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GEOMETRY Issue One April May 2017
GEOMETRY Issue One, April May, 2017
GEO ME T RY Issue One April May 2017 Where lines meet Editors Di Starrenburg and Harley Hern Copy Editor Rachel O Connor Cover art Wahine Kotahi A Tribute to Gordon Walters Bronwyn Waipuka Callander The opinions expressed in this journal are solely those of the authors Special thanks to Sir James Wallace The Wallace Arts Trust Jayfour Trust and all contributing authors and artists For submissions information visit our website at http geoliterary com Copyright 2017 Geometry Literary Journal Limited and individual authors and artists All rights reserved Geometric graphics IVVI and 123dartist stock adobe com geoliterary
GEO ME T RY Issue One, April May, 2017  Where lines meet. Editors, Di Starrenburg and Harley Hern Copy Editor, Rachel O   ...
from the editors 6 leilani tamu enter the mind of the poet 11 brittany shutts where will we live 14 isabel bermudez my father s house 16 ruby porter a place that remembers 22 bronwyn waipuka callander glicee prints 27 shayla lawson two poems 31 joshua johnston my time among the cannibals 32 lauren foley 417 bvb 820 34 roz ray the instrument 44 daniel lassell bottom land 45 ruth phipps three paintings 50 rata gordon would you let a k k in your bedroom window 52 ali rachel pearl black hole
from the editors  6  leilani tamu, enter the mind of the poet  11  brittany shutts, where will we live  14  isabel bermude...
commuting jane flett 54 the commandments of virtue saquina karla c guiam 62 backwards natasha tynes 64 graphic narrative jem yoshioka 72 the proverb zoo armel dagorn 81 two poems karen an hwei lee 91 dugdugee pia ghosh roy 93 for xulhuz lily jamaludin 99 photography jo currie 102 a history in kissing holes joshua morris 109 greg is god breton dukes 111 mile end sam averis 121 at the movies owen marshall 123
commuting, jane flett  54  the commandments of virtue, saquina karla c. guiam  62  backwards, natasha tynes  64  graphic n...
From the editors We are delighted to introduce the first issue of Geometry a global meeting of line shape and perspective We began as a tiny online aspiration an indulgent whim named after Katherine Mansfield s The Doll s House and this issue retains many of our early pieces Over the past year and a half our journal in progress has morphed and grown spurred on by the enthusiasm of many story tellers artists poets and readers Established writers have added their work to our collection and the result is this rich assortment of artistic material as eclectic as it is exciting as local as it is international We have followed no formal criteria doubtfully at times and marched blindly through the quagmire of the publication process Despite our mistakes we are proud of the result This inaugural issue contains the realistic and the allegoric the long and the short the traditional and the experimental It visits the neighbourhoods of Jordan Calcutta and Kuala Lumpur rides the tramline between Roosevelt Island and Manhattan and drives the New Zealand countryside from Levin to Wh ng r Oil on canvas and snapshots of the streets of Cuba share pages with an illustrated exploration of cultural identity and glic e prints that express M ori heritage and taonga Thanks to the incredible array of journals in existence we as editors have spent many hours traversing the world from our living rooms Our desire through this publication is to invite the world in all its complexity and variation back home to visit to provide a place for New Zealand talent to shake hands with the talent of the world Of course Geometry would not exist were it not for the generosity of Sir James Wallace whose financial support has provided our seed funding and the payment for our authors and artists We are tremendously grateful Going forward our goal is to continue to pay contributors and endeavour to provide a space for creative cultural and geographical connection where lines meet Di Starrenburg and Harley Hern
From the editors  We are delighted to introduce the first issue of Geometry   a global meeting of line, shape and perspect...
LEILANI TAMU is an accomplished individual At thirty four years old she is a former New Zealand diplomat parliamentary candidate for the New Zealand Greens published poet mother historian Fulbright alumna and freelance public policy analyst Born in Auckland with ancestral and marital ties to Samoa Tonga and Niue she has made her mark on New Zealand s cultural landscape by writing with courage honesty and heart She has just completed her second book a poetic political degustation entitled Cultural Diplomacy It is currently being considered for publication Watch this space Creative Nonfiction ENTER THE MIND OF THE POET The blank page stares at me and you and dares us to write The page has no form no structure and yet it desperately wants someone anyone to bend it mould it shape it into existence We as writers stare back Some of us meek some of us bold all of us consumed by the task that lies ahead of us Time is relative in the context of writing I am writing in your past you are reading in my future We are corresponding across a divide defined by a global meeting of line shape and perspective We are geometrically connected across time and space existing both within and without of the space carved out for us by this blank page come you me go to the place where dialogue ends and dialogic lives begin And so enters the Mad Professor la Mr Back to the Future who I met as a child Although I didn t recognise him as Mad back then He was my Great Uncle Henry a raging alcoholic with a colourful history full of adventure We met in 1982 me a newborn babe and he a worn out sailor seeing out the final years of his life He held me and fell in love I was oblivious too young to know him too little to care But he knew when he saw me He saw the ocean in my eyes recognised the star on my cheek and although he knew his life would end shortly after mine had begun he vowed to leave me a gift With his bare hands he made a small chair for this child while in rehab 6
LEILANI TAMU is an accomplished individual. At thirty-four years old, she is a former New Zealand diplomat, parliamentary ...
LEILANI TAMU woven and glued together with memories from his youth in Samoa his adventures on the sea and the tattered worn fragments of his many many lost loves He made it for me reincarnated as a bush knife wielding boy wide eyed girl in tow walking the cusp of history untold In my dreams the dwarf star orbits the sun three times a day and on the dwarf star my uncle sits on the woven chair playing his ukulele singing Sweet Leilani In reality I write poems and try to make sense of these strange dreams that don t make sense at all And so the blank page simultaneously embraces madness and sanity and traverses imaginative spaces that translate the creative into logical discourse I have become obsessed with understanding hegemony the why and the how that underpins relationships of power that underpins the way we talk about sex and death and fear and hope they entered her and scoured her for gold and silver they named us and translated us into their own way of seeing the world In 2004 my great uncle s photographs tumbled from a dusty old box in my grandfather s cupboard and onto my lap It was a strange way to reacquaint myself with my ancestor the Mad Professor His life spread out before me in a twentieth century montage familiar yet alien all at once I recall gingerly reaching out to one photograph in particular the one where the strange boy s eyes seemed to penetrate time space and distance I picked him up There he stood with his bush knife in 1926 staring at me in 2004 I ll never forget those eyes so strange yet so familiar to the girl on the other side of time reincarnated as a bush knife wielding boy wide eyed girl in tow walking the cusp of history untold Age does strange things to the body If I close my eyes and meditate I can see myself as a girl behind a wall of poems playing hopscotch with my sister Words ebb and flow around us but the rhythm remains constant The poems protect us as we jump from one square to the next unaware that in a few years someone will say Pluto is not really a planet and that there is a large hole in the ozone layer that will fry us if we go outside 7
LEILANI TAMU  woven and glued together with memories from his youth in Samoa, his adventures on the sea and the tattered, ...
GEOMETRY 01 without sunblock on And that our children and their children and their children s children will one day be displaced because of climate change we were TAB kids my sister and I horses flew unicorn like on the racecourse when Dad s bets were on Our father died in 1999 one month before his birthday and six weeks before the dawn of the new millennium I wish I d been with him He was alone when his heart exploded sitting in his car at the lights on Mayoral Drive I was seventeen at the time and I loved him dearly even though he was constantly pissing me off But that s what real love is about right Loving someone no matter how much they piss you off Well at least that s what I think now On reflection I don t think I thought that at seventeen Love to me back then was something to be bartered between consenting adults or stolen from non consenting girls Either way it was a precious commodity that I needed to protect It was the one thing I had that I could trade that no one could take away indefinitely Well let s face it since I m staring at the blank page I ve got no choice but to be completely honest those boys would have taken it regardless And they did Mr Loretz said I would be wasting my time sitting School C Maths on the same day Mrs Goode said I should get tested for S T Ds In my dreams the dwarf star orbits the sun three times a day And on the dwarf star my uncle sits on the woven chair playing his ukulele singing Sweet Leilani Leilani Tamu To pre sex Leilani dads were the ultimate commodity especially step dads When I was eight Step Dad Number One jumped ship Said he d never leave told me to drop the Step call him Dad then disappeared with his dog Sometimes I think about looking him up in the white pages only so I can knock him the f out I love that fantasy In reality the thought of seeing him again makes me feel physically ill Abuse Abuser Hater User He was all of that and I was eight He left laughing as my sister and I held our mother in our arms As she sobbed I vowed no man would ever do that to us girls again 8
GEOMETRY 01  without sunblock on. And that our children and their children and their children   s children will one day be...
LEILANI TAMU you told me to sit on the floor eat with the dog wait for your return wait for years Step Dad Number Two arrived when I was twelve a good man with a broken heart The poor bugger had no idea what he was walking into My life was a warzone and I was intent on taking down any man who came peddling love There was only room for one dad in my life even if he was a messed up compulsive gambler who only came on Sundays But little did I know I was going to war with a seasoned veteran and there was never a chance of success We fought for sixteen years with a shared love for my mum and sister being the only thing that kept us from killing each other I ran away from home He hit me I ran away from home He cut my hair I ran away from home He forgave me I ran away I ran away I ran away from love easier to disappear without a trace jumped out the window forgot the door I was broken when I first saw your face But I do love him And I love my husband So perhaps somewhere somehow along this messed up journey I m thirty four now I let my guard down at least with those two But I look around me at our society and I keep seeing I keep hearing about women about girls about children being subjected to abuse Physical Verbal Psychological But what s worse is that my critical and intellectual training has given me insight into how public policy can also be abusive discriminatory and harmful How policies that are supposed to be about helping people are actually about targeting them primarily beneficiaries and how intergenerational poverty is created and entrenched by systemic inequality that benefits a few and harms many How we live in a country where the prime minister a man pulls a woman s hair and it s no big deal how we live in a country where Pacific women earn on average thirty one percent less than men and this is taken for granted as normal I wake up some days and wonder am I in Never Never Land Dear Diary The WINZ Motel story broke today Budget week deficit English needs to balance the books Lots of Kiwis sleeping in cars Flightless birds can t raise funds to get over to Oz Hope for a Hurricane 9
LEILANI TAMU  you told me to sit on the floor eat with the dog wait for your return wait for years Step Dad Number Two arr...
GEOMETRY 01 And then it s 5am and my children are snuggled up next to me and I breathe And think And breathe And think And commit to doing something for them Because the easy option would be to pretend it s all going to be okay That by the time they are twenty whole islands nations and peoples won t be swallowed up by Tagaloa alagi and that my daughter won t be earning thirty one percent less than my son just because of her gender and ethnicity And that maybe just maybe by me doing nothing the inevitability of structural inequality and displacement and harm caused by climate change and the inaction of governments to address it won t affect them and others like them but I can t take the easy option because I know too much it s impossible to pretend otherwise So I ve chosen the hard option Which is to dive into the blank page The unknown To step into politics and endeavor to make a difference To risk everything and to stand up and to say NO to injustice To fight to fight and to fight until I can t breathe any more because the hard option IS the right option IS the only option open to me you keep watch over me from above at Tagaloa s side you sit singing me home Whero is red Kakariki green I know where I stand and you ll find me there if you look hard enough People pretend madness is not brilliance because they are afraid They are afraid to admit that we re all a little mad They are afraid to admit that the blank page doesn t frighten all of us That the blank page is the most frightening thing of all because to occupy the blank page to fill it with your voice is to take a risk To be judged To engage across time and space to be immortalised through writing simultaneously emancipated and imprisoned by the written word When all that is left is silence And those eyes those penetrating eyes that say do it now or live with the consequences forever 10
GEOMETRY 01  And then it   s 5am and my children are snuggled up next to me, and I breathe. And think. And breathe. And th...
BRITTANY SHUTTS is an MFA candidate in New York University s Creative Writing Program where she is a Starworks fellow She lives in Astoria New York with her two neurotic cats and her charming bearded boyfriend You can find more of her writing and poorly drawn comics at brittanyshutts com Fiction WHERE WILL WE LIVE MANSION We live in the house we imagined as children when we drew blueprints with blue crayons Our house is a mansion beside the ocean It looks like a painting that would hang on the wall of a hotel room We are grownups now and it is exactly like we imagined we stay up late watching Dorothy click her heels on the big screen we wear our pajamas all day long we eat ice cream before dinner We adopt cats dogs horses parrots fish white tigers a moray eel and a boring tarantula that just sits on a plastic rock in a Plexiglas box all day long I wonder if he s dead The tigers swim laps in the indoor swimming pool and the moray eel in the clothes dryer startles me every time I do the whites Together we cook with exotic ingredients like ostrich eggs and rambutans and serve extravagant breakfasts Sometimes we walk through the garage and trip over sporting equipment we don t remember buying or using We shrug and think that maybe we ll need those roller skis someday Then one day as the two of us build sand castles on the beach without a care in the world a hurricane rolls in from the ocean undetected by the National Weather Service We run inside shielding our heads with beach towels The roof shudders and cracks and lifts off of the foundation The yowling cats dig their claws into the curtains for dear life and their fur pricks up on end Parrots struggle to fly against eighty mile per hour winds and don t seem to move an inch The fish rise from their trembling tanks holding their breath The tablecloth ripples and balloons into the air and forks and knives whiz past our ears as we duck into the bathtub We pull the mattress over our heads and think to ourselves that it s just like the Wizard of Oz Why didn t we see this coming 11
BRITTANY SHUTTS is an MFA candidate in New York University   s Creative Writing Program, where she is a Starworks fellow. ...
GEOMETRY 01 APARTMENT An apartment isn t so bad we tell each other It will be just like when we had our own bedrooms in our parents houses We aren t allowed to have pets but the landlady gives us permission keep our tarantula which remained miraculously unharmed by the gale force winds We hold our breath like fish out of water as we climb the stairs to our apartment something peed on the doormat and inside we discover that the apartment already has one hundred thousand occupants Lines of tiny ants snake up and down the walls and curve across the counters and we both swear they are the tiniest ants that we have ever seen A pair of bats flirt with a flickering light bulb and we try to shoo them out a broken window We hear a thumping coming from the cupboard under the bathroom sink that neither of us is willing to investigate We wish someone would come and fix all of our problems for us As the weeks drag on we find throngs of ants in the peanut butter the hair conditioner and between the sheets of the bed We feel them tickling our legs underneath our pajamas The walls seem to be moving it s like we can see atomic particles zipping around We vacuum up the ants and they march back out of the vacuum hose We slide little traps made of all the most poisonous poisons we can think of into the backs of the shelves and behind the toaster Everything tastes crunchy even the macaroni and cheese crunches between our molars As we tentatively chew our elbow noodles we see that a specialised unit of ants has lifted the lid from the Plexiglas box and is sweeping our apathetic tarantula away on its back We know it s only a matter of time before the ants carry us away too The thumping beneath the bathroom sink gets louder and faster and the cupboard door begins to crack We ask the landlady if we could please borrow a hammer some nails and a baseball bat We give her our notice The tigers swim laps in the indoor swimming pool and the moray eel in the clothes dryer startles me every time I do the whites Brittany Shutts HOTEL Now we live in a hotel and it s like we re on vacation all the time There are no pets allowed here It is always very clean and no matter how many times we throw our underwear on the floor it is bleached pressed and lined up on hangers by the time we return from the pool The maids here fold our washcloths into soft white origami cranes The bed always has clean white sheets buried under layers of blankets and 12
GEOMETRY 01  APARTMENT An apartment isn   t so bad, we tell each other. It will be just like when we had our own bedrooms ...
BRITTANY SHUTTS superfluous pillows There is one ornate blanket at the foot of the bed just long enough to keep our shins warm We always kick it off in the night and someone fixes it for us in the morning after we leave for the pool We never see who it is When we are in the hotel we don t have to think about the world outside of our room A painting of a beach house hangs beside the bed Bored with swimming indoors we sit cross legged on the duvet and gaze into the waves of oil paint Our mansion memories are flat like cardboard and buried under the sand Did we ever really live beside the ocean We know we can t live in a hotel forever so we try to plot out where we will live next and in the back of our minds we remember we are running out of time We attempt to budget We laugh at half hearted jokes about living in a cardboard box Then we give up and we go to the pool One day we sleep in for too long and we wake up smothered in carefully arranged bed linens By the time we emerge from the fortress of throw pillows and duvet folds it s two in the afternoon and we ve missed lunch in the formal dining room We order room service meals in our pajamas and drain the last of our bank accounts The maids stop artfully folding our washcloths The concierge runs each of our credit cards twice Soon the shouting manager calls a bellboy to take our bags to the sidewalk SHACK In the end we live in a cardboard box Our worst fears have come true and it isn t as bad as we imagined Some boxes are nicer than others some look like the dream houses we drew with blue crayons at sleepovers in the second grade but we were not very talented artists We tell ourselves that once you live in a box there s nowhere to go but up Our house has cutout windows and fold in doors the interior is unexpectedly spacious We can t afford to live in the box alone so we share it with a family of American Girl paper dolls and the cardstock cast of the nineties hit TV sitcom Blossom We admire their self sufficiency They churn butter knead bread and pin fabric flowers onto giant velour hats It makes us wonder how much more we can live without Did we ever need roller skis and rambutans Ostrich eggs and swimming pools The dolls are educating us about living within our means It turns out it s all about downsizing We never switch on the cardboard television with rabbit ears We don t like to watch as Dorothy s grayscale house lifts into the sky because the Weather Channel s severe weather warnings still sound in our nightmares We don t want to think about floods fires frosts or kidnappings shootings wars and other things we can t control We stroke the cardboard cat that never digs its claws into anything We need a plan We don t have a plan There s nowhere safe to go but at least we re not alone 13
BRITTANY SHUTTS  superfluous pillows. There is one ornate blanket at the foot of the bed just long enough to keep our shin...
IS ABE L BE R MU DE Z lives in Kent UK She was born in Bogota Colombia and grew up in London She is a peripatetic tutor of French Spanish and English Her first full length collection of poetry Small Disturbances is available from www fishpond co nz Her pamphlet Extranjeros is available from Flarestack Poets Poetry MY FATHER S HOUSE I come for visits know where things are kept discover the places where I am not supposed to look But there s a reticence now I do not disturb the secrets in bottom drawers There ll be a time for that which I know is coming closer discoveries unmade as yet somewhere among lists of light bulbs to be bought appointments kept in the spider black ruins of the elegant hand you taught yourself A letter to the solicitor open on a shelf talks about the past year your bumpy ride that both of you are in reasonably good health but now your mind 14
IS ABE L BE R MU DE Z lives in Kent, UK. She was born in Bogota, Colombia and grew up in London. She is a peripatetic tuto...
ISABEL BERMUDEZ turns to matters of inheritance and succession Already I see myself knee high in books wading through the yellow river of the past in it up to my chin as you were at the end with your father Frank and he was with his father before that the batman whose thumbed letters you thrust into my hands telling how every friend had perished and at the last even the poor Major was invalided out Perhaps you can tell me how to put the ghosts to rest So they come to visit only for short stays and never rearrange the furniture or open bedside drawers Or rifle my mind court despair But make themselves at home fill the heart s cold fridge so that the shelves are never quite bare Fill the heart s cold fridge so that the shelves are never quite bare Isabel Bermudez 15
ISABEL BERMUDEZ     turns to matters of inheritance and succession       Already I see myself knee-high in books, wading t...
RU BY P ORT E R is a New Zealand prose writer poet and visual artist Her writing has been published in The Spinoff The Wireless Argos and Aotearotica She read at the Same Same But Different festival in 2016 and won the Wallace Foundation Short Fiction Contest Ruby tutors creative writing at the University of Auckland where she completed her Master of Creative Writing with first class honours Creative Nonfiction A PLACE THAT REMEMBERS If you look at a map I imagine they make an equilateral triangle A defiant arrow forever pointing east It s supposed to take eight hours each way from Auckland to Levin Levin to Wh ng r Wh ng r to Auckland It never takes eight hours with my mum She s a slow driver so we d leave early She would always tell the neighbours on our return that we hit the road an hour before we ever had If it was nine she would say eight or seven then she would say six Somewhere along the way her words stuck Last time we left at three thirty It became a point of pride you see Four times a year we d be off alone on the roads with the trucks and their headlights southern motorway a tangle amongst the Bombay hills The electric blue of early morning At Wh ng r you feel like you re on the edge of the world The night sky seems to bend over and the stars just fall Levin is a place with too much sky It is a bulging blue belly that presses down on you holding you to your spot Maybe that s why no one ever gets out It is a town where people come to die The retirement villages have names like Somerset and promises like Your Ticket to Freedom at an Affordable Price The cries of ambulances sound all through the night It has a Salvation Army store and a Savemart a Paper Plus and a Postie Plus a 16
RU BY P ORT E R is a New Zealand prose writer, poet and visual artist. Her writing has been published in The Spinoff, The ...
RUBY PORTER rebranded Hoyts cinema that plays movies two weeks after they finish up everywhere else It doesn t have much A for TV architect once said Levin was the ugliest town in the world He said the Liquor King was the only redeeming building My mum told me but she can t remember his name now I say Kevin McCloud Who Grand Designs No not that one Restoration man The shed guy No not them I don t know any more for TV architects Like everything else that happens in Levin this man s words have fallen into some parochial hole too deep for memory too small for Google My house in Auckland floats on a sea of white and beige Our lurching jacaranda jostles against the freshly pruned bushes on either side Where they have manicured lawns we have snails who always get to our letters before us Where they nip and tuck we shake and roll If those houses are plastic surgery patients botoxed to the nines then mine is a mother in an Irish poem sinking deeper into her spot Full disclosure I am twenty two and still live with my mum She bought our house when I was three long before the property boom But gentrification can t only be measured in bulldozed state houses and CVs It s when a cupcake shop replaces your local WINZ office It s when you spend more time looking out for automatic sprinklers than cracks in the pavement It s when the people movers turn into SUVs sharks gliding along the street hunting for the last available park At Wh ng r all the colour of the land appears to have drained out bit by bit into the ocean It is like a photo left too long in sunlight Every green looks bleached every yellow burnt A kind of summer skin with only blisters of red in the road signs purple in the hydrangeas It is a place dictated by rhythms A place beating breathing crashing You can really see how the land ripples and bulges Driving along these roads feels like tracing the lines of a palm worn and outstretched The hills lie naked great thighs enclosing you And the sea is a womb You ll only realise this if you float in it for a good length of time The sea is a womb and its pulse needs no bloodline It can go straight to your heart in an instant The sea is a womb and if you let it it ll hold you 17
RUBY PORTER  rebranded Hoyts cinema that plays movies two weeks after they finish up everywhere else. It doesn   t have mu...
GEOMETRY 01 Auckland hides beneath its concrete shapewear The coverall wraps of city struggle to stretch themselves over its curves Only occasionally do you get a glimpse of what lies beneath a strip of bush a field that always floods a very steep road Only occasionally do you remember her belly full of fire My granddad Paul lingers in everything at Wh ng r He built the house he built the deck he built the shed I think he even installed the water tank But the place I feel him the most is in the garden Once it was just a field of lupins But he weeded and he weeded them He dragged seaweed up off the beach and soaked it in barrels He dug canals down the length of the property He made it so that life could grow in this dirtthat is really sand My mum tells me Paul scooped up a p hutukawa seedling from a gutter on Taranaki Street She says they were looking for her brother James She says he said it was a sign that he would be all right and he was that time I don t know if the seedling made it It would be strange that if it outlived both of them There are a lot of p hutukawa here now amongst the Norfolk pine the kauri the apples and the Morton Bay figs Oleanders and agapanthus and camellias cram in around their feet There s only a patch of sea left visible suspended between the bushes One day this will all be under water If Wh ng r has always been Paul for me then Levin will forever be my grandma Dawn Even York Street where she lives couldn t be more suited to an anglophile like her Inside a war rages between the photos of London and the paintings of Gisborne the stitch point of an English field and the portrait of Te Whiti the carved model of a marae and her Royal Worcester porcelain figures It s her journey from England to the port of Wellington at fifteen sewn into the seams of these walls And it s what I will always think of when I think of her The rooms soaked in their yellow light The cherry tree breaking out in blossom The gin and tonics complete with a lemon slice fresh from the garden When I come to Levin I don t really leave the house My mum was in Wh ng r when it happened It was New Year s Day just after a storm She came to a point on the beach where the branches stood up in the sand She says they were like kaum tua encircling her She made her wishes for the year She forgot to wish that James would get better She didn t know he was already dead 18
GEOMETRY 01      Auckland hides beneath its concrete shapewear. The coverall wraps of city struggle to stretch themselves ...
RUBY PORTER I used to find it hardest to get to sleep in Levin It s where I had my worst nightmares I don t know how to explain how a place can feel so light and yet so heavy I found out when I was twelve James gassed himself in the basement I didn t know him it was before I was born but I ve always believed that places hold onto things even longer than people There s a Mobil where the tree is said to have grown where Ponsonby and Karangahape Road intersect Te Rimu Tahi that s what this area was once called Wikipedia tells me No European saw the tree so its exact location is unidentifiable Because of course only Europeans have eyes to see Like everything else that happens in Levin this man s words have fallen into some parochial hole too deep for memory too small for Google Ruby Porter I have never felt comfortable with our bach at Wh ng r It is a place where those who are hap live and those who are white holiday My granddad bought this section as a ninty nine year lease back in 1962 My grandma says everyone was happy with the sale She says it was advertised in the paper It s fine she says Leave it But no one acts like it s a lease They re all here the dead scattered into this dirtthat is really sand I think it was easier when my granddad was alive There s a Smith family who actually are M ori from Tokomaru Bay just north of here I think everyone thought that s where Paul came from I don t think anyone thought he was white And I didn t want to I would look at the photos taken of him in summer wide nose thick eyebrows skin dark as bark I would ask about his father the alcoholic his mother unhappy I might have really believed it But it s not true His father now hangs on a wall in Levin He s wearing his army uniform he looks handsome and proud Of course it s taken before he actually reaches Gallipoli Before he watches his friend get blown to pieces before the alcoholism He looks like the ghost of my granddad as a young man Wide nose thick eyebrows pale skin 19
RUBY PORTER      I used to find it hardest to get to sleep in Levin. It   s where I had my worst nightmares. I don   t kno...
GEOMETRY 01 You can t drink the water in Levin You have to boil it and even then it still doesn t taste right The New Zealand Listener once published an article on Lake Horowhenua and titled it Lake of Shame Up until 1987 all the town s sewerage was dumped directly into it It still happens today every time a pumping station nearby overflows Farmers still release their run off fertiliser and manure And Levin s biggest storm drain stretching all down Queen Street still mainlines straight into its waters Once there were k kahi and whitebait and eels and k ura They re all buried beneath layers of hypertropic mud Now it s home only to introduced species goldfish perch and the Levin Sailing and Rowing Clubs There is a plaque which proclaims Lake Horowhenua to be a visible symbol of the cooperation and brotherhood between the races and for the use and enjoyment of all Translation Lake Horowhenua was stolen from Mua poko an iwi already accustomed to great raupatu It happened in 1905 the then government citing the reasonable rights of the public The reasonable rights of the public to yacht and to plunder to fish and to soil to row and to dump Newton Gully is where I am learning to speak Harlem says Kikorangi is for things which are physical things which can be destroyed He always uses his jeans as an example Kikokiko he says means flesh Kahurangi is for things which can t be destroyed like the sky and the sea And I wish he was right Because we are destroying them turning the kahu to kiko the sacred into flesh I had my first driving lesson at the carpark by Lake Horowhenua My learner s licence gave away that I came from Auckland The AA driving instructor grilled me on a mix of road and kiwi code as I bunny hopped and stalled Do you know how many metres away from an intersection you have to park No Or the maximum speed for towing a trailer No Do you like rugby No Ever killed a chicken 20
GEOMETRY 01      You can   t drink the water in Levin. You have to boil it, and even then, it still doesn   t taste right....
RUBY PORTER My grandfather planted the foliage that lines that carpark back when he was in Levin s Rotary Club It s mostly cabbage trees and lancewood and toetoe which my grandmother still calls rabbit ears And I still can t drive 91 metres of fabric 20 shirts 20 pairs of trousers 20 hatchets 10 iron pots 10 caps 4 casks of tobacco 1 box of pipes 1 bag of flour 1 bag of sugar It s easy to forget that the land you live on is stolen Ponsonby is a place that actively forgets It s forgotten the raids It s forgotten when Pride March was once a protest It s forgotten the p sites Te To Ok now drowned beneath swimming pools and multi million dollar villas It s forgotten that College Hill was once Waikuta Stream It s forgotten that Te Wai o Hua and then Ng ti Wh tua would have gathered flax and fish at Cox s Bay or that Freemans Bay was a trading post It s white washed all of that In Auckland we have shells my mum has collected at Wh ng r over many years They line a case on the wall in our lounge She has her favourites In Wh ng r there are the old York Street couches stained and sagging There s my Auckland water in Pump bottles at both Levin and the bach Each place has the cutlery with the same green plastic handles Everywhere there are Gisborne cockroaches At the BP I buy Grainwaves and my mum gets liquorice The attendant asks me if I m going home Outside the car is jammed full I should have been the one to pack it Sort of I say The list above is the items in full which were used to buy the entire Auckland CBD off Ng ti Wh tua from Herne Bay to Queen Street to Newmarket to Mount Eden and back Other iwi with claims to the land received nothing 21
RUBY PORTER  My grandfather planted the foliage that lines that carpark back when he was in Levin   s Rotary Club. It   s ...
BR ONWY N WAIPU KA C AL L ANDE R Ng ti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa Rangit ne Ng ti Porou is a self taught artist from Grey Lynn Auckland The kaupapa and inspiration for her prints are Mana Wahine female divine energies and Papat nuku Mother Earth who encompass the nurturing inner strength and spiritual connectedness of women Her art is a taonga gift a calling from her T puna ancestors and has been passed down through her Whakapapa genealogy Bronwyn feels proud of her M ori heritage and grateful for the opportunity to learn and experience the wonders and cosmic wisdom her culture has to offer www bwaipuka co nz www kuragallery co nz Cover Art WAHINE KOTAHI A Tribute to Gordon Walters Glic e Print Hugely influenced by the work of New Zealand artist Gordon Walters and his famous koru series this piece reflects on colonialism and its ongoing effects on M ori culture and its people PAPAT NUKU Glic e Print Mother Earth is the foundation from which life is conceived She is the womb of life and the whenua land which gives birth to all living things She is the soil all things return to and the kaip the precious and cherished nurturer of humanity T NE Glic e Print T ne is the lord of the forest the son who pushed Rangi Sky Father and Papat nuku Earth Mother apart so that light finally came to this world This artwork was inspired by a well known Ng i T map hia Rangi tribal saying The warriors of T map hia they are all adorned with the single topknot and the comb on the forehead MANA WHENUA TAKU KAI TAKU ORANGA Glic e Print Whenua is the land Papat nuku Mother Earth She is an essential part of life both physically and spiritually Mana Whenua Taku Kai Taku Oranga is a celebration and tribute to women and their roles as mothers nurturers life bearers and protectors of succeeding generations Kaitiaki ng Mana Whenua TE WHITI O TU Glic e Print This artwork was inspired by a well known Wairarapa korero tuku iho story of the past about two beautiful twin sisters Rehutai mist of the breaking surf and Tangimoana the voice of the breaking surf
BR ONWY N WAIPU KA- C AL L ANDE R  Ng  ti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangit  ne, Ng  ti Porou  is a self-taught artist from G...
S H AY L A L AWS ON is a professional copywriter recreational acrobat and member of the Affrilachian Poets Her work has appeared in Guernica Salon Colorado Review The Offing and MiPOesias She is the author of A Speed Education in Human Being Sawyer House Press 2013 PANTONE MIEL Books 2016 and the forthcoming I Think I m Ready To See Frank Ocean Poetry BAD RELIGION Many things are Oceans the River Styx the Thames Lonny flooding into a rush hour taxi cab pushing salt crust from his face gut wrenched coral twisting in his sea bed Where are you going Anywhere that doesn t hurt He squints into the bright wind as if Light sees him for the first time comes out a chorus organ of tongue sacrament Let s be Frank He sings the force of what it feels like to pray All hu Akbar God is great When you spoke to me you sounded like the chatter of stars buoyant fretful as water God is often a language no one understands Between us a language barrier All hu Akbar Frank hears the cabbie utter as a curse but the only 27
S H AY L A L AWS ON is a professional copywriter, recreational acrobat, and member of the Affrilachian Poets. Her work has...
GEOMETRY 01 thing his rented maharishi demands to offer is supplication prayer for the Styx prayer for the eaten prayer for the Ocean itself Prayer for the days he prayed to you like God as I did All hu God is All hu Akbar God is greatness thrust upon men when we love them All hu for the God they compete with Bo Bo you need prayer says the taxi driver Bo Bo the Boy is breaking up like static across this track But boy says the taxi driver in linen sand swept feet But boy you need But boy who needs But boy who needs love equal to the God working in himself Drinking the Kool Aid you tell me is a phrase only Americans use No one is ingesting it anywhere else No one brings the Styrofoam to their lips in atonement But O God O God is everywhere God is a neon phrase A testimony to the phosphorous the incandescent the sound of gnats crashing upon the windshield of this slow motion hornet this filament How often Frank prayed to you instead of God as I did In the field the filling station the orange E30 wrought with enzymatic 28
GEOMETRY 01  thing his rented maharishi demands to offer is supplication  prayer for the Styx, prayer for the eaten, praye...
SHAYLA LAWSON petrol pumping toward the pitch dark ground What man brings forth is night But what are we to do with the light Light God is a neon phrase A testimony to the phosporous the incandescent the sound of gnats crashing upon the windshield Shayla Lawson Poetry PINK MATTER Four years after our wedding Frank oceans in us a salmon run anadromous Upstairs you play Pink Matter on repeat while I tap the keys on a laptop on the bed on the floor beneath in this way we cease to matter The pink humming between us a telltale tongue Sometimes we make love Sometimes we imagine the other 29
SHAYLA LAWSON  petrol, pumping toward the pitch dark ground. What man brings forth is night. But   what are we to do with ...
GEOMETRY 01 cut into pieces the parts we no longer appreciate excised like rot fruit I perspire into the lining of the house peach split nectar dissection the drone of Pink endless pleasure pleasure pleasure you are giving taking away from me You play the song on repeat as if you know we are already past tense we are not in rooms but ripples of our former selves reflecting in the Ocean Sometimes we make love Sometimes we sex like we are swimming on gravel beds spawning the great grey last of what we hate in ourselves made flesh in each other We don t ask what s the matter Matter is all that is left a remnant of body Androgyne Man Woman With you I am mostly purple When you go I make inventory of all my pink come out blue used to be my favorite colour Now I ain t got no choice 30
GEOMETRY 01  cut into pieces, the parts we no longer appreciate excised like rot fruit. I perspire into the lining of the ...
J OS HUA J OHNS TON was born and raised in Caneyville Kentucky His work has appeared in publications such as Sprung Formal Hobart Spork and Queen Mob s Teahouse He is co founding editor of Frontier Slumber and currently lives in Bloomington Indiana where he s pursuing an MFA at Indiana University Prose Poetry MY TIME AMONG THE CANNIBALS It really wasn t all that different from the other places I d lived I d still find myself in line at the bank receiving weather predictions and news of family additions from men in hunting caps and women in denim skirts or smiling and nodding to faces I recognised from church as I wheeled my cart through the fluorescent aisles of the supermarket On Fridays I d go down to Al s Bar for karaoke night and a few of the guys from the factory and I would drain 5 pitchers and belt our way through a catalogue of classics waiting to see if it would be the beer or nostalgia that ultimately did us in I never did adjust to the whole cannibalism thing though Sometimes I d get a call inviting me to join some of the guys for a night time invasion of a neighbouring town in preparation for a big Sunday picnic but I d always play sick Would love to but I haven t made it six feet past the bed today forcing a few coughs for effect The next day a few of their wives would arrive at my doorstep with a basket a bottle of cough syrup some apples and chocolate bars a foot wrapped in tinfoil a Get Well card signed by most everyone in the neighbourhood and I d come to the door in a blanket to accept it feeling genuinely blessed to be surrounded by such kind souls A few of their wives would arrive on my doorstep with a basket a bottle of cough syrup some apples and chocolate bars a foot wrapped in tinfoil Joshua Johnston 31
J OS HUA J OHNS TON was born and raised in Caneyville, Kentucky. His work has appeared in publications such as Sprung Form...
LAUREN FOLEY is Irish and Australian enough Her work has been shortlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award and The Irish Times Hennessy New Irish Writing Award She won the Overland Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize and was awarded a Varuna Residential Writer s Fellowship for her collection in progress Polluted Sex 417 BVB 820 was shortlisted for the Overland Story Wine Prize in 2015 Lauren lives in Skerries County Dublin laurenfoleywriter com AYearinSouthOz Creative Nonfiction 417 BVB 820 We sit down to a desultory staff cajoled Christmas dinner at lunchtime on the last Friday in January Your boss forgets so her sullen nineteen year old daughter has to attend because they only brought the one Mercedes jeep into town and they need to get back to the eastern suburbs sharpish for some evening soir e and or her daughter s friend s sister s birthday party Your stalwart Filipina administrator cum secretary cumPA cum office manager who is paid a receptionist s wage arches her eyebrows at you after every glance at the menu oohing and aahing as she orders the more expensive items urging you to do the same The bookkeeper came in this morning to process your overdue paycheques and Christmas bonuses which are a pittance and will evaporate on back rent as soon as they clear if they clear and now your boss has to shell out for a three course lunch for nine people You re completely shattered having been left to run the place for two months while she and hers swanned off to Europe staying in four star hotels You even went in over Christmas to catch up on admin as your boss doesn t like paper trails and is always saying you keep too many records Talk starts up about Christmases at home and your boss s lips start loosening about her aunt back in Ireland who had a child out of wedlock but your boss never knew this or she did and she forgot or she remembered to forget so your boss s dad was telling her that the child s father was married so the aunt couldn t keep it and your boss was asking him why did the aunt live in Thurles for a while and he said it wasn t that long only five years in the Mother and Baby Home Meaning prison your boss says and then she says she bets it was a long five years for the aunt And you start thinking maybe your boss isn t too bad after all Then from nowhere the pissed bookkeeper because there s always a pissed bookkeeper at a staff do starts talking about Redfern Now and have you seen it And 32
LAUREN FOLEY is Irish, and Australian  enough . Her work has been shortlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year...
LAUREN FOLEY you want to start discussing the nuances of the scripts and the finesse of the acting when she starts in on indigenous rights but not in a good way not in the way you d expect from an Australian and you re barely Australian they only just stopped trying to deport you so what can you say about being Australian or colonialism or indigenous rights You know what you think but it isn t really important because some days on a bridging visa you re practically no more than an asylum seeker a fact your Australian husband seems to find funny punchline funny so you ve started to refer to yourself as an economic migrant even though you had a good job before you left home as it s easier to assimilate into the culture of migrants because at least you have something in common with them You think your husband is out of line when he makes those jokes and you d like to see him on the other side of the world with his passport marked because he overstayed his working holiday visa on some spurious advice from a migration agent with embossed letterhead who charged you thousands of dollars for the stress when the panic attacks were free Luckily you ended up with a kindly official from Canberra saying they wouldn t deport you if you left the country of your own volition within twenty eight days got married came back But you d cycle past Wakefield Street Police Station hyperventilating and petrified this was the moment they were going to come out and arrest you What if you didn t get to stay or never got to say goodbye and ended up star crossed lovers like Nicole Kidman and Mark Harmon or some other American bloke in Bangkok Hilton was that to do with drugs because you don t traffic drugs maybe it was Muriel s Wedding And this bookkeeper who you ve only met once before keeps banging on about Redfern Now and how the Aborigines in the show are like NIDA trained and middle class and how Redfern has nothing to do with indigenous Australia but she once knew a bloke from there and he was pretty sound but times have changed and how black people nowadays aren t really black and she knows black people who are more white than black And you listen to this shit and seriously consider punching her in the face but you don t because your man your visa your job So you swivel your privilege towards the waiter and order another bottle of wine But you d cycle past Wakefield Street Police Station hyperventilating and petrified this was the moment they were going to come out and arrest you Lauren Foley 33
LAUREN FOLEY  you want to start discussing the nuances of the scripts and the finesse of the acting when she starts in on ...
R OZ R AYwrites fiction and nonfiction in Seattle Washington When she is not writing she rows and remodels houses She has been published in Hobart and Tahoma Literary Review She is currently finishing a historical fiction novel www rozray net Fiction THE INSTRUMENT Benji knew something was different when the sequence didn t fail right away She d worked for the company for a little over a month and in that time she had accrued 824 hash marks beneath a hand drawn skull and cross bones inside her cubicle Each mark represented a failure and each failure brought her one step closer to the right sequence Technically the cubicle didn t belong to her and it d probably be a bitch to clean but she had to do something to mark her progress Her cube had to somehow be different than the sixty plus other cubes on Sublevel B In the next cube over she could hear Alan s urgent whisper A ny day now any day he said That d been Alan s mantra for weeks they were finished it couldn t be done the higher ups were going to scrap the project they d all get screwed out of their contracts somehow A sad little hamster spinning in his sad little wheel Alan had trouble adjusting He d come from a utility company and the pressure of R D was obviously taking its toll It didn t bother Benji so much though She didn t waiver She worked through the permutations diligently tweaking one coefficient at a time and then evaluating tweaking and evaluating The higher ups had brought Benji in to find a needle in a haystack a needle nobody was sure even existed a game changer the game changer and Benji wasn t going to stop until she found it The whole floor I heard it s gonna be the whole floor Alan said Another voice replied Dude c mon Knock it the fuck off Benji s ears perked up That was Gus the Alpha Slacker She adjusted a bra strap He wouldn t come this way he d probably stopped at Alan s on his way to the break room but still Sure enough Benji saw the top of Gus s head bob toward the break room and absentmindedly she reached for her magic marker Over the past couple of days the sequence failures had developed a certain rhythm Benji was about to draw a hash mark and spin up the next sequence but she stopped just before the marker made contact She stopped because the Instrument hadn t stopped It had merely paused as if chewing on a 34
R OZ R AYwrites fiction and nonfiction in Seattle, Washington. When she is not writing , she rows and remodels houses. She...
ROZ RAY particularly tough piece of training data and then it continued Benji watched the screen frozen until the fumes from the marker reminded her to close it Benji held the record for reaching the highest data marker of any sequence on the floor 4037 2 The sequence permutations were supposedly randomly partitioned so reaching a particular data marker ostensibly had nothing to do with skill but you put a bunch of young driven detail oriented people in a room together and competition is almost a guarantee No sequence on the floor had ever gotten past data marker 4037 2 without deviating but now this one merrily clicked up past 4038 1 4038 2 4038 3 without a care in the world Would it make it to the end Would it make it to 10 000 Everybody paid attention when Benji got that 4037 2 To be honest they were paying attention anyway Benji was the only girl on the floor and that made her a celebrity By her second day everybody knew her name and everybody liked it They really ate that up that she went by a boy s name but wasn t a boy at all Her co workers were the sort who gravitated toward the low hanging fruit romantically speaking They fetishised not for fun but for survival blowing their potential partners positive attributes out of proportion to cover up their less desirable qualities Something out of the ordinary like having a boy s name went a long way with them Most of them well all except one really were not her type but she liked the attention anyway 4999 8 4999 9 5000 0 Benji popped the pen cap on and off on and off and sat up in her chair hoping to catch sight of Gus Gus the Alpha Slacker not really a slacker at all but adopting as much of the aesthetic as he possibly could Gus had an air about him the kind that smart people get when they re used to always being the smartest person in the room But given that he was the one fuckable guy on the floor as far as she was concerned Benji decided she could work around that She imagined running into him in some dark corner somewhere like a stairwell but not that exposed A copy room maybe She wondered if he got off thinking about her as often as she did thinking about him three times in the past week two during her lunch break in the womens bathroom He played it cool he couldn t be seen working too hard at anything but the attraction was obvious She just hoped he wasn t a commitment kind of guy She wasn t really looking for anything serious 5055 3 5055 4 5055 5 Alan the Sad Hamster had been the first on the floor to break data marker 1000 Everybody heard but nobody really paid attention A week later though met with a hailstorm of high fives cat calls and fist bumps came Benji s 4037 2 When nobody got past 4037 2 for a week somebody put the number up on the white board in the break room with Benji s name next to it After another week went by with her record unbroken 35
ROZ RAY  particularly tough piece of training data, and then it continued. Benji watched the screen, frozen, until the fum...
GEOMETRY 01 somebody came in with t shirts saying 4037 2 Forever Simple white Helvetica letters on a black t shirt the same as their interface The whole floor wore the t shirts on Fridays even Gus wasn t immune to an in group meme like that All that hubbub and her sequence hadn t even gotten the Instrument halfway to completion Not like now Or rather thirty seconds ago A minute now a minute fifteen The Instrument crunched through its training data bit by bit and with every cycle Benji s throat tightened a little more It was like watching a dog gnaw through a bone if at any moment that bone could explode and send bloody chunks of dog everywhere 6062 9 6063 0 6063 1 Benji thought about how she d react when the failure came Would she shout out the new number or quietly go to the white board and replace 4037 2 with the new record Maybe she d say something nonchalant like Well it looks like we re gonna need new t shirts When 6650 4 clicked by she stopped thinking about scripting her reaction Something a warmth a tingling sensation began to spread across her chest This isn t a low pressure job the headhunter had said when he first brought Benji the contract His name was Brett maybe Or Zach I don t understand Benji had said The job description looked beyond straightforward Look you re being hired to find the solution to a problem Brett Zach said You re going to be in a room with fifty other people doing the same thing you re doing Any one of those fifty people might find that solution and as soon as it s found Your job is officially over He hadn t been wrong Benji s contract promised a minimum of three months wages guaranteed even if the sequence was found the day after they hired her Every day held the promise of a paid vacation not to mention bragging rights and that made everybody work It was a brilliant strategy really Benji hadn t ever seen a contract like that before especially since for the higher ups time was of the essence 6999 9 7000 0 7000 1 The magic marker trembled in Benji s hand a small seismic tremor passing unbidden down her shoulders What would jinx it faster putting the pen down or keeping it at the ready Benji put the marker down and hoped the sequence would stay true just long enough so she wouldn t have to pick the marker back up right away like it was her fault for putting it down in the first place We d never actually use the Instrument the HR guy had said Of course we wouldn t They thought it up like it was gonna be a tool but it s not really It s kind of like I don t know a weapon Like a doomsday device Benji had scoffed at that The HR guy Dominic had asked her out for a drink across town He d wanted to impress her or at least get her drunk enough to make a bad decision but all he ended up doing was getting plastered and spilling secrets all over the bar 36
GEOMETRY 01  somebody came in with t-shirts saying    4037.2 Forever.    Simple white Helvetica letters on a black t-shirt...
ROZ RAY Seriously How could anybody call a financial instrument a doomsday device It d be like a reset button for the whole fucking thing Dominic from HR said The next super weapon isn t going to be some super virus Benji remembered being transfixed by his drink waving around in the air like a UFO We re way beyond that he said The whole world is connected and we have to be ready for anything that anybody tries to throw at us It s like that one guy said That one guy A team of guys actually holed up in the basement of some university They published a paper a few months back that caused a lot of academic hand waving for about two minutes They d laid the Instrument bare in that article just laid the whole thing out at least in theory Something about trading algorithms mathematic homogeneity leading to vulnerability blah blah non linear butterfly effects causing large scale collapse blah blah blah Benji had started to lose focus around that section but the picture the article was trying to paint wasn t hard to imagine the Instrument affects a small corner of the economy say the price of sorghum in South Carolina That event goes unnoticed by the majority of the world but soon enough it travels up the economic food chain affecting larger and larger structures until suddenly the whole system is in crisis Credit the lifeblood of the economy grinds to a halt The wholesale markets collapse the mechanisms of trade freeze Tomatoes meant to be sold in Tokyo rot on the vine in San Bernardino The whole world undergoes an alchemical shift from a soaring tower of interrelated entities it plunges into a survival of the fittest pig pile The thing that brought Benji s attention back to the article was the footnote at the end The authors put it in there to set everybody s mind at ease telling them they could stop stockpiling dried beans and ammunition because the financial markets were in fact not going to collapse tomorrow A piece of the puzzle was missing The footnote pointed to a missing sequence of coefficients The Instrument lived in theoretical space and the sequence was the key to making that theory a reality The sequence the researchers concluded couldn t be found without a creative mind to recognise it for what it was And given the vast almost incalculable permutations no one the footnote claimed would ever stand a chance of finding it They just don t wanna take any chances Dominic from HR had said before his forehead thunked onto the bar However small the possibility the big wigs at this firm didn t want to take any chances so they built floor upon floor of independent workstations each controlled by a real live human being A problem solver The floors were below ground a dozen feet of dirt and concrete separated Benji and her co workers from any wireless signal No hardwired phones at the work stations no internet connections The positions offered astronomical starting wages and to get them you had to go through background checks the CIA would probably be proud of They d interviewed Benji s family and friends her teachers at school past employers They had her take a drug test In a final fit of theatrics they d even hooked her up to a polygraph Do you know what corporate espionage is 37
ROZ RAY  Seriously. How could anybody call a financial instrument a    doomsday device        It   d be like a reset butto...
GEOMETRY 01 Yes Have you ever stolen something from a company you worked for Yes Paper Have you ever stolen something of value from a company you worked for What a subjective question What was valuable to one person was dog shit to another There were so many different angles to look at that question from Benji could have answered three different ways and she wouldn t have been lying No she said Would you steal something of value from this company if you were offered a lot of money No They asked her over and over in as many ways as they could think of trying to suss out if she d ever be capable of stealing something valuable and selling it All she could think at the time was what could possibly be worth the trouble of stealing And beyond that who would she ever sell something to They d hired her on the spot 8023 7 8023 8 8023 9 Any minute now any minute the Instrument would begin deviating from the training data She would have to start all over again and even though it seemed like an insurmountable gulf of time and space lay between her present position and that eventual reality it nonetheless existed She was not going to find the right sequence The gods of Random Chance for surely no other gods existed were too cruel Benji tried to look away from the screen she tried to keep out of reach of any bare tendril of hope but she couldn t help it She couldn t convince herself to detach Put in her position she didn t think anybody could After all everybody was a special snowflake Everybody was sure that they would be the one to whom something monumental would happen Why else did people buy lottery tickets 9390 0 9390 1 Benji began to doubt her machine Some piece of circuitry somewhere must have gone haywire and any second now it would blow She d be left high and dry for an hour maybe two maybe a whole day 9877 5 9877 6 She hunkered down in her chair praying that no one would come up and talk to her She did not want to share this moment with anyone Benji spent so much of her time trying not to be disappointed that she wanted to savour the possibility of something else for as long as she could She felt her chest constrict just a bit She felt giddy 9889 9 38
GEOMETRY 01  Yes.    Have you ever stolen something from a company you worked for     Yes. Paper.    Have you ever stolen ...
ROZ RAY 9890 0 Benji peaked over the walls of her cubicle Nobody was coming She noticed herself tapping her foot and stopped She would not draw attention to herself The stakes were too high now A pressure was building up behind her eyes She knew that as soon as this sequence failed she was gonna cry and she didn t want anyone to see that 9900 0 9900 1 These were new numbers Heretofore unknown Never in the history of the world had anyone seen numbers like these 9990 9 9991 1 She was going to throw up Or stroke out Any moment her throat would close her tonsils would pop and she would die before she saw that data marker tick up to 10 000 9997 9998 9999 9 10 000 As the pixels in the digits shifted to 10 000 Benji s lungs froze She couldn t take a breath not knowing how she would feel on the other side whether it would be worth it Finally she did breathe She let herself feel more than anything she had ever felt in her entire life The sequence looked pristine She had been warned that even if something didn t look quite right there might be a way to fix it and she d worked on plenty of promising candidates that ended up fizzling But for the sequence in front of her Benji wouldn t have to change a thing It was perfect She remembered finishing a picture of winter snow with cotton balls in what second grade and how at the time it had been this pinnacle of self expression and achievement She d put her whole self into that picture knew it couldn t be better and she felt satisfied But after the cotton ball picture somewhere between growing up and leaving school and starting work and learning to like coffee without sugar and mapping out her career path Benji had forgotten what it felt like to be so close to something of value to hold something in your hand that you d actually care if it broke or went away It was such a fragile feeling Benji worried about the computer s power source Was this building grounded What kind of power plant were they connected to What if there was an electrical surge She forced herself to sit very very still and breathe through her nose The building had a back up generator her machine had a surge protector three dedicated back up servers She watched the seconds tick by in the corner of her interface as the sequence glowed in front of her A small thrilling stream of excitement began to trickle down through her insides In the light of the sequence she had found her way back to a place she hadn t been for years She floated buoyed by this new feeling How did that line go Hope is the thing with feathers 39
ROZ RAY  9890.0 Benji peaked over the walls of her cubicle. Nobody was coming. She noticed herself tapping her foot and st...
GEOMETRY 01 Benji took a breath and counted to twenty very slowly One number every three seconds One two three two two three three two three four two three After one minute of counting Benji did two things her movements so calm a passerby might believe it to be any moment other than the exact excruciatingly beautiful moment she currently inhabited First she peeled off a sticky note and wrote a series of numbers across it directions so she could find her way back to the sequence when she wanted to Second she folded the sticky note over itself and over again and pushed it down between her foot and the insole of her shoe as if she were scratching an itch She wasn t going to keep it the sequence She just wanted to hang onto this feeling for a little while longer She wanted a way to get back there again Just a minute longer maybe two and then she d head upstairs and notify the higher ups The system didn t have any automatic notification system since every permutation had to be evaluated and futzed with At the end of that month she d settle into a new commute plunk money into her retirement hang out with a new butsimilar group of coworkers and drift away in a small sea of disappointments Roz Ray Of course she didn t have to turn the sequence over now She could keep it At least for a while A couple of months paid vacation could be great but another six months at this salary Another year What if there was only one sequence that worked and what if she had it That d be the ultimate job security She could retire when she was thirty or whenever the higher ups decided enough was enough But then what A nother day another dollar right Gus asked from the corridor and swung himself around He gripped the walls of Benji s cubicle with his fingertips and leaned back Benji jumped and Gus smiled A ny luck he asked Then what Benji strained against an impulse to move her monitor Gus couldn t see it and besides he was looking at her not the screen He puffed a strand of hair out of his face causing a whole swath to fall back in its place If she didn t answer soon it d get weird It was getting weird right now she needed to say something But then what Benji felt her eyes crinkle and her mouth smile and her head shake But then what 40
GEOMETRY 01  Benji took a breath and counted to twenty very slowly. One number every three seconds. One-two-three, two-two...
ROZ RAY Nope she heard herself say No luck But then what What then Old Alan s almost got you beat y know Gus said in a teasing way His last one got to forty naught nine Benji wracked her brain There wasn t any then If she turned over the sequence there would just more of this Well whaddya gonna do right Benji asked shrugging her shoulders Gus mimicked her shrug and leaned towards her Benji was afraid for a moment that he was going to look at her screen but he leaned in just enough to give her a light love tap on the arm Keep fighting the good fight he said and went off towards the bathrooms She watched him go bouncing ever so slightly up on his toes like a child Benji gently picked up the black magic marker and drew a diagonal line through four hashes underneath the skull and cross bones There was no way she was giving up the sequence not now not in six months not in a year Once she told the higher ups she d found it she d never see it again the thing she had found her own special snowflake They d take it and smile and lock it away forever and nothing would ever change The realisation came on slow slinking over her shoulder like it had always been there and in a way Benji was relieved It had nothing to do with Gus but suddenly it was like she was looking at him or rather looking at herself looking at him for the first time The reason she d wanted to sleep with Gus the real reason was the same reason she only wanted to watch bad movies you can t be disappointed in something you were never going to like anyway She saw her situation for what it was she stood at a fork in the road If she handed over the sequence to the Instrument the company would send her off with a month and some change in extra wages she d probably get a good reference oh yes Ms Lawrence always came to work on time never took a sick day At the end of that month she d settle into a new commute plunk money into her retirement hang out with a new but similar group of co workers and drift away in a sea of small disappointments If she didn t hand over the sequence though she had no idea what would happen then Something new Something to look forward to Benji looked at her screen and spun up the next permutation She had forgotten what satisfaction felt like but now that she remembered she was going to hold onto that feeling with everything she had She had thought up twenty different ways her life could go once the Instrument s sequence had been found and this wasn t close to any of them and that s how she knew something real was happening She d said no during the polygraph when they asked if she would ever take something She said no and she meant it The odds were ten billion to one that she might ever be the one to actually find the correct sequence Life as Benji understood it up to this moment just didn t work that way She closed her eyes and listened to her computer humming To the entire room humming In the end she hadn t found the sequence at all It had found her It had weighed her heart against a feather on a scale with no centre and now she knew her exact mettle 41
ROZ RAY     Nope,    she heard herself say.    No luck.    But then what   What then     Old Alan   s almost got you beat,...
GEOMETRY 01 and measure With perfect clarity she knew precisely what kind of person she was She wanted more to look forward to than what this office or the next one or the one after that could offer You can only extrapolate down the road so far some discoveries have to happen along the way Nobody can know their aptitude for violence for example until life put them in a position to commit violent acts Likewise in Benji s case she could never have known her own capacity for opportunism until life presented her with the right opportunity Dominic from HR had been wrong The Instrument was a tool and a tool was meant to be used They said they d never actually use the Instrument Dominic from HR said and Benji believed him that knowledge was power and all the higher ups wanted was to know the Instrument could really exist to know what would happen when somebody twisted that key and opened that box and to know it before anybody else so that they could control for it prepare against it Because it was a game changer All they wanted to do was know and they thought that they were all a we and an us and all their background checks and polygraph tests had made sure that Benji would be a part of that us Benji didn t tell anybody any different because she hadn t known until the moment the ticker read 10 000 that she belonged to a very different us than anybody else Nobody would be prepared and nobody would be in control not even Benji once she set things in motion She had never considered not once that the sequence was a thing she could take How can you take something that doesn t properly exist But now it did exist The Instrument was an animal in a cage and folded inside Benji s shoe was the combination to the lock With the brush of a keystroke she d be swept along into the tumult and turmoil of whatever would happen after And once that happened well she wouldn t have to settle for anything anymore She wouldn t have to settle for first place in a contest that didn t matter Ultimately and this was something she had known for a long time so maybe she should have seen this coming it wasn t enough to be a gold star if everybody around you was a wooden nickel So she wasn t going to settle The Instrument was a game changer Benji had proved that when those nines rolled over into clean bottomless ones and zeros and everything changed It would never go back to the way it was before Benji watched Gus walk through the swinging door of the bathroom then she turned off her monitor and followed him The small slip of paper pressed into her arch every time she took a step Something about that made her want to smile the apocalypse was trying to tickle her But she didn t smile Benji did nothing out of the ordinary from her cube to the bathroom She waited in the womens doorway until Gus emerged from the mens wiping his hands on the back of his pants Gus jumped when he looked up Benji looked both ways nobody was around and pulled Gus by his shirt sleeve into the womens Benj Shush Benji cut Gus off mid protest and mashed her face against his She could see his eyebrows go up she hadn t closed her eyes for the kiss His lips were rigid for a 42
GEOMETRY 01  and measure. With perfect clarity she knew precisely what kind of person she was. She wanted more to look for...
ROZ RAY moment but he warmed up soon enough They did it with Benji propped up on the sink counter her back to the mirror one foot on the air dryer They didn t have to worry about anybody coming in nobody else on the floor ever used this bathroom Benji tried to conjure up one of the fantasies she d had in this very room but her brain kept looping back to that slip of paper delicately pushing into her foot She tried to focus on Gus She thought of Gus In The Copy Room Gus In The Stairwell She tried to cloak Real Gus in the mystique of Hypothetical Gus but Real Gus smelled too acutely of spray can deodorant for the fantasy to stick Plus he was trying too hard Benji was okay with that though A part of her thought it was sweet really This was her farewell to Gus Company though it wasn t exactly a swan song it felt more like a prelude When they were done Benji put a finger to Gus s lips looked out the door and motioned for him to make his escape He stopped at the threshold and Benji let him give her a slow conspiratorial kiss like they d just pulled off something exciting Then he left Benji stayed in the bathroom for a bit She sat down on the tile and slid the piece of paper out from inside her shoe She held it up at eye level balanced between thumb and forefinger She imagined Gus sauntering down the rows of cubicles with extra postcoital swagger and knew that version of him wasn t true at all She brought the piece of paper to her lips and rubbed it back and forth a few times imagining herself sitting in her apartment or better yet at a coffee shop quietly tapping away She put the piece of paper back in her shoe and got up to leave One good turn deserves another Chance had bestowed this gift upon her and Benji would return the favour She wouldn t be the one to do it She wouldn t bring the whole thing down She wouldn t have to All she had to do was set the sequence afloat send it out into the world knowing that someday Instrument and Sequence would meet Even then mitigating factors would have to grease the wheels The right kind of war the right kind of drought the right laissez fare government in the right place at the right time Probability shaped the world in fits and starts Once the Instrument found its sequence it would only be a matter of time before they brought the whole fucking thing to a cataclysmic crashing close A warm feeling spread through Benji s body Had reality become so virtual you didn t even have to kill a single person to destroy everything Benji smiled Someday she would learn the answer to that question and then something entirely new would begin 43
ROZ RAY  moment, but he warmed up soon enough. They did it with Benji propped up on the sink counter, her back to the mirr...
DANI EL L AS SELL is the w inne r of a W illiam J Maie r Wr iting Award and r unne r up f or the 2016 Be r mud a Tr iangle P r i ze His poetr y can be f ound in S l ipstream R eed Ma gaz i ne Connotat ion Press Hote l A meri ka and elsewhe re R ece ntly he rece ived a P u shcar t nomination f rom Pembroke Ma gaz ine He lives in For t Collins Colorado www d aniel l a ssell com Poetry BOTTOM LAND I go from poison ivy into the poison of myself I walk from tall grass into the open and open my heart What else I go into the murk of a creek to feel the fish nibble my leg hairs I submerge my head and the dogs look around as if I ve left I submerge my head and the dogs look around as if I ve left 44 Daniel Lassell
DANI EL L AS SELL is the w inne r of a W illiam J. Maie r Wr iting Award and r unne r-up f or the 2016 Be r mud a Tr iangl...
RUTH PHIPPS studies art history at the University of Auckland New Zealand and has a studio in Newmarket at Railway Street Studios She studied painting for four years at Browne School of Art and has exhibited regularly since 2004 Drawing on the personal nature of fabric as a point of departure her work explores stillness memory the transience of time and the suggestion of human presence or absence Fabric is an expression of what it means to be human a basic symbol of life and universal humanity and over the years Ruth has become increasingly fascinated by it by the idea of what fabric might be hiding and of what has been forgotten or lost Her works are held in private collections in many countries as well as in the public collections of the Wallace Arts Trust Baradene College of the Sacred Heart in New Zealand and the IMAGO MUNDI Luciano Benetton Collection in Treviso Italy She is represented by Exhibitions Gallery of Fine Art Newmarket www ruthphipps co nz REFRAIN Oil on canvas 760 x 1010 mm The James Wallace Arts Trust The Pah Auckland PRAYER SHAWL Oil on linen 800 x 1200 mm private collection TRUTH SEEKER Oil on linen 295 x 210 mm private collection Finalist 2016 Peters Doig Marlborough Art Awards Blenheim
RUTH PHIPPS studies art history at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and has a studio in Newmarket at Railway Stree...
R ATA GOR D ON lives on Waiheke Island New Zealand and coordinates a youth development programme promoting good mental health through creative practice She also teaches community classes in dance and creative writing Rata s poems have found homes in many literary journals most recently in Atlanta Review Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Takah Magazine Her work is also forthcoming in Sport and Best New Zealand Poems Poetry WOULD YOU LET A K K IN YOUR KITCHEN WINDOW What if it nibbled your ear What if it ruined your life What if you couldn t answer its questions about your asthma inhaler and cans of beans What if it begged you to take away the ceiling What if you wrenched out the screws and sent the corrugated iron thundering to the lawn What if it was 2am by the time you were done Would you share your lager with this k k While the rain fell into your toaster What if you found yourself shredding your bedroom curtains with your razor What if this k k invited its friends What if they spoke in a language you couldn t always understand Would you let t tara sprout up between the tiles in the bathroom And moss consume your couch What if you found a family of ferns crouching under your sink licking the lid of your dishwashing liquid 50
R ATA GOR D ON lives on Waiheke Island, New Zealand, and coordinates a youth development programme promoting good mental h...
RATA GORDON And what if this k k woke early And you hated the sound of it cleaning its feathers But what if the sound of its laughter made your heart beat faster What if your house became thrilling with life What if it laid three warm white eggs into your lap And then left in the night and didn t come back Or what if it did Would you let this k k in your kitchen window K k are forest dwelling parrots native to New Zealand The species are endangered due to forest clearance and predation by introduced mammals What if it laid three warm white eggs into your lap And then left in the night and didn t come back Rata Gordon 51
RATA GORDON  And what if this k  k   woke early  And you hated the sound of it cleaning its feathers  But what if the soun...
AL I R AC HE L PE AR L is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Southern California Her work has appeared in Hobart DIAGRAM Ridivider The New York Times and elsewhere She lives and teaches in Los Angeles Creative Nonfiction BLACK HOLE There s a black hole at the centre of the universe and it likes milkshakes and it hates emotive people and I can only see it when I m not really looking There s a black hole at the centre of the universe and it is filled with archives of experimental literature and basketball statistics and reservations about the definitions of words like they and it hates when anyone orders the same food it orders at a restaurant and sometimes it tells telemarketers that its name is Paul even though its name is black hole and I only see it on Wednesday evenings There s a black hole at the centre of the universe and it grew up in a town that used to be not poor but not rich but that is now rich and it hates when I tell it there s trash in the ocean and it hates when I call it manipulative Except of course it s manipulative It s a black hole It tells me I m reaching the peak of beauty and intelligence and it tells me to rub sunscreen on its back except that I can t see it because I m looking right at it trying to get it to say I love you so it disappears and all I can hear is its voice complaining about how it s the original punk When I ask the black hole where it comes from it tells me its mother is Spanish and its father is a distant star and that identity is just a word made up by the people who write census questions When I ask the black hole where lightning comes from it says nothing It says lightning comes from nothing and ends in nothing and is nothing in between There s a black hole at the centre of the universe and it called me several months ago and didn t say hello and instead just started reading me a Lydia Davis story about being alone and about a dog and I didn t get the point but I felt like maybe it was about me and about how I am alone and about how I have a dog The black hole leaves voicemails on my phone in the middle of the night and because cell phone service is so terrible out there in the centre of the universe all I hear is I d too why don t yourugme tomorr The black hole at the centre of the universe has a gravity the likes of which I ve never known before Into itself it has pulled all the receptors in my brain used to 52
AL I R AC HE L PE AR L is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in Ho...
ALI RACHEL PEARL make a mental note of red flags It has pulled a light out from inside me that I didn t know existed and it has just as quickly consumed that light leaving the faint trace of something I only recognise as having been mine in retrospect a soft halo around its absence When the black hole gets up from the dinner table it always grabs its beverage and finishes the contents in a few hasty gulps before walking out the door It sings made up ballads and complains when I don t know the words It tells me it s moving to Newfoundland to live in a cabin alone in the woods where cell phone reception will be even worse than it is at the centre of the universe and it tells me to buy a book about geography and promises me we can read it together over any distance But the black hole forgets to file its papers and it can t really leave the centre of the universe so it saves enough gas money to head north and it tells me it won t tell me when it departs but that it will tell me when it arrives somewhere outside the centre of the universe It promises me the address of a P O box it may or may not remember to pay for and I remind it that I can only see it when it s coming or going anyway I buy a greeting card to send the black hole when it moves from the centre of the universe to the northern coast The greeting card is a survey about friendship that requires the recipient to check off certain boxes in response to questions about survival and longing My hope is that the black hole will use the survey to communicate to me in code about the nature of being everything and nothing at once how it takes so much energy how it makes the black hole sound like someone with a mouthful of grapes because no one with a mouthful of grapes can clearly say I meant it when I said I d miss you I meant it when I asked you to leave the door open I meant it when I said I wish you were here with me so that I could remind you of your immense capacity to love everything that runs and runs and keeps running When I ask the black hole where it comes from it tells me its mother is Spanish and its father is a distant star and that identity is just a word made up by people who write census questions Ali Rachel Pearl 53
ALI RACHEL PEARL  make a mental note of red flags. It has pulled a light out from inside me that I didn   t know existed a...
JANE FLETT is a philosopher cellist and seamstress of most fetching stories Her writing features in Best British Poetry 2012 and has been commissioned for BBC Radio and performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival She s one half of the riot grrl band Razor Cunts and a founder of Queer Stories Berlin Jane is also the recipient of the Scottish Book Trust New Writer Award and was voted Berlin s best English language writer in 2015 by Indieberlin http janef lett com Fiction COMMUTING Victor was old Older than Gotham older in fact than the New World itself He understood the meaning of aeons he could comprehend tectonic shifts and the Earth s inhale and purge Long ago before the age of pharmaceutical lotions to soothe the calluses of his toes Victor traversed entire landscapes step by step Empires heaved and collapsed before his eyes the Earth turned so often he could no longer see the sorcery in sunsets And Victor was exhausted This was a man who had spent his entire life moving on because there were mortals who didn t understand what it meant to never grow old In the past under rumour of witch or daemon or pretender to the throne Victor was time and again taught the errors of his existence Quivering fingers pushed snibs into latches iron doors swung closed There Victor sat within four walls and waited while his jailers grew old and died The ink on his sentence turned sepia in a desk drawer the paper oozed to mulch the record of his crime eased into history like forgotten bones He sat until the generations could no longer remember the righteousness of their forefathers and he was set free In time Victor learned that the small town was no place for an immortal a place where the status of freak was already so easily achieved The strange he reasoned needed strangers to hide behind So six months ago he made a decision He would leave the narrow village corridors and move to the city of transients in the hope that he could breathe for a century or two unobserved In an advert in the Village Voice he found a place An overpriced cramped apartment on the thirty eighth floor of the tower block at First Avenue and Sixtieth But what was money when you had eternity and peace Here were four walls to nest between a quiet drawer to pack his limbs inside 54
JANE FLETT is a philosopher, cellist, and seamstress of most fetching stories. Her writing features in Best British Poetry...
JANE FLETT Though they may be flimsy they didn t let in a racket of barking dogs or squalling babies and the elevator smelled of neither urine nor cologne If the apartment could never be described as spacious it was at least clean comfortable and most importantly his Besides in all honesty He d seen enough expanses If that were all it would have been enough but it was something else that made Victor s heart pounce upon seeing the room made him delve immediately into his pocket and thrust the stack of bank notes into the landlady s hand It was the window This room wasn t just built of four walls Three sides were walls yes tedious plasterboard and limp picture frames but the south facing wall the one which looked downriver past the skyscrapers towards the spider leg bridges hanging onto the water this wall was taken up by glass From that first moment by the landlady s side Victor could see himself tucked in the dark solitude of a movie theatre drapes pulled back like velvet curtains the drama of the city screening in triple bills He cut off her meander through the benefits of increased water pressure from a wall mounted cistern and said Yes yes Of course I ll take it By Wednesday he d moved in The first month was bliss Every evening Victor would turn off each light in his apartment then sit by the window and wait for the story to unfold The inhabitants of the other apartments stepped into frame like wind up dolls jerking through stopmotion scripts and he poised himself for cinematic moments the silhouette of a revolver a chemise slip falling from a shoulder a businessman shackled to a bedpost swaddled in a diaper panting He saw none of this but it didn t matter much He was happy to wait and to learn Victor invested in his hobby First in a zoom lens later in a pair of top of the range Nikon binoculars which brought each window into such startling proximity that at first he would shirk back duck down feeling helplessly exposed and then catch himself and raise the glasses again Take his finger from the remote restart the film It wasn t just the neighbours though That wasn t half of it Neighbours could grow tiresome the same sagas played over same worn faces same quarrels But between his window and theirs was something else the cable car that carried the commuters to and from the Island Every fifteen minutes it would rise up past his window and out over the river like a reverse swan dive filmed in slow motion Some days he would fix the binoculars to a tripod and train them to follow the arc where the inhabitants were suspended in glass flicking through sheaves of paper tapping vital messages crumpling their brows They rose helplessly into the air seldom glancing outside The first time he saw her he was standing with the binoculars strung around his neck letting vision after vision swoop by Before he knew what he was doing his fists fell open and the binoculars bounced on his chest He scrabbled at them fighting to get her back before the tram levitated away but the images which sputtered into view 55
JANE FLETT  Though they may be flimsy, they didn   t let in a racket of barking dogs or squalling babies, and the elevator...
GEOMETRY 01 made no sense silver incisors a dusting of spilled soot the vicious flash of paparazzi Panic rose in his throat in a moment she d be gone He lowered the lenses checked his position then refocused them She was there Victor stared at this creature caught like a specimen in his glass His heart tightened In all of eternity he had seen nothing that came close This girl She funnelled the flickers of eternity into a single perfect form He watched and her hip slumped with Salome s insouciance unimpressed with demands that she dance When she turned her book s page it was Boudicca waving her troops to battle Victor saw Parvati in her pout Cleopatran lashes when she shifted her weight she was Lola preparing for the spider dance The sun pleated gold through her hair plucked shadows from her body and set her to glimmer like Revelation Then the tram moved behind the shaft and she was shielded from view The next morning Victor found himself pottering around the apartment for a long time never pointedly looking at the clock He reminded himself of the patience of the ancients how everything eventually comes to pass He replaced his Britvic water filter watered the limp spider plant and moved the cushions to one side of the sofa stood back to examine them then replaced them symmetrically as they d been before He passed the time in small and controlled tasks until he finally gave up the pretense set his tripod in place and started to watch the trams go by Of course he wouldn t see her again He d chosen this city to lose himself in like a diamond playing hide and seek in a blizzard The prospect of her sailing into sight was negligible he knew it and yet his binoculars twitched and his stomach quivered every time a glimpse of blonde was caught in the window s light It was ridiculous eightmillion people it could take years paralysed at the windowpane before he saw her It was ridiculous and it was fine Victor had forever Then she appeared This time he was prepared He didn t jog his arms but held the binoculars aloft on their tripod and watched her for a few glorious moments When the tram pulled out of sight Victor realised he had been holding his breath His exhale weighed as much as a mountain In the eternal text of life he had discovered a new punctuation to break the story A ritual to suspend in time something to spark true while the hours slugged around it The rest of the day basked in the glow of that morning s moment While he heated tinned soup for lunch it was in a soft light from the glow of her hair When he closed his eyes he saw gold There were two times in his day when she was in his binocular viewfinder and when she was not These were his night and day never mind that one was mere seconds it still overshadowed the other so that everything not Her became nothing but an interlude between the glorious snatches of Her And then he began to want more 56
GEOMETRY 01  made no sense  silver incisors  a dusting of spilled soot  the vicious flash of paparazzi. Panic rose in his ...
JANE FLETT Centuries ago in a tavern in the small hours Victor found himself long after closing while the slack faced barkeep refilled their tankards A drunk propped the meat of his elbows on the bar and leaned over to bestow upon this young traveller the wisdom of his years Ach son we ll all be dead soon enough remember that An so when it comes down to it none of this really matters His arm gestured round the bar taking in what didn t matter the stretch of oak bar top mugs dangling from iron hooks the bartender s wife bent double scrubbing ash from bowls the murky floorboards the ceiling life At the time Victor did not correct him but he realised now he would have no glorious twilight years of dawning insignificance no period for acceptance that all bets were off He would not soon be dead All of it mattered The next day he began boxing up and black bagging everything The television The spider plant the sofa the cushions The saltshaker pepper grinder and the faux opalembossed napkin rings The glassware and needles and threads the chest of drawers with stainless steel handles the wardrobe with the mirrored doors Everything he could move he would remove and that which he could not the removals men could deal with They looked at him strangely at first when he told them to take it all to the dump but when he tucked the 100 bill into the handshake they dropped their gazes away Victor had seen a great many shrines in his time Haitian altars with tiny mummies strung up by their feet skulls with half smoked cigarettes cola bottles stuffed with dead roses gourds A Mexican church where candles dripped wax into the pine needle carpet and saints stood paralysed behind layers of glass boxed away for the prayers they had not answered Grandiose temples that writhed with Hindu goddesses spilling blue skin and pouted lips and gold It was decided he would strip his house of all that made it a home and he would dedicate everything to her She would notice and show up at his door And then finally his next life could begin He set about gathering the things that were necessary to reveal to her his heart s desires ignoring the call of antiques and precious trinkets Centuries had informed him that worth was never set in the history an object had experienced that things had no memory of the deeds they had seen or done What he needed were things that reflected outwards The ones with no secrets of their own to suck upon The things he collected were as shiny as a magpie s knicker drawer shiny as the birthday wish list of an Egyptian princess Golden Thai lucky cats from the Chinese superstore on Broadway waving a single paw endlessly as they grinned their golden grins Plastic ruby encrusted chandelier skeletons diamante shawls draped around the necks of rubber elephants beaded curtains crafted from cubic zirconium musical notes and plastic pineapples He bought bottles of holiday liquor blue bolls and chartreuse and grenadine peculiar concoctions that reflected the lights he shone at them He shone lights everywhere lights for the enlightenment lights to take notice of genies lamps oil burning lanterns and shroves of candles dribbling wax Indiscriminate lights tri colour lazers disco lights crystal ball lamp lights with black ceramic hands UFO 57
JANE FLETT  Centuries ago, in a tavern in the small hours, Victor found himself long after closing while the slack-faced b...
GEOMETRY 01 lights that flew and electro luminescent wire lights that snaked around the ceiling and waterfalled to the floor But the best the centre of everything was the mannequin He found her discarded in an alleyway in Chinatown between a crate of rotting papaya and a child s rubbersoled shoe From the moment their eyes met he knew everything would be fine Like the girl she had an aura about her of peace and contemplation A long neck and a chin which tilted just so When he first saw her he froze for a moment convinced someone was waiting to leap out from the shadows and steal his prize but the evening air stayed still and quiet He leapt forwards and shoved her into a black binbag knotted the handles around her thighs and placed another over her perfect arched feet securing them tight With a quick glance over his shoulder Victor hiked her up under his arm and scurried home Back in the safety of the living room he unwrapped her propped her against the back wall facing the window and superglued a book to her fingers She cocked her plastic head and stared hollowly down at the words ignoring the view You don t need to look Victor told her smiling I can do the looking for both of us With that Victor s apartment quit its position as living quarters and found a new status as a neon billboard glowing outward flashing a single lurid message Come He sat until the generations could no longer remember the righteousness of their forefathers and he was set free Jane Flett The next day Victor drew the curtains back and turned the lights on The room fluttered its glittered lashes and sent a wink to the tram Phones were lowered People shuffled to the north side and pressed their palms against the windows In the early smog that swarms around Manhattan like bees the light from Victor s shrine cut through It glittered gold winked ruby grinned emerald it sparkled like a gaping chest of pirates treasure Not everyone looked up though The girl didn t She looked at her book and read on He felt her shun like a wallop How could she not notice What sight could possibly be more engrossing than this the display he d prepared He waited as the next cable car edged into sight and lurched drunkenly as every inhabitant staggered to see Through the glass he couldn t make out the words they were squealing but they were looking all right They were interested Victor set at his task with greater vehemence He purloined gold thread and wove it through the curtains until the very boundaries of the window glittered He doubled the onslaught of candles he found laser pens that fired red silhouettes of tigers and 58
GEOMETRY 01  lights that flew, and electro-luminescent wire lights that snaked around the ceiling and waterfalled to the f...
JANE FLETT taped their buttons down he strung Chinese lanterns like a trail of fleeing planets in a far off galaxy He pilfered the prettiest of the city and arranged it all for her then he stood back and awaited a reaction Victor ran his fingers through Cindy s blonde wig His ancient lip grazed her plastic earlobe and he whispered She ll notice soon enough Isn t that right Cindy looked down at the pages judiciously not quite meeting Victor s eye A month passed in which every commuter but one was a wide eyed child hypnotised by silk scarves from a top hat Soon they began to come to his door Reporters with Dictaphones who rapped with eager knuckles Slow sad bag ladies who smelled like cats breath and subway stations Boys with emaciated wrists and wooden eyes It was never her The streets belched an endless stream of oddballs who came open handed without any idea what they were asking for More weeks slumped by He waited with eyes on the cable car every day ascend descend ascend descend He waited like a dog on his master s grave He added pyramids glass and knives to the window and a pile of Day Glo Jesuses the size of bowling pins They took a photo for Time Out magazine and discussed it on NBC The commuters talked to one another about every new addition their voices as sharp and shiny as tinfoil stars Still no knock from her No glance in his direction What s wrong with you Victor rapped his fingers against the glass Can t you see I m trying The tram edged its way onto the tourist map of New York First it was a quirky trip those on the pulse would suggest and then suddenly talk was erupting in blocks everywhere like the plains water pooling after a drought The queues grew Hawkers came with novelty hats hastily mocked up postcards with misspelled captions snow globes of tiny apartment shrines Hot nuts getcher hot nuts here Victor s shrine was a sensation You ought to do something Cindy said She can t get away with ignoring you like this You re right Victor replied Leaving the apartment was a risk but good things come to those who take them Victor positioned himself by the entrance to the tram off to the side in the shadow of a building that spread across the ground like a spilled carton of milk He was trying to look inconspicuous holding his arms by his side like anyone else might until he realised no one was paying him any attention The crowd was thick and jostling folks talking over each other in loud outdoor voices children weaving between thighs The queue writhed gaining and shedding members like flecks of dead skin Victor scanned the people This was the hour the eight thirty commuter hour in which he d seen her sail by every morning so far Or rather this was fifteen minutes before that because Victor wasn t going to miss his trick It took an hour before she showed up an hour that passed like an eternity and a 59
JANE FLETT  taped their buttons down, he strung Chinese lanterns like a trail of fleeing planets in a far-off galaxy. He p...
GEOMETRY 01 heartbeat and then someone shifted someone elbowed someone else out of place at the front by the doors and she came into glorious incandescent view But he d been looking there all along Still somehow she had materialised There she was about to climb onto the tram The doors were opening In a moment they would close and he would lose her to the sky lose her up up up over the river and the breeze Perhaps today would be the day she d look and see what he had done Perhaps she would meet Cindy s eyes Perhaps she d get it all wrong believe this was her work her love letter her declaration If they fell for each other if they forgot him he would never forgive either of them for what they had done Victor didn t think Before the doors slammed shut he was in the air his arm was wedged between them His body slipped through the crack which evaporated behind him and muffled the yells Oh fucking really dude Hey mister some of us are waiting here Oi you what the He was inside Trapped in the tight glass car squeezed close with eager tourists and dumb hoards and her She stood regal as ever against the opposing wall gaze down Reading again Forever reading that book Victor shifted his elbows trying to find a small human corridor through which to approach her He would appear in front of her close his hand around her wrist and explain everything She would look at him finally and understand It had to be quick The car was rising in a slow heave and he could feel gravity deserting them all They were in the air in a moment they would be over the river They were packed tight As they rose up in front of his building every last person but one began to crush towards Victor forcing him back with all the will of glaciers He jutted out his chest and pressed the soles of his feet hard against the ground straining to resist It was no use He was pressed tight against this wall she was leaning content against that one Between them the tide moved ever forwards Victor sighed and turned his head Then something in the corner of his vision sparkled and exploded Something sent out a neon wink and a high sweet chuckle He looked he couldn t help but look and there staring back at him was the loveliest sight he had ever seen Framed in flaming red and gold like the mythical serpent s eye like the ooze of the volcano was a woman so beautiful she struck him dumb Cindy Cindy How could it have taken him so long Victor was so dazzled he almost didn t notice the break in case of emergency glass that held the glistening silver hammer Still the moment he did his hand moved 60
GEOMETRY 01  heartbeat, and then  someone shifted, someone elbowed someone else out of place at the front, by the doors an...
JANE FLETT towards it with the same fluid grace as every rise of the tram When the shards embedded into his knuckles like thorns blossoming in wet red rivulets it barely registered Neither did the screams around him nor the sudden weight of bodies wrapping around his chest Everything narrowed to a single point that roared in his ears like the clatter of a thousand jail doors slamming closed I m coming Victor said He raised his arm squeezed his eyes tight and waited for the glass to explode 61
JANE FLETT  towards it with the same fluid grace as every rise of the tram. When the shards embedded into his knuckles lik...
S AQ U INA KAR L A C GU I A M is a twenty something writer from the Philippines Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fem Lit Mag Glass A Journal of Poetry Scrittura Magazine Rising Phoenix Review Suffragette City and others She is the Roots nonfiction editor of Rambutan Literary Poetry THE COMMANDMENTS OF VIRTUE The Holy Book likes to talk about fruition girls and boys carrying seedlings inheriting their hair and eyes I don t think they want to spend their lives tending to a garden they did not consent to The Holy Book takes one good look at me says you need to cover up that my legs have turned me prey for beasts in knife suits and pearl smiles the little glimmer of an ankle can bring a country to its knees The Holy Book lifts a jagged hand tells me the punishment fits the crime of gazing into the eyes of a girl like me of kissing each of her fingers a benediction The Holy Book speaks of other girls in heels and cherry bombs on their lips 62
S AQ U INA KAR L A C . GU I A M is a twenty-something writer from the Philippines. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming...
SAQUINA KARLA C GUIAM whispers the Devil himself put them here as if they weren t made by the same grace that gave birth to the rushing sea the dancing sky the fluttering of songbirds the drumbeat of me My legs have turned me prey for beasts in knife suits and pearl smiles the little glimmer of an ankle can bring a country to its knees Saquina Karla C Guiam 63
SAQUINA KARLA C. GUIAM  whispers the Devil himself put them here as if they weren   t made by the same grace that gave bir...
NATASHA TYNES is a Jordanian American writer based in the Washington DC area Her fiction and non fiction work has appeared in The Washington Post The Huffington Post Esquire Middle East Al Jazeera and Fjords Review among others Natasha worked as a journalist in the United States and the Middle East for over a decade She is currently working on her debut novel Fiction BACKWARDS The minute my divorce was finalised I packed my bags and headed back to Amman I couldn t think of any reason to stay in a foreign land with foreign people after my life with Ian came to end When the folks in the homeland pressed me about the break up I gave them all sorts of reasons fabrications half truths It wasn t meant to be I told them at first Who can argue with destiny Then I blamed Ian for not being supportive enough We fought a lot I would say You know how we Jordanians are We re very sociable Ian wanted to stay home all the time Eventually I blamed the unborn children the miscarriage and they stopped asking It was not easy to go backwards I used to tell my friend Salma after I settled in Amman I was thirty three divorced childless and living with my retired parents in their three bedroom apartment A master s degree in creative writing was not prestigious enough in Jordan It was the creative part that didn t appeal For some in my homeland being creative meant challenging set norms and beliefs rebellion in a land where rebels don t dwell My career choices were limited to teaching English or working with an international organisation that treated foreigners like kings and paid them double the locals salary I opted for freelance writing made money by submitting news reports and book reviews Although I was a naturalised American citizen I didn t think of going back to Virginia I needed my people around even if they saw me as a pariah a divorcee who experimented with marrying an outsider and failed Dying with the crowd is a mercy or so the Arabic saying goes and I was desperate for the mercy of my crowd I sat with Salma on her parents front porch one spring evening in Abdoon a neighbourhood for the very rich in the land of the poor We drank expensive Chianti and took turns finishing a pack of Marlboro Lights I picked up smoking right after my return When in Amman you do like the Ammanites I took a sip of the cherry 64
NATASHA TYNES is a Jordanian-American writer based in the Washington, DC area. Her fiction and non-fiction work has appear...
NATASHA TYNES Chianti and looked at Salma the most supportive of my friends Confiding in her came naturally We were both unmarried in our thirties Spinsters living with our parents with slim prospects of lifestyle improvement Outsiders in a society where marriage is your life s goal Childless in a land where children were your life s possessions You ll get married young Salma told me once when we were in the tenth grade You re tall skinny and beida referring to my fair skin colour Men will fight over you just wait and see Men didn t fight over me Ian was the only one who did He called my father every day for three months until he convinced him to give his daughter away to an ajnabi a foreigner He agreed to cut his long hair to look more respectable for my dad What s with the new look I asked after he arrived to dinner with his close cropped blonde hair He looked so young as if the barber had chopped strands from his hair and years off his life I wanted your dad to take me seriously he d said When I first met Ian our connection was fierce We both shared a love of foreign movies I was sold on him the minute he told me his favorite director was Abbas Kiarostami Where would a twenty six year old North Carolinian WASP have heard of Kiarostami He seduced me with his cultural curiosity his web of worldly views I was stuck entangled I had all the clich d symptoms beating heart butterflies that s love no Once we drove to Lancaster County Pennsylvania and biked thirty miles on the flat streets of the Amish country We chased each other through the cornfields that lined the streets He caught me and we rolled between the stalks and then I was on top of him my black hair covering his face and he was inside me We set up a tent in Chincoteague Island and spent the night by a camp fire exchanging childhood stories passing wild ponies on the beach at sunrise the waves of the Atlantic crashing my head on his chest We made people envious enough to pray to the gods for a similar fate Do you know what really caused the divorce I asked Salma while twirling the wine in my glass It wasn t the miscarriage Dalia it s been more than two years For God s sake stop thinking about El Kalb After the divorce Salma never referred to Ian by his name He was always El Kalb the dog I took a long sip from the wine glass and placed it down on the table between us I blame my divorce on New York New York Salma sounded offended Salma who could afford international travel at her leisure decided to visit New York because of Sex and the City reruns from pirated DVDs that the street vendors sold in downtown Amman Since her visit to the city three years ago she was still trying to find a job She d applied to international nonprofits for years but no one would sponsor her work permit Even so insulting New York was personal to her 65
NATASHA TYNES  Chianti and looked at Salma, the most supportive of my friends. Confiding in her came naturally. We were bo...
GEOMETRY 01 Yes New York It was because of what happened with Lily Vierra Lily Vierra The one and only I said I thought that was the highlight of your marriage It was what killed it I threw my cigarette butt on the marble floor and watched the smoke fade away You ve had too much wine Selma said The April air was crisp A neighbour across the street helped his aging mother out of her car and up to one of the fancy white stone houses or villas as they called them Expensive European cars lined the streets Mercedes BMW s Renaults Amman so divisive with its very rich and its very poor A divisiveness that I feared ran in my blood It was an unseasonably steamy May morning in New York Ian and I were on a short getaway at the advice of our marriage counsellor Christina who told us we needed to bring back the passion in our marriage Ian insisted we see a counsellor when our fights exceeded three a week right after he got laid off from his job as a copy editor at the Washington Post I blamed him for losing his job and he called me unsupportive I had no choice but to go to Christina s sessions I didn t want to be seen as the wife who never fought for her marriage At least we both agreed that New York would be the place to save it We had our first kiss there Why not recreate the atmosphere that led to our very first moment of intimacy We organised a dinner in the Village bought tickets to Stomp and made plans for a quick tour of MOMA ingredients to the magic formula that would salvage our union We checked in at a budget hotel on the Upper West Side and took a cab to a Cuban place called Havana in the Village It was crowded and loud and we ordered one mojito after another while waiting for ribs Is this when we re supposed to kiss I asked while checking out the patrons at the restaurant a hodgepodge of tourists children and lovers straight and gay You re so cynical Ian said You re shooting this down before it starts I m joking The problem is your negative attitude A m I supposed to be cheerful less than two months after my miscarriage The waiter came with our dishes and asked us if we needed anything else A pitcher of mojitos I said I m sorry Ian said after the waiter left I didn t mean to upset you but you know how I feel I know that you never wanted the baby in the first place That s not true he protested I just felt like you were pressured It wasn t the right time For you there s never a right time 66
GEOMETRY 01     Yes, New York. It was because of what happened with Lily Vierra.       Lily Vierra        The one and only...
NATASHA TYNES The day the pregnancy was conceived we hadn t had sex for a month but that morning Ian woke up and started undressing me We made love without exchanging a word To get it over and done with To cross it off the list of things we had to do to fix our marriage The whole process took less than ten minutes during which I was thinking about how my credit score was below six hundred The miscarriage was as swift as the sex Just like that I was bleeding in my in law s bathroom and the baby was gone Years later I realised that my life with Ian was a series of seismic shifts Our good fate showed its presence occasionally before it disappeared leaving a trail of dust behind I took a sip from my Turkish coffee too sweet Did you know I said to Salma when we met Lily Vierra we d been fighting about how Ian spent all our money bailing his brother out He used to pay his cell phone bills and two of his credit cards He said the real reason we were broke was because I kept sending gifts to my family in Jordan El Kalb Salma said It took me ten minutes to drive home from her house The streets were quiet as though asleep I counted three billboards of the king El Malik He was always smiling larger than life with a red kuffeyeh wrapped around his head The billboard displayed messages of loyalty We are with you we support you Counting billboards was a game I started playing a few months after I returned to Jordan It was a way of reminding myself I should never take democracy for granted I should always watch what I say In my written pieces I had to constantly check myself not be too critical of any government official or neighbouring country I had to resort to positive news that showed my country excelling in sports or science and suppress my natural inclination to question The last thing I needed was a call from Al Mukhabart the intelligence apparatus I had enough drama in my life At home Dad lounged on our worn out love seat with Aljazeera on the television Hizbullah forces were clashing with the Israeli army in the south of Lebanon Nothing new The news anchor grim faced announced the number of the fallen five Hizbullah fighters one Israeli soldier Mom was asleep in the adjacent bedroom decorated with the brown Formica of my youth You re late ya baba my father said It s eleven thirty Traffic jam At this hour With all the Iraqis in town there s always a traffic jam Come on Dalia you can t keep doing this You know your situation A nd what situation is that Don t do this he said a vein bulging in the middle of his forehead Because I m divorced You live here now You have to respect our traditions ya baba I m divorced not a whore 67
NATASHA TYNES  The day the pregnancy was conceived we hadn   t had sex for a month, but that morning Ian woke up and start...
GEOMETRY 01 Go to your room he said without looking at me My father always avoided confrontations He also avoided hugs Even though I was thirty three his command was unquestionable It will stay so until one of us perishes My room had not changed since I left it at eighteen A bookcase jammed with mystery novels stuffed animals in a wicker box in the corner Every once in a while I would grab one and place it next to me as I dozed off A memento of childhood days and bright prospects I slumped on the bed pulled my wallet from my purse and rummaged through the credit cards receipts love notes and photos I d been hoarding through the years There it was Lily Vierra s business card scrawled over with the contact info of her assistant Meredith I examined her handwriting closely If I did so long enough would I regain the sense of hope that I tasted when I first met her All I felt now was anger Anger for the heartache anger for allowing myself to co exist in two cultures to wander around without choosing one over the other I couldn t have it all the support of my village and Western style freedom Since I was eighteen I had lived in purgatory drifting between one world and another depending on my whims My allegiance was scrutinised by both parties East and West and the concept of home became more and more elusive I spotted Lily Vierra while waiting for the bathroom at Starbucks She looked shorter and older than on TV Her blonde hair was tied up in a ponytail and she was dressed in sweat pants and a pair of sneakers Oh my God it s Lily Vierra Ian said Is that who she is As only Ian could he quickly introduced himself and took a picture Her expression was grim as if coerced to pose by a kidnapper but when we made to leave she noticed my t shirt You ve been to Petra she asked My shirt bore the iconic image of the Treasury from the ancient city I m from Jordan I said Lily s face lit up You are I love Jordan I shot a movie there last summer It took me a while to gather my thoughts I could hardly believe we were exchanging sentences I miss it I said I ve been here seven years I met my husband and I stayed I squeezed Ian s hand and he squeezed mine back How romantic Lily said Ian pulled an extra chair and offered it to her A few of the people around us in the coffee shop stared or snuck a picture or two We talked for almost two hours We talked about the people she met during her visit the sights she d seen and the war in Iraq We talked about how it was hard for me to be in the US while the war was going on and about Ian s obsession with the Iraqi refugees He met one while he was working for the Post and ever since he s been fixated 68
GEOMETRY 01     Go to your room,    he said, without looking at me. My father always avoided confrontations. He also avoid...
NATASHA TYNES Well you know Ian began the government gives them hell before they offer asylum and it s because of the stupid war that they re refugees in the first place They created this mess Ian is obsessed I said with the idea of making a documentary about the refugees I see She crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair Well why don t you write me a proposal about a documentary and I ll see what I can do to help you My breath came to a halt Ian had always talked about his desire to make documentaries but it was always talk and more talk He played it cool I can do that he said while swirling the latte in his hand I know people who own a production house called The Activist Have you heard of them She wrote the details on the back of a business card When she left Ian held my hand We stayed quiet while we walked through Central Park and everything moved in slow motion Bikers dog walkers lovers Fate was again on our side Prospects That night at the hotel we made love Ian sent a proposal a few days later and Lily replied with a two word e mail You re hired I couldn t have it all the support of my village and Western style freedom Since I was eighteen I had lived in purgatory drifting between one world and the other Natasha Tynes During the months we corresponded with Lily we took evening bike rides in the woods near our house and drank wine as we prepared dinner side by side in our galley kitchen We had sex in places we d never ventured on the floor of the walk in closet leaning against our front door and on the top of our clothes dryer We made love as we listened to the humming of the washing machine with the cold plastic on my skin and Ian s breath in my ear Lily sent us first class tickets to New York and booked us a room in the Ritz Carlton that overlooked Central Park She met us in her suite at the hotel with a messyhaired producer called Rachel who wore Teva sandals So you re from Jordan Rachel said How exotic I guess so I said Rachel spent more than half an hour quizzing us about the hows and whys of the project We answered her questions while Lily served us sweet iced tea and cheesecake We have a plan Rachel told us Let s brainstorm via e mail It was after we headed back to DC that Lily s tone changed We don t need to focus just on the Iraq war you know she wrote in an e mail We don t need to make it 69
NATASHA TYNES     Well, you know,    Ian began,    the government gives them hell before they offer asylum, and it   s bec...
GEOMETRY 01 too political Ian kept trying to push the idea back to his original proposal before he stopped responding I really don t need this crap I can do this on my own without someone censoring my creativity to fit their agenda It s our life I said This sort of opportunity comes once Ian Once She can t risk her reputation by taking an anti war position What do you want me to do Beg her As Lily s e mails came to a halt so did our sex life Ian moved to the sofa bed in the living room We both knew it was over when I started throwing things a glass of Pinot Grigio a Spanish English dictionary a flower vase During the last days of our marriage we saw her picture on the cover of Vogue InStyle and Vanity Fair She was on Dave Letterman and Jay Leno Her latest movie topped the box office and the production house Activist released a new documentary I couldn t help myself from thinking about the irony of our situation the movies brought us together and then they tore us apart I met Salma for breakfast at a new falafel joint near my house It s too early Salma was not a morning person She took a sip from her mint tea and peered at me over the rim of her glass I have to go meet that guy today You know Samer Samer who I broke a piece of flat bread and dipped it in the garlicy fava beans dish that we shared I told you Mom is setting me up with a widower She says at my age I shouldn t be selective That s mean You seem quiet she said What s wrong Remember what I told you about the real reason for my divorce Salma sighed It wasn t Lily Vierra Dalia you were drunk last night It wasn t because of her I know that It was because of me I said I married him because I thought I had no other way to make my life better I thought being divorced in the US is better than being a spinster in Jordan I was wrong on both fronts I don t know what s right anymore I feel like I destroy everything I touch You met a guy got married things didn t work out People get divorced all the time Yeah they make it look like it s just another hurdle Here divorce is a life sentence Salma dropped me in front of my apartment building and I stood on the curb unsure which way to walk All my life I had hoped certain things imagined my path before me a successful career a published book or two a supportive husband a couple of 70
GEOMETRY 01  too political.    Ian kept trying to push the idea back to his original proposal before he stopped responding...
NATASHA TYNES kids but now my future was a void A black trash bag was left on the sidewalk and a stray orange cat tail missing sought a way to get inside it Our neighbour Abu Hassan was yelling at the janitor because he forgot to wash his car last night His voice rose above construction workers putting the final touches on an apartment building across the street Yet another white building White stones were everywhere in this city Like a graveyard There was nothing exotic about that In my room Lily s business card lay on the floor next to my bed I picked it up and tore it into two pieces four eight I lost count I opened the double paned window and stuck my hand between the security bars the protection from invaders a guard against the corruptors of our virtuous selves A point of rough metal scratched my skin and a bead of blood formed and trickled down my thumb I opened my fist The torn scraps of business card lifted and spiralled in the wind but two pieces white and shredded fluttered back in through the bars and settled on my bedside table 71
NATASHA TYNES  kids   but now my future was a void. A black trash bag was left on the sidewalk, and a stray orange cat, ta...
JE M YOS HIOKA is an illustrator and comic artist living in Wellington New Zealand Her comics tell evocative stories of belonging place and heritage Jem has been published in Three Words The New Zealand Women s comics anthology and Square Planet Comics She has twice won first place in the Chromacon New Zealand Indie Arts Festival Comic Awards Graphic Narrative FOLDING KIMONO
JE M YOS HIOKA is an illustrator and comic artist living in Wellington, New Zealand. Her comics tell evocative stories of ...
ARMEL DAGORN is now back in his native France after living in Ireland for seven years His writing has appeared in magazines such as Tin House Online The Stinging Fly Southword and Unthology His short story collection Eternal Dreamers of Greener Grass will be published in early 2018 by The Penny Dreadful Press Find him at armeldagorn wordpress com Fiction THE PROVERB ZOO No one was happy at first least of all Mum s boyfriend when the whale finally appeared under the boat shouldering it like an Olympic weight lifter and shrugged us overboard We three dummies bobbed helplessly in the ocean Mum wailed my name paddling to me like a spaniel her curly hair wet straight and flattened around her face in two sad ears She hugged me in the water asking if I was okay then released me when she realised her effusions were drowning us Her boyfriend looked forlornly at his boat as it tuff tuffed away from us I thought he shared my disappointment that the stupid shell hadn t cracked and sunk What a story that would have been Now we were just idiots who had fallen overboard Not even out in the open sea the coast seemed close like we could simply wobble our way back our lifejackets floating up rubbing our ears raw as we alternated breaststroke and crawl There would be no need for that of course A fishing boat was already coming towards us depriving us of even a minute s worry about potential death The water was freezing but what use was that discomfort once you removed its life threatening potential Sail away Julie I nearly shouted after the boat watching her escape us I hoped she d go on to crash onto the coast We could walk on the beach for weekends to come and find fragments of the Julie pick up pieces of the hull a porthole a buoy the whole helm even and hang them up on a wall at home and be able to say oh this is just a bit from a shipwreck I survived I could only hope the boat wouldn t disappoint Before our rescuers reached us our whale came back for a lap of honour and made the whole thing almost worthwhile It bared its back a few metres from us spraying waterworks up for its grand finale A Balaenoptera Physalus I didn t remember about my camera until the beast had dived back into the black below I raised my arm and there it was still tied to my wrist safe in its waterproof pouch I cursed myself I had held onto 81
ARMEL DAGORN is now back in his native France after living in Ireland for seven years. His writing has appeared in magazin...
GEOMETRY 01 it for the whole boat ride but hadn t had the presence of mind to use it when the action finally came The fishermen arrived rough stubbly men in salt bleached overalls covered in fish scales And the smell mussels Jesus They manoeuvred the boat warily boathooked us by the jackets like funfair plastic ducks and fished us out by the armpits Salvation cometh I thought from the fishermen The first boyfriend Mum had after the death of my father or at least the first I knew of was a horrible man I say the first I knew of because I was five at the time and people Mum included didn t think enough of me to share the most mundane information This was back when Mum s visitors referred to me as poor Aidan with wince like constipated smiles Or poor boy which I preferred as I could then pretend I was Oliver Twist or Huckleberry Finn or some other disgracefully accursed youth of orphan lore The best among them sometimes managed to make me sad which helped me get in character My father had died when I was not yet two I didn t really remember him from anything except the pictures Mum showed me They thought I was introverted taciturn I didn t play soccer with the other kids in the estate didn t come home muddy and bruised I just didn t like sport Mum s friends shook their heads when they saw me walk across the living room with some huge book of paintings by Vel zquez or Otto Dix under my then weak arm But why could they be dapper and civilised and drink tea in the good cups when I wasn t allowed to conduct a little harmless research under my own roof I didn t see them come in bloody and soiled breathless from running around like fools after a ball It is hard to remember now what exactly made Mum s first boyfriend so hateful to me lost as these memories are in the fogs of childhood but I know I thought right away that he had to go The man wasn t like us he wasn t anything like Mum We had a perfectly fine thing going on One thing I still remember clearly is the little talk Mum had given me Honey I m bringing a strange man into our home Talk about loss of innocence Imagine Adam being given the Book of Revelation to read The thought of it deafened me for a while and I must have missed all the nice things Mum no doubt had to say about him I only resurfaced when she said my name looking hard into my eyes her hands giving my shoulders a squeeze She knelt in front of me as if she was about to knight me a giant queen knighting a dwarf and said that I d always be first for her She said that I should make an effort try and be friends with him but if I still didn t like him then she d understand I can t say now how much of an effort I made with that first man but I vividly remember not liking him and so I set out to estrange this stranger who was becoming too familiar a vista at home The plan was very simple whenever the man tried to score points by taking me on his lap I opened the floodgates I was delighted with the perfect dominion I had over my body it seemed fantastical that a few short years before I d had no more control over my bodily waste than I had over the weather Now I was 82
GEOMETRY 01  it for the whole boat ride, but hadn   t had the presence of mind to use it when the action finally came. The...
ARMEL DAGORN pissing at will preferably all over the Sunday best of my Mum s flame I took to holding up going to the loo when I knew he would be around I must say some credit should go to that man who surrendered to my pseudo psychosomatic seal of disapproval before Mum started getting suspicious The degrading of my own sacred temple cost me a few months of low self esteem and a few visits to the doctor but it saved Mum some difficult decisions Men she said when he left surely not expecting me to understand the full implications of that single word I didn t need the more elaborate Men are scum or That s men for you that came in later years following the disappearance of other boyfriends those remarks overheard between Mum and her friends who crowded the house then filling the void left with their hugs and bottles of wine That first debacle of an affair made Mum think twice about introducing me to her boyfriends For a few years I would meet new men now and then without being sure if Mum had any romantic notions about them I had fits whenever one was around I acted like I hated them all before I was told their names These were the years during which my artistic sensitivity blossomed Like everything else it s to Mum I owe it You could say she went on a mission to turn me into a full time hobbyist There s hardly a craft we didn t try We built a model town out of cardboard for my Lego then people for its streets when we found the plastic men too vulgar for our architectural masterpiece We dressed ourselves as Roman emperors or slaves with the simplest draping of bed sheets and the braiding of laurel stems We memorised passages from Shakespeare s plays and declaimed them thus attired Around that time Mum often popped into my room and dropped a box full of empty pens broken photo frames fabrics string and glue and disappeared with a smile on her face from the sheer potential I toiled in my room for hours to build a robot a Mayan shrine an aeroplane anything I could that would not disappoint her She went out knowing I would stay put Sometimes I held my pee reluctant to waste even a minute I often fell asleep among the spare parts and woke up in her arms at two or three in the morning as she put me to bed Of course I realised after a while that Mum wasn t doing all this just to nurture my innate creativity It would be hard for her to get involved in any long term relationship if I didn t take a step back She was no doubt desperate for me to grow to become more independent All these hobbies and crafts were bait hooked lines she hoped I d bite into and spend my spare time tinkering with To her credit even though I never renounced my Mum given right to interfere with her love life I think the self reliance her games taught me made me more tolerant more inclined to give her suitors a chance Of course I am indebted to her for getting me started on what is still the masterpiece of my young life I was nine by the time Mum tried to settle Frank in She d give me some craft making mission now and then during the week and go out with him to town to see a film have 83
ARMEL DAGORN  pissing at will, preferably all over the Sunday best of my Mum   s flame. I took to holding up going to the ...
GEOMETRY 01 a drink or go bowling for Christ s sake Some people just watch too much TV We d often spend Sundays out at his house in the country I d been surprised when we d first come to the renovated farmhouse seeing the crucifix hanging above the fireplace Mum wasn t religious and she was proud to be an atheist She never missed an opportunity to mention in conversations that she d moved me to a non denominational school Frank s place had at least one thing going for it it was surrounded by scruffy weedy land stone walls rusty bike frames and other marvels I shunned the house with its white walls and designer furniture and roamed the fields for treasures Once to bribe me out of a sulk Mum bought a disposable camera at a gas station on the way up It worked I had twenty four frames I could do whatever I wanted with I shot cobwebs in hedges rusty nails from broken pallets I positioned my hand over the cliff in the distance and shot it like a giant spider looking out at sea I was going back to the house wondering what to use the last frame on when I saw Mum standing in the doorway and Frank s two dogs lying by the stone bench along the house It reminded me of the previous weekend when I d played with the dogs in the field running in zigzags while they frolicked around me and when I got back home I d fallen asleep on the comfy rug my head on the belly of one of them Later I d woken up to Mum and Frank getting off the couch and walking down the corridor Better let sleeping dogs lie Frank had whispered I kept my eyes closed and pretended to snore I hadn t heard Mum disagree Her continued despair that I was utterly uninterested in sports bothered her more on hot days like a rash flaring up after a few weeks of respite Armel Dargorn For days after I kept thinking about that There was something sinister about my mother being spirited away from me without protest But also I liked that expression It made me warm to Frank Someone who used animal based imagery couldn t be all that bad Now I knew what that last picture had to be I ran to Mum gave her the camera then sat on the bench with the dogs lying at my feet resting my hands stiffly on my knees staring straight ahead and trying to be the perfect embodiment of letting I imagined the picture on my shelf with a little title I d stick on it reading Letting sleeping dogs lie It was the first of what I hoped would be a long term project Mum had the film developed and I hardly looked at the other twenty three photographs Pointless photographic ramblings When we went back to Frank s that following Sunday though when they thought I d gone running the fields Mum showed them to him 84
GEOMETRY 01  a drink, or go bowling for Christ   s sake. Some people just watch too much TV. We   d often spend Sundays ou...
ARMEL DAGORN He worries me she said while I sat on the stone bench outside just by the door like I was trying to be the perfect embodiment of letting all over again Look at this I mean it s great that he has that creative side but sometimes he just worries me All these little obsessions he has He ll grow out of it Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn t have him see someone What a shrink Ah Eimear you re just getting yourself worked up All he needs is maybe a little guidance She had asked me about the pictures after collecting them asked me why I d taken this and that At first I tried to explain the story behind each of them but I soon stopped as the explanation seemed to upset her more than the pictures themselves She didn t say anything but I knew Oh it s just silly pictures I told her What really was silly was that we hadn t reached the sleeping dogs yet which was the only picture in the bunch worth commenting on Later whether of his own initiative or prompted by Mum Frank started paying more attention to me He asked me about my games and projects Or rather my project singular because after the sleeping dogs I hadn t been able to think about anything else I thought about the dozens of sayings which featured animals I imagined myself setting them all up like I had with the dogs The Proverb Zoo Frank laughed when I told him about it He said Brilliant He asked to see the picture again so I showed it to him I kept it in my pocket that s how excited I was He asked me about other phrases His enthusiasm was endearing really What about Jonah he said What do you mean You know Jonah in the Bible being swallowed by the whale He got up and opened a cupboard in the corner of the living room I like the story I said but it s not quite the angle I m going for I really need an actual proverb or a phrase rather than a whole story What if Jonah in the stomach was saying I m having a whale of a time A whale of a time I smiled thinking about it Frank looked at me expectant I like that I said Mum who had gone on a walk presumably to let Frank and me bond man to man found us beaming at each other over the open Bible She didn t say anything then but before we drove home I heard them arguing in the garden Or rather I heard Mum giving out On the ride home she said I m sorry love He had no right lecturing you on the Bible like that He wasn t lecturing me He was just helping me with That s what they say hon They say they want to help you but all they want is to have you do your Hail Marys and Our Fathers like a robot So that was the end of Frank I thought I d miss him I had enjoyed the Sundays in the country and his input on the Proverb Zoo had showed keen understanding I was 85
ARMEL DAGORN     He worries me,    she said, while I sat on the stone bench outside, just by the door, like I was trying t...
GEOMETRY 01 just starting to like him Sometimes I worried that by chasing Mum s first boyfriend out of our little ecosystem I d given her momentum for separating but when a few months later she introduced me to the penultimate boyfriend I realised that maybe it wasn t such a bad thing this compulsive breaking up of hers Eoin was the sporty type and he reminded me painfully of some athlete classmates of mine It didn t seem right him and Mum He looked like he could have been her younger brother I don t think he was actually any younger than her but he acted like a teenager He would have fit right in with some of my older cousins spending all day playing FIFA2004 on the Playstation and wearing their jerseys like they were at a match The first time I met him he asked me what sports I played and guffawed when I said none As time went by he grew more confident and called me bookworm or even little nerd when he knew Mum wasn t within earshot When she was he put a little syrup in his voice and asked me if I wanted to go outside and play football or climb trees or chop some tree down maybe I never really listened to him Sometimes I felt he thought I was a threat to the idea of manhood acting the way I did In front of Mum he said it wasn t good staying indoors wrecking one s eyes reading all day long You needed exercise lungfuls of fresh air blood pumping out of your heart to oxygenhungry muscles Mum nodded fooled by her walking slab of meat But could he have picked a Picasso from a Braque I bet you not One day when Eoin was at home with us he pushed me too far He was sitting on the couch playing the video game he d brought from his house It was his spare one The man had a spare console for Christ s sake Mum was upstairs and I was on the living room carpet forced to share my working space with an imbecile I had the Encyclopaedia open in front of me and my stack of Animal Facts cards fanned on the floor in a semi circle I was quite far ahead with the Zoo but I felt stuck with the last two proverbs While I tried to find ways to stage them I put the finishing touches on the ones I d already done The early bird catches the worm When the cat is away the mice will play There was some good stuff I pimped the frames printed the proper scientific term for each species and dated the installations At some stage at the end of a level maybe or when his little fantasy hero died Eoin turned around to me and frowned looking over the couch at my research material spread on the floor It was probably the first time he d seen an Encyclopaedia Hey he said A ren t you a bit old for playing with that He jerked his chin indicating the animal cards I opened my mouth but was too dumbfounded to say anything He was staring at me waiting for me to answer You simian sloth I finally said He laughed at that blissfully ignorant as Frank might have said I missed him You could have a civilised conversation with Frank There is one constructive part Eoin played in my life Two months after Mum had introduced him to me she invited him along with some of my uncles aunts and cousins for my birthday Presumably he was still trying to impress Mum and had concentrated 86
GEOMETRY 01  just starting to like him. Sometimes I worried that, by chasing Mum   s first boyfriend out of our little eco...
ARMEL DAGORN long enough to hear her talk about my love for photography He gave me a digital camera I must say I was quite surprised by the thoughtfulness of the present Mum these days was getting more worried about the pictures I took on her camera the fifteen frames I used to get my proverbs just right I don t think she minded the cost but I caught her talking to her sister on the phone about sending me to a shrink again The digital camera would allow me to work in peace Even if she got to see the final picture at least I could delete the failed attempts and hopefully she would stop thinking I was obsessed I started training myself on the camera and created random montages on Paint on the computer Then it hit me The idea for the penultimate proverb Monkey see monkey do I picked pictures off the internet and worked on them on Paint For the first half I took a picture of a postcard perfect tropical beach I collaged a few monkeys onto it some waist deep in water some ape strolling by the surf in flashy speedos Monkey sea Then I took a picture of myself taken from my own arm s length with a silly smirk on my face I then trimmed the foxy locks off some orang utan and stuck them on my picture like a cheap wig Monkey do I put the two montages together and printed them Eoin had mentioned a special paper for photographs but the regular thing would do for now I placed it on the shelf next to the eight others and went to bed The following day I woke up anxious for no reason I could think of until I remembered the previous night and what I d done with the penultimate proverb I threw off the duvet and walked across the room to the shelves I stared at Monkey see monkey do despising myself The only part of it I had really photographed was that horrendous self portrait The rest I had pilfered off the dump that is the internet using cheap tricks and cosmetics for want of a clever idea I had been seduced by my new toys that new technology and had mistaken excitement for greatness It may have been that disappointment which made me decide to terminate Eoin I know the bad execution of the proverb was my own fault and that the present of the camera was a very generous thing but then thought processes don t always make rational sense It was Sunday morning and the weather after a few weeks of grey skies had turned out well Mum came in from the kitchen where she was preparing the roast Go play outside boys she said in a tone that sounded half joking and half pleading Her continued despair that I was utterly uninterested in sports bothered her more on hot days like a rash flaring up after a few weeks of respite Eoin paused his video game and looked over at me He was the good boy the one that did what Mum said I would usually have said no or refused to even answer I was doing research on the Balaenoptera Physalus but I looked at Eoin at Mum and said okay Eoin and I stepped out and looked around the traffic free streets of the estate For a second neither of us seemed to know what we were doing there We had coexisted for a few months but never shared a game or a conversation for more than three minutes I ve a ball in my car we could play on the green there he offered I almost felt bad 87
ARMEL DAGORN  long enough to hear her talk about my love for photography. He gave me a digital camera. I must say I was qu...
GEOMETRY 01 for wanting to get rid of him he was so innocent No I said as I started jogging towards what Eoin had often referred to as the only tree around worth a climb in previous attempts to tempt me into taking part in a physical activity Last up is a worm I shouted Eoin let me have a head start and I grabbed branches to haul myself up He climbed in bursts letting me get ahead then catching up keeping up the pretence of a race I suppose and trying to keep some suspense in it Once we d reached a nice height we stopped looking over the lay of the land When Eoin turned his back to me I did it I let go of the branches and let my knees buckle under me I bounced off the strongest limbs broke through the lighter ones and found myself in a bundle on the grass moaning as if through someone else s mouth We were having a race I whispered in Mum s ear when she knelt over me In hospital she kept telling me she was sorry and throwing stares at Eoin I was poked by a couple of doctors examined put through the X ray machine Later while we waited for some results Mum told Eoin he might as well go Like me he looked as if he could have done with more details go home now or go away from us never to come back I should never have pushed you to do things like that she told me when he left If it s not your thing well it s not a problem Somehow I d managed not to break a single bone I was covered with cuts and bruises had merely sprained my right ankle and Eoin The Bully was at last no longer in Mum s favours Six months after my accident Mum brought a new man home and I started putting on the limp I d long grown out of I remembered how people had stared at me in the streets especially after I d stopped using the crutches but still hobbled a little Poor boy they thought believing my irregular gait to be a lifetime curse My hope was that Luke like others before him would not be accustomed to dating a mother and that my existence would make him think twice about pursuing his involvement with Mum If on top of that I was a cripple it might send him right back home without even pretending he d call back So I put on my best subtlest limp a little dragging of the foot and a slight in curve of the shoulder A functioning Quasimodo minus the hump It had to be subtle because Mum couldn t see or she might ruin the whole thing So I waited for her to turn her head before I took gimpy strides The first time I met Luke I left Mum and him to themselves only coming out of my room to say hi and goodbye and display my handicap I hoped it would be enough to make him cut his losses and run He was back the following week though and that time I hung around the living room I was still working on the whale looking for an angle on it a way to approach it I was stuck I didn t want to repeat the mistake of the monkeys didn t want to resort to cheap tricks The main issue was to find a real whale to take a picture of and because 88
GEOMETRY 01  for wanting to get rid of him  he was so innocent.    No,    I said as I started jogging towards what Eoin ha...
ARMEL DAGORN of its natural habitat setting up whatever props I needed around it would prove challenging too What are you so immersed in Aidan Luke asked me from the kitchen table where he was having tea with Mum Whales I said I hadn t bothered with more than a half hearted attempt at keeping up the limp this time around because instead of making him run away it made him be nice to me Just my luck I m doing research Oh Have you ever seen one for real I looked at him He seemed serious I shook my head Well he said looking at Mum seeming unsure I have a boat out in Schull We could go down next time if you d like that I hear there s been a few sightings recently That s how the following week we drove down to West Cork parked by the pier in Schull and got on board the Julie I was so excited I kept checking if the camera worked through the waterproof bag As Luke started the engine and we left the harbour I sat on the bench holding my full backpack tight between my legs So what do you have here Mum asked again You ll see I said for the hundredth time I had laid low hadn t even showed her the monkey picture so it had been a while since we d talked about the Proverb Zoo I knew it had upset her before and I wanted to spare her until it was all over Then when she saw the finished project she wouldn t think it was weird or obsessive anymore We set out onto the sea we three kings of the ocean to an area where Luke said whales had been spotted in previous weeks We stood in the boat looking around for signs of life for skyward sprays but the whales if they were here seemed to be sleeping After our rescuers brought us to shore the ambulance people made us undress and wrapped us in blankets They examined us at the back of their van our hearts lungs checked the cold water hadn t damaged our ability to roll our eyes sideways up and down They deemed us fit to go straight home so refusing a lift we returned the blankets and put on various tattered jackets and jumpers Luke kept in the trunk of his car for exactly that type of occasion I supposed I marvelled at the thoughtfulness He drove in his sodden underwear leaving all his rags for us to wrap ourselves in At home Mum ran a hot bath for me and later we all drank hot chocolate together in the kitchen It felt like going out sailing and capsizing was just something you did to make the follow up hot chocolate more enjoyable like going for a walk in the woods on a chilly autumn afternoon Luke got a call He winced as he listened Well at least we re all safe he told us when he hung up Some fishermen had followed the Julie s drifting tried to harness her in but she had gone too close to shore They d had to let her crash on the rocks I m sorry Luke I said Maybe next weekend we can go have a look where she crashed We might find something from it that you like Luke looked at me and smiled 89
ARMEL DAGORN  of its natural habitat, setting up whatever props I needed around it would prove challenging too.    What ar...
GEOMETRY 01 That s a good idea Aidan Thanks Mum kissed him on the cheek and passed her hand through his hair He deserved the attention She hauled the bin bag in which they d packed all our wet clothes and started stuffing them into the washing machine She took out the ziplock bag with my camera in it and gave it to me I d almost forgotten it All that work for nothing the Proverb Zoo was missing its main attraction I turned on the camera clinging on to the remote hope that one of the pictures of the boat and the coast I had taken might have caught a bit of the whale s back It loaded for a second then the last picture I d taken appeared I couldn t make it out at first I must have clenched my fingers as we were thrown overboard and taken the picture To the left was the top of my head cut just under my nonplussed eyes Luke was to the right flying over the guardrail and looking at me nearly at the camera with an expression that didn t seem worried yet Of Mum only the legs showed they dangled from the top like lianas She had been standing on the bench when the whale struck and the shock had sent her flying Right in the middle of the photograph was the whale s glassy eye staring The backdrop of the picture consisted almost entirely of the whale s blue grey skin peppered here and there with my props Party hats plastic champagne flutes an empty bottle of champagne confetti I d had my bag open at the ready and everything had been ejected The lot of them danced between the four of us like there was no such thing as gravity 90
GEOMETRY 01     That   s a good idea, Aidan. Thanks.    Mum kissed him on the cheek, and passed her hand through his hair....
KAREN AN HWEI LEE is an Asian American poet and the author of Phyla of Joy Tupelo 2012 Ardor Tupelo 2008 and In Medias Res Sarabande 2004 Her book of literary criticism Anglophone Literatures in the Asian Diaspora was published by Cambria Press 2013 in New York and London Currently she serves in the university administration at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego California Poetry ADMONITIONS ON THE FOLDS OF AN ORIGAMI PERSIMMON Do not wash a paper persimmon in running water or skin it Please do not eat the flesh or slice it on a cutting board where you also mince scallions Neither do you eat it whole Take a pen and write inside the corners Consider this poem a persimmon Fold corners A and B to the centre then open Make a squash fold yellow zucchini blossoms dressing a vine Make more squash folds until a kite soars in your hand Fold the flaps calyx end south stem cap where stanzas unleaf 91
KAREN AN-HWEI LEE is an Asian American poet and the author of     Phyla of Joy     Tupelo 2012 , Ardor         Tupelo 2008...
GEOMETRY 01 Instead of peeling the skin and coring the pith hold a well inked persimmon whose pulp is an ear of light Poetry MEDITATION ON ORCHIDS NOIR AND SYMBIOSIS A quick witted horticulturist told his wife only a special vintage wine and the cork from a bottle sealing those vintage years cellaring in the dark this cork and no other perfectly suited for growing orchids Phaelanopsis Not pumice not fir bark neither stones nor sphagnum moss from New Zealand On a bed of tannin hued buds aerial parasitic orchid shamelessly blooms in an illusory rainforest upside down awash in filtered light So the man bought crates of expensive wine to grow orchids his wife loved without impunity a symbiosis his wife s desire to view a luxuriant epiphyte in her day room his passion for pinot noir On a bed of tannin hued buds aerial parasitic orchid shamelessly blooms in an illusory rainforest upside down awash in filtered light Karen An hwei Lee 92
GEOMETRY 01  Instead of peeling the skin and coring the pith      hold a well-inked persimmon whose pulp is an ear of ligh...
PIA GHOSH ROY grew up in India and now lives in Cambridge UK She is the winner of the 2017 Hamlin Garland Award Her work has also been placed in and shortlisted and longlisted for several other prizes including the Aestas Fabula Press Competition Fish Short Story Prize the Brighton Prize and the Bath Short Story Award Pia is currently working on her first novel and a collection of short stories piaghoshroy Fiction DUGDUGEE The monkeys refused to dance They just sat there in their worn shimmery clothes Boy Monkey in a green waistcoat and red velvet shorts Girl Monkey in a gold blouse and orange skirt Their eyes kept darting off into the thick Calcutta traffic up at the vapid sky and in and out between the legs of the waiting crowd Dance monkey dance But the more the madari shook his dugdugee tag tag taga tag the lower the monkeys sank backs curved noses to the pavement hands covering their heads Tag tag taga tag Tag tag taga tag Nothing would make them move their bottoms off the footpath The madari s promises of good food and new clothes fell on deaf wise ears His threats of a good beating slid off their bony backs where the dull brown fur had come off in small round clumps Boroma put the five rupee note back in her purse and pulled me away How can you expect them to dance on an empty stomach she said These madaris they re absolute scoundrels Drinking away everything they earn and starving the monkeys thin I m not donating a single paisa to his country liquor fund You know what he ll do with the money Just go home drunk and beat his wife Not to mention the poor monkeys Boroma saw a definitive ending to most things She could roll out a scene as quickly as she rolled a ball of dough into a round ruti She could read a person and dissolve a matter to its atom while folding sun dried clothes into attentive piles The rate at which Byanajji babu throws money left and right really He ll be a pauper in his old age living on the charity of his uncivilised goon of a son Or to me What no sweater You re going to get a fever and miss your Sports Day and then you ll see Boroma seemed to know And her pithy forecasts as grey and sudden as a kalboishakhi that churned the wind and blew trees down often turned out to be true But there were things that had happened things that had changed the family in different ways which even Boroma did not foresee 93
PIA GHOSH-ROY grew up in India and now lives in Cambridge  UK . She is the winner of the 2017 Hamlin Garland Award. Her wo...
GEOMETRY 01 As we walked away from the monkeys I turned my head to take one last look at them They were far away now mottled brown blobs The madari was slapping them repeatedly on the head making their little skulls bob forwards and backwards The monkeys had cost him his customers today an evening s earnings They d ignored the beat of the dugdugee to which they d been bred The madari s slaps stayed with me as Boroma and I hurried on Four flat fingers splat on the top of my head Come come now Why the long face Arre the monkeys will be fine They re hardy little fellows Boroma said She shook my bony wrist held up my floppy hand like a flag Look how strong our little monkey is Boroma could also make light of things as effortlessly as she conjured up grey clouds without silver linings She could swat away sadness like an irksome fly Everything will be okay she would say stretching her everything long and thin to cover all the troubles of all the people she loved For some reason these platitudes pronounced with her airy firmness often sounded like truth And as we pushed our way through the humid throb of Gariahat Market the plight of the monkeys faded Boroma was the head of our family the wife of my father s eldest brother my Jethu On most days you would find her bustling about the house in her starched tangail saree a bunch of keys singing at her waist Her hair cut as short as a man s was shot with silvergreys and her eyes kind and brisk missed little Boroma and Jethu had a daughter Mishtidi who had married and moved to the US a few years ago We all lived in a house on Southern Avenue opposite a lake The house had large balconies and curved sides and was built by my grandfather who had wanted his three sons to live together under one roof with their families but without their wives fighting over kitchen duties and squabbling about expenses So he had bought a great swathe of land in what was to become prime Calcutta real estate and built a house that looked like a ship It had three floors and three kitchens one for each son Boroma and Jethu lived on the ground floor I lived with Ma and Baba on the first and Kaku my father s youngest brother and his new wife lived above us As was the nature of most wills and testaments the youngest child had inherited the maximum number of stairs As Boroma and I approached the blue tarpaulin of the fruit stalls along Gariahat the smell of ripe bananas and pineapples started to mix with the stench of raw fish from the market inside This was made worse by the smoking green coils of mosquito repellent perched between the piles of fruit I held my breath hoping Boroma wouldn t stop No fruits for you today Didi The pineapples are as sweet as jaggery cajoled a man from one of the stalls They all knew her Boroma was an exacting customer She would feel the fruits sniff them and put them back in their place before she started haggling If you keep them in your basket before you bargain you ve lost before you ve begun she always said Jethu on the other hand used to leave the picking and choosing to the fruit sellers and pay whatever they asked for He would stand patiently before a pile of the ripest mangoes 94
GEOMETRY 01  As we walked away from the monkeys, I turned my head to take one last look at them. They were far away now, m...
PIA GHOSH ROY with his hands behind his back rocking gently on his heels as they weighed and packed They in turn never gave him a bad fruit Jethu died a few days after my twelfth birthday It had been a swift leaving a heartattack after a heavy dinner No one had had the chance to sit by his bedside or hold his hand There he was in the evening his voice ringing around the house and a few hours later his heart had stopped Like a fairground ride that stops at full speed his death threw us forward then slammed us back Two days after he passed away Mishtidi and her husband flew down from California and found everyone still slumped in silence After the funeral Boroma asked Mishtidi s husband to attend to the visitors who came bearing mournful stalks of rajanigandha and boxes of shondesh She then went into her room and shut the doors No one saw her for the next few days not even I was allowed to knock When she walked out of her room three days later her eyes were no longer red the end of her saree s anchal was no longer crumpled and wet She had gone into her room like a broken leg into a plaster and come out fixed At least from the outside A few days later I overheard some of our neighbours talking about Boroma Heard she walked out of her room wearing a coloured saree Now all she has to do is order a mutton cutlet from Chiru s shop Their laughter sounded like metal chairs scraping against a tiled floor She had gone into her room like a broken leg into a plaster and come out fixed At least from the outside Pia Ghosh Roy That night I asked Boroma what they had meant She was silent for a long time When a woman loses her husband things change she finally replied She told me that widows her age were expected to wear white They were expected to stop eating meat and fish and garlic What she did for a dead husband outweighed everything she had done when he was alive A woman who outlives her husband is expected to die a little it s the least she can do for having survived after all she said with a dry flat laugh But your Jethu was a man of science He would ve wanted none of that nonsense And I cared for him and loved him for forty years I have nothing to prove to whispering mouths And that was that Boroma moved on without Jethu in a manner she knew he would approve of She allowed her day to change little waking up at dawn then coming upstairs to wake us up and hurry us on Baba to his office in Dalhousie Ma to her job at 95
PIA GHOSH-ROY  with his hands behind his back, rocking gently on his heels as they weighed and packed. They, in turn, neve...
GEOMETRY 01 the bank and me to school At night even with the three kitchens dinner was always on the ground floor cooked by Boroma It was something Jethu had always insisted on one meal where the three brothers would sit around the same table together with their families So even though Jethu was gone Boroma kept him going Just like she kept his shirts and trousers hanging neatly in her closet Less than a year after Jethu s death Mishtidi and her husband moved back to India and into the room next to Boroma s on the ground floor The house suddenly felt full again and I was happy that Boroma now had Mishtidi to keep her company downstairs But one night I heard Baba telling Ma about some bubble that had burst in America They said that was the reason Mishtidi had come back to India That she and her husband had lost their jobs had had to sell off their house in California A nd no Green Card either The end of their American dream it seems Baba said dragging on his cigarette Well what can you do This house is going through a bad time First Dada s death now Mishti s troubles Ma said Shonir dosha We ll just have to wait for it to pass But whatever shonir dosha was it did not pass Instead it tip toed along the corridors in the dark of the night and crept upstairs to the top floor where Kaku and Kakima lived A few weeks later Kakima stopped coming downstairs for dinner Then one day she packed two large suitcases and asked one of the servants to get a taxi She went back to her parents home and never returned Sometimes I feel like I d imagined it all Kaku and Kakima s wedding the guests the gifts everything because once she was gone I never heard of her again No one ever mentioned her name or what had happened to make her leave But soon after the incident when I refused to join a neighbourhood cricket match some of the boys had laughed and said I was going queer like Kaku This time something told me not to ask Boroma what they meant For a long time after Kakima left Kaku rarely left his room when he got home from work nor did he join us for dinner And then slowly he slid back into the life of a bachelor as if he had known no other Boroma and I were almost near Golpark now walking past rows of synthetic sarees and nagging shopkeepers Didi see lots of new sarees just look at the colours all latest designs Come no we ll give you a good price Arre why don t you just come and see Didi Does it cost anything to see Boroma walked on looking straight ahead She held her jute bag ahead of herself and pushed through the humid heave of people In the bag were hard haggled purchases from the fruit stall two pineapples a watermelon and a bunch of bananas For a minute the bananas reminded me of the monkeys again of their determined darting eyes You re not making us dance with your silly dugdugee music and your banana peel promises you mean old madari their eyes had said 96
GEOMETRY 01  the bank and me to school. At night, even with the three kitchens, dinner was always on the ground floor, coo...
PIA GHOSH ROY When Boroma and I reached the Golpark crossing the string of shops and tarpaulin roofs finally ended and I could see the sky again it looked like rain We would have to cross over to the other side walk past Ramkrishna Mission past the public swimming pools and down Southern Avenue In another ten minutes we d be home just in time for Boroma s TV serial But Boroma didn t cross the road She took me by the hand walked past Mouchak Sweets where people and flies swarmed around wicker baskets filled with freshly fried jalebies and turned left into a dimly lit street lined with slums on one side and shops and houses on the other A ren t we going home Boroma I asked She shook her head There is something I have to do It will only take a few minutes We entered a dark narrow passage that led to one of the houses on the right and knocked on the door I could hear footsteps approaching the wooden padlock being lifted A woman opened the door and ushered us in Das Babu is waiting for you she told Boroma with a smile Inside there was a room with wooden benches and rows of people waiting a doctor s chamber Boroma nudged me towards an empty space on the bench and asked me to wait She put the bag of fruits next to me and followed the woman to a curtained door at the end of the hallway As Boroma held the curtain away and walked in I saw a man seated behind a wooden desk with a bulb hanging above his head throwing shadows that slid down his forehead Why was Boroma visiting a doctor Was she ill She was going to die just like Jethu A woman who outlived her husband was expected to die a little As I waited bits of conversation began to trickle into my ears Everyone was talking in whispers about aches and ailments I heard one man talking about his lifelong trouble with constipation how only Das Babu had been able to cure it As he spoke he lifted his hand and showed the man a large ring on his middle finger a red stone that had no shine There were two women seated in the far corner of the room one complaining to the other about her daughter She s just seventeen Didi and already all this trouble she said fidgeting with a roll of yellowed paper Really I ve given up now I ll do whatever Das Babu suggests after studying her kushti The last word made me look up The room seemed to suddenly shift and change Kushti horoscope This was not a doctor s chamber My eyes fell on a palmistry book on the table a chart on the far wall that showed stars and planets in different positions Das Babu was a palmist A petty fortune teller The ones Boroma called the crutches of a weak mind On the way home Boroma said nothing about our detour and I pretended to count the squares on the footpath We had walked our silences halfway when it started to rain Big drops at first and then in a matter of seconds a diagonal wall of water that slammed down making people break into a run The streets would soon turn to river Southern Avenue with its notorious drainage was said to flood on a dog s piss Boroma hadn t brought an umbrella we d been waiting for it to rain for weeks but 97
PIA GHOSH-ROY  When Boroma and I reached the Golpark crossing, the string of shops and tarpaulin roofs finally ended and I...
GEOMETRY 01 the skies had held back We held hands and hurried towards Bhola s shop for cover Our house was only a couple of minutes away but Boroma would never be seen bunching up her saree and running down the street like the other women were doing now We stood under the canvas canopy which was propped up with two bamboo sticks as Bhola tended to customers The shop which sold everything from cake to calamine lotions was always busy Everybody knew Bhola Just as the rain started thinning and we were about to leave Boroma turned around Bhola ask your wife to come to my house tomorrow morning she said I have some sarees I want to give away She can take the ones she likes Standing there with dirty rainwater pooling around my chappals I felt as if Jethu was dying all over again I wanted to shake Boroma Why was she doing this now Crumbling like this I wanted to hold her tight Tell her that none of it was her fault Giving up coloured clothes and fish wouldn t fix Kaku or Mishtidi s life Didn t she see that But I did nothing said nothing And when we got back home Boroma changed out of her rain soaked clothes into a plain white saree and let go of the life she d been clutching like an umbrella in the wind A few days later Baba and I were walking past Gariahat Market when we saw a small crowd gathered in front of the photo framing shop where men sat on the floor framing pictures of gods and goddesses The framed pictures hung from the shop s doorway in such a way that the gods seemed to be peering into the crowd watching the day s tamasha As I tugged Baba s hand to get closer I heard the familiar tag taga tag tag tagatag of the dugdugee It was the same madari the same monkeys the same shimmery monkey clothes But today they were dancing Even as their eyes darted into the traffic skittered away onto rooftops their feet gave in to the beat of the madari s music Their resolve run over by a hundred cars At the sharp tap tap of the madari s stick one of the monkeys picked up an aluminium bowl and pattered up to the people A few coins clinked in then a few more Shukria shukria thank you said the madari His stick shot out to poke the monkeys reminding them of their manners The monkeys bowed to the crowd their bony spines supple practical The show had ended The straggly crowd clapped and started to disperse taxis honked past and Baba and I walked on From a distance I could hear the dugdugee start off again as the madari tried to lure in a new audience Tag tag taga tag tag tag taga tag 98
GEOMETRY 01  the skies had held back. We held hands and hurried towards Bhola   s shop for cover. Our house was only a cou...
LILY JAMALUDIN is a young Malaysian poet whose work currently focuses on the experience of the body in oppression and liberation Her poetry has been published in plain china a national anthology of best undergraduate writing and The Grinnell Review She has opened for United States national slam poet champion Anis Mojgani volunteered for the DC based poetry organization Split This Rock and was a student of the KL Writer s Workshop Poetry FOR XULHAZ I Every time the machete came down they slashed a knife down their own abdomens everything unravelling fresh crimson ribbon later that night they pray fists clenched to a god they murdered inside themselves II Xulhaz I cannot stop looking at the photo of you with your eyes closed face pointed towards heaven Somebody else s hands cupped around your ears Your expression something like a serenity 99
LILY JAMALUDIN is a young Malaysian poet whose work currently focuses on the experience of the body in oppression and libe...
GEOMETRY 01 or peace though those aren t the words I m looking for Your body was once someone s altar Is still someone s son III My stomach coils I am mourning for the boys who are not able to be boys for the lovers trying to walk each other home Your body was once someone s altar Is still someone s son That morning you thumbed a book of poems and felt the sun on your arms Maybe said a prayer maybe it went something like this IV dear god i am trying to understand why we must fight so hard 100 Lily Jamaludin
GEOMETRY 01  or peace, though those aren   t the words I   m looking for. Your body was once someone   s altar. Is still s...
LILY JAMALUDIN to love so softly V they used the word hacked VI in the photo your face the word I am looking for is sacred 101
LILY JAMALUDIN  to love so softly V. they used the word hacked. VI. in the photo, your face. the word I am looking for is ...
JO CURRIE is a photographer from Auckland New Zealand who spends every available opportunity exploring our world Her work is diverse she shoots weddings families and kids and occasionally she is provided with the opportunity to travel to far f lung places to meet amazing people and eat great food Most recently she travelled to the Bekaa Valley Lebanon as part of a World Vision project and exhibition in aid of the Syrian refugees jocurrie com SNAKE Photograph Galle Sri Lanka CUBAN BOY Photograph A boy in his home in Baracoa Cuba MUSICIANS Photograph Street music in Santiago de Cuba MONKS Photograph Young monks having a shower in a temple near Yangon Myanmar PRIEST Photograph An orthodox priest who presides over one of the stone churches in Lalibella Ethiopia
JO CURRIE is a photographer from Auckland, New Zealand who spends every available opportunity exploring our world. Her wor...
JOSHUA MORRIS is a trans non binary individual from New Zealand who loves all things poetry They are currently enrolled in the International Institute of Modern Letters at the Victoria University of Wellington for their Masters They have been published in Mayhem Brief Cadaverine The Fem and Poetry NZ They will write until they re dead Poetry A HISTORY IN KISSING HOLES The sun through your car window parked at the end of a cul de sac recently resealed I can smell the tar and there are bits of road stuck to the bottom of my feet makes a shadow of your face eyes glowing in the dusk It has been raining inside my brain and the clouds all look like you The water is thin and quick splashing the frontal lobe I m getting fuzzy And language is playing catch with my tongue You turn your head to look at me There is an eyelash on your cheek in a tundra of pink that takes on different hues as you pass from a space in the light and out of it Your hair cut short it once reached your lower back thin straight wisps guarding your ears connect your heart breaks on tough as fuck hair 109
JOSHUA MORRIS is a trans non-binary individual from New Zealand, who loves all things poetry. They are currently enrolled ...
GEOMETRY 01 you need scissors to move on with your life to gut the demons that look like you but are not I hold my hands out wrists facing the sky worked on by blades And the smile you give me says You want to finger paint something in your own blood You need scissors to move on with your life to gut the demons that look like you but are not Joshua Morris 110
GEOMETRY 01  you need scissors to move on with your life to gut the demons that look like you but are not. I hold my hands...
BRETON DUKES lives in Dunedin New Zealand with his wife and two boys His first book Bird North and Other Stories was published in 2011 His second book Empty Bones was published in 2014 He is currently completing his third collection Fiction GREG IS GOD Greg s on the floor in their bedroom He s got his phone for the time but also he s using it as a torch so he can write the timing of Amy s contractions In a separate column he s detailing vomit Since 12 04am Amy s vomited dry retched into their Pyrex mixing bowl nine times She wanted lights off She didn t want any more Florence and the fucking Machine She s wedged his beautiful young wife in a beach toy sort of way between the top corner of the bed and the bedside table She s asleep but when contractions happen she wakes and makes a sound like someone s at her with scissors The last was 2 52 Before that 2 47 It s now 3 01 so the next won t be far away After it happens Greg will go to the window and crack the curtain to make sure no one s outside fooling with the car He s worried when it comes to it his Volvo won t start or he ll crash driving to hospital During this next bit he s fairly sure Amy and or the baby will die Dad died When he was eleven Mum and Amy always say that s why he left starting a family so long You re worried you ll die on the little one is the way Amy puts it Amy s right a lot She s making a science of it lately But on this she s wrong Greg s worried they ll die And that then he ll be alone He lights up his phone It s 3 02am Yesterday was Amy s last work day This wasn t supposed to happen for three more weeks so she was hoping to have time getting the nursery right and shopping for the final things but while Greg was heading home from work she called and told him about her waters I thought I d just leaked a little pee but then there was this caramel smell Okay he d said God What do I do I ll meet you at home I have to call Fiona Should I let Mum know Either way a baby s coming I love you 111
BRETON DUKES lives in Dunedin, New Zealand, with his wife and two boys. His first book,     Bird North and Other Stories  ...
GEOMETRY 01 But she hadn t heard or wasn t listening because her response had been Can you get PowerAde Fiona their lead maternity carer Fiona with her facelift Not necessarily the way you d expect a midwife to look Greg had said after first meeting her You re just old an old fuddy duddy Amy had said giving him a rare hug Rare because this last few months they re not getting on Arguments Silences Less sharing basically zero touching when was the last time they talked about anything other than the baby And recently Greg saw her with a different cell phone Or thought he did Hers has a white case but this one looked red When he asked though she said something about him not wearing his contacts and early on set dementia which is stuff she s coming out with more and more His age decrepitude their age difference forty six vs twenty nine Anyway she was right he didn t have his contacts in But it the phone was still something to worry over late at night Also he worried what sort of Dad he d be and about Mum dying about his little family being taken from him about being cornered by the same dark looming world that turned up when Dad died Late at night Like now 3 04am All s quiet Amy looks asleep Greg gets up and goes to the window A cat s out there on the car but the car will be fine He s just had it serviced Everything s going to be fine He creeps back to his place on the carpet When Amy called Fiona advised her to go home and monitor the contractions When there were four or more in ten minutes she was to call from the hospital 3 05am Amy hiccoughs and shifts position Oooohhh she says coming to life Greg gets up and sits with her He tries to take her hand God she says Ooohhh Breathing in through her nose she sort of sobs and grabs Greg s wrist hard Fuck she says Whoah you re okay whoah he says Oh fuck Oh no He puts his head close to hers Try and breathe breathe through it But so far he hasn t said anything that s helped He s a little hurt in a crisis he s always been good at comfort It s one of the things that differentiated him from the younger men Amy was going around with when they met Empathy She s shivering now as the thing lets go and he gets the blanket replacing it around her shoulders Closing her eyes she lies back and then lunges forward again as Greg brings up the bowl but though she makes the sound and action of vomiting nothing comes Oohhh This time she lets him hold her hand It gives him the confidence to be firm I think we should go to hospital Amy Amy I don t want not with you Usually she s sure and precise but here her voice is a vague whisper She finds her way back into the corner and closes her eyes He looks at her still holding her hand 112
GEOMETRY 01  But she hadn   t heard or wasn   t listening, because her response had been,    Can you get PowerAde     Fion...
BRETON DUKES like she ll suddenly clear this pregnancy thing and tell him exactly what to do He s scared and a little sorry for himself No one said it was going to be like dying Actually is this normal They went to antenatal classes but they never covered vomit Isn t labour basically an endurance event Like swimming the Cook Strait How can her physiology sustain vomiting You couldn t vomit your way from Wellington to Picton Sports drink and bananas wouldn t save you You d die Gulls would come over for your eyes and surface creatures would circulate while the deep water types would wait there as your chum sifted down Back on the floor needing to break these thoughts Greg lights his phone and looks at the data He s been feeling hyper alert but now his brain s fighting to stay awake fighting like some octopi long tentacles wrapped around a dark kayak a ship named YOUR WIFE S IN LABOUR STAY AWAKE A aarrrgghh aarrgghhh she breathes in through her nose and lets go another A aarrgh The hardly been touched PowerAde s at his feet Unconsciously he s got up beside her Oohhhhh she goes as the thing passes leaving her shivering and looking into him and it s not really Amy in there it s some Amy shaped husk and trying for firm he says A my the hospital No He s holding up the bucket and she says it again as again she s speared and vomits sticky spit he fingers from her lips while at the same time trying not to let his eyes close A nd you ve bought everything Mum had said when Only eight hours ago might as well have been forty years Don t worry about that Why ask about that he d said Enjoy the news He was usually reserved with his mum but here he was sat at the dining table talking loud and smiling at Amy Evening sun was in their open plan dining kitchen living area Crumbed fish with butter sauce wedges a tomato and herb salad another thing Amy had always appreciated were his kitchen skills and what it was more like was a tasty early dinner before an overnight flight to Tahiti say tell me you ve got a bassinet and plenty of bibs What about a car seat I ve got a bassinet he d said confidently We ve got everything I was just online ordering one of those things that lets you be in one room and hear what s happening in another Walkie talkies He d forked a piece of gurnard No Mum some sort of communication device Well just just be calm Be calm for Amy I ll start driving now Keep me updated And right away with the fish still on his fork both Greg and his mum were crying but then Amy who d left her tea and was on the couch contracted and Greg said he had to go Next time you see me I ll be a dad Which had sounded good at the time but now with his wife and no doubt child dying it seems sort of presumptuous and really none of this none of what s happening to Amy seems like it has anything to do with the making of a new life 113
BRETON DUKES  like she   ll suddenly clear this pregnancy thing and tell him exactly what to do. He   s scared and a littl...
GEOMETRY 01 3 19am What Was he asleep He s still on the bed with the bowl and he lets it down lighting up his phone as he does so the floor and PowerAde go aquarium blue He turns on the torch She s still there Her face looks sort of fresh damp and healthy and her breathing s different a little easier if anything Getting down on the floor he lights up the page of numbers and feels some relief Things have settled He stifles a cough not wanting to disrupt her Shouldn t she sleep Shouldn t he It s going to be a hell of a day the biggest day of your SHE S SUPPOSED TO BE CONTRACTING HOW WILL THE BABY GET OUT IF HER BODY ISN T PUSHING He leaps across to the light switch to properly light their room then leaps right back saying A my Amy Hey She s sweating but also shivering A my AMY Dehydration all that vomiting dehydration s happening It s closing down her labour Death death s coming to steal away his little family Greg stands there gripping his knees waiting for what Mum A MY Lunging he throws the bedside table aside and then squatting dives his hands beneath her rocks back and forth to settle her into his chest gets his feet right and then bellowing at the muscle in his old back and legs he stands stands turns and staggers ricocheting off the door frame into the hall and what s in his head is Hang on Hang on when what comes from his mouth is Hey Ya Hey Ya Hey Ya as Amy s weight carries him tripping and stumbling down their newly carpeted hall out the front door into the night At the front door a man in shorts and a red cap is smiling and holding something a brain coloured box moving in the middle of a razor thin goatee his small mouth says Gidday mate A courier Deprived of sleep Greg was trying to place the man from the last five days Is he for example the Glaswegian anaesthetist with bad breath and the epidural needle Or the laundry orderly who warned them off stealing hospital linen Nope just a dude delivering a parcel Amidst brand new life you forget the earth s usual whir A parcel says the man in confirmation holding out the electronic sign here gadget Baby we ve just had a baby Greg says grinning explaining his vacant stare by shaking his hands up by his ears Wicked says the man have a good day he says his rat s tail lifting from the back of his sleeveless polo as he takes off Carefully Greg closes the front door Something else Amy loved was this modern house and his good job his investments brain fried with a one hundred percent healthy baby asleep in her bassinet with Mum here to witness his triumphant participation in the unfolding of new life with battered Amy made reliant by the Caesarean with her frankly love struck by their baby and by him leaving the ward this morning she again relayed the heroism this time to the charge nurse of his 114
GEOMETRY 01  3 19am. What  Was he asleep  He   s still on the bed with the bowl and he lets it down, lighting up his phone...
BRETON DUKES carrying her from their house today at least Greg is God Going back into the living area he holds up the parcel You forget the normal world Amy s on the couch in her dressing gown What is it You looked just like your father saying that says his mum from the kitchen The boiling kettle frames her head with steam like she s on fire Greg ignores her Sometimes when things are going well for him she ll get critical or a little mean She s right for a crisis must be where Greg gets his strength but when he s on top confident and hopeful she ll sometimes edge into attack mode The best plan is to ignore Greg sits heavily beside Amy and kisses her neck It ll feel like I m rummaging in your handbag he whispers Taking the parcel she smiles It s what the obstetrician said before making the incision that allowed access to Amy s womb He and Amy always used to have jokes running between them but lately they ve dried and he wants them re started He needs his wife and new daughter radiating love His family will be as tight and secure as a padlock A padlock glued he thinks no encrusted encrusted with sea shells and emeralds He wants to tell her this and he tells himself he would if it weren t for Mum prepping chamomile in the kitchen Instead he kisses Amy again and sits back letting his head flop on the headrest Sun s streaming in the drawn triple stacked sliding doors Two bees hover over the deck tempted perhaps by the array of pastel pink baby clothes scattering the floor like petals The kettle cuts Outside someone s using a mower Summer s last mow Greg thinks to say as Amy unpacks the what the communication device he bought online The communication device he says instead How will the baby impact on your reaction to stress says Mum pouring boiled water looking not at Greg but at the parts of the thing Amy s holding I ll install it I ll sneak down I want a look anyway goes Greg gathering the transmitter part of the device from his wife smiling and holding it at Mum as if somewhere within its chordy mauve glory there s a reasonable response to her question Down their hall he creeps There are photos on the white walls Mum Him and Amy Him and Amy being married Higher up is Dad His large forehead The studded ear unusual in rural New Zealand back then But today Greg s interest lies in the living and quietly he opens the door and steps into the nursery Elephants a mobile shift on the new air The egg shaped room thermometer glows Bending he plugs in the transmitter and a neon green light lights And then savouring every step he crosses to the bassinet Here here she is Eyelashes piggy beautiful cheeks Swaddled in such a way as to make her head only Not an angel s head but close enough And what he loves most is the blood smell of her scalp And does he dare He does bending he raises his arms a giant bird of prey and beaks down with his nose and unshaven mouth sniffing and kissing and then drawing back and up soaring really his arms still flared is she Angela or Christine 115
BRETON DUKES  carrying her from their house , today at least, Greg is God. Going back into the living area, he holds up th...
GEOMETRY 01 Mum s on the couch talking as he re enters the living area When he was young before what happened with Eric Greg was always shooting things she says smiling at Amy blurry exhausted Amy who hasn t moved from the couch all day We grew up rurally Greg s first eleven years were his Mum says grinning like it might be new scandalous information Greg looks at the mug steaming near the fruit bowl and the peonies that arrived with a card from the firm Well done Daddy and cuts his Mum off with an upbeat A nyone for a real drink I was thinking beer Amy totally committed to breast feeding Amy shakes her head In her eyes and the way she holds herself there s some of the don t be an old fool tone she was using on him before the baby but Greg decides not to notice He s still high from his encounter with little nameless and for a moment he thinks that that Nameless spelled differently somehow could maybe work but then he acknowledges he s exhausted and semidrunk already at just the thought of the pilsner he s pouring into the pint glass kept in The thing about a mask is the skin around it the hair anything organic all sort of grows together like vines in a jungle Making mask removal less than straightforward And not because of superficial tissue Subterranean viscera might also get entangled and what would the consequence of that be Brain removal Breton Dukes the freezer for just this sort of occasion Actually shouldn t he as new Dad be having cigars with mates He gets on fine with his colleagues though no one there knows him But who does Whoever has Mum Sort of but not really With her he plays a role the financially successful socially quiet loyal only child They re close in that one knows day to day what the other s been doing but in terms of thought patterns in terms of drives Mum s clueless Pose a scenario in which Greg s deepest motivations are tested cocaine crazed lab rat at a fork in the maze sort of stuff and see if Mum predicts behaviour Drinking off beer froth he looks at her Well could she No nope And Amy When they met he figured she wanted a certain man Interested Grown Capable Caring wanting to harpoon the idea she might see him as fatherly he gulps ice cold beer A hhh he says They the women look Mum looses a disapproving stare Unconsciously he takes up the dish cloth and wipes the bench Really the guts of it the question you d fast arrive at in a shrink s 116
GEOMETRY 01  Mum   s on the couch, talking, as he re-enters the living area.    When he was young, before what happened wi...
BRETON DUKES office is could Greg predict his own behaviour And bullet pointed directly beneath that Does he know himself Has he ever Always he s gone through life moulding himself to different environments and the people in them He s not inhuman he operates within your normal range of feelings emotions motivations doesn t he He looks at the tall glass Low down bubbles kick free surging for the surface What was it thirty five years ago When Dad did his thing Since then you d definitely argue Greg s worn a mask He sips beer The thing about a mask is the skin around it the hair anything organic all sort of grows together like vines in a jungle Making mask removal less than straightforward And not just because of superficial tissue Subterranean viscera might also get entangled and what would the consequence of that be Brain removal Greg looks at the glass a moment and then drinks deep Tired That s what he is This sort of unspooling never gets him anywhere Put a tricky client in front of him and yes he could explain the gears his brain will move through but for something more base something life and death where a man s true self is exposed well he wouldn t want to forecast that He drinks again again with determination and with most of the beer gone and needing to act rather than think he swivels opens the fridge and re arms with another pilsner He s celebrating the new baby the new baby and his new status His parent status will unmask him He ll be safely unmasked under the weight of parenthood under this broad umbrella of responsibility his daughter will help him discover who he really is Though parked right up against that thought is a cold moment when Greg wonders if Who he is is something he wants to know Think about Dad And what he did Not just at the bank but to you know Greg s ten year old self Fingering his own earring he drinks more beer You don t want to get into a history repeats scenario but then tuning back into the world he s Dad now he looks through the beer glass towards the sinking sun and then he rounds out of the kitchen and sits between Mum and Amy When do we erect those kiddy gate things he says But Amy s not listening What did happen with Eric Eric Dad entering Countrywide bank with the 202 But Mum never starts the story there You want to begin with Eric s parents and Greg zones out Amy s heard it before many times it s titillating the bag of money the inexperienced cop If she was still pregnant maybe he d intervene tell them it s not a story he wants his unborn daughter hearing not that he didn t tell Amy on pretty much their first date no doubt there s romance in a bank robbery shoot out though when you think on the details the dirty rubber band around the five dollar bills the pastry smell in the bank from the tea rooms Dad dying on that ugly carpet it s really nothing to get excited by He drinks beer Anyway yeah if she was still pregnant maybe it d be Hey wouldn t it be best if we put on a little Bach Instead what he does is drink off the last of the first beer and start on the second straight from the bottle blocking Mum s story with his other memory of the day Dad died Walking up back behind their house Greg came across one of the Frasers sheep 117
BRETON DUKES  office, is, could Greg predict his own behaviour  And, bullet-pointed directly beneath that  Does he know hi...
GEOMETRY 01 Turned over bloated maggots ear blood and asthmary sort of breathing Normally he d have had the 202 but that day obviously it was elsewhere Anyway like Mum says he was used to killing Rabbits wild cats magpies But that was with the rifle This sheep needed to be put out of its misery and all he had were his bare hands Even with little animals when he d winged them or whatever he d always use another bullet When Dad say would just twist off their head A condition of being allowed to hunt was not wasting ammunition another was killing cleanly not Leaving bloody animals wriggling around the neighbours paddocks bleeding and screaming and bringing gulls over So Greg got a rock Greg who s near halfway on his second beer Drinking from the bottle this time he belches and cues into the communication device which is releasing a staticky hum while Mum s only up to Back then Eric s father was what we called strict The first rock wasn t big enough but the second came down heavier and the sheep seemed to die its eyes closed it went still And here it s not like there was a moment of reflection on life s sanctity or anything Maybe because of the animal s size Greg felt even more nauseous and wide awake than normal Even with a rabbit he felt uneasy Like how would he describe it now Like some ancient part of you starts vibrating There s nothing inhuman about it the action the firing of a rifle or in this case the hurling of a rock it s all human it s almost programmed Same say as his daughter s feeding reflex Anyway it what he d done to the sheep didn t stop him walking to the hill top where towards town he could hear a police siren where he could see the empty space Dad s truck was usually parked in where Mum was picking carrots or at least that s his memory of what he saw and heard He d been up that hill a thousand times and maybe these days he s drawn his memory from what he d usually encounter there dried out sheep shit patchy grass but anyway a clear true memory is walking back down the hill and hearing that the sheep had come back to life hearing hard breathing as he cornered and then seeing its head up off the dirt Knocked out and paralysed that s all the second rock had done There s another knock at the door You can hear it in the lounge but also from a different disconcerting angle it comes over the monitor Mum stops talking and looks at Greg s beer which somewhere along the line he s finished but is still gripping and then at Amy who says That ll be Fiona Greg puts his glass on the floor but then picks it up and follows Amy who crouched like she has a handful of eggs at her stomach is going for the door and why think about killing that sheep or killing at all when new life stirs in the nursery Rinsing the glass he looks at the time 6 04pm Pizza s being delivered at 6 30pm He rang this afternoon and set the money by the sideboard What you don t want to be thinking about and this comes directly from antenatal class during your first days 118
GEOMETRY 01  Turned over, bloated, maggots, ear blood, and asthmary sort of breathing. Normally he   d have had the .202, ...
BRETON DUKES out of hospital is cooking And experiencing elation at his thoughtfulness enjoying his beer head and seeing the way poor Amy s crabbing towards the front door he s amazed he ever questioned her over that red phone Love s what they share And commitment is there a bigger commitment than sharing a child Within this warm spool of thought he s gone into the fridge for another beer and is drinking as Fiona comes in on tiptoes grinning clapping quiet little claps up by her chin followed by a proud looking Amy and it s clear they ve been in to see Nameless and accepting Fiona s applause Greg raises his fist as he lowers the bottle So what s Fiona drinking today he asks like there s been numerous occasions where they ve shared all manner of beverage But she waves her hand thanks but no thanks and Amy shows her to a chair at the dining table and Greg s instinct is to shake his beer Formula One style and spray the room and if Mum weren t right now passing the kitchen she s been talking about a shower all day then maybe he would Instead he goes out the kitchen past where midwife and new mother are looking at something at the booklet Fiona had tucked in her armpit and retakes the couch stretching out with his beer on his chest glorying in the order he s got his life in bathing in the communicator s hum though what s this The sound of Mum in the bathroom by the nursery the sound of her quietly good old Mum turning on the shower Sipping beer he goes back to the sheep but why think about that About death Of course death is never far from new life and new life s flourishing in the nursery flourishing too in his newly tiled two person shower because for her age Mum reports perfect health and there look the last sun s catching in Amy s hair making a halo of her young head If he wants to gulp the beer he has to lift his head getting it going down the right pipe Forget the sheep it s better to think about Nameless next feed about sitting here with Mum watching the little one suckle The circle of life it s a clich but it s as good a description as any he thinks drinking the next section of beer with his eyes closed He wakes up to God talking A female God Greg s on the couch and there s this far off voice someone talking to him down a drain pipe in a world of his own he hears Amy It s his wife Amy A my he says Nothing Just the moon in the window hanging there hugely from the stars What s the time he asks but it might as well be the beer bottle on the floor he s talking to because the voice is Amy s but she s not in the room her voice is coming via the communication device She must be feeding Nameless while talking on the phone but to who Yeah ha ha exactly he hears Ha ha He sits up On his soles the wooden floor is still warm from the day of sun The pizza s obviously been delivered because that s the smell That and the beer his body s processed 119
BRETON DUKES  out of hospital, is cooking. And experiencing elation at his thoughtfulness, enjoying his beer-head, and see...
GEOMETRY 01 just you know presuming he s her father after the way we ve been getting on Cold fills Greg s neck spilling into his guts She doesn t look a thing like him Greg stands I don t love him she says and then laughs When she laughs her whole body moves so now little Nameless will be vibrating gently like the nipple she s feeding on is powered by a propeller I don t want to hurt him Stood still before his Canadian leather couch his body outlined by the moon his narrow shoulder and narrow legs Greg looks closer to sixty But when he moves towards the talking it s with a predator s cold eyed intent The third heavier rock slamming it down on the sheep s skull there d been a decisive sound and a wing of blood wasn t the thing that day No The thing that day wasn t the sheep it was another almost dead animal In the rush to give his mum the news about Eric someone coming up the drive maybe the two policemen or the man from the church or the neighbours with their fish and chips and Fanta had bowled the cat Greg had left everyone in the lounge and gone outside and there she was crying and kicking around Holding the back legs he d swung her into the washing line pole People would have thought it had something to do with Dad but it hadn t Killing the sheep was hard Killing the cat having killed the sheep was easier With practice it gets easier Repetition is I don t love him I love He s in the hall now It s her voice not the version piped through the communicator and there s a lightness to it a pleasant jingling up and down she s never used on him and he doesn t know what he ll do or say whether he s coming to the rescue or coming for something else but either way the memory of that cat and that sheep combined with his dad s reckless genetics have him going through the door with the sort of ferocious energy women need to deploy during delivery 120
GEOMETRY 01        just, you know, presuming he   s her father, after the way we   ve been getting on.    Cold fills Greg ...
S A M AV E R IS is a short story writer who lives in Christchurch New Zealand with his wife and daughter His stories have been published in Psychopomp Magazine Flash Frontier and others and two of his stories were highly commended in the 2016 New Zealand National Flash Fiction Day competition You can find him online at samaveris wordpress com or on twitter sam_serif Fiction MILE END She was thinner than when he saw her last but her lips were the same She looked straight through him while she begged him for change He knew that trick eye contact leaves you bitter She saw him smiled and left her Tesco bags on the street On the tube to Mile End they sat close and watched themselves in the quivering black reflections in the glass He had a studio in a tower block It had a bin schedule and a wardrobe full of shirts After they kissed she turned away and told him she was sick He was too he took pills every day He showed her the rows of blister packs and brown bottles He shook one it sounded like a baby s rattle His phone beeped so he swallowed three green capsules and one blue without water She didn t know what day it was He let her stay He swallowed three green capsules and one blue without water She didn t know what day it was He let her stay Sam Averis When she got sick she left He found his fridge empty his laptop gone On the way back to town he closed his eyes and felt the numbing rattle of the square old District Line trains He found her where he had before She d used so he steadied her while she walked When they got back she was hungry for him Her hip bones dug into his skin and he thought she might break Afterwards she fell asleep so he went for food 121
S A M AV E R IS is a short story writer who lives in Christchurch, New Zealand, with his wife and daughter. His stories ha...
Before the door was fully open he smelled vomit She was on the lino her face flecked with colourful pieces of half digested capsule She looked up and said that she just wanted to be well like him He washed her then they sat together She leaned into him and he forgot the walls and the ceiling and they were alone on the street and nothing else mattered again For now commercial joy and terror are merely vicarious shibboleths discarded with jaffa packets as we walk into the light Owen Marshall 122
Before the door was fully open he smelled vomit. She was on the lino, her face flecked with colourful pieces of half-diges...
OWEN MARSHALL is one of New Zealand s leading fiction writers He has held the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship in Menton France and won the Deutz Medal for Fiction at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards for his novel Harlequin Rex Marshall has received the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit ONZM for Services to Literature the Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit CNZM and the Prime Minister s Award for Fiction Marshall has published or edited almost thirty books including novels short stories and poetry He lives in Timaru with his wife Jackie and they have two adult daughters Poetry AT THE MOVIES Within soft flitting theatre colours it s not the screen to which I look but the mirror of a grandchild s features Untutored responses so unconsciously displayed with open mouthed concentration as she watches primed gags blatant pathos the obligatory yet futile menace and sunset ending All this is given rapt attention and reactions pass as a swift cavalcade across the supple beauty of her small face Soon enough will come vicissitudes not so easily forgotten experience that scars within though nothing outwardly amiss For now commercial joy and terror are merely vicarious shibboleths discarded with jaffa packets as we walk into the light 123
OWEN MARSHALL is one of New Zealand   s leading fiction writers. He has held the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship i...
Where lines meet Leilani Tamu Brittany Shutts Isabel Bermudez Ruby Porter Bronwyn Waipuka Callander Shayla Lawson Joshua Johnston Lauren Foley Roz Ray Daniel Lassell Ruth Phipps Rata Gordon Ali Rachel Pearl Jane Flett Saquina Karla C Guiam Natasha Tynes Jem Yoshioka Armel Dagorn Karen An Hwei Lee Pia Ghosh Roy Lily Jamaludin Jo Currie Joshua Morris Breton Dukes Sam Averis Owen Marshall
Where lines meet.  Leilani Tamu     Brittany Shutts     Isabel Bermudez Ruby Porter     Bronwyn Waipuka-Callander     Shay...