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Issue 108

The cover features work by Scott Erickson, who has created downloadable, printable Stations of the Cross that have been installed in and out of churches all over the world. Also inside: Posthumous prose poems by John Ashbery that riff on Jesus’s servant parables. James K.A. Smith on criticism that leaves room for love. Lucia Senesi on filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky’s fascination with the Madonna del Parto. Randy Boyagoda reviews new novels by Chelsea Bieker and Daniel Hornsby. Filmmaker Ryan Lauterio on a surprising art collector. An interview with Crystal Wilkinson on cooking, memory, seeing rural Black life, and the healing power of nature for Black women. Morgan Meis on the Georgia O’Keeffe the critics miss. Fiction: Rose Whitmore’s elegy for a racetrack; Ed Falco on what the river sweeps away. Poems by Linda Gregerson, Steve Kronen, and more. Anna Anderson on the strange thrill of mushroom hunting. And Elijah Teitelbaum asks an absurd question: will we ever feel nostalgic for 2020?

Go Back and Fetch It


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“Literature…can hold up those things that mainstream society doesn’t believe: that Black people are there. One of my jobs is just holding that up to the light so that everyone can see that they’re there.”

How to Visit a Museum: Disciplines of Availability


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I’m waiting for that strange experience when a picture speaks, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes with a shout, sometimes with a reverberating silence that pulls me to the edge of a precipice where I’m not sure whether I’ll fall or fly.

The Heart of the Grandstand


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The racetrack, famously built before we knew of such things, straddled a fault line at the joint of two very active plates. As a result, fissures spread through the walls of the old grandstand like capillaries. The world was tearing it apart naturally.

The New Fear


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Our blood sugar was so high that our wounds
had stopped healing. We were either a tapestry
of Band-Aids or very careful.

The Boundary Waters


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One second he was riding on the river and the next he was in it, watching his canoe float away upside down, its silvery hull a bright line on the dark river.

Scandinavian Grim


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When my mother said
Linda
and looked that look, I could

see it all before me.

Stations in the City


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I think the stations are for everyone, no matter your religious affiliation, because they are a meditation on being human, so I wanted people to see them without the hurdle of having to enter a religious space.

Proof


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from where I was broken I could not flee.

Long Engagement


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The dog / rests her head on my knee. A person is not like a god. / A person is not like a dog.

Time Slice of a Marriage After Fifteen Years


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Sometimes I wish God / would have loved the world less and kept his son.

In the Studio


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I’ve always tried to work by addition and not subtraction.

Start


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And because I’m a taker by nature, / I am suspicious, exhausted, on guard / against tax refunds, friendships, erasures

Sacred and Profane Dances: New Prose Poems by John Ashbery


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The words can suddenly turn to vapor or stones. They have a way of wriggling out of our grasp just when we thought to touch them. This can happen to the wise as well as to the foolish.

ATTAINDER


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This evil that I feel, that I taste, that makes the roads slick, is there no end, no fruition to it? It comes from somewhere, sufficient to find out where.

Sacred and Profane Dances


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The words can suddenly turn to vapor or stones. They have a way of wriggling out of our grasp just when we thought to touch them. This can happen to the wise as well as to the foolish.

Tempest


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As usual Tempest’s strands were many. In conversation she was like a fisherman with a number of lines which she was constantly checking, to see if some unlucky bullhead or catfish might have gone for the bait.

At 4 a.m. Snow


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Earth stands / on end, listening. / The acid sun turns on / limes green

Via Negativa


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He feels such an urge to make things mean, / including his mood. He’s had that longing, / drunk or sober, all his life.

Zach’s Mystery, and Others


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We remember how we’d drink with him, and more / than half our gang are dead as he is now.

The Mushrooms


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I’d read that they were edible, so, using both hands, I plucked one from the ground and carried it inside, where I moved it, slowly, from the table to the fridge and then back outside.

Will We Feel Nostalgia for 2020?


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At present, we are standing inside of the pandemic, and so its bitterness defines first and foremost how we feel about it.

Beloved Ghosts of Geography


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What would you give / / to have heaven be the way you imagine, / made of the familiar and welcoming?

Curator’s Corner


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Meaning does not only happen when we make it. We make meaning out of a world that is already meaningful.

Untranslatable Mother: Tarkovsky, Zurlini, and the Madonna del Parto


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Later on, in high school, I would see those same artworks in my books and listen to my professor explaining their importance. Probably because they were within a five-minute walk and I knew them by heart, I didn’t have any real interest in them, nor in any of what Pasolini would call “my intimate, profound, archaic Catholicism.” I was interested in Hegel.

If I Speak for the River


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I must take shoes and clothes off and leave them on the bank for nakedness is water’s first language.

The Place Nobody Wanted


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The one thing I’m certain you created / is desire, different forms of it, / cut from the same bone far and / / high in the night.

From the Faraway Nearby


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One way to describe what O’Keeffe did with landscapes is to say that she was trying to figure out a way to look out at the horizon and to see things out there as deeply as she was able to see things like flowers and plants up close.

From “Internal Combustion”


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Upward / movement of us is vain, said Simone / Weil, if it doesn’t come from a downward / movement. Go down to the river. / The counterweight. Down / without talking with father, mother, / brother, sister

Reading and Writing for the Life Outside Our Own


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Obviously, autobiographical experience, even matched to extraordinary artfulness, cannot be the lone standard against which to measure the accomplishment of a novel.

Two Pigeons


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The wind unshouldering rain,
they huddle into the concave
of the day by windowpane

Eigg


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After the rain, all over the island
wild irises find their throats
open into astonished song.

Billy the Kid


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O, I write to you now Lew / Wallace to say that a deal is a deal / is a deal, and that everything is possible / under our eye-squinting American sky.

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