The Minetta Review Illuminated
The Minetta Review Illuminated Spring 2013
ÂŠ Cover Art by Phillip Schumacher Front Cover: teddymoon Back Cover: Build a Universe
v v v Table of Contents v v v Note from the Editors Excerpt from Pascal’s Pensées Introduction to Pascal’s Pensées
Diana Bauza & Katherine Holotko 7 Blaise Pascal 9 T.S. Eliot 10
v v Poetry v v Walking to You With Beers Mid-Flight On Hands Arranged Marriage “Au Claire De La Lune” A Buffalo is Your Co-Pilot A Smoke Fairy Dust A Guayaba’s Heart On the Go (2) Cowtipping The Unreachable Stars Letter to an Absent Husband Dummy What Is It? a walking atlas London, A to Zed polka by a midnight sun Maria left a phone book You’ve Never Been Born V A New Job in a Small Office Planting in Rain Bel Canto
Greg Drozdek Cynthia Blank Melisa Garcia Eshani Medha Ann Hostetler J.E.A. Wallace Douglas Polk Joanne Lowery Melisa Garcia João Matos Amaro da Silveira Greg Drozdek Gregg Shapiro Ann Hostetler John Lambremont James G. Piatt Michael Passafiume David Scronce Joshua Dy Borja Stela Xhiku Gregory Crosby Milton P. Ehrlich Donal Mahoney Terry Persun David Scronce
11 12 19 22 31 32 33 49 50 52 53 59 60 62 67 68 70 72 74 75 81 96 97 101
v v Prose v v Dig Bad Night at Nina’s Building Bridges Fit for Feathers Landmark for Us Their Eyes Were Moons, Now Bruised Posture Water’s Edge
Olive Lykins Robert Walton Caroliena Cabada D.Z. Watt Jessie Nash Lucia Davis Jesse Minkert Marie Kolarik
14 16 23 26 28 54 56 61
Knowing Quenlow, or Not Stars in Cars Dream-Life My Father Grew Roses Where we are, how we did
Jon Steinhagen Samantha Memi George Morgan Scott Holly St. Jean Devika Balaram
64 78 98 103 106
v v Artwork v v Ansel Oommen Eleanor Bennett Kieran Murray Con Ryan Con Ryan Con Ryan Phil Jung Tina Yu Tina Yu Tina Yu Tracy A. Marciano Elena Linares-Low Christopher Woods Heather Larocchia Kieran Murray Alexander Harding Kieran Murray Kieran Murray Phil Jung Phil Jung Alexander Harding Kieran Murray Tina Yu Joshua Dy Borja Joshua Dy Borja Joshua Dy Borja Avigail Soloveichik Alexander Harding Kieran Murray Robert Richburg Eleanor Bennett Angela Rizza Alexander Harding Christopher Woods
Tree of Life Breath Little Girl untitled Solas St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral London Mizen Head untitled City of Fire Animagi Sketch Jade Vine Alexandra Rooms Silhouettes untitled Water Glasses untitled untitled untitled untitled Two Mirrors untitled Butler Inn Hey this is my dad Lightstreaaaak This is a lightbulb, man City Sky Oil Spill untitled The Stars Look So Different Today untitled Raven The Sun Shining Through Trees The Moth That Spent the Night
20 30 33 34 35 36 37 37 38 38 39 39 40 40 40 41 41 42 42 43 44 44 45 46 46 47 48 48 48 58 81 82 83 83
Artistic Cyrcle Bike Chain Child of the Woods untitled untitled Linkâ€™s Revenge Georgian Loops Railroad (Colorado) Angel Statue of Liberty Night Train The Suitors Owl Princess Let Me In
Divya Adusumulli Nicole Bauza Angela Rizza Thom Barbour and Jeff Grader Phil Jung Angela Rizza Tracy A. Marciano
84 85 86 87
Heather Larocchia Heather Larocchia Phillip Schumacher Angela Rizza Angela Rizza Phillip Schumacher
90 91 92 93 94 95
87 88 89
120 126 127
Contributorâ€™s Notes Acknowledgements Masthead
il·lu·mi·nat·ed il·lu·mi·nat·ing Definition of ILLUMINATE 1 a : to enlighten spiritually or intellectually b (1) : to supply or brighten with light (2) : to make luminous or shining c archaic : to set alight d : to subject to radiation 2 a : to make clear : elucidate b : to bring to the fore : highlight 3 : to make illustrious or resplendent 4 : to decorate (as a manuscript) with gold or silver or brilliant colors or with often elaborate designs or miniature pictures
v A Note from the Editors v We millennials are products of this digital age whether by choice or out of necessity. It seems like all things, to our jittery eyes, do not exist unless they are online—if not, are they real? Or worthwhile? Books—all print works—have not escaped that fate. E-books and e-readers are gaining popularity even among those who swore they’d never betray their paper companions. Likewise, literary magazines are going online with their archives of past issues dating back to the years before social media, before the Kindle, before the average person would have conceived of reading their news updates on the Twitter app for iPhone and not at the kitchen table over a mug of coffee. The Minetta Review is no exception. It was only a year ago that our issues became available online, increasing the size and scope of our readership that now has contributors not only from the NYU community but also from fellow millennials (and non-millennials) from across the globe. This past fall marked the revival of our WordPress site, and this Spring we’ve launched the Minetta Review Twitter account. Thus, the theme of this issue, Minetta Illuminated, acknowledges the magazine’s quiet step into the digital age. But Minetta Illuminated is more than that. As we went through the submitted pieces, we stumbled upon illumination, the shedding of light, in lines and images from our contributors. Noting the pattern, we were able to see how illumination brought weight and importance to each work. In that sense, this issue is also a dedication to light as our neglected partner who has been ingrained in the process from start to finish. Our whimsical cover captures this reverence for light— these particles and waves are the reason we live. They shape our existence, what we know, who we know, everything we’ve ever done or will do. In this issue you will find other images that study light and employ it unconventional and stunning ways; you will find poems in which a partner glides their hands over a beloved’s derrière while in another a city slicker is charged by a cow in the night; you will find prose that poignantly reflects on the beauty of a father and a story
that describes a man who no one really seems to know. In some way each work we read for this issue, even those that do not appear, influenced its final form. You might read this from cover to cover, you might skim over the table of contents and read the titles that appeal to you, or you might read just the odd numbered pagesâ€”whatever your method, weâ€™re certain that there is something here for every type of reader. So whether you are reading this issue in the fluorescent glow of a subway car, by the orangey flicker of candlelight, or on the screen of your iPad, we hope you find that this collection of poetry, prose, and artwork flips a switch in your mind and sheds light on an idea, an image, a word that in some way changes the way you see the world in the same way it did for us. v
Diana Bauza Katherine Holotko Editors-in-Chief
Pascalâ€™s PensĂŠes Let man then contemplate the whole of nature in her full and grand majesty, and turn his vision from the low objects which surround him. Let him gaze on that brilliant light, set like an eternal lamp to illumine the universe; let the earth appear to him a point in comparison with the vast circle described by the sun; and let him wonder at the fact that this vast circle is itself but a very fine point in comparison with that described by the stars in their revolution round the firmament. But if our view be arrested there, let our imagination pass beyond; it will sooner exhaust the power of conception than nature that of supplying material for conception. The whole visible world is only an imperceptible atom in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. We may enlarge our conceptions beyond all imaginable space; we only produce atoms in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, the centre of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In short it is the greatest sensible mark of the almighty power of God, that imagination loses itself in that thought. Returning to himself, let man consider what he is in comparison with all existence; let him regard himself as lost in this remote corner of nature; and from the little cell in which he finds himself lodged, I mean the universe, let him estimate at their true value the earth, kingdoms, cities, and himself. What is a man in the Infinite?
â€” Blaise Pascal
An Excerpt fromT.S. Eliot’s Introduction to Pascal’s Pensées He made a note of his mystical experience, which he kept always about him, and which was found, after his death, sewn into the coat which he was wearing. The experience occurred on 23 November, 1654, and there is no reason to doubt its genuineness unless we choose to deny all mystical experience. Now, Pascal was not a mystic, and his works are not to be classified amongst mystical writings; but what can only be called mystical experience happens to many men who do not become mystics. The work which he undertook soon after, the Lettres écrites a un provincial, is a masterpiece of religious controversy at the opposite pole from mysticism. We know quite well that he was at the time when he received his illumination from God in extremely poor health; but it is a commonplace that some forms of illness are extremely favourable, not only to religious illumination, but to artistic and literary composition. A piece of writing meditated, apparently without progress, for months or years, may suddenly take shape and word; and in this state long passages may be produced which require little or no retouch. I have no good word to say for the cultivation of automatic writing as the model of literary composition; I doubt whether these moments can be cultivated by the writer; but he to whom this happens assuredly has the sensation of being a vehicle rather than a maker. No masterpiece can be produced whole by such means; but neither does even the higher form of religious inspiration suffice for the religious life; even the most exalted mystic must return to the world, and use his reason to employ the results of his experience in daily life. You may call it communion with the Divine, or you may call it a temporary crystallisation of the mind. Until science can teach us to reproduce such phenomena at will, science cannot claim to have explained them; and they can be judged only by their fruits. v
Walking To You With Beers Sunday after church, Walking to you with beers, I think these are the ones you like. It could be the other kind This could be the wrong way. Let me sit down. These beers are cold and heavy. I’m gonna drink one while it’s cold and make the bag lighter. The sky is changing, season ending. This bench is solid. One more... then I’ll go. I think this is the way... not sure though. I have a song for you, that I’m sure of. These beers might not be your favorite. Let me finish them. I got no bread for you little bird, just beer. Here, you want some? It’s good for you. Not sure when I’ll make it to you. Losing the words to that song, but not the feeling. The feeling , that I still got. Can’t lose that! This moon that’s come up is over you somewhere. You see it? It is there every time I look, every time I don’t.
Greg Drozdek 13
Mid-Flight My mother spends her twenty-first year perpetually falling into everything: she leaves home and does not really love a blonde boy named Jerry who plays the harmonica, but thinks she does, or thinks it is better to lie with a lover in a one-room Jerusalem slum for a whole year than alone in a dormitory. On the way home, they travel to Turkey and her passport is stolen by a gang of thieves and a woman who looks just like her “it will become an adventure,” he promises, not a tragedy: the streets are full and warm and scented there are scarves and rings and sunflower seeds between his teeth; she waits for her parent’s money to arrive. They return mid-summer her skin is darker his hair is lighter than straw; she recalls the last year of the decade is more than half-over and the sun starts setting again, with them burning in the middle. My mother spends her twenty-second year purposely falling off everything: there are no loose veins, no spurts of blood, she’s not thinking, only imagining
a small autumn leaf, red, ashamed of being the first to let go. And when she lands it is on a sidewalk outside his parent’s apartment in Brooklyn; she’s not dead, he’s not looking, and her feet are broken.
Dig Olive Lykins Jack was seven the first time he realized cocaine was a drug. Spunk scooped him up off the living room floor and carried him into the backyard. Jack had been asleep in front of the television, lulled by the glow of the late night infomercials that kept him company through much of his childhood. As soon as he was awake in Spunk’s arms, Jack could tell that Spunk was on one of his all night ragers. “What time is it?” Jack asked. “Don’t matter,” Spunk staggered, fumbling with the screen door until he gave up and kicked the door open. Jack tried to squirm out of Spunk’s arms, the glow of the television calling him back to the house, but Spunk held him close until the boy gave up. Spunk had been digging a pond in the backyard that week. In the dark it was like a crater, its depth disguised by shadow. A rusty metal shovel rested on the grass and an industrial yellow flashlight lay on the lip of the empty pond. Spunk dropped Jack on the lawn. “Pick up that shovel,” he said. Jack slowly stood up and grabbed the shovel, which stood taller than him. Jack was slight, even at seven years old. He stepped into the pond delicately, dragging the shovel behind him. The loose dirt was warm against his bare feet. Jack held the shovel but didn’t put it to work, instead he noticed the fireflies blinking around him. He still wasn’t fast enough to catch them the way his brother Bubby could. Spunk had turned his back and was doing bumps off the back of his hand when he threw a glance over his shoulder and barked, “Dig!” Jack could see that in the center of the hollow that was to be the family koi pond Spunk was digging an additional hole. Jack pushed the dirt around with the shovel until he was told to stop. “Turn on that flashlight,” Spunk grunted, his green cowboy boots landing with a muffled thud when he jumped into the empty pond. There was a green metal box in his hands that Jack hadn’t noticed until now. Spunk clicked it open and turned it towards the light. The box was full of cash, like most drawers and shoe boxes in the house were. Jack was used to piles of cash stuffed in odd places, but this was more money than he had ever seen in his whole life. The sight of it scared Jack in a way that money had never scared him before. “Two hundred big ones,” Spunk whispered. Jack reached a hand out to touch the plastic wrapped bills and he pulled the box away. 16
“It’s not for you ya little shit,” Spunk’s voice caught against the dryness in his throat. Jack dropped the flashlight and tried to climb out of the hole, but Spunk grabbed the seat of his pants and pulled him back. “It’s for Cece. If something happens to me, I want you to tell her about this money.” He smiled down at Jack until his face grew fiery. “And don’t you go tryin’ to get this money or I’ll fuckin’ kill you. Understand? I earned this money.” Jack nodded, but Spunk wasn’t looking at him, he was looking at the money. His eyes were wide and bloodshot and there were white crumbs in his moustache when he pulled Jack to him by the collar of his pajama shirt. “I understand,” Jack squeaked, his voice a high whine. “Go to bed,” Spunk finally commanded and lifted him out of the dry pond. Jack was almost to the back door when Spunk ran after him, dropping to his knees and wrapping the boy in his arms, squeezing until Jack could feel the air shrinking out of him like he was no more than a balloon waiting to pop. Spunk choked back dry sobs. “You’re the only one worth a good goddamn in this house. I just want you to take care of Cece if anything happens, ok? Can you do that? I’m trusting you here little man. All you have to do is tell Cece to look here if something happens to me.” Spunk was staring him in the eyes. Only it looked like his eyes were crossed, like he couldn’t quite focus on Jack. “You love me?” Spunk said all slurred together, so it looked like it hurt him to say it. “I love you.” “I love you back,” Jack whispered, eyes on the long growing grass between his earth stained toes.v
Bad Night At Nina’s Robert Walton God smiled and gave the Salinas Valley topsoil eight feet deep, but he looked away too soon. The rains might not come for a year, and when they come, they might all fall in the space of two weeks. There’s also the wind that blows every summer day. No clever man ever made his living as a farmer here. Too many things can go dead wrong between wind, water, and markets overseas. You have to be stubborn as a stump to work this valley, but being stubborn is a tradition—a useful one—in our town. Ray farmed here for thirty years. He took what came and found humor in much of it. He’s gone now, and it’s funny how much difference one man can make. Ray enjoyed playing cards. Win or lose, he didn’t care. He liked the jokes and teasing the turn of a card can inspire. He even used to play with old Gaboni when nobody else would. Gaboni is a mean drunk, always has been, but he’s worse since his wife died hard of cancer. The topsoil land he rents out keeps him in booze, and the booze turns him into a rattlesnake about four every afternoon. Ray’s kindliness often stirred up the old man’s devils. Gaboni would steal chips, peek at hole cards and pull extra jacks out of his pants until Ray would finally lay his cards on the table. Shaking his head, he’d rise and walk out Gaboni’s front door. Then Gaboni would spit curses for ten full minutes after dust from Ray’s boots settled on the rug. The next day they’d be playing again with a jug of red wine near. One January, Carmela showed up at Ray’s house. A south wind was blowing clouds, round and heavy as mares’ bellies, across the sky. The tentative tapping of rain on the roof echoed Carmela’s knock. It was three in the morning. Her father had beaten her and thrown her out. She was lucky he hadn’t shot her. Though she was fifteen, three soldiers from the base got her drunk after a dance and made their jokes over her naked thighs. She was with child. Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if she didn’t know what she set out to do. She did. But she still needed help. Carmela’s dad worked twenty years as a field manager for Ray. Ray had known her since she was a baby, so he let her stay. Nobody in town seemed to mind. The possibility of scandal was so remote that not even Gaboni could make an indecent joke out of it. Carmela’s mother said prayers for Ray and sneaked over to visit her daughter 18
when she could. Carmela’s father found less disgrace in the situation than he might have. Ray held Carmela’s hand when her baby was born. Later, he found her a place of her own. Then he got her a job at the old Back Room, and he sometimes watched the baby while she worked. Serving rye and rib-eyes to the ranchers, she made decent money, especially tips. She put some money by over the years and, finally, with a loan from Arce, the crooked labor contractor, she set up a panaderia down at the end of Broadway. Hers is still the best pan dulce in town. Ray was also a man who occasionally enjoyed a drink, sometimes more than one. He liked whiskey straight up. Town bartenders were never sorry to see him come in. His thoughts were always deeper than his glass and kept him busy until it was time to go home. It was no surprise that one autumn Saturday night found him sitting at a back table in Nina’s Cantina. Nina’s was a cowboy bar for men who are tough all the time and not for show. You know the kind of place–the boys at the lowball table slap their thighs and shout “pussy” at you when you spit on the floor instead of piss. Ray had nothing to prove and was okay in there. He just sipped his whiskey and smiled at the five-dollar bills stuck on the ceiling. Down the street was a Mexican bar, El Conejo. That night some of the cabrones in the Conejo got a skinny kid muy borracho. It was his first time up across the border. He’d been thinning lettuce with a short-handled hoe for two weeks and had some change in his jeans. He was buying drinks for the old hands and drinking tequila on beer. Muy borracho. They told him that if he was a man he’d walk down and get his next drink at Nina’s. If he was a man. The kid strolled down to Nina’s, through the door, across the sticky floor and pushed his way up to the bar. It got real quiet. An unwritten law, the most potent kind in a small town, had just been violated to hell and gone. Mexicans were not to appear in Nina’s after dark. One big cowboy pushed his hat back and glared at the kid with eyes redder than cheap whiskey. After a week riding fence in the hills east of town, he was feeling meaner than rusty wire. He said, “Get out, wetback!” The kid weighed one-thirty, maybe, but his manhood was involved. He said, “I want a drink, puto.” The cowboy’s eyes glazed over, and he grinned, “Well, chinga tu madre, boy.” The Mexican kid slapped that cowboy right across his sweaty chops. The cowboy didn’t even blink. He put his fist in the kid’s face. The kid flew across the room like a flung stone. He rolled twice, knelt for a moment in a puddle of spilled beer, and then pulled himself up 19
between two chairs. He’d been too drunk to see the punch coming, but he had wits enough to know there’d be more. He spit two of his teeth on the floor and pulled out his equalizer. The kid held his knife low. It shone like a silver tooth in the dim bar light. The big cowboy wasn’t especially scared of knives. He came across the bar like a wild boar. The kid slashed up fast to meet the boar’s charge. Ray stepped between them. He raised his big farmer’s hands high to push them apart, and he stepped between them. Any man in town could have told him that was one dumb thing to do, but he did it. The knife took him in the groin. Ray screamed and everything stopped, even the big cowboy. Death blew cold on his neck and he stopped. The Mexican kid lifted his right hand, held it in front of his eyes. It was red to the wrist. Ray didn’t die right away. He lived until they got him to that white, white room. Then, as the doctor put strong hands on him, he went. The funeral was on a late October morning, the kind only this valley knows—such mild, golden sunshine. Carmela and her daughter were there, standing beside Gaboni. Their tears fell together on the dark earth of the grave. Both bars closed down years ago-half the stores in town, too. And that valley wind just blows and blows.v
On Hands Even long before we’re in love they’ve been tempted to touch fire, to graze the small flame that moves up. They’ve felt the steam billowing out of my grandmother’s pot of caldo every Sunday afternoon, after she’s pressed her hand against the handmade tortillas to heat them quickly. I’ve felt the drops of rain that first hit the eucalyptus leaves before landing on the top of our fingers and rolling down the grooves of our knuckles when a fist is formed. Reminding me that up above me, the clouds are like my hands, they expand although they leave gaps, they extend towards the sun, cradling it, and eventually covering its rays. They cover my eyes from the sun when the clouds hang low, and are too lazy to provide shade. They’ve become voices for those that can’t speak, like tongues they roll and sway in sentences. Like the first time I used sign language and told you the sky is blue. Even before we’re in love we learn to touch the petals of a sunflower, we come to find they also fall apart, and that our hands hold that power.
Tree of Life Ansel Oommen 22
Metropolitan Rimbaud (Illuminations XXVIII: Métropolitain)
From the indigo strait to the seas of Ossian, on the pink and orange sands that the vinous sky has washed, crystal boulevards have risen and intersected, occupied at once by poor young families who shop at the fruiterers. No riches.–The city! From the desert of bitumen, in headlong flight under sheets of fog spread in frightful layers through the sky that curves, retreats, descends formed of deeply sinister black smoke that the Ocean in mourning delivers, flee helmets, wheels, ships, cruppers– The battle! Raise your head: that arched wooden bridge; the last kitchen-gardens of Samaria; those masks illumined by the lantern fluttered by the cold night; the foolish undine with the noisy dress, in the river depths; luminous skulls among the pea-plants – and the other phantasmagoria–the countryside. Roads bordered by rails and walls, barely containing the thickets, and the atrocious flowers you would call souls and sisters. Dramas damning with tedium–the property of fairy-tale ultra-Rhine aristocracies, Japanese, Guarani, still fit to receive the music of the ancients–and there are inns which are always open no longer–there are princesses, and, if you are not too overwhelmed, the study of stars–the sky. The morning when, with Her, you wrestled among the glints of snow, the green lips, the ice, the black flags and blue light-rays, and the purple perfumes of the Polar sun–your vigour.
Arranged Marriage I dream of us the way a child dreams of her father and her long-suffering mother: root beer floats and sinuous nighttime competitions that carve a grown woman out of feathery baby skin and tiny breasts (the breasts look like how I once thought tumors looked likeâ€” my mother treated her breasts like a disease). In the dream I realize my parents wanted Paris. Parisian snow filigrees decorating their coats. Hot, sweet tongues tasting of each other and the coffee cream of together, but they made love like two crippled crustaceans, their click clack bodies pinching, like two badly oiled parts until the aftermath when my father slept spread-eagled and my mother hid in her hair. But later in the dream you kiss my palm and make my hands trace the migration path of humpback whales. Which ends at the Canary Islands. Which doesnâ€™t seem right. (Touch me, you say, seizing that same hand). Now I know we are where balloons go when they first float away. Limp, punctured, strings tangling together. We are Mother and Father. (Touch me. I only have so many hands, I scream. You pin me down.) It smells like burning.
Eshani Medha 24
Building Bridges Caroliena Cabada
“Let’s go onto the Bridge.” A muscle twitches in Daniel’s cheek, just under his right eye. He smiles and asks, “Where is it? I’ve never been.” “Really? It’s just up there, where all the cars are going.” Alena turns to face Daniel and smiles. “You’ve never been? Even during your comprehensive tour with Emma of all places touristy in New York City?” “No, we…We didn’t get a chance to get to the Bridge.” They amble leisurely to the pedestrian walkway, stepping on dark specks of fossilized gum that pattern the sidewalk. The steady stream of car headlights has dwindled to a slow dripping of the occasional yellow taxi. The city is still loud; the breeze from the water whips through the flags on the skyscrapers. The tires brush gently against the pavement. The Bridge is out of sight, lurking around a bend in the road. Daniel is focused on the green street signs that point to the left and bear the words Brooklyn Bridge in even sans-serif font. Alena looks at him out of the corner of her eye. “Did you know the original designer of the Bridge died before the project ever started? He passed it off to his son.” “Really?” Alena nods. “And even the son was injured during the project. Compression disease. So his wife learned higher-level math to relay his instructions.” The concrete walkway beneath them changes to wooden planks as they curve onto the promenade. Alena speaks louder, over the sound of water on rock. “Catenary curves, material strength, basically an emergency engineering degree.” “That’s incredible.” Daniel looks up at the Manhattan-side tower, up at the apex where the cables meet and dizzyingly play with his perspective. Alena looks up with him, absently tapping out a concerto with her fingers on the cables. The patterns stringing along the sides funnel her gaze to the top of the tower so that her peripheral vision feels like an accidental peek into things she shouldn’t see. She sees Daniel’s wide eyes and matches his slowed footsteps. A truck races on the road beneath them, and Daniel exhales loud and fast. “Are you okay?” Daniel laughs sharply, a singular “Ha” that deflates him. “I’m… I’m actually terrified of walking over bridges.” Alena stops. The shakiness in Daniel’s shoulders is almost imperceptible, his skin strains to contain the rest of him that’s fighting to get off the Bridge. “Oh, hey, I’m sorry. We didn’t have to come here. We can go back.” “No, no, let’s keep going,” Daniel insists, reaching behind him to 25
fumble for Alena’s hand. “Just… Just tell me more about the Bridge.” Alena looks down at her feet, looking for more random facts about the Bridge’s construction in her looping bootlaces, but all she can think of now are the number of people who died during construction and the date of the first jumper. “Well, the first person to cross the bridge the whole way was the wife.” Alena chuckles, her laughs making her words quiver. “She rode in a car holding a rooster, which was supposedly a symbol of victory.” “That’s… That’s bizarre.” “Yeah.” Alena looks at Daniel’s feet, trying to recall the exact tonnage of limestone and concrete used to build the bridge, but she sees, out of the corner of her eye, the fact that Daniel is holding her hand. She frowns and squeezes tight, experimenting with the weight and pressure. A hand is not like any other object. Any other object either bends her skin, making her hand yield to its shape, or otherwise filters through her fingers, leaving no trace. Holding a hand is a mutual shaping of one around the other. A hand is simultaneously give and take. Alena’s frown deepens. They reach the tower. “Can we stop here for now?” Alena nods and lets go. She walks over to the plaque on the tower, tracing the letters loosely with a forefinger. “I love coming to the Bridge,” she confesses, her voice sounding too large to her ears. “Really?” Daniel leans against the metal fence on the side of the widened walkway, looking at lower Manhattan. Alena looks at his profile. “It’s calming. I just have this thing with bridges,” she trails off, her words swallowed by the breeze that blows back Daniel’s hair from his forehead. Daniel hums, resting his chin in the palm of his left hand. The glow from the city hangs low over the buildings, softening the hard edges of concrete and metal. “I could get used to a view like this,” he says, blinking slowly against the breeze. “It seems so insignificant from here. The city is nothing at all.” Alena walks around the corner of the middle section, looking at her feet step on fading quotations from E.B. White, dipping her fingers into the rough places where the bricks meet. “That’s part of the calming aspect. The Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world when it was built.” She leans back against the bricks, feeling the miniscule bumps of the tower stick to and pick at her sweater. “You get just halfway across it and you feel like you’re out. You feel like there’s more than skyline. You feel like there’s sky.” She stops abruptly, and turns her toward Brooklyn. Daniel nods, eyes roving over the city lights. “I have something like that with the Golden Gate,” he muses, distracted. “Emma and I drive over it all the time to get to Muir Woods when we’re together during the summer.” He glances over his shoulder at Alena. “Have I told you about Muir Woods? It’s beautiful. No city could ever compare to it.” Alena hums, pressing her palms flat against the tower, pinning 26
herself to the brick. “I don’t mind driving over bridges as much. I don’t feel how shaky they can be when I’m in a car. I haven’t walked a bridge, though, since a field trip I went on in elementary school.” Daniel gazes beyond the city, around the world to the west coast, where is mind is. “It was Emma who asked our teacher if she could walk back with me, to make sure I was okay.” Alena tightens her lips, biting the small smile that forms, and pushes herself off the tower wall to continue walking along it. She holds her left palm to the wall, the brick scraping lightly against the outermost layer of her skin. A little further ahead, attached to the wall of the tower, Alena sees a muted glint; several padlocks had been placed on a protruding hook, each one locking onto another until it was almost impossible to unlock one without unlocking them all. She steps quickly towards them, grabbing the closest lock firmly. The locks rattle as she picks them up one by one, then the whole accumulation of them in her left hand. “What do you have there?” Daniel meanders over from his place at the railing. He stoops over, haltingly, leaning over Alena’s shoulder, close enough to tickle the stray threads of her sweater with his chin. He squints his eyes to see the locks more clearly. Alena moves out of Daniel’s breathing distance, unblocking the meager light from the closest streetlamp to scrutinize the locks. On one side of each metal trinket, two names of different strangers are engraved, some with a date and a short message. “Oh! They’re love locks!” “What’s a love lock?” “They’re really interesting. They’re – ” Alena looks up at Daniel. His face is close enough for her to see the whispering line above his eyebrows, his eyes wide open in curiosity. The bridge of his nose is straight and narrow, ending above a smiling mouth that is barely open, waiting to drink in an explanation. “Well, you should ask Emma about them.” Alena gently shifts the locks around in her hand. “They’re a couple thing.” The moment hangs in the air, a hiccup that makes the two of them bite their tongues. Daniel touches one lock with a forefinger, outlining the messy, hand-engraved letters of the names. “Ah. I see.” Alena lets the locks drop and she looks toward Brooklyn. “We should probably head back.” A loud motorcycle passes under, rattling the boards, sending the tremors into Daniel’s knees. “Yes. Let’s.” As they walk to Manhattan, Alena gently slides her hand around Daniel’s, holding on with her fingertips. “Did you know, the bridge designer made the Bridge six times stronger than what was anticipated as necessary. It has three different support systems that make it stable.” She swings his hand lightly. “This bridge won’t fall down any time soon.” Daniel looks down at Alena. He smiles, a simple lifting of one corner of his mouth. He squeezes her hand, allowing himself to be led back to Manhattan over the cars speeding underneath them. Alena lets go when the wooden boards change to concrete. v 27
Fit for Feathers D.Z. Watt He hung from the bar above. There were seats, yes. But from here, Albert could look down at the boy. Undetected. The bright soft hair, the smooth neck, the wealth of collagen in the eye contours. The fresh curl of eyelashes, those lips. An adorescent! With a start he looked around, did he say that aloud? And flushed when the boy glanced up. He studied the collarbone, imagining what lay below. Then his eyes fell to the hands, the long slender fingers, the suggestive contour in the jeans. When the bus jolted, his knee brushed against the boy’s, accidentally, and he murmured,“Sorry,” but the boy didn’t look up. Yet he now seemed alert to his visual margins. So he’s aware I’m aware of him. And if he’s paying attention, then he has an interest, too. But if it was from disposition or revulsion Albert couldn’t tell. Though he intended to find out. At the next lurch he let his leg tap the boy’s again. He looked up. “This thing’s like a roller coaster,” Albert said, letting himself laugh. There was a faint rise at one corner of the boy’s mouth. So it wasn’t full-on revulsion, Albert told himself, and scrambled for a follow-up line. Which he found embracing the boy’s neck: a band of headphones resting on the silky hairs below the hairline. “Are they any good?” he asked. “Huh?” “Those headphones.” “Ok.” Not much to go on there. “You like them better than the in-ear buds?” “Yeah.” Again not much. But he knew that teen boys had the conversational skills of vending machines. Whatever else they were good for. And he wasn’t letting this chance escape. “I guess they block out the noise better?” The boy shrugged. “Sort of.” “And the bass? I was thinking of buying those, but they never
have enough bass.” Which was as far from the truth as he could turn, he hated mega-bass, it furred out the delicate sounds of his beloved chamber music. “It’s pretty good,” the boy said, shifting in his seat, and Albert thought he saw those eyes dart, if just for a flash, to the seat facing him, so he plopped down. “Guess I’m safer here,” he said, “if the driver ploughs into something.” The boy smirked, sitting forward. “I was on the bus one day? And the driver had to brake fast? And this kid standing up went flying over the seats in front of him. You should’ve seen it!” His legs wagged open and closed as he looked at Albert for a laugh. And Albert knew he was in. He settled back for the seduction, however far it might go. Because at least he could gaze directly into those fathomless brown eyes. And adore those lashes. And at the next bump, press his leg against this lanky one. Maybe unopposed.v
Landmark for Us Jessie Nash Whoopi Goldberg is here somewhere. Hillary Clinton too. And Elton John, and in my jet-lagged state I wonder if he had a hand in designing the hotel carpet, which is far too elaborate for the eyes of travel-fucked people. We just burned down the candles for my 22nd birthday back home, the night before my flight. Birthday candles never seemed threatening before, the white wax spilling thickly down long skinny spirals. And with that thick white wax, the texture, the similarities, I can’t help thinking about how I got sick. Accidents. All the things you probably don’t want to think about or know about, but they’re in my head all the time. Cocks, come, having pneumonia in a hospital and not a single visitor because I was so scared of what it meant, then being told l was right after all when my blood came back. That first year of sickness. And in my first year at uni, I wrote about queer history, the horror of AIDS babies, transfusions, Stonewall, revolution, Harvey Milk, and I even wrote about this conference because this is the first year HIV positive people have been allowed to travel into the US. It’s a landmark for us.
There are about 34 million people living with HIV/AIDS at this very moment. That’s something I learned in my research, along with reading about feline AIDS and then remembering my cat, Weaver, who died when I was thirteen. But he had a long life, my parents said. Ten years is a long time. For a cat. Is it a long time for a human? For me? I used to think so. Before. After I blew out the candles last night, my parents said: “We’re really proud of you, for wanting to help those people.”
I traced my finger and thumb over the St. Christopher at my neck. And you can say what you like, you can say, “Oh, it isn’t the death sentence it used to be,” and you can take the best supplements and go to the gym, orange-flavoured vitamins sweating out of every pore. Whispering your sickness in strides on an elliptical as an underscore to every generic dance song on your headphones. But at first it still feels like you’re just waiting to hang, and in my nightmares the executioner is in drag, smirking: ‘Oh, you really did it this time, honey!’
Perhaps he’s played by Whoopi Goldberg.
Scene narrated by Hillary Clinton.
Soundtrack by Elton John.
And you reason with yourself that feeling sorry won’t help and that doing something is the only way to survive. And as I was thinking all this bullshit in my own little bubble, reaching up to put strange American coins in the vending machine in the hallway outside my hotel room, a hand reached out at the same time and touched mine, going for the slot. It’s the first time I’ve touched hands with anyone in weeks and suddenly I feel good, a part of something.
Breath Little Girl Eleanor Bennett
“Au Claire De La Lune” was the first piano piece I learned by heart, the little man in his nightcap leaning out the window on the top of the page. Strublich was what my father called the braids I’d slept in, before my mother combed out snarls, parting the strands with her crochet hook, and wove them neatly once again. Amo amas amat I learned in Latin class; amamas apapas akid quipped my friend Ruth, who passed me notes in code when Caesar bored us. Je t’aime, je t’aime, my boyfriend whispered when he wanted to say “I love you.” I lost the only letter he wrote me entirely in French, when my purse was stolen from a New York City lunch counter. Later we said our wedding vows in English, sang Grosser Gott Wir Loben Dich to honor our ancestors. Not until our kids studied French did we find ourselves in Paris, hand in hand on the Left Bank, watching the moonlight break across the Seine.
A Buffalo is Your Co-Pilot Some days last forever - that’s a legitimate measurement here Even if you never take off-‘future astronaut’ is still a career You and your make-believe buffalo At the top of the Empire State It’s the bridge of a ship making one last trip Into space before it’s too late And you’re the Captain of all you survey On this blue Manhattan day You and your make-believe buffalo Strolling through Central Park Lost in a dream–but what does it mean When you’re riding on the back of a shark? That with some modes of transport there’s no fare to pay On a gold Manhattan day You and your make-believe buffalo On the steps of St. John the Divine Inside, the poet is preparing to throw it To the one they loved one last time But on that subject you have nothing to say On a purple Manhattan day You and your make-believe buffalo Riding the subway home Under the city that’s sitting pretty Where you and your best friend roamed There is freedom from balance in the clattering sway On a silver Manhattan day Some days last forever - that’s a legitimate measurement here Even if you crash land-‘former astronaut’ is still a career
A Smoke she asked forgiveness, did not know what she was thinking, or how she could have betrayed me, I tried to read her eyes, but the pack of cigarettes, on the dresser, was all I could see.
Solas Con Ryan
St. Paulâ€™s Cathedral London Con Ryan
Mizen Head Con Ryan
Phil Jung City of Fire Tina Yu
Sketch Tina Yu Animagi Tina Yu
Jade Vine Tracy A. Marciano
“Alexandra,” December 2012 Elena Linares-Low
Rooms Christopher Woods
Kieran Murray Silhouettes Heather Larocchia
Water Glasses Alexander Harding
Phil Jung Kieran Murray
Two Mirrors Alexander Harding
Butler Inn Tina Yu
Lightstreaaaak Joshua Dy Borja Hey this is my dad Joshua Dy Borja
This is a lightbulb, man Joshua Dy Borja
City Sky Avigail Soloveichik
Oil Spill Alexander Harding
Fairy Dust When I reached across the desk my middle finger assumed the role at the front of a chevron of geese with headwinds whipping around the nail so that it was the first to get there, touching the scintillating dust that made my whole arm tingle. It was invisible, as well as the sensation, and like all else the wee folk do, their halving and halving again into quarters and eventual sixty-fourths the smallest grain of quartz or pollen until soft became softer multiplied was like trying to hold honey or grasp dew, all microscopic edges burnished to the delicacy of dragonfly wing. I felt as if I were stroking angel cheek or orchid petal squared. The nerves of my hand had invented powder to rub against my thumb as if testing the quality of fine silk worn by the same fairies who snuck into my room and left a shallow urn of shadow to print my fingertipâ€™s clumsy human whorls: their sheen. Then the microspecks fell away, my hand rose, and the fairies returned to mortar and pestle. Joanne Lowery
A Guayaba’s Heart Every time I cut into a guayaba I think about my mother climbing to the tops of the tree, picking up the ends of her dress to make a pouch for the fruit. I see her peeling back the yellow skin with her teeth, as the pink flesh appears, the veins wrapped around, holding in the seeds. She’d say, cup your hand below your mouth and spit out the clump of seeds as you eat. I’d stare at them. They reminded me of sitting in the backyard, both of us looking up at the sky and staring at Orion’s belt connected by a stringy cloud. One night we walked to the tree, and asked her why she hid at the very tops of trees late at night. She said she was hiding from her father, since he’d come home drunk from the cantinas. She knew when to get down from the tree, when she heard his snoring coming out the back window. As we pulled guayabas from the trees she picked up a bruised one from the grass and held it. My mother hardly mentions my Abuelo Toño, but as she held the blackened guayaba,
she mumbled to me: When his heart gave out, I forgave him. Every time I slice a guayaba, I look at the pink halves, I think about the heart, how itâ€™s bruised, and how it stops.
On the Go (2) Gogo Bongos sits at the square, he's a good man, Gogo Bongos. Gone is his wife, she gotta goâ€” go back home to Guadalupe. Fat little princess under his arm, Gogo Bongos asks for a banana. The yellow mushy thing under his arms holds out its pudgy fingers, Gogo gives her a bite. He's a good man, Gogo Bongos. He sits on the bench, bug-eyed holding an old magazine and telling fairy tales of Cucamonga.
JoĂŁo Matos Amaro da Silveira
Lancaster - PA, 1992
Funny to see the city boy run for his life in an Amish pasture, very drunk and missing a boot, funny for everybody but him. The ground does not hold like concrete. Here, you have no moves. Here, you have no pasture smarts. The cow will not stay asleep when it falls. It will get up and charge the foreigner, snorting all the way. Nobody told you when you got into a three-point stance and exploded with all your might. Nobody told you how well the bull could run. Nobody told you shit. That was the point.
Their Eyes Were Moons, Now Bruised Lucia Davis
In the summer, Cokie woke up even earlier than usual but not by choice. After thirty years in the high desert, she could instinctively feel the heat growing minute by minute from the cracked ground surrounding her house, and some part of her wanted to rise with it. Walking outside as early as seven, the dust already one hour baking in the sun, was like stepping into an oven. This season, Cokie found the temperature especially stifling. Opening her eyes, she turned to read the time: five thirty. She'd begun keeping track of this in the last six months, noting that she seemed to be waking up progressively earlier as the year crept on. The first time she'd done it was in December, right after Julia passed. That first morning, it had been one minute past six. Early morning had been the loneliest hours for her since. Sitting up and swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she stared down at her feet, wiggling her bright red pedicure in the still air. The air conditioner had been huffing all night—not having one out here, especially during the summer, was impossible, lethal even—but her bedroom still felt stuffy. Shuffling her feet into slippers, she went and cracked open the window: The sun was just beginning to crest and it was still cool. As she prepared the coffee, setting out Julia's mug but keeping it empty, Cokie thought about the young couple she'd driven to Pappy and Harriet's the night before. Pupils as large as saucers, they had obviously taken something—looking to commune with aliens maybe? Drug use was common here, but they'd seemed nice enough. She hadn't pried, noticing the boy’s unease and his white-knuckle grip on his girlfriend's hand, and instead rattled on about her life in Yucca Valley. She'd told them about Julia, about her old restaurant—now run by The Mexicans—and how she'd built her one-woman cab company. They’d listened, bouncing around in the back of her car, all mooneyed and polite smiles. She'd even told them about when she'd brought Julia into the hospital, back in December. Julia had been failing for weeks, ever since her daughters had stopped calling and the letters she'd sent were delivered back, stamped in glaring, red ink: "RETURN TO SENDER". Cokie had been livid with them; these adults with children of their own whose patience in waiting for their mother to die had suddenly waned. They hated her for prolonging Julia's life. “The day I brought her into the hospital, they were so surprised," Cokie had explained to the couple the night before, “They said she 56
was so beautiful. So clean: No cuts, no bruises." At this, she saw something in the girl's face change. Thinking it was confusion, she added, "I always made sure her underwear was clean, not soiled." Still, the confusion—or something —remained streaked across her passenger's features, but by then they'd reached Pappy and Harriet's, and the ride had ended. As the boy paid, the girl looked at her and said, "Thank you so much for the ride. Good luck with everything," and abruptly Cokie realized it had been pity, not confusion. Pity for poor, old Cokie, 76 this September, despite all she had told them about herself; the businesses, her childhood journey from Serbia. She was not someone to be pitied. And yet, the girl’s face looked so sad...but maybe it was those druggedout eyes? Staring at her reflection in the toaster, Cokie briefly wondered why she was still thinking about last night’s riders. It was summer in the high desert. She felt the pressure of an imagined to-do list, what with the sun and the heat creeping up the sides of her house. People got cooked alive in their own homes out here if they weren’t careful. Today, Cokie was picking up Dolores Milner in Juniper Terrace and then Artie Cather at his place near the airport. He liked to sing karaoke on Sundays, but he hadn’t been in months: His lungs had been acting up again, and the last time Cokie’d seen him, he had an oxygen tank. Cokie hoped he would be without it when she saw him today— he had a beautiful voice. Without thinking, Cokie began preparing the same stir fry she’d made for herself the day before. Chunks of beef, peppers, tomatoes, and onions tossed into the pan, hissing as they landed. She’d told her passengers about the stir fry too, describing the recipe and even the ingredients in detail. Young people never cook for themselves anymore, she thought. Hopefully they will use it. She should go to the store today and get more beef. Cokie loved the way it looked wrapped in plastic at the store. She ran her fingers over the cool, saran-wrapped skin when she was alone in the meats aisle, unaware of how it might look in the tiny blacks and whites of a security feed. The vegetables usually looked good, too, glistening from the unpredictable misters, but their glow always faded in the florescent lights of her kitchen. There was always some unseen bruise or deformity she’d missed. Of course, she cut around the blemishes—Cokie never wasted anything—but it was a disappointment to walk out of the supermarket with a gem and return home with something imperfect. The heat could instantly wilt cut flowers, sure, but there was no excuse for this abrupt decline in quality. Fortunately, after ten minutes frying in the pan, gems and lemons all look the same. v 57
Posture Jesse Minkert
Marland has agreed to impersonate a Steller's jay on a limb. His fake birdâ€™s eye scours nearby branches for other fake birds' fake nests in order to devour their fake eggs. He is required to hold this position from the moment that the first light of dawn contacts the jay's eyes and maintain it without moving until the shadow of dusk rises to the same line. Marland's real eyes are hidden where the sun can't reach them. A digital readout built into the mask shows him exactly how much time he has left. It is set to click off at the precise moment of sunset at this latitude. The sun over the habitat is fake, too. It is digitally projected on the domed ceiling. Whatever the weather may be in the real outside world, it is always sunny for the Steller's jay. Straps hold a traveler's companion to his calf, inside the bird costume's leg, with a bladder large enough for him to stand still for the full daylight hours of the vernal equinox, which is the day that is today. The costume is blue and black and hot. The organizing entity has installed a drinking tube in the mask so that he can sip water from a tank on his back. Another tube provides nutrition from another tank. The tanks are not weightless, but they are balanced to minimize the likelihood that Marland will fall over and thereby forfeit his award. The contract specifies that any movements will cause deductions from his take-home purse. Larger movements deduct more. A fall is a forfeit, even if it occurs one minute before the sun disappears. Dozens of lasers are aimed at points on the costume. They sense the smallest changes. His face doesn't count. It's in the mask. He can move his lips to sip from the tubes; he can talk with anyone who happens to be listening to his live streaming podcast, or carry on a conversation with one of those who call him on his built-in phone. Marland cannot call out. Crowds at the visitors' center stare into his habitat. Their questions reach him through the intercom. He has memorized many facts about the Steller's jay: its range and eating, vocalizing, social, and mating habits. He provides this information on request. A teenager in the observation room sets off an air horn into the intercom. Marland's ears ring. He flinches and loses about twenty bucks. The organizing entity has placed another readout in the maskâ€”just below the clockâ€”so that he can monitor what remains of his award. If he can keep his score above a certain threshold, he will be invited to pose as a pileated woodpecker on the summer solstice. That's when the money will get serious. Marland's wife Hannah rings up. "Hi, sweetheart," says Marland. "You don't have to do this," she says. "We've gotten by before. We'll get by now." "It's not that hard. We had to do something. This was available." "You'll get hurt. It's not worth it." 58
"I'm covered. It's in the contract." "That's not what I mean," Hannah says, "Sasha's here. He wants to speak with you." "Really?" Marland's son Alexander is sixteen. He is taller than his father. Marland hears a whispered argument coming through his wife's fingers over the speaker of the phone. A bump and a clatter on the line and then Sasha's voice, "Hey, Dad." "Hey, dude. How's school?" "Fine." "What did you do today?" "Nothing." "Me neither. Some coincidence, wouldn't you say?" "Not funny, Dad." "Am I embarrassing you, Sash? Am I humiliating you to your friends for trying to keep you fed?" "This is a bad idea. Mom, I told you this would be a bad idea." Hannah is back on. "What did you say to him?" "The usual." "I don't know who you are any more. Ever since you filled out that application." "Something had to happen." They disconnect. Marland thinks, at least that killed some time. He drops a deposit into his astronaut's diaper. Try to accomplish something and the price just keeps on going up. A spot on the back of his left leg has begun to itch. He tries to disengage his mind from the sensation, but he is only briefly successful. A muscle twitches. The award number flips lower. He tries to use the timer as a meditative device. He watches the changing patterns of the LEDs as they devolve from number to number. The calls from visitors have all but ceased. Closing time comes before sunset. The number one disappears from the hour counter. Only minutes and seconds remain. Hannah calls. "How are you?" she says. "When this is over, you know what I want?" "I have no idea." "A big bowl of chocolate ice cream. No syrup, no nuts or sprinkles. Just chocolate ice cream. So much it will make my tummy hurt. That's what a child would ask for, isn't it? I don't care." "I just want you to know that, whatever brought you to this, I believe in you. I admire you. You're a good man." "Thank you. Now please hang up, and let me think about ice cream until the clock runs out." His legs are trembling in earnest now. The award calculator drops by tiny but steady increments. It slips past the threshold. He won't be invited to the summer solstice. Too bad. Enough is left on the meter to make the effort worthwhile. It's good enough to cover three months of bills. The numbers on the clock and the numbers of the award race each other toward nothing. v 59
The Unreachable Stars Amidst the corn and soybean crops, alien flowers bloom on the horizon, stretched across an Indiana field. Along an expanse of Interstate 65, wind turbines seen from miles, for miles. Poised on giant stems, pointed petals rotate, undulate, perform a graceful ballet. A kick line of modern dancers, choreographed and improvised, in equal measure, to whispered music. I pull the car over on the side of the highway, caress the shoulder. Fling open the doors and tumble out on the uneven graveled pavement. Turn cartwheels, do acrobatic and aerobic exercises. Wave my arms as salutation, an expression of camaraderie. At night, bats, solo or swarming, drawn to the dayâ€™s absorbed energy, are cut down in flight, swatted like insects. Unforeseen casualties that collect like fallen leaves around the base. The fronds of the turbines scratch, poke at the dark knit fabric of the sky, cast shadows on distant constellations.
Letter to an Absent Husband The kitchen fills with the refrigerator’s hum. “I hear buzzing,” our son said last night. As I listened to the breathing of the house, the white noise seemed deafeningly loud. “I hear buzzing,” our son said last night. Sometimes I worry about losing my hearing: the white noise seemed deafeningly loud. Now the fan has come on, followed by the furnace. Sometimes I worry about losing my hearing. Snow blocks the skylights, soaks up the spill of sun. Now the fan has come on, followed by the furnace. On the kitchen table a pink orchid hovers. Snow blocks the skylights, soaks up the spill of sun in the ocean-blue pottery bowl you gave me. On the kitchen table a pink orchid hovers. Beside it, a melted lump of candle. On the other side of the ocean-blue pottery bowl, our son listens to a Harry Potter CD. Beside me, a melted lump of candle. I read about the fear of emptiness. Our son listens to a Harry Potter CD. In the background, the refrigerator’s hum. I read about the fear of emptiness and listen to the breathing of the house.
Water’s Edge Marie Kolarik A blond-haired, blue-eyed boy played at the water’s edge. In her mind she called him Ben because another little boy had once told her that all little boys with blond hair and blue eyes seemed to be named Ben. He was splashing and dashing in the way particular to young children, involving his entire body. He was leading with his protruding belly, his chubby arms flailing out to the sides, his feet coming up higher than strictly necessary before coming down to land in the shallow surf. When do those bellies stop being cute, she wondered. She was deep in the water, up to her collarbones. The sunlight cut through the salty water and the skin of her stomach seemed to move of its own accord. Ben squatted now; he’d found a hermit crab and was putting it in a red bucket. He plucked it out of the water, squealing as its claws caught on his fingers. Up close she knew that his fingers would be small and clumsy. The fingernails would look out of place, as they do on all babies, like shards of glass on a roll of cookie dough. She held her own hands on the surface of the water. Her fingers were long and still capable, though spotted. The skin at her knuckles bagged. Those bags held the muscle memory of piano playing, of onion chopping, of deftly scrawling a signature, of quickly tucking hair behind her ears. The water was cold, and once the coolness made its way into her muscles, she waded out of the water, crossing her arms across her chest. “Wanna see my crab?” Ben looked up at her as she walked past, using his whole hand to shove his blond hair out of his face. After a moment’s hesitation she knelt beside him, her knees popping as she did so. She peered into the red bucket. Inside were three hermit crabs. They were crawling on top of one another, bashing against the walls in frenzied but futile attempts to escape. “Can I hold one?” she asked. “Shuwa,” he said, before dipping his hand into the bucket and then dropping one into her hand. She laughed as it emerged from its shell, its pointy feet prodding at her flesh. Ben laughed too. She tried to remember if it was hermit crabs that outgrew their shells and then ventured out, bare and naked, to find a new one. She dropped the crab back into the bucket where it landed squarely on top of another one, knocking the unfortunate scrambler on its back. Ben looked at her, his blue eyes squinting, and they broke into fresh laughter. He braced a small hand on her knee and pushed himself to a standing position. “Wanna come get a strawberry?” he asked. “Oh no, that’s okay. Thanks for showing me your crabs!” she said. He smiled, then ran off toward a rainbow umbrella, leading with his belly. Slowly she rose to her feet and headed in the direction of her own umbrella. She lay down on her towel and her skin puddled gently out from her bones. The sun warmed her back, her bottom, and the backs of her thighs. She rested her cheek against her towel and let the warmth seep into her muscles, replacing the chill of the water. v 63
Dummy I'm just a dummy, but I wasnâ€™t one always. I remember the day I became this way, my life of slime in the house of Mary Diamond, her cavorting with Shorty, and Rondo in wait, the Drug Boys stealing what we couldn't conceal to buy more Habiturates to saturate primates to capitulate and copulate. I couldn't take any more, the final straw was a bedlam free-for-all with Mary and Shorty and Band Anna in cocoon, live larvae wiggling in phyllo sheets that my hands tore away, with Rondo trying to look the other way. Mary cried as we said good-bye, time enough for last snorts at the Quark Bar, Shorty in there gambling for Rondo with Ratman, and Ratman losing as Rondo looked on. Ratman accused me of slipping Shorty a tip, he whipped me with his pistol, snapping, "What you doing back there, dummy?" and running out the front door. Shorty and Rondo and the parking lot armed guard in pursuit, Rondo in his Springboks, Shorty in flip-flops, pseudo-cop's boots loose from his sagging dirty sox, me barefoot and tripping on tree roots. Ratman tried to scale the Lynx fence, tried to be past tense, pulled out his gun and shot straight at me; I've been a dummy ever since. His bullet hare-lipped me and cleft my palate, coming to rest in the back of my neck; I lost connect before the doctor left, Shorty asking him 64
what was next, the doctor said I'd have no voice left due to damage to my left cerebral cortex. Now I spend my days digging quarterhole on video, no breast implant enhancement. Shorty keeps my winnings, says it takes a lot of money to keep a Rondo and a dummy, and he should know. At night, I write words I've heard from the slug in my chamber, itself their lone arranger. "Oriental shortstop, gastronomic polyglot, samurai drive through, jellyfish matzah balls, Tokyo cyclos form a centipede that grows, zebra skin sky glows, pig foot refusal, menu perusal, not enough tofu, get the Mac-Rib-A-Knack greased in Febreze." Mary says they're fairy pomes, and puts them on her Face; Shorty says they're crap, but will attract stranger strangers. Mary lets me play pushcart with her on the shag carpet, and once straddled me quietly at night in her gown. Shorty says if Rondo knew what was going down, he'd slay both our stray asses, but fortunately,
I'm just a dummy. John Lambremont 65
Knowing Quenlow, or Not Jon Steinhagen Quenlow, as described by the guy who usually showed up at the coffee shop at the same time as Quenlow does (on purpose): Oh, long lashes. And the underskin of his eyes is sort of darkish. Not like the way somebody looks when they’re like insomniacs, and not like the way mascara looks. Just darkish; very attractive, as a contrast. He drinks his coffee in gulps over a period of maybe forty-five minutes. He cleans up after himself. When his cup’s empty, he’ll crumple up his napkin, drop it in the cup, and re-lid it. If he gets a phone call, he’ll go outside, so the rest of us can’t hear. Sometimes he’ll look up from what he’s reading or doing and sort of look around, slowly, not at anybody or anything, per se, but sort of like he’s in a mild trance, and he’ll look out the window. And then he’ll go back to what he was reading or doing. Quenlow, as described by the god in which he does not believe: Who? Quenlow, as described by the man who cuts his hair (Ned’s Barbershop, est. 1938): He has two cowlicks. He never expresses a political opinion (that I can recall). He always tips me three bucks. Quenlow, as described by the telemarketer who tried to sell him a subscription to the Chicago Tribune a few months ago: He let me do my whole bit and then asked if I had a Braille version of the paper. I felt so bad. I wondered, after I hung up, if he had been lying. Quenlow, as described by his supervisor, Mr. Ken Lelp: He’s quiet. Silent, actually. I mean, I never hear him say anything, but I only look in maybe once, twice a day. He’s always clean-shaven. He looks like he has curvature of the spine; his posture’s not that great. Computer job. He’s all right. Timely. Nobody complains about him. I’ve never had to write him up about anything. Quenlow, as described by his best friend of almost twenty-five years: That fucker? We have a lot of laughs. Don’t get together as much as we used to. Um, his hair’s brown. Don’t know what color his eyes are. Pretty sure they’re not blue. He’s pretty funny when he’s drunk. Haven’t seen him drunk in a long time. Did he tell you about how I used to draw dicks on people’s cars? You know, in the dirt? Or in the snow? Quenlow, as described by his one and only pet (Grady, a schnauzer) during childhood: He got spooked easily. If he was in the house alone and had to go down to the basement for something, he’d pick me up 66
and take me with him. Those’re my ashes in the little vase with the cement stopper in his kitchen. I loved him. Quenlow, as described by his college roommate (freshman year): I always thought he was kind of Oriental. Chinese, or Japanese. He wasn’t, but I always thought he looked it. He went to bed when I did, except one time he slept all day because I think he’d been up all night writing a paper or something. Once, he went to the Walgreens and picked up some sleeping pills, which he and I tried. He didn’t take any past that first night. We called them Goofballs. I finished them up. I don’t know what kind of music he listened to, he always put his headphones on. Quenlow, as described by the god in which he believes: Clean (meaning he exercises cleanliness). No major sins of which I’m aware. Medium height. Quenlow, as described by his pediatrician (Horner K. Minwep, MD, retired): Healthy baby. Reached all of his developmental milestones normally. Bad case of croup at age two. Chicken pox at age seven. Birthmark: a triangular arrangement of unequal maroon-colored welts (benign) on the distal aspect of his left upper extremity 4 cm below his wrist. Quenlow, as described by his former babysitter who lived five doors away: I know that he and his friend Bobby Steck used to spy on me from Bobby’s bedroom window whenever I’d lay out in my zebra bikini. This was later, not when I babysat for him. This was like, when I was a senior in high school and they were like in 7th or 8th Grade. I just pretended I didn’t notice. Quenlow, as described by his elder brother: I never hear from him. Well, I hear from him now and then. My birthday. I see him on the major holidays, if the wife and I aren’t visiting her folks. He’s a busy guy, I think. Description? He’s like me, I guess, maybe his nose is smaller. He’s got a little more hair. Quenlow, as described by his father: Oh, he’s about yay high. Thought he’d be taller. Looks a lot like his grandmother (my mother). The Bohemian influence. His ears always looked a little funny to me, like they didn’t match or something. I don’t know. What am I supposed to say? I guess he sort of looks like me only shorter and younger and with more hair. Quenlow, as described by the police officer who once pulled him over for speeding: He was very polite. He anticipated my needs and had his driver’s license and registration ready. He turned off his radio. He didn’t say anything to me unless I asked him something. He took the ticket without much of an expression on his face. And the thing is, he hadn’t been speeding. Don’t ask me why I pulled him over. It’s compli67
cated and has nothing to with him or me. Quenlow, as described by the elderly couple who passed him in the street on the first day he moved to the city (written out by the wife): A nice young man. Said hello. He looked a little lost. Bitsy sniffed him. Quenlow, as described by the middle-aged lady who sat next to him at the movies last night: He kept his jacket in his lap. He seemed to have a genuine laugh. He didn’t move around too much. I didn’t get an elbow in the tit once. Quenlow, as described by his mother: He looks tired. Quenlow, as described by the couch that his folks gave him when they bought the new one from Ikea: He has a tendency to sleep on me in the summer. He doesn’t take up my cushions to vacuum, but he doesn’t eat on me, so it’s okay. I’m holding a dollar thirty-five of his change, mostly in dimes. Quenlow, as described by the girl who sat next to him in 5th Grade (Mrs. Cara Dolan, née Prznierski): I thought he was real cute. He squinted a lot. I guess he needed glasses. Don’t know if he ever got them, I moved away before junior high. He had brown spots on his arms. Not all over, just here and there. He never said anything to me. Quenlow, as described by his current girlfriend: He gets frisky sometimes, out of the blue. He’s a different person when he does that. He has his good days and his bad days. Actually, he doesn’t really have any bad days. I guess what I mean is that he has days when he is “here” and days when he is “somewhere else.” I ask him, then, what’s wrong, and he’ll say Nothing. He could be telling the truth. He always pays when we go out. He won’t eat sprouts. I find him attractive. We don’t fight. He’s fine. Quenlow, as described by someone a hundred years from now: May I see his picture? v
What Is It? Is it something that Lies soaked in The psychedelic rhythm of An ancient rhythm, or in An acid laced Lotus flower where Bullfrogs croak after midnight, or Where young girls in black stockings Cut their hair with metal shears As they suck on the flowers Painted on wall paper: Is it something that Smells like academic smog, or Tendrils snaking like spores From an exotic mushroom, Is it a red or blue pill that Confuses grammar with syntax, or A whispering memory of A train that haunts dreams, A gaudy song sung by A chanteuse in a tawdry bar, or Is it a dead fetid body In a scarlet plastic tomb,
Where worms eat reminiscences, or Is it bony fingers scratching at life? James G. Piatt 69
a walking atlas Your ass is two halves of the moon. I want to rake my hands over them, collect the stardust from underneath my fingernails, lay it out in a trio of lines and snort them while alternating sips of sangria out of a bowler hat. I want to tattoo “Neil Armstrong was Never Here” in between your butt cheeks with fluorescent yellow ink and make love to you in a room of mirrors under a chandelier of black lights. Your legs are the monkey bars I climbed as a child, the ones I slid my crotch across when I hit that age and thought, “Oh, oh, yeah, that feels good.” I want to ride my crotch across your monkey bars, a Cuban cigar dangling from my lips, a bandolier made of chocolate and caramel covered pretzels strapped across my chest and hear you say, “Oh, oh, yeah, that feels gooood.” Your feet are the goal posts I could never get my puck through, but then, I never played ice hockey. I want to play ice hockey with your feet, show those goal posts who’s boss, my puck gliding through your slippery arches, a faceless crowd brawling in the stands, the refs’ whistles blowing as I yell, “Goooal!” Your stomach, taut as a trampoline, my fingers bouncing from belly button to sternum to nipples, each digit on fire, praying the American judge will give me a perfect 10 because the looks I’m garnering from the xenophobic Slavic judges are surly and, frankly, they scare me. Oh, that pale, pale skin, dotted with beauty marks and winding trails of blue-green veins: you’re a walking atlas! I want to swim the Mediterranean Sea of your forearms from Algiers up to Barcelona, take a hovercraft to your biceps of Marseille, ride on the shoulders of a Frenchman to your Parisian collarbone, take a hot air balloon to your head of Venice; we’ll float on our backs down the Adriatic, get scooped up by a fishing trawler on the Ionian, pledge our love before an adoring crowd
at a Grecian amphitheater, and I’ll protect you when you say you’ve never really liked olives, if you’ll protect me when I say I’ve never really liked feta cheese. Sweetie, light of my life, spring in my step, the reason I get out of bed in the morning, don’t you realize how much fun it would be were I to clasp your feet behind my neck, prance you around my apartment and tickle you like a xylophone? Imma march you all the way down to Basin Street, tap your cymbals while you blow my Mardi Gras flute. You’ll eat gumbo from my cupped hands; I’ll drink Ramos Gin Fizzes from the small of your back. Baby, you don’t know. You. Just. Don’t. Know.
London, A to Zed That perhaps was the moral of a menaced state of health—that one would sit in public places and count the Americans. —Henry James, The Wings of the Dove The thin spread on the twin bed almost retrievable, a faded Marimekko of large dots, a battered shade, the few nights in Bloomsbury before the bed-sit in West Hampstead and the buying of eggs and tomatoes at the Pakistani market. I lived on chunks of Leicester, mint biscuits, Earl Grey. Yogurt on the window ledge, the plywood cabinet that listed to the left, the horse hair rug, cream-capped milk, thick bacon. The night bus to Brixton after Heaven’s disappointments: edentulous squatter, cold, lightless one-off. And where’s the wiry Thatcherite who chased me to the window on my knees? The Earl’s Court antiquarian? The Persian who would pass for Greek? The Wally Cox I boffed near King’s Cross, Saturn shining over me near Wapping? The cinema in Belsize Park, Max Ophuls, Jarman’s Tempest, the pretty sailors kissing in confetti: O brave new world, that has such people in it. The pockmarked neighbor in nylon running togs, who wanted not just one, but two and tied me up in knots until I balked. The sagging of the seats along the Northern Line, 72
the pub nights, the bloke with lion’s paws, me in a camel turtleneck surmounted by a brown-striped Cardin tie. The afternoon on Hampstead Heath, the bitter Highgate winter, Coleridge at every stop. The house on Gloucester Crescent where I cleaned for the Dean’s wife, newly blind; he, boyish, with a closet full of prep school ties so old they’d come back into fashion, had been driving, she’d been thrown. The Countess Martine, short and therefore standing on the hearth, ridiculed my passion for Kertesz but curled anchovies over eggs. The pilgrimage to The Bar at the Folies-Bergère to find it’s not so blue, though the dangling feet are green. The basement of the V&A, sketchbooks lying open, Constable and Turner in vitrines. The Lambeth lady, so house-proud, who talked of decorators, meaning painters. The first night on the Strand, the bronze plaques of Noel and Gertrude and Ivor Novello in Shaftsbury Avenue where You Can’t Take It With You played. The funny way that Tottenham has two syllables, like Twickenham, how oleanders are prized at Kew, the awful stones they call a beach at Brighton, Park Lane in the predawn rain, the lines of coke abstained.
polka by a midnight sun I can’t help my chaos. There is no easy way to be see-through: coming to terms with my own paper self, folding it all is hard enough. Then to unfold: only to fold again inside-out on a live canvas within someone else’s gallery, to show the insides of my paper, is frightening, grand, insufferable. I’m sorry to put you through my chaos. If my love ever sees the light of day, it’d better be of your daynight, your midnight, bizarre like tendrils, nothing but polka by a midnight sun. surprise, surprise,
I’m contorted anew in my terrified eyes, and so you see it’s hard to be see-through as I knock my own door down with a battering ram and chaos ensues. I’ll see you to the door if my see-through falls through; I’m sorry about all my chaos. Still I’m breathing and looking anywhere but up at you and offering up in my silence the dream that, if you’ll just maybe have me, I’ll walk with you for what it is—this rawness is only once: nothing but polka by a midnight sun, nothing but a daynight of your own and an indescribability of my own, a polka of our own in our own light of day.
Joshua Dy Borja
Maria left a phone book Wings A, I and T Were bent under licked thumbs. And Q, dedicated to variations on a Whirlwind carved in dying pen, Keeps a procession of ten numbers. This was to ring The exterminator But Maria, Old and with a broken kitchen light, Copied it incorrectly. Her nieces will not wonder When they fan themselves With the old thing.
You've Never Been Born "Maybe there really wasn't an America, maybe it was only Frank Capra." —John Cassavetes I. The snow is falling, the snow is stopped. Blood trickles into his mouth like petals from his daughter’s flower. The snow settles on his shoulders, hair, only to be dropped from his flailing form as he slips and slides through his hoarse and hurrying ode to joy. The ruin he half-desired destroys itself in the small town that has not died by angelic order, his immaculate unconception. You, in the blackblue light, watching, know better. You are the holder of such feelings, longings inarticulate, but know no angel will betray your sight. Like your nemesis, you were born older. II. Like his nemesis, he was born older; old all his life, a character actor, consigned to play the miser, by a factor of ten. His heart, though, was never colder than the role he assayed to perfection. He took his pleasure from the mirror that revealed, pitiless, his matchless peer: a spider, spun out of its own reflection, no more, no less. What Bailey calls a web, he calls America. It does no good,¬¬ illusions about a Dream. Whose mind is sick? He is himself. Like the Falls, he does not ebb. Who knows what else lies in that dark wood: soul as smudged as a kiss from Violet Bick.
III. Soul as smudged as a kiss from Violet Bick, but stainless, until the Hour of the Bridge, thwarted, but pure. I’m gonna build bridges a mile long… the charm of the man who kicks against the pricks. If he didn’t, would we care? Never more real than in his fit of rage, George peels back the cover from the cage, awakes the pretty, chirping dirge unfair, unfair of the bird that squawked nevermore in a far simpler age that never was, that was as neverthen as Bedford Falls. But how we persist. We are all worth more dead than alive, the future our only cause, crying foul as the promised years crawl. IV. Crying foul as the promised years crawl, but under his breath, perhaps too low for Harry to hear, though how Harry knew, sore in his heart for big brother George, sad, tall, awkward old George, who always did right by the boy for whose life he was responsible (as they say, faraway). Responsible, yes, count on it… and you did, don’t deny it, you who left him holding the bag of the Building & Loan, your father’s bones. A genius at research: you understood early the mystery that would drag your savior down: paternity, that stone. Gracious, escaped, you would, you could, you should— V. Gracious, escaped, you would, you could, you should thank the lucky stars that pulse in heaven, all the singing faces that now leaven the terrible thought that even now would singe your happiness like downed wires: I will never get out of here. Clarence, help me still to make sense out of nonsense, the trapped and rattling shards of my desires; uphold the terror of my old maid wife, 78
fainting dead away. I am belled, ringed with Auld Lang Syne. Is this the whole story? Are you there? I am hanging on for dear life to your Tom Sawyer! The wrong Twain. Now winged, the angel lights out for the territory. VI. The angel lights out for the territory, riding a rock through the jagged pane, where buffalo gals snort on a dark plain, pawing frozen earth, dancing to hoary songs of birth, death. In her ritual robe, moon-white, she knows the wish that life can keep even at cost of wider dreams. He’s asleep. She will wake him with moonlight, lassoed, or a desperate Hee-Haw, how ARE you? The Granville house rises like a vision, a quest. I wouldn’t live in it as a ghost. Yes, she tosses, you would. You will. You do. You will haunt your own life with precision, mine. This, this is when I will love you most. VII. This, this is when I will love you the most: when you apprehend that no one will jump in to save you, that no angel will trump life, and life’s despair; despair, always close, always the winter in a summer air, song deep beneath song, permanent solstice within solstice. In the land of forced bliss, hope is citizenship; survival, a dare to our fool uncle to remember the Potter’s Fields that daily congregate, beneath the living dead of evergreen; and the stars, as many as Decembers, that rise and fall across these strange states, like the snow, still falling… the snow, still clean.
Stars in Cars Samantha Memi Here we are in Beverly Hills for the annual Stars in Cars extravaganza. And it’s Brad Pitt in the lead in his Ferrari. Secretly hidden in the driver’s cabin is his wife Angelina; at the moment she’s on her knees looking after his gearstick. Hello Brad. Hi. What’s it like to be in the lead? Well, I don’t want to sound big headed but I’m used to being in the lead. For me it’s normal. That’s good to know. Thank you Brad. Let’s leave Mr Bighead as he roars off when his wife changes gear. Oops, I think he just said sorry for a slip with his fuel injection. So who’s behind Brad? It’s the gorgeous Linda Evangelista. How’re you doing Linda? Ooh, she’s very serious, concentrating on her driving. Do you think you’ll catch Brad, Linda? Anyone with a nice ass can catch him. No, I mean in your car. Oh, I see, of course I can. He’s useless if he hasn’t got Angelina to steer him round corners. She’s in the car with him now. She’s not? She is. That’s against the rules. Are you going to tell anyone? No, I’m not a tell-tale. What’s she doing in there? Moving his gearstick. Will that pair stop at nothing. I’ll get them. Wow, she roars off in a cloud of smoke. Ah, here comes Rita Hayworth. Whatcha driving Rita? A Lincoln Continental. It’s a big car. I’m a big star and a big star needs a big car. Do you think you can win? I don’t know about win, but I’m sure gonna push that little tart Jolie off the track. You know about her? I saw her squeeze into his car and hide. Cheap hussy. Not something you’d do? 80
Not so people’d notice. Bye Rita. Now, that’s what you call glamour. Oh, it’s Minnie Driver racing towards us at 200 kilometres an hour. Oh no, she’s hit the safety barrier. She turned to smile at a photographer, and now she’s flying up in the air. Whoa, Minnie, what did you think you were doing? I never look good in profile, so I turned to give my best view, and lost control. That was silly Minnie. You can say that again What will you do now? I’m just hoping I don’t land on anything spikey and get impaled. Oh no, she plonked on a spiky aerial and got impaled. Poor Minnie, obviously not living up to the family name. So it’s Brad still in the lead and Rita is gaining on Linda, it will be close for second. And even though Minnie is dangling like a kebab on a skewer the race goes on. Here comes Marlon Brando. Why are you driving a Ford, Marlon? Ahm doin fah soo looky maaam. Sorry? Aam droon frah social loki maan. Bye Marlon. You’d’ve thought he’d’ve learnt to speak proper by now. My, here’s Al Jolson. Mammy, how I love yuh. Is that the only song you know? how I love yuh, how I love yuh. Yeah, tell that to Minnie mah dear ole mammy Gotta let you go. And do something about your make-up. Steve McQueen. You’re looking good in your Jaguar. Isn’t that a racing car? Fast. Well, yeah, I guessed it’d be fast. So how come you’re so far behind? I gave them a head start. You think you’ll win? Of course I’ll win. I always win. You lost Ali MacGraw. Ooh, that’s a nasty look Steve. You know Marilyn Monroe’s behind you? Oh no, he turned to look, she smiled, and his Jaguar X120 has gone somersaulting down the track. Hi Marilyn. Nice car. It’s British. Curvy like me. Can you win? 81
I don’t care much for winning, I just wanna get myself seen. You’re looking good. Why thank you. You know you’ve got Brad Pitt lapping you? Well, there’s nothing like being lapped to keep a girl happy. Hey Brad, it’s Marilyn. Oops, Angie’s head suddenly appears with Brad’s gearstick clenched in her teeth. Mahwiline, she mumbles and Mr Bighead, seemingly in pain, smashes into a safety barrier. Hey, it’s George Bush. Whatcha doing in the race, George? I’m in a race? I don’t think so. I’m looking for a game of golf. You must have taken a wrong turning. I’d better turn back. No don’t! Oh my God. He smashed into Charlize Theron. Oh this is terrible. Both cars in a ball of flame. Not only 9/11 and New Orleans, but killing Charlize as well. George, you’re such an idiot. What’s this! Linda’s stopped for a photo shoot, What are you doing Linda. I see my favourite photographer, so I stop. Well, she’s out of the race. Let’s see who’s winning. It’s Marilyn just ahead of Rita. What happened to Al, Rita? I shot his tyres out. That wasn’t very nice. He wasn’t very nice. He gives a bad name to gollywogs. Can you beat Marilyn? If I don’t I’ll sure be a good second And it’s Marilyn in the lead. Oh no, she’s putting on lipstick. And Rita wins by headlight. Marilyn, why did you put on lipstick? You could have won. But I couldn’t be seen with smudgy lips. Well done Rita, how’s it feel to be on top My favourite position. Pretty dangerous race. I like danger. Well that’s it for Stars in Cars 2012. Be sure to tune in next year for more crashes and gossip. v
Men bounce around her like orangutans in heat. Her name is Blossom but they all call her V. She’s as lovely at seventy as she was at seventeen. The ravages of time have not taken their toll. She grows old un-enhanced by nips and tucks, and is untouched by botox collagen or hyaluronan. There’s no need for sea-weed wraps or thalasso inhalation therapy to fight a sagging bottom, belly, drooping eyelid or a turkey neck. Kim Kardashian’s Vampire Facelift is the height of folly. There’s only one concession for this look-a-like Venus: La Perla panties for 400 euros. Milton P. Ehrlich 83
Raven Angela Rizza
The Sun, Shining Through Trees Alexander Harding
The Moth That Spent the Night Christopher Woods
Artistic Cyrcle Divya Adusumulli
Bike Chain Nicole Bauza
Child of the Woods Angela Rizza
Phil Jung Thom Barbour and Jeff Grader
Linkâ€™s Revenge Angela Rizza
Georgian Loops Railroad (Colorado) Tracy A. Marciano
Angel Heather Larocchia
Statue of Liberty Heather Larocchia
Night Train Phillip Schumacher
The Suitors Angela Rizza
Owl Princess Angela Rizza
Let Me In Phillip Schumacher
New Job in a Small Office Third day on the new job and Sue calls. Will I hurry home and sit with our daughter while she runs with Sean to the doctor. I tell the boss why I’m leaving. He says too bad about the boy and calls the timekeeper who marks his ledger and begins to keen for the parents and for the deaf mute bobbing in the back room stuffing envelopes and licking them. I’m four tiles away from the front door when my co-workers rise from their desks, zipping their flies, changing their tampons. They sing, a cappella, “We’re all going with you.” Except for the receptionist who is eight months pregnant. Her nails are chipping, her ankles are swelling. She sits all day, eyes on the switchboard, ears in receivers, her stomach a zeppelin a moment from lift-off. When the others rush out the door it’s too much: She screams, throws her breasts in the air like beach balls and cries, “What soul among you cares: For months my vagina’s been itching.”
Planting in Rain We laughed loudly as the neighbors peered from their dry living rooms wondering what the hell we were up to now. And the baby, sitting in her stroller at the edge of the garage, what did they think of that? But the plants—tall and short grasses, peony, bleeding heart, black-eyed Susans—didn’t mind. They rejoiced with us, with the dirt under our nails and in our lungs. The scent of Earth cannot be chemically reproduced like some false perfume. What is wrong with the scents we were given, the ones that mingle with the environment, tell stories of our part in this recycled existence? There is only this one moment of happiness, of laughing out loud, that we will drag with us into the grave. You touch my hand, rain dripping over your eyes and cheeks like tears of joy. What is passed between us in the rain those neighbors would never understand, they would run from it, dry and alone.
Dream-Life George Morgan Scott The alarm erupts with “Come Together.” Ugh, six o’clock. You sit up. Bleak day outside the window. Go to the bathroom, pee, head to the kitchen. Dark. Turn on the light. Even darker, but now you can see. Make coffee, think about breakfast, decide on toast. Finish, take a shower. Cold water that doesn’t feel cold. Get dressed, pick up your backpack with your books and lecture notes. Head out the door, step into the black fog. The next thing you know, you’ve arrived at the university. The only person there, walking through the cloying black fuzz. Enter the classroom. Where are the students? Wait, movement. The fog lightens enough for you to see a student sitting at a desk. Only one there. All at once she glows with an emerald light, stands, pulls down her shorts and panties, turns around, bends over. You head to her, unzipping your pants. Her name is Lydia.
Then I wake up. ***
The alarm erupts with “Whole Lotta Love.” Eight o’clock. Sunlight streams through the window, a cool breeze redolent with the sweet scent of roses and the chirping of birds rustles the curtains. Lydia stretches and yawns next to you, gives you the look, walks her fingers down your stomach to your crotch. Then, after oral play, she gets on top. After you make love, you visit the bathroom, go to the kitchen where you make the coffee as she makes your breakfasts, then watch the morning news as you drink your coffee and eat your eggs. After that, you shower together, have soapy sex, get dressed, head off to work, she to practice with the symphony orchestra (she plays the flute), you to the university to face the first day of the fall semester. You drive through the bright, sweet-scented syrup. You don’t even mind the sappy song playing on the radio. All the sugar gives you energy. You bound into the classroom, look out at the 140 anonymous faces, go over the requirements of the course, launch into the first lecture, and your anxiety level rises and erupts as you realize at the end of the hour and fifteen minutes you’ve finished the entire course.
Then I wake up. ***
Like clockwork, your three kids jump on the bed. You no longer need the clock radio; the music is their laughter. The onslaught always 100
happens at six sharp. Even the dog’s in on the act. After the tumbling and tickling and giggling and barking, you all get up, head to the bathrooms, Lydia with Susie and Maci, you with Sam, then you into the shower while everyone else heads to the kitchen. As you towel off, sounds of Big Bird and Mario Brothers and Lydia yelling to hurry up or they’ll miss the bus waft up from the pit of flowery slime. You head down to the pit just in time to hear from Sam that Baxter just barfed up his breakfast on the living room carpet, and Muffin has scratched the sofa again, followed by a tearful Susie tugging on your pants leg and telling you that Maci stole her crayons, while Maci runs up and screams that Susie used her crayons to ruin her art project, and Maci sobs back that she was just trying to make it pretty, and just then Lydia arrives through the slime with a cup of coffee and leaves with the two girls in tow, while you slog to the living room and clean up the vomit—one more stain to add to the splatter art—then call Sam in and ask him what happened to Muffin’s scratch post. He looks down, kicks at the slimy carpet, confesses he took it to the backyard to hold the ball for batting practice. He runs over the surface of the slime to get it, and you yell to his back that you’ll pitch to him after work today. You wade through the goo to the kitchen and help Lydia finish the kids’ lunches, sit and eat your toast and cereal. Lydia rushes upstairs to help them get ready. They all scamper down the stairs, dive into the slime, then surface and slog to the door as the bus arrives. Hugs and kisses and they’re off. Lydia returns to the now slime-free kitchen and reminds you to stop at the dry cleaners and pick up the clothes, then says she’ll take the kids to their after-school practices if you take Baxter to the vet to see about his stomach problems. You say okay, kiss her good-bye, head to the door. She yells to your back that you have to discuss the family budget tonight. You sigh, nod, leave, drive to the university. Oh, shit, you forgot about that damn committee meeting this afternoon. No pitching to Sam. You head to the classroom, and just as you finish your first sentence the students begin to boo and hiss and throw wadded up pieces of paper at you and stomp out of the classroom, hurling “you sucks,” “stupids,” and “motherfuckers” at you as they file out.
Then I wake up. ***
Your eyes open precisely at seven-thirty, and your hand reaches instinctively to the left, to touch Lydia, but all it touches is the fabric of the sheet. The truth: She’s not here. Her funeral was yesterday. After forty-two years of marriage, she’s gone. The kids have all returned to their lives. They wanted to stay, but you said no, you had to be alone. They didn’t put up a fight. You get up, trudge through the sand of loss and regret and loneliness to the bathroom, then to the kitchen for breakfast, then back to the bedroom to get ready, then off to the university, plowing through the sand. You have to climb a dune to get to the classroom, and as soon as you open your mouth, the students begin to applaud and cheer, then, after a few more of your words, they 101
begin to cry and moan and scream and rush up to you. You race away, up and down the dune, through the sand, which slows you down. The moans and sobs get closer. Caring hands reach for you. Panic, panic, panic.
Then I wake up. ***
Your eyes open to the sun. The surf curls onto the beach in front of you, foam-flecked and peridot. Gulls cavort above you, laughing at the speck of human suffering below them. You take flight and join them. Retired, alone, eaten alive by regret and by cancer, you need company. In the clouds, Susie and Maci and Sam and their families, alienated from the crusty, smelly old man, looking but not seeing, no longer caring. Or so you think. Need to think. Students with sad-happy faces wave good-bye. And Lydia, also looking sad-happy but instead of waving, sheâ€™s beckoning with her hand. You reach up to touch her, but your hand goes through the clouds and touches the blue sky. Feels like silk. Like her skin. In his car. On the beach. He doesnâ€™t wake up. A smile etched on his face. v
Bel Canto Dame Divaâ€™s been dead twenty years or silent. Now sheâ€™s fallen, broken both legs. I could never watch her mannish jaw, the maw of her Lucia, but listen, yes. Ingrid, filming Golda, hung her swollen arm up on a hook to drain it before shooting. Sheâ€™d lost a breast. But luminous on celluloid once, always: white hat of longing. Leontyne, in her last Aida, entombed her voice in middle-age together with the tenor, the mezzo murmuring regrets above their heads.
Flammarionâ€™s Woodcut Engraving artist unknown
My Father Grew Roses Holly St. Jean My father grew roses. Not everyone’s did. I'm certain, too, that not everyone's father had a walk-in closet half the size of the master bedroom with racks of business suits arranged by color, opposite a wall of shoes and adjacent to a mirrored wall. (Mother's closet was a pantry). And, no other dad I knew baked petit fours, embroidered japanese tapestries, listened each Sunday to the majesty of Pavarotti, dabbled in cloisonné jewelry design, or mixed martinis on lazy summer evenings to share over the backyard fence with the lonesome housewife next door whose husband worked late. My father had a restless spirit, some sort of void that needed filling. And he tried to fill it with long hours at work and with hobbies: leather-tooling, pottery, wine tasting, photography. In '76, it was beekeeping that yielded a thirty-jar honey harvest. He proudly labeled each "William's Bicentennial Best." His Apiary Association certificate, which hung in our kitchen, now rests in a shoe box, along with an embroidered work of birds, a leather pocketbook emblazoned with butterflies he made me, a sepia photo of the two of us sitting on the craggy rocks of York, Maine, and a rose encyclopedia, on a shelf in my own modest closet. Although he never stuck with one endeavor long, including, we discovered, a wife and family, his quest for beauty was pure. One sunny Saturday in July, when I was eleven, Dad said, "Let's go for a ride, Toots." Following the stringent clothing and fingernail inspection, I knew he really was going to let me ride in the cream colored Jag with the air-conditioning and leather seats. Company car. A"perk", he'd explained, whatever that was. Sinking into the plush upholstery was delicious; nostrils and lungs filling with new car air. Heaven. Miles of country roads later, we turned into a dirt parking lot. Upshot gravel clinked within the wheel wells. The sign on the ugly building we faced read “Feed and Grain.” Dust clots bloomed about us. Dry silt stretched over the windshield. Dad winked. "We'll wash her later." The place smelled funny. A fat, toothless man whose head resembled a ball jar—round and flat on top—bellowed from behind the register, “Hey, Billy, yur aphid-eaters are in the cooler out back!” “Rightie-Oh, Dick!” Dad let go of my hand. "Stay here, Baby." I froze with panic. 'What was going on?' I thought as I watched Dad prance down a cluttered aisle in his pressed madras shorts, peach-colored polo shirt, and gladiator sandals. Dick, sopping sweat from his face with a gray cloth, stifled a chuckle, then said, "So, gardening with daddy today, Little Lady?" Low laughter rumbled behind me. I swiveled around. Two men, one who seemed to have no hands, just odd bulbous tumors trembling in his jeans' pockets, and the other man, whose large hairy hands juggled a black fishing rod, a red plastic tackle box, a pack of fish 105
hooks, and a carton of cigarettes, smiled at me. I turned back to Dick. He continued to sweat. Finally, after minutes of the four of us standing there breathing, the back door creaked and Dad returned, carrying a large burlap sack. I marveled at his strength. Dick and the two men stared, marveling too; burlap sacks weighed a ton—potatoes, ears of corn, sand—yet Dad carried this one as if it contained feathers. He hoisted it on the counter with nary a grunt. “Let’s see,” said Toothless Dick, pitching a fastball glance at his cronies, "$14.75.” “Okie-Dokie. And, Oh, Richard. If you would, tell Marion the club meets at my house, end of the month.” “Rose Club. Billy’s. Gotcha," Dick said, tapping a sausage link index finger against his skull. Then his finger pointed toward the entrance. He waddled to the end of the counter and stood before us in all his inhuman form. I hadn't liked Dick before as he stood behind the counter, and now I liked him even less. When behind the counter, I'd noticed the brass clips on his chest that secured the denim straps to his denim bib, I'd known he was wearing overalls. What I hadn't suspected, but now, at eye level with his gut, realized, was just how very, very fat Dick was. Untethered by a belt, his monstrous stomach paunched out before him like a sagging, deflating balloon. It filled every inch of material and hung and flapped over the tops of his treestump thighs. I tried looking away but couldn't. He motioned us to follow him. "This way, Sweetie Doll. I'll get the door for you and Daddy." Dick's behind was in equal proportion to his front and I worried that if one stitch should pop, Dad and I might be crushed by a ton of sweaty flab. The floor boards groaned beneath Dick's punishing steps, and the strip of sleigh bells nailed to the door, painfully jangled when he slammed it behind us. Billy, unaffected, strode to the car. But I turned back. Bells shivered still as I peered through the smudged glass in one of the small panes. Dick took a few steps and bent before the two men. He ceremoniously slapped a fat knee. “Rose Club!” Laughter erupted from all three. Dick wheezed, "My wife is in that Mr. Billy Prissy Pansy's Rose Club! Can you believe that faggot? His poor wife." Rage seared through me! I ran! I beat Dad to the car and got in. Reaching for the door handle in order to slam the door shut, my hand was halted by Billy's legs. "Oh no, Kiddo. I need your help." He put his head in the car, his eyes a calm blue. His trim beard tickled my face, as he gave me a smooch. My rage melted. "You have to hold this." The burlap sack! I feared its weight might break my legs. "Relax," he said, as he placed it on my lap. To my surprise, it was weightless and moving! “Just Ladybugs, Kiddo! They're harmless, much better than using pesticides," he said. On the drive home, Dad explained that ladybugs ate aphids, the tiny toothy bugs that would otherwise dine on and devour his American Beauties. He told me that in order to store ladybugs, that they had 106
to be refrigerated. The cold numbed them, put them to sleep. As they warmed up, they woke up. Reasonable. Okay. I thought about how cute one ladybug was. Super cute. However, this chilly bag was filled with how many? It undulated as if a miniature ocean storm were taking place inside. With each wave, I imagined thousands of shelled bodies waking up and climbing atop one another within the darkened confines of this, hopefully, impenetrable fabric. The material scratched and scraped against my bare legs where my cut-offs ended in fringe. The entire idea began to frighten me, but I held on. For Dad, I would be brave. Once home, we released the ladybugs over the rows and rows of red, pink, yellow, and white blooms. I held the wiggling burlap and Dad pulled the string cord. The ladybugs flew in out in all directions. Sunlight glinted like sparks against their armor. "Beautiful!" Dad said. "Beautiful!" I echoed. That Halloween, Dad took my younger sister and me trick-ortreating for the last time. A few days later, after he'd pruned all the roses and cleared up every flower bed, he left. My parents, both devout Catholics, didn't divorce. Dad moved to a large city in another state. He visited occasionally. He kept his financial obligations. We never traveled to his apartment. When we did see him, he seemed different, full-up, happy. When my sister was 18 and I was 22, Dad died in that city's hospital of AIDS. His was one of the very first recorded cases in the country.
Now, a lone ladybug spied warm and comfortable in my own home on a winter's afternoon reminds me of him, strong and beautiful.v
Where we are, how we did Devika M. Balaram
Introductions Asma Khalil, Queens native (Rego Park). Attended St. Francis Pre-School, P.S. 139, Junior High School 157. Attended Stuyvesant High School. Accepted to Columbia University. Wants to be a physician, thinking of specializing in cardio-thoracic surgery in Medical School. Major: Biology. Semester: 1 Updates Asma Khalil, freshman. Major: Biology. Semester: 2. Favorite Course: English 101, Andersen; meets 2:00 PM Tuesday, Thursday. Least Favorite Course: Intro to Biology, Simmons; meets 8:00 AM, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Girls, uninterrupted Will your parents let you date around, like with boys? (what do you mean ‘they’re strict’?) Why don’t you wear a headscarf? (aren’t you Muslim?) Why do Muslim women wear headscarves? (aren’t they free?) Wait, Muslims don’t drink? (what do you mean, ‘most of them’?) You’ve been to India! But you haven’t seen the Taj Mahal? (what did you do there, then?) Asma did not know what these seven girls knew about her after a semester of sharing the same bathroom and staying up late together on the same floor of the John Jay dormitory. She was too busy engaging in a never-ending skirmish with what they didn’t know. Foresight Stuyvesant High School had seemed almost entirely free of plain white people. Everyone was something – Jewish, Italian, Russian, Greek, Polish—and it wasn’t until 11th grade that a real white person revealed herself to Asma Khalil. Briony Koz—recently moved from Edison, New Jersey—was assigned a locker next to hers. Briony kept an illustrious collection of rare and limited edition manga comics in her locker, which she would lend out to fellow members of the manga club. It seemed every time Asma approached her locker, Briony would be twirling her Flubber-green hair and discussing the intricate plot twists of Kimi ni Todoke with a freshman wearing black lipstick. It was Briony Koz, who, on a tour of Columbia’s campus organized by the guidance counselor’s office, observed to Asma that the place was “remarkably white.” Asma first noticed the majestic buildings made of heavy stone and steel, the names of the great minds of the West inscribed above the arcade of columns of the Ionic order (A real life application of the stuff 108
they’d learned in Advanced Placement Art History). She imagined walking up the marble steps on which they’d gathered for the tour— every morning, a quick study break after an early class. She looked over at the stream of students with Eastpak backpacks hanging off of their shoulders, shuffling along College Walk in Levis and loafers. Class must have let out. Some of the students sat in little groups on the steps, passing around cigarettes and a Walkman. Asma watched as they took out textbooks and sandwiches from their bags and glanced benevolently at the tour group; of course you want to come here. “Don’t they all look the same,” Briony attempted again, as if reading her thoughts. Resolution There was a professor in the Chemistry department who offered an entire blackboard for students interested in sharing New Year’s resolutions. The resolution board, which sat in a second floor classroom in Havemeyer, would be kept alive until late February arrived and with it the start of science midterms. A Teaching Assistant would wipe away each hopeful, well-meaning offering, written in yellow or white. The blank board was thereafter to be covered in angry, scrawled attempts to replicate the Krebs Cycle from memory. Asma sometimes ate her lunch in Havemeyer Room 101 where the resolution board was housed. The dining halls were always crowded during the lunch hour, and sometimes it felt worse to sit with people and feel lonely than it felt to be quite alone. As she unfurled her plastic-wrapped sandwich, sometimes peanut butter and jelly, sometimes tuna and cheese, she would look to see which new promise had been added: will eat fewer fatty foods Zounds! Must save more $$ I vow to sleep more! And more and more I resolve to be nicer to my mother I will do my homework… I will. Promise to do dishes every night after each meal. These struck her as very nice thoughts, some of them hopelessly optimistic, if they needed to be articulated as resolutions in the first place. Apple Asma was biting into her apple, snapping off larger and larger chunks as she went, when the door to Havemeyer 101 creaked open and Caleb Martin Reed came in. He was a Black boy, looking up at her, tilting his head ever so slightly. She didn’t know him but she felt she must have seen him. There weren’t that many black boys here. He had hair that rippled across his head in what looked like neat, tiny rows of miniature heads of lettuce. He was wearing a checkered shirt under a black sweater; tall, dark, looked kind; handsome. Eyes shaped like hand-drawn leaves. He had a stack of books under his arm, one of them 109
Simmons’ Biology Text, Fourth Edition. She had the same one. He looked away from her, and at the board, and nodded again, as if to himself. She chewed a little softer. With every passing moment he looked ever more familiar; perhaps he lived in the same dormitory (John Jay). In fact he lived somewhere else (Hartley). Perhaps they had spoken to one another at a party. In fact he was speaking to her, just then, for the first time. He picked up a piece of chalk so small that from where Asma was sitting, it looked as if he were writing along the right-most edge of the chalk board with only his fist. Unveiling He did not look back at her before leaving, so he did not see her face steam up as she read his rolling script: “I resolve to stay awake during Bio.” Slightly He, like she, was seated in the back row of a basement amphitheater in Havemeyer Hall. He, like she, did not register anything of what Professor Simmons said about amoeba or drosophila or Peroxidases. From the center section he could see her clearly in the right-hand corner, against the wall. He watched her body rise and fall, her black hair somehow radiant under the dim fluorescent tubelight. In his Biology notebook were once-blank pages across which marginalia now ran wild – he drew squiggles and spirals and lines as he noticed the soft, deep dip between her nose and her upper lip, the length of her eyelashes, the way her feet would eventually separate themselves from her ballet slippers halfway through the lecture. He enjoyed seeing her enter the classroom about five minutes before the lecture would start, imagined she would wear the same scattered expression as she tidied her room and prepared dinner and ran to meet him for a movie. He watched her fall asleep as if she were dancing for him. Caleb Marvin Reed was slightly in love with Asma Khalil when he first heard her whispered snores across the lecture hall. And like most shy young men finding themselves in the presence of such an imagined and unimaginable woman from across such a distance, he spied on her from afar until the weight of his longing pushed him toward her. Formalities The following week she resolved to make it to Bio on time that Friday. Lecture had been cancelled but all lab sections were to meet at the scheduled lecture hour to complete lab 4 (Electrophoresis). Asma and Caleb were stationed across from one another in the main laboratory. Asma looked up at him every other minute. Proteins were separating in flashy colors in front of her, splitting apart at the pressures of the electrical charges that her partner, who wore a disinterested expression and ground his teeth for much of the experiment, was applying on the gel. Caleb looked up every so often to look at her, and the 110
cords at the edges of his tightened goggles waved back and forth, green and yellow dog-ears hanging at the side of his head. “Do you know that guy over there,” She asked her lab partner, not at all realizing the indecency of asking such a question of a perfect stranger whose name you have not bothered to find out. “Who?” “The one at station six, standing next to the girl with the braids.” “The black dude?” “Yeah.” “Caleb? He’s in Engineering, like me.” “Oh, really?” “Yeah, he’s smart, for a black dude anyway.” “I hope that I’m smart, for a girl,” she hissed, looking across the laboratory. Caleb was kneeling on the ground, helping his lab partner search for her pencil. He stood up when she found it, and looked across the laboratory with an expression that said “Stay with me, won’t you?” Asma Khalil looked down at her hands in their latex gloves to see that they were trembling. In the end, her severe distraction from her responsibilities at station 5 landed her in an extra fifteen-minute session with the lab instructor, Dr. Xi. She re-ran her gels without the aid of the unnamed lab partner, who had already left. Caleb and his lab partner had also cleaned up after themselves, though he had dawdled unnecessarily by cleaning some beakers that had been washed already. Dr. Xi waited patiently for her to finish and when she had completed it, gave her a B- on the lab. She did not care. Caleb was waiting outside the doorway for her, still carrying the Biology textbook under his arm, though it was at this point a formality. She immediately asked for a moment to organize her possessions that were spilling over and under her arms – a water bottle, a pencil case, a calculator, a lab manual, a timer, her goggles. He set down his copy of Simmons and relieved her of the calculator, the manual, and the goggles. She swung open her bag and he moved forward to put everything of hers that he was holding inside of it. She looked at him just in time to see the gentleness with which he was lowering her things into the abyss of the largest zippered pocket, as if he was afraid to fully let go. After class So how was your day today? It was pretty nice, actually. Oh yeah? Yeah, you know what – I’m thinking of changing my major To English? Yeah, I really – I don’t know, Caleb… What don’t you know. Whether— Well— 111
Sorry! Go ahead goahead. I don’t know if I want to study science. At all. I know it’s early but—this class I’m taking right now, it’s just blowing my mind. I mean we’re reading people I’ve never heard of. This isn’t like, the Barbara Kingsolvers and the Jane Austens I mean – we’re reading all these amazing – like Zora Neale Hurston, have you read her? Only Their Eyes Were Watching God— Well that’s a great one! We talked about it for a whole day in class with Anderson moderating the discussion. So cool. I feel like. Like I’m seeing the world more fully, differently than anything else I’ve used to see it. And science just isn’t doing that for me the way I thought it would you know? I mean Ihaab always said… Ihaab is my— —Your sister— Yeah, right, my sister—went to Hunter, is at SUNY Downstate right now, going to be a doctor, blahblahblah—my sister tells me all the time when I call her that Intro to Bio, if that’s no fun, then the rest of it definitely— —Hmm… —you know? The rest is going to be much, much harder and more… just… painful. —You should do it, then. You should just do it. — Do what? —Just go for it and change your major. —I know. But my parents wouldn’t be down with that. —But aren’t you here on a scholarship? —Yeah, duh… what a question...Wait are you laughing? —….whooee, yes, yes I am. —No scholarship, no Columbia, that’s how that goes, you know? —Same story here. A pause. —So what are you up to tonight? —Nothing much, really. Just got some reading for Conversations of the West, and then I’ll probably head to sleep. Or Ron will make me stay up with him and watch Jurassic Park on the player. —Oh, ha! I can’t believe you guys have a T.V. He seems obsessed with Stephen Spielberg. —I know, it’s good for watching games but the rest is just… the same three movies. But that’s Ron’s compulsion. —You know, Caleb… —Hmm? —I really had a nice time on Friday after class, when we got coffee. —You did? —I did. Did you? —What? Of course I did! I was a little worried I was keeping you from doing something else that evening! 112
—Ha, well it was really like coffee and then a trip to the dining hall and— —Yeah a whole evening of your time! I’m sorry about that. —I loved it. —You did? —I had a lot of fun. A long pause. — Asma—I’d really like to take you out dinner some time. A real dinner, I mean. Are you free… how does tomorrow sound? —I’d really love that! Tomorrow at what time? —After class, at 6? —That would be really— —Is that too early? —It is kind of early, but I was just going to say that that would be really ni— —Whatever time you’d like. —Okay. Okay. How does 6:00 PM work? —No, really. —Really. —Well. Yes, obviously it works for me, but you’re sure? —I’m sure. Sharing Asma Rego Park, NY Cats Destiny’s Child; Aaliyah Humanities Gobi Manchurian with Roti
Caleb Trenton, NJ Dogs Notorious B.I.G.; Jay-Z Engineering Mac n’Cheese, Collard Greens
Surprise This—it’s your first time too? Speaker, you are recognized The College Democrats held meetings out on the steps of Butler as soon as April arrived and with it fresh grass and the burst of cherry blossoms and magnolias in bloom. Augusta Coleman, then club president, was a Michigan native who wore mismatched socks and planned to study public interest law at Harvard the following year. (She was indeed accepted to Harvard, but chose to attend Berkley instead.) Augusta preferred organic symposium-style meetings in the great outdoors to the senate style debates that took place in empty classrooms during much of the fall semester. “Alright, everyone, today’s topic is Affirmative Action.” The week before it was Abortion Rights, and the week before that, Unemployment Benefits. 113
“Affirmative Action,” Augusta bellowed, cupping her hands around her mouth, “ProsandCons, in your little groups, go!” Caleb and Asma were sitting on the top step with two other freshmen, Larry Horn and Joanna Nowakowski. Political science majors who hoped to meet again some day in the Senate, Larry and Joanna smiled patiently at Asma and Caleb waiting for either to make the first move. Asma Khalil was not about to take any steps in any direction; she had no opinion on Affirmative Action to speak of, but had wanted to accompany Caleb to wherever he was going that morning after they’d spent a happy night playing Scrabble and making love with the windows open. She excused herself from the tense silence to contemplate the young maple saplings that had been planted across campus by the Greening The Scene club. She admired the small leaves, already sporting the earliest iterations of green, waving to her wildly in afternoon breeze. Larry could wait no longer, but politesse required that he begin with a question: “Caleb,” he said, “You’re black…” here Larry laughed at himself for stating the obvious. Caleb Reed smiled benevolently; what else could he do or say? (Larry, your powers of deduction are rather remarkable.) “So we should start with you – what do you think?” “So what do I think?” Caleb repeated, taking a deep breath and lifting his head from Asma’s shoulder. “I think Affirmative Action is an important step… there need to be more people of color at institutions of higher learning if we want equality to materialize. But at the same time—” “Yes,” Larry leaned forward, as if to encourage the criticism that was to follow. “Affirmative action still does not serve underprivileged people, African Americans particularly, many of whom need more resources early on to even have a chance at college.” This comment by Caleb Reed would be his last in the conversation. Asma turned to look at him, not fully understanding (I’m not very interested in politics and all of that.) but feeling the weight of Larry and Joanna’s thoughts, in a silence that was already breaking. “Well, I don’t disagree, Caleb,” Joanna said lightly, sounding very much like someone who just barely agreed. “I just think that affirmative action shouldn’t be built around race, it’s should really be about class. What we’re talking about used to be an issue of race, but now—” “But now,” interjected Larry quickly, “None of these things are really as big of a problem as they used to be before the Civil Rights Act of 19—” “What are you talking about?” Joanna looked like a bird of prey identifying a fat little animal in a field. “I’m not sure how you can say that these issues have gone away. Now it’s class, and not race, that’s keeping people from getting into schools like Columbia.” Pivoting to face Caleb she added, “So that means poor white people and poor racial minorities.” Asma Khalil realized by then that she and Caleb had been politely 114
dismissed from the stage. They were the sole occupants of the peanut gallery. She looked at Caleb – he seemed to retreat into himself a little bit, but there was an expression of serene indifference in his eyes. Asma cleared her throat loudly, not knowing what to say. Before Larry could respond to her most recent comment, Joanna said “Asma, do you have an opinion on this?” Asma’s heart threw itself against the walls of her chest. The conversation had been black and white and she was not sure what her irregular status as a “brown” was supposed to make her think. She tried to recall what had been said about Affirmative Action in a Law and Society elective course she’d taken in high school. She tried: “I suppose –the whole point of it – is to get more of those people who were… previously not allowed… into schools. Reversing history, in a way.” Caleb nodded carefully, and, reaching for her hand with one of his, grabbed her bag and his books with the other. “It’s been a while since slavery,” Larry argued, unfazed. “It hasn’t been that long since slavery, it hasn’t been that long since racism,” retorted Joanna. Larry disagreed because he felt he had to; Asma Khalil and Caleb Reed left the steps of Butler Library that day because they felt they had to. They would later look back and recall swimming in the fact of their loneliness, which would have been so much harder to bear if they hadn’t had each other. Sisters AsmaKha100: hey AsmaKha100: did you get my E-mail? AsmaKha100: With the picture Ihaab22: Of your boo Ihaab22: Your mate AsmaKha100: You can’t tell mom or Papa. Ihaab22: That he’s black? AsmaKha100: Mm. he’s also Christian. Ihaab22: Black and Christian, not too shabby! AsmaKha100: Ihaab! Ihaab22: I promise, Asma AsmaKha100: But really what did you think? Ihaab22: He kind of looks like Papa AsmaKha100: No, he doesn’t! Ihaab22: He does, a little. If Papa were more handsome AsmaKha100: And black Ihaab22: And young AsmaKha100: Ihaab I’m not in love with a younger version of Papa. AsmaKha100: I’m not, in love, with anyone. What did you think of him? Ihaab22: … you are SO in love with this black Christian guy from Jersey 115
AsmaKha100: Ha ha. What do you think? Ihaab22: That’s what I think. AsmaKha100: That’s all? Ihaab22: I won’t tell anyone. I have to get back to rotations soon – my break is almost over. I’ll call you in a few days? Ihaab22: Mubarak, Asma. AsmaKha100: Love you, didi Summer She spent three months working as a paralegal (her parent’s answer to her academic choices: law school). She used a pay phone to call Caleb on Wednesdays and Fridays – he was at home, too, working parttime at a pharmaceutical company in North Jersey. He came into the city on whichever weekends he could. Sometimes she would be able to fake plans with high school friends she no longer kept in touch with, getting her parents permission and taking the R train into Manhattan for the day. They spent entire afternoons in Central Park, kissing in the shade and running through the sprinklers in the children’s playground when the heat became repressive. He met Ihaab and was an instant success. (Remember how he helped me with that thing that was wrong with my car? And how he held the door for like everyone who was leaving the restaurant with us? Asma you know he’s for keeps, right?). One day in late August, while they were back-to-school shopping up and down Broadway, while he was carrying two bags of her fresh purchases, Caleb told her that he wanted her to meet his mother. Asma panicked because she knew what was coming. “When can I meet your parents?” “Soon, Caleb, soon.” “When will you tell them that I exist?” The final days of summer were spent turning the word over and over again. She tasted it in her mouth, heard it reverberate in her head: boyfriend. In good company It was during finals week that all the good study nooks in Butler were occupied by sorority girls and frat brats, and the entire marching band staked out the fourth floor lounge. Fall semester, sophomore year, Asma Khalil staged a migration; she walked the half-mile to the Engineering Library lugging Proust and Molière and empty notebooks she was always about to fill. The Engineering Library was a stark building and it always seemed to be next in line for heavy renovations. Normally Asma avoided its deathly silent corridors, its sitting areas devoid of comfortable armchairs, and the dirty unisex bathrooms frequented mostly by male patrons. But this was where Caleb worked – on problem sets or group projects involving elaborate mathematical modeling and Playdoh imaginings of the Brook116
lyn Bridge forty years into the future. Creativity, it seemed, could still be unleashed like a dream in such gray-walled and small-windowed facilities. But all observations were secondary to the fact that South Asian men, nowhere to be found in the humanities block, were suddenly everywhere. Behind the circulation desk, the University installed a twiggy Pakistani, who was paid minimum wage to silently process renewals and returns. A Bengali man in his thirties, a PhD candidate in chemical engineering or computer science, asked her what-does-your-father-do and where-are-youfrom-in-India? At all hours of the day and night, entire groups of them stood outside the building with cigarettes between their teeth. They sent heavy puffs of conversation (in Urdu, Hindi, Tamil) into the air, visible only under the bright lights of the emergency exit. Asma hated to see their dry toes peeking out of the tattered chappals they wore in spite of the December frost. There was nothing about them that inspired anything but embarrassment, but in crevices of her judgment Asma could feel a taught thread binding all of them to her. Caleb sat at the northeast corner of the 8th floor with his kinetics textbook and a bag of cowtail candies. Asma Khalil felt the weight of a thousand blackbrown eyes tracking her as she approached him. She was the foreigner (to the Engineering Library) (to the country). And so too was he a foreigner (to the University) (relatively speaking, to all of them. All them brown people). “I’m sorry it took me so long,” Asma said, stumbling into a chair. Could he see that she was disturbed? “It’s no problem, baby, I was knee deep in this stuff.” The formulas before him blended together; this is what they do, all these engineers. Inputs and outputs and estimations and coding and building and breaking. Caleb took his hand in hers and squeezed it. He leaned forward, threw both palms flat on the table, and rose a few inches from the chair he’d been sitting in for hours. He was about to kiss her, she the object of his affection, and so, the object of such fascination, to people who didn’t know her, but who could claim otherwise. So Asma Khalil turned her head and gave Caleb Reed her glowing cheek. It’s war, baby Asma sat with her back to the window. She had had a particularly grisly argument with a male student in her Postcolonial Literature class (she felt the urge to write oppressor across his forehead several times, she’d later admit). Caleb discovered her hunched over her notebook. “What are you writing?” “Here.” Confucius, Siddharta, Mandela, Emerson, MLK, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Lorde, Davis, Césaire, Marquez, Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, Virgil, Horace, Tacitus, Saint Augustine, 117
Aquinas, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, and Goethe. He kissed both her cheeks and chuckled softly. “All the old greats of Western philosophy—the names across the Library—are taking a cut.” “That’s right.” “‘A. Davis?’” “Angela Davis.” “And…Audre Lorde?” He grinned widely. “This is a revolt.” “Well yeah, I can’t think straight I’m so mad, so I’m imagining what the world could look like if these were the movers and shakers and writers we cared about the most! What this stupid campus could look like if we were anywhere near as progressive as we think we are.” “Who’s we?” “We the so called high and mighty liberal West, we the northeast, us dumbfucks.” Caleb suppressed a wide smile and said finally, “how come Saint Augustine makes the cut, here?” “‘Cause his whole thing was about telling your story as you lived it – he practically introduced the idea that an “autobiography” was okay to write. Plus, he’s African—” “Asma!” Caleb Reed suppressed a laugh. “You’re not serious; he lived in modern day Algeria…Africa wasn’t even…all this is just…what are you trying to do, here?” Her face fell for a moment, and then settled into a steely rage. “Don’t mock me, man.” This she said as she snatched the list from his hand. Caleb paused for a moment, eyes narrowing slightly. He stepped in front of her before she could leave his room. “Please, don’t try and pretend you’re the queen of all oppressed people everywhere, Asma.” He closed the door behind him and the names and their corrections fell to the floor from her hand. Assimilation Twenty years ago Ali and Jamila Khalil had moved into the rent-stabilized apartment where they still lived. Theirs was the youngest family in the building then and now. Then the linoleum floors in the kitchen had seemed new, and the refrigerator with a freezer built in had recently replaced its ancient predecessor. The slightly shaggy brown carpet was not yet the color of excrement, and the bathroom didn’t seem as small as it would years later, when Jamila would deplore her husband’s decision not to buy a condo in the building across the street when they were selling for cheap. It seemed that Ali Khalil was never quite sure that the things he owned would stay his forever. “We’ve brought two girls into this world, Jamila. We must learn to not have; with girls, you have them and then you don’t.” America had been at once kind and unkind to Ali Khalil. He had 118
left a lucrative job as an engineer working for General Electric in Hyderabad to move to Flatbush of all places, where his brother Nassim was launching a restaurant. It was America – the land of opportunity. Their parents had died many years earlier. One brother left, and somehow, the other brother could not stay. It was a restaurant and grocery store tailoring to the area’s growing Trinidadian population. “Indians will move here soon, you’ll se. Home prices are going up everywhere, Nassim used to say, no one will be able to afford Queens in ten years.” The burglary happened in their second year of operation. Jamila was with the babies in the tiny apartment the brothers shared, about four blocks south of the store. It was nine in the night, and they were half an hour from closing up. Ali had never thought it prudent to stay open past dinner time, but Nassim was always afraid of missing out on nurses and doctors leaving the SUNY Downstate campus at night, looking to buy some last minute groceries or a hot Samosa. “Customers will come, Ali,” he would say. Most of the time, they did. The first burglar came right after Ali had left Nassim at the helm, behind the register; Jamila had called asking for more baby food for Asma, who was only a year old. Ali puttered around the apartment, fetching diapers and assisting with the feeding. When almost twenty minutes had passed, he shuffled down three flights of stairs to return to the store to help Nassim close up. There was a crowd of people gathered around by the time he’d arrived, and a cop car had pulled up in the haphazard way that they did in the movies. The crowd was staring at Ali’s brother, who had fallen next to a stack of Goya beans. Nassim had taken three bullets in the head and the burglar had taken the meager earnings from the day – 120 dollars. In his grief and rage, Ali would not pass over their security tapes until he had reviewed them himself. 9:08:34 A man comes in bearing a gun –tall, black man who speaks with no accent. He’s from here, he’s in the neighborhood, he needs all their cash. 9:09:50 Nassim protests in his fluent, staccato English, asks the man to take some but not all of the cash – but the burglar does not want to deal with him. One bullet. 9:09:57 A second bullet. 9:10:19 The final bullet. The burglar was never found; Ali liked to think he died in some corner, perhaps a deadbeat junkie who’d overdosed and the world had been spared his sorry presence. The Khalils did not move back to India – Nassim would then have surely died in vain – but instead relocated to Queens. Ali opened a new store in Jackson Heights; it grew to be a sizeable supermarket with over twenty employees. Ali is an equal opportunity employer to a point–give him all your Mexicans, your Jamaicans and your Haitians, your Latinos, your Chinese, your Indians, your Middle Easterners, but not your tired black-American men and women; no. 119
Assimilation: this is how it begins. How will end? So are we..? —Caleb, I don’t want us to be apart for another day. —Oh Asma. Me neither… this summer without you was awful. —I know. I’m sorry, I was stupid and— —No I’m sorry, I was stupid and unfair— —Where are you? Advice —To be honest, Asma… when you tell them, you should be ready for the biggest freak out ever. Worse than the time you crashed the car in the parking garage. Yeah, I know, that was the worst—no, sorry, it seemed like the worst—but this will be even more yelling and Ma will cry and Papa will be so silent he may not talk to you for a week. They’ll take you to the Mosque probably, try the usual tactics. No, I just meant fear. What’s the imam going to do about it? Nothing, he’s going to do nothing. How was it to finally meet Caleb’s mom? You don’t want to talk about it? Asmaaaaa. American parents are all the same. They’re not foreign, this isn’t new to them! African Americans are much more used to interracial couples being a thing, I mean Indians can’t even imagine, you know, a Tamil dude and a Punjabi girl. Everyone knows that alread—okay, listen. NoNo, you need to just go in there and have a plan. Mom and Papa: this is the guy, this is my life, and this is the job I have. And he has a job too, and this is his job. He’s—Caleb’s an engineer! So he has a good job. And we’re paying this rent. And we’re going to get married. Of course they’ll make you get married. That’s when you know you’re in the clear. Senior Year Asma Khalil English, French Magna cum Laude W.W. Norton, Assistant to the Editor, Math and Science Textbooks
Caleb Reed Civil Engineering Magna cum Laude T.R.S. Associates, Assistant Engineer
Graduation Money A 3.4 Carat Swarofski Zirconia ring; looks an awful lot like diamond, sparkles brighter. Stand clear of the closing doors “This is a Forest Hills - Queens Boulevard bound R Train,” a man’s voice comes out muffled. “Next stop 63rd street Rego Park.” Asma Khalil straightens the sleeve of her husband’s spring jacket. “That’s us, right?” Caleb turns to face her. He is calm and knows that she cannot be. He has heard everything, and still he is unprepared for what’s to come. But this much he knows. She trusts he will be nothing 120
short of himself; she knows her mother will like him immediately. Ali, if he is willing, might have many things to talk about with them. Caleb’s job has him travelling to Miami to repair some important drawbridges; engineer stuff. Ali might then recall studying to build his first circuit while an engineering student many decades ago; it is a story of comic catastrophe that Asma has heard countless times. She hopes she will hear it again today. The subway car shivers and screams its way around a bend and Asma slips her arm through Caleb’s and their fingers weave themselves quickly into a single fist. The train will gently glide by the station platform’s edge. They will rise and hold on to the railing and to each other and when the doors open, they will walk through. v
Contributors’ Notes v v Artwork v v Divya Adusumulli is currently based in New Jersey, USA and originally from the beautiful bay city of Vizag, India. She has a Masters degree in International Employment Relations from the London School of Economics, UK. Besides working with several NGO’s such as Friends of the Earth UK, EIO UK, The Work Foundation UK, she is passionate about art work and continues to pursue it along with writing, photography, blogging which she feels helps her express herself limitlessly. The Artistic Cyrcle was inspired by a photograph her friend from LSE, Promit Lahiri (Flickr: novicenomad) captured. You can visit her blog at divyaadusumilli.wordpress.com. Thom Barbour earned his BFA in Photography from the Massachusetts College of Art & Design in Boston and he has taught B&W photography at AS220 in Rhode Island. A native-New Englander, he currently resides in Arizona. His photo/illustration collaborations with Jeff Grader in Massachusetts have bridged a long-distance gap since 2012. Nicole Bauza has been capturing the magnificent and mundane on film since she could hold a camera. She currently works as an organic farmer on the coast of Massachusetts. Eleanor Leonne Bennett is an internationally award winning photographer and visual artist. She is the CIWEM Young Environmental Photographer of The Year 2013 and has also won first places with National Geographic, The World Photography Organisation, Nature’s Best Photography and The National Trust to name but a few. Eleanor’s photography has been published in the Telegraph, The Guardian, The British Journal of Psychiatry, Life Force Magazine, British Vogue and as the cover of books and magazines extensively throughout the world. Jeff Grader is an illustrator from the wilds of western Massachusetts. His first picture book, Change: A Story For All Ages, took the one and only Platinum Award given for Children’s Book Illustration in the 40th Annual International Creativity Awards competition. His second picture book, Kindness, was released in November 2012. Alexander Harding was born in 1980 in Boston, Massachusetts. He received his BFA in Painting from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2002. In 2003 he completed an additional year as a special student in Photography. In 2011 Harding received His MFA from MassArt. Using Photography and other media, Harding’s work explores our physical and emotional connections to sunlight. He lives and works in Wallingford, Connecticut. Phil Jung, born in New York City, has lived and studied photography on both coasts. He is currently living in the Boston area and teaching photography classes at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt), in Boston. He is deeply committed to the field of photography and photographic education. You can see more of Phil Jung’s work at www.jungphil.com. Heather Larocchia is an English Literature major in the class of 2014. She is a native New Yorker, but has studied abroad in both London and Buenos Aires 122
during her time at New York University. Her travels have inspired her to continue to grow as a photographer and to indulge in other artistic mediums. Elena Linares-Low received a BFA with a concentration in painting from New York University in 2007. She is currently working in the field of illustration. Her artwork can be seen on her webpage www.elenalow.com or on her blog www. elenalow.tumblr.com. Tracy A. Marciano is a self-taught photographer from Buffalo, NY. Specializing in transparency film, she analyzes the use of colour and how it is woven into society in order to explore and interpret environments and experiences. As an undergraduate at NYU, she studied history and cultural anthropology, then she received a Master of Science from Pratt Institute School of Architecture in Historical Preservation. Tracy is currently pursuing a second Master’s degree at Columbia University for Landscape Design, focusing on nocturnal gardens and therapeutic gardens for mental illness. View her work at www.TracyMarciano.com. Kieran Murray graduated from Gallatin in May and is currently at work on his senior film project, Dolly. You can view his portfolio at Kieranmurray.carbonmade.com. Ansel Oommen is a freelance writer, poet, and aspiring children’s author whose articles have appeared in First Things, Pacific Horticulture, and Network Ireland, among others. Combining his passion for photography and the natural world, he now contributes images to several science databases. Robert Richburg was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Since his early years, he has been drawing from both life and his imagination. He has lived and created art in various cities across the Southeastern United States. He moved to New York City to attended college at the School of Visual Arts where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Cartooning. He currently works and resides in New York City. Angela Rizza is a freelance illustrator currently living and working in upstate New York. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2011 with a BFA in Illustration. After graduating, she began producing her own work, selling prints, and creating private commissions. Some of her interests include bird watching, kayaking, badminton, and even crossfit. Within the next few months, she will begin a Kickstarter to raise money for a children’s book about endangered species. Con Ryan is a graphic designer and photographer based in Cork city, Ireland. Phillip Schumacher lives in Duisburg, Germany and fell in love with photography in 2009. Much of his artowrk is surreal and magical, but he also takes portraits using his Cannon eos 550D or Olympus e-420. His portfolios are online at pipo.portfoliobox.net and also on flickr and facebook: facebook.com/pages/ Phillip-Schumacher-Photography. Avigail Soloveichik is a graduate student in NYU Steinhardt’s Clinically Rich Integrated Science Program (CRISP). She hopes to one day see the aurora borealis and to go horseback riding in Colorado.
Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Texas. His photographs can be seen in his gallery: http://christopherwoods.zenfolio.com. Tina Yu is a CAS sophomore pursuing an English degree with a Studio Art minor. Born in Qingdao, China, she also considers Charleston, SC and Pewaukee, WI as her hometowns. She spends her free time reading, playing with her cat, or on Tumblr.
v v Poetry v v Cynthia Blank is a Senior at NYU studying Dramatic Literature and Creative Writing. Her professional goal is to teach literature and creative writing professionally. Next year, she hopes to begin studies for an MFA in Poetry in hopes of achieving this goal. Joshua Dy Borja is a cobalt fog that gathered when, by instinct, you cupped your hands. Tracing the legends in your wallpaper palms, his smoke bloated and hurricaned and is spilling quietly—the arcs of your index fingers crown a levee that could hold him if you wanted. He also tumbles: joshersaurusrex. tumblr.com. Gregory Crosby used to be an art critic, but then thought better of it. His poems have appeared in Court Green, Epiphany, Copper Nickel, Rattle, Leveler and elsewhere. He co-edits the online poetry journal Lyre Lyre. Greg Drozdek teaches ESL and Martial Arts in Chinatown. His Songs From The Old Parish (non-fiction) and Nine Plays are available at Amazon.com. Milton P. Ehrlich Is a psychologist who has published numerous poems in periodicals such as the Antigonish Review, Wisconsin Review, Shofar Literary Journal, Toronto Quarterly Review, Dream Fantasy International, Huffington Post, and the New York Times. Melisa Garcia is a poet from Long Beach California. Her work has been previously published in Badlands, Askew and Creppy Gnome. Apart from working, in her spare time, she enjoys making earrings, reading, and editing poetry. Ann Hostetler is the author of Empty Room with Light: Poems and editor of A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry. She teaches at Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana and edits the Journal of the Center for Mennonite Writing at www. mennonitewriting.org. John Lambremont, Sr. is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he serves as editor of Big River Poetry Review. He has a B.A. in Creative Writing and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His poems are published internationally in reviews and anthologies, including The Chaffin Journal, Picayune, Words and Images, The Louisiana Review, A Hudson View, The Mayo Review, and Taj Mahal Review. John’s blog of previously published poems is found at jlambremontpoet.blogspot.com. Joanne Lowery’s poems have appeared in many literary magazines, including Birmingham Poetry Review, Briar Cliff Review, Slant, Cottonwood, and Poetry East. She lives in Michigan. 124
Donal Mahoney was nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes and has had work published in a variety of print and electronic publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found at eyeonlifemag.com/the-poetry-locksmith/donal-mahoney-poet.html. Eshani Medha is a sophomore at New York University, studying English and creative writing. Her work has also appeared in Generations Literary Journal, The Guillotine, and Spectrum Literary Magazine, and is excited to see her work in the Minetta Review. She is currently a Prose Staffer on the Yeah Write Review! João Matos Amaro da Silveira was born in Brazil, got tossed around the globe a couple of times and landed in NYU where he pretends to write instead of studying. If you’re still bored and want more, you could check out some of his work at joaodasilveira.com. He loves you, for reading his work, and lemonade, for being delicious. Michael Passafiume lives in Brooklyn, NY and is currently enrolled in the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program at Antioch University Los Angeles. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Alembic, Eclipse, KNOCK Magazine, Paterson Literary Review, Soundings East and Willow Review. Terry Persun has published three poetry collections and six poetry chapbooks with small presses. His latest collection is “And Now This”, published by MoonPath Press. His poems have appeared in Kansas Quarterly, Wisconsin Review, NEBO, and many other literary magazines. James G. Piatt earned his B.S. and M.A. from California State Polytechnic University and his doctorate from BYU. Broken Publications published his poetry book, The Silent Pond in 2012. They will release another poetry book, Ancient Rhythms in 2013. He has had over 350 poems, 31 shorts stories, 7 essays and 1 novel, The Ideal Society, published. Douglas Polk is a poet living in the wilds of central Nebraska with his wife and two boys, two dogs and four cats. Polk has had over 200 poems published in over 60 publications within the last two years. (NegativeSuck, Madswirl, Yellow Medicine Review, Danse Macabre, Vox Poetica, Boston Literary Magazine, Montucky Review, Inclement, The Rusty Nail Journal, Foliate Oak, Underground Voices . . . ) David Scronce is the author of “Letters to Liam,” a chapbook. His work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rhino, and 5AM, among other places. He lives in San Francisco and works in Berkeley. Gregg Shapiro is the author of the chapbook “GREGG SHAPIRO: 77” (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012) and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008). Shapiro is also an entertainment journalist whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites. J.E.A. Wallace moved to New York City from London a few years ago after a woman who turned out to be the love of his life asked him for a cigarette. He has been many things in his time—a barman in the Houses of Parliament, a security guard in an abattoir, the co-founder of the band The Crowd That Entertains—but right now he is very happy to be a married poet in Manhattan where his work has been published in The Write Place At The Write Time, 125
Hidden Chapters and Stained Sheets among others. Stela Xhiku has worked for The New Yorker, BULLETT and The Creators Project. She lives in New York City where she runs The Fly By Night (tfbnght.com), a website of art/fashion, and freelances as a writer and videographer. All of this is, of course, a euphemism for bussing tables, which Stela also does.
v v Prose v v Devika M. Balaram is a recent graduate from NYU, where she was a Martin Luther King Jr. Scholar, with a double major in Economics, French, and a minor in Creative Writing. Originally from Coimbatore, India, she grew up largely in Massachusetts and New Jersey. She enjoys reading postcolonial fiction, sending postcards, and cheering for the New England Patriots. As one of the Editors-in-Chief of the Journal of Politics and International Affairs at NYU, it was her sincere pleasure to share a workspace with the truly awe-inspiring staff and masthead of the Minetta Review. Caroliena Cabada is a Chemistry major at NYU. When she is not making banana pancakes, she can be found at polyproticamory.wordpress.com, where she blogs about things like travel, sustainability, and polyamory. Lucia Davis is a writer and journalist living in New York. She has been published in EQUITIES magazine, The Foothills Paper, iMedia Connection and PR News. Marie Kolarik will be attending Grinnell College in Iowa beginning fall of 2013. Marie has been encouraged and inspired by Ben Berman, her creative writing teacher at Brookline High School in Massachusetts. In her stories Marie strives to create vivid and playful characters that readers remember. Olive Lykins is a graduate of the creative writing program at Eugene Lang College, a division of The New School in NYC. In addition to working in a variety of production roles for MTV Networks, Olive served as a program coordinator for Lambda Literary Foundation in Los Angeles and recently returned to his home state of Indiana to open The Back Door, Bloomington’s only downtown queer dance bar. Olive’s debut memoir was lauded by Bill Clegg as “the stunning debut of a new, important voice.” Samantha Memi lives in London. Her chapbook ,“Kate Moss and Other Heroines,” was published by Black Scat Books in 2012. Her stories can be found at samanthamemi.weebly.com. Jesse Minkert lives in Seattle. Wood Works Press published a letterpress collection of his microstories, Shortness of Breath & Other Symptoms, in 2008. His poetry appears in Paper Nautilus, Eclectica, Naugatuck River Review, Floating Bridge Review, Harpur Palate, Aunt Chloe, Raven Chronicles, DMQ Review, and Snakeskin. George Morgan Scott teaches cultural anthropology at California State University, Long Beach and lives in nearby Lakewood. Valuing Tim O’Brien’s “story-truth” over “happening-truth,” George has turned to literary fiction writing. His work has appeared in Lullwater Review, RiverSedge, G.W. Review, and Broken Plate, and a forthcoming story will appear in Phoebe Review. This story in Minetta Review was inspired by a dream. 126
Jessie Nash’s prose and poetry has appeared in publications such as Wilde Magazine, Glitterwolf, T(our), Luna Negra, and Diverse Voices Quarterly. Jessie is a British writer who identifies as queer and genderqueer. Holly St. Jean is an English teacher at a regional high school in central Massachusetts. She has written fiction for T(OUR) Magazine, and has essays appearing in two anthologies: Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Stories and It’s in the Bag and Under the Covers (both published in 2011). Jon Steinhagen is a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists whose plays and musicals include The Teapot Scandals, Successors, and Blizzard ‘67. His fiction has recently appeared in Monkeybicycle 9, Wigleaf, SmokeLong Quarterly, The Atlas Review, and The American Reader. Robert Walton is a retired teacher with thirty-six years of service and an experienced writer. His story “Three’s a Crowd” was produced as a radio play and was broadcast on KUSF on November 22nd, 2006. His story “Dogwood Dream” won the 2011 New Millennium short fiction competition and most recently “Like a Thorny Child” won the 2012 CCW short story contest. Dawn Drums, a civil war novel, is available on Amazon. For further information about his writing, check his website: chaosgatebook.wordpress.com. D. Z. Watt lives in Scotland, where the people are lovely and the weather isn’t. His published writing is available at dzdubya.blogspot.com.
Acknowledgments The following pieces are published in public domain: Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s ‘Illuminate’ entry Excerpt from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Pascal’s Pensées, by Blaise Pascal, pgs. 17-18. Excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s Introduction to he Project Gutenberg EBook of Pascal’s Pensées, by Blaise Pascal, pg x. Excerpt from Arthur Rimbaud’s Illuminations XXVIII: Métropolitain Flammarion Woodcut from Nicholas Camille Flammarion’s L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire, pg. 163. Folly originally published David Scronce’s “London, A to Zed.” A special thanks to the following, who have been gracious enough to share our call for submissions, stengthen our online presence, widen Minetta’s readership, and direct writers and artists to our inbox: NYU Center for Student Activities, Leadership, and Service NYU Undergraduate Creative Writing Program: Jessica Flynn NYU LGBTQ Center, OUTPost weekly newsletter: Byan Zubay NYU Kimmel Operations Poets House Duotrope Lambda Literary Foundation Winning Writers UPenn English
Masthead Editors-in-Chief Diana Bauza Katherine Holotko Poetry Managing Editor Sonia Gupta Prose Managing Editor AzzurĂŠ Alexander Treasurer Jazmine Goguen Secretary Laura Kay Alves Publication Staff: Joshua Dy Borja Cally Simmons-Edler Avigail Soloveichik The Minetta Review is funded by the All-Square Student Budget Allocation Committee at New York University. Book design, layout, proofreading, by Diana Bauza and Katherine Holotko. This issue is printed by Offset Impressions. Special thanks to Jim Federico, Abby Fick, and Marcie Gensemer. All rights revert to the contributor whose authorization is required for reprints. The Minetta Review is a literary and arts publication managed by undergraduate students at New York University: Washington Square. Established in 1973, it is the oldest literary publication at the university.
Visit us online at http://www.minettareview.wordpress.com (WordPress renovation by Joshua Dy Borja)
The Minetta Review NYU Center for Student Activities, Leadership, and Service 60 Washington Square South, Suite 704 7th Floor, Mailbox 121 New York, NY 10012 Submissions firstname.lastname@example.org The Editorial Board’s aspiration is to put forth an assemblage whose parts and whole contribute to the reader’s creative flame. Be a part of that aspiration! If you are a proser, poet, prose-poet, playwright, painter, sculptor, photographer, digital illustrator—otherwise an experimenter of combining word and visual art—we encourage you to submit your work to the Minetta Review. We accept submissions worldwide. Any NYU student is welcome to be a member of your publication staff! To receive publication announcements and event reminders, join our listserv simply by sending a blank email to email@example.com. edu. Readership Selections are accessible online free-of-charge on the newly renovated Minetta WordPress and through the Issuu service. Print editions are made available free-of-charge to the NYU community and to literary hubs around Greenwich Village. If you are a New York City bookshop, library, coffeehouse, or cultural venue who would like to share the Minetta Review, send an email our way. We won’t cramp your style!