Featuring work from Julie Brooks Barbour, Jackson Burgess, Adriana Cloud, Rebecca Connors, Thomas Cook, Tim Craven, Sage Curtis, Nandini Dhar, Katherine Frain, Natalie Giarratano, Charles Harper Webb, Lydia Havens, Matthew Huff, Cindy Hunter Morgan, Lillian Kwok, Diane Lockward, Adam Love, Greg Mahrer, Bill Neumire, Angelina Oberdan, Simon Perchik, Amy Plettner, Adrian Potter, Richard Prins, Kim Roberts, Todd Robinson, Steven D. Schroeder, Leah Sewell, Molly Sutton Kiefer, and William Trowbridge.
by Amy Plettner
I want you to.
No, I don’t.
I say it, but don’t
Damn the body, damn
the evening light.
It’s all made
and dew-laden web.
See the sun—
it slams against
our bare chests,
on our pleasure.
Kiss me here,
close your mouth
on my throat.
This Town a Broken Glass Bangle
by Nandini Dhar
Our grandfathers did not write this city. Nor did our fathers. Or uncles. Neither
did the city write itself. All they could do was to read it. As if it’s an incomplete
tableau. Afraid. That their touch would shatter the city like an old beetle wing.
Afraid. They settled for a series of pragmatic magic instead. A broken line on a
broken wall. Rhythms made unrhythmic through repetitions. Clay birds sculpted
into molds. Molds re-sculpted into clay birds. They made clouds out of old
ripped shirts, but did not have the courage to hang them on poles. When Tambour
and I walked into the crevices of this city’s shoulder bones, we did so with the
tentativeness of their guilt. Like a gash from an axe. Lustrous red. A reminder.
Not yet ten, and we learnt this was the price you pay when you try to step in to
the footprints left by fathers.
From our porch to the rail station, the town was a broken glass bangle. Sharp
on the edges, warped, a rickety rainbow inside. That house was too small for the
two of us. Besides, Tombur never learnt to look properly under the bed. Or slip
her fingers in between the cracks of the beds for little knick-knacks we got as
gifts – empty match boxes, thumb-sized plastic dolls, whistles, plastic sun-glasses
with thick blue borders. What was lost was lost. A street was different. Did not
demand the touch of your fingers, the meticulousness of sweeping something
clean, folding and being folded into neatness, pressed and ironed into folds. I
could not gather these streets in between my fingers. Tombur said, gathering
was what she was doing in everything she wrote and drew. That encyclopadia of
ghosts, fairies, elves, aliens and princesses. These patterns she drew and re-drew.
But she was not moving any closer. A form of learning lines by heart it was: this
gathering. Memorizing, yet Tombur kept forgetting her lines. We did not ever
have a falling-out, Tombur and I, because I did not tell her she was messing up
the lines. Drawing them too thick and thin. That was why, she needed to draw
and re-draw. Write and re-write. Could not get it quite right. I did not tell her
that. But helped her to tear up the deficient ones.