Editor-in-Chief Amelia Ann Titus
Production Manager Maureen Dizon
Business Manager Sergei Kriškov
Organizational Manager Carley Parsons
External Manager Leigha MacNeill
Photo Editor Thanh Ngo
Senior Production Manager Jennifer Bratovich
LOGOS Consulting Staff Morgan Jaffe Philip Gigliotti James Robbins Rachel Crittenden Sean Al-Gattas Aaron Gorenstein Kelsey Trister Elle Eghigian James Bigelow
LOGOS is the University of Rochester’s art and literature journal. We annually publish exceptional works submitted by the student population. If you would like to be published in the next issue of LOGOS, please submit your artistic works through our online submission form at: http://www.ur-logos.com. If you have any questions, or if your work cannot be submitted electronically, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions are reviewed anonymously to ensure objectivity in the review process. All items in this edition of LOGOS are copyright 20092010 by their respective authors. Any reproduction in part or in whole, without prior consent of the author, is a violation of applicable laws. LOGOS would like to extend a special thank you to the English Department, which so generally supplied us with additional funding for this year’s publication.
The LOGOS office is located on the first floor of Wilson Commons in Room 104. LOGOS is SA funded.
Hot damn this is one good-looking publication!
Dearest LOGOS readers,
I know there are only 4.3 individuals in the Rochester community who actually examine the Editor’s Note page, so I’m aware my podium is fairly small, but I’d just like to extend a sincere thank you to my managers, my emailsending, G-chatting, charmingly eccentric, critically-searing, altogether dedicated, dedicated, dedicated staff. I think the greatest contribution you have made is not to the finished product here (though this journal sizzles with intrigue for sure) but to the continuation of LOGOS as a community with a meaningful, and rapidly evolving, purpose. I hope you, the token note reader, can appreciate how much love went into creating this onion-covered compilation. I can assure you it was a lot. Much love,
Written Content Chilled by Calle Fitzgerald The Timing of Intimacy by M. Seraji Circles by Leigha MacNeill The Model by C. S. Jarrett A Bridge by Brandon Plaster Good Money by Amelia Ann Titus A Never-ending Cycle by Jacqueline Knapp Night Tree by Raechel Coffey Waltz by R. C. L. Daum ValparaĂso by Calle Fitzgerald Appeal to a Hopi Elder by Wanda Maria Esperanza Uncle by Raechel Coffey A Few Words for My Grandfather by Amelia Ann Titus Family Histories by Liz Duffy Nothing Special by Elle Eghigian A Morte by Jacqueline Knapp art is an old man by M. Seraji Fallen, a short story by R. C. L. Daum Corvid by Raechel Coffey Between Sea and Sky by E. A. Grabski In this dream I am the soldier that marches by Liz Duffy Sestina by Calle Fitzgerald You Cannot Sleep by Taryn Ocko Expectations by Kellan D L H Castaway by T.F. Scowcroft [...] by Amanda Yazdani September by C.S. Jarrett Crib Notes by Kellan D L H Note-Poems by Leon Tsao Flaw by Julia Militar She Has No Cares by Jacqueline Knapp Particular Dreams, a short story by Rachel Greene
01 02 05 06 09 11 12 14 17 18 21 22 23 25 26 29 30 32 38 41 43 44 46 49 50 52 54 57 58 62 64 65
Visual Content lines, photograph by Karen Elterman Shande, acrylic on canvas by Sarah H. Gerin Squared, photograph by Kevin Rosario The Great American Lottery, photograph by Carlie Fishgold Mori: Forest, digital art by Dawn Donghee Lim Shades of Gold, photograph by Tyia Clark Coromandel Cathedral Cove, photograph by Brandon Plaster Rainy Rochester, photograph by Kelly Mulrey San Francisco, acrylic/watercolor by Nan Zhu untitled photograph by Stephanie Tabb Prayer Candles, photograph by Carlie Fishgold painter, Montmartre, photograph by Patrick Daubert 1000 Cranes, an installation by Bridget Lenkiewicz Auckland Long Bay, photograph by Brandon Plaster Agony, pastels by Leon Tsao Bars and Stripes, photograph by Lauren Petrilli Bitten, soft pastel by Emma V Mirada, photograph by Maureen M. Dizon untitled photograph by Stephanie Tabb Make Them Laugh, acrylic/pen by Sarah H. Gerin tolerance, photograph by Kirsten Williamson Merry Christmas, John, photograph by Kelly Mulrey Change II, chalk/oil pastel/marker by Joey Hartmann-Dow
ยง Index of Contributors
04 07 08 10 15 16 19 20 24 27 28 30 39 40 42 45 47 48 51 55 56 61 63
Two winter birds nestle under a felled pine. Syrupy light spills thickly on the concrete. A silk strand cleaves, leaving the spider homeless. Grey notches about the doorframe pass by; I enter to see a rusty old pot of lukewarm couscous, a dull jar half filled with olive juice, gristle caked to aluminum. Your favorite hideous tablecloth, the centerpiece of dead flowers, onion peels, a bin of weeks old refuse, the fridgeâ€™s incessant, needling buzz (out of neglect or overuse?), the husky smell of an open bottle, aged Malbec, and your chilled skin. How could you never see, you idiot, that I needed you to lie, to say the untruths a heart sincerely believes? I dust your cheek with the back of my cupped hand. Evening seeps through the cracked window. A dozen streetlights trickle up against the glass. Snowflakes smaller than poppy seed begin to nuzzle the air.
by Calle Fitzgerald
The Timing of Intimacy The clock towers above the city, her Moon face freckled by Roman numeral Red and bruised gears churn inside like anxiety And drop tremors her steeple, dress for a funeral. Speaking of tress, sweet amber caroline is in a bottle of whiskey rolling inside a purple suitcase, with his sinister buddies and burping over multi-coloured cobblestones, that no horses walk on. For today is Sunday; The sun makes a prism out of everything and you smile and the winter landscape smiles back at (both of) you. Flecks of white light reflected on your faces like snowflakes, black fleece cover linked arms and wind, love, musses your hair. The clock towers above the city, her Moon face freckled by Roman numeral Red and bruised gears churn inside like anxiety And drop tremors her steeple, dress for a funeral.
Otherwise, there are no fish in the river, The fishermen are at home with their slimy wives whose bellies they slit open and rub grains of salt into the fishy flesh. Mother collapses, like the chickens raised for food on factory farms her mammoth body folds in on slender limbs. Smells of straw and decomposing muscle tissue Lethal squawking racks the rafters. Father Christmas and his nine ghoul dancers squirt through the skies and sit in the shadowy parts of the room while your family traditions unfurl like a flag and sitting cross-legged in your pajamas on the floor you can only see His eyes and their tiny, shiny bloodstained hooves. The clock towers above the city, her Moon face freckled by Roman numeral Red and bruised gears churn inside like anxiety And drop tremors her steeple, dress for a funeral.
by M. Seraji
by Karen Elterman
by Leigha MacNeill
You left the scarf you made me with weathered hands gathering loose winds around my neck in tight folds. My mouth, “shielded from another man’s lips,” you hummed, stifling a kiss.
Once and again, I have found myself in your heavy coat pockets, fumbling for pieces of you that you have left here in this room. You took everything, nearly.
Rings upon rings on the table, where the wood splinters. Circles from matching coffee cups stain the surface as two gold bands spin and fall, unforgiving of fastened fingers.
Your dress shoes, the ones of shiny black leather on work days, wait beneath the bed from when you kicked them, in a rush to have me sooner. I lay there, shrinking, with faulty fingers, unable to touch.
Nearly, you took everything. Here in this room you have left pieces of you that fumble in heavy coat pockets— have I found myself? Once and again.
The Model by C.S. Jarrett
She says she’ll peel back his scalp tenderly, like an orange rind— Stinging her eyes with misty squirts of juice. Just – never mind the blood. She’s focused When she works. She sets his brain beside her, And scrapes the inside of his skull clean. Her dripping fingers never smear his eyes red When they’re plucked from their sockets for a wash and polish. She sits, raw and concentrated In a tank top and panties trying to screw His ears on tighter, and after, refasten his nose. She carves cleft back into his chin then she re-drapes hollow From his high cheekbones. Her short hair bobs up… bobs down… And she labors to rub his skin smooth again. Apparently his head kept falling off his shoulders. Her spit wasn’t sticky enough to use as glue. So she mixed any fluid her body could muster To plaster around his freshly stitched throat. He’d be back (looking worse), She’d always fix what she could. She says she doesn’t love him. I tell her I don’t Hate him— Just her devotion.
Shande by Sarah H. Gerin
by Kevin Rosario
A Bridge by Brandon Plaster A bridge: forsaken. A broken road, untraveled. A forgotten hope deserted to the wind. “I am the separator of life; the rust upon my iron, the splinters upon my tracks, the moss upon my rails, I am a journey. You who venture,” “We who venture,” “Dare you trespass?” “Dare we trespass? Lost gateway, we are a life, we live and breathe and change each day. We are strangers, and we are strangers, and yet we, today, together as strangers, put faith in your ties, to hold us as we cross.” A soft creak, another step, the moon whispers, “Good Morn” and holds the sun in her arms. I pull you tighter as the frost of a new November encroaches, he will not have this dawn’s first kiss. Our lips touch, and the bridge awakens.
by Carlie Fishgold
The Great American Lottery
Did you step in a coffee shop, (God knows you love them), and get lost in Tuesdayâ€™s specials? Or sit on the corner of your own motherâ€™s bed at 4 AM and watch her jerk in the dark? Or did he put you in the spin cycle like he does all the dry cleaning clothes? (God knows you love the smell of fresh dryer sheets.)
You thought, Good money will buy me a kitchen where I can cook duck and finally learn to be a chef! (Of all things, God knows you were not a chef.) Good money will buy me hardwood floors and a wine refrigerator, where all good things are bottled and cold.
by Amelia Ann Titus
A smell that used to cling, sticky, in the air outside our worn-wood home, before all the sawdust and sample bathroom tiles moved in, their suitcases crammed with overextended adjectives.
Mother, mother, where have you been?
A Never-ending Cycle a sestina
by Jacqueline Knapp
While driving, shadows danced across our eyes, The setting sun flashed between the trees And warmed the sky of orange and red that kissed The mountain tops, looking towards the sea. The calm and raging sea, it always changes Moods, reflecting Mother Nature’s thoughts.
I’ve always wondered what are Mother Nature’s thoughts? I want to stare and fall into her eyes And witness all the seasons and their changes, Feeling from her soul the leaves on trees, Turning, falling, blowing towards the sea Until they fall upon the waves, gently kissed.
Watching snowflakes flutter down and kiss The frozen ground, I want to know their thoughts Of melting, being liquid swept to sea And bouncing, churning, in the waves. The eyes To see the branches shiver snow from trees And melt from lakes—All the weather changes!
The spring brings many soggy, slushy changes. Heavy clouds let raindrops fall and kiss The petals of blooming roses. And the trees Bud leaves and the warming breeze makes birds have thoughts Of singing songs. They join voices and eyes, To watch the sun crest up the foaming sea.
Summer heat stirs creatures of the sea To migrate north and reproduce. These changes Fill the algae turquoise depths with eyes Of fry. They hide in shadows â€˜till theyâ€™re kissed With dimming sun: winters come. And thoughts Return to colder days. And notice trees,
Our one strong constant, never leaving. Trees Will always be the watchers of the sea: Partners from the start of nature, their thoughts Must be entwined forever, all the changes Done together, watching seasons kissed With snow or sun, they watch with the same eyes.
Night Tree Silver leaves give the moon the same stiff look that my daughter gave me ten years ago, when her new mother took her shivering hand and led her tottering away down an unlit hallway. And the grey ones masquerade as kissing strangers in the dark, pirouette and fall away, the same instant that they touch. The wind sighs as she tries to loot them, from broken branches who wonâ€™t surrender. The roots shudder. An owlâ€™s claws dig the green blood from the wood and I am lying belly-down in the grass, counting lightning bugs.
by Raechel Coffey
Mori: Forest by Dawn Donghee Lim
Shades of Gold by Tyia Clark
by R. C. L. Daum
Since the heads of the flowers on her yellow-print dress spun, she took a lily in her hands and twirled it between the slicks of sweat on her palms like the magician said. Her life one-two-three, one-two-threed through the sand and the grass. Her frame was willowy and nodded in the sun’s light as the weeds she used to call grand did— her glance as golden as the pollen that used to bleed over her once-tiny fingers. Once upon a strand she met another: taller and set in his tread. Against that daffodil reed the yellow lily leaned: their stems entwined and petals blended in a wave of sunlight. The wind twirled them in its hands, and the sure stem lead her through places unseen and forbidden. Vines licked her arms, golden weeds kissed her head; they one-two-three, one-two-threed, but it was unplanned and the petals splayed. In the wheeling wind they fanned like the twirling magician’s cape, and fell as the golden rain that impregnated Danaë. Momentum and thrill in that dance —physics and feeling—were wed; the line between petaled bullion and bristled nettle was overwhelmed with vines and the weeds that burst into bloom.
by Calle Fitzgerald
To feel a cold lick of Pacific, its salt residue, or to watch the crescent hillocks break open, buttery curves flecked with colors so iridescent as to blind the attentive eye— it is not these that stretch one’s heart, that tack it between two sad trees, a bed for lonely night to rest. Neither is it catching on one tastebud the blurred air of distant mountains, scaling their youth, and drinking the musty tonic of conquerors and conquered, nor is it sifting between hands lapis lazuli finely stitched onto dense string— rather it is the warmth of the people, every street alive and filled with the splendor of solace. I could never say how much a person adheres to me, only that each one’s absence quietly breaks me, like a teacup shattered between the fingers of a giant.
Coromandel Cathedral Cove by Brandon Plaster
Rainy Rochester by Kelly Mulrey
Appeal to a Hopi Elder
by Wanda Maria Esperanza
Teach me how to cry to the kachinas so they might coax down rain from the ceiling— the very Top of this world of men, above which sits the realm of gods which cannot be reached by rocket ships— and teach me how to dance to please the Moon so she will smile and soak the land in bone-white light— instill in me the base courage to let grow my hair and to howl in praise to the Sun; for I have forgotten that water falls from sky as well as faucet, and that light wears softer shades than gaudy neon negligée.
But you have faded into the desert— back into the ground from which you sprouted, the same as maize; and once-sacred sands shelter no spirits now, but bear on their backs satellites: fleshless breasts void of milk, that tell us only that no music is played among stars.
by Raechel Coffey They tell me how naĂŻve he looked, blue eyes petrified with virus, body fifteen days bloated, wrapped in a patchwork quilt. His ears gone gray, still concentrated on the flutter of grandmaâ€™s voice chirping over the answering machine. His blood lulled; each virion suspended, a latent pendulum, all robed in veils of black water, sweated onto the bedsheet. He has reaped a billion quieting comets, never alive nor dead, softened only by the sinking curtains of winter. Each organ fondled with icebox thumbs, plucked easily as overripe tomatoes dripping from their slender, slouching vines.
for October 13th, 2008
We found your radio collection stacked in the garage, black electronic heaps piled absurdly high, careening boxes reflecting distorted antenna silver. I stood and read the direction pamphlets dusted with nonsensical foreign markings as if written in some language we might have just spoken between us.
by Amelia Ann Titus
The last time I saw you you were having your problem with words. Mouth slower than expected, you and I both would stare, startled, at the inefficiency of lips. Your vigilant phrasing, the selective repetition of your jokes, was lost to syllabic confusion. Your pink car nation became a pebble instead, as if you had filled your mouth with them to demonstrate a point, and here they were, heavy in your Adamâ€™s apple. You demonstrated more carefully, waving your blued hands around at objects, commanding the coffee tin to speak, to reveal itself. There were words in your cheeks now, ones Iâ€™d never noticed, the collapsing fold of your tongue tense in a moment of thought, stalling there in the long parking lot of your mouth. You had always collected silly mail and tagged me in a Post-it, slapped on a stamp, and sent it my way, a confusing sign of affection, but now I examined the contents, scoured the pages, baffled at a church bulletin, a pet update, a magazine request.
A Few Words for
by Nan Zhu
When my husband was in second grade, They didn’t have this desk yet so He would sit on the floor in the dust Next to the heater never turned up over 60 Doing math problems for school. Why he couldn’t concentrate well. by Liz Duffy When his mom bent down to help, She would unzip her pants because they wouldn’t fit All the furniture was industrial Over her pregnant tummy. Cold steel cages found by the side of the road She gave birth in the bathroom one morning Meant to hold heavy items, About four months too early Take a lot of stress. After dad had already moved out Instead they were used for the fossils, On a court order. He would bring The broken shards His new girlfriend by to meet the kids. And pottery collection, Mom was over forty by that time anyways Brought back from trips to Aztec And forty-year-olds aren’t Ruins (illegally). Really supposed to get pregnant. I nearly broke my back They got remarried eventually And look at them now: Pushing the three-hundred pound shelves Up the ramp of a moving truck Finally leaving this town Headed for Canada, To live in the solitary mountains My new father-in-law tugging With their fresh air, their mountain goats, From atop the platform, An Ansel Adams view from the picture window. Dressed for the first time in weeks They will take photos with expensive equipment, In a sweat stained wife-beater, Save for the future or invest, Shouting ‘It will all fit in. And think about the past, We’re not making a second trip.’ Maybe spend more money on electricity. Shouting ‘Throw out the rest’ and Winters in the mountains can be cold. ‘Push harder, Margaret.’ Private memories, strange lives, I thought he had hurt himself That my imagination, stretched His body all bent over but that’s So thin across this snapshot continent, Just the way people look Can’t encompass, can’t forget, When they’re old. Wants so very badly—so guiltily—to ignore.
by Elle Eghigian
Nothing special about this place. Where are we? A sigh in the dark; like owl’s wings, like dissatisfaction. The Wave laps, tender, as she struggles back, beaten again—cruel sandpaper lover. Why should I care? Fool returns of her own accord. Or by that of the Moon. Absent tonight? Ah, no peeking, chuckling, over the trees, most of her body enthralled by Shadow. How does she hide? The Shadows adore her form… And—looking on, slashed by a shard of her shine— ours. Where are we? You know this place, love. Yes—it looks different at night.
by Stephanie Tabb
by Carlie Fishgold PAGE28
The bone church in Evora smells like death. Rotting femurs, fibulas, and humerus sit in cement, patterned like wallpaper; femur, fibula, femur, fibula, humerus. They call it Capela dos ossos, where five thousand human skulls act as accents, lining the dimly lit arched ceilings. Two desiccated corpses hang from the wall: one adult, one child. The tendons still visible, like dirty stretched bubble gum tacked from joint to joint. In every corner it permeates; pungent, putrid, curdled milk that settles on the tongue like rancid acetone. Four pillars hold the ceiling, wrapped in a blanket of begrimed skulls, staring out of soiled white sockets like hollowed eggs. Carved along the half moon entrance: â€œWe bones here await yoursâ€Śâ€?
by Jacqueline Knapp
art is an old man by M. Seraji
Art is an old man reaching out in front of him reaching down below him knees wobbling to support his weight to have and to hold he’s tucked away some good thoughts in the cracks of his foreskin or the depths of his navel and they’re keeping warm and dank.
Art is an old man standing at a podium, hunched over by life tapping the microphone, hello attention of dedicated non-listeners: voice, like a baby, a lucky charm in his eye.
Art is an old man who used to know the way, but retrograde amnesia forgot to lock the gates and now the dogs are running loose in the woods, all the way to Shiloh.
Art is an old man standing at a podium, reading from his collection “collected love and pain” he collected morsels of his tears and hair and kept them inside trusty, old leather shoes in the back of his Ford Torino. He carried them to the west coast sat alone on bluffs bare feet towards the salty, Pacific spray.
Art is an old man who used to dance like high tide but now social security ran short and dry and he needs income to come in to come into his arms like Starbucks (—a beat poet with the subtlety of an ambulance) so, come in late to the reading pretend to really feel the words and buy the book, please.
painter, Montmartre by Patrick Daubert
by R. C. L. Daum
he lighthouse was my life. Everyone always thinks that it’s old geezers calling the shots up there, but that’s not true. I was twenty and doing what I wanted. You might think this unexpected, coming from an old lady, but that’s what I was doing, hon. And it wasn’t boring. There was always stuff needed doing. Cleaning, cooking… I lived alone. Well, not all alone. I had my dog, and a few cats that lounged around and took the fish that washed up on shore. There was a tabby that was my favourite— his name was Thaddeus, or that’s what I always called him. He answered to Thad more than to Thaddeus, but he knew when I was annoyed because that’s when I called him by his full name. “Thaddeus Ernest!” I’d yell, and he’d scamper. Smart cat. I got the job because the old man who’d manned it before me died. Nothing exciting— he was ninety-eight. His time, as the guy who employed me said. I agreed and took the keys. This part of the world ain’t so big, as you know, so it was difficult to get somebody to work the house. Otherwise he probably would have taken another old guy, but they needed somebody so badly he took a poor girl with no family. It wasn’t lonely. Well, sometimes it was, especially at night. I got used to the ghosts around the place, and they got used to me: mostly old men, the ones who had made the lighthouse their lives as well. But sometimes they had wives, women who had died young. One had an infant in her arms. I saw a few children once. They told me to stay away from the edge of the cliff. They— the ghosts, that is— never did much, just hung about certain areas of the house at certain hours. I remember thinking that maybe they had some sort of traffic laws. I liked to think they found me interesting, since I was so different from them, but I guess I’ll never know. And there were cats, a least thirty of them from over the years. Folks say cats are skittish of ghosts, but that’s a lie— the cats that lived with me never minded them. I saw them playing with a ball of my yarn once. I remember it was red yarn: the colour shimmered against the faded shades of the dead cats. And the angel, I’m getting to the angel. Hold your horses. Sometimes in the evenings I’d go out and walk on the shore. Well, not sometimes, it was more like every night. When I didn’t feel like reading, I’d walk in the sand and the wake, right when the tide was going out. It wasn’t something I ever got tired of. Even when the weather was bad I went out— in fact I liked it better when it was raining. Almost the feeling of being in the ocean when I was really out of it. Cool, like. Sometimes Thad came with me. That cat was a funny one, never minded water or dogs. One evening, near the beginning of fall, I walked along the shore. I was collecting shells that night— I made necklaces and mosaics out of them and sold them to the merchant ships that sometimes came through. There never were many ships that came through, but I didn’t mind. The lighthouse was enough— the big yellow eye that blinked on top of the thick red licorice stick, stuck
straight from the grass on the cliff like a candle on a birthday cake, was good enough for me. Ringing the bell at the hours accorded a special pleasure for me, or at first it did. After a while the bells took their tolls on my ears. Don’t roll your eyes at me, child, I know you see the ear trumpet. The bells frightened some of the ghosts, and brought others out of the shadows. Anyway, the angel. I was collecting shells, and the sun was teasing the horizon kind of like a blushing girl. The water was still that night, rather strange. It was beautiful, though, reflected the red and gold shimmering through the dark colours from the clouds above the water. There was a glow in the air that night. I don’t really know what it was— well, I suppose I do, but this glow I’m talking about was different. Now, there had been something funny about the place for a few weeks by that point. I’d been at the place long enough, about a year, to notice its moods and the changes in them— because of the weather, because of the ghosts, even an unhappy hungry cat. I didn’t remember it so well, but now I do. There was something weird. The ghosts were typically quiet, but they were downright silent for a while. Even the infant didn’t cry. And Thad was different. He was happy as a clam most of the time, mewing and running off. Sometimes I didn’t see him for days. But for, say, three weeks straight, he all but never left my side. Especially when I was sleeping, I knew he was nearby: he was in all my dreams— strange swirling things filled with slitted amber eyes and shadowy pupils and claws— and I always awoke with his fur in my face. This night was the same that the Poseides were supposed to fall. I saw many shooting stars out there, but the sailors who came through said that the Poseides were supposed to be especially… I forget the word they used. Magical. Paranormal, maybe. Anyway, they said that at sea, strange things happened when they fell— not all bad, but not all good. One year a captain I got to know, Schuster I remember he was called, saw his dead wife; the next year the mast broke in two like a twig, and not because of any winds. It was a damned shame it was cloudy. It was raining soon after the clouds rolled in— those clouds were unnatural, let me tell you, child. Purple, like. The shade of the shadows in lavender buds. And the lightning was pink. Pink. I never was a fan of the colour, but I’ve never seen an orchid since without thinking of that night. Anyway, I was walking on the beach. It was cloudy, and raining, and the sun was about to set. Yes, I saw the sun— there was a break in the clouds above the horizon. While I was walking, soaked through by that point, there was another hole in the clouds that opened up. What I remember best is how the sand felt between my toes— wet and warm and grainy. The water from the ocean was really warm that night. Thad was walking with me, and normally he would have played in the surf, but he stuck to me like paste. Like I said, unnatural. His fur was wet and I could feel his body heat against my shins. I put down
“Ringing the bell at the hours accorded a
special pleasure for me...”
my basket carefully, and looked up high. The sky behind the clouds was strange, purple as the clouds but darker. Looked like velvet. And then I saw the stars falling, and I was happy. There was rain against my face and warm water against my feet, and my clothes suckered to my body, and I saw the Poseides. It was like watching fireflies, really, really bright fireflies that traveled hundreds of miles per hour. Thad didn’t like it though. He jumped into my arms, getting wet black sand on my shift. The sun had fully set by then, and everything was turning dark. The giant lantern from the lighthouse threw everything into roving shadows. Eerie, like. My shadow danced around me, and Thad pawed at my chest because it made him nervous. I petted him, and watched the sky while it was still there. And then it happened, really suddenly. I thought that a star had fallen through the clouds, but as soon as it fell through them it was extinguished. I just remember how the light, real white, looked against the purple clouds. I wasn’t sure whether it was just my eyes playing tricks on me, but I couldn’t make up how those colours looked against each other. And then it went out, like a candle. That freaked Thad out. He threw himself at my neck and pawed my shoulders and scratched my arms with his back claws, hissing wildly. I tried to hold him tight, but he wouldn’t have it. He jumped out of my arms and dashed through the shadows towards the lighthouse. Now, I didn’t like that. When the cat freaks out, you know you’ve got a problem. I admit I didn’t rightly know what to do— should I run back to the lighthouse and take shelter and get warm, or should I stay and try to find out what it was? There again, I didn’t even know what there was to see. Maybe it had just been a comet that came too close to the world and burned through the clouds, which had by now closed back up like a scab. My ears marked a splash in the distance: maybe it was just a stone. A celestial stone. After a moment of silence and lightly lapping waves and heavier raindrops, I decided there was nothing to be seen, collected my basket and turned back. The door to the lighthouse was never locked, but I locked it that night with the hairs prickling on the back of my neck. There were leaks in the old building, and the stairs creaked eerily as I walked up to the tiny house joined to the lighthouse, like grossly disproportionate Siamese twins. I lit the lanterns and braziers as I came to the kitchen, and started a fire in the main room, determined to frighten away the shadows. “Anybody want tea?” I called to the echoes. Though the ghosts couldn’t drink the tea, they told me— when they spoke to me, which was rarely— that they liked the warmth and the smell. No one answered. I hadn’t been expecting them to, truthfully. I’d had my tea alone for the past few weeks, but I set out another cup anyway. Hoping, I suppose. Don’t give me that look— you live in a lighthouse alone a year, and you’ll find ghosts wonderful company, even if they don’t talk much. After a few moments of shivering in my thick blanket, trying to get warm, a voice said, “It’s raining.”
“...teasing the horizon like a blushing girl...”
“What I could see was muscular, naked,and very, very male...”
I looked up from my steaming cup, and saw the ghost of the caretaker who’d held the job three generations ago sitting across from me. He told me to call him Ezra, so I did. He was one of the clearer ghosts, but that wasn’t saying much. The clearest features I could make out were his spectacles and bushy eyebrows. Tonight I could see a cap and a gentle outline of face and torso when he moved against shadows. “Evening, Ezra,” I said to him. “It’s raining,” he repeated. “Indeed it is.” I looked out the window: the clouds were roiling into deep gray and nightblack thunderclouds, losing their uncanny purplish tint. After a moment, sounding a little farther away, he asked, “Why?” I sipped from my cup, the sweet tea burning my tongue. “Why what? Why is it raining?” I’d learned to be patient and to anticipate their questions. Another moment passed, and I saw the spectacles move up and down. “I’m not sure. I don’t know why it rains. It’s like asking why the sun rises and sets, or why the seasons change. It just does.” I thought a moment. “I remember studying something about it when I was young, when I took classes. There’s something to do with atmosphere, and humidity, but I couldn’t tell you what. I can’t remember much, but I do—” “Too… fast,” he told me. I saw shades of gnarled hands drifting through the warm steam from the tea. “Sorry.” I slowed my pace. “I’m not sure, Ezra.” “I know.” The spectacles and cap moved upwards— he was standing now. “You don’t… know much.” I shook my head, having learned not to worry about his prodding. “Where’s the missus tonight, Ezra?” Thad walked into the room and settled by the fire. “Stupid cat,” I told him. Slowly the spectacles and cap moved from side to side: he was shaking his head. Whether it was to the question about his wife or the comment about the cat, I didn’t know and he didn’t tell me. Slowly they moved toward the rain-pattered window. A ghost cat mewed and moved away from his silent advancing steps. He stopped at the window and looked out. “Something there, Ezra?” I asked, getting to my feet. “Come… see.” Reluctantly I let go of the warm cup and moved over to where he was. I leaned against the sink counter and looked out the window. “What is it?” I asked, making out the dark murky shapes of moving water and wind. A thin hand and finger pointed against the glass. “Look.” I leaned over the sink, feeling the corner of my blanket dripping in the warm soap water. “I don’t…”
“ Why should you be skeptical? Why would I lie?”
Then I saw. “Oh my God!” I dropped my blanket and rushed down the stairs and out the door into the rain, forgetting my boots and getting muddy grass and sand over my clean chinos. The body was white and crumpled, like a child fallen at the base of a staircase. I was lucky— I’d never had to recover a body before, but this one was unlike any I’d imagine I’d ever have to deal with. It wasn’t bloated like I pictured drowned bodies would look like— I was thankful for that, since it would mean a ship hadn’t gone down nearby. It faced me, the arms flung in front of it, the head tucked in like a sleeping pigeon’s, the legs turned over one another. What I could see was muscular, naked, and very, very male. I felt the heat rush to my face, and reprimanded myself— it wasn’t as though I’d never seen a naked man before. Don’t give me that look, child, I know about you and your beau. That’s right. Anyway, I inspected his face. It was handsome. Handsome, though… certainly not enough. It was a classical kind of handsome, you know how you picture men from old paintings? Black wet curls spilled onto his forehead like thick vines, the mouth hung open in a square jaw, though the lips were pert, almost cherubic. The nose was almost too big for good looks, but it paved its way elegantly into his level forehead and sweeping jet-black eyebrows. The cheeks were smooth, or at least they looked so. I wanted to see his eyes, but he was unconscious. I tried to turn him onto his back, but couldn’t seem to do it— it was like there was an impediment that wouldn’t let him lie flat. I looked behind him, and was astonished how I missed them— wings. Great, heavy-looking things, wet and bloody. I gasped and jumped back. Wings? My eyes ran over him again. Who— what— was he? The answer was simple, it stood stark in the air and on the exclamation point that smacked itself into my forehead— but— no. He couldn’t be an… an— He coughed suddenly. I jumped and, after hesitating a moment, leaned down to beat his back, reaching awkwardly between those great feathery things. A lungful of water coursed from between his pale lips, and a small hairball of seaweed landed with a plop after a frightening moment of whooping coughs. Finally breathing deeply, he leaned back against my arms. He was heavy, pure muscle. Positioning his left wing— coarser than I’d imagined them feeling— against my side, I leaned him against my thighs. His head weighed in my lap. His eyes opened. They focused for a moment, then lost focus and closed again. I couldn’t move him. He was too big for me, and the ghosts wouldn’t be able to help me. He never woke. So, that’s it. That’s the story about the angel. I never found out his name, or why he was there. I suppose he was that falling star, I suppose he was thrown out of Heaven. I stayed with him all night, and when the sun came back up, the light that touched him made his skin gray. It flaked, and he disappeared in the morning breeze into the ocean in a cloud of dust and bloody feathers.
Don’t give me that look, child. Why should you be skeptical? Why would I lie? Yes, that was the story of the angel. You’d tell it to your grandchildren if you had them too, dear. Very well, go off to your beau. Enjoy him, while you have him. Goodbye, child. She’s gone, off to the world of the young, whatever it is now. She won’t know— she won’t know what really happened. I haven’t the heart to tell her. If I couldn’t tell her mother, why should I tell her? The truth was, when he opened his eyes, and when they focused into mine, I felt a shock, a literal shock, spark my body. It was like I hadn’t lived before— the breeze swept through me like I’d never known, the warm water was fresh and real against my and his feet. When he looked at me, eyes clear as deep pools of black, black water, he jumped too. The wings pushed against me and drove themselves into the brown sand. “You!” he gasped. He scrambled against me and pushed himself into the rising wake. He floundered against the wet, like it was a dirty thing. I watched him push himself away, frightened. “Me?” He knelt in the sand, safely away from the water. He ran his hands roughly through his black curls, sending water droplets shimmering through the shadowy air. He looked at me again. The roving light from the lighthouse sent him into stark relief, his beauty unnatural as the light. “You!” he exclaimed again. I stood, feeling the wet sand caking my legs. “What?” I whispered. We looked at each other a moment. When he didn’t answer me, I said, “I’m Erelah.” “I know.” He stood unsteadily, uneasily. The sand stuck to him like black scars and smeared his wings like dried blood. “I know who you are.” His voice was a round baritone, beautiful, like a mellow horn. I stepped back. I felt Thad at my ankles. He mewed angrily at the being in front of me. “Who are you?” He looked at me, weighing me and the cat that wound himself around my shins. Then he looked up at the lighthouse, squinted in the sharp light. Thad jumped into my arms and I patted him absent-mindedly. “If you don’t tell me,” I said after a moment, “I’ll sick the ghosts on you.” That surprised him. He looked at me, his dark eyes wide. “I’m not afraid of them,” he said. “They’ve known of my coming for a while, even if I didn’t.” “Tell me who you are.” “I am— I was— your guardian,” he said. “Malachi. My name is Malachi.” e fell for love, he later told me. For love, he told me. I never felt guilty. He didn’t want me to be. Sometimes it’s hard to remember his face. But when I walk in that water, the memory is clear as the beacon that slices the black air. §
Corvid for Marquette
by Raechel Coffey Atop moonlit archway, the shadow perched casting umbra upon unconscious ground. He turned to face me just before he lurched, within his eyes my own light softly drowned. With nose and grin absorbed by ebony cloud, just silhouette remained to keep me whole. My eyes unmarried to my absent face, unchained and faintly drifting, like balloons mocking the dance of sailboats. On black sky split by sapphire lightning, his form composed of quill and feather, charcoal beak and eye, and sacred wings against his body closed to hide himself from ever being known. Oh echo, how I echoed in his glare as eyes rekindled face, blooming to self and bird dwindled to black on midnight air. What trickery! The moon lies juxtaposed, stark naked, bathing, bleached amidst the murk. No trace of feathers fury ever flown, about the arch where crooked shadows lurk.
1000 Cranes by Bridget Lenkiewicz
Auckland Long Bay by Brandon Plaster
Between Sea and Sky (Inspired by a line in “Arrival in Rome” from Cusp by Jennifer Grotz)*
I promised myself I would find you.* Yet, now that I face you, (blink-blink, up at you) I am overcome with such fear that I am unable to contain it. It spills out from me with such ferocity that I must gape wide-mouthed to let it pour. Something sinks from my chest to my stomach. I am collected in such quickness— my throat quakes under a reached hand. It contracts so I flounder; I thrash, suddenly stifled.
Grazed by a single padded fingertip, I gasp, freed from suffocation. Plucked, and forward flicked, I am hurtled: into you. The bright scaled fish slaps, flaps on the dock. Its wet eye regards me as its chest rises, falls. I give it my lungs to breathe.
by E. A. Grabski
by Leon Tsao
In this dream I am the soldier that marches
by Liz Duffy
refugee in thought across the two continents the twenty-one islands that make boats out of my shoes each dream pausing in the crinkly and fibrous like paper morning air as the two fingers of my mind suspended eye-level reach in a familiar gesture towards the bloody vowels that have already escaped stopping stuttering ashes the wide spaces between my toes touch the ground explode into dust
a shout framed like a signature between rows of toy army children melts over asphalt coloring my skin in TV screen warmflicker the sun is a graveyard flashlight bouncing off billboards in the treeless dark and seeds of neon cloud grow expand rapidly in the chambers of my lungs nothing I can’t afford now corroding across memories once preserved in objects bleeding the ink of your I won’t be able to read anymore words I can’t remember how to say when the sounds stop flooding my skull I can see the long blistered palms of skyscrapers reaching towards our city’s only cloud a waterfall of concrete wires hitting the pavement as plumes of purple smoke like petals drift out to sea clutching their shiny new bones now the overgrown child on the great blue stage the fairy fire history my mind folds herself over takes a bow
Sestina by Calle Fitzgerald
Oh fateful me, with nervous twitching leg and torso closed off behind folded arms, hunched over in a gesture of defense— it is no great mistake these pants are huge, as if they’d make my body disappear. May verdant morning sky descend on me,
into blades of grass, which disappear amongst the sullen dark of night’s defense. I watch night take the grass into its arms, embracing flower, tree and all but me, and offer up my now uncovered leg; how did it ever manage to get so huge?
and canopy this fleshy husk of me. I bend down to observe a spider’s leg, how easily the creature disappears, and concentrate on sprouting six more arms, knowing that even such a spider, so huge, could better than me vanish in self-defense.
Oh maker, you may have made my heartbeat huge enough to make the lions disappear in frightful awe, but when I see my leg so crudely formed, there can be no defense. A heartbeat is not good enough for me. Would that you beat such rhythm in my arms,
The spider-envy is fleeting, in my defense. I let the animal tread onto me and feel a satisfaction warm and huge like venom radiating head to leg. Or is the venom real? It’s bitten my arm. With a swift and simple flick, it disappears
or shaped them fine as any other arms! The moon looms in the distance, calm and huge. A rain as soft as powder covers me. Petals skim a stream, then disappear. A butterfly blends into shrubs for defense, and lands unsentimentally on my leg.
Bars and Stripes by Lauren Petrilli PAGE45
You Cannot Sleep (After Frank Bidart’s “You Cannot Rest”)
by Taryn Ocko
Your goal was to be something that you could not be, by being somebody else entirely, free from the world’s court of blank stares. Your plan was to reveal your face (its folds unfolding), by hiding behind a paper sheet you’ve torn from your bed because you cannot sleep. Instead you stay awake, dreaming of all of the faces you’ve met (whose folds unfold or stay folded). Their scars line up with yours, fit together like broken glass that she and he and all of them smashed.
Bitten by Emma V
by Maureen M. Dizon
Expectations by Kellan D L H
was that a boy or a man I saw of fifteen years still and undid by another talon of hunger laying on brick softer than the cold skin clutching depleted femurs and tibias on the doorstep of the homeless shelter? it was not.
Castaway See the beaten, broken soldier, Lying dead upon the shore. Gnarled hands like drifting wood Hold against the lapping water, Gold in the morning sun and Raw with coldness. Birds are singing Dirges born against the wind, but Nothing stops the children’s play— “Bury him in sand!” they cry. The soldier spends the night alone. But The sandy grave is stirring, shifting— He is rising from the earth to Yell, “Io sono morto.” I am dead, mia cara, Carry on without my ghost.
by T.F. Scowcroft
by Stephanie Tabb
by Amanda Yazdani
--night of the half-moon ring around the four points clear in its domain to let me kiss you permit me freedom under that very moon…! it won't come to pass for naught but cruel brevity our two paths did cross --in your eyes lies some thing unchecked, untamed if you'd permit it it would burn your very soul and singe me and mine also --oh, what joy is this… "I just wanted you near me." you call me to your side --look at me and smile you don't even have to speak your eyes hold the world
--my lips pomegranate and rose brushed yours all honey! like sweet resin petals dipped in aurora's dew a confection before this child of love my kiss sandalwood smoke of holy temples rose, danced and scented your hair each tawny curl, with every bounce every quiver, as you trembled echoed only love --you, pulling away red night leads to grey morning the minutes, the hours --drop of water rolls a kiss, reminder of nights down my back it goes --oh, gods of the heart, come put out this flame of love you’ve so cruelly set in my soul burning passion fueled by moonlight! cool my cheeks with temperance! have me think not of him... not of love!
--dreams tempt me with sweetness and things that never were! --oh, beloved! I saw a dream of you the other night: I anointed your head with the best oil and it flowed down your face and shoulders dripped off your chin and ran down your arms its fruity aroma filled the space between us I kissed you, and spread the holiness over you all the while whispering words of love even now, after the most vivid of dreams my hands long to touch your skin and I tremble in anticipation of seeing your sweet face
--even safe in bed tears of longing stain my face stinging reminders of lost love— oh, precious one! oh, dear one! you are missed --I think of you and again I find that the moon watches from her perch… or is it the moon that brings thoughts of you? --dear moon bride, take your vows with salt— his love proves like the groom... variable
--what have I done to earn my lord’s displeasure and fall from his favor? --what thorough lament, this night piercing sadness! your servant wants not but to please her master the lord of her heart oh precious shining one! call me to your side, bergamot and sweet resin oh my lord, summon me, a messenger of love, to your bedchamber once more and make this humble heart whole again!
September by C.S. Jarrett
Who sheathed the sky in lead? Perhaps from an up-there view, This sky resembles a bathtub in mid-drain. Start. The cloud-spire reached down to weed our world, Hula-hoops along its arm ringing in thunderous play. Her fingers glided like ice-skates down my cheek. She told me: It’s coming. I nodded: I know. The power-drill wisp-twisted toward What summer boiled for months: time. Aching trees rustled their violins, Squalls lamented our position like wolves. We stood; twine-fingered and glue-palmed— Like a human “M.” She told me: Don’t get carried away. I smiled: Impossible. The vacuum caught us. For. Long. Months. We hiccupped through the iron-driven whirlwind. Our eyelashes scraped along margins, Our hands pressed loose books open, Our backs cried against heavy packs. Stop. Because blue-white put gray to rout And we landed on bubbles No pencil could pop.
Make Them Laugh by Sarah H. Gerin
tolerance by Kirsten Williamson
Crib Notes by Kellan D L H
We slept last night, I was inside of you looking for shelter like a fleeing slave. I found your unbiased embrace a sanctuary for my wounds and my torn shoulders left a tapestry of blood on your bed sheets. But when you sat upright and I stared through your marbled gaze to the mirror behind, the reflections of your other lovers crawled back, whispering like Man Ray photographs. My soft skin withered away leaving my body throbbing, as the hand of a wilting painter would, trickling milk down a canvas face. Breathy hands of an evening dance around your figure, their primitive senses seized by the glow that keeps your lust lit. Youâ€™re inhaling them now as if they were the very thing that wounded me in the first place.
Note-Poems: by Leon Tsao
11:10 a.m.-11:11 a.m.
I’m either asleep or asleep There is no way out
as soon as the tests were passed out silence swept across the room
And this is quite a serious problem As my body is getting out of bed My brain does not —In fact, it never did 9:37 a.m. first time, in the hallway, i see this girl walking by. and suddenly, collapsing onto me, a !eV!Elo!eO!L ? !o!vlE ? lv!oe ? love.
,the soft footed acrobat crept-a-bout-on-her-toes LEAP ed —i n t o t h e a i r & caught on to a s —W —I —NG! a once-upon-a-time circus star, she’s hungry to capture the eyes of admirers— a ghost who refused to leave the world. too bad everyone is too busy to notice (except, that is, for a poet)
A Day in the Mind of a Poet as a Child 11:22 a.m.-11:32 a.m. a sneeze erupted knuckles grunted tssstsss…—pencils raced about, tuhtuh…—one tapped nervously at the end of a desk— PUH-ti!—another couldn’t take it anymore and collapsed on the floor! the radiator screamed: BEWARE, OR ELSE I’LL HAF A TAN-DRUM! perhaps it was sound trying to grab the attention. —or perhaps both him and his mother. oh silence, stop showing-off! with this audience, it’s futile, you know— and your child, sound, is crying for you! 11:35 a.m.-11:37 a.m. I handed in my test, missing a couple questions, but thinking it was perfect. Elation! Well, for a couple minutes…
11:57 a.m. ah, lunchtime. 11:58 a.m. ah, lunchtime. 12:00 p.m. LUNCHTIME!ahlunchline… 12:09 p.m. Just one thought as I was chewing a plum Oh, how William Carlos Williams wrote about plums 10:51 p.m.-11:01 p.m. I often write poems that involve the moon. Perhaps I have a crush on her. Perhaps ten thousand poets have one on her. I don’t care about redundancy. I don’t care if what I write isn’t more or less beautiful or witty than what ten thousands of others have written. I don’t care if I am one of ten thousand suitors for the moon, or even if the moon takes suitors. The moon has such a way, popular as she is, to make you feel she is alone with you. 2:54 a.m. What awakes me? Who knocks and awaits by my shutters? I opened my bedroom windows to the sky— tonight I will converse with the moon.
Merry Christmas, John by Kelly Mulrey
Flaw A surplus of words has the tendency to boggle minds. Disheveled thoughts send sundry signals to senses, laying the foundation for the common and exhausted obscure piece.
by Julia Militar
Change II by Joey Hartmann-Dow
She Has No Cares
With coffee in her hands she sits and stares, Nothing showing for her life except her age. The leaves are blown away, she has no cares. There are no kids, or jealous sisters’ glares, No crying babies to evoke quick rage— With coffee in her hands she sits and stares. No invitations, parties for church prayers: On her porch she sits and flips through pages. The leaves are blown away, she has no cares. One morning she is napping in her armchair, Dreaming that she has escaped her cage. With coffee in her hands she sits and stares, Unawake and unalive. Unaware, The mailman comes collecting his wages. The leaves are blown away, she has no cares. She’ll be replaced by “for sale” signs—somewhere A wife will love the house and paint it sage. With coffee in her hands she sits and stares. The leaves are blown away, she has no cares. a villanelle
by Jacqueline Knapp
Particular Dreams W
by Rachel Greene
hen I was in college I dated one of today’s leading musicologists, and at one point in our acquaintance, he related to me a particularly interesting dream, which since that time has never left my memory. In fact I can still vividly recall the scene of its telling. It happened during one of our coffee dates, the steam curlicuing its way from the styrofoam cup towards the scruffy beard he then favored, and just before he began to speak I remember him trying to rub the sleep from his eyes. We liked to breakfast together at our favorite coffee shop, he with his laptop and I with my violin. He was working on the thesis which he was then unaware would soon become the cornerstone of his current relative fame, and I always enjoyed the jolt of productivity inspired by a hit of caffeine. The usual morning traffic buzzed around us. “I had this crazy dream last night, Julia,” he said, taking a sip of coffee, “it was weird, I dreamed I was Johannes Brahms in his dying days. I even could feel that beard weighing down on my chest. It was insane. But do you know what’s even weirder?” My “what?” was partially obscured by an ill-timed bite of cappuccino muffin, but he was not deterred by this minor inconvenience. “I still remember every detail. I mean, I only woke up a half hour ago, but still, you usually only remember more than the vaguest outline for only a few minutes after you wake up from the dream, you know?” I had to satisfy myself in nodding my assent. Many, however, were the mornings when he had woken me, insisting that I had done something crazy and amazing with my hands in his dream and couldn’t he show me before he forgot the exact mechanics? “Anyway,” he continued, tapping his fingers lightly against his cup, “when the dream started, I was lying in bed in the early morning, staring at my canopy, although I don’t know if Brahms would’ve been a canopy man, it’s probably one of those subconscious tropes of the mid nineteenth century, but regardless I was staring at the canopy, feeling the weight of my beard against the quilt, and I was daydreaming about Clara.” “Clara Schumann? I think you’ve been spending too much time on your dissertation.” The world knows about it now, of course, but at the time I was a member of that exclusive circle privy to the progress of the research he was conducting on the influence of Clara Schumann on the compositions of Johannes Brahms. At the time I found the synthesis of his findings incredibly sexy, even if it was taking over his dream life in addition to much of his time spent awake. “I mean, you must realize how weird it was. All the scholars are convinced that at the end of his life Brahms was only devoted to Music, capital ‘M,’ no time or inclination for the little old ladies or whatever. But there I was, Johannes himself, Clara just having been buried some weeks ago, and I felt his mind daydreaming the weight, the shape, of Clara right next to me in bed. Oddly, Julia, it corresponded to the portraits I’ve seen of her.”
I did not take this time to remind him of the time, shortly before we began dating, when he’d told me, buzzed at a party, that I looked very like the prettiest painting of that virtuosa, Clara Schumann, née Wieck, and also I did not point out that I had spent the night immediately previous lying right next to him. Instead I smiled, nodded in a more or less encouraging fashion, and took another bittersweet bite of muffin. “I daydreamed her not in the way I, Brahms, had last seen her, rigid and wrinkled, her face permanently frowning above the black dress she favored even in death. No, this Clara was young, blooming in her twenty-second year, her frilly pink nightgown the same color as her rosy cheeks, her long black hair pooling around her shoulders. And in the daydream, the one inside the dream, I turned and I watched her sleep. Brahms, as I realize you know very well, was a man characterized by so much hesitation and inaction, but on waking I have to say I’m surprised it would extend to the daydreams of his dying day. Because, I’m not sure if I said, Julia, but it was his dying day. His breath hitched in my chest. Although I suppose it could’ve been the daydream presence of the woman he’d loved in the bed next to him. Still, he watched her with infinite tenderness and patience, waiting for her to awaken. I would’ve been really impatient, but I was so completely him that I just tried to quiet the wheeze of my old man’s breathing to help her sleep better. And my mind started to wander, while I waited, I began to imagine scenes of her life I wonder if Brahms could’ve actually known, the church where she was christened in a long white puff-sleeved gown and baby fat cheeks, a practice break spent traipsing the cobblestoned streets of Leipzig, her first meeting with Robert Schumann. And Julia, the feelings I felt, the rise of guilt and jealousy and yet happiness for the Schumanns, husband and wife, appreciation for all they had done for me, and my regret for the life of that poor man, who in that moment of daydream inside the dream still had yet to go mad, it was absolutely incredible, it was absolutely life-like. You know how all of your feelings seem so muted in dreams? Like, your best friend will die but you still have to win the game of Monopoly? It was nothing like that, it was agonizing and wrenching and yet weirdly satisfying, for these obviously fabricated memories to inspire such a flood of intense emotion.” It wasn’t that he was an emotionless man, after all, we had started dating while he was still the teaching assistant for one of my junior year music history classes, over a year before this dream occurred. We had certainly exchanged our fair share of passion. I had, on one or two occasions previous, even seen him shed tears. But for some reason this admission of these intense dream emotions caused my breath to catch, my vision to temporarily blur, obscuring his features as he continued to narrate his dream. “I even daydreamed Clara at the piano, her first triumph as Clara Wieck in Berlin, the spread of her fingers over the keys, the weight of the music continued in the muscles of her arms. The applause was hazy, in imagination, while the music was clear, crystalline. It was the most important thing, which, were it to come from a more reputable source
“...you’ve been spending too much time on your dissertation.”
“... his dream self was quite capable of inventing acrobatic sexual feats...”
than my dreaming mind, would really go a long way in explaining the relationship between Johannes and Clara.” I suppose, dreaming Brahms’s mind, he could have afforded himself the opportunity of first name references, although I have since heard it is a habit he has maintained to the present moment. “And I saw her, in his mind’s eye, the first concert after her husband’s death, clinging to the music as solace, as sanity, the black crepes and laces murmuring inaudibly as she played his compositions, as she played mine, always elegant, always perfect and respectable, her spine held entirely straight as she played, the way her father had taught her so many years before. There’s absolutely no evidence that Brahms would’ve attended that concert, and such a recollection, of course, lies in the realm of speculation, but of course that isn’t enough to keep a sleeping mind from dreaming it.” Here he paused to catch his breath, to take a sip of his usual dark roast with only a little cream, and there was something so forlorn about the look in his eyes that I instinctively reached across the table to hold his free hand, to squeeze it with all the encouragement and reassurance such a gesture could possibly convey. It was only a peculiar dream, but even so it seemed to have had such a strong effect on him. And I was, at least at that time, a fairly good girlfriend. He caught my eye and smiled, as if to reassure me, and I was reminded again of one of my favorite of his qualities: his thoughtfulness. A few weeks before I had been in Boston, having completed the last of my auditions for graduate school, and he had called to check on the number of my hotel room, and when I’d returned to it, there were a dozen roses dripping a puddle into my bedspread. Weeks later, at our usual table at our favorite coffee shop, his chest expanded as he inhaled, ready again to continue the narration of his dream. “It seemed like I had imagined these scenes from Clara’s life for hours, when finally I saw, with an excitement quite unexpected for a man so elderly, that her eyelids were stirring, her mind whirring into consciousness. She gazed at me a while, expression unfixed except for a dreamy kind of halfsmile on her lips. There was no indication of surprise whatsoever. Her hands, even, lay peacefully on the quilt, soft and strong as they always had been, the perfect pianist’s fingers. I expected her to ask why she was there, who I was, I forgot entirely that she existed in the realm of fantasy and as such would be entirely unsurprised by this set of circumstances, incredible though they might seem to me. I raised myself up on one elbow, to see her better, and even that slight action caused me such pain and fuss that I knew that, whatever might transpire, should she rise from the bed I would not be able to follow. Additionally I didn’t at this point trust in the solidity of the fantasy, so I hazarded only a short greeting. ‘Hello,’ said I, my voice hoarse with years of use and months of weariness. She smiled at me, as if innocent of all the hardship I knew would plague her, had plagued her, time had folded in on itself and Julia, my mind was already so confused and crowded. ‘I’ve missed you,’ she said. ‘But you haven’t known me, yet,’ I pointed out, ‘you’ll be ten years older than this when I meet
you, you’ll be married, a mother, a woman entirely triumphant.’ But it didn’t faze her, she just smiled. ‘You won’t have written that damn alp horn call in the last movement of your first symphony yet. I still wish you’d left it out, no matter what the critics said to the contrary.’ And I should’ve realized then, all the layers of dreams currently at work, for the perfectly prim Clara Schumann to say ‘damn,’ but then again, she was in my, that is, Johannes’s, bed in a frilly pink nightgown, so I suppose my dream self is quite willing to accept absurdity in its purest form.” I could have interjected at this point that his dream self was also quite capable of inventing acrobatic sexual feats, and at times when, years later, I would fall asleep alone in my metropolitan apartment, I sometimes found myself regretting that I withheld this very accurate, if stray, observation. “Anyway I raised my eyebrows and she laughed with the same pepperyness that Brahms had heard in her laugh throughout his, or my, invented memory. It didn’t quite suit the girl in the bed but it was comforting to him all the same, the familiarity of it, and also the nearness. It was the closest they’d ever gotten to flirting, probably, which in these circumstances is terribly sad, don’t you think?” I nodded, and again noticed that forlorn expression in the lines of his face. Were it not for the steady morning traffic of caffeine addicts, I would have kissed him, but something like propriety made me settle for a sip of hazelnut coffee, no longer hot enough for me to burn my tongue. The circular table was small but when I recall this scene now it seems a vast expanse of wood, separating us. “And then, in one of those rare instances where your dreams in dreams come true -- that’s weird, isn’t it, but if you think about it, it’s really how it happens -- Clara sat up a little and kissed me. It was bizarre, you’d think it’d be like kissing you, all your particular quirks, or at the very least some other girl I’ve kissed, but the strangeness of it came, not primarily from a different technique, but from the fact that she was not entirely substantial. Our lips pressed against each other, it was incredibly chaste for a dying man’s daydream, but you know, it was Johannes and Clara, and anyway instead of just touching, we sort of, I don’t know if I can properly explain it, but we sort of... sunk into each other. It was like her body was made of jello and human flesh could move through it with a little push. But when we pulled away she was smiling. It hadn’t hurt her at all. Maybe she even liked it. She ran her little hand down the length of my beard, lightly so that her fingers stayed on the surface of it, and I remember I thought, like a much younger man’s joke, that if I died in this exact instant, it would be all right, I would be perfectly happy. And then I realized that I would indeed die soon, likely that day, that soon a servant would appear to check on the state of my health, that as the hour drew near a group of friends and admirers would assemble at my bedside, to listen for my last words. But for now, here was Clara.” After such an extended speech, he had to attend to his
“...my dream self is willing to accept absurdity...”
“...one day, soon, I would leave him.”
thirst with a long slow gulp of coffee, and as I watched him hold in his mouth to savor the flavor, a fragment of memory skittered across my consciousness. I had woken briefly in the middle of the night, and I had turned to look at my young man in bed next to me. We had left the curtains open, and the moonlight illuminated his skin silvery-blue. And I remember that resurgent tide of feelings which had swept over me there, in the coffee shop, which I knew were but an echo of what I had felt the night before, gazing at his sleeping face. It occurred to me then, all of a moment, that I had been so affected by his forlorn expression in the morning because I had glimpsed it on his face the night previous, an expression which I had never seen there before. It was at that point, my memory now tells me, that I remembered the resolution I had made some hours before in the moonlight: that one day, soon, I would leave him. It had nothing to do with any particular fault or failing of his, although I will readily own that he was, at least at that time, imperfect. Rather, I remember that hazy certainty, as in a particularly memorable dream, that I realized I had no idea what thoughts contributed to this new forlorn expression he wore, that no matter if he recollected those passing dreams or fancies in exact details, even if he shared them with me, I could still never be certain that he was recounting the truth entire. More to the point, I could never know the vast majority of his thoughts, and the implications of that realization were so momentous that nothing could possibly have induced me to remain with him. I could not have known at the time that I was pregnant with his child. The event had occurred just the night before, or a few days previous, or else would soon transpire. And, I suppose, if I had known, if I were a different sort of girl then, the revelation of his dream, in the exact detail I had thought so completely impossible, would have seemed a premonition, an assurance, that I should remain with this man. But, fortified by my hazelnut coffee, I was strong enough to go on without him, whose mind could never give up its mysteries to me. I was too curious, I was a little lazy, I was perhaps deluded. Still, he was here now, across the table, he was telling me his dream. “Are you sure you’re not tired of hearing about this?” he said, pressing his hand over mine, “I know you wanted to get a lot of practicing in this morning.” “No, I’m good,” I said, “in fact I’m really amazed that you remember your dream this well. You should probably write to somebody, Guinness or something, I’m pretty sure you must’ve broken a record or something.” He caught my eye and laughed a little, blowing the air out from his nose so it made a sort of sighing sound. It was one of his particular quirks. “Maybe, but you know, it’s just enough to remember. I doubt it’ll ever happen again, and it’s certainly never happened before last night. I must’ve woken up at exactly the right point in my REM cycle or something.” I had kissed him awake approximately one minute before his alarm was set to blare him into consciousness. For this endeavor I have never been mentioned in his scholarly articles or the
occasional acceptance speeches he gives now, and if I feel sometimes cheated by this, I concentrate on the increasingly fleeting memory of his skin against my lips, the roughness of his chin and the slight residue of sleep, the velvet of skin against chapped lips. I’m not sure if there is any particular comfort in the exercise except for the turn of the memory, the shift in texture from bitterness to sleepy warmth. “So, you and Clara were in bed together and she was touching your face?” “And I had just realized that it was my dying day. Incidentally, Julia, do you think we’ll know that, when it comes? No, it’s probably only something that occurs in dreams. At any rate the certainty was terrifying and yet it inspired me to do what I am today quite certain Johannes never did in life: to take Clara Schumann in his arms. I reached for her, ignoring my heart as it thumped away madly in my ribcage. I would have jumped out of bed for her, but I didn’t need to, she was smiling, she was willing, perhaps in that moment she craved the contact equally. I managed to maneuver myself so as to wrap my arms around her, but when I tried to pull this darling, this Clara, right towards me, the rules of this daydream’s reality seemed to clang like a tam-tam in my ears. She slipped through my arms like so much precious liquid, still smiling, her cheeks still flushed as though with desire. ‘Will I never have you?’ I cried, my gnarled hands spasming into fists. She gazed at me, her lovely young eyes wide and not unhappy. ‘You have had my mind for so long,’ she said finally, ‘have I not given you that which lasts so much longer than the sweetest caress?’ She didn’t smile, she was far too polite for it in light of my despair. But she kissed me again, the pressure of her lips such that I could hardly feel it.” When our daughter was born, I didn’t tell him. I had left him months before; he had been angry, disappointed. It was behind me. I gave her my surname, I named her Clara. Sometimes in the nights when I could lull her to sleep, I would call her my little Chiarina, I would murmur the words into her soft baby hair, only a little louder than the slight snuffle of her breathing. In the darkness of my New York studio I would let myself think of him, the way my college’s alumni update email service had informed me that his dissertation had been published in a leading journal of musicology, that he had been offered a professorship in Harvard’s music department, the youngest professor currently there employed. “The rising star of Romantic scholarship,” the article said. He was “deservedly acclaimed for writing of Brahms and Clara Schumann compellingly, not only presenting remarkable new insights, but with a refreshing familiarity, as though he were somehow acquainted with the musicians themselves.” He had shaved off his beard. He looked only a little different than he had in our time together, and yet, with my little Clara dozing in the crook of my arms, I couldn’t keep from wondering what had been running through his mind as the camera flashed. It was an old habit. “It was the longest, most chaste, press of lips that anyone could imagine, in fact I doubt you would call it a kiss at all but for its longevity. I ran out of air, I could feel my ancient lungs heaving in my chest, underneath my gray-white beard. I had to pull away gasping, gulping up the air, and Clara watched me with those lovely eyes, now shaded with sadness. ‘I’m dying, Chiarina,’ I said, still
“...all I’ve done is dream them...”
dizzy so that her husband’s pet name slipped out too easily, ‘aren’t I?’ There was a slight smile on her lips, just enough for me to detect it. ‘You’re dying,’ she said, but her inability to look properly sad and solemn made hope spring up inside my belly. ‘And will I see you, after I die?’ I allowed my hand to skim the apple of her cheek, smooth as a soap-bubble. She pressed her lips together and I recalled, just for an instant, the expression on the face of her corpse. ‘How can I tell you?’ she said, finally. ‘You have made me up inside your mind.’ And without another word, without even the sound of the rustle of fabric, she was gone.” He was grasping his styrofoam cup too tightly, and his expression, that forlorn countenance which would prove or already had proved to be our undoing, was so intense that without thinking I took his hand and kissed his knuckles until his features softened slightly. I saw him speak at a conference, once, last year. Clara was at her first sleepover, her eyes had sparkled with the highest delight of a seven year old as I had dropped her off at a friend’s apartment. He was the keynote speaker. I had been pressed between an overweight woman and a wheezing elderly man with liver spots on his hand, I had to crane my neck to catch a glimpse of the man I had given up a gig to come and see. He hadn’t grown back the beard, but he had forgone his tie, the top button of his shirt was open. His face was more placid than it had been, years ago. He wore no ring but my stomach clenched at the sight of him; there must have been, must be, another woman, who watches the expression of his face as he dreams. He spoke on the composition of Clara Schumann, and I jumped at first whenever he began to speak of her, to call her Clara, as though they were intimate friends. I couldn’t help it. “That was incredible,” I said, then, his knuckles against my mouth, smelling of coffee, “and so sad.” “I feel like I know them now, Julia, like I can think like them, and also at the same time that I’ve lost them, probably forever.” His voice was soft. I had to lean closer to hear it, and his free hand came up to skim against my cheek. “And still, all I’ve done is dream them, you know?” His eyes caught mine and we held the look, wordless. There was nothing else to say. Soon we would have to begin the rest of our day, in a moment we would have to leave. I remember it was one of those miraculous late March days when we stepped outside, a sky so blue and deep that the few blazing white clouds were all that anchored us to fixity. He took my hand and, just for a moment, gleaming in the sunlight, we let ourselves be unaware of everything, and oh, most of all I can remember how we smiled. §
ยง Index of Contributors Clark, Tyia Coffey, Raechel Daubert, Patrick Daum, R. C. L. Dizon, Maureen M. Duffy, Liz Eghigian, Elle Elterman, Karen Esperanza, Wanda Maria Fishgold, Carlie Fitzgerald, Calle Gerin, Sarah H. Grabski, E. A. Greene, Rachel H, Kellan D L Hartmann-Dow, Joey Jarrett, C.S. Knapp, Jacqueline
16 14, 22, 38 30 17, 32 48 25, 43 26 04 21 10, 28 01, 18, 44 07, 55 41 65 49, 57 63 06, 54 12, 29, 64
Lenkiewicz, Bridget Lim, Dawn Donghee MacNeill, Leigha Militar, Julia Mulrey, Kelly Ocko, Taryn Petrilli, Lauren Plaster, Brandon Rosario, Kevin Scowcroft, T.F. Seraji, M. Tabb, Stephanie Titus, Amelia Ann Tsao, Leon V, Emma Williamson, Kirsten Yazdani, Amanda Zhu, Nan
39 15 05 62 20, 61 46 45 09, 19, 40 08 50 02, 30 27, 51 11, 23 42, 58 47 56 52 24