Contact: SAND Journal Prinz-Georg-StraĂ&#x;e 7 10827 Berlin email@example.com www.sandjournal.com Connect with us for news and events: www.facebook.com/sandjournal Twitter: @sandjournal ISSN 2191-429X Published in Berlin Copyright Spring 2015 Designed by Angelique Hering Printed by Solid Earth Cover image by Angelique Hering
S AND IS... Lyz Pfister EDITOR IN CHIEF / POETRY EDITOR
Florian Duijsens FICTION EDITOR
Alex Bodine ART EDITOR
Esther Yi COPY EDITOR
Polly Dickson DISTRIBUTION MANAGER
Jayme Collins DISTRIBUTION COORDINATOR
Chris Troise EVENTS MANAGER / FINANCE MANAGER
Valentina Uribe CONTENT & SPECIAL PROJECTS COORDINATOR
Kate Bailey SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Christina Wegener VEREIN COORDINATOR
Taylor Miles INTERN
Antonia Harris INTERN (ISSUE 10)
Angelique Hering GRAPHIC DESIGNER
ED I TO R ’ S
Those of us who call Berlin home are used to waking up to slate-gray winter skies and knocking the rickety iron heaters up a notch to bring some warmth into our tall-ceilinged quarters. Nights, we buy bottles of beer from the corner Späti and drink them walking the city’s rain-wet, cobbled streets. When the weather finally warms, we’ll sit along the Landwehr Canal sipping cold Club-Mate or on the benches of street-side cafés with plates of cake and finely foamed flat whites. Who we are, while we live here, is something we won’t be anywhere else. Berlin is a city layered with history and story. This issue of SAND explores three distinct eras in the city’s life. In “Horst-Wessel-Stadt,” Will Studdert’s winning entry
in The Reader Berlin’s Short Story Competition 2014/15, a British Nazi propagandist chronicles a night of dancing, drinking, and melancholy along the blacked-out streets of Friedrichshain on the cusp of World War II’s first winter – a landscape darkly illustrated by James Boswell. In Utz Rachowski’s “THE COLD WAR IS LONG SINCE OVER,” the menace of the Wall rises again when the suicidal speaker’s attempt to buy a gun is thwarted by a Russian hustler at Checkpoint Charlie. Menace of another sort threatens the protagonist of Simon Ward’s “Gegen Entgegen” as he journeys through Berlin’s gritty, glitter-studded party scene in a dress. But our identities are shaped by more than just the city in which we live – experience, nationality, sexuality, love, and loss also factor in. The speaker in Aaron Graham’s “PTSD Poem #12” pummels through a dying cityscape, his worldview forever changed by war: “I became a leaf in the midst of winter, / flung along footpaths wearing death openly, my skin a mixture / of bruise and burn.” Paul, the highwayman from Kasia Juno van Schaik’s story, wonders who he’ll be without his wife and children. Yet the only truth his near-death experience seems to reveal is that he is defined by his fears. Andrea Wan’s imaginative art probes the boundaries between body and mind. Are we defined by our bodies as much as our minds? If so, what happens when our bodies are no longer completely our own, like the narrator in “Deaths” (Wagner), who
when our bodies are gone? Questions like these are contemplated at the bedside of
thinks about the many ways in which his future liver donor might die? Who are we
a dying father (Renner Jones, “delirium”) or linger in the “last hurried gulps” uttered 5
at the scene of a fatal crash (Þóroddsdóttir, “The Difference”). We’re constantly trying to understand who we are. Perhaps the experiment is futile: “What / warm and easy luxury I found within myself. // How full my days became among the grasses. / You said, What folly” (Otte, “HEATHERWALKER”). But perhaps it is the unlikeliest of events, a brief encounter with an utter stranger, that ultimately reveals us to ourselves (Baltieri, “Passenger”): “Like you, I will learn to let go of what has nothing to do with me, as soon as I understand what that is.”
CO N T ENT S 09
Rainer Maria Rilke
The animal that never was Annie Muir
Highwayman Kasia Juno van Schaik
Replica (fragment) Hector Prats
Last Transmission Hector Prats
David Wagner, translated by Katy Derbyshire
Resentment / Risorgimento E.G. Cunningham
FEATHERMUCKER Timothy Otte
Third Date Julianne Pachico
The Difference translated by Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir
The Reader Berlin: Short Story Competition 2014/15 52
WEATHERLURKER Timothy Otte
Jury Report 53
Horst-WesselStadt Will Studdert, illustrated by James Boswell
DER KALTE KRIEG IST LANGE VORBEI
THE COLD WAR IS LONG SINCE OVER translated by Michael Ritterson
Hotel B1 Joseph Mulholland
delirium Lucy Renner Jones
List of Waste John Gosslee
PTSD Poem #12 Aaron Graham
Don Pomerantz 72
Gegen Entgegen Simon Ward, illustrated by Angelique Hering
Ostatnia noc Tadeusz Dąbrowski
translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
Loll Look Without Our Legs, How Artful Catherine Blauvelt
A una mariposa monarca Homero Aridjis
To a Monarch Butterfly translated by Jorge R. G. Sagastume
The Final Night
The animal that never was after Rilke The animal was strange and new, but still they tried to love its patterned neck, its clown feet, its mute eyes. It wasnâ€™t real, but they loved it so it was, and it smiled. They gave it a room with a bed and some books and it read and read and forgot about trying to be. They fed it coco pops and questions until its forehead was so full of sugar and words that it grew a horn. A single horn. SAND
And when it looked hard into a silver mirror it saw nothing but the pale slate
of a young girlâ€™s face.
HIGHWAYMAN Kasia Juno van Schaik
that Judy had changed her name? Paul wanted them to mind, needed them to, at least a fraction as much as he did. But it made no difference to them: they called her Mom. Why did she have to name herself after a tree, he wanted to know, a melancholic tree at that. Sam and Katie waited for their dad to calm down before they climbed out of the car. They’d spent the weekend with him in his austere Cape Town flat, and now they were ready to be home. They watched him patiently, the same way they’d watched the beluga in the aquarium that they’d visited on Saturday, trying to decide: Was it real? Was it a tiny
“Willo” was the name on the mailbox. Willow without the last w. Did the kids mind
bit real? They would rather it not be because it looked so sad, its pale, almost human skin bruised by the plasticine rocks. “It’s just a name,” said Katie finally, fiddling with her backpack straps. Sam was calculating the number of minutes before he could throw himself onto his bed, his own bed in his own room, and plug into his Nintendo, which he hadn’t been allowed to bring with him. He’d already used up his dad’s phone battery playing Tetris. Sensing their eagerness to leave, Paul released them, sliding his hand across their hair as they leapt out of the car. He didn’t get out himself. Judy preferred him to stay in the car, so as not to confuse them, she said. He was permitted to wait with the motor running until they were safely inside the security gates. Then he was to drive away. Paul watched the gates slide closed, but this time he idled a little longer. He was curious. Had the name change altered his ex-wife in some way? He hadn’t seen her in months. She avoided direct contact with him by sending messages through the kids: “Please deposit tuition by Friday,” or “Remember to send Katie’s blue lunchbox home with her this time.” But now the front door opened, and there she was, “Willo,” pulling the children into her arms, hugging them rather aggressively, Paul thought, Katie first and then Sam. She’d stopped darkening her hair, he noticed. It looked almost colourless in the light. She wore a green smock cut in that shapeless peasant style worn by all the women at the expensive Montessori school the kids now attended. She wore it well. He could give her
that. Despite the grey hair, there was something girlish about her. Judy’s gaze travelled, unfocused, over Paul’s windscreen. Predictably her mouth hardened, and Paul took that cue to back out of the driveway. He forced himself to stare straight ahead, past the stop sign on the corner of the street, and to keep an even keel, not to smack his foot on the gas, to stall, or let her see his face. He rolled up the window and, glancing in the rear-view mirror, caught sight of her, one hand still resting on Katie’s shoulder. In a few minutes he’d found the main road and was headed out of the village towards the coastal highway, which would take him back to the city. Judy spent half the week with a man who called her Willo and owned a boxy little brick-and-plaster flat near the children’s school, but she spent weekends and holidays in
the small settlement two and a half hours out of Cape Town. Vrolijkheid was the name of the nearby nature reserve. Happiness. She kept threatening to move up here full-time. “The kids like it here,” she’d said, when she and Paul were still on speaking terms. “They’ll grow out of that,” Paul had assured her. The truth was, Judy wouldn’t last a month in the bush. Forget that there were cobras, dust storms, and water shortages just outside the city limit. Forget that she was a sheltered white woman who’d never worked a day in her life. She contested that point, of course. She said that she’d slaved for him for eight years, cooked for him, ironed his suits. How much effort did it take to iron a shirt? You wouldn’t know, Paul. You’ve never ironed one. Well, she was right, he’d never ironed a shirt, but they’d hired a lady to take care of the cleaning. Judy had chosen to cook, she said she liked it, said the house was lonely when he was away, and cooking was satisfying, no – “fulfilling.” That was the word she used. Paul shifted to first as he approached the incline of the cliff. The road was narrow and poorly maintained, but it was the fastest route, not to mention the prettiest. From this height, the sea seemed empty: a vast plain with just the flash of a ship’s light to signal human activity. Driftwood and kelp littered the winter tideline. The spools of seaweed reminded Paul of limbs, the tarred pharaohs of his childhood encyclopedia. He thought of his own kids embalming him, rubbing olive oil into his skin and wrapping him in silk, setting a cat to watch over his tomb. That was loyalty. But Katie and Sam would never Judy’s. passenger seat beside him, and taking in the full realization of the fact. He remembered how Judy would slide her feet up onto the dashboard and rub her toes on the windscreen. Alone, he thought. But everyone was ultimately buried alone, even the pharaohs. It was a long drive, but Judy was right. The kids did like it out there. Especially Sam. He was mad about fly-fishing. He had his mother’s looks – pale, a bit small around the shoulders – but he was his daddy’s kid. Obsessed with cars and planes just as Paul had been when he was his age. When Sam turned twelve, Paul was going to enrol him in an
Paul would be buried alone. He blinked, gripping the wheel, glancing at the empty
give up their pet for such a task. They barely said goodbye when he dropped them off at
all-boys school in the city, Bishops or Reddam House. Some place he could get a decent education. That was the deal. Until then, he would have to keep signing the tuition cheques Judy forwarded him. Michael Oak was the name of the Montessori school the kids attended. He’d picked Katie and Sam up from there last month. They seemed to be fond of it, at least Katie was. It was probably a good place for her, for the time being. Classrooms tissue-papered with stars and lit with beeswax candles. The children sewed eyes onto finger puppets and sang songs about Sister Rain and Brother Wind and believed, for a window of a few years, that the earth was a generous and fair place. The Michael Oak teachers dressed like Beatrix Potter. They floated over the school grounds in flowing skirts and multi-coloured shawls. Sharp edges, nail polish, and black clothing were forbidden on school property, and so the teachers were the embodiment of all things soft, rounded, and earth-toned. They beamed when he shook their hands. Katie’s father! She talks about you constantly. He’d like to probe their skirts to see what was under there. Layers of pink tissue paper, he imagined. For genitals they’d each have a Japanese handicraft – a lotus star, or what did they call it? A God’s Eye, made from sticks and dyed wool. Remembering Judy’s tunic, Paul decided that there was also something oddly ageless about these women, even the ones with whitening hair and crow’s feet. Something sexless or virginal about them too, although most of them had husbands and had obviously participated in the carnal act, as the school grounds were
filled with miniature versions of them. He’d like to take one of the women up against the blackboard, or the nature table, that pinecone-littered shrine they set up in the corner of the class every week. He’d climb under her dress, burrow through the tissue paper. He imagined a chastity belt made of honeycombs. He turned to the window heavily. Blood had collected in the back of his neck, and his arms felt stiff. Paul stretched his legs, letting his left foot ease onto the clutch. He tried to revive the Beatrix Potter fantasy, but it didn’t work. He was tired. Michael Oak was good for Katie. It warmed him to see his daughter so enamoured with her drip-dry paintings and her stories about goblins and nimble foxes. “Nimble,” that was the word they always used to describe clever animals. Katie was such an anxious child. A few weeks ago, he’d taken Katie and Sam for tea in the National Gardens. There’d
been a Dalmatian there, apparently ownerless, gnawing at the patchy fur under its hind leg and making low snorting sounds in its throat. Katie was captivated. Bits of black and white fur lay scattered on the grass beside the animal. Sam pelted acorns at the Dalmatian, but Katie just gazed at it, her mouth slightly open and a bubble forming on her lip. In the summer, her freckles darkened and clotted together, standing out on her cheeks. He hoped that she’d lose them with age. He felt sorry for homely children – not that Katie was homely – but it was worse for girls than boys. Katie had Paul’s eyes: brown, pup eyes, a little too round. Not mournful exactly – nothing yet to mourn – but it was strange to recognize one of his fundamental features in his child and to know that she and he viewed the world with the same ocular muscles. It made him feel more protective and, at the same time, more critical of her. He had to hold back when watching her sometimes, her lack of confidence, her slightly in-turned feet, the way she’d pick at her fingers. Katie chewed them till they bled. Judy tried painting her nails with aloe vera juice, but that didn’t seem to work, as she got used to the bitter taste. Last time Katie visited his flat, he taped her fingers to the table with masking tape. He couldn’t stand to see her picking at herself like that. The masking-tape incident had shaken Katie. He hadn’t meant to scare her, just to give her some perspective. Now she was careful not to bite her nails around him. Sometimes he saw her lift her hand to her mouth and then fling her hand back into her her mind off her nervousness, get her onto a team, meeting other kids. Exercise would be the weight when they grow older. Paul tried to explain this to Katie. She’d gazed at him and nodded when he asked her if she understood. The next week he got a letter, three pages long, signed “Willo.” Did he want their daughter to develop an eating disorder? Katie was perfectly healthy for her age. Did he want to implant his insecurities in her? Did he? Paul passed a man by the side of the road, a hitchhiker who didn’t even bother lifting his thumb. The wind had risen, and sand was flying off the dunes into the
good for her. She wasn’t losing her baby fat. No one liked chubby girls. It’s harder to lose
lap. Bad habit. What she needed was to play a sport, netball or tennis, something to get
road. The west beaches were empty at this time of year. The water’s surface, darkening occasionally with clouds, reminded Paul of a whale-watching trip he’d taken with Judy. It was years ago now, before the women’s groups and the separate bedrooms, when Judy was still attempting a fine-arts degree and Sam was only a cluster of cells in her womb, his existence still unannounced. But she must have known, now that Paul thought of it. On some level, she’d known. He remembered that she’d had longer hair at the time and complained about how the sea salt dried out the ends. She sucked on her hair as they drove. Most of the cottages at the resort had been empty – Christmas season had not yet begun. The water was still cold and the wind unpredictable, but it was a break from the city. They needed it, they both had agreed. They’d arrived at the resort late Friday night and been shown to their cottage by an old Afrikaner woman who predicted thunder for Saturday afternoon. The next morning they woke to the cicadas. They decided to take a walk along the shore in the direction of the whale colonies. The light rain that started earlier that morning had stopped. It was overcast and breezy when they set out for their walk, but Judy refused to bring a cardigan. She was wearing a round straw hat and a light summer dress without a bra. It made him nervous, her looking like a child in her wide hat and with her small pointed breasts, and him lumbering beside her in his dark trousers and sun-spotted arms like a frowning guardian. Before they left the cottage, he stood in the doorway and
suggested that she wear something warmer. She refused, of course, and gave him one of her slippery smiles. She was testing him. As they walked, he scanned the beach. To his relief, it was deserted. There were signs all along the shore warning visitors to swim at their own risk, so he was taken off guard when Judy, in one swift movement, pulled her dress over her head and charged towards the water. “What are you doing?” She was already in, her back disappearing sideways into the waves. Her dress lay in a rumpled mound next to his feet. The round straw hat had drifted over the sand and was now wet and rimmed with foam. Paul bolted towards the water. Images of riptides, undertows, and shallow rocks rushed through his mind. He called out to Judy. His voice
sounded frantic and garbled. “Judy!” Lowering his voice in an effort to calm down, he called again. Nothing. He scanned the surface. The water, blue from a distance, had turned into an opaque green. He took a step into the water and felt an immediate drop as he sank to his waist. A wave broke, smacking his belly and soaking his shirt. Another struck him in the face. “Judy!” He felt under the water with his hands, too terrified to dive. With his feet, he nudged the drop-off and outlined where the sandbank gave way to an icy current. Something hard touched his foot and then skidded down to his right. The current was strong. He felt it sucking the sand from under his feet. Elevator sand, he’d called this sensation as a child, the way it felt like you were speeding forward when you were actually standing in the same place. He took a step back, dizzy. She appeared, about twenty metres down, her body rising out of the water like a hammerhead shark. The current had swept her down the beach. She limped out of the waves, hair plastered to her face and shoulders. She drew her arms up around her breasts, flattening her elbows against her ribs. As he drew closer, he saw that her whole body was shaking. He called to her, and this time she seemed to hear him. Her arms were studded with goose bumps. He tried to lift her, but she seemed to be fastened to the sand. Finally she began to relax in his arms, her head sinking onto his from chattering. “I looked for you. I was standing out there looking for you.” She pulled away, and he felt the air rush into the space between them. “If you were looking for me, why is your hair dry?” He tried to take her in his arms, but she was already walking back towards her dress.
“Your hair is dry,” she said.
shoulder. She pressed her cheek against his ear and clenched her jaw to keep her teeth
It was the sound that woke Paul, like the boom of a foghorn, now unbearably loud. Up ahead, a van raced towards him. The driver hit the horn again. With horror, Paul realized that he’d shifted to the wrong side of the road, and the van was trying to compensate by switching lanes. On this section of the route, the road was so narrow that there was barely enough room for two vehicles. There were supposed to be shoulders, patches of gravel where drivers could pull aside to let each other pass. The van’s windows were tinted, but Paul saw at least a dozen faces hovering behind the driver’s seat. A child slid into view between the two front seats: a small boy, gripping the driver’s neck. A woman reached out and pulled him back. Paul heard the concrete barricade scraping against the side of his car; below his window, a sudden break of blue. He tried to turn back into the correct lane, but the van was blocking him. They were headed for a collision. The driver knew it too. Someone would have to give way, but that would mean steering towards the cliff edge. Paul knew his heart would stop mid-drop – he’d heard that that was how it happened, dead from the shock before you hit. He imagined the people in the tinted minivan, nannies and maids returning home after living in other people’s houses all month, twenty-five warm bodies, twenty-five hearts that would stop mid-beat above the water. He lunged into the cliff-side barricade a second time, giving them the road. The van flew past him. For a second, he thought he heard the driver’s voice. But
then, instead of breaking through the barrier and shooting off the cliff, the Honda skid sideways, into a patch of gravel on the other side of the road. A blur of silver and blue rock streaked past his window. Ahead of him, on a rock ledge, he saw a clump of snowdrops. A tiny green dot marked the tip of each petal. The seat belt dug into his chest, cutting off his circulation. His hands lay motionless in his lap. He had the impression they did not belong to him. Managing to lift his head, he saw that half the windscreen was missing. Several rocks had fallen through the glass onto the passenger seat. Smoke drifted up from the car’s bonnet. It occurred to Paul that any minute now, the punctured petrol tank would leak onto the burning wires. A slow flame would begin at the engine and work its way along the upholstery. The task of lifting his hands from his lap seemed immense. At last he managed to
grip the door handle, but the door was stuck. The passenger door too. The windows were jammed, but Paul was able to force down the pane with his elbows. He hoisted himself out of the window and collapsed onto the grass. He lay there for a while, forgetting where he was, before a pain in his neck brought him back. He pushed himself onto his elbows and crawled away from the vehicle. He managed to limp across the road. There, with his back to the sea, he waited for the car to explode. After a minute or two, Paul sank to the ground, strangely disappointed. The faint rust from his trip to the Kalahari still lined the bonnet. Had he imagined the smoke? Crickets hissed in the rocks. The sun beat down on his head. He realized that his clothes were wet, soaked through with his own sweat. Despite the sun, he found that he was shivering. He could taste his own stomach acid in his throat. He approached the wreck and managed to unjam the backdoor. He picked up his cell phone, which he realized was dead. Sam had run through the battery playing games, and now it was useless. He found a pullover and a packet of potato chips in the backseat. He blew glass off the packet and opened it, eating quickly, relishing the sting of the vinegar. He finally found the nerve to try the ignition, but the car wouldn’t start. It was growing dark. An SUV sped past. A woman in her forties. He met her stare, watched her surprise and concern quickly harden into distrust. He didn’t blame her. Drivers were warned of the highwaymen’s traps. Fake accidents. You heard stories of good Samaritans stopping to help and their cars being dismantled and gutted, sold part by part, The ocean liners had disappeared from view, but Paul could still see a deck light It was as if the great evacuation had finally come. The city had been cleared, the villages emptied. While he’d been keeping vigil by the roadside, people had been pouring onto ships and planes. Those liners were the last vessels to leave the port, taking the remaining civilians with them. He thought of Sam and Katie waving from the deck of a giant tanker, Judy behind them. Bye, Dad! He would be left to follow the shoreline towards Cape Town, walking for days in footsteps that were not his own, and when he finally reached the city, the power would be cut, the buildings looted, the mountain slumped in ash.
blinking on the horizon. Every four seconds, one dim, one bright, then the sea was bare.
their bodies found weeks later.
By now he was jogging along the road. But he was thirsty and tired and soon slowed to a walk. He estimated the time was about 9 o’clock. When the sun went down, he would actually be lost. No one picked up hitchhikers on an unlit highway. He would freeze. He would walk off a cliff. He’d been walking for an hour when a set of lights curved along the hill. As the vehicle rounded the corner, he sprang to life. He imagined what he must look like to the driver: a ragged lunatic, hurling himself into oncoming traffic. The van slowed, and the driver rolled down a window. “Is that your Honda back there?” the man asked, with no sign of unlocking the door. “Yes,” said Paul, leaning against the door, trying to steady his breath. “That was you, then,” said the driver. “You got off okay.” Paul nodded, although his chest was still raw from the seat belt. “I was lucky,” he said. The van was now empty except for a small boy sleeping on the backseat. The driver’s son. The man unlocked the door and waited for Paul to climb in before easing his foot off the brakes. “You fell asleep, is that it?” The man frowned at him. “Or were you drunk?” “Not drunk,” said Paul. He wasn’t sure if the man believed him. “Look, I can drop you at the Flats,” he told Paul. “That’s as far as I’m going. You’ll
have to find your way from there.” The driver’s Christian name was Daniel. Paul didn’t catch his Xhosa name. He had four children, one already in matric. Daniel drove this route twice a week, stopping at the settlements along the coast and the farming communities farther inland. Yes, he knew Vrolijkheid. It was on his route. “South Africa is catching up to the rest of the world,” he told Paul. “Soon they’ll have bullet trains, like in Europe.” “What will you do then?” asked Paul. “Won’t you be out of a job?” Daniel smiled as if the question were so simple, it didn’t merit an answer. His kids would take care of him, he said. After a while, Daniel turned on the radio. The news, in three languages, warned
of flash floods in the western regions of the country. A body had been found in a shark net at Fish Hoek beach. In Britain, a new prince had been born. But Paul found that he couldn’t focus on the news. He couldn’t dispel the vision of the looted city, the deserted harbour, the smoke. This was the city that awaited him. As they approached the bay, he found himself growing apprehensive. A heavy mist had formed around the base of Table Mountain, but he could just make out the houses of parliament, the steep streets leading to the university and to his own tree-lined neighbourhood. But even now, the lights seemed to be deceptive. There were too few of them, and they seemed dimmed, as if projected on the city from a great distance. Paul felt a damp hand on his shoulder. The kid in the back had woken up and was pressing himself between the front seats to get a better view. “What do you see?” asked Paul. He wanted assurance. He wanted to be disproven. “Out there, what do you see?” The boy stared at the windscreen. The sky was very dark. He sensed that there was something wrong with this man, something in the quality of his voice. He’d heard it before, and it frightened him. It was the voice beggars used to petition his father. Below the highway lay the harbour, the water oddly motionless. They drove on in silence, the radio bringing them stories of wildfires and electrical storms, of lost airplanes and distant battlefields where peace had once again been restored. SAND 21
Symmetry A man draws near a womanâ€™s silence, she pulls away. Trees take root within our atmosphere, air contains the seemingly uncontainable: creatures, birds, worms, leaves, bits of fallen space. Below we cast out wonder. Declare it a thing to be hunted, hidden. Light gathers in sidewalk puddles.
A puddle comprehends the brilliance of the entire sky.
Stupid humans. Listen. Here is how we draw heaven near: raise white steeples to the sky, forget the sky.
WEATHERLURKER ) ) ) waves wash
the broken bones of former cities a hole in the landscape,
drone of wind eroding an expanse of asphalt, shifting the earth under buildings made to hold us,
lift us up.
you said, Iâ€™ve given up. Iâ€™ll be dead by the time our time has come. I heard your words,
over the silence of surf. my head pressed against an unstable wall.
at your touch on my shoulder I turned to face you. all I saw
city of boarded windows.
another wall succumb to the water
landing gently in a plume of dust,
you said, I did my best to save you. I know this is a passing vision
quiet in the wake of violence ( ( (
Ostatnia noc Leżymy obok siebie jak dwie zapałki, a moje palce liczą sylaby w haiku o rozstaniu, lecz wciąż wychodzi mi jakaś dłuższa
Translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
The Final Night Weâ€™re lying in bed side by side like two matches, meanwhile my fingers count the syllables in a haiku on parting, but each time I try I get a longer format.
Loll Look Without Our Legs, How Artful the royal blue chicken, the white cat for Joan. White space donâ€™t crowd the green tries to escape the bird the symbol of grass. Repeatable lace where we went without saying it left a want. A thought for another: many black stumps, three rose stumps yelling out their necks existing above them. Even without the lake the orange slides. I want a lion to come out of it. I do not believe Joan when she tells me Sunflowers. She is above the lake she comes from. White over the yellow pink robe before the freed green still in the air. Notice the crushed ivory sheep. SAND 91
I was lying on the plushly carpeted floor of a quiet bedroom with an amateurishly prepared mint julep in a jam jar balanced on my chest. The well-oiled people who had stayed past midnight were in the living room dancing to pop songs from a bygone era. I sipped my drink and thought that it was time to understand whatever this was – “this” being the best I could do, opening my palms outward and looking around the room as if my glance reached the ends of the earth. There had been a crowd in the kitchen. I had seen how, as she crossed the linoleum in her socks, a woman had reorganized the room as if disturbing fields of energy. In an
equilibrium of social pressures, people seemed to be held in place by a force equal in strength to life’s essential spontaneity. A friend appeared in the doorway and asked how I was doing there on the floor. “I’m pretty far out,” I said, and began to wonder why most walls are painted white. I sought an answer as I considered men from previous centuries who had attempted to synthesize basic psychological meanings from the old countries’ mythologies. All points of departure lead to the sea. I thought of purposes that gather, how this party had bloomed from the past, a precipitate of the world. Had the hosts of the party first voiced its possibility in the hallways of this home? It came to be, carrying its origins in whatever history made it possible to understand what it was in the first place, like me. I too wanted to become capable of the imaginable: free to do what I knew could be done; and to give rise to the unimaginable: an art of the experimental and the free; and I wanted to go further: my mind becoming a disruption in that order of things that delineated my freedom. Thinking should be more than an attempt to lay bare what was supposedly always already the case. I remembered that a handful of social scientists have implied that any behavior falling outside the bounds of evolutionary self-interest is genuine insanity. Sipping my drink, I slowly fell back into the world that is located nowhere, that is drawing me through life the way cities lead people down avenues and gather them in squares, the way circuiting machine with unlimited functions. synchronized like clockwork within hive-like cities, if that is what you felt? The force of a species channeling through you all the time; nowhere isolable as one body, yet describable in abstractions that sometimes seem to have more reality than the matter you are made of; the automatism of the pulse; the thing that when backed into a corner might fight for its life.
Could you recover from having felt what keeps millions of human beings
thought flows through the world in currents. Doing itself had become undone, like a short-
I took the Bay Bridge on my way back into the city. The contents of my mind dissipated as I passed over the silent expanse of water. The skyscrapers loomed, apart from me. Soon the city would gird me in all around. I heard the breeze whipping emptily at my windows. I remained inside and outside at the same time.
He opened the door fluently, lifting the handle with a flourish, and closed it smartly behind him. He slumped in the passenger seat and dropped his hat on the floor. I looked at him, surprised. His skin was damp with sweat. As the stoplight turned green, the traffic compelled me to drive. I had watched him from a phalanx of cars idling in the dark on the outskirts of the city. His was the only human figure in the empty vicinities of the on-ramps, drifting across an intersection at a somnambulant pace I associated with mental illness and traumatically induced amnesia. He was wearing a makeshift gown. Like a sheet, the fabric fell loosely over his torso. It was luminous in the dusk, like the river of white lights, the traffic winding toward the city. Slowing before the dark windshields, he had seemed to peer inside the vehicles
without fear of being seen. He aimed a gloved hand far off into the city, his entire body beckoning and pointing like a signpost. He was wearing a small brimmed hat. He stopped and seemed to appraise me. He strode to my car. His resolute gait in that brief moment had displayed all the decisiveness of a final why not?
I looked ahead and accelerated. “Where are you going?” I asked. “I don’t know,” he said. “I guess tonight I’m just too good a piece of ass to matter where I am. Nobody cares.” His face was smooth, flawless except for a trace of acne along
his lower jaw. He had lank blond hair. “Are you alright?” I asked. “I mean, I can drive you somewhere. Do you need me to take you home?” “I’m totally fine,” he said, a note of defiance in his voice. “Well, what are you doing?” I asked. “I was working.” “What do you mean, working?” I countered. “For this Chinese couple, they don’t understand: you can’t work every other day.” I was so tired. “Have you ever spent any time in Chicago?” he asked. “No,” I said, though I had been to Chicago before. “You should go there sometime.”
Perhaps we understood that strangers don’t usually just get into other people’s cars in the middle of the night, but that it’s a perfectly straightforward possibility of which we are more or less capable at any given moment. The world is not strange. He sat in the passenger seat like a sullen shadow, as if speaking to me from within my own solitude. I didn’t know what to say, and my thoughts remained inaccessible to and trees.
me. The car seemed to glide down the avenue on its own. We passed an open space, grass
One night I had walked by an empty, blindingly lit tennis court at the edge of a deserted park in the Mission. The lurid brightness dissolved into the surrounding darkness, revealing bits of trash littered on a sloping lawn. I found myself before a stage. A homeless woman called to me from behind the chain-link fence enclosing the court. She stood alone next to a shopping cart, her face sunken in the hood of a dirty sweatshirt.
She mentioned that the night was pleasant. There was the touch of a buried need in the way she addressed me: I know you, I appeal to you. She approached the fence with the gentle bearing of a hermit and asked how I was doing. I longed to be honest. I had recently read about the suicide of a journalist who had been writing a book about a mass rape. I have known a mortal fear. “Would you like an apple?” she asked. A round gray object sailed through the air, making a tall, sharp arc over the fence. I caught it as she screamed, “Your mother had semen in her vagina!” I quickly turned and walked away, the apple in my hand. After a few blocks, I slowed beside a trash can. “What the fuck,” I whispered. I let the apple roll off my palm and into the trash. There is an alienation that only wants to get closer.
“You could keep going this way,” he said, “but I would really suggest going that way.” He indicated a turn, I missed it, and we were trapped inside a mess of traffic inextricably routed toward a center of frenzied nocturnal activity. I had forgotten about San Francisco Pride weekend. Taxis honked in the din. The street was suddenly crowded, pedestrians overflowing SAND
the sidewalks. Some of them seemed to have lost their minds and were now roaming about wildly. The window of the car next to mine jerked open. A bald man leered at me
from behind the wheel. In the back seat, a gang of bare-breasted men grinned at me as the car rolled by. “This is what we get for a Saturday,” my passenger muttered without amusement. I braked as a group of naked men cut across the street in front of us. “So, what do you do in the city?” I asked him. “That is the question for us both to answer during this time,” he said. He continued to observe the riotous procession, as if he were sitting at a windowsill above. The traffic moved along slowly, and I lapsed into a silence, a tide washing away the course of the evening. Groups of humans walked with libidinal focus, ignorant of
the dark waters crashing on the shores of the peninsula. The earth had rolled away from the sun; an atmosphere of electric light pushed toward the night sky. We watched from behind the glass of my car. I saw the slogan “Stop the Violence, Stop the Hate” in the crowd and remembered newspaper headlines about queer couples murdered in parks while making love. There was a hill sloping gradually downward beyond the intersection we were approaching. “You could cut my throat and eat me. I wouldn’t be one to protest,” he said. “But are you okay? I mean, really? Do you need me to drop you off somewhere?” “I’m totally fine,” he said in a different voice, brushing aside my concern. “There will be order over there.” He nodded toward the far side of the intersection, like an oracle free-falling through his element. The gowned man had entered my life. Here was another of my kind, an actor playing a role in the upkeep of significance within the course of history. Warm air passed through muscle pulled taut in his throat, making sounds, and I understood these words. Reading the license plate of a car in front of us, he trailed off into an incoherent succession of numbers and digits. He looked at me with mild brown eyes, and the crowd surged, a mess of life illuminated by the emergency lights flashing on the periphery. “Wouldn’t it be terrible without me here?” he asked. “I mean like, no, like now, when we’re just waiting behind these cars, unable to go anywhere, just waiting for something to happen. Wouldn’t it be terrible if I weren’t here with you?” SAND
believe there was none, yet pursued this conclusion just as doggedly. I wandered within an interminable whiteness that filled space the way a room devoid of light surfeits the eye with nothing. Eventually I gathered the force of my wearied indignation; I threw on warmer clothes and turned myself into the street. I headed somewhere where the bars were still full and people were out. I walked. I got a maniac’s urge to ask people, out of the blue,
In my apartment, alone in the evenings, sometimes I would lose the thread. I began to
forthrightly and penetratingly, what they were doing. I trailed behind small groups strolling on the sidewalk. I crossed the street unthinkingly to be closer to a woman whose appearance aroused desire, though I knew it was wrong, to approach somebody in such circumstances, at night, outside the sanctioned and comforting enclosures that permitted, even encouraged, such approaches. I was quickly overcome by a fear of being condemned in the eyes of the stranger, yet I craved a recognition of something so stubbornly unsayable, it seemed only a miraculous and fractured trust spontaneously originating in the blackness of the night could help me.
We came through the traffic. I drove the car away, down the hill. He brushed his fingers over the dashboard, the controls of the broken radio. “Nothing?” he asked ambivalently. I confirmed, “Nothing.” From the drink holder he took a glass Coke bottle. Earlier that day, I’d thrown out the roses I’d kept in there. They had dried out and begun to rot. Littered around the car like potpourri, the petals were limp and delicate, the color of purple chalk. He sniffed at the mouth of the bottle. SAND
“It’s just old water. I had some flowers, roses.” He held it in front of his face.
“It’s just rose water,” I said. He began to sip cautiously. It wasn’t rose water; it was stagnant water that a decaying plant had been festering in. “You’re drinking rose water,” I said again. He pressed the bottle to his lips and drank. “It’s just old rose water,” I said again, to the incorrigibility of the world incarnate. A few blocks away from the demonstrations, the city was quiet. I turned onto a side street. “It’s alright if I drop you off here, then?” I said, and pulled over at the corner. He
picked up his hat from the floor and checked the seat. “Did I leave anything?” “What’s your name?” I asked. “Roger.” As he stepped out of my car, I caught sight of his ankle. The hairs were thick and matted at the edge of his sock. He was wearing leather boots, scuffed like bowling shoes. I lost him as he disappeared around the corner, carrying my bottle, walking into the morning like an immortal. Like you, I will learn to let go of what has nothing to do with me, as soon as I understand what that is. December 2014
CONTRIBUTORS Aaron Anstett’s newest collection is Insofar as Heretofore. His poems recently appeared, or will appear, in Cream City Review, december, Gargoyle, The Laurel Review, Parcel, Upstairs at Duroc, and elsewhere. He lives in Colorado with his wife, Lesley, and children. Homero Aridjis (Contepec/Michoacán, Mexico, 1940) is considered one of Latin America’s outstanding authors and poets in the Spanish language. Octavio Paz recognized Aridjis’s early talents, which helped him to get his poetry and prose published when he was only a youngster. In 1969, he began giving lectures on Mexican literature at universities in the US, and in 1972, he became a cultural attaché at the Mexican embassy in the Netherlands. A few years later, he was appointed ambassador. In 1985, Aridjis co-founded Grupo de los Cien, a group of internationally renowned artists and intellectuals that actively engaged with environmental issues. He is the group’s driving force – and thus held in low esteem by Mexican authorities. He is the author of numerous volumes of poetry and prose. Daniel Aristi was born in Spain. He studied French literature and then economics. He now lives in Botswana with his wife, two children, and two cats. His work has
been recently featured, or is forthcoming, in Euphony, Cactus Heart, and Asymptote. Adam Baltieri was born in California and received a BA in philosophy from the
University of California, Berkeley. After living in the San Francisco Bay area for a number of years, he moved to Europe and is now based in Berlin. In addition to conceiving a few essays as an attempt to relate personal experience to its worldhistorical context, he is working on a number of stories in various formats. He is a citizen of Italy and the US. Catherine Blauvelt is a 2012 graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. In 2013, she won the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Contest. Her poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Iowa Review, Likestarlings, and Petri Press, among other journals.
James Boswell was born in London in 1990. He studied illustration at Falmouth University, during which time he was awarded “Best of Year” in D&AD’s illustration category. He now lives and works in Bristol. He has a keen interest in narrative illustration and to date has produced work for two books for the Folio Society: The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard, and Traitor’s Purse by Margery Allingham. E.G. Cunningham grew up in Rome, Italy, and Mount Dora, Florida. Her work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Vinyl Poetry, BANG!, The Volta, Propeller, Blackbox Manifold, and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of Georgia. Tadeusz Dąbrowski is a poet, essayist, and critic. He edits the literary bimonthly Topos and has been published in many journals in Poland and abroad, including The New Yorker, Boston Review, Agni, American Poetry Review, Tin House, Harvard Review, Little Star Weekly, Crazyhorse, The Common, and BODY. He has received numerous stipends and awards, including the Yaddo stipend (2015), the Horst Bienek Prize (2014), the Kościelski Prize (2009), the Hubert Burda Prize (2008), and, from Tadeusz Różewicz, the Prize of the Foundation for Polish Culture (2006). He is the author of six volumes of poetry: Wypieki (1999), e-mail (2000), mazurek (2002), Te Deum (2005, 2008), Czarny kwadrat (2009), and Pomiędzy (2013). His work has been translated into twenty languages. Katy Derbyshire was born in London and has been living in Berlin for many years. Helene Hegemann, Simon Urban, and Christa Wolf.
testament is johngosslee.com. Aaron Graham hails from the town of Glenrock, Wyoming – population 1,159 – seven bars, six churches, no stoplights, and a single four-way stop sign in the center of town. His focus is the intersection of desire and violence, and he explores these issues within a frame that juxtaposes returning war veterans and classical exilic figures. He is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a veteran
John Gosslee. American poet, editor of Fjords Review, iconoclast. His latest
She translates contemporary German writers, including Clemens Meyer, Inka Parei,
of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, where he served with Marine Corps Intelligence. Currently, he is a doctoral student at Emory University, concentrating on 20thcentury poetics, Arabic-language poetry, continental philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience. Antonia Lloyd-Jones is a full-time translator of Polish literature, and twice winner of the Found in Translation Award. She has translated works by several of Poland’s leading contemporary novelists and authors of reportage. She also translates crime fiction, poetry, essays, and books for children. She is a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Programme, and co-chair of the UK Translators Association. Tom Montag is the author of In This Place: Selected Poems 1982-2013, The Big Book of Ben Zen, and Middle Ground, as well as Curlew: Home, Kissing Poetry’s Sister, and The Idea of the Local. He believes that poetry can redeem the world – foolish boy – and so continues to write fiercely. His recent poems can be found in a variety of magazines, both in print and online. Montag lives in Fairwater, Wisconsin, where he blogs as The Middlewesterner. Annie Muir is 23 years old and comes from London. She studied English literature at the University of Manchester. In 2014, her poem “Seven Postcards” won the PBS
National Student Poetry Competition. She currently lives in Berlin. Joseph Mulholland is from Albuquerque, New Mexico. His poems have recently appeared in Meridian, The Journal, The Carolina Quarterly, Passages North, Grist,
and Notre Dame Review. He currently lives in San Juan and is a graduate student at the University of Puerto Rico. a d r i a n n i c h o l s studied dance at the School of American Ballet, the classics at Swarthmore, and law at the University of Virginia. For five years, he practiced corporate law in New York and Frankfurt. He has contributed essays and reviews to Ballet Review since 1993. In 2001, he moved to Berlin to write fiction and poetry. In his readings, he is still a dancer. He and his wife, whom he met reading Baudelaire and Rimbaud at Swarthmore, now have three young children. He recommends Thomas More and Haruki Murakami.
Timothy Otte is a selected participant in the 2014-15 Loft Literary Center Mentor Series and is at work on his first collection of poems. His text has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Paper Darts and the minnesota review. He is from, and lives in, the Twin Cities of Minnesota, but keeps a home on the internet: timothyotte.com. Julianne Pachico grew up in Colombia and now lives in England. Her stories have been published by Lighthouse, Newwriting.net, and Words & Women, among others. Her pamphlet The Tourists was recently published by Daunt Books. In 2015, she was longlisted for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award. Her website is never-stop-reading.com. Twitter: @juliannepachico. Don Pomerantz lives in New York City, where he is a teacher. His poems have appeared in Washington Square, Failbetter, Potomac Review, Eclectica, New Plains Review, Mountain Gazette, and elsewhere. Hector Prats is a Spanish artist working mostly in the medium of drawing. His work has been exhibited in several international cities, such as Moscow, Prague, Rome, Lisbon, Bilbao, and Enschede, among others. More information and images at hectorprats.tumblr.com. Utz Rachowski was born in 1954 in Plauen/Vogtland, East Germany. He was arrested in 1979 for â€œsubversive agitation,â€? then expatriated and released to West Germany through Amnesty International in 1980. He is a freelance writer of prose, poetry, and since 2003, he has worked as a rehabilitation adviser to victims of GDR dictatorship
radio plays. From 1993 to 1999, he co-edited the literary journal Ostragehege, and under the auspices of the Saxony State Commission for the Stasi Files. He has Polish, French, Serbian, and Finnish. He received the 2014 Nikolaus Lenau Prize for the poetry collection Miss Suki oder Amerika ist nicht weit. Jennifer Raha is a graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in journals such as TriQuarterly, Blue Lyra, and The Canary. She teaches high school in rural Virginia.
given readings and lectures in numerous countries and been translated into English,
Lucy Renner Jones studied German with W. G. Sebald at the University of East Anglia. Soon afterwards, she started a career as a fashion photographer and photojournalist in Barcelona, Hamburg, and Berlin, and returned to work with language and literature in the early 2000s. In 2008, she co-founded Transfiction, a collective based in Alte Kantine Wedding, which also organizes The Fiction Canteen. Her fiction translations include works by Annemarie Schwarzenbach, Silke Scheuermann, and Ronald Schernikau; nonfiction includes Christian Schwägerl’s The Anthropocene: The Human Era and How It Shapes Our Planet. She writes book reviews, and blogs. Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was a Bohemian-Austrian writer. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. His works include the poetry collections Duino Elegies (Duineser Elegien) and Sonnets to Orpheus (Die Sonette an Orpheus), as well as the novel The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge). Michael Ritterson’s translations of German poetry and prose have appeared in International Poetry Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Seminary Ridge Review, The Literary Review, New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008), Foreign Policy online, and elsewhere. He lives in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Jorge R. G. Sagastume (Buenos Aires, 1963) is a literary critic, writer, and translator.
He is a professor of Latin American literature at Dickinson College, in Pennsylvania. Will Studdert recently completed a history PhD at the University of Kent, exploring
the ways in which Britain, Germany, and the US used jazz music in propaganda broadcasts during World War II. Based in Berlin for many years, he has written on the city’s football culture for No Dice Magazine and has been the singer of the punk band Zatopeks since 2001. Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir is a writer, poet, and journalist. She is one of the founding members and the current director of Partus Press, a grassroots literary organization and publisher based in Iceland. Her work has appeared in print in various anthologies and magazines in Reykjavík, Berlin, Bristol, and Zaragosa. In
2014, she was nominated on behalf of Iceland for the PEN International/New Voices Award. She lives in Reykjavík. Kasia Juno van Schaik was born in South Africa and grew up on the edge of a small desert. After immigrating to Canada, she studied literature and creative writing at the University of Toronto and at Concordia University in Montreal. Kasia’s work can be found in The Rumpus, Maisonneuve Magazine, The Puritan, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English (2015). In 2009, she received the Quebec Writers’ Federation short story prize. She is currently at work on a book of short stories. She lives in Berlin and Montreal. kasiajuno.weebly.com. David Wagner has lived in Berlin since 1991. His prize-winning debut My Night-Blue Trousers was published in 2000, and his novel Four Apples was longlisted for the German Book Prize. His best-selling book Leben (Lives) won the 2013 Leipzig Book Fair Prize. He has written extensively about the city of Berlin in collections such as Mauer Park and What Colour Is Berlin, and recently published Berlin Triptych (tr. Katy Derbyshire) with Readux Books. Andrea Wan is a visual artist born in Hong Kong, raised in Vancouver, and now based in Berlin. Working mostly with ink on paper, Andrea sees her work as a visual journal that reflects her thoughts and experiences. Her drawings combine traditional narrative aesthetics with eerie and surrealist qualities, depicting a world with great sensibility. Andrea finds inspiration by looking outwards to observe obscure corners of her subconscious. Her surrealist and poetic ink paintings have
her surroundings, such as people and places, and looking introspectively into the been featured in numerous publications and exhibited worldwide.
University and graduated in 2011 with first-class honors. His essays, poetry, and stories discuss a broad range of themes, from ritual magic and telesales to social injustice and malaise. His play Three Ordinary Men was featured in one of the CTM Festival Vorspiel events, and his short stories have been published in Offline Samizdat. As well as writing, he makes soundscapes under the name Blind Vessel and formed the band Oil in the Stone, in which he plays the autoharp and sings.
Simon Ward is a writer from North West England. He studied art theory at Brighton
Aaron Anstett Homero Aridjis Daniel Aristi Adam Baltieri Catherine Blauvelt James Boswell E.G. Cunningham Tadeusz Dąbrowski Katy Derbyshire John Gosslee Aaron Graham Antonia Lloyd-Jones Tom Montag Annie Muir
Timothy Otte Julianne Pachico Don Pomerantz Hector Prats Utz Rachowski Jennifer Raha Lucy Renner Jones Rainer Maria Rilke Michael Ritterson Jorge R. G. Sagastume Will Studdert Valgerður Þóroddsdóttir Kasia Juno van Schaik David Wagner
ISSUE 11 SANDJOURNAL.COM
SAND is an English literary journal printed bi-annually in Berlin, which features prose and poetry as well as translations, art, and photogr...