ISSUE 34: Summer 2016

Introduction.

Weird!.

by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

In my capacity as a creative writing instructor, supervisor, and mentor, I’ve edited a great deal. In these past ten years or so, some of my students have gone on to publish, and I have been gratified to know I may have had a small hand in their work or a small influence on them. I am an honest person when it comes to editing, and those who I respect can expect marginal commentary like “meh” or, more simply, “no.” I’m no Gordon Lish in the slash and burn school of editorial but I do like to think that some small touch of mine will help a story go from muddled to marvelous. My approach is always to try to locate the story and to help it emerge as fully as it can. Having said that, I do like weird. And to be honest, I …

A Space for the Aggro.

by Sonnet L’Abbé

When, combing through hundreds of poems for a journal or magazine issue, I spot what looks like a trend, it can sometimes be hard to be sure that I’m not just selectively seeing what currently interests me. If this issue’s crop of poems is more about what I’m into than what’s trending out there, then I’m in a fury: furious at sexualized violence, furious at the pressures to live gender norms and to ignore white supremacy, furious that—whatever our intentions—our own bodies will not always relinquish the pleasures of aggression and domination, and will not always do health on our terms. But this issue’s selection of poems was made with lots of input from The Puritan’s editorial team, and it turns out that The Puritan’s sensibilities were pinged by the same writers that made me stop and reread. So, assured that these poems resonate with …...

Fiction.

Hands to Heaven.

by Heather Birrell

  All the best bank robbers got them deep set, inward looking eyes. It’s like they can see what the world should be like for them, and it’s right there, always, even though they gotta walk around like normals in this tough life. I seen my share of them; and they recognize somethin’ in me too, like I got it, that other world right there close behind my eyelids if I just pull them on down. But my daughter Mona says it’s time we made a different kind of life. She’s been packin’ up boxes all mornin’, like she got no attachment to this place, like she can’t wait to leave these walls—with all their secrets and sorrows—behind. I seen Val for the first time down near the lake. Me and Betty had swept down there along Roncesvalles Avenue with all the other revelers after …

BUOY.

by Ellen van Neerven

“Will you tell me when …?” Tai says, lifting up his shirt, showing his ribs. Simon—younger, thinner—can’t. There is no telling when they will disapp...

The Beauty of the Walk On.

by Trish Salah

“Why do you have the lights off, Skinny? Everything okay?” Marty was backlit in the kitchen doorway, lurking in his bathrobe. Not lurking, making te...

Rosario’s Jewel Box.

by Sarah Maria Medina

Rosario lies in the damp of a field, tall grass a chant of green. Corn stalks a coarse whisper. Noon sun burns down her skin. A man sweats against h...

La Puerta.

by Nehal El-Hadi

It had been a tough year—that winter, I’d lost my father suddenly to a heart attack, and then Grandmamma had passed away two days after that. A few ...

Getting Rid of the Bernsteins.

by M.W. Johnston

I grew up a long way from here, and came to the city as a young man, to make my way, and was lucky to be groomed for the role I now inhabit, which i...

Complicit.

by Khalida Venus Hassan

    This all happened before jihadis made a chimney stack of the New York City skyline; about five years before our televisions lit up wit...

Poetry.

No.

by George Murray

I draw the line at cats. I draw the line at parsnips. I draw the line at LARPing. I draw the line at five pints. I draw the line at lies. I draw the line at Richard Dawkins. At weak sitcoms. At performance art involving masks. Board games about shopping. Single earrings. James Taylor. Vague-booking. Bad manners. At narcissists. At poems about being oppressed written by white MFAs from Maine. At tiramisu. At congratulations for attendance. At by-standing. At doing nothing. At Nicholas Cage. At deep -fried Mars Bars. I draw the line here. I bisect the circle. I slice the bread. I trace a hypotenuse inside its square of chocolate. I halve an orange. I line up for lottery tickets. I stop the car with wheels over the white line. I draw lines between us. I draw a circle around us with piss. I …

Two Poems.

by Stevie Howell

Talking with humans is my only way to learn (after Tay) “The ‘speaker’ of my poem is always me unless otherwise stated. Who are you? Maybe you shoul...

Two Poems.

by John Wall Barger

  Crow & Fox in Love Fox beat Crow with a club, dragged Crow by the feathers. Fox raped Crow. Crow lopped off its own breast, shot arrows a...

Two Ways of Saying It.

by Barry Dempster

“Don’t you know there ain’t no devil there’s just God when he’s drunk.” —Tom Waits 1/ It started in my right shoulder, a corkscrew pang, running dow...

Two Poems.

by Tanis MacDonald

Manifest Density * Expand outward. Be complicit that this hand is your hand. You are the fist on this vertiginous soil. You are queen of all you sur...

rubber soul: the dietician.

by Jane Eaton Hamilton

so what are your concerns she says and i say i want information for my ankylosing spondylitis and she says but let’s talk about lowering your trigly...

Two Poems.

by Nicole Chin

lightness I’d imagine the northern hemisphere is bleeding that there are stones in the sky unwinding into light no touch, no tear I am a quarter of ...

(cryptofauna) of blue girl.

by Steven Artelle

the deep of our apartment, remember you moved in, a drowning boy, and I understood the speech of fish the shoal of my affection travelled so hungry ...

Two Poems.

by Jake Byrne

PROTECTIVE WEIRDING The night purrs! I’m liquored. Slick with gin and camphor. Your arm with the left-handed swastika tattoo, scruff of my neck, I’m...

Marmota.

by Lauren Marshall

As always, I took the sidewalk along the concrete mixing factory to work and on the way back I ate a chocolate chip muffin and I was thinking about ...

Yellow Fever.

by Natalie Wee

After Franny Choi Sky, look how fine this flesh turned dartboard / pin up / bomb shelter / emergency room. Girls like me turn jasmine. A delicate fl...

Femina Pendula Rubrum.

by Lorin Medley

  It’s like she’s a horse tethered to a tree, asleep with eyes open in case she misses her own demise —meanwhile, her vacuum broke down How doe...

Two Poems.

by Jill Talbot

A Towel’s Life The man comes in, washes his face, brushes his teeth. The woman comes in and goes to the bathroom— it took awhile to work up to this....

Essays.

Punching Like a Girl.

by Krista Foss

Walking home from a holiday open house, my twenty-two-year-old-daughter and her boyfriend stop at a late night fast-food joint for a snack. Three men wearing tight shirts and reeking of beer enter and line up behind them. They start taunting; provocatively and cruelly. Impossible to ignore. My daughter’s boyfriend turns and asks them to stop. Within minutes, he’s met with a fist, the opening salvo of a pile-on. The next morning, I wake up to find my kid waiting for me in my office. She’s shaking. There’s a slowly blackening bruise on the side of her wan face as if she’s wiped her chin with a sooty mitten. Her knuckles are split and bloodied. My daughter tells me that when her boyfriend was hit, she started punching. She punched and she didn’t count how often or how hard. Her knuckles testify to multiple swings and …

Comparative Zoology.

by Sunny Chan

The most fascinating parts of the Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia (hardcover edition, circa 2000) are the infographics that tell you what size an animal would be relative to a human silhouette. I didn’t always consider those infographics the most fascinating parts of the book. For the first year I owned it, what I loved most was the entry on the giant ground pangolin. It’s an elusive nocturnal anteater-like mammal of the family Manidae, and it’s covered in large, smooth scales like plates of armour. When the pangolin is in danger, it curls up into a tight ball and the scales protect it from a would-be predator’s teeth and claws. It looks wonderfully like a walking pinecone with a face and a long tail. Pangolins still captivate me now, of course. But I’m no longer limited to reading about them in the Dorling Kindersley Animal Encyclopedia. …...

Interviews.

A Conversation on Andrew Forbes’s The Utility of Boredom (Invisible Publishing, 2016).

by Myra Bloom, E Martin Nolan, and Joseph Thomas

Introduction by E Martin Nolan The Utility of Boredom: Baseball Essays can be looked at in at least two ways: as a baseball book, or as a personal memoir. Splitting the book into these two perspectives is admittedly artificial because they are so intimately intertwined in the book. But while Utility makes it hard to pry matters of life from the game that illuminates them, examining the book from those two perspectives can shed light on the way it depicts their connection, and what that says about baseball, and life. It’s tough to describe The Utility of Boredom. It’s an intriguing little book, as specific as it is open-ended. It welcomes the reader warmly into a deeply personal perspective, yet its philosophical scope is wide. In order to get a sense of that scope, I’ve asked Joseph Thomas and Myra Bloom to each briefly respond …

Reviews.

“LOLing with Claws”: A Review of Liz Howard’s Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent.

by Brecken Hancock

A citizen’s outward efforts to belong are sometimes in conflict with her inward skepticism of that very same impulse. In Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, Liz Howard explores these competing energies both thematically and conceptually, using tactics that manipulate time—repetition, refraction, recombination—to create a sort of textual vertigo. She bookends the collection with sections both called “Hyperboreal”; she returns again and again to interrogate concepts like “Standard Time”; and, using an effect she calls dendrochronology, she retreads the first fourteen poems of the book to fashion the penultimate sonnet and three other “Revenant” poems that haunt the final pages. Overlaps and gaps create a cacophony that disrupts any stable or linear voice, and, listening to the speakers, the reader swoons over “this sinkhole of time called the present,” caught in a kind of orbit, a time loop, dendrochronology, ring time, slow time, boreal …