Category: Issue 25

Be Still

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Karyna McGlynn is the author of Hothouse (Sarabande 2017), The 9-Day Queen Gets Lost on Her Way to the Execution (Willow Springs 2016), and I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl (Sarabande 2009).  She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Christian Brothers University in Memphis.

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The Missing (absent figures stood near)

From the trunks of trees             and bare stones
Sprung the dead and abducted girls
And the terrifying bodies of men and older boys
From the air sprung the monsters
From the air sprung the horror
Of knives in the dark
From the ground came the voices of the people who had lived in the valley
Before settlers came
Their missing voices and bodies sprung from the grass
From the animals sprung the warmth
Of internal worlds from my skin sprung the silent
And bitter mystery of my solitude
The shame stretching throat to groin
Sprang from a place or a moment or a thing
I did not know and could not see or remember
The shame came alive singing back to  the invisible things everywhere
These things that were real            the most real
When I was young

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I am native of rural Oregon though I lived for some years after college in northern Italy.  I hold an MFA in poetry and PhD in English from Washington University.  My poems, translations, and articles of literary criticism have appeared in journals in the US, the UK, and Italy.  My first book of poems, The Paled Guest, was published by Aldrich Press in January 2018.  Currently, I teach medieval literature and creative writing at a small liberal arts college in central Minnesota where I live with my husband and our two sons.

 

ruins of earth

ruins

 

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Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship. Her found poems have appeared in DiagramHeavy Feather ReviewRise Up ReviewThe Tishman Review, HedgerowOtoliths, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and blogs most days at thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.

befitting this day

befitting

 

 

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Artist, poet, and freelance writer, J.I. Kleinberg is a Pushcart nominee and winner of the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship. Her found poems have appeared in DiagramHeavy Feather ReviewRise Up ReviewThe Tishman Review, HedgerowOtoliths, and elsewhere. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, and blogs most days at thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com.

Please Fill in the Blanks

Remember when the census bureau called while you were away in New York and they asked what race you were?

********Yes. M said it was complicated.

Would you care to elaborate, please?

********M said it was complicated but they still persisted in asking what race I was.

Do you remember what she said? M told them you had a Spanish-sounding last name but that you weren’t Hispanic. M told them that you looked Asian but that you didn’t consider yourself Asian. M said that you acted white but that you weren’t white.

********Wait. I don’t act white. What does that even mean?

Anyway, M asked if they could put you down as OTHER. They refused to accept that as an answer. Remember what they finally agreed on?

********Race: CANADIAN

 

 

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Greg Santos is the author of Blackbirds (Eyewear, 2018), Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014) and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at Montreal’s Thomas More Institute. He is the poetry editor of carte blanche.

Cambodian

Are you Cambodian.

********Yes… I mean I think so… It’s complicated…

So, were you born in Cambodia then?

********No. I was born in Montreal, Quebec.

Have you ever even been to Cambodia?

********No.

Then how can you consider yourself Cambodian?

********I didn’t always… But it is part of my heritage. My Mom was born in Spain. My
********Dad, in Portugal. They immigrated to Canada in the 60s. I’m Spanish and
********Portuguese. I have a Portuguese passport even. That is my heritage.

********I was born in Canada. I’m Canadian. That is my heritage.

********But I consider myself Cambodian now, too. Yes, that is my heritage.

How do you mean?

********My ancestors were Cambodian. I mean, I physically look Asian. My blood. It’s
********Khmer. Cambodian.

********I didn’t know until recently that there’s a word for this kind of thing.

********It’s called transracial adoption.

********According to Wikipedia, it refers to the act of placing a child of one racial or
********ethnic group with adoptive parents of another racial or ethnic group.

Most folks think you’re Filipino. Remember when someone put you on a Twitter-thread for Filipino writers?

********Yes, I guess I was honoured to be put on a list. Of course, I had to step in and tell
********everyone I’m not Filipino.

It’s the last name. Santos throws them off. SANTOS. It’s Portuguese, right?

********In my case it is. It comes from my father’s side. It is a common name in Portugal,
********Spain, Italy, and the Philippines.

Do you pronounce it SANTOSH?

********I prefer it pronounced like this: SAN-TOS. You pronounce the last part TOAST but
******** without the T at the end. SAN-TOAS(T).

********That’s how we’ve always pronounced it at home.

Honestly, this is confusing…

********One of my friend’s girlfriend is of Cambodian descent and when we first met,
********she told me I look like her father.

How did that make you feel.

********Good, actually! Being told I looked Cambodian was validating.

It’s like you are some kind of cultural mosaic or something…

 

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Greg Santos is the author of Blackbirds (Eyewear, 2018), Rabbit Punch! (DC Books, 2014) and The Emperor’s Sofa (DC Books, 2010). He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. He regularly works with at-risk communities and teaches at Montreal’s Thomas More Institute. He is the poetry editor of carte blanche.

 

 

Excerpts from the Compendium of the Fig Wasp and the Fig

A) it’s actually not a fruit. It’s an inflorescence. Florets,
********bulbous stem. You get it. Ostiole. Seed and flower.

C) every species of Ficus has a specific wasp that fertilizes it.

D) the queen of the fig wasps, small enough to squeeze into it,
********enters the fig. She may snap her antennae. She may tear her wings.

F) Earlier, I said inflorescence and ostiole just to impress you.

G) Somewhere I read if the wasp fails to pollinate the fig, the tree
********has dropped it, killing the wasp eggs. But that can’t be true.

I) Tell me that’s not true. Who would be so cruel?

J) Born wingless, the male spends his life in a single fig. He
********knows to tunnel through darkness, for the queen, who
********leaves him, as she must, in exchange for light.

M) At the art exhibit. Your plate piled with figs, mixed
********nuts, soft cheeses. There was so much to love
********or nothing at all. You hadn’t decided. I hadn’t asked.

P) the queen sheds her pollen dust, dies in the fig’s chamber. It makes
********quick work of her, nourishing itself.

R) I read somewhere that figs are an aphrodisiac, because of the death inside. If
********so, Black Mission, Sierra, Calimyrna, King… should I go on?

T) The strangler fig begins as a seed but grows to hollow its host tree. The wood
********useless. It’s trunk often gnarled, knotted.

V) Before we left the exhibit. Your pockets stuffed. So many figs.

W) For some reason, I thought of the biblical garden, in which no figs grew.

X) The gallery lights dimmed. Softly, in the background, Clair De Lune played.
********You know, Oceans 11? The Bellagio fountains? After Danny steals away with Tess?

Z) In the beginning, was the fig. You fed it to me. And it was good.

 

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Nathan McClain is the author of Scale (Four Way Books, 2017), a recipient of fellowships from The Frost Place, Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. His poems and prose have recently appeared or are forthcoming in New York Times Magazine, upstreet, The Rumpus, Poem-a-Day, and Verse Daily. He teaches at Hampshire College.