Installment 46 is our final car poem. Breaking with the tradition of this series, we will not provide an introduction for Sunayna Pal’s piece, but let it speak for itself. Thank you for reading and submitting. It’s been a wonderful trip. *** I Met My Past Driving my car in the after-dawn light, window half-open, I see a group in the alley ahead, smoking rings. Your night-outs flash in my mind Linger like the car at the signal. Signal turns green, and I cross the group. Just one look and I know; It is you! I look ahead, pretending it to be otherwise. I drive ahead but a part of my mind, stays at the signal with you. Did you see me? I think you did. Smoke-filtered, groggy eyes Did you recognize me? It has been 19 months and 23 days, but it feels like yesterday, all over again. How did I recognize you, without even taking a second? Why did I think of you? My heart races on time’s track, like my car on this empty road. I wouldn’t trade my present for anything. You were so wrong for me. I am happy, where I am now. Yet memories break-in from sealed, concealed doors. Your hard hands, Perenially-stained fingers. Your thin eyes, even thinner when you lied. The small lies you thought went unnoticed, like her perfume. On...Read More
Month: April 2019
Installment 45 moves complexly between literal sites of commemoration, and the sociopolitical policies of amnesia forged by communism throughout Eastern Europe. While revisiting a specifically Yugoslavian place and rite of abandon, this poem also challenges: what atrocities and whose mass graves is our own culture is willing to forget in order to thrust forward, unburdened? *** Parking Lot in the Memorial Forest In the south of Serbia, above the city of Niš, there is the Bubanj hill. During The Second World War in Niš existed a concentration camp – no gas chambers – the inmates were driven by trucks...Read More
I’ve told this story a thousand times. “Big Stinky,” my fraternity brother—that’s what we called him, and yeah, as a mere youth I joined a fraternity—he cracks open a Budweiser on Easter morning, looking out at the Gulf of Mexico in Biloxi, Mississippi, at 9:30 AM, and says, “Big day for you Christians. Get the fuck up.” Now, over the half century since Big Stinky announced the dawn of a new day at such a remove from his home in Wisconsin, I’ve often wondered why his remarks made such an impression on me. To my knowledge, he was, in fact, a Christian, a Lutheran of German descent, which is how he landed at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a Lutheran affiliate, on a basketball scholarship. (He had a great jump shot, by the time he released the ball it was already eleven feet off the floor—he was 6″ 4″–making it impossible to defend, but he couldn’t stand the coach, so his college athletic career ended early and ignominiously, just like mine did.) “Big day for you Christians,” he says, though, as if speaking to a congregation he’s left behind. I knew I wasn’t a Christian, then or now, in the sense that I thought Jesus was the Son of God—give me a fucking break—and I hadn’t been since junior high school (when I discovered Freud), but, like Big Stinky, I...Read More
My Father, I get it, I know why you’d want to deny my existence, forsake me and all that. I’d do the same if I were you. Who wants a bastard son, someone who claims God is a man? That kind of puts you out of business, doesn’t it? Since when is God right there beside you, your neighbor, the man with the automatic weapon who’s about to kill these innocents? What then? So here I am on this cross and I can see as far as you can into the future. It’s not a pretty picture. These people, these human beings, are mostly vile, always sinful. They seem determined to kill themselves one way or another, by self-imposed famine and vicious wars, whatever. Still, they can be kind and gentle, even creative. Hell, I spent 33 shoeless years among them. They’re interesting. Yeah, I call myself the Son of Man, but you sent me here, didn’t you, to redeem yourself, you, the tough guy who tortured Job almost unto death and decided that was a big mistake. You’re right, Father, it was a mistake, and now I’m nailed to this cross to make up for it. What else can you do to tell these people, these human beings, that you’re sorry for what you’ve done to them? I don’t know, it’s up to you, but no more floods, OK, that...Read More
Beth Cole had not yet decided whether or not she would make a brisket for the Passover Seder this week. “I was going to bring the brisket, but I think I’m going to do a roast chicken, because I have to cook for, like, ten people,” she says. Besides, it isn’t her Seder; she will be a guest at the home of one of her fellow congregants of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. It’s a Christian Seder. Although once an unusual practice historically condemned by Church leaders, Christian Seders have become an increasingly common feature...Read More
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