The Columbia Review: Volume 99, Issue No. 2, Spring 2018

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THE COLUMBIA REVIEW Vol. 99 | Issue 2 | Spring 2018

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Editors’ Note “Is it sufficiently splendid?”


the columbia review


vol 99

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Contents Pa u l C e l a n’s Po e t i c s : Thinking is Thanking — ‘ D e n k e n i s t D a n k e n’

Jessica Bundschuh

Un t i t l e d

Stacy Skolnik


DUSK ON NEBRASKA after Frank Stanford

Zachary Lundgren


Eclipses and Estrogen

Bailey Nordin


Body & Career

Helen Hofling



Ricardo Sternberg


Wile E. Coyote Looks Down

Jonathan Cover t


D e e r ’s S k u l l w i t h Pe d e r n a l a f t e r G e o r g i a O’ K e e f f e

A l y s s a n d r a To b i n


“ K i d s”

Erin Block


O b j e c t Pe r m a n e n c e

John Sibley Williams




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Paul Celan’s Poetics: Thinking is Thanking — ‘Denken ist Danken’ Jessica Bundschuh


ermit me, from this standpoint, to thank you,” “Erlauben Sie mir, Ihnen von hier aus zu danken” so begins Paul Celan’s speech for the Literature Prize of Bremen in 1958 in which he awkwardly thanks his audience, having just established that the words ‘think’ and ‘thank,’ ‘denken’ and ‘danken,’ “have the same root in our language.” Celan clarifies that at this juncture, “we enter the semantic fields of memory and devotion.” Thus, Celan establishes the uneasy pairing of thinking and thanking in German as a call to remember, and to never forget those who perished at German hands. In so doing, he alludes to the bitter irony that he– a Jew and one who hails from a region “unfamiliar to most of you” – should come to postwar Germany full of gratitude and thanks. Eleven years later, Celan was awed to see those words again – this time in an entirely different context – as the motto inscribed on Moses Montefiore’s coat of arms at the windmill across from Mount Zion in Tel Aviv, “Think and Thank.”

from the town of his birth, Czernowitz, who had known his parents. One woman gave him a cake of the same kind his mother used to make for him as a boy. Witnesses recount that Celan wept the rest of the evening. Which cake the woman presented him, we can only speculate. But Celan must have felt a heightened sense of homesickness on being presented a cake that could have been baked by his mother’s hands.

Celan’s only visit to Israel in 1969 was punctuated by meeting fellow Jews

A few years ago, a café opened up in Czernowitz honoring its lost Jewish


Was it poppy seed and honey, orange and almond, or a traditional honey cake made with cold coffee, cloves and cinnamon—heavy on the eggs? The cakes from Celan’s childhood in Czernowitz arose out of a city of diversity: Ukrainians, Romanians, Germans, Poles, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox Christians coexisting in the German language that bound them together. It was rich in its culinary influences, meriting for the German market the 2013 publication of a glossy cookbook, Das Czernowitzer Kochbuch, devoted to recipes from that singular city.

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cuisine, a point of curiosity for its current residents. The young cook, relying on the recipes from her Jewish grandmother replete with Sunday brunches of chopped chicken livers, smoked mackerel and bagels, today replicates the Jewish cakes of her grandmother’s generation for the adopted German tradition of Kaffee und Kuchen. It is generally assumed that poets in exile re-make the object of the poem into the site of a portable home – a single constant in a life of upheaval. Perhaps, however, there is an anterior, equally valid position in which the poem remains a physical object, but instead of signifying home, it signifies the opposite state of homelessness. These two positions are not so far apart, since it is likely that the poet in exile, in the act of transforming the poem into a home, will recognize the fundamental fruitlessness of such an objective. In the aphorism #18 from Minima Moralia: Reflections on the Damaged Life (1951), Theodor Adorno contends that the notion of a house is gone and as ethically responsible individuals, we are obliged to not feel at home, even at home: “The traditional dwellings, in which we grew up, have taken on the aspect of something unbearable: every mark of comfort therein is paid for with the betrayal of cognition.” Even so, the poem acknowledged as an experience of homelessness is no less a site of sustaining constancy than it was in the assumed form of a simulacrum

of home. Indeed, it doubly reinforces the connection between ‘thinking’ and ‘thanking,’ devotion and memory. On Saturday morning one week before Passover, I stand in the kitchen preparing the ingredients for a cake. Living in Stuttgart has taught me the significance of making a cake with your own hands. That is when it becomes a ritual offering, a thoughtful re-enactment of tradition (think) and devotion (thank). And a Kuchen made from your mother’s recipe (likely in her absence) even more so. Sadly I inherited no cake recipes worth replicating. After a good decade of trying various recipes, I happened upon a German standard from Dr. Oetker’s cookbook, Backen Macht Freude, that I was given upon one of my departures from Germany. Dr. Oetker – the company whose first product in 1891 was Backin or baking powder – was perhaps too obvious a choice. But, its recipes yield the most miraculous of results, if you are rigorous and follow the directions precisely. No shortcuts: Weigh the butter. Beat it into a light froth. Add sugar, vanilla sugar, and rum aroma bit by bit. Beat each egg half a minute. Five in all. Weigh the flour, the dark cocoa.


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Fork-mix the light and the dark into a spiral. Bake. Cool and dust with powdered sugar. And so you arrive at a most child-beloved Kuchen: the honored Marmorkuchen, the marble cake that every Hausfrau is expected to perfect as a grateful inheritance from her mother, her grandmother, and her great grandmother. Marmorkuchen is baked in the traditional bundt form, evoking the shape of a turban. It originated in Austria to honor its fine lineage back to Franz Josef, who was likely to skip the coffee and milk and eat it with a fluted glass of Gewürztraminer or Riesling. I have found that as I have started to bake as Europeans do, with metric weight, there is a kind of reverence for and precise handling of the ingredients, each on its own terms: flour, butter, cocoa, sugar. Recently in converting my Marmorkuchen recipe for an American friend, I had the sensation that baking this German recipe with imperial measurements was disingenuous, as if it were perpetuated on a falsehood of identity. Perhaps it is akin to Celan’s belief that only in your mother tongue, whether the tongue of language or taste buds, can you express


truth. Some bakers claim that a recipe conversion never works entirely – nor perhaps the transfer of poetic thought into a foreign language. Four years before Celan teases out the affinity of “think” and “thank” in his speech in Bremen, Celan – while at a writer’s colony in the fall of 1954 – read a series of lectures Heidegger delivered in the winter and summer semesters of 1951-52 at Freiburg University titled What is Called Thinking?, Was heißt Denken?. These were the first lectures Heidegger had been permitted to give since 1944, when he was drafted by the Nazis into the people’s militia and then afterwards was forbidden to lecture by the French occupying powers. Celan produced a 30-page notebook responding to Heidegger’s What is Called Thinking and Introduction to Metaphysics. His copious copying of quotes from Heidegger into his notebook and his unsent draft of a letter contained therein – “To Martin Heidegger / The Thinking-Master, dem Denk-Herrn…” – suggest Celan first encountered there the philosophical connection between “think” and “thank,” an affirmation of what he had already been long practicing in his poems. One passage Celan was drawn to copy into his notebook aligns the poet with the thinker: “Poetry wells up only from devoted thought thinking back, recollecting.” To establish a connection between

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thinking and thanking, Heidegger begins with its semantic connection in Old English. In its root, “thought” or “thanc” leads us, he says, to “the gathered, all-gathering thinking that recalls.” In the German, the medieval German word is “Gedanc,” translated into the Old English “thanc,” In “Gadanc,” we discover the connection to “Gedächtnis,” or memory, highlighted in the title of Celan’s first book, Mohn und Gedächtnis, Poppies and Memory. Initially, memory, as Heidegger says, signified devotion and concentration, rather than merely the ability to recall a past event. Heidegger, thus, veers away from the contemporary use of ‘thinking,’ to pair it with memory. That is, Heidegger’s ‘thought’ needs to have a place to go, to sustain a journey unterwegs, or en route. His concept of memory, as it would have certainly resonated for Celan, is a “steadfast intimate concentration upon things…not just with something that has passed, but in the same way with what is present and with what may come.” A poem informed by memory, then, is not simply recalling what is gone. It imbues whatever it holds in memory, in thought, “with a quality of an unrelinquishing and unrelenting retention.” Indeed, Heidegger’s contention that memory “holds us” reinforces the importance of place holding and persistence. In a poem composed for his son in 1968, “Für Eric,” Celan says

that even as “the megaphone” of “history is grubbing away,” “we stand.” Likewise, Celan defiantly asserts in his Bremen speech that language “had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through,” “Sie ging hindurch.” Celan perseveres in his poems as a consequence of the loneliness of language, rather than in spite of it. Celan has compared a poem to a “Flaschenpost,” a message in a bottle, even if the poem deflects its reader through its silence, to be endlessly en route. Nonetheless, it seeks out a real exchange. The ritual of the poem – slowed by the stasis of homelessness – cannot be empty of reality, since it is always tethered to the place of its making. Nor can it be merely metaphorical, even as it escapes the present moment in the act of recollection. And it is the poet’s job to send the poem on its long-winded journey. On my German husband’s first extended stay in the US in 1991, our neighbor, by chance a German who had long since lost her mother tongue but had retained the craft of duplicating her childhood desserts, made for my husband a small Marmorkuchen from a petite Gugelhupf or bundt tin. She wanted to ease his homesickness on Christmas Eve in Tucson, Arizona where Christmas looked very little like the snow-dusted holiday of his Heimat.


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Grateful as he was for our neighbor’s thoughtfulness, the gift had the effect of making him even more homesick. For my husband, what this gift lacked – more than the snow and pomp of a Weihnachtsmarkt, or the warmth of his mother’s kitchen – was the exchange of the ritual of Marmorkuchen. Handing a Marmorkuchen over the fence of the backyard to my husband, one he was encouraged to consume at his leisure by himself, either by gobbling or savoring, in fact devalued for him the pleasure of the Marmorkuchen. For my husband, and now my two sons, Marmorkuchen is the dessert that most broadly embraces the experience of childhood. The test is two-fold: the cake absolutely must hold up to a good dip in milk and yet still be light and fluffy. I have made his mother’s recipe, which is light on the eggs, only four, and those from various cookbooks encouraging upwards of eight eggs. In the end, it was less the specific recipe that was important to my husband than the exchange between those who the sit across the table from one another and participate in the ritual, now all the more poignant since his own mother’s death. Celan’s friend Yves Bonnefoy had said that even in anguish Celan was grounded in the hope that “those dire moments would mutate, trigger their opposite.” The poem, as Celan con-


tends in his Meridian speech in 1960, needs an “opposite,” to whom it can speak. The word he uses, “ein Gegenüber,” creates the image of someone literally sitting across the table. The presence of such an opposite can be felt in an early poem from Celan, “Zähle die Mandeln,” “Count the Almonds,” written in honor of his mother on April 13th, the fourth day of Passover in 1952. Perhaps the beginning of Pasach led Celan to remember his mother and her careful preparations: her cleaning and polishing, displacing every last bread crumb; her generous purchase of eggs, goose fat, potatoes, nuts, wine and matza; her unpacking of wine glasses reserved for the Seder table; her baking of flourless Czernowitzian desserts traditional among the Jewish housewives for Pasach: almonds chopped and ground, apples peeled and cored, raisins drenched in honey. Her “staging” of the annual ritual was one Celan would be unlikely to forget, regardless of whether he, like Kafka, shared a frustration in early childhood with Judaism, preferring instead the intellectual challenges of the prevailing German culture. “Count the Almonds” is the last poem of Celan’s 1952 volume Poppies and Memory and it was the poem Celan most frequently read throughout his entire career – including his 1969 visit to Israel – and the only one he allowed to be anthologized in the late 1960s as a representative of the poems from

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Poppies and Memory, deliberately not choosing the oft-requested “Todesfuge” from that volume. His final reading of the poem, at the Hölderlin Society on March 21st, 1970, was during his last visit to Germany, beginning in the city in which I reside, Stuttgart, a place Celan frequently visited for readings and meetings with publishers. The reading took place a mere four weeks before his suicidal dive in the Seine on April 20th. As Celan knew, the Hölderlin Society was founded in 1943 – the 100-year anniversary of Hölderlin’s death – by Joseph Göbbels, who felt that every German soldier should carry with him a “Hölderlin-hymnal” into the field. In a radio address in 1943, Göbbels argued that as a means to internalize the war, Germans must remember the “deep” words of Hölderlin: “Wer diese Welt gestalten will, der darf sie nicht genießen wollen,” that is, “Who wants to shape this world must not want to enjoy it.” The ghost-like presence of Göbbels hovering over the Society may have reminded Celan of a comment an audience member laughingly said of Celan at his first reading in Germany in 1952: “He reads like Göbbels.” Much can be made in “Count the Almonds” of the repetition of the verb “count,” “zähle,” in the context of the obsessive act of counting in the German death camps. As a potential site of homelessness, the poem reveals Celan’s

brave stance of writing from a place of danken or gratitude – all the while “what is dead” embraces and walks into the evening with his addressed mother: Count the almonds count what is bitter and kept you awake, count me in: I looked for your eye when you opened it, no one was looking at you, I spun the secret thread on which the dew you were thinking slid down to the jugs guarded by words that to no one’s heart found their way. Only there did you wholly enter the name that is yours, sure-footed stepped into yourself, freely the hammers swung into the bell-frame of your silence, the listened-for reached you, what is dead put its arm round you also and the three of you walked through the evening. Make me bitter. Count me among the almonds. [Trans. Michael Hamburger] In his notebook responding to Heidegger’s Was heißt Denken?, Celan wrote, “Receptivity as the fundamental stance in writing poems.” Here, we see Celan moving toward his consideration of “attentiveness,” a necessary condition of receptivity, which he crystallizes in


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his 1960 letter to Hans Bender: “Poems are also gifts—gifts to the attentive.” In his Meridian speech six months later, he reminds his listeners of Walter Benjamin’s characterization of Kafka’s work as “attention is the natural prayer of the soul.” This act of concentration begins immediately in the imperative frame of “Count the Almonds”: “count what was bitter…” Celan establishes here a plea, rather than a command, between poet and subject. Relevant also is the biblical reference to the branch of the almond tree in Jeremiah, the “erwachenden Zweig,” or “awakened branch,” referred to as such because the almond tree “awakens” from winter earlier than other trees, flowering in January and bearing fruit in March. Celan’s almonds keep his mother – the addressed subject – awake in their bitterness, a kind of watch or vigil in Hebrew; biblically the almond branch becomes a warning of the destruction God will unleash, “hastening” His word. The almonds in “Count the Almonds,” thus, bring the mother into the present, even with the threat of Old Testament-style violence. As such, the image of the mother becomes a testament to Heidegger’s unrelenting memory. In the Meridian speech, Celan focuses on this moment of exchange where “what is addressed, can gather it into a ‘you’ around the naming and speaking


I.” In this instant, the poem (the poet) “brings its otherness into the present—and the poem has only this one, unique, momentary present.” Perhaps Celan chose to read “Count the Almonds” over and over throughout his lifetime because it teaches his readers how to exist inside a poem: in an authentic call to be present, attentive, receptive, and in a state of Gedanc. Partaking in and crafting this ritual exchange is an act of thanking enacted for its own end, a devotional listening to the other that remains perpetually unterwegs: in the form of Celan’s mother baking him an almond cake at Passover, and as Celan himself writing a poem addressed to her at Passover years later. Ultimately, Celan asks to be counted among the bitter almonds, joining his mother in the creativity of Handwerk, becoming one of the ingredients in her baking, shaped by her honest hands. The mother, though, still feels unheard: “no one was looking at you.” Only when she “steps” toward herself on steady feet does the denken begin to gather recollections, or the words overheard, “listened-for,” and move into danken. In the original, the use of the word “think” in the line, “an dem der Tau, den du dachtest,” “on which the dew you were thinking,” marks the emergence of a new kind of thinking, a spider web connected as threads of memory. If thinking is thanksgiving, then in-

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versely, thoughtlessness is thanklessness. And to truly thank, one must assume the role of the attentive, as Celan says in “Count the Almonds”: “Only there did you wholly enter the name that is yours,” “Dort erst tratest du ganz in den Namen, der dein ist.” And Celan makes that space of entering the name not only metaphorical, but literal, “Dort,” there, and “Dort erst,” only there, you moved into your name. Thought, once stagnant and solitary, can now move in time, into a thoughtful thankfulness. For, it is the act of responding to the call that is critical, wedding thought and thankfulness in an authentic exchange still en route in the poem. A ritual unfolds in time – and it requires participants or witnesses. Above all, a ritual is set apart by its rigor. Before it arrives at the table, the Kuchen must be prepared with an honest hand and heart. Celan said in a letter to Hans Bender in 1960 that he can’t “see any basic difference between a handshake and a poem”; both are sites of physical interaction in which we can discern the other’s intentions, for “only truthful hands write true poems.” In this exchange, the poem – in the real time of the ritual – “may somehow wash up somewhere, perhaps on a shoreline of the heart,” or, as Celan says in the original Bremen speech, the “Herzland.” Setting the table for Kaffee und Kuchen

is akin to readying an altar: in the light of the afternoon, bedeck the table with a starched, white cloth, light a candle and bring in the Kuchen, encased under a glass dome and elevated on a cake platter. Serve with a side of whipped cream laced with vanilla sugar. Even children know they are entering the hush of a ritual. The Hausfrau, too, knows to take off her apron before she sits down at the table, as if she is shedding her priestly garments, moving now into the role of penitent recipient – a transformation many poets undergo, too, before a public reading of a poem, having become a supplicant to the poem’s public ‘unfolding.’ As a shared experience, the Kuchen – to joyfully disappear into thin air, if it’s worth anything – is the poem to which we all solemnly, and jointly, turn our unrelenting attention. It is best not to think of Celan’s Herzland in romantic hues; rather, this heart, whose full nature we can hardly conceive, is intimately connected to danken, to memory and devotion. Similarly, one’s heart, not merely the house of the emotions, but broadly one’s essential nature, finds itself, Heidegger says, “beholden, not in the sense of submission, but beholden because its devotion is held in listening.” Thus, the Herz is obliged to listen, to intuit the sincerity of the poem, and of the other sitting directly across the table, waiting for the ritual to begin.


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Untitled Stacy Skolnik

reading books before bed the national sleep foundation reports is one of the best ways to fall in vivid dreams in which the unthinkably purple happens in a other life composed of this one I’ve been thinking about you a bit I’ve fallen asleep on a roof apparently at dawn I wake and you oh you have come out in the night like a sugar glider or moth a kitten to press with me and lay myself a stamp against you soft I’m afraid you may have ended up here by mistake no no we thrust into each other adagio the way it’s done when it’s new I whisper is this real it’s not you say nothing


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but pause and hand me your brain then pick up a pen a piece of poetry nonfiction on watching me strength train at the gym I could dominate any man all men want to be overpowered by a girl like me I can barely hear you give it to me I say on paper and tongues and feel nerves about my hair I pull it back I pull the blanket up a chill probably mid 30’s closer look and ask is this okay of course it is it’s my fucking dream later can’t capture how it breathed so I paint what I’ve seen on the window


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DUSK ON NEBRASKA after Frank Stanford Zachary Lundgren

Men with no money drive up to a strip club. They get out, tie their shoes and check small phones for any little fish-hook, might bring them back. Then they go upstairs and kill themselves. Winter is almost over; never-dying trees warm up their throats to brag once again of the foolishness of men. Now, here we are. The men walk outside and one breaks the windshield of a car to prove there is no such thing as love


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Eclipses and Estrogen Bailey Nordin

In the sweaty folds of an August afternoon, we drove towards Tennessee. The sun anticipated its dramatic exit, swelling round as a halo over my sister’s tousled hair. I can’t remember the sun having looked so golden since it glinted against her tight blond curls when she played on the beach as a little boy. On that oozing August day, her hair was near to mine but thinner, perpetually drifting and slowing, still aquiver from the comb she had again tucked in her pocket. The comb protruded, by far the most unnatural part of her figure. It was strange, utilitarian, and used to larger pockets. I explained my disappearing brother to myself the way I explained the disappearing sun. Its inevitability in no way impeded its miraculousness. I looked on, then, afraid to watch but desperate to understand. Reminiscing, bathed in the silt of a childhood that had dried up long ago, I mourned a person who wasn’t gone, and that Ford became his hearse. Three brief months since her journey had commenced, and on that rolling afternoon in that stuffy sedan I was tasked with describing our family’s shifting tectonics to my grandmother. We’d be seeing her again soon; an explanation would be needed. And I, the mouth-piece, that talker, the braver, it was the least I could do for my sister. Windows up and the dial tone filled the car’s felt interior. You liked having one granddaughter? Well have I got news for you. She shuddered into the receiver then, but how could I blame her? Eclipses and estrogen are a lot to stomach. “Gender diaspora,” I imagine Grandma must have Googled, in the deep hot dark, the persistent and routine dark of a Tampa Bay night. “Dysphoria,” she was scolded. You don’t know what you’re saying. Huddled over her desktop, her dimness couldn’t have cleared for hours. Ours lasted 2 minutes and 31 seconds.


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—— Before we knew nuance, my newfound sister twirled her hair and stepped, didn’t stride. “I’ll stay in the car,” she smiled. Too many eyes were out, too much potential energy. The sun prepared to wink from the sky, exasperated and extinguished, yet my sister was afraid to watch, lest someone look down from this marvelous revelation, and see her there, unsure, unengaged. Long and wistful, she looked like Princess Peach perched in the passenger seat of our dusty white sedan. I remember ceaselessly the skirt she wore that day, because it didn’t belong at all on her body or in the summer of 2017. The patterned silk seemed to gobble her whole, envelop her in a different time and place, though still in that same body. Today I see those pink cascades in my most careless daydreams, follow them down to the dust, to the folded brown grass at our feet. Far above, the yellow day was consumed by an otherworldly dusk. I imagine that in that moment, as she looked up from her nails and her skirt and her messages, she watched through the sunroof as the sun was swallowed. I imagine that she shut her eyes and was not afraid.


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Body & Career Helen Hofling

Democracy is good and I know this with a very big stick. When I developed breasts I went into politics. My body ran out into the public world ahead of the rest of me. I was just trying to catch up. I knew the road to office would be slippery and distorted. Other professions occurred to me. I thought of being a commuter, or the pilot of a tiny aircraft. I thought of sifting through the land’s water pockets, hunting for mineral deposits and historical artifacts. But I didn’t come from money, I needed a sure way to earn my living. A reason to floss my teeth each day. Once set upon, I began to work towards my goal methodically. I’ve got ambition. I’m no layabout. I study election history and practice my mirthless laugh in the mirror. I flex my leg muscles while I brush my teeth, you should try it. It’s called multitasking and it sculpts your calves. Men call to me on the streets. In response I wriggle my intellect. In the mirror my limbs’ circumferences expand and contract daily—like a lava lamp, or a fish beneath rippling water. For my platform I choose “The Children and a path of life that will benefit them.” In radio advertisements I whisper the words “nurture” and “future” suggestively. On television spots I sit astride a forklift wearing a lab coat and goggles. I point toward the sky. Text running across the screen proclaims “NO LIMITS” while a group of children beneath me take pickaxes to a boulder, chipping out pebbles to mark their path. “Have I mixed my metaphors?” I giggle into the camera.


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I wish to make my dealings free and open. I surrender all business investments and communicate via clear projection transparencies, sending them out on the screen overhead for all to see. The debate stage loves me. I wear a silver jumpsuit with the word “sisterhood” emblazoned on the shoulders and a cherry on each tit. The moderator asks what brand of lipstick I wear and I pronounce “Givenchy” correctly. The moderator asks me to list and spell our country’s provinces in alphabetical order and I do so in Portuguese. My opponent stutters and can’t stop eating from his lectern’s bowl of fruit. Most men never learn how to present themselves to their best advantage. You have to highlight your wins, I advise him. He chokes on a grape. I match with twenty-seven new prospects on Tinder during broadcast and hold my phone up to the camera to show the country how empowered I feel. There is a photo op wherein I eat Frito pie. There is a photo op wherein I eat clams casino. There is a photo op wherein I eat Oysters Rockefeller There is a photo op wherein I eat Celery Hearts Victor. There is a photo op wherein I eat venison heart bruschetta. Afterwards I detox using activated charcoal and listening to podcasts at 1 ½ X speed. My life is one of optimal efficiency and I know this because I read about it on the Internet. There is a meet & greet wherein I cut the ribbon around the town’s new municipal headquarters. There is a meet & great wherein I dig the first shovel into the earth. There is a meet & greet wherein I deliver the eulogy. There is a meet & greet wherein I supervise the birthing chamber. There is a meet & greet wherein I reorganize constituents’ closets. Afterwards I update social media.


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I make the most beautiful stories on Instagram. I take selfies at the zoo in front of the bananas. I take selfies at the town hall meeting behind the podium. I take backwards selfies in the bathroom mirror, propping my buttocks on the rim of the sink. I take many pictures in each still pose. Each one looks entirely different. On the campaign trail I feel like the balloon man outside a car dealership, whipped through with air again after each collapse, undulating. As I drive through the parade in my tangerine convertible I wave. The crowd waves back. I bare my gleaming teeth and the crowd assumes submissive postures. I throw small cartons of Sunkist raisins to the crowd. The crowd snaps them up wildly like ravenous swans. Vote for me and next time it’s sultanas! I promise the crowd. The crowd gasps hotly and races to the ballot booth.


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Marianne Ricardo Sternberg

We met only briefly the night we gave the old man a ride from the liquor store on Telegraph. When we got to his house he asked us in but whispered quiet. Marianne is in there, asleep and a hell of a lot easier to live with that way. This was‌ what? 50 years ago? (That old man, younger then than I am today but gnarled, worn out.) I recall nothing of the conversation except for his slurring well, one more for the road and you fellas best be on your way on and on until morning broke on that dreary kitchen and Marianne, disheveled, wrapped in a torn blue robe opened the door and growled you get these sonsofbitches out of here and I mean NOW!


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Wile E. Coyote Looks Down Jonathan Covert


man and a woman hoist themselves out of the ocean onto an inflatable yellow raft. They are both naked. In other circumstances — a vacation, a romantic getaway, perhaps — the tropical sun overhead might be joyous and life-affirming. The man and woman are not a couple, don’t even know each other. They sit on opposite ends of the raft, only five feet apart, hugging themselves. The woman begins wondering aloud about the situation, quickly puzzling together the borders of their predicament. They had been in a plane, traveling the longest leg... The man remembers that, from above, the clouds out the aircraft’s window have familiar shapes. He thinks of Kapadokya, Nevşehir, the hoodoos drawn in soft light, worshipful fingers sculpted from nimbus. As it is in heaven. The cabin’s lights flicker. He feels the weightlessness in his stomach first, tastes the in-flight meal-service chicken option hit the back of his throat: Wile E. Coyote looks down. The aircraft shakes like some misbehaving appliance, an unbalanced washing machine at cruising altitude. A wom-

an’s hand grabs his leg. He thinks to comfort her, say something about how turbulence is normal, some standard industry bromide on which he has no actual authority. Then the oxygen masks drop. The woman’s fingernails clamp like a bear trap on his thigh. The man yelps in pain, turns to admonish her, but the necessary breath is irretrievable, every gasp rattling out of him from an unseen barrage. Luggage tumbles from the overheads. The cabin lights flash and strobe. One moment there is a drink cart in the aisle; the next there is no drink cart, only a stewardess on her hands and knees, face contorted in some hideous fratzen — the moments in between boxed from the man’s mind like teeth smacked out of a smile. The plane’s starboard side explodes in a scream of hurricane-wind and icy-bright light. Something in his ears pops and whizzes out and now the intolerable roar of the space around him is bearable, sounds underwater. The walls and windows are shucked like a tinfoil wrapper. The people in front of him throw their hands up as their row of seats shiver loose and fall away, a roller coaster car careening over the dive drop. The front section of the plane, from his toes forward, is gone; he is next, securely-fastened into


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the front-row seat of his oblivion. The clouds, familiar shapes, once a postcard framed in the aircraft’s window, now rise to meet him, their true architecture perceptible — ziggurats, pyramids, pinnacles, steeples, ad eternum, brilliant white. Big yellow words flash across the screen in his mind: Kingdom Come. Jesus Christ, he thinks. Jesus Fucking Christ. Then he looks down and... In the raft, the woman is calmly explaining that the plane experienced some kind of power failure. Hello? She snaps her fingers in front of his face. Are you in there? Huh? He is having trouble hearing her for some high-hertz buzz sustained over his eardrum like a tiny, persistent gnat. He screws a pinky into his ear thinking to disgorge it. Their fellow passengers are dead, she says. She is unsure how the two of them had survived. She is confused as to why they are naked. She searches for the logic — their clothes must have burned off in the explosion, or were shredded by the sudden deceleration in water — but these scenarios seem unlikely. They should be clothed right now. And dead. Very dead. Hm. ‘Hm’? The man asks how the fuck can she be so calm?


She doesn’t know. She wonders if placidity is a symptom of trauma, if her mind, like a hummingbird, levitates by frenetic pace. Hm. You’re in shock, the man says. It’s a good guess. She doesn’t know what ocean they’re in, exactly, though she can guess, narrow it down to one or two. She doesn’t know what friendly countries are nearby, though, in this part of the world, the squiggly borders, colorful flags, vowel-y names, and short-lived sovereignties of these messy little states all seem apropos of the mood, don’t they? What does ‘nearby’ even mean relative to the panorama of ocean, miles unblemished but for them, detritus, a bulbous raft sliding over the waves like a yolk cast on a greasy skillet. She doesn’t know. Either the mainland would mobilize their coast guard in time, or they wouldn’t; either the search planes would spot their bright yellow dot of raft in time, or they wouldn’t. As the possibilities come spilling down, a quincunx of little pegs — the old Galton Box on display in the Mathematics Department, distant to her now by a decade and half the circumference of the Earth — appears in her mind. This metaphor is useless to her and does not accurately represent the probable distribution of outcomes particular to her

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situation. She knows that. Then again, she’s naked and alive when she should be clothed and really dead. (She should be dashed to pieces, pulverized like taco meat inside some twisted aluminum wreckage somewhere, deep at the bottom of the ________ Ocean.) Furthermore, not only did this wildly improbable circumstance occur once; as evidenced by the man across from her, it happened twice. After all that, what did she really know about statistics? What are the fucking chances? Well, here it comes again: the fucking chances are, in her mind, little red balls cascading down the old Galton Box, that wooden part of her brain, each ball a possibility, each peg a binomial outcome, black-and-white truth — yes or no, 1 or 0 — which she follows, plunk-plunk-plunk to the dark bottom. Hm. It could go this way or that way. (No, she thinks. False analogy. She doesn’t know.) Hm. The possibilities are red balls, hm, and the red balls distribute themselves at the dark bottom in a curved red horizon (but not actually) hm, she shakes her head (left, right) as if her brain (gray) is an etch-asketch (red), as if she can shake the red balls loose from the back of her eyelids, but the red won’t fade won’t fade won’t fade won’t fade won’t —

— Hey. Hey! The man jolts forward and grabs her head with both hands. You’re gonna pull something, he says. The woman, her face in his hands, glances down at the man’s penis, then quickly looks up into and squints into the sun. Don’t do that, he says. When she blinks, the red ball is still there, imprinted on the back of her eyelids. She looks back down at the man’s crotch. Red claw marks on his thigh. The rubbery curl of his penis. The man lets go of her face and replaces himself politely opposite her. Better? he says. Comme ci, comme ça, she says. Working together, they search the raft’s many small compartments for provisions. In one pocket, they find rations vacuum-sealed in silver plastic. In another, they find bottles of water. In another, a Stanley Quick-Slide Utility Knife. They find an instruction manual translated into English, Español, Français, and another language the man discerns to be Mandarin. (It’s not). In the instruction manual are diagrams, pictures of things they had already done (find manual; find provi-


the columbia review

sions), and the things they ought to be doing (establishing hierarchy of command; rationing provisions; activating Emergency Satellite Distress Beacon). They search the pockets for the distress beacon, but find nothing. Of all the places to cut corners, he says. The man points to a diagram demonstrating how to limit sun exposure by making one’s self smaller: it depicts two people sitting with their backs against the side of the raft, their knees clutched to their chest with their heads down. He scrunches his knees to his chest. She smiles and points at his testicles and says they look like a ball of dough dropped on a barbershop floor. She apologizes for laughing, but laughs anyway. He hopes they don’t chafe. She uncrosses her arms. Her breasts are unremarkable, purely utilitarian. Gravity, she says, rolling her eyes at the sky from which their plane had plummeted. Shrinkage, he says, a reference to television. She rolls her eyes again. The first day ends; the ocean is eerily placid, solid and dark like tarmac; the sunset stratifies the sky with cuticle-pinks. Together they decide not to record the passage of days and nights, because, they agree, marking them makes them longer, so long as you’re not on vacation, the occasion of which makes the opposite true. Also, they don’t have a pen. Their conversation develops its


own cadence; someone eavesdropping might mistake them for siblings. She calls him Fish Food as she makes waste over the side of the raft. He talks an awful lot about the plane breaking apart in mid-air, about that one instant, the instant that felt like more than an instant, when he saw what he can only describe as heaven. Weird, huh? He wasn’t even religious, only half-remembered a handful of prayers, the greatest-hits, stuff his parents recited at the dinner table. Maybe he was spiritual, maybe, when the topic glanced him, sure. He had toured Kapadokya, felt something there not unlike nostalgia, a vague and distant profundity. That qualifies. Right? But, strapped in that plane, there was no question; it couldn’t have been closer or the meaning more clear. There was a title card and everything. The shit you see when you think you’re going to die, huh? You don’t think you’re going to die now? The wounds on his leg have developed a puffy areola the color of a clown’s nose, with margins ballooning in all directions. Hm. The food is gone. The potable water is low and they agree to bottle their urine in one of the empty water bottles. His rubbery little penis has the

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advantage with regards to aim. She says she’s normally a good shot, but this current. When their drinking water is truly gone, they share gags over the piss bottle. The thirstier they are, the less repulsive it is. She appreciates how it changes colors with each cycle of urination — lemonade at first, then Earl Grey, then something that eerily resembles Coca-Cola. He’d rather not discuss it, but when she misses the bottle and trickles onto the floor of the raft, he’s eager to lap it up with his molting, scabrous tongue. The raft lists through time. Their skin is taut and uncomfortable to live in, except for the places where it sloughs off like pastry dough (it doesn’t taste like pastry dough), the flesh under which is sticky like burnt berries and painful to the touch. The gouges left in the man’s leg look like black little frowns, or little smiles, depending on the angle. From his angle, they’re frowns. He thinks he’d like to cut it all off. The woman across the raft has the Stanley Quick-Slide Utility Knife. She is all red and flaky and looks like a smoked kipper. He thinks she must know she looks like a kipper because she takes the utility knife to sleep with her, cradling it safely under the leathery fin of her breast. He bandies this idea of cutting off the leg. She knows the leg hurts, but re-

minds him that there’s no way to stop the bleeding. So, no. He tells her that, alternatively, it’d be a real boon to the enterprise of his slitting his fucking wrists if she’d hand over that knife, please. We need all the blood we can get, she says, so I’ll be hanging on to Mister Stanley, thank you very much. He says she’s being a real Hitler. She tells him to quit it, Fish Food. I could come over there and take it, he says. She laughs. She holds the handle of the knife between her fingers and, with great effort, raises it above her head and dangles the blade at the floor. Red rover, red rover, she says. I’ll put a leak in this scow. He asks, why should scare him? But he doesn’t try it. He can’t muster the strength to be menacing, can only chew on his lower-lip in her direction. He turns on his back, feels the blistered skin there crackle bubble wrap, and closes his eyes against the sun. But the red ball bears through, branding an incandescent red coil onto his retinas, like the peculiar shape of a dashboard cigarette lighter melting into the upholstery of an old car. She sighs and crawls to him across the raft. He whispers he’s sorry. She’s not Hitler.


the columbia review

Hang in there, she says. They could still come. All it takes is one search plane. Hm.

Coyote looked down and...

She allows him to grasp onto her. He struggles up her shoulder and finally collapses at the summit of her collarbone. You smell pretty good, he says into her slack sail of neck skin. He closes his eyes. The red ball waits there for him. You only have one chance.

You did?

She knows. She’ll crack open the man’s nearly-desiccated body — drill into him with her teeth and nails, frack his clay for the blood dissolved within, the burst capillaries leaking selfishly across his eyeballs, down to the greedy-red marrow — and the yield might sustain her for another few days, a week at most. The math is simple, a reptilian computation. Can you wait until I’m good and dead? Maybe, Fish Food. She can’t be certain. Wishes she could. Be certain. He wishes she’d seen it. Seen what? Heaven, he says. When we broke apart, I saw Heaven. ‘Kingdom Come’ — coming right at me. Front-row seat. White towers. White peaks, white mountains, white plains. You feel you could touch it, almost. Then Wile E.


I saw it too, she says.

13-C, the aisle seat. Remember? I was right next to you. The wounds in his leg gape like inky black mouths, no longer conform to the bite of her fingernails. She might have to cut this leg short after all. You saw it? he says. Yeah, she says. Some beautiful clouds. Hm.

spring 2018

Deer’s Skull with Pedernal after Georgia O’Keeffe A l y s s a n d r a To b i n

Georgia O’Keeffe left her old-hearted husband for the mountain; God told her if she painted it enough, she could have it. She crowns Pedernal with antlers curved open like An unlocked door; the deer’s dead anger hoisted against the swept sky, tongueless, Watching the old men below scattering the bones of their wives’ past dogs. Blue through eye sockets where black treebark should be -She is making a skull for Masauwu once more, thanking his bone eyes for staying open, for letting her and Silence drag their bodies to Pedernal, the mesa with its one dry peak raised ready to bring the sky maker home, breath catching in the lock of the mountain’s door.


the columbia review

“Kids” Erin Block


didn’t mean to kill the kid the first time, just doing what I was told. I gently stroked his neck as the muscles relaxed, admiring how the hair moved in swirls in the water around my hands. Amniotic fluid swirled on the water like oil in puddles after rain. The bubbles stopped. That’s good, mom said. Meaning I’d done well and the job was finished. When I took my hands away the head stayed at the bottom of the bucket as the doe screamed. The other twin, the female, would get two teats. Mom rested her hand on my shoulder as I stood and wiped my hands on my coveralls, Better to grow with, she said, like she was some sort of fucking wolf. But I knew I could do it after that: bring life into this world and take it out. It happened every spring, goat midwifery in the form of unpaid childhood labor. I was the go-to, my hands were small. After the drownings, I’d carry the billy-kids to the south end of our twenty acres and they’d be gone within the day. Fox, coyote, buzzards circling the sky. I can’t say I liked it but you get used to the death, the births too. And for a few moments they’re the same, the hot blood, gasping breaths,


acrid smells. I told myself being born is a lot like drowning. They couldn’t tell the difference. Four months ago I couldn’t keep breakfast down, so this all came back up with the buttered toast swirling in the toilet. We’d met when he walked into the office with a ginger tabby kitten. Eyes open in slits like a jack-o-lantern, the generic sort made by people who never had a plan to begin with. Found him in a pothole, the man said, Tail run over, and his belly, too. Lucky you didn’t finish him off, I said. But he shook his head, I just ride a bike. So he was one of those people. From the city. Thinking we should all eat vegan or at least organic, and pedal ourselves to a thin state of happiness. One of them will no doubt write that book and it will be a New York Times bestseller, the paper famous for the crosswords my grandmother did to pass the time until there weren’t any minutes to count anymore. The last word she wrote was “one”; crossword question “last number in countdown.” She died on a Monday that’s why it was such an easy question. Didn’t go out with a bang by completing a Sunday puzzle.

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Kids who love animals always say they want to be veterinarians when they grow up. City kids are able to keep the dream alive longer. They don’t see the mastitis and breech births and the uterus prolapsed hanging in muck. We know what happens when the vet is called at midnight and most of us decide to work at banks and insurance offices instead. Somewhere dry and warm, where your work doesn’t follow you home. City kids like helping animals, they say. It makes them feel better about themselves just like when they feed spaghetti to the drug addicts and whores on Witness Wednesdays in the church basement. They like helping people, too. But I didn’t become a vet to help animals it’s just all I’ve ever known how to do. We ate the Christian’s Witness Wednesday spaghetti because it was free and my mom didn’t have to cook that night, which she appreciated. And we didn’t call the vet for births and deaths or horses running through a fence; we did the job, my big sister and me. It was a Friday night. Raining. Five ‘till close at six. Go home, I tell the receptionist. I can handle the cat, I say, And the hipster too. I motion to the man sitting in the waiting room, tall and bearded and wearing thick black glasses, the kind you see in school photos of your grandparents in the 50s, who

if they’d stayed the same would be the cool kids now. We’re always being born into the wrong time and places. Eli, he says shaking my hand, Flessner. That sounds Jewish, I say, because as my mom says I’ve never had a filter. And he says, It is. I’ve never met a Jew, I say. Well you can meet me, he says, For dinner. And I’m a sucker for that shit so I smile and nod and say, After I see to your cat. Mom told us the farm is a matriarchy, so I grew up thinking men were disposable. Only good for one thing, she said. I started noticing how the women I knew did the cooking and cleaning and caring. While their farmer husbands drowned weekday mornings in burnt diner coffee, those women worked double shifts as tellers, secretaries, and nurses wiping older farmers’ asses all while being called ‘hon. Nothing I could see but trouble and burden so I didn’t get a man the way I was supposed to, the way it’s expected. Turned out the kitten was a she but you’d be surprised how often that happens, people wanting females’ nuts snipped and vice versa. Can’t castrate a pregnant queen, it’s not a fucking riddle. Just biology. I shaved around the lacerations and stitched up the kitten’s side, but The run-over tail I can’t do much about, I tell him. I cuddle her in my jacket. You’re a natural, he says,


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with that smile some men get when they think about babies. That’s a big red flag but I go to dinner anyway. Him being Jewish and myself religion-curious. I drove and put his bike in the truck bed. Two months later we’re living together because he can’t make rent because he’s a community college English teacher and I kill a mouse in the kitchen, smash its head in with my steel-toed boots while it’s eating Corn Puffs and Eli never looked at me the same again. That seemed too easy for you, he said. I reminded him that I kill—I put down—animals every day. And if your cat was worth anything, I said, She’d have beat me to it. My sister and I used to play a game. Gather mice and rats from the barn traps and hide them for the other to find. In trash cans of horse feed; tucked between leaves of hay. You’d hear a scream and that’d count as a point. We kept a tally in the tackle room in the barn but of course no one ever won. It just continued until we both stopped screaming but kept playing anyway because the traps and dead things never stopped so why should we. He kept that kitten and she slept on his head every night like she was trying to block my view. We dated for three months until I couldn’t take his niceness anymore. Didn’t feel deserv-


ing. I wanted to fight and argue so I’d push him, say things I didn’t mean but it never worked. He’d respond kinder than before and it pissed me off. You’re tired, he’d say, and make tea. Ask me if I wanted a back rub to help relax. I’d want to punch him, or him to punch me. I’m some sort of feral who can’t take kindness and comfort when it’s offered, it’s not how I was raised. I’ve always been suspicious of hands that feed me, probably due to the Christian’s spaghetti. Someone doing something nice always wants something in return. Mom used to tell me that those billy-kids would have died anyway, sold three months later at the ethnic market in Omaha for Easter dinner. Not everyone makes ham. Is that what people mean by Playing God, I asked her. It is, she said, And it’s okay. It’s called making a decision, she said, Men do it all the time. My mom used a hanger. My grandma, gin douches. I found out less than a month after I told him we were over. Gave no reason, I never do. He would have been happy, would have told me to sit down and rest. To not overwork. He would have made tea. Now the phone is ringing and it’s Dan Sanderson on the other end. Cow bloat, he says, And we’ve got a concert going on, so keep it down when you

spring 2018

get here. A few years ago I was seeing him until his wife found out so I’m used to keeping it down. Folks here don’t have the luxury of another vet so I try to be respectful, which in this case means unfamiliar. Like I don’t know that he likes to eat Ritz crackers and cheddar after fucking. Cottonwoods line the long drive to the clapboard house, painted white with green trim that looks friendly until you get close and see it’s cracked and peeling like a woman who’s been crying all night. Mascara running, foundation cracked. I find a place to park among all the concert-goers’ cars and shut the truck door carefully, pushing with my shoulder and lifting the handle until I hear the click, like a teenager coming home after curfew. There are hungry, unhappy, horny goats making a ruckus in a pasture on the far side of the farmhouse. Little ones humping big ones as Dan’s toddler son, Jess, passes crudités catered for the concert through the fencing. There are radishes cut like flowers and they seem to like those best. They’re pretty, I say to the boy. He nods and eats half of one he pulls from a doe’s mouth. My mom used to say things like This is why farm kids don’t get sick. The goats are supposed to be headsdown eating grass, creating the idyl-

lic setting for these folks who’ve paid eighty-plus per ticket to hear folkrock-bluegrass. The music’s the same anywhere, but you can charge more for ambience is what I’m told—for mosquitos and dirt and open air that clears the weed smoke away. Should have rented a sheep farm instead, says Dan walking up behind me. His jeans tuck into knee-high muck boots; the sleeves from his high school basketball team tee shirt that went to state fifteen years ago, cut off. That’s true, I say, It’s the goats that get thrown to hell. And he looks confused. From the Bible, I say, Learned it while I ate spaghetti. Which didn’t clear things up for him but he’s not the type of man who needs to understand things all the time. Cow’s over here, he says and walks to the barn that’s painted white, not red like in children’s books and postcards. We grow up expecting all the wrong things and spend our lives searching for ghosts. I wear a long-sleeved button-down shirt, light cotton that drapes over my belly like a curtain in summer breeze back when everyone didn’t run AC. People can’t tell for sure, not yet. Is she gaining weight? Or just a slut. They’ll talk about that shit for days over sausage and eggs and weak diner coffee and then smile real friendly when their


the columbia review

favorite black lab eats a chocolate bar and needs his stomach pumped. Bloat like a basketball sticks out from the heifer’s side. In the rumen, I say to Don. He already knows that, but I like to be in the habit of letting people know what’s going on. I set down the bucket and pick up my hose. We’ve done this together before. His hairy knuckles whiten holding the halter so tight as I put the hose down the heifer’s throat. Her side deflates slowly like a birthday balloon the day after, letting out gasses smelling like fermented creamed corn and alfalfa hay but all I smell is Dan. Always of sweat and compost and the spice of cinnamon from the toothpicks he chews on. There, I say, stroking her jawline, She’ll be okay. I know how to take care of these things, I always have. END


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Object Permanence John Sibley Williams

Everything’s still here; even after hidden behind the world’s back, stolen from view, presumably erased from existence, like a loved one you have no photograph to grieve, like that red wagon my father broke & scrapped & said I’d only imagined dragging through our garden which once—& therefore still— throbbed the morning green. If leaving infancy behind has taught me anything, it’s never assume the disappeared cannot return. If what I’ve lost over the years is a lesson, it’s that nothing returns in its original form. See, my mother would say, how the pale blue ball I’ve thrown up into the sky is now a moon; gorgeously unattainable. See me like that.


the columbia review


Jes s ic a B u ndsc hu h

teach es co ntemp or ar y B ri t is h , I r i sh , a nd A m er ica n p oetr y at th e Un ivers ity of Stu ttg a r t i n th e de p ar tm en t o f En g lis h L it er a tu r es, i n i ti a l l y h av i n g j o i n i n g a s a Fu l b r i g h t Lectu r er i n A m er ican S tu d ies. S he has a Ph .D. in C rea tive Wr i ti ng a nd E ng li sh L iter atur e f r o m th e U n iver s i ty o f H o u s to n a n d a n M FA i n C r eative Wri ti n g fr o m the U n ivers ity of M ar yland . Her p o em s h ave a pp ear ed in T he Par is R e v iew an d Qu a r t er l y West a n d s h e h as an ess ay on the wo rk of A n n L a u ter ba ch f o r th co min g i n Po et i c s To d a y. St acy Skoln ik i s an ed i tor f o r M o ntez Pr ess an d

received her M FA fr o m B ro o k lyn C o lleg e. S om e of h er p o etr y an d cr iticism has ap peared in N o D ear M a ga z i n e, F j o r ds R e v iew, T he Adi r o n dack R e vi ew, K G B Ba r L i t Ma ga z i n e, a n d Jose phine Quar ter l y, am o n g o th er m ag a z i n es a nd j ou r nals. Zach ar y Lu ndg ren

r e ce ived his M FA in p o etr y fr o m th e U n iver si ty o f S ou th Flo ri da and his BA in E n g l is h fr o m the U n iver si ty o f C olo rad o at Bou ld er a nd g r ew up in n o r th er n V irg inia . He ha s h a d p o etr y p ub lis hed in sever al l iter ar y jo urna ls a n d m a g a z in es in cl ud in g The L o u isvi lle R e vi ew , T he Po r t l a nd R e v iew , Ba r n st o r m Jour nal, T he Ad i r o n d a ck R e v i ew , an d th e Un ivers ity of Co lo ra d o H o no rs Jo u r n al . H e wa s n om in ated f or the 2 0 1 2 AW P I n tr o Jo u r n als Awar d an d was awar d ed th e E s tel l e J. Z b a r Po etr y Pr i z e i n 2 0 1 2 . H e is a l so a p o etr y ed ito r for S w eet : A L it er ar y C o n f ection a n d a f o u n di n g e d ito r o f Bl a ck t o p Pa ssa g e s. Bailey N ordin i s a s o pho m or e in C ol umb ia C o l -

leg e s tu d yi n g env ir o nm en tal sci en ce and p oliti ca l s ci en ce. S h e h a s l im i ted oth er wo r k p ub l ish ed an d g rew u p i n Fayettev i lle, Pen ns yl va nia.


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He len Hofling

i s a B al tim o r e-bas ed wr iter, ed i to r, co l l a g e a r ti s t, tea ch er, a n d p a r t-ti m e na nn y. H er wo r k h as r ecen tly a pp ear ed (o r s oon wi l l ) i n Ba r r o w S t r eet , H o b a r t , PA N K , Pa ssa g es N o r th, P r el u d e Magaz in e, an d els ewh ere. Ricardo St er nb erg wa s b o r n in B ra z il an d m oved

to th e U n i ted S ta tes wi th h i s f a m i l y wh en h e wa s f i fteen . A f ter f in i sh in g h is stu d ies (UC L A , S oci ety o f Fel l ows a t Ha r var d U niver si ty) h e moved to C a n a d a to tea ch B r a z i l i a n l i ter a tu r e a t th e Un ivers i ty o f To r on to. H e h as p u b lis hed p oem s on b o th s i d es o f the bor d er in jo u r n als su ch a s Po et r y , T he Par is R e v iew, Desc an t , The N at io n a n d The Wa l r u s . Hi s fou r th col lectio n , S om e D an c e , wa s p u b l i s h ed by M cG i l l -Q u een’s U n iver s i ty Pr es s i n 2 0 1 4 . Jon atha n Cover t

r eceived hi s B FA in E ng lish f ro m E m er s o n C ol leg e i n B os ton , MA . His wr i t in g h a s a pp ea r ed in V ine Leaves Press ’ 2 01 7 in ter n a ti o n a l v i g n ette co l l ecti o n . H e wa s r ecen tl y awa r d ed th e C h i ca g o U n iver s i ty G r a h a m S ch o o l ’s Wr i ter ’s S tu d i o S tu d en t Pr i z e. Aly ssan dra Tob in

is a p oet a nd sh or t f ictio n wr i ter wh o h a s ca l l ed Ver m o n t, M a s s a ch u s e tts, N ew Jer s ey, an d I r el and a ll h om e. S he has been pu bl i s h ed i n A t t ic u s R e v iew, C u r bsi de S plen d or, T he Al b io n Re v i ew, T he Qu ar r y m an , and o t he rs, a nd re ceived th e D o u g l a s A . Pi n ta Pr i z e i n 2 0 1 5 . S h e recen tl y co m p l eted h er M A i n C r ea tive Wri ting f ro m the U n iver si ty C o lleg e C o rk . Erin Block l ives i n a ca bi n in th e mo u n ta in s o f

C o l or a d o a n d i s a l ib r ar i an and f r eel ance wri ter. Her wo rk h a s a p pear ed in p u bl ication s s u ch as Gu er n i c a , T he R u m pu s, a n d G r ay’s S po r t in g Jo u r n al, a m o n g o th er s. Sh e is th e auth o r o f two b oo ks : The V i ew f r o m C o al C r eek , an d By a T hr e a d.


the columbia review

Jo h n Sibley Williams is the ed ito r o f two N or th -

wes t p o etr y a n th o l o g i e s a n d th e a u th o r o f ni n e co ll ectio n s, i nclu d ing D isin her it an c e a n d Co nt r o l l ed H a l l uc in at io n s . A n eleven -ti me Pu sh ca r t n o m i n e e, Jo h n i s th e wi n n e r o f nu m er o u s awa r d s, i n cl u d i n g th e Ph i l i p B o o th Awa r d , A m erican L i tera r y Rev iew Po et r y C o n tes t, Na ncy D. Ha rg rove Ed i to r s ’ Pr iz e, C on f r on tatio n Po etr y Pr i z e, a n d Va l l u m Awa r d f o r Po etr y. H e s er ves as ed ito r of T he In f lec t io n ist R e v iew and works as a l itera r y a g en t. Pr ev ious pu b lis hi ng credi ts in cl u d e: T he Ya l e R e v iew, M idw est Qu ar t erly, S yc am o r e Re v iew, Pr a i ri e S cho o n er, The M assac hu set t s R e v iew, Po et L o r e, S a r a n a c R e v i ew, A t l a n t a R e v i ew, Tr i Qu a rterl y, Co l um bi a Poet r y R e v iew, M id- Am er i c an R e vi ew, Po et r y N o r t hw est , T hi r d C o a st , an d var iou s an tho l og i es. He l ives i n Po r tl an d, Or eg o n. Joyce Po la nce is a C hi cag o -b as ed p a in ter wo r k -

in g i n oi l s. Her wor k co n sis ts of ex pr es sio nis t po r tr a i ts an d l and s cap es wh ich ex p lo re th e cha oti c i n n e r wo r l d s of th eir su bj ects — bo th as de pi cti o n o f th e s u bj ects ’ own v u ln er ab ilities an d of th ei r co n n e cti ons to the t u mu l tu o u s p o li tical atm o sp h er e we a r e cur r en tly liv i ng i n. Po lance ha s ex h ib i ted i n ter n atio na lly an d is the recipi ent of mu l tip l e g r an ts an d award s in clud i ng s ix C hi ca g o C A A P g r a n ts, a G eo r g e S u g a r m a n Fo u n d ati o n g r a n t, two Ju d i th D awn M em o r i a l g r a n ts, an d a f ell ows h i p at S p er tus I ns titu te in Ch icag o. Her p a i n ti n gs a r e h eld i nter n atio na lly in pr ivate an d co r p or a te co ll ectio n s. Po lan ce was bo r n i n New Yo rk C ity i n 1 9 6 5 . S h e a tten ded Wes leyan Univer s ity an d r eceived a B FA f r om the Fa sh io n I n s titu te o f Techn o lo g y. S he lives and work s in C h ica g o, I ll i n ois and is r e p r esented by Ju d y Fer r a r a G a l l er y i n T h r ee O a k s, M I a n d E l e p h a n t Ro o m i n C h i ca g o, I L . H er p a i n ti n g s m ay b e v iewed o n h er web s i te, www. joyce po la .


Salmaan Amin Maddie Woda Nikki Shaner-Bradford

Managing Editor Emily Sun

Layout Editor Sofia Montrone

Website Editor Isabelle Harris

Editorial Board Zachariah Crutchfield David Ehmcke Charlotte Goddu Veniamin Gushchin Madeleine Lamm

Abby McLaughlin William Gowan Moise Jr. Coleman Y. Snyder Camilla van Geen William Samuel Wilcox

Cover Art



Joyce Polance

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