Scoundrel Time

The Blanket Room

—After Italo Calvino and Dorianne Laux When I’m inconsolable, I like to go to The Blanket Room™. A new one just opened at the Maple Heights Mall. They wrap you in a blanket and turn out the lights. Then...

Into that Dark Room Where the Fiction Gets Made: An Interview with Novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of six novels including a personal favorite of mine, The White Rose, a contemporary take on the opera Der Rosenkavalier. Jean’s latest novel, The Devil and Webster, follows...

Incident at the Western Border

She vanished before they could shoot her: left only an atmosphere of mist, brume of body which blew inland in a myriad of droplets, a haze of nard and cinnamon touched softly with myrrh and cassia, floating...

Because They Could: How We Are Not Russia

  On February 27, 2015, a stone’s throw away from the ominous fishbone of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower, they killed the charismatic and universally beloved leader of the Russian political opposition, the...

“In the increasingly convincing darkness / The words become palpable…" —John Ashbery

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.” —Grace Paley

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Colony

A splash of gasoline, a match, my brother poking it with a shovel. I was too young to have an opinion yet knew it was wrong. Even if the haystack pile of it grew each day more troubling beside the swingset, beside the prim lines of carrots in the...

Requiem

  I woke up one morning and my country was gone. It was strange. It had been there the night before, sparking and hissing, but now it was gone. I could feel its absence in the air, which is a feeling like no other. The garden was still there...

Election

Schoolchildren wait in seven, six, five, four straight lines that sway and shimmer as they’re led away until a winged V arrows south, and they see the pointed shape of flight from home, an escape— though they read liberty in motion, not need for...

Flamboyan (Royal Poinciana)

  I always wanted to be that woman That brazen hussy clothed in red The color of a torch singer’s lips or a rooster’s wattle Fecund, inflamed, unashamed My trembling limbs spread wide In rampant, ecstatic bloom Defying you and your mortal fears...

This Is Us (Oxycodone Song)

  What was it Mavis said about the marble, re: Da Vinci, or was it Michelangelo, you know, that the job is, some- how, the careful removal of what isn’t needed—of what’s getting in the way? Something like that? Google it, I said. She’d been the...

A Prescriptive Identity? Not My Birthright.

  Identity. I searched for it my entire life. When I thought I had it in my clutches, the slippery creature learned how to evade me; my identity changed directions, it multiplied, it forced me to look inwards and decide—is this who I want to be...

The Mothers on the Wall

Stant pavidae in muris matres oculisque sequuntur Pulveream nubem et fulgentes aere catervas. -AENEID VIII 590-1 The fearful mothers standing on the wall, the cloud of dust they follow with their eyes: millennia pass, and nothing’s changed at all of...

American Patriot: A Portfolio

Poems by Jim Daniels, Photographs by Charlee Brodsky   Size Matters Imagine singing “Oh, say, can you see” to a flag you can’t see. That’s what graduate students at the University of Texas at Dallas had in mind when they...

Artists Dying

  The first time I saw an artist dying onstage, I was a kid. I went to see Rahsaan Roland Kirk at the Village Gate. The great saxophonist, composer, and vocalist had recently suffered a stroke. His body was non-existent inside a rumpled tuxedo...

Here

Where do you put the anger and the fear? Hand them over. Here. What do you do with the uncertainty? Pass it to me. The sadness, the foreboding, all the rest? I bare my breast. The blustering threats, the dark and stormy skies? Look into my eyes...

Isolated Splendor

I was aping Mussolini in a pizzeria when the American I fell for called me an asshole, not an overreaction in Roma, the city responsible for romantics like Caligula and Berlusconi. Later that night, soccer hooligans attacked the riot cops, the...

Laughing at the Demagogues

It’s become predictable—though still, I hope, not normal—that a Saturday Night Live skit will be followed by an angry tweet from the new President, using words like “unwatchable” and “not funny.” If these silly overreactions at times seem like part...

Not Breathing Yet: In Response to the Election

I am eighteen years old, lying on my bed doing my homework, when my two-year-old nephew begins his seizure. He came into my room an hour before, fussy and red-faced, and fell asleep behind me, pressed tight against me for comfort. The heat emanating...

Note from a Mother

My middle child is fascinated by his ethnicity. He looks the most Ecuadorian with his dark almond eyes and wide nose. He stretches his arm next to mine to see the contrast of his brown skin against my white. He teaches his younger brother to say...

The Future Is a Ceiling of Impossible Water

I was driving in a rented yellow convertible through the desert, near the eastern border of California. A bright spring morning: overhead, the sky was brilliant and blue, like a ceiling of impossible water. My forehead was damp. My hair was wild. My...

Disappointment

Remember, remember, the eighth of November; of gunpowder, treason and plot.[1] Benjamin, do you recall sixteen years ago how we sat all night before the black-and-white Great Wall television set (with its hues of light green on a warped electronic...