Fake: A Fable


Fake alternative facts
Fake Big Brother, bisexual bystanders, blogs, boobs, bobos, blow-jobs, Born-Agains
Fake clowns, CCTV beheadings, chlamydia and climate change hysteria
Fake democratic doppelgangers, drive-by death squads, double-dead buffets
Fake emojis, ejaculating cows, ejected United passengers, erectile dysfunction do-it-yourself kits
Fake faux furs, fat-free, Fentanyl-induced full moons

Fake: A Fable

Tunnel #2 (Merlion)


The shadow tall and lean, inspired by a lighthouse, squints at the Merlion. My morning behavior skips breakfast just to tell my body to overcome the effects of the Merlion. People at the pet store are quitting their jobs only to watch the Merlion spurt water from its mouth like the tunnels of human love. The newly admitted patient who is seen from the open window waves at the Merlion. Clairvoyants finally predict a winner with the face of Singapura tattooed on the mythic scales of the Merlion. Lovers split, fully convinced about the Mertiger calling itself no more as the Merlion. Children down 10,000 bottles of Yakult so they can help the Merlion save this lion city and the sea overflowing with centillion neon. The televangelist reports about a new miracle and how it takes advantage of the daily shifts of the Merlion, spatial to temporal, particle to plexus. Accountants give celebrities free hugs, their palms are sweating, after taxing the civil case of the Merlion. But hold on there, youngster. What is the color of the Merlion? Does it speak a foreign language like Resilience? Does it roar, swim, walk aimlessly around the Central Business District? Will it quit water and start eating poetry? I know a place where it can go when it’s alone. Through its mouth, a tunnel: right where it starts it ends.

Tunnel #2 (Merlion)

October 2019 Poetry Feature: Sasha Stiles


The Common is thrilled to welcome Sasha Stiles to our pages for the first time.

Table of Contents:

  • Introductory Note
  • Uncanny Valley
  • Vision



What does it mean to be human in a nearly posthuman era? How are the cornerstones of our universal condition—birth, breath, love, sex, faith, death—evolving in the context of biological and computational advances? How does it feel to be mostly flesh and blood in a world increasingly dominated by plastic and silicon, virtual presence and spectral signals? What dark corners of the future and of cyberspace can ancient wisdom illuminate? What does motherhood mean in a world of artificial wombs, lab-grown brains, self-replication, and the uncertain continuation of our species as we know it? Who are these robots, chatbots, androids, cyborgs and intelligences already walking and talking amongst us? Do our avatars make us, in some measure, immortal? TechnELEGY—the ongoing transmedia project and poetry collection from which these pieces are excerpted—is my attempt to grapple with these impossible questions.

—Sasha Stiles

October 2019 Poetry Feature: Sasha Stiles

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro: Two Poems in Translation


Translated from the Spanish by COLE HEINOWITZ

Poems appear in both Spanish and English. 


Translator’s Note

A, E, I, O, U. The rhythmic concatenation of these five vowels is the tachycardic pulse of Mario’s poetry, and it cannot be imitated in English. Feeling for correlative patterns in the jangle of our consonant-frontal idiom is something like transcribing the pitch values of a Max Roach drum solo for honkeytonk piano. I do what I can with alliteration but even the relatively long decay of the M or the out-hissing S does not match the multi-textured overtones of a hard O spilling through the rails of its word-cage when struck, trailing a foam of soft E’s across the rubble.

Mario Santiago Papasquiaro: Two Poems in Translation

September 2019 Poetry Feature: From CROWN DECLINE


This month we present selections from CROWN DECLINE, by TC contributors John Kinsella and Don Share.

Table of Contents:

  • Crown Decline, #55-62 (DS and JK)
  • I Had That Dream Already (DS)
  • And Counting (JK)
  • Authors’ Statement


From CROWN DECLINE (Odd numbers by Kinsella; even numbers by Share)


In a state of loss
I try to ‘Kick Out the Jams’
But am left sore-toed.
Which doesn’t mean I’ve lost faith —
To the contrary. Come on!

September 2019 Poetry Feature: From CROWN DECLINE

Poetry by Isabel Zapata in Translation


Translated from the Spanish by ROBIN MYERS

Poems appear in both Spanish and English. 


Translator’s Note

Like many translators, I grow weary of talking about “faithfulness” and “betrayal,” about whether it’s “possible” to translate poetry, about what gets “lost” in translation. These queries quickly become platitudes, and platitudes are tiresome. But what’s always relevant, always urgent, and always exhilarating to me about translation is the idea of respect. The practice of care. One of my favorite translators, Sophie Hughes, recently said in an interview: “I approach a text that is already complete, mature, sure of itself, and it’s my responsibility to look after it, to respect it for what it is (its nature or essence), whilst protecting it from linguistic butchery, from translationese, from too many mistakes or outlandish mis- and reinterpretations.” And how can we respect anything for what it is until we truly listen to what it has to say about itself and how it sees the world?

Poetry by Isabel Zapata in Translation

August 2019 Poetry Feature

New poems by Nathan McClain, Sara Elkamel, and Brian Simoneau


| At the Park, a Boy’s Birthday

SARA ELKAMEL | Instructions for getting around a desert

BRIAN SIMONEAU |  Each morning I get up I die a little



The flowers

in the greenhouse
now flowers

in the supermarket

from wherever

they seemed almost
to nod

their agreement with what
the breeze once said

now flowers
in some glass vase

on the dining room table
where no one eats

What race they are
doesn’t matter nor if

their stems are thorny
you see

They’re just flowers
They die

You walk by
them all the time

hardly thinking
twice about their names


At the Park, a Boy’s Birthday Party  

No surprises here, really.
Not the plastic,

white cutlery
or the fancy glass bowl,

cubes of pineapple
and Bosc pear

floating in punch
(naturally red)

that no one
(thank the Lord)

has thought yet to spike.
Each boy, blindfolded,

spun in place, and shoved
down the piñata’s path

with a bat
he can barely lift,

the piñata star-shaped,
tasseled pink at its ends,

seems accurate.
At this age,

their limbs
inarticulate as the smoke

of catfish or pork ribs
that hiss on the park grill.

They hardly notice
the sun’s descent.

            It’s getting late, I think
to say as someone’s father

knots the blindfold
over my eyes. Fits the bat

into my hands. In my ear,
the boys shriek, and there—

the star,
snagged in the oak

of my mind, the rope,

almost gently. How,
even dizzied,

do I step towards it?



Instructions for getting around a desert  

The bride is seeing ghosts today.
She stands expertly with unease

as subtle as a sweet surprise
dissolved under a cloud.

There is nothing around
to quiver. Just our unkindness

pouring out our hands
like sand.

When they describe sugar
they say it looks

like salt. Feels the same when
bitten. For its gentleness,

ideal as a cure for dryness,
acidity, soreness, even weak

eyesight. But when she sees
the same dream twice, the bride

self-medicates: dissolves elsewhere
in gentle hot earth. Fills

her palms with salt, but
are these the kinds of gifts

you give at the end?
How red is a red infinity

if you give it your back,
your head like a rosefinch

caught in the horizon.
How infinite?



Each morning I get up I die a little 

A truck rumbles the day to life, lifts with robotic arm our bin
and sets it softly down. We are living in the future

and the future brought pain to ankles, to knees, my temples
rendered gray. So today I don a fraying t-shirt, silk-screened
logo faded the way our favorite mix-tape songs now slip

from digital lives. What’s come won’t come undone, summer
hungover, and the slang we sang unstrung, each year a little

harder to believe. I walk the girls to school over squares
of cement cracked by frost and passing to nowhere, corners
with no corner stores, even gas stations an indecent drive

away, past bedroom after bedroom, two-car garages hiding
if people are home or not. Kids on the street wait for the day

to begin with vinyl seats and backpacks on laps, their task
what it is for us all: remake themselves to the minute at hand.
Unshaven, unshowered, a baseball cap tugged into place,

I flip-flop down the block, stop to watch a helicopter
overhead. I will hop and skip. I will not step on a crack.


Nathan McClain is the author of Scale(Four Way Books, 2017), the recipient of fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. His poems and prose have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Poem-a-Day, The Baffler, West Branch Wired, upstreet, and Foundry. He teaches at Hampshire College.

Sara Elkamel is a journalist and poet, living between Cairo and New York City. She holds an M.A. in arts and culture journalism from Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Guernica, The Common, Winter Tangerine, American Chordata and elsewhere.

Brian Simoneau is the author of the poetry collection River Bound (C&R Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Cincinnati Review, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, Mid-American Review, Southern Indiana Review, Third Coast, and other journals. Originally from Lowell, Massachusetts, he lives near Boston with his family.

August 2019 Poetry Feature