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The Slovenian Grandmother To Her Daughter The Platinum-Haired Dervish Just Before A Chunk of Stove Wood Was Hurled But Missed Its Blue-Eyed Mark Widely

January 9, 2010 1 comment
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Raise the Lord: To Witnesses in My Driveway Praying on my Rebirth

January 8, 2010 3 comments

by Susanna Rich

Rock Me Sexy Jesus.
—Pam Brady and Andrew Fleming

Not to be rude, dear pious things, but why
are you praying for me like some knitting
circle — needles tap-tapping like blind
pen points trying to write on each other.
Have you no inkling?

In His name, you say, you can only be
saved in His Holy Name. But my
Jesus wants no fabrication, no nominal
yarn gathering or balling. I am who
He wants me to be. I strap His hands

to my headboard, bind His feet —
My Man of Proportions — My All —
My Maker of Love rising up, rising
into me. We make scenes together. My
feet poised over His feet — stigma to stigma.

I raise my arms into a cross. I am His whip.
More, He begs, More pain. Be unforgivable,
so I can be big — bigger. His mouth
is open, aching for my vinegar tongue. Eat me,
He cries out. I lick. I bite. I suck the wine

trickling from His breast. He burns. He sweats
into my sheets. Mercy, He calls out, Mercy
I roll back your religious canons, rescue
Him from your Calvaries. I am not the thief
who taunts Him to save me. I am the one

who mounts Him over my bed, dangling over
my life. We are each other’s thief — me
from below, He from above. He erects in me
His Paradise, where I come and come to Him —
My Adam, His side bleeding where He and I

die into each other, each unknowing day. Put
down your needlings, your moist ends, your double-
hooked unravelings. I don’t need your loops, your
cables,  your stitches. You crotchety prayers, get it —
I have Him nailed.

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Susanna Rich (website) 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 (both from Finishing Line Press); 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). She is Professor of English and Distinguished Teacher at Kean University in New Jersey, teaching such courses as Emily Dickinson, William Blake, and 20th Century Women Poets.

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Three

January 7, 2010 Comments off

by Stuart Barnes

Beware of the rule of 3
What you give will get back at you
This lesson you must learn
You only get what you deserve
—The Rule of Three

(I)
That pernicious only child of the God of Plagues and Chaos glued with Araldite a raptor-gleam
In my priest’s whisky-eye, moulded into a masturbator his cold, wet fish of a fist,
Whispered slyly in my left ear, “Little boy, run like blazes! While you can, vamos, get the hell

Out of here!” then disappeared. Like a Red-backed bitch on heat on her hands and knees, I prayed
To Mr. Pilate, who whispered insidiously in my right ear, “Where’s the little bastard? —
For I must burn his Birkenstocks and shear those ratty dreadlocks from his head.”

I led him to the olive-moated mountain, where I kissed that son of the God of Plagues and Chaos on his grimy cheek.

*

The Marys wept like cut grass as the sacred nails pierced the child’s wrists and a sword slid in his side.
“Serves you right,” I muttered, “for your father bore not only good, but its opposite, its other.”

(II)
Ghastly daffodils, apples strung up in her courtyard, purple crocus shoving through frost and glass;
In a stucco council flat with a crib of pink-eyed rats and nine metres of Burmese snakes —
Splotches like burnt-orange zeppelins, squirmed to “Whitey” and “Old Nick” — lived Mary, mad

And quite contrary. Bat-winged, bloody-eyed as her two sisters, crouched on a corner
Of the marbled kitchen table with black needles and bales she knitted: an eggshell-blue
Cloak, a sky of motes, an executioner’s hood. The air was fouled by her breath, the light a sickly yellow.

Spryly that headswoman swooped to the herringbone floor, molded beneath her cauldron
Of herbs a pyramid of hieroglyphics, dry grass and sticks, fanned the language and tinder
With her terrible white bellows, and muttered dementedly, “Rise, rise, my dead fellow.”

(III)
Man in black, man in black, like Ted Hughes or Johnny Cash, man in a silly Jewish hat,
No wifely striptease for that man in black, only the everyday soul-impaling, the hailing and flaying,
Nailing wooden curlicues, Alpha and Omega, and ampersands. With hair like grey rats

And a staff of flowers, he hobbled and wobbled and cobbled and toiled for hours
For his Gothic queen bee. Eyes could no longer see, feet were swollen as plums,
Hands were like two balloons. He thought, No wonder I despise the Jews.

*

“In-sig-nif-i-cant,” oozed Her Majesty to the man in black, “a flea, an Australian Aborigine.
You crawl lower than a dog, you can’t compete with this God.” The man in black’s grief grew around him
Like the Sea of Galilee. He made a wish, whispered sadly, “This earth’s better off without me.”


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The title quote is taken from the introduction to “Silence” from the Portishead album Third. The other quote — “Hands were like two balloons” — is taken from Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, from The Wall LP. (Qarrtsiluni asserts that this creative reuse is permitted under the Fair Use provision of U.S. copyright law, which is applicable because our hosting provider, Automattic Inc., is based in the U.S.)

Stuart Barnes (webpage) graduated from Monash University, Australia with a Bachelor of Arts (Literature, Philosophy). His unpublished memoir, A Cold Decade, was shortlisted for the Olvar Wood Fellowship Award. He’s editing his first book of poetry and writing his first novel.

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Swear

January 6, 2010 5 comments

by O Thiam Chin

I was twelve years old, in Primary Six, when I saw the protests in Tiananmen Square on TV during the evening news.

Among the montage of surging crowds and marching rows of green-uniformed soldiers was an image that stuck in my head: a man, burnt to a hardened charcoal-black, tied to a smoldering bus, his wrists bound with wire, white plumes of smoke rising out of his body. His mouth was wide open, in a rigid state of screaming, his face lifted skyward and his eyes reduced to dark empty pits. Around him, a few people gawked and stared, but nobody thought of untying him from the bus.

I couldn’t understand what was going on, or what had caused this violence. I tried asking my parents, but they refused to tell me anything, except to switch off the TV and to finish up my homework.

The next morning, on my way to school, heavy with the images that I had seen on TV, I chanced upon a new scribbling on the wall beside the lift: FUCK. It was a new word I hadn’t seen before and I was curious to know what it meant. So I memorized it, tucking the new word into my head, and brought it to school.

During recess, I asked my good friend, Shi Hao, about the word. He laughed his head off when he heard how I tried to pronounce it.

‘No, you got it wrong. It should sound like duck, like F…uck,’ he admonished. I tried a few more times, but still, it came out wrong.

‘What does it mean?’ I asked, puzzled.

‘You mean you don’t know? It’s a dirty word la,’ he said, and before I could say anything else, our form teacher was standing beside us. With a daunting look in his eyes, Shi Hao dared me to say the word aloud. I uttered the word; my teacher heard it, twisted my ear into a knot, demanding where I had learnt such a word. Then she made me stand in front of the class the whole period, arms crossed, pulling my own ears.

As I stood there, shame-faced and scorching with a righteous rage, the image of the charred man at the Tiananmen Square, tied to the burnt bus, came to mind, and I wondered how he had gotten there, whether it was because of something he had said or done.

Maybe I thought, he had done something terribly bad to be punished in such a way; maybe, like me, he had learnt something new that he didn’t fully understand, and was compelled to use it, by force or circumstance, in order to test its meaning, to know the kind of effect it would have on him, or others.

It was only many years later that I got to know the answer that turned out to be closer to the truth I already knew in my heart when I was much younger.

*

O Thiam Chin’s short stories have appeared in several literary journals and anthologies, including Asia Literary Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Best of Singapore Erotica, Silverfish New Writing 6 and Body2Body. His debut collection of short stories, Free-Falling Man, was published in 2006 and his new collection of stories, Never Been Better, came out in 2009.

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Road Sign

January 5, 2010 1 comment

by Steve Wing

Road Sign, by Steve Wing
Click on image to see a larger version.

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Steve Wing (PBase gallery) is a visual artist and writer whose work reflects his appreciation for the extraordinary in ordinary days and places. He lives in Florida, where he takes dawn photos on his way to work in an academic institution. He’s a regular contributor to qarrtsiluni, as well as to BluePrintReview, where he has a bio page with links to some of his other publications.

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On Signing Your Power of Attorney

January 4, 2010 3 comments

by Nancy Lazar

In the event you lose the page you bookmarked
I shall learn how you like the bed made

In the event your head fills with down
I shall feed the ducks on the pond

In the event you find a new hobby folding origami
I shall crane my neck like a swan

In the event you grow wings
I shall expect one ride over Mount Macungie

In the event you remember there is no Mount Macungie
I shall not hold you to the above agreement

In the event you need nothing from me
I shall unlock the gates to the steeple


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Retired from eighteen years as a wood worker in her own business, Nancy Lazar found work as a stringer for a local branch of The Morning Call newspaper based in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She left that position to concentrate on creative writing after moving to her home in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains. Her poem based on “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot was chosen and recorded for Soundzine, July 2008 Beat Poetry Issue, and a poem in The Cleave, December 2008 Issue was chosen for the anthology for that year. She blogs at Word Craft.

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How Time Does Things With Words

January 2, 2010 2 comments

by James Toupin

Time speaks in tongues.
In echoing castles they built
to subdue themselves, the Saxons heard
the conqueror’s “ask,” rightly,
as “demand.” So many griefs
the language wants to tell…

Lost in the words.
Our burning, lightless, encroaches.
Now that we menace them
more than they do us,
jungles recede to forests
making and made by their rain.

Senses drain through a sieve.
“Alternative” each day
loses ground, its ending
so fallen you can no longer
tell a choice of options
from every other one.

The true name never spoken,
the book shifts back and forth —
“Jehovah” or “Elohim,”
“El Shaddai” or “Adonai,”
our Father, our King —
until the Eternal is silence.

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James Toupin is a government lawyer who lives in Washington.

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Voice from the Porch

December 31, 2009 1 comment

by Catherine Ednie

Open your mouth! I implore you. Don’t just sit there with your face melting, tragic over trash and the cold wind.

Make a shape. Any shape. A sound. You’ll feel better. More possible. More like tomorrow than today.

Wake up, honorary roadkill! There’s still time. Name your comforts: dark rooms, standing up, Wanda, oranges and almonds.

Sweet, sweeet, sweet, sweet, sweeet, sweet the distance. Remember, the distance is sweet. Memories are dusty, but plush, lush, but cold. Cold and sweet as ice.

Wrapped in ice, I am telling you this. This is me, the one from the porch.

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Catherine Ednie (louder) works as a systems analyst in the New York metropolitan area. Her work appears in In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Literature (Impassio Press), and in various locations online.

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The Curses

December 30, 2009 2 comments

by Monica Raymond

The curses were
pleated, language folded like dense
integuments of muscle, like the heart
tougher

to bite through than
any organ. “I like it because
it is bitter,” like a miner, turnip
pressed down

flesh insisting
lively through silt, no one would take that
shape, dwarf’s bulb bullet, unless resisting
being

nothing, growing
downward what’s possible, travel through
filth, earth, call it what you will, had your fill
knowing

dull gravity,
brown and ochre, cursing the mother
for always having to carve into her
to be.

Above ground,
easy leaves find themselves differently,
all furl and crinkle, like fans, flirtation’s
light sound—

banter, repair.
These dare health, but the accordion
expansion of the root, the curses, what do
they dare?

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Monica Raymond won the Castillo Prize in political theater for her play The Owl Girl, which is about two families in an unnamed Middle Eastern country who both have keys to the same house. She was a Jerome Fellow for 2008-09 at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis, among many other honors and awards. Her poetry has been published in the Colorado Review, the Iowa Review, and the Village Voice, and her work has been selected for publication by every pair of qarrtsiluni editors for ten issues in a row now (counting the upcoming Health issue).

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Angra Mainyu

December 29, 2009 Comments off

by Harvey E. Parker

Angra Mainyu, by Harvey E. Parker
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Harvey E. Parker is a visual artist who teaches Gifted and Talented in four public schools. His interests include mythology, history, maps and books. Most of his work is currently in ATC format (Artist Trading Cards), the only requirement being that the finished piece be 2.5 x 3.5 inches, the size of a standard playing card.

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