Artist, Robert Klein Engler: Engler was born in Chicago. His poems and stories have appeared in Borderlands, Hyphen, Christopher Street, The James White Review, American Letters and Commentary, Kansas Quarterly, and many other magazines and journals. He was the recipient of Illinois Arts Council Literary Award for his poem “Three Poems for Kabbalah,” which appeared in Fish Stories, II.
Joan Stepp Smith
Language Loss & the Mutability of Gulp
I wanted the minnow to speak — I held her in my hands gently
writhing, wanting her to explain about her slits.
I must have wanted gill info more than I wanted to be a fish
and a wish to be a window beyond any other lust that day.
This before subsequent obsessions with flotsam and disgust
[and what blossoms outside the nature of flux] as I held my minnow
in the neighbor’s meadow blue-green and beastly by that river
where five black boars and a big pink poodle will show up
— five badass boars being herded by a prissy poodle,
a pom-pom cut Standard right off my mother’s skirt.
By then I’d gathered when to mix it up and when a rhinestone collar
is a life saver [that je ne sais quoi punch of sparkle over the vulnerable
even if pink and red clash] and I see her limp off bloodied and inconsolable,
gnawed alive [like that the rest of her life] mad [she couldn’t outsmart]
five boars and a kid with Spam under her fingernails loving a minnow
dropped in a lax half-smile onto hot rocks [and — poof ] got totally cooked.
Joan Stepp Smith, a native San Francisco, has degrees in English and Art History from the University of California at Berkeley and Sir John Cass School of Art and Design in London. She founded Starworks, a San Francisco public relations and conceptual marketing firm, and co-produced the award winning documentary G-String Mother with Erik Lee Preminger about growing up as the love child of the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee and Otto Preminger. A lover of all animals, Smith provides respite care for retired performance horses on her ranch in Northern California. In a Pasture with Palominos (Tebot Bach, 2010) is her most recent collection of poems.
Donald Duck in Brazil
Saludos Amigos (1942)
The Three Caballeros (1944)
Clown of the Jungle (1946)
[N]ot everyone was enamored of this new direction. James Agee detected a “streak of cruelty” in Caballeros, a streak he thought had been gathering force for years in Disney’s films, perhaps as Walt’s retribution for the tribulations he felt he had suffered. Barbara Deming, writing in Partisan Review, also believed that Disney “had wrought something monstrous,” but she thought that in doing so he had made a telling commentary on the times. As Deming saw it, Disney’s “gift” was to “be able to accept wholeheartedly the outlook of the hour, and to improvise with it, whatever it might be,”…In Caballeros, by making the entire film into a phantasmagoria in which characters and shapes keep morphing into other characters and shapes, in which the object of one’s desire seems to be attained only to disappear, in which both the characters and the audience keep losing their bearings, Walt Disney had managed to find the perfect metaphor for a world spinning in the vortex of war. “Nothing holds its shape,” Deming observed, concluding that Donald Duck in Caballeros “could be likened in his adventures here, his confusions and translations, to most major characters now passing across our screens” and presumably to Americans generally: lost.”
–Neal Gabler, Walt Disney: The Triumph of The American
Imagination (2007), pp. 409-410
Something strange is creeping across me.
– John Ashbery
I was the yang to Mickey’s sweet yin.
I was the acolyte of Walt’s cold, black heart –
his bag man, wingman, his
second-story man, his confidential agent.
Follow the crackers, amigo; dig deep.
I had clearance from J. Edgar himself.
In 1941, Walt and I and a few trusty sketchers
flew to Rio on a “Good Will Tour.” Truth is,
we went to fight the Nazi menace.
While the others noshed risoles and drew pretty pictures,
the nasty work – the shiv jobs, the mail drops,
the passing of unmarked dolares in preto briefcases –
was plumbed by me.
Okay, I schtupped the samba queen.
And if I grease-gunned the Araquan bird
in the Clown of the Jungle sequence – the one
Walt sat on until after the war – what of it?
I killed the clown in order to save him.
I was filming four blue hummingbirds
who idled in the acacia tree, crooning
zum, zum, zum, so sweetly to the orchids.
I finally couldn’t stand the Araquan’s popping
into the view finder; his constant chaca-laca-laca.
My job was to show those Cariocas that, if push
came to nut-crunch, it was our hemisphere, too.
Call it friendly fire. Call it a war crime
if you must – who’s counting? In the quease
of the queasy jungle, mistakes were made.
No matter. These days, I’m an ex-pat, living in Belize.
The sun is bright, the cerveza cold, and nothing
can touch me but the breeze.
Greg Rappleye’s books include A Path Between Houses (University of Wisconsin Press, 2000), which won the Brittingham Prize, and Figured Dark (University of Arkansas Press, 2007), which was first runner-up for the Dorset Prize. He lives near Grand Haven, Michigan.
We all have our own acre of pain
The heat, the bilirubin rising.
Tonight, the feverish body is braille
Under the finger tips
And the swelling smooth and
Warm like a polished stone.
The mystics cure hepatitis by tying live pigeons to the stomach,
After they quiver and die under the leather straps.
The world begins again sans jaundiced eye.
The mystics can see to the other end of the world
And everything they see, they know.
While we just diddle around.
The consolation is that we can wait in the ante-
chamber and let Maria Callas pour in from speakers,
and outside the violet sky spreads an ink spill.
In the distance the machines of the world grind glass
and metal conducts particles like musical notes
in some future Opera—of how the world works.
Tonight, nothing extraordinary will happen
not to us at least.
Our lives will be unchanged,
Except the feverish mind can wander
the eyes hot in their sockets see halos around
all the objects in the room, lose their edges and definition and the wall
becomes a Rothko of color.
What if every face you pass on the street
wears the veil of pain, not just a weary countenance,
and every voice hollow at the other
end of the call is asking to be healed?
On their behalf
I could make a tally: the greatest lies ever told?
The check is in the mail
Doing it like this you can’t get pregnant
Arbeit Macht Frei
It’s all conjecture and conjured up
from that remote sad outpost of:
Once there was
like that memory: you were nine and the Goldman’s green Dodge was first base and
the sewer grate second
and home plate was only imagined
as the older boys that came racing around the slope and the dogs
began that twilight bark at the ends of their chains.
And when you reach that place, a plateau, you will be free in retrospect,
there, where the river moved slowly through town.
As a student you learned under the electric tube of lights that
hummed like bees,
and sounded the same as the
hive that Samson saw in the lion’s rib cage.
He took something brutal from that image
And then later knew to set the foxes’ tails on fire.
And the fields, they burned.
I can put the two-pronged question out
Is a fable pulled taut
A truth or is it just
another stab at it?
The mystics know tightening the straps
That the pigeons’ honeyed voices and crushed wings cure jaundice
something else needs to quiver and die for us to be cured.
What does it matter now?
there are the letters that were never sent
and more that never arrived.
In our dark history guards rolled cigarette from pages of Talmud,
Some of the words could have been worked
into great volumes of the future.
All poems after all are transcribed by
ghost writers and etched into the open palms.
A cataract, a clavicle,
The deep glass blue endless reality—not giving a shit.
The fabulist realizes: you cannot see what there is not there to see
Like a tattoo on the child’s bones.
Brittany Newmark-Klein’s work has appeared in Gettysburg Review, Gulf Coast, Seneca Review, and, most recently, The Montreal Review.
On the road
in San Francisco,
in this pricey hotel room without windows,
there’s a mirrored shelf of tiny Buddha people
who turn into whoever I want them to be.
Reflected in the hungry oval mirror,
my grandma is smiling, baking strudel.
My mom is hugging her, like she never did,
and they are trying not to jump up and down
so my mom’s cinnamon-apple coffee cake won’t fall.
My dad has a hand on his stomach, saying
“Ellie, that smells good,” like that day
she actually baked it – she’s forgotten,
but I remember. I was four.
Breathing cinnamon sugar, I see myself,
my hair like it was on my wedding day,
all real blond shininess and Colin has cut it
to fall like rain,
though he wasn’t alive then,
and I’m wearing the dress we couldn’t afford
back when I was twelve, the soft pastel petals
dropping from an empire waist,
and the good shoes I could never believe I got
when I was six – black patent leather with
bows on the toes.
In that dress and those shoes,
I’m dancing like Naomi used to dance,
my hair spilling forward, grazing the floor,
flinging up to fall back again,
flying all around like daisy petals
when I turn and make a wish,
And I’m waltzing with Rick
who’s smiling because his novel is done,
and we’re all going to be rich,
and Willa can go to Japan
where there will be no earthquakes,
no tsunamis, no radiation –
she’ll draw mystical healing machines
and her hands will work like they did
when she was in the eighth grade.
She’ll come back to us
and draw this room.
And we’ll all live inside it
whenever we want.
Rose Auslander’s six-word memoir is “Mathematician’s daughter – has trouble counting.” She is Poetry Editor of Folded Word Press and stays away from math. She has received a Pushcart nomination from Literary Lunchroom and a Best of the Net nomination from Form Reborn – and she is a Regular Contributor to Referential Magazine. Here work has appeared in cur-ren-cy and in Right Hand Pointing.
Mark J. Mitchell
We are in a high-rise building
Formed of extruded concrete and glass.
Below us, a beachfront city – the name
Of which I don’t know – spreads out
In a gold and gray crescent.
He smokes. I do not. We are
Discussing an old movie. Soon,
She will arrive. It will begin.
We shall begin. The instruments are laid out.
She’s arrived, dressed like a refugee
From an old movie. She smokes. Looks
At the nameless town. He taps his long
Nose. I wait. She discards her coat
Getting ready to begin. We shuffle
Our feet on industrial carpet. Before the victim
Arrives we look down from the concrete balcony.
There is a lot of room to fall.