LUQMAN DERKI We got out and started reading the letters to the recipients and even translating them into Kurdish. Amin the driver was doing the same with one of the villagers, who were illiterate one and all. Suddenly we heard one of the women wailing and beating her chest.
IBRAHIM SAMUEL “They’re here—” she was about to scream, bolting upright, heart pounding in her chest. It was as if a snake had brushed against her bare skin under the comforter. He snatched his arms away from where they lay against her neck and her cleavage. They were both naked.
ALFONSINA STORNI You want me daybreak, / you want me sea-spray, / you want me pearl-like. / You want me lilywhite / and, above all, chaste— / my perfume faint, / my petals shut tight. / Not even the moonlight / gets through with its beam. / No daisy can claim / she’s a sister to me.
ANANDA LIMA I wait and weigh the odds/ of me being who feeds/ and feeds and scrolls through/ feeds feeding on grey/ matter de eu ser um ser que come/ supported by skeleton feeding on/ feeds que se alimentam de massa/ cinzenta made of carbon as all living
JENNIFER HABEL Is the fifth sense talking?/ How do you do a capital G?/ I have to, don’t I?/ Do you want to be just like me? / Why did you put on makeup to go to the grocery store? / Why don’t you wear your boots?
BENJAMIN S. GROSSBERG We’re all undone by appetite; but which, / at least at first, is up to us. He pressed / himself against me in a parking lot. / We’d just finished our coffee and small talk. / A Sunday afternoon: cars pulling out / around us, and him salacious in my ear—
COLETTE BAHNA During the first few months of my service, I made up my mind that, before anything else, I would set aside my sensitivity and put my poetic sensibilities on hold, leaving them until I had first finished my service and then published my collection.
SHAHLA AL-UJAYLI So what was she to do but take off her shoe and use it to rain down blows on the man’s head and body? The director screamed and begged for mercy from a shoe whose sole had now almost completely come away from the upper.
BOB HICOK I meant to be taller, / I tell my tailor, who tells my teller, / who cashes my check all in ones / to suit the height of my ambition. / And kinder, I tell my trainer, / who trains my tailor and my teller too / to look better wetter and dryer, kinder / to people and blue skies, moles / and republicans,
ERICA EHRENBERG He saw me once in a pool under the water so he sees this in his mind often when he’s near me. He tells me about swimming across a river. Where is this river? I see branches with blue-black berries on them sinking into the water.
VIRGINIA KONCHAN Nothing is analogous to God. / In order to strike, a cobra also needs / to recoil. When it comes to vice / and juridical proceedings, I abstain. / All good things, and strokes of bad luck, / happen in threes, and so let it be this way / with us: from lust, to neutrality, to disgust.
CALLY CONAN-DAVIES …Opening / the open sea like a long polished wound, / baffling the wind / with a force mustered from currents / where free is / two things— / …barnacled as if born and raised / between Aphrodite and the devil’s thumb / a whale heaves out a whale-tail...
TYREE DAYE Every summer when they’d visit we’d make a moon around them / and listen to stories about city life, / my mother always in the background shaking her head— / she could hear us leaving already. / My favorite part was the train, / how it can take you / where you needed to be.
RAW'A SUNBUL Before leaving the hospital she swears the solemnest of oaths that this will be the last time: she assures everyone that she will not be putting herself through this painful experience ever again. And she doesn’t forget to mete out a stream of foulmouthed curses.
PATRICK RIEDY Like any story it sounds harmless, though not when you’re stuck in it. And then decades pass. Honest to God, you’d think with only two or three real-bad storms in half a century it wouldn’t still be publicity the city can’t get out from under.
FERREIRA GULLAR Just as two and two are four / I know life is worth the pain / Though the bread is precious / And the freedom, rare / Just as your eyes are clear / And your skin, dark / Just as the ocean is blue / And the lake, serene
MOHAMMAD IBRAHIM NAWAYA I sprinted towards them as they battered away. Tried, but could not open the bolted door. I shouted out, called at the top of my voice for those around me to help, but to no avail. At last I despaired, and turned my back to come away.
BOB HICOK Everyone should be given a bucket of roaches and a bucket of air, one for company, one to pay the bills. Be made to clean a grease trap for a year with his or her fingers, with his or her nose infected for life.
MATTHEW GELLMAN Sitting in her mother’s white wooden chair / my mother eyes me up and down, tells me / the medication I’m taking is making me fat / but yes, I know you need it. Like lipstick / smudged on a glass, she studies my hairline, / my father’s nose. I will never be her daughter.
ODAI AL ZOUBI Tamara says that I am constantly on edge; she says that for people like me, meditation can help. “Meditate on what?” “On yourself,” she replies. “Look inside yourself.” There’s nothing there, Tamara, nothing to see; everything that crosses my mind lies outside me.
ANGIE MACRI as a girl approaches a mirror, / not yet a queen, and maybe never, / seeing in the water / no man’s voice to answer, / to say you / are better / than another. / Over her shoulder, her mother / formed a constellation...
JENNIFER JEAN What if there were no light, he wondered. / Just sound & scent owning the night, without the invasive / Surf Shop green neon, or PCH streetlamps glowering at everyone. / Their glint was wrong, false, while the waves sounded / like aloe on a burn, a quick fix.
MATT W. MILLER For a moment I was a failed skip of stone / sunk into the river for a moment I was the river / purling in long last shadows of September / for a moment I was a skinny grizzly climbing / from a beer can for a time I was Christmas lights wrapping around downtown's smokestack
THE HINDIYEH MUSEUM OF ART Selections from Syria, courtesy of the Hindiyeh Museum Of Art in Jordan exhibits a distinguished collection of contemporary Arabic art from the start of the 20th century to the present, with frequent new acquisitions from established and emerging artists.
ROWAN BEAIRD You are from Nevada, from a town we visited once when I was very young, before your parents passed. My only memories of it are placing my hand in a basket of hot, shimmering tortilla chips, and watching several cats sleep at the lip of a driveway.
ELIZABETH METZGER The quickness of living. The quickness of wanting to kill something. Forget dreams, they attack me and I welcome their landings. / Kiss me again without being asked / or asking if I do love / as a gas mask filled with all our unsayable thoughts.
STEVE KISTULENTZ There can be nothing humble about a modern supplicant / if circumstance leaves him begging for a five-pound block / of cheese. Someone makes sandwiches of broken glass / and light mayo for the children of the divorced, who are us.
GHASSAN ZEINEDDINE Hani Nuwayhid first heard the professional mourners sing at his sister’s vigil on a winter night in ’84. He was ten. His older sister, Serene, lay in a white dress on a bed propped in the middle of the parlor. Her cheeks were powdered red.
ANGELA F. QIAN I was settling down for a quiet afternoon at my usual café when the waitress asked me if I’d like to try their new marmalade. “It’s made from special wild oranges from Ehime,ˮ she explained. They were planning on officially introducing it next month.
CATHERINE STAPLES Some say three, others nine. Varro claimed / one was born of water, another played daylight / like wind, invisible as the airs on Caliban’s isle. / A third made a home of the human voice singing. / Dear Hesiod, perhaps it wasn’t the Muses / you glimpsed on sodden farm fields
PIBULSAK LAKONPOL The Eighth Month exhales a veil of gray smoke around the Pi Pan Nam Mountains. Without their leaves, teakwood trees stand naked beneath a blistering sun, while in the dry wind, the ashes of a distant grassfire drift. At night a crescent moon shines with a lonely yellow light.
DENISE DUHAMEL In this story, the gun doesn’t go off. The sun melts the pistol into a vase, the intact barrel becoming a lip to hold flowers. The un-murdered kiss, their clothes sliding to the floor, their orgasms proof of a feminine ending.
DIANA BABINEAU You go where you belong, my father says to me, / ten years old, listening at bedtime to his story / about how he once was mugged in Brooklyn / in 1974, a small, polite Canadian / trying to buy gas and a Coke. Like here, he meant, / this neighborhood where crime is low...
AATISH TASEER It was black American writing, and the black American experience more generally, that first alerted me to the presence of history in America. It made the TV-prepared reality I inhabited less flat; it was my first intimation of something tragic and complex...
ANTONIO ROMANI I pressed my bike’s pedal, and immediately focused on navigating safely through the motorized fleet. In my new city, bicycles are merely tolerated, like dual citizens by the U.S. government. Drivers often don’t “see” them, and when they do, they mistrust them.
RICHIE HOFMANN The streets are named for German poets / in my huge provincial Midwestern city. / Dust whirls up from the tires of passing cars, / lifting a veil over me, like Romantic longing. On Goethe, I want nothing / more than to reach down and feel a lover’s big skull
RIVER ADAMS Andrew told me later they’d just wanted me to hear a familiar melody, a familiar language. They didn’t speak Albanian, so they brought whatever melody they came across—exotic, intricate. Rhythmic. I knew the song: it was a ballad about murder and lost love.
Curated by: SARAH WHELAN Happy Launch Week! We are so delighted that Issue 17 is here in time for spring. Enjoy recommendations from some of the people who brought Issue 17 into the world: Ilan Stavans, Patrick Riedy, River Adams, and Hisham Bustani.
HAIDAR HAIDAR All the former prisoner wanted was a fragment from the circle of calm, stripped from the body of noisy time. He lay down to doze, trying to rid himself of the noise and the horror of imprisonment coursing through his nervous system. With his return, the silence had returned…