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THE COLUMBIA REVIEW vol 94 fall 2012


MASTHEAD Editors-in-Chief Layout & Design Advertising Manager Social Chair Editorial Board

Jason Bell Tucker Kuman Kyla Cheung Doyeon Lee (Grace) Alison Economy Esther Attias Nate Berardi Michael Blair Kyla Cheung Alison Economy Diana Flanagan Sariel Frankfurter Chloe Haralambous Julien Hawthorne Carmen Holtby Megan Kallstrom Molly Karna Doyeon Lee (Grace) Dan Listwa Abigail Mcgarey Mica Moore Kate Offerdahl Ethan Plaue Mike Rodriguez P.J. Sauerteig Amalia Scott A.J. Stoughton Lesley Thulin Jaclyn Willner

TABLE OF CONTENTS Peter Branson

Lobscouse Jack | 07

Natalie Molina

Sonnet (on Bath Salts) | 08

Rough & Tumble | 09

Report on Pianos | 11

Kyla Cheung

Baby Soup | 12

Jason Bell

Nicki Minaj | 13

Annette Casillas

The Inheritance | 14

Ethan Plaue

Galantamine | 15

Amalia Scott

Carmichael Declining | 16

Douglas Piccinnini Leena Mahan Amal Masri David Lehman Becca Liu Annie Diamond

To the End of the World | 17 ď‚˜ | 18 Nancarrow and the Spider in Mexico City | 23 To My Husband Mohammed | 24 To My Mother | 25 In 1958 [from The Review archives] | 28 Solstice, 1968 | 29 Suicide Note #4 | 30 Conversion of Paul the Apostle, Revised | 31

Zack Finch

Outside Memory: An Attempted Elegy | 32

Jason J. Elugelab

Excerpt from Hirohito, Here We Come! | 35


EDITORS’ NOTE

Vol. 94, No. 1: Cover photo of “The Human Squirrel” in Times Square ca. 1918 courtesy of National Archives’ American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs Vol. 94, No. 2: “Cottontail Rabbit” by Autumn Von Plinsky. Thanks to Jaclyn Wilner for design assistance. Opposite page: “Columbia coaches Howe & Hann” between ca. 1910 and ca. 1915, courtesy of Bain News Service

It must be.

— Jason Bell & Tucker Kuman Editors-in-Chief

The Columbia Review is published twice yearly by the students of Columbia University, New York, with support from the Activities Board at Columbia. This issue is sponsored in part by the Arts Initiative of Columbia University. This funding is made possible through a generous gift from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation. Enquiries to: The Columbia Review, 6877 Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Email: columbiareview@columbia.edu. Books and media sent for possible review become the property of The Columbia Review. Visit us online at http://www.ColumbiaReviewMag.com Copyright © 2012 by The Columbia Review. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law without permission of the publishers is unlawful.


Lobscouse Jack (‘Lobscouse’: a Liverpool stew) peter branson

An inner émigré, he’s hard to pin, urbane, that razor wit, well-honed in youth, reined back and kindly-used. Rare time when drink cuts in, just two or three, shield brows relent, shy scamp again, deep furrows harrowed out. Salt twang he ditched, when elocution blitzed at grammar school, returns “Address unknown”; vowels broaden, consonants go walkabout. Take stock of Saxon, Viking, Norman, Celt, sea gypsy, refugee, bondman and slave, scran hostel, hovel, bawdy, drinking dive, constituents of rabid enterprise, add spice from Orient and Africa, rich mix to tease and whet the appetite.

7


Sonnet (on Bath Salts)

Rough & Tumble for Emily

9

natalie molina

natalie molina

We were under the bridge, not yet done, not yet buttoned up, pancakes not yet on the barbie. Two dolphins riding shotgun on a cotton candy cruiseship hollered LISTEN TO OUR PHILOSOPHIES WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT from the bay. Tossed us two sea-pistols. Shot us some silly string. “Crystal meth is so old fashioned,” cries the boombox, cries Kennedy from the woodbox. WE GET HIGH. Dialing rotary is a test of friction. Little mushroom clouds atomic at my fingertips, libidinal. You are still calling people who are not your father Daddy. I am still your Daddy. Matte techno mixtape buzzing wobbly from a Walkman. Made in China Sri Lanka Merry Christmas. Let’s Xerox that sky, babe, you say, and I wonder how much rasterbating is too much rasterbating.

I shook you when I held you. Tried to make your eyes move like pet doors or the windows on a doll. You were loved like a toy though better, and more important. You were my baby until we married and then most days, the game was house and marriage was hard. A plastic biscuit to hit you on the head with, and real water in fake bowls was milk. Made you drink it. Told you that you were dying and that the white spots on your thighs were cancer. Taught you to be satisfied with questions and basil in your food. How the napkin is to sit in the lap and how the pen is to be cradled and with which fingers. When Selena died I could not mourn her. We were busy with *NSYNC for the next four years. You ate nothing Cuban for the next four years. You spoke nothing Spanish. And now your type of music requires drugs I can’t afford. The spandex, a body I don’t have. I’ve forgotten how you say Rolando or borracho or ferrocarril. But remember when I said to you, “Hey sis, let’s make trouble,” and we canvassed the neighborhood with peanut butter and we watched from the windows in my room how they stuck like flies, and “what a sticky situation” and we high-fived. Remember when your favorite word was coolio and mine exactomundo and they were our passwords too. We were coolest on the block. In 2005, Katrina hit our block and you moved into my room. Watched the coven in the duplex across the street, suspiciously dry.


We kept the spy kit on my sill next to your dying turtle. “He’s not dying,” you said, feeding it something Boar’s Head. And one day you moved back because you were older and with feelings. And four more years,

Report on Pianos 11 natalie molina

I heard crying or masturbating often, through the wall. Never know which, but always disturbed. You are baby sister. Should never feel things. Only things I throw at you when mad or jealous or playing house. Now on different coasts, we love violently other things. We have acceptable passwords. And during the hurricane last week, I watched for witches from my window. It is hard to hear your feelings through the drywall.

Then, there is the piano in Islamorada where I don’t play our song. Worry in pink palm chairs at every lunchbreak about the day you will leave and the day you proved you could. It was the year we found coyotes living behind the old stadium. The piano is tuned at night which is Judy’s only job. She is kooky with a jar of Brimstones on a mantle. I am never there for tuning, miss it. At night the lobby is recent, might smell azote. Wonder does Judy breathe it. If tuning is ever unpredictable. A barnacle catches in the strings maybe. Curious the strings, how we accept the sound and like it. Judy and whether she knows the bellboys and whether she sings to them at grave hours. There is me in the daytime not playing the piano, and then there is Judy at night when she is maybe playing the piano. It is a day after the night that it seems you might leave and Judy is someone I have to think about. And you or a girl just like you maybe walks through the lobby and strikes a chord with me. Trails sand across the keys on her way home.


Baby Soup

Nicki Minaj* 13

kyla cheung

jason bell

we were jittering on street walks like garbage bags — slumped, swell shiny, burst bursting

Trees like fevered cheeks needlepoint by Nicki Minaj

we were wasting our eyes, crammed with trash that sockets could not hold — “hi, hello” & paper balls fell, tall from our faces we were blurting out novels, entire tales, whole thick bibles, rap rapping with our forearms — gentle like rain, gentle with quarters we were boiling babies for soup, dipped out in ¼ cups, round splats on your stoop, tv talking sun, sleep shirts sprouting threads, particular and striped we were in that forgetting place, words smack smacking to the thrustle of feet snapping past, eyes gnawing at that soft, clinging fast neglect neglect and things went bad

She sat in a pleather rocking chair doing needlepoint Nicki Minaj thickness my Nicki Minaj making me blush outside Fairfield If I could hold Fairfield in my palm and bring my nose close enough to breathe a breeze through the trees and spin miniature weathervanes because the currents come from invisible heavens My Nicki would be in the bosom of trees the bass heart, the cord wood deep-sapped and quivering in heat Then I could blow my hand to pestilent proportion All the little houses would shiver The vacant motel rooms by the stations would shudder with music I would love again The trees bent before winter’s ungloved Indian hand *Study for a longer poem, to be entitled “Corn Syrup Sexplot, or A Georgic, by the Author of Superbass Finder 6000, and other Diverse True Stories”


The Inheritance

Galantamine 15

annette casillas

ethan plaue

I.

Time passed slowly in the weeks when they said nothing. You still had the capacity to speak and that was difficult For the people who gathered around your bed, or those Who couldn’t, and stuck to windows or doorframes. But It didn’t matter since wherever they stood, you guided them By the sleeve through the rooms lined up in your past. They’d sit with you and watch one of your younger selves Wait for a bus with the man who was to be her husband

There is a way to stitch pieces of things together; I have known it for many years. You see, my mother taught me, and although she has never thought to take a needle to her own frayed edges, she can mend socks, and she can mend pant-knees, and she can mend a very bad day with only a little rice and a set of clean white sheets, and she can mend a heart, too, with enough silver thread to wrap around the moon and cover its craters, and make it smooth. II. And there is a way to make do with too little; my father told me, when he was a boy working on his father’s farm, (the one his father inherited from his father and every father before him far and away to Adán) he rolled his cigarettes con hojas de maíz; he did it like an art, savoring the thin skin, yellow as he licked its ends, turning it into itself tight as the shell of a snail until he had a cigarette long enough to burn the whole day through.

And then step into the next room and stare at a woman In a paper gown as she’s told that her child was lost before becoming A child for the world to know. You speak these stories as if they Were stories your mother had told by the bedside, In her own brand of English, stories of the Volf in the Woods And the Piper from Warszawa. You speak them softly to your Pretty daughters as they brush your hair, white and thin like piano notes, While your sons prepare around coffees only the eldest dared To drink. When you called him dad, they hadn’t known where you were, Perhaps in a memory, where you call your oldest son dad because When he thinks of a problem, his hands move like your dad’s did when He sat at his sewing machine, his hands move like songbirds, Thinking where to let in, and what to let out. Or maybe, you looked up at your son, the first one placed in your Arms to hold, and saw every face you would ever love pour Out of him before returning to pass along the halls of your memory.


Carmichael Declining

To the End of the World 17

amalia scott

amalia scott

Carmichael sat on a ridge and was sad. It thundered, a vile tune, while he thought that he never had liked her, or much. Overall the morning was never so blue. Nor mad. Dismemberable morning, he fell on his knees, but had never got up.

Arguably the soils were linked, and black. He was not at all for his famish and pled her belly to keep up up to the succotash, cheap auburn over the mawing rubble heat. He hardly bluffed the Anointed One while tack -ling all the pretty fish, the two fish really, the All he wanted to eat

He got up to see. A hill across the ridge. It did not concern him, nor women. He missed his ermine furs and his father’s bitter lemon. Exercise the lens, to let the river blossom ocher like the stain along his chin. No old notes on the system have resurfaced. He had a cramp (in his interior) and some asterisms of bites along his spine. And an abysmal fear of water on top. (In the head.) He liked his cramp rather. The mayflies dropped off exceptionally slow, as did Carmichael off the ridge.

prodding his mung. Green. Good for the care and feeding of old scenes long gone. Pristine, those — a little like the dinched armadillo on the road. Where the quick and easy arcades had welcomed him in to a garden. Huffy with his sick meat, bad weather up here. No stars, and alone with the lusting Schubert. Lean. Nothing novel, terrible state, too are the crickets so quiet. Drenching the obscene resort for the restless with those who were still sweating and swine. And waves out of reach. In the pretty garden, suckling alfalfa and tugging his pitcher, pouring his pitcher, a little anxious to drown out the beans.


 19 douglas piccinnini

in datum a known sum like something becomes a verifiable obelisk

in every gift its fresh arrest of flattened repose

to rip at space at what I plan to call to rest instead

in every segment the sheet bent upon its unwashed self

“what” I said resisting the head cocked transfigured form

in that first banter the screen rinsed of its insidious delirium


21

his iris fills with mold to cure and restore a growth to a moment

to proceed and not unlike I want to tell you tones step to tones

he is bright is brightest crushed incisors inside the eat sleeve

in an ahistorical sense the storied past mute descant

at the work’s deletion his engine was wont to fail in off-beat kindred scenes

my happened variance drawn shadow light seed


Nancarrow and the Spider in Mexico City* jacked the horse out of this movement to her I called

as an observer to open the reticule the difficult jar

faith into relief a door into safe est sleep

23

leena mahan

Conlon, I walk on your neck while you are sleeping, all of my parts remind you of our difference. Conlon, monument, I can never remember, so return daily to sit on your knees. Trust to me your house of jazz ecstatic and solid refuge. I’ll stay up, keeping watch. Conlon, you keep a family, roosters I have seen and heard. Camping on your lapels, I love them as you have. How would it be if I were full grown, And sounding on all of your little pianos?

*Conlon Nancarrow (October 27, 1912 - August 10, 1997) was an American born composer who spent most of his life in Mexico, as a political exile.


To My Husband Mohammed

To My Mother

(From A Gynecologist’s Daughter in Exile)

25

amal masri

amal masri

When we married I was old enough to be your mother but it was you who gave birth to Islam, returning home to find me expectant, warm, casting off the covers to swaddle the spasm of your shoulders, longing to make peace.

The operation in the private clinic off the Champs-Élysées involved one semicircular cut and 10 dissolving stitches. “In my culture, not to be a virgin is to be dirt,” said the student, perched on a hospital bed as she awaited surgery on Thursday. “Right now, virginity is more important to me than life.” —The New York Times “Be careful,” the nurse says when I state that I am not on birth control, “women your age are very fertile,” so I thank her, and inform her I will repeat this caveat to my girlfriend. D.B. calls it “the unordinary romance of women who love women for the first time,” the new palpitation that has me splitting condoms or spitting cum; ecstasy at times, yes, but it’s hard work too and some nights I would rather be writing. The door opens and a man snaps on gloves and places my legs in stirrups. His sterile white coat makes me homesick for you, Mama, the afterschool afternoons the nurse sedated me with crayons while you scribbled prescriptions. The latex of his gloves is as cold as ‫ ﺍﻟﻐﺮﺑﺔ‬and as impermeable as a word for which there is no serviceable translation, no way to absorb it into this language except to say that it is the long hunger for the bread, the coffee,


the touch of your mother. I imagine being your patient, feeling your fingers noncommittal for the first time, not the fingers that smoothed my hair when I got gold stars in Arabic class for digging up the roots of words, and pinched my thigh when my tongue would not surrender literal translations of English idioms. “By god,” you would yell, “I will break your head if you don’t swallow an old shoe and be quiet. In my days, we used to memorize the book from skin to skin, we would keep walking on our legs in the room and repeating and adding until we knew every word.” Then, a deep breath, and another attempt to correct the left-to-right twitch of my English-reading eyes against Darwish’s ‫إلى أ ّمــي‬ “Repeat from behind me….” The doctors swabs me gently enough and I wonder how many books he memorized skin to skin to know how to translate a woman’s body to her, reading it from the inside out. “You can change now,” he says, drawing the curtain, but I have already changed everything. I do not move. I was never good at following instructions. Repeat after me: not to be a virgin is… I wrap my arms around my legs, my gown rustling like the gossip of housewives, homemaker neighbors who invited you to morning coffee you could never drink

on weekdays or on-call weekends. Now, you blame these good fences for neighbors glad at the state of our family tree as stories of the brokenbranched daughter scatter like leaves in suburban driveways. If you could have read the future in coffee grinds you might not have lectured me on al-Razi and Harrison’s Principles, when I only wanted to study Courbet’s L’Origine de la Monde, though you could not predict how a child’s mind would absorb the elements of your practice, your clinical love. Those years of observing a brisk touch with women and a businesslike regard for intimacies— impossible to know it would produce not a gynecologist but a Sapphist, a poet. At last I remove the membrane-thin gown and leave to write you this letter. I do not know if I have a right to see what’s left between us, Mama, or if there’s anything left to write. Except to ask: as you press your fingers against these pages, thicker than a hymen, do you want to break the day, twenty-one years ago, you wore the same gown and first heard me crying?

27


In 1958

from THE COLUMBIA REVIEW, vol. 47, no. 2, 1967

Solstice, 1968 29

david lehman

becca liu

In 1958 my sister Joan came in And said, Roy Campanella broke his neck On the radio In the kitchen eating cereal. He was driving in the snow And ice we heard later. I put on a hat and warm coat And went to the eighth grade. He was driving from a charity drive Or some such function Which goes to show his great Character, that of Roy Campanella, Who will now never play in Los Angeles.

We stalked in this city of twice-breathed air embalmed as in a closing lung, strange suffocation blooming hot. Heat punctured the marrow, yellow sky stitched shut. The fountains ran dry and trees sussurated to our conched ears. We wanted only the sea’s damp fingers squeezing chill through the quay, an open harbor and the shore’s revolving light. We returned to swarthy arms of deep, where the ocean licked clean each ribbon of rock our bones and the waves unclenched then closed. We emerged salt-soaked, unsullied. Each eye a little storm and the quay quivering also. With each fingerless grip of damp, we whorled shut beneath the tide.


Suicide Note #4 becca liu

This river ran a shorter course— ribbon of rock licking the earth’s taupe belly pooling to lake. The river’s hands wrapped themselves around my taut belly loam feet each tenor of lobe vibrating to the leaves. I sprout two minds: a birth place and a watering can shaking rhapsodic and keen. I absorb everything and drown make a song of every errant form with a very real sublimity you’d be proud of.

Conversion of Paul the Apostle, Revised annie diamond

He found his soul redesigned not on a sunburned road to Damascus ringed in brilliant light but in the familiar autumn dusk of once-home, behind the wheel, turning left with coffee in the cupholder and it wasn’t some miraculous shift but another ache of being: cracked fingers-pulled teeth-hot water burn, bound to happen sooner or later. The trees bent from him like lovers sleeping back to back and he drove up the space between their spines wheeling through cold bone, warm blood, arriving somehow at the heart: tattered fist, red knuckled, screaming for more blood and pummel, it wanted to hurt – he tasted on his lips the twin salts of leave and return as the sightless sun descended, exalting fallen leaves.

31


Outside Memory: An Attempted Elegy after Semy Ramos zack finch

Fifteen minutes after the accident on East 37th Street, I walked into an exhibition “from the Thaw Collection” in the Morgan Library. Visibly trembling and just starting to sweat, I wrote down the titles to the following sketches:

Landscape with Path Leading to a Copse of Trees

River Landscape with Sailboats

Laundering in the Grotto at Subiaco

Figure of a Woman

Clouds and Blue Sky

Head of a Bearded Man

Study of a Skull

Sometimes just the action of writing things down, just the banister of language, holds me upright. Because I had just seen a woman struck dead on the sidewalk, removed from the world by a white, unmarked van which, jumping the sidewalk ten feet before me, pinned her pregnant body into the wall of a bank (she had just left her workplace, an architectural firm across the street, a few hours earlier than usual on a Friday afternoon), these sketches’ pretensions to stillness left me feeling upset and confused. I grew dizzy. “Tragedy …shows that we are responsible for the death of others even when we have not killed them.” In another room, I watched a group of ancient books under glass, completely classified and sepulchral, held together by such beautiful bindings and covers—the oldest surviving Coptic Bible was a dark corroded thing, a brackish leather exterior with strapping, inlaid with dark red stones. “Was it Boscovich who found out that bodies never come in contact?”

“On my way to hear our baby’s heartbeat 4 the first time…” If I had to write a book entitled “The World As I Found It,” it would have to include why some things are “necessary, but we do not know 33 why; avoidable, but we do not know how; wrapped in meaning, but the meaning has not come out, and so wrapped in mystery.”

Specific physical features distinguish Greek from Western European binding. The boards are flush with the text block; the head- and tailcaps of the spine are raised, and the spine back itself is smooth…

To copy, from the Latin copia meaning abundance, plenteousness, a great multitude, a cousin of such phrases as to give, to have, to have the power of reading. What is overflowing, what is too much, what is nauseating, what exceeds the mean, gnashing thesaurus of the sea, without recourse to the stars or anything above, just the world’s overlapping waves without bulwark, no scrap of knowledge left to cling to—only words, these little shadows falling from the gnomon, “alighting on the precise place verbally.” I would like to weigh one thing against the next and come out even. Following the crash, I kept spinning, I kept seeing the totaled van ten or twenty yards behind, no skids marks, just a woman in a red or a blue blouse crying out, and something else I cannot spare to see, nor not to see. “Is a slip of white paper with black lines on it like a human body?” “I held ur hand yesterday & u told me LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, ITS ONLY HUMAN PERCEPTION THAT IS FLAWED.” “But that is the lived, experienced reality of the everyday.” The next day, I find several fathers playing catch with their kids in Fort Tryon Park. The white balls zing and pop. There is a day moon, forsythia, daffodils. I am headed to The Cloisters with my notebook. Why this compulsion, this desperate need for museums? It is far too sunny out. The trees are leafless.

Christ the king with missing fingers

Virgin holding half a missing dove

Torso with rest of body missing


an excerpt from

Pieta made of birch

Fragment of an angel

Christ with missing head

The Authorized History of the Glorious Military and Romantic Escapades of Lance Corporal Lance “Richard” Sosla

Christ without his nose

jason j . elugelab

Pair of angels missing wings

Torso of Christ with body gone

Virgin missing head both arms one part of foot

Queen with missing attribute

Apostle with severed toe

If I wrote a book called The World as I Found It, it would have to include the body of Semy Ramos, what completely lacks extent, the sidewalk which is a very small margin of error, the difference between decay and sudden death, “contracting notions of social space,” the lies I am forced to articulate in telling a story, why “cathexis is necessary for criticism,” her body nearly broken in half, “also actual relics,” why one thinks of quotation as a form of selfpreservation. It would have to include my conversations one hour and my silence the next, the next day filled with euphuisms of guilt, shame, regret— the fragile sentences that stretch the truth too thin, too dark, too light, too direct or askew. The drafts devour the truth, the truth devours the drafts. “I can’t believe time is still moving without u.” It would have to include “the sun will rise tomorrow” as both a fact and a hypothesis.

Hirohito, Here We Come!:

C

35

orporal Sosla awoke at 0530 hours. Lifting himself gruffly on white forearms, he frowned into the bosom of his bed. It was September 17, 1942. A long marine corps T-shirt clung to him. He whirled voluminously around into a seated position and then rose over the bedside, the hem of his nightshirt falling and widening round his knees like a ballgown. Presenting: the honorable Lady Sosla. Grandly he pranced to the bathroom and splashed three palmfuls of tapwater across his face. With shavingfoam he smeared his chin and chops, gazing roughly and rabidly into his eyes, listing like a bowhead whale. Irises of steely blue. He swept the razor over his chin and mowed – down, down – skirting with his blade a narrow preserve of moustache. How similar in proportion was this brush to that of he who thrust now through the lowlands? Boldly snatching, precise phalanxes. A little longer, perhaps. He thinned and straightened the edges. Lifting now a Bakelite comb, Corporal Sosla flattened and smoothed the waves across his scalp. Mare vero de more conscendens. His hair was beginning to grey, springing silver at the roots. In the mirrorglass his face swelled sternly. Physeter macrocephalus has the largest brain of any animal, he thought. Total recall. Moving back into his bedroom, he took a khaki shirt from a drawer and put it on. Then he stepped into a pair of vast khaki trousers and buckled them widely around his middle. He stepped monochromatically from his bedroom, shoes shining, and paused before the door of the room where his wife slept. His ears followed the subtle movement of the twin hillocks, the unruly hair, the bedsheets suspended over knees and toes and heels. In white, the fair one. He listened, leonine, for the hint of a rustle. Corporal Sosla came heavily down the stairs to the kitchen where Grace, the wife, stacked pottered plates on the benchtop. ‘My God, you’re awake,’ he growled. ‘Yes,’ she said, moving back and forth, reaching, drifting, placing, numbly arranging. Her ghost slept on upstairs. Curtains, perhaps. ‘I think the pillows need cleaning,’ he said.


She looked up from the counter. ‘What?’ ‘They’re dusty,’ said Corporal Sosla, grabbing a glass from a cupboard. ‘I feel like it’s infiltrating my lungs.’ ‘Gwen and I haven’t had any trouble. At least, I haven’t. Getting sensitive, Dick.’ He filled the glass with water from the tap and looked askance. ‘Huh.’ She passed a few timid glances by his face, tightening each time the sides of her wide lipsticked lips. She was not un-unattractive. Thicket of wellcoiffured brunette hair. Chinless. Craning, stretching sternocleidomastoids. Her hands arranged delicately a vase of flowers. ‘I’m going to talk to Somervell after the hearing,’ said Corporal Sosla. ‘Then I’ll phone tomorrow morning to accept the assignment.’ ‘Good, dear. Thunderstorms are predicted. You’ll need your jacket for that hearing.’ ‘It’s extremely attractive,’ he said, bringing the glass to his lips. ‘I’d accept anything in an active theatre of operations.’ He made himself scrambled eggs as she winced vaguely over a steaming coffee cup, then he sat, dwarfing the table. ‘We so like having you around, though. Gwen and I. We so like it.’ ‘I know that,’ he said. ‘But you do what you have to do.’ ‘Exactly.’ He chewed thoughtfully his eggs. Active combat. Corporal Sosla saw himself paused on the threshold of battle with long gloves, aviation goggles, an array of high-powered firearms, an intricately scabbarded sabre, a perfectly pressed blue uniform with gold braid, lanyards, lampasses, epaulettes and brass buttons, charging forth mightily into the heat through a parting sea of sternfaced trooping subordinates. He thought of the Solomons, Guadalcanal, Stalingrad. ‘Gwen has this thing at school today.’ ‘Hmm?’ Corporal Sosla was smashing through a jungle, piling bodies onto a beach in North Africa, performing a flawless rifle-spinning drill routine with a .577 caliber triple band 1853 Enfield Musket, dispatching bullets with uncanny precision into the skulls of approaching enemies. ‘It is, if I’m not mistaken, a Euripides play.’ ‘I won’t have time.’ U.S. tanks rolled through shifting veils of dust. Corporal Sosla stood nobly on a high rock, gazing through binoculars, waving a goad. Leaping from its post, his immense form burst into the battling throngs.

‘In any case, she’ll enjoy herself. She’s been progressing very well with the Greek.’ ‘She’ll need it when she’s a counter girl in a Greek restaurant,’ said 37 Corporal Sosla with a low and loving laugh. She left her seat, eyes rolling, placing carefully the coffee cup into the kitchen sink. ‘Should be up soon, anyhow.’ Striding from the kitchen, Grace rapped her fist on the banister and hollered up the stairway. ‘Up, Squir Girl! Deano’s off. Rise and shine.’ Then she turned a cheek to her husband and said: ‘I’m going early to the U.S.O. today.’ It was 0615. He rose and went to the door. Grace squawked, widened her arms and spread her fingers and took off up the stairs, calling back: ‘Wait, wait!’ She reappeared, extending like an offering his decorated jacket, green, wellironed, with hanging designs and colored bars. He took it and looked at her from the doorway. ‘Is that a new blouse?’ She looked down, as if seeing it for the first time. ‘Yes.’ ‘Terrible,’ he said, and departed.


C ontr i b uto r s Jason Bell still hasn’t gotten a haircut. Peter Branson’s poetry has been published or accepted for publication by journals in Britain, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, including Acumen, Agenda, Ambit, Envoi, The London Magazine, The Warwick Review, Iota, Frogmore Papers, The Interpreter’s House, Magma, Poetry Nottingham, South, The New Writer, Crannog, The Raintown Review, The Houston Poetry Review, Barnwood, The Able Muse and Other Poetry. His first collection, “The Accidental Tourist,” was published in May 2008. A second collection was published at the beginning of last year by Caparison Press for “The Recusant.” Annette Casillas is a senior at Columbia and refuses to hold conversations unless they are about Oscar Wilde. Kyla Cheung didn’t realize The Columbia Review published satire. This is her first poem.

Becca Liu, CC ’14, is majoring in English and Creative Writing. She edits Columbia New Poetry, a journal of experimental poetry. Leena Mahan, CC ’13, is listening to soul music in a kitchen. She likes swimming, free jazz, reel-to-reel tapes and aphorisms. Always on the lookout for “the real epiphanic glow.” Natalie Molina, CC ’14, is up to no good. She can be stalked or courted at www.nataliemolina.com. Amal Masri has been awarded a residency at Yaddo, a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, a fellowship from Columbia University’s writing program, and a residency at the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. She is a a winner of the Toronto Star Short Story Contest ($7500 prize) and a finalist in the Malahat Review Far Horizons Poetry Contest and the Arc Magazine International Poem of the Year contest. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Jordan Times, Two Serious Ladies, Lichen Review of Arts and Letters and Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Fiction.

Annie Diamond is a sophomore at Barnard College, where she studies English and creative writing. She has previously been published in Apt and has five poems forthcoming in The Avatar Review next summer. Her hobbies include dancing like Vincent Vega, eating bagels, and waiting all year for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Douglas Piccinnini is the author of SOFT (The Cultural Society), CRYSTAL HARD-ON (Minutes Books) and, with Cynthia Gray and Camilo Roldán the forthcoming bilingual text, ∆ (Minutes Books / Tea Party Republicans Press). His work has appeared or will soon appear in The Antioch Review, Verse, Lana Turner, Jacket and The Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat Books, 2012), among other publications.

Jason J. Elugelab: In the Paleogene period of the Cenozoic era a shriveled, salt-encrusted, bioluminescent, eyelidless human child was spontaneously ejected from the seafloor. He floated upwards for ten years and, upon reaching the ocean surface at coordinates 11°40′0″N 162°11′13″E, spoke the following words.

Ethan Plaue, CC ’15, was delighted to learn the following animal facts: 1. All polar bears are left handed. 2. Butterflies taste with their feet 3. Clocking in at an average of 34 minutes, hogs have the longest orgasms. 4. Every year, blue whales sing a little deeper.

Zack Finch’s work has appeared recently in Fence, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics, and Kadar Koli, and his collaborations with painter Enrico Riley will be published this spring by 4th and Verse as a chapbook entitled Chiasmus. He currently teaches as an adjunct lecturer in the English Department at Dartmouth College.

Autumn Von Plinsky (Vol. 94, No. 2 cover art: “Cottontail Rabbit”) is a senior art major at Yale University and aspiring scientific illustrator. Originally from a somewhat rural area of Augusta, Georgia, she finds herself thematically drawn to natural subjects in her artwork. She hopes to blend her interest in the sciences, visual communication, and art in general in her future career.

David Lehman, CC ’70, is a poet and the series editor for The Best American Poetry series. He wrote “In 1958” in 1967.

Amalia Scott currently lives in New York City. She was born and raised in Oxford, Mississippi. She wouldn’t mind being a toponymist.



The Columbia Review: Fall 2012