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Gacela of the Sheet of Paper

September 5, 2009 Comments off

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist The Three, by Richard Garcia

Not the sheet of paper rolled into a tight cone,
dipped into a paste of flour and water,
sharpened against a scrap of emery board.

But one that waits patiently to be folded.
The one crumbled up into a ball, or dancing, like
those sheets of paper observed by the first aviators
revolving in the currents of clouds.

Aye Luna, goddess of paper, unroll your mantle:
did you not glisten the skin of my first love
just before her mother came home
from the graveyard shift at Can-Co
and I slipped out the window, seen only
by you and the paperboy?

No, not the spear made of paper, flicked
from a notch in a pencil between prison bars,
across tiers and ramp ways, the one
that can pierce a man’s heart.

Without significance, wet paper in the rain.
The birth certificate, the death certificate,
the warrant, the summons, the sealed orders.

I want that sheet of paper slipped under a door
at midnight, that code invisible to all but candle flame.

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Richard Garcia is the author of The Persistence of Objects from BOA Editions. His poems have recently appeared in Ploughshares, The Georgia Review and Crazyhorse.

Passover

September 4, 2009 8 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist ashes, ashes, by Susanna Rich

My father wouldn’t lead me down the aisle:
you were a Jew
and hadn’t asked him —
cognac to cognac — for my hand.

Good Catholic Hungarian girls marry
Royal Austro-Hungarian Empire types,
have children to speak
Hungarian for Grandpa’s dollars.

For years my father came to brag
about the war: ministering to German
soldiers; his chocolates, Gillettes,
and stockings for their wives.

He brought wine from Polish vineyards
I feared
unspeakably fertilized —
some sympathetic magic I couldn’t drink.

Don’t let them lie to you, he spoke
like a spell over my Holocaust books,
Catholic priests, good people were killed
more than Jews —

Jewish bankers, Jewish doctors,
Jewish control of the media…

I asked him not to.
Robbed of his conjugating adjective,

he can’t speak.
He holds vigil by our bedroom window,
his eye filling the pane like frost,
assuring himself no children will mix

his blood with the Jews’.
In spring I gather flowered Seder plates
from Fortunoff’s, saffron tablecloth,
new five-fingered vase.

I bury our pots in the garden,
as your mother once did,
to purify them,
so we can all eat.

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“Passover” originally appeared in Visions: International 59 (1999). It was reprinted in Writers at the Water’s Edge (Ocean Grove: Tri-Muse, 2003) and in Dovetail: A Journal By and For Jewish/Christian Families (May/June 2003). All rights reverted to author.

Susanna Rich is a 2009 Emmy Award nominee for the poetry she wrote and voice-overed for Craig Lindvahl’s documentary Cobb Field. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Television Daddy and The Drive Home; the 2008 Featured Poet of Darkling Literary Magazine; and a Fulbright Fellow in Creative Writing. An internationally published poet and prose writer, Susanna tours the one-woman audience-interactive poetry experience Television Daddy, and is in production for The Drive Home (opening in 2010). Her books and DVDs are available at her website.

Prison Terms

September 3, 2009 1 comment

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Prison Terms, by Diane Kendig

None here thinks a pink slip
…is underwear. None here says, ‘lingerie’
or ‘as it were.’

—William Matthews

Flat time, like a flat rate, is non-negotiable.
It is what you served on no platter, after you,
— not your cover, which was already blown —
were turned down the last time for parole,
a word that used to mean, “word of honor”
and now means, “sooner, but conditional,”
or “man, you are booking,” not to say “booked,”
the start, often, of a very long sentence with no syntax,
though we don’t know that as we are strung along.

When we read your bail amount,
nearly doubled at arraignment,
we could only reason, a typo, but when we spoke
to you about it, by phone, through the milky Plexiglas,
you told us they printed it exactly as announced in court
in no uncertain terms, though capriciousness
came to mind then and in the months since.
I don’t think of these words as terms of art
or anything I can come to terms with
any time soon.

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“Prison Terms” first appeared in J Journal: New Writing on Justice, Spring 2009.

Diane Kendig has three chapbooks, most recently Greatest Hits, 1978-2000. Her writing has appeared in journals such as Colere, Minnesota Review, Mid-America, and Slant, and several new anthologies. A Midwesterner at heart, she is currently writing out of place in Lynn, Massachusetts. Find her on the web at dianekendig.com.