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June 29, 2022
—Translated from Polish by Katarzyna Szuster-Tardi
Here, they combine the knowledge of choosing words with the art of touch. Before somebody utters soft fur, they keep their hands on a dog’s head for years.

From granaries, they dispense hunger, a spice that stimulates the sense of lack. The king trusts that absence is the saltpeter of things susceptible to nonexistence: what doesn’t keep in salt will be preserved in hunger. No myth can be cut like the fabric for a coat, the halves of which will be dragged through life. Thanks to the spice, the subjects of the kingdom don’t know stale love, only unfulfilled. The professed religion is apnea. All maturing is mutiny. Red fruit get a visit from hangmen.
June 22, 2022
No, that’s not it, that’s not how it happens, it’s—

—because I’m here, have been for years and years, in the backseat of the Oldsmobile 88, top down, wind enraged, tearing along some country road at night, Jackson drunk at the wheel, Ruthie by his—

—the world all quick nervous giggles and skinfizz, the whirled world, the world like leaves spinning in a crazy autumn gust, only it’s not autumn, no, that’s, it’s what, it’s—
June 15, 2022
THE SPEECH OF THE THIN KING’S MINDER

The thin king bound in the fiery hollow shook
The chain by which his left arm was suspended
And from a hatch that rattled open just

Above his right eye dropped a demon like
A glass-winged gerbil, who immediately
Began to stab the thin king’s pupil with

A dripping claw, and said, Forgive me, king,
For my unwilling violence. I bite
My paws off, but they grow back while I chew


So that I wonder while I’m chewing, Is
This still my paw I’m chewing, and, forgive
Me, king, but that thought helps me swallow.
June 8, 2022
He decided he would die and then
drove through mortality,

a motorcyclist in heavy traffic. He
was afraid for his dog, which he had

loved and abused. The neighbor said no
to taking it, but he died anyway and

the dog—no one knows. Cigarette butts
and dogshit left in the litter of his lawn.
June 1, 2022
Tina has been watching the place between the wall and her couch for either three minutes now, or for her whole entire life. It’s two thirty in the morning—2:34, actually, which feels like fate, like either a really lucky or a really terrible number—and she’s on her way back from checking the sliding glass door, because she couldn’t remember if she’d locked it or not, and who could sleep like that? But what she can’t remember now is if there’s a tall, broad-leafed rubber plant on the far side of the couch or not, making that for-sure-there shadow fall against the pale wall in that . . .
May 25, 2022
Your sister is losing her voice. It feels like it happened overnight, her lips turning into rubber, but it’s been almost four months, and your sister, who would have suffocated you for calling her doll-like, spends her days sitting by the window, looking at everything and nothing, all at once. For what it’s worth, you try to remind her of her human self. You clamp down on the flap of fat on her arms but not a pipe. A deep paper cut exacts only a hiss of air. She has long, dark Rapunzel hair that thins into her calves, and with a pair of garden scissors, you give her the first haircut she has had in sixteen years. All her history is in her hair, and that’s the problem, you think, the weight of it.
May 18, 2022
Still Life With Flying Sombreros

Three sombreros hung on pegs in a cantina, where their owners stood at a bar, soaking in the tequila. The sombreros got to talking and soon discovered they all despised their owners. “My man,” a sombrero said, “came home drunk every night and beat his wife and children with a hard stick he kept just for that purpose.” Another sombrero confessed that his owner sat on a porch and shot cats that had strayed into his garden. He skinned the cats and displayed their pelts over the fireplace.
May 11, 2022
                                  1.

Someone nodding, and the light pressing down
as though it had weight.
And right in the middle of what I want to say
there’s a long row of chairs. There are green,
red, yellow arches that gradually contract
and close, like doors.
Like a disease whose threshold no one can cross,
she says.
May 4, 2022
Once upon a time, there was only Olga and me, as well as our old dog, Boji, in a big house we inherited from our parents, whose food we had slowly been poisoning in a span of at least a year. Our parents blamed their “chronic illness” on inclement weather, on the “heathens” who played rock music next door, sometimes on “cursed” and “possessed” appliances and furniture.
April 27, 2022
birds, vital furniture for our eyes. The floor refoliates
a dozenfold. Months
these days waltz
triple-time
within us. Echoes of fundamental shapes. Great-

grandfather, Harry Houdini’s accountant.
Isaac, our cousin the Don, muscled his way into King’s spitting distance.
All told, say
the performance outlived the performer?
O
April 20, 2022
She used the word alabaster too often. And breath, as if her body always knew what lay ahead,
the repetition of need. Even absence became a title. Even then long shadows danced in the room,
wind slithering under the door. There was a hint of that tricky left eye, still squinting, an itch to
become worse. Fire had its annual appearance, though not at first, and always confused with a
sense of death or doom. Throughout there was a certain rage, a questioning, “how can this be?”
Rage might be a response to events, or it might have always simmered, a disorder from birth.
April 13, 2022
       Holly gives Katja another look, but doesn’t say anything. They are walking beside a long snow-covered lake. High overhead, a red-tail hawk makes its frayed, lonesome kreee. At the end of the lake, they turn and tramp atop their own tracks, hurrying to make it home before the hospice aides leave. A gun shot loud enough to thump their chests sounds in the woods straight ahead. Then another. And another. The shots continue at varying intervals, growing ever louder. Eventually, Katja and Holly come to a clearing where a young man stands just behind a young woman, his arms reaching around her so that his left hand supports hers beneath the rifle stock, and his right hand envelops hers on the trigger. The man and woman are motionless. His shoulders tremble. A gunshot echoes off of hundreds of trees. A piece of paper snaps off a target pinned to a tree and flutters to the ground.
 
April 6, 2022
When you pull me from the water
Tell me I fell. Say you saw it all. How I tripped at the edge.

When you pull me from the water
Hold my face in your hands. Make my hair stand like a mountain. Turn off the bath faucet.

When you pull me from the water
Ask about my blood sugar. Worry over grapes I ate as lunch. Laugh at how I nearly slip back in.

When you pull me from the water
Wipe chiggers from my ankles. Press my skin with your x’s. Numb all the ways they bite me.
March 30, 2022
She decided on a five-mile loop, walking a corridor of ashen and gray-brown tree trunks. Thistle sprouted spiky at the path’s edge, as did milkweed, their pods gray husks bent at the stems. Something in her quieted. When she got back, she’d try again with the pastels. She’d take a more delicate approach, not let herself overwork anything nor destroy her efforts even if bad.
 
March 23, 2022
You fell upwards into primacy,
A response of bells and cold
Arias, clashes of mettle on metal.

Then you fell downwards
Outside of history’s grasp
Under cold covers.

You felt the weight of days.
The rolltop desk hid secrets
Of your progress.
March 16, 2022
SAVED

Fear is an attentional function.
Wishes depotentize over time.


Human nature is a child
soldier. A walk on the beach


is a cold chapel where I played
cello before a panel of wooden


chairs. Religion and war are peasant
stunners, knee-high flags


on the village green.
March 11, 2022
This morning, Bard College released the following statement about its earlier decision to cease publication of Conjunctions at the end of this year. While negotiations toward continuing the journal under Bard’s aegis haven’t yet begun, we trust that they will be held in good faith. 
 
I am beyond grateful to all of you for making your thoughts known, loud and clear, across various platforms. There is nothing little about “little magazines” and nothing small about “small presses.” These are the fertile proving grounds where so many writers can freely share their innovative voices and visions.

–Bradford Morrow, founder and editor of Conjunctions

Bard College Statement on Its Relationship with Conjunctions

Bard College announced this week that the fall 2022 issue of Conjunctions would be the journal’s last under the Bard imprint. Having heard the immediate, widespread, and heartfelt reaction from readers, writers, and editors alike, the College is revisiting its decision with the intention of continuing its support for the journal.

Bard sincerely regrets both the decision and process that led to it, and extends its apologies to our colleague Bradford Morrow, as well as the journal’s staff and writers, for the disruption it has caused. The College is proud of the role we have played for 30 years in supporting Conjunctions and is working directly with the journal in the hope of repairing our relationship and charting a possible path forward together.
March 9, 2022
In 2021, Conjunctions marked its fortieth anniversary, a milestone celebrated by the publication of a special anniversary issue and a series of online readings, defying the pandemic in order to bring some of our contributors live before a worldwide audience.
 
What cannot be defied, as it happens, is the economic pressure the pandemic has created in both education and publishing. For the last thirty of its forty years, Conjunctions has been published by Bard College. Sadly, I’ve been informed that the cost of continuing to publish the journal has become unsustainable for the college, which has made the decision to cease publication at the end of this calendar year. As a result, our fall 2022 issue, Conjunctions:79, Onword, will be the final issue published under the Bard imprint. 

“Bard College is proud to have played a role in the extraordinary body of work created during the journal’s tenure here, enabling some of the most daring and distinguished literary voices of our time to find a home in print,” said Bard College spokesman Mark Primoff.
 
Editing and publishing a literary journal has historically never been for the faint of heart. I am deeply saddened by this turn of events, but I appreciate Bard's having been a steadfast supporter of the journal for these past three decades.

In the meantime, we will publish our spring issue as scheduled. Conjunctions:78, Fear Itself, will feature works by Coral Bracho, Stephen Graham Jones, Brandon Hobson, Shane McCrae, Bronka Nowicka, Monica Datta, Joyce Carol Oates, Rick Moody, Julia Elliott, Kristine Ong Muslim, Jeffrey Ford, Quintan Ana Wikswo, as well as two former Bard Fiction Prize winners, Bennett Sims and Akil Kumarasamy, along with many others.
 
And Conjunctions:79, Onword, will feature some of the great pioneering writers of innovative poetry and prose whose work we have championed since their debuts or earliest publications, together with those whose voices are now just emerging. Our weekly online publication—widely read by an international audience—will also continue through the end of the year, offering exciting new writing and selections from the journal's vast archives. We intend to preserve the Conjunctions website as a legacy archive for everyone to access.
 
We hope that you, our cherished, far-flung family of readers and writers, will enjoy these forthcoming issues and join us in celebrating the living notebook that has always been Conjunctions.

—Bradford Morrow, founder and editor of Conjunctions
March 2, 2022
I was indoctrinated early in the limits of good intentions.
How could I love and still have done the cruelest thing I said I didn’t?
Now I wait for my brother to call, though he hasn’t for years,

                                                                                                 because
that is how I’ll know that what I feared since childhood
is real.
February 23, 2022
She started to tell me a story about a friend of a friend, that she heard relayed online. The dog sprinted ahead to retrieve a ball that I pelted as far as I could. The dog brought the ball back to me, dropped it at my feet. I picked it up and flung it again, and off the dog sprinted, again. We interrupted her, mid-sentence: the dog with its return of the ball and my need to take a couple of steps to build up momentum for my pitch of the ball as far as my tiring, left arm allowed. How hard for her to tell her story in these conditions. I did this several times before she asked me, irritably, if I wanted to hear the story or not.
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