girl :: eve alexandra

Be careful if you take this flower into your house. The
peony has a thousand lips. It is pink and white like the lady’s
skirt and smells sharp and sweet as cinnamon. There are a
thousand ants living inside but you will only see one or two at
a time. I am like that down there–pink and busy inside. The
dark is a bolt of cloth, crushed and blue, and I unfurl against it.
If you lie down on the floor of the closet the hems of silk will
lick you. My own gown is thin as the skin of dried grass so I
can see the ants dancing down there. The night has big paws.
I imagine the wool of the bears, the cloth of monkeys. the night
smells like vetiver and cedar. His mouth is cool with mint and
warm with rum, and I am not afraid as he rubs his wool against
me. I saw the bear dancing at the circus when I was small. He
was wearing a green felt cap with gold bric-a-brac and kept by
a thin wire thread. My brother bought me a sucker for the train
ride home, and I am like that now on the inside, burning soft
with lemon. What fruit do you like best? I like tangerines.
And the night leaves me these. A small paper bag on the bedside
table. The wrought iron and roses like an altar. I am glowing now.
My teeth are stitching kisses to my fist. I go to the river. My legs
are frogs legs. Tiny wands, see how they glisten. A thousand fish
swim through me. I am a boat now. I know no anchor. My hair
unfurls, copper and cinnamon. Look how it opens, beautiful world.

how to behave at a traffic signal :: rohith sundararaman

As your car strands itself
before a red light, prepare
your fingers. Flex them. Curl
one set around the knob
and keep rolling like you
were winding up a clock.
Palms will press against
the window. Some will tap
the glass as if they were patting
the back of a choking person,
gentle and insistent till they get
the answer of life. Others will
half-cup their fingers over either
eyebrows in such a manner
that the nails of both hands
touch each other, producing
a silent music to the slow blink
of their eyes. But do not move
your head. Keep staring straight
at the road like it would disappear
in a moment of distraction. Train
your ears to catch the throb
and thump of the music from the back
of the car. If other sounds intrude, breathe
deeply. Count till a hundred and feel
the steering wheel peel away
from your hands. When images of old
women hobble across the windscreen,
read safety instructions. Turn till you find
the page on how to secure the seatbelt
across your heart as you plow into an accident
of lives. Fasten those words and lurch away
from the light. Adjust your rearview mirror
and slowly roll down the windows till half.
Now feel the air hit you.

From Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Issue 8

sequence :: mani rao

Don’t keep this story to yourself.

When you know the characters, re-read the story.

One day someone goes in search of the fictitious place in your story and
finds it.

Did you make it believe or did you not know.

I got it from our dreams. When all our dreams fell in line I de-duplicated
and filed them for an eclipse.

What made a sequel necessary?

To know if the story was real.

When a story bewilders folding unfolding like origami, take a beaded
chain – place a scene on each bead — break the chain — swallow the beads
— stand still until they settle their own sequence — collapse your intestines
— take a print — install in an art gallery

From Oxford Magazine, 2008 Issue

romance sonambulo :: federico garcía lorca

translated by william logan

Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea
and the horse on the mountain.
With the shade around her waist
she dreams on her balcony,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I want you green.
Under the gypsy moon,
all things are watching her
and she cannot see them.

Green, how I want you green.
Big hoarfrost stars
come with the fish of shadow
that opens the road of dawn.
The fig tree rubs its wind
with the sandpaper of its branches,
and the forest, cunning cat,
bristles its brittle fibers.
But who will come? And from where?
She is still on her balcony
green flesh, her hair green,
dreaming in the bitter sea.

–My friend, I want to trade
my horse for her house,
my saddle for her mirror,
my knife for her blanket.
My friend, I come bleeding
from the gates of Cabra.
–If it were possible, my boy,
I’d help you fix that trade.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–My friend, I want to die
decently in my bed.
Of iron, if that’s possible,
with blankets of fine chambray.
Don’t you see the wound I have
from my chest up to my throat?
–Your white shirt has grown
thirty dark brown roses.
Your blood oozes and flees a
round the corners of your sash.
But now I am not I,
nor is my house now my house.
–Let me climb up, at least,
up to the high balconies;
Let me climb up! Let me,
up to the green balconies.
Railings of the moon
through which the water rumbles.

Now the two friends climb up,
up to the high balconies.
Leaving a trail of blood.
Leaving a trail of teardrops.
Tin bell vines
were trembling on the roofs.
A thousand crystal tambourines
struck at the dawn light.

Green, how I want you green,
green wind, green branches.
The two friends climbed up.
The stiff wind left
in their mouths, a strange taste
of bile, of mint, and of basil
My friend, where is she–tell me–
where is your bitter girl?
How many times she waited for you!
How many times would she wait for you,
cool face, black hair,
on this green balcony!
Over the mouth of the cistern
the gypsy girl was swinging,
green flesh, her hair green,
with eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of moon
holds her up above the water.
The night became intimate
like a little plaza.
Drunken “Guardias Civiles”
were pounding on the door.
Green, how I want you green.
Green wind. Green branches.
The ship out on the sea.
And the horse on the mountain.

variation on gaining a son :: rita dove

That shy angle of his daughter’s head–
where did they all learn it?
And her soldier at tender attention,
waiting for the beloved to slide out
beneath the veil. Thomas knew

what he’d find there–a mocking smile, valiant
like that on the smooth face of the young sergeant
drilled neatly through the first minute of battle.
Women called it offering up a kiss.

He watched the bridegroom swallow.
For the first time Thomas felt like
calling him Son.

Courtesy of S.L.

how to uproot a tree :: jennifer k. sweeney

Stupidity helps.
Naiveté that your hands will undo
what does perfectly without you.
My husband and I made the decision
not to stop until the task was done,
the small anemic tree made room
for something prettier.
We’d pulled before, pale hand over wide hand,
a marriage of pulling toward us what we wanted,
pushing away what we did not.
We had a shovel which was mostly for show.
It was mostly our fingers tunneling the dirt
toward a tangle of false beginnings.
The roots were branched and bearded,
some had spurs
and one of them was wholly reptilian.
They had been where we had not
and held a knit gravity
that was not in their will to let go.
We bent the trunk to the ground and sat on it,
twisted from all angles.
How like ropes it was,
the sickly thing asserting its will
only now at the end,
blind but beyond
the idea of leaving the earth.

shells :: elaine terranova

In the heat, in the high grass
their knees touched as they sat
crosslegged facing each other,
a lightness and a brittleness
in their bodies. They touched
like shells. How odd

that I should watch them say goodbye.
What did it have to do with me?

There was my own stillness
and the wasps and the tiny flies
for a long time taking stitches
in the surrounding air and

a comfort I felt, as the wind
tore through, to find the trees
miraculously regaining their balance.