This issue of Quiddity is simply delightful. Beginning with Fani Papageorgiou’s poem “The Welder,” it goes about its business of entertaining the masses of literary fandom:
A lifetime is never long enough for us to be consoled.
It is in childhood that we suspect
It’s only dreams we do not die.
Yet there is comfort
Relief found in glue, paper, and chapped lips
Wet hair and muscle pain,
Rusty cargo steamers cluttered with sodden leaves.
Later in her poem,
Indeed, everything that matters
Does make sense one of these days.
That there are so many of us
Hanging from lampposts, all alone for good
And that it couldn’t be any other way.
Henry Rappaport’s “After the Fall” explores the intricacies of hunting with an originality I’ve never seen in regard to articles or poems about hunting. For instance, Rappaport begins his poem by writing that
The lion asks the arrow
to stay away from its life,
asks the bow to live alone
to stay on the tree
Villagers ask the beast to be a rug,
to snore for them while they sleep,
to protect them
with its confident heart.
Lee Reilly’s very short story, and this edition is full of them, “Crosswords,” will have you emotionally all tied up, as you read the abbreviated version of her character’s life. She begins: “Here’s what you need to remember: my name and which one I am – the youngest, the one Dad called Caboose when he came home and kissed us. Engine, Dining Car, Caboose. […] And this: yes, of course I’ll help you with the crossword, I always do.” Reilly ends her story of the abused child, now an adult dealing with the death of a father who beat her, and the mother she’s left with:
But I also remember this: in anger you could spill a thousand words without a single breath. You jeered once, Oh, so now you’re blaming me for trying to kill yourself? In late age you started calling me Love. Just in case you forgot my name. Reilly’s very last words I will not quote here. Just know that the ending equals the beginning in its profundity.
In Naomi Ruth Lowinsky’s poem, “Elephant Child,” the joys of childhood are seen through the eyes of both the narrator, and the baby elephant of its title:
The little one approaches
our Toyota, holds up her sensitive trunk.
She is trying to figure us out.
We are trying to figure her out. Is she
a problem child, a soon to be shaman of her clan? Her mother
has had enough of her shenanigans
herds her in close; as the sun begins to set
It’s a wonderful romp through her words, and I truly enjoyed it.
Julie Marie Wade has a lovely story about two lesbians and their search for the truth in who they are. “Matrimony” is at its mid-point when one woman is reading a poem by Adrienne Rich, “Diving into the Wreck”: “As is often the case, one or both of the women think it’s about her.” Her partner answers the other’s question of the analysis of the poem’s meanin:
“I understand it now. I mean I have a way of looking at this poem. […] Ok. So this poem is a katabasis […] In a fairy tale, when the protagonist – nearly always a woman – descends into a dark place, often the forest but sometimes a cellar or tunnel. She is running away or she is running toward – some of both we presume – but it is inevitable a difficult pilgrimage. Take, for instance, Rapunzel, and compare: There is a ladder. / The ladder is always there / hanging innocently / close to the side of the schooner. / We know what it is for, / we who have used it.”
This answer satisfies the analysis, but also expands to the two women’s lives as lesbians. As dovetails go, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Elizabeth J. Colen’s poem, “The Devil Wages Ordinary Wars,” begins in much the same way as it ends. Starting, she writes, “Uneasy heavens await people dancing in the street, people thinking they could get more out of the bargain that breathing is.” Ending, she writes, “Uneasy heavens wait for men to repaint the pearly gates, the glare’s too much for all this goodness. We went with grey for the areas we wouldn’t allow until now when everything’s the matter.” The middle, brief as it is, is a virtual study in the impact of brevity. Colen’s writing is of the finest example.
Here, too, is a conversation with Steven Wilson. A British writer and musician, Michael Gammon, as the interviewer, got some of the most interesting and controversial answers he could have hoped for. For example,
MG: The Incident is your latest album. What do you see The Incident reflecting?
SW: Well, for me, The Incident reflects the relationship we have with the media. They’re good at, framing things and leading us into certain emotional responses.
He presents, for example the death of Michael Jackson and our perceptions of 9/11. It’s a great interview, and Wilson is one of those rare artists who are quoted insightfully.
Overall, this issue of Quiddity is wonderful for its varied, but woven together, collection of poems, short stories, short-short stories, and interviews. It would be a waste to not pick this up and read it with a sense of intimacy and an immediate need for entertainment.