Winter Quarterly – City (February 2013 / 13.4)
Artist, Claire Ibarra: Claire Ibarra’s photographs have appeared in Blue Print Review, Eclectica Magazine, Poetic Pinup, UnFold Magazine, and in the “Beverage” issue of Pirene’s Fountain. Her poetry has appeared in Blue Fifth Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and UnFold Magazine.
from 45 Memos
Memo to the Homeless Woman by Sutter Stockton Garage
the cardboard sign says I’m hungry says AIDS
stained hoodie market cart and pooch with big ears
why you instead of me who gave me Rosie to ride
and you only old tickets already torn in half
why do I say stop I want to get off while you keep
trying to get on around and around I try not to eye
you sitting cross-legged head bowed I throw
money can’t bear to see the baby in your lap
Memo to the Toll Takers at the Golden Gate Bridge
I have Fast Pass so we don’t meet much any more
but I hear that like doormen your suicide rates
are high people don’t ask who are you and where
are you going never look in your eyes
invisibility is frightening no one knows this like
women of a certain age
they’re not a presence on the sidewalk or in the street
they’ve become mostly shadows dust
Memo to My Sister-in-Law the Day before She Dies
stage four hairless bag of bones remember how
gorgeous you were only months ago at the museum
now thin is excruciating why the chemo won’t help
and your fierce old lover’s back to nurse you
Irish guilt perhaps let us go now to Innisfree
all the perfections useless cherry-wood closets
emerald necklace your husband never knew of
you grip me with ghost fingers say clay and
wattles say you don’t know what’s happening
say help me I tell them you want more morphine
Susan Terris’ poetry books include The Homelessness of Self, Contrariwise, and Eye of the Holocaust. Her work has appeared in The Iowa Review, Field, Colorado Review, Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares. A former editor of RUNES, A Review Of Poetry, she is now editor of Spillway and a poetry editor for Pedestal Magazine and In Posse Review. Her poetry was included in PUSHCART PRIZE XXXI. In 2013 Marsh Hawk Press will publish her new book The Ghost of Yesterday: New & Selected Poems.
At The Spice of Life pub at Cambridge Circus, gay couples mingle with football fans here to watch Croatia beat Germany. Then it’s over and we’re out roaming Soho: wine bars, sushi bars, barred from going downstairs in the overheated Polar Bear pub, so I wander into the cool air of Chinatown with its gentle frying smells and multi lit-up archways. Our first kiss took place in one of the pointed phone boxes following a midnight meal, after we failed to get into the Wag Club before it was turned into a fun pub. He tasted of wasabi and spring evenings, thrilling me all the way down. Six months later, we’re here again.
We stroll and stray for circular miles, then climb over the fence of St Anne’s to sit in the churchyard. We watch men dancing on cars in Wardour Street while Centrepoint burns vertically above us, shining up the sky. His hands rest on my hips and suddenly, a big happy pub cascades out onto the road shouting that the toilet is overflowing, then they flood back in for a surge of last minute lager orders. He takes my hand as we leave the church to sit on the wall outside the pub and smoke and drink pints of tap water until 1 a.m., when everyone starts to sing New York, New York and do the can-can.
We walk to Trafalgar Square, arguing about falafels and minicabs, and he shouts: “Why don’t you go get the fucking bus then?” and I wonder what I see in him but he kisses my neck and off we go again through Charing Cross and Villiers Street walking manic and alive and people and no bedtime, ending up on the Embankment, where he skins up and I run across the cars to stare at the Thames billowing like a dark rain cloud. Fall in love with London for the seventeenth time: London, bright and beaming, London, calm and black. I stand on Queen’s Walk at 2 a.m. trying to flag down taxis, finally find one to take us over Tower Bridge, but no further because he’s going back to Canvey Island. We walk back to his place to get slowly stoned and eat bagels and I lie awake until five, listening to him snoring, holding a fingerful of the soft flesh that explains why I’m here. When we fuck, twice, in the morning, he murmurs my name but I don’t believe him.
Rachel Stevenson grew up in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, and now lives in London, UK. She has been a contributor to Pygmy Giant, Smoke: A London Peculiar, Dr Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Streetcake magazine, A Cuppa and Armchair book, The Guardian travel section, and the Utopia Arts Festival, and has had her work turned into a short film for the Tate Modern website.
Street there’s a spot at the end of the N
uptown local side where, when the weather’s
hot, tar drips in thin
stalactites from a single shiny sheet
the triangle’s tip
drips lines like a Pollack on the yellow
rubber platform edge
bumper. I spot Geofu and Lagu.
Late train wait I stand
and draw runes with my umbrella tip, pull
puddle water, paint
Ansur Rad and Ken, Eoh Nied and Wynn.
A downtown train waits
across the way and the O in an Oz
sign haloes a Thai
woman’s head. Glinda, Ozma, I think Ing.
In winter I dodge
the shitcicles on the rimed sidewalk. Is.
This morning the wind
flicked the hairs on my wrist into Hagall
and Daeg. Back sun-warmed,
I contemplated the shapes our shadows
make on the painted
brick, on the vinyl siding, our edges
eaten away, these
slimmer caricatures of our fleshy
selves like a rune script
written out over the early el air:
Tir, Mann and Feoh.
The towers of the Triborough swing out
over the river
all of Manhattan blotted out by smog.
Four in flight, two birds
two planes, all at different heights, the outspread
wing flap, the contrails
echo Eolh point Peorth spell Sigel
sky wiped blank by Wyrd.
Matthew Hittinger is the author of Skin Shift (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2012) and three previous chapbooks. He lives and works in NYC. You can read more of his work at matthewhittinger.com.
Jump, Jump, Jumping
When Mirna wakes up she can see by her clock that it is 7.00 am, September 11. She smiles with satisfaction − for some time now she has successfully used thought control to wake herself at exactly this time each morning, every day. An outsider might observe something Mirna has not: this is exactly the time that Mr Szirani’s new clock radio, set to BBC Four, switches itself on in the room next to hers.
As she has done in recent weeks – now she has successfully controlled the matter of sleeping in – Mirna gets up without any delay. She can now use the bathroom in the mornings before the others who also rent rooms on the third floor. Mr Szirani comes out of his room, as she is returning, faded blue toilet bag and greying towel in his hand. They are aware of each other in the dark hallway but do not speak.
Once in her room again, Mirna sits at the table next to the window. She can see the tile roofs of other houses, the same London landscape she has looked out at for twenty years. If she stares hard enough she might catch a glimpse of a tall house across the other side of London. Sometimes she thought she saw it: the house had an attic with windows, and outside a balustrade around the top under the eaves. A family lived in this house. A man who wore a suit of thin pinstripes would disappear from the house each day, heading to the train station. And she remembered children. Two boys in short grey pants, orange-red blazers, grey socks to the knee, with schoolbags and high piping voices. Surely there was a third? A baby, a little girl with a name that sounded feminine and floral. Daisy. Florence. Aster or was it Esther? A thin pale little face, a thin little body which Mirna can just make out, floating down, down, down from the balustrade. She frowns trying to make the image clearer but then it fades from view.
For a long time, Mirna watches a black and white cat preening itself on a grey wall. When the cat gets up and stalks off, Mirna goes over to her wing armchair. A stack of yellowing newspapers is balanced on the armrest. She picks up one and rapidly scans the pages.
Something catches her eye on the lower left hand corner of the newspaper. She bends towards it so she read it. A man has tried to sneak bizarre food from China into Britain by hiding it in a sleeve sewn into his jeans. The newspaper says that Ying Xuan Zhou, aged 30, of Hounslow, arrived from China with products he claimed were for Chinese medical purposes. When interviewed, he lied to the Customs Officers about what he had: five bags of money-head fungus, a bag of crocodile meat, a vial containing snake gall bladders and two bags of sliced deer horn. He also had 12 bags of Chinese herb tea.
She cuts the story out to add to a pile of cuttings she keeps on the small table beside the armchair.
She turns on the television. The Breakfast Show is on, advertising some new thriller in which an aeroplane flies right into the middle of a tall skyscraper, and bursts into flames.
Mirna returns to her newspapers for a time, busily scanning page after page, as if she may be searching for something in particular.
When she looks up again some time later she sees that part of the building on the television screen is falling in on itself. The building seems to be constructed of cardboard, flimsy stuff that just disperses everywhere. In floors above the flames, tiny shapes stand at windows and take aim. They jump, lightly like weightless beings, falling through the sky and down and down. Words run beneath the pictures, on the screen, but too fast for Mirna to read. She’s bored now, and flicks to another channel. But the same movie is also being advertised. Now people run along streets, screaming, their faces and bodies grey with ash.
She pushes the mute button and catching sight of the news item face up on the pile of clippings, decides she is thirsty. She would like a cup of tea. And maybe a muffin. Picking up her handbag, she removes the key from the inside of the door, locks it from outside, and makes her way downstairs. There she frees her shopping cart from where it is padlocked to the banister leg.
She pushes the cart along Gloucester Road until she reaches the Mermaid café. Going inside, she sees that the girl behind the counter is different from the usual one who remembers her order. This one has wild red hair and she ignores Mirna because she is staring at the small TV suspended above her counter.
Mirna has to make a special effort. She speaks slowly and asks for: Earl Grey tea, two bags in one pot, extra water in another pot, milk in a china jug, two packets of sugar, two slices of white bread, with butter not margarine, a pottle of strawberry jam, and a cream cake with two cherries on it.
People come in to order coffee to go – latte, tall, grande, cappucino, watermelon. They speak quickly. They garble things like: my sister’s nephew, my boss’s’ daughter, my ex-next-door neighbour, my penpal, someone I met in a lift, they work there, they have an apartment in Manhatten, my God it’s frightening, terrifying, unreal, surreal, extreme, unfair, terrorists, bombers, bad bad people and what next?
Mirna ignores them, waiting for the girl to bring the tray with her order.
When it arrives, she looks down, and sees that the girl has placed an extra cherry on the cake. The baby’s name comes to her: Lily. Tears fall onto the plate in front of her.
Kate Mahony has an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand. Her fiction has appeared in Best New Zealand Fiction, Vol 6, Turbine, Takahē, the International Literary Quarterly, Tales for Canterbury, Blue Crow Magazine, Flash Frontier, and Blackmail Press. One of her short stories was a finalist in the BNZ 2008 Katherine Mansfield Award.
Emilio’s Tapas, Sol y Nieve
The waiter is very handsome.
I choose to sit outside.
He brings iced coffee, a pot of cream,
raw sugar. I am never lonely.
The train was early. I walked all the way here
from the station. In full sun,
it rained, water sparkling
in the shadows of tall buildings,
in the bright crosswalks.
No one else stood on the corner
in open-armed joy, en el sol y la lluvia.
One by one the dishes come.
Cucumber soup with a garnish of diced melon,
or, the waiter tells me, hazelnuts con la nieve.
I imagine the winter.
Calamari in butter, tough hollow bodies,
tiny pink & purple tentacles.
Spanish tortilla, potatoes cubed in egg.
Nothing is expected of me.
I dip an oval of bread in olive oil.
I sip the wine.
My lips close covered with crumbs.
If I cannot speak of the miracle,
I don’t know why I’m here.