Posts Tagged: online feature

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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: “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.

 

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Online Feature: “Superstar” by Joseph Kim

“My film is not about Vietnam. It is Vietnam.”

— Francis Ford Coppola

Bruce is yelling about how good the sushi is, how it cost him $300 for the platter and how he can not believe the “shit” I’ve decided to pull right now.

I tell him it’s not shit. I tell him I’m fine with eating sushi, even a yucky eel roll, but that I can not eat it like he wants me to.

“Christ, Angie,” he says, then places his hand on top of his head. His eyes roll.

I breathe in deeply.

Bruce gets up from his director’s chair. He’s a pretty nondescript guy. Some days he’ll wear glasses. Today he’s got on contacts. His eyes are grayish and his hair is sandy brown. He’s in his late-thirties with a medium build. He looks so average, has such unremarkable, unmemorable features, that I often joke with him that he should rob a bank, be a full-time criminal because nobody could possibly remember what he looked like. What would they say to the sketch artist or the cops working the line-up? They’d say he was a white guy and not get much beyond that. Bruce is like electrical wiring. There but not seen. It’s hard to think anyone so “invisible” could be dangerous. Even now, as he’s picking up an M-16 whose barrel looks bigger and longer than I remember.

“What about this?” he says, holding it towards me. “You ready for this?”

And I reply in a voice calculated to be so nonchalant that it fools everyone, even myself:

“Yeah.” Read more…

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Online Feature: “Bucolic Calling” by Rebecca Lehmann

 

These were the times to fear. We were already falling. And had been. What we wanted were purple slugs, a slime to sing to. Give us the pretty girls, the pretty boys, the little child dead and mossy at the bottom of the well. Our hands against the stones were pounding, were pounding and bloody palmed. Look at us, at the bottom of the false wooden bottom, playing a joke on Mom. Look at her face, twisted with terror. But such was the age of us. We with our sunburned cheeks, with our frostbitten toes. We didn’t care if they fell off. We wanted them to. We begged for it: Please, please, God of the Toes, take ours as sacrifice and bring us a field of moist corn stalks and pig shit. In the apple orchard the sticks stung like meanies. We unzipped ourselves and climbed the stout trunks. I had an apple in my hand and it was bruising as I threw it, the air pushing its skin in. Yours was a rotten one, already bruised and flying apart in the apple leaves, depositing its brown and mushy flesh in splatters. This was the way we came and Mom was in the gravel road crying and we laughed at her. We laughed and we laughed at her silly poor-person jacket and we laughed at her face, and at her silly tears.

This poem appeared in Indiana Review 31.1, Summer 2009.

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Rebecca Lehmann is the author of Between the Crackups (Salt, 2011). Her poems are published or forthcoming in Fence, Ploughshares, Boston Review, and other journals. She teaches creative writing at SUNY Potsdam.