Category: Issue 11

from understory

 

            ~      

for my wife, nālani

and our unborn daughter, kaikainaliʻi

 

~

 

We cannot think of a time that is oceanless

Or of an ocean not littered with wastage

 

—T.S. Eliot from “The Dry Salvages”

 

~

 

nālani is

drinking a

 

glass of

filtered tap                           Brita Pitcher Plastic Water Filtration $24.99

                                                           4-pack replacement filters $24.99

water when

she first

 

feels kaikainali’i

kicking—plastic

 

from fukushima

litters the

 

beaches of

o’ahu—gathering

 

place—nālani

is watching

 

an online

documentary about

 

home birth—

part of

 

a comb,

corner of

 

a crate,

piece of

 

bottle cap—

nālani is

 

craving raw

fish eat                                 ʻahi pokē : $17.99 per lb at Safeway in Mānoa

 

fish that

eat plastic

 

derived from

oil, absorbed

 

into tissue—

the doctors

 

recommend we

schedule a

 

c-section—if

you cut

 

open the

bellies of

 

large fish

and birds

 

you will

find the

 

bristles of

[our] tooth-

 

brushes—every

body births

 

plastic never

completely dissolves—

 

because amniotic

fluid is

 

ninety percent

water hanom

 

hanom hanom

 

***

 

Craig Santos Perez is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent (2011), and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha] (2008) from unincorporated territory [saina] (2010), and from unincorporated territory [guma’] (2014). He is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Creative Writing Program in the English Department at the University of Hawai’i, Mānoa.

 

 

 

 

The Rose

the rose

 

 

***

 

Kirsten Nash was born in Erie, PA. She received her MFA from The Milton Avery School

of Visual Arts, at Bard College in 1998, and a New York Foundation for the Arts

Fellowship in Drawing in 2011. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, including

the upcoming exhibition After Image: Contemporary Artists & Photography, April 3-May

29, at Art House Productions in Jersey City, NJ. She currently lives and maintains a

studio practice in Queens, NY.

Faded Flowers

faded flowers

 

 

***

Kirsten Nash was born in Erie, PA. She received her MFA from The Milton Avery School

of Visual Arts, at Bard College in 1998, and a New York Foundation for the Arts

Fellowship in Drawing in 2011. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, including

the upcoming exhibition After Image: Contemporary Artists & Photography, April 3-May

29, at Art House Productions in Jersey City, NJ. She currently lives and maintains a

studio practice in Queens, NY.

 

Bouquet

Bouquet

 

 

***

 

Kirsten Nash was born in Erie, PA. She received her MFA from The Milton Avery School

of Visual Arts, at Bard College in 1998, and a New York Foundation for the Arts

Fellowship in Drawing in 2011. She has participated in numerous exhibitions, including

the upcoming exhibition After Image: Contemporary Artists & Photography, April 3-May

29, at Art House Productions in Jersey City, NJ. She currently lives and maintains a

studio practice in Queens, NY.

Black Farmers / We

We were a land based agrarian people from Africa. We were uprooted from Africa and we spent 200 years developing our culture as black  Americans and then we left the South. We uprooted ourselves and attempted to transplant this culture to the pavements of the industrialized North. It was a transplant that didn’t take. I think if we had stayed in the South we would have been a stronger people and because the connection between the South of the 20s, 30s, and 40s has been broken, it’s very difficult to because understand who we are.”
***

Khadijah Queen is the author of Conduit (Black Goat/Akashic Books 2008), Black Peculiar (Noemi Press 2011), and Fearful Beloved, due out from Argos Books in fall 2015. Her chapbooks include I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (Sibling Rivalry 2013) and Exercises in Painting (Bloof Books 2016). Individual poems and prose appear or are forthcoming in Fencejubilat, Best American Nonrequired Reading, Memoir, Tupelo Quarterly and widely elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2014 Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers for her verse play Non-Sequitur, with full production to be staged by NYC theater company The Relationship in late 2015. Visit her website: khadijahqueen.com.

 

Anti-Parody

One day the soldiers discovered that rice is one of the most maddeningly difficult substances to destroy, so off they went to a bigger and better option that will actually kill off the rice paddies. The soldiers also came across jungle leaves. Why, the wide and narrow leaves of grass, bamboo, and banana got in the way of their daily business. Please spray sparingly. After all, there is a precedent for spraying. The British did it first during the Malayan Emergency and sparingly  they  did. Have  you  heard of sovereign immunity? Well, it is also a bigger and better option that will actually kill off any pesty jungles and lawsuits, even frogs and fetuses for generations, which is to say, it is entirely legal.  Needless  to say,  this splendid option is  also a  maddeningly   difficult   thing   to  destroy, so  off  they went—the soldiers, I mean—spraying sparingly all over the world,  along   borders,  golf  courses,  and  DMZs.  Please! I dare you to spray my button eyes, spray my button nose, spray my adorable snout, spray my furry ears, and what do you  get?  My  deformity!  My double torso is in a jar. Darling Bear, only you can prevent my deformity.

“Anti-parody”: “the soldiers discovered that rice is…” is from the International War Crimes
Tribunal in 1967, quoted in Gerard Greenfield’s article “Agent Blue and the Business of Killing
Rice” (2004). Smokey Bear wildfire poster was appropriated by the U.S. military during
Operation Ranch Hand (1962-71). Nearly 20 million gallons of herbicides were sprayed in
Vietnam as well as some parts of Laos and Cambodia.

***

Don Mee Choi is the author of The Morning News Is Exciting (Action Books, 2010), and translator of contemporary Korean women poets. Her most recent works include a chapbook, Petite Manifesto (Vagabond Press, 2014), and a pamphlet, Freely Frayed, =q, Race=Nation (Wave Books, 2014).

Instructions for Identifying Illegal Immigrants

 

  1. Consider moving through

the beveled preface to home:

 

the crowns

& field stones

 

littered.

 

  1. Consider the nature

of departure:

 

the immigrant will be

the dried leaves

 

amongst owl eggs

& cradles of lacquered oak.

 

  1. Consider the white

body as passport.

 

  1. Recall you are homeland

& formal choice

 

coiled in accent around

 

baskets of soft

oranges.

 

***

 

–J. Michael Martinez received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of

American Poets and he is a Ph.D. Candidate in Literature at the University of

Colorado at Boulder. His latest book, from the University of Arizona Press, is “In

the Garden of the Bridehouse.” He is the Poetry Editor of NOEMI Press and his

poetry has been anthologized in Ahsahta Press’ “The Arcadia Project: North

American Postmodern Pastoral,” Rescue Press’s “The New Census: 40

American Poets,” and Counterpath Press’ “Angels of the Americlypse: New

Latin@ Writing.”

 

ESSAY MEANS TO TRY

A golf course, a prison, a waste
water treatment plant, six gas stations,
a dollar store, a BBQ-Beer-Barbershop
store, two Baptist churches, one mega
church with a neon sign that flashes,
What’s Missing In C-H – – C-H? UR!
a Quaker Meeting House, a women’s
and children’s shelter, which I don’t think
is supposed to have a sign, Whistle,
so the women and children might actually
be safe inside, and signs for the Department
of Correction and the Department of
Sanitation and the Department of Family
and Children’s Services, and for three days,
Whistle, a small hunched falcon on the west
wire above the paved wash-out labeled
Walnut creek, and dozens of brittle lawns
are what I drive by on my way to and from
each day, Whistle, lately crying.  My friend
who has had the shutters slam closed too
many times around her says, if you’ve been
crying for more than two weeks already,
you may need help to stop. And my almost
friend except he scares me says, this is
exactly what Empire wants you to do,
sit around crying or sit around writing,
playing the small-time artist agitator role.
Already during these two weeks of crying
I’ve purchased seven books each of which
felt important to own and taken one hundred
and forty vitamins and filled three prescriptions,
none to help with the crying. I’ve waited
patiently or impatiently in countless lines,
Whistle, sometimes crying, I’ve waited
for news of loved ones such as you.
Crying is how we enter the world, Whistle.
We all come by sea, we all come
by storm, we all tear apart and are torn.

***

Lisa Olstein is the author of three books of poetry from Copper Canyon Press: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet, a Library Journal best book of the year; and Little Stranger, a Lannan Literary Selection. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, and Boston Review. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum, she is the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite, fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. She teaches in the MFA programs at UT Austin.</div>

SAD PROMOTION

Suddenly, Whistle, we wake to a flood
of it, waves of data from all directions
and given the years and years of silence
well beyond reasonable doubt, it’s not
unreasonable to wonder what new manipulation
this sudden rush of information might be.
As Kurt Cobain, a pain-shredded singer
from my youth, before he blew off
his head in a room over a garage adjacent
to a lovely house he owned and when he did
the radio station I favored broadcast
his voice for twenty-four hours straight,
supposedly said, just because you’re paranoid
doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.
In a few months, Whistle, I’ll speak
to a large room full of inspired talkers,
the very best trial lawyers of the Pacific
Northwest region and in part I will discuss
the powers that both of our trainings in language,
different though they may be, prepare us
to apprehend and to deploy. Each in our own
way, Whistle, we are in love with language
and with information and with results and
with verdicts, too—me, too, if I’m being honest.
Busy and important and depended upon
each of us plows the field of our day.
Our obligations, Whistle, are impossibly
too many and possibly too few. Don’t bite off
more than you can chew. Love what you do.
There is so much we like to think we choose.
Some people believe we are born again and again
and that even this is a kind of decision we make.
A time of catastrophe provides an opportunity
for the acceleration of spiritual growth is
one take on the matter. That fear isn’t only
an echo from the past, but the future calling
is another. Maybe then this trembling,
Whistle, is both someone else’s and my own.
I sensed a sadness in the air over the entire block,
writes my friend upon returning home
from the protest, a great sadness in the air.

***

Lisa Olstein is the author of three books of poetry from Copper Canyon Press: Radio Crackling, Radio Gone, winner of the Hayden Carruth Award; Lost Alphabet, a Library Journal best book of the year; and Little Stranger, a Lannan Literary Selection. Her work has appeared in many journals and anthologies, including The Nation, American Letters & Commentary, and Boston Review. Recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Centrum, she is the lyricist for the rock band Cold Satellite, fronted by acclaimed songwriter Jeffrey Foucault. She teaches in the MFA programs at UT Austin.

Homa

Homa Shojaie was born in 1967 in Iran. She studied painting at Atelier Aydin Aghdashloo in Tehran (1981-1985) and Architecture at The Cooper Union in New York (1986-1991). She has practiced architecture in New York, art in Chicago and Singapore and taught architecture at Pratt Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology and School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1995-2012). She is currently a Master of Arts Fine Arts candidate at LASALLE College of the Arts in Singapore. She has exhibited in United States, Iran, Turkey, and Singapore.

These images are from her “Frayed Canvas Series” at an exhibition titled “Ascent” at Bolt Residency in Chicago.