The Phenomenology of Shame

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When she passes you in the hall, try to meet her eyes.  Look away.  Watch her smooth progress reflected in the window.  She has not looked at you either.  You notice her bruise-coolored shoes.  The soft soles.  How thin her ankles are.  Back the surgery station, pretend to ignore the whispers.  Check charts.  Note alterations of the vital signs.  Don’t participate by asking questions.  You will learn enough to make a rough sketch of the facts…

Lilly, My Sweet

Aki

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Aki leans over the steaming bowl.  The dashi is the color of tea.  She watches several oil blobs float on the surface, gently change shape, combine, as she stirs the soup, as she touches her spoon to the tiny circles of green onion taht float to the top.  The steam smells like nothing but heat.  She sips fromt he spoon.  It is without much flavor, but warm, and has an edge of smoke and metal.  The taste after fish.  She stares off, distracted by a sudden movement in the yellow leaves outside the kitchen window.  They will be off the trees soon, she knows.

Found Text Series: Jean L. Clemens

Diary of Jean L. Clemens — New York, October 1900

Magic and Hidden Things

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The part of his job Creech used to like least was having to visiit Port-au-Prince.  Four hours from New York, it may as well have been the dark side of the moon.  Approaching the airport the plane would cruise low along the coast, over the pale eroded mountains and silted rivers.  The jungle that once covered the country was nearly all gone.  A few palm trees waved and nodded on the fringe around the runway of the airport, and above a nearby cluster of small cinderblock houses painted pink and lavender.

Poetry Feature: David Wojahn

Featuring the poems:

 

Late Empire

The hours, ripe apples, hang. The pleasure boats

dapple the artificial lake, the women

shadowed by silk parasols, hands caressing water,

 

the men in powdered wigs, half-dozing at

the oars, and above the palace of Versailles

the globe airostatique, tasseled and swollen,

 

a Fabergé egg, labors to the sky

with its wicker basket cargo—a puzzled drake,

a rooster, a goat dubbed Climb-into-Heaven —

 

the brays and crowing wavering above

a hundred thousand pointing fingers, and the din

giving way to collective gasp, the one breath

 

inhaled, exhaled, novitiates all; the halcyon

days before the bells of sirens peal, blackout,

a night sky riddled with searchlights. But here?

 

The Screaming Blue Messiahs erupt from the stage.

Drums hiss at bass; the giant shaved-headed

singer strikes a pose, a chord, hulking

 

maniacally into The Wild Blue Yonder

amid a light show of dive-bombers—Stukas—careening

ever downward, feedback ricocheting

 

the walls. London, the Town and Country Club,

and I’ve lost you in a riot of green spiked hair,

slam dance, combat boots, the crowd awaiting

 

the next upheaval, the storming of the palaces

of the ancien régime … If I die in a combat zone

box me up and ship me home . Footage

 

of fire, Dresden and its million pounds of napalm,

the singer clubbing his guitar to wire

and splinters on the stage, and I’ve lost you

 

to the noise and tidal dance floor. I am

the destroyer, I am the des-troy-er.

A skinhead waves a broken bottle at

 

a scared Bengali kid, and the light show

bends their flight to slow-mo; the kid leans down,

hugs himself while his friends crowd by, his sleeve

 

in bloody shreds. The room speaks the language

of last summer’s recurring dream: the terrible

incinerating light has come, the dead

 

frozen black to the wheels of their cars, and I weave

a path among them to a house no longer standing,

call you in the way I call you now,

 

deaf to my own voice, and it’s now

I see you lifted skyward by the crowd,

passed with half a dozen others on raised arms,

 

weightlessly buoyed to the music’s stammer,

passed backward and forward across the dance floor,

a zigzag slither, until you finally come to rest,

 

earthbound again, on wobbly feet by a dull red

EXIT sign, and I’m threading my way through the faces

to reach you, shards of the guitar tossed snarling

 

to a sea of hands…. And when the balloon reaches

three hundred feet, an early fall wind propels it

beyond the lake, His Majesty’s deer park,

 

the ersatz peasant village of the Queen,

and when it blunders and falls to a field ten miles

away, imagine the terror-struck farmers and milkmaids,

 

lamenting the fall of the moon. Before them the goat,

no longer dazed, grazes on some clover;

the broken-winged rooster staggers in circles.

 

Now fear has raised a hundred pitchforks and scythes.

Now the fallen moon, and its cargo, must die.

How can we blame them? They set the field on fire.

Improving My Average

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The prop plane labored up the Andes’ blue and white spine, at the mercy of blasts and vacuums.  My scrambled eggs jittered in their dish, like the coarse yellow foam that storms leave on a beach.  I had no intention of eating them: I was counting cities on my fingers, dividing in my head.  After calculating backwards twice, I’d just gotten it straight.  Being twelve years old, having lived in eight places, I’d inhabited each location of my childhood for on and four-eighths years, eighteen months, too long.

Past Useless

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After the night the sheriff came ang got old Alfonso it was like he vanished from earth.  Melvina didn’t seem like she missed him, and never mentioned his name except when me and Roy said, “Tell us about the time old Alfonso got after you with that knife, Melvina.  Tell us about him Busting the door down with the axe.  Tell about when he tried to choke you with a piece of clothesline.  Tell about when ya’ll tied him to that chair in the yard.  Tell…”

Poetry Feature: James Solheim

Featuring the poems:

  • The Fear-of-Toadstools Lady
  • On the Logic and Radiation of Our Love
  • Against Biography
  • Return of the Fear-of-Toadstools Lady

 

Poetry Feature: Walter Bargen

Featuring the poems:

  • Reporting in the Off Season
  • Walking on Air
  • Transmissions
  • Birding in Costa Rica
  • Zeno’s Cinema
  • At A Glance