Vignette by Melissa Rothman
Staff Founder Lamont B. Steptoe Editor S. W. Lynch Art Director Melissa Rothman Outreach Coordinator Courtney Gambrell Acknowledgements Cover art by Karina Puente. A special thanks to Larry Robin and the Moonstone Arts Center. Gary Beck’s “Fine Art II” appears in his poetry collection “Desperate Seeker” (Brine Books Publishing, 2015). The late Justin Vitiello’s poems “Leyendo mi diario, El Mundo: elegía a un torero” and “regresso a Madrid” originally were published in “amapolas y cardos” (Whirlwind Press, 2006). This issue is dedicated to and in memory of Justin Vitiello. First Printing Copyright © 2015 by Whirlwind Magazine All rights reserved. No individual poem or artwork may be reproduced in any form without the author’s permission. All inquiries should be addressed to: Whirlwind Press P.O Box 109 Camden, NJ 08101-0109 Or emailed requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org Printed in the United States of America
Table of Contents 1 Letter From the Editor 2 “Havana” Frederick Pollack 3 “Juego de Lunas”
7 “Cinderblocks” 8 “Departure”
Daniel R. O’Donnell
Frank “Chui” Fitzgerald
11. “I was a Hero Once”
12 “Fine Art II”
“Creator of Worlds”
14 “Scars and Empty Vases”
15 “At the Store”
“Bull Market” Joseph Rathgeber 16 “White City” 17 “La Cometa Perfecta”
Alexis Marie Cabrera
Dean P. Johnson
21 “Brief Sojourn...”
Kerry Shawn Keys
23 “A Visit with Exu” 25 “Leyendo mi diario...”
27 desde “regresso a Madrid” 31 “An Interview with Karina Puente” 34 Biographies
Submit to Whirlwind! Send up to three poems, one 2,500 word short story or creative non-fiction piece in the body of the email to the editor: email@example.com Send artwork and/or photography in full size 300dpi, JPEG, or psd format to firstname.lastname@example.org
Querido lector, Salud y bienvenido a la tercera edición de Whirlwind Magazine. La mayoría de esta edición publica escritura y arte creado por nuestros amigos cuyos familiares proceden de Latinoamérica o España. La escritura Latino es parte integral de la literatura americana. Español es una lengua hermosa y poética cual suena más suave y más rica que Inglés. Nuestros hermanos latinos son elementos esenciales a la cultura de Filadelfia y Camden, las dos ciudades que Whirlwind reconoce como un hogar. Aunque estos detalles puedan ser obvio para alguna gente, proveemos el sentimiento que la cultura Latina se queda marginada tanta. Nota por favor, subrayo que el uso del término Latino/a en esta forma indica que la posición de la revista en cuanto a la igualdad de género. No es raro para ver el término Latinx, para incluir todas las identidades generas, lo reconocimos también. Es verdad que yo sea un novicio con respecto al idioma español. “Entiendo poco pero no mucho.” Esperanzadamente nuestro nueva emplea, Courtney Gambrell, quien está fluida en español, pueda asegurar que la oración anterior tiene sentido. ¡Ahora sí! Uno de mis libros favoritos en mi estante por Pablo Neruda, “The Captian’s Verses,” cual incluye cada poema en los ambos idiomas: español e inglés. Otro favorito en la estantería de poesía mía es por Justin Vitiello, “amapolas y cardos,” publicado por Whirlwind Press. Hemos incluido cuatro páginas al fin de esta edición de su poesía en el mismo formato: español por una página, inglés siguiente. Desafortunadamente, Sr. Vitiello ha fallecido hace un año. Un profesor en Temple University aquí y extranjero, Vitiello fue un poeta prolífico y poderoso quien cuestionaba los temas alrededor justicia social y los derechos humanos. Esta edición está dedicado éste hombre quien merece el gran renombre que solamente los mejores poetas ganan después de morir. En la página web, Industrial Workers of the World, Nathaniel Miller escribió, “[Vitiello] was a fighter, and like all great working-class soldiers understood that we must fight for bread and roses too. Justin organized poetry readings against the mafia in Sicily, telling me that the best way to fight hate and ignorance was simply take a public space as collective triumph over fear, and in Philadelphia he always stood on the picket lines. That fearless determination is his legacy.” Honramos el legado de Vitiello por ésta edición por publicando los escritores y artistas que comparten su amor para las palabras y las imágenes y creen en su valor para avanzar los derechos humanos e igualdad. De explorar las tribulaciones del encarcelamiento, reconocer el alcance de la opresión imperialista que continúa, la tercera edición de Whirlwind da la bienvenida a Ustedes para extender la conciencia con nosotros. Como siempre, te damos tan agradecimiento por leer. -S.W. Lynch Translation by Courtney Gambrell
Letter from the Editor
Hello, and welcome to the third issue of Whirlwind Magazine. Much of this edition features writing and art created by our friends whose families originated from Latin America or Spain. Latina/o writing is an integral part of American literature. Spanish is a beautiful and poetic language that so often sounds smoother and lovelier than English. Our Latina/o sisters and brothers are essential elements to the culture of Philadelphia and Camden, the two cities which we at Whirlwind call home. This all may be obvious to some, but we feel that Latina/o culture is too often still marginalized. (A quick note, I emphasize the use of Latina/o in this letter in order to indicate the Magazine’s views on gender equality, some use the term Latinx in order to be inclusive of all gender identities, and we would like to recognize that as well). Now, admittedly, I am a novice in regards to the Spanish language. Entiendo algunos, pero nunca mucha. Hopefully Whirlwind’s new staff member, Courtney Gambrell, who is fluent in Spanish, will make sure the preceding sentence made sense. One of my favorite books in my bookcase is Pablo Neruda’s “The Captain’s Verses,” which includes every poem in both Spanish and English parallel to one another. Another favorite of mine on the poetry shelf is the late Justin Vitiello’s, “amapolas y cardos,” published by none other than Whirlwind Press. We have included four pages at the end of this issue of Vitiello’s poems in the same format: Spanish on one page, English on the next. Vitiello passed away a little over a year ago. A professor at Temple University both in Philadelphia and Rome, Vitiello was a prolific and powerful poet who bore witness to issues of social justice and human rights. Whirlwind Issue 3 is dedicated to this man who deserves the notoriety and renown that only the best of poets gain after their death. On the Industrial Workers of the World website, Nathaniel Miller wrote, “...[Vitiello] was a fighter, and like all great working-class soldiers understood that we must fight for bread and roses too. Justin organized poetry readings against the mafia in Sicily, telling me that the best way to fight hate and ignorance was simply take a public space as collective triumph over fear, and in Philadelphia he always stood on the picket lines. That fearless determination is his legacy.” We honor Vitiello’s legacy in this issue by publishing writers and artists who share his love of words and images and believe in advancing human rights and equality. From exploring the tribulations of imprisonment, to acknowledging the extent of continuing imperialist oppression, Whirlwind Issue 3 welcomes you to expand your awareness along with us. As always, thank you so much for reading.
Frederick Pollack The Mob returns, elegiacally maintaining, amidst pole-dancers, the sequins and boas of the Copa. Part of the theme-park. Like some Fifties Fords and Chevys left as limos among rickshaws. When their doors are opened, whores of the highest – white – class perfect the art of swinging their legs out. Russians also return, thick cologne over what was once called “the grease of the bear.” Sportive rival death-squads hunt each other after dark. A doctor on call to patch them up – he pays thus for his habit of treating the poor – has visions. (He’s often hungry; he can’t eat sugar.) One is a room whose long walls hold Fidel’s collected speeches. To read every word, perhaps in a prolonged dengue fever, is to read the supreme fiction. And sometimes a mausoleum rises, dwarfing the one in Moscow that housed the embalmed corpse of the man of action.
Juego de Lunas For Federico Garcia Lorca Lisa Konigsberg
Watching Alaska Fish Wars on the National Geographic channel, while the night that escapes me outside the window has no eyes. What do the fish think, leaping into the net? The net a night they cannot escape. Waters rise. The moon pauses, mid waning and thinks: I cannot drown them all at once. I can move the tides closer. The fishermen cling to the chains from which the nets hang like beaten, sagging bosoms. Oh, Lorca, your garden was bloody too, even before they left you for dead in a stream, your body absent, only your poems bobbing at the surface, their eyes wide. What am I saying? That the moon and the ocean are coroners pointing toward the truth – that you are now where you always were, envisioned through a moon like a woman’s face of longing, “like a large stained glass window that breaks on the ocean,” * where the men who could not write poems sharpen their tongues with your sword. * from “A Game of Moons” Federico Garcia Lorca
Thessalonike Joy Perrone “Thessalonike” As an old man, Jacob would spend every night sitting out on the porch of his Arizona cabin, fifty years and a million miles away from the silver lake. That handsome dark hair crisped away to the years, bright blue eyes made cloudy by cataracts and the tiny scratches tears made when you wouldn’t let them fall. He asked no favors from the night sky. His hands rose, periodically, to rub the patch of skin above his heart. He expected his chest to bear the mottled purples and blacks of bruised fruit, the imprints of her fingers, though she was long gone. They would tell him that time would heal all wounds, but the sharp cut of silence would never fully go away. The memory of her voice – the sound of rushing water, tinkling of a bell, wet slip of a fish swimming by – would forever leave his ears pricked to the wind. Waiting. *** The silver lake was a favorite spot for teens in town, and though Jacob had just slid away from teenhood he still liked to hang out by the crooked dock, swinging his boots after work and smoking cigarettes. It was quiet but not as quiet as the home he lived in alone, and he preferred the company of the water to the sound of his radio speaking to an empty room. Though the sun set hours before, the thick August heat remained in the air. Old men at the shop
liked to joke that you could point the end of a cigarette towards the sun this month and watch the smoke light itself on fire. Jacob considered taking a swim. There wasn’t anyone around – no one to see him strip off his shirt and pants, leave them neatly folded by the edge of the dock. He was pleased to find that swimming came back to him as if he was born to do it, and spent an hour floating in the center of the lake. His necklace, a heavy golden cross on a roped chain, bobbed with the swaying of his body, and as Jacob closed his eyes to rest he didn’t notice the thin fingers unclasping the chain from around his neck. He jerked awake when he felt the familiar weight of it disappear, just in time to see it slip below the surface of the water, glimmering as it fell to the murky depths of the lake. In the split second that came before he went to rescue the cross he felt the electric current that always came before making a big decision – losing his virginity, graduating from high school, signing the papers for his shack of a house. That sweet stinging vibration that always meant are you sure you want to do this. He dove. The water was silver and glinting on the surface thanks to the reflection of the moon, but underneath it was as dark and choking as
ink. Jacob opened his eyes as wide as they would go, his hands outstretched below him as he dove, fingers grasping for the quickly-vanishing gold cross. He surfaced, once, for a breath of air. How deep could the lake possibly be? He dove again, this time propelling himself straight for the bottom. His hands became tangled in a clump of weeds, ensnarling his fingers. As he yanked his wrists back and forth, trying to free his hands, he felt a light touch on his ankle, swift as a triggerfish. The weeds bobbed away from him and he continued down, down, the world reduced to the ghostly image of his limbs kicking through the dark water. He decided the heavy necklace was gone and he stopped swimming. If there had been enough air, he would have screamed. Turning to go back towards the surface had left him staring, pupils nearly touching, with a pair of wide dark eyes in a small pointed face, the lips turned up at the corners in a smile. His first thought was that it was a dead body — until she blinked. The smile grew wider; she held up one slender arm to show him what her near-translucent fingers held. The cross glinted, unreal, in her hands. She parted her lips to smile wider, and he saw she had a double row of little teeth. He shot up to the surface, desperate to get away from her. Jacob gasped as he returned to the familiar world of the moon and dock, flailing his arms as he pad-
dled towards the promise of safety. All grace was gone – his moves were based on survival. That touch, again, light as a summer kiss on his ankles. He couldn’t kick fast enough. Her hand wound itself around his thigh, grasping, pulling him back. She surfaced, first her slippery little head, bald as a newborn, then a pair of curved brows, the dark eyes, full lips, the pointed chin. His necklace gleamed in the space between her bare breasts. A giant thunderclap from overhead, and the skies opened to pour rain upon the figures in the lake. He was frozen as she grinned to the sky, raised her arms. She laughed and the sound was nothing he had ever heard, it was windchimes in the window of his childhood home, it was the smell of his favorite soap, it was the rustling of a lover in the night. Enraptured, he swam on shaky legs to meet her in the middle of the lake. She welcomed him with open arms, her lips on his the second he got close enough to taste. He didn’t care about the webbing between her fingers or the way her ears were two high slits on either side of her face. He went to lift her, ready to feel her legs wrap around his waist but his fingers slid down the length of her tail instead. It didn’t matter. He couldn’t have said how long they floated in silver
White Water, Black Grapes Karina Puente
lake, couldn’t have told you any of the secrets she whispered in his ears, the strange language that she spoke, but by the time dawn broke through the night sky Jacob would have sold his very soul to stay with her in the lake. She slipped back under the water, leaving no trace of herself for him to hold on to. His days took on a lulling rhythm. Work, eight hours toiling on cars and trying to remember the right words to say to his customers and his coworkers. A quick meal snatched from the kitchen of his dusty kitchen, a sleep that lasted no more than four hours. And then, to the lake. She was always there, her golden tail slinking itself about his legs when he dove down to the bottom. He brought her treats: trout, eel, bottles of salt water he mixed up in his kitchen. The universe began and ended with her, and Jacob wondered what it would be like to wake beside her every morning. To have her to come home to, not separated by lake and land, tail and legs. How much he wanted to ask her opinion on it! She stared back at him when he talked, her smile a double row of promises, that high undulating language telling him, he thought, exactly what he wanted to hear. He named her Thessalonike. The stand-in shower in Jacob’s tiny bathroom was scrubbed until the tiles gleamed like fistfuls of new pennies. He purchased sheets of glass, a welding gun, blue plastic tarps, a new garden hose. His living room was filled with bricks and mortar mix. He
stockpiled fish in his freezer, photocopied pictures of lakes from books at the library and pasted them to the bathroom walls. For a welcome gift he made her a crown of starfish, woven with grass and dotted with seed pearls he snipped off of dresses at the thrift store. When Jacob looked at himself in the mirror, he saw Poseidon. He could walk between the worlds, one leg at his job at Pat’s Mechanics, one leg treading in the silver lake. Half here, half not here. The bricks, the glass, they would combine the two worlds. Siren song and human flesh. He was sure of it. “Time to go, Thessa,” he said, pulling the plastic tub he’d picked up at the five and dime behind him. It was big enough for him to sit inside if he scrunched up his legs a little. Perfectly comfortable. The mermaid didn’t thrash when Jacob held her arms to pull her towards the dock, his truck idling just a few feet away. She screamed a bit when he shoved her up onto the old wooden boards, beating her tail hard enough to splinter the edge of the dock. He apologized the entire time as he dragged her. He apologized while he shoved her into the plastic tub, half filled with water. “I’m only doing this for us!” he shouted even as tears ran down the mermaid’s cheeks. That electric thrum again, coursing through his body. Could she feel the tension-wire of his decision? She floated in the tank he had built from his shower, her eyes closed against the harsh glare of
sun coming through the window. She didn’t care about the pictures he had so lovingly pasted to the walls for her. The bottom of her tank was clouded with the decaying fish she had refused to eat. That stench followed him throughout the house, throughout his life. Cloying as a woman’s perfume, it lingered on his coveralls at work and made the other men steer wide of him in the garage. Pat pulled him aside and asked if he needed to take time off, but Poseidon can’t just quit being king. Thessalonike’s head now bore eighteen slithering snakes, twisting over one another, a crown of serpents that stared at Jacob whenever he ventured into the room. Her eyes never opened for him anymore. She had tried, once, to beat her way out of the tank. He had been forced to use the bricks, walling in the sides to leave a small window to look in at her. With every passing day, every silent moment, he loved her less and less. Rapping on the glass with his knuckles did nothing. She would not sing for him. She would not speak to him. He was fired from Pat’s Mechanics three months after Thessalonike moved in. The boss had read some speech from a laminated index card taped to the desk. She opened her eyes when Jacob pulled the last of the bricks into the bathroom, scraping the tiles on the floor. He had already dumped three pounds of shrimp into her tank, which she had ignored, but the
sound of the bricks being moved made those pearlescent eyelids flutter open. She stared at him. Her snakes stared. She watched as he walled her in, brick by brick, her eyes never leaving his. He wished she would sing. He had played her all of the greats, every record he owned. He borrowed tapes from the library — of bird songs, whale calls, the mating sounds of cats. He sang to her himself, but she refused. He thought, desperately pulling at the recesses of his mind, of that swelling song she had given, but he could never get the cadence just right. He mispronounced the words. She would not sing. She would not sing. Close to the tank he could smell the last lingering sweetness of water. He breathed in too deeply and the taste of dead fish clung to the back of his throat. He thought he saw Thessalonike’s mouth open as he set the last brick. *** Jacob rocks in his chair, the rhythmic motion causing the cabin floors to creak and moan. He dreams of fish scales, fish spines. Golden crosses in dark water. One snake devouring another. He doesn’t dream of her face, the years have washed it from his memory, softening, softening. He closes his eyes. He just floats.
Cinderblocks Daniel R. Oâ€™Donnell
I know the cold of cinderblocks. The bone-splitting bone-white cold. You were on holiday in Europe. I was handcuffed, beaten, wrapped in one wool blanket. My feet poked out like little children. A draft swept through the barred window like an old ghost. I saw my breath, shiveredâ€Ś then drifted off. I had a dream about your dead grandmother. She wore a pale blue dress And floated down a long hallway. Her only word was silence. I knew she needed water. I got up in the morning And studied the cinderblocks. I counted them. I gave them names I cannot remember. I became acquainted with the cruel symmetry. The insanity of straight lines: I touched Punched Kissed And licked. My hands were bloody. For several days I refused to eat. I survived on water.
Departure Daniel R. O’Donnell
You, on that day of threshing, spoke of your requirements: to be upbraided, to be unloosed from these blue garments. I recall you sobbing, in twilight, in the upper garden… Hush now, listen to me: you have touched a patch of wet clover suddenly, Gripping the damp earth, rooting yourself in objects, in perception. You have pounded against a mass of stone. Be still, listen to me: I know what the river has told me and my own name. You will also come to know the whiteness of longing – You will understand what it means to be alone.
Resource Center at Friend’s Hospital For twenty years, Consultation, Information & Referrals on matters pertaining to Mental Health. In the Scattergood Building, Friends Hospital, 4641 Roosevelt Roosevelt Boulevard Philadelphia PA, 19124 214 831 4894 A Free Service. Volunteers Wanted 8
Frank “Chui” Fitzgerald I was born in prison in an unfeeling cold lonely corner of not caring if no one tucks me in or kisses me good night and expressions of love a crumpled five dollars. Sitting in this concrete block listening to toilets flush some unknown or unseen voice laughing at an unfunny joke just to make a sound to know you’re not alone sitting in a piss stained hallway waiting for a meal of a cold hotdog, wiping snot on your shirt sleeve or licking it off with your tongue waiting for a touch or look of love that never comes from the one you need it from and discovering when you’re still in diapers that love don’t count as you see a light flash in your eyes for the midnight count
Barbara Hernandez My father and I have the same eyes. It is something I love as I look at my parents’ wedding picture. They both look so young and handsome. Other than the eyes, that fit young man in his dress blues looks nothing like me. But we are so, so very alike. Though my father didn’t ever really know how to be with us, he did love to tell us stories. When we lived in North Carolina, hurricane season also meant story season. We couldn’t go outside and the power went out and there was nothing to help us escape how awkward we all were with each other. So my father filled all of the silence, the rest of us just listening. He had grown up in Bakersfield, which my mother called the armpit of the Earth. My dad said there was nothing to do there but have kids. I hear it’s actually possible to be stuck there if the fields around the road catch on fire. It’s only been twice that I remember. My grandparents were young when they got married and neither of them came from a functioning family. Neither of them has ever told me a single story about their parents. They did their best, I suppose. They had three kids and the marriage fell apart. My grandfather is a sweet old
man now but he was a bad father and worse husband. He used to all but beat his kids for an offense as small as not eating their green beans. That’s why we never had green beans growing up. My father hates them. My father was also always very careful to never spank us if he was mad. He’d go calm down first. My grandfather wasn’t so deliberate. He didn’t want my grandmother to finish high school because he was illiterate and it made him jealous. He didn’t like her having a job, but his job fixing cars didn’t make enough money for her to stay at home. This is the kind of machismo that women back then were used to, but my grandmother had been raised by a wild woman who smuggled birds in from Mexico. She had no tolerance for the ways of men. In my grandfather’s family, the women cooked and when the food was done they ate last. The order was men first, children next, and then the women. Those were the rules. Of course the women all snuck bites while they were cooking. They weren’t actually going to wait all that time, especially not my grandmother. My grandmother got on
well with her in-laws. Her brother-in-law frustrated her because he refused to speak to her in English. My grandfather’s parents were from Mexico so his family all spoke Spanish perfectly, or at least perfectly well for people with so little education. My grandmother’s family had been in the United States for generations. She wasn’t so good at Spanish. Her brother-in-law wouldn’t tolerate her Spanglish. It made her better, but it wasn’t exactly love that she remember him with.
bought any more. Once they were divorced, my grandfather went to court to claim that he only made $300 a month and couldn’t afford his child support payments. It was a lie, but the judge believed him. Once my grandfather got remarried, those payments dried up altogether. For a while my father and his family lived out of their car.
Still, she worried what that Spanish would do to her children. What it meant for their opportunities. They all had dark skin and a Mexican last name. These are things that cannot be changed or avoided. She worried about their accents. She worried about them falling behind in school. She worried that there would not be room enough for them learn English if their heads were full of Spanish. That was something she could control. So, they were not allowed to learn Spanish at all.
So in the 60’s my grandmother raised three kids on her own. There were a lot of men in and out of the picture, of course. That lady was a handful but she was very pretty. Unfortunately, the only man that ever really stepped up was my father. He got his first job selling oranges when he was just ten. He gave all of this money to his mom. He tried to look after his brother and sister, but they always got into trouble. My aunt was off with boys. My uncle was off doing drugs and fighting. He called my grandma if he was going to be gone all night, though, which was more than my aunt could say.
My grandmother always told the story of divorcing my grandfather right alongside the story of quitting smoking. She had just bought a new pack of cigarettes and as she was driving away from the gas station, she picked up the box. She looked at it and just thought about what junk it was. All it did was make her sick. She threw the pack of cigarettes out the window and never
He worked at his dad’s auto shop for a while after graduation. I never used to understand how he could. His father had been awful. How could he forgive years of absence? He wasn’t like his father, though. He didn’t want to be stuck in Bakersfield. His options were limited. He was smart, but he wasn’t going to get into college. He wouldn’t have done well there. He was
a good runner, but not an Olympian. So he enlisted. He started a career as a Marine. I don’t know much about his first marriage except that it didn’t work out. He had my brother to show for it. It was out of respect for him that we never talked about that failed marriage. There were a lot of negative things to be said about my brother’s mother that no child should have to hear. And it was none of my business. The Marines kept my dad moving. When he was in Georgia he met my mom, who was a waitress. When she met my dad she thought he was Italian. After they got married all the guys who bussed tables and spoke Spanish loved to laugh at how badly the white lady pronounced her new last name. They both worked at the Sizzler right next to the Big Chicken. Now it’s a pawn shop and neither of them have worked in a restaurant since. We were poor when I was little. Especially when my mom had my sister. By then we had full custody of my brother so there were three kids. But my dad wasn’t like my grandfather. He worked hard to get ahead and became an officer, even though his job often took him away from us. He missed birthdays and Christmases. He missed every school event, including every play I was ever in. We all sacrificed something to the Marine Corps so that he could give us the things
he had never had. He bought a house. He loved to buy us things, because he didn’t know how to be with us. He used to get upset that my mother was always the one to tuck us in. It’s not like anyone made it that way, it just happened. He didn’t know how to do that kind of thing, and anyway he had missed so many opportunities. So much time had passed with only Mom in the house. What he was good at was old-fashioned discipline, like his dad used to do. That and barking out commands like we were marines. My teenage years were spent trying to understand him. He never made it easy. It wasn’t until college that I looked closely at that wedding picture. I had heard so many stories by then. The story of how he almost set the house on fire. The story about accidentally buying strawberry milk in Japan. The story of how he proposed to my mother—both his version and hers. The story of how he asked her for a divorce when I was two but she said “no.” All the stories of how he felt like he was missing out on our lives. I realized that his eyes were just like mine. And I let myself admit that I had loved when he would sing. I loved hearing about all the places he had been. I loved his stories.
I was a Hero Once Peter Mahoney
Or so it seemed My life was gripped In the vise of commitment And Truth was my name It was all so long ago The tilted windmills of my youth Still smugly sit Atop the hill My wide-eyed innocence Lies smashed upon the rocks below You cannot change the world If you cannot change yourself So now I chase The American Dream I never wanted Marinating in suburban mediocrity Struggling to keep up with the Joneses A task to which the Mahoneys Are never quite equal A life defined By the endless repetition of mindless chores Mow the lawn Wash the car Fix the sink Tend the garden I still have my ideals I tell myself Lamely When on occasion I ponder who I am But principles without actions Are like the kiss of a whore Or the handshake of a politician I cannot think of these things Now The weight may crush me Besides My nap awaits But I will awake, my friend, I will awake
Fine Art II Gary Beck
The glitterati glitter gathered together at posh auction houses to bid for paintings they once sneered at. Now time has approved artists who were mocked for outlandish work and a slick auctioneer coaxes millions from collectors who buy what they buy because itâ€™s valued by others. New owners proudly bask at fervent hand clapping for record sale prices for the same painting they once could have bought for virtually nothing.
Creator of Worlds Beatrice Joyner
I watched a young artist yesterday create stars, worlds and galaxies from spray paint. I stood mesmerized, watching him work. He painted a circle, covered it with a small disk, sprayed it with paint and suddenly a world was created with an eclipse of a sun. He took a knife and carved a pathway of light rippling on water. He balled up paper and with his magic touch, created mountains. As he went about his work of creating worlds, his face was in complete concentration on what his hands could produce. The only time I saw him smile was at the small child who sat next to him waiting patiently for him to finish. They shared a secret smile of appreciation as he laid the piece aside to begin a new one and I clapped with joy of seeing worlds created. But his eyes were constantly on the look out for the Police and the Licenses and Inspection people who didnâ€™t want him to create worlds without first having paid a fee. And I wondered what kind of world do we live in when a young man with talent using spray paint to create galaxies that are capable of swallowing me whole has to hide?
From Charta Exisccatae M. Benjamin Herdnon
Scars & Empty Vases Kevin Heaton
Van Gogh’s mad ear enflamed a field of purple irises—marring the face of a sleeping homeless man. Artists render
Liars parse sermons like ravens, then genuflect at driftwood crosses & line their egos with Cardinal feathers—change sangria
people like pastels & watercolors. The wounded gather shopping carts & talk about Jesus, their smiles resemble burn
into green tea. Would that I were sickle & whetstone—a reaper of men, or palette & canvas—the turned cheek of Christ.
scars. They tape magazine clippings to bedroom mirrors & blow cigarette smoke into perfect images hoping to see a heartbeat.
Untitled Mixed Media Jessica Lynch
At the Store Valentina Cano
I sit with metal headphones buckled over my ears, turning dials, massaging the creaks of sound out of an undead machine. I think of your face at the cash register today, dropping like a coin in a fountain and I want to pry my nails off one at a time with this CD case.
Bull Market Joseph Rathgeber
I’m no cowboy, no ranch hand, no Apache. No rodeo clown, slaughterhouse lackey, no poacher or pioneer. But I will, repeat will, catch the train to Bowling Green Park and castrate that capitalist pig of a bull. I’ll walk down Wall Street with a sledgehammer and a circular saw, pruning shears, lefty scissors, and a spray can to tag the beast. I’ll hack its haunches and subdue its charge. I’ll sever its stocky hooves and topple the beast and the market it symbolizes. I’ll melt it down to a metallic sludge and send it into the sewer grates. I’ll beat it bronze and bloody with a bollard. It’s the least I can do besides blowing up a horse-drawn buggy outside J.P. Morgan’s bank. That’s how they did it in the olden days. I’d rather be crude, take the bull testicles and store them in a Hellman’s mayonnaise jar with the label peeled off and tape a strip of loose-leaf paper in its place that reads BULLSHIT.
White City Joseph Rathgeber
This city is the poorest of all: Camden, New Jersey. Most killingest, too, per capita. Walt Whitman’s house is a vacant. Hard to be the man without the manufacturing: RCA Victor: Campbell’s Soup: the shipbuilding yard. A city dated: census data: census data. Percentages crime rated. Police force abated after funding cuts. Blight. Breakbulk rumbles down the Delaware. The governor frisks a sixteen-year-old and smiles for a disposable camera, a news crew, a cult following.
The governor belly laughs.
They have the aquarium there— people look in. They say to their children: This used to be a white city.
La Cometa Perfecta Alexis Marie Cabrera The best thing about com-
ing into spring was the last winter winds blowing in. They weren’t too cold and they weren’t too strong, just enough for the perfect kite. If only it was possible to find the perfect kite. I knew exactly what I wanted. It had to be beautiful, with vibrant colors, and it had to make all the kids at Cooper River Park super jealous. It had to be able to take right off; not even once should it come close to the ground. And it had to whoosh and swoosh as it moved through the air like a dance. Overwhelmed by the excitement, I’d rush to my grandmother’s house after school to meet up with my cousin. We’d talk about which kite we would like to get that year. One weekend, my mother and Titi Dolly drove us to the Dollar Store. Dollar Store toys were a privilege for poor Camden youth. We weren’t allowed to complain and accepted our trips there as a treat. Our cheap kites were nowhere near perfection. They soared in the sky for half a second and came tumbling down just as fast at each try. All the way to Mama’s house, we mumbled between our teeth, “stupid plastic kites.” My grandfa-
ther heard every word, and with a big smile on his face, he promised us, together, we would make the best kites ever. I thought it was a gift from God, working with Papa meant the world to me; he knew how to make everything in his basement. “Papa, can we make them now? I wanna make them Papa! I’m so bored! There’s nothing on T.V.! I did my homework! Papa! Papa! The good winds are almost over, Mama said so! Papa!” I cried over and over through the week and he would respond with a chuckle, not the least annoyed. “Oye, esperar. Wait.” On an early Saturday, Yeye and I were sitting on Mama’s rough green couch, watching T.V. and trying to ignore the grumbles in our stomachs. The house was filled with the aroma of tostones, arroz y candules, and pollo frito. Salsa music poured through the vents up from the basement. If you listened closely, you could hear Papa’s feet stomping in rhythm across the floor, occasionally stopping so he could take a swig from his beer. Mama would hum from the kitchen and dance in rhythm too. They had always danced together, even if apart.
Papa came to us with cut up paper in his hands along with thin sticks, rope, and ribbon ties. His yellow eyes were gleaming like the sun, his dark lips stretched at each corner and his tar teeth shining like coal with diamonds. He laid out his materials on the floor in front of us and asked “Que hora es?” The only clock that ever worked in the house was in the cocina, but neither of us felt like walking over there. “Uhh...” “To make kites, mis ninas!” Papa reached his hand to his ear and handed over his very own special pencil he used for his perfect measurements and creation notes. He told me to draw. Draw. And so I drew. Papa told me that everything I drew on my kite the sky and clouds would see. And that even God would be able to see it. And He would love it. God would love my art so much. One day, on the Saturday of the next week, Papa came to pick us up from the apartment. We tied the string, with Papa’s help, held on tight, with Papa’s help, picked the perfect spot, with Papa’s help, and let the kites take off. A strong wind ripped our paper kites in an instant and the shreds came tumbling down. In my head the kite flew for hours; it soared above everyone else’s in that park. I had no idea what Papa was apologizing for when they broke. The
entire car ride back, I talked nonstop about the event to Papa, and he would just repeat to himself “Ay dios mio” between hearty laughs. The following week had been strange. It was like my mother, Mama and Papa, and my aunts and uncle had completely disappeared. Sometimes all the adults would be in a separate room, mumbling Spanish that was too rushed to be understood. We thought maybe they were planning some big surprise for us. What could that special day be? Then it was the first day of Spring. Yelaila, Nataly and I had slept over Mama’s house the night before and were in the living room as the adults huddled upstairs in my grandparents’ bedroom. We were anxious, ants in our pants, waiting for them to all come downstairs so we could play outside. My grandparents’ door creaked open, and in a line the adults came down the stairs. First, my mother, her face blotched with patches of red and tan and tears. Then Titi Dolly, Yelaila’s mom, with a similar complexion. Nataly’s mom, Titi Betsy, with her head down, a new mother and unsure how to say adult things to a four year old child. And Uncle Steve, hiding in the shadow of the steps. But Mama wasn’t there and neither was Papa. “Alexis.” My mother choked. She looked right at me; she never looked at me that way. As if she was about to
break, as if I was about to break. None of her siblings could help, they couldn’t speak a word. “Papa’s dead.” My mother was the first to move to hold me, then all of my aunts and uncle huddled around us. “I’m sorry.” “Me siento bebe.” “I don’t know what to do.” “Do you understand.” “Por favor ayudenos.” “Ay dios mio.” And Mama didn’t come down from her bedroom. I would never fly a kite again. If I did, I’d find the way to make it perfect in every possible way. I would drive to Cooper River Park and let it take off. All by myself. I would imagine so hard in that stupid sky and those stupid clouds that he’s in there. And that he sees how perfect it is. And he’s going to love it. He’s going to love my art so much. And then I want it to rip in shreds just as fast, so I can finally forget everything.
Cleave Sewn nylon, cotton Ana Castro
Manifesto Patricia Brooks
What good are words if they don’t threaten and amaze, tease and traumatize, until each muscle pulls taut, dogs howl for miles, cats hump each other till their claws draw blood? What good are words if they don’t explode the layers of lies with which we’ve clothed our ugly lives, our eyes puffed with illusion? What good if no one knows what skeletons speak through us, that terrible cranial face beneath our flesh? Who will wake the world if we don’t, our demands flailing like limbs, cracking our hearts open like clams, releasing the bloody pearls from our sand. Where, where are all our terrible, grating, liberating words now?
Susquehanna Station Dean P. Johnson
In the Susquehanna subway station, a dark purple-brown stain on the concrete platform marks where a once little boy died of complications of youth and mistaken self-identify and lost innocence by wearing the same hip-hop jacket made popular by pop-romanticism of pop-pop cap ‘em street shuffle hustle and song, while another once little boy sold him ancillary dreams in miniature yellow and blue make green zip-lock top plastic baggies. The mark will gradually fade, worn away by the ceaseless trample of passers-by, worming their way to nearest the track, seeing nothing but their own private subterranean stations. With each step the sole carries with it molecules, blood invisible, out of the underworld, out of the city, out into the suburban blind where they will kick off their shoes by the heel, turn on the local news, and nod off believing they are merely inculpable bystanders.
Flamenco Courtney Gambrell
El baile hechiza El movimiento de cadera a cadera Casualmente Lujuria gotea de las bocas masculinas Una esclava solamente por la música La gitana sonríe Su aliento susurra Con el ritmo de la percusión
Qué insincera es la vida gitana La maldición de vivir y bailar Por hombres españoles quieren una muñeca Para existe como una mujer respetable Nunca estar
Su existencia es enigmática La sociedad le denigra Mientras los aristócratas mirando su cuerpo Dejen sus burocracias por las noches
Untitled Watercolor & Ink Fernanda Sanovicz
Brief Sojourn with Paco de Nada thru Honduras and Nicaragua Kerry Shawn Keys
Baseballs gloves to Nicaragua some decades ago. Thank you Goodwill Stores. Not much has changed since; everything has changed. More drug running now (though I’m remembering the Mena Airport in Arkansas under Governor Clinton, and the running of drugs on its landing strips). The flamenco guitar went on top of the rickety bus, chickens inside, the countryside kids scrambling for a catcher’s mitt. Paco’s idea to bring them. No compensation for what’s been stolen – in the end, just symbolic, romantic tokens, but prized no doubt. Overland from Honduras, Paco (Frank Miller) and Zopilote (Kerry), after a month in a Contra Hotel in Tegucigalpa, like living inside a halfway-horse inside the walls of an affable Troy. The grey streets radiated rancheros, military police, devotion, and suspicion. Ever since his childhood, when Paco first heard the word Te goose see gal pa, he dreamt of this place. So many hidden puns, erotic. Say the city slowly, say it as Nabokov says Lo-leeee-ta in the opening paragraph of that book. Perhaps the lusciousness of the lan-
guage as well as child porn lawsuits is a reason the remake of the film was forbidden for so long in the Land Of Freedom where, with the rusting Iron Curtain down, the enemy of political and social correctness became the mouse within. Mice can morph into rats quite easily. Inside Tegucigalpa the Yankee Embassy is a barbwire fortress, and the pharmacies and pizza parlors and guns, stunned misshapen flowers. Still, te amo Tegoose, galloping toward I know not what myth of creation, sodomized by Big Brother up North. Well, we were glad to be on our way from Honduras to Managua, putting a safe distance between ourselves and the Pennsylvania National Guard, the cocaine connection, the torture house around the corner from our bean and avocado bar, Pic Nic,where the police trained in Georgia practiced their skills on social activists. Soon, I would see the volcano in Masaya where the U.S. government’s patsy, Somoza, dumped dissidents until an earthquake toppled him. A local there told us about hummingbirds that sucked blood, and later
we would stay in a posada where the communal toilet had ants and roaches thicker than sand, and mosquitoes sprayed out of the showerhead along with a trickle of water. The Sandinista’s economy was crippled by the Yankee stranglehold and internal dissension and corruption. I gazed around the crater moonscape of the volcano looking for a spirit, a resurrection, a shoe, but saw nothing but smoke. The country was poor, poor as ashes. Beans and rice rising everyday in price. Hope and discontent galvanized. Dilapidated fenceposts sprouted flowers. People were tired of the conflict, the uneasy truce. Screw the Contras, screw the Sandinistas became the undercurrent – peace, peace at a reasonable price. No superhuman Castro to protect them. The boys – the Ortegas – even Borges and Omar Cabesas (Fire From The Mountain), didn’t have the vision of statesmen. They were idealistic warriors to the end, though soon one might question their ideals. Paco played guitar for everyone. Omar hugged him. I read at the Rubén Darío Festival. Daniel showed up – we were amazed at the lack of security guards. Yet we suspected it was all hopeless, the energy had petered out of the Revolution. Once again, United Fruit of America would win. Paco recorded much of this in maybe a hundred drawings, the flamboyant colors applicable to the blood and destruction, the beauty, the absurd, imperial theatre of poverty.
We returned to Tegucigalpa by plane. At the airport, our passports were confiscated until Paco made a fuss. A pigeon tried to sell us drugs. I conceived the poem, Identification. We went back to the Contra Hotel, resumed our rum and guaro, the poolhalls, the dancehalls. I trysted with an actress. Paco drew a pooltable with skulls for balls. A few friends of friends had been killed since our brief trip to Nicaragua –professional social workers, not armed revolutionaries. But for the imperial plutocracy and its puppets, indistinguishable. One was missing an eye, parts of his genitals, fingers. A tradition inherited from Columbus and perhaps percolated to these lands from the Aztecs. Soon, we left by bus to the northern coast to Tela and its surroundings to lounge around, strum flamenco, and cavort with the Garifunas. We also took a side trip to the bloody altar stones of Copan. The poet, Robert Bringhurst, once wrote about “the rumpled blade of darkness that is/ lodged in every fissure of the brain…” – that was nearby El Salvador, and still the genocide continues throughout the Western Hemisphere. Honduras simmers and will go on simmering. Nicaragua feels like a country slashed and burned but capable of recovery despite, as Chomsky says, “the legacy of malnutrition and ruined lives fostered by the ‘U.S. Fair Play’ policy to
wreck the economy. And so a few months went by before Paco and I returned to the Susquehanna Valley where I finished a book of poems, The Hearing, about our experience, and Paco published a chapbook collection of letters and commentary, Drawn and Quartered. His colorful drawings were auctioned off or given away or sold for a bottle or obol. Quite wonderful they were, but mostly vanished I am afraid into an oblivion of the incomprehensible as most likely much of the phantasmagoria depicted. A few I am sure hanging on chestnut or black walnut walls in my old haunts in God’s Country, Perry
County. Nicaragua has the baseball gloves; Honduras and her crazy Juana have a few more poems and songs amid their quiet, almost submissive poverty and obscurity, their terror and cumbia; and the rubber ball (an invention of folks from those parts) still ricochets in the squash courts of Chicago and Washington D.C. Cheap labor and the stick of big business still own the order of the day. Crack, the night. The Pope has visited Cuba and blessed a Yoruba Goddess disguised as the Virgin Mary. Ghostly figures of Arawaks and Mayans, their hands chopped off, run drugs on the coasts. Quetzalcoatl has blond
hair and blue eyes, and sports an M-16. The I.M.F is poised. George Soros does his best. The poverty and caste and class violence continues. Paco and I are back and living in the Hood where other kinds of slavery are endemic – crack, heroin, and racism, domestic versions of the vicious cycle of history. Jack and Jill and Jingo-Gringo are addicted to oil. Today’s not much different, really. Paco de Nada plays an alegrias, hands and goat skins clap the rhythm, a poet recites a piece about love and a knife, there’s a drive-by, four students
are raped in Guatemala, whores and losers and cops are decapitated in Mexico. Almost unreal, there’s a radiant rooster trussed to a mile-high ceiba tree, keeping its one eye on a dismembered horse, and the other on a guitar hanging in the window next to a rifle leaning on the sill at the bar near the headquarters of the Dirección National de Investigaciones in Tegucigalpa. O’ Henry and Sandino shoot turtle eggs and grenades across a pool table. Te goose see gal pa. This is the Heavenly City called the World.
Untitled ink drawing
by Paco de Nada
A Visit with Exu Kerry Shawn Keys
Good night everyone. That’s the way these things begin sometimes, the way the ground opens and all the walls fall in. A dream of insects and the dunes of Abaeté. He always slept naked on his back or on his left side with one arm in a crooked circle under his cheek and neck, and the arm propped on a make-shift pillow in such a way that it would not go to sleep before he did, and leave him awake and defenseless. Clothes were all over the place, on nails, on the floor, one sleeve under the bed, one sleeve poking into a shoe, black shoes flopped next to brown shoes, sneaks, high heels, mismatched pairs of socks with holes at heel and toe, or nearly brand new stockings in loud colors. One coffee cup with a few dregs stuck to sugar at the bottom, and a trail of black ants down over the sink counter, going past the broken fridge, twisting between gorged out shells and wings of dead cockroaches that only a sudden gust or a broom moved now, then out through the mouse hole in the kitchen door to the courtyard where the two neighborhood dogs like to fuck, then up that wall with all the black, fungus growth on it, across the clothes line to a metal support bar attached to another wall, then up that wall’s fungus to the sharp shards of
protective glass cemented into the ledge, and from there disappearing into the neighbor’s domain. Strong smells of coffee, garlic, and palm cooking oil. Coffee grounds in the sink; garlic skins on the tile floor; a few mysterious spots of blood or make-up or spaghetti sauce blotched here and there. It was 2 am Tuesday. The day before had been difficult like Mondays are. Even when he was a child in church on Sundays, he knew what Mondays were for. The man in black and white in the pulpit with candle light shining off of his greasy, bald head told everyone how they always forgot God between Sunday and Sunday, and so Monday was the beginning of the forgetting – and difficult because he still remembered Sunday, and how he had rested in bed like God half of the day, or had gone fishing for the big one that always got away. Mosquitoes were making mincemeat of his feet. Mosquitoes and stars must be blood relatives, he litanied over and over, because the stars ate up his mind, especially the morning star and the evening. Up there in the sky beyond the mirror that he had installed in the ceiling, outside the roof, he could feel them walking, almost like a stalking, with the clouds like bushes of radioactive, power plant
steam, and the moon a kind of bromide flashlight giving off just enough light so that outside the window the shadows seemed to be heavy with mystery, moving, the shadow of an earthworm in the weeds, the shadow of the tip of the wisteria poking its snout into nothingness, the shadow of the wind his sole hold and direction in life. He tried sleeping on his other side, covering his feet with the blouse he had found thrown over the stepladder whose rungs must somehow lead to a place he didn’t want to go again if that was really where he came from. Once in a dream he had seen the severed head of a goat with dozens of ribbons stapled to its ears on the little platform at the top of the ladder. Unlike most days, the coffee hadn’t been very good – as if it still swam in insecticide or the sweat of a sickly peasant. Still, of all things sensual, nothing could equal noir coffee in a pure white cup except for that maelstrom of a mulatto of long ago on the snow white sheets of his bed in a room that he didn’t even remember except for the throw-rug that the previous tenant must have hung on the wall as a decoration – dog hair it seemed – and then forgotten to take. And the reason he remembered this was that he had taken a fancy to that rug and it had gone everywhere with him and had endured the insatiable dirt and lightless rooms and spilt coffee, and dog piss from an eternity of relegations. Whenever he drank too much coffee or
beer or cachaça, he would always immediately have to piss, but he would hold it for hours. His kidneys must have been grand champions because of the challenge, and because he seldom sweated. Just yesterday – Monday – in the WC in the bar down by the beach, he had doused the lime rinds for a good three minutes, steeping them in an acid rain that killed every greedy cockroach in site, even though they were the most indestructible of guzzlers. He hated the bastards. You’d squash one, and then later in the morning find its mutilated body belly up in a pool of beer at the bottom of a mug, or it would come to life in the middle of the night and wake him as it struggled like a misshapen, sugared-up Gregor trying to scale the slippery steep sides of a coffee mug. Just like now, the cup on the floor by the mattress was white as snow and a cockroach kept scraping the sides and moaning, an inept, sleepwalking Sisyphus never quite making it to the rim. Years of exposure, had taught him the macaronics of cockroaches, though he was half-asleep now and incoherent, and the moon seemed to be kneeling on the bed next to him dining on his belly, yet surely he was clearly awake in his own world. Then poof, there she was, a brunette this time, and not the mulatto of old, all lovely and sprouting naked on the white sheets. A few hours ago, he had been wearing a blue shirt and red pants with a white belt. He remembered this
because he still had his shirt on, and she had put his pants under her bubble butt because she was having a period and did not want to stain the sheets. This was important to her but it didn’t work out because as they both were about to cum they rolled around like two flushed snowhares and blood had gotten all over his blue shirt and the sheet anyway. Nothing had gotten on the white belt because he had, thank goodness, taken it off beforehand and draped it over the beachchair, one of the few pieces of furniture in the room. So then, instead of relaxing as he knew some people did in such situations, he asked her to roll over a minute while he went to the fridge and got some lemons and squeezed them on the bloodstain and then rubbed the sheet with a hairbrush and some soap before soaking everything in the plastic paint bucket outside in the courtyard. He felt his way back in the dark, and lay down, it seemed, next to nothing. He was once again half asleep. Far away on the hill he could hear the drums. That must be the festival still going on. He had been there earlier but they had asked him to leave just as it was starting. At first he refused, and then, as always, they bribed him with some cachaça. It was supposed to rain the next day. Already the wind could be heard in the cowry shells banging on the weathered, blue door. And he could
half-hear the stray dog, Big Pistol, whimpering, having earlier humped his heart out with a sister from his litter. He, himself, could feel the dog’s bones aching where he had been flogged with sticks by a taunting gang of neighborhood kids. Pistol was sprawled out in the doorway, one eye on his master’s room and the other on the flickering candle at the cross-section of the street that could be seen through the rusty iron gate. The woman had left some time ago, a mulatto or brunette or maybe a valence of the two of them. In his confusion, he didn’t really care. They all looked straight ahead, anyway, like the godlike boy or girl from Ipanema, all doing their own thing, like he wanted to but couldn’t, caught between, somehow, wandering here and there, a rock for a pillow sometimes, a pillow for a rock, and then he heard his name called, “Xuxu Xuxu” softly at first…“Please be quiet” he replied, but then she persisted and called his name again and again, more and more demanding, and he replied, “Please, please, be quiet, I’m in the middle of my story”, but her voice became more aggressive asking him what time it was though there were clocks all over the place, and finally he yelled, “Please shut up, I’m almost at the ending, I’ll just skip the middle part”, but her voice became more and more aggressive, possessive, and shrieked for him to come down. It was always like this. He came down,
riding the bones of her skull. He was inside her, a downpour inside a sponge left out in the rain, dilating, dissolving, dilating. The sponge grew wings, was twitching and dancing, spinning like a drunken dove, almost in convulsions, no thought of time anymore as it was beyond the end, and she would wake up as so often in a strange bed, looking up at the mirror above the bed, hardly recognizing herself at first, and he would be gone, and it was her turn.
Untitled ink drawing by Paco de Nada
Justin Vitiello Leyendo mi diario, El Mundo: elegía a un torero (1994) a los cabos del anarquismo “ Belmonte se saltó la tapa de los sesos como un verdadero varón... el arma estaba cargada del destino veraz Juan había toreado hasta lo último, afrontada su tarde final de soledad, de vida... los esclarecidos disparan así ” — como hacen los soñadores de utopías alucinantes quienes cogen en vuelos los toros de lidia y ludibrios como no harán nunca los carniceros que desmenuzan, en la sombra, hundiendo nuestra carne
Reading my daily paper, El Mundo (1994) to Anarchy’s tail-ends
“Belmonte blew his brains out like a man… the gun was loaded with fate and death… he’d fought his last bullfight, faced his last afternoon of solitude and life… real men shoot that way”— like dreamers of utopias who take the bull(s) of this world by glaring horns do… like the shady butchers who mince our meat don’t…
Photo of Justin Vitiello by Lamont B. Steptoe
desde “regresso a Madrid” (Calle de la Victoria, 1994) I. como si nunca hubiera estado aquí… II. entonces las maldiciones de Franco se clavaban en casi todas las gargantas y solo los refritos de fiambres, tras la última corrida, entrañaban los odios mortíferos— resaca de esta ritual vociferante: Puerta del Sol III. ahora, palabras como guerra civil, nazi-fascismo, anarco-sindicalismo se diluyen y hunden en un paisaje entre callos y calamares IV. entre tentáculos y tripas voy a tientas, quejándome mientras mi viejo Madrid yace en agonía sin chatos de vino
from “back to Madrid” (Calle de la Victoria, 1994) I. as if I’ve never been here before… II. once curses of Franco lodged in most throats and only cold-cut rehashings of the latest bullfights could eviscerate internecine hatreds hung over this Puerta del Sol with its vociferous rites III. now, my words— civil war nazifascism anarcho syndicalism flush up and down in passage from tripe to squid IV. tentacles, innards wherever I grope or gripe my old Madrid lies with its chatos de vino in death throes
1. Lamont B. Steptoe & Jimmy Santiago Bacca 2. Miguel Algarin Photos Courtesy of Lamont B. Steptoe
An Interview with Karina Puente Karina Puente is a Mexican-American Artist whose dreamy, feminine paintings have been shown publicly and privately around the world. She currently works with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program.
Melissa Rothman: You began showing your work in California in your mid-teens. How would you say getting such an early start has influenced the trajectory of your work? Karina Puente: I was blessed at an early age with recognition and gallery support for my art making practice. My work did very well in the California gallery circuit. By selling my work, I was able to put myself through college at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, and I helped my family financially. The immediacy of my success fortified my belief in following a life - path filled with passion, heart, and purpose. I follow my work around the world. When a painting sells or when a piece is in an exhibition in another city or country it affords me the opportunity to visit a new place and delve into viable conversations about social issues. Achieving success as a young artist gave me the confidence to make a positive impact on the lives of others. By aligning my work with charitable organizations, I could offer a portion of my proceeds to vineyard workers and their Harvest Dreams (left) Karina Puente
families, visually impaired women, and survivors of domestic violence, while at the same time supporting myself. I learned how to extend my platform to other artists by introducing my contemporaries to collectors and venues where they could also show and sell their work. Having an early start in my career now gives me something to look back on when I temporarily lose sight of my inner strength, and it reminds me of the accomplishments Iâ€™ve achieved so far. My art keeps my eyes focused on the present moment and the horizon; my art urges me to appreciate what I have and it keeps my goals refreshed. Currently, I am looking for a wall in Philadelphia to install a mermaid mural that can symbolize the empowerment of women and raise awareness about clean water access. Melissa Rothman: A big theme as far as the subject in your paintings seems to be the image of lone females, some of which gaze directly at the viewer. Who are these women to you and where would you say that your interest in the female portrait originated? Karina Puente: I paint brave
women as an invitation for the viewer to find bravery within herself. When a woman feels brave, real work can get done and the healing of the world can begin. I paint people as ancestors, as a coming of age story, and as a figure who has yet to be represented in an art historical context. The figures I paint look directly into the viewer’s eyes unafraid of intimacy- as a way of teaching the power of unwavering connection and self-esteem. I paint the archetypal feminine: the queen, mother, warrior. My interest in portrait painting originated from my desire to show people how truly beautiful they are. After I paint a person, there is an energetic shift in the way she perceives herself and her memories. I paint to uncover wholeness. Melissa Rothman: It has been my experience that women are often uncomfortable with looking at their own likeness. I imagine allowing someone to see themselves through the eyes of someone who holds them in high regard is a both a powerful and intimate thing. Your figures often exist on an abstract, almost dreamlike plane, what goes into conceptualizing these spaces? Karina Puente: Self-perception is similar to artististic process. There are blocks and there are breakthroughs. When a person is uncomfortable with her likeness, it may be that she has yet to touch her invinci-
bility and magnetism. When an artist is blocked creatively, she has yet to access the deep creator within. When I draw a person’s portrait -the process is intimate and validating- because I hold physical and psychological space for the sitter to feel whole and for “her eyes to dance with mine.” I borrowed that last bit from an incredible writer named Judith Zuckerman who looked into my eyes as I drew her portrait and she noticed that my eyes light on fire when my hands touch the page. And yet it’s my curiosity that burns because I ask questions and pull apart pomegranate stories until I arrive at the core of what a person truly wants. I then paint that person in a realm surrounded by symbols of her deepest longing. When the artwork is personal, I aim to give vocabulary to my own journey and to articulate that vision.
self-worth? I want to use muralism and mythology as tools to address concerns that are often left in the shadows. My current mural project consists of painting a Mermaid who refuses the advances of a soldier’s attack, while simultaneously remaining calm and transcendent. The scales of the mermaid’s tail can be fabricated by the stories of community members who are survivors, who practice non-violence and who choose activism as a form of healing. The mural can therefore teach us how to care for each other better, locally and globally. I’d like to connect with people who want to support this project.
Melissa Rothman: Now that your journey has brought you to Philadelphia, how has the city been influencing your work? What is your next step? You spoke briefly about your mural project, tell us a little bit about that. Karina Puente: I am influenced by the murals in Philadelphia and by people who make them. Behind each mural lives a story about effective community engagement and social change. Can you imagine being able to move the needle on how people talk about issues of domestic and global violence, clean water access, and Mermaid Mural Karina Puente
Biographies Frederick Pollack is the author of two book-length narrative poems, THE ADVENTURE and HAPPINESS, both published by Story Line Press. Other poems are in both print and online journals. Adjunct professor of creative writing at George Washington University. Poetics: neither navel-gazing mainstream nor academic pseudo-avant-garde. Lisa Naomi Konigsberg - teacher, humanist, and poet. Currently teaching in the English Department at West Chester University. David R. O'Donnell is currently studying the nature of concrete walls and razor-wire fences. When he isn't engaged in that pursuit, he divides his heart between Philadelphia and South Jersey. Frank “Chui” Fitzgerald stepped out of the darkness into light and life has been meaningful and fulfilling. Barbara Hernandez is a Chicana writer living in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. Born in California and raised in military communities around the country, she is now happily settled in the South after a year in rural Japan. Peter P. Mahoney served as an infantry lieutenant in the Vietnam War. Upon his return from Vietnam, he joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). He was subsequently indicted along with seven other members of VVAW for conspiracy to incite a riot at the Republican Convention in Miami Beach in 1972, the so-called Gainesville 8 case. After a four-week trial - during which his best friend turned out to be an FBI informer who testified against him - all were acquitted. This is the first poem he has written in almost forty years. Gary Beck has spent most of his adult life as a theater director. He has seven published chapbooks. His novel 'Extreme Change' was published by Cogwheel Press; and 'Acts of Defiance' was published by Artema Press. His collection of short stories, ‘A Glimpse of Youth’ was published by Sweatshoppe Publications. His original plays and translations of Moliere, Aristophanes and Sophocles have been produced Off Broadway. His poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in hundreds of literary magazines. He currently lives in New York City. Beatrice Joyner is CEO of Busy As A Bea Productions and currently lives in Philadelphia teaching a variety of parenting and self-esteem seminars based on her writings. She is a poet, documentary photographer, trainer, and consultant. Kevin Heaton lives and writes in South Carolina. His work has appeared in a number of publications including: Guernica, Rattle, Raleigh Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Adroit Journal, and The Monarch Review. He is a Best of the Net, Best New Poets, and three-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. Her debut novel, The Rose Master, was published in 2014. Joseph Rathgeber is an author, poet, and high school English teacher from New Jersey. His short stories and poems have appeared in The Literary Review, Fourteen Hills, Hiram Poetry Review, J Journal: New Writing on Justice, North Dakota Quarterly, Mizna, Ellipsis, and elsewhere. His debut story collection is The Abridged Autobiography of Yousef R. and Other Stories (ELJ Publications, 2014). He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a two-time Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award Honorable Mention, and he received a 2014 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Alexis Marie Cabrera is an actress and theater director from Camden, NJ. Patricia Brooks has published two novels (Dell), as well as poems and stories in a variety of print and online publications. She has also put her body where her mouth is: Brooks was among those fighting for the simple vote (now endangered again) in the Deep South in 1964, has protested ever since on the streets, and at 68 went on a three-week hunger strike to remind people that the war in Iraq was still going strong. And now again. And again... Dean P. Johnson has a BA in English and an MA in Writing both from Rowan University. He has had essays published in newspapers across the country including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Houston Chronicle, Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger, Courier Post (Southern NJ), and Philadelphia Inquirer among many others. He has had creative nonfiction, short stories and poetry appear in several literary magazines including Chronogram, Foundling Review, JMWW Journal, ArtWord Quarterly, Wolf Head Quarterly, Sylvia, Circle Magazine and The Fourth River among several others. Dean is an administrator and teacher of English at Camden Academy Charter High School in Camden, NJ and is an adjunct professor of writing at Rowan University and Camden County College. Courtney Gambrell is currently studying for her MA at Villanova University. She has been published in Whirlwind Magazine twice before, and is now Whirlwind's Outreach Coordinator. Kerry Shawn Keys is a poet, wonderscript scribbler, playwright, with dozens of poetry books, and translations from Lithuanian and Portuguese. Recipient of an NEA in Literature. Keysâ€™ roots are in Appalachia. His writing is also informed by Brazil and India where he worked for years. He currently lives in Vilnius, Lithuania. Justin Vitiello was a professor at Temple University in both Philadelphia and Rome. He was a member of IWW and a prominent political activist in the U.S., Spain, and Italy. Vitiello will be remembered through his poetic compassion and love for humanity. His books are widely available for purchase in small bookstores and online.
The winter issue of Whirlwind Magazine. Con algunas páginas en español.