Dispatches

Looking for Anton Chekhov

By A. MAURICIO RUIZ

Photo of Chekhov

Yalta, Ukraine

The minibus stops in the middle of the road and the driver opens the door, he says something in Russian which I take to mean I need to get off. I begin to walk on a red dirt road that meanders down, and in front of me, the vastness of the Crimean terrain opens up, splotches of yellow overgrown grass, young bushes and wildflowers, the quiet dark sea in the distance.

Looking for Anton Chekhov
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Coconut and Bananas

By ROMANA CAPEK-HABEKOVIC

edificio

Zagreb, Croatia

A couple of days ago my husband returned from the grocery store with a pound of bananas and a small coconut. The bananas were perfectly ripe for consumption, and I put them in a fruit basket. I held the coconut in my hand and noticed the beige, hairy shell covering it. The image of a coconut that I was familiar with was of a large, round fruit with a dark brown, hairy exterior. Our coconut had an elliptical shape and a groove around its widest part as if someone had chiseled into it. I read the label on it that claimed that this coconut was “easy to open.” I began to laugh aloud and was barely able to utter to my husband to cut it in half following that indentation. I didn’t believe the label, and the steps that followed in cracking it open proved me right. This coconut intrigued us both, and we wanted to taste the liquid and the white flesh inside of it. We first pierced a hole on its top and drained it. We took a sip and agreed that the liquid was flavorless. My husband had to use a hammer and pounded hard several times across the chiseled line until the coconut finally split open. After that, we proceeded to separate its meat from the outer shell. It was edible but bland, and hard to chew.

Coconut and Bananas
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Room of Darkness

By MONA KAREEM
Translated by SARA ELKAMEL

Image of a balcony

 

Farwaniya, Kuwait

“Darkness alone is in my voice.” — Jean Sénac

 

I am of darkness.
My nation is an aging butterfly,
the desert my prayer.

I wash in rain’s saliva.
In my supplications, the sun dances
on the tips of her toes.

Room of Darkness
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Inconvenience Store

By SOPHIE DURBIN

A picture of the inside of a Don Quijote convenience store in Japan.

Tokyo, Japan

 

The superiority of Japanese convenience stores—conbini—is no longer a secret to the world. Although most residents of Japan consider these corner stores an unremarkable albeit essential element of daily life, the rapid spread of Japanese soft power in the last decade has elevated conbini from a matter of insider knowledge to a must-see attraction featured in travel guides. Prior to Japan’s strict COVID-19 travel restrictions, tourists would flock to Tokyo’s conbini to bask in the novelty of a 7-Eleven that boasts fresh salmon onigiri and matcha purin instead of slurpees and $1 coffee.

Inconvenience Store
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Ars/Ours: A Question

By NICELLE DAVIS

Trash Mask

Los Angeles, CA

There is comfort in a lack of context, dishes on the floor, jewelry on a peg board, grand piano next to an abandoned plastic phlebotomy practice arm. All the parts of the world shuffled and randomly dealt amongst rooms. A sort of magic trick, skinned in dust, connecting all things to a singular body—the auction house. I remember finding a large bowl of teeth.

Ars/Ours: A Question
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The Longkau’s Name (Excerpt from DAKOTA)

By WONG KOI TET

Translated from Chinese by SHANNA TAN

image of dakota-crescentDakota Crescent, Singapore

 

 

The body of water that runs by the neighborhood is in fact a river, but everyone used to call it longkau—a storm drain. The Hokkien word has a crispier edge than the Mandarin longgou. Calling it a river would require a proper name, a division into upstream and down. Nobody knew about that stuff, so we went with what was the easiest. Anyway, a name is just a name, and it was kind of endearing after you got the hang of it. The neighborhood does have a proper name: Dakota. There’s a place called Dakota somewhere up north in the States, but that’s not what we’re named after. No, our origin story is local and commemorates the crash of a Dakota DC-3 aircraft nearby. Maybe by giving the neighborhood a name tinged with disaster and exoticism, we were also foretelling its premature demise.

The Longkau’s Name (Excerpt from DAKOTA)
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Between States

By ROSE McLARNEY

forest-path

Pine Mountain Valley, Georgia

 

He is Risen signs go up in the neighboring yards, making sure I remember Easter.

On Easter in 1865, Union troops attacked Columbus, Georgia, the city closest to my current address. This was the Civil War’s last battle, and useless. The Confederates had surrendered in Virginia already, but, this far south, neither side knew.

Between States
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Coast of Ilia 

By LISA ROSENBERG

Image of a beach with chairs and umbrellas made out of twine.

Photo by Lisa Rosenberg

Gulf of Kyparissia, Ilia, Greece

1. This is the story 

of cigarette butts and discarded straws.
Of beach, and sea, and all that mythology 
rolled into one bright ball where my child plays 

Coast of Ilia 
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Churched

By JESS RICHARDS

image of heart on slate

Divided Heart: painting on slate, Jess Richards 2014.

 

Wellington, New Zealand

Stained light shines on breath-less angels
who occupy a stone heaven-on-earth without living for touch
without having felt another human enfolding them against soil.
Only the winged can lift themselves so high
but freeze half-way to the clouds
locked in cold bodies, solo-flight paused.

Churched
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