Bryan R. Monte – AQ26 Autumn 2019 Art Review

Bryan R. Monte
AQ26 Autumn 2019 Art Review

Wim Crouwel: Mr. Gridnik, 28 September 2019–28 March 2020,
Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum.

Mr Gridnik

It seems as if the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum had read my mind, or maybe the AQ 2018 Yearbook and/or the AQ 2019 websites, because its Wim Crouwel: Mr. Gridnik exhibition, which opened this autumn just after AQ26 went online, is a perfect match for this issue’s Borderlands theme. Wim Crouwel, who unfortunately just passed away on 19 September, had the nickname of Mr Gridnik because he invented a simple, New Alphabet typeface based on grids and points, presaging the digital revolution’s display and print capabilities.

Without knowing it, I had become acquainted with Crouwel’s work in America as an amateur philatelist when I added his 5- and 25-cent postage stamps to my collection, years before I ever imagined emigrating to the Netherlands. These stamps’ monochrome backgrounds which fade in and out in intensity from top to bottom and their straight up and down san serif letters and numbers, certainly made them stand out from the other more exotic, flowery, or patriotic stamps featuring nations’ flags, colours, wildlife, fruit or flowers in my collection.

The exhibition includes Crouwel’s sketches for the New Alphabet. Its letters are formed using a square’s four sides and are composed of only lower case letters with a few short ascenders and descenders. There are no italics and no capital letters in this font and m’s and w’s are created by underlining n’s and u’s. In addition, Crouwel’s paper sketches of raster, letters made up of what most know as pixels, are also on view. Some might find Crouwel’s simple, clean, techno, democratic, signature style lettering and design a bit unimaginative, sterile, and restricted. Nonetheless, this style of signage was easily readable and reproducible in various media such as electronic stock market ticker tapes, train station and airport arrivals and destination boards, and early computer monitors.

In addition to typefonts, Crouwel also designed museum exhibition posters, catalogues, and books (dozens of which are on display in gallery 0.13). True to his minimalist tendencies, he abbreviated the Stedelijk Museum’s name to SM and used the same sort of monochrome backgrounds, lettering and numbers as on his stamps. In the collection of the dozens of Stedelijk posters he designed is one example of a concept board with measurements and notes for a 1970 Claes Oldenburg exhibition which features a sculpture, with a leather-like texture, of some sort of red fruit being juiced on an old-fashioned, hand juicer. Another is a Marlene Dumas exhibition poster from 2014. Posters for the Berlage’s Haagse Gemeente Museum are also included and feature architectural drawings and the type placed diagonally across the poster.

His love of drawing and typefonts, is described lovingly and in detail in Lex Rietsma’s 2019 video for the Dutch Broadcasting Corporation in gallery 0.11. The documentary tells of Crouwel’s years at Groningen’s Minerva Academy, where he studied fine arts and his years at Amsterdam’s Rietveld Academy. The film also mentions Crouwel’s houseboat in Amsterdam moored nearby the Olympic stadium, this house’s minimal Danish design, and its ’50s style furniture featuring a white formica-topped dining table, which Crouwel regularly covered with pencil drawings and then later scoured away. One of this son’s in the video also mentioned his father’s tendency towards graphiomania. He said that if they went out to eat in a restaurant and there was a paper tablecloth, the tablecloth would be covered with his father’s sketches by end of their meal. The video ends with nonagenarian Crouwel showing a woman of a similar age how to make his New Alphabet fonts with a stylus on a smartphone. On the facing wall of this gallery are examples of the more than dozen corporate logos Mr Grid created in his minimal, lineal style including those for Auping, the cities of Rotterdam and Groningen, the Rabobank, the Amsterdam Stedelijk Museum, and Teleac.

The last gallery, 0.10 features one wall with articles about Crouwel in Dutch newspapers such as the Books section of de Volkskrant, and an NRC Handelsblad article about his work with London Design Museum. Included with these clippings is a photo of the man himself sitting in his library surrounded by floor-to-ceiling walls of books, where he looks happy and at home.

However, this is where the exhibition literally dead-ends. Crouwel’s New Alphabet could have provided an interesting, interactive activity for school children, (similar to the 2017 Amsterdam School’s ‘Build Your Own Clock’ activity), many of whom were present during my visit to the exhibit. These students could have spent time using Crouwel’s New Alphabet to write their names or brief phrases. A few might have considered (a few years later) a career in design as a result of such an exercise. In addition, what also was a bit disappointing was that there didn’t seem to be a catalogue for this exhibition available in the Stedelijk’s bookshop. Fortunately, there was one last copy of The Monocelli Press’s The Debate: The Legendary Contests of Two Giants of Typography by Crouwel and Jan van Toorn, which I purchased to help remember some of the artefacts in this remarkable exhibition about the design and the art of a remarkable man.

Bryan R. Monte – AQ26 Autumn 2019 Book Reviews

Bryan R. Monte
AQ26 Autumn 2019 Book Reviews

Lee, Donna J. Gelagotis, Intersection on Neptune, The Poetry Press, ISBN 978-0-9967779-9-5, 106 pages.
Goswami, Amlanjyoti, River Wedding, Paperwall Media & Publishing, ISBN 978-93-82749-86-8, 106 pages.
Cutler, Juliet, Among the Maasai, She Writes Press, ISBN 978-1-63152-672-5, 289 pages.

This summer I received an unusual and interesting combination of books describing life in three different countries and continents — the US, India and Tanzania. Two are poetry books; one, a memoir. Two are by previously published AQ writers; one by a new writer with a book blurb written by another AQ contributor.

With such an interesting combination, I couldn’t wait to dive in and explore these books especially during the (again) record-breaking temperatures this last summer. I am happy to report these books all ‘transported (me) to a better world’ as Franz von Schrober wrote in his lyrics to Franz Schubert’s ‘An die Musik’.

Donna J. Gelagotis Lee’s poetry book Intersection on Neptune, won the Prize Americana in 2018. It is a collection of poems based on the experiences of three generations living in New York and New Jersey. Lee’s poems describe her great-parents emigration and difficulty of setting up businesses in their new country, their experience of xenophobia and the push to assimilate, and also the natural beauty and cultural hegemony of both these landmark locations important to America’s history.

Lee’s book is divided into two parts: the first about New York and a second, three-times-as-long section, about New Jersey. The New York section is set in Manhattan, Brooklyn (mostly Coney Island), and in New York State. The New Jersey section is set in Elizabeth, Central New Jersey including Trenton, Hamilton, and the suburbs, rural New Jersey, along the Northeast Corridor, near the Pine Barrens, and at the shore.

The Brooklyn section includes poems about geography ‘On the Edge of a City’, sociology ‘Kings Highway, Brooklyn’, ‘Solly Salamander, or Life in a Fishbowl on Avenue U’, and ‘Intersection on Neptune’, culture ‘Visit’, ‘Sylvia’, ‘Tea at The Plaza’, ‘Dinner at the Club’, and ‘T.S. On Stage,’ religion ‘Prayer for Gil Hodges’ and ‘The Fast’, national holidays ‘Coney Island, Thanksgiving, 1996’, family ‘Your Father’ and ‘Sylvia’. One of the best poems in this section and one of its shortest and thinnest is ‘21’ in which the poem’s speaker revels on the day of securing a ‘First // job, / best job // I could ever / want.’ These short, light lines dance on the page. I would hope that Lee would experiment more with this short line, which is quite different from the longer lines and stanzas in her other poems, ‘Tea at the Plaza’ excepted. The short two to five stress lines in ‘Your Father’, which describe the speaker’s father in a row boat, also mimic the oars’ motion and rhythm and the calmness of the setting.

One of the best qualities of Intersection on Neptune is Lee’s descriptions of her neighbourhood, the New Jersey countryside, and the pressure to assimilate. In the first poem in the second New Jersey section, ‘What’s American?’, Lee describes that after her grandfather’s shop window with a Russian name is broken, it’s replaced by one with an Americanized name. (Although the poem suggests a later softening of neighbour’s feelings during the Depression when her grandfather delivered the day’s unsold fruit and veg to needy families). ‘Hunger and Money’ also explores the equivalence of food security with money. The poem’s speaker imagines how her mother ‘saw how hunger / and hope intertwined.’ This second section includes poems about the old and new world related to home births, ‘Between Two Women’, the post-WWII boom, ‘At the military institute, c. 1945’, and the haste at which new highways were built in ‘He Built the Turnpike’: ‘The future had no patience. There were cars waiting / on side streets. Hurry. Build quickly.’

A significant number of poems in this section are devoted to the speaker’s home, school, and religious upbringing. Her love for learning and intellect can be seen both in ‘In First Grade’ for about penmanship and in ‘In Sixth Grade’. In the second poem, the speaker daydreams during class because she already knows the answers to her teacher’s questions having worked ahead on her assignments. ‘What We Knew Then’ and ‘Record Player’ are about the speaker’s socialization and awareness of the value of popular culture ‘Albums made money — sometimes / lots of money.’ On the other hand, ‘The Earth’s Provision’ is a poem about the wealth of suburban insect life before the neighbourhood-wide spraying with insecticides and light pollution in the ’50s and ’60s. ‘we believed in heaven — no wonder/ we could see the stars at night // as the smell of the earth filled our lungs and no one would question// how far we had come.

As always, two of my favourite of Lee’s poems, ‘Circa 1968 Auction’ and ‘My Horse had the On-screen Persona of James Dean’ have equestrian subjects. The speaker’s love for these animals and riding shows through in details such as ‘The chestnut had a slight limp. / The Appaloosa, a sway back. The bay / was handsome but wiry’ in the former and ‘Young riders on frisky ponies / preteens on lumbering horses / … Too close, and a kick could fly out’ in the latter. It was a poem about a riding a horse in a ring for AQ’s Education issue (AQ20), which first brought Ms Lee’s writing to my attention. The speaker goes on to mention disco of the ’70s in short-lined, columnar-shaped poem entitled ‘Remote’ and her adult awareness of the world in ‘Condo Morning in the Suburbs’ and ‘At the Shore’, where she compares the seaside of her youth to that of the present: ‘The ocean smells of landfill. / I sense erosion.’

The poems in Intersection on Neptune have the sweep of almost a century of American culture and history. It is a splendid book which captures the kinetic vibrancy of New York, Coney Island and New Jersey. In addition, it is an honest book that is not always positive about the post-WWI & II goals of assimilation and financial progress in the suburbs.

Amlanjyoti Goswami’s River Wedding is an interesting mix of East and West with the border between the two sometimes vague or missing entirely. This book’s colourful orange, green, and yellow cover, with a blue round quarter sphere, reinforces its global perspective. River Wedding’s poems have a millennial sweep of history from ancient Indian myths, to the British Romantic poets to last year’s KKK torch-lit march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Other locations visited and depicted by this world-traveller poet include India (‘Looking for Matthew Arnold in Chandni Chowk’, ‘Basanagar’ ‘Landour’ and ‘The Weather in Benares’), London (‘Reading Tibetan on the London Tube’, ‘Terminal 3’, ‘Whitechapel Dreaming’, ‘Bethnal Green’, and ‘Mind the Gap’), Washington D.C. (‘D.C.’) the Caribbean (‘A Caribbean Summer’). In addition the book has about a half dozen typographically unconventional poems including one concrete poem. In these poems about East and West are various heroes, writers and gods from each such as Ulysses, Derek Walcott, Shelley, Matthew Arnold, Leonard Cohen, Krishna and Karna, as well as family members, ancestors and neighbours. It is a busy, fully populated world Goswami explores physically and metaphysically.

Although the book is not physically divided into sections (something perhaps against-the-grain of a collection that wants to be all-inclusive), I feel the first 34 pages are primarily set in the poet’s homeland and among family. Most appropriately and perhaps as a sort of prologue, the first poem is entitled ‘Bard’. It depicts an older relative’s ‘ferocious bitter shout, … no soothing tongue for melting,’ and how in it the poet ‘search(es) for heart/(to) Find tender feeling.’ The poem ends, however, with this relative, in her wishes, ‘sending her daughter/ Pistols for dowry’. Weapons are present again in ‘Places’ two pages later, where the poem mentions ‘Arrivals’ and ‘Departures’ in ‘This play, / ‘Human amidst the guns,’. Gun violence appears later in ‘Re-member-ing’ in which ‘our teacher’s husband’ was killed when ‘Bullets (were) ringing the street next door’.

In ‘City Smoke’, Goswami describes a death with the metaphor: ‘You left by the window one morning’. In ‘Grandmother’ he likens this relative to a renovated house ‘of new paint / shakes in vain while stripped bare / for ceremony of coat and plaster’. In the book’s title poem, the speaker describes his mother’s antlophobia ‘afraid of water after dark’ because of a story about the rivers coming together across the village huts for a marriage. In ‘A Strange Man’, Goswami describes a neighbourhood man who Speaks to trees, scribbles / On newspapers, sells them cheap.’

The poet reveals perhaps a bit of his own personality in ‘The Blind Flautist of Panbazar’ when he writes in the title character’s voice: ‘But I like / Silent afternoons best. / When it is all /quiet around me.’ The desire for quiet and attention to light is also mentioned in other poems such as ‘Sunlight’ and ‘Away’.

The scene changes with ‘Reading Tibetan on the London Tube’. Here is a second ‘section’ with poems about London, Charlottesville, New York and Washington D.C. interspersed between religious, mythological, and philosophical poems such ‘Landour’ and ‘Rain Shelter’, ‘Diwali’, ‘A God Grieving’, ‘Abhimanyu’ and ‘The Face of Evil’ and ‘Of Goodness’, ‘The Philosopher Meets His Match’. Here, Goswami is out in the wider world, but also, as in the poems ‘Landour’ and ‘Rain Shelter’, on a pilgrimage for wider meaning as he describes his literal ascent, the ‘monkeys for company’. The next day ‘on the way home’ he sees a vista ‘green deep inside the jungle’/Not a soul in sight / And I, a traveller on the / edge of nowhere.’ The next poem, ‘Rain Shelter’ is also in this vein.

The third ‘section’ of Goswami’s book includes poems, which are certainly typographically more experimental. The first certainly would be ‘Injured Bark’, a poem in the shape of a tree. Goswami tells the tree, whose limbs have grown ‘spine-broken’ to ‘Keep going, one day, they will find in your tender bark / A home for the birds.’ Some of the poems I would include in this section have very short lines such as ‘GPS’, ‘Outsider’, ‘Canvas’ and ‘The Weather in Benares’. ‘Neighbours’ and ‘Witness are poems with two parallel columns of description which in the case of the former, readers can put together lines from the left and right columns to construct his/her narrative of a neighbour. In the case of the latter, the left hand column is composed only the repeated word ‘We’ and paired with the description of waiting out a riot because the speaker and his companions wouldn’t run and leave their grandfather behind. The last of these poems would be ‘End notes’, itself River Weddings’ ultimate poem. This is Goswami’s Ars poetica. In six notes he describes the source of his inspiration ‘that little / light that comes peering from a hole near the window.’, his ‘quiet joy’, the familiar and economic place ‘being middle born’, his awareness of signs ‘in remembrance of Priam’, his regard for poetic and philosophical traditions ‘Eliot’ and ‘Heidegger’, and lastly his respect for a ‘sixth sense’. River Wedding describes an Asian poet’s embrace of the world through the lenses of both Eastern and Western cultures.

Juliet Cutler’s Among the Maasai, describes her two years as a teacher in a Tanzanian secondary girls school. Although her book is labelled as a memoir, it includes not only about her experience as an American in Tanzania, but an account of the parallel world of new students from the Rift Valley for whom toilets and Swahili at the school are as equally as foreign as the Tanzanian heat and food are to Cutler. I am particularly proud of this memoir as portions of it, the description of the Morogoro Market, was previously discussed in the AQ Writers’ Group and published in AQ8. This market passage is typical of Cutler’s Tanzanian experiences. Cutler nervously leaves the safety of her Range Rover to explore the Morogoro Market alone. She becomes alarmed, however, when she notices she has caught the interest of a group of boys, who follow her. Anticipating perhaps a request for money, she’s startled to find that instead, one of the boys offers her a piece of his orange.

Parallel to her own story, Cutler describes the story of Neng’ida, one of the Rift Valley scholarship students. Her education is endangered at the very beginning when the man, to whom she has been promised in marriage, comes to the school with her mother to take her back home. However, the headmistress and the Neng’ida’s mother convince the man to let Neng’ida stay because they argue an education will make her a better wife and mother. Another student, whose development Cutler tracks, is Miriam. She left her home and travelled to the capital to ask the minister of education to help her escape from her family and attend school. Cutler describes Miriam’s friendly smile in the classroom and mentions how it lifts her spirits. Cutler also describes in detail the challenges she faced being thrown into the deep end as a new teacher with an unfamiliar curricula, replacing the twenty-year veteran, who wrote it.

Some practical household matters she describes include learning how to take a bucket bath and to reuse this water to flush the toilet, and how to purchase and prepare unfamiliar local food for her meals. In addition, there is the adjusting to the outdoor and indoor wildlife; snakes and rats, especially. Cultural issues Cutler wrestled with involved the role of the school as an institution of empowerment versus acculturation, interacting with her Tanzanian colleagues, and the Maasai practice of female genital circumcision. Cutler describes these subjects in an informed, sensitive manner, aware of her privileged, economic, outsider status. This is demonstrated in her thoughts about a visitor’s complaint at a Tanzanian national park:

I’m sorry ma’am, that you don’t like anything on the breakfast buffet, but did you know that just outside the boundaries of this national park, there are children who won’t have enough to eat today?

In her book, Cutler frequently asks her herself and her partner: ‘How could we live responsibly as people of relative wealth in the midst of poverty?’

Cutler’s memoir also describes how she grew as a teacher and how she ardently worked to prepare her students for their yearly and final O-level exams which could make the difference between returning home to their villages or to have the choice to go out into the wider world. She describes the long, song-filled, hour-long graduation ceremony attended by Tanzania’s first lady.

Cutler’s also mentions her generosity towards some street children, for whom she became known as ‘the orange lady’, by giving them oranges occasionally. Cutler also describes navigating the interesting changes in her life with her colleagues and students first, as an unmarried teacher with her boyfriend Mark, and six months later, as a married woman. These included a new house with a guard and being wary of the bats and rats that wanted to call her new home, their home. After living in Tanzania for six months, Cutler also describes the disorientation and sensory overload she experienced upon her return to US during the Christmas season to prepare for her wedding. Even shopping in a US supermarket with all its abundance and food choices in comparison to food scarcity in Tanzania proved to be an unexpected challenge.

Cutler’s memoir continues back in Africa and describes the prospects of students who did or didn’t pass their O-level exams; the former continuing on to the next form and the latter going off to trade schools or returning home, their hopes of continuing their education at the Maasai Girls School ended. Cutler’s narrative of pupils Miriam and Neng’ida continues. Miriam must stop attending school when she becomes pregnant (the law then in Tanzania) even though the pregnancy is due to rape. However, the head of the boys’ school finds a way for Miriam to continue to her education after she gives birth is seclusion. Neng’ida graduates not only from the Maasai school, but also from Concordia University in Minnesota, which Cutler witnesses.

Among the Maasai is certainly a book worth reading for those interested in Maasai culture in general and women’s education in Africa in particular. In addition, while writing her memoir of living in another culture, Cutler was careful to note her cultural biases and limitations while documenting her life Among the Maasai. AQ

Bryan R. Monte – Italian Village Wants Migrants Back

Bryan R. Monte
Italian Village Wants Migrants Back

is the newspaper story’s headline
about a village at Rome’s latitude,
but on the opposite coast,
where old, cracked church bells
clank tinnily through thin mountain air,
and the villagers, who petitioned
to have migrants removed
before they had even met them,
now want them back.

Tourists drive straight through
this place in just a few minutes
on their way to the Adriatic,
the surrounding towns emptying out,
centuries-old, earth-tone exteriors
shuttered, boarded up, then abandoned.
Nothing here except a post office
a city hall, two churches,
a war plaque and a soldier’s statute
next to a fountain in the square,
and two main streets named after
the general and the king who united Italy.

These villagers realized too late
that after decades they finally had
enough hands to work the fields,
enough players for a football team
enough voices for a village choir
and enough bums on benches to fill both
a Catholic mass and a Baptist service
to keep the church bells ringing.
So now, they are petitioning again—
and praying—to get their migrants back.

Daniel Hudon – Between Thailand and India

Daniel Hudon
Between Thailand and India

I’m in limbo. Floating.

For all the temples, the Buddhist idols, the conversations with monks, the meditation, my first real lesson in Buddhism comes about by accident. After an hour in flight to New Delhi, the captain returns us to Bangkok due to mechanical problems. He tells us they will work on the plane overnight and we’ll fly out in the morning. I’ve left Thailand, not arrived in India and haven’t officially returned to Thailand because back at the airport I have to surrender my passport to get the hotel voucher. I exist in some meta-state, somewhere between Thailand and India, between past and future.

In the hotel room, I spend a few minutes reading the bedside book, The Teachings of the Buddha. Its simplicity is compelling. ‘Monks, a thought is like the stream of a river, without any staying power; as soon as it is produced it breaks up and disappears.’

I run a hot water bath because it’s the first time I’ve seen the combination of hot water and a tub since leaving Canada three and a half months ago. I throw in some bubble soap, watch the water foam up, and get in. The stress and excitement of long-term travel begins to settle as I soak in the tub. I scoop out handfuls of bubbles, blow and flick them. It is quiet. I listen to my breathing, my heart. The tap drips into the water. Bubbles burst with a constant fizz. Eons pass.

The warm water has opened my pores and I feel like I’m breathing through them.

I inhale and exhale like a fish, hearing nothing but air. Afterwards, I am drawn back to The Teachings of the Buddha. ‘Monks, a thought is like the stream of a river…’

I have no thoughts. I have forgotten about India and Thailand. And time. I am nowhere.

I am here. That is all.           AQ

Elvis Alves – For Victims of Natural Catastrophes

Elvis Alves
For Victims of Natural Catastrophes

We cross the river to the other side where a mother
and child wait for the sun before going forward. The

new day a promise fulfilled to them. And us. So we
celebrate life every day because a catastrophe can

happen without a moment’s notice. Uprooting. To
transport the will where it does not want to go.

A stubbornness unfamiliar only in its familiarity,
like a counterpart that is part of the whole.

Life happens with intrusions. It is true that every-
thing breaks and needs fixing. An answer that precedes

the question that births it. There is a fate
that becomes you and that you need to make.

Elvis Alves – The search for home

Elvis Alves
The search for home

We escape to find space to
settle the mind. Where is
home away from home?
There, relief abounds and
sleep is not a stranger. In
this land, birds sing sweet
songs. The seasons are
long and mellow. Mother
Nature, too, can learn to
behave — somewhere far
from here.

Simon Brod – Horizon

Simon Brod
Horizon

I saw you try to draw it close,
not content with what every sailor says:
that the mind’s eye always finds its line,
that even when the sea conceals it
with a wall of water or a steep hollow
or a glassy mirror that only shows the sky,
man still knows
how to be upright, how to lie,
how to set a boundary for his eye.
And I saw your shoulders stiffen with unease,
your eyes grow restless, more and more distressed
that others never see things straight and true,
that their perception just can’t stretch
to see what your eye sees,
till deeply vexed
you had to show the proof, own the truth:
you fetched it, fastened it,
anchored it, slanted it,
made the world tilt, incline to fit your view
and I, who for years stood steady as one of your crew,
found myself at an angle too skew to scale,
lost my footing and fell overboard
as you sailed
and vanished over the edge.

Meryl Stratford – On the Southern Border

Meryl Stratford
On the Southern Border

          Who in a nightmare can help himself? — Anne Carson

Think
what it means
to be a stranger.

A stranger is someone
who comes to Manitoba
in the dead of winter.

No one
comes to Manitoba
in the dead of winter.

A stranger walks many miles,
tramps through frozen farms
hoping for refuge.

A stranger gets lost
in waist-deep snow,
loses fingers, loses toes.

A stranger is one of many.
They keep coming.
The winter is harsh.

Some say the strangers are evil —
if they weren’t evil
they wouldn’t be strangers.

A stranger is poor,
desperate, afraid of
being turned away.

A stranger arrives
without documents,
fleeing chaos and war.

Open a door for the strangers
who have no door of their own.

Ann Cefola – The Beauty of Distorted Vocals

Ann Cefola
The Beauty of Distorted Vocals

       — After talk box in Frampton Comes Alive! double album (1976)

I could have said no.

Continued winding up the marble staircase of the library facing the green,
its circular window an eye on the blue smudge of Long Island Sound.
Bust of Christina Rossetti at top, students asleep or reading in chairs.

I choose a carrel, pull out my poetry or French book and write

an explication du texte. My destiny to be a Plath who lived, in my sweater, kilt,
and penny loafers. Crushes on my brother’s friends; yes, also there that year.
What I want is their confidence, selfhood. Why Christina — what did she write?

I glance at blank alabaster eyes,

work on a literary journal whose hard-drinking editor models himself after Jack Paar.
Interview Daniel Berrigan, who hates my freshman pluck, argyle knee socks.
Plan to study poetry with William Meredith when

she asks me to come home.

I am her best friend. I feel out of time, not daughter nor student but bust of an unlived life.
I read the Bible. Something about honouring one’s mother. Apparently I am Ruth,
telling Naomi I will go wherever she wants. My brother and father shake their heads.

I remember the wah-wahs of Frampton,

talk-box electric along our spines on the amplified green where girls in paisley glide;
guys diving for far-tossed Frisbees, leather fringe and sunlit locks flying.
It is still the ’60s although mid-’70s.

We were on the edge of our lives, Christina.

Something inside me wild and free but more stone within a comet flung off course
by heavenly bodies it neither knows nor understands, sparking unheard,
that freezing, scatters and burns.

Janice S. Fuller – a town became a granary

Janice S. Fuller
a town became a granary

We pass Harrold, South Dakota,
a prairie town that’s now a granary.
Hardly any houses.
It faded, nearly disappeared —
a fragment floating
in a farmer’s eye.

The grain
has seized this town,
rules in silos and fat granaries
that point at the prosperity
of feeding the world
and fuelling its movement
with ethanol.

Harrold disappears
as we drive from Minnesota
through dust that coats our car
on the way to celebrate a birthday,
mother’s 95th.