Issue 115’s cover features one of Duncan Simcoe’s Black Paintings; Meet Me is from a series called Means of Conveyance that explore places of encounter between the human and divine. Also inside: short lyric fiction on cancer and motherhood by Melanie Rae Thon; Rowan Williams and Shane McCrae in conversation on the obliqueness and extravagance of poetry; James K.A. Smith on feeling imposter syndrome in Florence; Wendy Kiyomi on the pain of being unable to heal an adopted child; Clare Frances on saving to buy a mausoleum in New Orleans; short fiction on the demons that haunt former actors by Lauren Aliza Green; Mindy Misener on how walking at night reveals the strange intimacy of neighbors; poetry by Jessica Jacobs, Jacqueline Osherow, and many more. Plus visual art that touches on architecture: Kylee Snow draws the inner lives of old houses; painter John Descarfino’s obsession with windows; and a conversation with curator Aaron Rosen, who started a gallery in a former parsonage in Maine.
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Unlike a pilgrimage to the Uffizi, Paolini’s installations ask for something other than devotion; his work occasioned in me a kind of wondering that was something other than awe. It invites conversation rather than adulation. The artist is relinquishing control rather than demanding attention.
In the garden, love is dirt and rain: through every wet blossoming Joanna hears children singing—
But what is wrestling
if not an embrace? It’s too dark to know
you have the same face
Paul Desmond was a famous jazz musician.
He could play altissimo, the highest register.
His tone was light as a soul leaving the body.
Everything inside a mountain
has the right to be forgotten, but I have
the right to know, to access, make the coal seam
Relationships, she believed, were built not on loyalty but a system of material and emotional labor, wherein you paid a percentage of your valuable time and energy to receive a percentage of someone else’s valuable time and energy in return. She was suspicious of anyone who claimed purer motives.
so efficiently do quail become creators
of quail like God filling the
desert floor with quail for his
After watching him for a few measures’ time, I walk on. I have no interest in spying. I only look at the things that I am allowed to see from the sidewalk.
our hearts labor at salvation
despite our honest efforts to resist
I see my paintings and drawings as invitations to encounter a lived environment slowly, fully, and reflectively.
Graphite’s lack of material complexity also feels honest. Since it’s a simple form of carbon, any mystery in a graphite work is created through process, and that feels like starting from a place of truth.
You could scatter the shoots across the world
and they would die together, as one body.
She hardly sleeps. I doze deep into day.
I thought you’d be born
I don’t blame you for that.
If poetry has nothing else to say, it says this: this world is much more peculiar than you imagine.
I feel I’m more raccoon
—with questions curious as paws—
than brother to these patients, for whom the moon
seems closer company than either me or God.
I don’t really pray anymore except to say help.
All my friends are so busy, and when they’re dying, I’ll have something to give them.
When I fought Ryan in the cafeteria I only hit him
three times before Mr. Coleman grabbed my shoulder
and pushed me against the wall.
Hey oldhead, a voice called out, you want to go?
No, thank you, I said and raised my hand as if he’d asked me
to sign a petition.
Most objects do object to being moved:
crates of paperbacks cracking, a creaking hutch
of china the clumsy among us won’t touch.
I had wagered more than I could afford to lose on the probability that God was a friend to the orphan and a protector of the vulnerable.
My father wants a new suit, deep blue to black
for the viewing loose fitting, with or without
“We’re wagering on the importance of spaces that support artists holistically, as creators of value that isn’t simply financial.”
Simcoe instinctively recognized tar paper’s potential as the medium he was seeking. It had a texture receptive to crayon and brush; its lusterless, inky finish conveyed an aura of mystery; and you could simply tack it onto a gallery wall for display.
faith was pageantry
both in Medici Florence and the Ming dynasty,
twenty years and half a planet apart.
There’s something like prayer I’ve always bit on my tongue but then I can immediately taste the blood afterwards. You’re old enough to know now my father says to me.
If anything is worth living for, worth singing an imperfect offering to, it is the low and the small.
It may come
that I don’t
make it out.
Until he leapt four stories toward death
my father didn’t believe in God, he said,
but himself, yet the tech in the medevac
swore, as the helicopter lifted, he asked
whether Jesus loved him.
Nothing will die when we’re together.
After they bury me I suppose they will toast
my unparalleled capacity for wasting time or
proclivity for spinning wild yarns. Of my soufflés
they will say what they must.
The glory of the Father…is that with him we are never out of time. He is forever welcoming our response.
What he saw both entertained and startled him:
his head and face repeated in a corridor
of bizarre, ever-shrinking iterations,
a duplicate geometry of selves
Ambulatory, patterned hours, the cell’s
circumference, countable cinder blocks, the darkness,
the lock, the tick of a wristwatch through midnight and beyond.