SAND Issue 15

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SAND Journal c/o Jake Schneider Willibald-Alexis-Str. 16 10965 Berlin Germany Connect with us for news and events: Facebook: SAND Journal Twitter: @sandjournal Instagram: @sandjournalberlin ISSN 2191-429X Published in Berlin Copyright Š SAND Journal, 2017 Designed by Stephanie Hannon Printed by Solid Earth Cover image by Ben McNutt from his 2017 series, Wrestlers.

SAND is Jake Schneider

Simone O’Donovan

Editor in Chief

Managing Editor

Florian Duijsens

Ashley Moore

Fiction Editor

Assistant Fiction Editor

Greg Nissan

Andrew Scheinman

Poetry Editor

Nonfiction Editor

Stephanie Hannon

Matthew Deery

Art Editor & Designer

Copy Editor

Lyz Pfister

Sara Bellini

Senior Editor

Distribution & Finance

Nadirah Porter-Kasbati

Rosie Flanagan

Distribution & Finance

Distribution & Finance

Jessica Miller

Elena Sergova



Molly O’Laughlin

Anna Piazza


Communications & Outreach

Lieke Kessels

Christina Wegener

Communications & Outreach

Verein Coordinator

Jake Schneider

Editor’s Note “Your destination must // precede your map,” writes Zoë Hitzig in “The Anamorphic Skull,” but so many of us left our maps at home years ago. It used to be that when we got lost, we would stop for directions and try to recreate the steps as we receded from whoever had directed us, turn by turn. These days we’ve invited little dictator-deities along for the ride to navigate, to give us perfectly timed commands and track our whereabouts. After a car accident in the Ellen Joan Harris story that follows Hitzig’s poem, Emily still has her old driving instructor’s voice in her head, and as a result she is now in the passenger’s seat of a stranger’s car, watching the streetlights flicker past at an ever-growing distance from plans with her boyfriend. This issue is full of people on reluctant journeys, people delegating control over their destinations and then regretting the results. The protagonist of “Polynya,” for instance, enlists and is posted – at the armed forces’ mercy – to a lonely Arctic island. Now he obsesses over the all-powerful supply plane that drops his food like biweekly manna. He writes increasingly frantic letters to a woman he met on a ship, letters imagining an alternative itinerary. But does the plane ever pick them up? When letters finally do reach their recipient, in Charlotte Wührer’s essay, they are like a summons, compelling a married mother to drop everything and fly across the ocean. This time, we are left behind just like her family. Once again, the journey is out of our hands. Some cede control less readily, even after admitting their own wrong turns. In Nate Lippens’s story, a recovering addict finally finds a support group, but is wary of


heeding its advice to “let go and let God.” Still others obey, despite disagreeing. In the story by Tracy Pitts, a little boy knows his ailing grandfather sends him off on pointless chores, but he complies anyway. For all its misbegotten journeys, this issue has an equally unsteady sense of home. Alin Bosnoyan’s portrait of the globe has been flattened into a shady grid, bereft of continents or clouds. Home is a changeable, abstracted place. The vicar in Rajendra Shepherd’s story must take a train north for a chance to embody his alter ego, or perhaps his truer self. In her essay “Jasper, Blight, and Daisies,” Molly Anderson stays put while her neighbors move away, leaving behind their houses as markers of blight. The rock formation across the street, the town’s main attraction, endures like the pyramid​​ holding up the globe in Bosnoyan’s drawing. In his poem, Donald Berger writes: “Before you rip open the rock, / And your direction’s this, buzz me. / I’m not promising any odysseys.” Still, we get one. No matter who sent us here, the destination is only as dark as we make it. Maja Lukic’s poem “All the World is Green” travels to a place of eternal spring, where the speaker finds the “toxic” river water almost enlivening. In the poem by Matthew Kilbane, an American in Britain eventually abandons his reservations about the country’s patriotism on Bonfire Night and joins in the blaze. That’s a step too far for the doomed speaker of one of Momtaza Mehri’s poems, who points out the rhetorical violence of national anthems yet pretends that real destruction wouldn’t matter: “Who cares if they burn our houses?” Everyone, obviously. Staying home can be dissatisfying – a natural disaster waiting to happen, if you ask the father in “Vesuvius” – but often it’s a safer bet than striking out and facing the unknowable. In “We Do Not Want to Give the Coffee Pot Wings,” the narrators decide that this domestic item is better off right where it is, on the breakfast table. The authors and artists of SAND Issue 15 hail from or live in Argentina, Armenia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Eritrea, Israel, Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Somalia, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and of course, Germany. Many of them have traveled quite a distance before reaching these pages. I’ll leave the onward navigation to you.


Contents 8


Halloween, 1985 Tracy Pitts

For Auguste Kerckhoffs ZoĂŤ Hitzig


The Will to Know 10

Stu Watson

Small Animals Ellen Joan Harris


God Alone Knows 20

Rajendra Shepherd

An Instance of Sandhi Donald Berger 22

The Paint J. Bradley


My Imminent Demise Makes the Headlines the Same Day I Notice How Even Your Front Teeth Are Momtaza Mehri


Mysteries of the Fields


Yulia Fintiktikova // Translated by Oksana Maksymchuk & Max Rosochinsky

Small Talk


[Whether I puff on a pipe] Yulia Fintiktikova // Translated by Oksana Maksymchuk & Max Rosochinsky 28

Polynya Violetta Leigh

Momtaza Mehri


Jasper, Blight, and Daisies Molly Anderson


All the World is Green Maja Lukic

40 66

From the series The Unconscious


Alin Bosnoyan

Nate Lippens



From the series Wrestlers

We Do Not Want to Give the Coffee Pot Wings

Ben McNutt

Dag Solstad // Translated by Becky Crook


Rear Window Paul Ferrell


Thom, Matthew Kilbane


Twenty Eight for Hands Binswanger Friedman


The Anamorphic Skull Zoë Hitzig


Winterkill Heather E. Goodman 95

Boy Dreams in Blue


Elephant Elbows and Other Memory Parts of Mothers Charlotte Wührer

Momtaza Mehri 113 96

Two Peas

123 Years Later Babaa Hangs in a Norwegian Gallery

Avital Gad-Cykman

Momtaza Mehri



Zosimos Christoph Keller

Vesuvius Cole Meyer


Knowledge 101

Christoph Keller

From the series Penumbra


Danja Akulin


Violetta Leigh

Polynya Artem had signed up with the Canadian Forces. After the two mandatory years of service, they would fund his post-secondary education. These days, you took out a loan, studied hard, school ejected you, and you scrambled for work. Everyone he saw postgrad lived hand to mouth, unable to find a job above entry level – an entire generation flooding an employment market already saturated with older professionals. At the beginning of that summer, Artem had been riding the bus to the early shift at his warehouse job. An advertisement, black words on a yellow background, glared from the ceiling: join the canadian forces/make a difference/pay for your education. The first two statements roused nothing in him; the third planted a seed. That seed sprouted into a successful application to be a communications officer with the Canadian Armed Forces, who assigned him a post in one of the most remote areas of the country: a small, isolated island off the coast of the larger (and almost barren) Baffin Island – to watch for Russian ships prowling the oceans, stabbing flags into ice shelves, and trolling for offshore oil deposits. Is this the current manifestation of Soviet paranoia? Does that old wariness linger long after the Iron Curtain dissolved? Even now, the Cold-War malaise still crept into the demeanor of baby boomers, who recognized the Slavic pull on Artem’s vowels or the emphasis he placed on the middle syllable of words – linguistic tics he acquired growing up bilingual.​


In the weeks before he was dispatched, the combination of his Russian heritage and his current assignment provided Artem with an unending source of amusement. “I’ll be a Russian watching for Russians.” The line killed at parties. His friends laughed. He stood tall, handsome, his stovepipe legs encased in black denim, an oversized thrift-store blazer hanging from his wide shoulders. He swiped a hand through his tangled hair. He watched for the eyes of women tracking the bare patch of his chest at the drooping neck of his white shirt. He charmed, his new career was self-defeating, his inverted nature enigmatic. “I’ll be a Russian watching for Russians” purred its way up the frills of party dresses in darkened rooms. No one noticed he was second-generation Canadian, and he didn’t bother filling them in. F On the slow chugging ship to Baffin Island, a woman with blonde hair knotted into a ponytail served at the buffet. A striped sweater peeked from the cuffs of her blue uniform. She held her shoulders tight, as if bracing herself against the crowd at a punk show. She tended an elegant pyramid of cheese with a round-bladed knife. Artem watched her slice off dry rind for men who ran their eyes over her body like tongues. Just past midnight, after soaking himself in enough wine to pickle a school of herring, he ducked outside in a drunken stupor. The quarter moon skipped from cloud to cloud, scattering the deck with pared beams of light. The sea shifted before the prow, nicking the air with sharp black fingers capped in foam. Artem gripped the rail and sucked in hungry breaths of sea air. Salty, palpable on the tongue, it settled the acid bubbling of the wine inside of him. The roil of the ship stirred everything up again. Alone on the deck, still clutching the handrail, a small panic twinged his chest. In the city, he had cultivated a crowd. He had avoided being alone with his thoughts, those spectral hands that unlaced the stitches holding him together during those moments that stretched too long. He hummed to disrupt the silence, a song he had heard at a party years before. The metal door behind him banged. Someone strode across the deck. The woman from the buffet leaned her forearms on the railing and offered him a cigarette. ​“Hey,” he said, caught off guard.


Leigh She wore a white sweater with black stripes and tight black jeans. The angle of the moon ran up the light scar on her neck. She caught him looking at her dirty white sneakers. “They’re my ship shoes,” she said. “They’re shit shoes.” “Uh, sorry.” He accepted the proffered cigarette. “They look cool. They look like you skateboard.” It was a two-person effort to light a cigarette in the wild, cold wind whipping up from the ocean. He cupped his hands; she flicked the lighter. “I don’t skateboard,” she said, smoke streaming from her mouth. “What do you do?” he said, continuing to shield the cigarette with one hand. “Not a lot,” she said, “not a fucking lot. Ride this ship back and forth.” She made a see-saw gesture with her hand, exhaled again. Her smoking was furtive, noncommittal. The cigarette barely touched her lips when she inhaled. Her body knotted itself together like scar tissue. He worried about the unconscious, awkward motions of his body: whether he stood with hunched shoulders or hands rolled into fists. It was too dark for her to see him anyway. She sat cross-legged on the deck with her back to the wind. It was here he wanted to ask her about that mark running up the side of her neck. He wanted to say: Did someone try to cut off your head? To say: I watched you serve dry cheese to assholes. To say: You look like an ice sculpture shivered alive. “I’m a Russian watching for Russians,” he said. He eased down beside her, his knee touching hers. She shot him a glance and moved over, making room for him to sit. He squatted next to her, close enough so their shoulders touched. She shifted away, leaving a breath’s space between them. “I thought Russians drank vodka,” she said. “What?” “I saw you,” she gestured at him with the cigarette, eyes narrowed against the smoke, “drinking Chardonnay like you need it to live.” “Oh.” “And staring.” “Yeah,” he looked away, flushed.


Polynya “All night,” she said. “It was weird.” “Sorry.” He turned away from her and watched the prow sigh through the shapeless black. He held the cigarette close, inside the dome of his hand. Close enough to warm. The tip grazed the inside of his palm. Close enough to burn. She nudged him with her elbow, held out a silver flask. He took it, rubbed his thumb over the inscribed initials J.J. “Vodka,” she said, “for the Russian.” They made introductions. Artem and Johanna Johannasdottir took furtive swallows from the flask, swapping background information, huddling into themselves against the cold. When the flask dried up, Artem gripped Johanna’s elbow and nuzzled his long nose into her shoulder. “Come back to my cabin,” he said, “I want us to connect.” She shoved him away. “You want to connect with me?” The wind clawed at the bit of scrap paper she now pinned to the deck, scratching her address in black ink. “Write, then.” Dear Johanna, I first noticed you standing behind the dessert hutch at the buffet. You hovered over a wooden platter patterned with wedges of expensive cheese. Cheese slicer – what a job. You held that thick-bladed knife. The expression on your face said, “I am going to cut my own throat with this cheese knife.” The scar didn’t stand out, curling up the side of your neck. I asked for a slice of brie. You carved a strip and lifted it onto my empty plate without raising your gaze. I couldn’t tell if it was shyness or disinterest. When I returned to my table with my single slice of cheese, I ate it with cutlery, cutting it into miniscule squares to amuse you – if you were watching. Moving to this island to take up a post monitoring the Atlantic Ocean for Russian ships feels like cutting my own throat with a cheese knife.


Leigh I wanted to ask who tried to cut your head off – and why. I wanted to ask if you felt like Frankenstein’s monster with a throat knit with stitches. The scar deemed you passionate and misunderstood. I too am passionate and misunderstood. I want to plug into people because the wires between my brain and heart have been disconnected. I watched you slice the cheese; I wanted to touch the back of your hand and for it to feel cold. F After the ferry, Artem transferred to a smaller boat for the trip to the smaller island. The captain dropping him off assured him that he would be relieved by another communications officer in six months. Supplies and mail would be dropped off at regular intervals. Ice and a powdery dusting of snow coated the narrow hunk of land. A square cabin hewn from dark wood sat at one end, a black military post box jutted from a hilly crux spotted with gray scrub and knuckles of frozen snow on the other side, about a ten-minute walk from the cabin. That was everything. Dear Johanna, In the small Ontario town I’m from, one of the “exciting” winter festivities was an ice-carving contest. It gets cold there – really fucking cold. Gnawyour-face-off cold. Did you know frostbite burns? That’s strange, isn’t it? Anyway, every year at the Ellic farm, families gather for an icecarving contest. They serve hot apple cider for the kids and hot toddies for the parents. Most households keep a set of ice-sculpting chisels just for this stupid neighbourhood contest. But it is kind of magical, standing kneedeep in snow with the sun glancing off the white landscape like a blade. The carvers genuflect before their virgin blocks of ice – I remember clutching my apple cider in both hands, watching my father study the ice with light washing through, translucent. My mother stood off to the side, away from me and away from my father, her boots clinging to the edge of the beaten-down snow. Each chip of the icepick wrung her nerves, waiting


Polynya for my father to miss: for the chisel to land in the back of his hand or his arms. She flinched; the ice cracked. My father said that when sun stroked the ice he saw the outline of the sculpture. That the cracks in the block reflected the curves of an existing shape. That’s what you reminded me of: a sculpture swelling within a block of ice. I almost thought you were an albino, with that white-whiteblonde hair and those thin red lines circling your eyes. When you told me you were Nordic, I felt like a freak for not having realized. Artem pushed the chair back from the desk. He had been leaning over the letter, grinding the words into the paper with anxious ballpoint precision. He had always felt like a freak. He couldn’t find the middle ground between intimacy and assuming someone hated him. Small pointed mouths gnawed at the back of his skull. You probably said something weird. Why the fuck did you say that? What did she mean by that? What did he think? He yearned for approval. Nothing sealed up the wound inside of him like the long pulse of his body connected to another. He tapped the sides of the letter with his long fingers, read it over once, read it over again. Hopefully she was a freak, too. He folded the letter into thirds and shucked it into a plain white envelope. For reasons of government security, his address was a series of numbers: 3346 985643. It seemed alienating, isolating, so much colder than his old place on Birch Street, Toronto. He thought of himself in his army-issue black pea coat, a dark speck on the empty, snowy island. He left the letter laying on the desk and crossed the room to sit on the edge of the planked single bed and stare out the window. He should brew some coffee. He should stay awake. “No Russians yet,” he muttered to himself. Outside, the water shifted at the edge of the island like a blanket tossed by restless sleepers. A big, craggy hunk of ice drifted across the window. Artem watched it, thought of the peaked ice pushing down into the velvet contour of the water, thought of the long joint of the iceberg enveloped by the dark. He unzipped his jeans and masturbated.


Leigh Johanna – You haven’t written me back yet, so I’m going to assume that your reply has been rerouted to base and continue this. Maybe my address is not 3346 985643. Lately, I have been thinking of myself as 3346 985643. I think of the ‘33’ at the beginning as my hands: there’s two of them and the curls in the number almost look like fingers. I look at my hands and I see impossible math equations on a blank sheet of paper. Without humans around, you begin to disconnect. It’s like the white noise emitted from a muted television. The dissociation. My drone philosophy: that visceral sound – a constant buzzing anxiety. I look in the mirror and see that my mind is inside someone, but I don’t know who that man is. Artem sat back from the letter and placed his pen next to the paper. The rough wood of the desk ridged his words. Even his neat scrawl was breaking apart. He’d always prided himself on his penmanship: the control of his uniform letters. He reached for his throat and felt around it. He wished a ragged white mouth grinned from collarbone to earlobe. People would look at his scar and understand. F As the days ticked by, Artem watched his letters grow stranger. He laboured over them, his words a warm mess cascading onto the page. He crossed out line after line. He rewrote: enforcing neat, ordered rows. Facts. Musings. The weather. Amphibious emotion trickled through his barriers. Most of the day, he holed up in the cabin, huddled next to the wood stove. The fire crackled with wood dropped off by the small floatplane, which swung by every two weeks. So far, the plane had replenished food supplies, bottles of filtered water, firewood, and the occasional bundle of wool socks. No mail. A short bookcase sat to the left of the desk. He pulled out a slim red volume titled Sea Diamond: The Story of Oceanic Ice. Relevant reading material, he thought, thumbing through the book.


Polynya The pages smelled musty, yellowed with age. Midway down one page, his eye caught the word ‘Russian.’ He read the paragraph: “Polynya, a loanword from the Russian, refers to a natural ice hole or an area of water surrounded by sea ice. It is now used as a geographical term for an area of unfrozen sea within the ice pack. A so-called sensible-heat polynya is thermodynamically driven and occurs when warm upwelling water keeps the surface water temperature at or above the freezing point. This reduces ice production and may stop it altogether.” Fuck, he thought. Hello, Nothing sighted yet. Only icebergs – I have even been checking around the icebergs, in case Russian vessels use them as drifting decoys, white shields to hide behind. Please send beer. (It would be very good for my morale.) Signing off. He licked the envelope, pressed the side of his fist along the damp, sticky seal, and posted the letter in the box at the end of the island. Hands jammed in his pockets, he leaned back against the box and shivered in the wind. He watched the icebergs drift past like floats in a silent parade. Sparse winter sunlight glinted off the jagged peaks, the shattered cliffs. Only when he got too cold did he return to the cabin, where he fell asleep in the rickety wooden chair next to the stove, feet bundled in two layers of wool socks. F In the gray light of the day, Artem climbed the small incline to the post box. When he pried open the metal jaw of the box and peered inside, it was too dark to see whether his letters sat at the bottom, unmoved. He tried to push his arm down the bin to feel for them, but his hand didn’t make it past the swinging latch just inside the mouth. These boxes were designed to prevent such tampering.


Leigh The plane swung by early, floating through the pinkish dawn long before Artem opened his eyes. In the bright light of mid-morning, a twine-wrapped plastic package sat on the barren tundra of the island. Artem dragged it back to the cabin and dismantled it inside, out of the cold. It contained food and firewood. No socks. No beer. No mail. Artem sat cross-legged on the floor and cried. When he stood again, the few hours of daylight had passed. He lit a candle and moved his wooden chair from the stove back to the desk. He thought about Johanna’s blue eyes, eyes the sharp blue of cracked ice. He thought about the cascade of her cheekbones, wanted to eclipse the moon-slivered scar on her neck with his hand. He tucked himself right into the desk so he could lean over the letter as he wrote. Johanna – When I was 17, at one of my first post-high school parties I slunk out of the sweaty living room to catch some air on the balcony (laptop DJ ripping through 80s bangers) (discovered Depeche Mode that night – what a synthetic presence: Black Celebration, 1984. When were you born?) I was leaning on the railing, just breathing. Sweat dried on my skin, making me prickle all over. The balcony looked over the neighbour’s yard: some uneven hedges, lawn, the side of the house stuck with one of those popular fake chimneys. A girl in a draped white dress smoked in the corner of the balcony. It occurred to me she was watching me. Exhaling slow and deliberate. She didn’t blink. Her hair angled around her face in a bob cut like Cleopatra’s. A gap between her two front teeth wide enough to fit a butter knife through. She said hey. We got to chatting. I was drunk, feeling empty. Without thinking, I reached for the gold chains grinning over her bare breastbone and ran my fingers up one side and down the other. She stubbed out her cigarette and grabbed my hand. I was drunk (a baby of 17 and too many beers), so I don’t remember the details. I don’t remember her wearing shoes. But she dragged me back through the dance floor, bodies ricocheting off my chest and shoulders. She dragged me out of the house, down the street, feet like pale slices of almond


Polynya on the dark pavement. I don’t think she was dragging me anymore, at that point. I think I gripped her just as tight, hard enough to press the delicate bones in her hand together. I pushed her over the open tailgate of a pickup truck, wheel-less and abandoned on cement blocks. I pushed up the back of her dress and fucked her, gripping the left side of the truck until my hand broke through a patch of rust and the raw edge cut me and I was bleeding and too deep inside this girl to care. We held each other in the back of the truck for a while. Didn’t really talk. My hair smelled like her cigarette smoke for days. Artem folded the letter into an envelope and mailed it at the dubious post box. The letter rustled as it hit the bottom. It sounded empty. Maybe the mail had been picked up, after all. He stood at the post box and listened, both his hands resting on top. In his mind, he blocked out the sound of his breath. He listened. The box remained silent, but he did begin to pick up another sound. A low moan, a bass vibration that he hadn’t noticed before. He craned his head, scanned the bare blue sky; it couldn’t be the dull roar of a distant engine. The sound seemed to emanate from the ocean. The humming – consuming, deep in tone – was impossible to ignore now. It seemed to shiver from the biggest icebergs. Were there really submarines beneath them? He hurried back inside and locked the door, his rifle loaded and ready. He dampened the fire in the stove and shut off the lights. Orange light purred from the grate. His breathing slowed, loud in the small cabin. His heartbeat thudded in his ears. A floorboard creaked. Outside, the wind whispered at the eaves and slithered over the frozen ground, shifting lighter, shushing snow. The atmosphere of the cabin, heavy with heat, pushed down and dragged him to sleep. F


Leigh He woke sitting upright in bed. Outside, there was no sign of Russian ships, submarines, or soldiers camping on the frozen ground. Yet the hum still hung in the air. He pressed his hands to either side of his head. He twisted his fingers in his ears. The sound didn’t change. The floatplane had swung by and left a square package sitting on the scrubby earth. He shucked his coat on and jogged through the frigid morning air to retrieve it. Once back in the warm cabin, he slit the twine and plastic swaddling the package, and sifted through the contents: food and firewood. Fucking bullshit. Were the letters going anywhere? Was he completely alone? The divide inside him twisted. The temperature dropped until his insides felt frostbitten, the cold inching across him like frost on the windowpane. He picked up a chunk of firewood and tossed it at the wall. It cracked and fell to the floor. He tore through the shredded plastic. He checked for letters caught between the stiff layers. He flung the plastic as he lashed out. He kicked the rickety wooden chair over and stomped on it. One of the legs snapped off. Artem tore through the cabin, destroying anything he lay hands on. He ripped up the blank paper and the unaddressed envelopes. The shreds of paper scattered. He ran outside. His breath came in puffs, his jacket still inside. He tried to wrench the mailbox out of the earth. It didn’t budge. He backed up and tried to kick it over. The impact of his booted foot on the metal sent a painful shudder up his whole leg. Artem didn’t make a sound: his throat clenched and tears squeezed from his eyes. He hit the box again. He stood over the frozen box and shuddered. An enormous iceberg drifted in the ocean just past the island. It rose from the water, storeys high. An iceberg that would take all day to climb. Tears still jerked from him with each intake of air, but as his breathing slowed, he became quiet enough to hear the sound again. The iceberg hummed. Each iceberg behind it hummed. The scattered masses of the icebergs on the dark panel of the ocean emanated a bass chorus. He stopped crying. He felt nothing. He listened.



Momtaza Mehri

My Imminent Demise Makes the Headlines the Same Day I Notice How Even Your Front Teeth Are At the internment camp, promise me you’ll take the top bunk. I want to see you every time I look up. National anthems are still more violent than most hip-hop lyrics. Sugar-coat me this. I know. Got a sense of humour blacker than my granddaddy’s knuckles. You are the sinkhole into which I pour my desperations. My sixth pillar. Validate me, if only with the soft explosions of your breath. Its daily, naked persistence. Who cares if they burn our houses? Our bones? Yes. We might lose our reflections. We might lose our names. We might lose feeling in both hands. Our blood will still dry solid. Still keep its colour. A kind of Abrahamic love to outlast the mist of rain, the depth of waters,


the permanence of chicken grease on fingers. Find me a world as eternal as the birthmark between your shoulders. Find me a sign as prophetic as a boy born with a target on his back. Haven’t you heard? Every time my thighs rub together, God answers a prayer. This heart is not a footrest. For you, I can make an exception. We can make a life out of such exceptions.


Danja Akulin From the ongoing series Penumbra

Dag Solstad tr. Becky Crook

We Do Not Want to Give the Coffee Pot Wings Before, we were dreamers and therefore blind. We read newspapers, world histories, crime novels, and did not understand the difference. Before the sleep was rubbed from our eyes, we staggered to the breakfast table, and without saying: Table, set thyself. We thought of the night’s discomforting dreams and were satisfied with that. But the years passed, and in the end we had changed. One day we left our beds, grabbing our socks by the hand and noticing our fingers’ pores filling with wool. We turned on the spout and felt the hiss of water toward our nostrils. We lived in an apartment building and when everyone woke at the same time we thought the spouts formed an orchestra. We had become more cheerful. Things no longer clung to us like mist. They greeted us as we approached the breakfast table. Then it dawned on us that the coffee pot was there. We suddenly saw it on the breakfast table. A large shining creature between the cups, saucers, sardine tins, jam. It stood upon the oilcloth. Strange: No one said anything. If a child had been among us, though that would not have been possible, it might have shouted: Look, there is a coffee pot. That was a wondrous morning. We could begin to play. The coffee pot resembled a tower between all of the other things. We laughed to each other, crafted paper airplanes from napkins and let them glide over the tower and to the floor, into the sea down below.


We stirred our fingers in the bottom of our coffee cups and made predictions about the future. Though we did not believe the things we said, it was nice to stir our fingers in the coffee grounds. Then we took a good look at the coffee pot and told each other what we thought it resembled. We arrived late at work and realized it was not the catastrophe that we had said but never believed it would be. If you look closely at the coffee pot, the spout can be a beak and the handle a tail fan with all its rippling feathers. If we give the coffee pot wings, it becomes a bird that can fly up beneath the rafters, dart around the hanging lamp or, if the window is open, through it and out into the blue day. We wanted to give the coffee pot wings. At our workplace we drafted sketches of wings and in the evenings we discussed and compared. Until one morning we understood that we must forever stop our dreaming. Then we were filled with a tenderness for the world and said: We do not want to give the coffee pot wings. We do not want to transform our things to birds and flowers. We want the coffee pot to be the coffee pot and to see it there on the breakfast table, its aluminum gleaming, piping-hot coffee inside. We want to grip it strongly by the handle, lift it at a slant over the table, move it slowly to each cup and fill them one by one with black coffee, which we drink.


ZoĂŤ Hitzig

The Anamorphic Skull I. Come close, stand right, squint. I am not a smear on this wall as you are on this earth. I am peeling off it, threatening to swing and spill

off it. II.

Look, my sockets for eyes, off-white tins. My ears, imprints of oyster shells, hear one thing still, a scratching, floating of a horse’s teeth. If you can choose a different I III. recommend the birds. What is the name of your dead horse. Mine had incredible eyes. Have you ever seen a pair of dull eyes?


Ask your dance teacher to teach you

dance and make her wear white gloves

for effect, affect, inflection,

maybe her eyes

will have the same look,

burlap wrapped

around wet figs. That’s what dance does. Three sets of eyes – flesh, rest, death. Flesh, rest, rest, death. Come close – stand right – squint.


Contributors Danja Akulin was born and raised in St. Petersburg. He relocated to Berlin, Germany, where he attended Berlin Academy of Arts and studied under the supervision of Georg Baselitz. Molly Anderson is from central Minnesota. She studied philosophy, art history, and English at Northern Michigan University. Her work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Passages North, Penduline Press, Big Fiction, Driftwood Press, The Flexible Persona, Burrow Press Review, gravel, and other print and online journals. She lives in Upper Michigan with her husband and son, and is fond of train whistles and lawn ornaments. Donald Berger is the author of The Long Time, a bilingual edition in English and German (Wallstein Press), Quality Hill (Lost Roads Publishers), and The Cream-Filled Muse (Fledermaus Press). His poems and prose have appeared in The New Republic, Slate, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Fence, Ironwood, The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review, and other magazines. He currently teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University. Alin Bosnoyan is an emerging Armenian-Argentinian artist from Buenos Aires. J. Bradley is the author of The Adventures of Jesus Christ, Boy Detective (Pelekinesis, 2016) and the Yelp-review prose poem collection Pick How You Will Revise A Memory (Robocup Press, 2016). He lives at Becky Crook is the founder and former editor-in-chief of SAND, now works as a translator. Between translation projects, she recently finished writing her first novel. She lives with her family on an island near Seattle. Paul Ferrell is a poet and comic living in Illinois. His poem “Rear Window” is one of three pieces based on images from Hitchcock films. “Vertigo” is available in the Jet Fuel Review. “Psycho” remains unpublished. Paul is currently trying to find this lonely poem a lovely hoem. Yulia Fintiktikova is a poet and performance artist. She has taken part in numerous indie music and film productions. She lives in Mariupol, Ukraine.


Contributors Binswanger Friedman studied philosophy and mathematics, and received an MFA in poetry from CUNY Brooklyn College. Since 2014 he has lived in Vienna and Berlin through the support of the Fulbright and DAAD foundations and is an active member of the Vienna-based translation collective Versatorium. He is the co-founder/editor of the literary journal A Perimeter. Recent poetic work has appeared in VOLT, The Brooklyn Rail, The Capilano Review, as well as (in German translation) in manuskripte and hammerausgabe. Avital Gad-Cykman’s flash col­lec­tion Life In, Life Out was pub­lished by Matter Press. Her sto­ries have been pub­lished in The Literary Review, Ambit, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly, and elsewhere. They have also been fea­tured in antholo­gies such as W.W. Norton’s, Sex for America, Politically Inspired Fiction, Stumbling and Raging, The Flash, and The Best of Gigantic. Her work won the Margaret Atwood Society Magazine Prize, placed first in the Hawthorne Citation Short Story Contest, and was a finalist for the Iowa Fiction Award for story collections. She lives in Brazil. Heather E. Goodman’s fiction has been published in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Shenandoah, Hunger Mountain, Crab Orchard Review, and the Chicago Tribune, where her story won the Nelson Algren Award. She teaches, tutors, and lives in a log cabin along a creek in Pennsylvania with her husband, Paul and pooch, Leo. Ellen Joan Harris is currently studying for her master’s degree in creative writing at Goldsmiths College. She lives and writes in London. Zoë Hitzig is an American graduate student at the University of Cambridge. Her poetry has recently been published or is forthcoming in Lana Turner, The New Yorker, Boston Review, and New Statesman, among other journals. Christoph Keller, born in Switzerland in 1963, divides his time between New York and St. Gallen, Switzerland. Writing in German and English, he is the author of numerous prize-winning novels, plays, and essays, including Gulp (1988), Ich hätte das Land gern


Contributors flach (1996), and the best-selling memoir The Best Dancer (Der Beste Tänzer, 2003) about his life with the progressive neuromuscular disease spinal muscular atrophy. Both Das Steinauge, a novel, and A Worrisome State of Bliss, a collection of short stories, were published in 2016. Together with Jan Heller Levi, Christoph also edited We’re On: A June Jordan Reader, released this year. Matthew Kilbane is currently a doctoral candidate at Cornell University. He is originally from Cleveland, and is a graduate of Oberlin College and Purdue University’s MFA program. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, DIAGRAM, Juked, Lumberyard, the 2012 Best of the Net Anthology, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize nomination and an Academy of American Poets Prize. Violetta Leigh majored in creative writing at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. She is published by Minola Review, In Shades, SITUATE, the Active Fiction Project, and Geist. She has upcoming publications with So to Speak and The Stoneslide Corrective, and also coordinates events with Real Vancouver Writers’ Series. She thinks perfection is ugly and in the things humans make wants to see scars, failure, disorder, distortion. Find her online at Nate Lippens is the author of the chapbook Mince (Bridge Productions, 2016). His short fiction has appeared in Hobart, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Blue(s), and Erratum, among others. Maja Lukic’s work has appeared or is forthcoming in Colorado Review, Salamander, Western Humanities Review, Sugar House Review, Vinyl, The Moth, Prelude, and other publications. Links to selected pieces online are available at, and she can be found on Twitter @majalukic113. Oksana Maksymchuk and Max Rosochinsky’s translations have appeared in the Best European Fiction series (Dalkey Archive Press), Berlin Quarterly, London Magazine, Words Without Borders, Poetry International, and others. In 2014, they won first place in


Contributors the Joseph Brodsky-Stephen Spender competition. They are co-editors of Words for War: New Poems from Ukraine, a NEH-funded anthology of poetry (forthcoming). Ben McNutt is an artist from Kentucky who uses wrestling as subject matter for his work. For the past six years he has made photographs, billboards, drawings, videos, and most recently an illustrated coloring book. This July, he will be traveling to see Turkey’s oil wrestling festival, Kırkpınar, to make a film and photographic series about the ancient wrestling tradition. Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist, and co-editor of the digital platform Diaspora Drama. Her work is featured or forthcoming in DAZED, Sukoon, Bone Bouquet, VINYL, and Poetry International. She is a Complete Works Fellow and has been shortlisted for the Brunel African Poetry Prize and the Plough Prize. Her chapbook sugah.lump.prayer will be published as part of the New Generation African Poets series, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani. Poems from this series will appear in Ten: poets of the new generation, to be published by BloodAxe Books in 2017. Cole Meyer received BAs from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in creative writing and classical humanities. An intern and reader at The Masters Review, his writing has been anthologized by Blue Skirt Press and appears at SmokeLong Quarterly, The Citron Review, and elsewhere. He tweets about writing and baseball @ColeA_Meyer. Tracy Pitts is a writer, filmmaker, and photographer living in Portland. Rajendra Shepherd is a writer, artist, and academic who lives in Trinidad. His short stories, which often reference the Caribbean, have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, Muse India, and Cahoodaloodaling, and he has published work available on Amazon. He is working on his first novel about a washed-up academic drawn into espionage. Dag Solstad is a Norwegian novelist, short-story writer, and dramatist whose work has been translated into twenty languages. Consistently met with critical acclaim, his work has frequently been nominated for awards. He is the only author to have received


Contributors the Norwegian Literary Critics’ Award three times. All three of his novels available in English have been listed for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize. Stu Watson is a writer, musician, and artist who lives in Brooklyn. A founder and editor of Prelude, his work has appeared or is forthcoming at inter|rupture, Posit, Powder Keg, PANK, White Wall Review, and other journals. He teaches literature at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and is a doctoral candidate in English at The Graduate Center, CUNY. Charlotte Wührer is from the almost-north of England. She has been living in Berlin for five years, where she is currently working as a freelance translator and studying for an MA in English studies. In 2016, she was short-listed for The Reader Berlin/ EXBERLINER’s Summer Short Fiction Competition. She was also long-listed for Mslexia’s Children’s Novel Competition for Gingerbread Woman, a queer coming-of-age novel for young adults. Her work can be found in print in FU Review and Berlin Unspoken, and online at Potluck Mag and Leopardskin and Limes. Sometimes she writes for Daddy Mag.



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