444 Slices
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Medium 9780253019059

Hometown & Family

Edited and with an Introduction by Owen Indiana University Press ePub

Back to the Midwest and its long, sad wind—and to a story about a little boy and some wild roses, and a blue racer and a whipping.

CEDAR RAPIDS, Ia.—It was soon after crossing into Iowa, coming south, that I gradually became conscious of the wind.

I don’t know whether you know that long, sad wind that blows so steadily across the thousands of miles of Midwest flat lands in the summertime. If you don’t, it will be hard for you to understand the feeling I have about it. Even if you do know it, you may not understand. Because maybe the wind is only a symbol.

But to me the summer wind in the Midwest is one of the most melancholy things in all life. It comes from so far, and it blows so gently and yet so relentlessly; it rustles the leaves and the branches of the maple trees in a sort of symphony of sadness, and it doesn’t pass on and leave them still; no, it just keeps coming, like the infinite flow of Old Man River.

You could, and you do, wear out your lifetime on the dusty plains with that wind of futility blowing in your face. And when you are worn out and gone, the wind, still saying nothing, still so gentle and sad and timeless, is still blowing across the prairies, and will blow in the faces of the little men that follow you, forever. That is it, the endless of it; it is a symbol of eternity.

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Medium 9781938901249

17. Of Sword Fights and Stolen Kisses

Susan Spano Roaring Forties Press ePub

17

OF SWORD FIGHTS AND STOLEN KISSES

Standing in the rain atop Carlton Hill, I could see the icy blue Firth of Forth. When the wind tried to grab my coat, I spun around and found the tapestry of Edinburgh at my feet, built up solidly between city and bay. But when I looked through my mind’s eye, I could see the capital of the wild, green kingdom that 17-year-old Mary Stuart inherited from her father, King James V of Scotland.

Everyone who comes here, it seems, knows about the hapless Scottish queen whose execution for treason in 1587 at the behest of her cousin, Elizabeth I of England, has inspired books, plays, movies, and continuing debate. When Elizabeth died childless in 1603, Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland, was summoned to the English throne, uniting two incessantly warring realms into the nation we now know as Great Britain.

Once upon a time, I read every book about Mary in the library, most of them fictionalized accounts of her life that filled in the blanks left by history with sword fights and stolen kisses. To me, she was a brave and beautiful 16th-century Princess Diana, ruled by her heart, ensnarled in events she couldn’t control.

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Medium 9781574412086

10. Ray Gonzales, “Tortas Locas” from The Underground Heart

Edited by David Taylor University of North Texas Press PDF

Chapter 10

Ray Gonzales

Tortas Locas

Ray Gonzalez is the author of nine books of poetry. Turtle Pictures

(Arizona, 2000), a mixed-genre text, received the 2001 Minnesota Book

Award for Poetry. His poetry has appeared in the 1999, 2000, and 2003 editions of The Best American Poetry (Scribners) and The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses 2000 (Pushcart Press). “Tortas Locas” is taken from his collection of essays, The Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden Landscape

(Arizona, 2002), which received the 2003 Carr P. Collins/ Texas Institute of Letters Award for Best Book of Non-fiction, was named one of ten Best

Southwest Books of the Year by the Arizona Humanities Commission, named one of the Best Non-fiction Books of the Year by the Rocky Mountain

News, named a Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Memoir, and selected as a Book of the Month by the El Paso Public Library. His other non-fiction book is Memory Fever (University of Arizona Press, 1999), a memoir about growing up in the Southwest. He has written two collections of short stories,

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Medium 9780253018632

Ipanema · Poetry

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

after Catarina Paraguaçu (d. 1586)

All birth begins with names The owner of one name conducts electricity with the owner of another name A new name is born like stentorian stanza Bred from the borrowed tongue of its speakers

You bear the name ‘dangerous waters’ for what the Tupinambá called their coast before Dom João fled Bonaparte and issued lexicon by royal decree

A tiny wave born under the sun’s aegis Struggling in these depths The two of you You and your name

I remember my uncle painting blue and yellow geometries on the kashi (If I am not a Muslim then why does a Muslim face stare back at me from the turquoise sheen of these tiles?)

Je ne suis pas musulmane (Turquoise, noun, from feminine turqueise, ‘brought to western Europe through Turkey’)

You are the isthmus of Prospero (‘Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails’) The isthmus of Iansã for whom the women in white bathe church steps The isthmus of Gaza whose gate lies as an awning above your head and a grave beneath your feet

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Medium 9781743603604

In Swaziland

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

A lot of people are not at all sure where Swaziland is. There is no shame in that: there will always be places that any of us might find hard to locate on the map. I am less sure of where all the various ‘-stans’ are, even if I can put my finger unerringly on Afghanistan and Pakistan. Of course even the most tolerant of us will feel vaguely hurt when we encounter people who have no idea of the location of our own countries. I have met people on my travels with no idea where Scotland, my homeland, is. I have been complimented on my ability to speak English. I have been asked whether we ever have elections, and so on: geographical uncertainty appears to have survived the proliferation of information that marks the wired age.

Of course there is a good excuse for some forms of this unawareness. In the case of at least some countries, there have been changes of name that cannot have helped. This was a major issue in Africa, where colonial names were shrugged off – understandably – on the attainment of independence. So those who knew where Basutoland was might be forgiven for not realising that present-day Lesotho is in exactly the same place. Similarly, you will search the modern map in vain for Bechuanaland, Northern Rhodesia or Nyasaland (respectively modern Botswana, Zambia and Malawi). There is a book on the subject, in fact, Whatever Happened to Tanganyika, in which Harry Campbell explains the fate of many of the country names with which those of us with stamp albums used to be so familiar.

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Medium 9781743603604

Saved by a Camel

Berendt, John Lonely Planet Publications ePub

You are not what I was hoping for,’ the terrifying face of my boss was saying. ‘I’m not sure you’re cut out for the fashion world.’ This news was not unsurprising. Shortly after graduating from university with a science degree, I’d somehow talked my way into a middle-management position at a venerable fashion magazine. Though I’d always fancied myself something of an expert when it came to clothing, once I’d arrived I felt more like the country cousin in a Jane Austen tale who marches into society in all the wrong getup. I was thin, but not emaciated. I’d never had a manicure nor spent extravagantly on an outfit. I wore little makeup and my hair was long and unruly and decidedly not sleek. I was a sartorial train wreck.

My boss, the editor-in-chief, was six feet tall and dreadful. Her smile, which was daily more endangered in my presence, was a sneer. She had two obscenely expensive designer suits that she wore every other day with a string of pearls – same suits, same pearls. Without fail she would down an entire bottle of wine at lunchtime alone in her glass office, and following that she would go on the warpath. By 1:30pm, doom crept through the halls like nerve gas.

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Medium 9780253356864

6. Colors

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

“Colours spur us to philosophize,” Wittgenstein once observed, but what are to make of Thoreau’s prodigality with them? In “The Ponds,” he begins a description of Walden by casually remarking that “All our Concord waters have two colors at least, one when viewed at a distance, and another, more proper, close at hand” (121). He doesn’t leave the matter there. The ensuing paragraph assembles twenty-nine separate mentions of color to suggest how the neighboring ponds and rivers appear under different conditions and from different perspectives: blue, dark slate-color, green, as green as grass, the color of the sky, a yellowish tint, light green, uniform dark green, vivid green, verdure, blue mixed with yellow, the color of its iris, a darker blue than the sky itself, a matchless and indescribable blue, more cerulean than the sky itself, original dark green, muddy, vitreous greenish blue, colorless … as … air, green tint, black or very dark brown, a yellowish tinge, alabaster whiteness.

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Medium 9780253000958

Beauty

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

In memory, I wait beside Eva in the vestibule of the church to play my bit part as father of the bride. She is supposed to remain hidden from the congregation until her queenly entrance, but in her eagerness to see what’s going on up front she leans forward to peek around the edge of the half-closed door. The satin roses appliquéd to her gown catch the light as she moves, and the toes of her pale silk shoes peep out from beneath the hem. The flower girls watch her every motion. Twins a few days shy of their third birthday, they flounce their unaccustomed frilly skirts, twirl their bouquets, and stare with wide eyes down the great length of carpet leading through the avenue of murmuring people.

Eva hooks a hand on my elbow while the three bridesmaids fuss over her, fixing the gauzy veil, spreading the long ivory train of her gown, tucking into her bun a loose strand of hair, which glows the color of honey filled with sunlight. Clumsy in my rented finery—patent leather shoes that are a size too small and starched shirt and stiff black tuxedo—I stand among these gorgeous women like a crow among doves. I realize they are gorgeous not because they carry bouquets or wear silk dresses, but because the festival of marriage has slowed time down until any fool can see their glory.

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Medium 9780253018632

Josefa Diago and the Origins of Cuba’s Gangá Traditions

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

Emma Christopher

IN THE LATE 1830s or early 1840s, a girl who would later be christened Josefa was loaded aboard a slave ship in Africa. We do not know her original name. Like so much else of her life, it was jettisoned during her journey, considered irrelevant by those who held her captive. But the girl, like many of her shipmates, had a secret. Her heart was filled with treasure—songs and dances that tied her to her homeland, irrefutable proof of her identity and a buffer against the depersonalization of slavery.

We know how much Josefa cherished her songs and dances because even today, 170 or so years later, her descendants in Cuba still perform them. Now rather divorced of their original meanings, they are sung in languages the singers can no longer identify, intermixed with more recent compositions in Spanish. Yet they are rightly a matter of great pride, and regardless of how much has been lost they are a powerful assertion of identity. This identity posits the singers not just as people of African origin and people whose ancestors survived slavery, but as members of the Gangá-Longobá, a variant group within the larger Afro-Cuban population and even within that, a sub-group of the Gangá. It is an identity created in the Americas from the upheavals of their forebears.

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Medium 9781771870702

Winter: Lamp in a Gloom

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

Winter
Lamp in a Gloom

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Medium 9780253356864

31. Ruins

Robert B. Ray Indiana University Press ePub

In “Former Inhabitants and Winter Visitors,” Thoreau observes, “I am not aware that any man has ever built on the spot which I occupy,” a statement that provokes a creed:

Deliver me from a city built on the site of a more ancient city, whose materials are ruins, whose gardens cemeteries. The soil is blanched and accursed there. (178)

Walden, however, a book so full of allusions that it requires extensive footnotes, is itself an edifice “constructed on the site of a more ancient city,” the “heroic books” (71) Thoreau so often celebrates. In his repudiation of the Old World’s cities and his desire for a fresh start, Thoreau is typically American. But his reverence for older writers and their sacred texts, his devotion to learning, resemble a classicist’s deference. By using the boards from James Collins’s shanty for his own cabin, Thoreau had shown that he could build something new—something better, cleaner, more “economical”—out of something old. In building Walden, he intended to do the same thing.

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Medium 9780253018571

Hypothecation

IU Press Journals Indiana University Press ePub

IF I TOLD you this was a ghost story, would you want to read it? If I said it was a serious academic treatment of prisons and profits, aimed to moderate the specter of privatization, would you drop it cold or grip it tighter? What if I have simply written you a letter—a wistful rumination on loss and the perception of loss, on truth and rumor, and the deep truth that resides within rumor?

I mourn the loss of my former student, Trey, the person who led me to this topic and proposed that we explore this particular truth. Trey enrolled in a class I taught at the Putnamville medium-security correctional facility in Greencastle, Indiana, and then became a part of the ongoing discussion group we called a “Think Tank,” which he engaged with his acrid insight. Meanwhile, he argued his own legal appeal pro se, and won, and after nine out of a twenty-year bid, moved himself beyond the walls. When Trey got out, we chatted via email and met, once, for lunch at an outdoor café table on an artsy Indy thoroughfare, then strolled the avenue and browsed a bookstore where the middle-aged white ladies behind the counter trembled at his presence.

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Medium 9781771870702

Proem

Ratzlaff, Lloyd Thistledown Press ePub

Proem

OUTGROWING AN OLD MYTHOLOGY INTELLECTUALLY is a first (and in hindsight relatively easy) step. Bearing its emotional freight is another matter. The “Bindy” for whom this book is named grew up with me speaking a religiously fundamentalist and ethnically Mennonite tongue. Despite its anathemas, or because of them, this language became a strop on which our thoughts were keened — for Bindy until he died and for me to this day.

Arthur Miller calls writing a way of synthesizing all of one’s insides. This book is a sort of philosophical tussle with Blake’s old Nobodaddy throughout the year of Bindy’s dying. Partly it’s a confession (a scary bipolar genre, scorned at the newsstand and extolled in St. Augustine), but also, perhaps, a kind of repentance of my former uses of language in wordy careers as a minister, counsellor, and university instructor.

“At night,” Rumi says, “I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me … Close the language-door and open the love-window, the moon won’t use the door, only the window.”

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Medium 9781927068304

Two Fathers, a Half-Dozen Moths

Lloyd Ratzlaff Thistledown Press ePub

TWO FATHERS , A HALF-DOZEN MOTHS

My father was a Canadian prairie farmer for most of his life. In his last ten years he was in and out of hospitals. Two heart attacks had damaged him severely, and the complications attending this, added to the sundry infirmities of advancing age, made hospital stays common for him and visits there routine for me.

“What does it mean,” he asked as he lay in intensive care for the first time, “if I dream it’s late autumn and the crop is in, and I remember there’s one field I forgot to harvest?” This dream, which began there, re-visited him thirty or forty times in the last decade of his life, and it always ended in frustration as he found his dream-machinery broken down, and his dream-self too embarrassed to ask the neighbours for help. Yet he told me about it faithfully every time the dream recurred.

At first I supposed he wanted me to answer him. But our discussions always concluded with his indifference to any insight I thought I had contributed. To me it was patently clear — didn’t Jung say that what we have woven by day the night will unravel — but not until the dozenth-or-so time did I have the sense to leave him with his own question. To his usual “So what do you think it means?” I for once replied, “I give up, Dad; what do you think it means?”

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Medium 9780253000958

At Play in the Paradise of Bombs

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

Twice a man’s height and topped by strands of barbed wire, a chain-link fence stretched for miles along the highway leading up to the main gate of the Arsenal. Beside the gate were tanks, hulking dinosaurs of steel, one on each side, their long muzzles slanting down to catch trespassers in a cross-fire. A soldier emerged from the gatehouse, gun on hip, silvered sunglasses blanking his eyes.

My father stopped our car. He leaned out the window and handed the guard some papers which my mother had been nervously clutching.

“With that license plate, I had you pegged for visitors,” said the guard. “But I see you’ve come to stay.”

His flat voice ricocheted against the rolled-up windows of the back seat where I huddled beside my sister. I hid my face in the upholstery, to erase the barbed wire and tanks and mirror-eyed soldier, and tried to wind myself into a ball as tight as the fist of fear in my stomach. By and by, our car eased forward into the Arsenal, the paradise of bombs.

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