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Lukku-cairi

My lover is never happy. I met him a year ago when I was diving at the Land and Sea Park. I’m the warden and it is my job to examine the chains and shackles of the moorings. Without them, people would drop anchors on the reef, crush the coral.

The first cold front had come and gone. Swell had broken branches of elk-horn coral, but the sea had momentarily returned to the calm of summer. I saw Cuda’s skiff, a glass-bottomed bucket, a gas can, a ball of clothes. Nothing moved around the boat, over the reef. The flat surface rose and fell like the side of an animal.

Cover art: "Craftsman" by Ken Jacobs

A Day to Grieve

Bićh-Daò Khuu It is summertime and the children have just finished with school for one more year. Usually during this time the streets are crowded with happy toddlers and young men and women. However, on this particular day, fathers and mothers are hurrying their young ones home and are closing their doors quickly behind them.…

responding

this is a place without a terrain a government that always changes an
unstable language. Even buildings disappear from day to day.

[gendered pronoun] wanders in this place
[searching
[waiting

the condition of bearableness is the constant state of mind for all
occupants.

we read all day in the village square during the rule of [name of major
historical figure] a book that is so subtle
[its political content goes unnoticed

what is its political content?

[the question or the statement

[generic pronoun] create

[a reader culture

[possessive pronoun] prefer both

More Myself Than I Am

I just figured out love. What I mean is, I just found it. Not in real life. God knows I don’t ask that much. But still, love. That huge thing men like me spend their whole lives wondering over. Well maybe not men like me. But lots of people.

Morris Whipp, Auctioneer

Everything about Morris Whipp was big–big face, big hands, big lips, big waist. He lived next door to us when I was a skinny five-year-old, and he had a boot print that was as long and as deep as my five-year-old chest–I know because my older brother made me lie down beside the print so he could measure. He wore a cowboy hat that was big enough to carry clothes to a clothesline, and he drove a truck with big tires and big letters that announced to the world who he was: “Morris Whipp, Auctioneer.” A cheerful little beagle called Rebel would follow him, bouncing up and down and trying to lick his master’s thick hand. From a distance, Rebel looked like a bobbing black speck beside Morris.

Cover art by Alexandra Gerry

Wintersong

The jeep tire diamonds the snow, and diamond
shaped, diamond hard, diamond glinting, it catches
sun off winter’s trillion fallen facets. Loving’s
heightened in December: so many more cotton layers
to delve through, almost an archaeology; body
on body, friction’s so much more functional, so
more intense a human juxtaposition to climate;

Cover art by Alexandra Gerry

Drastic Remedies

A pebble in the mouth
increases saliva flow; assuage
your thirst on its sunbaked surface.
Bite your tongue for the juice.
When you’re hungry you’ll suck a deer turd
for what steam can give your belly.

Cover art by Alexandra Gerry

Dynamics of Garbling

Now an astonished lineman slices
the wire’s black, vinyl giblet
out from the kink where it tumesced
too large and my voice and your ear
compacted on its either side over
and over dumb and deaf as plywood, but

Issue 16.2, Spring 1987

Rehearsal

Barbara Esstman The third time Kate refused Tyler, she realized she didn’t want to go home to Charleston with him. That night after they’d made love and she was wrapped snugly in the sheets, caught somewhere between wake and sleep, she got out of bed and walked naked around the cold room. She leaned her…
Cover art by Heather Evans Smith

Bird by Desert-Light

Creeping home after midnight requires equal amounts of attention to detail and skill. After years of late nights, I know to take my shoes off before walking up to the door, so no heel sound will clatter on the steps. I secure my purse over my shoulder and tuck it under my arm to prevent it from jangling or bumping into door jambs. If I’ve been drinking, I take a couple of cleansing breaths to focus on the task at hand: getting the key into the lock with a minimum of fumbling. Stabbing blindly at the key plate is the sure sign of an amateur.

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