they say that the most impressive of all crossings is not thirst or the fear afterwards. The humiliation no longer wounds what does not exist they say bodies in a boat of bodies veins eyes skin penis nails vagina
35 Enter inhale. Enter time. Enter inheritance. Enter or else. Enter doors with handles, without handles, manually manipulated. Enter alone feelings. Enter tension. Struggle entering bitterness enter. Love turning towards lust enter. Historic languages enter. Human conditions of oppression enter. Enter roadside assistance. Enter talented man killed too soon. Gravemarker write L.O.W. Enter near Dayton settlement but specifically at Englewood location. Enter chirping bird sounds out of the ceiling again. Enter your own music mixing up into the chirps of birds. Enter memory again. Enter thought again. Enter more and more gunshots. Enter yelling. Enter empathy and critical engagement.
Papá announced, “Maria, I’m going to war,” and stubbed his cigarette out in the ashtray. Mamã, clearing the table, gave her usual start. She stood stranded in the kitchen doorway, a dirty plate in each hand.
Going to war meant going out in the dead of night to David’s bar, playing hide-and-seek with military patrols. Our lot’s supporters gathered there after hours, drank a few beers, exchanged questionable information and reliable rumors. It had been the same every night for the last three weeks, since their lot retook the city.
After dinner, Papá would say, “Maria, I’m going to war,” and Mamã would give a start, try to talk him out of it, remind him of martial law and the curfew.
Then, out of desperation, she’d say, “At least wait for the shooting to die down.”
When the exhibit went up at Peachtree Center, the Chinese of Atlanta flocked downtown. Jews had been in Henan so close to forever, they weren’t seen as foreign. And we had found an exhibit on China that wasn’t old vases. Jews were Chinese in more ways than food. Migration was not always out of the places our families had fled; it had once been to. Our pantries were “ethnic” not just for the shrimp chips and wood ears, but as well for the matzah. Maybe, when asked, Do you celebrate Christmas?, we were not being checked for Zen or the Buddha. We didn’t say it in so many words. The line between Asia and Europe had blurred.
I walk to the park drummers sit in a circle under a white tent they have drifted this far way on pacific waves long feathers tucked behind their ears they sweat in soft fringed hides their faces lean and dark
Joaquim Arena was born in Cape Verde in 1964 and emigrated with his family to Portugal aged 5. He went on to study law and work as a journalist and musician in Lisbon. He is currently the Culture and Communications Advisor to the President of Cape Verde. He has written two novels (The Truth About Chindo Luz and Where Turtles Fly), one novella (A Lighthouse in the Desert) and a hybrid work that mixes biography, fiction, travel writing and history: Debaixo da Nossa Pele – Uma.
Ask a Local with Joaquim Arena: Praia, Cape Verde Islands
Lomba Das Barracas, Furnas, São Miguel Island, Azores, Portugal
This morning, from our bed, Luke and I listened again for the ice-cream truck melody of the Portuguese bread truck. Not that we needed bread, because we’d bought a week’s worth the day before at our tiny grocery store that is also a bar and is also a café, but because it came through yesterday and we wanted to see the operation in action—did people run out after the truck, and buy loaves off the back? Or was it a pre-pay or on-tab on-order delivery? Apparently, in the tiny Azorean village of Furnas, the fresh food comes to you. Just last night, a fruit truck rumbled through the neighborhood, broadcasting a tuneless tune from its loudspeaker to alert neighbors of the fresh produce for sale—heads of cauliflower, potatoes, peaches, leeks, and tomatoes—right off the truck. The bread truck, we reasoned, might do the same.
On October 21, join The Common for a conversation about poetics in the time of pandemic and the ecology of lockdown. Acclaimed poets Dana Levin and Tess Taylor will read new work and discuss the importance of place, hope, and resilience in their creative and personal lives in a conversation moderated by Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker. This event is a fundraiser to celebrate The Common’s 10th publishing year and launch the place-based magazine into its second decade. Join us for stirring poetry and thoughtful talk!
Pandemic Poetics: Hope, Resilience, and Poetry in the Time of Lockdown