Summer Quarterly – Island (August 2013 / 13.16)
Artist, Robin Grotke, received an MA in Anthropology/Museum Studies from the University of Denver. Her background in the museum field allowed her to observe visual artistic expressions and the processes for their creation, thus further providing a means of learning about various societies and cultures. The museum environment, which included exhibit design, also helped cultivate Grotke’s creativity which led her to photography as an inspiring, galvanizing medium for communication and expression. Orton Pond, 2013 is an image of a Cypress, taken in Brunswick County, North Carolina.
Triptych for Iceland
Threaded through the highland’s eye,
arteries to the civilized, the mulepack
of traders, sailors, trawled halfway
across the globe—
dots speckled on the map, to here—
waystations slopping in whalefat,
salted in mackerel, herring, potted shrimp—
and those who rowed winter storms,
aquavit-warmed, who froze in their skins
and never returned, whose ghosts are the waves
and the whistling wind—
earth compressed in molten glass,
ossified in legends of invisible people,
before talk, before song, before white parasols—
and anglers flying plastic insects
beneath the meniscus of the mountain.
We set shallow roots, cling on
like the faithful in their pews.
Marc Vincenz is Swiss-British, was born in Hong Kong, and currently lives in Iceland. His work has appeared in many journals, including Washington Square Review, Canary, The Bitter Oleander, and Guernica. Recent books include The Propaganda Factory, or Speaking of Trees, Pull of the Gravitons, Mao’s Moles (forthcoming). A new English-German bi-lingual collection, Additional Breathing Exercises, is also forthcoming from Wolfbach Verlag, Zurich, Switzerland (2013).
The Author and the Girl (Flash Mob 2013 Third Place Winner)
The author’s life is full of knots and the girl’s eyes untie them.
One night in Ciechocinek the sky painted storms and his hands trembled, he was so fascinated by her. In the kitchen, the girl pounded cinnamon in a mortar. The world was incoherent but she made perfect sense of it. And when she did, everything smiled.
One morning, one wild morning, twenty years ago, she was born. Pogrebinsky, Mila. I insist: let me taste your lips, pat you, touch you, smell you, love you, because one day, light years from now, your smile will have wrinkles, your lovely heart will be tame, said the author. And I will be a tailor’s dummy.
You are phosphorescence and a crystal chandelier in my dreams, for now. And she smiles, even though she can’t hear him think. Her skirt looks amused.
Centuries later, they meet by Czarny Staw.
Could you move your face a little to one side, please? she asks. I think I know you. She speaks with a slight accent, clink, clink, clink, as delicate as porcelain.
He doesn’t know it yet, but this is the last day of his life.
I wrote a book about you, he tells her. But the story needs another page, another hour. The hero in the book is old, and he’s getting older. Can you put his younger face back on? There is also a crack in his heart which you must fill with plots without knots, cinnamon and rosewater, yellow evenings.
The girl (who is now a woman) understands. She has lived long and when the moment comes, when he is suddenly not there, not here, she tiptoes around his empty suit. She searches the pockets for words, paragraphs, pages. Finds nothing. Makes perfect sense of it all.
Nora Nadjarian is a poet and short story writer from Cyprus. In addition to three poetry collections, a book of short stories, Ledra Street (2006), and a chapbook of fairy tale inspired microfiction, Girl, Wolf, Bones (2011), she has had work published online and in journals worldwide. She has also won prizes and commendations in international competitions, including the Commonwealth Short Story Competition and the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize. Her work was included in the anthologies Best European Fiction 2011 (Dalkey Archive Press) and Being Human (Bloodaxe Books, 2011).
The Ruins of Knossos
(in memory of Jack Gilbert)
You knelt in the ruins of Knossos
and prayed for your broken life.
Something answered, showering you
with elegiac rage. The window
of the palace overlooked the sea,
but distantly, a line etched
on a cloudy-bright horizon.
Although you rejected flimsy
and inconsequential writing,
so much San Francisco remained
you could hardly remember Pittsburgh,
where the Styx and Lethe meet,
site of your most eloquent disdain.
Maybe Crete and the smaller islands
also lingered beyond their use.
Maybe your lover, dead of cancer,
flowered like a prologue rather
than flail in violet shadows.
No one can say, since your death
has canceled your dementia.
Maybe you’ve returned to work
in steel. Maybe your degree
has finally taken root
and grounded you inside yourself,
where’s there isn’t a sea-view
anymore. The islands drift
on the edge of the known world.
The modest skyscrapers of Pittsburgh
punctuate the unknown world
and pierce your heart. The fuzz
of beard you sported at last
framed you in the palest light
to commemorate the distance
between Knossos and the heavens
you tried so hard to endorse.
William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. His latest book is City of Palms (AA Press, 2012). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His fiction, essays, poetry, and reviews have appeared in many journals.
It’s Cool in Katoomba (Flash Mob Finalist)
It’s four hours since we arrived and I still haven’t landed. It’s cool in Katoomba and the sun shines around a mobile of cloud and kites of rainbows and the rain is another shape of feelings. We become tangled in knots of sheets like the unresolved talks in our minds, but a long bath from eucalypt heated water and deep warm sleep restores our balances. We work together making frames, it works us working, then we walk again in clouds beneath a sandstone bluff along the top of its tallus slope, where waterfalls veil us in wet crystals, where eucalyptus bend and sway in silver green cascades and in the dry shelters where those angular masses have fallen from the faces the rock glows reddish orange. It’s where cockatoos call in pips and squeaks and drop bubbles of song and the wood, it splits in splintering shatters of straight grain and cross, resonating metallic, those chunks of compressed lignins twisting, burning in the ovens slow heat cooking porridge of mixed grains and rice. It’s the pauses of sun, strato cumulus and sedimentary strata, continental sandstones, and haematite pans, those fine gravels that crunch underfoot above cliff walls in red heaths, blue heaths and black heaths, with pinkish gold flowers, with your taste, with the wind of stars, the laugh you feel inside of me and the pause around which we revolve, in the dance of being, with more of us present when we talk of our families and their places in these events, the knot in the curtain opening two views of the garden, in hours on edges of gradients of blues cooling to black and half-moons, temperatures hiding in the shade wet with ferns, and polynomials of shells, and jacarandas of parrots.
Piet Nieuwland, of Dutch, Australian and New Zealand descent, lives in view of mountains, forests and the ocean near Whangarei Te Ika-a-Maui. His poetry has appeared in Mattoid, Landfall, Takahē and Live Lines. It can also be viewed at Te Ao Kikokiko and Take Flight, and at Pecha Kucha sessions in Whangarei. This is almost his first piece of flash fiction.
“Guayaba is pronounced guava in English. As the story goes, perfection and heavenly
made love and conceived the first guayaba.” ~ Francisco Pino
and we eat paradise
disguised as guayaba
Its tropic flavor
Its smooth, contained coolness
of last night’s slippery
heat and love
Lush, fruit-laden symbol of flesh
and our rest afterwards
when my body
still warm and sparkling
with your sweat
the cotton sheets
like sliced guava
laid on Spanish bread
and you leaned into the dark
to kiss my neck
Like a wasp
that temporarily relinquishes
to descend and drink
nectar from an orchid
wrapped in rain
and the night’s
long ebony shadows