Two Translations of Dana Ranga

by Monika Cassel

Carcharodon Carcharias

Auch wenn ich rufe, bleib – du wirst nicht bleiben. Du erkennst mich von weitem, nichts
kann dich täuschen.

Dein Herzschlag, ein Laut, schöner als ein Wort. Hunger verbindet verlässlich und das
Vergnügen zu fragen,

was gibst du mir? Geschwindigkeit und Liebe, Fett und Blut. Nun lege dich auf mich, ich
will dich tragen.

Schon lange folge ich dir, gierig auf Wunden und Rauschen. Verweigerte Botschaft, ich
hörte dich

atmen und singen in stiller Bucht. Wasser kennt keine Narben; Druckwelle, Abschied,
akzentfreie Entfernung

zwischen dir und mir. Ich brauche Gewissheit, mein Wissen um dich ist das Grauen.
Lamna, lamnidae,

Himmel und Wasser wollen nichts wissen. Was vermag die Vernunft, wenn das Neue
lockt? Betäubtes Glück schwimmt an der Kette.

Dein Fleisch, es zuckt und ruht. Augen auf, Augen zu. Mit rotem Bund durchziehe ich
die Meere, in der Hoffnung

du würdest warten. Neugier hält dich fest, Korallenbusch, erglüht durch mein Rufen; die
Verstecke leuchten.

Wenn ich tausend Herzen schlagen höre, weiß ich, dass es Abend ist. Jetzt stehst du vor
mir, deine Arme sind offen. Ich bleibe dir fern,

so weit wie deine Hand hinausreicht. Wie fremd ich dir bin, wie fremd ich mir bin. Meer,
Zelle mit zwei Kernen, ich und du

Great White Shark

Even when I cry out, stay, – you will not stay. You recognize me from afar, nothing can
deceive you.

Your heartbeat, a sound more beautiful than a word. Hunger makes a reliable bond, as
does the pleasure in asking,

what will you give me? Speed and love, fat and blood. Now lay yourself upon me and I
will carry you.

For a long time I have followed you, greedy for wounds and roaring. I heard you, a
message that was withheld,

breathing and singing in a quiet cove. Water has no scars; shock wave, parting, an
accentless distance

between you and me. I need certainty, my knowledge of you is dread. Lamna, lamnidae,

Sky and water play dumb. What can reason do when the new beckons? Numbed fortune
swims on a leash.

Your flesh, it twitches and rests again. Eyes open, eyes shut. I move through the seas with
a red band, in the hope

that you might be waiting. Curiosity detains you, a bush of coral, all aglow from my
cries; the hiding places shine.

When I hear a thousand hearts beat I know that it is evening. Now you stand before me,
your arms are open. I keep my distance,

stay as far away as the reach of your hand. How strange I am to you, how strange I am to
myself. Ocean, a cell with two nuclei, you and I


Monika Cassel was raised bilingual in the United States and Germany. As Chair of Creative Writing and Literature at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, she developed a high school creative writing program with the support of the Lannan Foundation. Her poetry chapbook, Grammar of Passage, won the Venture Award and is forthcoming from flipped eye publishing. Her poems have appeared in The Laurel Review and Phoebe Journal, and her translations have appeared in POETRY Magazine, Guernica, Asymptote, Harvard Review Online, and others. In 2016 she was a Travel Fellow to the American Literary Translators Association Conference and she is currently a Poetry Fellow at the Attic Institute’s Atheneum Program. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Dana Ranga was born in 1964 in Bucharest. In 1987 she emigrated to Germany, where she studied semiotics, film studies, and art history at the Free University of Berlin. Her first book of poetry, Stop (2005), was written in Romanian. Ranga is the director of several award-winning documentaries, including East Side Story (1997) and I Am in Space (2012). Her first book of poems written in German, Wasserbuch, was published by Suhrkamp Verlag in 2011 and received the Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, an award for authors whose mother tongue is not German, in 2014. A second book of German poetry, Hauthaus, was published in 2016. Several of Ranga’s Romanian poems have been published in English translation; her work has also appeared in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, and Moldova.

Moving Sand, Moving Water, Moving People

by Heather Marie Spitzberg

As a child I lived on a narrow street
without shoulders or painted lines. Across the pavement was what we called the
swamp. Beyond the swamp was a small clear lake. Our feet entered that cool
water and emerged with cuts from mussels to become covered in sand and pine
pitch. I wondered about that sand, misplaced as it was, at the edge of the
otherwise rocky shore.

We shared that place with a scattering of
other homes and hundreds of hemlocks and oaks. I glided from water to land as
effortlessly as the beavers inhabiting the stream that fed the lake. My dad and
I regularly walked the stream, and I delighted in beavers slapping their tails to
warn others of our arrival.

In 1985 Hurricane Gloria doused us with
rain, wind, and panic. Birches weren’t supposed to be horizontal against a sky
the color of a yellowed bruise. After days of helping crews remove debris from
the roads, we inspected the river. A fallen maple created a new bridge to
cross. A sheared-off tree top blocked the deer path we followed. The beavers’
dam had broken. Water poured over the breached sticks and mud as it might out
of a pitcher. The animals had begun rebuilding in a different place, further
downstream. I wish my young self knew to study the advantages of that location
over the other.

In 1994 I stood on the shore of a
private-access beach, spiral-bound notebook in hand, salted air frizzing my
hair. Finished with my count of Piping Plover nests, I slid my notebook into my
waistband and walked to where the land ended at fast flowing water between me
and the next beach to the south. In the middle of the river that fed acres of
tidal marshes behind the beaches floated a brachiosaurus-sized machine that
scooped buckets of sand onto a barge.

The beach maintenance person told me they
were returning the canal to where it belonged after Bob moved it. He meant
Hurricane Bob, which had devastated the New England coast over two years prior.
Twenty feet away, on the other side of the flowing water, was a public-access
beach. Once the birds fledge, he said, they’ll pump sand on the dunes to
restore them, too. He pointed to where snow fencing and months-old Christmas
trees wrangled sand into a pile attempting to grow valuable dunes.

The naturalist in me held back a scoff at
the idea that a canal or dunes belonged anywhere other than where they existed,
no matter human need, history, or understanding.

The young woman in me who had been raised
by local government employees in the Country’s Live Free or Die state saw the consequences of twenty feet of shore
on tax base, tourism, and the owner’s sense of, well, ownership.

In the mid-twentieth century, my mom grew
up outside of Daytona Beach before moving north. The beach she knew formed one
half of a track with cars speeding onto the adjacent Route A1A for a race’s
second leg. Flattened dunes provided seating for the throngs of fans,
precursors to today’s NASCAR enthusiasts.

We visited throughout my childhood, years
after the beach was rescued from the racetrack. Dunes had been restored and
hotels built. Mom commented on the beach’s improvement, even with its risky
towers. Perhaps that was true, for a while. Until the sand eroded like the
snowbirds flying north in the summer.

In 2018 I visited a town in southern
Florida connected to the mainland by bridges. On the southern tip of the
island, at the end of a breakwater, squatted a round structure that looked like
a misplaced granary. Curious, I learned it was a decades-old sand pump that
became necessary with the expansion of a non-navigable entry to the
Intracoastal. The expansion interfered with natural sand drift, preventing sand
from traveling further south. Now, erosion on the shore to the north of the
pump created a three-foot drop between the dry sand where children played and
the wet area where waves crashed and joggers ran.

Around the corner from that pump station
stood a wall of white plastic sandbags. They were not temporary. Along with a
grassed berm, they protected a waterfront building that appeared less than a
decade old. A seawall and mighty boulders tried to hold back the waves, which
crashed into the rocks, spraying warm salty mist onto my eyelids. With tide in
half-way and the moon only three-quarters full, larger waves were assured

In 1987 we moved from that house across
from the swamp. As much as I loved the location, I never trusted it. Our home
sat dozens of feet higher than the grade of the road in a notch that had been
blasted out of a face of granite. I feared the boulders, and trees, and
millions of pounds of dirt hanging above us. None of those slipped; the water
got us. Pouring rain on the frozen ground created sheets of water flowing
overland toward the lake. The house held strong, but the window wells filled,
and thirty-six inches of water flowed into our basement. Our cat drowned.

We left for unrelated reasons, but it felt right.


Heather Marie Spitzberg has over twenty years of environmental science, law, and writing experience. She lives in New York’s Capital Region with her husband, twin son and daughter, and rescued dog, Thor.


by Daniel Marcus

The house was full of people and the insect
hum of their voices.  Their presence made
his living room look oddly foreign and it was easy for Bob to imagine for a
moment that he, too, was a guest.  He
stood awkwardly next to the fireplace, drink in hand.  People approached, inquired, veered off.
Nearly everyone had brought something to eat or drink and every available
surface in the kitchen was loaded with casseroles, salads, plates of cookies,
sushi mandalas, paella pans.  There was
something about bereavement and food.  It
wasn’t comfort — there could be no comfort — but it was deeply tribal nonetheless.  What Bob really wanted was a good, stiff
drink, but he was afraid of where that would lead, so he sipped his glass of
Pinot and tried to not look like he wished they would all just fucking leave.

A cluster of Jenna’s friends, bristling with piercings and spiky hair, huddled near the door.  Bob had known most of them since pre-school.  A willowy girl in sleeveless denim, Lu, caught his eye.  She walked up to him and gave him a loose-limbed hug.

“You guys okay?” she asked.

Bob had a sudden, vivid memory of a trip to Marine World, maybe six years back, an impossibly distant other life.  It was just Jenna, Lu, and him.  The girls orbited about him like wild, giggling moons as they explored the park.  They slept, curled up in the back seat together, the entire drive home.  It was a good day. 

Bob shrugged, smiled sadly. How could we be okay?

“Sorry — stupid question.”  She looked away, biting her lip.  A single tear tracked down her cheek.  She took a breath, looked up at him again.  “How’s Mrs. P. holding up?”

“She’s hanging in there.  I’m really glad you came, Lu.” 

In fact, Mrs. P. hadn’t stopped crying for three days and was upstairs now in a shade-darkened room, tossing in a sweat-drenched Ambien doze.  Bob was almost glad of his hostly duties because they took him off the front lines with her.  He felt a stab of guilt at the thought. 

Jenna’s friends were the first to leave.  Lu turned on her way out and gave him a sad, little wave. Bob’s colleagues from the office were next — a handshake conga line and a pat on the shoulder from the head of the firm.  His secretary hugged him and cried a little. 

“Give my best to Allie,” she said.

“I will,” Bob promised.  

After the neighbors left, and a few other parents from the school community paid their respects and backed out the door looking guiltily relieved (fellow travelers for many years, their connection now abruptly severed), there was just Allie’s sister, Darcy, and her deadwood husband, Frank. 

Darcy flitted about cleaning while Frank helped himself to a healthy dose of Glenlivet from Bob’s liquor cabinet.

“Hell of a thing,” Frank said. “So young.”

Bob remembered Jenna’s description of him as “that fucking retard Aunt Darcy married” and nearly smiled, then caught himself, and a wave of grief rushed through him like the ocean through a rocky channel, leaving him breathless for a moment.

“You okay, Bob?” Frank asked, a hint of slur in his voice.

“Yeah, I’m fine, Frank.  I just need to sit down.”

Bob sat in one of the two floral patterned wing chairs bookending the fireplace.  Frank stood watching him for a moment, then sat in the matching chair, resting his drink on his thigh. 

They spoke no further and Bob tried to will his mind empty of thought. 

After a few moments, Darcy appeared, pushing back an errant blonde lock from her forehead.

“All clean,” she said.  She was a ditz, but Bob had come to like her, even love her, over the years.  Her luck with men was almost comically abysmal. 

“Thanks, Darce,” Bob said.  “You didn’t have to do all that.”

She leaned over and pecked him on the cheek.  “Don’t worry about it.  You just take care of Allie and yourself.”

When they left, silence descended on the house with the finality of a closing curtain.  Bob returned to the chair next to the fireplace and sipped his drink.

Upstairs, Allie
awakened and began to weep, a soft, desperate keening that seemed to come from
everywhere in the house at once. 

Bob sighed.  He didn’t want to face her and felt it again,
that pinprick of guilt. Her grief was no more acute than his, he felt, but it
demanded more attention.  Infinite
attention, really — a black hole that swallowed all solace.  He didn’t blame her at all.  He just didn’t know how to help her.  He couldn’t even help himself. 

He set his glass
on the coffee table and went upstairs. 
The hallway was dark.  The door to
Jenna’s room was open a crack.  He walked
past without looking in.  His bedroom
door was shut and he placed his palm flat against it.  From within, the sound of weeping


There was no

He gently pushed
the door open. The air in the room was humid and had a strange, oceanic
smell.  Allie sat on the edge of the
bed.  Her grief had an animal quality:
primal, pre-verbal.  He sat next to her,
put his hand on her shoulder. She vibrated with a fine tremor, like a
bird.  Every now and then she would gasp,
a breathing reflex. The keening would catch, then continue.    

Bob pulled back the collar of her nightgown just a bit, kissed her bare shoulder, and left her there.

Bob’s home office
was a long card table in a corner of the garage.  There was a multipurpose printer, a big
monitor, a keyboard. Several rows of shelves sagged under a haphazard
collection of tools, books, and boxes with faded, peeling labels.  In the opposite corner, amidst a litter of
discarded plastic lawn toys, sat a red bicycle with flat tires and training
wheels. Faded blue ribbons dangled limply from the handlebars.

He sat down and
stared at the flat, grey screen until he imagined motion within its depths. He
pushed back his chair and went back in the house.  He cocked his head to listen.  Allie had stopped crying.  He imagined her sitting on the edge of the
bed staring off into nothing. The furnace sighed on.  A car whispered past on the street

Bob poured
himself two fingers of Glenlivet and returned to the garage.  He sat at his desk and took a sip of whiskey.
His eyes watered and his chest filled with heat. 

He missed her so
badly.  It was like a physical
hypersensitivity, a migraine or an opiate withdrawal, a painfully acute
awareness of smells and changes in light.

He double-clicked
a shortcut on his desktop and her homepage appeared.  There were dozens of pictures, mostly of
Jenna smiling, occupying a center of gravity among several friends, a couple of
somber art-school poses and several with Allie and Bob.  He was glad that she wasn’t embarrassed to
post them. 

In her most
recent photograph, just a few days before she died, she had shaved her head and
carved, in the emerging stubble, swirling Maori-like designs.  She had a pierced eyebrow and upper lip.  This too was something of an art-school pic,
but in spite of its edginess, it seemed to capture better than the others the
essence of Jenna as a much younger girl. He could see her peering out, smiling,
just behind the hardware and the adolescent piss-off frown. 

Her profile said she liked basketball (he knew that), Rimbaud (he had no idea), and motorcycles (he’d have to have a talk with her) — and it hit him again, that surge of grief (have a talk with her) so acute he lost track of himself for a moment. 

Her status read:

Smith is nice.  Mt Holyoke is a gothic prison. Amherst is Amherst. In Logan now, waiting for the plane home. I love airports, monuments to transience. The static hiss between stations!

She must have
posted from her cell phone, minutes before the explosion.  Bob tried to imagine it – an instant of heat
and light, intense pressure, a sound like the sky ripping open. He hoped it was
fast, that she didn’t have time to register what was happening. He wondered if
she thought of them in those last milliseconds, then cursed his narcissism.    

It seemed he was
living half the time in fugue – replaying snippets of time with her, random
moments, conversations real and imagined. 
They surfaced haphazardly, pulled him in, played themselves out, and
left him stunned and empty.

His eyes kept
returning to the icon in the upper right corner of the screen, a yellow
smiley-face in side profile beneath a word bubble.  Inside the bubble: Clik2Chat.

He slid the
cursor over the icon, hovered for a moment, then willed his finger down on the
mouse button.

Jenna’s avatar
appeared next to his keyboard: a smiling, translucent, foot-tall pixie.  Tiny diamonds of dust swam in the light beams
emanating from small, twin sources beneath the screen.  The scan had been taken about a year before,
so it captured Jenna before her severe phase. 
Her hair was shoulder length and she wore jeans and a plain, green
t-shirt. She tilted her head, a coltish gesture he knew well.

“Hey, Dad. What’s

Bob’s breath
caught in his throat.  The voice was
almost right – Jenna, with syllables oddly clipped.  He knew it was nothing more than a bit of
digital magic cranked out by a kid hunkered down in a cubicle amidst a litter
of Nerf toys and empty soda cans, but it was still a shock.

Jenna tilted her
head the other way.

“Hey, Dad.  What’s up?”

This is stupid, he thought.

“Hi, Jen.”  His voice cracked.

“Hey!  How are you?”

Bob didn’t say
anything. The avatar shifted her weight, brushed back her hair.

“You’ve probably
figured out that I’m somewhere else right now. 
My little Doppel-G here will record whatever you want to tell me and
I’ll have a look at it later.” 

“We miss you

Jemma frowned

“Sorry, didn’t
get that.”

“We love you.”

Jenna smiled.  “I love you, too, Dad.”

“We’ll always love you.”

“I love you, too, Dad.”

From far away he heard the high whine of engines, a plane settling in to SFO final approach.  He cocked his head, listening, until he couldn’t hear it any more.  

“You haven’t said anything for awhile, so I’m gonna go.  Bye!”

“No!” Bob shouted, startling himself.  “Wait!”

Jenna tilted her head again, looking, he imagined, just a trifle impatient.

The static hiss between stations, he thought.

Something rustled outside, probably a raccoon.  He closed his eyes and saw clever, busy hands.

“You haven’t said anything for awhile, so I’m gonna go.  Bye!”

He did nothing this time.  After a few seconds, the image winked out. 

He sat there for a long time.  When he was ready, he pushed his chair back, stood up, and stretched.  He let himself back into the house and went upstairs.  Allie was sleeping again, her breathing deep and regular. 

He slipped his clothes off and slid under the sheets, careful not to wake her.  She whimpered softly, turned on her side facing away from him, and backed closer.  He curled to fit her, feeling her warmth, draping his arm across her hip.  He shifted restlessly as he drifted off to sleep and she moved in response, their somnambular dance as familiar as walking. 


Daniel Marcus’ short fiction has appeared in many literary and genre venues, including Asimov’s SF, ZYZZYVA, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Witness. Some of these stories were collected in “Binding Energy,” described by as “a cross between Raymond Carver and William Gibson.” He is also the author of the novels Burn Rate and A Crack in Everything. He has taught Creative Writing at the UC Berkeley Extension Program and Gotham Writers’ Workshop.

Dream in Which I Am Rapunzeled

Ridiculed among the villagers. Little teapot, short and stout. Little fireplug. Since I am slow and susceptible to kindness, the witch traps me easily. She makes bold promises. To unbutton my bulk. To bouquet me beautiful. To prime me, photo ready, for a prince. So I do not fight. She tells me thinness is next to godliness. She banners that shame until I surrender. I let her ladder me to the tower and lock the door. Turret me. Starve my mudflank, my curve and hedgerow. Brick and mortar me away from all pleasure. I let her shave my escape braid in dusk’s blue light.

by Donna Vorreyer

Donna Vorreyer is the author of Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress, 2013) as well as eight chapbooks, most recently The Girl (Porkbelly Press, 2018).Â

Queen of the Sunken City

by Susan DeFreitas

The King of King Street poled his skiff across Calhoun, looking for his queen. Sometimes in the mornings she could be found around Market, meeting her day’s appointments with “dem tourists from foreign,” as his granny used to say.

Tourists had been coming to the Sunken City of the South since long before it had
sunk—coming to see the Rainbow Row and the Battery and the grand old churches
built upon the backs of slaves. Coming to take the tours, most of which omitted
such distasteful details.

Tours such as this one here on Calhoun Street—which, like all of the streets downtown, was no longer a street at all, but a glittering canal, reflecting the half-submerged
historic homes and churches that appeared on all the postcards. A fellow in a
flat hat at the helm of a water taxi steered it slowly into the mangroves of
Francis Marion Square, telling stories to white folk made whiter by their
reflective nanoscreen, which made their whiteness gleam.

“Here to the south side of the square, just beyond the Lindsey Graham Memorial
Mangroves, you’ll see the statue of John C. Calhoun,” the guide said, stilling
the motor. He gestured to the bronze statue on high, which the King always
thought of as the white man in the sky. “Calhoun was one of the state’s most
illustrious citizens. He served as a senator and US Vice President in the years
leading up to the First Civil War, and he was an prominent advocate of states’

King almost laughed as he poled on past, his dark skin bare to the sun. The only reason the white man in the sky had escaped being sunk was because the city fathers had
seen fit to raise him up so high. And why? Long ago, any Black folks who
happened to pass would do their best to deface him. Rumor had it the statue of
John C. Calhoun was missing the pinky finger of its left hand, which sat
casually upon the man’s hip, as if he were disciplining a dog.

“King,” came a voice from down the way. “How you going, boss?”

“All right, all right.” King shaded his eyes from the sun. There upon the wrought-iron
balcony of the Floating Flophouse stood Nestor, tying up his catch. “How you
keeping, Nesta?”

“Fine, man, fine. You see?” Nestor held aloft a glistening magenta fan from which dangled
strands of blue.

“Man, you crazy,” King told him. “You eat that thing?”

“You en eat jellyfish chop chop?”

“I eat saltfish chop-up.”

Nestor laughed. “Saltfish? You try. I en able with shark, man. Shark got teeth.”

King just shook his head. Like King’s granny, Nestor hailed from the islands to the
south—what was left of them now—which is why he talked so broad. He’d made the
harbor last spring on his cunning Third World raft, a riprap of sea trash,
slipped in under the guard, and promptly installed himself amid the rotting
grandeur of the Floating Flophouse. (Which did not actually float, though rumor
had it, upon occasion, the air mattresses of its inhabitants did.)

“Nesta,” said King. “You seen the queen?”

The man smiled, showing teeth. “Queen Street way she dey.”

King lifted his hand in thanks and poled past.

Past Society, Wentworth, Hassell, and down by Market, where the boardwalks of the
city converged—where tourists stepped up from sleek water taxis to wander the
stalls of the New Market, which sat atop the roof of the old.

Altogether, a pod of scuba divers dropped off the promenade, their airbreathers affixed to their faces. Even as one group dropped, a barker stood at dock, rustling up the
next. “See the Sunken City in all its grandeur! Shipwrecks, pirates, and
Blackbeard’s Revenge! Opulent marble malls, mausoleums, and museums! Swim inside the Circular Church!”

King sucked his teeth in derision as he poled past. Of course, he had taken such a tour
himself once—who could resist the invitation to see the Sunken City from below?
But just like the water-taxi tours, the scuba tours were full of hokum. The
mall, museum, and mausoleums were real enough, as was the Circular Church,
which really was a wonder—much of the stained glass was still intact, and when
the sun shone through it, illuminating beds of kelp swaying in your wake, and
the headset played “Amazing Grace,” it was enough to make the Devil himself get

But the Queen Anne’s Revenge was no more than a rich man’s yacht from the 2040s worked over by crafty hucksters. It had been
picked up from the Ashley River by Hurricane Yvette and dashed against the Old
Slave Mart, as if in recompense—and the skeletons of those so-called pirates
were no more than the city’s poorest citizens, whose bodies had lain so long
under the sodden trash, awaiting emergency management, that they’d never been
claimed or buried.

King knew that now—knew too the real reason the seas had risen, the heaviest buildings
had sunk, and the great storms had grown so fierce. All of this he knew because
of the queen, and today, he’d decided, was the day he would present to her what
it was he knew. A humble craft, but an old one, in which he might find favor.

King stopped to drop his dipper in an eddy that had formed near Jacob’s Alley and
fished out a bright yellow bag—#4 plastic, good quality—and added it to the
pile at his feet. Soon he’d have enough for another basket, like those tied up
on display to the fore of his craft, which would fetch a good price at the

When King reached Queen Street, he anchored his pole and turned his skiff in one smooth, practiced maneuver. From a nearby rowboat, patched up with cheap nanobond,
three boys were watching him, but they looked away when he caught them. Their
plastic roses were loosely folded, their sea baskets slack and lopsided. King
lifted his chin in their direction, in dismissal, and away they rowed down

And there she stood, a vision in yellow beside St. Philips Church. The tourists she was
addressing bore only superficial resemblance to those he’d seen in the water
taxi, and to those strapping on scuba gear at the market; some were white and
some were black, and some murmured to one another in a language King thought
perhaps was French, but all of them were attired in such a style that his
finest sea basket would not have fetched a price sufficient, he suspected, to
purchase even one of their shoes.

“In 1835,” the queen was saying, “the original church burned to the ground. Three years
later, the church that stands before you now was built, in the Wren-Gibbs
style, common in the churches of Charleston.”

The queen’s immense yellow sunhat bobbed as she spoke. Her manner and bearing bespoke a lineage stretching back to Nefertiti, and her elocution, her various degrees
from good Canadian colleges. But she was not above dressing the part of the
guide, in anachronistic style—in that full, flowing sundress that brushed the
tops of her sandals, in that beribboned hat so broad a brood of children could
have gathered in its shade, all of it as yellow as the #4 plastic King had just
fished from the canal. The color gleamed against her blue-black skin.

“Two years later,” the queen was saying, “the statesman and outspoken advocate of slavery John C. Calhoun was buried in the West Church Yard here, and then, during the
First Civil War, moved to the East Yard, for fear his grave would be desecrated
by Union troops. However, efforts to protect Calhoun’s grave would ultimately
prove in vain, as the massive tomb built by the state legislature in 1880 would
in fact be desecrated, in 2054, just before Hurricane Yvette. Unbeknownst to
the elders of St. Philips Church, a crafty activist would carve his own
epitaph—or should I say, epithet? ‘Here lies John C. Calhoun, a real motherfucker.’”

The group tittered; this was, after all, as advertised, “The Truly Troublesome True
History of the Sunken City of the South.” King could have listened to the queen
all day. Which in fact he had, more than once, though he’d never approached her
so boldly.

“John King,” she said, turning to him. “What can I do for you today?”

Floating there at her feet, the king felt a fool—what, after all, had he expected,
interrupting her this way? He stood there on his skiff for a moment tongue
tied, all his troubles doubled: the great tower of St. Philips rising above and
rippling below, the tourists in their fine clothes, and in the center of it all
the queen, lemon yellow and blue-black in her immense beribboned hat. He may
have been the King of King Street, but here, he could see, just two blocks to
the east, he was no more than riff raff, sea trash.

Finally, he lifted that yellow #4 plastic bag. “Yes, ma’am,” he said, and then, in his best
approximation of the Queen’s English: “My apologies for interrupting. I thought
perhaps your group might be interested in a traditional African American
handcraft dating back in this region nearly four hundred years. Might I offer a

Under her hat, the queen lifted an elegant eyebrow. “Please,” she said, “by all means.”

King explained the way peoples from West Africa enslaved in the Sunken City—long
ago, before it had sunk—had woven baskets of bulrush. Their descendants had
carried on the tradition with sweetgrass, and now, in modern times, folks made
such baskets with sturdy recycled plastics, deposited daily in the canals of
the historic peninsula—likewise the city’s iconic roses, prized as souvenirs,
once folded from the fronds of the palmetto.

Now the fine tourists listened to John King speak, as if he really were a king. Now the
queen watched him from beneath the benevolent brim of her hat—in such a manner
as to suggest perhaps, in time, she might grant him a private audience.

By the time he turned, lifted a hand in farewell, and poled his skiff down Queen Street, one perfect yellow rose lay folded at her feet.

Susan DeFreitas has never been able to choose between fantasy and reality, so she lives and writes in both. A first-generation American of Caribbean descent, she is the author of the novel Hot Season, which won a Gold IPPY Award for Best Fiction of the Mountain West. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has been featured in the Writer’s Chronicle, the Huffington Post, the Utne ReaderStory Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, High Desert Journal, and many other journals and anthologies. In 2017, The Oregonian named her “One of 25 Oregon Authors Every Oregonian Must Read.”

The Broken Parts

Have you ever been in the shower when there was an earthquake? Dated a relative by accident? Wanted to eat toothpaste? Ripped off your pants while dancing? A lot of things happened yesterday. You know they happened, but don’t necessarily know the details. Mannequin arms that a buddy gave me. Heads that look like pumpkins collapsed and rotting in a field. Two ghosts discussing invisibility in front of a mirror. I see them every day. I can’t keep doing that. It’s scary, and it’s messy, the buckets there on the floor failing to catch all the falling drops of rain.

by Barbara Good

I Cut My Hair in the Community Garden

I say a friend is like a pocket knife that doubles as a nail file that turns into a weapon wants to trim hair tips. I snip off split ends in a community garden. I battle the stiff affect perfect of endings. I say a lie tastes like strawberry kool-aid, a sharp tang, a lurid red lingering on the tongue, round the lips. Like sugar accumulates into cavities, a lie hangs around, eventually aches. I once swallowed an icicle whole because Karen wouldn't talk to me at recess. A lie tastes like a secret penny I won'€™t say how many I’ve saved. How many I've kept away from boys who begged, bolstering claims for one little lick. If you watch a plant, it won'€™t grow. There's no way to talk to a garden. I say poets of place-based tapioca and crib-loyalty line up in the Home Depot paint aisle to sampling variants of purple. We all need a home, a mammalian habit, a wall to climb when folks love us too much. I'll wind up alone, licking these lonesome briskets. I call my friend Lucy. Say give me a hand with this loathing I'm carving out. We call it a pumpkin.

by Alina Stefanescu

Alina Stefanescu was born in Romania and lives in Alabama. Her poems and prose are recent or forthcoming in DIAGRAM, New South, Mantis, VOLT, Cloudbank, Prairie Schooner, NELLE, and others. She serves as Poetry Editor of Pidgeonholes, President of the Alabama State Poetry Society, and co-founder of the Magic City Poetry Festival. Her first poetry chapbook, 'Objects in Vases' (Anchor & Plume Press, 2016) won the ASPS Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her first poetry collection, 'Stories to Read Aloud to Your Fetus' (Finishing Line Press, 2017) included Pushcart-nominated poems. Her debut fiction collection, 'Every Mask I Tried On', won the Brighthorse Books Prize and was published in May 2018.

Two Poems

by Rachel Deer-Katz

Wannabe Tease Before Her High School Reunion

You wished somewhere there were whales
who wanted to beach themselves for you.

Who lived and died to have the whole oily weight
of their forked tails boiled down to perfume so you

could douse your thin wrists and feel cold,
cleaner than last year’s bones. Do they know

you still try to charm men senseless until
the smell of lilies, wilting, stings their eyes?

Well, you were never really one to leave them
freezing, with your cardigan or your scrimshaw

beads. You always end up going home
alone. There, everything is groomed

slick and chromed as the curved backside
of a spoon. Like your reflection warping.

At home, in their drawers, your spoons
lie against each other like virgins.

Two Poems

by Eddie Krzeminski

Ode to My Alva '77

Hundreds if not thousands of miles
on the old skid deck, brush logo'd griptape,
colored like a west coast sunrise.
Bennett trucks, Abec 60m RetroGliders,
Khiro risers, Rockin Ron's between the axle nuts,
fastest money can buy, Big Jim at the old
Sanctuary skate shop swore.

I learned to front carve, to lay my ass
flat & skid, frontside or backside,
glide my hand across the split asphalt
for control, gashing through ma's
gardening gloves, afterwards
sitting on my board in the muggy
Florida night sucking blood from my palms.

Fucker still rides, still rolls smooth,
still kicks when I do the kicking.
I take her for a spin around the block
past old spots, back when the neighborhood
was the farthest the earth's fingers could reach,
the world so small I could have ridden it
to its end on four urethane wheels.

Mega Millions

The checkout line at the four-pump Chevron on West Dixie
snakes into the parking lot. An LED sign in the window
taunts us, flashing the jackpot like a blackjack dealer
doling out busts. I'm here for $10 worth of gas, standing
among wannabe winners chatting about all that fast cash:
the glitz and gravy of sports cars and weekend getaways
and finally telling their bosses where to shove it.

I know the odds of pulling the lucky numbers
are about as low as the earth opening up from a fault line
and swallowing us whole right here in clear-skied Miami.
Still, I can't blame you, America, for dreaming.
That's what I love about you.

Soon even the driver from the tanker truck joins us
and the line parades all the way to the roadway.
At the register I spend $8 on gas, dump what's left on a ticket,
and walk out carrying my own sliver of the dream.


Eddie Krzeminski is an MFA candidate at Florida International University where he is the poetry editor for Gulf Stream magazine. His work has recently appeared in Gravel, Origins, and Small Orange. In his spare time he reads, writes, and plays bass.