12

December 2022

Capitalism is that system in which the poor compete to give as much money as possible to the rich.

CREATED BY JEREMY TENENBAUM AND KEVIN TRAVERS

EDITED BY ARIA BRASWELL, EMILY ZIDO, GABRIELLE DECKER, and ROSANNA LEE BYRNES

WITH ADDITIONAL INEFFABLES BY BETSY HERBERT, BRENNA DINON, BRITNY PERILLI, KELLY RALABATE, NICK PERILLI, AND VICTORIA MIER

Cover Image: Natalya Goncharova, Mowing, 1912


Abigail Swoboda
“Five Folk Tales”


1.

A woman takes her old dog out on a walk at the crack of dawn. The woman and her old dog live in the part of Pennsylvania where people do magic. The woman was not born there but she has lived there for a long time now -- long enough to notice the patterns of this place and to become a part of them.The woman takes her old dog out on a walk on their usual path. They are walking for a quarter of a mile before the old dog stops and refuses to go any further. There are two tall trees beside them. The tree on the right is green and lush and alive. The tree on the left is dead. This is the only difference between them. The dog looks apprehensively at the empty space that lies in front of them, between the two trees.Two lights appear before the woman and the old dog -- one light to the left, one light to the right, parallel to the trees. The lights are bright and white and glowing in the darkness. The dawn has not yet broken. The lights are still, until the light on the left lurches forward toward the woman and the old dog. The light bounces off the dead tree and launches off and away into the sky.In the following weeks, the old dog refuses to leave the house, and the woman dreams of the North American Nebula. The North American Nebula is four times the width of the moon when viewed from Earth. The North American Nebula is about 2,202 light years from Earth. The North American Nebula is about 50 light years in diameter.In the woman's dreams, the North American Nebula gestates in the womb of a crucified swan. The swan turns her head back and forth. This way and then that. This and then that.

#

2.

A catbird makes a nest in the branches of an azalea. The catbird lays three eggs in her nest in the branches of the azalea, which nestles up against the window of a house. The house belongs to a young couple, who watch the catbird and her eggs from inside, on the other side of the glass.The couple spends hours trying to describe the color of the catbird's eggs to one another. The eggs are blue and the eggs are green and the eggs are cerulean. They are teal and azure and beryl and cobalt and sapphire and navy and indigo and turquoise and ultramarine. The couple talks about the color of the catbird's eggs while they make dinner and while they eat dinner and while they digest it. The couple finds themselves glued to the window.The couple has just arrived at the word cyan when they watch the catbird keel around in her nest and peck one of her blue-green eggs to pieces. She pecks and she pecks until the egg is gone, and then she settles herself back down on top of her remaining two eggs. The couple bursts into tears at the sight of this cruelty. They hold each other and sob and think about the egg that they have lost.But the catbird does not cluck or squawk. She does not whistle or whine or cluck or gurgle or squeak. She sits on her two remaining eggs and she looks at the crying couple through the window and sees their loss in 99 million tetrachromatic colors they have never even imagined, for which she has no names.

#

3.

The last Albatwitch staggers into a cabbage field to die. Once there were many Albatwitches in Lancaster County, but now there is only one, and she is about to die.It is late October, and this field is full of cracked cabbages. In the middle of this cabbage field, an Amish girl harvests the cracked cabbages. Her small, hard hands are brown with layers of soil. The woven basket beside her overflows with crop.The last Albatwitch staggers closer to the Amish girl and collapses beside her in the cabbage field. The soil is soft beneath the last Albatwitch.The Amish girl looks up from picking and sees the last Albatwitch. "What are you?" she asks in her language."I am the last Albatwitch," the last Albatwitch says in hers."I did not know you were allowed on this side of the Susquehanna," the Amish girl says."Well, you see, I am dying," the last Albatwitch says. "After me, there will be no more rules for Albatwitches, because there will be no more Albatwitches.""Here, eat some cabbage," the Amish girl says. "Eat some of my cabbage and you will feel a change come over you."The Amish girl cracks off a hearty peel of one of the cabbages from her basket and holds it out to the last Albatwitch."No," the last Albatwitch says."Then what is it that you want?" the Amish girl asks the last Albatwitch.The last Albatwitch tells her.The next day, the Amish girl returns to the cabbage field where the last Albatwitch is dying. She brings her basket, which is no longer filled with cabbages. Now, the basket is full of fabric."I have brought what you asked for," the Amish girl says and unfolds the fabric in front of the last Albatwitch."What is it?" asks the last Albatwitch."It is a burial quilt," says the Amish girl.The burial quilt is burgundy and blue and purple and green and black. There are ties attached to the sides. Its patchwork geometry shimmers in the October sun."You may die now," says the Amish girl, "and you will know peace."So the last Albatwitch dies, and the Amish girl spreads the burial quilt out across the soft soil of the cabbage field. She hefts the small body of the last Albatwitch into the center of the burial quilt. The Amish girl and the last Albatwitch are the same size, only the last Albatwitch is covered in wiry, chestnut fur. The Amish girl finds herself imagining what the last Albatwitch's fur must have felt like centuries ago, when many things were still soft.The Amish girl swaddles the last Albatwitch in the burial quilt. First, she covers the head, then the feet, then the rest. She secures the shroud by wrapping the ties around the whole body.Then she plants the last Albatwitch among the cabbages.In the season that follows, an apple tree grows up from the body of the last Albatwitch. The apples that burden the tree are red and beautiful and delicious, but they have no core. So the first apples that grow from the grave of the last Albatwitch are also the last. Some things happen only once.

#

4.

An old woman decides it is time to reorganize things in her house. It is spring and it is time for such things.The old woman lives in a house where everything is sacred. She shakes her rugs and reorganizes her pans and jostles her jars of soil, but she never lets anything go.When the old woman finally reaches the closet, her house just as full as when she started, she finds an old pair of tennis shoes setting at the bottom, in the far back. This is strange, because the old woman does not remember these shoes. The old woman knows intimately everything that belongs to her."Put me on," the shoes say to the old woman.The shoes are old. They have no memory of white. If the old woman ever did own these shoes, it was a very long time ago."No," says the old woman. "You are not my shoes.""Put me on," the shoes say."What a pleasing invitation," the old woman says."Put me on," the shoes say.So the old woman puts on the shoes. The old woman fits inside of the shoes perfectly. The shoes reconnect the old woman to heavenly memories that stretch out beyond her own earthly ability and beyond the wood and the clay of her belongings.The shoes lead the old woman to and from the windows as she throws everything out of her house piece by piece -- the rugs and the pans and the jars of soil and everything else.Then the old woman's house is empty. All that remains is the old woman and the shoes, and the old woman knows that soon enough she will not need her old body anymore, either.The old woman knows that she can never take the shoes off."What a pleasing experience," the old woman says.

#

5.

There is an old man who walks from town to town along the Mason-Dixon line. From Delta to Whiteford to Fawn Grove to New Park to Norrisville to Stewartstown then along the old train tracks between New Freedom and Railroad and Glen Rock and back again. He lives in a red and white and blue trailer in New Freedom, where Pennsylvania people have sown their seeds for centuries. He wears construction coveralls and ties a scarf around his left knee so that cars can better see him at the side of the road.Sometimes the old man hitches along his route, sometimes he stops to chase children around in their yard while their mother watches on smiling, sometimes he bums a smoke from a kind stranger, but mostly he chooses to walk.The old man is searching for something that he lost a long time ago. He searches as he walks.He searches under turned stones and he searches between the cracks in the asphalt. Then he searches inside of mailboxes and he glides his hand along the tops of doorframes to search there too.People stop offering the old man rides when they see him walking. Someone calls the cops on the old man and he has to spend a night in jail for his searching, but he searches there too. The old man's search has always been lonesome and it grows even more lonesome still.Once even the road itself begins to turn the old man away, he returns to his red and white and blue trailer in New Freedom and he finally searches there instead. The old man begins to turn the soil around his trailer. He starts at one end of his yard and works his way to the other. He turns the earth with his hands, tirelessly, pausing only to eat some of the earth before returning to his search.When the old man has turned all of the earth around the trailer, he pushes his trailer over and turns the earth beneath it. Translucent purple worms dance in the sudden space. The old man watches the worms until they point him to what he is looking for -- a sprout of hair poking up from the soil.The old man grasps the sprout of hair and pulls it like a root vegetable. The old man pulls and pulls the hair from the earth, and suddenly out comes the body of a baby boy. The baby boy cries and gurgles like any baby does, even though this baby boy had been planted beneath the old man's trailer like a carrot -- head up, feet down.The old man pulls the scarf from his left knee and wraps the baby boy in it. Then, the old man tucks the swaddled baby boy into the top of his carpenter's coveralls. The old man knows that his search has come to an end.When the old man and the baby boy return to the road, no one sees them anymore. They walk unseen along the middle stretches of the Mason-Dixon, and their hearts beat against each other. When the old man walks, he leaves two sets of footprints behind him.


Mark Russ
“The Doily”


Thomas stood dumbfounded before the sepia photograph which hung in the living room of the agriturismo near Agrigento where he and Harriet were staying. The matronly innkeeper, her gray hair in an untidy bun and a faint trail of overly ripe Sicilian pecorino wafting behind her, approached them."Giuseppe Giordano. My great uncle. Difficult to explain. I try. It is lighter…eh…easier…easier to say what you have not seen than to say what you see.'"Thomas tried to digest her words through her thick accent."The Son of Man," Harriet interjected, invoking Magritte."Yeah, without the apple. You can sort of see his face."Thomas turned toward the old woman. "Can you tell us more about the photograph? Why is it the only one on the wall like that?" Giuseppe's photograph was the last in a series of individual family portraits. Judging from their clothes, they all lived around the same time."The mask means the face is not seen. But the holes in la merletto say it is seen." The gray-haired proprietor said no more about her great uncle, making a quick zipper motion across her lips.The object of Thomas' attention was a butterfly-shaped, loosely crocheted, white lace doily. Pressed between the protective glass and the photograph underneath, it partially obscured the face of a young man with a broad forehead and closely cropped beard. His eyes peered through the fenestrations of the delicate fabric. Thomas found the effect eerie, his imagination, like the doily, trapped behind the glass.Thomas and Harriet wished the old woman a good evening and walked up the narrow staircase to their own two small rooms, passing old photographs of the Greek temples of Agrigento."Harriet, I would like to stay here a little while longer," Thomas declared but was really asking for permission. They were travelling through Sicily and had allotted only a day to see the local sights. "I want to understand what that crazy doily thing is about.""The innkeeper turn you on?""She's old enough to be my grandmother."Harriet smiled wryly but would not relent. "Uh huh…"Thomas, a well-regarded feature writer for the Baltimore Sun in his late thirties, was prone to marital wanderings. The therapist whom he finally agreed to see with Harriet after the most recent indiscretion suggested an extended vacation might help. The itinerary and upper hand belonged to Harriet."Come on, what do you say? Aren't you just a little curious?""Alright. Two more days. But it better be good."Harriet now took a leisurely shower, playing a little with the handheld spray head. When she returned to the bedroom, Thomas was already snoring.Thomas awoke early the next morning and opened his laptop before brushing his teeth. He
googled "doily," but drew a blank.
"Harriet, this city must have a library. Maybe in the university."He showered, he shaved, he dressed and grabbed a cup of coffee and a roll from the breakfast spread the innkeeper had set out. Harriet was still in bed as he went out. A taxi had just dropped off a guest at the inn. Thomas hopped in and asked to be taken to the Universita Agrigento.It was about five kilometers from the agriturismo. He paid the driver and stood before the library, an unimpressive two-story building that looked like a warehouse.There was only one librarian, a young, dark-haired woman whose hair almost reached the small of her back. As he told her about the photograph, he couldn't help sneaking glances. She was striking-looking, petite, wearing very tight jeans."I must say I never heard such a custom," confessed the librarian, clearly intrigued by the question, and a little by Thomas. "I research in one day.""Thank you." Thomas turned to leave. "How will I find you tomorrow?""Alessia. Everyone here knows me."Excited at returning to the library, Thomas, foregoing a taxi, jogged past the giardino botanico and the archeological museum. An hour later he was back at the agriturismo.Thomas and Harriet spent the day touring the Valley of the Temples. Surrounded by the splendor of ancient Greek edifices, Thomas was able to let go of the photograph, at least for a few hours.That evening at dinner, he wondered out loud, "Maybe I can turn this doily thing it into a piece for the paper."Harriet's attention was focused on the illuminated temples that could be clearly seen from the restaurant patio. "Sure, why not?" she said. "If it pans out."During dessert, Thomas paused between bites of his pistachio cannoli. "I am working with a librarian. She is helping me out."He waited for the expected comeback, but none came.The next morning, Thomas returned to the library and found Alessia. She was wearing red-orange lipstick and brown mascara, a white button-down shirt, a black pencil skirt and matching black heels without stockings."No good," Alessia reported.Seeing his disappointment, she added "I have one more idea. Come."Together they walked the craggy streets lined with cheese shops, wine bars, and souvenir stores with miniature Greek temple replicas in the window. Politely stopping every man or woman who looked older than sixty, they met with many "pregoprego," usually accompanied by head shakes and shrugged shoulders.After two hours, Thomas thanked Alessia. They shook hands rather formally, but she seemed in no hurry to let go."I'm sorry we couldn't find anything," he said, thinking he was now twice sorry."I, too," she said.He was afraid to say anything else, so she turned and walked away. He watched her until she was out of sight. He walked the five kilometers back to the agritourismo, but the spring in his step was gone. Was the lace doily a weird convention or simply an idiosyncrasy of the Giordano family?He found Harriet reading on the balcony of their bedroom.She barely looked up when he stooped and gave her a kiss. "Do you want to do something this afternoon?" she asked."Sure," he said. "Let me shower and change."But instead of undressing, he went to the living room, opened his laptop, and again googled "doily." So many entries, so many images, but nothing about photographs. He kept scrolling- -- and there it was, many pages later: "doily," in a poem by someone named Elizabeth Bishop. It was called "The Filling Station." He found it and read it and read it again. He wasn't sure what the poet was trying to say, but the same lines kept drawing him back:(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)
Somebody embroidered the doily.Grabbing the laptop, he rushed back to the bedroom."Listen to this," he said, trying to control his voice. "It's from a poem. Listen: 'Why, oh why, the doily?' "My question exactly!" And this: 'Somebody embroidered the doily.' Do you see? Whoever inserted the doily made the doily. The lace concealed what dare not be seen. Someone loved him deeply; it's there between the, you know, the openings in the lace.""Who loved him?" Harriet asked, not bothering to look up from her book."The doily maker!"Harriet stifled a yawn. "You promised we would be leaving today.""Just a few more hours," Thomas pleaded. Thomas rushed back to the library by taxi where he found Alessia helping a tall young man wearing a university futbol jersey at the circulation desk.Thomas, shifting from foot to foot, waited for the young man to leave. He hurriedly explained his new plan of attack; learn as much as they could about Giuseppe Giordano and follow his story."We can start by searching baptism records, marriage documents, census reports," Alessia offered. She began to stride toward the reference section, motioning for him to follow. Suddenly, she stopped. "No. This way."Thomas followed Alessia down a set of stairs and through the dark stacks. The air was heavy with the smell of old books. Alessia pulled a large volume off the shelf, a provincial history, and ran her finger down the index."I found something." She haltingly translated as she read. "Giuseppe was the son of a wealthy landowner whose family could be traced to the time of Bourbon rule in the Province of Agrigento."In a section of the stacks devoted to periodicals, she then found an article in the newspaper, Giornale Di Sicilia, published in May 1919. It revealed that Giuseppe Giordano's father and Giuseppe after him became "men of honor," their clan joining another and forming a much respected and feared "family.""Cosa Nostra," remarked Thomas.Alessia nodded. She found an account of the younger Giordano's life and death toward the end of the same article. Skimming the piece, the librarian paraphrased as she translated. "It appears the young Giuseppe rose quickly in the ranks of the Cosa Nostra both because of his cleverness and brutality. He died a young man, in his thirties."Reading directly now while translating, "'Although how he died...was not known, there was a rumor… he was kidnapped…and executed.'" Alessia paused and looked up at Thomas momentarily. "'He broke the rule, no…the code, of proper conduct. He loved the wife of his brother.'""Grazie." Thomas uttered softly, thinking for a moment to take advantage of the darkness."You are very welcome. Prego." Alessia awkwardly moved past Thomas, returning to the main room with the circulation desk. She accompanied Thomas outside the library and into the harsh afternoon light. They said their final goodbyes.Thomas walked down the now familiar block where the library stood and caught the librarian watching him as he turned the corner.He returned to the agriturismo and found Harriet napping on the tufted chaise lounge in their bedroom. Thomas approached her quietly and gently kissed her forehead."Another tryst with the sexy librarian?" Harriet muttered, slowly opening her eyes."Harriet don't be silly. She was helping me with my research. Come downstairs to the living room."Thomas helped her up and led her by the hand as he retold the story of Giuseppe and how he died. They stopped in front of the line of photographs. Thomas now focused his attention on the portraits of the women."There! Look. The picture next to Giuseppe." It showed a woman in a long-sleeved, high-collared black dress with a simple crucifix necklace. She was sitting on a winged back chair, in partial profile. He grasped Harriet's arm and pointed out the fuzzy image of an unfinished doily on the woman's lap."That's her," remarked Thomas. "The doily maker, the lover. The truth seen could not be unseen!" Thomas held Harriet more tightly. "Do you see?""Yes, Thomas. I see." Harriet said. She gently pulled away from his grasp. "Thomas, I am leaving you."Thomas' face went white."This isn't working.""I know." Thomas glanced again at the photograph of Giuseppe and finally understood its hold on him."Nothing happened," he murmured, but he knew it was too late.The innkeeper, surreptitiously observing the couple from the corner of the room, cleared her throat to let them know she was there, then returned to her delicate crocheting. The thread was blue, not gray.


Mary Ann Dimand
Four Poems


“Aye-Ayes In The Dark Exhibit”

We have turned the day to night to manifest
discerning, nimble gods.
These lords have called the night good as the day,
and are less absolute than we. See
their clever, avid hands? The aye-ayes
mold their world with them, swell out
domain and range it, creators of a realm
we cast to hold them.
More than them, I see their movement, and only
with some patient waiting in the dark, breath softened
as if such august beings heard
me, though glass and creature category
shear our space. Their travel
seems as if some soft-edged shadow dims even
what I sort of, mostly, see -- the branches
that make roadway for their travel. Those, of course,
stay solid enough. It would be too facile
to overvalue wood theologies, to think
Here are the aye-ayes, these
their ways, and now I know them, now
I understand. The aye-ayes distinguish, divine
more ways of moving in our world than what
we built around them. Sure, they like branches,
but no more than the space between
them, among them, and they move
however they want in the dark
while we at most wait, hoping for these glimpses.


“Dispossessed”

It took some time before
I knew the whispers, the glints,
the dust whirls sculpting air
to image, the caress of tattered cobweb
was a person. Ghost, I said, soft
so I wouldn't scatter them, ghost, why
are you with me? Are you a gift,
or may I find a present for you?
A sigh. A sense of pressure
dropped. A sentence, gentle
in my mind: I like conversation
more than anything, but
no one's listened.


“Grasping”

Losing one's grip is literal, they never
told me. Now care and tools, a special balanced stance,
are taxed to fund my traction
in this hard and slippery world.
For years I've wrestled to seize
my fulcrum, shove back, demand
to hold my place to stand. Now, sometimes,
I grapple my will, then beg my son's long bones,
the hockey muscles, his ligaments still lissome.
Spending down my one-time wealth of strength,
I'm leaning on his charity. Let me be grateful
as he twists the lids and scours
high shelves. Yet I will take long shafts,
toothed wrenches, rubber handholds to open
and to close cellars, cupboards, vaults,
while time plays fast and loose with me.


“Miner's Laundry”

The "miners' laundry" signs -- grimed
and tilting now. Dryer doors ajar
like diving helmets empty
of salts long fled from clogged
and warming seas. Now
I can only tramp the routes
where once the backroad buses
rolled, past rumbling mines
and families counting dusty dimes.


Irina Tall
Four Illustrations


“Anima: Girl. Revolution”

Gel pen, gouache, paper. 10cm x 15cm. 2022.


“Anima: Her Dream. Horses”

Ink, gouache, monotype and drawing paper. 30cm x 40 cm. 2022.


“Anima: When I Sleep. Horse And Hare.”

Ink, gouache, monotype and drawing paper. 30cm x 40cm. 2022.


“Anima, ‘The Game Of Chess’: Defeated Pawns”

Ink, gouache, monotype and drawing paper. 30cm x 40cm. 2022.


Connor Fisher
Five Poems


“A Renaissance with Eyelids”

My daughter drips her fat across a phalanx of grain and, from the
depths of a cherry pit, she plays the spirit's backgammon.
A granary bee swims inside my daughter's open aorta. Her third
atrium pulses and whistles. Pinch her little round head.
Blake told me to build a new neon. Memphis guards a kindergarten of
aphids, each with a pair of small white gloves to reach inside themselves.
Listen to the babble. My daughter is a caterpillar swaddled in cherry
blossoms. Termite mounds rise above her, covering the flower moon.
Will she start to boil? The garage holds a Renaissance with eyelids
and crystals. The paintings' midwife shepherds them into
Japan, where udon anoints the canvasses with glued-on heads. An old
woman rests in the shade of a circumcised Velazquez.
She collects bottles of pearls and a mule. She collects the leather straps that, in
a foreign city, will run through the streets like rats.
She is my translated daughter, running into the future with roller skates
on her feet and the chest of a picador.


“The Sun as a Nomad”

Start with a blue jay on the phone wire
Add a peahen near alpacas
The spectacle of birdwatching as counting time
Along summer's incremental teeth
Or understanding gravity as a proposition
Of collective floating based on communal faith.
Start with a hummingbird emerging from the
Overlapped petals of a columbine
A petal its pathway through the clouds' electric matrix
I'll photograph its eclectic ascent rocking
Like a chair skimming over threads of tautology
This is my memory
A promontory covers the sun and butts up
Against the sparrow's translation.
A dandelion covets autonomy and watches as a blue
Jay moves endlessly away from itself.


“The Coming Mewl”

I was disappearing into the inner life of an albino alter ego.
My sisters picked up their brushes and announced the coming mewl.
These decisions are purely visual. The eye is a heavy lord.
A night sky in Appalachia formed this golden radial horizon.
These decisions are purely visual. The eye is a heavy lord.
I wanted ideas to manifest as semantic devils on my fingernail.
A night sky in Appalachia formed this golden radial horizon.
I wanted ideas to manifest as semantic devils on my fingernail.
Scapegoats tongued their wounds beneath the pagoda. My I vanished.
I was disappearing into the inner life of an albino alter ego.
Scapegoats tongued their wounds beneath the pagoda. My I vanished.
My sisters picked up their brushes and announced the coming mewl.


“An Anchorite Complex”

In the mirror, I lived as an eremite. The other I
posed as a fanatic devoted only to the auspices of a
phantom bird. The other I drank dew and penciled an ode
to the tinctures of solitude.
The segments of my
zeppelin shell softened with each decade. In the glassy contours
of the dreamscape, I made my hermitage to an impregnable
mouth. Perhaps you paved the way for walls of white fog to become the
advance guard of a new militia.
And now tomorrow is on today's horizon, an image
slowly unfolding with all the gravitas of a ripened plum.


“Notes for a Missing Portrait”

The reflection's image stared
back into the mirror's mirror.
Spring afternoons are witnesses
to the blued imagination.
The absent girl became an artist by
her wish to unmake landscape.
Her vacant face belied the luminous
horizon of a dervish.
The natural mirror banded over tins
of black shoe polish.
Parallel curves arced across the canvas
gesturing to ideas of escape.
Elements of her composite language
have remained absent.
She shut her mouth around
the faded image cut from a map.


Elana Kloss
“The Master”


His footsteps approach two lacquered doors that open into the salon, where the morning bleeds. He places a cup of tea on a console imbued with red Chinese vinery. He moves toward me.“Greiden dragg,” he mutters.My gaze moves from his shoes to the hem of his jacket, where his hands gleam. His fingers are brilliant, stretching long and pale, worn like the walls, revealing a terrific elegance with nails well-kept that sink in the edges. His bones smooth and shape in a way that reminds me of natural pearls. And I squirm at the sight of them.Peering at the Dienschein church, morning bells float on the dawn. Gothic points and arches ornate the Düsseldorf sky and show through a window that wraps north on the apartment.His footsteps draw close, and my pedals reflect fine glossed leather and a thick heel that digs in the carpet. He reaches a hand to his pocket and draws a monocle.“Argh,” he growls, fixing the glass to his eye. “Beinenshtein ein glicht!”Ruffling through half-written concertos, he searches for a piece he composed in 1793. Because it is ten years past, and since a long man in a strange hat appeared in the doorway last month, The Master has agreed to a transcription for the violin.He fleshes the pages, and stops. A book falls.“Aiche deim!”The triumphant sound alerts my joy, and I know he has found the piece.He adjusts the seat, peels off his jacket, and lays it across the tufted bergère. The squeak of his shoes tells me it’s time, and the night I have fought so fervently through disappears. The violent insomnias which I have endured. The silence that has lingered through the apartment and over the leaking shadows and cobwebs. The waiting idle, yearning and skittish, unable to pace, causing me to count the tall towers of the city. The envisioning of wild fantasies of his slender body resting his reflection on the window before turning to play me. Malnourished and weakened from the night, I collect my strength for his play.He organizes ten fingers across my ivory tongues. And with the release of a breath, his skin moves into mine.


Suzanne Ste. Therese
“Radical Landscape”


Emma still believed in the twenty-four-by-thirty-six-inch page and had the black tube with rolled drawings strapped to her back to prove it. Backup thumb drives were in her front jeans pocket, and her T-square, a sentimental tool gifted to her by her dad, hung from a backpack loop. The bag was filled with boxed and sharpened Ticonderoga #2's and every width of black Sharpie, ultra-fine to jumbo chisel. She had worked, drinking cold coffee and snacking on stale donuts, until one that morning, and now she was back, biking the New York City streets at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m. deadline. The plan had to be perfect.Mrs. Milstein was a formidable hoverer. While there had been formal meetings during which she expressed her phantasmagorical views for her five-acre estate, she was never far away during any site work, demolition, reconstruction, and planting. Constantly peering from the shadows inside her architectural monolith in Upper Westchester, a tiny woman with raven hair that eclipsed her wrinkled age, she had hovered through and already received the AIA award for "her" innovative and aesthetically minimalist Japanese pool house.She changed the exterior color of the Japanese house four times, the shades indistinguishable from one another; the articulated shrubbery for the rear garden had to be correct, and for that, there were too many replacements to count. After the final installation, she changed the flooring from bamboo to granite tile because it was cooler on her bare feet. She rejected all proposed windows, settling for bamboo panes and free-flowing linen shades for the fresh air. Her reputation as a problematic client preceded her.Emma had been asked to run with Mrs. Milstein's radical plan to be given the opportunity to fail. Her work showed promise, with local press coverage and regional awards for a few public gardens and plazas. The initial expectation that she would be a landscape architecture drone, refining the male partners' designs until all hours while they went out for drinks, had been blown to smithereens when she received her first commission at a private school in New York Canaan. The native gardens, open classrooms, and campus-shrouding woods she designed created spaces not only functional but beautiful. One phone call from the headmaster and she scored another commission for a public plaza in New York.For Mrs. Milstein's concept, she suggested a web of inlaid Cor-Ten steel based upon the 1865 graphite rendering of a neuron, a swath of grassy earth extending from the main house's rear doors with the pool the cell's nucleus. Thin axons ran out of the amoeba-shaped bluestone pool surround with one extended dendritic area, a playground, and others, layer upon layer of her favorite flowers. The inlaid steel divided undulating sculptural turf for Mrs. Milstein's landscape painting practice, the blades lit and shadowed by the sun and surrounding tree canopy. The pool and pool house were aligned on a central axis from the rear house doors, so while the division of space seemed abstract, there was always that one clean, central sight line.Emma practiced this description while rendering the plan and elevation in colored graphite. The firm was old school and believed such efforts were worth the presentation value over the automated colorization from a computer. She tapped the thumb drives in her pocket as a reminder to print out black-and-whites of the landscape plan for the meeting.Emma had stuffed her Lyssé leggings, J.Crew knit top, and good shoes into her backpack, worn her presentation jacket, and prayed her deodorant worked. She set the plan upon a clipboard easel, checked on the teakettle, and ensured she tastefully displayed the Russel Wright tea set. She discreetly labeled the tray's surface, the ivory cup for Mrs. Milstein, neutral and calm, leaving the colors for the presentation.Mr. Wesley, the practice founder and sole occupant of the second-floor townhouse, living upstairs from his office, came in first and was usually the last to leave. He bid her good morning, noticed the lights on in the conference room through the half windows, and murmured, "Good, good," before heading into his office.It was 7:30 a.m., and the meeting wasn't until nine. She decided a walk around the neighborhood in her Journee flats and meeting outfit would clear her head and help her build a fresh perspective. She was often surprised at her work months later while excessively critical during the time of presentation. Even though the drawings were whirling about her mind, having her eyes see the provincial low brick buildings and tree-lined streets with flowered stoops and tidy sidewalks might jar her sensibilities enough to know the excellence of her work. There was a newsstand at the corner. She would pick up something ridiculous, like People, and go read at the other corner's café.She tried her hand at the crossword puzzle in the back, which only proved how out of touch she was with popular culture. She checked the red-carpet pages and found the costumes unimaginative or ridiculous. "Everyone has to show skin. Lots and lots of skin," she murmured to herself."Hey, Emma, what's up?" It was Thomas, ordinarily her nemesis in the office. He was a constant undermining reminder of just which gender was in charge at the firm."Just taking a break before Mrs. Milstein," she replied after swallowing some bits of muffin."Oh! I was picking up some muffins for the meeting. It's ridiculous. We always provide this stuff, but nobody eats them!""Pick out your favorites then. You may be the one eating it later.""Good idea. Hey, wanna walk back together?"She didn't, hoping to stretch out her break a little longer, but said, "Yeah. That'd be great."Thomas returned to her table with a white cardboard box and a cup of chai. She could smell the spices and could imagine him thinking a simple cup of coffee would never do.She slipped the People below the table and onto the chair next to her. She didn't want him to think she was so pedestrian. He would have, at least, chosen the Wall Street Journal or Architect Magazine."We have plenty of time. It's a nice day. Let's go around the long block," and she heartily agreed, even if it was Thomas."What'd you get?""Oh, the usual. I added a couple of raspberries since, as you said, we'll be eating them later, and they're my favorite.""Good." A couple of beats of silence, then,"How did the rendering go?""Pretty well, I think. I think there's enough dimension to please Mrs. Milstein's aesthetic.""Don't be too disappointed. I don't think Mrs. Milstein is please-able.""Well, it IS a little woo-woo, but we can't tell her that. I have been debating about the neuron. It's an original concept and would balance out that pool house well, but it might be too 'out there.'""She's a little out there," replied Thomas. "I think the concept is brilliant, but you're right; she might not want the representation of a brain in her backyard.""Got any good synonyms for dendrite? I swear I'm going to slip.""Use it. She'll act like she knows what you mean.""Thank you, Thomas. That's a load off."Emma held the door open, and they strolled into the first-floor reception with its tall vase of Casablanca lilies and light blue reception counter."Good morning, miss!" Thomas thought this was funny. "Bring Mrs. Milstein into the conference room when she arrives. No waiting.""Yes, Mr. Drivel!" "Miss" thought she was funny.Emma found the whole thing irrelevant. She rushed into the conference room and flipped over the presentation pages on the easel.She let out her breath. It was perfect. The whole thing was perfect.


Fabrizia Faustinella
“Dedicating Ourselves to Humanity”

Who Has The Right To Tell A Story?


In her book Poisoned Water, Pulitzer Prize finalist and award-winning investigative reporter Candy Cooper reveals the true story of Flint, Michigan. Through interviews with residents and in-depth research into legal records, Cooper shows not just how the crisis unfolded in 2014, but also how it originated and what fueled it. Cooper uncovers an unsettling history of racism, redlining, and segregation that led to the poisoning of thousands of people who are still fighting to this day for clean water and healthy lives.At a master class on writing for social justice, Cooper said that she had almost abandoned her investigation because of a strong pushback from the Flint community. She was an outsider, privileged enough to not personally be affected by the kind of environmental racism destroying lives and futures in Flint.Did she even have the right to tell that story? Her doubts became so pervasive that she almost decided not to write her book. "What a loss that would have been!" I commented at the end of her presentation. I also asked from the audience: "Who has the right then to write or fight for social justice? Do we have to be part of the wronged group to be considered legitimate voices? Or a conscientious approach, factual and emotional, accurate and collaborative, is what should be valued when telling other people's stories, rather than belonging to the same group? What would happen to any form of investigative journalism if we applied the rule of belonging to a specific group as a prerequisite to engage in the process of uncovering the truth? What about the people nobody listens to or are too afraid to speak for themselves? The people who the established powers have decided don't matter? The people who have been made invisible? If no one else is telling their story and that's an important story to be told, then no matter who you are and what group you belong to, that story should be brought to light. Isn't that what we should do as concerned members of society? Can the most neglected and violated people also be burdened with the continual, exhausting, and disheartening work of advocating unflaggingly for themselves? Shouldn't that labor fall more fairly on those with the privilege of comfort and the conscience to care?

#

I am a physician and a patient advocate.Advocacy is defined as any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others.

In my experience, as a member of the Health and Public Policy Committee of the Texas Chapter of the American College of Physicians, when advocating for my patients with our policymakers, the most powerful tool of advocacy is storytelling: it is telling the stories of my patients. Stories have the power to persuade and move people to action. It has been reported that stories are up to twenty-two times more memorable than facts alone and help make the case for why a policymaker should stand behind a cause.

#

Throughout my career, I came to realize that my work as a healer and educator cannot stop at my office. To disentangle medicine, health, and life is impossible. As the emotional and medical well-being of our patients and community is so negatively affected by pernicious legacies of poverty, discrimination, and uneven access to resources, I feel a moral responsibility to actively advocate not only for my individual patients, whatever their specific needs might be, but for the social values of justice, equality, inclusiveness, and respect. That's what prompted me, among other things, to write and direct a film documentary on homelessness. The documentary depicts the struggles of those living in the streets and emphasizes how this tragic human condition is only the tip of the iceberg, the end result of many social ills including unaffordable housing, unemployment, untreated mental illness, incarceration, poverty, family disintegration, domestic violence, and lack of social safety nets.I have never been homeless. I have health insurance and good access to care. Do these privileges disqualify me from talking about the plight of the homeless or the dreadful consequences of a health-care system that leaves so many behind? You could argue that I'm a physician and that my profession makes me qualified to talk about these issues. Yet many of my colleagues are not particularly interested in the plight of the homeless and don't believe in health care as a human right. Does their disinterest make them less qualified? So, what is it that makes us truly qualified? Our profession? Our identity? Our race or socioeconomic status? Our sex? Our religious beliefs? Being directly affected by the problem at hand? Or belonging to the specific group we are advocating for?Who gives us the right to talk about and fight for human rights?According to Article 1 of the UN Declaration on human rights defenders, "Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels."This Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom was adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly in 1998, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (General Assembly Resolution A/RES/53/144.)Therefore, the short answer to "who has the right to protect human rights?" is: All of us.We are all human beings, and our common humanity should unite us in our struggles for justice. Whether it's the UN, our governments, public authorities, institutions, businesses, or each of us as individuals -- we all have a role to play in understanding, respecting, and defending human rights, in whatever way we choose to do it, by speaking, writing, or protesting out in the streets.Not only do we have a moral duty not to violate other's personal dignity and rights, but we have a moral duty to speak up when we see violations of human rights or the individual's dignity. We also have a moral duty to ensure resources, attention, respect, and reparations go to the oppressed people and communities so that they can eventually fully advocate for themselves.Battles have to be fought together. Gender equality cannot be achieved without the participation and help of men. Racism and discrimination cannot be overcome without the allyship of members of the dominant groups. Children cannot be saved without adult intervention. Any form of violence and abuse cannot be fought by the victims alone, may that be gun violence, domestic violence, sex trafficking and exploitation, elderly abuse and neglect, and so on and so forth.

#

I'm glad Cooper wrote her book. She didn't have to be an integral part of the community to use her clout on behalf of the people of Flint. She wrote with absolute respect for them, while shining a light on them and their experiences, rather than on herself.It's not always who we are, what we do, what group we belong to, but how we do things and for what purpose that gives value and legitimacy to our actions.Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder and activist, set out a challenge for people working toward social justice: "If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."Watson felt frustrated by the questions asked by the dominant white Australians to the emerging Aboriginal and Islander organizations: "How can I help? What do Aboriginal people want?" In these questions, as well-meaning as they were, Watson perceived echoes of unrelenting colonial perceptions and attitudes in their offers for help.People pursuing social justice know that our liberation is bound up together because "In a real sense all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be…"This is the interrelated structure of reality" (Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail: Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter from Birmingham Jail and the Struggle That Changed a Nation).


Transduced by

J. M. Wilcox
“Sandbox”

Iliad 1.101-187


...So he spoke and sat straight down, and among them duly arose, stood up
the fearless leader, warrior-chief, virile, steeled, stringent, tough son of Atreus Untrembles,
...wide-presiding Agamemnon Man Unbowed,
wild, furious, all worked up, his blood-filled black heart, sore and surgent, undercovered,
...dammed and brimmed with darkening rage, thickflanked fury, dimming dungeon, caliginous-
...deluge-drubbed, absorbed, subsumed by spiraling passion, pervasive redhot wringing
...rampage, -- amphimelainous ambiatric -- racing, sanguineous, pressured suffusion of plasmic
...disks --
crammed with a focused refractory force, and his two hard eyes, dots of ire, -- orange-caught
...core-warped glass-swelling points, might tight orcal wicks -- seemed like blazing spheres of
...fire.
Waxed with a mean and mamba look, dreadful, dire, foreboding evil, first he addressed and
...spoke to Kalkhas, future-scoping Purple Brain, coastal mystic, crystal-ball-keen, shell-crowned
...seer of the sea-whirled sky-wheeled timeproof mind -- wind-lined fire-laned violet-vaned:
'Prophet of evil, blackguard augur, jinxcaster, grateless, drear, -- space-age neon praying mantis
... -- never and now have you ever expressed, uttered a plausible syllable, anything tilting with
...favor to me, nor spoken a royally valuable word;
for evil is one of your favorite things, it is clearly ever dear to your heart to project and
...premonish, portend,
and you, so far, have yet to express a single, of-service, salubrious word, or hopper out anything
...promising.
And now among men, the corps of the Danaoi Solar Flares you dare to speak about wonder-
...bright oracles, -- halo-hovering color-blinking bold transorbital goddess-glow --
declaring that yes, indeed due to this, the far-beaming god of the blowback belt-fed air-cooled
...machine gun produces distress, makes trouble for them, -- causes, applies, inculcates pain --
because, unwilling, I spurned and refused, at first, declined, to take and accept the splendid sum,
... -- sanguineous price and ransom, -- blood-meandering plasma-buoyed molecule-clashing
...cogent crystals -- bang and squish, sideswipe frenzy -- cold hard coin,
a trade-off for the citadel-beset, captured girl, gorgeous-gowned, unredeemed, Golden-Glittering
...Khruseis, for I do intend, highly desire, deeply crave, -- drowning in fire --
to keep her at home. For I prefer her to the bright-coiffed Cloud Queen, celebrated Klutaimestra,
...Mind-Turner, Noble Schemer, -- blissom goddess, glory doll! --
my wedded wife, -- chief bride and basic bedmate -- because compared to her, she's in no way
...inferior,
not in carriage or build, nor in stature or frame, nor in mind or her sweet disposition, nor in her
...proven and lovely weaving, and all the canny domestic skills and common daily household
...duties -- multifarious mundane chores.
But still I am willing to give her back, if such, to be sure, is better.
I want my people safe and sound, -- incolumous, unmolested -- rather than staked, imperiled,
...jeopardized, -- danger-wading, cold-beholding -- standing directly in harm's way, staring death
...in the face.
Then, for me, prepare a prize -- and I mean now! -- so I, alone,
of the hard-charging, stark and rugged Argeioi, Radiant People, do not lack a prize, go without,
...overlooked, unconsigned, since that would hardly be suitable.
You all, at least, behold this deed, that my prize of prestige, my bonus and boon, my original gift
...goes elsewhere.'
...Then -- podarkous pedipellent -- turbo-tarsaled Akhilleus, -- foot-fired, ram-jetted sky-sparked
...welkin-wondrous -- traded words and answered him:
'Most glorious son of Atreus Untrembles, grand commander, fame-entowered, highly decorated,
...rainbow-barred, lover of getting and gotten things, -- philokteanic plunder-vacuum, amadeptiv
...loot-scooper -- knickknack-craving gewgaw-pawing -- omni-acquisitive leader of men,
how in the world will the Akhaioi, -- magnanimous megathumic -- mightful, rushbright, soul-
...supreme, stormbold, bountiful, noble-imbued -- bestow upon, give you a trophy of honor?
We are benighted, know nothing at all about troves spilling out or overstocked tokens,
...accumulated keepsakes, racked-up prizes, jackpot-packed vaults, close-kept capture, public
...treasure, stashed and cold-cached, socked away,
but in our assaults, what we copped and accroached, swept and snapped up, snagged and grabbed
...on our urban raids, that boodle, brought back here is history, previous-allocated, already
...vanished, duly doled, shared and shelled out, -- long time gone -- completely dispensed, --
...bright-hoppered, fairly dealt, -- hierarchical chevroned distribution --
and it goes against policy, counters procedure to gather this booty -- shiny plight-packs, sundry
...plunder -- palillogues, retrolecta -- back from the soldiers.
But you, now, let her go for the sake of the god, and we Akhaioi
shall compensate, greatly repay you, -- apotine explete -- 3-&-4-fold over, if ever Zeus of the
...luminous blue
allows us to drain, utterly level, titanically clear out bloodtinted belvedered tall robust --
...euteikhic benemunitive -- well-walled Troytown.'

...Then, to him, the monarch of men, Agamemnon Adamant, hot-responded, hard-replied, a
...wheel of words unwound:
'Flee, by all means, -- hit the road! -- take off if your dark-sparked heart exhorts, impresses, rash-
...induces, prompts and pushes, cold-compels, forces you to bolt, for I, to be sure,
will not endeavor, try to entreat, implore and beckon, beg you to stay or remain for my sake.
...There are here, at any rate, others beside me, in the midst, all around, on my behalf,
who will gladly esteem, if not revere, glorify me, and way above all, Moon-Over Zeus, wisdom-
...well oath-preserver -- sky-crafter data-revolver.
You are to me the utmost hated, dirty, despicable, heinous and scorned of -- caelialtic diotrephic
... -- Dis-curdled Jup-coddled -- sky-gelled kings,
for ever is strife becherished by you, impassioned and pumped by wars and battles.
Though especially powerful, a god, to be sure, I no doubt deem, -- brisk-bestowed bright-
...batoned -- handed you, might-imbued power.
Go home, embark with your shoddy ships and your shabby detachable chaps -- your tincan of
...kinclan -- blindfolded bottom-feeders -- leave, evacuate, vanish, vamoose --
and govern your migrant industrious Murmidons, the plague-replaced Ant People, -- fickle tricky
...muzzle-nuzzlers, metamorphic formicals -- for I do not care about you in the least,
nor heed your humors, reck your rancor -- taut transfixed intowering. But let it be known, here
...and now, my pledge and promise to you:
since Phoibos Apollo Bright Destroyer robs and removes me of comely Khruseis, current-
...requested, oracle-claimed, beauty-unbested -- golden-veiled silver-braided color-beaded
...rhythm-bangled --
I shall comply and send her back, board her secure with my vessel vair and my loyal, devoted
...companions, --
but beware! -- for I, in person, shall make my way, subito go to your far-off slope-roofed hut --
...distinctly demarcated -- and bring back
brisky Briseis, blessed with beautiful, -- global glasspacked curvy-cobbled -- fine-built
...cheekbones, -- hot pink suns, cold pale moons -- ruby-tinkle opal-jangle -- fire-bubbles water-
...balls -- your fair, distinguished prize, so you may know and ponder well, long and hard,
how much superior, better am I than you, and consequently, others too may spurn and hate,
...hesitate, -- cringe and quake --
melt, retract, twitter and shrink from any attempt to equate themselves to, mirror, match me,
...face-to-face, -- coordinate-deeming -- tantamount, level, parallel!'


Nicki Chen
“Exposed”


It’s early morning, July sixth, and Bob and I are eating breakfast on the patio. Anyone peeking over the steel gate at the side of the garden would see us -- Bob in his cream shirt and silk tie squeezing lime onto his papaya, and me, lightly covered in oatmeal-colored raw silk spreading strawberry jam on my toast. My observer would see our Filipina maid in her neat yellow and white uniform walking toward us with a pot of hot coffee. He would notice the potted palmera, the maiden hair fern, the spacious garden at the patio’s edge, smooth and green with brilliant tropical flowers climbing the walls. He would hear Tessie greeting us softly, calling us ma’am and sir. All in all, his impression would be one of gracious living, peace, a measure of success.I pour milk into my coffee, and Bob cuts his papaya slice -- two lengthwise slashes and numerous quick crosscuts. He mentions an appointment he has this morning with the Minister of Finance. “It shouldn’t take long,” he says, “that is, assuming the Minister’s secretary remembers this time to inform him.” He turns his knife on its side and cuts the squares of papaya off the skin. The mist that was resting on the surface of the lagoon at sunrise is gone. A thin slice of the blue Pacific is visible beyond Erakor Peninsula. The air is fresh and warm. A visitor from the United States would be reminded of vacations he’d been on or dreamed of. He would frown at us, suspecting we took the warmth and beauty for granted.I’ve been doing this for a long time, creating for myself a sympathetic observer. Today though it’s different. Today I’ve moved back a step or two, and I see myself watching the imaginary person who is watching me. It’s a perspective I don’t particularly enjoy. Maybe I’ll get used to it.I certainly wouldn’t want to blame Ginny for anything. I started feeling uneasy even before her visit, a strange sense of dread that I succeeded for the most part in ignoring. When her plane landed, it seemed that everything was okay. She and her daughter climbed down from the plane. They waved up at me, and I leaned close to the wire mesh and waved back. I called Ginny’s name from the observation deck. I was thrilled to see her again -- this old friend -- every bit as thrilled as I told everyone I would be.Outside the customs area, we hugged, and she introduced me to Kirsten. Last time I saw her -- aside from Christmas card photos -- she was a toddler. Now she was an attractive high school senior, soon to head off to college.Then Ginny and I stepped back and looked at each other. And below the smiles and the pleasure, at the bottom of my chest, I felt something else. It was like the tap of a padded drumstick on a very large kettledrum, the sound low and edgeless, seemingly unheard. If someone had asked me then to interpret the feeling, I would have called it excitement. But now I wonder if it wasn’t fear. I think that afternoon -- only twelve days ago -- I had the same sensation looking at Ginny as I did the day we became friends: the sense of being known. Only then I was a college freshman from Wenatchee, longing to be known; and she, also a freshman from a small town, wanted to know me.We met in the dormitory, fourth floor, west wing. She was on her way to the shower room. I had my door open. She saw me pulling my hair back and folding it under, admiring the reflection in a hand mirror of my reflection in the mirror over the sink, and she stopped, leaning her hip against my doorframe. “You don’t want to cut your hair,” she said simply, confident she knew my heart better than I did. And though I already had an appointment at the beauty parlor, already had plans to skip my afternoon Spanish class, I dropped my hair. Then I turned my head from side to side, and, feeling the softness of it on my shoulders, realized she was right. I didn’t want to cut it. Ginny just smiled, and continued on toward the shower room, her thongs slapping knowingly against the bottoms of her heels.By the end of fall quarter, she was my best friend, she and Bernadette. We were a threesome. Gin, Cyn, and Bern we called ourselves for a joke. In those days gin was just another drink, and sin and burning were distant if not impossible fates, things from which we would almost certainly be preserved by all our good intentions.Now, so many years later, I’m all too familiar with gin, an ingredient in Bob’s first drink of the evening. And, though not exactly preserved from sin and the threat of burning, I have managed over the years to banish the concepts quite nicely from my mind.I expected Ginny to look different, and she did. In the airport, even as I was feeling and dismissing the tympani beat in my chest, I noted all the little signs of her aging: the expanded width of her hips, the scattering of white in her auburn hair that she easily could have covered with a good hair dye.I helped them pull their suitcases over to the curb. On the sidewalk we passed through a small crowd of people waiting for relatives and friends and business associates. Most of them -- both the ni-Vanuatu and the expatriates -- wore thongs or sandals. Some children and a few adults were barefoot. A man whom I knew as a longtime expatriate, scruffy in his safari shorts and his Aussie bush hat, leaned against the wall. Two minibuses waited at the curb for their loads of tourists.I glanced quickly at Ginny. This airport scene had come to seem normal to me, but I wondered what she thought. Vanuatu was not the kind of place one would expect Bob to be working in at this point in his career. In actuality, it had been a demotion for him, a kind of exile from his organization’s center of power. But we never spoke of that. And I imagined no one understood or speculated on the reason he had been sent here. I distracted people when they came to visit with Vanuatu’s strangeness and its pleasures -- sailboats and flying fish and spitting volcanoes. I took them snorkeling off Moso Island and hiking up les Cascades. I gave parties, introducing them to an exotic mix of people. It was easy to impress visitors. I was worried, though, that Ginny would be different. She had always talked back, always challenged my interpretation of things.Once in the car, passing through countryside about which I knew a story or two for every half mile, I began to relax. I was the tour guide, Ginny and her daughter, the tourists. I pointed out the sprouting fenceposts: “Even the fenceposts grow here.” And the golf course; “I knew a man who spent four years on this island and never drove farther from town than this golf course.” And I went a little out of my way to show them Mele-Maat Village. “The whole village was relocated to this spot after a volcanic eruption virtually destroyed the little island they lived on before.” Ginny and Kirsten exclaimed in all the right places. I even imagined Ginny saw some connection between the simple villages we passed and my earlier plans of joining the Peace Corps after college.I don’t know why I’m even thinking about this. It doesn’t make any difference now what Ginny thought about this island and about me. Still, I find myself hoping that her silence during the ten days of her visit meant she understood, that she appreciated the way life gets formed by such small increments that you don’t notice it happening. Maybe, I think, she had some experience with the way a woman, in letting a man make his own choices, can suddenly find herself implicated, when all along she’s been busy congratulating herself for her forbearance.Bob is leaning back in his chair, and I’m down to my last two bites of toast. Soon the police will be here, and I’ll need to watch myself from the outside so I can play my role well. I’m beginning to realize how much easier it was to observe myself when I didn’t know I was doing it.Bob looks at me over his coffee cup. “The police will probably show up sometime between nine and nine-thirty,” he says. His gaze is as casual as someone telling his wife when to expect the plumber.And I tilt my cup just as casually, pausing to wait for the last drops of cold, bitter coffee to run into my mouth. Today I won’t pour myself a second cup for fear of the caffeine. A small clue to my state of mind, I suppose, but I doubt my imaginary observer would notice. “A civilized enough hour,” I say, raising my eyebrows in approval. “It should give me plenty of time to shower and dress.”They’ve left me until last. They questioned the others yesterday or the night before, but for me they waited. You have to respect them for that -- for having the sensitivity to give me a little extra time to get over the shock of my friend’s death. Or maybe they understood how busy I was yesterday trying to help Kirsten -- though she wasn’t eager to accept my help. I can’t blame her. But she couldn’t handle everything herself -- the overseas phone calls and the airline reservations and the negotiations with the official at the morgue who originally insisted that since he had only two refrigerated spaces, he couldn’t keep her mother’s body for more than twenty-four hours.“You know what to tell them,” Bob says. He pushes his chair back and tosses his unused cloth napkin on his dirty plate which is his way of making sure Tessie washes it and gives him a fresh napkin at lunchtime.I nod. I know what to tell the police. The story is simple, easy to remember precisely because it’s what they expect to hear. A death at the home of a “big man”, someone who flies a flag on his car and parties with the Prime Minister and the high commissioners. A white woman, his houseguest, is dead. The details of the accident are all they require, words to fill the empty paper in their tablets. Later the words will be transferred onto the right form by someone named Brigitte Marie or Mary.That night the police saw for themselves the large bookend made from a milky green stone. They felt how heavy it was, how sharp its corners. They saw its mate not far from the body, but high on a shelf, resting too near the shelf’s edge.The story fits all the visible evidence. One could hardly say Bob invented it. It was there for the taking. He was fast though -- enlisting Haruki, the tallest of the men, to move the books and the remaining bookend to a higher shelf while he darted across the room, grabbed Noor’s wine glass and threw it on the tile floor. At the time, I had no idea what he had in mind for what would later become a useful detail: the shattered glass and spilled wine. He warned us not to touch it. Then he called the police. All this only minutes after Ginny’s death. As soon as he hung up the phone, he gestured to us with his chin. And we came -- the men who work for him, their wives, Tessie, me. Only Kirsten didn’t respond.The rest of us gathered around him, some at the edge of the patio, some just inside the open doorway where he stood with one hand in his pocket. “The police will be here soon,” he said. As always, his voice was clearly audible while at the same time giving the impression of being soft and intimate. “I think it’s incumbent on us to make allowances for the relative lack of sophistication of Port Vila’s police force.” He raised his hands, showing the palms. “Now don’t get me wrong,” he said, flashing a smile, insider to other insiders. “I’m not criticizing the training supplied by the Australian government. I’m sure it’s been first rate. But, as we all know, training only goes so far.”Sometimes I close my eyes and listen to Bob, I ignore what he’s saying and simply let myself be mesmerized by his voice. It’s the voice of a news anchor, low enough to turn his every utterance into truth and folksy enough with just the right touch of humility to put you off your guard. With my eyes closed I can usually remember why I fell in love with him.“The police will have an easier time of it if we keep our description of this incident as simple as possible,” he said. Then he went on to describe “the incident.” Ginny reached up for a book. Then Noor Farley knocked her wine glass off the coffee table. Ginny, startled by the sound of broken glass, turned abruptly, and knocked the heavy bookend on her own head.We nodded. Some details were wrong, but Bob’s version of events had the virtue of being consistent with our image of who we were and who we were known to be. In that sense it was truer than the truth.I suppose nothing could be easier than making those few adjustments to the story of Ginny’s death. Yet my mind insists on rehearsing it. In the shower I go over the words I will use. It happened so fast, I will say. I was across the room on the sofa. I didn’t notice anything was wrong until I heard a little noise, like a sigh or a shriek, and then, almost immediately, a loud crashing sound.The water pressure in this house is strong, and this morning the water is especially warm. I want to cry from the feel of it on my shoulders. Something caught in my flesh seems to be seeping out, burning me as it shoots up my neck and down through my chest like a beautiful, painful truth. And then it’s gone. I close my eyes and listen for its echo while water pours down my back and steam rises up my naked front.When finally, I turn off the water, the room is filled with steam. It hovers; it drifts with invisible air currents; it feathers and dulls everything that was sharp and shiny, the mirrors, the cobalt blue ceramic tiles, the chrome faucets. I dry my body and wind the same towel around my head. I powder my breasts and put on my underwear. Then I open the door and let the steam disperse.It’s lost in our bedroom against the white walls and the matching white appliqued bedcovers I bought in China, disappearing into the camouflage, the white on white which keeps you from noticing the twin beds. Or so I have imagined. It’s impossible not to notice the two beds, though, with the red Afghan rug between them drawing your eye to the space.I push the louvered bifolds to either side of my closet and stare at the six-foot expanse of cotton, silk, and rayon. It’s a jumble of colors and designs, sunrise pastels, midnight blue, burgundy, splashy jungle prints, daisies, stripes, pure cool white. In college, we wore wool skirts and sweater sets to class. Ginny’s favorite was a blue-and-green pleated skirt that she wore with a Kelly-green sweater set, I think with a pitiful little smile that just about breaks my heart. I pull out the blue-and-white cotton dress I decided on last night. It’s a simple, well-cut dress made from a floral print that calls to mind expensive English china.I’m buttoning the last button when I hear a vehicle coming up the driveway. Car doors open and slam shut. The doorbell rings. I lean close to my reflection and fit the slim stud of a pearl earring through the hole in my ear.Tessie has spoken to the police already, but I know she’ll be nervous about seeing them again. It’s their uniforms and their black skin. And maybe she senses the Power behind them, that frightening power of the State with its fragmented consciousness and diminished individual responsibility.She knocks on my bedroom door. “Ma’am,” she whispers, “they’re here. The police are here.”“Okay, thank you, Tessie,” I say, hoping the ordinary tone of my voice will calm her. “Would you ask them to sit down please. I’ll be right out. Ask them if they want something to drink.”By the time I enter the living room the policemen are sitting across from each other in matching armchairs, and Tessie is in the kitchen, gingerly opening cupboard doors and setting out china. The younger policeman is fingering an ebony Balinese carving, and when he sees me, he hurriedly puts it back on the end table. Smiling to myself, I think how harmless they look after all, their bare knees showing above their navy-blue half-socks and nothing more lethal than nightsticks in their belts.“Good morning,” I say, extending my hand to the senior officer first. He introduces himself as Officer Telukluk and his partner as Officer Edwin Tom. Officer Tom jumps up and straightens his shoulders.“Would you like some tea?” I ask even though I can hear the tea kettle beginning to hiss in the kitchen.“Your housegirl already said….”“Of course. Please sit down.”

They settle back into their armchairs. They turn the pages of their notebooks and take the caps off their pens. I wait while Officer Telukluk gazes at his blank notebook page and Officer Tom looks around the room. Conversations in Vanuatu begin slowly. They often include long comfortable periods of silence.“Where shall I begin?” I ask finally.Officer Telukluk continues to stare at his notebook a moment longer. Then he looks up. Turning his head slowly from left to right, he pans the room, taking in the Korean chest, the bookcase, the glass doors leading to the patio, the floor lamp. His head sweep ends at the sofa where I’m seated. “Where were you,” he asks, “when Mrs. Virginia Alexander was injured?”Injured? What a euphemism! A strange reversal, considering that the Bislama word for “hit” is “kill”.“I was here,” I say, patting the cushion on my right, giving them sufficient time to write in their notebooks. “Mrs. Farley and I were talking about American Independence Day celebrations.” I cross my leg and then uncross it.That night Noor Farley and I both had our legs crossed, our knees angled toward the center of the sofa. The angle was not so sharp, though, as to hide the view of Kirsten flipping her long strawberry-blond hair in a way that I knew Bob would find provocative; not so sharp that I couldn’t see Bob leaning against the bookcase, steadying himself with one hand, the other reaching for Kirsten.“Mrs. Farley was telling me about a parade she saw last year in her husband’s hometown. She said she enjoyed the bands, and especially the bagpipers.” I wonder if the officers notice how irrelevant this is. I have no idea why I even mentioned it. Except I remember it so clearly, the way Noor seemed to be kissing the rim of her glass as she sucked wine through her cranberry-colored lips and listened to me talk about my hometown parade, the horses and the logging trucks. And all the while Bob’s hand was sliding down Kirsten’s hip and his chin was coming to rest on her shoulder. I heard everything Noor said about the fireworks display she saw. And though I was caught up in praying that Kirsten would be quiet and discrete and would be able to slip away before Ginny returned from the bathroom, still I remember watching Noor, her tiny fingers flicking the air, her ruby ring sparkling as she described the red and yellow and white explosions over the ballpark in Chick’s hometown.“Mrs. Farley gestures a lot when she speaks. That must be how she broke her glass.”Yes, everything does make sense, even this small detail. The policemen are writing faster now, like students taking lecture notes. If I speed up, they’ll feel pressured. But why should I antagonize them? Things are going well.“It all happened so fast,” I say, shaking my head and frowning. It’s a stock phrase, the thing witnesses always say. When the time comes to recount the tragic event, above all, the witness is struck by how fast things can happen. Or maybe we just remember the thousands of police dramas we’ve seen. Maybe we need to speak familiar words from fiction so we can feel at home in a new role.The policemen have stopped writing. Even though now I’m telling them about the book and the bookend and Ginny reaching up to get the book, Tessie has their attention now. She’s right here in front of them, balancing the tea tray on the edge of the coffee table, removing things one by one -- teapot, sugar bowl, creamer, the plate of cookies. She’s setting cups and saucers and napkins in front of each of them.“Thank you, Tessie,” I say, and when she’s gone, I pour their tea. I offer them cream and sugar, and they respond to my low, soft tones with murmured thanks. I’ve often thought what a kindness it is to speak softly, to refrain from setting the air vibrating with demands to be heard and attended to. Kirsten would undoubtedly have done better to have kept her voice down.Or to say nothing at all. She easily could have edged away from him and then slipped off to the kitchen or the patio. If she was so intent on indulging her outrage, she could have waited until she and her mother were alone in our guestroom. Then any words which passed under the door or through the walls could have been ignored.We stir our tea, listening to the tinkling of the little silver spoons inside our teacups. Then we lift our cups and sip, each of us savoring the barely audible yet pleasant sounds of this British ceremony.Officer Telukluk returns his cup carefully to the saucer. “Yes,” he says. “Yes. It is all the same. Mr. Stevens and the others told us the same things about poor Mrs. Alexander and how she died.” He looks at Officer Tom, who nods, and we all raise our cups for another sip of tea.Of the other witnesses, only Noor was as near as I was, Noor and Bob. But then Bob can hardly be called a witness. The men, Haruki, Chick, and Gabriel, were at the far end of the room, refilling their glasses and sampling the chilled shrimp and stuffed mushrooms Tessie had laid out on the dining table. Sakura Abe and Anita Lopez were outside, sitting at the patio table. I seem to remember them facing the garden, so they may not have seen anything. But they must have heard the shouts, first Kirsten’s “ex-cuse me” which was a shout of disgust rather than a plea to be excused, and then Ginny’s demand that Bob get his “dirty hands” off her daughter.Ginny seemed to fly from the hallway right to Bob’s throat. I think we were more surprised by her wild, screaming attack on Bob than we were by his response. The air of normality had already been destroyed by the time he grabbed the onyx bookend, swung it, and hit her hard in the head.Officer Telukluk lowers his eyes. “Only Mrs. Alexander’s daughter saw something different,” he says.I shake my head and look off to the side. “Poor girl,” I say. “She is half crazy with grief.”“Yes. That is what everyone says.” He closes his notebook and replaces the cap on his pen. I realize he’s not going to ask me to explain the discrepancy. Nor is he going to repeat Kirsten’s words to me. In a few hours she will be on a plane to the United States with Ginny’s body. Without Kirsten, her account will be worthless. The rest of us will avoid speaking openly about what we saw. And before long even our memories of the incident will fade until eventually, we won’t be able to say for sure whether the whole thing happened or not.“Would you like more tea?” I ask. And both men accept, smiles flashing and then disappearing. The interrogation is over. I pour their tea, offer cream and sugar, pass the plate of Australian-made shortbread.I have to control myself to keep from sighing as I settle back on the sofa cushion. Officer Telukluk scratches his knee, and Officer Tom takes one deep breath followed by another. It can’t have been a pleasant prospect for them: the possibility that they might have to accuse a man like Bob.I feel starved for oxygen. Maybe I can breathe in slowly, fill my chest all the way to the top without being obvious about it. If I could just conjure up an imaginary observer -- a stranger, say, someone on the patio peering through the mosquito screen, or a chance visitor, someone who wanders in through the kitchen and catches a glimpse of us from the kitchen doorway. If only I could be reassured by the opinion of such a person that I look relaxed and that this scene -- these policemen drinking tea and eating cookies in my living room -- is nothing out of the ordinary.It’s no use, though. I can’t make it work anymore.The policemen finish their cookies, washing them down with diluted, sweetened tea. They wipe their mouths and gather up their pens and notebooks.I watch their car back down the driveway, waiting a minute before grabbing my keys and getting into my own car. Then I drive to the other side of town, past the French School and the Parliament Building, the Chiefs’ Nakamal and Manway Restaurant. Later, after lunch, I’ll have to take one of these little side streets that lead to the hospital where Ginny’s body is being kept in cold storage. But for now, I avoid thinking about my friend’s dead body. I bypass the center of town, drive past the supermarket and the Red Cross Building and the Catholic Church. Just beyond the large Japanese-owned resort-hotel where Kirsten has been staying the past two nights, I turn into a dirt road and park my car.The little ferry to Erakor Island is waiting. I wave to the boatman and hurry to the end of the dock. As we cross the lagoon the boatman and the only other passenger shout across the metal boat in loud bursts of Bislama.On the island I walk unnoticed across the beach, between sunbathers and toddlers with buckets and shovels. Inside the little open-air café, a waitress hums and pours a beer. The trail I’m looking for begins in crushed rock with palm lilies and crotons planted at regular intervals on either side. It leads between concrete tourist bungalows with wicker chairs on their porches and air conditioners bulging from their sides like ugly, square warts. Then there’s nothing but island bush -- betel palm and pandanus and the tangled branches of beach hibiscus. A sign points to missionary graves at the center of the island. But I head for the far end of the island where the lagoon opens to the ocean.When I get there, the tide is out. Shallow, transparent water hovers over the blond sand and bleached rock and coral inside the reef. The ocean, blue and endless, is far from shore, held back by the wall of coral. I kick off my sandals and wade into the water. Tiny, warm waves play around my toes, gurgling over the lacy rocks and slurping through the seaweed. I don’t know why I’ve come here. To catch my breath maybe. Or to escape prying eyes, to be alone for a while, unseen. I could have stayed home, climbed into the closet and pulled the doors shut around me.I wade farther out, and, although the water is still shallow, the rocks are sharp, and there’s hardly any sand to step on, only seaweed hiding broken shells and timid creatures. Maybe that’s why I came here: to cut my feet, to expose myself to poisonous sea snakes. To do penance for Ginny’s death.I see a small sandy spot beyond a line of rocks. Clumsily I climb over the rocks, steadying myself with one hand. I look back at the shore, but no one is there. No one is watching me. And still, I feel watched. I feel wide open, as transparent as a jelly fish with my innards on show. I rub the sore bottoms of my feet in the sand and curl my toes. I’m tired. I want to sit down in this shallow, warm water and let it wash over my legs and wet my neat blue and white dress. And if a wave were to lift my skirt up to my shoulders, what would it matter? I’m already exposed.


Contributors


ABIGAIL SWOBODA is a poet, pre-K teacher, and practitioner from the great state of Pennsylvania. They live in West Philly.CONNOR FISHER is the author of The Isotope of I (Schism Press, 2021) and three poetry and hybrid chapbooks, including Speculative Geography (Greying Ghost Press, 2022). He has an MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a Ph.D. in creative writing and English from the University of Georgia. His poetry has appeared in journals including Denver Quarterly, Random Sample Review, Tammy, Tiger Moth Review, and Clade Song. He currently lives and teaches in northern Mississippi.ELANA KLOSS received a BFA in fashion design at Otis College of Art and Design and attended a short story writing class with Ron Darian at the UCLA Extension Program in 2021. She works designing and sketching for a small fashion company and is also a board member at Active-Plus, a nonprofit that provides wellness programming for children in underserved areas. Elana was born in Alaska and has a passion for figure drawing, backpacking, and classical music and dance. She spends most of her time scratching away in a notebook she’s always losing.FABRIZIA FAUSTINELLA is a board-certified internist. She grew up in Italy and moved to the US where she’s a faculty member at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Fabrizia is a filmmaker, producer and director. She has developed short movies and documentaries to address social problems, ethical issues, and inner biases and prejudices. Her productions have received several national and international awards. Her current focus is health care disparities, patient advocacy, Narrative Medicine, and medical humanities. In addition to research and education articles, Fabrizia writes essays inspired by her personal and professional experiences. Through her writing, she explores the fragility of life, human relationships, and the individual’s struggle for survival, while searching for elements of shared humanity. Her essays have been published in both academic and literary journals.IRINA TALL (Novikova) is an artist, graphic artist, illustrator, and writer who illustrates short stories and writes fairy tales. She graduated from the State Academy of Slavic Cultures with a degree in art and also has a bachelor's degree in design. Her first personal exhibition, My Soul Is Like A Wild Hawk (2002), was held in the museum of Maxim Bagdanovich. In her works, Irina explores ecological and anti-war themes; in 2005 she devoted a series of works to the Chernobyl disaster and her series The Red Book is dedicated to rare and endangered species of animals and birds. Her work has been published in Gypsophila, Harpy Hybrid Review, and previously in SORTES. Find her online at Instagram and Instagram.JAMES WILCOX taught English in Asia for twenty years. He worked for Harvard University as a medical coder and currently works as a pet-caregiver in Cambridge, MA. James has published previously with Terror House Magazine.MARK RUSS is a psychiatrist in Westchester County, NY. He was born in Cuba, the son of Holocaust survivors, and the first in his family to earn a bachelor's degree. He has contributed to psychiatric literature throughout his career and has recently begun to publish short stories and nonfiction pieces.MARY ANN DIMAND lives in Colorado where she's busy turning a small horse property into a small farm.NICKI CHEN has been published in Tidepools Magazine, Confrontation Magazine, and City Primeval. She won a bronze medal in Best Regional Fiction in the Independent Publisher Book Awards (2021) for her novel When in Vanuatu and was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Book Awards for Tiger Tail Soup, A Novel of China at War. Nicki received an MRA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA in elementary education from Seattle University. For twenty years she lived in Asia and the South Pacific with her husband and their three daughters. She now lives in Edmonds, WA, a sometimes rainy, often beautiful little city overlooking Puget Sound. You can learn more at nickichenwrites.com.SUZANNE STE. THERESE holds a BA in English literature from Loyola Marymount University and a BS in urban landscape architecture from City University of New York. A landscape designer and architect for twenty-five years, Suzanne was a Master Gardener in the University of Connecticut’s Master Gardener program and was part of an international team that helped erect Christo’s “The Gates” in Central Park. Her work is published or forthcoming in Caveat Lector, DASH Literary Journal, El Portal, The Loch Raven Review, and October Hill Magazine.


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SORTES supports local, charitable, and community-based groups. Here's one important organization that SORTES supports:

"ArtWell was founded in 2000 to respond to the chronic community violence in Philadelphia by introducing a preventive, educational, arts-oriented approach to reach underserved communities and youth facing discrimination, poverty, violence, and the everyday challenges of growing up. Our mission is to support young people and their communities through multidisciplinary arts expression, education, and creative reflection to celebrate their strengths, thrive while facing complex challenges, and awaken their dreams."Charity NavigatorThe people who have worked on this publication support this cause and we urge you to as well.

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Submission & Contact


To submit or send comments, questions, or suggestions, please email the editors at


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SORTES is?

SORTES is a spinning collection of stories, poems, songs, and illustrations to help while away the wintery June nights. It’s an oddball grabbag wunderkammer mixtape offering distraction and refreshment.We have neither theme nor scene. Each issue is its own creature. We publish both the sufficiently strange and insufficiently boring: swart stories, hoity poetry, magical surrealism, beatnik travelogues, hard modern haiku, pulp, fantasia, antibiography, crooning balladeering, experimental sentimentalism, and grainy sideways photography.We also host online readings, old time radio performances, and other beloved gimmicks as they occur to us. Previous issues are available via the site’s Archive link.

Submitting

SORTES considers unsolicited submissions of poetry, prose, illustration, music, videos, and anything else you think may fit our format. Feel free to poke us; we’d love to find a way to publish dance, sculpture, puzzles, and other un-literary modalities.SORTES is published quarterly. Each issue includes approximately ten works of lit, visual, or performance art. We like a small number of works per issue: artists and readers should have a chance to get to know each other.SORTES, you’ll notice, is primarily a black-and-white publication, and we like to play with that (by featuring monochrome videos and photography, for example), but we’ll happily consider your polychrome submission.Submissions are ongoing throughout the year. We consider artists with both extensive and limited publishing experience. We accept simultaneous submissions but please inform us if your work has been accepted elsewhere. And while there's no restriction on the number of pieces you can submit, please have a heart.There’s no need for an extensive cover letter or publication history but please tell us who you are, what kind of writing or art you do, and a bit about what you’re sending us. There are no formatting requirements for text submissions. There is no fee to submit. Please send submissions as email attachments whenever possible; multimedia submissions may be sent as links.

Rights

You asked and we provide: what's up with publication rights and ownership?Simple: When you publish with us, you give SORTES one-time publication right for your work. You retain all right to your work after publication. Work published with SORTES will remain available via our online Archive.While SORTES retains the right to link to or excerpt your published work, we do not have the right to publish your work in new formats (including print). If we would like to pursue publication of your work in new formats, we'll ask you and hopefully agree to terms.

Mahoffs

SORTES was created by Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum and Kevin Travers. It's edited by Aria Braswell, Emily Zido, Gabrielle Decker, and Rosanna Lee Byrnes with additional ineffables by Betsy Herbert, Brenna Dinon, Britny Perilli, Kelly Ralabate, Nick Perilli, and Victoria Mier. Most of us live in Philadelphia but we invite writers and artists everywhere to live the SORTES life.


Events


SORTES regularly offers readings and performances.
For upcoming events, please check here and our Facebook page.


Coming Up:

A Reading For

SORTES Issue 12, “Up With The Yardkeeper”

Sunday, January 8, 2023 @ 7pm EST

In the Russian winter of our hearts, SORTES 12 blooms! JOIN US around our boiling Siberian samovar for readings from most of our Issue 12 aristocrats:Abigail Swoboda
Connor Fisher
Elana Kloss
Fabrizia Faustinella
Irina Tall
James Wilcox
Mark Russ
Mary Ann Dimand
Nicki Chen
Suzanne Ste. Therese
Our host will be SORTES editor Rodion Romanovich Tenenbaum. All SORTES events are free, public, and mandated.


ID: 853 3134 6077
Passcode: 189547
Call in: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kb2jtmBm5b


Radio SORTES



Archive

“Scary SORTESies To Tell In The Dark,” October 30, 2022

On October 30, 2022, Radio SORTES presented three ghastly and unnerving old time radio stories, including original adaptations of Arch Oboler's "The Dark," Ray Bradbury's "There Will Come Soft Rains," and
and Oscar Wilde's “The Canterville Ghost,” plus poetry from "Weird Tales" magazine.
Our infernal Radio SORTES Players included Betsy Herbert • Brenna Dinon • Christina Rosso • Demree McGhee • Emily Zido • Evan Myers • Iris Johnston • Kelly Ralabate • Lino • Luke Condzal • and Rosanna Lee Byrnes. The performance was written, produced, and scored by Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum.Radio SORTES is an unnatural extracurricular extension of SORTES magazine, whose events and readings are always free, open to all, and ideally less than two hours. See SORTES.co for inexpressibly brilliant literature, art, and upcoming events.


A 1950s Western / Sci-Fi Double-Feature, February 25, 2022

The talented Radio SORTES Players performed two old time radio episodes broadcast live via ethereal wireless right to our audience's home receivers.We galloped into the unknown with a 1950s western / sci-fi double-feature: The Six Shooter episode “Battle at Tower Rock” and the Dimension X episode “A Logic Named Joe” -- each with music and convincing sound effects.The all-star Radio SORTES players were: Abbey Minor • Betsy Herbert • Brenna Dinon • Brian Maloney • Britny Brooks • Daniel DiFranco • Dwight Evan Young • Emily Zido • Evan Myers • Iris Johnston • Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum • Kailey Tedesco • Kelly Ralabate • Kevin Travers • Luke Condzal • Nicholas Perilli • Rachel Specht • Rosanna Byrnes • and Victoria Mier.Radio SORTES -- an unnatural extracurricular extension of SORTES magazine -- was produced and directed by Kevin Travers and Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum. Radio SORTES is always free, open to all, and less than two hours. See SORTES.co for upcoming events.


The 39 Steps, February 19, 2021

The Radio SORTES Players performed this classic adventure story, written by John Buchan and adapted by Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum from Hitchcock's 1935 film and the 1937 Lux Radio production. It starred Brenna Dinon • Heather Bowlan • Rosanna Byrnes • Betsy Herbert • Iris Johnston • Warren Longmire • Brian Maloney • Britny Brooks • Nicholas Perilli • Kelly Ralabate • Dwight Evan Young • Emily Zido • Victoria Mier • Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum • and Kevin Travers.


Halloween Eve Special, October 30, 2020

Introduction

Suspense, "The House in Cypress Canyon"

Commercial

Inner Sanctum Mysteries, "Voice on the Wire"

The Radio SORTES players presented a live Halloween Eve special: two programs of classic old time radio horrors. The shows -- including dialogues, music, and sound effects -- were performed for a live Zoom audience.The Suspense episode “The House in Cypress Canyon” was originally broadcast December 5, 1946 and the Inner Sanctum Mysteries episode “Voice on the Wire” was originally broadcast November 29, 1944. Both programs were performed by Kevin Travers • Sean Finn • Britny Perilli • Don Deeley • Brian Maloney • Betsy Herbert • Kyle Brown Watson • Nicholas Perilli • Emma Pike • Susan Clarke • and Jeremy Eric Tenenbaum. Between episodes, we presented an original commercial in period style written and performed by Kevin Travers.


Odd Lots

Announcements & Correspondence


Like any worthwhile literary journal, SORTES would love contributors and audience to fight amongst themselves. Our sweeter readers should email us to compliment our stellar authors and artists, while spicier fans may want to howl and snip and issue manifestoes. Between the two groups, we know our favorite.Or perhaps you have an announcement about an art project, band formation, upcoming travel, impending marriage, &c? Why look beyond quarterly SORTES and your local society pages?Be a part of the problem! Comment on our stories and poems, other letters, and the SORTES demimonde in general by emailing


Announcements

"peeling the yellow wallpaper" by Monica Robinson is an experimental collection of prose, poetry, and art created as a reaction to (and distinctly not a retelling of) Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," which is unfortunately more and more relevant by the day. This eclectic collection was released September 10, 2022 at a party held by The Spiral Bookcase and is available both from spiralbookcase.com and the author's own sites mrobinsonwrites.com and etsy.com/shop/captalucem.


Correspondence

No Gimmicks

“SORTES continues to ascend the summit of artistic authenticity with every new issue its editors publish, showcasing the works of talented writers in a clean format that is accessible to the reader. There are no gimmicks here or busy links to click through, just the authors and their words. Read em'.”

James Feichthaler, September 8, 2022

James, we appreciate your words mammothly but we delicately disagree: SORTES is one transparent gimmick after another. It's a ruse wrapped in a gambit baked inside a flaky shenanigan potpie.


Missed Connection

“You: M/early 30s olive skin and a nose like a fleur-de-lis, burgundy sweater, pumpkin scarf.Me: F/38 eating olives out of pumpkin rind, lily patterned dress
The bartender sent me a glass of burgundy 'from the gentleman' and you tipped your hat. We talked about SORTES, the paper magazine on the internet, and sang karaoke of our favorite submissions. Drunk on bons mots and pithe, you knocked over the wunderkammer and were ejected by the bouncer. Let's meet and collage a poem!”

Iris Johnston, September 12, 2022

Me: That's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about my nose.

Credit and Debit


Archive



Shop



A SORTES Sampler 2

SORTES is a mostly online journal, you know, but periodically we go physical.We’ve just published A SORTES Sampler 2, this slender tasty book collecting weird fiction by Max D. Stanton, surrealist collage art by Danielle Gatto Hirano, and a poetry cycle by Uri Rosenshine.It’s a handsomely designed but affordable little snack of a book. We have incredibly limited copies on hand, and every day they become incredibly more limited, so leap today.OR BUY IN PERSON: If you’re in Philadelphia, please gobble up your copy from:Brickbat Books
Head & Hand Books
A Novel Idea on Passyunk
The Spiral Bookcase


$10

+ $3.49 shipping in the US

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