Sunday, February 7, 2016

#192: "All She Knew She Learned at the Movies" by Lois Roma-Deeley

~This poem was previously published in Sow’s Ear (1991). 


Paper Covers Stone

Some flicker of morning
light breezes through the blind

of my kitchen window
strikes the wall white. A drum

stick from last night’s dinner
lies alone on top the bed

of baby peas. Close up
I’d say my lines

around the mouth
are much too fine

to see. In fact I’m often told
by perfect strangers on the street

I look like Bette Davis
in Dark Victory. Only the eyes

go soft when I
bite my lip: a thousand times I said no

don’t buy me a solitary
pearl set in gold.

He married
poorly, and when they took off—

all the way to God
knows where—I swear

I was relieved.


Scissor Cuts Paper

Time has two hands
around my throat
and you’re urging

him to squeeze me
harder. Aren’t you

satisfied? Look
in your wildest dreams

is the enemy

who points a finger
at your wrist, watches
the tantrum of blue veins
blister thin skin, then smiles—
                   spitting in your ear:

he should have married me.


Stone Smashes Scissor

No one in the world
cares to hear the story
of how it all began or
if in fact they were
a perfect looking pair.
No one in the world knows that

when she bites her lip
she needs to be alone;
when she speaks of love, she only
talks of him—how much
he cost her: cruelty
is a shock for those who feel

no one in the world
leaves a light on at home
without locking every door
twice, without closing
all the windows tight.
She hears a knock downstairs and sure,

she gets up to answer, but
no one in the world
is there. The winter
wind, trapped deep within
a wall, comforts her,
that’s all. She knows the roar,

once a sea-rose of pink sound,
carried him far out
to the shallows of her
well-lit house. There, wading in
the pools, she made love
feel like a world
where no one ever goes.


Monday, February 1, 2016

#191: "The Cumulative Effect" by Jon Chopan

~This story was previously published in Post Road (2010).

~Selected by Kenneth Fleming, assistant editor of Redux.

The Cumulative Effect

In April, one month after my father went off to war, leaving my mother and me behind, my mother made me dress in a button up shirt and one of my father’s ties and she took me out on a date.  That’s what she said: “We’re going on a date, mother and son.”  I was seventeen.  The invasion of Iraq came and went and then the hunt for Saddam Hussein began.  I imagined my father hunting him, hiding in remote locations or marching for days through the desert.  We lived in Rochester, New York in a house on the east side.  My mother worked part time as a waitress at a little diner around the corner from our house called, The East Ridge.  My father would never have allowed us to eat at a fancy restaurant.  In fact I couldn’t remember ever eating out before that night, so I was shocked when we went to a swanky restaurant in the arena district.
            I pressed my mother about that. “How can we afford this meal?” I asked. 
            “Combat pay,” she said between bites of her 16oz steak.  “It’s the one good thing your father ever did for us.”
            “Does Dad know about this?”
            My mother set her fork down and wiped her mouth on the cloth napkin.  She rubbed her chin like she was thinking about something and then she picked up her fork again, waving it in front of her while she spoke.
            “What he doesn’t know won’t kill him.”
            I wasn’t comfortable being in a restaurant.  Mainly because I had only been in them on our infrequent visits to my mother’s parents.  I wasn’t really sure how to act.  But also I felt like we were betraying my father’s wishes.  I picked at the steak my mother insisted I order.  
            “Do you think he’s coming back?”  I asked.
            My mother put her fork down again, this time making eye contact.
“Honey, we aren’t that lucky.  He’ll be back.”

Monday, January 25, 2016

#190: "Contest of Wills" by Michael P. Aleman

~This poem previously appeared in Alimentum (2010).

Contest of Wills

Unwilling to eat the pea soup,
I sat at the kitchen table facing my father,
who, at thirty-five, was more powerful
than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings
at a single bound.
I tried sobbing, my head bobbing
pitifully over my shallow chest; but inexorably,
he continued to read the Chicago Sun Times.
Our wills and the soup between us petrified,
the ham pieces becoming aggregates
for geologists to discover ages hence
while unearthing the ancient Windy City,
and discovering two perfectly preserved figures
of father and son sitting at a table
with a single spoon and common bowl between them.
And, as we contested, Hyakutake streaked across the night sky,
The Millennium turned, The Second Coming came and went,
and the Chicago Cubs won The World Series.
The universal clock continued to tick away:
eleven, twelve, one a.m.,
when suddenly, my fathers head dipped.
Our eyes met. Resigned, yet undefeated,
he said, Get to bed.
Old enough now to be father to the man,
I rose silently, and passing behind his chair,
gently trailed my fingers across his back.


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Happy Holidays!

Redux will be on hiatus until mid-January, when we look forward to resuming publication with a wonderful selection of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. Happy holidays, and happy new year!

Monday, December 14, 2015

#189: Our Lady of Guazá by Sara Schaff

~This story previously appeared in Inkwell (2010).
~Selected by Kenneth A. Fleming, Assistant Editor

After the funeral, Abuela tells Marcela and Valentina to sort through their mother's belongings in the living room, which they do, wordlessly and tensely, each putting aside trinkets until they spy something both of them want: a pair of jeans their mother liked to wear out dancing.
"I remember seeing her in them," Marcela says. "I don't know when that was."
            "Too small for you," Valentina says. "Perfect for me. Besides, you don't dance in the United States. Remember Tia Mercedes' Independence Day party in Miami?—all her fat gringo husband's fat relatives, sitting around in plastic chairs like at a meeting, drunk and boring."
Marcela can only stare, affronted and helpless. Honestly, she does not miss her mother, but she would rather not be condescended to by her younger, half-sister. And, inexplicably, she desperately wants these jeans with the swirls of glitter on the back pockets.
Valentina slings the jeans over her shoulder and puts aside other objects: a purse, a silver tube of lipstick, plastic hair clips.
            Marcela sits on the couch. "They won't fit you either," she says. "Our mother was tiny."
            "I'll show you tiny," Valentina says. She strips down to her cotton underwear and tube socks, then pulls on their mother's jeans with visible effort. She has to leave the top button undone. "You see? Perfect fit!"
            "You think you should have everything you want."
Valentina flops next to Marcela on the couch and scrunches uncomfortably close, her breath hot on Marcela's neck. "And you are one cool cucumber," she whispers in unsteady English. "One smooth operator."
            Marcela almost laughs, but Valentina pokes her arm and hisses. "I deserve these jeans because I lived with our mother for the entire fourteen years I've been alive. I had to identify her dead body. What have you had to do?"
She has had to move back and forth between this world and her own, that's what. She is the one their mother left behind in Boston. But Marcela doesn't say this, because no, she did not have to identify their mother's body, crushed by metal from her car and from the rock of a washed-out road.  Marcela can't imagine what that was like and is afraid to ask. Valentina turns on the television and begins to flip through the channels mindlessly.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#188: "Leaving in a Beechcraft" by Anne Harding Woodworth


~This poem was previously published in Connecticut Review (2009).

Leaving in a Beechcraft

Still night, the tarmac dawn.
The propeller drone begins to slant me
up from the dark ground,
where I was a daughter again,
and the urge to flee rushed back to me.

My mother told me not to wear pearls before evening
and reproved my pronunciation of the word cupola.
Corrections are entrenched in her memory,
and yet she confused her mastectomy
with her childhood appendectomy,
and I was adolescently
sullen—all over again.

Now, lifting on through the dark into the cloud cover—
with that black emptiness outside the window—
the plane moves slowly, heavily, noisily, diagonally,
and finally it breaks into space, where,
Orange sun, you seem to be expecting me.


Monday, November 30, 2015

#187: "Alphabet Autobiografica" by Eufemia Fantetti

Note: The Italian alphabet contains twenty-one letters: j, k, w, x and y are absent.

 A is for Andiamo

Pronounced: [Ahn-D’YAH-Moe] Translation: Let’s go. Verb, plural. Italian.
Yet in the Molisan dialect I have spoken my whole life we say yammacheen. There is a great margin for error then, for confusion and class system to enter into casual conversations, trip up the tongue. I have this problem in two languages. Witness the time I pronounced acquiesce as aqua-size, making my roommate think a new class had been added to the schedule at the nearby YMCA. Or when I said trapezing but meant traipsing. “You can’t come trapezing through here whenever you feel like it,” I say, accusing my boyfriend of being a Barnum and Bailey’s acrobat, casually back-flipping and sailing through my apartment.
I have an intense connection to the expression “Let’s go,” an attachment to the idea of: leave this place, go elsewhere, come with me. I borrowed Eliot’s famous beginning from The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock—Let us go then, you and I, When the evening is spread out against the sky—to use as a caption under my high school grad photo, summing up my farewell thoughts in the yearbook’s allotted twenty-five words or less. No “Keep in touch!” No “THANKS to A.H, J.K. & G.T - YOU GUYS ROCK!!!” More a poetic invitation, let’s blow this popsicle stand.

B is for Bonefro
Pronounced: [Bone- NAY-fro] noun. A village in Southern Italy, region of Molise.
Bonefro is our beginning. According to my mother, this place gave birth to our fierce, proud, better-than-everybody-else’s bloodline.
 We go back to the village for a summer the year I turn eleven. My mother’s health is deteriorating and she is convinced the climate of her youth will offer the best environment for convalescence. She wants to be close to her own mother.
Bonefro is tiny, chiseled out of the hillside, with buildings covered in cool rock tile that offer some relief from the unforgiving Mediterranean sun.
My Italian cousins find me curious. They find it difficult to follow the conversation as my parents and I flip between Italian dialect and mangled English in the same breath. Our speech is fragmented and sentences are splintered over forgotten words or incorrect translations. No one notices the problem until I ask Luisa to accompany me:
Lu, yammacheen u – Papa, come si dice store in Italian?”
My father doesn’t hesitate to reply, “Store è…is store.”
Luisa frowns. Store is clearly not how one says store in Italian.
“Wait minute…u sach è…I know is…”  My father is annoyed, frustrated that he cannot remember. He stares at the hand he has just been dealt in the card game Scopa and asks my mother to assist. She doesn’t know, doesn’t care. The word is gone, replaced. It’s not even on the tip of their tongues.
            My grandfather wins the round while my dad is distracted. Nonno shakes his head at the floor and again curses Columbus for discovering America.