grazed his translucent fins, singing songs of faded glory and deep-sea divers, lamenting the fact of his namelessness. Then the aluminium toaster dropped like a rock outside her bedroom.
And so it was. Serafina did not bask in the regularity of the jettisoning, but could not deny its comfort. Always something fell when the sun was approximately seventeen degrees
to the earth, usually a piece of household machinery like a blender or an electric toothbrush, but sometimes it was sheet music or a rockstar singing the blues. You can save a lot of money when you find useful items for free, the man from floor five with a Belgian wife and a creaky floor said, you must be crafty like a fox and wily like a postal worker planning an anthrax attack on his enemies in the mail, but you can save a lot of money. Itâ€™s illegal to steal from the city, the old diabetic with a parrot in a cage said, youâ€™ll get in trouble for taking what others have thrown in the dumpsters. He was a regal-looking fish. What does that even mean? I wish I knew, Serafina said, woefully snuffing out her cigarette in the parrotâ€™s fluorescent green plumage. By July, the fish was still unmoving, but his eyes had crossed over to some otherworldly ecstasy, no longer reflective or shiny but dull and shriveled, as the spiders overhead smoked cigarettes and gazed hungrily for permission to break for lunch. The first few weeks it was mainly dead things, discarded for lack of space. There was a sofa infested with insects that flew past her curtains, which she immediately knew she must have, because all of the things she loved were dead, so she ran downstairs to the courtyard in anticipation, and when the sofa landed, it landed softly in her arms as her body buckled only slightly under the sigh of the rotting cushions. All the seven teenagers and four cats in the apartment building heard the sorrowful and eloquent creak of the stairs as she dragged her sofa to its new home, but they did not mention it to her in the hallways when they ran into her, because the teenagers were too busy playing guitar and taking psychedelic drugs to remember, and the cats understood neither sorrow nor eloquence. After that, the spiders moved to the sofa and the mix outside the window ventured into the realm of the living. On the fifteenth day it was a man with enormous wings and a pet dog, aqua-eyed and barking. Serafina waved to him hesitantly, but he averted his gaze and his dog glared at her audacity and growled.
On the sixteenth day it was the six-year old boy from next door that swum past the window, hanging by his shorts, shirt, and twenty-seven clothespins to a washing rope pulled taut between two telephone poles. Look at me, Serafina, look at how I can fly. On the seventeenth day, she fashioned a net out of dried kelp and nylon and hung it from the windowsill so she could catch the curious falling objects. Some were easier to catch than others - the saxophone was a particularly good find, reeds still new, thrown away by a frustrated child above her who couldn’t quite understand why he didn’t sound like Dave Brubeck. She knew that it took practice, she would practice until she was playing in all the jazz clubs in town and was so busy improvising melodies that she wouldn’t think about rough scales under her fingers, slithering en masse in waves of aluminium and cartilage. The grand piano, on a Monday morning, promptly broke her net as it came crashing, and upset her quite a bit, but the pain of that particular loss was alleviated by the fall of a hundred things at sunrise the next day, little fish scales drifting like snow. You should see someone, the neighbours said, someone that will help you get over the grief you feel for your loss. A psychiatrist, or a scientologist. Get over it, the woman on floor eighteen in the paisley jumpsuit said, sweat dripping off her face as she jogs in place with hot pink dumbbells, Life is full of hairpin bends, you need to breathe deeply and drive carefully to avoid falling off the cliff, crashing your car, and bleeding profusely as you wait, highly disfigured, for the highway patrol to close your glassy eyes. Chin up, the bisexual alcoholic musician from the basement said, when I am at rock bottom, catching flies with my drumsticks like chopsticks and sticking them up my nose, I try and remember how the bottle is only a vehicle for sorrow and that one day we will not need to drink to drive. Alright, alright, she said, just, no more metaphors, okay?
In August, Serafina was just about completing her new art project wherein forty vodka bottles hung from ropes of varying lengths from her ceiling, making for a ghastly and
cacophonous wind-chime. She considered throwing out Dave the goldfish (she had christened him, finally, after the record sputtered and died after playing for forty nights) along with the tank, but couldn’t bear the thought of the fish frying on the concrete in the heat, so she flushed Dave down the toilet, waving a tearful goodbye as she tilted the last drops of her vodka down her throat. At the same moment Serafina launched the glass container out the window, slightly cutting her arms in the process, the girl on floor ten also launched her pet turtle out her own window, because it would not do the flipper dance for her, and she was used to getting her own way because her father was the head of the Amalgamated Aluminium Company of America and very rarely saw his daughter unless to give her curious but expensive metal knickknacks. The turtle hits the water with a splash and a thoroughly bewildered look on his face. Or perhaps the turtle never fell into the tank and Serafina, because she couldn’t quite fly, from where she stood, looked through the glass at the turtle behind it, creating a rather clever illusion of forced perspective, but either way, now, there is a falling fish tank with a turtle in it. It takes forever, maybe it never hits the ground, maybe it floats in limbo, or maybe it shatters on the pavement, as the frightened animal crawls hastily away from the scene of the crime, shards of fish-tankglass still clinging to his shell and the sunlight. Serafina thinks about all the people below her, wonders whether they will sit in their kitchens eating breakfast and will see the water arcing up. They might remember it forever, most especially a cat who is alone in the room at the time. His owner, a woman in a paisley jumpsuit, might say he is making it up, and she might not believe him for twenty years, not ’til he is old and cannot even walk to his litter box anymore, until he finally chokes on a hairball under the sofa. She might believe him then, because the way the sweat drips off her face reminds her of a rockstar singing the blues. Yes, Serafina thinks fondly as she licks the blood from her hands, he was a regal-looking fish.
All Mothers Leah Silverman
About the time they de-boned the train tracks I was going about smelling people’s sheets. I’d turn to oil and snake in through the cracks in their windows as they were dressing or undressing or shampooing or clipping I’d make like beetle-feet into their sheets. And Ms. Earth, feeling dew now where there once were train tracks, felt it as sweat, and sniffed herself un-armored not proud of her sulfur and salt scent but not quaking in her new bare and unbuttoned skin. As they unclamped the remaining scales teeth of a beast rusted all over, from what once were train tracks, I was going about my day collecting the skin of peoples’ night-selves, like God’s cupped hands were under my nose. The nostrils, divine plow, made a thesaurus of smells in me. And later, Good afternoon Mr. Cumin and Detergent! I know what’s in his skin, I know what he sweats what he leaves behind when he pulls out of his dream self. Ms. Earth’s green hair shook out of her heavy hair pins of what once were train tracks, and she smelled like Morning, Mrs. Moss and Milk! who slept in her blush and dinner-making skin, who wore her children’s piss and her husband’s spit to bed, who dissolved out of her skin so quick in sleep that she seemed to come and go as a sneeze. That is what Ms. Earth smelled like when they de-boned her. 104
The Silk Scarf Kim Farleigh
Andreas’s town’s surrounding mountain shoulders’ cloud epaulettes caressed serene longevity, opposites uniting. He was walking before that mist-decorated serenity when he saw a scarf fall off a woman’s bag, the oblivious scarf-owner marching ahead. A middle-aged woman, picking up the scarf that others had stepped over, saw the scarf owner disappearing around a corner. Should she run after her? What should she do? Possible accusations of robbery threw her into crisis. Her eyes throbbed with indecision. Unwanted social responsibility gave that scarf noose implications. Imagine if someone from her church was watching! And she had ignored that scarf! Imagine her reputation’s mauling! Her indecisiveness caused a watching woman to think: Silly bag. Andreas’s snake-tongue hand whipped the scarf from the middle-aged woman’s hands. Charging ahead, he put it on, thinking: Silk; exquisite. Admiration fizzed in the watching woman’s mind; Andreas’s bold sincerity complemented her wishes’ sculpture. She followed him. Fast-moving Andreas had knotted the sky-androyal-blue-striped scarf with an elegant knot, tassels dancing like pianist metatarsals around his stomach, the skillful placement evoking, in the woman’s imagination, warmth, elegance, craftsmanship and originality. She followed him into a shop. Her hair had mist’s shades and hues, her blue, cathedral-glass eyes polished by curiosity. She approached Andreas and joked: “That’s my scarf.” He: square-chinned, savagely sensitive eyes. “You were watching,” he replied. “I notice beautiful things simultaneously.” Swirling amazement erupted in her head.
“Thank you,” she replied. “That was impressive with the scarf.” “It matches your wonderful eyes. It’s a sign.” “Of?” “Love.” “Between us?” “Absolutely.” He raised her right hand to his lips, kissing that delicate paw, before saying: “Andreas Burghermeister: single; requiring beauty, empathy and intelligence. And you?” “Likewise.” “You work in BMW. The red dress you were wearing the day I followed you was stunning, particularly with you in it. You should be working for Ferrari.” Her iris stupefaction beamed wonderment. “I had no problem,” Andreas continued, “relieving that woman of this scarf. There are too many time wasters. You give me the opposite impression.” “I detest time wasting,” she said. They were in bed an hour later. They left Andreas’s flat afterwards to have a drink; a passing woman said: “Excuse me. I’m sorry to bother you. About an hour ago I lost-----” “Say no more,” Andreas said, taking the scarf off and folding it up perfectly. He handed it over to the woman and said: “This is my card. If you need anything call me. Because of you I met this wonderful woman. Have dinner with us some time; on me, of course.”
Contributors’ Notes LUCY BENI is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a Photography and Imaging student in Tisch. The included pieces are from her Bathroom Documentary project. KATI BLACKSHEAR is based in Denton, Texas and currently studies Watercolor as well as Drawing and Painting at the University of North Texas. She aspires to submerge herself in the art world and soak up as much knowledge about fine art as possible. Her portfolio can be easily accessed through www.behance.net/kblackshear. SCOTT BRENNAN lives in Miami, Florida. His poems have recently appeared in Smithsonian, Harvard Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Literary Review, and The Carolina Quarterly. In 2013 he received the Scotti Merrill Award to attend the Key West Literary Seminar and Writers’ Workshop. LAURA E. BRITTON is a writer and an undergraduate student at New York University. You can read more of her writing at lauraebritton.wordpress.com JOAN L. CANNON is a Manhattan native, but spent most of her adult life in rural Connecticut. She has taught high school English, edited a museum newsletter, and managed their store. She has published two novels, a collection of short stories, and a volume of poetry (2013). MARTY CARLOCK now finds it refreshing to make up things after 20 years in journalism. A former stringer for The Boston Globe, she is a contributing editor of Sculpture magazine and also writes for Landscape Architecture Magazine and The Internet Review of Books. Her short fiction has been published in a handful of literary quarterlies. IVAN de MONBRISON is a French contemporary poet, writer and artist born in Paris in 1969. He currently lives in both Paris and Marseille. Five poetry booklets of his works have been published: L’ombre déchirée, Journal, La corde à nu, Ossuaire and Sur-Faces. His poems or short stories have also appeared in several literary magazines in France and in the US such as: Jointure, Arpa, Friches, Phréatiques, Les Hommes sans Epaules, Harfang, The Boston Poetry Magazine, Ante Penny Feud, The Coe Review, and The Germ. His visual works have been shown in a few galleries in both Europe and the US, and also printed in several art and literary magazines.
KIA DELGADO is a native New Yorker and current undergraduate in City College’s Macaulay Honors Program. Currently pursuing a BFA in Electronic Design and Multimedia, she aspires to be the creative director of a design firm and to get involved with projects that incorporate media and human rights advocacy. When not making art, Kia enjoys eating sushi, climbing things, and indulging in song covers and choreography videos on YouTube. KRISTIN DISTEL is completing her Master of Fine Arts degree at Ashland University, and she will begin doctoral studies at Ohio University in August 2014. Her poems have been published in DIN and Coldnoon, and she has published articles on Morrison, Shakespeare, and Poe; articles on Natasha Trethewey and Larry Levis, Phillis Wheatley and Mather Byles, and Theodore Roethke, respectively, are forthcoming. Kristin has presented papers at The University of Oxford, The Sorbonne/École des Mines—Paris, The University of Manchester, and many other conferences. KIM FARLEIGH has worked for aid agencies in three conflicts: Kosovo, Iraq and Palestine. He takes risks to get the experience required for writing. He likes art, cinema and bullfighting, which explains why this Australian lives in Madrid. 108 of his stories have been accepted by 72 different magazines. CLAIRE FARLEY is from Quebec’s maple-syrup-guzzling Outaouais region and is currently a graduate student in the Literatures of Modernity program at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario. She is also a contributing writer at The California Journal of Women Writers. JEFF FELKER was born in 1980 and raised in a world of latchkeys, comic books, and urban exploration. A Sacramento-based artist, he weaves those early inspirations into the visual narratives he creates today. Exploring themes reformulated from life and his formal background in literature, he creates narrative paintings that blend reality and dreamscape--the human figures within are located in conflicted worlds of emotional isolation. FRANCESC M. FRANCH is a native of Spain who came to the United States at the age of seventeen. He has authored three novels, Amelia Asleep in the Darkness (Pagès Editors, Spain, 2011), Gray City Under the Rain (Editorial Milenio, Spain, 2007), and A Hidden Portrait (Editorial Milenio, Spain, 2005). A political scientist by training, he is Vice President of Editorial Operations and Managing Editor at the Bulletin News Network in McLean, Virginia. He resides in suburban Maryland with his wife Rebecca and their three children. GABRIELLE FREEMAN’s poetry has been published in many journals including Chagrin River Review, The Emerson Review, Gabby, Red Rock Review, and Shenandoah. She earned her MFA in poetry through Converse College. Gabrielle lives with her family in North Carolina, and she
blogs about writing and all things random at www.ladyrandom.com. RAMON GUTIERREZ is New York City raised, born in Tehuitzingo, Mexico in 1985. His art is an attempt to give rise to that which is spiritual, socially relevant, and sympathetic to the world that surrounds us. As humans we are compelled to share our first person narratives that illustrate parallels; blending together subconscious archetypes and personal mythology. His art allows him to convey this type of narrative patchwork. With time and effort he hopes that the visual and spiritual resonance of his art expands beyond the canvas creating positive energy in the world. website: www.heartofcrow.com NÉHA HIRVE, a film student at Tisch, grew up photographing India, Switzerland, and America, and is currently photographing a number of short films. She also really likes phonology and stickynotes. HENRY HSIAO is a twenty-something who has been living in big, major cities his entire life. He hopes to live on a farm by the time his hair turns gray. Aside from getting published in the Minetta Review, his other literary achievement is receiving 11 likes for a comment on NYU Secrets. ROBERT KARASZI’s poetry has appeared in Conclave: A Journal Of Character, The Coe Review, and various other print and online publications. Most recently he was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize. Currently he resides in New Jersey. NANCY DAVIDOFF KELTON’s essays have appeared in several sections of The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Parents, and Redbook among numerous other publications. She is the author of 6 books including WRITING FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE. She teaches writing at the New School, Hunter College, and New York University. “The Florida Visit” is part of a book she is currently writing. KEVIN KIELY is a poet, literary critic, and arts controversialist: recent works include Breakfast with Sylvia, The Welkinn Complex and SOS Lusitania. Website: wwwkevinkiely.net; kevinkielypoet wiki LEANA KING hails from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and is currently approaching her second year at NYU. Even though she is double majoring in the sciences (neuroscience and psychology) she still finds a strong correlation between art and science in that she views them in the same manner. Because of this, the things that she studies are major forms of inspiration in her work. CARRIE L. KRUCINSKI lives in Elyria, Ohio with her husband, Steven, and bulldog, Watson. She is a recent graduate of the Ashland University MFA program and teaches English at Lorain County Community College. Her poems have appeared inProle, rkvry Quarterly, and Em:me. She has also had an essay in Poet’s Quarterly.
VIRGINIA MASTROSTEFANO is a 20-year-old Italian photographer from Rome, Italy. She is most passionate about nature, street and travel photography, and is always eager to tell stories and discover her subjects through her lens. IVY McCALL is senior studying Global Liberal Studies with a concentration in Histories, Philosophies, and Worldviews. She was born and raised in Virginia but likes to consider herself a citizen of the world due to the time she has spent in New York and Madrid. She draws her inspiration from important relationships in her life as well as the environment around her. JOSEPH MILLS is a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He has published four collections of poetry with Press 53: Sending Christmas Cards to Huck and Hamlet; Love and Other Collisions; Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers; and Somewhere During the Spin Cycle. His fifth collection, This Miraculous Turning, will be released in September 2014. More information about him is available at www.josephrobertmills.com and he blogs somewhat regularly at www.josephrobertmills.blogspot.com. SOPHIE MINDES is an English major at NYU, originally from the D.C. suburbs. She loves Zadie Smith, capybaras, and avoiding confrontation. Lacking talent in any and every sport, she learned early on to love to read, and then to write. MARIEL VICTORIA MOK was raised in Singapore and is now a photography and philosophy major at Tisch School of the Arts in New York. She needs a pretty substantial dose of magic and wants a different mystery. You can find more of her work at www.marielvmok.com. MATTHEW PAWLAK is an aspiring academic and sporadic poet with a BA in English/Religious Studies. He currently resides in Lethbridge Alberta with his excellent wife. MELISSA PHETERSON’s creative fiction and essays have appeared in Jelly Bucket, Bacopa, Talking River and The Healing Muse; and on Salon. com and deComp.com. Her short play “Bundle of Bytes” was selected by Rochester’s GEVA theatre and performed as a “2 Pages/2 Voices” winner. She lives with her family in Rochester, New York. KENNETH POBO had a new chapbook published in 2013 by Eastern Point Press called Placemats. His work has appeared in: Indiana Review, Mudfish, Hawaii Review, The Fiddlehead, Nimrod, and elsewhere. BARBARA RYDER-LEVINSON has been meeting with her Saturday writing girls and writing poetry for over 20 years. She is a world traveler
who has been to 53 countries and her poetry reflects her fascination with the cultures and landscapes of the world. Savuti is the result of one of three trips to Africa and a particular concern for elephants and other endangered animals. SPENCER SAPIENZA is a Film student from Ridgewood, NJ. He thinks of himself as a cool guy (but in so doing worries about negating any coolness). He hopes you enjoyed his story. LEAH SILVERMAN is going to be an environmental studies major and junior at New York University minoring in creative writing. She is from Philadelphia and currently living in New York. DAVID-GLEN SMITH, M.A., M.F.A., resides in Cypress, Texas with his partner of ten years teaching English Composition at both Wharton County Junior College and Lone Star College - CyFair. Currently, and most importantly, he and his partner have welcomed a baby boy into their lives. For more information visit: http://davidglensmith.blogspot.com/. PATRICIA SULLIVAN was born and raised on a small island in Florida. She later moved to California, and then Connecticut, where she currently resides. Following her graduation from Pepperdine University, where she studied Journalism and Multimedia Design, she began work on a video production project for Ascend, a career development and leadership organization on Wall Street. Influenced and inspired by her mother Jill, a craft artist, Patty is pursuing a career in fine arts. NIKKI TABIBIAN is a freshman at NYU Gallatin with a love for all things pink, French and vintage. Bouncing off direct flights between her hometown in Los Angeles and New York, Nikki draws inspiration from the calm and calamity of city beings. Her work can be seen on the SNS Vintage (Stars and Stripes Vintage) etsy page and on teenink magazines online forum. JAMES VALVIS is the author of HOW TO SAY GOODBYE (Aortic Books, 2011) and WHAT EXACTLY IS A VALVIS? (Night Ballet Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Louisville Review, River Styx, The Sun, Verse Daily, and many others, and his fiction was chosen for the 2013 Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle. JESSE WHEATON picked up film photography and graffiti during his childhood in Oakland, California. He founded the graphic design company Wheaton Design & Media in 2013, and he recently produced his first art book, Open Me, after backpacking alone across Asia. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working on a new series that focuses on the fundamentally raw and universal aspects of humanity, such as lust, depression, and imagination.
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The Minetta Review is funded by the All-Square Student Budget Allocation Committee at New York University. Book design, layout, and proofreading by Bridget Casey, Katherine Holotko, and Claudia Sbuttoni.
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The Organ Grinder Joan L. Cannon
His tinkling chords make me smileâ€Ś his tiny simian side-kick, their shoddy gilt and threadbare velvet, and on the organâ€™s side a bright blue view of Napoli... but all is changed from gay to grim, from festive revel to mirthless charity as I look into the playersâ€™ eyes.