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Poem of the Week May 7, 2013
This week we’re featuring a poem from our new spring Editor’s Prize issue, 36.1, “the ladder” issue. Aaron Belz lives in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and teaches at Durham Technical Community College. He’s published two books of poetry, The Bird Hoverer (BlazeVOX, 2007) …
Art is a game of light and shadows, and the studio was a place of such chiaroscuro. The shadows were filled with an assortment of objects: a Rembrandt pastel set, a thousand little colorful chips of crayons and chalk in a wooden box, or a Maxwell House coffee jar stuffed with brushes. Bacon often didn’t bother to clean the brushes after he used them, rendering them useless thereafter. Next to these discarded brushes, cardboard boxes lay in heaps, often thrown into the studio after the contents, bottles of champagne—Francis’s drug of choice—had been consumed elsewhere in the house. The champagne boxes were then used to store photographs. The boxes, brimful of photographs of friends and lovers, became painted over and waterlogged.
A shaky, sickening glee washed through me and then drained away almost immediately, replaced by a daffy disbelief: Alice Munro had written to me. Alice! Munro! Those two words were a kind of Holy Grail to me then: the lilting rise and fall of Alice, the double-barreled thunk of Munro. Together they seemed less like a name than an object I could hold in my hands-a stoneware bowl, perhaps, or a pewter platter, equal parts generous and unforgiving. They bore the weight of everything I loved, admired and understood about the art and craft of fiction, everything I ached to master myself.
Uncategorized April 8, 2009
This essay was presented as an Editor’s Pick, April 8, 2009. New York in the early ’80s is the setting of Bettina Drew’s memoir of her brief acquaintances with poets Ted Berrigan and Elizabeth Smart. In this TMR online exclusive, Drew recalls …
by Dave Kim
It’s the last round of the fourteenth annual Presbyterian United Bible Quiz, and Freddy Hansook Chung of Glendale, California, is in the lead with 7,300 points — 2,100 ahead of second place. Staring into the dark auditorium where his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Young Min Chung, are sitting with their well-worn Bibles and sending telepathic cheers to their Young American Hope, Freddy takes a deep breath and locks his fingers over the rubber buzzer pod, which by now is as hot and pliant as a woman’s breast, or what he imagines a woman’s breast must feel like. The buzzer even has a nipple, a Phillips-head screw working a dent into his palm with each push, and twice Freddy has given it a gentle squeeze for good luck.
“Don’t blame Baby,” she would say as I’d rummage through the apartment trying to find the television remote that he’d hidden somewhere or while I held up a job application he’d “marked” before I had a chance to fill it out. “Maybe it’s you,” she’d say. “Maybe he’s trying to tell you something. Don’t forget, he’s a very gifted dog.”
For years my wife and I rented a house with people in the basement. Below us lived a string of young families, some with children, some without, willing to sacrifice daylight and good ventilation for a savings in rent. The ductwork connected our two apartments, and at night, while eating dinner and watching television, Katherine and I could hear whoever was below us eating dinner and watching television. We heard them fight, and they heard us. If I tried to shower while someone downstairs was showering or running the washing machine or the sink, the water came through the showerhead in a trickle, and ice-cold. I’d stomp my foot and holler, but it never made a difference. I lost count of the nights we lay awake listening to the mother below us trying soothe her crying child, muted there-theres and shhhs echoing from the floor. Katherine felt guilty when our son arrived and we returned the favor, but I didn’t. They had it coming.
There was something wrong with Nithin, Vrinda’s boy. A hormonal imbalance of some sort that could not be corrected. He was overweight and hoarse and constantly lunging at things. They had moved in two years ago-mother, nine-year-old son and a huge, ferocious Alsatian, his collar buried in his bristling coat. The father was dead, in a car accident whose details could not be properly imagined because it had happened halfway around the world, in Canada, and had involved fog and ice.
Hearing the Honda in the valley, he pushed himself to his feet, paused to let his belly receive the pain, then moved stiffly across the dirt yard to the wrought-iron gate. From there he watched the young white man drive the Honda through the stand of tamarind trees on the brow of the hill and bounce along the dusty trail toward him.
In the Midwestern town where I grew up, my father us repainting my room blue and white, my favorite colors, just in case I come home. I try not to think about this. Instead I concentrate on getting a job as an editorial assistant, not knowing any other work for a young graduate to do in publishing in New York.
“If you find yourself coming back the next day and erasing more of the so-called improvements than you keep, you’d better get the hell out of that book.”
“We all must make an effort for the betterment of mankind, even though we know it won’t do any good.”