MINETTA REVIEW SPRING 2015
Cover artwork by Mia Funk. Cover designed by Bridget Casey. Minetta Review logo created by Carol Ourivio.
Eshani Agrawal Claudia Sbuttoni
Sue Hyon Bae
THREE BLIND PIGS
IN THE ATTIC OF SMALL REMEMBRANCES
EXILED FROM TRUTH: NINE ALLEGORIES
SEEKING FOR LIMINAL SPACE
Editorial Board & Special Thanks
A NOTE FROM THE EDITORS
As we get ready to graduate from New York University, we take a step back and reflect on the values and skills we’ve gained through working on Minetta Review. The past two semesters have been an enriching academic and personal experience. We have strengthened our skills in leadership, decision-making, and task delegation (as we’re sure the rest of our staff will attest to!). Together, we have guided Minetta through a series of changes: a shift in the editorial board’s structure, a switch to Submittable which has increased our submissions, a sleeker layout for the magazine, and a stronger digital presence which we hope will only continue to grow in the future. We were also happy to invite more students to join our ranks as assistants this semester. The decisions we’ve made were carefully considered but the beauty of Minetta is that, like all literature and art, it is flexible and open to interpretation. We are eager to see how future editors will interpret these decisions, and excited to see them apply their unique vision to both the magazine and the club. We want to recognize some other graduating seniors who have done so much to make Minetta a success: Bridget Casey (Art Editor), Sara Heegaard (Prose Editor), and John Maher (Poetry Editor). As always, we thank our amazing club advisor, Nanci Healy, and the rest of the NYU team, including CSALS and ASSBAC. Our beautiful issue is once again printed by Offset Impressions in the aptly-named Reading, Pennsylvania.
But moving on from good-byes and thank-yous, we look to the future. As the entirety of Minetta’s senior staff graduates in a few weeks, we are both excited for what lies ahead for ourselves and scared that we haven’t prepared our Minion Babies enough. On that note, here’s some advice for the future leaders of Minetta: 1. Share the burden — Minetta is all the better when the staff considers all perspectives and then jointly creates a vision. 2. Be honest with your opinion — speak up if you don’t agree with the reception of a piece and fight for the pieces you believe in. 3. Make each issue your own. 4. Love our traditions, but never be afraid to make new ones. 5. Take advantage of the New York City community and vibrant literary scene. We’re so proud of this issue, and though we’re going to miss Minetta, we know great things are in its future. It’s been an honor.
Eshani Agrawal Claudia Sbuttoni Co-Editors-in-Chief Minetta Review Spring 2015
A guy at a party said that last year in Boulder, a hamster he knew devoured its next of kin. There remained no fur, blood, eyes, or brain, just a rack of bones picked clean, and a fat little fluff slumped huffing and stretching towards its water. I laughed when I told you this, a dumb move given the way weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d been trending. In myths, the death of a small animal is a sign of guilt, but whose is unclear. Listeners and tellers are both implicated in meaning making, so we pass outraged
bucks back and forth to absolve ourselves of the sins we know we wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t outgrow. Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re better off without maps to retribution. The bruised bits are too pretty not to touch.
When Ernest Stevens calls me a lazy negro, I stab his hand with my pencil and tell him the next time he says it, I’ll put two in his eyes. And Ernest starts to howl, the noise getting the attention of Miss Thompson, our sixth grade teacher, and she drags me to the office so she can call the house. But I know Mama isn’t at home. It’s Wednesday and Mama is working at her second job cleaning rich folks’ houses in Hephzibah. I manage to convince myself that I might escape a beating, until Uncle Jesse, who isn’t really my uncle, but Mama’s male friend, answers the phone. Uncle Jesse’s tan Buick sputters and smokes as he pulls into the school lot, the car’s back tires kicking up dust and gravel. He slides out of the car, his head barely clearing the top of the roof as he exits. Miss Thompson inhales sharply as she stands on the curb next to me, and her expression matches the one most women have whenever they come across Uncle Jesse. She begins straightening her blouse and smoothing her hair, the smile on her face bigger than the one she usually wears at the end of the school day. 17
“In the car, Sabine. And you best not give me no attitude. Was in the middle of a card game, too. Go on now. Get,” he says. I hurry to the vehicle before he can repeat himself. I watch through the dusty window as he shakes Miss Thompson’s hand, his fingers roaming around her dainty wrist, their hands connected for a second longer than necessary. But when he finally releases her and starts toward the car, I drop my head and pretend to read one of my school books — getting caught minding grown folks business has never done me any favors, and I am already in enough trouble. Halfway to the house, Uncle Jesse begins to chuckle. “A pencil? Who knew you had that in you.” He flicks his cigar out the window and places a calloused palm on my leg, his hand resting against the hem of my skirt. I press my thighs together to prevent Uncle Jesse’s hand from wandering too much, and hope the other men are still at the house when we arrive. They are still there; the house cloudy and stinking of cigar smoke, a bottle of whiskey half empty on the kitchen table. I ignore their greetings and disappear inside my bedroom. I sit on the edge of my naked mattress, my bedsheets still drying on the clothes line in the backyard, and I don’t move until I hear the voices of my schoolmates echoing down the street. My best friend, Patrice, taps her fingers against my window and points in the direction of the front porch. I’m out of my room and halfway to the door before Uncle Jesse notices. “Where you think you going?” he asks. “To see Patrice. She’s outside.” “I say you could go outside?” “No, sir.” Mr. Moe, one of the men from down the street, nudges Uncle Jesse with his elbow. “Man, leave her be.” He waves me over and reaches in his pocket, pulling out two pieces of penny candy from the general store. He shoves both pieces into my sweaty hand and smiles. “Look at you, so tall and pretty. Prettier than your 18
mama.” Next to him, Uncle Jesse shifts, his face twisted in such a way it looks just like Mama’s whenever she notices him speaking to another woman. “Moe, play your cards. Less talking.” Uncle Jesse grabs my arm and pulls me away from the table. “Go on outside ’for I change my mind.” Outside, Patrice is sitting on the bottom porch step. She drags her saddle shoes across the burnt, brown grass. “You okay? What he doing home?” she asks. “Don’t know. He supposed to be at work,” I say plopping down next to her. I hand her a piece of candy, unwrap the other and place it inside my mouth. “He gonna tell your mama? About Ernest?” “Probably.” She tugs at one of the braids hanging over her shoulder. “You wanna come over?” “No. Better stay here. She’ll be home soon.” “I’ll stay with you. We can talk about Ernest. You know that crybaby was still moaning even after you left.” She laughs, but I remain silent. “Maybe you should tell her,” she begins, “about what he does.” I shrug my shoulders. “Maybe.” And with that, our conversation ends and we are both quiet until it’s time for Patrice to head home. I’m still sitting on the porch when Mama arrives. Behind her, the sun is nothing more than a reddish-orange streak in the sky. Mama marches past the row of wooden houses lining our street, her thick, boxy shape slightly hunched as if she has spent too many years on her hands and knees. Her shoes are heavily soiled by the clay and, from a distance, it looks as if she’s walking barefoot. As she nears the house, she frowns when she hears the cackling and shouting coming from inside. She glances in my direction, my presence not improving her foul mood. “Why you out here?” she asks. 19
“Didn’t want to bother them,” I say. “You start supper?” “No, ma’am.” “Then you best get inside.”
By the time we’re almost finished cooking, Mama has managed to convince Uncle Jesse and his friends to take their noise, liquor and smoking outside to the porch. But their drunken conversation seeps into the house and Mama tenses when she overhears Uncle Jesse talking about the pretty teacher at my school. “Why was Jesse at your school, Sabine?” I stare at her, the sound of my fear pounding in my ears. “You best answer, or go outside and get a switch.” “Ernest Stevens called me a name, so I poked him with my pencil.” Mama’s hooded eyes darken and she steps in my direction, a dish towel clutched tightly in her damp hands. “So you think it’s alright for you to act up in school, huh?” I take a step back. “Mama, I was defending myself.” She snaps the dish towel in the air. “You be quiet. You don’t defend yourself from some silly boy. Boys act up, that’s what they do. You ignore them,” she pauses and places her hands on her hips. “If Jesse wasn’t hungry, I’d whup you now. Go and pull your sheets from the yard and go to bed. No supper. And I swear, if you wet that bed again there will be two switches waiting for you in the morning.” Laughter echoes from the porch as I unclasp my bedding from the clothes line. From down the street, light shines from Patrice’s house. Part of me wants to run to her, to escape, and part of me wants to keep running past all of the houses, until my legs are too tired to carry my weight and my chest is too tight to breathe. 20
Inside the house, the sound of slamming pots and pans enters my bedroom as I pull the sheets over my bed. When Uncle Jesse comes into the house, I hear Mama ask him about Miss Thompson, but he dismisses her question. “Dance with me, Lettie,” he says. But she refuses. I crack open my bedroom door and peek into the kitchen. Mama continues to slam the dishes, moving empty ones out of the sink to add to the racket. Uncle Jesse stands behind her and presses his mouth against her ear. He starts to sing and Mama’s body shakes as she fights the urge to giggle. He turns her body until she’s facing him and wraps his arms around her full waist, the palms of his hands claiming her backside. I close the door as they begin to sway their bodies around the kitchen. In bed, I listen to the singing and the sound of Mama’s happiness until I fall asleep. I wake to Sam Cooke’s voice echoing from the record player in Mama’s bedroom. The music’s rising volume drowns out the sound of Uncle Jesse’s footsteps as he enters my bedroom and closes the door. He climbs on top of the bed, the wood creaking under his weight. I lie still and remember the words he’d slurred into my ear during one of his visits to my room. “Come on, girl. Don’t just lay there. No man likes a lazy negro.” But tonight he is silent. As he tugs at my clothes, his breathing heavy and his body stinking of liquor, I empty my bladder, the warm urine pooling beneath my butt and dampening my legs. Uncle Jesse notices the moistness and scrambles off my body, a look of disgust on his face. He exits the room and, after a few seconds, Sam Cooke’s voice is replaced by silence.
GROWN UP Sue Hyon Bae
What are you doing? Taking apart this floss container for recycling. Not playing. I didn’t think you were playing. I would have been, twenty years ago. How? Like so. This metal bit the gate, the round part the dining table, the covered half, bedroom. A portable house for Polly Pocket, her face rubbed away but rich in real estate and tissue blankets. Why don’t you keep it then? Because I can’t even pretend to have fun pretending anymore. That part of me is cauterized. Like the part of my tongue that used to taste bitter in spinach. What else have you lost? Telling my age with my fingers. The trembling in my heart that kept me awake after tea. Being frightened by ghost stories. They fade so slowly I don’t notice for years. Blanks where I used to be. What will you lose next? I can’t imagine. 23
THREE BLIND PIGS Ina Grose
Pig was butcher and mouse was main course large, burly — picking on someone sixty-five times smaller in size — smaller brain too pity the miniscule mouse that eats purple slivers of cheese they know not that purple means asphyxiation and cheese is always too good to be true pity the small swine who must collect mouse it is not portly, and ridiculed — outweighed by potbellies, feasting on wheat grains and curds silly animal, curds and wheat are what mouse eat you are destined to devour mouse meat and in this hour if sharp is your mind and eyes are you blind — adventure begin three curled tails packed with a knapsack for their journey to the jerky cupboard while the glazed blind eyes rival the sight of an intoxicated toad — pigs in stature but hunting dogs in capability their snouts poised low see the wave and flick
tango of their nostrils as they rove the tiled floor how they are fearless against the unseen obstacles — the kitchen island, the house plant, the tennis ball they outstretch their forked ears at any sign of alarm whistle of the wolf vibrates against the wooden walls i’ll huff and puff and blow your house down pity the plump pigs for they fear for their life luscious slabs of meat glittering in wolf ’s pupils christmas ham, morning bacon, maple-glazed chops — dinner’s served — for it is good to feast on the feed of the mouse.
HEY, BROTHER Joey Bui
I’m sorry to interrupt, but it’s so hot, could you take the fire down a little? I would do it myself, but I see you were so good with the logs and the twigs before — thank you so much. I believe that a person’s soul is in the hands, do you agree? I think so when I see your hands touching the bark, rolling it so that the logs collapse just right, as though you know the grooves of each piece and remember the way that they lean and build up on each other. And in the way that you pull out this particular log now, spitting with red ashes, and flick it away like a fly onto the sand. What’s that? Thank you! I would never have noticed my phone dropping off the hammock. I must say that you are an honest man, for a wicked man would have said nothing at all, and stayed nodding and smiling until I left so that he could take the phone for himself. You have proven yourself an honest man and therefore a friend to me. Let us stay and enjoy ourselves a little longer. Why don’t you recline in this hammock opposite mine, and I shall bring us some wine and squid to roast over the fire? Her 27
husband, your boss, was sitting with me but he is inexperienced and wanted bed after two cups of wine. But you look like a sturdier man to me, with an excellent round stomach, why don’t you sit down and I will be right back with our food and drink. Let us toast — what shall we toast to? Let us toast to the beautiful country! You must drink it all, look, it is not so hard. This is top quality squid from Đà Năng. Go ahead, shall we stick it onto some skewers? Yes, I suppose we can just leave them lying on this jutting log here to get hot, I suppose you are the expert. Although, will it not become dirty? Never mind, do not worry yourself, my friend. I will eat anything, I have a strong stomach. I do not hesitate in eating the street food here at all — though many of my ngoai quÔc, ‘returning Vietnamese,’ friends would go queasy at the thought of those fantastic street dishes. Not me — I happily await the plates of fried flour cakes and of course I must add the minced pork, squid sauce, carrots and fried onion on top. Now that we are comfortable and the squid is nicely smoking, what questions do you have for me? I know you must have questions, because you do not very often meet a man like me in a small rural town town like this, do you? I am only here to pay respects to my old aunt and uncle, which I am happy to do, of course, I have a very high regard for family. And I enjoy helping how I can. For example, yesterday I bought thirty sacks of rice to give to families in the village — oh, of course, you were there. I forget. You were unloading the rice for us, certainly. So what questions do you have for me? Ah, let me take you to my town in Paris, in the 13th arrondissement. This blue dot is where we are, but if I my pinch my fingers like so, we can see deep into Paris, to the very streets and small parks — those are the green spots. This is my apartment on Rue Demesme, right there. I suppose it is not very big, but that does not make it less valuable. Property in Paris is more about location than space, you see, and we are in a very good location. 28
We are right by the hospital and Parc de Choisy. You have to be smart. The immigrant must not be lazy, as I sometimes see the youths are here, always loitering and begging on the streets. It is no different with the rich youths, who will never do anything because of their corrupt fathers and grandfathers. I spit on the Communist dogs. What? Do you think the Viet Cong are hiding behind the banks of that irrigation stream, which is dry and full of dead fish? You should be so lucky. What? Is it the wine that is bitter in your mouth or is there something upsetting about your company? You think I do not know, but I know. I am just like you, my brother. We are bitter. I was living in a small, dirty village like this one not long ago, though my family as you know is better than yours. But in France I am no different. I come and they put me in the housing projects in Clichy-Sous-Bois. Tiny, cramped rooms and a communal bathroom that I shared with other men. I work in a meat smoking factory, on my feet and working the mixer with my hands. Some days all of my body is wet with sweat like I had been working under a shower. I come home on the first day of work and think about my own life. I look in the mirror and I see such an ugly face, my skin is yellow and dark in this way, I could not even recognize myself. I scratch my cheek and black stuff builds into my fingernails. I scratch everywhere and it is black, and my body is sweating black, like dirt. I think to myself, how can I touch a woman like this? I think about my loneliness and tears flow down my face. I have to lock myself into the toilet to hide from the other men. I promise to work and work. I save money to buy the crocodile logo shirts and a ticket to Vietnam and find a Vietnamese woman. I wish you could see my wife back then. S he was the youngest daughter of the family, so shy and small. She wore a white ao dai when I visited the house, like a school girl. She barely said a word the whole time. I asked for permission to take her to a cafe, so she sits in the back of my 29
scooter and at the turns I swerve and at the stops I stop abruptly so that she grabs onto my waist. She does a little chirp, like a bird, every time, it is so sweet. I think oh, now I have this a pretty winged thing on my back, and I should marry her. But my wife is so lazy, you know. She comes to live with me and complains about the size of the house, she complains that I am old, she complains about everything. She complains that she does not have her sisters around to talk with. She complains that she does not have new clothes and handbags. I tell her to go work for money if she wants new clothes. So she says to me, how can you bear to bring the woman you love away from her home and make her clean the feet of white people? A lazy thing like that. I confide in you, brother, that the thought of love had not crossed my mind. She is now staying in the Sofitel in Sài Gòn, that’s where she makes her sisters visit her. She buys them bottles of Chanel and crocodile shirts with my money, she buys as much as she can and if I try to stop her, she says, you stole my life! She says all the time, you stole my life! What a failure am I, to steal something of no value. What’s the matter? I am sure you aren’t happy with your life either. Look at this godforsaken land. I know you. Men like us, we are always dreaming, always dreaming. There is always someplace that we are getting to, isn’t there, or there would be no sense in suffering for it. At the end of the war, Vietnam was such a sad and abused little country, like somebody’s plaything. I think to myself, I will go somewhere rich and powerful and learn their ways. On the boat, I am lying beside a soldier whose leg is infected with gangrene, so I try not to breath and I promise myself, I will succeed, oh, I promise it, I promise I will. It is unbearable because his leg is rotting and the rot gets higher up his body everyday. Somebody tells him that it will soon reach his heart and kill him finally. We think about throwing him off the boat, and he is thinking about it sometimes because the pain is so 30
great, but of course it is hard to decide to die and it is hard to tell a man to die, so in the end we throw him off. Will you believe it, that I did not feel anything? I was not his friend. I did not know his name, there is no such thing on a boat like that. T here is a lot of death, and no time to mind it. On nights like this, I ask myself where I am in my journey. Am I in that place? Is it this yard in a stinking fishing village in the south, is it the apartment in Paris so small that I am hiding drunk in the toilet on weekends or is it in America with the slaughtered chickens? That is the fate of the immigrant, always the dumb hope that we are going somewhere. Somewhere, somewhere, what a curse the word is, and yet I have grown it into my flesh like rot. I had such an idea of coming home, of the beautiful country, the kind women and the good food. Where do you dream of, brother? Is it somewhere with beaches, a big new house, are there skyscrapers in the background and neon signs? How beautiful is the woman? Tell me, how soft is her hair and how does she hold you when you are worried? But you must be sick of me. I have been such a terrible host, speaking all this time of my tedious story. You must hate me, and how do I feel about you, I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know, brother, I still cannot tell if you will rob me or not, you have been so mysterious and quiet. And here I have talked myself into a drunken stupor. I am weak and you must do what you will, that is how it is. Perhaps it is not so bad, is it, perhaps it is great that you want something of mine and there will no difference afterward except that you will have the things instead of me. If I could just have one request, it is that if you rob me, if you take my shirt and my phone and my money, please take my wife too. Be thorough. Take my passport, the French will realise no difference and it will be easy for you to live my life because I have just told you how. Now my head is heavy and aches for the net of the hammock that will catch me, nothing will be better than to sink into it. I will wake up in the morning with no clothes on my body, my mouth 31
crusted with squid and saliva and my skin red from this fire, unless you burn me all up in it, and those sap trees nearby will melt down to rivers of glue and cover the whole town in black smoke. What a pair we make, you and me, brother, two robbers in the night.
he opens his mouth and offers it to you, but you say that salt isn’t good enough anymore, that you’re tired of the taste. he understands, says you too have been getting dull for awhile now. he gives you ‘goodbye’ wrapped in velvet: a parting gift for our parting skin. soon after you learn from new mouths how to eat with pepper instead of salt. you let them kiss you on the lips, hoping they’ll let you lick their teeth; a slippery habit too good not to relive in each of them. when they invite you in you look for a glare on their white wall, something to keep you entertained for long periods of time. sometimes, if you are feeling well enough, you reflect yourself. they’re entertained by this. they crawl to you on chapped knees and reddened palms, purring. get up or i’m leaving.
but they never find a way to grow from four pillars to two feet, and you cannot help them. you promised yourself something as you walked away from salt with youth: I will no longer carry weight other than my own. you return to your own four white walls, peel back black velvet and begin to chew. teeth crack on salt. no, not salt â&#x20AC;&#x201D; rock candy.
Exiled from Truth: Nine Allegories
Glitch Abstracts James Usill
Seeking for Liminal Space
APOLOGIA Rena Medow
The night all my dark clothes disappeared the old man downstairs finally died. I wore tulle to his wake. When my father told me I slept through his screaming, I poured two glasses of whiskey. Melted one in the bath washed my paintbrushes in the other. This snowstorm has left all the mirrors dusty. I am spinning lace into rope to bring the hydrangeas home. If I name my daughter after tragedy; let this be her birth certificate. Let this be my apologia.
GAME OVER Terry Sanville
Crawford McCullough parked his car and pushed through the door of Powell’s Mustang in downtown San Luis Obispo. With a couple hours left until closing on a rainy Thursday night, the bar stood empty and silent. A flickering TV showed Johnny Carson chatting up Phyllis Diller. Crawford moved to the jukebox, dropped quarters into the slot, and pressed B-2 and D-6. The sound of the Eagles’ “Hotel California” filled the tiny tavern. “How’s it going, Craw?” Tommy asked and set a beer on the counter in front of his only patron. “Same ole sixes and sevens.” “Did ya catch the Cal Poly game today? They played Fresno.” “No, but I heard we got killed 52 to 3.” “Our boys couldn’t run, and the damn quarterback couldn’t find a receiver. I took off work to watch the game but bailed in the third quarter. It was that ugly.” Craw smiled and stared into his beer. “They’re playing 69
some big teams and they’re too slow. They need to regroup, get their act together.” “Yeah, maybe next season.” Pieces of lyrics from Hotel California snagged Crawford’s attention — How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget. They were replaced by an easier-to-ignore Jimmy Buffett crooning Margaritaville. Over the music, a downpour attacked the bar’s flat roof, with the scuppers shooting geysers sideways into the parking lot, spraying his car. Craw wondered if he’d rolled up the Firebird’s windows. Tommy smiled. “Glad I had the roof tarred last summer.” Craw nodded and fixed his gaze on the TV, not inviting conversation. Tommy went back to reading his Hotrod magazine. The music quit and Craw strained to hear the low mutter of voices from the old Zenith, its blue light making everything look grayish-purple. A flash of headlights swept across the front door. A rustedout pickup pulled in close, its driver’s door creaked open, and a hulking figure stepped out. The blast of fresh air cleared the stuffy bar smell for just a moment. A kid with a beat-up face shouldered his way inside and shook himself like a dog, raindrops from his windbreaker flying everywhere. “Jesus, it’s fuckin’ pouring out there.” The boy strode to the bar and slid onto a stool. Craw gave him a sideways glance; he was good-sized, maybe six-two, 250 pounds, and solid like a bridge piling. “Can I get a boilermaker?” the kid asked. Tommy grinned. “I’m gonna need to see some ID, son.” “Sure, no problem.” He pulled out his wallet and handed over the driver’s license. Tommy squinted at the bug print then handed it back. “I turned twenty-one yesterday. I was gonna celebrate tonight. But after the game nobody felt like it, and this damn 70
rain...” Tommy filled a shot glass with whiskey, dropped it into a ¾-full mug of beer, and slid it across the counter. “You go to the game?” “Yeah, I was there.” The kid lowered his head. “I play fullback for the Mustangs.” Tommy frowned. “You boys got your asses handed to you. What the hell happened?” “Their defense was too quick. I think Tillman got sacked six times; I couldn’t protect him. And their offence just ran over us.” The fullback removed his jacket and laid it across the barstool next to him. He wore a football jersey with Byrne stenciled across his shoulders. He chugged the first boilermaker and ordered another. Tommy turned up the TV volume. Carson and Diller continued to go at it. Craw stared at the kid’s name. He was used to names, hundreds of them over the years, on enrollment sheets for his multivariate analysis class. At Cal Poly he taught science geeks with a few engineering students thrown in. But the name on the back of the jersey reminded him of somebody. He’d need a few more beers before he could remember. “What the fuck are you starin’ at.” The kid glared at Craw. “Nothing, Mr. Byrne, nothing.” “I suppose you’ve got an opinion on how we shoulda played. Everybody else in this town has one.” “No, but you guys can still have a winning season.” “Yeah, winnin’. That’s what it’s all about, man.” Another boilermaker arrived and the kid laid into it. “My Pop was on a winning Poly team, and look where it got ’im, got me.” “What years did he play?” Craw asked. “1960.” Tommy lowered his magazine and stared at the kid before turning down the TV volume. Craw’s head throbbed, as if he’d been drinking whiskey. 71
“So… so he was on the team that—” “—was ridin’ that junker plane... crashed and burned in Toledo in thick fog.” The fullback took a deep breath and shuddered. “The thing stalled on takeoff and fell. Everybody forward of the wings got fried and the rest broken up bad.” “Was your father—” “Yeah… he didn’t make it.” “I’m sorry. It must have been hard. But that ’60 team was really good.” “Not good enough. They got clobbered by Bowling Green in the championship game.” The kid tapped the bar and Tommy made him another drink. “This one’s on the house. But take it slow.” “Sorry, man. Every time I talk about it, I wanna get wasted.” “That was a long time ago,” Craw said. “Do you remember a lot about your father?” Byrne shook his head. “I was only four. But my Mom told me plenty and knew I was missin’ out. She didn’t want me ta play ball. But I sorta had to… take his number, play his position.” “I’m sure he’s happy to know that.” “Yeah, if I believed in that afterlife bullshit. The thing is, Pop shouldn’t have been on that plane to begin with.” The back of Craw’s neck tingled and a hard shudder racked his body. “Wh-why’s that?” “He was a third-string walk on, an old guy with a family. But the first string fullback messed up his knee in practice and couldn’t go. So Pop went with the team.” “Huh, that’s just bad luck,” Craw muttered. “Yeah, maybe.” The kid glared at him and bowed his head. Tommy gave Craw the eye and crossed his arms. But the conversation died. He clicked through the TV channels, then turned it off and went back to reading about bracket racing, hemis, and nitro. Another downpour hammered them. Craw stared 72
through the door at the white curtain of rain caught in the parking lot lights. The runoff had topped the street curbs and edged toward them. The kid tapped the bar but Tommy shook his head. “I think you’ve had enough, son. You’ve been beaten up pretty bad. You need to go home and get some sleep.” Craw turned and stared at the fullback’s face: split lips, cheeks gouged, a black eye with a nasty gash across his forehead that had been stitched but left uncovered. He figured the poor bastard had lost his helmet in a pile-up and got kicked in the head a few times. The boy stared into the dregs of his drink, muttering, like drunks sometimes do before they start breaking things. “If that creep hadn’t been such a pussy, had sucked it up, had made the trip, I would’ve had a father.” “You mean the player with the bad knee?” Craw asked. “You think it’s his fault?” “Hey, somebody’s gotta take the blame. I just missed out on so much… and this guy’s probably teaching math to rich kids somewhere.” “What’s math gotta do with it?” Tommy turned away and began wiping down the counters. “My Mom told me the dude was a math major. Pretty strange for a jock, huh?” “Yes, that is strange.” “If I saw him, I’d like ta kick him a few times… in his bum leg. Somebody’s gotta pay for bad luck. Why’s it hafta be only Mom and me.” “Believe me, everyone paid after that crash.” “Yeah, I guess. Mom said it felt like the whole school forgot about us.” Crawford frowned. “Not really. But maybe some needed to forget — you know, like those dancers at the Hotel California.” The fullback looked at him cross-eyed. “What the fuck you talkin’ about?” 73
“I don’t know. Nothing. Hey look, the rain’s stopped. You better get going while you can.” “Yeah, I guess.” The kid turned to Tommy. “How much do I owe?” “Forget it. It’s your birthday — on the house.” “Thanks, man. Makes losin’ a little easier ta handle.” “That’s why we’re all here,” Craw said and stared at the dark TV, willing it to turn on. He felt the draft when the kid opened the door, heard the rattle of the old truck’s engine, a flash of headlights, then quiet. “That was weird,” Tommy said. “For a minute I thought it was gonna get ugly.” “Yes, me too.” Crawford reached for his wallet and laid a couple bills on the bar. He slid his soft body from the stool, turned, and hobbled toward the door. His knee hurt so bad that it brought tears to his eyes.
HAPPY-SCREAMING Gene Barry
Plumbing and midwifery I’m not good at. I stray from fluids, move upstream. I could mend a stroller, a garage door, plaster, pipe, block and brick, so I could most likely build a pool just five feet deep throughout where I would butterfly stroke, back stroke, snorkel. Over where I would have put the pool tables and chairs, drinkers under influence would be clad in waves they’d throw at me. Children would be happy-screaming. The big-breasted Pilates-driven topless, each staring in my direction would all be tall and blonde, personality driven and normal. While fully composed they would dream of fondling me, marrying me. I would of course eventually tell them about the midwifery. The background of potbellied men, each and every one a heavy smoker, would have faces held together with pimples and baldness would be everywhere. Now the sea, that’s a different story. Not having a purchase scares me.
I need ropes and cables within reach, toeholds, footholds, fingerholds, footings, support, security. Something to grasp. Just a small little place to nurse in a finger, a hand or a toe or foot. For combers they have curled out life, upturned the un-upturnable, spilling out potbellied men, the topless and so many fishermen and teenagers. At fifteen I started the nighttimeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s revisiting of when we pulled a boy the same age, a friend, out of the full moonlit calming water. Rowing in, I damned my eyes for a second time when I saw his father standing on the nearby grass, two big strong oarsmen with soft hearts at his elbows. We coffined him two days later. At sixteen I saw another sixteen year old slip under the belly of the cruellest wave, his much older non-swimming brother helplessly wailing top voice and calling to his already drowned father. He drowned a short while later. The sea took care of their funerals and I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t swim for a decade. Taught my kids to swim at infancy, win medals, save lives.
AUNT V Stacy Brewster
Never been to South Dakota. Kind of place I’m afraid of going. Don’t matter Daddy grew up there. He moved away and never been back, never took us kids there. So I have to imagine that part of the country for myself. A land of canyons and gorges, I guess. Hot springs and ponderosa pines. Painted hills like fossilized dunes on the Montana side, then grasslands as you move east, toward badlands, which I picture as a constellation of mud-holes so toxic nothing will bloom. Some of that country is flat, I suppose. But I know these gashes run along it, pits deep enough to swallow all God’s creatures and, sometimes, spit them up again. They called the house Thursday. A sheriff’s deputy in Apprentice got hold of Grandma Rose in Tucson. It was Rose that called Daddy, the conversation short and cordial. Three I love you Ma’s at the end, each one slower than the next. We’d known about the girls, of course. Aunt Valerie, who I’m named after, her best friend Patty. Just seventeen when they 79
went missing, never showing for their own graduation party. May 1971. There’s a clipping my sister and I found. Not sure where it is now. The story was below the fold. Their placid school portraits next to a photo of the 1960 Studebaker, Grandpa’s car which had disappeared with them. I was scared to look at that paper. There had been another story that day, too, above the fold. A commuter bus had plunged into the Panama Canal, killing 38 of 43 aboard. Was the whole world just brutal country, full of traps and holes that could snag you when you weren’t looking? “How they know it was them?” I wanted to know. “ The Studebaker?” But Daddy couldn’t speak. He walked slowly to the landing, pulled down the attic chain until he could climb the steps to bring down one of the small suitcases, blue and worn and empty. At that moment, a cloud drew over the sun and the whole hallway, along with Daddy’s face, grew pale and grey. He looked lonely, discouraged, shoulders hunched forward and down, his teeth biting his lower lip. “I’m sorry Daddy,” I said, which seemed to snap him awake again. He looked at his watch, a digital thing that told him the time as well as the date. It was May of course. Prom had been the week before and my own graduation party was coming up that weekend. This coincidence was suddenly alive, boiling inside us both and I could see Daddy’s left hand tightening around whatever keys or change were in his pocket. My name and her name. The Valerie that is me and the Valerie that was her. Thirty-year old knots pulled themselves apart and open again. I see the boy inside Daddy, the boy in overalls, his arms tan and his ears tan and his nose reddish brown, peeling to reveal the fresh pink underneath. He is a country boy, barefoot, the whites of his eyes poking out of his dirty face, watching from the first line of crops, near the hole where he’s buried the things he’s stolen from town. Those bright green eyes watch as the lights from the parked patrol car wash silently over the house. Red and white 80
and blue, but not for him. Daddy patted my shoulder, squeezed it, then took a deep inhale that straightened his whole body. He was always so much taller than I and he bade me to walk ahead of him, back down the stairs the way we came, to the living room. We would wait there for Ma to get home. I would help him figure out what to do. My hand on the railing felt heavy. Was he watching my arm and seeing hers, the way the wrist corsage reflected the light streaming in the front windows? Had he been a prankster, popping out and scaring her and her friend when they reached the bottom, screaming as they chased him through the house? Before Ma got back, Daddy had enough time to get a little of it out. A long drought had dried up the creek. That was what it had taken after all this time, to see clearly the stretch of gravel road where they must have skidded off. The spot where they’d plunged below the line of squat cliffs into a once lush and flooded valley. Aunt Valerie was identified from the name on her driver’s license, her face still smiling on that crisp bit of paper. It was still in her wallet, her wallet still zipped in her purse, her purse still with her and her best friend in the metal tomb of the old Studebaker, alone on a stretch of unincorporated County land. That night, with Daddy sitting quietly on the leather sofa in his office, someone in that far-away Sheriff’s department faxed over a copy of their evening paper. I stood guard at the machine, grabbing each page as it came off the line. Ma had already come home and I could hear her putting the glasses and plates away downstairs. The pages came slowly, achingly slow, and in reverse order so that the back of the paper, with the weather and crop reports, came first. Dr. Carver, an entomology professor from Wyoming, was going on about drought conditions, how they were ideal for an eruption of grasshoppers given their egg pods are only vulnerable to the fungus in wet soil.
The year was ideal for swarms, he went on, swarms big enough to block out the sun. But I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to read any further. I could see the little creatures exploding from the ground beneath my feet, a rolling wave surrounding me, snapping against my hair and clinging to my clothes. Like being immersed inside a gigantic living being and helpless to stop it.
VENETIAN BLINDS Meri Culp
Each slat, a metal horizon, made to measure or cut-down to fit, either way, an opening or closing, a corded ladder system of finger run freedom to slip through a window, yet stay inside, to lift and snoop on a slat-cut rose, the squint-eyed shadow of unwelcome visitors, a white shirt Mormon boy, his cousin selling magazines; soon, a one-wing butterfly summer-slashed, directionless, falters in flight, falling from view, outside, beyond the window frame, between the lines, the light.
IN THE ATTIC OF SMALL REMEMBRANCES Christopher Keaveney
She reimagined the city of her birth as a form of resignation, as a series of concentric circles widening in lazy arcs from an uncertain source, a plunk whose volume increased with each hearing. This made the brownstone stillness of her adopted home easier to bear, a calcification of refusals and slights that she rocked into submission each night like a colicky infant. Surface to air, the low-slung orbit of the nuthatch in the backyard of long gone neighbors proved both premonition and sustenance during her infrequent visits home. The wheezing of the floorboards in the dusty bedroom she had shared with her younger sister riffed on an uncleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s accordion bluster that had been the sistersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; inside joke.
On the night her mother died she found herself feigning sleep in the room where the woman had sighed away forty years of solitude, an absent husband reduced to the slicing of moonlight through the blinds, to the scuttle of mice in walls that clung hard to nicotine and unfulfilled promises. Squatterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rights, the didgeridoo rattle of a smokerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hack in those final years, the way the creation myth her mother had shared with her as a child always started with a patient woman and ended with despair, a plea she had come to recognize as the trepanning of tedium, as the harried beating of wings that had come to mistrust gravity.
SUE HYON BAE is an MFA candidate at Arizona State University and international editor for Haydenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Ferry Review. Her poems have appeared in Four Chambers Press, Please Hold Magazine, and elsewhere. GENE BARRY is an Irish Poet, an Art Therapist, and a Psychotherapist. He has been published widely both at home and internationally, and his poems have been translated into Arabic, Irish, and Italian. Barry is the founder of the Blackwater Poetry Group, and he administers this well-known group on Facebook. He is also a publisher and runs the publishing house Rebel Poetry. DMITRY BORSHCH was born in Dnepropetrovsk, studied in Moscow, and today lives in New York. His drawings and sculptures have been exhibited at the National Arts Club (New York), Brecht Forum (New York), ISE Cultural Foundation (New York), and the State Russian Museum (Saint Petersburg). STACY BREWSTER has short stories and poetry published or forthcoming in The Madison Review, The Santa Fe Literary Review, qu.ee/r Magazine, and The Summerset Review, among others. He facilitates writing workshops for Write Around Portland, a nonprofit that provides free workshops for those without access to writing in community because of income, disability, or other barriers. A graduate of the film program at NYU, he now lives in Portland, Oregon and is the co-founder of the Full Frontal Writing Collective there. 91
JOEY BUI is a Vietnamese Australian writer. After some disillusionments with the rational actor model and pre-quantum theory, she turned to fiction because it makes much more sense. She is currently studying in Abu Dhabi. LUZ CARABANO is a Venezuelan, New York City based artist currently studying studio art at NYU Steinhardt. When she is not immersed in her art, she enjoys watching Gilmore Girls (or her latest obsession) on Netflix while drinking a bananalicious smoothie. Find more of her work at www.luzcarabano.com. YUJING CHEN is a second year film student at NYU Tisch. He is from Shenzhen, China. MERI CULP has been published in various journals, including Grist, Saw Palm, The Inquisitive Eater, Nashville Review, Espresso Ink, About Place, Cider Press Review, Off the Coast, Southeast Review, Apalachee Review, BOMB, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rose & Thorn, Nomads, Snug, and Sweet: A Literary Confection. Her poems have also appeared online in True/Slant, Poets for Living Waters, and USA Today and in the anthologies The Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast, North of Wakulla, Think: Poems for Aretha Franklinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Inauguration Day Hat, and All of Us: Poems from our First Five Years. She was also a finalist in the 2013 Peter Meinke Poetry Competition, the 2014 Crab Orchard Open Series in Poetry Competition, and the 2014 Crab Orchard First Book Award Competition for her collection Cayenne Warning. MIA FUNK is an artist and writer who teaches at the Ă&#x2030;cole de Dessin Technique et Artistique, Paris. Her work has received many awards and nominations, including a Prix de Peinture (Salon 92
d’Automne de Paris), Thames & Hudson Pictureworks Prize, Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year, KWS Hilary Mantel Short Story Prize, Doris Gooderson Prize, Aesthetica Magazine’s Creative Works, Momaya Prize, and Celeste Prize. Her paintings have been shown at the Grand Palais and are held in several public collections, including the Dublin Writers Museum. She is currently working on portraits for the American Writers Museum, completing a novel, and a collection of linked short stories. View more of her work at www.miafunk.com. INA GROSE is concurrently earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of Texas at Austin. Professionally, Ina seeks to complete her MPH in Epidemiology and go to medical school in the next two years. Her interest in poetry was sparked by a creative writing course she took in the first semester of her senior year, and she’s been writing poetry since! In her spare time, Ina enjoys running and binge-watching shows on Netflix. She wants to solve a Rubik’s cube and knit sweaters and baby booties in the near future. CHERITA HARRELL is an MFA student at Rutgers-Camden where she primarily writes fiction. She is a self-proclaimed foodie; although, her diet mostly consists of pizza and red wine. She has coached cheerleading, cared for children at a daycare center, and worked as a switchboard operator, but her favorite occupation was when she worked as a technician performing maintenance on gas masks. She lives in New Jersey with her two children and a goldfish named Rainbow. Her fiction has appeared in Decades Review. CHRISTOPHER KEAVENEY teaches Japanese language and East Asian culture at Linfield College and is the author of three books about Sino-Japanese cultural relations. His poetry has 93
appeared in the Straylight Literary Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, Syndic Literary Journal, Wilderness House Literary Review, and elsewhere. SHANTAL KIM is an artist who usually takes photography as her medium of work. Influenced by Buddhism and Taoism, she is interested in the relationship of time, space, and experiential world. Her work frequently includes layering, which reflects the depth of space and time. She seeks to convey the feeling of contemplation that sends people to a moment of liminality without forcing them to choose either side of any ideological dichotomy. See more of her work at http://shantaljeewon.wordpress.com. RENA MEDOW is a 17 year old poet, painter, playwright, and staff writer/curator of the Teen Column at LunaLunaMag. She resides in a small town in Wisconsin, where she facilitates a Poetry Class at her high school. DANIEL PECCHENINO lives in Hollywood and is on the Writing Program faculty at the University of Southern California. He is the Reviews Editor at Dialogist, and his poetry and criticism have appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Gravel, The Hawaiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;i Pacific Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and other publications. ALANA SAAB is currently a junior at NYU Gallatin where she studies The Phenomenology and Practice of Expressive Forms. Alana was born and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, and her love for poetry began while still in high school at Phillips Academy Andover. She identifies most readily as an artist but more specifically as a performance artist and a writer. She has a passion for all the arts and considers art to be a platform that can 94
promote personal and global change. Alana hopes to dedicate her life to creating all-encompassing art and social environments that bring diverse groups of people together in the hopes of creating a dialogue that inspires the artist and non-artist alike. TERRY SANVILLE lives in San Luis Obispo, California with his artist-poet wife (his in-house editor) and one skittery cat (his in-house critic). He writes full time, producing short stories, essays, poems, and novels. Since 2005, his short stories have been accepted by more than 200 literary and commercial journals, magazines, and anthologies including The Potomac Review, The Bitter Oleander, Shenandoah, and Conclave: A Journal of Character. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his story â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Sweeper.â&#x20AC;? Terry is a retired urban planner and an accomplished jazz and blues guitarist who once played with a symphony orchestra backing up jazz legend George Shearing. JAMES USILL is an artist whose work revolves around disruption and distortion in visual media. He often employs various processes and techniques, both physical and digital, to manipulate images and visual information. He intends to shift perceptions through disruption of expected and everyday systems. His work revolves more around texture and feeling than direct representation, often taking some base image, visual motif, or theme and disrupting, distorting, or otherwise abstracting it to develop a graphic style to take across different mediums and formats. Over the last year he has created a series of glitch abstracts which involve disrupting the code of images using multiple glitch processes. These entirely abstracted images are experimentations in colour, form and composition. His portfolio is available at https://www.behance. net/james_usill.
EDITORS-IN-CHIEF Eshani Agrawal Claudia Sbuttoni ART EDITOR Bridget Casey POETRY EDITOR John Maher PROSE EDITOR Sara Heegaard ART ASSISTANT Felix Chan POETRY ASSISTANTS Sarah Colvin Sophia Kyle Ahmed Sherif PROSE ASSISTANTS Vanessa Haughton Caroline Porter Annesha Sengupta TREASURER Jaclyn Shultz COMMUNICATIONS Catherine Thorbecke COORDINATOR EVENTS COORDINATOR Christine Wang PROGRAM ADVISOR Nanci Healy
Minetta Review, established in 1974, is a literary and arts publication managed by undergraduate students at New York University. Book design and layout by Bridget Casey. Copy edited by Sara Heegaard and John Maher. Minetta Review logo created by Carol Ourivio. All rights revert to the contributor, whose authorization is required for reprints. ISSN 1065-9196 A special thank you to Nanci Healy and the All-Square Student Budget Allocation Committee at New York University, for their continued support of Minetta and its dedicated editorial board. A very special thank you to Jim Federico and Abby Fick at Offset Impressions for guiding Minetta through the printing process and making possible yet another beautiful issue.
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