Posts Categorized: Online Feature

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Online Feature: “Matzevah” by Judith Hertog

 

I laughed a lot at my father’s funeral. The evening before the ceremony, I stayed up late with my mother and our friends Bart and Ruth, trying to compose an appropriate eulogy. My little sisters, who had just turned eleven, had fallen asleep on the couch. When we tried out the speeches we came up with, they sounded so pathetically silly – “Thank you all for coming, Mike regrets not being able to be here himself…” “Mike has led a full and satisfying life…” “Every life must end, and so did Mike’s…” – that we couldn’t recite them without being overcome by giggles. The funeral itself felt like an absurdist play. The procession from the funeral hall to the grave took so long and was so abruptly twisty that I thought the master of ceremonies had lost his way. As we slowly proceeded along the winding gravel paths between the neat rows of graves, passing through somber islands of conifer trees and along stone walls that sheltered the dead from the hustle of Amsterdam, I imagined the master of ceremonies’ rising panic at the realization that he didn’t remember the location of the grave and was leading the dead man and the solemn line of mourners in a haphazard walk through forgotten corners of the cemetery. Read more…

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Online Feature: “In a Time of War” by Hannah Gamble

 

That was the period when our daughter
would come crying into our bedroom
whenever the grackles began mating on the roof.
It isn’t hurting them, my wife would say,

birds have tiny penises. Then two cats would
find their way into our bushes and start howling
like their skin was being peeled off. Oh, our daughter
with the endless tears. I brought my wife wine

every night for a week, hoping I’d arrange for us a son.
The cats aren’t killing each other, sweetness,
said my wife’s purple lips, it’s just that all male cats,
not just the wild ones, have barbs on their penises.

What what what, sobbed my daughter, is a penis?
A son, a son, a son, I thought, as I held my wife
at the hips, both of us on the floor to avoid hitting
the wall with our bed; our daughter had cried herself

into unconsciousness, and maybe I was sure
she wouldn’t hear when I yelled my way farther
into my wife, my mouth still in a “son” shape.
Our daughter woke herself up with a howl

she didn’t know the reason for, and my wife
turned back at me with several reasons to scowl
texturing her red face. We were covered
when our daughter came in, tears and snot

curling her hair against her cheeks. It’s ok, lovely,
my wife said I was just on the floor looking
for something and I was caught by a tiny barb.
I took it out, and now I’m going to go to sleep.

This poem appeared in Indiana Review 32.1, Summer 2010.

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Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 7.33.30 PMHannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (Fence Books, 2012), selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series. She has performed her work at the Pitchfork music festival, the Chicago Art Institute, The Chicago MCA, and as part of the Clark Street Bridge arts series in association with FCB Global.

Gamble’s poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, POETRY, The Believer, jubilat, and Pleiades, and she has written for the Poetry Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the culture magazine Fanzine. In 2014, Gamble was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation.

She lives in Chicago.

 

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Online Feature: “Sometimes You Break Their Hearts, Sometimes They Break Yours” by Marie-Helene Bertino

 

I am like everyone else: good at some things, bad at others. I am good at eating clementines. I am bad at drawing straight lines. I am good at drinking coffee. I would be bad at building a house. If someone asked me to build them a house, I would have to say no. Or I would say yes and worry they would not like the house I built. Why is the kitchen made of coffee filters, they’d say? Why are there no floors? And I’d say, I wish you hadn’t asked me to build you a house.

I am bad at telling stories. For example, this one is about Christmas lights and here is the first time I’m mentioning them. A person who knew how to tell a story would start with, This is a story about Christmas lights I finally got around to putting up last night and the miracle that happened afterward. You know how it is at a party when someone tells an absolute gripper that juggles different characters and lands on a memorable line and everyone holds their stomachs and looks at each other in shocked amazement, a line people repeat on car rides home so they can laugh again? I am not that person. I am the one asking the host what kind of cheese it is I’m eating.

The name of the planet I’m from does not have an English equivalent. Roughly, it sounds like a cricket hopping onto a plate of rice. I am here to take notes on human beings. I fax them back to my superiors. We have fax machines on Planet Cricket Rice. They are quaint, retro things, like vintage ice cube trays. Read more…

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Online Feature: “One More Artificial Organ” by Kate Birch

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On a bookshelf next to my mother’s bed there was a prototype of the Jarvik 7 artificial heart. Sometimes when she was downstairs fixing dinner or folding laundry I would sit on her carpeted floor and tear that heart apart with a defiant rip of Velcro, balancing the meshy chambers in my upturned palms before I pieced them back together. Afterwards, I’d place the heart back inside its dusty outline and move on, shuffling through her dresser drawers, hungry for secrets.

In the bedside table there was a pack of Trojan condoms covered by a drawing that my father sketched of my mother’s “lovely foot” and under that was the perpetual calendar whose thin metal wheel I could spin like a fortune teller, predicting the future.

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Online Feature: “When All of My Cousins Are Married” by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

 

I read books about marriage customs in India,
trying to remember that I am above words like
arranged, dowry, Engineer. On page 28, it says to show

approval and happiness for the new couple, throw
dead-crispy spiders instead of rice or birdseed.
Female relatives will brush the corners of closets

for months, swipe under kitchen sinks with a dry cloth
to collect the basketfuls needed for the ceremony.
Four years ago, I was reading a glossy (Always

reading, chides my grandmother) in her living room
and a spider larger than my hand sidled out
from underneath a floor-length curtain

and left through the front door without saying
good-bye. No apologies for its size, its legs
only slightly thinner than a pencil. None

of my cousins thought anything was wrong.
But it didn’t bite you! It left, no? I know what they
are thinking: She is the oldest grandchild

and not married. Afraid of spiders. But it’s not
that I’m squeamish, it’s not that I need to stand
on a chair if I spy a bug scooting along

my baseboards—I just want someone to notice
things. Someone who gasps at a gigantic jackfruit
still dangling from a thin branch, thirty feet

in the air. Someone who can see a dark cluster
of spider eyes and our two tiny faces—
smashed cheek to cheek—reflected in each.

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2015blue.nezhukumatathil (1)Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently, Lucky Fish. With poet Ross Gay, she is the co-author of
the chapbook, Lace & Pyrite. Awards for her writing include an NEA Fellowship in poetry and the Pushcart Prize. She is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry series, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Poetry, and Tin House. She is professor of English at The State University of New York at Fredonia and in 2016-17, Nezhukumatathil will be the Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.