by Arden Levine

Eulogy Following a Triple Homicide

1.

My father, whom I loved, was murdered in his home while he slept

by an intruder who was also my father, whom I hated.

[My father is protagonist and antagonist in this story.]


In the train station the month before, he spoke with disconcerting nonchalance

about the sexiness of young women in men’s suits, of the way light

on yellow leaves could bind his breath, and we were out of time.


2.

Before I was born, my father, whom I loved, was slaughtered on a highway in Ohio 

as he rode on a bicycle piloted by a reckless bastard [also my father, hated].

Without reflective gear, he was invisible to the car.


[The bicycle is weapon and witness in this story, and now she lives in a garage

under a canvas drape, a neurotic beauty, her wheels a firm pair of Penthouse tits,

and she thinks That was meant to be lover’s pact, you reckless bastard.]


3.

My father [loved] was drowned in an inkwell by a psychopath [father, hated].

He couldn’t stop writing, coughed out black strands of commentary onto stationery

and greeting cards.  This sputum saturated even envelopes.  He choked the post box.


I read his self-portrait: cramped fingers pinching and pulling

synonyms and similes from his skull, like strands of hair, streaking them across

the paper in brusque, broad curves.  [I am bystander and accomplice in this story.]


Arden Levine is an urban planner and poet living in Brooklyn. Her poems appear in current or forthcoming issues of Harvard Review, Indiana Review, and The Lifted Brow (Australia). 


by Mario Alejandro Ariza

Gideon's Bible

Let’s call him Isaiah. I was seventeen

the first time he died. On the dirty beach at dawn

I encounter his blue body, sprawled.


I place a sprig of sea grape

over his milked eyes. He must’ve   fallen

off the boat          taking him across.


Death by water I never understood

until I swam in Lake Taghkanic, sweet

dark and cloying she wouldn’t


hold me like all my oceans.

That second time, in the motel bath

tub with the television on dripping


water down the side; The Drowned Man

thumbed pages of Gideon’s bible absent

mindedly, observed the wood paneling


before saying:   Who do you think braids

the surf into the knees, twists the tide 

into your wrists?               Let’s just


stack sea-glass    until    faraway mountains

become the last Sunday bathers at the beach

clinging to each other in the swell.


Mario Alejandro Ariza was born in the Dominican Republic, but grew up between Santo Domingo and Miami. He has held a scholarship from the Breadloaf Writer’s conference, and his poetry and prose appear or are forthcoming in The Baffler, Luna Luna, The Rumpus, Guernica, Keep This Bag Away From Children, UP literature and Circleshow. His self-published book of poems, The Same River Twice, is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.


by Mario Alejandro Ariza

Brother, please.

This story isn't one, when

long ago my brother


and all of the human

machine wept. Such is light


ning. Such the slow fires

too. So I didn’t learn to pray


not now with time twirling

like a tulle dress down


not then, in Colorado crying

out in rigorous terror. Most


I ever managed was to sit

in an empty church at dawn


and sob from quiet pews:

why did you wake up?


Mario Alejandro Ariza was born in the Dominican Republic, but grew up between Santo Domingo and Miami. He has held a scholarship from the Breadloaf Writer’s conference, and his poetry and prose appear or are forthcoming in The Baffler, Luna Luna, The Rumpus, Guernica, Keep This Bag Away From Children, UP literature and Circleshow. His self-published book of poems, The Same River Twice, is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.


by Mario Alejandro Ariza

All Grace is false

The moon. The moon

is a sheet of paper

una hoja de papel

white as winter cover-

ing cattails, rail yards,

cold as the icicle

on the eave and far

away tan lejos como

all your anxiety. You


don’t want this poem

like you     don’t want

the moon. You fear

alone, how

alone is a sound-

less vacuum even

Bay-windows and

the dog can’t rattle.

I lie. The moon


is a gold dome, an up-

turned steeple a hair

the razor misses. Form

behind window, bell

without sound, what use

weathervane? I can

still tell, am still cast-

ing this out to you.


Mario Alejandro Ariza was born in the Dominican Republic, but grew up between Santo Domingo and Miami. He has held a scholarship from the Breadloaf Writer’s conference, and his poetry and prose appear or are forthcoming in The Baffler, Luna Luna, The Rumpus, Guernica, Keep This Bag Away From Children, UP literature and Circleshow. His self-published book of poems, The Same River Twice, is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.


by Elisabeth Reidy Denison

An Excerpt from "To the Place Where I'm From, To the Gunpowder in Its Ground"

My neighbor died in June.

He died on the last day of the month


of endless possibilities.

He died precisely


as I was elsewhere, as I was

home-going and thrashing about it.


Just the other side of the solstice

and the fields were replete


with what he’d planted,

as though the Walla Wallas


and the rhubarb and the goose-

berries had survived


a mother

in being born.


And there we were, beholden

and attempting some quiet,


adoring rally

of a salvage


at the stand. People kept

showing up to help.


When my sister drove down to see Patrick,

two women told her: his winded heart.


She wept in front of them. It was so

hot out.


It was not the kind of day she had thought it was.

When she told me, we were in two


separate cars, braked on the hill

where our road first bends,


and I cried in the backseat of mine like a child,

like the fair ended yesterday after all.


Elisabeth Reidy Denison’s writing has appeared in SAND, Comparative Literature Undergraduate Journal, and Coffee & Stink. A native of Massachusetts and a graduate of the University of St Andrews in Scotland, she now lives in New York where she is the poetry coordinator at The New Yorker.


by Marcela Fuentes

Tenochtitlán

Mexican dads are stupid about picking names for their daughters. They’re old fashioned. They want something religious like Maria Guadalupe, or super romantic like Isabella. Every other Mexican girl is named Maria Guadalupe and Isabella, but Mexican dads never stop to think about that. Why should they? Whatever they say goes, period.

Bad luck for Tex-Mex girls whose dads were Mexican teenagers in the late sixties, in the cosmic grip of the Chicano movement. Even if they didn’t care about school walkouts or protesting in front of the courthouse, even if all they did for the cause was listen to the Royal Jesters while hotboxing in a Nova, those guys turned Chicano forever.

Bad luck. Because in 1977, instead of religious and romantic, they went political and named their baby girls Crystal for Crystal City, Texas, birthplace of the Raza Unida Party, or something idealistic like Esperanza, or they took it back to the roots Aztec-style with Xochitl. They didn’t care about the daughter going through life as one of five hundred Crystals. Or that some dumbass was going to change her name to Esperanto or the fucking worst ever, Xoch-Panoch.

My father picked Lucha. Lucha, noun and verb. Lucha, the battle cry. Lucha is what my father named me; fight.

He is a one hundred percent Don’t Tell Me About His-Panic, Brown Power Militant. But I’m his daughter. There’s no room for me in his legend of a south Texas Tenochtitlán.

He likes to say, it’s sad, what’s happening.

After my mother died, I couldn’t stand to be away from him. I was five years old and, outside of work, my dad took me with him everywhere. I was the whiny kid in the back of the movie theater. I stretched out in restaurant booths and slept beneath his leather jacket. I had to be where I could put out my hand and find him.

Now there are so many silences between us. So many spaces.And between all that nothing, the fights. Holy Mary Mother of God, the fights.It’s his own fault. He picked my name and now it’s who I am: daughter; Chicana; fifteen.

All of a sudden, every little thing in the whole world enrages him. If he’s not watching out, I might turn into a kite, a huila. A little kite loosed, freewheeling across the skies. Only for me loosed means loose, means shame, means ruined forever.It’s his job to make sure I never get the chance. That’s my dad’s idea of me becoming a woman.

I can’t explain to him how wrong he is. Rule number one: Mexican dads are never wrong.

If I could, I’d tell him this: One night I curled up in the back of the Blazer when he and his friend Jesse took a trio of musicians to serenade a girl Jesse liked. That girl, she never even turned on the light to let Jesse know she was listening. Fuck that bitch , my dad said, and to cheer Jesse up he drove around for two hours with the musicians crammed in the middle seat. There was a violinist, a guitarist, and a man with an acoustic bass so large he had to roll down the window to play it. My dad wouldn’t let them out until he’d gotten the time Jesse’d paid for, plus my requests— Whatcha wanna hear, Lulu? Y’all better play something for my baby . They cursed my dad, but they did it.

The guitarist sang in a high sweet voice that warbled when the Blazer hit potholes. My dad sang along too and it was a marvel to me that he knew the words to all those songs. I lay on the floorboard and listened to them sing. The cold breeze snatched their voices out the open window and outside the street lights loomed and faded, loomed and faded, until I fell asleep.

These days, he bellows Lucha! and I am readysetgo. I am trapped like those musicians, just holding out for the car ride to be over. Only, I’d like to tell him, I won’t play for him.


Marcela Fuentes is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her stories have been published in the Indiana Review, Vestal Review, Blackbird, and other literary journals. Recent work has been included in Best of the Web and New Stories from the Southwest , and is forthcoming in Flash Fiction International from W.W. Norton. Currently, she is the Virginia Spencer Carr Fellow at Georgia State University.


by Elizabeth Schmuhl

Swing

Swing: [swing], /swɪŋ/, verb 

1. At The End of The World is an ant who is married and very sleepy. This is a place where dreams clasp onto wrists and drag everyone under. But this ant is dodging dreams. He’s wearing woolen mittens so They cannot take him yet. Before bed he must make honey because his wife is sick with a sore throat. The honey soothes the red, raw itchiness of my insides, she said, and, Can you please make some for me? Baby, it’s going to take a while, says the ant to his beautiful bride. That’s okay, love, I can wait. Back outside, looking over the rocky shoreline, he places the frames into the extractor one by one, whistling a familiar tune called Love Song. His wife can hear it from inside her bedroom, smiles, and adjusts herself in bed, falling back to sleep. Spinning quickly, honey, golden and richly perfumed, trickles out and crawls down the valve and on past a strainer into a bucket. The ant puts his little ant nose up to it and smells: Like a warm, fuzzy comforter, he thinks. This will make my wife’s health improve. He lifts a teacup underneath the bucket and watches the amber travel. Afterwards, he steeps tea in the cup and brings it to his little ant wife who is awakened by the aroma.


2. If you win all the marbles at recess, then you’ll need to transfer them into a pouch, preferably of leather. Once they’re in the tanned skin, they’ll bounce around, relentlessly arguing because let’s face it, marbles all have different opinions on things like life and love and marriage. You’ll need to separate the optimistic from the pessimistic, the guilty from the innocent. This time you’ll probably use all of your jean pockets, the marbles now in four separate locations, but this will not be enough. Go home, find a drawer with many dividers, and put them inside. If they’re still unhappy, causing you headaches, throw them out your window, and let the cats figure it out; they love to play with glass orbs, especially when children are at school, men are at work, and wives are busy doing the laundry.


Elizabeth Schmuhl is a writer and dance maker whose work appears or is forthcoming in [PANK], theNewerYork, Big Lucks, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. She also illustrates essays for The Rumpus. Find her online at www.elizabethschmuhl.com.