Issue 20

Amblyopia

By ANANDA LIMA

I close my right eye meu olho direito
and see everything tudo                    que
my mother my father meus pais              no meu país    
didn’t                                                              
know                                                            não sabiam 
to do                                                tudo
            then                               que fazer?
                                                                      e hoje, minha vista cansada

Amblyopia
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The Year of the Birth of Alberto Caeiro

from Pessoa: A Biography

 By RICHARD ZENITH 

 

The following chapter from Pessoa: A Biography, forthcoming from Norton/Liveright, tells the story of how Alberto Caeiro, Fernando Pessoa’s first major heteronym, came into existence. The other full-fledged heteronyms, Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis, would emerge three months later. (The heteronyms, Pessoa claimed, were not mere pseudonyms, since they thought and felt and wrote differently from their creator.) Although he had published some critical essays and a passage from The Book of Disquiet, Pessoa was still virtually unknown as a poet. Literature, moreover, was not Pessoa’s only interest. Throughout his adult life, he wrote prolifically about philosophy, religion, psychology, and politics. 

The story of Caeiro is preceded by a brief sketch of the political climate in Europe before World War Iespecially in Portugal, where, less than four years earlier, a revolution had toppled a muchdiscredited monarchy, replacing it with a tumultuous republic. 

For this publication in The Common, I have excluded most of the notes of the book version (bibliographical information, mainly) while adding other notes to clarify references to people and events mentioned in earlier chapters. 

The Year of the Birth of Alberto Caeiro
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Playing Proctor

By STEVEN LEYVA

 

“… and there is promise in such sweat.”
      —John Proctor, from The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

Given this ruddy, straightened wig no one could place
my face on a spectral scale of “ethnic.” I slid

on and off stage. I spoke plain. I didn’t name names. Some 
audiences mistook me for Muscogee Creek. I spoke

in first person. Under that wig I wore cornrows 
in Oklahoma’s emaciated winter.

Playing Proctor
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The News

By BRUCE SNIDER

 

Over a hundred men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya…
—CNN

Looking out at the blue sky 
we listen to news 
of men in Chechnya. Touching 
counters, our washrags move like ghosts.
You sweep the kitchen. I tend the cry
of the washing machine, the low roof 
that is our only roof.

The News
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The Mermaids’ Cry

By LEONARDO TONUS
Translated by CAROLYNE WRIGHT

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

The Mermaids’ Cry
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Exile

By CLARA OBLIGADO
Translated by RACHEL BALLENGER

 

On December 5, 1976, I arrived in Madrid from Argentina. I flew Iberia airlines, caught the plane in Montevideo because I was afraid of the disappearances happening at the border. I left wearing summer clothes, as if I were a tourist heading for the beaches of Uruguay, then, two or three days later, landed in Madrid, where it was winter. My father and sister saw me off. It took me six years—the years of the dictatorship—to return.

Exile
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Under Our Skin—A Journey

By JOAQUIM ARENA
Translated by JETHRO SOUTAR

 

And then, as is its wont, death comes knocking at the door. This time from two thousand miles away.

I try to get the image I have of him in my head to focus. The man who tried to be my father for over thirty years. Officially, not biologically, and not anymore. A death that will nevertheless force me home, back to Lisbon, just when I thought I’d found my place on this dry and sleepy island.

Under Our Skin—A Journey
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Enter Different Electronics (II)

By RODNEY A. BROWN 

 

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.

Enter Different Electronics (II)
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