Selected Texts

For breakfast, lunch, and dinner. On slices of rubbery white bread buttered with margarine so that the marmalade slides under the spreading knife. In the glass jar, the orange jelly with bright shavings of orange peel absorbs light and invites hungry eyes. And so, dreaming of marmalade, the brothers, always in need of sustenance, arrive on a snowy March morning at Heathrow. [...]
Three Unpublished Poems
The relict lay reading in the contractor’s bad grass. I used to breathe sleep eat poetry. Until could not see to read except the large-print books, mysteries, tell-alls, and how to build waterfalls, but could see the hollows in the small of his buttocks, the fair hair feathering into his pitchy seam.

I could see rings of brilliance 
beyond any visible human means. [...]
Sylph Set
—For Jo Wood-Brown        I SAW ALL THE STRANGENESS IMMEDIATELY,       I saw it in this very particular slide of [...]
The Sequence
         When she was young, Sidra and her twin sister used to play a game. They used to play lots of games, but this was, so far as Sidra [...]
Six Poems
Take a break to look at the indigo clouds
         It’s time you owned up  
         to rinsing the heavens
         and hanging them out to dry [...]
Easy Games Without Toys
In this game you enter the room
completely blind. Subdued noises, footsteps
circling. Speech comes from little holes
called mouths. “Where did you come from?"
hums your father. You were sent, from a certain address,
but it is customary not to answer. [...]
Double Faults
 You can imagine that tennis was all about control for M. Here was the court, perfectly replicable, with its parallel lines and boxes. There was an opponent involved, of course, but their presence was almost always immaterial, another variable for her to compute. The world of the court had endless possibilities and yet they were contained, predictable, manipulable. You go backhand crosscourt, I go backhand crosscourt. We strike it back and forth. Then, when you least expect it, I go down the line. Fifteen love. [...]
A tree is mediated through a window, its leaves flutter up, showing their wan undersides   While all I got is this T-shirt, a spool of [...]
Prime of Life
We don’t know yet what a body can do. We won’t know until we break it. The overhead loudspeaker repeats this message, followed by three tolls of [...]
Four Stories
I can still play “My First Waltz” in my sleep, the opening notes anyway. You start with the middle C and radiate up and down the scale, hitting each subsequent note once, landing back at C.

I’m hoarding scraps. Sometimes, when I’m on the highway and about to run out of gas, I turn off the radio and the air conditioner thinking this will buy me a few more miles. [...]
Four Poems
Sorrow is ever
inelegant, the squat concrete faces

that greeted them. Not knowing where
to pass the salt at endless

Christian tables. Whose hand to hold, [...]
Three Stories
This plaid-dressed lady’s voice is faint and singsong and why does she tell herself things that she already knows?—as if she is talking to a stranger—Any avocados that aren’t soft? Fresh celery? Do you have fresh grapes? [...]
[Lobsters are Pepsi cans.]
[Coral reefs are water bottles.]
[The ocean is bubble wrap.]
Bedrock is Firestone tires.]
Trees are Styrofoam peanuts.]
[Horses are Starbucks lids.]
[Donkeys are drinking straws.]
[Seeds are batteries.]

Tabula Rasa
This was the best moment of the day. It was the time when he was all in himself. His mind was his and his being was his and nothing had yet impinged on his spirit. The day was clean. It was the best it would be for the next twenty-four hours. Even his thoughts had not yet begun to spoil the day. [...]
Mr. Ashok’s Monument
That day, Mr. Ashok attracted a European couple, who were so busy putting their hands all over each other’s hands that they seemed untroubled by Mr. Ashok’s stone composition. The woman wore shorts. The man touched her hips, her waist, her bum. They did not even look titillated when Mr. Ashok brought them to his favorite cave, the one featuring the various incarnations of Parvati—Lord Shiva’s beautiful consort—and their various naked breasts.

“Nothing dirty, you see,” Mr. Ashok said to the woman.

“Your religion is very modern,” the man said stiffly. [...]
A few years ago a friend of mine married a demon. There was a liberal in the White House then and everyone was feeling pretty sanguine.

The demon’s name was Fulmious Mannerhorn Patterlully, and he was approximately 200,001 years old. His legs were blue, his eyes were yellow, he had to gnaw at his own fingernails all day to keep them a reasonable length. He did not wear pants with notable frequency. He was intelligent, gregarious, undying.

My friend was twenty-eight. She was a human girl.
Five Poems
And then a joke I won’t share
now because it only works
if you agree the idea of god is
hilarious. Mine: care as control, [...]
The first time you learn the word hymen, you are nine and your mother is screaming it at you. You have just tried out for the school’s rhythmic gymnastics team. At school they are the queens, and you have always wanted to be one of them—these girls who flutter their colorful ribbon apparatuses behind them like bright moths, these girls with their perfect posture, butt cheeks raised by the tight, shiny spandex of the leotards they wear to class. [...]
A/part: Notes on Solitude
Unlike most Japanese couples of their generation, my parents married for love in 1954 over the objections of their families, but three years later when I was born, my father, Hiroshi, was having an affair with a woman who worked as a bar hostess. She was the first (and the last) of many girlfriends he had, serially and consecutively. An engineer for the manufacturing conglomerate Kawasaki Steel, Hiroshi worked till late, went out drinking with his coworkers, visited his girlfriends, and returned home long past my bedtime. [...]
Three Poems
Love from another time beneath me
in that new white cube house, mouth-water
from my brother’s lip a dollop on my arm;

and the bed irks when he fidgets 
in the wait-for-signal from the gap
between floor tiles and the ground; [...]
The Moon Fairy
by Sofia Samatar
illustrations by Del Samatar
When the Moon Fairy arrived, blown in through an open window one summer night, we were all surprised by how much it resembled Sylvie. Of course, it was much smaller—no longer than Sylvie’s forearm, the perfect size to take its place among her forgotten dolls—but its small, shimmering face was a tiny image of hers, like a portrait cleverly formed from beaten tin. [...]
We Are All Breakable, Ready to Break
After the bites. After the appearance of what, under one of the wobbly lamps in the employee dressing room/lounge, looked like three welts on T.’s forearm and two little ones on the webbing between S.’s index finger and thumb. After they (zombie fans all of them, horror fans all of them, gore fans all of them) whooped for October 1, whooped for the whole damn month, whooped for another year at the Haunted Farm, which was the only thing they loved in otherwise miserable Olney, Maryland. [...]
New Sisters
Quisa had fallen into the habit of disappointing herself, and then disappointing herself a little more, with the words she let slip from her mouth. She kept talking to people in this hungry, intimate way, as if they too had spent the time of their lives in their heads and read the warning labels too closely and worried irrationally about their lymph nodes. Accidental confessions are what these amounted to. [...]
Night Is the Best Counsel
One cannot lie to oneself in the snow: there are times, the woman tells the man, who is next to her, trudging toward the river, when what is going on outside in the world is what is going on inside of me; climate change is more evident in the wintertime, she tells him, on this crisp air trek through the snowbound vale of the forest; farmers can no longer count on nature for any reliable means; planting season is earlier now, but in turn more crops are being destroyed by last-minute snowstorms and unforeseen stretches of cold. We see the change. [...]
An Interview
Where nostalgia is the pain arising from moving away from a loved place, solastalgia occurs without you going anywhere; it is the landscape that “leaves” from around you. The last decade—and especially the last two or three years—have seen an intensification and a globalization of this distinctive Anthropocene effect [...]
Two Stories
There were clear indications the cloud was moving again, headed their way. Where it passed it stripped the remaining leaves from the already crippled trees, left soil and water poisoned, stripped the flesh off any creature, living or dead, and then whittled away at the bones. [...]
Disputed Site Sestinas
You would not go there. Mountainous
ships gather in at the beach
of Alang. Each will feed 100 mouths
broken down into elements
by the young. Sent out between the places
we have scoured so now our harbors push it past [...]
Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art form, entails repairing cracked pottery by reattaching the shards with gold lacquer powder mixed with the adhesive. This is done so that a warm glow appears to radiate from the jagged tracery made by the fractures between the glued parts, emphasizing the “scars” that define a critical moment in the history of the pottery piece. [...]
After Maria
I was excited to help. The response here, officially, was bad. A lot of us knew we needed to react to that somehow. We wanted the victims to know that not everybody here felt like he did. But also, yeah, that’s the word for it, excited. [...]
In the Mist of Everything
Shira thought she would buy furniture for the bedroom first. Kevin made attempts at saving his garden. Doreen pushed the dough down with the heel of her hand. Gabriel tried a new yoga pose. Cynthia and Steve went for a drive. Toby said, The weather is just great. Marybeth wore the same dress two days in a row. [...]
Two months into my time as Fred and Elsie’s ghost, they wake up in the middle of the night to find me at the kitchen table, staring at the Ouija board unfolded over the unfinished pine. I didn’t mean to be staring at the board when they came down the stairs. I’d snuck down after they’d gone to bed to skim from their leftovers and it was already there, waiting. [...]
Twelve Hours
The first time I crossed the equator, I stopped for a photo. People usually do. I had come to work in a small clinic in a coffee-farming village in southwestern Uganda, just to the south of the world’s belt. I grew up in the midlatitudes: long summer days and long winter nights, the swing of light and dark like a rocking hammock. I thought of the equator as a human idea—a line on a spinning globe. Its tyranny was a shock. [...]
Walking in the Dark
What they had in common was they were smokers; everyone was a smoker then. Those three, though, they smoked to live. Cigarettes! There the cigarette would be, raised to the lips. The lips opening, only a little. The smoke drifting across the roof of the mouth. The lungs filling—this is how they recognized one another, in the green sea, green as grass, by streams of water green as glass. [...]
In the Next Night
In agitation along sleep’s surface

dreams the monster, the angular, the slimy, the anything goes, the corpse

who strokes the tigers with rather weak jaws

in a jump cut, on an icy blue couch, red queen

on mute–– [...]
A Nightmare
Even though I knew that this was impossible—even though I recognized, in my rational mind, my waking or my daylight mind, that the shopping carts had to have been gathered from a grocery store this century—I could not shake the impression of a far architect, or fathom any contemporary consciousness that could have constructed this. [...]
The Fisherman Bombardier of Naval Station Norfolk
A Performance in Four Generations, Three Races, and Too Many Genders to Name
In this mariner’s damp the lichen sprouts, or rather creeps, in the manner molds and kisses do, prurient. Slightly closer then farther toward and away from their undisclosed destination. Investigating, guarded, but unwilling to cease from exploration. [...]
After the sudden death of my employer, I was tasked with overseeing the transfer of his personal library. The books would travel from his studio in New York City to an arts foundation in Italy, where my employer had once enjoyed a long and productive stay, many years in the past. [...]
Days of Heaven
A grown-up man not unlike me is trying to coax a struggling child into a box. That’s badly phrased and only a single sentence in we are in need of starting over. [...]
The Empyrean Light
Something was lying in the street. Ms. Wronski thought she saw it move, but by the time she had juggled her way up the stairs with her keys and the bag with the milk and the crumple of supermarket flyers and her satchel of ungraded homework, she was no longer certain. [...]
Why Brother Stayed Away
The moment had come to see if it was true that Grumpa had a collection of ties lined with pictures of what her brother called “naughty ladies.” [...]
An Interview
For writers: ask yourself how many invisible nonhuman actors and agents are required to enable your tale of individual self-realization or domestic drama, then make those hidden sponsors visible. For readers: let the beauty of whatever book you’ve just read teach you to read the world beyond what we human beings call the real world. [...]
The Cathedral Is a Mouth
The great Gothic cathedrals, with their arches, ribs, and vaults, were modeled after trees in the forest, the way trees reach up and their branches intertwine. [...]
Punishment is a poor substitute for justice. When, after all, does punishment end? And what is punishment meant to do? [...]
The Open Water
                                         1.      Peaches redden on branches; in the dark,   I drop the [...]
Four Poems
In Brief   “Use the Crown Club Card   to see Justice League,”   
he, she, it says.         [...]
He tells her of the seven-hearted boy, the seven petals, the insomnia of the horse, the prayers in unison, the mute one, the body with wings, the transfigured night, the asphyxiation—that sublime descent. All is measure and recklessness. And her safe word, choose a safe word, her safe word is green. [...]
Ten Body Stories
I am a sex worker, and it’s a good gig, because the bawdy room is everywhere. [...]
Skeleton, Rock, Shell
A girl is a tree stripped of bark.

A girl is a skeleton, rock, shell.

A girl is a boy who cannot forget.

A boy is a girl who has learned not to see. [...]
Five states north, he
wonders what
causes the
he hears behind
his mother’s
voice [...]
The House That Jack Built
This is the house that Jack built, an “existential reflection,” as she’d have it, its frame and foundation made of earth-packed rubber tires, the driveway itself made of rubberized asphalt, the crumb rubber and concrete amalgam a noise reducer [...]
The Wall
Once, there were two lovers, separated by a wall that divided their city, a wall they had helped to build, recruited by the warring city fathers, who declared that only a wall would ensure their freedom. [...]
Ms. Wen sat in a dark room pondering the structure of the universe. Then she stood and opened the window, whereupon all kinds of obscure shadows wandered in. The room turned half light, half dim. Poo, poo, poo … came the noises from the shadows. [...]
Two Poems
The amber in chamber
glows against the wall
opposed to the window. [...]
Five Provence Poems
Safety lives high above itself, protected from what it needs.

It sees what it sees, sees

a cave in its flank. [...]
The Botanist's House
Mostly, she needed to put it all behind her, and by “all” she meant all of us, as well as the events of her life, what people call memories. [...]
The Heart Is an Organ Which Must Be Bled
No wonder the damselflies scatter when our kind confer. We are now linked organisms, but still we move away from one another. Twinned, but not beholden to the shackles of cellular differentiation. [...]
There Are No Footprints Today
To Jefferson I am constantly lying. He lies to me too. We lie by refusing to discuss the terrible things we have done. [...]
Heart Seeks Brain
At happy hour, my coworker Sarah and I bond, in the way of women, by cataloguing the flaws of our internal organs. [...]
Reliable People
We have no quota, no set hours. We keep going for as long as burnt coffee recharges us, slouching in lumpy plastic chairs that scritch on the parquet floor of a ground-floor office whose single plate window is blotted by standees of the Candidate, wearing a reassuring smile and a dark pantsuit. [...]
Aksel could see a smear, something just inside the vessel’s skin. He blinked, rubbed his eyes. It was still there. [...]
Not Without Mercy
The snow angled down fiercely out of the west, filling the parking lot and road and fields beyond. Amy stood at the office window and peered into the storm, trying to spot the headlights of Harry’s old truck coming up Sossey Road. [...]
Blind Spot
The thing is, you can’t tell the difference. At least not from the outside. [...]
Walking Dead Love Songs
I was born
and then I died.

I was born and then
I died fighting. [...]
From Red Bird Most
Afternoon. No one knows what to say. I’m sorry or I’m sorry for your loss or It’s just terrible or He’s with God now or God works in mysterious ways or We’re praying for you or Your family’s in our prayers or How did you know him or How did you find out [...]
The Cardinal
When I was a teenager, I knew a boy named Monfiori who lived in the neighborhood. He was pale skinned and thin with wiry hair. Everyone at school hated him, but for a while he was my only friend. [...]
Hansel, Gretel, Grendel
The Boy walks with mud on his sneakers, kicking at skunk cabbage, slapping mosquitoes. On his T-shirt are gallows birds, fanged demons in wizard-whorl, skullheaded soldiers. He has come to the forest to scavenge parts for his monster. [...]
From Huck Out West
It was up in Minnysota that Tom made up his mind to give over cowboying and take on the law. Becky Thatcher was the daughter of a judge and maybe she give him the idea how to set about doing it. [...]
Two Poems
The men on top of the hill
launched a new dirt lobby
meant to outstrip the precious,
that is, previous, tentative
by a better than three-to-one margin. [...]
The last time we spoke was July 17, 2010. My phone bill says I called him at 1:23 in the afternoon at a number near Asheville, North Carolina, and the call lasted for one minute; I must have left a message or else we spoke for just a moment. [...]
Blind in Granada, or, Romance
She was a bohemian girl with lots of life to live fast. Only in her early twenties but making up for time lost to who knows what. [...]
The Likenesses
a match is like a shard
the shard is like a sword

a sword is like a word
the house of water folds [...]
From Once into the Night
I had been filled with ennui all week, it was drenching, and all I could do was walk around, taking furtive looks at things, being alone with myself and my ennui. [...]
Seven Pieces on Deception, the Whore, and Anderson, IN
At the beginning, I told myself that I could have sex with the X even though he was cheating on Anderson, IN, because he had already been cheating on Anderson, IN, for six years [...]
Four Poems
As within the raucous meditations of high priests you find yourself moving and trepidatious and in the far black moving black trees. [...]
The Dead Swan
It’s a cold, windy, early spring day and Sadie is walking by herself along the beach, not looking down or at where she is going so that she nearly trips over it—the dead swan—only she doesn’t right away recognize what it is. [...]
After the Jump
Turned out moonseeds salinize fresh water, impregnate it with crystalline salt deposits. Imagine invasive plants capable of sparking drought. Imagine beach sand clinging to a shoe, reproducing rapidly, leeching more moisture with each germination, reducing some of our largest bodies to withering appendages. [...]
The Face Says Do Not Kill Me
They slowly rolled along beside it, daughter pushing mother in her chair
a carving up into the air and down into the rocky soil, staring in one and then the other direction. [...]
We name our winds for elsewhere, and ride them like a song forward into an aromatic future. [...]
After After Nature
The unsaid strafes its enclosure.
I’m in a store, a storage,
among forgettings that anchor them. [...]
And the Bow Shall Be in the Cloud
routine hub-tones figure in a scatter 
drum at a slight torque to religion
house of contrary jade
burning in the mountain’s phoneme [...]
Brief, Image, and Etymology: On Reading
To read is to be, for a time, text, but how? Say a text is allowed to enter the self and establish its distillment and pattern, why does this cause things to happen? [...]
Packing My Library
Every day when I step out of my home to walk through the streets of my little Brooklyn neighborhood, I come upon boxes of books outside entranceways, on walls, and at the curb between garbage bags. Sometimes one box. Sometimes half a dozen. [...]
Two Essays
Before constructing the garden, the sub-plot is considered. It is never spaded, dug, or trenched, but caved using dynamite, or any such potassium lumen. The charge is laced along the bare ground and exploded downward until the correct depth is confronted. [...]
Three Little Novels
Almanzo was eating. 
      He shouted, “Giddap!” a carrot in his hand. [...]
Fragments from Lost Zoroastrian Books
There where the sun rises

The edge of a razor

Of knowledge, not love [...]
The Particulars
In the second volume of David B.’s Incidents in the Night, there’s a shoot-out in a used bookstore. [...]
Three Found Books
She found the book in the attic of the house she’d bought with the money from her parents’ will. [...]
Song of Magsaysay
Jejo had spent the better part of the week taking pictures, familiarizing himself with the specifications and quirks of the 35 mm Contax issued on Magsaysay’s authorization to all regimental documenters working with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. There would be no more mutilation of corpses, the accompanying memo had stated. [...]
Dreamlives of Debris
I have my doll and the screamings behind my eyelids. [...]
Dog’s Journey
Waves lack surface when you are weak, nothing risen quickly enough to keep you up. [...]
Five Poems
And then doves and the thrush and the late 
afternoon of the swallows under the bridge 
and the fathoms of sleep and then the hollows 
of dialogue aspiring to contain the rich facts [...]
Three Berlin Essays
by Aleš Šteger
translated by Brian Henry
When someone’s presence on the street becomes imperceptible as the presence of the street becomes imperceptible in this person. [...]
Here Be Monsters
The Roman aristocracy loved morays; they farmed them as livestock and kept them as pets in elaborate ponds. Now and then a master fed his less obedient slaves to the eels, presumably in pieces; human blood was thought to fatten a moray nicely. [...]
Handling the Beast
8000 BCE, the black périgord of southwestern France: A cave system is forming. At the end of the last ice age, water seeps into fissures in the high cliffs along the Vézère River. [...]
Conversion Testimony
It was a routine day, the day of my conversion. [...]
Animal Care and Control
I’d give you a swamp if I could, but I have no swamp to give. [...]
Qiu Yiping, a thirteen-year-old middle-school student, was secretly in love with her thirty-five-year-old cousin with the whimsical name Xuwu. [...]
Seven Poems
Mutable stipend 

saturated in the bright room 

with a thin blue rug. 

The pivot has some mystery [...]
(     )
Now alone, knock on Bobby (that most famous of wooden noumena, the not-in-use-just-now dummy of ventriloquist Signor Blitz (famed, as you already know, for the spectacle of his opening routine [...]
When they slept she had gotten into the habit of resting both her hands on his arm. Now that his arm was gone, what was she to do? [...]
Orange Roses
In a kind of fantasy in which I frequently indulge, I discover a way to become so interested in work that I no longer speculate in the negative about the emotional lives of others. [...]
As this thing in her brain began to spin more rapidly, she would often begin our visit by pointing him out to me. There he was, beside the olive tree. Or on the mountain slope. Or at the church door. I had to see him wandering out there before she would go on. [...]
The Reader
Without a reader of his own, he creates one in a story he calls “The Reader.” [...]
“Because they have seen angels, and other divine numina, represented by painters with a certain splendour and light, and have heard that these are [...]
Theses on Monsters
The history of all hitherto-existing societies is the history of monsters. [...]
Seven Stories
The kids at my mother’s house are new recruits, and I don’t know their names. They look tired in their heavy wool coats. [...]
More Little Tales of the Internet
He was a guy who was very much a big deal to see, in a kind of you-don’t-see-him-very-often way, as well as in a then-when-you-do-he’s-on-Skype kind of way. [...]
The whole world can be divided into those who write and those who do not write, wrote Kierkegaard. [...]
I Would Never Do These Things
No one seems to know what brought this cloud into being or why the world is ending, but there is no question: When the cloud finally rolls onto our shores it will be as if none of us, and nothing we have done, seen, heard, or believed in will have ever existed. [...]
That Obscure Object of Desire
Time had long since left me in the lurch, stood me up, hung me out to dry. So all I can say for certain is that, by the time I found myself in the subway station at DeKalb Avenue, I was neck-deep in the nth hour of an obsessive mania. [...]
Two Poems
The maroon-colored cat jumped over the magnificent Moon of Horses. [...]
The Last Film of Alan Smithee
After all that, I chose the avatar that looked most like me: similar build, similar features. I gave him my name, Alan Smithee. [...]
begins with sound of bell

ends with briefcase dark

glorying day’s pantomime [...]
Shhhhhh, Arthur’s Studying
Arthur was a quiet boy who grew into a quiet man. When he and Walt Kaplan were boys it was always, Shhhhhh, Arthur’s studying. There’s got to be at least one yeshiva butcher in every family and a yeshiva butcher’s got to have quiet. Go play outside, Walt, your brother’s studying. [...]
Mother Box
Of course, she was the sort of person who had a lot of secrets. Her secrets were how she understood it was herself and not, say, a peanut or a broken-bottomed chair. Listen, she was sort of a reprehensible figure. [...]
You’ll Be Sorry
One of these days—and it might be a day very soon—and it won’t be a day that you can identify in advance—and my behavior on that day will not contain clues that you can scrutinize as warnings—I will become angry. [...]
Once it was underwater I thought of.
     Once I was gripped by thoughts of underwater. 
     Because my father once said, when I shouldn’t have been listening, what if all the earth’s water were drained. [...]
The I and the It
Under more agreeable circumstances—we are paraphrasing; Bennell was predisposed to cliché and imprecise language—Dr. Miles Bennell, a physician for thirteen years, would have welcomed the sudden relaxation, the opportunity to indulge a newfound frivolity; the life of a busy GP had never exactly encouraged the profligate humoring of passing fancies and so this should have been a glimpse of the life he had not yet found the time to lead. [...]
Regeneration at Mukti
Call me a trendmonger, but I’ve sprung for a tree house. [...]
Seven Stories from the Palace of Rubble
He hopes to fly a giant helium balloon a record twenty-five miles into the earth’s atmosphere and parachute down. This is a moment worthy of fanfare. [...]
Every poem is a model of a possible world that only comes into being when reading is active, activated. [...]
The Artificial Stork
I do not know for how long we traveled The Beneath, that harsh terrain on which the grounded go lost and flightless, nor could I explain to you how we survived with little sustenance, as the children did not seem the least bit interested in foraging for food and collecting water. [...]
Descent of the Aquanauts
Everybody thinks it’s going to be different for them, Janice said. [...]
Jan knows what other people, women in particular, would think about what is happening to her. They would say that she hates herself. They would talk about things like abuse and disrespect and childhood. They would use the term self-esteem. [...]
City Under Sun
She is impervious to ploys, indifferent to
novelty. There is no longer anything new, nothing new happens
anymore. [...]
The Oxygen Protocol
Later he woke up, not entirely sure at first what had happened, what had been real and what he had dreamed. For a moment the utburd was still there, its bloody, childish face glowing faintly in the dim light and then vanishing. Was it real then? [...]
The City in the Light of Moths
The projectionist’s heart broke as the spool of the film he was screening snapped, sending a thousand frames rocketing through the room. [...]
For You We Are Holding
The number of us can be many but rarely is. The number can be none but it is never that. Whatever the number, that is who we are. [...]
Two Stories
NiceDay became a status symbol. The official stamp of a millionaire. What executive jets were to the nineties, and into 2000, NiceDay was to now. NiceDay: weather for the wealthy. [...]
I was an adjunct in the English Department. Sheila was a poet who didn’t believe universities and poetry had anything to do with each other. [...]
City/Body: Fragments
Instead, you like to watch the stack of cash dwindle in front of you. It causes you anxiety, but it also makes you feel as though you are in control of something here, in New York. You are in control of nothing, of course, but the illusion helps. [...]
Tin Pan Alley Chicago Style
It must have been about 1948. The shabstreets had the murkiness which went with greasy half-wet black tar and glistening drops of oil, water drooled off the battered canopy of the bar, which sort of protected the entrance to this decaying enterprise and protruded its tired face into the deathly quiet deserted Rush Street of Chicago. [...]
Misapprehensions: A Mobile in Ten Parts
“Let’s put the dead thing in context,” someone suggests. But what is context for the dead thing? [...]
Six Poems
You confuse
the image of a fungus

with the image of a dick
in my poem

(understandably) [...]
It was a terrible Saturday, the kind of Saturday you have after a Friday night spent explaining to your third wife why you had a hooker in your house and how the condom wrapper she spotted under the couch was not, after all, necessary. [...]
; it was virtual, the killing; it was conference call, the killing; it was party line, a party; it was everyone talking at once [...]
Sailing by Night
I gather the boxes, ones labeled LOWER EXTREMITY DEVICES, UPPER EXTREMITY DEVICES, BONE PLATES, SOFTGOODS FOR HANDS OR FINGERS, BREASTS, BRACES … Now and then I remove a piece, close my eyes, touch with my tongue tip, explore wood and metal with my fingertips, sniff. I take down the lightest box first. [...]
Elizabeth Thug
At once she realized a person didn’t need to be mysterious at all—only their skin did. From then on she studied any tattoo she saw. [...]
Untitled (Sid Vicious, New York, 1978)
The eye is first drawn to that illusion of movement in the right foreground: a checkered taxicab with its rear curb-side door hanging open and a young Sid Vicious entering or exiting the cab, his motion-blurred face visible over the flat plane of the cab’s roof, and the cab, too, ghostly, slightly blurred as though moving off, up Twenty-third Street, away from the Hudson. [...]
Two Poems
Reach out your spoon
for another portion; arch your neck.
Everything is in profile toward evening. [...]
His Last Great Gift
Spear has already been living in the cabin overlooking High Rock for two weeks when the Electricizers speak of the New Motor for the first time. [...]
Modernist Poems
I prefer you skeptics to the credulous ones. You 
have a more fulfilled sense of silence. [...]
A Simple Question
As soon as Vogel realized he could end the interrogation simply by staring unblinkingly back into the light, he awoke with the full moon shining in his eyes. [...]
The History of the History of Death
Does a curse really hang over the History of Death? The question was taken up by Dick Gordon, the paranormalist and deep-sea diver, who wrote about it for the Fortean Times. Gordon was the first person to figure out that only writing about the History bears ill consequences; his energetic if not exhaustive search turned up no one who was harmed by reading the works mentioned above, a fact that you will doubtless be pleased to learn. [...]
The house might have been a hundred years old. It might have been two hundred years old. It might have always been there. [...]
The Stolen Church
And now here they were in the lobby of a nondescript apartment building waiting for the elevator to take them up to visit his dead parents. [...]
Secret Breathing Techniques
Once my vocabulary had been exhausted I resorted to gesture, and when my limbs and face were stricken w/ fatigue I fell back on thought, though that too was a kind of secret motion, requiring a high-speed travel of blood through my body, a greedy travel that I knew would soon put me in further danger. [...]
Hungerford Bridge
I knew my place in the Neverland hierarchy: I was Smee, sentimental and loyal, slightly ridiculous. I doubt that, even as an infant, Miles had ever been ridiculous. [...]
Mere Oblivion
At ninety-one Somerset Maugham expired, as did Jean Sibelius and Pablo Picasso; Knut Hamsun died at ninety-two, P. G. Wodehouse at ninety-three. Oskar Kokoschka and George Bernard Shaw both kept working till the age of ninety-four; Louise Bourgeois has a retrospective exhibition now at ninety-six. [...]
What Will Survive of Us
The first one I saw was on the corner of West Thirty-sixth Street and Sixth Avenue: a racing bicycle, painted completely white (tires, saddle, spokes—everything) and chained to a street sign (“Left Lane Must Turn Left”). [...]
The Meaning of Life
The search for meaning is not a whole lot different than the yearning for certainty, which is to say, an unsuitable pursuit for any who might aspire to nimbleness of mind, amplitude of soul, or freedom of spirit. [...]
Leavitt’s Dream
He can hear the pain, shifting and moving, a big animal somewhere close. [...]
Three Poems
I sa%w yo%r pixture on 
wehb si;t; no.t su%re 
whhc one & w~ant to 
tal^k or mee.t ver~y so.on [...]
King Cow
King Cow is the father of the tiny country we call The Foreground. Everything is concrete there. Everything has been concrete for forty years. [...]
Why Does the World Out There Seem
Why does the natural feel unnatural? 
Why does the world out there seem 
so utterly foreign to these poems? [...]
On Not Growing Up
—How long have you been a child?

—Seventy-one years. [...]
Besides, of Bedouins (Hotel Lautréamont, 1992)
A hotel is distinguished by its many rooms, and a room always stands for a moment of the mind, so every collection of poetry is necessarily a hotel, a sequence of spaces threaded in and above, and there within we live, in passing, in a corridor, in what brushes by your sleeve, the underscore of breath. [...]
What We Know as We Know It: Reading “Litany” With JA (As We Know, 1979)
It is, I think, Ashbery’s great gift, to have taught us to listen for the multiplicity, the plurality, of experience: as we know. [...]
A Magically Alive Aesthetic (Reported Sightings, 1989)
In John Ashbery’s art criticism the revelations arrive casually, offhandedly, as if unannounced. [...]
The Oath Unbroken (The Tennis Court Oath, 1962)
The book was radically different from anything I had ever read: really, the ruling aesthetic radically differed from any previous conception I’d had of what poetry was or could do. [...]
The Meandering Yangtze (Rivers and Mountains, 1966)
Ashbery is an exemplary poet of privacy, of nondisclosure, of an other mind that stays an other mind. His poems reveal not universal human emotions but quirky passages and unexpectable associations. They provide not moments of identification but company along the way.  [...]
Only in the Light of Lost Words Can We Imagine Our Rewards (Some Trees, 1956)
We behold some trees and they mean to us, we hear some wind and it means to us. We are not snow men. [...]
Cardinal in a Forsythia
Lost: Sister’s wallet. Her guitar. Her boyfriend. Eyeglasses. Smoking jacket. Copy of Flip Your Wig by Hüsker Dü. Joy about composing these lines. [...]
Ashbery's Theater (Three Plays, 1978)
​North of ’51 is a land of endless snow and whispering pines—of trackless wastes and brooding silence.  [...]
Birding with Lanioturdus
I must tell you that when we birded, he wasn’t he and I wasn’t I. [...]
Three Poems
Tell me more about
crayons, contingency
and winter fruit
polyamorous structural
we know aren’t always the best
for human hands anyway [...]
Essay on What Is Want
When my mother and I first moved to the city of Las Vegas, we lived for several weeks at the Budget Suites of America, a low-rise concrete pink motel with AIR COND and WEEKLY RATES and a Burger King next door. [...]
Two Stories
There are many reasons why I offer myself—in a manner of speaking—to a staggering number of young men, all Japanese. [...]
From Intercourse
the dust of the ground rises around us as we move and clench and thrash, and the Creator’s vast dark face fades and the woman grows slick and the dust turns to mud, and in the distance to the west I hear the trees stirring from a sweet breeze [...]
Five Poems
The pup is gone    want an amoeba?
or an orange thing?    a “schizophrenic”? [...]
Vincent, Homesick for the Land of Pictures
Is this what you intended, Vincent
that we take our rest at the end of the grove
nestled into our portion beneath the bird’s migration
saying, who and how am I made better through struggle. [...]
A History of Religions
Medieval is when you make it up from one day to the next, from one town to the next. Go down the road and a different history operates. Every town has a radius. In the gaps between radii are the zones where things get lost, waylaid. [...]
Give and Go
It was the idea of the ball that hadn’t left him. In his mind, he was tracking it, sliding his boot under it so smoothly it was lifting into the sky, not straining into height like a rocket, but gingerly, as if to say, there are things on this earth that fly, there are nearly weightless things, there is something invisible life can produce. [...]
Three Poems
Somewhere without a name the ice is falling
as it melts & all of the people in the streets
have never seen snow—its exhalation— [...]
The gallows is the highest thing for miles. I empire the sky. It’s gray as brains, puzzled by breezes. [...]
In the past, Gwendolyn had given them marbles and colored pencils, her goldfish and her red bike. With these gifts, she had introduced to their lives new kinds of grief. [...]
Birth of a Brother
     I know facts about my country that I never knew when I was young: the heights of mountains, the extremes of climate. The quaintness of public health conditions. The lack of infrastructure. The politics, local and international.
      Facts alone, though, are alienating.  [...]
Two Poems
The trope of a tree, the trope of the land that looks out at the tree. The trope that could be sawed off into lumber, the trope with which to build a house on the land. [...]
A tall man sat in front of me and I moved to another seat so I could see better; he turned and I glimpsed your face. Unrecognized: I never knew you. Later in the theater’s corridor you hurried past me, my head bent over an elfin spoonful of cocaine. [...]
Mission Thief
you reach for

                my hand as we cross Dolores I spit

                sidewise into my shadow

                when you aren’t looking [...]
My daughter was nudging the lid of the creamer with her nose, sniffing furiously. I opened it for her and poured some cream into a saucer. She lapped at it slowly with her thin tongue. [...]
Rewatching The Passenger
The drama builds in the pressure of what is being suppressed verbally, and what is being insinuated visually. The pressure is unrelenting. [...]
Three Poems
The bride of Heaven is Greer Garson.
In “Mrs. Miniver” God hears her
Breathing her white address into the emergency phone [...]
[“To tell the truth is to tell a lie …”]
Through the action of his prose, Gaddis demonstrates the investigative potential of imaginative thought. He shows us how we can think beyond what we know if we think hard. [...]
[“I remember the bookstore, long gone now …”]
I stood in the narrow aisle reading the first paragraph of The Recognitions. It was a revelation, a piece of writing with the beauty and texture of a Shakespearean monologue—or, maybe more apt, a work of Renaissance art impossibly transformed from image to words. And they were the words of a contemporary American. This, to me, was the wonder of it.  [...]
[“William Gaddis’s project was noble and exemplary …”]
Those books, the first three, especially, are like icebergs calved off a gigantic glacier. As a young writer, I mainly steered around them as they floated into my more southerly latitudes, knowing that if I hit one straight on, I’d sink. So I admired their colossal size and whiteness from a safe distance, mostly. [...]
[“I remember when we met Gaddis …”]
As a woman I have to say I found him very handsome and very charming. I mean, extremely charming. You wanted to sit beside him. And to keep up with him, too. To say things that weren’t dull. [...]
[“The ten years after a writer’s death …”]
Gaddis wrote as a ghost inside the machine of late-model capitalism, with a dark understanding of its costs, and he did so without yielding to the seductions of the literary world. [...]
Guest Editor’s Note
Each and every one of the splendid contributions to this hodgepodge anthology contains the resonate duality of (as Lear said of a Greek landscape) “the blessedly clear light—and the blessedly mysterious darkness.”  [...]
Letters to Peter
When we met on the beach in Killiney, I was running away from my mother. She was driving me insane. I hope you didn’t think I was crazy when I threw my teacup into the sea. Then, when it smashed on the rock, and you came up to me with a pair of false teeth, it was all really funny. [...]
Two Faces
Faces of sorrow
and contentment!—one upright,
another one up side down. [...]
When I realize A. is speaking I’m surprised. The four of us have been talking at intervals, each pair at a time (the waiter and Mr. G., then A. and I), but something has caused A. to overlap with the waiter. [...]
Two Stories
She wipes men. Three, four of them are robusta-bodied black or whitish. They’re cushion-like, semi-tender. [...]
Four Poems
some blind world of the blind
beneath a torch
held in a sheaf
on which said eye and yes. [...]
Four Poems
I’ll never forgive myself for the
violence propelled me at sad Paul
Blackburn, pushed in turn by both
our hopeless wives [...]
A Portfolio of Seven Illustrations from The New Wave Fabulists
Seven of the Gahan Wilson illustrations commissioned as frontispieces for the stories collected in Conjunctions:39. [...]
Little Red’s Tango
What a mystery is Little Red! How he sustains himself, how he lives, how he gets through his days, what passes through his mind as he endures that extraordinary journey … Is not mystery precisely that which does not yield, does not give access? [...]
We had been talking about things that went backwards instead of forwards. Things that managed to do both at the same time. Time travelers. People who weren’t stuck like us. [...]
The Least Trumps
My life is spent with skin: cupping a breast in my hand, pulling the skin taut between my fingers while the needle etches threadlike lines around the aureole, tracing yellow above violet veins, turning zippered scars into coiled serpents, an explosion of butterfly wings, flames or phoenixes rising from a puckered blue-white mound of flesh. [...]
Entertaining Angels Unawares
There’s no story. It’s more like a video game. Hacking people’s heads off, that’s the point. And it’s not just the odd person. It’s doing a lot. That’s the tick: getting loads of people all at once. Five or six people are stood round you, and you just sort of start spinning round with this thing—footoof—and getting all their heads off. [...]
From Knight
I drank and drank; and when I straightened up, there was a knight watching me, a tall, big-shouldered man in chain mail. His helm kept me from seeing his face, but there was a black dragon on top of his helm that glared at me, and black dragons on his shield and surcoat. [...]
The Girlhood of Shakespeare’s Heroines
We were both smart, sheltered, isolated kids, she isolated by being an only child, I surrounded by four sisters and a brother but miles from anything and dreaming about Theater, or Theatre, as I much preferred to spell it. [...]
Guest Editor’s Note
It is not really accurate to say that over the past two decades the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror have been, unnoticed by the wider literary culture, transforming themselves generation by generation and through the work of each generation’s most adventurous practitioners into something all but unrecognizable, hence barely classifiable at all except as literature. [...]
Keeper of Bells
When Tina enters the Recession-era front room, drab linoleum, blonde plastic end tables, dark, swirly couches covered in nicotine plastic, her grandmother is watching Ted Mack’s Original Amateur Hour. [...]
Three Requia
The swing of red velvet held more than flesh in its pendulum. More than pleasure and deniability befall those who steal flowers. Once empire is built and sealed, nothing can thaw it except truth and a young girl’s tongue. [...]
Three Stories
Beneath the cliff where the waves spray and the path from Mamoyiannis’s windmill descends lies the cemetery, and the area to the west, where the shore juts out and the village urchins swim from morning to night all summer long is called Kohili, “shell,” as it has the shape of a shell. [...]
A Dozen Surrealist Poems
the lion sports a pure and racy gothic mustache
his hide is calm
he cackles like a splotch of encores [...]
Two Germans
by Alberto Moravia
translated by William Weaver
His white face was battered but symmetrical, like a piece of fruit that had fallen and rolled on the ground: the brow crowned by a tuft of hair, the temples shaven, the cheeks swollen, the chin slightly crooked beneath the full lips. His eyes were blue, but—like his hair—they were ugly and dull; the dark hollows around his eyes lent his gaze, unprotected by eyelashes, a grim, somehow furious air. [...]
He sat in the passenger seat, feeling the row of teeth through his pocket: central incisor, lateral incisor, cuspid, bicuspid. His grandfather liked him, he thought, and now he had stolen his teeth. [...]
Conjunctions is now a Samson with hair to its knees, because it has continuously enlarged its scope—one that was never narrow—to include important work from overseas, and to reflect on the literature that has been made as well as to herald the literature that will be. [...]
What is a dildo? The question is very obscure, according to Paterculus, full of controversy and ambiguity. Saith Dandinus, I confess I am not able to understand it; we can sooner determine with Tully, what they are not than what they are. [...]
Memory Alpha
I can say this because my identity finally arrived; it speaks now: this is the memory of obsession, not the thing itself. [...]
View of Kala Murie Stepping Out of Her Black Dress
I had arrived at Churchill, Manitoba, on September 11, 1926. I would soon discover that it was Kala Murie’s wedding night. [...]
Kids Who Died at My High School This Year
“Let’s not be morbid,” the principal said, as he had when he announced each of the previous tragedies. He was skinny as a bone and spoke with a thick Slovakian accent. “We are the living, we have to go on. Casper—like Orville, or Valerie, or Stephanie, or Mary Pamela, or Travis, or Tara Lee—would have wanted it that way.” [...]
Editors’ Note
What of those that thoughtfully feel or feelingly think? Those to whom the globe is a lump in the throat just south of the intellect’s cool laughter and just north of the heart’s dark sentiment? [...]
Ten TV Tales
The boy took the animals to the local animal shelter, where they were killed. Then one day, not long after, the father was bitten by a rabid squirrel, and he died. [...]
Three Poems
Night fades angels on Cemetery Hill and the town
seasonally wakes [...]
The Launch
At the time of this writing, I am going to be Ben’s mother my whole life, no matter how extreme, inspired or innovative my behavior. It is not a role I requested. [...]
Seven Hands
To hold onto earth hearing
with the fingertips [...]
Three Movie Poems
After taking refuge in a deserted gas station containing seven slim coffins, one for each gambling centipede, the high brow hero—he has a forehead the size of Rhode Island—decides to return from hell to find out why his latest girlfriend didn’t follow him to the very ends of the earth. [...]
Two Poems
... through that ever-
expanding interval, were never more
than these
late bees [...]
Two Poems
           There are all kinds of druids and
witches living in the hills around here. [...]
Four Poems
I was an hour ago. I walked upstairs to Dreamland. Took a cab and got out and somebody else backed in. [...]
Three Poems
What of the wolfhound at full stride?
What of the woman in technical dress
and the amber eye that serves as a feral guide [...]
Six Poems
She was being readied by forces she did not
recognize. This is an age in which imagination
is no longer all-powerful. [...]
Three Poems
Tom, down the road, sold his horse buggies when I was a kid but I remember everyone talking about the auction. The buggies. Black carriages, stiff. Horseless now. Motorless. [...]
A Dialogue
When I read a Richard Powers novel, I have the strong sense that predetermined underlying formal symmetry—like configuring gravities or grids—are very much in play. [...]
Four Dark Tales
There was a man our exact age who, early one morning, some time before his usual hour of waking, opened his eyes so quickly and unguardedly that he saw the web in which he lay. [...]
Two Stories
A man walking in the rain eating a banana. Where is he coming from. Where is he going. Why is he eating a banana. [...]
Lost and Legendary Aviators
He claimed he’d done Christ one better: the savior had to carry his cross whereas Besnier’s winged cross would carry him. To prove it, he strapped his arms and legs to the posts and threw himself off a chair.  [...]
Mrs. Hollingworth’s List
Mrs. Hollingsworth likes to traipse. Her primary worry is thining hair, though this has not happened yet. She enjoys a solidarity with fruit. [...]
Swan Lake
As the lake gets bigger, the power starts going out in parts of the city. [...]
Accident Report
When A. was a young woman in San Francisco and just starting out in life, she went through a desperate period in which she almost lost her mind. [...]
An Interview
by Joanna Scott
interview by Bradford Morrow
It’s true, I’m obsessed with obsession. Or maybe just mildly preoccupied. Or maybe it’s a major linking theme for many of us, thanks in large part to Poe. We’re imps of the perverse, we can’t help it! [...]
A troupe of Chinese acrobats forms a human pyramid, fifteen strong at the base. They wear silver jumpsuits, appliqued with red satin stars. [...]
Five Poems
This is breath: faces nearly forgotten:
Is air entering the body until even its bones
Barely exist. [...]
The Eighteen Days
While the white smoke of Munich lifted Ophelia in its open palm, while Gregor Samsa, Raskolnikov, and young Alice were singed from their pages on propagandist bonfires, while writers themselves burned dust-to-dust in Buchenwald, Auschwitz, and Terezin, Isaac Bashevis Singer was in his Upper West Side apartment learning English. [...]
Five Poems
fists clenched
mouth still open


you had to look around [...]
The Intercession of Saints
Saints hold a tambourine, a lily, a pomegranate, a flame, a red book, a plum. [...]
From Arcana
Glass does not burn but the hillside does

The two are a vine’s exhalation [...]
Five Poems
A birthday today telephones into the loose earth

It’s not ridiculous

Only lonely

Out of Heaven [...]
Four Stories
There is no item so common to us all as she is.
     I would eat the girl’s food as if it were my food. I would like to have all of her money. She has so much of it. [...]
Whereas, before Karrer went mad, I used to go walking with Oehler only on Wednesdays, now I go walking—now that Karrer has gone mad—with Oehler on Monday as well. [...]
Such Rich Hour
When they eat from your hand it’s said that you’re saved
          or that you saved them.    You can never be sure. [...]
Three Peter Lorre Poems
My only offer: A kidnapped dog in exchange for your thirst
Call me Zanzibar Sam, Bulging Pharoah, Narcoleptic Swill [...]
Drawn & Quartered
I felt as if I had been in some fantastic traffic of narratives, all the echoes and presences and situations—like very real life indeed. I loved the almost baroque feel of the drawings, the echo of old-time illustrations and children’s books. [...]
The Box Artist
The Box Artist is the artist of desire. The tenderness of desire that can never be consummated.
     The Box Artist plucks the child’s flying image out of the air as you might pluck a feathery little bird out of the air, a canary or hummingbird, small enough to fit in your closed hand. [...]
Christmas Vacation
(with a facsimile of the original manuscript)
Christmas was only a few days away and old Mrs. Busybody stood gazing out the window looking at several young boys and girls smoking cigarettes. [...]
Of Monotony
This is about the monotony of hours and days, of people and things, of souls and their emotions. This is about gruesome monotony which the gods, just as people after them, have invented and arranged, in order to make our lives unbearable with regularity and natural laws and such. [...]
Three Stories
A lady in a purple dress and red stockings appeared on stage with anxious, made-up eyes, and behind her a perky, moth-eaten-looking impresario in striped pants with a chrysanthemum in his buttonhole. The impresario darted his eyes left and then right, bent over and whispered into Mademoiselle Janna’s ear:  [...]
The Life Sentence, A Missing Passage from “The House of the Dead”
​In our prison barracks, Fyodor Mikhailovitch said, there was a young prisoner, a passive, quiet and uncommunicative man. I kept my distance from him for a long time—I didn’t know how long he had been at hard labor, or why he had landed in the special section reserved for men convicted of the worst crimes. [...]
Eighteen Poems
When the kissing flesh is gone
And tooth to tooth true lovers lie
Idly snarling, bone to bone,
Will you term that ecstasy? [...]
Fourteen Stories
by Anton Chekhov
translated by Peter Constantine
Having been insulted by you most grossly, I have relegated my complaint to a court of law. As you seem incapable of appreciating who I am, perhaps the justice of the peace or a public trial will teach you to respect me. [...]
The Chatter Heart: An EKG
He would never be a spy; oh, he would go to Edinburgh and Liverpool as commanded, but he would forget to keep his eye on things.  [...]
Emma Enters a Sentence of Elizabeth Bishop’s
by William H. Gass
illustrations by Michael Eastman
Emma was afraid of Elizabeth Bishop. Emma imagined Elizabeth Bishop lying naked next to a naked Marianne Moore, the tips of their noses and their nipples touching; and Emma imagined that every feeling either poet had ever had in their spare and spirited lives was present there in the two nips, just where the nips kissed. [...]
Four Conversations
Could it be that loss completes possession? Becomes, like the “with” in “without,” a second acquisition, deeper, wholly internal, more intense for its pain? [...]
From The Trial
(with an afterword by the translator)
by Franz Kafka
translated by Breon Mitchell
Rendering Kafka’s prose involves far more than punctuation and paragraphing. The power of Kafka’s text lies in the language, in a nuanced use of the discourses of law, religion and the theater; and in particular in a closely woven web of linguistic motifs which must be rendered consistently to achieve their full impact. [...]
Editors’ Note
Is there an American literature, or are there American literatures, each marked by individual idioms, manners, subjects? Or is it fruitless to speak of racial, ethnic, class-based, sexual and geographical distinctions when each writer by necessity must wage her or his own eccentric articulation against and within a culture that tends to devalue the individual voice in favor of consensus? [...]
Henry Miller: Exhibitionist of the Soul
Miller’s true importance is not as a pioneer of free expression but as an exhibitionist of the soul, and lies in the triumph of one man over chaos that is achieved in an ironic collusion with chaos. [...]
Phrenological Whitman
Regarded as a pseudo-science nowadays and subject to parody and caricature, phrenology was “the science of mind” in the United States during the nineteenth century. It was taken seriously by a great number of people and Walt Whitman was one of those people. [...]
John Cheever and Indirection
John Cheever was a troubled but resolute adventurer in the trenches of self.  [...]
Henry James
In his final deliriums, when his fever was high, Henry James had wanted to write, Leon Edel tells us. He kept asking for paper and pencil. When he [...]
Frank O'Hara: Nothing Personal
Romantic, heroic, tragic—O’Hara is an ideal figure on which to project our fantasies about the life of the artist, though hopefully not at the expense of his work. Grudgingly, the literary establishment has included him in the canon, but I can’t help feeling uneasy over the possibility that it’s the man and not the poems they’ve canonized. [...]
45 Calibrations of Raymond Chandler
Not long before his death, he wrote, “I have lived my life on the edge of nothing.” [...]
Melville and the Art of Saying No
Is there a better book that’s worse? Is there a masterpiece so unmasterful, so little of a piece? The Confidence Man is a catalogue of failings. [...]
The Emerson Madrigal
I admire the man who remarked of his sentences I am a rocket manufacturer. [...]
My Willa
At my parochial schools, the nuns’ adulation of Willa Cather seemed to me, even in adolescence, an embrace that would not be returned, that she was given more to the manner of storytelling than to the subject matter of Catholic missionaries. [...]
Chicago Guy: Nelson Algren
The people who influence you to write aren’t necessarily who you’re going to write like, but the fact of their existence, of the existence of their characters, the spirit in them, opens up a possibility in your mind. [...]
The Berlin Sonnets
I saw the sky still smudged from it when I passed on the bus
years ago, passing by bus through famous places. Here Goebbels
was photographed with a cigarette and pretty woman,
here Paul Valéry stopped to light his pipe and peered
absentmindedly at a window full of soap, here Dvorák
fed pigeons on his windowledge and spoke English. [...]
From The Negro-Lover
To show the fly the way out of the bottle was the life’s hope of Ludwig Wittgenstein but the truth is that human beings don’t want a way out of the bottle; we are captivated, enthralled by the interior of the bottle; the bottle is the perimeter of our experience and our aspiration; the bottle is our skin, our soul; we could not survive outside the bottle; or tell ourselves, in the glassy-echoing confinement of the bottle, that this is so. [...]
The motel gleams in the sun. Somebody is pounding somewhere. A couple of days ago, my father started offering complimentary suntan lotion to anyone who stays the night. He’s advertising this on the marquee out front but, so far, no one has stopped. [...]
Music Theater: Texts and Traces
As an audience we crave these nonfranchised experiences. Our ears inch around on our heads and our faces grow more open so that we don’t miss any of the fun. We are much more interested in what we don’t yet understand. [...]
Without Pity
To embark sleepily
being everywhere
(radiant) [...]
The show’s suspense would be predicated upon his composure. Should he lose it, the spectacle would become the kind of event that takes its place in theater history: “I was there the night that boy ...” whatever. The possibilities for failure are limitless. [...]
Two Stories
As in those other dreams, I’m with somebody I know but don’t know how I know them, and this person suddenly points out to me that I’m blind. [...]
A World of Canes
We begin with love? Doudou, I ain’t know what we begin with. What you call that? Bullying. You call that bullying. We begin with bullying, meet up with little love. [...]
Pyramid Chapel
The blaze of gun with its teeth of fire
a play ring scratched in the dirt [...]
Axe and Anancy
The child saw red. Red in the earth and clouds and sky, a red dye making visible the air he could only feel until now and drink too, in confirmation of all he felt, red, in the trees and in the ripe fruit and red behind his shut eyes. Red, then black. [...]
Three Poems
Sounds that spread through past wombs
those before Mokongo y toda esa gente
sound too much like thumps [...]
Five Songs (with an afterword by the translator, and notes by Gage Averill)
by Manno Charlemagne
translated by Mark Dow
That grinning mask is the flag you carry—
That’s what your Mardi Gras has become. [...]
A Natural History
Back at our whitewashed cement house, shaded by the crown of a graceful frangipani, my mother was readying herself for the festivities when she felt the first of my violent kicks deep inside her. [...]
Two Poems
Yes, I was born on the street known as Glass—as Paper,
Scissors or Rock.

Several of my ancestors had no hands.

Several of my ancestors used their pens

in odd ways. [...]
Is Anybody Listening?
“Not,” she said, “mine”—this voice of hers a hum, little more, a seepage of breath; it sounded to her as if located nowhere, spleenless. [...]
The Putti
I am here to sketch the contours of the double danger that concerns us: the putti as parasite, the putti as drug. [...]
When I was an old-enough kid, I prepared an exhibit of things I wasn’t supposed to know—things my parents had done before they got married to each other. [...]
Sticks and Stones: An Introduction
To assert the opposite of the nursery rhyme invoked above would be to maintain that language is not only physical enough to wreck a body—through precise rhetorical arrangements and sheer sentencery—but also that the word is as stone, a tool to smash obstacles and persons, the hard object that will outlive us all, implacable and immutable.  [...]
Briar Rose
He is surprised to discover how easy it is. The branches part like thighs, the silky petals caress his cheeks. His drawn sword is stained, not with blood, but with dew and pollen. Yet another inflated legend. [...]
Line of Descent
Braided arroyo choked with debris.
This big, the boy describes
the dragonfly. The father
grabs him up
Hide and Seek, A Play in One Act
MAN. No. There is blue. Blue exists. (Pause.) I believe in blue. I love blue. Of all the things in the world, blue is what I love best.

WOMAN. Me too. (As if seeing it: contemplative, rapturous.) A very blue blue. A blue bluer than the blue that is blue. The bluest of blues, a blue so blue, it is beyond blue. A blissful, beautiful blue. [...]
The Adoption
NABBO is perhaps eight years old. He wears a mask to suggest deformity or disfigurement, but the mask should be extremely lifelike and not exaggerated. His skin is an ambiguous tone—dusky or mottled, not “black.” He may be partly bald as well, as if his scalp has been burnt. He has a mild twitch or tremor. MR. and MRS. stare at NABBO, who stares impassively at them. [...]
Nina in the Morning
Nina’s hands shook as she lifted a coffee cup to her face. Her perceptions were off, and she poured hot liquid down the left side of her face. She put cream and sugar on her face, stirred it and then rang the bell for Foote. [...]
Yet you still call it home. After thirty years. You at least acknowledge that America is still home. [...]
Introduction: Plays as Literature
Reading plays is like reading poetry: it requires, though in a very different way, an exercise of the imagination. [...]
Inside and Outside: Pages From the Atlas
Outside the vast squares of yellow bookstore-light, the panhandlers, longhaired and greasy, held out their palms, asking for their dinners, and two started fighting, while inside people turned the pages of picture-books whose flowers smelled like meadows of fresh ink. [...]
Calamity Jane
Here, the season of manifest destiny
And breaded trees

Land-hungry time
Backstairs time [...]
Four Days in Vermont
Is there wonder here
has it all gone inside [...]
Two Poems
If you look right here on the graph, you can see that little leap and then the plateau. A bee trying to cross a rural road. [...]
Two Poems
Out to circle back
to identical waves
of madness, the dream [...]
Five Stories
You see how circumstances are to blame. I am not really an odd person if I put more and more small pieces of shredded kleenex in my ears and tie a scarf around my head: when I lived alone I had all the silence I needed. [...]
The Warden
The view from our outhouse never changes. We have spent a lifetime of nights listening to silence, as if the world outside is a rumor.  [...]
The Black Reeds
the bodies sway in coral
their muscles are abstract
and space is a massy water [...]
From Speech’s Hedge Where the Honey
by Peter Cole
afterword by Eli Gottlieb
like spirit
    flinching in thinking

         as though in a gem [...]
Two Poems
As if setting were bondage
and we on the brink had walked up to it/raw thread
chafing the waters of the percolating wave.
As if we could say to the fire,
Stop! I command you, stop! [...]
Three Stories
No way our waterside neighborhood can avoid this character; for days now she’s been on our "event horizon": a one-eyed giantess lumbering first more or less our way, then more and more our way, now unequivocally our way. [...]
Boy Born with Tattoo of Elvis
I carry him on my chest and it’s a real tattoo and he was there like that when I come out of Mama. [...]
Hagfish, Worm, Kakapo
Once upon a time a hagfish loved another, and thus far was only doing what hagfish had always done. [...]
                                 oh promise we shall meet on Ojjiba and swim

underwater my harp is caught in a silver fire of water the planet Ojjiba

looked at that way [...]
coldness or virtue—
                  one long line [...]
Seven Poems
Seven times I told you
and seven times you asked me what.  [...]
And the Stars Were Shining
It was the solstice, and it was jumping on you like a friendly dog. [...]
If I believe in anything I believe in narration; in telling the story. [...]
She and I
She is dozing naked upstairs now and the 
morning light is falling here on my hands.  [...]
Beliefs Reasonable, Unreasonable Beliefs
The primary referents for Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans, Brillo boxes, images of Mao and Marilyn Monroe, etc., etc., are either nondiscoverable or discoverable in an almost anecdotal sense, i.e., we “know” that there is, somewhere, a first print of the Mao photograph, but that we have never seen this first print does not in any way deny us access to the image. [...]
I’d as lief 
not leave, not 
go away, not 
not believe. [...]
Found Credo
A dictionary. Foundation of her inquiry, redemptive source, labyrinth of gnosis to steady her agitated and propulsive stammer naming formulates desire’s possessive code, eases thing to idea, feeling to thought, unconceals ephemeral being. [...]
The White Blackbird
The reason I could not sign my name then is simply this: piece by piece my family jewels have been disappearing over the last few years, and today as I near my one hundred years all of these precious heirlooms one by one have vanished into thin air.  [...]
From The Tent of Orange Mist
The novel is a camel dragged through the eye of a needle, a toboggan made of words sent careening over the brow of a hill to see what happens to it, a stent fixed into a blood vessel to catch cruising embolisms. [...]
From Film Noir
She is a living legend—a survivor of the chitlin’ circuit—authentic, gritty, magnificent, temperamental. She calls her classic songs “ugly music,” she calls herself “Godmother to James Brown.” [...]
From Sister
Deep rage, and the attraction of violence, fascinates and troubles almost every woman I know well, every woman I love. [...]
From Blessèd is the Fruit
I dreamt that I was reading the book I wanted to write. I held it in my hands (I dreamt it in hard cover), opened to somewhere near the middle. [...]
Fad’s Eye
In 1967 a weird, rich freedom was in the air, attended by the lulls that follow good sex, rain or a successful electrocution. [...]
Two Sketches
I am thinking how most rituals are family-bred: repetitions of holidays and habits nurtured in the bosom of domestic life. Single people, like Emily and me, have to be more inventive in our development of rituals. [...]
Two Poems
the poem exists
always and only
in the mind
of the reader [...]
It Must Be Sophisticated
There are attics in old houses
where doubt lingers as to the corrosive
effect of night-blindness [...]
Madame Realism: A Fairy Tale
by Lynne Tillman
illustrations by Silvia Kolbowski
In the winter the days end suddenly and with such ferocious indifference that Madame Realism felt at a loss. [...]
The Channah Tales
All the boys in the family were named Claro, and all the girls were named Clara, the story has it, because from their house on the hill they could see with absolute clarity for great distances. [...]
Tale of the Enchanted Pig
The hugs, the groaning and moaning, God, they were unreal! [...]
Three Poems
certain stones give
birth to other stones [...]
Blue Peter
To describe a logic of sight
pull the surface onto target and
arrive at zero aperture. [...]
Four Stories
In our town there is an actor, H.—a tall, bold, feverish sort of man—who easily fills the theater when he plays Othello, and about whom the women here become very excited. [...]
Tangled Reliquary
Tangled reliquary under all surfaces.
Nothing moonlike occurs there
Only partial coves
And entrances. [...]
Order and Flux in Northampton
Barry Dingle, cross-eyes purveyor of bean sprouts, harbors for Myrnaloy Trask, operator of Xerox and regent of downtown Northampton’s most influential bulletin board at Collective Copy, an immoderate love. [...]
A Context of a Wave
You could be thinking about your physical placement, what can be a continuum and what is chance. [...]
An Interview
by Chinua Achebe
interview by Bradford Morrow
My whole artistic career was probably sparked off by this tension between the Christian religion of my parents, which we followed in our home, and the retreating, older religion of my ancestors, which fortunately for me was still active outside my home. This tension created sparks in my imagination. [...]
War Wounds
Bad boys searched for crumpled articles in pants pockets; good girls opened three-ringed binders to stories preserved between pieces of plastic. Boys read about the fire and the flood; girls read about the rescue. [...]
Aria No. 17
daughter of the queen in her open skirt

daughter in her open silk skirt

fold over fold one fold over one other fold [...]
The Spun-Off Independent Dead-End Ten-Star Blast
As a white artist influenced by and dependent on black American culture I want to say something about the place of subsidiarism in the arts in general. [...]
Storiella Americana as She is Swyung: Duke Ellington, the Culture of Washington D.C. and the Blues as Representative Anecdote
It is a coincidence both appropriate and profoundly symbolic that the quintessential American composer was born, grew to young manhood, came to his vocation, and began his apprenticeship in the capital city of the nation. [...]
American Writing Today: A Diagnosis of the Disease
As this quotation shows, the mouth is a veritable fount of pestilence, vomiting forth its unclean words to infect all who are not armored with ignorance and earwax. [...]
Seven Poems
Dear World, fuck off advice ingredients, empty swing. Studies show that couples who try to avoid arguments tend to average higher happiness scores. [...]
1.  Waste places from the very first.
Grubbed marginal plots,
where daisy aster, hairy petaled, was.
Saw sheaves of stirrers strewn by the loading dock. [...]
Essays on the Comic Book
(Each of the lines or paragraphs is one of the frames of the comic
    The crowd marks the split between themselves and experience.
    They construct all the buildings to be the same. [...]
Seven Poems
For you it’s called absorption, for your dream, the hood was wearing a cape, the little division sang [...]
The Horse Killers
It was a dark night. A stormy night. There was rain. There was wind. The beaded trees were helpless but to accept their drenching. The pitch-black air was unnaturally heavy with summer heat. Not a light shone. [...]
Eating Disorders
When I go to the movies my heart fills with intense expectation, and for the first half hour or so of almost any movie I am unreasonably pleased, so in awe of the wonderful technology of the spectacle, of a world so accurately reproduced yet enlarged, that I think I’m watching a great movie, when really I am just–at least for a while–delighted by the glamour of movies. [...]
It is with Poe that we first see the gothic shifting away from an emphasis on props and sets–dark forests and lugubrious caverns, skeletons and thunderstorms–and towards a particular sensibility characterized by transgressive tendencies and extreme distortions of perception and affect. [...]
The Sound
There is a certain selectively audible frequency: abstraction until we actually hear. But how we hearken to that initial sound; how it changes everything. [...]
The Grave of Lost Stories
In the grave of lost stories there is neither day nor night, but a stupendous blackness shot through with corpuscles of fluorescence, like droplets of oil in water [...]
An Interview
by Robert Kelly
interview by Bradford Morrow
Ideas are trashy things. I wouldn’t want to have an idea. Would you want an idea for a friend? I think poetry is the activity of people with nothing to say. [...]
An Interview
by John Hawkes
interview by Bradford Morrow
Will you stop covering my swamp with macadam, for Christ’s sake, or garbage? There is no garbage in the swamp we ’re talking about. We’re talking about pure woman. And I don’t mean pure. I mean absolute woman, concentrated woman, woman as woman. Uninhibited, real swamp. And I think that the way we’ve been talking about swamp is essentially seeing the swamp. We haven’t been swimming in it, we haven’t been diving down into it or submerging ourselves in it. [...]
Two Stories
Chin-Chin’s ribcage they swung by a silken cord from a nearby tree, so that it cast a moving shadow on porcelain plates held near it, upon which nimble-fingered copyists trapped the shifting pattern in cobalt blue thinned with oil of cloves. [...]
Two Poems
Our law is 
change—not the stars’ changes as they move along 
the measureless axis dividing all known things, 
but the small changes we pick out of will’s pockets 
and slide into the hungry slots of human life.  [...]
Two Poems
Say, “We did not get what we came for,”
And then proceed to your destination
Like a commercial without sound. [...]
Three Poems
Nesmejána reflects the wonder
of laughter [...]
The Anatomy Lesson
When dissecting cats and mongrels the painter-to-be was not avid, cruel, aimless as were many of the other boys, but was methodical, intent, paring away the wretched creatures until the bones gleamed and the various small organs stirred in him the longing to inspect much larger ones. [...]
Innocence in Extremis
He had no idea who she was or why she was there in the courtyard. He did not understand why his father had not said her name yet knew her well. He did not understand what she had meant to do or why or by what right. But she had touched him—and most visibly. [...]
Three Poems
Placing our emotion on a field, as I said, became a nucleus of space
defined by a rain of light and indeterminate contours of a landscape
like the photograph of an explosion [...]
Three Poems
Over all and every
sputter, a gallon
of application, two
disks of curdled
shade, a mix
of turpentine and
pine, somberer blink
for a spreadsheet. [...]
Slow Theme with Nine Variations
Cut it down
to the stem,
or let it dwindle
to the pinch
that holds its waist. [...]
Three Passages from The Tunnel
O brood O muse upon my mighty subject like a holy hen upon the nest of night.
     O ponder the fascism of the heart. [...]
Threads through the Denkoroku: Records of the Transmission of the Light
although the forest floor is white
the sparrow, like music,
finds the bread crust in the snow. [...]
Five Poems
It does not come as hairline fractures
mapping plaster with brittle rivers
nor with the unmeasured gait
of a tulip’s averting grace
lathed to half-rhyme with death [...]
Three Poems
There is some charm in that old music
He’d fall for when the night wind released it [...]
An Interview
A book you never see must be imagined covering up the book you read. [...]
An Interview
by James Purdy
interview by Bradford Morrow
I began writing anonymous anomalous letters when I was eight and nine. These anonymous anomalous letters, as I call them, and which I still write today, are purportedly unsigned letters which defame the recipient by telling him the truth about himself. [...]
Four Poems
I have looked at this wall
for months, bricks
faded, chipped, edge of roof

fixed with icicles
like teeth [...]
Three Poems
Going away is often a formal statement of intent.
There she was in Paris in 1950 in love
with the river and theatre and shoes, but dreaming
of Tangier and the dunes. She liked the mirage. [...]
Spanish Sky
Out of the cyprus
bounced a peeled onion,
out of clipped hedge
fell an Anjou pear. [...]
Five Poems
Thanks for
what will be 
the memory
if it is. [...]
Five Poems
I  will  be  better  off,
if  I  do  not  speak:
the  kindred  appearance
is  broken,
as  the  word  is  spoken. [...]
An Interview
There’s no difference between the people who produce rock records, movies, and books. They’re all the same people. And they’re usually run by the same conglomerates, one of which is the Mafia. [...]



In Print

Vol. 82
Works & Days
Spring 2024
Bradford Morrow


May 22, 2024
Now that the bumblebees are sounding in the yard, sprint to the garden store in your tank top with your poodle as if there is a headwind. Stub a toe. Hear the tick of the clock as you place your items on the trolley: a new houseplant, two and three: a philodendron since you already have a few and they grow so nicely. Pay for mulch. Get some stones while you’re at it. Some daisies for the back. Black-eyed Susans too.
May 15, 2024
The boy watches me tend the fry pan. First of November in a warm year. I was an old man this morning. Now it is night and I am still an old man. The good stink of hot fried whitefish rises in the kitchen and oak leaves have fallen, painted the hill red. I am an old man because my body does not move fast. I am an old man because I have seen change that is large enough to fit inside my body. The change I have seen is like a bent stick I have swallowed. It sits inside my chest. It might make a hole in something soon.
May 8, 2024
Why my mother don’t like me?
     I ask Ansin, my grandmother. I say, How it is my mother never did like me?
     She steups. Kiss she teeth. And smooth-out that news she was reading in. Raise it up again to give it a little flip. At the top. And you could feel the vexness in that flip too.
     I say, Is cause I ent got no father?