Mathilde Evacs Pomroy

stove and pilot

My reasons had been plentiful. If these had been any more than they were, I would have been lost among the reds of all the red poppies. I would have been more wings upon the backs of flying monkeys. The ubi sunt nomenclature of my clattering days would have been spent or ignored like bales of rolled hay along the countryside in autumn. And all that, like my namesake and my Latin verse, would have gone unanswered. So I may have been left darning my socks and time. I may have gone to seed and shower. I may, too, have as little sense left to my time as peas to the edge of a knife are falling, falling down. And all my frailties, beyond the wool-spinners of Sulpicia and maidens of Sappho are no less than unforthcoming. It had not been a reason to have been wroth. It had not been a destiny to go to the Aegean any more than to have traveled to New Alaska. And had I ever been asked, had I ever been put to, I would have answered quite the same, dressed in my gunny sack: snap snap snap. Like so, had I been pining by the fieldstone. Like so, had I been awaiting the brim-rock rains atop the bluestone quarry. Verily, I had known just as well that what had never been arrived before my mountaintop gaze had also never, like the barn swallow’s tail beneath its muddied nest below the wooden beams, departed.

Lucien Aberdeen Entwistle II

red bull

I might as well as have been building tiny ships in tiny bottles. I might as well as have been filliping the tiny clippings of tiny fingernails clipped from tiny fingers the whole while. I might just as well have been pooling tiny frogs from a tiny pond into a tiny bucket all the time. And while I might as well as have been not doing or doing all these things, everyone else grew up. The boy had. The girl had. The father of the girl he got older. And the mother of the boy she got older. Both parents got older as did both of their children. And me, I might as just as well have been a shoebox of cedar shavings kept full of cedar shavings all the while, all the time. Oh, I had gotten older, too, but nobody it had seemed had seemed to notice. And, indeed, were I to have died while the boy and girl had grown up, I would have been interred off to a plot of the cemetery to the side of everything, to the side of everyone, somewhere over there, a spot in the green where neither unnamed paupers nor regal ancestors had ever belonged. And in that death, my wife would have glanced across her former husband, and their two children at both of them, from either side of my plot, and as the funeral party had walked away, the ground would have closed up forever upon me.

Merlin DeSoto

white fence and snow shadows

There had been men, cleaning men, janitors who had been clearing off a table that had had trash on it in the park. They were talking about and grumbling about taxes and money and the government. I sat down at the bench they were clearing off, and began talking to them about how this country had never been attacked, and how aside from 9/11, we in this country had always been safe. I had been thinking about other countries in Europe that were always more or less under or prone to being under attack. And I told the men, “There are three safe places in the world: here, the Arctic, and Antarctica.” At another table somewhat nearby, the Chairperson of the local university had overheard me talking, or lecturing to these men, these economic beliefs of mine as history to them. She called out to me. By then I had been flying in a loop over the park, an elliptically shaped, tilted loop over the park and trees and the benches. I was a little bit worried that if the soft pack that I had held between my ankles should slip out from there, that I would fall and die, but not overly so that it should happen. I was full of joy going around, flying like this, all around and over the park and benches and the Chairperson’s table with all the finely dressed professors and my table full of the janitors cleaning up the park. As I was coming ‘round in flight, traveling counter-clockwise, I saw standing on the ground my late friend, deceased thirty years ago. I was gladly surprised. Looking down I saw him glance up. His eyes were completely black, filled in with blackness. Maybe his mouth had been open and filled with the same complete blackness too. He, facing my direction, as I was flying above him, fell backwards to the ground buckling at the knees and died, and I woke up screaming at this horror.

Freddy Steiner

country cabin

Most often I had been subordinated by my Dinkelacker. It had been one too many at the fair. My English was very good by this point in time, and my voice had still sustained an excellent baritone in manner. However little the folk coming knew well the Müllerin and its subversive themes of love and the hard lives of such a young man apprenticing, I sang out my heart from the bandstand. I did catch the eyebrows of a woman twice to my count. I sang even louder. There had been plenty of bratwurst and garlic and onions and sauerkraut for all to share if that had been the calling of the people. My overall girth I could see in her eyes was not a thing to spurn me for but spoke well of my success and overall self-comfort. In my homeland I had once been a professional. I had sung there Brahms and Schubert at taverns that had permitted such besides a spinet piano. Here, there had not been the same spirit naturally. And I had already become a curio if not without some original talent. The one who had seen me with her glances walked to another area of the fairgrounds with I believe another. And I continued to sing my heart out over the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia to her where for decades I had resided now alone and personally willing.

Oskar Levanti

red snow dusted barn

Most of the cost had been passed on to others. A few shekels here, a few there. No one had argued otherwise—that it was an atrocity. All the villages and all the people in the villages had been wiped out completely. No one could even buy bread, let alone any grain to make a loaf themselves of it with. The Superpowers at hand had continued their embargoes to no avail anyway as usual but not to any extent that was newsworthy. What becomes that is always what crashes on the tarmac at international airports, not the day-in and day-out of people going about living their lives, as is the general wont of most of the planet’s 10 billion. The unimportant folk who, generally speaking live side by side each other, regardless of religion or race or their weird personal habits, had continued not to matter. Only when these had amounted to groupings that were populations of over 10,000 persons attacked by warplanes at the foothills, like massive bacteria cultures growing in agar in some backroom Petri plate, was there the chance of any possible notice. Neither the local news nor the big thumb of the Internet could until then have taken notice. It couldn’t and didn’t have to. That I had traveled onwards with my shaggy goats was just as well. Mine were as unimportant as any other goatherd’s flock. By the grace of Allah, I had had enough meat and cheese with me in my sack to last me a while.

Samuel Unwin

stick in ice

I had only wanted to fuck, split wood, and talk. I hadn’t been interested or concerned with new restaurants, cake recipes, and donating clothes and broken unwanted watches to the local chapter of Good Will. Adding chromium to iron to have made it withstand becoming rusty, or the southward or northward ice floes on the estuary besides which I had lived—matters at hand such as these, or the pathetic death of Christopher Marlowe; or the adding of the dropping of the letter “e” in Joseph Conrad’s short tale Youth when spelling “Marlow,” and how this alone signified all writing, and signified all speaking, these were the clouds of things that drifted and hung forever in my brow and stayed there. And women whose unclothed bodies were strong, who had over the calenderic years that in the end will take us all down before our brains’ wild magic has given away its own mystery to nothingness, I had been like a tumbling jester reveling in the freedom only he is permitted—so outrageously—in the presence of the Royal Court and all its retinue, ever happy beside theirs clutching my tawny and muscular nakedness. Between each swinging throw of my axe, there had been a thousand thoughts arisen, and when the blade fell against the sawn length of timber, another adventure’s telling had been with the wood’s cracking into pieces gladly destroyed. My mind’s simplification, like a map whose borders can be drawn distinguishing all territories from another with any three chosen colors, had been reaching the frontiers of its own natural limits. It had been nearly as perfect as it could become, the way a single floating seed aloft is carried elsewhere by the present and unseen wind is also perfect in another way.

Holly Evans

branches frozen lake

I had waded in a standstill stream. Below the water’s surface my hand had reached for smooth, curved rocks. Each of these had resembled planet Earth afar, from outer space. And each one I placed inside my apron’s front pocket. I wandered on some time, never thinking to look again at all the stone planets collected in my dress. Some time ago, I stood ashore; the oar I held was pointed downstream, pointing towards where my little boat was next to float again. I had to paddle past the boulders and their violence. If not, the boat was sure to break. If not, what then? Time ago, I woke upon my back in the middle of the night. On waking on my back full of nothing, I watched the moon above my eyes. It had been blurred by clouds. I thought of nothing of where I had wandered. I thought of nothing of where I had once waded. I thought of all the stock-still chances I had forsaken and forgotten by the water where by myself I had been walking long ago.

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Jacobson Malloy

sea spray 2

All the beauties of the lake had passed me by. The mothers with their children. The strong men with their lovers. I had had an incandescent longing once, but that had been time ago. Time ago it was, and it was not, my laces, too, had been tight. The thickest ice where skaters skate belied the little fire that I had built along the shore. And from my little hut where I would retreat, once the sun had vanished, I could still watch my dwindling fire burning out there. From the high Indian village of Mt. Hope, you could see the leftover trash in the Canada woods: the old, blue frayed tarps, the unneeded shoes, even discarded diapers. To me it had been a mess; to them it had been no longer needed. There had been no nostalgia for that, and no heartfelt feeling for any place except where our fingertips had once ago been raised to the middle of the chest. No place else, anywhere but here, would be ever called home. That word itself had become in me, like kindling, sail boat, or float, some kind of shibboleth, some kind of awkward curse. To know, besides the flotsam of these, that there is no yesterday pinching up against tomorrow, nothing really language can do anymore, is a sudden and calm thing. What I had ever known was fine, and what I had not akin to another season of falling leaves that had seemed even yellower than another. It may not have been true, but my recurrence of memory had made it that way. All the recurring beauties of time had passed me now, and I was glad enough not to frighten anybody anymore with my questions. Nobody went near the dirty and straw-filled mounds where beavers had built up their dwellings for fear of falling in water, where indeed winter’s ice had been thin. Had somebody ever had the temerity, or the pluck, to have come over and sat beside my warmed boots, I would have discussed the Old Flemish master. ‘Like skaters have been painted,’ I would have said, ‘upon a frozen ocean.’

Tiss Feda

lobster hut

I had traveled long ago to lose myself. I went from land to land and scattered my days like ashes for the dead. I spent my years in one regime and another. I had wanted to disappear and with texts in Attic Greek, I read myself into the hinterland of near oblivion and ruin. None of my compatriots had meant a thing to me. And I spoke my mother tongue afar as though it were a foreign language. Conversation became a rough draft; I spent years and years revising that. “My bones and everything was expanded,” I had heard her say behind my booth in a diner back in New York. I had come home, and knew that this is where my oar was pitched to stay. Masters in Tibet wake up when they are home there. And some in monasteries, too. The farther flung, the less likely, the more impossible. The deep sleep of voyaging had once been mine. But that is not home. That is why sailors are restless. The seafaring life is a life between solid ground below your feet and the ever-shifting foam of the ocean. It is never quite one and it is never quite the other. After twenty years in one spot, it occurred to me that only when one’s home is no longer foreground and is no longer background, only when I had seen myself in my own passing painting, or my own film unrecorded, of my own so-called life, putting the dark blue bear-torn plastic lid on the light blue garbage can filled with pine cones from the woods to help me start a fire, could I even begin to have the chance to see. Only then does the ordinary become extra-ordinary, and then even that goes away: the difference between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extra-ordinary,’ like a place holder, a visible bookmark in an invisible book; only then, when that had become what it had been while it was, was anything possible. And after a while, for a while, I watched myself doing my most ordinary daily chores between my tool shed and my house, just after the twinkling of dawn, just when the grass had been frozen still with the night’s white iciness on every blade of it beneath my boots, just then for a little while, when I had disappeared entirely while my eyes like two bright sister stars were completely open, as though I had been God’s true monk sitting atop the world’s tallest mountain.