Audacity: The New Scarlet Letter

BY CAROLINE BERGER

1.
“Audacity: the quality or state of being audacious: as a: intrepid boldness b: bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints.” -Merriam Webster Dictionary

As I type these words, it is 12:45 a.m. on Inauguration Day, and I cannot sleep. About an hour ago, I watched, giddy with excitement, the clock’s slow progress toward history. Granted, my being awake was in part due to a looming deadline for this essay and one or two espressos, but as it grew nearer and nearer to the stroke of midnight, I could not help but think of what the day ahead …

Jen the First

BY BENJAMIN MATVEY

Suddenly, there is a scent in my nose that makes everything around me irrelevant: the perfume of the first girl who was ever foolish enough to have sex with me. I had been fingering through the latest contribution of Desmond Morris an instant ago, but now I am assaulted with wafts of that far too sweet, girlish, nonsensical scent; like a mixture of lavender, cinnamon, and citronella. I shove the book back into the shelf and spin around, startling an old man in a tweed hat behind me, but I do not see the culprit. …

The Hopeful Story People Want to Hear

BY CATHERINE CURAN

I. Faith

Three weeks before your twenty-fifth birthday you visit a well-known New York hospital to see a specialist, a kindly old blue-eyed doctor who is so pleased to meet you, who inserts a long thin needle into your throat efficiently, apologetically, looking for evidence of a malfunction you feel confident he will not find.

The odds are against it: you are young, you are healthy. More importantly (in your view) you are an intuitive person; if something were wrong you would have suspected a problem, felt a nagging unease.

In twenty five years you have seen ample reason …

A Report from Kenya: Parsing a Native Son

BY CHARLES A. MATATHIA

This piece was written just before the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America on January 20, 2009.

Has Change Really Come?

Thousands crowd around transistor radios in Nairobi and all around Africa from Goma to Mogadishu. Far away in Chicago, a once upon a time “skinny kid with a funny name” stands before an ecstatic crowd. “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible,” he begins, “who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive …

A Cub in Winter

BY LUIS H. FRANCIA

Her skin tells the truth: full, curvesome, with hints of over-ripeness, and yet glorious, glorious. My own skin, alert as a prairie dog.

Those were my salad days, the days of my early summer, they were the days of her early autumn. And it was winter that January, cold, brutal, my first in the realm, tempering the jubilation of an unrepentant ex-acolyte who, by moving to faithless Manhattan, had strained, if not broken, the thick leash of church and home. I needed sex as an aperient, to expunge still powerful strictures from my system. I needed symphonies …

A Day at the Dentist

BY ERICA SILBERMAN

It’s just after rush hour on a warm July morning and I’m picking up my mother at Grace’s place in Bridgeport. I have to work at five-thirty in Manhattan and I’m praying that the traffic will behave and I will be able to take my mother to the dental clinic at Norwalk Hospital, bring her back to Bridgeport and make it back to the city on time. I drove to my father’s place in Connecticut after work the night before because I am panicked that I’ll miss the appointment, and it makes more sense …

Moonstreet

BY STEPHANIE SHERMAN

There were nights
when the moon
rolled down my nose,
paused at my lip
and slipped
down Arévalo street.

The children’s feet
confused it with a ball.
As they screamed “goal,”
it flew back among
the stars.

There were nights
when the moon
was melted with milk,
cinnamon and corn
in the big pots
at Floresta corner.

I drank it in a paper cup
with an empanada
covered with stars
and powdered sugar.

There were nights
when the moon
was everywhere.

***

CALLELUNA

Habían noches
cuando la luna
se resbalaba por mi naríz,
pausaba sobre mi labio
y se deslizaba
por Calle Arévalo.

Los pies de los niños
la confundían con una pelota
y volaba hacia las estrellas
mientras gritaban “gol”.

Habían noches
cuando la luna
se fundía con canela,
mote y leche hervida
en las ollas de la Floresta.

La bebíamos
en copas de papel
con empanadas,
cubiertas de estrellas
y …

Disciple

BY CHING-IN CHEN

Don’t know when
it began, the vision.
One by one, I let go.

My husband calls me
a crazy wife, bad
mother, my father

won’t speak to me.
I did not return
for mother’s funeral,

not
tainting
her spirit.

Twenty years, my
gaze through the
keyhole. I

gave up meat
and pleasure, wanting
my strong stalks

in old age. Listening
to Teacher, my mind
approached

the tunnel, truth.
People say we are
bad, but I am

learning to be
better. My family
cannot see

I love others
like my blood.
We surround

the consulate in the
rain, a prayer
band against

torture, why we
outside the subway
station delivering

the truth. Newspapers,
blood in the photos.

I accept they
do not understand

I have spent
twenty years
like a patient farmer

waiting for rain.

Now it’s my turn

To take up the camera.

Neptune’s Daughter, Luminescent Orchestrii

BY DOMINIC MASI

Neptune's DaughterWhen hearing the term “gypsy punk,” a few images come to mind: band members jumping around like mad men, a crazy audience, loud drums and a load of booze. Going into “Neptune’s Daughter,” the new release from Brooklyn based band Luminescent Orchestrii, I had a certain idea of how the album was going to sound. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Unlike the raucous hysteria of modern day gypsy punk heroes, Googol Bordello, Luminescent Orchestrii’s sound has a bit more class and subtlety. The album begins with “Moldavian,” a fast paced instrumental that sets the tone for what follows. The heavy drums …

Default

BY CAROLINE BERGER

Still
a
flare of anger

an
ache
of loss

a
phantom limb
feeling

whenever

she

reads

he

the default pronoun

striped of its
beautiful
ess
curves.

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