All posts tagged: Issue 23

Podcast: Nathan Jordan Poole on “Idlewild”

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Nathan Jordan Poole speaks to managing editor Emily Everett about his story “Idlewild,” which appears in The Common’s new spring issue. In this conversation, Nathan talks about doing seasonal work at Christmas tree farms, the workers from all walks of life he met there, and how those experiences and those people helped to inspire this story. He also discusses his writing and revision process, his story collections and future projects, and why he chooses to write unromantically about rural life.

Image of Nathan Poole's headshot and the Issue 23 cover (piece of toast on turquoise background)

Podcast: Nathan Jordan Poole on “Idlewild”
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Hummingbird Tantra

By CORRIE WILLIAMSON

 

 

Everybody wants to let go, but how do you let go if you
        don’t hold things?

               —Daniel Odier, Tantric Quest

 

Red draws their tiny eye, and every hummingbird
feeder you can buy blooms a plastic, stoic
ruby, effigy of flower, tadasana of red. Already
they have eaten me out of sugar, but forgetful today

Hummingbird Tantra
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Idlewild

By NATHAN JORDAN POOLE

December evenings, his wife and daughter would linger at the kitchen window to watch the deer come down their switchbacks. There was a stand of chinkapins. The deer would prize the nuts from the urchin-shaped husks. He can see his wife leaning over the sink. His daughter on a stool beside her.

He once cherished this time of year. Days of red sumac and rime, days when the rock walls along the mountain parkway bared swags of gray ice. The rhododendron would curl up like tubes, near blue. Everything on the hillsides would be exposed, including the deer. He sees them standing there still, two images of each other across time, their red aprons on, matching bows at the back of their waists, watching the deer. Such a small, true pleasure, to watch something wild and vulnerable. He rides along the parkway, heading home, knowing his wife and daughter will not be there. He watches the roadbed for ice, for rocks that broke free in the first hard frost. It’s an old habit, the way a parent drives, wary of any threat.

Idlewild
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The Woman in the Well

By ANU KUMAR

 

For nearly two years of my life, I lived with a ghost. It was when my father, a civil servant, was posted in Sambalpur, a now forgotten town in northern Odisha, a state in India’s east. Newspapers then, and even now, always added the descriptor “India’s poorest state” whenever Odisha made the headlines. This happened in the late 1980s, when several hunger-related deaths were reported in a tribal-dominated district in the state’s west, and a decade later, after an Australian missionary was burnt to death, along with his two sons, by a group led by a Hindu fanatic.

The Woman in the Well
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Side Mirror

J.D. SCRIMGEOUR

You’re trying to reattach your car’s side mirror
but your ungloved fingers can’t remove
the protective strip from the two-sided tape,
and the mid-morning sun angles into your eyes

as you try to align and fasten the plastic clips.
You’re floundering in flashes of light and dark,
so after a few minutes you scoot inside
because January’s cold, and ask your wife for help,

Side Mirror
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Of Prayers and Orisons

By BENJAMIN PALOFF

 

It has become the first ritual of morning to throw the door open, welcoming the breeze now free of evening’s biting insects, another in a long line of self-justifications: it will arrive whether it’s welcome or not. As will the birds, who know when you breakfast and on what, who are generous with suggestions, whether here, in your dishabille, or at the seasonal cafe, in not much else. There is a three-sided varnished pine box with a plexiglass front, like a bird feeder or diorama or, in traditions less eager to let go or get rid, a coffin, scale being trivial to all species but those least likely to accept it, though the slot on top and slips of paper on display suggest a raffle or ballot, a variation on a theme performed in a tiny theater, and the blanks and golf pencil at the side are, in combination and without need to announce itself with embossed lettering or miniature reply envelope—scale, again—an invitation. At this suggestion, you suggest: The history of our times betrays the stupid arrogance of this and so many other definite articles, symptomatic of these times and others. It might be noticed and echoed and yet go unchallenged on social media, but here it could ignite a sudden change, a contemplative pleasure, and be forgotten all in the span of a few moments, like rain in the green season. It means something to us, this refusal to admit our visceral understanding of the unity of space and time, when, honestly, we know them in no other way. Whereas your ruminations on what memory means to the birds have proven inconclusive. Like you, they’re as routinized in their offices as offices. Like you, they celebrate the light that breaks the rain, throughout the day and without memory, as the arrival of a god. 

Of Prayers and Orisons
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Landscape with Cheetah Going Seventy in the Serengeti

By DAVID HERNANDEZ

That’s what that russet brushstroke is
below the skyline—her spots
lost in the open plains. That’s hunger 
that blurs her. We cannot see
what she is chasing, but we can
imagine it. Zebra. Gazelle. Impala.
Antelope. The eyes of the animal 
large in its sockets. I like that lone 
acacia tree back there—it has this
bonsai spirit to it. This calm. 
And the trio of almost imperceivable 
stars in the upper corner, those light
pink grains, which remind me we are 
also traveling quick around the sun—
957 times faster than this cheetah,
not to mention the speed of the sun 
inside the Milky Way, and the Milky Way
through cold, dark, soundless space—
1.3 million mph, last time I checked.
Astronomers and physicists did
the math for us, but little did they know
what it would do to human minds 
or hearts—mine is going 
pretty fast now, just thinking about 
our velocity, our spiraling out.
Here, place your palm against it. 
Over my sticker that says Visitor

Landscape with Cheetah Going Seventy in the Serengeti
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Mosaic School

By JOHN POCH

 

The youngest deconstructionists among us
are proud at first to spend their days breaking up
great slabs of fired tile every shade of wine
while the masters climb the scaffolds
with their gold pride, their gilt, reaching for
a sandal buckle or the heights of a halo.

Mosaic School
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