We’ll Never Have Paris 6: Now With Poetry Spring 2010 (In this order)
Jaime Borschuk – Please don’t confront me with my failures Lorraine Schein – Unemployment list and Science Friction Chris Roberts – I, Brigand Raymond Luczak – Marenisco Eyes, Pitch plus interview Aditi Sriram – Taking direction from a sunset Gus Iversen - Century hum Gillian Morgan – Paris, I need you Ben Mitchell – Kitchen window Buzz Poole – tell me about it Eric Nelson – Young, dumb and full of ink Cecelia Mariscal – if God loves ugly Tim Josephs - Kenny J. Berendzen Andria Alefhi – Picked it out of a hat. This is my life. +drawings by Gabriel Liston +cover art and design by Jaime Borschuk
editor’s note: Any essays mentioning the city of Paris are purely coincidental and not a requirement for submission. In fact, we’d prefer you didn’t. You can also title your piece something other than ‘things never meant to be’ or maybe skip that line in the text. Submission requirements: a nonfiction essay, poem, laundry list or outpouring on the theme of ‘all things never meant to be’, whatever that means to you. 1,000 words or less, as a word document to firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Facebook group, visit the blog, check out our We’ll Never Have Paris monthly show on Washington Heights Free Radio at www.whfr.org. WNHP6 thanks Gus Iversen, Vern Leon and Dave Cole, Jon Lamberton,Veronica Liu and Nathan Schreiber for help or the offer of.
Please Don’t Confront Me With My Failures Jaime Borschuk Today I randomly and separately saw 3 people with whom I’ve had poor romantic relationships. After the first two, I came home and buried my face in my pillow, thinking there must be some kind of meaningful punishment in such visual deliverance. But then I thought, no, I had been having a great weekend in which I was delighting myself with all kinds of positive thoughts. These visions were just showing me the difference, right? So I moved on with my evening, and went out for beers with a friend. I was in line to pee at Zeitgeist (the bar) when I saw dud #3. When he realized it was me, my turn was up and he followed me into the bathroom, closed the door behind us and abruptly began extracting blow from a vial. Hmph. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Not so good.” “Oh?” “Yeah, I’m seeing this 22 year old girl…” He said while taking a snort. I caught a glimpse of post-nasal drip. He looked at the vial, then at me, and his eyes politely told me that he wished he had more to offer. “Huh, yeah, didn’t you break things off with me?” I asked myself in disbelief, apparently out loud. “No, you don’t understand, I was doing you a favor. I’m a bad person.” And I realized he was right. About the favor. Despite his relentlessly altered perspective, he was still able to sense that I wasn’t like him and that I have the capacity to draw more satisfying attention. Maybe he’s not such a bad person. I felt oddly thankful and, after I finished peeing and he fastened his blow vial shut, we stepped back into the bar and parted ways. On Saturday I had coffee with a new friend who said that he found it difficult to date in San Francisco because people are frequently in transition and fairly determined to keep all of their options open. He also said that he liked midwesterners because they return phone calls, make plans and follow through. I said Amen to that, wishing that my Iowa roots would take a slightly firmer grip. Could these Iowa roots be my chaperone? A few nights ago I had a dream about a blue lemon. It was a really smooth and shiny blue lemon, with dimples. In the dream, I showed it to my dad. In real life, I want to paint it, because it had such a strong appearance in the dream that I can’t really explain it in words. It reminded me of the blue that Rebecca Solnit describes. The blue on the horizon that is the light that never reaches us. I started to think that the blue lemon was perhaps a sign for all the things I was never meant to be. The failures I thought were supposed to be successes. I thought of the blue lemon tonight while staring at the baby blue porcelain sink in the bathroom at Bolompie (Salvadorian restaurant) and wondered if I could just wash my hands of my old approaches.
Unemployment List Lorraine Schein 1. 99-cent store 2. Craigslist 3. e-Bay 4. Chef Boyardee ravioli 5. peanut butter 6. thrift store 7. mystery shopping 8. medical guinea pigging 9. focus groups/opinion polls 10. handing out flyers 11. $1 menu 12. tattooing website ad on forehead 13. instant ramen 14. water 15. coupons 16. surrogate motherhood 17. library 18. dental schools 19. art show openings--wine & cheese 20. 1.29-cent store
Science Friction Lorraine Schein I was thrown into this whirled. Born in a storm, during a house Later, I found out I was adapted. But who were my real apparents I flew on a moon to the asterisks to find out and met my true love in the anomaly, who told me my sex, and where I could find my real blather. She was living in the bottom of a teacup, on another planchette. She was mad to see me.
I, Brigand Chris Roberts While clutched in the steel grasp of schizophreniaâ€™s hold, all became manifest and with an urgency I realized what was to come would be life or death. I was chased quite literally across the last hours reigning so figuratively and I raced ahead of the mob with my heart in my hand and I saw what I sought in the distance that which appeared in vague outline at first. It was festooned by the very dripping mist and I kept ready in mind a hope alive that when the signpost be revealed by the early dayâ€™s lifting of vaporous veil the marker in the road would not command the traveler to follow its writing of place and direction but instead to be absent any lettering and deliberate strokes set down by manâ€™s hand. I did have much anxiety for I had never before taken the path trodden and weighed down by the footprint of man who blindly traipses along the proscribed way spelled out by maps and X marks the spot that this is the way one must go to Fargo or Paris then straightaway to merry ole, incredibly old England or to any named geographic impossibility that ends with the oddest of letters that being U. When at last I saw what the sign said my horror drove my to the right and headlong I went tumbling into the clearing where I caught my footing and I raced and I raced and I raced. I threw off the great rabble behind me by my sudden turn and for the moment I flew free and away and aways across the great open land that opened before me in many hues of green. In yards of hundreds I had put much space between me and my pursuers and so took to my advantage a slower pace but was neither sure nor assured of any lasting moments that I could keep in the company of self. And so I slowed down to a brisk walk and took in the natural environs and the green fields were stripped back to reveal a brilliant conflagration of wildflowers of differing heights and colors assorted and resorted painting a picture absent paint and brush of pastoral innocence and how I wished they would do a portraiture of me and kept my thoughts to such thoughts and looked above to the clouds that arranged themselves rather distant to one another and not wanting to be in close proximity to their billowy fellows as is sometimes the case when the great vastness is yours and it is only a matter of wafting into a corner all to yourself. Now this was to count a mere minute of time that my eyes looked to this curious dispersing and then the timing of such was cut to the quick made not whole but half for at the thirty second mark the clouds so swift assembled together with purpose most dark as was such in there achromatic composition absent altogether the various hues and all the heavens assembled to threaten a monumental deluge such as the Bible the Koran and the Torah reveal in attestation to that which is heralded by the furious elements and one need only open
the Holy Books and you will find it written in antiquity’s ink which is colored by soot and mixed with gum the penmanship nearest to the arts and in flourish set down in cursive style yet the words so reliant on pigments strength becomes antiquated and paragraphs fade and whole texts follow then what is left of these religious tomes is the very essential combination that once held words to pages it is now separated from the adhesive properties of gum and cover to cover the composition of words fall back in time to what once was of pure soot to take in your hands and fall through your fingers the great books and the only way out for the faithful is to fall to collective knees and pray before the gilded golden jeweled idols empty handed in houses so holy and consecrated by any number of particular religions led not by woman but by man and under the shadows of statues made by men not Gods. I did not think the suddenness with which the weather changed to be a portent nor a symbolic measure meant to hinder me my flight from the mob. I was assured of such made aware of such and it was made a matter of fact to me by a song that took on physical form in the shape of a long wooden flute in the faraway atmosphere and all the jewels of sound it possessed such as tone and pitch the mastery of modulation that too includes the regulation of volume which is of utmost import in sending a musical message from so far above. I would have preferred had a preference to receive from the sky riding flute a declaration scored in free flowing lyrical tunes but such was its great height it was filtered by space and was music no more and to my great disappointment never to be heard by me. So instead I paid heed to the calling down from the aforementioned storm clouds that not a raindrop would fall on me and too the lightning strikes were so ordered to doom down their electrical strikes away from me and to be carried so by the wicked whip winds of which again I am to be made impervious from and in these three immunities I wonder if it be numerical divinity or do the rogue clouds have for me an affinity. True to their word the celestial rainmakers unleashed a torrent and even truer I was not touched and the winds and lightning danced around me in circle and so enchanted was I by this brilliant display I too wanted to play and threw out my hand seeking lightning’s charged grasp but as I moved so too the circle shifted and denied was I a tangible connection a true partner in dance. I felt this unfair did not want these forces near my person so in the very pique of mood sent them scattering and still raised my voice again and told lightning and wind both it was not far enough and such was the such of anger I cast out the driving rain falling down many columns of water and in form so distinct I was reminded of the pillars that bear the weight and fame of the Acropolis and I would have liked of my mind to build up every ancient Greek building from every spectacular spiral of precipitation but had not time to spend in optical construction and so as I speak as is my wont the banished elements are exactly that and a saying comes to me I once thought more trite then true “There is not a cloud in the sky” yes indeed there is not but rather it is races like a brigand the fugitive blue. Having made motley the horde that pursued me and knew
now was the time to shake loose the chains that weighted me down constantly in my flight and would continue to do so for I am brigand never allowed rest on this earth and so with kiss to the ground I hold dear I was now ready and in an instant I discarded bodily weight and made light of myself to join with the firmament its freedom of movement and I soared, never to know the confines of time and other earthly burdens again.
drawing by Gabriel Liston
Marenisco Eyes (for “Buzzy” Contrerio, in memoriam)* Raymond Luczak My passport is from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. You went into exile at the age of 18. Twenty-five years later we traded names in ASL. You lit up when I told you of my homeland. “You’re from Ironwood?” I nodded. “I’m from Marenisco. Thirty minutes southeast.” In that one moment, you turned young again, your face a pristine land awaiting discovery. Our eyes sang the language of summers roaming freely in the woods, past deer droppings, fox prints, strawberry patches, partially-eaten rabbits. Alone, each of us daydreamed ourselves superheroes against boys who’d thought our ears defective enough to warrant their super powers of mockery. In winter, we pulled caps over our ears as we dove into the white, down the hills. Those boys screamed and spun as they died a thousand imaginary deaths. We had hardened in their gulag of glances and of dirty jokes that we couldn’t lipread. Dreaming revenge was the only way we kept warm. We learned to keep quiet as mice, counting the seasons’ rosary beads until the day we would grow up and leave the cradle of the woods behind those boys. Our eyes had taught us how to translate the seasons. In exile we dreamed in that lost language. Miracles did shimmer everywhere no matter the day. One only had to know where to look. Even a square foot of soil was rich with history, species and smells commingling in struggle. Somewhere in our former homeland there must be other expatriates like us, who’ve mastered the pain of distance, knowing that blood alone isn’t family enough. One day, when I’m dead, you will hand back my passport, welcoming me home.
Pitch* Raymond Luczak Cups of tea undulated steam between us as we sat and crept closer than ever before. Desire caffeinated throughout our veins. I pumped up the volume of laughter in your eyes and what little symphony I could hear of your voice conducting stories. I had explained the science of my hearing. Partially broken nerve endings. Lipreading. Speech therapy. Technological inadequacies. You finally stopped. “Mea culpa,” you joked once you caught that I couldn’t follow everything. Your face sang the full orchestra of regrets. “Me what?” I repeated. “Oh, no, you don’t quite understand.” You sighed. “Never mind-it’s not that important. Sorry.” Your averted eyes dropped a few octaves of our initial bright choruses until I could no longer feel your silence: an empty chair, a tip of quarters on the table, a half-hearted promise to keep in touch, and a day wasted wondering why I even bother.
*From Mute (A Midsummer’s Night Press, 2010) © 2009 by Raymond Luczak. All rights reserved.
Interview with Raymond Luczak Raymond Luczak is the author and editor of more than ten books, including the award-winning novel Men with Their Hands (Queer Mojo). He has just had an interview with Time Out New York. His web site is www.raymondluczak.com. Editor: I also just read an interview you gave to About: deafness. I enjoyed reading that. It covered areas in your life albeit in an outline / categorize kind of way. RL: If you’re looking for another interview that’s a bit more in-depth, I have one at WordGathering. I’ll check that out I love the titles of your works. This Way to the Acorns and I Never Slept With Helen Keller. Tell me about those why was the play cancelled? This Way to the Acorns was originally part of my first collection St. Michael’s Fall, but I realized that the poems about nature interfered with the overall story of my experiences with speech therapy and Catholicism, so I took those out and made them into a book by itself. Hence, This Way to the Acorns. The title refers to a chipmunk that doesn’t understand the importance of seasons, and an oak tree shows him “this way to the acorns.” As for I Never Slept with Helen Keller, the title had been long gestated in my head, but I didn’t know what it should be. A poem? A story? A play? Then when the Fringe Festival came up, I thought I’d apply and see if I could get in. I didn’t have a script but I knew half the battle was coming up with a catchy title because there were about 150 other shows competing for everyone’s attention during the ten-day festival. Wait! Do you mean to say...This Way to the Acorns is a tongue in cheek reference (the pun!) to speaking like you have acorns in your mouth? Is it? Because if it is, that is brilliant! Oh, no, no. This Way to the Acorns has nothing to do with deafness. Sorry to disappoint you. I never thought of it that way. Well, you were talking about speech therapy and nature and one interfering with the other. Unfortunately IM is all about interruption. Yeah. Kinda like life. Though, as we speak, I see that speech therapy is a common theme for you. Yes, it was. I don’t write much about it anymore.
It’s hard as a hearing person to imagine the amount of hours, physically and emotionally, that you had put into developing your own speech, and having that kind of relationship with another person. Yeah. Many hearing people take it for granted that I can speak. But when I ask them to learn some ASL signs, some of them get offended. They feel it’s too much “work,” never quite understanding that it wasn’t easy for me to learn how to speak. Many hearing people, unfortunately, do not understand what it means to come halfway on the bridge of communication. They think they do, but they don’t. They see communication as sound-oriented, period, when true communication has nothing to do with sound! Sound is only part of the equation known as “communication.” Yes, it is interesting. As an interpreter I am always bombarded with praise, intrigue or idiotic questions. My family has not learned a single sign even though my boyfriend who is deaf has been around for 8 years. Why am I not surprised? My own mother has never learned a single sign either, and I’ve been around 44 years in her life! So you said you don’t write much about speech therapy anymore, but between speech and writing about ASL, you have a lot to say about communication in your writing. The theme of my zine We’ll Never Have Paris is “for all things never meant to be.” As someone who thinks a lot about communication and is a member of different groups of society, as a writer, as an individual, what would you call your ‘never have Paris’? What is never meant to be for you? Where does the limbo stick lie? I will never be completely accepted by a single group. I will always be an outsider even if I seem to be a card-carrying member of the Deaf community, the gay community, the Deaf LGBT community, the straight literary community, the LGBT literary community, and my own blood family. I speculate that writers all feel that way. Is that your experience also? Ah but you belong to the writers community too. Do you feel at home there? Not always. Hearing writers don’t always know what to do with me either. So I’ve given up completely on the notion of being accepted as part of a group. I just look for individual friends who accept me as I am. Helen Keller: I had always felt that it was impossible, cognitively speaking, for HK to learn language to the level she did, having words spelled into her hand. Our brains can’t jump from the letter-by-letter level to digesting strings and paragraphs of information. It is not possible. Any thoughts on that? Well, there’s something that most people don’t know about HK. When William
Gibson created his myth-making play The Miracle Worker, he very conveniently left out the fact that HK already had language of sorts. There was a young girl about her age; she was the daughter of the African-American cook who worked in the Keller household. How did these two girls communicate? They used homemade SIGNS. When Annie Sullivan came into the picture, she immediately banished that girl. (I forget her name at the moment.) She saw signs as not equal to English. HK knew how to communicate via the tactile method, but it wasn’t seen as “language.” More like how barbarians would communicate. It wasn’t equal to English, which was why Annie emphasized fingerspelling only. It was the closest thing to approximate English in her mind’s eye. But, there is tactile sign; sign is the morphological level of meaning. Spelling letters is not. Which is it? HK insists all the way through college it was spell spell spell... So she learned English, but not language, from Saint Annie. HK simply fingerspelled and typed. She had a lot of books transcribed into Braille for her. There’s a fascinating clip of HK talking with Annie Sullivan online. She keeps poking her fingers into Annie’s eyes inadvertently from time to time while trying to “read” her lips and throat. Do you believe it though? I truly do not. It is not possible for how our brains work. Even Braille I have to wonder about. I am not an expert on it at all--but I know how our brains learn to read. We learn to see words as a whole, and that is when we are fluent readers. A Braille reader, how do they make that jump? I’ve always thought: Wouldn’t it have been so much simpler if she just signed?!? So with my play I Never Slept with Helen Keller, I wanted to topple the myth of her (and Saint Annie) off her pedestal. Many DeafBlind people don’t accept her. She never went out into the DB community or learned how to sign, *even* though that was how she kept the idea of language, even through homemade signs, alive before Annie came along. Right. She set the stage for helplessness and warped personal boundaries. They shared a bed, you know. I know! And when she fell for a man (Macy, I think, was his last name), Annie (or her mother) said no, he wasn’t appropriate. So Annie married him for herself, and HK never got married. I kid you not! It’s very interesting because on one hand, you could say that Annie wanted to keep HK as sexless, because the very idea of a disabled person being sexual is too hard to take for those who want to keep disabled people “helpless” so therefore the able-bodied would always be needed. Yes, that’s exactly right. I know. Well, this is an exciting place to end an interview. HK and Annie Sullivan in bed together.
Because if a disabled person has sex, it implies independence of body and thought and free will. Raymondâ€™s poems in this issue are from his new collection Mute (A Midsummerâ€™s Night Press, 2010)
drawing by Gabriel Liston
Taking Directions from a Sunset Aditi Sriram The energy pulses from the crescent-shaped streetlamps and rustles in the palm trees. It slaps you in the face along with the heat, as you step off the plane and take in your first breaths of Egyptian air. Inside the airport, restless tour guides take over with a swagger you come to identify in every Egyptian man. They bark in Arabic to their colleagues and brandish pop-song-singing cell phones. Conversation, commotion and smoke arc across the ceilings, buzzing indiscriminately in everybody’s ears. You become keenly aware of men everywhere. Bushy eyebrows, abundant facial hair, tall figures, Cleopatran noses, handsome faces, wide grins greet each other with kisses, hugs, cigarettes and praise to God; Al Hamdullilah! “Welcome in Cairo,” a sign reads. First stop, the Nile. The ‘Corniche’ is the name given to the street on either side of the banks of the epic river. You walk along the shaded street, ducking under palm tree leaves eager to bid you salaam and stepping over stray cats, and you get a sense that there’s more to this river. The rich voice of the muezzin, who performs the call to God five times a day from the mosque, penetrates the air. You expect a Cinderella effect—people turning into prostrating pumpkins—but no such metamorphosis occurs. Idleness hangs like a heavy curtain in the polluted air of Cairo that vehicles and people struggle through at every moment. Cars crawl because of the hordes of pedestrians threading carelessly through them. Men wield their lust like their cigarettes – unhealthily, frequently and carelessly. They call out to you, a look, a leer, a word, a verb, a full sentence bludgeoning your comfort and dignity, and you wish there was a real curtain hanging from the sky that you could hide behind. You admire the nonplussed local women who tuck their phones into their head-wrapping hijab, making them Bluetooth friendly, while men tuck their machismo into their pants; it oozes out uselessly. That evening you visit Al-Azhar mosque. You pad through the heavy gate, barefoot, and encounter utter peace. In spite of the bustle raging on the street just steps away, a gentle hush has settled over the huge courtyard—blowing away the heavy curtain from earlier—and you can’t help but whisper. Domes bulge, then taper into a perfect point, their curves both calming and alluring. You are struck by the detail everywhere, everywhere. Lattice work on the doors, patterns painted on the ceilings, calligraphy etched onto the walls, lights casting the enormous structure in a divine glow. You sit on the soft carpet and your head naturally tilts back to gaze upon the towers sprouting from every corner.
You’re moved to pray, to ponder, to stop thinking and allow the mosque to work its magic. It does. You feel cleansed. Back on the street you admire the juxtaposition of hand-to-mouth street vendors smoking sheesha next to architecture from millennia ago. The mosques stand as tall as the alleys are narrow, their minarets as solitudinous as the streets are crowded. You are struck by the effortless symbiosis between the city’s base and its lofted spirituality. Energized, you press on, deeper into the city. The beauty rising out of the ground deepens your humility. It would take two fully-grown men standing one on top of the other to reach Pharaoh Ramses II’s statue’s toes. You scurry inside his temple—for you are but a rodent compared to the grandeur and scale of the temple—and are immediately cooled by the shadow-draped pillars and walls, which boast stories of glory, victory and knowledge. Snakes streaked across ancient papyrus rolls look like fluid Arabic script, dotted, punctuated, calibrated by smaller figures carved in permanent obsequiousness to their king who watches over them with a steady smile. You marvel at the Egyptian habit of sharing, spreading and preserving stories for future generations. The text may be cryptic, but the message rings clear in the enormity of the temple. You put your hand on the wall and touch hieroglyphics that were carved into these walls thousands of years ago; the essence of the story penetrates your skin and rushes through your bloodstream. Later, you enjoy some moments of sun-setting silence. Egyptian mythology says that the Sun God Ra is swallowed up by Sky Goddess Nut every night, who gives birth to him the following morning, and you watch Ra diminish above you. Now Egypt has turned green—the color of Islam. Every mosque lights up, casting an emerald glow along the Nile, announcing pinpricks of civilization along the endless riverbanks, heralding the start of a town or city. Cairo breathes a constant dance: Pedestrians dodge traffic; women dodge salacious men; men dodge the tourist police and police dodge protocol and demand baksheesh. You are standing in the middle of the bustle of a congested, smoggy city, listening to the pure voice of an imam bellowing out a prayer to Allah, eating your final falafel and watching the sun set behind a pyramid, resisting the urge to snap one more picture with your free hand. Your hair smells of cigarette smoke, your fingers taste of hummus and your sandaled feet are tickled by the sand. Egypt is not a “clean-toed” country and you couldn’t be happier for the dirty and dusty memories you have inhaled and absorbed during your time here. You survey the street, now familiar and friendly. You remember the woman with
whom you managed a three-word conversation in Arabic in order to use her phone. You can still taste the lunch you had with a Bedouin family a week ago. And you can’t forget Samir who drove you through his favorite parts of Cairo with colorful running commentary. You fit in, didn’t you? The colors sinking from above, couching a sleepy sun, steer you onwards—you aren’t meant to stay. This isn’t home. Where to, next?
Century Hum Gus Iversen She’s falling asleep below a giant rackety fan Spinning enormous feelings into her melting shape Witness her unfolding Expanding darkly through the dust and the metal clang Twitching vertigo Like the baby With no memory of itself or Its reflection Bunched up into This metal chair His feet are alarm clocks With a cold cup of coffee And particles drifting Aimlessly under sunbeams His silence Is an interpretation Of her silence
Paris, Je ne t’aime pas, I need you. Gillian Morgan We thrive at night and play until morning; there are no worries here. Daytime is cafés, espresso, boulangeries, fog, métro stations, electricity, steel beams, red paint, damp air all wrapped in a snow globe. We have met many generous French people to spend our time with; our time is this moment and there’s no end in sight. Past, future, time doesn’t exist anymore, this is life. The cold is in our bones and we sleep in our winter coats. This is all we can afford in the city of lights, but look where we are, we don’t complain. We drink, we dance, we sing, we smile with our teeth and don’t think about tomorrow. Snow falls wet and heavy into the slate river. We walk back and forth across the bridge, we pretend we are famous in the Tuileries, and no, we don’t speak English. We live on French time now, we pay in euros. Merci monsieur, merci. Life is ours, not theirs. We are the kings of the world, of the Latin quarter, of le Marais, of Rue Pecquay. We can take you to this little café off Rue du Temple where they know us by name. They ask us if we want the usual. We do. Can you feel that electricity? It’s found us again; we are electric. We sleep late, waking to American classics played on an electric guitar. The sound ricochets off the winding hallways and the empty courtyard. Vin chaud at l’etoile manquante, twenty minutes sent from heaven. We stand in front of a red wall and take pictures of ourselves. No “pas de flash” here, we’re not in Giverny anymore. And Claude wouldn’t mind. It is the fevered music in the métro tunnels, all lined in shiny white tiles. It is a human connection with a techno beat. Over three hundred steps out of the métro, weak beware. We have been smoking too many cigarettes for this. God does not care about material possessions; he just wants his ten Euro for the plastic rosary. We have overthrown the rulers; we have only ourselves to turn to now, as we sit on the steps looking at our city. “Some people call me the Don Quixote of the Latin Quarter because my head is so far up in the clouds that I can imagine all of us are angels in paradise.” But Dostoyevsky didn’t write the story of my life before I was born and I don’t have a daughter yet, so let’s get pain au chocolat and dream some more. The Madame says “Le diable, il habite ici.” He just might. Or he might exist a little closer to home. Is this a museum or an art gallery? If I had the money I’d buy this place and we’d stay here forever. The first notion of mortality leaves a bad taste in the brain. Will there be a future after this, can life possibly continue somewhere else? Pour moi, la mort est un gain. I love you, I hate you, I just need my independency. We are free from who we thought we were. Our identities are now; we exist only in the present. As each moment slips into the past, we vanish from it. Bonsoirée to the Supermarché, we are here again, so smile. Stilettos on stone,
it’s gritty under Hector Guimard streetlights. There is devastation on the horizon, but the air is still, even though the tsunami has already blocked out the sun. We leave them in our wake, glimpses of eyes in darkness. In the room they whisper, the American girls are here. We are here, that’s all we know. The world as we know it, everything is here. Two weeks to wrap in paper and store away forever. Existing in chipped stone and sepia tone until I die. We live the lives everyone wishes they could lead. Take my hand again, let’s dance. Just don’t stop your feet, we’ll run into the night. We’re taking over this place. Moi et toi toujours, ma belle amie. Le monde est a nous et il est entrain d’attendre.
Kitchen Window Ben Mitchell
Maria Martinez visits in my dream. She floats to the window and beckons me to follow her through the doorway, down the brown carpet stairs into the pink light. I follow -- past the swing set, past the septic mound to the corner of the clearing. She points to a flat stone, one I have cut the grass around for years but never noticed. She lifts the stone and points to the black earth beneath. It is dark and ground fine like medicinal clay. She peels up a chunk and molds it into a hand pinched cup and offers it to me and I drink the cool water. It smells of flowers. I sit up, open my eyes to the bright morning. The bed is warm. My hands are cracked from the dry heat of the woodstove. In a bathrobe and slippers, I stride to the edge of the lawn find the rock and try to turn it. But it is fixed solid in the dirt. I grab the shovel, leaned next to the kitchen window. I scrape and cut the corners to find the boundary. I find only rock, the brown sandstone funneling ever larger down from a tip that pokes out of the earth. Wind lifts leaves from the ground and they spin in the air around me.
tell me about it Buzz Poole spring tall stalks of lavender scent the eveningâ€™s early fog, perfumed hats stride atop high heels, black and red dresses, wide belts heel, toe, heel, toe, heel, toe brumbled away by the consumptive van plastered w/ pictures of Christ loud w/ radio voices: i kneeled at the gate and was lifted to the sky tell me about it tell me about it only the lord can take you so high the new moon, calla lily white on the hillâ€™s sleeve, cuffed by new night a pearl link fingered, by routines of many times measured in spans of light television listings sea changes and faded icons that shed like eucalyptus bark pours down as snakes shed this time for another fall prostrate to the ground tell me about it tell me about it sings this vehicle of the lord about a son immaculated proving nothing is as basic as water and obvious as death
Young, Dumb and Full of Ink Eric Nelson At parties, especially in the summer, at least one person will ask me about the prominent tattoo on my neck and where it came from. This is what I tell them…. The conversation on the pay phone on a street somewhere in Budapest went something like this: “Honey, I’m bringing you back a few special souvenirs. And I’m bad at keeping surprises…I got your name tattooed on my neck!” “Oh my God! Really?” “Yeah, I can’t wait to get home and show you!” It was true. In script writing, on the lower right side of my neck was “Allison.” At some point in a two week, self-financed backpacking trip through Europe six years ago I made the decision to get my girlfriend’s name permanently marked on my body in a prominent place. Of course I made sure a tie could cover it, but I knew I’d show it more than the others. I had enough tattoos already and most importantly I would surely marry her. The shop was on a side street in Prague. A man who’s English was limited to “Oh, New York! Hardcore! Old-school tattoo!” did a wonderful job for ultimately a cheap price in a sanitary setting. I was dumb, but not THAT dumb. Of course everyone except my future ex-fiancé and I disagreed. The predictable happened: both the marriage and my thug ex-wifey’s name neck tattoo weren’t meant to be. Three years later I sat in a tattoo shop in Paterson, New Jersey, getting inked by a friend of a coworker. We stepped outside the shop for a cigarette break in the setting sun; I glad to see my car still there. This time the conversation went like this: “Shit, we shoulda taken a ‘before’ picture before we started,” said the artist. “Well, you can probably still do it,” I replied. “When we get back in we’ll take some photos. You won’t ever DO THAT again, eh?” “No….no, I won’t.” Of course, logic tells you that the silhouette of a city skyscape and “Your Name” is bigger in size than simply “Allison.” And it is. I decided on that based on the fact that I knew I’d be living in a city for an extended period of time. Of course, the latter half is a joke, albeit a joke I had spoken of wanting to stamp on my ass for years beforehand. Nowadays when I tell the story, I laugh. And it’s genuine. One morning you look in the bathroom mirror, smile and blush. Another you sob and think of quietly hanging yourself. Another, you smile, shake your head and close your eyes.
And finally, you laugh. You laugh at the naivety of it, and how ridiculous the final product is. You laugh because even though you still make dumb decisions, that is one you wonâ€™t repeat. You laugh the loudest while telling the story to other people because it actually happened to you.
if God loves ugly Cecelia Mariscal If God loves ugly then I am his High School sweetheart corsage and all smiling and waiting behind the cafeteria and bleeding shoving unmentionables into dumpsters There is not a day a that goes by when I donâ€™t think myself to death There is not a day that goes by when every utterance seems sprinkled with tones of your vocal chords and I find it hard to collect myself but it never stops. so I will wake up every day obsessed with the next resting between full body submersion and drowning If God loves ugly then I am his housewife pregnant with all twenty-five of his children I will put my needs aside, so I may serve him quietly all for the greater good of humanity
Kenny Tim Josephs I heard about Kenny in an instant message. Looking back, I guess it was kind of an odd way to hear about someone’s death, but it might actually be the best way. On the phone or in person, if you got overly emotional or worse, not emotional at all, it could be embarrassing for you or the person giving you the news. An e-mail only gives you a certain amount of information and if it’s not enough and you send a reply, you have to wait for a response. But through an instant message you can express your shock or grief well, instantly, and even if it’s not entirely the truth, without being able to hear tone of voice, who could tell? Plus, you can ask for more details and get them quickly. I was online one night when Michelle, a friend and former co-worker, sent me a message. It was late and she had a tendency to rant so I didn’t really feel like talking to her. Before I could say I was headed to bed, she wrote: Did you hear about Kenny? I didn’t know what she was talking about. No, what? I replied. Killed himself. It didn’t register right away and I stared at the computer screen for a moment. I was about to start typing (I didn’t know what, I was just hoping my fingers would come up with something), when she continued. Two days ago. When he didn’t show up for work, they called his house and found out. Kenny and I had worked at the same supermarket in New Jersey. I hadn’t seen him since I moved out of state a few years earlier. We never worked together – I was mostly in the backroom while Kenny was just the cart boy – but we often saw each other. That’s how most people referred to him: Cart Boy Kenny, even though he was about thirty. I hadn’t thought about him in years. Why’d he do it? Does anyone know? Remember that girl he met online? Megan? I thought for a moment. I did remember Kenny talking about her. They had met in a chat room and were “cyber-dating” for years. Kenny talked about her like she was a real girlfriend. I thought it was kind of funny but also a little sad. She lives in Idaho and had been planning to visit him for a long time; Kenny was real excited about it.
I also recalled Kenny mentioning something about that. He had been trying to save money for either him to go out there or her to come to him. She called him two nights ago, said she wasn’t coming and maybe they should stop talking for a while. I think she probably met someone else. So Kenny got upset and said if she didn’t come he’d kill himself. She told the police she didn’t think he was serious but while they were still on the phone, he did it. Can you believe she’d tell Kenny like that? You know how emotional he could be. But the truth was I didn’t. I thought I had known Kenny pretty well but now I wasn’t sure. I wracked my brain trying to remember all I could about him. He lived with his Mom. He was into computers. He liked heavy metal music. That’s it? That’s all I could come up with? I talked to him all the time but that’s all I knew about him? How’d he do it? I wrote before I really thought about it; I’m not sure I wanted to know. Hung himself. I was stunned. Somehow that made it worse. Taking pills or sitting in a car with a tube from the exhaust pipe was one thing, but to actually tie a rope around your neck and string yourself up? That was just too much. Wow was all I could write. It’s horrible, isn’t it? Everyone at the store couldn’t believe it. We tried to get Parker to close early but that bastard didn’t care. He pretended to be upset but he hardly even knew Kenny. I don’t think he was here when you left, he’s a real dick. After she went on for a while about how awful the new store manager was, her next sentence froze me. I’m going to the funeral Thursday. I was shocked how casually that sentence sat on the screen; it would have looked exactly the same if she had said she was going to the gym or going to the bank. I don’t think his Mom’s going to have him buried in his leather jacket. It’ll be weird seeing him in a suit. Can you believe he did this? I know he got depressed sometimes but I never thought he’d do something like this. What do you think? I didn’t know what to think. Kenny never struck me as depressed. I could still picture him happily chasing down a stray cart all the while playing air guitar while his headphones blared. I don’t know. Thankfully Michelle didn’t ask me if I would have gone to the funeral had I
been there. I’m sure I would’ve come up with an excuse – something about having a lot of schoolwork, or not owning a suit, something cowardly. The truth was I really didn’t feel that sad. It was a shock hearing that someone I knew had killed himself but I now realized I hardly knew Kenny at all. I saw him nearly everyday for over two years but until I found his obituary in an online New Jersey newspaper a few days later, I didn’t even know his last name. Suddenly I felt like I should do something – send flowers or a card to Kenny’s mother, maybe some money. But those were just petty, hollow gestures. After another minute, Michelle said she had to go and we said goodnight. A moment later I shut down the computer and went to bed, but it took me a long time to get to sleep.
At the beginning he fell up with a start. In that long cool afternoon, the little bed, he was suddenly sure it was time to go ahead and let it happen, like last time. A quick sigh, the tightness, a long strange sound, a little slip and a fall. The weight out from under, after the last time, and the time before, it was really the only way, a good way, the best way, just to let it happen again, a little bed, a quick sigh. The first time was easier, the nurse smiling down in a dream. Easier that time, just an imaginary slip and fall, that long tight sound, a sound like waking up. And then he was He was well, they would say “only child” who said that Who had said that. Sister had said that. A half smile down, in focus, out of focus. Sister stood there before, right here, the time before, like last time, and she had said that. Half a sister. Slip and fall. Now only a child, they would say. Then Joseph fell up with a start, a dream. This is my son, I am well pleased. But he is not my father. Fathers, doctors. Nurse, sister, it was time to go ahead and do it. Just a slip and fall, fall up, sister slept, he slipped into the dream, a dream of two uneven piles of coins of silver, no need for her to know. She would just think it was her fault, those missing coins, like the last time, like the time before. She would want him to make her slip and fall, fall up, the weight out from under. Sister wept, not sad. Not this time. It would be okay this time, she would see, even with the coins. She fell up to him in the dream. ~J.Berendzen
Picked it out of a hat. This is my life. Andria Alefhi People have asked me for fifteen years now why on earth I became a sign language interpreter. “I picked it out of a hat”, is the answer I give. If the conversation continues and I am in the mood, I go one layer deeper, which is that there was nothing else in the hat. I wanted to learn ASL and hang out with Deaf people and I had no idea where I would go with that. This is true, but idealized to make my whole life seem off the cuff. But in fact it was. All my major life decisions were made on an impulse. The reason I don’t say more about my motives and inspiration is because it is embarrassingly weak! My entire life’s blood, sweat and tears; not only a career choice, but wrapping my brain around a second language and culture and social network that includes a completely deaf boyfriend of eight years was based on five exceptionally minor life events and a monumental event in deaf history. Note: There really was nothing else in the hat. A high school senior, I’d fortunately been a clean slate where I excelled at nothing and had no advising pressures from school or family. I chose my own major without contention. One. Someone gave me one of those ‘learn sign language’ foldout pamphlets. I was 12 or 13. It was goldenrod paper. The alphabet, numbers 1-10, a few words, and a smiley face cover. That’s it. Two. I watched a Hallmark made-for-TV movie called “Love is Never Silent”. At this point, the only connection to this movie I have is the aforementioned pamphlet. Hardly qualifies me as linguistically competent. Yet I remember watching this movie as though I had a personal connection. I was already on the way. Three. I buy myself the book that everyone unfortunately started out with. If you know American Sign Language you know what I am talking about. The Joy of Signing. I do not recall what prompted me to buy it when I did. I started to teach myself sign this way. There are two problems with this method. The Joy is not real ASL. It is close; it’s called Signed English. You can read more about this somewhere else. The bigger problem is that I didn’t know any deaf people. And flat, hand drawn pictures of hands with arrows pointing clockwise or left-to-right is no way to learn a visual and spatial 3-Dimensional language. Yet something compelled me to do so.
Four. And then it happened. “Children of a Lesser God”. The movie that gave a young actress named Marlee Matlin the first Oscar awarded to a Deaf actor. By the time it was shown on TV, I was 16. I know now that I, like many teenagers, thought I was the only hearing girl in the world to be somehow moved by a Hollywood movie glamorizing deafness as isolation and isolation as deafness. William Hurt learns sign language for the film where he works as a speech teacher at a high school for the deaf. Add dramatic instrumental music to underscore the point, and you got a whole generation of kids like me who thought they had found their calling. Looking back, I think I wanted to be Marlee and William, not really sure where the being deaf started and the being a hearing person who could sign ended. Which is ironically now as I type this, kind of where I am now, living with a deaf man. Five. Four and Five may be reversed but not really important. This has to do with dance. This has to do with the inspiration. My high school friend was a real ballet dancer, the lead in The Nutcracker and Swan Lake. Amy Goodelle. She invited me to see a modern dance performance at Hamilton College. You remember how it felt to go to a college event while in high school? Check it out - I had never seen a dance performance ever. I cried when I saw the first piece. I cried the tears of beauty and grace, of amazement and embarrassment for not knowing, and for shit I didn’t even know. I still don’t. To this day, I cry at least once during any dance performance. I tear up just remembering a performance to ‘Amazing Grace’ by the Gallaudet Dance Company. And then, one girl came on and started to dance. There was no music. Direction coursed through me. I could teach dance to deaf people! I left on a cloud of determination. Well of course it never occurred to me that one would have to know dance to teach it. By then I had already decided that I would be a speech teacher for the deaf. But even more than a movie and a dance and a pamphlet handed to me came yet another completely random event. However this event was not mine. It belonged to deaf people around the world. Event. In 1988, when I was a junior in high school, Gallaudet University shut down the entire campus and landed on the cover of Time Magazine with ‘Deaf President Now’. Yet again, something happening which had nothing to do with me in even some kind of 6 Degrees of Separation pyramid scheme way hammered the final nail on my college major and life choices which I could relate to only because I had seen a movie about (fictitious) deaf people and could relate to rebellion because I was a teenager. I found out that the Gallaudet Univer-
sity protest, which really was a milestone according to most for deaf people around the world, was the inspiration for many of my generation to learn ASL and meet and somehow join the Deaf community. Join. Hat. I majored in Speech and Language Pathology and took ASL 1 and 2. From the time I was only a freshman I obsessed applying to Gallaudet for graduate school, indeed planned to go nowhere else, and I did. I went to graduate school for Parent-Infant Deaf Education because I learned that being a speech therapist wasn’t going to get me in the deaf community. In fact, it would have the opposite effect. I wanted to be fluent in ASL and hang out with deaf people. I had no idea why. I still don’t. Realistically, I wanted to go to Gallaudet for all the wrong reasons. As a senior in college, I still hadn’t socialized with too many deaf people. Gallaudet is the place to do it, but I was too nervous and obsessive when I got there. I did do it. I went from OK to really good, and from there took a long time with lots of breaks to reach fluency. I have met hundreds of guys and girls just like me. Deaf wannabees. I still meet younger versions of me. We just keep coming year after year. At least some people have better reasons. They grew up with a deaf neighbor. They work with a deaf person. I had an absurd xeroxed pamphlet, a book, two movies and a movement I wasn’t part of. I’m going for comedy here. The fact is that I love my life. I LOVE being an ASL Interpreter, which was the right career choice for me after all and I don’t regret the extra degrees and years teaching to end up here. Deaf people shared their language and culture with me and they don’t fucking have to, for all of us who came the same way that I came. And my partner of almost eight years is deaf as a rock. I sign at work and I sign at home, too. The novelty has worn off and now, honestly, I ask myself sometimes if I can spend the rest of my life with a deaf guy. To add the final bit of complexity, and ironically I am not alone but conventional in even this as well, that a lot of interpreters are really into music and play and perform in bands. For me, music was as strong a part of my life needs as ASL and the deaf community was. And now, I have given that up. What does this say about me and the direction I am headed? There was nothing else in the hat. This sentence is true. And that’s what I tell folks who ask me why I became an interpreter.
Letters to WNHP
March 30, 2010 Hello Andria, It’s a fact! I bought your zine on the first day of 2010. It was part of my larger plan, and keeping my very own promise to myself. I decided this year was going to be full of more art and less caffeine. This year was going to have more zines and less television. This year was going to have more music and karaoke and running and CSA’s. And less of the annoying things like too-tight shoes and fast food and crappy bands. Other things I will say yes to in 2010: becoming sun burnt letting my hair grow cemetery picnics a monthly cupcake club for one bike rides to far away Sci-fi conventions I decided to buy a zine a month. Either locally or from websites, from other countries or across the states. And since I’ve started, it’s turned out that I easily buy about 5 a month. (Even better!) Because it’s hard to ever really get just one. The zines are on all sorts of topics. Gardening and art and cooking and porn. Some are fiction, some are fact. They are all different sizes and all different thicknesses and all different qualities and all different perspectives. I love diversity. So with blogs and regurgitated news reporting being so prevalent, I support any efforts to keep zines alive. Thanks for asking me about the why. And especially thanks for caring about the DIY written and printed word. Karen
February 3, 2010 Hi WNHP I saw your post about purchasing WNHP4 and wanted to just say hello, and I have; I found Microcosm last week and put in an order. Your zine was the first one to go in the basket, it sounds really interesting and something I’d like to be a part of. I have just entered into the world of zines officially. I’m going down to the art supply store later to photocopy the first issue of it, it is called “No Use Crying Over Spilt Ink”. I hear that zines is all about community spirit so I thought I would introduce myself and all that. Hello again, I finished reading vol 4 and wrote a review as part of my Zine Reading Year on my analog blog here [http://theanalogset.blogspot.com/2010/02/zine-reviewwell-never-have-paris-no-4.html] Just in case you would like to know. Oh, I loved it. All the best, Alex
Thanks and hope you enjoyed. Next issue, Fall 2010.
This was the last half-size version we did, also the first to include poetry. Only WNHP 6 and 7 include poems. Featuring Gus Iversen and A...