In photographs, my grandfather towers. Trimmed mustache under a bulbous nose, he stands hunched with a walking stick almost taller than he is. He smiles with his teeth. Always in shorts and a polo shirt, he looms over his wife, who looks small and distant. She wears a sweater and slacks—the smallest size still too big. A golden polar bear hangs around her neck, the nose always pointing to the left, toward her heart. The bear has been hanging there longer than I can remember—maybe longer than she can remember. She smiles only with her lips.
They have …Read article
I catch you staring across my desk this morning. In photographic grey-scale, you are nearly a man now. In memory, initially, I always see you as that tiny boy, the day we moved to New York. You stared out between the slats of your stairway railing, asked me the question that adults don’t often answer sufficiently. Tears in your eyes, you asked me why I was leaving.
I want to say it’s funny, the way that time moves separately, separated as we are from each other.
I want to say it’s funny the way you grew into yourself …Read article
One hazy morning in Yogyakarta, I stumbled out of bed and into the shared bathroom— fairly confident that the cockroaches had vacated the premises by daylight. I looked in the mirror and let out a sharp gasp. My right eyelid was completely swollen. I had been exhausted for days, pinned to my bed. For every hour I managed to stay awake, I was lulled into sleep for two or three, consumed by a world of agitated dreams. My arms were pocked with mosquito bites, even though I slept with a sheet over every inch of me. And now …Read article
We met in Tokyo in 2002. I wore platform sneakers and glitter in the daytime. It was just you, me, and forty thousand people at a design fair. My two year stay was coming to an end – I braced for grief.
I slid my paintings into the back of Kentaro’s station wagon. Tōhoku expressway. Hot tea in slim cans, soft sky. At the exhibition centre, Kentaro pulled a neat reverse park while Chihiro and I grinned. At booth C-216 we unfolded the camping table and pinned our works. Our neighbours were dressmakers and painters, an industrial designer …Read article
At first, we assumed someone had slipped something into the water supply. Some type of hallucinogen, or mood destabilizer. It seemed the only thing that would explain the emotional changes, the hallucinations. We assumed they were hallucinations, at first: The borders of paintings blurring at their edges, seeping into the walls around them, overrunning their frames and rooting themselves into plaster and plywood and concrete. We thought we were seeing things. And when we started feeling emotionally overcome by the newest exhibits at our downtown museums, by the eight-by-ten etchings at our local café, by the spraypaint portraits …Read article
I tell her not to stand too close to windows. Trying to protect her from the soldiers of the night. From the rats pretending to be rabbits. Tell me again she says with that accent drifting from Eastern European train wreckages, the lips of women waiting for a body to fall. I tell her there are so many causalities under Avenues A, B, C, and D.
There’s this recurrent dream she has of a man from the old country entering her between rest stops and strategic points. When he’s inside, she says, (while sitting erect on …Read article
Dad had navy blue lint between his toes again. I was lying on the couch, staring at his fuzzy feet.
“What’s going to happen at midnight?” I asked.
“Nothing,” he told me.
“I mean, when midnight is over.”
“You know this. Time will end and we’ll start going backwards.”
“And it’s all the same? I’ll ask you this question again?”
“I don’t know. We’ll see.”
“But what do you think?”
“I think we’ll see.”
The microwave clock glowed a faint blue, still visible from my spot on the couch. We were an hour away from the end …Read article
Put your mask on before helping others. Those words crack over the intercom anytime I strap myself into an airplane seat. The moral is obvious: you cannot save a life if you do not have one. Most flights I travel alone, so this lesson generally feels futile in the moments where my knees dig into the cheap plastic in front of me, surrounded by mouth breathers and gum snappers. That intrepid compulsion of self-sacrifice I once possessed dissolved after an ex-Navy man looked away from me and into a place I hope to never know. He told me …Read article
Kandie St. Germain
I remember it saintly,
a loom woven with granite,
its surface stenciled by a rocky bed,
once flecked with gold—
the sun a starry-eyed
reflection, Narcissus, perhaps,
looking for a lost solitaire,
loving what he saw:
the sublime geometrics
or a blurry malefic confession
freezing into a winter
of now and here—these
Joshua Trees and black vultures
halved by my backyard fence
from where I look,
pausing in this—
Kandie St.Germain’s a desert dweller and the author of *Closet Drama,* Bear Star Press, 2001. Her poems have most recently appeared in *Rattle* and *Willow …Read article
Last night as I sat at the kitchen table
at work on my autobiography I
glanced up from the chore
of ordering clauses of self and saw
across the distance of the room
on the worn wood floor at the foot
of the stairs an insect watery
creature scurrying toward clutter
of shoes and boots under the bench
an inches-long centipede I could recognize
even at a distance casting its shadow
under the ceiling’s glare
As always it startled me
I sat fixed in my chair watching
thinking soft body
next to nothing smudge of wetness