ISSUES | spring 1992

15.1 Cover

15.1 (Spring 1992)

Featuring the winners of the 1992 Editors Prize and Michael Ashley, Kay Bonetti, Mathew Chacko, Gillian Conoley, C.W. Gusewelle, Kevin Stein, Abigail Thomas, John Verlenden, Resa Willis, an interview with Margaret Walker, and a found text by James VanderKam.

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CONTENT FROM THIS ISSUE

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Fiction

Dec 01 1992

Light Sweet Crude

In January it never rains in Rio Jesus, so the storm had everybody edgy. Randall would later swear his restlessness was inspired, a shiver to a nailscratch by God. For days he’d worked without success reconfiguring the dish to try to capture some reception, from somewhere. Why should he want to go up again now and look at the blank visage of the antique 25 incher lashed to the rafters of the community shelter? It was getting dark fast and for no good reason he wandered out in the rain. Then he saw it at the head of the path, a weird light pulsing faintly in the gloaming. He quickened his step. At the shelter the light was playing on the walls of rain that poured off the tin roof. It danced on the glossy white hood of the Isuzu on blocks in a corner. It illuminated a lamb tethered to a post and an iguana behind the lamb. The lamb stared back in wonder. The iguana closed its eyes. The high pitched, curiously emphatic voice strained for an audience, but there were only the animals and now Randall wandering up. “These are the times that try men’s souls,” said the familiar voice. Soon, across a screen that blinked and leapt with distant lightning, there were charts with planes, bombs, targets. Holy shit, Randall whispered. He began to holler. Pam. LaDawn. Mom and Pop. Get a load of this.

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Nonfiction

Dec 01 1992

Song of the Canary

Other creatures, most conspicuously from our point of view the social insects, live together in dense communities in such interdependence that it is hard to imagine the existence of anything like an individual. They are arranged in swarms by various genetic manipulations, they emerge in foreordained castles, some serving as soldiers for defending the anthill or beehive, some as workers, bringing in twigs of exactly the right size needed for whatever the stage of construction of the nest, some as the food gatherers tugging along the dead moth toward the hill, some solely as reproductive units for the replication of the community, even some specialized for ventilating and cleaning the nest and disposing of the dead.

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Fiction

Dec 01 1992

Bill of Sale

Foster glumly surveyed the wreckage of the Sloanes co-op. As architect for the renovation of their East Side “dream” home, it was he who was accountable, though not responsible, for the current state of disaster. Electrical cables sprouted from uncovered junction boxes, lights dangled lopsidedly from the ceiling, scratches and gouges adorned previously unblemished walls. Beside the entertainment unit a new hole filled with capellini-thin wire had somehow appeared overnight; Foster had no idea what it was for. He made a note on his clipboard to ask Ron what Earl Sloane was up to now.

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Interviews

Dec 01 1992

An Interview with Margaret Walker

I’m one of the few black writers who lives in the South and writes there. Alice Walker told me she had to get out of Mississippi. She simply could not write there. I don’t feel that I have to be in exile to write. I wrote at Yaddo. I wrote at Cape Cod. I wrote in Virginia. I wrote in North Carolina. I wrote in New York. I wrote in Chicago. There is no place that I can live where I can’t write. Maybe if I were in New York or Chicago my stuff might be considered better than it’s considered as a southern woman living in Jackson. But I don’t care about that. Those places were too cold, the pace was too fast. I just like living where I live.

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Found Text

Dec 01 1992

The Dead Sea Scrolls: The Book of Jubilees

1:27 Then he told the angel of the presence to dictate to Moses from the beginning of the creation until my sanctuary is built among them for all the ages of eternity. 1:28 The Lord will appear in the site of all, and all will know that I am the God of Israel, father of all Jacob’s children, and king on Mt. Zion for all the ages of eternity. Then Zion and Jerusalem will be holy. 1:29 The angel of the presence, who was going along in front of the Israelite camp, took the tablets (which told) of the divisions of the years from the time the law and the testimony were createdÑ for the weeks of their jubilees, year by year in their full number, and their jubilees from the time of the creation until the time of the new creation when the heavens, the earth, and all their creatures will be renewed like the powers of the sky and like all the creatures of the earth, until the time when the temple of the Lord will be created in Jerusalem on Mt. Zion. All the luminaries will be renewed for (the purposes of) healing, health, and blessing for all the elect ones of Israel and so that it may remain this way from that time throughout all the days of the earth.

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Fiction

Dec 01 1992

Hema, My Hema

Hema, my beautiful Hema, is determined tonight. I know it the minute I crawled into our home. I don’t mean “crawled” in a figurative sense. It accurately describes what I did. Our house, you see, is a little on the cozy side; six by six feet to be exact. A perfect little cube it is, made of tin cans that my Hema’s late hubbie took apart and flattened into sheets. The result has been quite colorful–white Amul milk powder sheets next to yellow Dalda tin sheets, next to rose-red and aquamarine-blue Asian Paints sheets. Of course, rust, like a leprosy of tin, has eaten away most of the color, and the Jai Sena have scrawled their fascist slogans in black paint all across our walls.

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Fiction

Dec 01 1992

Unwelcome Gods

When I heard that the mighty Finn Weller was dying of cancer in Alabama, I decided to forget the past fifteen years. I’d go pay him a visit, one last time. I wouldn’t even let him know I was coming. The decision wasn’t too tough to make. I had been living on full disability for a long time outside of Bolivar, Tennessee. I didn’t have a family or do much of anything, so I had plenty of money saved up. I could pay for a bus trip to go see an old war buddy, a guy who I figure kept me alive over there.

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Nonfiction

Dec 01 1992

Mark and Livy

The future of the Langdon family seemed as settled, opulent, and comfortable as the mansion they occupied on Main Street. Charles would join his father’s business after his excursion to Europe. Sue had married Theodore Crane in 1858. Livy told her friend Alice that her main hope at twenty-two was not marriage, “But if I only grow in Grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour I am content.” Livy would be the unmarried sister to remain at home to care for her parents as they grew older. Jervis Langdon sometimes joked he would probably die if Livy ever left home, so certain was he of her fate.

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Fiction

Dec 01 1992

Buddy's Best Work

Three swans dropped dead this week and this morning there was a fourth on the street out front. Nobody knows why. Maybe they are choking to death, maybe it is a sign from God. At first I thought it was a big pile of newspapers just starting to blow away but when I got closer I saw it was a swan with one wing spread out on the road as if it had tried to lift itself up. Poor thing. Already ants were in its eyes. I called Buddy to come quickly I was so upset. I did not know what it might mean right in front of our house and the baby due in three weeks. Buddy said all it meant was that he had to pick it up which he tried to do but the body kept slipping out between the wings, it was hard to get a purchase. Finally he dragged it up on the lawn. I said I’d call the ASPCA, but Buddy shook his head. “Virginia,” he said. “It’s as dead as a doornail.”