Typos

By Eric Rawson

Poem

The chromosomal kinds often result

in minor improvements to the species

 

The fat-fingered mistakes that used to plague

a typist encourage online porno-

graphers and herbal-supplement scammers

 

New words are added to the lexicon

as was the delicious dord in Websters’

1939 edition and old

 

Morals undermined (see the King James which

in 1631 did not command

the flock not to commit adultery

 

resulting one supposes in a mid-

century spike in bastardy)—careless

proofing yields a meditative moment:

 

The mindswept plain of western Nebraska

 

Instead of meteorology an

epistemology—Instead of top-

ography a description of pureness

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Erin Eileen Almond. Her debut novel, Witches’ Dance, is available from Lanternfish Press.

Almond is a novelist, short story writer, essayist and reviewer. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe, Colorado Review, Normal School, Small Spiral Notebook,and on Cognoscenti.com, and The Rumpus.net.

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The following is an excerpt from Andrew Weatherhead’s new book-length poem, $50,000. It is available now from Publishing Genius.

Order a copy here.

 

 

The intercom’s paging someone named Ned Spaghetti 

 

 

Streetlights flicker on Church Avenue

 

 

Distance sweeps through the city like a plague

 

 

The wind stops, but the clouds keep moving

 

 

My face hurts from frowning again

 

 

I’m having obvious feelings…

 

 

Mike Tyson: “All of my heroes were truly miserable bastards, and I emulated them my whole career”

 

 

It feels like I’m floating, but I know I’m not

 

 

Dreams of total narcissism and self-involvement

 

 

Google searches for emotions, feelings, bars near me

 

 

Rivers that never reach the sea

 

 

Constant fear is the natural state of man—a path from the real to the abstract

 

 

Gavrilo Princip finishes his sandwich, steps outside, and assassinates the Archduke Franz Ferdinand

 

 

World War I begins

 

 

World War I ends

 

 

Trees rustle overhead

 

 

Time is a jelly—it wooshes

 

 

I walk quickly past Café Mogador

 

 

Friends of friends haunt me

 

 

Lunch meat drives me insane

 

 

Cus D’Amato: “The hero and the coward feel the same thing”

 

 

Vi Khi Nao: “My soul is a cul-de-sac”

 

 

Everyone else’s problems seem worse

 

 

So I go home and go to sleep

it’s winter in san diego
the sound of your feet on wooden planks

down to the water

 

white skies, white waves

 

there’s a woman swimming naked
in the cold, her child at her side

doesn’t seem to mind.

 

Last night I held your hand

under the table, your sister sat across from us
her baby didn’t like me, you laughed
gave a squeeze, I held on tight

 

I love the beach in winter. It’s nice to share the ocean
with the dogs in the water, lolled heads of seaweed
hissing onto the shore – but it’s also nice
to have the ocean alone.

 

Ladling soup last night (pot gleaming, steam, an orange bowl)
– I finally let myself cry

 

next to me in the kitchen, your father drank undisturbed
you kissed me in the hallway
I’m afraid of him, you told me once
I pressed my head into your chest
it was goodbye, you didn’t know, gripped my wrist

 

just to let it go.

 

here in San Diego
you can’t tell the homeless and the surfers apart
deeply tan, sunbleached hair
tears in their clothes

 

I guess we all search for something, on whatever side

–so the dark men build houses on the water
chucks of white marble in their hands
glimpse the sunset, leave them for someone else

and the blond boys go on dreaming
of Hawaii, of better, bluer water

 

I stand on boulders, strangely curved, remember currents

of water
and wind, too. I sit,

 

quiet with the birds. Horizon, an endless line, presses

 

down on all this blue.

 

and the woman

slips in, a silver coin necklace

flashing on her chest,

 

 

brightest thing in the waves.

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with April Dávila . Her debut novel, 142 Ostriches, is available from Kensington Books.

 

Dávila received her undergraduate degree from Scripps College before going on to study writing at USC. She was a resident of the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony in 2017 and attended the Squaw Valley Community of Writers in 2018. In 2019 her short story “Ultra” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A fourth-generation Californian, she lives in La Cañada Flintridge with her husband and two children. She is a practicing Buddhist, half-hearted gardener, and occasional runner. 142 Ostriches is her first novel.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Emily Nemens. Her debut novel, The Cactus League, is available from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

 

In 2018, Nemens became the seventh editor of The Paris Review, the nation’s preeminent literary quarterly. Since her arrival, the magazine has seen record-high circulation, published two anthologies, produced a second season of its acclaimed podcast, and won the 2020 National Magazine Award for Fiction. Previously, she coedited The Southern Review, a storied literary quarterly published at Louisiana State University. Stories published during her tenure at The Southern Review were selected for the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize anthology, and the inaugural edition of PEN America Best Debut Fiction.

Nemens grew up in Seattle and received her bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where she studied art history and studio art. She completed an MFA degree in fiction at Louisiana State University. As an illustrator, she’s collaborated with Harvey Pekar, published her work in The New Yorker, and her watercolor portraits of every woman in congress were featured across the web and on national TV. Her short stories have appeared in Blackbird (Tarumoto Prize winner), Esquiren+1The Iowa ReviewHobart, and The Gettysburg Review. She lives in New York and remains a Mariners fan.

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So bored
A thousand fallen
Naked bodies
Inside me, muscular
They never stop moving
In and out of each other
In the basement of my body
Moving in structure
In the dirtiest techno
Made of my pulsing
Driving regrets
I want to heal from
Mostly
But life is so fucking boring

 

Late into the night, the traffic lights outside start to blink, as if to say, “Go ahead, do whatever you want, I don’t care.” It’s easier to apologize profusely for my room being messy than it is to clean it. I remember two times I called 911, although there may have been others. The crossword clue was: “Message written on a car window” and my first guess was SAVE ME, and my second stab was CALL ME, when the answer was WASH ME. When I was on the cusp of graduating college, I ended up in a psych unit for three days instead. Pola and I walked down the same street in different directions so that we could bump into each other to walk in the same direction and it was dark and drizzling and the headlights and streetlights didn’t help so everyone walking towards me was Pola until they got close enough and were not her until it was her. People often give me the heads up that my fly is down. As of now, I think the most beautiful song lyric is: If being afraid is a crime, we hang side by side. I much prefer phone calls to texting. I had to explain the messy details all over again when I met with a new mental health professional. I’m not sure which parts of me are worth keeping secret. The olive oil sputtered and got me, and I held my fingers and arms under the faucet so I’d have smaller blisters to deal with. Learning that the name for something that has been happening with me is OCD, has heightened my OCD. We were watching Big and Pola fell asleep before Josh Baskin returned to the Zoltar machine so he wouldn’t have to be Tom Hanks anymore. In a coffee shop, Pola taught me the basics of crocheting, and a man in a wheelchair wouldn’t stop saying to me, “Yes, that’s a good thing. Crocheting is good. There’s nothing wrong with crocheting. It’s a good thing.” For months now, Pola and I have been stealthily planting two specific mayonnaise tubes on each other’s person each time we see each other and today I found one tucked inside my Zoloft bottle and the other fell out of my hat when I got back home. My belts break at a rapid pace. I dreamt that I lost my cool at work and when I told my coworker about it, he laughed. In lieu of dinner, I ate two Ben And Jerry’s. The scab from my blister got crusty and yellow and looked like a booger and even though I knew better, I fiddled and fussed until it fell off and now the exposed skin is tender and deep red. I’m much more embarrassed when the embarrassing thing occurs in private. But there are major drawbacks to having an audience as well. I think I may have just committed the most brutal act of self-sabotage that I have ever committed in my life. While I was sobbing in a Lyft, my driver made a fatal wrong turn and, at the end of the ride, he gave me three dollars from his own pocket and said it was for making me late to work but I choose to believe it was out of compassion for the crying. I bailed on the movie with Pola because I haven’t really slept for three days. How do I write definitively about something that’s yet to be defined? I’m learning the distinctions between unhealthy sadness and healthy sadness. My phone died and forced me to listen to the things I was thinking and feeling. Cliffhangers are devices used in fiction to keep audiences hooked, beside themselves with anticipation for the next chapter or episode, and a lived life can present you with things that feel like cliffhangers, you’re left wondering what will come next, what another person is thinking or feeling, it can drive you mad, but it’s best to keep in mind that life is not a structured narrative, it happens and it keeps happening, and so I cast off my frantic anticipation and sit here patiently waiting for tomorrow without torment.

 

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Megan Fernandes. Her new poetry collection, Good Boys, is available from Tin House Books. It was a finalist for the Kundiman Book Prize and the Saturnalia Book Prize.

 

Fernandes is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The New YorkerTin House, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Rattle, Pank, The Common, Guernica, the Academy of American Poets, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. She is also the author of The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books 2015).

An Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College, Fernandes teaches courses on poetry, creative nonfiction, and critical theory. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in poetry from Boston University.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Garth Greenwell. His new book Cleanness is available from Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, and is being translated into a dozen languages. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris ReviewA Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review, among others. He lives in Iowa City.

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credits: CameraRAW Photography


Do you believe in ghosts?

No, but I believe in being haunted.

You hear words

By Gayle Brandeis

Poem

You hear words like burn and drown and freeze and scald and they’re just words to you. You hear stab and strangle and pummel and hack and they’re just words, too. A few letters, easy to say. Easy to move past. Burn. Drown. Freeze. Scald. Compact little sounds. Some may make you flinch. Send a momentary shiver down your body, raise a bit of gooseflesh. But then your nerves settle; your body seals itself again.

 

When your body knows these words, knows them in every fiber, the words change. They become the smell of your own scorched skin, the taste of your own blood, the sight of your own fingers on the floor, separate as dropped slices of apple. These words have become something more than words. They have become weapons, ready to get under the surface of you, pry you back open.

 

Your body remembers even when you no longer have a body

(some tender part of you still flinches)

(some immaterial nerves still flare)

Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Katharine Coldiron. Her debut novella, Ceremonials, is available from Kernpunkt Press.

 

Coldiron’s work has appeared in Ms., the Washington Post, LARB, the Times Literary Supplement, the GuardianBUST, the Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, VIDA, Brevity, and elsewhere. She earned a B.A. in film studies & philosophy from Mount Holyoke College and an M.A. in creative writing from California State University, Northridge. She has read many, many books. Born in the American South to a professor of poetry and translation and a U.S. Navy captain, and raised along the East Coast, she now lives in Los Angeles.

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Below are links to all sixty episodes of Bud Smith’s Good Luck serial.