A Tribute to Beauty
Craig Foltz's story "Miasma" feels more like a stream-of-consciousness prose poem, eleven sections varying from one to eight sentences long. The main character--the only real character--is a woman who owns a massage parlor and a pit bull. As the story opens, she is dreaming that she doesn't own a massage parlor or fight with her boyfriend or cut vines of kiwifruit down to expose a weathered fence. But then she wakes up, and what is the reality? Things are either happening, or they're not, or they're being dreamed about, or they're real. It's an intriguing conceit. "The pit bull sleeps under the hibiscus tree, which, for some unexplained reason, has survived the chainsaw onslaught." One can't help but wonder what the dog is dreaming.
Christine Hume's "A Conversation with Rosmarie Waldrop" finds the writer/translator in an expansive mood, discussing everything from the betweens of life and art--"I've always thought it was the conscious change to English, my coming to the US [from Germany], that not only made me a translator, but gave me a sense of being ‘between,' and a sense of writing as exploring what ‘happens between.' Between words, sentences, people, cultures."--to Barbara Guest. "I discovered Barbara with the book Moscow Mansions and fell immediately under her spell." She concludes, "I've been trying to write a prose poem for Barbara," and the poem, a work-in-progress, is printed at the end of the interview. It's called, "THE POEM BEGINS IN SILENCE," and in it Waldrop tells us that "Time is perishable." It can certainly seem so. As she states earlier, "But with Barbara Guest, Robert Creeley, and Jackson MacLow dying in short succession--three poets equally important in their very different ways--I do have the feeling it's the end of a world."
Finally, P.K. Page's "Your Slightest Look" is something I almost don't expect to find when I open a new literary journal--an honest-to-goodness love poem. And a beauty it is. What Page has done is taken four consecutive lines of e.e. cummings' "somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond" and used each consecutive line to end one of her own stanzas. It works, because the poet's own language is gorgeous enough to match cummings'. "No matter if I sleep, my dream will see you / looking my way, the curious gaze you give me / bringing you to me bringing us both together / as if I were between you, you between me." I could easily copy the whole poem for you and still wish it were longer.