27.2 - Summer/Fall 2015

Table of Contents

Authors in this issue: Guy Pettit, G.C. Waldrep, Alexis Orgera, Kien Lam, L.S. Klatt, Tyler McAndrew, Dave Nielsen, May-lee Chai, Richard Prins, Jaren Watson, Elisabeth Murawski, Mike Ostrov, Robert A. Fink, Christopher Robinson, Laura Sims, Adrienne G. Perry, Talia Mailman, Martin Rock, Haydar Ergülen
Derick Mattern (trans)
, Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, Ted Matthys, Alan Shapiro, Natalie Diaz, Matt Morton, Tarfia Faizullah, David Tomas Martinez, Roger Reeves, Raphael Rubinstein, Juliette Bianco, Daniel Borzutzky (trans), Natalie Shapero, Jeannine Marie Pitas (trans), Adriana X. Jacobs, Mark Lebowskie, Jennifer Militello, Rachel Howard, Amy Hempel, Yvette Siegert (trans), Emma Bolden, Patty Yumi Cottrell, Susan Lilley, Aimee Bender, Rebecca Liu, Larence Lenhart, Paul Jenkins, Andrew Michael Roberts, Gary L. McDowell, MRB Chelko, Jennifer Scappettone, Anna Rosenwong (trans), Sharon Butler, Diana Xin, Gale Marie Thompson, Peter Mishler, Kristin Dykstra,

Editor's Note

Editor's Note

Libraries and museums, the palaces of books and art, invite us into a conversation capable of interrupting the complicit silence in ourselves: When we have broken that silence on the page, could we not do the same in our families and communities?

Features / Poetry

The World As Presence

Kristin Dykstra

The inaugural 2014 Prize in Translation Winner features excerpts from The World as Presence by Cuban writer Marcelo Morales Cintero, translated and with an introduction by Kristin Dykstra..

Features / Poetry

Poem Untied, Efendiler Gazeli

Haydar Ergülen
Derick Mattern (trans)

when fire rises to the tongue your words were the rain / your servant efendim was the ash / when the secret lies in the open your lies linger / efendim on your servant’s tongue


Silhouettes, Unfolding

Yvette Siegert (trans)

Over the currents of memory, arcs: threads between the vertices. The light viscosity that mediates between your palate and your ears...


Barthelme Prize Introduction

Amy Hempel

“Gifted” has a breathless, headlong quality that never stalls out. It is acoustically interesting as well, and where there is repetition...



Emma Bolden

2014 Barthelme Prize Winner

We were all in love. We were always in love.

Fiction / Features

No One Makes Plans

Patty Yumi Cottrell

“Patty,” the man called out. “Patty, I’ve been looking for you.” I stopped what I was doing and said hello. The man leaned on his crutches and smiled. I liked the man because he was a composer of elegant musical compositions...



Susan Lilley

They are dying out, the grand old ladies of Florida, along with the citrus fortunes long spent and the orange blossoms that crowned their heads when they were beauty queens. Their graves wear flowers they called hydrangelas and spear lilies.…


On Modeling and Mortification

Rachel Howard

I started modeling at 32, to keep myself fed while I wrote a novel. I was by that point eight years into what I suppose is called a “spiritual practice.” Initially, there was a clarifying horror to be had in walking into the vaulted space…



Jennifer Militello

Black animals fill the face, silhouettes, buildings fill the face, an alphabet fills the face. Inside the face, black animals grow, they animate the data, form a demography of day, stained and soiled undershirts, they die or ask to be fed…


Hard Child

Natalie Shapero

So I had two lists of names for a girl, so / what. The president’s allowed to / have two speeches, in case the hostage / comes home in a bag. The geese / in the metropark don’t want / for bread crumbs, despite the signs / proclaiming the land...


The Country of Ice X

Daniel Borzutzky (trans)

Over the frozen air over the horizon where the morning is / rising and it’s only the infinite whiteness of Antarctica / dawning just like a giant dead planet over the frozen cities / over the frozen ocean over the long country frozen forever…


from The War of the Orchards 14

Jeannine Marie Pitas (trans)

On all the happy mornings, when the trees get covered in oranges, in lilies of fire, between November and December, and in school during the exam festivities, and Mother arranges the honeycombs...


Mekong River

Adriana X. Jacobs

Tonight I moved between three beds like I was sailing on the Mekong and whispered the beauty of the Tigris and Euphrates under an endless moment looking under the left tit I have a hole and you fill it with other men. Notes of Tiger beer on…


They Speak of Deep Resentment

Anna Rosenwong (trans)

they speak of deep resentment / of abandonment / of internal bleeding / they say that everything was a bolt of fire / that god took off running / a shawl thrown over his head / the sea was peeling...


The Happy Few

Mark Lebowskie

But Penelope is waving at something over Janis’s shoulder. Janis turns and sees three people walking out of a clump of bare ash trees towards the house, which squats on top of a rocky hill behind the dock...


Oneness Plus One

Aimee Bender

The speck of dirt lived on the floor of the apartment, and somehow had, until now, avoided the broom. It was, after all, just one speck, and all its brethren had spilled out ahead of it and been taken up...


Journey to the Center of a Mechanical Bird

Rebecca Liu

Let’s consider for a minute how time is built / in this green mechanical bird how slippery / as bullets the whirr of its tiny metallic brain / its tinny taloned wings its tinseled / wind-up heart so inordinately quick...


As It Happens: Tracking Down Chitra Ganesh

Sharon Butler

When Raphael Rubinstein asks me to write an article about Chitra Ganesh for the Art Lies section of Gulf Coast, which he is guest-editing, I reflexively oblige before I’ve even investigated her work.


It must have been the season of the midnight…

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach

the ides of July those fifty years ago, when / my grandmother split wide, unbroken, unnamed / light pouring out of her: a river into a river. / Svet: luminescence, shine. The child took a while / to cry. Sveta: pure, blessed, divine...


Oxygen Song

G.C. Waldrep

I am unstrung: ash in an ash-garden. So say an instrument, tuned in clay, strung with ash. Not a music. A means towards an end which picks each ash-strand from the body, the mind’s camber. So say there is choice, and then choice’s absence...



Diana Xin

Every other Wednesday evening, the Northwest District Small Group of the Mendota Heights Church of the Holy Redeemer held a Bible study at one of the attendees’ homes. Starting at six p.m., they would chat and eat a potluck dinner, sing praise...


Smile, Eidolon

Gale Marie Thompson

I wait to come to good. I wait carved from the same war, wait draped by the mechanism between myself and fabric pleasure, how pressed, how shut. The icon I remember is ragged and full of brown cardinals. It sees me...


Study for the Boatsman

Peter Mishler

Single tenant / of his emptied city, / coat blown open, / he carries a bucket / of quicklime / to the coast. / The birds make / their derisive whistles, / watching from the woods. / On a sun-bleached / colonnade at dusk / he leans against…


The immaterial colorworks of great mosaics

Jennifer Scappettone

A path is carved where nearly sprinting springing forth Turkish slippers or relay doves Venezianella healed emerges from the gondola cabin in crimson flecks and enters St. Mark’s like the essential detail


Do Birds Sing from Sheer Exuberance

Paul Jenkins

Or is it border-patrol duty dawn to dusk / This morning they began like a water-glass choir / Multiplied by ten in the birches along the river / Until a robin on the back lawn shoved another off / A square foot of grass and two hummingbirds…



Larence Lenhart

Whistles while he works. Whistles the jetty. Whistles the rip tide. Whistles the sand terrier, sky kite dangerous. Whistles liquor in a bag, on the sly. Whistles for your attention, for your safety, for your affection...



Andrew Michael Roberts

what began as salt, / as blood and need, blue and / winged and laced / with spools of astral milk, / what began a sweet ache, / thunder of swifts, / the softly closed eyes of the air, / vertebrae, a louse, / what began as the ceremony of distance...


The Emptying That Fills

Gary L. McDowell

I’d like to fear the falling, or be feared for falling, or be myself what is feared most: inexhaustible, as clouds, as moisture. Such is/as faith. Such is responsibility and believing in something untenuous, animal-driven, needed...


Beauty Be

MRB Chelko

fogged each a distinct cataract blue / beads drape my daughter’s neck when I pull it / down from the shelf the jewel box / smells of very old woman what remains / of great grandmother’s chest pinch / the golden lock...

Interviews / Art

Off the Shelf: A Conversation with MANUAL (Ed…

Juliette Bianco

...after reading Stephen Greenblatt’s The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, we searched online for copies of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things and found a 1743 two-volume set with broken boards. It was a wonderful discovery. The pair has…


The Library as Installation

Raphael Rubinstein

As bookstores close in ever larger numbers all over the world and as libraries, great and small, cede more and more of their square footage to computer work stations and touch screens, the former inhabitants of such spaces...


Agatha’s Letter to Her Mother

Alexis Orgera

Dear Mom, it’s been so long. Since back when / I was a loggerhead shrike, back when I followed / my breath—I the Desire—I’m dry outside / to the nostril, or from it, every / which way. Lip to lip, I went mechanical, Mom...


Which I Have Loved Long Since, and Lost Awhile

Jaren Watson

Soon after graduating college, my father lost his construction job. The Teton Dam he helped build let loose its foundations and poured downhill, flooding a fifth of Idaho. He began distance running to calm the jangling in his head...


Lamentation of Christ: Sold Off to Pay Debts

Elisabeth Murawski

This is no oasis of peace, / Mantegna’s dead Christ, the body / foreshortened, the head enlarged, more like a wounded / dwarf’s, the focus / on the shrouded genitals: behold the man. The ribcage looms / as it must


More of my ability to I feel you

Guy Pettit

Imagine that some gift has been bestowed upon me, some crisis or illness / The Garden we enter is easy / You lay there and the names of pop lie with you / A race disappears / But save that for later / Welcome Agnes to the world / See her silver…


The Best of My Younger Thinking

Mike Ostrov

I want to tell you about an album I’ve been listening to a lot lately. The Best of: My Younger Thinking. Side A is one long toddler snarl with a fiddle whimpering low in the mix. Side B shows a progression to more pop-indebted construction...


Pantoum Found in Talking Heads Lyrics

Richard Prins

I look like you make me shiver. / Your mind is a radio. / If this is paradise, I wish I had / your face. Facts continue to change / your mind. Is a radio / a cigarette, burning / your face? Facts continue to change / the future. I feel wonderful...


The Death of My Grandfather

Christopher Robinson

The death of my grandfather / leaves money / and a company / for the children to scrabble over. There are those who never escape / the molasses. Perhaps it's best he not die. So many things / I want to own / before I go...



May-lee Chai

One night my mother dreamed that she turned into a large, white bird. She was standing naked before a narrow, tall mirror. She still had only one breast, the scar on the left side no longer a zipper of purple puckers...


Atomic Theory

Kien Lam

They call it a nuclear missile. / The great equalizer. A man dropped a bomb so big he could never / forget. This is how families begin: one accident leads to the next and suddenly you're / giving your dog a one syllable name. Spike. Spot


Big Sur

L.S. Klatt

Let's take a Vespa to the beach; let's / not get killed. Our lives are mirrors, adjust your mirrors, / let's not get / killed. The sun goes over a cliff, / head over heels. We motor away, switch / back. Us versus the sun, vice versa, / we're…



Tyler McAndrew

Walk down The Hill, away from the university, and you pass beneath the highway into patches of housing projects known as The Bricks. Past that, the empty streets of downtown. Past that, residential neighborhoods scattered amongst decaying…


Brief History

Dave Nielsen

Now it is time for the brief history / of the day my uncle's turkey shed burned down. / I remember walking through the wet / debris after the fire, corrugated metal and scorched carcasses, and stepping / on a nail—a rusty, gnarled, / fire-scalded…


Trailerville (1940)

Robert A. Fink

The house trailers squat opulent as a loaf of bread. / It is 1940, no lines of men, their hands extended. / No chalked outlines on pavement, crumpled / double-breasted suits, pinstriped lapels still fluttering, / flightless birds plummeted…


from Staying Alive

Laura Sims

When the culture passed over: / we bathed in its light in its fear in its / mountain stream. We left mountains / of carts full of junk behind. We bade them / farewell. They bade us weep / and know shame / They bade us be hard


Not the Wind, Not the View

Matt Morton

Two thousand miles away from here, my dad / is lying in a strange room, being tended to. / It is always getting later. No matter / if it's morning dampening the earth, / or burnt orange evening rending itself apart, / the doldrums of afternoon…

Features / Interviews

Odd Splendor

Natalie Diaz, Tarfia Faizullah, David Tomas Martinez, Roger Reeves, Alan Shapiro

How do you think you yourselves can avoid in twenty years becoming the very establishment that the next generation of innovative writers will need to oppose?


Battening Song

Ted Matthys

Doing daily shit while waiting / to swing the axe. To sing a lullaby / about doing dishtowels while looking atrocious. To cinch the lariat / around the vocal apparatus / while doing nothing but proposing paradise. Its microclimate...


In the Garden of the Body

Talia Mailman

I’m reading Eula Biss’s On Immunity at the same time I’m hearing about Ferguson. It’s the morning after Darren Wilson has avoided indictment and I’m in the airport, traveling from Houston to Minneapolis.


Brutal Business: Coming of Age in 1970s Houston

Adrienne G. Perry

In the summer of 2013, I moved from Wyoming to Houston. My loved ones warned me against it; they were wary of heat and humidity, cockroaches as big as your thumbs, traffic jams, sex trafficking, and oil spills in the Gulf. Now I realize


Distributed in Space, Inside the Body, and…

Martin Rock

Quite soon, I assure you, we will begin to review the poem itself, but before we do, I fear we must acknowledge that the poem, insofar as one tends to think of a poem...



Aimee Bender is the author of five books, including The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Her most recent, The Color Master, was a New York Times Notable book of 2014. Her work has been translated into sixteen…