BERLIN’S ENGLISH LITERARY JOURNAL
Christina Wegener Editor in Chief Lyz Pfister Managing Editor & Poetry Editor
Polly Dickson Distribution Manager
email@example.com www.sandjournal.com twitter.com/SANDJournal Connect with us on Facebook for news and events: www.facebook.com/sandjournal ISSN 2191-429X Published in Berlin Copyright Fall 2014 Designed by Kathrin Stumpe Printed by Solid Earth Cover image by Kathrin Stumpe
Valentina Uribe Content & Special Projects Coordinator
SAND Journal Prinz-Georg-StraĂ&#x;e 7 10827 Berlin
Chris Troise Events Manager & Finance Manager
Kate Bailey Social Media Manager
Jayme Collins Distribution Coordinator
Esther Yi Copy Editor Fiction Editor
Alex Bodine Art Editor
Lyz Pfister When we accept the laws of the universe, we live in peace, like the crow-clutching
women in Virginia Patrone’s richly moody paintings. But we’re human – and that means we very rarely let anything be the way it is. Like the barber in Juan Pablo Roncone’s story, when faced with an insurmountable loss, we sometimes think revenge will even the scales in our favor, an eye for an eye. Yet fighting the laws
A body in motion stays in motion, said Newton, who also said that what goes up,
of nature throws us into chaos, as if the ordered grid of our universe had been
must go down. A wise man, observing the obvious, that we are bound by more
thought out by a drunken city planner (Wuehle, “There Is No Third Position”).
rules than the ones we make ourselves. Those can be broken. The laws of nature cannot.
Regardless of what we do, nature doesn’t care how we feel about its laws. It just continues on. “People talk of wreckage / Meaning: / That was the time I almost
Which isn’t to say we don’t try. “That’s what we call / the brick in physics: a falling
died/ I was almost not / here to tell you this And how / none of the constellations
body. / Every body is pulled downward, / the question is how long / will it take,”
care That / the only law / is movement” (Wyatt, “Present Luck”). Whether in
says the speaker in “a pair of impossible objects” (Lipkes), whose desperation to
the aimless movement of the two men losing themselves in the well-lit maze of an
save a dying friend is useless against the mathematical certainty of death: “I’d
IKEA store (Helms, “Saudade”) or the thwarted movement of villagers faced with
make a forest weightless / if I thought it could save you.” And then there are the
a sudden enigma at the edge of town (Snelson, “The Wall”), energy is never lost,
friends on Bancroft Street (Vasiliauskas), whose memory of one hazy, phero-
mone-soaked summer seemed like it could keep them from ever growing up. Like a microcosm of the universe, a journal has its own rules, a grid upon which But nature marches on in an ordered system. Like the perfectly frozen mo-
text is placed. This issue of SAND, as designed by Kathrin Stumpe, explores what
ments captured in Carrie Crow’s lens, everything has its place: “I move a stone
happens when that grid makes itself known, when the rules assert themselves.
and see the curled grub / that must be that to be the beautiful beetle” (Peterson,
What may seem like a glitch is really just the invisible becoming visible.
“Entrance”). The kids will always grow up, night will always follow day, the snake will always eat the mouse – or, in the case of Lizzie Roberts’s Sherry, a snake will
Whether sentient beings or books, we’re bound by the laws of nature. And some-
always bite the hand that feeds her. The animals in Phillip Sterling’s fables may
times it feels like our story has already been written for us before we even begin.
seem more like humans, but that’s only because humans sometimes seem more
Ian Orti takes a playful approach to this frightening thought, echoing Genesis to
like animals. Arguably, it’s then that we’re most human (Savage, “Winter”).
reveal contemporary superstition. Yet Stewart Finnegan’s creation story says it at its scary best: “we know / where we’re going.”
36—49 Time in Four Movements and a Pause
9 Entrance Allan Peterson
The Wall Stuart Snelson
There Is No Third Position Candice Wuehle
My Barber’s Son Juan Pablo Roncone Translated by Megan McDowell
From The Language School
Into the Occasion
sonnet Celeste Lipkes
Once a Habit, Forever a Nature Translated by Liang Yujing
Snakes and Ladders
Four stories from Animal Husbandry Phillip Sterling
Observatorio Carrie Crow
Off-Seasonal Affective Disorder
Translated by Joshua Daniel Edwin
Peace Javier Lozano
Observatorio Carrie Crow
The Book of Madre
Detail Javier Lozano
Present Luck (as a Kind of Recreation) Elizabeth Wyatt
a. From Cannibals but for the Taste
Bancroft Street Matthew Vasiliauskas
Saudade Russell Helms
I pressed him to my bosom
a pair of impossible objects Celeste Lipkes
Your house, after the electricity has gone Jane Flett
116 —123 Contributors
Entrance If I pass to this side the nesting wrens frenzy to the other thorns turn on me like migraines To the right the blistering siding left the precipitous ditch Between them a broken f lagstone whose crack could be an entrance to the underworld is an entrance to the underworld but so are the postholes and the wellhead I enter I am welcomed by the emissary mole and the rich aroma of free will and worms I move a stone and see the curled grub that must be that to be the beautiful beetle and over me the hawk whose short wings fit between trees examines the hot grasses whose lives are brushstrokes hiding field mice
My barber’s son was hit by a car three weeks ago. He had just gotten
MY BARBER’S SON Juan Pablo Roncone — Translated by Megan McDowell
out of school. He crossed the street without looking at the light. The red pickup truck couldn’t stop in time. A piece of metal was embedded in the boy’s neck, leaving a deep wound. They took him to the hospital right away. He is nine years old and waiting for death. I was born in Antofagasta, but for reasons that aren’t relevant here, I ended up studying medical technology in Arica. Every month my great-aunt sends me money to pay for a room and transportation. I have almost no friends. I don’t have a girlfriend either. Last month I was regional chess champion. One night, before my barber’s son went into a coma, I dreamed that a giant block of ice – a gigantic, oval-shaped block of ice – was coming down the stairs of my building. I recall the first time I met up with my barber to play chess with a kind of sadness. Those encounters had a special meaning for me. Every time we played, my barber’s son would sit across from us. His pajamas were sky blue and they had elves printed on them. He
Near the corner, a dog barked at the wind.
would stare spellbound at the chessboard that rested on a little wick-
Inside the car: the smell of vomit and beer.
er table, and he could spend hours in the same position, attentively
My barber parked in front of the house and got out.
watching every one of our movements. In the room where we played,
I saw him walk down the sidewalk until he got to the fence
we were surrounded by empty f lowerpots: my barber’s wife is fond of
that protected the yard.
crafts. The walls were papered in a cream color, and the rug was red.
I could see the outline of the knife in the pocket of his pants.
Every time my barber got up to go to the kitchen or the bathroom,
The house was small; the lights were out.
the boy left his spot beside the chessboard and went to sit facing the
The wind whistled in the trees.
wall, and then he’d start to lick the paper. “Look,” he’d tell me, “it
tastes like vanilla.” Then he would smile and return to his seat. It was
sleep – sleeping is what I do the most – and I study the games of my
strange to see him there, his body always leaning slightly to one side,
favorite chess players, listen to the radio, smoke pot, or I spend some
his knees bent, sticking out his tongue slowly and ceremoniously. I
time making little clay figures. Before going to bed, I religiously re-
never told my barber that his son licked the wall. I knew the boy did
read three pages of Play Like a Grandmaster, by Kotov, and I go over
it when my barber wasn’t there, and telling on him would have been
my handbook of closed games. On the weekends, I work at a Blockbuster, study if I have a
a betrayal of his trust.
test, and, before the accident, I would go over to my barber’s house every Saturday. I never go to parties, and I don’t do any kind of exercise.
My barber’s son isn’t exactly retarded. He’s just a bit challenged mentally and in his motor skills: he had meningitis when he was four and
When my barber called and asked me to bring him some things from
still suffers the consequences.
his apartment, and much later, when he begged me to go with him to
and a sleepy face. He has blue eyes and soft features. I met him two years ago, at an amateur chess tournament. It was a quick game. I was coming from class and I got to the tournament a little late. When I
the house of the guy with the red pickup, I felt extremely useful, as if My Barber’s Son
old. He’s a man with salt-and-pepper hair, huge circles under his eyes,
Juan Pablo Roncone
My barber was born in Arica. He must be around forty-five years
I were important in someone else’s life. The first reaction of the guy who hit my barber’s son was to escape. They say he backed up and peeled out in the opposite direction. Peo-
entered the hall, I saw a tall, thickset man waiting for me at the as-
ple ran over, desperate to get a look at the boy’s body. They say every-
signed chessboard. He greeted me with a smile. We talked for a while
one gathered round, forming a suffocating circle. One of them called
after the game. I told him that when I was a kid, my great-aunt had
an ambulance. After a while, when it showed up, they say the guy
cut my hair. Then we said goodbye.
with the red pickup came back. He got out of the truck, came over
Two weeks later, I happened to go to his salon, close to Plaza
to the crowd, and said: “I hit him.” A fat man, they say, grabbed him
Colón. Arica is a small city and that kind of coincidence happens a lot.
by the shirt and asked him why he had run away. “I don’t know,”
I recognized him right away. We wasted no time in scheduling a date
answered the guy with the truck. And they say they had to hold him
to play a game of chess together.
tight so he would stop shaking.
My routine from Monday to Friday. In the morning I go to class
My barber is a terrible chess player. I don’t deny he’s got some knowl-
– I took the minimum number possible – and I get my free lunch
edge: he has some openings down pat and he owns a few good books
voucher. In the afternoon, I throw darts at a shoebox, drink beer, and
on endgames. Even so, I don’t think he has talent. The way I see it,
chess requires not only concentration and intelligence, it’s also indis-
concentrated, plotting out how to overcome the painstaking defense
pensable to be creative and bold. And when it comes to my barber,
my barber had constructed. I turned my head and saw the boy with
boldness and creativity are precisely what he lacks. He is a shy man
the remains of the f lowerpot in his hand. “What have I told you?” said my barber, slowly. “You don’t
who walks with his hands in his pockets while staring at the ground.
play with your mother’s f lowerpots.” When I got to the hospital to visit the boy the first time, carrying a
The boy nodded and started to gather up the shards.
basket full of clothes and toiletries, my barber told me his son was dy-
“Be careful you don’t cut yourself.”
ing. “He’s really going this time,” he whispered. I wanted to hug him.
After a while, my barber’s wife appeared and took the boy off
I didn’t do it. I wished he would hug me. Before I left for class, he told
to bed. “For a while now,” said my barber, “he’s been having trouble
me that he wanted to kill the lowlife with the pickup.
sleeping.” “When I was little, I almost didn’t sleep at all,” I admitted, and
“He’s in jail,” I said.
freshly cut hair, cleans the mirrors and the windows, waters the plants, brings coffee to the customers, waxes the f loors, and makes sure my
I thought vaguely of my great-aunt in Antofagasta, and all the games My Barber’s Son
My barber’s wife works in the salon with him. She sweeps up the
Juan Pablo Roncone
“Even so,” he replied.
I’d been able to study during those sleepless nights. “It’s strange. With all the running around he does during the day, he should just collapse into bed exhausted.” My barber’s arms were tanned, and that day the veins in his hands stood out more than
barber doesn’t need anything. In her free time, she decorates clay
usual. His salon is located close to the Morro, by the highway and the
f lowerpots that she buys downtown. She has always treated me very
well at her house. The accident has left her devastated.
“Don’t worry too much,” I told him. “That’s how little boys are… And have you thought of having more children?”
The guy with the red truck is being held at the District 4 police sta-
“No,” said my barber. “We can’t have any more children.”
tion while he awaits trial. The news was on the front page of The Arica Star. My barber closed his salon and the Chess Club cancelled an
One time, a year or two ago now, I got sick. At first it was a slight
event in the regional tournament.
headache, and then I vomited nonstop for hours. The university doctor told me I had food poisoning – I’d been eating lunch at the central
One afternoon, weeks before the accident, my barber’s son broke one
market – and that I should stay in bed for a week. The first few days,
of the f lowerpots. He was spinning it like a wheel, and it got away
I had a fever, and I lost a couple of kilos. My barber, his son, and his
from him. The noise startled me. I’d been staring at the board, very
wife came to see me as soon as they heard. The room I rented back
“was on his way to work that day.” Before going to sleep that same
then was small and looked out onto 21 de Mayo. In the mornings it
night, I called my barber’s wife and told her I was very worried.
was really hot and the yellow plastic f loor was curling up. Everything
“He always drinks when there are problems,” she said, and
in that room was old: from the green curtains to the dresser that held
then she was silent.
my white smock and my chess books. My barber came in slowly and sat down on the edge of the bed. From the moment the boy came in, he didn’t stop rif ling through my things. He picked up my note-
Some of my barber’s sisters organized a mass for the boy. I arrived
books – opening every one – and he told me they’d planted grass at
an hour early and sat near the altar. It was the first time I’d been in
their house; my barber’s wife left two containers of food and a jar of
a church since I’d come to Arica. When I saw my barber, I realized
broth. Before leaving, my barber’s son presented me with one of his
he was not the same man anymore. His blue eyes were wild, and the
mother’s f lowerpots.
circles around them were even darker. He had several days’ worth of beard, and his hair was greasy. He was wearing black pants and a
head. And I felt a cold breeze in my stomach. It was like they’d run me over instead. I don’t really know how to explain it, but that’s how I felt when they called me from the hospital.”
jean jacket that was too tight for him. His wife was walking behind My Barber’s Son
about when they told me about the crash. His teeth, his knees, his
Juan Pablo Roncone
“His broken little body,” said my barber. “That’s all I could think
him and didn’t seem to notice the calamitous state her husband was in. After the service, I talked with my barber on the cathedral steps. “I haven’t slept in days,” he told me. The sky was clear and light, and Plaza Colón was gradually emptying. We talked for three or four minutes, while the families left. “The lowlife has two healthy chil-
A tongue same as any other tongue. Red like all tongues. Porous like
dren,” he said before he left. “I have one, and the lowlife is taking him
all tongues. Wet like all tongues. The boy’s tongue against the cream-
away from me.”
colored wallpaper. That’s the image I will always keep of my barber’s son.
I couldn’t concentrate on classes. Nor could I manage to focus on my chess books. I thought all day about the word ‘revenge.’ I knew that
When he saw the boy wasn’t coming out of the coma and his condi-
my barber and his wife were falling into an abyss. And I imagined
tion was getting worse, my barber started to drink, and to dream up
them with their arms around each other, crying or praying, in a cold
confused and desperate plans. He’d call me at all hours of the night
and talk about revenge. He told me he had found out about the life of the guy with the truck. “He works at a bank,” he told me once. I was
My barber came to pick me up. He said he had to show me something.
in pajamas, with the telephone on the bed. “The ingrate,” he went on,
His shirt was buttoned crookedly and he looked even more tired than
on the day of the mass. His car was a white Chevrolet. We drove
We met in his salon at three in the morning. The leather chairs
down 18 de Septiembre as far as Azapa, close to a private school.
seemed larger in the dark. He said, “I have the address. We’ve gotta go.” I nodded. My barber was drunk, and he had vomit stains on his
“They get out at four, the lowlife’s kids,” said my barber, and
jacket and pants.
he took out a blue notebook. “The younger one is eight years old, and
“I’m ready for anything,” he stuttered.
the older one is nine, like my son.”
“What do you mean?” I asked, though I already knew the
“We should go. It’s not good for you to be here.”
But my barber didn’t hear me. He merely looked over his
“I told you. He has two, and now I won’t have any.” I looked
notebook and scanned his copious notes.
at him in terror.
“What are you planning to do?” I asked. “The guy is going to
“You drive,” he said, and he opened a bottle of pisco. I had
jail. It’s not his kids’ fault.” A bunch of kids came out of the front door of the school. A
hind the wheel and followed his instructions to reach the house of the
crowd of little heads and administrators and teachers. Five minutes later, and without giving me any explanation, my barber dropped me off in front of my building.
My Barber’s Son
never seen him so determined. We went out to the street, I got beJuan Pablo Roncone
My barber didn’t answer.
guy with the red pickup. Near the corner, a dog barked at the wind. Inside the car: the smell of vomit and beer.
I woke up to the sound of the telephone. It was my barber and he had
My barber parked in front of the house and got out.
a plan. “I have to tell you in person,” he said. We agreed to meet two
I saw him walk down the sidewalk until he reached the fence
that protected the yard. I could see the outline of the knife in the pocket of his pants.
Circumstances drive actions. But I wasn’t willing to take part in any
The house was small; the lights were out.
kind of revenge. My barber had problems. He wasn’t thinking clearly.
The wind whistled in the trees.
And his wife wasn’t responding to the stimuli of reality either, both
The car’s clock showed 3:41 a.m.
of them seemed to be asleep. As if they had been expelled from the
My barber jumped the fence and went down a stone path
earth. I decided to go to our appointment; I thought if I left him alone, it would be worse. With me beside him, my barber would be less dangerous.
lined with ferns leading to the house. He walked a couple of meters and disappeared through the back gate, a two-meter-wide metal sheet on the left side of the building. One minute.
“We’re going to the hospital,” I said.
I got out of the car. The light from the street lamp was tenuous, but it was enough to distinguish the house: only one f loor, aquamarine,
I closed the car door and stepped on the accelerator.
and full of cracks.
On the way there, neither of us spoke. Arica seemed badly lit in the dawn, and near the hospital only beggars were out.
It was hard to get him out of the Chevrolet. His blood was
The silence seemed like a wall.
dark and thick.
I wasn’t able to put a stop to the situation. A kind of ice held
A male nurse came out of the waiting room to receive him.
me back, and I sank down into fear. Seven minutes. Eight, eleven, thirteen minutes.
“I don’t know what I did,” said my barber.
I heard noise. A sound that was difficult to identify.
The nurse put him on a wheeled cot and opened his shirt.
I craned my neck. My barber opened the gate laboriously.
“Stay with me,” said my barber. I heard the shriek of an ambulance arriving. Maybe someone
He walked down the path again, this time returning.
vantageous position. My barber advanced through the yard, the light from the car gradually illuminating him: his shirt was smeared, he had the knife in his hand and bloodstains on his abdomen. “I couldn’t do it,” he said. “They were sleeping together, in the same bed. But I couldn’t do it.” “Why is there blood?” My barber couldn’t answer. He collapsed, fell to his knees, steps away from the fence. I held him up from one side – almost in a hug – and I dragged him to the Chevrolet. “It hurts,” said my barber, and he held his stomach with his two hands. He had a deep wound, a gash that opened upwards above his belly button, and was bleeding like the devil.
else, like my barber, had been driven by desperation to hurt himself. My Barber’s Son
he has to find a way to even out the damage, or at least find an ad-
Juan Pablo Roncone
I thought: every chess player knows that when he loses a piece
“It hurts,” repeated my barber. “It hurts.” Before they brought him inside, my barber reached his hand out to me. Several men got out of the ambulance with the body of an old woman on a cot. I did not take my barber’s hand.
BANCROFT STREET Matthew Vasiliauskas
Summer brought forth the scent of mulberries, and everything for us was contained within their moist spheres. John had recently returned from the war, and took to using his pistol as a phallus, sticking the barrel through his open f ly and having Margaret suck on it while we all watched, sipping beer as shifting shadows turned both of them into desperate, exhausted voids. “How long will she go for?” “Don’t worry, he’ll tell her when.” Detail
leading to the anthills whose appendages carried bits of grain and
The heat had an effect on us, as it did on everyone then. We shed our skins often, so that the frozen apparitions behind steering
stone, the passing light of swaying homes moving through their bod-
wheels and garden hoses would create dioramas, the ashen, burnt-
ies like blood.
out shells of tattered f lesh, each discarded self displaying the frayed,
The Fourth of July had passed and we wanted another holiday.
rusted protrusions from which any sense of life had long since escaped.
Roger came up with the idea of an August Halloween, so we made
Jim had gotten an off-season hunting permit, and was skin-
masks and costumes and went to the homes of the few children who
ning a deer in his open garage. Its severed head rested near a bag of
had not gone to camp. We’d hold out pillowcases, gazing at our tiny
sunf lower seeds on a workbench, and soon he fell to his knees, blood-
ref lections in their eyes, and demand that they hand over their youth,
soaked newspaper sticking to his pants, raised his arms, and began
pelting them with eggs when they just stared at us. As we ran, we’d
bowing to the open torso, a garbled, drunken exaltation as Shirley
look back through the living-room windows, watching them play
massaged his back, her eyes fixed on a wasp f luttering in a mold-
with the yolk in the glow of television light.
“I can’t move, and I love it.” The tomatoes were ripe, their tiny white hairs shivering in the sunlight, an occasional charred wound from a hungry insect inviting us to stick our fingers inside, juices dripping, and the stacks of color scattering us in the crests of heavy wind. With Dave and Carol out of town, we began to swim in their pool. We set up a handful of rules which seemed necessary and, removing our clothes, would take turns diving below the surface and swimming between each other’s legs, the inverted blueness giving way to splattered, rippling faces, and touch the ankles of the ones we would go home with. “You double-touched.” “I thought we could if the round ended in a tie.” “Now we can drown you.” Blacktops spoke in the rasp of faded chalk, their dry breaths
We became the cut grass, frayed edges of green held onto bare, Bancroft Street
“We’re going to have to call someone.”
sweating chests, oil melting into iced tea, the pressure of humidity and inebriation pushing us into beds of aster. None of us lived much longer after that summer. Well, not really anyhow.
a pair of impossible objects Every body is pulled downward,
i. a frictionless pulley
the question is how long Bricks of 9 kg and 10 kg hang from a frictionless pulley. The 10-kg brick is 3 meters from the f loor when the
will it take, how quickly
system is released. Find the time it takes the brick to hit
will the quiet halo rotate.
the ground. It doesnâ€™t squeak, little silent circle holding one great weight from the left, one great weight from the right. The string passes the disk and the molecules are strangers in a train station. Hello-goodbye, you say. Such an easy burden before the body hits the f loor. Thatâ€™s what we call the brick in physics: a falling body.
ii. a sharpened stick of negligible mass
the stick like a phantom limb divorced from its trunk.
At the bottom of a 200-meter-high cliff and across a 30meter-wide raging river is a stranded explorer. To send
I got the problem wrong. I guessed
him supplies from the top of the cliff, you impale the sup-
because I knew that’s what you’d do.
plies on a sharpened stick of negligible mass and attach it to the front of a rocket. What minimum speed
I’d make a forest weightless
must the rocket have before impact in order to save the
if I thought it could save you.
explorer’s life? It exists because I will it – branch so light it cracks with the weight of a sparrow. No mass to subtract, just the multiplying of momentum, the curve of calculator buttons pushing back against the thumb. At night my snug-shut eye can’t stop seeing him across the river’s rush,
Present Luck (as a Kind of Recreation) – because finally the desire to climb into the other’s body and dance for them, through them paints their fingers and tongues with
with a viscid tar
that too haunts the silver playground slides of their shoulder blades with ghosts; because when the bedside lamp stops f lickering, it’s a relief only if the celestial quorum has already adjourned, having shat bright points of light, leaving the cosmological-constellational intact in place – I said I loved you and the silence with its white noise surpassed Observatorio
my honesty / but not People talk of wreckage Meaning:
the birthing rule of relation.
That was the time I almost died/ I was almost not Softly, in
here to tell you this
none of the constellations care
And how That
candlelight, your understanding of suffering the only law is movement – about the fact
as relative (I have watched
that we have a field of -ologies, elegies
you watch me meet your family) explained in terms
of the end of the world, the standing walking
of automotive exaltings
contraindication (and I
long past, and I have watched forging
your glowing retrospective
have guilt – more – ) that of the bending of the benevolent
of former love, and seen cleansing
of the smithy by saline force
the easing of which
of fact. I do not suppose I know
sounds merely like
what I am supposed to know.
unexpected fingertips on the child-fevered forehead
‘I am not
made of stars’ that bend to caress without
repeat with me now ‘I’ – bend made’ – exploding
without – ‘am not
Your house, after the electricity has gone No need for live wires, let’s haul
the nectarines are sick swollen cheeks
the generator to the living room f loor
gone to rot. You prance in arabesque
let it squat and grin with mean metal teeth,
robes of hijacked curtains, laughing
feed it gasoline till it heaves. We have
from the stairs. Your house is
no tabletops but mirror shards, dark
the aching cavity of an old tooth, and
corners of the room refracting,
we wait in the hollows for dares.
your face your face your face on every surface, turn on the strobe. Shred the roses he posted, f ling the petals like slideshows of storms. In the garden, let’s paint a warning B E WA R E O F T H E G H O S T S spring traps for giraffes and councilmen – let’s tripwire the bins. It is just six days since the electricity and the phone is dead, the fridge,
Virginia Patrone Mercedes Lawry
Exit Strategy Inside the blue ruin, a degree of calm as an open hand strums frayed connections. The ragged iris lean, less in defiance, more as battered survivors. The stubborn wind offers no clues, no respite, no summary. April moves in fits and starts, at times with a brazen sting. The stray dog is once again snarling in the road. There is no belonging, only hours collapsed. Go to the back wall, I think, and climb. Take care for the violets.
party will go to Goddamn Hell.
THE BOOK OF MADRE Ian Orti
And Hector saw the light on Maria’s face as the sun came through
the curtains, and he saw that it was good: and Hector divided a ten spot from the darkness of his father’s wallet by the window. And Maria called Lola, and Lola called Lucia, who had been out
since yesterday evening and well into the morning. 6
And Maria said, I swear by the firmament in the midst of the waters,
that I will divide his eyeballs from his head if he doesn’t come back with good gordos for the chipotle. 7
And Maria made firm with her sisters, and told Lola to tell Lucia
that she had better not forget the avocados or the whole party would go to Goddamn Hell, and Lola said that Lucia said that it would be so. 8
And Maria called to Heaven that after the coming evening and by
the second morning there would be a mess to clean up, but by God there would be chipotle and her youngest son would be confirmed and after that he would go to college and get an MBA and buy her a house with a maid that she could die in. 9
And Maria said, Let the waters inside the pot be cooked so we can
get this rice going and let the dry corn appear together unto one place: and it was so. And Maria called the corn chulpe; and the gathering together of the
In the beginning there was no chipotle.
And Maria felt as though she were on an earth that was without
salt and the oils and the chulpe made cancha: and Maria saw that it
form, and she felt void; and darkness was deep upon her face. And
the Spirit of God that normally moved upon the face of the waters at
the Notre Dame de Grace swimming pool on Calle Benedicto was
friends, and let them bring forth their beers, and their bastard-yielding
nowhere to be seen.
seeds, and let them piss on the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind,
And Maria said, Let the boy’s stupid father bring his stupid father
Then Maria said, Hector, go to the bodega and don’t come back
but, by God, beneath that beer their breath will smell of my chipotle
without gordos. Otherwise there will be no chipotle, and the whole
and by the Heavens my youngest son will be confirmed and he will
go to college and then get an MBA and I will die in the house with a
give light upon the occasion.
maid that he buys for me.
And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light
from the darkness: and God saw that it was a good idea, and he de-
And Hector brought forth the gordos as she had asked, and Lola
yielding Lucia as promised, and the bag with avocado after avocado
cided he would consider it.
whose seed was in itself, after its kind: and Maria saw that all was
good, for now.
away and some of the men were drunk and still Francisco was not
And the late afternoon came forth and the morning was eight hours
And the evening came, and there was enough rice for three days
and enough coals in the hearth to make fire and turn the gordos into
cia, and by all the moving creatures that hath life, and fowl that may
And Maria said, Let the waters bring forth your mobile phone, Lu-
f ly above the earth in the open firmament of Heaven, if I call and I
the day from the night; and let there be signs, signs that say God Bless
find out that Francisco is not confirmed there will be Hell to pay in
Francisco written with Sharpies that will last for seasons, and for days,
Heaven and on earth.
and years: And let the Sharpies be from Home Depot, and not from the crook
up the road who sold us the faulty Christmas lights, for our whole year was cursed that year and I blame that hijo de junowhat for the
The Book of Madre
And Maria said, Let there be lights in the yard when Heaven divides
And though God created great whales, and every living creature
that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after its kind, and though God saw that it was good, He had not anticipated a creature like Maria who brought
plague that was that year when my mother died and the cancer and
the fear of Himself within Himself.
Francisco lost a finger. And she pointed to Lola and motioned to her
boys to go get the Sharpies from Home Depot, and they looked at her
tiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth,
to tell her: it would be so.
for I will see what is causing the delay at the old church and I will
So God blessed Maria, saying, Be the day fruitful, and let joy mul-
And Maria made two great dishes with the chipotle that had been
make sure that Francisco comes back a confirmed man and a man
spread on the metal grills in the closed smoking chamber over the
with the wherewithal to earn an MBA so he can buy you a house with
hearth; a salsa to rule the day, and adobo to rule the night: she’d made
a maid where you can peacefully die.
her dress also.
And Maria, after she’d dressed in the dress she’d made that hugged
And in the evening, as they neared the fifth hour in the church
without a priest or electricity, both arrived, one after the other, and
her one remaining breast and hips in a way she’d always wished a man
there was rejoicing and speculation.
would do if he could only get his act together, set the many dishes on
the table in the backyard under the lights and looked to Heaven to
after his kind, cattle, and creepy things, and beasts of the earth after
And the priest slurred, Let the earth bring forth the living creature
his kind, and let that bitch be gone when I get back and never grow
And as the tears slid down her face she said, I will roast you every
the spite to rat me out: and there was confusion.
beast of the earth, and marinate every fowl of the air, and bathe every
And the priest made the little beasts of the earth, one of which,
thing that creepeth upon the earth in fine chipotle, wherein there
unbeknownst to him, was after his own kind, swear oaths and alle-
is life, if you just keep your no-good sons – and it’s not your fault, I
giances to every thing that creepeth upon the earth after its kind: and
blame the schools and the gringo TV, but we’ll not get into that – and
there was confusion, but God saw that it was good enough.
those streetwalkers you call daughters, away from my angel, and I
And when they all returned and Maria saw that her youngest boy
should have named him Angel, that was my first inclination when I
had been confirmed, she said, God has made this young man in His
parted my legs to witness the miracle as Moses had when he was in
image, and he will have dominion over the fish on this table, and over
the Red Sea, but his father, his father, she said as she waved her fist at
the fowl on the grill in the open air, and over the guacamole, and over
the sofa on the porch, until my Angel Francisco has finished college
all the earth and all the chipotle.
and finished his MBA and got his job with the Google or Siemens or,
God bless, Mercedes-Benz.
And so the priest, who sat at the right hand of Maria drinking the
wine she watered down when his back was turned, stood and then sat in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And there was confusion and then applause because Maria started clapping, and the whole table followed. 28
And the priest blessed Francisco, and said unto him, Be fruitful, and
multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, and during the rapturous applause Maria took Francisco, who was sitting at her left hand, by the chin and said he would do no such thing without the condom that she would staple to his pecker until he finished his MBA. 29
Then Maria stood and said with tears in her eyes, Behold, I will
give every one of you herbs bearing seed, which are upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree-yielding seed; and for you I shall cook any meat.
and then stood with her help, and said that God had created Francisco
The Book of Madre
And everyone saw every thing that she had made, and, beheld, lick-
ing their fingers, that it was very good.
Books. He lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the editorial board for the magazine Circumference: Poetry in Translation.
Ambrianna Adams grew up in Iowa and recently moved out of the Midwest
Federico Federici (1974) is a researcher and teacher of physics, a translator,
after graduating with a philosophy degree. She is inspired by sound,
and a writer. He has published a number of books of prose and poetry, as well as
restlessness, and unrecognized feelings. Her work has previously appeared
texts and critical papers. He translated and saw through the first posthumous
work of Russian poet Nika Turbina. In 2009, he was awarded the Lorenzo Montano Prize for his collection L’opera racchiusa. Among his works: Requiem
Michelle Askin teaches in Virginia. Her work has been published in Oranges &
auf einer Stele (Conversation Paperpress, 2010), Dunkelwort (UHU Bücher,
Sardines, Fogged Clarity, MAYDAY Magazine, Plain Spoke, The Sierra Nevada
2013), and Appunti dal passo del lupo, in the book series curated by Eugenio
Review, and elsewhere.
Carrie Crow is a fine-art, performance, and horse-racing photographer
Stewart Finnegan is a writer in Chicago’s shadow whose work has appeared in
whose work has been exhibited internationally at the Queens Museum of
Phantom Drift, shufPoetry, Off the Coast, and The North Central Review.
Art, Newspace Center for Photography, Kunst Altonale, and Galleria Perela during the 2011 Venice Biennale. Her work has also appeared in The New York
Jane Flett is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories.
Times, New York Post, Time Out New York, and at the North Sea Jazz Festival.
Her poetry features in Salt’s Best British Poetry 2012, and her fiction has been
Born and raised in Los Angeles and a long-time resident of New York City,
commissioned for BBC Radio, awarded the Scottish Book Trust’s New Writer
Carrie frequently works in Paris.
Award, and performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Visit her at janeflett.com.
Mark DeCarteret has met up with some lit-luck as of late at Berkeley Poetry Review, BlazeVOX, coconut, Confrontation, Ghost Town, Hunger Mountain,
Russell Helms has had stories published in Otis Nebula, Drunken Boat, Used
Spillway, St. Petersburg Review, and Toad Suck Review.
Gravitrons, Litro, Versal, Bewildering Stories, Assembly Journal, The Moth, Soliloquies Anthology, antiTHESIS, Qarrtsiluni, A La Carte from Main Street
Joshua Daniel Edwin’s poetry appears in a variety of publications in print and
Rag, and others. He writes, designs books, and edits in Tennessee. He is from
online. His translations of Dagmara Kraus’s poetry were awarded a 2012
Alabama and was born in Georgia. He holds an MFA in creative writing from
PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and appear in a chapbook from Argos
Bluegrass Writers Studio.
Dagmara Kraus was born in Poland in 1981 and studied comparative literature,
manuscript and began work on a series of essays about medical education.
art history, and creative writing. She writes poetry and translates from Polish.
More of her work can be found at celestelipkes.com.
She has published two books of original poetry in German: kummerang (Berlin, KOOKbooks, 2012) and kleine grammaturgie (Solothurn, Urs Engeler/
Javier Lozano’s work includes painting, zines, design, and music. As a zine
roughbooks, 2013), as well as two book-length collections of translations
creator, he has collaborated with labels like Pogobooks (His beautiful beautiful
of the work of the Polish poet Miron Białoszewski: Wir Seesterne (Leipzig,
hands, Politics, More Politics) and Ediciones Puré (number 8, Mitos y Leyendas),
Reinecke & Voß) and Das geheime Tagebuch (Berlin, Edition Fototapeta).
while continuing to self-publish (F is for Freedom 1&2, For your eyes only, Welcome 9). As a painter, he has participated in several exhibitions in institutions and
Mercedes Lawry has published poetry in such journals as Poetry, Prairie
commercial galleries: group shows (ZMF, G Gallery, Neurotitan, Instituto
Schooner, Rhino, Nimrod, Poetry East, The Saint Ann’s Review, and others. She
Cervantes) and solo shows (Kleiner Salon, Galería Alegría). As a musician,
has also published fiction, humor, and essays, as well as stories and poems for
he is one half of the spoken-word duo Arctic Drilling and a third of the electro-
children. Among the honors she’s received are awards from the Seattle Arts
pop band Sonderform. He has also created music for the performances of
Commission, Hugo House, and Artist Trust. She has been a Jack Straw Writer
Cristina Busto and the Unfallschatten collective, and continually develops his
and a Pushcart Prize nominee, and has held a residency at Hedgebrook. Her
own music works.
chapbook There are Crows in My Blood was published in 2007, and another chapbook, Happy Darkness, was released in 2011. She lives in Seattle.
Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. His poetry, fiction, and translations have been published in more than 30 journals in the
Ba Ling, pen name of Yang Fei, is a Chinese poet born in 1980. His poems
US, Britain, and Canada. Recent credits include Off the Coast, Lost in Thought,
and short stories have appeared in a number of Chinese magazines and
Contemporary Poetry 2, and Qwerty, with new work out soon in Tribe and Free
anthologies. He is the recipient of the third Breakthrough Poetry Award and
State Review. For more: owenlucaspoems.com.
now works as a high school teacher in Suzhou, Anhui Province, China. Megan McDowell has translated many modern and contemporary South Celeste Lipkes’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Smartish
American authors, including Alejandro Zambra, Arturo Fontaine, Carlos
Pace, Bellevue Literary Review, Blackbird, Unsplendid, Measure, and elsewhere.
Busqued, Álvaro Bisama, and Juan Emar. Her translations have been
She is currently pursuing an MD from Virginia Commonwealth University and
published in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Words Without Borders, Mandorla,
received an MFA in poetry from the University of Virginia. Recently, while
and Vice, among others.
in residency at Atlantic Center for the Arts, she completed her first poetry
Ian Orti is the author of the award-winning books The Olive and the Dawn and L
Lizzie Roberts was born in the Year of the Rat and grew up in Detroit. She
(and things come apart). A French translation of The Olive and the Dawn was
has degrees in fine art and visual communication, and worked primarily as
released in October 2014, and he is slated to publish another collection of
an illustrator and graphic designer, until the urge to write overwhelmed the
short stories in 2015. He is a former columnist with McSweeney’s and Matrix
allure of creating decorative crap for lifestyle magazines and corporate
Magazine, and his fiction and poetry have been published in journals across
publications. She has lived in Berlin since 1994, presently with two children,
North America and Europe. He now lives in Berlin.
a dwarf hamster, and a husband. She is writing a book about swimming in the ghetto and running away from the suburbs.
Virginia Patrone studied architecture at the University of the Republic in Uruguay, painting with Pepe Montes, engraving with David Finkbeiner,
Juan Pablo Roncone was born in 1982 in Arica, a few kilometers from the
otherwise self-taught. She was a founding member of the Buenaventura Studio
Chile-Peru border. At age 19, he moved to Santiago, where he later got his
in 1989 and the Espacio Infame in Barcelona in 2010. In 1988, she obtained
law degree. In 2007, his unpublished novel Los días finales (Final Days) won the
a Fulbright grant to New York. She had a solo exhibition at the Metropolitan
Roberto Bolaño Award for Young Creative Writers, and Deer Brother received
Museum of Tokyo in 1990. Her work has been featured in collections at the
the Municipal Literary Prize in Santiago, in the category of short-story
Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, and the National
collections (an honor once received by Bolaño himself). The book has been
Museum of Visual Arts and the Juan Manuel Blanes Museum in Montevideo,
published in Chile (Los Libros Que Leo) and Argentina (Fiordo), as well as in
Uruguay, among other museums and private collections.
Spain (Marbot) and the US in Spanish (Sudaquia).
Allan Peterson is the author of five books: Precarious (42 Miles Press, 2014);
Kathryn Savage holds a BA from The New School and an MFA from
Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s Poetry Series), a finalist for both the 2013
Bennington College. She has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf
National Book Critics Circle and Oregon Book Awards; As Much As (Salmon
Writers’ Conference and the Vermont Studio Center. She is working on a
Press, Ireland); All the Lavish in Common (2005 Juniper Prize, University
collection of short stories.
of Massachusetts Press); and Anonymous Or (Defined Providence Prize 2001). He has also written seven chapbooks, most recently, Other Than
Stuart Snelson is a London-based novelist and short-story writer. His stories
They Seem, winner of the 2014 Snowbound Chapbook Award from Tupelo
have appeared in 3:AM, Ambit, Litro, Structo, HOAX, Londonist, and Popshot,
among others. He is currently working on his second novel while seeking a publisher for his first. For a full list of links, visit stuartsnelson.wordpress.com, or follow him on Twitter, @stuartsnelson.
Phillip Sterling’s very short stories have appeared in Midway Journal, Opium,
NOO, Boaat, Fairy Tale Review, BlazeVOX, SOFTBLOW, Similar:Peaks::, and
Fiction at Work, Bear River Review, and Epiphany, among others. In Which
SAND. Candice’s chapbook cursewords is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press.
Brief Stories Are Told, a collection of fiction, was released from Wayne State University Press in 2011. He is also the author of the poetry collection Mutual
Elizabeth Wyatt sleeps ten or eleven hours a night but doesn’t own a television,
Shores and three chapbook-length series of poems: Significant Others,
and her (waking) mind has evolved a sophisticated calculus by which it extracts
Quatrains, and Abeyance. His awards include a National Endowment for the
justification from irrelevant juxtapositions like this one. Let’s get philosophical
Arts Fellowship, two Fulbright Lectureships, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction
for a minute. It’s not so much that the scholarly object(ive) is wrong; it’s that it’s
Award. In August 2014, he served as artist-in-residence at Isle Royale
ego parcheesi, and parcheesi is boring. Be subjective. Admit it. MY NAME
IS ELIZABETH WYATT AND THIS IS A SHORT AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Matthew Vasiliauskas is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago. In 2009, he was awarded the Silver Dome Award by the Illinois Broadcasters Association
Liang Yujing is a university lecturer in China who writes in both English and
for best public-affairs program as producer of the Dean Richards Show at
Chinese. His poems and translations in English have recently appeared in
WGN Radio. His work has appeared in publications such as The Newer York
Wasafiri, Litro, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, Stand, Westerly, Boston Review,
Press, The University of Wyoming’s Owen Wister Review, and The Pennsylvania
and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others.
Review. Matthew currently lives and works in Los Angeles. Tom Whalen’s recent books include the novels The President in Her Towers and The Straw That Broke. He has written for Agni, Asymptote, Bookforum, Chicago Review, Film Quarterly, The Hopkins Review, The Literary Review, New Ohio Review, The Quarterly, Washington Post, and others. He teaches film at the Staatliche Akademie der Bildenden Künste Stuttgart. Candice Wuehle is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Iowa City, Iowa, holds a Masters in literature from the University of Minnesota, and is a PhD candidate at the University of Kansas, where she is a Chancellor’s Fellow. Some of her poems can be or will be found in The Volta, inter|rupture,
Published on Oct 24, 2014
A body in motion stays in motion, said Newton, who also said that what goes up, must go down. A wise man, observing the obvious, that we are...