This hefty issue of Carpe Articulum begins with an account of David Hoffman’s Pulitzer Prize winning nonfiction book, The Dead Hand: The Untold Story of the Cold War Arms Race and Its Dangerous Legacy, from the author, himself a writer for the Washington Post, and an interviewer. There are so many secrets detailed in this issue that one can imagine just how explosive the book itself is. As Ted Hoffman relates, both from the book and from his interviewee,
Hoffman’s vastly revised narrative has few conventional heroes or villains – there are some, as a scenario strewn with politicians, military men and scientists must – but mostly introduces us to complex people trying to deal with appallingly complex issues, many unknown until Hoffman pulled them from deep shadows.
As Hoffman puts in his book: “After the Soviet collapse in 1991, new and unexpected threats surfaced almost immediately. Rickety trains hauled nuclear warheads back from Eastern Europe and Central Asia into Russia; tons of highly enriched uranium and plutonium lay unguarded in warehouses; microbiologists and nuclear bomb designers were in desperate straits.”
This is terrifying, but it is nothing in comparison with the revelations in this article, and in The Dead Hand. I’m tempted to run to the bookstores right now.
In Joseph A. Soldati’s poem, “Hungry Hawks,” we are compared to the feared birds of prey: “Pity these predators / so hungry in the lying green world. / Yet desire is in all of us, / craving not the same / as having, and hope as hard / to find as warmth from a dying sun / in the winter’s south.” It’s a fully realized poem, starting with one predator, and ending with another, more metaphoric one, for we are not always predatory, unlike Hungry Hawks.
In Christine Chiosi’s poem Pink Building in Valparaiso, the beauty of the first part, along with the sadness of the second, create an astonishing piece of work. To do it justice here, I’d have to transcribe the entire poem. Instead, I’ll give you just a few tantalizing lines: “Gracious woman facing the sea – / In your many eyes I witness / eternity, bending around the bay’s reflection.” Now, doesn’t that make you want to know what’s next? It should.
Another poem is just as surprising, in this issue, both for its depth, and for the age of its creator: 14. Angelina Mercedes Broscova’s words in Cleave are bursting with future potential. To wit:
My uncle showed me the golden sun
How it would always warm my face –
Chasing away the shadows inside,
And leaving happiness in its wake.
He taught me my importance:
A silver moon in an inky sky –
Waxing in his presence
And waning in goodbye.
The colours he revealed in me
Are fading now to grey
Because his journey’s just beginning
And I’m left waving by the bay
It’s a heartfelt and profound poem for such a young girl, and it’s amazing.
In “The Waiter,” a short story, Annabel Alderman explores the infidelities of a husband. Writes Alderman,
In short, he went free. There was not enough freedom to warrant his sharing some of it with me.
Here a disruptive tone will begin to discolor this ignoble history, and my bitter recriminations at having been finally rejected will come to light. Waiting is sorry enough a life’s work, but the added dimension of distraught frenzy transforms its soapy drama to stunted burlesque.
I loved this story for Alderman’s words, akin to Hemingway and Nabokov’s writing.
“My Moment” by Marilyn Carrie Urso is a tale of love lost, guilt, and sense of betrayal. When her husband is attacked by bees and goes into what the narrator believes is anaphylactic shock, Urso tells us,
I pulled the cloth off the table and covered his shaking body and kneeled next to him while deciding what to do.
Was this the miracle I’d been waiting for? I could simply walk out to the yard and return in thirty minutes. He’d probably be dead by then or have reached the point of no return. Instead, I called 911.
It’s a chilling paragraph, and not only for its almost-murderer. Is it fight or flight that compels the psyche to do what it will?
Finally, and fittingly so, there is Wesley Alan Morton’s “Sam Bones and the Butterflies.” A writer by profession, the character Bones is a fascinating example. Writes Morton,
Sam’s only poem meticulously recreated the final minutes of his unbroken heart.
… the last sun rays fading into the silhouette of purple mountains in the west. The gathering darkness and thunderheads converging over head. The fresh blades of ant-flecked grass on the hill where they lay. Her scent of lavender in the autumn air. The tangle of wiry branches and shaking, patchwork leaves above their supine bodies. The sudden, tight squeeze of her trembling hand in his. Her spellbound eyes fixed on the setting sun and the blazing colors of red, orange, yellow in the clouds. Whipping winds of the coming tempest.
The last paragraph of this story, involving the butterflies of its title, will leave you smiling and wondrous.
I absolutely loved this journal. It has just about everything you could want from a literary magazine: poems, short stories, interviews, photos, and more. It will leave you wanting more. And, just as I am contemplating the subscription card, you may do so yourself.