Featuring work from Maureen Alsop, Alexander Lumans, Catherine Bresner, Simon Perchik, Michael Levan, Francesca Bell, Amber Rambharose, McKinley Murphy, Paula C. Lowe, Sandy Longhorn, Jeff Tegchelaar, Emma Lister, Derek Pollard, John A. Nieves, Sarah McKinstry-Brown, Jeff Whitney, Aran Donovan, Marvin Shackelford, Jennifer Martelli, Richard Robbins, Yolanda J. Franklin, Katharine Diehl, Grace Gardiner, Barbara Duffey, Marjorie Saiser, Maggie Smith Hurt, Lauren Gordon, Brian Clifton, Megan Hudgins, Sally Houtman, Marcus Myers, Jim Peterson, and Michael McLane
The First Time I Kissed Her
We were in the bathtub and it was just us
and the tub was empty and it was strange
to sit in an empty place—white as bone
and dry as bone and robbed of its purpose.
I didn’t want to do it. No, I did. I wanted to
peel back her cracked lips or peel back love—
the word, what it actually is underneath
the sound and what it does to the body.
I didn’t want to kiss her but I was born
to do it. I loved my little sister and our father,
watching over, smiling, and the camera
lens, smiling and there was no water
in the bathtub so I knew it wasn’t bath time
and there was nothing else to do.
–by Amber Rambharose
It is raining in Manhattan. I am sitting in a chair overlooking 14th street and I realize you were right. I told you that people are taller than buildings. I told you that there are many green places in the city. Look at Central Park, for instance.
In the morning pink light falls across hardwood floor, spreading out like a thousand peonies, and I imagine that it is a greeting from you. But it is nighttime now, and raining so it makes no difference if I tell you a few real things. Today I saw a billboard advertising cigarettes and in a fit of frenzy went home and burned dinner.
And could you love me if I was pretty enough to be painted on your billboards? I would let my hair down long enough to collect pools of curls at my waist. I would pose naked in front of your tall landscapes and reach out with both arms pulling this city into my body.
And Mucha, the weather is all over this house.
I thought of such things while walking to a shop to buy cigarettes. In Manhattan, the streets smell like a wet cement and baked bread. It feels like the whole city is yawning. I, too, am tired of this body.
–by Catherine Bresner