new york university college of arts and science
“The world has a center and lakes as clear as glass.”
—Delia Pless PAGE 20
new york university college of arts and science
2012 â€“ 2013
Contents Editor’s Note
An Interview with Deb Olin Unferth 52 Poems by Gerald Stern, Guest Contributor 61 Contributors’ Notes
Poetry Samuel Fishman
Saint Anthony (the keeper of lost things)
The Prospect of Fuk
Water for Twelve Years
So this is what it looks like
Avant le déluge
Go By Train
Editors’ award winner in poetry
Prose Mark Putterman
Girl with Bird
36 Inches Later
Editors’ award winner in prose
Art Haley Weiss
Hemingway House 5
Washington Square Park, 2012 39
Kenzie Underwater 40
Paris, 2011 60
cover art inside cover art
HALEY WEISS, HEMINGWAY HOUSE
Editor’s Note Each of the hundreds of West 10th submissions I have read over the past three years has stuck with me. I’m not talking about a vague memory of a jumbled mass of poems and stories. I’m talking about months later, remembering part of a submission and thinking, was that a movie I saw? A book I read years ago? I am telling you this because I don’t want you to think that West 10th begins and ends with the twelve poems, five stories, and fifteen photographs you will find in these pages. These are just a small part of the West 10th community, which is made possible by the incredible generosity of so many undergraduate writers and artists at NYU. As an undergraduate literary magazine, we draw work from a wildly hopeful and raw time in the lives of young writers, and I feel honored to have read so many of our generation’s first wobbly and fantastic steps. In these pages you will find the pieces that we kept coming back to during the reading period, in whose margins we found ourselves scribbling expletives of praise. They are the pieces we couldn’t wait to talk about at our editorial meetings, and eventually share with all of you. I couldn’t be more excited to finally see them printed and in your hands. On the theme of poems and stories we love, I am pleased to announce the recipients of the 2013 Editors’ Award: Kurt Havens’ “More Field” in poetry, and Frances Gill’s “Girl with Bird” in prose. I want to take a moment to thank the people who have made this edition of West 10th a success: Lauren Roberts, our managing editor, for fearlessly tackling logistics and always maintaining a clear editorial voice; the members of the editorial board for their enthusiasm no matter how much work I threw at them; Joanna Yas, a wonderful advisor and editor; and Jessica Flynn for always lending a hand. I also want to thank Gerald Stern for so generously giving us his outstanding poems, Deb Olin Unferth for answering our many questions, and Matthew Rohrer and Darin Strauss for selecting the Editors’ Award recipients. Above all we are grateful to all who submitted their work, published or not, and to our readers. Thank you for your support. Laura Stephenson
Phoenix Fruit Samuel Fishman I found my enlightenment in the summer of 2011, when (through exposure) I discovered that a cherry’s body is just like my own. “May I pluck this?” I asked, and the shaking branches dropped their answer at my feet.
FISHMAN: PHOENIX FRUIT
Maritime Amanda Birkner even when your tongue is the only muscle in you i love even when the grease in your hair sticks to me for a week even when your mouth is ripe on mine even when your pioneer hands take the shape of my hips you are not the tired voice i want to hear in the morning you are not the wound on my thigh i tell stories about you are not a shield from the rain and you stay dry you are an old wooden ship all your own
Goat Sucker Mark Putterman Isabella has a black eye. Jay tells me el chupacabra did it and not to tell Mom because it’ll scare her. That’s stupid, I tell him—the goat sucker doesn’t do that. Don’t you remember Dad’s stories? I ask. The goat sucker has matted, gray-brown fur that gathers in gnarled points along the notches in its spine; ivory teeth that wink in dim light. The goat sucker lives in the shadows and strikes only in the night; he kills every time. The goat sucker. . . Hermanito, Jay interrupts me, baby brother. Shut up and mind your own business. Most days Isabella comes over just as Jay is getting home from work. Today she’s early and I let her in. She hangs around the living room, poking around, picking a book up and putting it back down in its place, humming under her breath. Her right eye is swollen, and the skin around it is loose and purple. I ask her what happened, and she smiles and Jay’s car pulls into the driveway before she can answer. I hear him slam the car door and Isabella walks outside to meet him. Her long, flowered dress hangs just above the pebbled driveway and it looks like she’s floating as she walks. I watch from the window as she kisses Jay. He looks at me through the same window and I turn away before he can look me in the eye. Glad you find my life so interesting, he jokes when he comes inside. He mock-punches me in the arm and throws himself onto the couch. Isn’t she coming in? I ask. Jay pulls off his sneakers. His feet are red and swollen from a day of work. Nah, she’s got things, he tells me. What do you mean, things? I ask, but his mind is already somewhere else. A few minutes later he’s asleep on the couch and the afternoon news is blaring on the television. A weatherman in a blue blazer is standing in front of a map of New Mexico saying that this summer’s drought is now the longest-lasting in state history. Fifty-eight days now without a drop of rain. No wonder, the ground is so dry it makes you thirsty just looking at it.
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
I turn off the TV and wander out back into the yard and find Isabella sitting on the porch. In the dry heat, the wind gathers the red earth up in fistfuls that sprinkle gently back down to the ground. The dust scatters red light in the sun. Isabella looks beautiful and tragic and is fingering the hem of her dress. I amble toward her carefully, as if approaching a bird that would vanish into the sky at the slightest false movement. Instead, she wipes her eyes and smiles at me. Do you believe in monsters? I ask once I’ve inched my way to the steps beside her. She laughs and tells me that anyone can be a monster on a bad day. She ruffles my hair and says it’s time for her to go; the back of her hand brushes against my forehead. Her face is covered with a layer of red dust in which tears have traced irregular patterns, as the waters of a river slowly but surely carve valleys in the earth. *** And so when my tío woke up the next morning, he found his cabrita, this little thing, two weeks, three weeks old, dead as a dog. Big fleshy neck wounds in the poor thing’s neck. Her mother was nowhere to be found—el chupacabra must’ve sucked all the blood out of her, too. But you know, it’s better your goat than your kid, right? My father nips at my neck with his fingers and I push him away. Nasty chupacabra’s been known to snatch up a little boy or two when he’s desperate. Ha, ha. Hey—my father chuckles and stops the story— I’m not scaring you too much before bed, eh, hijito? Jay is reading in his bed on the other side of the room, acting like he’s too old for these stories. My father chuckles and rubs his dark, stubbly chin with his hand. This is back when he still had his hair, before he started his treatment. I must’ve been seven or eight. I laugh and tell him it’s okay. I’m tough and his stories don’t scare me anymore. Good, hijo, he tells me. Don’t wanna keep you up all night listening for signs of the chupacabra. But don’t worry too much—before my tío died he gave me his old 9mm, and I still got it to this day. So don’t worry—no chupacabra’s getting near our house.
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
*** The next morning Mom makes breakfast while I go out and feed the chickens. Since the drought began it’s been so dry there’s no grass for them to graze in the yard. The earth is thirsty, as Mami puts it. Anyway, they make easy prey for the goat sucker so I keep them in their coop. I creak the door open and I’m met by the thick, sour smell of feathers, chicken shit, and birdseed. The hens are bucking and squawking and strutting about, putting on a big show; I do a quick count to make sure all thirteen are accounted for. I can’t remember all of their names even though my father and I named them all when they were chicks. I was in second grade and was learning the presidents in class, so my father decided we’d name the chickens after them, to help me remember. Washington is the one with the speckled gray feathers, Lincoln is the skinny one with the big beak, Clinton is the rooster. The rest, I don’t know—I never was any good in history. I spread their feed and gather up the eggs, pulling my shirt out like a pouch to carry them inside. Mom’s got toast and sausage on the table, and she smiles faintly as I arrange the eggs on the counter. She grabs three and cracks them onto the hot skillet. The sound of the hot oil crackling fills the kitchen. As I walk to the bus stop with my neighbor Mary Anne, she tells me she has a new pair of binoculars her dad got her for her birthday. At recess we climb to the top of the jungle gym and she holds them to her face eagerly, turning her head from side to side like a soldier on sentry duty. The elementary school kids are making a big fuss and asking us to move so they can play, but I don’t really notice them because Mary Anne is smiling and telling me she can see our houses from up here, which probably isn’t true but her big grin makes me smile anyway. She passes the binoculars to me and they’ve left little circles around her eyes that make me think of Isabella. I look through the binoculars and watch the younger kids playing in the sandbox and the boys chasing a ball in the field, kicking up clouds of dust in their tracks that wander into the air and disappear. ***
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
My father was twenty-three when he married my mother. She turned eighteen the day before their wedding was held. He was a construction worker; his father’s lineage traced back to the ancients of the Valley of Mexico. Mom would tease him sometimes, call him el jefe de los indios, the Indian chief. Jefe, she would say, why don’t you let all that air out of your chest once in a while? We all know you’re the chief around here. He would laugh and pull her by the wrist toward him, embrace her. She loved him; he used to say she was the most beautiful chiquita he’d ever seen. Now Mom wears his wedding band above her own. *** The next morning Mom is watching the Saturday morning news when I walk into the family room. The blue-blazered weatherman is waving in front of the map again, this time going on about dust devils and wind. Little tornado-shaped doodles cover the map. A storm is coming, hijo, Mom tells me. She tries to draw me onto her lap but I resist. I’m not a kid anymore, Mami, I tell her. She laughs and pinches my cheek as I wriggle away. We spend the day taping the windows shut tight and tying down the furniture on the porch. While Mom cooks dinner, I go out to the chicken coop and give them a little extra feed. Then I close the old wooden door and jam a rock in front of it so the wind won’t open it in the night. The sky is clear and the evening is hot; the air is thick and dry and I can feel it in my throat. Jay is out with Isabella and isn’t home in time for dinner, but Mom pretends it’s not a big deal so we eat anyway. After, she sits on the couch watching crime dramas on television while I clear the table and stack the dishes in the sink to soak. When I come out of the kitchen, she’s already asleep on the couch. I turn off the television, and now I can hear the wind outside, wheezing and whooshing in the night. She’s sweated through her shirt; I turn on the electric fan and point it toward her. The air blows her hair back weakly. That night, as I lay in bed in the numbing heat, I count the stick-on stars on my ceiling until sleep takes me.
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
*** There is an ancient Native American myth that my father used to tell me when I was a boy. As the story goes, the world was created by a great warrior-god who carefully molded the earth out of clay in his supple, calloused hands. When his work was complete, he chose to walk the earth himself to witness the splendor of his creation. To his dismay, he found the planet barren, the earth dry and lifeless, cracking beneath the hot, unforgiving sun. Seeing his failure, the warrior took his life, cutting his throat with his own blade. In death, his blood pooled in red puddles and sank into the earth, and from its fertility blossomed all life on earth: man and beast, fish and fowl, the trees, grasses, and flowers. *** The next morning after the dust settles, I peek out of my window. The world is still there, and I decide to venture downstairs. Mom is asleep in more or less the same position as I left her. I unlatch the front door and step outside; a warm breeze tickles my face and stomach through my T-shirt. The earth is dry and cracked and I imagine I’m on the surface of a distant, lifeless planet. When I walk around back I find that the door to the chicken coop has been blown open, but inside they’re all there, social as usual, bounding over to their feeding troughs as they see me. The mass of feathers migrates, chip-chirping, over to one side of the pen, and in the corner I see one of them left behind. A closer look and I see two holes in its neck, as if drilled with a precise instrument. I pick her up by the legs. No blood drains from her wounds. El chupacabra struck in the night! I call to my mother as I run back into the house. The front door slams behind me and Mom jolts up from the couch. Baby, baby, she says, what is it? She rubs her eyes. It’s el chupacabra, I tell her, out of breath. It killed one of the chickens! She chuckles and strokes my face. Her hand feels cool against my red cheek. Baby, she coos. There is no goat sucker. It’s a silly old folk legend your father told you to
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
scare you. It’s not real. I try not to cry because I know my father would never do that. But it’s killed one of my hens, I explain. I think it was Kennedy. I tell her about the wounds, and how there was no blood, but she laughs again and tells me to go wash up before breakfast. You have your father’s imagination, amor, she calls to me as I trudge upstairs, defeated. As we walk to the bus stop, I tell Mary Anne what happened. She tells me her mother doesn’t let their dog out of the house at night anymore because they’re afraid of what’s out there. The devil’s child, her mother calls it. *** On my mother’s bedside table she keeps a framed photograph of my father. He is holding a dusty yellow hard hat in one hand. The other rests casually on his hip. He’s thick and healthy wearing a faded white T-shirt. In the background is the house that he built us, the house that we live in to this day. Jay is five or six, digging in the dirt with a stick in the background. My mother is pregnant with me, wearing a long black dress that bulges around her belly. When my mother remembers him, this is the man she sees—the strapping, confident, macho man, the provider, el jefe de los indios. This, too, is the man I know as my father: the man who built the house I live in, the man who taught me to ride a bike, swing a baseball bat, the man who kept me up thinking of chupacabra stories. But a part of me, the part of me that dreams, knows that this is not my father. In my dreams, he is sick, he is at the end. He is the man who wakes me up in the night, bitter alcohol on his breath, to ask if I know where his car keys are. He is the man who is who-knows-where at dinnertime. He is the man who wears a hat to cover the bald spots left from his treatment. At the very end, he is the man who lacks the strength to leave the couch, who mutters emptily at ballgames on the television and calls to my mother to pour him another drink, who cusses her out when she keeps him waiting. This is the side of my father I cannot forget in my dreams. In the mornings, I do my best to forget.
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
*** Jay keeps my father’s pistol under his bed; since our father left, he thinks himself the man of the house. One night, Jay comes home for what seems like the first time in weeks. As he and my mother fight in the kitchen, I sneak into his room and feel under the mattress for the gun. My hand hits cool metal and I draw out the gun. It’s heavy enough that I have to hold it in both hands. I can hear my mother screaming across the house. A man never hits a woman, you understand, Jay? She says his name the same way she says curse words. I hear Jay’s voice. Dad was a man. It is silent for a moment, and I finger the trigger of the pistol as it lies heavy in Jay’s bed. Your father, God rest his soul, says my mother, was a better man than you, Jay. And he never laid a finger on me, you hear me? Bullshit, says Jay. Get out of my house! my mother screams. Get out. A door slams and I hear the engine of Jay’s car rev. His headlights shine through the window, and I watch as they fade into two tiny dots. *** Outside, I lie hidden under the porch, my eyes fixed on the chicken coop. The night’s dry heat draws beads of sweat on my brow, and to stay occupied, I dig my hands deeper and deeper into the cool sand beneath me. Time passes—the moon swings in an arch across the sky. Soon my eyes are heavy, and I find myself fighting sleep. A rustling in the distance shakes me from my sleep. I rub my eyes, but cannot make anything out of the darkness. The sound grows louder, and I think I see a shadow dance in the distance. In panic, I search for the pistol in the dirt around me. My hand hits metal, somehow loosening the knot in my stomach. Now, I swear I can make out a pair of beady red eyes, then the outline of a large, muscular animal. Its tail is thin, its body jagged and spiny. I see a flash of light in the pre-dawn sun. My hands are shaking, but I take the gun and do my best to steady it. I count to three, close my eyes, and pull the trigger.
PUTTERMAN: GOAT SUCKER
My mother runs from the house screaming, and Mary Anne’s father rushes out of their house, bounding over to our property with a shotgun in hand. I’m standing over the dog. He’s bleeding out from his stomach, a painful moan coming from his open mouth. His tongue hangs limp on the ground. My mother sees me and starts to cry, stoops over, and wraps her arms around me. I look around and see Mary Anne standing at her front door in a matching set of polka-dot pajamas. She runs out to join us, falls to her knees, and cradles the dying animal’s head in her hands. She looks at me with red eyes and I know she will never talk to me again. Mary Anne’s father scoops her up in his arms and strokes her back. No one says a word. As I look down at the ground, watching the blood pour out of the dog and begin to mix with the red, dusty earth beneath our feet, I swear I feel a drop of rain. v
DYLAN SITES, UNTITLED
L—— Delia Pless I put my head on your shoulder and in the mirror we have one head. From one angle the shelves look dangerously close to falling. The state of things in life is that the days have sharp corners. I go to work with a hand in my pocket. I look at myself and the constant worry is that the good reasons not to worry are impossible to understand, that the phone will always catch me by surprise despite the beautiful weather. The world has a center and lakes as clear as glass. In a window across the road a screensaver of a line changing color and direction shines into the darkness. The way you sit at the table is like a sign, it says continue forever.
P L E S S : L ——
HALEY WEISS, UNTITLED
Saint Anthony (the keeper of lost things) Mollyhall Seeley Saint Anthony mostly goes by El Capitán. I call him patroncito because it drives him crazy (he’s a terrible racist). Usually he won’t see me because he says that I don’t lose things, I ignore them. But even he has to admit I need his services after the smell of steam and mouthwash makes me suddenly start weeping. My hair is still wet and I’m wearing only a towel (Saint Anthony is a bit of a pervert). He asks if my grandmother baked pies, and I say no, so he asks if I knew anyone that died in a sauna, and I say no, and he says right, that’s it, I give up, I’ll just give you something else if you’ll stop calling me at four in the morning because you can’t remember what you’ve dreamt. Okay, patroncito. Saint Anthony shuffles through his briefcase and pulls out Anastasia’s diadem but I refuse because I’m not convinced she won’t someday rise again and need it. You’re a pain in my ass, says Saint Anthony, and suddenly I remember Norm Jacobs standing as close to me as anyone has ever stood, skin emanating sweaty heat in cold February, saying Yo, Bunny, you minty fresh (now he’s dating a fifteen-year-old). Saint Anthony raises his eyebrows and asks incredulously, a boy that called you Bunny made you cry? And I say yeah, that’s just it, patroncito, he’s the only one that ever has.
S E E L E Y: S A I N T A N T H O N Y ( T H E K E E P E R O F L O S T T H I N G S )
The Prospect of Fuk Jenna Snyder
the air between forgets itself
get up bend one way and spill over
SNYDER: PROSPECT OF FUK
RUOYI JIANG, WHITE
Last Walk Sara Heegaard “He went into the woods,” says Grandmother. She stops to listen and wraps her finger around the curly phone cord. “Yes. Yes.” Light is coming in through the stained glass door in the kitchen and nesting in her white hair. “Yesterday afternoon.” She pauses again. “He went into the woods, and he never came out.” Grandmother says yesterday “yestadee,” soft and smoky. She listens to the voice on the other end and then hangs up the phone. Today is Grandaddy’s eightieth birthday. I’m seventeen. We’re sitting in the living room, me and Mother and Daddy and Bill Hearn and Jack, Grandaddy’s dog. “Well,” says Grandmother, “ain’t that a load of bull.” “Mama,” says my Daddy, “don’t.” “They said they sent somebody. They said that yesterday.” Yestadee. “It hasn’t been long,” says Daddy. “We’ll hear back soon.” Grandmother stares at her feet and mumbles something under her breath. “We’ll go look again,” says Daddy, and he reaches for his keys. *** We get in the truck and drive, Daddy and Bill Hearn and Jack and me. The thermometer says 105, and the heat creeps in through the sealed windows like water. It’s too hot for Grandmother, so she and Mama have to stay behind. It’s just me and the men. We barrel down County Road 27 and the town blurs by like a bullet. Daddy’s gunning it and red dust explodes around the car. I hold Jack in the backseat. Around Old Saint Stephen’s Daddy makes a turn and parks in front of a fence at the mouth of a narrow dirt road.
HEEGAARD: LAST WALK
HEEGAARD: LAST WALK
“Open the gate, Lou,” says Daddy, and he hands me the key. I get out and the heat hits me like a heavy hand. I swing the gate around, and open up the old logging road. I feel like a little girl again. I shade my eyes with one hand and watch the car come through. *** “See these trees?” Grandaddy used to say as we walked the old backroads when I was a kid. “These are your trees.” When I was little they were tiny fuzzy pines. Small and shivering. Now they’re grown, looming and old. I picture Grandaddy taking his walk along the rows. The smothering sun. His Auburn baseball cap shading his eyes. Planting his feet with each step, one, two, heavy in the dirt. But here the dirt is clay, and a walk takes a permanent form. *** We walk for a long time. We don’t see anything. An hour goes by. The sun feels like a spear in my stomach, sinking deep, deep, deep. But Daddy won’t stop. He keeps going on, sweat running down his spine. Red mud climbing up his socks, the saddest, wildest wound. “Daddy!” I shout. He stops. “It’s too hot. We’ve gotta turn back.” His arm swings down to his side, then back up to his face. Beads of sweat run down his cheeks like trains. He nods. We turn around. *** I remember my thirteenth birthday, when Grandaddy taught me how to drive. He woke me up at dawn. “Wake up, kid!” he whispered, shaking my shoulder. “I got something for you.” He led me out front to the truck, his hands on his hips. Big southern
HEEGAARD: LAST WALK
man. His feather white hair. “Go ahead and get in,” he said. “Where are we going?” I asked, bleary eyed. I reached for the passenger door. “Wrong side,” he said, and winked. “Nobody drives the back roads this time of year. Nobody for miles.” *** Grandmother and Mama sit around the kitchen table as we walk in. No one speaks. They don’t look up. “We didn’t find—” “We know,” says Mama. “Mr. Hutto called.” “Oh,” says Daddy. “The police called too.” “Oh my,” says Bill Hearn. We all sit down. Nobody looks at Grandmother except for me. She’s looking at my father, pressing one finger hard to her lips. “Go,” she says. “We’ll meet you there.” He stands up and kisses her on the head. I follow him out. I don’t know if I’m supposed to. I just do. *** We’re silent the whole drive except for one moment when Daddy looks at me and says, “I think the best thing my daddy taught me is that a man is not a man until he learns how to dance.” I don’t ask what he means. I don’t ask why he said it. I don’t laugh. I don’t dare make a sound. *** An old wooden farmhouse with a leftward lean and woods for miles. Five cars in the driveway. The county sheriff. Two police. No ambulance. I look to my father. He’s looking up. “My god,” he says, shaking his head.
HEEGAARD: LAST WALK
*** Mr. Hutto says a lot happens on those old log roads in the summertime. “Lot of hunting accidents,” he tells us. “People aren’t careful. And then they can’t get help. Your daddy liked to walk the backroads whenever something happened.” Mr. Hutto tells this to my daddy, sitting beside him in the white wicker chairs on the Huttos’ front porch. He has a long black mustache and the ends of his words get muffled in it. “A few days ago I got wind of a mishap with some hunters from Thomasville. So when I heard he went missing, I had a feeling.” I sit across from them, on the porch swing with Mrs. Hutto. We let the men talk, but Mrs. Hutto rocks us with her foot, swinging us gently, the softest creak. “I feel like I shouldn’t even be telling this story today,” Mr. Hutto says. “Mr. Hutto,” says Daddy, “I need to know it.” Mr. Hutto holds the edge of his chair. “I went out to look for him this morning, but I didn’t have to look far.” I look at Mrs. Hutto. She’s looking at her feet. “The police say he fell about a mile from where they found him. That’s where the tracks stop.” He pauses. “From there, it looks like he crawled.” Back, forth. Back, forth. We don’t stop swinging. We don’t dare. Mr. Hutto stops. Daddy stares straight ahead. We keep swinging, and for a moment I am high above the back roads above the tall pine trees, flying close to the sun. v
MARGAY KAPLAN, MAINE
Water for Twelve Years Sara Montijo The rain will begin soon, each drop a memory I should have. Water for twelve years of washing his face from mine, his big toe from mine, his steep canyon eyes from mine. A child like this is not alone but left rubbing their skin like a strangerâ€™s and hoping the rain will end soon.
MONTIJO: WATER FOR TWELVE YEARS
Coyote William Savinar The truth of the situation is it’s there soft-boiled in your stomach. Baby don’t need to walk yet. Baby just need to crawl. The yellow-eyed coyote you can’t see during this night chained to its own umbilical cord would sure like to get at it. But you just walk along passing him touching the ground for sand knowing you’re close to water now. And you get there and float at first gracefully. Your swollen stomach is facing the moon. Your eyes look up to see their own mean holster of memories. The water gains upwards too. And this is all coming at you too fast. Your last thought is what a second grade teacher told you: things lay people lie. Like how he fooled you somehow. Like how you won’t ever return, and that child will never know love either.
SAV I NA R : C OYOT E
WINNER OF THE 2013 EDIT OR’S AWARD IN PROSE
Girl with Bird Frances Gill This morning Sarah woke up with something wriggling around in her belly. She is home for the holidays so she spreads wide the Pocahontas curtains and opens the transom window to let in winter air. When she’s here she tries to develop her tactile understanding of childhood so she scrapes the outside wood of the house with her palms and then presses the cold butts of dirty hands to her eyelids. She has a theory that by aggressively conjoining sensory input she can induce synesthesia. She feels like a toucan is rustling anxiously around in her uterus. His beak doesn’t fit in there, and he is perching it awkwardly on her cervix. No man can understand the mind of a bird and she certainly doesn’t understand the mind of this one, trying to nest in the wrong womb, trying to pluck fruit from fallopian tubes and gobble it up. She pokes one finger gingerly into her flesh. The bird squawks. Downstairs her mom smells like butter. She’s baking barrelfuls of Chex Mix and Scandinavian holiday cookies. “Mom, I think there’s a bird in me.” Her mother is moving frantically about the kitchen like a culinary Tasmanian devil. She’s rattling through the junk drawer for some particular utensil, manuevering dough into figure eights, basting a roast duck, popping marshmellows into her mouth to stifle yawns. She looks nervously around her food kingdom and then stops fidgeting to address her daughter. “Sarah, I was nineteen when I first got married. Senior year of high school I spent whole afternoons fantasizing about sitting room color schemes and embroidered throw pillows and baby shower party games. Prom didn’t even cross my mind. And in August, after I had graduated and moved out of your grandmother’s house, he and I went to the courthouse and the thing was done.” Sarah sighs elaborately and plucks Cheetos out of the Chex Mix. “We played house for a year and a half. He worked nights at the sausage
LEFT: MARGAY KAPLAN, MAMA
GILL: GIRL WITH BIRD
GILL: GIRL WITH BIRD
factory three times a week. And then on one of those lonelier nights, an older neighbor lady came over to drop off a sieve she’d borrowed and I offered her coffee and it was very neighborly and then I offered her a glass of shiraz. She stayed until it was late and then told me her husband had gone to Cinncinnati on business five weeks prior. She hadn’t heard from him since. And listening to her in that dining room, my dining room—” “Yes, yes, mammy, I really do know, but listen I think there’s something avian moving around under my ribcage.” “—I started to realize that the selfish moments of my youth would become the small atrocities of my middle age.” “And you left him two weeks later and haven’t looked back since.” “Yes, exactly.” “And you met Dad when you were twenty-eight and you could never have stayed together if you had seen him a moment sooner.” “Oh, right, I have told you this before. Because he had just shaved his moustache that morning. Do you want to taste-test this kringler for me?” Sarah calls her boyfriend on Friday when she gets back to New York. They spend Saturday stoned on her couch thinking about turning on the TV. Every time she starts to come up for air he asks her for the lighter. She is trying to read. That is, she has a textbook open. She is looking at a flow chart and thinking about whether or not it is high-behavior to act like you are going to study while high. She doesn’t know why she fronts like this but the weight of the book feels good on her lap. “Sarah, I can’t wait to name your abortion.” “Suck a dick, Ralph, it’s not a baby. It’s a toucan, I think. Women get birds lodged in their organs all the time; I read about it on the Internet.” “Are you sure? And also do you want me to come with you on Tuesday?” “No, no, don’t worry about it, it’s only about a fifteen-minute procedure. I think they just lure it out with a peanut or something. It’s like when you get an earwig.” “Okay. You know, I think I don’t really understand why you don’t just give it up for adoption.” Sarah leans luxuriously into the couch cushions and rolls her eyes and
GILL: GIRL WITH BIRD
also grins a little bit. “Ralph, you are not understanding me: no one would want to adopt an earwig and this is basically the uterine equivalent of an earwig.” “Well, okay. Fair.” Ralph disappears for an hour and returns with three bottles of Chateau Diana White Zinfandel. They drink and then they fuck. Intercourse doesn’t seem to bother her winged intruder. When they are falling asleep in each other’s arms, begging indifference but brewing need like it’s going out of style, the bird wiggles its ungainly beak and protrudes briefly from her belly button. “Look, Ralph, there it is! Wow, he’s so handsome.” “Sshshshs little Sarah. I’m trying to sleep.” The bird peers at her warily and Sarah leans back into her pillow, trying not to make eye contact, taking deep breaths, and counting backward from one-hundred until she falls asleep. Sunday morning, as per custom, Sarah skips church and goes to yoga instead. She is riding her bike past an industrial park when a dusty airborne crumblet gets caught on her uvula. She starts coughing up a storm and then she feels something plumey working its way up her esophagus. She expels a long, wet, scarlet feather and wonders if maybe the bird is actually a macaw. Maybe its rather large beak is a deformity. Sarah hopes so: the thought of a perfect toucan plunking itself merrily into her insides makes her sort of queasy with responsibility. Her favorite yoga teacher is in charge today. Sarah coughs up another feather during downward dog. After final savasana and the ringing of the Tibetan prayer bowl, the teacher and Sarah go get coffee and smoke cigarettes in the park. Sarah explains the feather. “Well, I made an appointment to get it excised on Tuesday, but in the meantime I am just losing feathers out of most orifices. It’s not quite a rite of passage, but it’s really extremely common.” Ambrina has this absolute halo of unkempt, constantly yoga-fied hair. She’s thirty-seven years old and has been almost everywhere and done almost everything and drinks Kourtaki Retsina exclusively. “Sarah, I used to be an erotic masseuse. I wasn’t even very professional about it; I just answered skeezy classified ads. I would call these men and
GILL: GIRL WITH BIRD
they’d tell me a fake name and ask me to come by in the middle of the day. They always said ‘nothing sexual’ and most of the time they really meant it.” The first time she meets a new client, it is in a coffee shop by his apartment, and his eyes are usually apologetic but not too much so. He just wants a pretty girl with pretty hands. He just wants to be touched by a stranger. Nothing sexual. So of course she goes back to his apartment, daring herself forward, one small footstep at a time. They go up some stairs, or usually there’s an elevator, and she never finds herself in a “nice” place but there is always money being spent, like on drinks or clubs or food or a lifestyle, even if that means sacrificing the fundamentals, and so they usually live somewhere depressing. Sometimes there is clutter, but there’s always a big TV. And of course on which she just can’t help but picture him jerking it to low-quality porn, probably nothing pervy even, just a guy and a girl fuckin and suckin. Only when he slides his thick fingers harshly around her slim wrist and directs her hand southward does a thin, painful fear develop in her belly. She wriggles herself out of his grip and he apologizes instantly, sincerely, profusely. She is all grace and forgiveness, and he tips her well. Walking home she has never felt sexier, never felt more explosively exposed. She plucks flowers from traffic island gardens and blows kisses at strangers. She is elated by her invincibility, her brush with the unsavory. “But eventually, like after a few months of this, I started to just feel tired afterward. And when something so thrillingly awful becomes mundane, it’s like you’ve eaten up the evil of it and you’re full. The weird awe I had had, of a man’s sexual appetite, and of my own capacity for daring, vanishes and I’m only left with the choices I made.” “So you’re saying. . . I mean. . . it’s really not a big deal though, you know? I guess I honestly don’t really know what you’re saying.” Sarah wonders if Ambrina is listening to her, or if she’s only listening to the young sex worker of yesteryear. “All I’m saying, Sarah, is that it’s hard to see now what you’ll remember with a vengeance later.”
GILL: GIRL WITH BIRD
Sarah and Ambrina part ways. Early the next morning Sarah sits on her bed and calls her big sister. When she picks up, Sarah says, “Sister, there’s something lodged in me and I don’t know whether it’s better to get it out or to keep it in. At first I thought that it was just a nuisance and a pain, and I hated to have it loping around in my uterus, pecking at my intestines, nibbling on my kidneys. But now it’s been here for four days, and I am worried what will be missing when he leaves.” The talons of the bird scratch anxiously at her core. Her sister says, “Sarah, two years ago I woke up next to a boy I had no recollection of meeting. I opened my eyes and saw this mess of flannel and floppy straight brown hair and the pain of an ungodly hangover and I knew it might be love. He woke up; his name was revealed to be Henry. We got breakfast across the street from his dorm, and then he walked me to the bus stop, even though I told him he didn’t have to. And of course he never called me back, and of course I felt unbelievably silly for even thinking it could ever have been anything but what it was. “Sarah, two days ago I woke up next a boy that I have known for a long time. I opened my eyes, and I saw the familiar clutch of yellow hair, and I felt the crook of him, into which I had worn a perfect divet, and I knew it didn’t matter that I had ever been that silly, because the story can always be rewritten to show me moving in a slightly more favorable light. “The point of which, Sarah, is that I don’t know what on earth you should do about something so odd as a bird in your uterus.” Raven laughs like a crazy woman. “Just try not to think too hard about it.” “Goodnight, Raven.” Sarah hangs up the phone and crawls back into her quilted bed. Tuesday at 4:05 p.m. Sarah climbs into the stirrups and then she starts to cry. “I don’t know where these tears are from.” She hawks up a huge breathy sob and then her shoulders start to shake. “Everything is just so insanely sad.” The lady doctor scoops Sarah’s fingers into her own in a tight girl power grip, and the bird tunnels outward, taking moist flight for just a moment in the examining room before whipping out the window and into the infinite could-have-beens. v
So this is what it looks like Kevin Zhang A small window with Blinds giving a slotted view Snow and leaves drifting Down past the fire escape Five centimeters per second Or so I hope is the speed When the snow and leaves Introduce themselves To the ground Quiet streets lit by Shimmers in the wind Street lamps buzz Frozen dust kicks up the light Weaving through my fingers Brushing strokes of her hair Dark on the windâ€™s easel Lifting up the veil The flake on her nose A white summer flower Suddenly a bead of water
ZHANG: SO THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
JACKSON KRULE, WASHINGTON SQUARE PARK, 2012
MARGAY KAPLAN, KENZIE UNDERWATER
Digging Eleanor Kriseman The gas station bathrooms were always open, but if it wasn’t the middle of the night and we had a choice, I liked Dunkin’ Donuts better. The bathrooms there were cleaner and, if I crossed my legs and sort of hopped around, the people behind the counter would usually let me use it even if we didn’t buy anything. If we stopped for the night, we looked for a twentyfour-hour Wal-Mart or someplace else that was always open, because it was safer to park there. My mom would only sleep at night if she thought it was safe. Sometimes we drove all night and parked during the day. She’d sleep then, but I never could, even with a blanket over my face to block out the light. When we passed a welcome sign, if my mom was in a good mood she’d pull over so I could stand underneath it. The signs were always much bigger than I expected them to be when I got up close. Welcome to Ocala. Welcome to Gainesville. Welcome—We’re Glad Georgia’s On Your Mind, with a giant peach in the corner. That was the first state line. Back in Florida, she pulled over at the sign for the Suwannee River so I could look down over the railing at the water. It made me dizzy; the river was a long way down. We were headed to Oregon to stay with my Grandma June for a little while. That was all I knew. “Why do we have to pack so quickly?” I asked her. “Why aren’t we saying goodbye to anyone?” “Why don’t I have to go to school tomorrow?” I stopped asking questions when my mom stopped answering them. The only time I complained was on that stretch of highway after Nashville when we’d just passed the rest stop and the AC had switched off again and wouldn’t turn back on even when I hit the dashboard and I kept asking my mom to turn around so I could use the bathroom but she wouldn’t turn around and instead she pulled over and made me pee in the sawgrass
on the side of I-24. When I got back in the car still damp between my legs because we didn’t have any toilet paper, I said, “I wish we’d never left home.” “Me too,” my mom said, and turned up the radio. *** It was weird how looking out the window of a moving car made me forget about a lot of things. I barely thought about my friends. I’d had plans to walk to Target with Shauna later that week to buy a new pair of sandals. I barely thought about my homework, or the vocabulary test I was missing, one that I was sort of looking forward to, even though I’d never have admitted that. Every time something like that popped into my head all I had to do was stare out the window for a little bit and it would just float out again. The only thoughts that stuck were the ones of home. My mom and her boyfriend Daryl at the kitchen counter, a bottle of anything between them, hysterical with laughter over something I was pretending to understand. The frayed, pilling fabric of the couch that I picked at absentmindedly while watching television. The ceilings that looked like popcorn somebody had painted over. No matter how fast everything was going by outside the window, those thoughts didn’t go away like the other ones did. Daryl wasn’t with us. He had always been around. Sometimes my mom went over to Daryl’s, but she always spent the night at home, even if she got back really late. Daryl lived with his brother Marcus in one of the trailer parks on Gandy. I’d been there a few times, mostly for barbecues. I would sit on Marcus’s bench press machine, part of the outdoor gym he’d put together from driving through the alleys of the rich neighborhoods on trash nights. He told that story a lot. I’d lean against the metal bar that rose from the bench and fiddle with the screws that held it together while I watched the men try to light the grill and the women unfold card tables on the patchy grass and set out sliced watermelon and pasta salad and pitchers of sweet tea. Memorial Day had been the best one. I’d seen my mom walk up behind Daryl while he was turning the hotdogs, and put her arms around his waist
and settle into his body, and instead of getting mad at her for surprising him he’d leaned back into her and smiled. In the flickering light from the grill they’d looked like something I wanted to take a picture of. The Fourth of July had been the worst one. I’d been excited to wear my new shorts—one side red and white stripes, the other blue with white stars—but they were made of that spandex denim that stretched out so much it seemed as if I were getting skinnier throughout the day, and I had to keep hiking up the waistband to keep them in place. My mom had on a black halter top and lipstick the exact color of the pink in the Baskin Robbins logo. I thought she looked good. So did Daryl. When we got there, he looped an arm around her waist and told her so. But Daryl also thought Charlene, who was a hostess at the pizza place Marcus managed, looked good because I saw him sidling up next to her later, telling her how much he loved her Coca-Cola cake, standing there with his flimsy paper plate buckling under the weight of the food he’d piled on, his baked beans slipping off the side onto the dirt. I walked over to Daryl and Charlene and swiveled my foot back and forth in front of them to make a tiny indentation in the ground. Daryl didn’t even notice as I kicked the spilled beans into the hole and covered them with the dirt. When my mom came back outside with a new coat of lipstick and another red plastic cup full of punch, she saw Daryl leaning into Charlene’s story and ignoring me and she grabbed his arm and dragged him behind the neighbor’s place. Charlene picked up his plate and threw it in the garbage bag that hung from the side of a broken exercise bike. She shrugged her shoulders at Desiree, who was unwrapping packets of sparklers for the little kids. “I’m not gettin’ messed up in all that,” she said, and held up her hands against her chest with her palms facing out. From next door, my mom’s voice grew louder and louder until I heard the crack of an open palm on a cheek, then she came running for me. I’d been excited about climbing up to the roof of the trailer to watch the fireworks, but she grabbed my arm just like she’d grabbed his and speedwalked me to the car. It wasn’t even all the way dark outside. On the drive home, I flicked the lock on the passenger side door up and down until I noticed the
car was drifting across the center line. I grabbed the wheel and jerked the car back into the lane. I steered for the rest of the way home while my mom worked the gas and brakes, and I pinched her arm every once in a while to make sure she didn’t close her eyes again. In bed that night, I realized there had been no red mark, no handprint, on my mom’s face when she dragged me to the car. She had slapped Daryl, not the other way around. The next morning, she came into my room and crawled into bed with me just as the sky was getting light. She hugged me so tightly it felt as if I might break. “Do you think I’m a bad mom?” she said. I was facing the wall; she was spooning me, still wearing last night’s outfit. Her breath was hot on my neck, and I could smell vomit under the minty scent of her mouthwash. “No,” I said after a minute, and I meant it, but I knew I should have said it quicker. “I’m gonna quit drinking, I think,” she said, but she sort of whispered it into my hair and I wasn’t sure I’d heard her right. *** In Missouri, my mom decided we had enough money to spend the night at a motel. Just one night and then back to the car. I was so happy to sleep in a real bed. I flopped onto the bedspread, rough against my bare legs, and turned on the television as soon as we got to the room. I was desperate for something familiar. My mom switched it off. “Let’s go swimming,” she said. She tossed a pillow at my face. She got like that sometimes. “We’ve been cooped up in the car all day.” Neither of us had thought to pack a swimsuit. Underwear showed the same amount of body as a swimsuit did and I was always in a swimsuit back home, but it felt different to be in my underwear where anybody could see me. My mom was in her underwear too, but her bra was black and shiny so you couldn’t really tell. Some nights after my mom came home from Daryl’s, she would bang into the furniture or clang the pots together in the kitchen until the noise woke me. She’d pretend it was an accident. “Now that you’re awake, want
to walk down to the pool with me?” she’d say. The pool was shaped like a giant kidney bean and sheltered by the different buildings of the apartment complex. It was crowded in the evenings, but when it was really late it was just the two of us. I would perch on the ladder at the deep end of the bean while my mom swam in restless, sloppy circles in front of me, telling me about Daryl and Marcus and everything I’d missed out on that night. But at the motel pool in Missouri she was sober and quiet. We were floating in the middle of the pool with our stomachs to the sky, our limbs slowly sinking into the water. “I think you’ll like Oregon,” she said, and did the backstroke until her head was floating next to mine, our bodies facing opposite directions. “It was a good place to grow up. You’ll need a real jacket. We’ll get you one. Grandma June might have some old ones of mine, too.” My legs started getting heavy, and I kicked a couple times to keep them on the surface of the water. “Does it snow there?” I said. If she answered yes, I would ask more questions. “Not in Eugene,” she said. “Maybe once or twice when I was growing up.” I closed my eyes and tried to make myself believe that I was back in the kidney bean. The pool water lapped against the filter, flapping it open, then shut, then open again. In the room, I showered under such hot water that it left me flushed for hours. My skin wrinkled and puckered from the pool. My mom washed our clothes in the bathtub and dried them with the hair dryer and in the morning when I put them on they were stiff and smelled of shampoo, but they were clean. At the free breakfast, I had bacon and pancakes and used as much syrup as I wanted, and she didn’t say anything. Before leaving the dining room, she tossed my backpack under the booth and filled it with whatever would fit. Anything that might stay good for a couple days. Croissants, muffins, packets of jelly. Tiny boxes of cereal. Waxy green apples and bananas. We never went hungry on the road, but I missed certain things. I missed standing next to my mom at the stove, listening to the sizzle of the ground beef hitting the pan, sneaking a lick of the seasoning before she poured out the rest of the packet. I missed the heavy plates with the
painted flowers on the rim that I used to trace with my fork between bites. I missed drinking milk in the mornings. But I didn’t tell her any of that. *** She’d switched on my light, grabbed my suitcase from under the bed, and started pulling clothes from my dresser before I’d even sat up. “What’s going on?” I asked, narrowing my eyes against the sudden brightness. My mom was drunk. Ever since the Fourth of July when she drifted off at the wheel, she hadn’t been drinking, at least not around me. But that night she was drunk. “Take your favorite things,” she said, tugging hard on the bottom drawer of the dresser, the one that always stuck. “We’ll come back for the rest later. Just take what you want with you now. Quick.” The drawer came unstuck and sent her stumbling backward. I was half-asleep and obedient, and I filled the suitcase easily. Tank tops. My white denim shorts. A soft old shirt of Daryl’s that my mom used to sleep in but I’d started sleeping in because it made me feel like a grown-up, wearing a shirt that had once belonged to a man. Underwear. Flip-flops. My copy of Bridge to Terabithia, page folded down to mark my place, chapters ahead of where I was supposed to be for school. It was funny, the things I chose to bring, the things I forgot. I brought my toothbrush, as if that were something expensive and irreplaceable. I forgot my friendship necklace—the golden “BEST” to Shauna’s “FRIENDS,” with the chain that turned my neck green if I wore it for too long. My mom stabbed at the ignition with the key until she managed to get it in, and I almost asked her if she needed help but she drove carefully and we didn’t go far, just to the IHOP near the interstate. I ate French toast like a robot while she drank the whole pot of coffee and ordered a refill. We stayed until the waitress started wiping the table to move us along, and by then my mom had mostly sobered up. I knew because she asked me to calculate the tip. When she was drunk she just left the change, whether it was barely a dollar or far too much for what we’d ordered.
When we walked back out to the car, I noticed that the bumper was slightly askew and the glass casing of the right headlight was shattered. “What happened, Mom?” I said, pointing. “Nothing,” she said, staring at the car, tilting her head the same way as the bumper. “Nothing happened. Try to sleep in the car. It’s late.” *** Both of us were in good moods. We’d had dinner at a Dairy Queen in a little town in Nebraska called Grand Island, and that name was still cracking us up, because it was the most hick town we’d ever seen and there was no body of water for miles. Grand Island. It was the first time I’d seen her laugh in a while and I was trying to think of more jokes now, to keep her laughing. We were going fast on a back road that the man at Dairy Queen had told us would lead to the interstate, belting out our favorite Carly Simon song. Jesse, I’ll always cut fresh flowers for you. She was almost screaming it. Jesse, I will make the wine cold for you. I was tapping out the beat with my feet on the dashboard. I will put on cologne, I will wait by the phone for you. Something about that song made me feel so hopeful, even though it was about Carly Simon going back to someone who didn’t treat her like he should. But she sounded triumphant, and I could sense it: everything was going to work out. Jesse was going to be a better boyfriend this time around. We would make it to Oregon. I felt happiness fizzing and bubbling up inside me. We didn’t even see anything, just felt a thump under the wheels that made us bounce up against the seatbelts. Carly Simon kept singing. We hadn’t passed another car in miles, but my mom still looked in the rearview mirror before she pulled over. She got out of the car, telling me to stay put, but after a minute I went to find her. She was standing over the body of a small animal, staring down with her arms crossed over her body like she was cold. She didn’t notice I’d gotten out of the car until I was standing next to her. “Just an armadillo,” she said. “Nothing to worry about.” I squatted down. Its shell was cracked where the tire had run it over, and its insides were leaking out onto the pavement. It was definitely dead.
Its face was untouched, though, and its mouth hung slightly open. Its ears looked soft. I bit my lip. “Can we bury it?” I said. My mom shrugged. “Sure, I guess. I should get it off the road, anyway.” She dragged it by its tail over to the shoulder so another car wouldn’t hit it and we kneeled next to each other in the dirt beside the tar and started to dig. It was so quiet I could hear the soft scraping of our fingertips breaking the packed earth. “I screwed up,” she said. I looked back at the armadillo. The trail of blood from where she’d dragged it gleamed dark on the asphalt. “It wasn’t your fault,” I said. “It just walked out in front of the car.” “Not that,” she said, digging harder. “I mean, shit, I screwed that up too, but I meant with everything else.” The hole was already plenty big enough. “Like what?” I said. I’d never heard her talk like this, especially not sober. She unearthed a small stone and turned it over and over in her hand. “With Daryl,” she said. “I messed up pretty bad with Daryl.” I wondered what she meant, but I didn’t want to ask and interrupt her. “With you. I think you’re the best thing I ever did and I fucked things up for you—” She laughed, and wiped her nose with the back of her arm, and I saw she’d started to cry. “And now we’re digging a grave together,” she said, laughing harder. I didn’t know why it was funny but I wanted her to think I understood so I started laughing too, and she kept laughing and pulled me close to her and soon I really was laughing just because it felt good to listen to. v
COLE SALADINO, MARCELO
Avant le déluge Shinji Moon No one ever talks about what came before the flood. Jean and Jeannette are long forgotten. Their lovemaking wasn’t halted by the water that sloshed by their ankles. At first, they thought it was a miracle—and underneath ten feet of ocean, they kissed for the last time, grinning. —When he opened his mouth to say I love you, he swallowed an entire sea.
M O ON: AVA N T L E D É LU G E
All Hell Kurt Havens Half an ear was on the sidewalk. The neighborhood kids were taking turns riding a light blue mountain bike around it making machine-gun noises yelling what sounded like either all hail or all hell.
H AV E N S: A L L H E L L
An Interview with Deb Olin Unferth Deb Olin Unferth is the author of a collection of short stories, Minor Robberies, and a novel, Vacation, both published by McSweeney’s. In 2011 she published a memoir, Revolution, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a two-time recipient of the Pushcart Prize, and she has been published in Harper’s, NOON, The New York Times, and numerous other publications. Unferth currently teaches at Wesleyan University.
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
WEST 10TH: Your novel Vacation interweaves several different narrative
voices. Were all of the narrators and their stories—and how they intersected—developed in your mind when you began writing? Or did you create some as the novel progressed? DEB OLIN UNFERTH: Well, Myers, for example, my protagonist, leaves
his wife and goes off in search of the man he believes is responsible for the dissolution of his marriage. At some point, as I wrote, I had to ask myself, who the hell was the man Myers was searching for? And that man, Gray, wound up with his own story. And once I had Gray, then I realized if it were my book, I’d want to know what happened to his daughter—and, of course, it was my book. So the daughter wound up in there. It seemed like each draft, a new character emerged. For most of them, I just heard their voices. The admin assistant in the embassy office, for example, or the woman who was taking care of Gray, or the sexy lady in the bikini, or Spoke, these characters were just voices that popped into my head as I wrote. Some characters were modeled off of people I knew. The dolphin untrainer is modeled off of Rick O’Barry, the famous dolphin rescuer, for example. I’d met him on Corn Island and he took me out on one of his dolphin releases, pretty much exactly like I describe in the book. He’s a man of action, an actual real live hero, sharply different from the characters in my book; I liked the contrast. WEST 10TH: Going off that last question, how did you balance the different
characters’ sub-plotlines in order to make them cohere into one grand scheme? Did it require much planning beforehand or editing afterward? UNFERTH: It was a mess for months, that’s all I can say. For one long
summer I had the book printed out on notecards that I moved around in notecard boxes, one paragraph per notecard, with colored sticky notes
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
to identify the characters. I wanted the different voices to be creating patterns, to be speaking to each other, even if they actually weren’t. I wanted there to be twinning among the characters, and repeating themes and situations, so that what might rise off the page was a sense of the universality of the problems and questions these characters had. What is home? Why do we seem to run to and from something at once? How can we allow ourselves to be seen? I remember seeing a production of the Ionesco play, The Plague. In one scene, two couples sat in different rooms and spoke to each other about death and losing each other. The couples said their lines at the exact same time—that is, one person from each couple would deliver a line in unison, and then the other person from each couple would respond with a line in unison. I remember feeling as if by this one move, this scene was no longer about these two couples, but about coupledom, about everyone, then and now, facing the horror of losing their beloved. I was very moved and wanted to try something like that in Vacation. WEST 10TH: One of the things I admired most about Revolution was
the way you were able to preserve the voice of your younger self while allowing your older self to look back and observe her from a distance. Did you find that your experience writing Vacation—with its many distinct voices—helped keep these two characters from merging too much? UNFERTH: It’s more likely that I was able to do it because that problem
is perhaps my main fascination with the memoir form: the dubious fact of identity. That girl who left school and ran off with her boyfriend to Central America, she seems so far away—why can I still call her “me”? Revolution is a study of that younger self, but I wanted, again, for it to carry a universal feel, to be a study of younger selves in general by the study of this particular younger self, me. WEST 10TH: In Revolution you briefly describe your writing process,
saying that these were the stories that you kept returning to, writing and
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
rewriting. Can you talk about the impact of these unwritten or problematic stories on your development as a young writer? Did your first novel feel like an attempt to deal with them, or was that something separate? UNFERTH: The first time I attempted to write a novel, I wrote about
fifty pages. It was a sort of Nicholson Baker knock-off about a man who is trying to put tape on the handlebars of his bicycle for a better grip. I was in graduate school at Syracuse University at the time. Junot Díaz was the visiting writer. I gave him the first twenty pages to look at. He returned it to me, and he had drawn a straight line down the middle of each page and written a neat little “no” at the bottom of the last page and made no other marks on the manuscript. So I’m guessing that first attempt wasn’t very good. The second novel I tried to write I spent three years on and then abandoned forever, and it certainly was an attempt to deal with the problematic time I spent in Central America. That second novel was like being in a bad marriage and then getting a messy divorce. After it was over, I said I’d never write again, much like people say they’ll never love again. I did write again though (and most people fall in love again). Vacation was supposed to be a novel that had nothing to do with Central America, out of spite for the book I’d abandoned. But of course by the end of Vacation, most of the characters wind up in Central America or die trying to get there. WEST 10TH: Can you speak about the difference between crafting a scene
from memory and creating a fictional scene? Do you have a strategy for clearing up fogginess from the past? UNFERTH: When I first began writing my memoir, I was writing happily
away, thinking, “Wow this is easy! This is fun!” Then I stopped and looked back at what I’d done and I realized with a shock that most of it hadn’t happened. I’d just made it up as I went along. So I had to be very firm with myself, go through line by line, saying to myself sternly, “Now, did this
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
happen? Do you remember this? Is this written in a journal?” and so on, because it is easy to simply slide in what sounds good. In the end I found I enjoyed the restriction of sticking only to the truth as I remembered it. John D’Agata and his former editor recently published a book, Lifespan of a Fact, about this problem, about taking artistic license, making up little things to make your point or to create an artful sentence, and so on. It’s a fascinating book, quite horrifying and also very funny. WEST 10TH: Were there any preconceptions about memoirs that the
experience of writing Revolution overturned for you? Did writing a memoir change the way you will approach writing fiction? UNFERTH: I published my “Memoir Manifesto” in Guernica Magazine
online. There, I describe how I resisted writing a memoir because I felt it was a lower art form. But then I began reading memoirs, starting with the early modernist autobiographies, then going through the memoir precursors of the sixties, then through the memoir boom of the eighties, to now. I discovered the dignity and elegance of the form, how it necessarily is a philosophical investigation of memory, time, and time’s fault lines. It’s a young form, worthy of innovation and investigation. I do think my approach to writing has changed since I wrote Revolution, though I think every book changes how I write, as does every life experience. WEST 10TH: In Revolution, how did you balance wanting to tell a story
about a place you loved, and also wanting to tell a story about yourself? I was struck by how vivid the land is in both Vacation and Revolution. How important was that aspect of the story in your writing process? UNFERTH: Well, I didn’t want to write a “place” story. I didn’t want
to write a story about going to a foreign land, and how interesting and complex and beautiful and unknowable the land is and therefore myself and ourselves. All those things are true, of course, but it’s too easy of a
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
formulation. In Vacation, Myers is very aware of how he can’t see the land, so clouded is his mind by his mission and how crowded is his sight by other tourists. In Revolution, it is similar in some ways. But of course these countries are so surprising and do have so much energy and beauty and complexity bursting out of them, the characters (and I) can’t help but be swept away by them. WEST 10TH: Now for a question that I think many young writers find
themselves asking: Do you ever change what you write based on the knowledge that people you know and love will read it and recognize themselves in the story? Do you have any advice for writers navigating these waters? UNFERTH: Yes, I do change what I write sometimes, but not often. In
writing Revolution I showed the manuscript to my parents and asked them to let me know if they objected to anything. My mother had several minor objections, most of which I wrote right into the book. There’s a little chapter called “Wonderful,” for example, where I add her corrections. She also asked me to take one thing out, which I dutifully did, so you will never know what that one thing was. I have been known to write revenge stories. These feel extremely good and can give you lots of good laughs later. I’m not sure about a downside to revenge stories, unless they really are cruel. My first husband, when we divorced, came to me and said, “I swear I will never write about this,” and then he published an entire book of stories about our break up. Ah well. WEST 10TH: You teach creative writing at Wesleyan University. Is there
any one mistake you’ve noticed that writers, particularly student writers, consistently make and should work to avoid? In other words, any sage advice for us young writers?
AN INTERVIEW WITH DEB OLIN UNFERTH
1. Write what feels urgent to you. 2. Don’t let your endings be punch lines. 3. The phrase “make one’s way,” as in “he made his way across the room,” is a cliché. 4. Go easy on the stories that use the second person. 5. There is a time and place for using name brands and names of TV shows and movie stars and so on, but not if you are using them in place of having to describe a person or location. That’s cheating. Proper names shouldn’t do characterization work for you. WEST 10TH: What are you currently reading? UNFERTH: The Lifespan of a Fact, John D’Agata and Jim Fingal (in the
middle of ); Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor (in the middle of ); Of Parrots and People, Mira Tweti ( just finished); Collected Stories of Franz Kafka (am sort of always reading) WEST 10TH : Do you have any projects in the works? UNFERTH: Yes, I’m finishing a graphic novel (I hope). v
DYLAN SITES, UNTITLED
JACKSON KRULE, PARIS, 2011
Poems by Guest Contributor Gerald Stern One of America’s most celebrated and prolific poets, Gerald Stern is the author of seventeen poetry collections, including last year’s In Beauty Bright. He is a National Book Award winner, a recipient of the National Jewish Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among other honors. Stern is currently an MFA faculty member at Drew University. He has held tenure at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, taught at Temple University, and, in 2002, he co-founded the MFA program at New England College. He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: GERALD STERN
Limping Gerald Stern Space again for a predatory wasp to sing you to sleep and good cracks in the sidewalk where the trees spread year by year creating broken steps either up or down and two garages from 1929, I know it as sure as I know the hollow blocks though I’d have to get into urban archeology from Pittsburgh east as well as the decades and that’s not my job, though I don’t know what my job is, mourning, finding a word or—I don’t care— a number—8—showing what’s despicable, clearing the air, remembering, though not official, I’m not official, and not precise, I just ingest, devour, I said once “reconciling two oblivious worlds,” I said “getting ready,” naming names, but for myself, counting my cousins, I used to say seventy-three, I always go by mothers; maybe it’s hiding behind a tree, maybe it’s getting inside the tree, maybe it’s learning to love the one or two breeds of dogs I didn’t love before—say boxers, say stiff-haired small brown cross-breeds, say it’s walking again as far as the Flea, say it’s limping, even if I don’t have to.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: GERALD STERN
Little King Gerald Stern At last an electric fence so I can be safe from the deer for a minute and dig a deep hole under the props so I can sneak in like a weasel but nobody loves me enough to bring me a scotch on ice as in the old days and we may as well be in Norway how it’s 2 a.m. and I’m sitting in an Adirondack chair by a pool of water under a cherry tree for it’s never night but forty times worse than that it’s never day; and at a certain point in more than one country there is a day given over to pure confusion which if you had any sense you would skip, weasel or no weasel, electric fence or no, Mongolian, Neanderthal, orangutan, black and white sheep hound or no, even if the pool is heated even if the cherries are sweet, even if a wolf with too much milk started the agonies in the first place, even if the Little King drives by in a twelve-cylinder 1920 Studebaker and has a step ladder.
GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: GERALD STERN
COLE SALADINO, TATTOO
36 Inches Later Elise Kibler Outside of Rube’s house, a dwarf peach tree grows. The tree is precisely three feet in height, its stump sturdy and average, signifying a healthy and normal peach tree seemingly to follow suit, but at exactly thirty-six inches, its branches explode violently and flatly from all sides, as if an invisible plateau plagues any further vertical lengthening. Rube stands on the front porch of his ranch-style home in the silk robe Marvin calls “effeminate” and touches the top flap of the robe in a way Marvin would hate, with his nails laid out neatly across his collarbone. With the other hand, Rube takes a sip of his coffee and rolls his eyes at what was supposed to be the very centerpiece of the yard. Instead, with the peach tree in the foreground, the ranch house in the background, and Rube standing on the front porch in between, the whole scene appears to be a haphazard arrangement of increasingly portly objects. Just thinking of this makes Rube scoff to himself and head back inside. On his way to the kitchen, Rube glances at himself in the large mirror hanging in the foyer. The robe is loose and he catches a peek of his own hairy loins. He rather appreciates the contrast in texture between the robe and the loins. Marvin was wrong; the robe undoubtedly emphasizes a sort of masculinity he will just never have. In the kitchen, Rube’s cat, Cher, sits on the granite countertop next to the stove. She is majestic and unforgiving. Rube is reminded of this when she inserts her claw into his thigh as he passes. “Cher.” Cher calmly removes the claw and replaces her paw on the counter in a way that makes Rube proud. Rube pours himself more coffee and sits down at the kitchen table. The peach tree has been weighing on him especially heavily these past few weeks, what with Marvin’s measured phone calls and the days getting longer and longer.
KIBLER: 36 INCHES LATER
KIBLER: 36 INCHES LATER
Rube remembers when Marvin brought the tree home, his slight frame heaving it out of the back of their car, rogue pellets of soil marking a fractured trail to the front porch. The fump of the young tree’s base as it hit the cement pavement just before the step. Rube was standing in the doorway with his coffee, much like this morning, his robe tied neatly at the side, the French way. “It’s a peach tree,” said Marvin, and the two of them had suddenly kissed, framed by their new house waiting to be unpacked just beyond the front door. The idea, Marvin explained as they headed inside, was that he, Marvin, would stay as long as Rube could take care of the tree. If not, he would go. Marvin was always very attached to symbols and superstitions (“The universe is infinite,” he would say, as if the expanse of the cosmos could somehow justify his avoidance of red garments or the number twelve). So although the tree’s refusal to further sprout was not technically Rube’s doing, Marvin insisted it was a “symbol” and packed his canvas totes full of books and cutlery before saying a tearful goodbye to Cher in the kitchen. So much time had passed since the sapling’s arrival that Rube was sure the peach tree deal was off the table. And yet there Marvin crouched, four years and thirty-six inches later, at the base of the tree at dawn, clutching a ruler. “I thought you were sleeping in today,” he had said, rising to face Rube, the ruler swallowing its long tongue with a violent snap. They had it out in the kitchen. Rube arguing, reasonably, that if Marvin loved him, the peach tree was just a plant. Marvin, convinced they were tampering with fate. Rube, that the plant was, as promised, taken care of, just rather compact. Marvin, that the plant’s dwarfed stature was a sign. Marvin, again, that if Rube had a problem with the stars, perhaps the two of them were not “meant to be.” Marvin, throwing things into bags, kissing Rube on the cheek with a painful gentleness, closing the front door behind him. Marvin, in Rube’s dreams, kissing statues and making lists in bed. Marvin’s space, no longer occupied, making ghosts all over the house. Rube wondered how he could have fallen so terribly for a believer in fate, signs, and things “meant to be.” Yet here he was, sitting with Cher so many weeks later, losing weight and sense of self.
KIBLER: 36 INCHES LATER
The next day, Grisha calls. An hour later, Rube is sitting in the passenger seat of her old Volkswagen Beetle, headed to Permanent Lanes. The windows are down halfway and when Grisha hits seventy-five, Rube reaches his arm out to rest it on the current, playing his fingers back and forth in the wind. Grisha sits Rube on the well-worn bench of their favorite lane and places his bowling bag between his feet. The bag hasn’t been opened for months now, and Rube wonders if Marvin was the last person to touch it, to unzip it with his long fingers and roll the ball from between his legs toward the pins. Grisha unzips the bag herself. She picks up the ball and unsentimentally plops it in Rube’s lap, her hoop earrings juddering slightly as she pats it with a few whaps before reaching down for her own. “You’re up, bucko,” she says, resetting the pins before heading off to the bar. Rube takes the ball between his palms and gently places it at the foot of the slick track. When Grisha returns with a beer Rube is still crouching there, three fingers tucked in the ball’s emerald resin, resting his forehead against the solid green orb as if attempting to transfer a prayer. “Rube. Get up right now.” Grisha grabs Rube’s shoulder with her thickly manicured fingers and eases him up on his feet. The ball rolls into the gutter. By the time they leave, the sun has long set. Rube waves to Grisha from the front porch as she speeds off, before heading inside and attaching Cher to her cat leash. Cher scratches him only once, likely sensing the depth of Rube’s emotions, but Rube is certain she rolls her eyes several times before submitting. They go around the block once, Rube lightly sweating as Cher plows bravely on, her tiny paws dusting the wet grass. When they turn the corner, Rube can see the peach tree’s tendrils protruding like a belly from the impossibly unified front-lawn procession halfway down the block. The closer they get, the longer Cher lingers, sniffing cracks of sidewalks, daintily skewering beetles. She suddenly ducks behind a tree with such vigor that Rube involuntarily follows suit with a little gasp, tripping over his loafers as he does. “Cher!” he says, in a hoarse whisper, touching his collarbone and catching his breath, giving her a little spank on her square
KIBLER: 36 INCHES LATER
bottom as she examines the inner bark of the oak. Rube looks about in what he hopes is a blithe manner in order to count witnesses, and it is only then that he notices the little car parked three-fourths of the way down the block. The night is nearly black, but Rube can see the silhouette sharply through the glass. Blood pulses through his neck. Rube leans on the tree for what must be five or six minutes, frozen in contemplation, until Cher gently inserts a claw into the toe of his shoe and looks up at him condescendingly. Rube puts a hand to his head and presses his temples together with his thumb and middle finger. Then he straightens his spine and, with a firm, confident grasp on Cher’s leash, makes his way toward the house. Rube can see the silhouette in the car shifting as they near the front lawn. The car door opens and the street lamp shines transparently through Marvin’s blond hair as he approaches Rube and Cher, the three of them forming a half-ring around the peach tree. Marvin bends down to pet Cher’s head, and she ducks between Rube’s legs (destroying the semicircle, Rube notes). “Marvin.” Marvin rises and looks at Rube. “I came to get the tree,” he says. “What?” Cher rolls her eyes. “I want to take the tree to my new place. I think I can save it.” “Save it? What do you mean, save it? It’s perfectly happy here. It’s the centerpiece of the front lawn.” “It’s stifled here. Clearly,” says Marvin, patting the flat top of the peach tree. “Marvin. . .” says Rube, reaching out and tracing the seam of Marvin’s T-shirt against his arm. “Marvin, come on, this is ridiculous.” “I know. But I need the tree. I miss the tree.” “No, you miss me, Marvin.” Marvin’s eyes are full with tears, but not a single one makes it over the crest of his lower lashes. He shrugs pathetically. “I need the tree.” Rube walks toward the house, Cher following tightly behind him. “Rube!” He returns moments later with a shovel and places it in Marvin’s hands.
KIBLER: 36 INCHES LATER
Rube reaches down and picks up Cher, who climbs proudly onto his shoulders and then his head, and they make their way into the house. In the kitchen, Rube puts on a record and feeds Cher. In the kitchen’s tiny corner window, he can make out Marvin’s profile as he unearths the peach tree. Small shovelfuls of dirt make soft plods as they hit the grass, and every so often, Marvin pauses to wipe his brow. He never was terribly athletic, Rube notes, as Cher crowns herself on the back of the armchair. Rube joins her, and there they sit for nearly two hours, until Rube rises with resolution and stands at the counter. He cries for several minutes, short circuits of heaving and breathing, then, with Marvin’s figure still clear and perfectly framed through the kitchen window, makes himself a Manhattan, saves the cherry for last, and ties the stem in a knot with his tongue. v
Go By Train William Savinar Here’s where the ‘Go By’ train went through. Right through this building calling upon generators and house guests with its whistle like usual. When it came through here though it was distracted by haystacks. Not the same stray lines angles, borders and reservation casinos serving cocktail peanuts and smoke. Here’s where the train went through in your sleep cold like an ice box. They figured your tides and charts were whole for the taking. I even saw a man holler out his window, seeing his stereoscope of new roots, “Illuminate the crops and harvest the singing fields!” It was lost on you thank God while you slobbered on your pillow. An empty waltz off beat his hands around no one’s waist.
SAV I NA R : G O BY T R A I N
In The Dalles derelict ladies fight for their beers. On the Deschutes the salmon finally come clean. And somehow you do too. But your memory is blunt like a numb pressure tooth. You may find out about the train that night like barbed wire running through it forever. But I could never describe to you the pillaging they had in mind.
SAV I NA R : G O BY T R A I N
WINNER OF THE 2013 EDIT ORS’ AWARD IN POETRY
More Field Kurt Havens Solveig’s memories of the tomato field.
The morning frost.
Similar evening frost. Her older brother burying five or six of the family cat’s kittens none of which were reborn as trees, parts of trees, or otherwise. Not one. Black tarp over the saplings
stiff with its thousand separate spines.
H AV E N S: M O R E F I E L D
DYLAN SITES, UNTITLED
Contributors’ Notes Amanda Birkner is a psychology major at in the College of Arts and Science as well as a cat enthusiast and self-proclaimed bag lady. She is a lover of all things cheese-filled and occasionally writes poetry. Samuel Fishman has little direction in life but knows what he loves. He lives with two cats to whom he is allergic, and he is a vegetarian except for fresh oysters and Double-Doubles at In-N-Out. This is the first time his work has been published. Frances Gill is a senior in the College of Arts and Science and a psychology major. She recently began the pre-health track and is also studying to be a yoga teacher. She likes reading, bike riding, and chilling. Kurt Havens’ work can be found at frozenhorsemeat.tumblr.com. He wants to see ish nba, mookie nba, pter nba, and Max B freed, in no particular order. Sara Heegaard is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Science. She believes in ghosts. Ruoyi Jiang is from Beijing, China. Her most recent work, The Burden of Proof, is a portrait series about victims of water contamination in the United States. Find out more at theburdenofproof.org. Margay Kaplan is a senior in the Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging. She was born and raised in New York City and is interested in photography, film, and cooking.
Elise Kibler is a female with brown hair and a low alcohol tolerance. She is a filmmaker, an actor, and a writer. Eleanor Kriseman graduated in December. She is now bookseller by day and babysitter by night. Jackson Montana Krule is a twenty-year-old artist living in New York City. He is studying photography in the Tisch School of the Arts. He is influenced heavily by the early French street photographers of the 1930s and 1940s: Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, and André Kertész. Find more of his work at jacksonkrule.com. Sara Montijo is a junior at Gallatin, originally from Tucson, Arizona. She is currently working on a collection of poetry and an experimental documentary themed around suicide and the processes of mourning. Shinji Moon is a freshman in the College of Arts and Science. She believes that poetry is the only way to get people to hear her. She wants to learn how to say “You’re wonderful” in every language, and so far has gotten to Finnish. Olet ihana. She thinks there’s something beautiful about living in the city with the greatest bagels, and the other night she dreamt that we found Atlantis. Delia Pless is a senior. She is from North Carolina, but people often guess Connecticut. Felicia Powell is a senior in the Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging. She recently completed a project that involved photographing what she sees as she walks around small town suburbs at night. Mark Putterman is a Gallatin junior studying history, cultural anthropology, and creative writing. His work is often inspired by folklore, legend, and family histories.
Cole Saladino is a Southern California–born photographer and graphic designer living, working, and adventuring in New York City. He is currently a BFA candidate in the Tisch School of the Arts. For more work visit colesaladino.com William Savinar lives in Louisiana and also plays the drums. Mollyhall Seeley is a senior. Sometimes she writes things; sometimes she eats sandwiches. It really just depends on how she feels at the time. She likes pretty much everything except sharks. And Nic Cage. Dylan Sites is preparing to graduate from the Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging. He enjoys researching new tech innovations and lives in Brooklyn. Jenna Snyder likes cheese. Jenna is lactose intolerant. Haley Weiss is a sophomore in the Tisch Department of Photography & Imaging. Her recent work focuses on the construction of place and space through architecture. Find more of her work at HaleyWeiss.com. Kevin Zhang is a Gallatin senior, studying natural sciences, psychology, philosophy, history, social work, and creative writing. He’s interested in too many disciplines and poetry has become his favorite creative activity, ahead of swing dancing and guitar. He’s excited since this is his first published poem.
Masthead Editor-in-Chief Laura Stephenson Managing Editor Lauren Roberts Poetry Editors Maeve Nolan Beau Peregoy Assistant Poetry Editors Jarry Lee Joe Masco Amanda Montell Eric Stiefel
Art editors Laura Hetzel Michelle Ling Copy editors Olivia Loving Rebecca Rae Emma Sullivan Executive Editors Matthew Rohrer Darin Strauss Joanna Yas
Prose Editor Conor Burnett Assistant Prose Editors Naomi Rose Howell Michelle Ling Katelyn Lovejoy Benjamin Miller Meredith Sharpe
West 10th is a nonprofit literary journal publishing poetry, prose, and art by New York University’s undergraduate students. It is edited and produced annually by the NYU Creative Writing Program. The ideas expressed in West 10th do not necessarily reflect those of New York University or of the Creative Writing Program. The NYU Creative Writing Program faculty includes Anne Carson, E. L. Doctorow, Jonathan Safran Foer, Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds, Matthew Rohrer, Charles Simic, Zadie Smith, Darin Strauss, and Chuck Wachtel. The Director is Deborah Landau. The Creative Writing Program has distinguished itself for more than three decades as a leading national center for the study of literature and writing. West 10th New York University Creative Writing Program Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House 58 West 10th Street New York, Ny 10011 west10th.org twitter.com/West10thLit Copyright: All rights revert to the author upon publication. Reprints must be authorized by the author. Designed by sam potts & erin schell Cover art: Felicia Powell Copyright 2013 West 10th The Literary Journal of New York University’s Undergraduate Creative Writing Program ISSN: 1941-4374 Printed in The United States
“But here the dirt is clay, and a walk takes a permanent form.”
—Sara Heegaard PAGE 26
Amanda Birkner Samuel Fishman Kurt Havens Sarah Montijo Shinji Moon Delia Pless William Savinar Mollyhall Seeley Jenna Snyder Kevin Zhang
Ruoyi Jiang Margay Kaplan Jackson Krule Felicia Powell Cole Saladino Dylan Sites Haley Weiss
Prose Frances Gill Sara Heegaard Elise Kibler Eleanor Kriseman Mark Putterman
Guest Contributor Gerald Stern
Interview Deb Olin Unferth
“It’s hard to see now what you’ll remember with a vengeance later.”
West 10th 58 WEST 10TH STREET NEW YORK, NY 10011