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Clare Beams
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Biography
Clare Beams
Clare Beams’s novel, The Illness Lesson (Doubleday), was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize; her story collection, We Show What We Have Learned (Lookout Books), won the Bard Fiction Prize and was a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.

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In Print

Vol. 78
Fear Itself
Spring 2022
Edited by Bradford Morrow

Online

—Translated from Polish by Katarzyna Szuster-Tardi
June 29, 2022
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.
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