Sugared Water issue no. 005
80 pages, handbound, limited edition of 100 with hand-pulled covers.
Contents include poetry & creative nonfiction.
SW005 was released in 2017.
E. Kristin Anderson, Catherine Arra, Tammy Bendetti, Alyse Bensel, Sheila Black, Ariella Carmell, Susana H. Case, Su Cho, A.E. Clark, James Croteau, Carlina Duan, Patrick James Errington, Wren Hanks, Sonja Johanson, Eve Kenneally, Michal Leibowitz, Minadora Macheret, Laura K. McRae, Natalia Mujadzik, Tanya Muzumdar, JoDean Nicolette, Susan Rich, Thadra Sheridan, Shakeema Smalls, & Amanda Stovicek.
ACCORDING TO MY FATHER PEACHES WARD OFF SPIRITS
On the marble
slab are geometric
offerings of apples
plums & pears
My parents bow
towards the tumuli
of my grandfather
& bump into the plums
not noticing them
falling off the table
I gather them
in my shirt
but don’t want to get
The plums are days
old, mushy & warm
A fly buzzes
in my ear
making me drop
by one they roll
towards the tumuli
& burrow into the ground.
Su Cho received her BA in English, Creative Writing, and Psychology from Emory University. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Thrush Poetry Journal, Word Riot, Crab Orchard Review, and Day One.
after our tired, mourning hearts.
Onus territory in your belly
bullet magnolia vine eyelids
sangre Charon wading in gold
numbers give us back our dead horses
the wood rings as cold breath pushes out
what guns have flinched, hands weighted
in bacchanalian need. somebody gutted the blue
sky and told us that God, it would be alright. alright.
the blue sky is alright & the wood holds its breath.
some cold. some summer. we hold this death
in the palms our of throats. every saint marching
feet, singing bloody. some religiosity. every
mourning tree has bent its arms to sweep
away the want of these unnecessary ancestors.
my grandmother lights a candle.
the prayers usher themselves into quiet soil. boy
holds his breath quickly forgetting its last. how we
cherish the finality of things. how the glittering red
beads spread across aiyana's forehead. how the warrant
forgot its way. how the dragon cried
when the sap of rage was not enough.
saints free men after the skin
foreplay the wrath of love
demons sun light as shadow
sulfur for when the gods fail to wake.
sisters in the pot
dong quai breasts
a single spoon
& our hungers
we are told to
leave the pickings.
a pinky around
the inside rim
her teeth are the
of the forest, crushing
all the lone splinters
bamba, & other rude
noises beneath us.
the dust of the sky
envying our feet
watching us dance war
into this place. we sistren
of mighty & unpaved roads
quenching the earth
with our sweat.
Shakeema Smalls is a writer from Georgetown, SC by way of Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in Kweli Journal, Blackberry: A Magazine, The Fem, Tidal Basin Review, The Feminist Wire, Free Black Space, with upcoming poems in Muse, and my hair grow fast & my stomach is empty, a chapbook to be published in 2017.
ON JOAN OF ARC-THEMED RESTAURANTS
Small maid of Orleans, fighting fistfuls of ashes
in the Seine. Gentle king, she thinks, I am going
nowhere. Her chest swallows the wall, hands clenched,
ice on metal. She sees you picking and now we will all
be drowned in champagne sauce. Go ahead – quick,
suck the hollows of her ribs before she’s cold.
ON THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Here’s a picture of a woman looking at a picture of a woman:
Barbara Jean Trenton, struck by hit-and-run years. Watches
herself gasp on screen with a face better in black-and-white.
You’ve built yourself a graveyard here, putting the clock
back 25 years every day. If you’re talking about me, I don’t exist.
I think it’s beginning to disturb you too.
Eve Kenneally (from Boston by way of DC) is a recent alumna of the MFA program at the University of Montana. Her chapbook, Something Else Entirely (dancing girl press), is forthcoming. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Yemassee, decomP, Stirring, Star 82 Review, Crab Creek Review, Blue Monday Review, and elsewhere.
I LISTEN TO ISTANBUL
Laura K. McRae
after Orhan Veli Kanik
I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed,
to the lilt of Arabic wafting on smoke
shredded from the lips of hookahs,
to the growling burr of the call to prayer
rising from the pavement like sun-smoke
on the hottest days. It colours the spaces between trees
a deep, abiding amber.
Istanbul sings in the cant of the merchants, “Come,
look, don’t buy, only look,” and in the sway
of lamps suspended from arched ceilings, in the whisper
of a rug sliding from a waist-high stack. The salesman
flips it, expertly, onto the hyacinth-veined floor. Istanbul
hums in the blue of the sky and the white of the minarets,
the domes, low and broad in the flat light of noon.
Istanbul calls in the tide of the Bosphorus,
in the cabs sliding through narrow
alleys and along highways. We stop for coffee,
dense with grounds, thick with sugar and the rosewater
jelly of Turkish delight dusted with powder dry as the desert. We sit
near the arch of the window, slip under the cool globe
of a dome, haze of mingled breath hot above our heads.
I am listening to Istanbul, intent, my eyes closed,
to the silver sliver of moon as it rises above the rooftops
and hangs in the night sky. And in the dark night, I listen to Istanbul.
Laura K. McRae is a teacher in Toronto, Ontario where she lives and writes. Her poems have appeared in The Antigonish Review, Room Magazine, Boston Literary Magazine, Contemporary Verse 2, Tar River Poetry, Grain Magazine, and The Fiddlehead, among others. Her chapbook, Distributaries, is available from Frog Hollow Press.
Patrick James Errington
Had I eaten my fill of you I might have lived.
The animals that take inheritance of me
would have gone hungry without any help,
bellies bloated for the lack. Might now
be baring too-bent bodies to the heaving sky
as it grinds through the pelts for the meat—
even the sun is starved round. Eating was a poor
relief, it seems. Because I did eat. I ate
everything: the whitewash off the walls down
to the baseboards. Chewed my elbows down
to the gristly joists, stuffed the eye with yarrow
to stop up the deserts sluicing out until all
I could see was veined red. Then ate root into
the dirt and lay there in the furrow looking up.
Had I sacrificed my little mammal hands
on a slab, would that have sated? Had I grown
greater on the sugars you hollowed would you
have stopped your offering? Had I slit myself
down the middle, let in the famished air, is there
something left in me that might fly out?
Patrick James Errington
Again I haemorrhage body from out my bones,
heave into a cold too wide to fill. This air will learn
to admit that swell of me. What I've conjured.
Into loss my lung exceeds, hair and eye overgrow
my heart, my hand outstrips: their desire is for things. What is
of this world. The wide space wider with snow. I am
foxtail grass bent beneath early ice, the early sky.
My body pooling now in that low place of evening, light let,
thrust into what you were—I am. The too-deep sky,
pull of north. I am loosed in the shriek of hoarfrost, of bull elk
across the plotless drifts of a clean countertop. Then it comes:
The impossible scale of winter. The chill of a darkening kitchen,
the implements of measure, careful evening, then this
immaculate hallway, where no motes slow the skittering blue
from the oven clock as it fills what it can and moves on.
TRYING THE PERMANENCE OF FROST
Patrick James Errington
Daylight opens my head. You have
the heartbeat of an elk herd in the cold,
thumping across my landscape, the tundra
On days like these the glaciers
of my homeland could be beds of trillium.
On days like these our hands are brittle
as guilt. There is nothing to put aside.
Ours is a time of stones, sedges, of feral things
without a coppice to hide in. Our bodies are well
beyond a treeline. Your breath never thaws, never
admits a defeat of deep roots.
The afternoon gorges on our too-long shadows.
Here and there, between stanzas of tamarack,
there’d be room for such wide angles.
There’s a wind that comes from happiness,
cold and steady, a wind for mariners,
never hinting what might not last. The only
paths here are frost. The only way to go back
is blind. But still we ought to go. We’ve been
here hours now. The grass has quit pointing out
faces in the clouds and the trees have grown
into their shades. I’m growing into mine.
Beyond me, a bared sun astonishes
the earth, divulging truths
of bedrock like the hulls
of ships rusting lichen.
Could any species ever
trust the easy singulars?
Trust to memory,
whittled song? The breath
grows such bare marrow.
Our shadows, lovers spread
stark and darkly naked on
the scarlet sheets of moss,
become rimed plaques
in an ancestral language
whose speakers have been
so long silent. Altogether
alone, our homebound plane
over Inuvik, spitting heat like
roots. I can’t help breathing.
Patrick James Errington is a poet and translator from the prairies of Alberta, Canada. Winner of The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2016 and featured in 2016 Best New Poets, Patrick currently lives in Scotland, where he is a Buchanan scholar and doctoral researcher studying poetics at the University of St. Andrews.
ILLUSTRATION AS MOMENTO MORI
I catalogue near death beauty
on needled veins, the slow
flexing wings made for midday
basking. Little token near-gone,
you are all color, no weight,
buoyant and alone. I’ve searched
like that, looking aimless,
circling for the right angle,
the best nectar. It can be
my poison, too. That drop
from the Lethe—sleep.
Will you be living or dead
when the ink has dried?
Will you even be seen at all?
Alyse Bensel‘s poems have recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, Zone 3, Quarterly West, New South, and Bone Bouquet. She is the author of the chapbooks Not of Their Own Making (dancing girl press) and Shift (Plan B Press) and serves as the Book Reviews Editor at The Los Angeles Review.
WHEN ALL YOU WANT
is the piano again, and Mrs. Liu with her
handsome mouth saying, Wrong. E Minor.
Do it again, your hands flashing against
the keyboard, dreaming about cool bodies
of water. your mother peers anxiously
from the window. the boy in the next
practice room plays violin with
his neck; cream-saver candies roll
in Mrs. Liu’s mouth: clack, suck, clack,
again, here go all the noises you love.
you are seven and you do believe
in toucans, in being the older sister.
you do believe in rainbow brills. you
want to kiss each of the keys: black
polish, white, black, but Mrs. Liu says
Focus— and on the piano bench, you
pop open your beak. slam your fists
into the half-notes, the whole-notes,
the feathers on your waist begin
to trill. you imagine the insides
of the piano as zoo, caging
schools of fish, a river. there
are pink skies in your hands.
you spread them across
the keyboard. your
knuckles become ten
white moons: the keys
howl: hungry wolves.
the piano is sometimes
a younger sister, lifting its face
to you. it must. with your fingers
you are brassy and mean. sonatas
leak: everywhere, hatching A-flats
and D notes and birds and birds
and birds, birds. your talons
press the gold pedal,
making the room echo.
Mrs. Liu tells your mother you
should practice more. you pat
the keys with a wing, she
swallows a cream-saver.
you whir a tail —
and lift off.
Carlina Duan is a poet from Michigan. Her work can be found in The Margins, Berkeley Poetry Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her debut poetry collection, I Wore My Blackest Hair, is forthcoming from Little A in 2017. She loves lake water, paper, and hot bread.
FROZEN IN SPRING
I still taste the sweet juice of the pomegranate
you fed me that Thursday afternoon, two years ago
when your brother was huffing spray paint
in the basement, and we felt alone together sitting
on the kitchen tile in your Boston apartment.
You sliced off the top and bottom, broke the fruit open
like Styrofoam. It was six days before you slit your wrists
with the same offhand precision, six days after you picked
each bulb, placed it on my tongue one by one until you held
an empty shell and your hands were dyed carmine.
Natalia Mujadzik recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas with a BFA in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in The Blue Route, The James Franco Review, and Sink Hollow.
TANGLIN’ WITH YOUR WIRES
Susana H. Case
When Brian Jones introduced Keith Richards
to the sound of Robert Johnson
and his talking guitar, Richards asked
who the other guy was, playing with him,
didn’t realize it was all Johnson,
one instrument, and, in any enterprise,
there are always those who pick up
the chucka-chucka, the bottleneck slides,
almost instantly, hearing and then
re-creating a song. You wonder
what it takes to have that genius,
those long fingers, for doing things the way
you never learned to do, because there’s
always someone dancing better than you,
seducing better than you, loving
better than you, virtuoso who knows
more than you, creates that boogie bass
line you can’t do.
If you open that someone up, he mightsurprise you in his averageness, except for
the fast mastery of that one thing that makes
coins drop down from every corner,
until someone jealous poisons the whisky,
puts him in an unmarked grave.
Susana H. Case
That drunk driver in Massachusetts
who, fleeing from the police,
abandoned his car to climb a tree,
who hooted and shook
the fragile leafy supports,
must have thought for a moment
he was Owl, specter who comes out
only at night, like me, to haunt
the world with sorrow.
I am not an ordinary person,
yet like any ordinary person, I am
never safe. I need an amulet—bone,
beak and talon—a solemn
protector who can see in the dark.
So many of us are composed
of sorrow. When the world’s sounds
next tell me of impending disaster,
will it make a difference if my shield
is the one screeching? Will it make
a difference if it’s not my casualty?
Susana H. Case
I like goats for the pupils of their eyes,
horizontal. I didn’t grow up around them,
came of age on pavement.
Now I go to the children’s zoo to pet
their bristled coats, to feed them kibble,
want the feel of those soft ruminant mouths,
nibble of the prehensile upper lips.
Touring about in a car near Marrakech,
I laughed when I saw them in trees; they climb
to eat the Argan leaves and fruit.
I like goats because they are funny
when they balance their round rumps
on a thin branch, or race
through a field, then leap for joy.
Tom Robbins, in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues,
wrote, People should go to goats
instead of psychiatrists. They both
say about as much—but goats don’t send bills.
I like goats for how they insert themselves
into stories, those of the friend
whose father kept them, and further back, Pan,
of course; Amalthea, who suckles Zeus
after he is whisked away from the baby-eater,
and Heidrun, Odin’s goat, who, in her udders,
brews the mead for all the dead Norse warriors
in Valhalla, who grazes on the leaves
of Yggdrasil, the tree that supports nine worlds.
Susana H. Case’s newest book is 4 Rms w Vu (Mayapple Press, 2014). Author of four full-length poetry collections and four chapbooks, including The Scottish Café, which was re-released in a Polish-English version, and Kawiarnia Szkocka (Opole University Press). She is a Professor at the New York Institute of Technology.
for Abraham Rich 1921-1995
You still send me letters even though you are dead;
salted pistachios materialize on the doorstep, half-opened
shells the color of faded bloodlines that have traveled
continents into my tomorrow. On the supermarket shelves,
elephant garlic floats in golden oil. I watch as your ghost
cart hums along the aisles of the Star Market—
such seriousness among clipped coupons and two-
for-one-specials! You pull a curved leaf from a pineapple,
tap two fingers against the striped skin of a watermelon—
listen for what is sweet. At the check-out counter, we check
every sale, count our weekly savings in gasoline and grog.
Sunday we’ll drive across state lines to taste the strange—
the most delicious ice cream flavors in the world: buttered
plum and root beer ribboned with lime. We lick our way
through coastal towns, star in our own silent movie:
The Living and the Dead Drive Massachusetts.
If only it had been the two of us, father—no mother,
no wife. This was the dream I had no words for:
to enter the atrium of your angel wing begonias,
feed your variegated spider plants; to transplant ourselves
into a parallel universe. Where we live now.
Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry including Cloud Pharmacy, The Alchemist's Kitchen, Cures Include Travel and The Cartographer's Tongue. Publications include Harvard Review, New England Review, and TriQuarterly. She has received awards from PEN, Fulbright Foundation and has published a poem in all fifty states and one district.
WE’RE DOING WITCHCRAFT
E. Kristin Anderson
This morning I bared my shoulders and refused
a cardigan. The walls I live in are not air-conditioned
and we spend our days listing sins in our little auditoriums.
This dress wasn’t so short, once, and we know
why they obsess over our thighs like perhaps we are
hunched over in family-size buckets.
This morning I bared my shoulders and
winked at the maiden, the mother and the crone:
Here lies intent, our blood on our hands.
Your walls are hospital green and paper-thin.
Listen to the books shake, spines tingling with each
fleshy midriff revealed in our passing rite.
Here we line walls in plastic chairs, on wooden benches,
eyes low, listening for signs that we should run wild
into the fields and the streets where every heart is broken.
This morning I bared my shoulders and left the house
anyway because we’re all running amok, a menace en masse,
wild horses intolerant of your whips and spurs.
The lightning comes and the building is dark and we
are still here, whispering oaths, whether or not
you can see the breath heaving in our chests.
E. Kristin Anderson is author of eight chapbooks, including Fire in the Sky and Pray, Pray, Pray: Poems I wrote to Prince in the middle of the night. Kristin is Special Projects Manager for ELJ and a poetry editor at Found Poetry Review. Once upon a time she worked at The New Yorker.
How is it that, to discover what lay inside of us,
we first came to cut up the bodies of our dead?
When someone asked for organs
and blood vessels and brains,
why did we take the scalpel from the tray,
slice the cadaver under the left breast
and decide that’s a heart
same shape and size as a fist,
but still peculiar in our hands.
The question hangs heavy, low,
a pull of hysteric observation
a schizophrenic mass confusion of scientific urges
only cutting in could quell.
The cold wet muscle has no say
in how civilized or savage its casing might be
has no feeling, no breath or cry.
It becomes a trophy for science,
a wet-mount slide, a pinned butterfly’d medal
of honor we all have inside.
A word might describe why
our weights are different
or why our shapes diverge,
but inside we are just the same:
blood, bone, and curve.
Inspired by Anatomy of the Heart (1890) by Enrique Simonet Lombardo
Amanda Stovicek is a poet and teaching artist from Northeast Ohio. Her poetry has appeared in the Rubbertop Review, Jenny, and Calliope.
ONE GOES MISSING
In the heat we wash
clothes every day
& hang them to dry
The brushed snares of mothwings
always shaking awake
but the clothes are changed
before there's time to pierce them
Shirts and blouses go out for pressing
Sometimes one goes missing
The son's bed used to be here, a bed
where the cat gave birth
Babies & son are gone
but the mother cat
from early strife in the alley
still sneaks in this room, where
she is sometimes caught
eating broken fish before bed
Lamplit, a curtain glows
serene citron-green all night
Every morning the priest kneels
on the floor, draping the bejeweled
idol with marigolds
When he leaves, a wisp of incense
smoke caterpillars up zippers
burrowing in the eyelets
I like to think when no one's looking
ghosts change clothes
in this room where
laundry drips on god's head
Tanya Muzumdar teaches at North Central Michigan College and edits Dunes Review. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Prairie Schooner, Nashville Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Vinyl, Superstition Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a fellowship from Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.
THE iPHONE IS NOT A BOOM BOX
Past last call
in front of the bowling alley,
The cigarettes were cathartic
paired with little half pints of beer
we sipped briefly
before we cleaned up for the night
and went home
white kid walked by blaring music
from an iPhone he held at his side
and I turned to Kari,
It’s just not the same.
You mean like than a boombox?
There’s nothing colorful or quirky about an iPhone.
It’s just a little rectangle
people stare at
rather than you.
It is the opposite of spectacle.
Not five minutes later
I’m not even kidding,
he came strutting up the sidewalk
as if sent,
white athletic socks,
one pulled up to the knee
one left bunched over
impossibly white sneakers,
white giant brimmed hip hop cap,
the bill cocked to the side.
He was Run DMC circa 1984
with his great black rimmed glasses,
maybe about the right age
to have been an original fan.
And mounted on his shoulder,
I’m not even kidding,
blaring its glorious music
was a gigantic boom box,
Kari and I exchanged
watched awestruck as this perfect spectacle,
this portal into the past,
this flawless example
of all that iPhone kid was not
approached, as if
plucked from somewhere else by God,
placed on and nudged along our sidewalk
at this precise moment,
as if just to say,
You mean like this?
Thadra Sheridan is a writer and performer from Minneapolis, MN. Her work has appeared in Rattle, The Legendary, Blotterature, Specter, on Button Poetry, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and UpWorthy. She likes it edgy. She likes it honest, and she is sick of waiting tables.
MY HEART IS A FOREIGN EXCHANGE STUDENT
I think of her on the long flight
arriving in the dark and bustle.
I think of her trying taboo street foods—
dog, snake, deep-fried scorpion,
(tastes like shrimp), drinking
bubble tea. I imagine her entering
a bloodbath public toilet (but she
is a heart, so blood is nothing
to her); I wonder how she takes it
after the antiseptic clean
of my ribcage, how it feels
to step into outlines
drawn on either side of a hole.
She is only a heart—having
no hands, she never writes me,
but she drums out a sunrise
in that murky smog-dawn,
she double-dutches past
the blow of cigarette smoke
(everyone smokes where my heart
has gone, my heart with her clean atria,
pristine ventricles), she fears nothing—
not the tongue, the armies encaved,
the water between her and this body.
First published in Indianola Review.
Sonja Johanson writes in a sunny, window-filled room overlooking the hills in Boston. She is closely monitored by two ginger and one piebald writing supervisors, all of whom think her efforts would be better spent filleting herring for their tea time.
THE LAST TWO MILES TO HARPER’S FERRY
You’re running. In the dark
And I think of the signposts
gravel roads, suitcases packed by flashlight, and theory.
How I’ve chosen:
the Gulf, that suicide, and accrual.
Mark the miles by black birds, the flood, and
what we won’t anymore.
You’re running. With a list of songs
for company. The rain and the last two miles to Harper’s Ferry.
I think how you’ve let enough be enough,
how we’re the some that got away.
A.E. Clark is the author of Addresses Home. Other recent work has appeared in Mid-American Review, Menacing Hedge, and Rust + Moth. She lives in Las Vegas, where she works as an antiquarian bookseller.
He died of colon cancer in 1951, before I was born. But my father remembers Great Grandpa Rosario, calls him Poppy and stretches his vision back along childhood to the four-story parking garage with the mechanic’s shop on street level and a forge down below. This is where Great Grandpa Rosario heated and poured babbitt, a tin-based alloy, to shape and fit bearings to crankshafts, welded and soldered parts to help in the business of his son-in-law, my father’s father—Papa and my Poppy.
Papa rented that garage, Dad said. It was somewhere in Manhattan, before the smaller garage in Sheepshead Bay. I was young, five or six years old. I remember riding my tricycle all around the parking levels and Poppy Rosario working the forge.
I watched my father watching Great Grandpa Rosario. I saw the past open as a locket to a single image of them silhouetted in the blue light of the forge: the little boy leaning cautiously in, his curious eyes, the older man hovering in the glow, masked and helmeted, licked by flames, a turn-of-the-century Hephaestus creating beauty in an immigrant hell.
Between connecting rods, babbitt and bearings, Great Grandpa Rosario made beautiful, delicate things out of wrought iron: round, marble-topped tables with scrolling flora and vines in the center of vase-shaped legs, rectangular tables with a sequence of Florentine fleur-de-lys giving support to a V-shaped bottom shelf that could house magazines or phone books, Roman-styled curule chairs with thick iron twists and curves finishing in squared claw feet and globe finials, later to be cushioned in elaborate jacquard. Simple bevel-edged mirrors were framed in Rosario’s decorative wringing and wreathing. Half-moon, marble hallway tables, even old, green wine bottles were delicately wound with vines and a swirl loop at the top for hanging.
Papa and Poppy started a side business, Dad said. I think they sold those things too. They called the business Forge Light. He was a patient man, Poppy. Easy going, soft-spoken, could hardly speak any English, a quiet man, liked to smoke those crooked, Italian cigars. Papa, his business was mostly fixing the ice trucks that would come in at the end of a workday and have to be ready by the next run. Mostly he replaced motors that Poppy Rosario helped to rebuild.
Nestled back into the sofa of storytelling, my father’s eyes dilated, his hands gestured pantomiming a crooked cigar, crankshafts and how to melt babbitt, the expanse of the garage, of time. He wanted me to see too—the boy, the past, to know the people and stories that have died and will die again with him. Take this from me he seemed to say with the urgency of prayer. Take it from me and keep it.
In that moment, I felt the fire of the forge, the family, the stories, the voices gone and soon to be gone. It was heavy, so very hot and heavy.
He paused, took a breath. Tracking, tracing, finding the sequence.
Papa, he ran the parking garage too. Paid a man to work there 24 hours a day. The Mafia, they would come with panel trucks in the middle of the night to exchange or transfer stolen goods and then leave. The night attendant, an older man, was terrified of them. Papa told him, ‘Justa closa your eyes. No say any a ting.’
I wondered if it was for this reason that this other underworld didn’t demand hard-earned money or blood.
Great Grandpa Rosario had some small city job too, maybe as a custodian or a mail sorter. Dad didn’t remember. We know only the places and people we see, the living we breathe, absorb into the blood and pulse into memory.
Dad said that Papa gave up that garage a few years later. He was fed up with the Mafia, the hard work, but the thing that drove him out was that car, an old two-door with a rumble seat he was fixing up for Mama. He was working on the lock for the rumble seat, chiseling it, when a sliver of metal flew into his left eye, damaging his sight forever. That was it.
This I know about being Sicilian; there are jinxes and omens, signs from God even if you never pray or set foot into a church. There is a greater presence, a voice to answer to, a voice that calls. There is il malocchio, the evil eye, as there is il Spirito Santo, the Holy Spirit. That metal to the eye, that shard against sight was such an omen, and Papa hightailed it out of Manhattan to a smaller garage in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, where the family would stay a year until another omen would send them upstate to the sleepy, maple-lined streets of Stone Ridge.
The exodus from NYC was precipitated by a disaster in Papa’s oldest sister’s family, the Pennisi family. Auntie Tessie and Uncle Nino ran a deli in Brooklyn. Nino imported and distributed Italian goods. Tessie ran the store and raised five kids. There was an accident. One of the trucks collided with a streetcar. Someone died. Nino and Tessie lost nearly everything.
Papa, disgusted with the city, his poor eyesight, joined forces with his brother-in-law and headed north, upriver; Papa on the west side of the Hudson, Nino on the east, each in search of a different and better future once again. Great Grandpa Rosario and his wife Agata remained in Brooklyn.
Papa found a country garage with gas pumps, a machine shop, a small forge, plus an attached apartment, a bungalow and a two-story house for sale on Main Street in Stone Ridge. Somewhere in his journey, Nino crossed the river and found a boarding house overlooking the Hudson River in Cornwall. It was nearly 1940; the end of the depression made property cheap. The burgeoning war effort and shortage of metal made work abundant.
Papa sold gasoline, but his mainstay during those early years was the small forge in the back right corner of the garage. With the nascent skills he learned as a boy when his father, a lamplighter in Sicily, apprenticed him to a blacksmith and the metalworking finesse he honed working with Rosario in the city, he could sustain his new life.
The light of the forge, the hammering pulse of the hand that sculpts hard metal to malleable parts made a living when local farmers needed broken plows fixed, when telephone line pole workers needed new drill bits, when cars and lawnmowers stopped, and World War II claimed all available metal.
Dad remembers Papa working that forge, heating the metal, the crescendo of pings, the rapid hammering and turning, ping, ping, ping—turn—ping, ping, ping, the endless ring, crash and heat of it. Papa holding the hot, glowing thing like a throbbing, living animal against the anvil, positioning various shaping tools—round, square, pointed, against the pulsing metal while Dad and his mother powered the sledge hammers that slammed against the shaping tools, working in tandem, a mother-son locomotive that clamored into existence the desired outcome.
It was hard work, Dad said, such hard work, and Mama right there with him at night, after hours. We had to work fast, before the metal cooled. Then after, Papa, he had to temper the metal in water from soft to hard or whatever durability he needed for the part he was making. We made dozens of drill bits and Papa tempered them so they didn’t break when the telephone workers drilled into the rocky layers of Stone Ridge. He did it by sight, by color. He knew the trick of it by his eye. All that extra work was after dinner. By day he fixed cars and lawn mowers.
Uncle Nino and Auntie Tessie turned their skill with food and service into a lucrative boarding house that gathered all the family on Sundays. This is how the Stone Ridge Garage and the Villa Pennisi came to be, and though the Villa is long gone, the property purchased by Central Hudson, the structure demolished, the garage stands today. It’s been renovated several times, sold and passed on to different owners.
Today in my house in Stone Ridge, a mile or so from Papa’s garage, there is a round marble-topped table crafted by Great Grandpa Rosario, an iron-wrapped wine bottle in which my grandmother, Nana, perpetually rooted several strands of philodendron, an enormous 24-cup espresso pot, a wood and iron coffee grinder from Villa Pennisi via Grandmichele, Sicily, a few of Papa’s tools and a level with his name, T ARRA, etched into the side, Nana’s crystal and silver, a few pieces of her jewelry, the round diamond chip set in platinum on a fine, open-loop chain that she wears in all my memory, the chain disappearing into the soft folds of her neck.
Catherine Arra lives in upstate New York. Recent poetry and prose appear in The Timberline Review, Boston Literary Magazine, The Naugatuck River Review, Gloom Cupboard, Peacock Journal and Flash Frontier. Her chapbooks are: Slamming & Splitting (Red Ochre Press, 2014) and Loving from the Backbone (Flutter Press, 2015). » catherinearra.com
Both the hour & I
are past twelve when Father,
widowed in Arizona last
autumn, teaches me the lost
art of breathing.
Plunging hands in seawater
& tugging my mouth open by the corners,
I gulp as the air pleats my lungs
in a silken clinch.
The sky, light like foamed cream,
tasting of sweet wines
slipped to me under tables
at desert dinner parties,
where there is never anything
Hermit crabs coast
across our burnished legs; us, sitting
among perished sprigs of seaweed,
while we apostrophize over the ocean, who combs away
our world one layer at a time.
between dual roles, a frantic actor
dashing across the stage to swap costumes,
dab makeup. One hand clenching the lipstick sun,
the other matting my hair
into his own sandcastle.
Both slick with oil,
tarnished black & calloused.
The car heaves a sigh for us,
sputters unsung ballads.
Lavender scarf wreathing its way
around the atmosphere,
we are succumbing to Morpheus together,
Father’s eyelids weighted with brine,
irises glassing over, prismatic &
steeled, like mine.
The old joke about two specters, shell-shocked,
riding shotgun while the moon follows them home
like a mother
who cannot bear to let go.
Ariella Carmell is a student at the University of Chicago. Her writings can be found in Spry, Words Dance, Bustle, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Souvenir, Alexandria Quarterly, and many other publications.
I THOUGHT I WAS GOING TO BE A FIRE
as girls so careless with our bodies. in order to think ourselves not bodies. even cruelty only a stripping back. george's pal leroy calls me a bitch. you say, “hold on.” this happens in george's place on East 21th. this happens around 1987. george says “cut it out,” but not as if he means it. it is a question of amount. how I look at him. you look at me, and I think: “No good comes of & so on.” central park—a green so acute it enters us like fjord. his taxi. our dope. snow will fall in six months. i will sit beside him in a car driven as he sleeps, weaving, a dancer's tracks, plows into an embankment. the miracle will be that no one notices. we will walk across the park. january. our skin a wrinkled crepe. leave the path until snow around our ankles. deep valley where we hum our small pearl of death. i want to know why we wanted it like that. like a woman unbuttoning her dress from collar to calf. ourselves in the snow, red- veined, exposed. dialogue that like dante we have with our heart. in the picture, we hold it in our hand, a tethered bird. we will it to fly & it will & will not.
Sheila Black is the author of Wen Kroy (Dream Horse Press, 2014) and co-editor of Beauty is a Verb (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). She is a 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow selected by Philip Levine. She lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs Gemini Ink, a literary arts center.
I am not nature I am not beauty I am other watch the girls point inside themselves to understand the outside of me listen to their words mouth traitor because my pain is viscous pours out of me to deaden concrete school yards she can’t be a woman there is no moon inside of her to wax and wane follow the porcupine quills on her face and breasts she is of men not of women turn away turn away turn away
Minadora Macheret is a graduate student at Kansas State University, where she received the Graduate Poetry Award and Seaton Fellowship. Her poems received Isabel Sparks' Poetry Prize and work has appeared in Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Rogue Agent, Connotation Press, and others. She lives in Manhattan, KS, with her dog, Aki. Her chapbook is Love Me, Anyway (Porkbelly Press, 2018).
E. Kristin Anderson, Catherine Arra, Tammy Bendetti, Alyse Bensel, Sheila Black, Ariella Carmell, Susana H. Case, Su Cho, A.E. Clark, James Croteau, Carlina Duan, Patrick James Errington, Wren Hanks, Sonja Johanson, Eve Kenneally, Michal Leibowitz, Minadora Macheret, Laura K. McRae, Natalia Mujadzik, Tanya Muzumdar, JoDean Nicolette, Susan Rich, Thadra Sheridan, Shakeema Smalls, & Amanda Stovicek
edition of 100