Three Cinquains after the Exhibition…

by Alice Jennings

Three Cinquains after the Exhibition: III Bienal Ciudad Juárez-El Paso Biennial 2013

After “El rio parece tranquilo/The River Seems Calm,” 2013
by Olga Guerra
Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México

in six glass jars
might just be agua, a
child’s science project, or six
lost lives.

After “Sin titulo I de la serie “Desinterés social”/Untitled I from the “Social Indifference” Series, 2013
by Mónica Areola
Tijuana, Baja California, México

recycle retrieve
refurbished artifact in abandoned

After “Todos observamos/We all watch,”2012
by Eder Lindorfe
Mexicali, Baja California, México

through the
glass, observe the
flag in the center:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Alice Catherine Jennings is a student in the MFA Program in Writing at Spalding University. Her poetry has appeared in In Other Words: Mérida, The Fertile Source, Poetry at Round Top and is forthcoming in the Hawai’i Review, The Louisville Review and Penumbra. She is the recipient of the U.S. Poets in México 2013 MFA Candidate Award. Jennings divides her time between Oaxaca, México and Austin, Texas.

viejita retocada jpb

Artist: Juan Pablo Bavio

Anciana de Izamal


Foggy and other poems

by Celia Watson



Foggy froth
Blankets our land
Catching steamed breath
Like prey

Foggy fingers
Lick rusty cogs
Biting and grinding

Foggy lips Kiss the earth and blur
The line between our world and

Foggy palms
Dampen the wails and
Forgotten screams
Of reckless rails.


The Eye of the Marshland

Crickets roar against the subtle
Hum of the summer night.

Fingers of moss drape down and
Lick the sticky cement.

An orchid moon pierces through
The web of vines,

Painting mirrors on the
Lid of the lagoon.

This is the still South:
The hushed presence of nature that

Pulls us together whilst
Tearing us apart.



As I turn the page
The flame retreats
Cowering in the breeze.
It reaches and stretches
Up to its tip
Straining for balance on its
Beneath, a mess of waxy webs
Clumps and hardens
Each fibre frozen in its fall.
As the wax drips, it builds
Canyons of white soft string.
One more prayer
Added to the heap.
One more wish
Locked and bound
Never forgotten, as long as the
Mountains keep climbing
And the dreamer
Keeps dreaming.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Celia Watson is an International Baccalaureate diploma graduate based outside London. She plans to study both English with creative writing and Theatre at university. She has received 12 awards, including 4 Gold and 5 Silver Keys, from the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers (USA) for her work covering poetry, flash fiction, dramatic scripts, and humour pieces. Celia’s work has been published in The Ofi Press, Flash Fiction World, Theatre Reviews London, and MouthLondon Magazine (http://www.mouthlondon.com/author/Celia-Watson/).



painting by Samuel Barrera


New Born and other poems

by Lorraine Caputo

New Born

Pines on the canyon
ridge are shadowy in the
morning’s heavy mist.
The chilled sun rises
above, its filtered light a
lemony yellow.
Roosters crow from this
house       & that       & another
throughout the village.
Last night’s rain still drips
off the roof, water beads on
the empty clothesline.

As the new-born sun
climbs, it reflects bright off
the butter-colored church.
The heaven above is a
brilliant azure sapphire.

In the main plaza,
under the shade of trees &
gazebo, Rarámuri women set
out their baskets & weavings.
Their full calico
skirts fan beneath them.
One ties a kerchief upon
her black hair. Another lifts
her short blouse to nurse her child.



Puerto Escondido

The dawning light outlines,
colors the eastern hills.
The deep blue water
of the hidden bay
captures pieces of sun,
washes them to the golden beach.
White boats beginning their journey asea,
fisherman wade,
casting their nets at arms’ length.

Across the bay,
behind the hills,
the tat-tat-tat of drums,
the chorus of trumpets—
morning review at the military base.

In a white church tower,
a bare-backed man
pulls the chords of four bells.
Their tones clang
over the village.

A cool breeze drifts
through windows, through hair,
across cheeks.
Palm fronds sway
in the growing,
dawning light.



Desert Reigns
  —a poem for two or more voices


We boarded before 8 a.m.
I rested my head on the window pane
& drifted off to the hustling
of the other passengers.

Over on Track Nº 2 awaits a fancy
dark green, brass-railed car
for the President’s rare use.
It gleams in the rising sun.

On the third track is an old black &
silver steam locomotive—
Nº 30127, still used in Western movies

My sleep is disturbed by several
federales checking identifications.


I yearn to be in this desert landscape …

Sometime, someplace in Guanajuato state,
a woman came aboard with
one-liter soda bottles of pulque.
The sour-cactus smell drifts
heavier & heavier through the car.

We pass by a trash dump.
Nine men, women & children
sort through it.


This slow train stops at every village

marked by a station
or a sign aside the tracks.

The desert sings to me …

Oh, what is a Mexican train ride
without music?

Earlier a guitarist played harmonica
between his sung verses

& now a young man plays accordion,
singing in a  strong alto voice.

Large cumulus clouds tower into the sky.

Just south of Las Palomas
lie the ruins of a church.

It is now raining in the western desert.


I am awakened by our train
braking to allow another to pass.
Rain streaks my window.
Thunder rumbles through this closing afternoon.

As we enter San Luis Potosí,
we clatter over flooded streets.
The roof of a car is just visible
above the water.

A semi-rig sinks.

The ground is mounded with a thick,
snowy layer of pea-sized hail.

The sun begins to break out west.

As we leave this city,
beneath an underpass
a group of people push
cars to shallower water.


Nighttime in the vestibule.

An Austrian, Roland,
His Mexican friend, Roberto
& I talk with a railroad worker.
He tells us that come next year,
there probably won’t be
any more passenger service.
US freight companies are buying
individual lines.
El Regiomontano has already been privatized.

He turns to Roland and me.
—It belongs to you.
—It doesn’t belong to me,
Roland corrects him.
He stares at me with squinting eyes
—Then it belongs to you.
His finger points inches from my breast.

—No, sir, it doesn’t belong to me, either,
nor do I get any benefit from it.
They happen to be companies of the
country in which I was born.

He forces the issue.

—Look, sir. I had nothing to do with that decision
any more than you did.
It would be like me saying
the policies of the government
of your country
were yours.

—Yes, it would be like saying
Salinas was you,
Roberto says, jumping into the fray.

The railroad worker makes a few
snide comments
before stalking off.

Roland, Roberto & I talk for a while
about who we allow to reign—
the corporations and their governments,
or we ourselves.
Then we fall into silence, watching the night.

Off in the far east sky, clouds
      pulse with pink lightning.


In the long hours of darkness we come to Saltillo.
The bitter smell of industry fills the air,
its sickening orange glow
just on this side of the horizon.

Out in the nighttime desert,
      crickets chirp.


I awaken to the sunrise.

We haven’t yet made it to Monterrey.

Its passengers are still on this train.

We sit for hours on a stretch of single track.

      The beauty of this desert awes me.
      Its eastern mountains are cloaked
      by the cloudy sky.
      The bright yellow sun-ball
      burns through, burns through.

We begin again slowly
passing by a ghost town.
Behind the abandoned primary school,
a swing set creaks.
Adobe buildings are almost
one with the earth.

The gentle wind promises more rain.


Rocking fast past Monterrey’s
familiar saw-tooth mountains.
Their bone-white rock shimmers
in the sun.

& in the early afternoon north of there—
for how long, I do not know—
we are stopped in the middle of nowhere.

The wind gusts through the desert plain
      gusts at times to a howl.
      Distant mountains lie hidden in haze.
      Burnished yucca display bouquets
      of white flowers.


The Nuevo Laredo station is just within view.

But here we are stuck,
hour upon hour,
by a US freight train passing
through the border.
It inches forwards
then backwards,
blocking our train
from the streets leading
into town, towards the border.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Lorraine Caputo has literary pieces in over 90 journals in Canada, the US, Latin America Europe and Asia, such as Drumvoices Revue, Canadian Dimension, ENcontrARTE (Venezuela), A New Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Open Road Review (India). Her works also appear in seven poetry chapbooks, ten anthologies and five audio recordings, including Latina Nights / Noches Latinas (Dimby, 2000). She also pens travel pieces, with works appearing in the anthologies Drive: Women’s True Stories from the Open Road (Seal Press, 2002) and Far Flung and Foreign (Lowestoft Chronicle Press, 2012). In March 2011, the Parliamentary Poet Laureate of Canada chose her work, “Snow Dreams,” as the poem of the month. Upcoming publications include poems in The Pavilion (September 2013) and the Human Rights Poetry Anthology of the Human Rights Consortium of the School of  Advanced Study, University of London (October 2013). She has done more than 200 readings from Alaska to Patagonia. Ms Caputo continues journeying through the southern reaches of the hemisphere, listening to the voices of the pueblos and Earth.




Artist: Jane Gilday

Watchful Woman, Observant Woman, Wary Woman

Acrylic on panel


12/21/12: Last thoughts on the end of the world

by Bill Meissner


In an instant, the world is pulled through a small hole in the galaxy and
the galaxy is pulled through a small hole in the universe.

Somewhere, a Mayan priest dressed in a white robe
and stone necklace poises in front a pyramid
slithering with limestone snakes.  He lifts offerings in a golden bowl, chants
with words that sound like cicadas buzzing in the grass.
Oxlahuntikul, he says.  Ququmatz.

Somewhere, a man in a three-piece suit lifts his IPhone.
He checks his calendar.  He’s late for a meeting on the far side of Manhattan.
If he seals this deal—his last chance—he’ll make a million.
He sends a text just before he enters the mouth of the Lincoln Tunnel:

Be there soon.  Soon.  We’ll be golden.

Moonrise.  The Mayan priest bows down.
The carved calendar shows that it’s the 12th month, the 21st day.
Insects click and inch up the tall jungle leaves
as wisps of incense send a message to the night stars.

Somewhere, a man passes through a tunnel in a Lexus.  It closes
in on him—endless, dark, endless, like looking
through the wrong end of a telescope.

Anxious to exit the other side, he checks his I-phone.

At the appointed moment, the Mayan priest lifts his gaze to the sky.
A thousand years pass.
The man in the suit stares at his phone for what seems like a year.
No messages.  No coverage.  A dead zone.  Finally, he drops
it out the window of the car where it cartwheels into a black puddle.

The priest stares patiently and waits, waits.  Finally it happens:
he  pulls the world through a small opening in his eye, and
when it comes out on the other side, the blue-green planet is still
whole, still spinning,
bright and innocent and beautiful as a freshly-polished emerald.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bill Meissner’s first novel, SPIRITS IN THE GRASS, about a small town ballplayer who finds the remains of an ancient Native American burial ground on a baseball field, was published in 2008 by the University of Notre Dame Press and won the Midwest Book Award.  The book is available as an ebook from the UND Press.  Meissner’s two books of short stories are THE ROAD TO COSMOS, [University of Notre Dame Press, 2006] and HITTING INTO THE WIND [Random House/SMU Press, Dzanc Books ebook].

Meissner has also published four books of poems:  AMERICAN COMPASS, [U. of Notre Dame Press], LEARNING TO BREATHE UNDERWATER and THE SLEEPWALKER’S SON [both from Ohio U. Press], and TWIN SONS OF DIFFERENT MIRRORS [Milkweed Editions].

He is director of creative writing at St. CloudStateUniversity in Minnesota.  His web page is:  http://web.stcloudstate.edu/wjmeissner/


His Facebook author page is:





painting by Samuel Barrera



Mater Dolorosa

by Grace Andreacchi


When at last he lay broken across her knees, his long body greenish in the lurid light of the torn sky. When at last he lay once more in her lap, helpless as an infant but no longer seeking her gaze with his. When at last he lay quiet, it was then she understood it had all been in vain. In vain to have borne him in her fearful girlish womb, in vain the twelve hours – a whole dark night of pain beyond words as she fought to bring him, struggling against the light, into the world. In  vain the midnight vigils when she had held him while he screamed open-mouthed, inconsolable from a place of such darkness it made her tremble. Now he lay in her lap, broken. His mouth hung open, the teeth gleaming between the bearded lips, the lips encrusted black with blood. How heavy he was! She held him, she would not let him go – not yet, though he weighed upon her, a stone as big as the world. She could not yet let him go. She wanted to think, now, while she still held him, one last time, in her arms. It had been so long since she had held him like that! He did not permit it. As a child he had been warm and sweet, even timid, and always fierce. His love for her as fierce as his fight with the world. As a child he had clung to her, sucked angrily at the breast, never satisfied, always crying aloud as though he craved some other food, something she could not offer him. As a child he had needed her. This was her joy, to be needed by him.


When had he begun to vanish from her sight? There was the time she had come seeking him, her heart in her mouth, he was only twelve – what if they had lost him forever? God’s child, a holy trust, fallen by the wayside, killed by robbers perhaps or taken by thieves… for three days and three nights they ran from one house to another, unable to eat or sleep – surely the Lord would punish them for losing his child, surely the Lord would protect him, or else he would not. He was in the Temple talking quietly with the old men, he looked up, vexed with them for disturbing him, and asked her what was she was thinking? Did she not know he would be about his father’s business? Her husband took him by the hand to lead him home, and the boy looked at him coldly. ‘You’re not my father,’ he said. ‘Let me alone.’


Well. He had never been like other children, did not know how to play with them, indeed seemed to frighten them with his strange talk and odd ways. But he was good with his hands, spent hours in the workshop where he made cunning toys from wood – a bird that could flap its wings, a lamb with its mother, a little cross. ‘Look mother, I’m the lamb’, he said, holding it up proudly for her to see. ‘And this one is you, my mother. Shall I make a wolf too?’ He made a wolf, then broke it apart with a hammer, a small line of vexation between his soft brows. His dreams were terrible. Sometimes he told her bits of them, stories of demoniacs and lepers with oozing sores, of crowds of people chasing him through a desert wilderness. Once he dreamed of walking upon a great sea of burning glass, and beneath the sea myriads of tiny fish glinting with all the colours of the morning. The fish were swimming towards him, hungrily, and he had to feed them, and did not know how…


Ah but how to tell of his loveliness? He was not the most beautiful boy, simply her heart and soul. He was always a bit too thin to be really beautiful, always that darkness in his great soft eyes, that restless anxious longing in him. But his smile had been like the small rain upon the tender grass. He was the lily among thorns, the apple among the trees of the wild wood. When he put his thin childish arms around her and pressed his face to her belly she was sick with love.


He was far too clever, and could read as well as a rabbi while the other boys his age were still struggling to learn their letters. She had been proud of her odd, bright, clever little boy. But as he grew up he grew harder to reach, no longer told her his dreams, nor asked her to explain the mysteries of life and death. Why can’t I fly like a bird, mother? Why do the lambs have to die while they are still only babies? Why does the night come and make everything dark? You will fly like a bird some day, my son, when you have found your wings. The lambs must die so that we may live, their flesh is our food, given by the Lord. The night comes so that we may rest from the heat of the day. But he no longer asked her these things. He worked with his father (but ‘You’re not my father’ stood between them always), he sat by himself, he went to the synagogue and to the desert to pray. He fasted and grew thinner, he who had always been so thin. His eyes grew larger, darker, she saw things in them that frightened her. When she asked him to do little favours for her he now pretended not to have heard. When she reached out to stroke his hair he did not draw away, he did not need to, his eyes merely failed to notice her, and her hand came away as if she had burned it. She had seen again the small line between his brows.


When her husband died he left for a while, saying he must pray forty days and forty nights. She sat alone in the empty house. She had never been alone before, it was odd to sit there and listen all day to that silence. The sound of cicadas at twilight, and of small birds at dawn. Mother, why can’t I fly like a bird… You will, my son, you will. He returned from the desert somehow taller, his hair and his beard shaggy as a wild goat’s, and a deep furrow drawn as if with an awl between his brows. With him were two angels, she recognised them easily by their bright garments, but they parted from him at the door and did not come in. There were angels here now, in great number, she felt them standing around her, drawn up in ranks, ready to bear him away but she would not let them have him – not yet. There were angels hovering just above her head, the night sky was thick with them, mourning and weeping tears of blood for him. Let them weep – what were their tears to hers? She held him closer, pressing his broad broken shoulders to her breast. He had been so little once, so soft! And now this. Ah she would not let him go, not yet, not yet, not until she had understood – why had it all been necessary, the sword, the cross, the sacrifice? What did the Lord want from her? Nothing more perhaps. Could she believe that…


One of the weeping angels took hold on her son’s left hand and pressed it to his lips, right there where the nail had left a blue black wound. Another held the iron nail in his palm, showing it to her, his face full of reproach. What did they want from her? Was it her fault he was dead? She had never been a part of this, it was not her plan. Ah but she had been the gate, she the golden door by which he entered. He might have stayed with his Father in heaven, might have spared them all this grief had she only said : No.


Now she bent over him and pressed her lips to his forehead, pushing back the heavy hair with her free hand, mingling her tears with his cold sweat. She kissed his cheek, then his lips – he could not prevent her kisses at last. How she had longed to kiss him like this! He had learned to disdain her, a woman and weak. Now he was broken and she still whole. How was it possible? She would gladly have died in his place, but it was not her plan after all, but the Lord’s. This incomprehensible sacrifice. Look mother, I am the lamb, and this is you. This is you with your one ewe lamb lying dead in your lap. Let me kiss him now with the kiss of my mouth, she thought, kissing him, tasting the terrible odours of blood and pain. He did not yet taste of death, that would come soon, once he was laid in the tomb, but tonight he was hers alone in this garden of pain, and she would kiss him with the kiss of her mouth. She had not known it was possible to weep like this, rivers running down to a sea of burning glass.


The time she had sought him again, now a man surrounded by crowds of hungry people, gorging themselves on his words, his looks, his miracles. ‘Who is my mother?’ he said, looking round at the upturned faces. ‘All of you who do the will of God, you are my mother and my brother and my sister.’ And she went away quietly, and did not seek him any more. Had she not done the will of God? Behold the handmaid of the Lord… When the terrifying angel came with his lily and his tale of a holy child, had she not fallen on her face in the dust? For this I was born, she thought, to this moment I was raised, a daughter of God. She might have said: No. It had not even crossed her mind. As she sat there holding him she could hear the creak of graves opening, and the dread footsteps of the dead. She felt a cool hand laid gently upon her hot cheek. A shower of snow fell from heaven, covering the two of them with a veil as white as wool.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Grace Andreacchi is a novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail), Give My Heart Ease (New American Writing Award) and the chapbook Berlin Elegies. Her work appears in Horizon Review, The Literateur, Cabinet des Fées and many other fine places. Grace is also managing editor at Andromache Books and writes the literary blog AMAZING GRACE. She lives in London.




painting by Samuel Barrera


Stephen and the Others

by M F McAuliffe


(April 1974)



He looked out the window, again. The edges of the town curved away inland from the sea; along the coast there was a strip of sand and away from that sand there was sand covered with pig-face; everything else was red dirt and dead saltbush and sky.

But if he half-stood in his seat he could just see the tip of the pellet-plant. His father worked at the steel-mill, next to it. The mill itself was hidden by the distance and the hill where the managers lived.

Managers would live on a hill, he thought automatically. His father would have said it and slagged.

He eased himself down, turned to the front of the room and found another set of notes filling the blackboard. He scowled, squinted, and started to write.


He stood up.

Highgate was grinning.

He thought Highgate was having some fun because it was Sports Day and the period was being cut short. Highgate knew he was in the boys’ under-16 hurdles and most of the kids thought he’d win.

By this time tomorrow he’d be able to tell his father he’d won something. He’d stay home and see his father and tell him. School could wait for once.

Highgate stopped grinning. The chalk in his hand turned and pointed.

“You’d better get to work, Stevo.”

It was an accusation.

The other kids were looking. Jean sniggered. As though she had anything to snigger about, he thought, her tarting about down the shopping-centre and all, waiting for them guys from the pellet-plant or the shipyard. Or the mill.

His father

No! His father was at work, or at home. His father was on double shift.

Highgate was still pointing, accusing.

He picked up his notes. “Mr. Highgate, I been —”

“At the rate you’re going you’ll be out on your ear.”

Highgate stood behind the teacher’s desk and flicked through a pile of homework, picked out two ragged pages. “Yours.” The sheets fell. “A few more weeks of this and you’ll be finished here. You’ll be out there, son.” The chalk jabbed towards the window, the town and the mill.

Jean turned and looked right at him and sniggered again. Green glanced back and sneered.

He sat down and picked up his pen. He’d be able to see the bloody board, he thought, if Highgate ever bloody sat down and got out of the bloody way.

He looked at the window from the corner of his eye. He looked at the clock. His father would be getting home. Must be by now. They put you in bloody jail, his father said, except you’ve put yourself there first, getting married. They put you in jail just because you were born.

He’d asked once why they couldn’t go home instead of staying here.

Money. Another word his father spat. They couldn’t go home because there wasn’t any money in England, not for the likes of the working class. The workers always came last.

He looked at the clock again. It must be late enough. His father must be home by now.

Bloody Highgate finally sat down. Cities grow from the centre outwards. He slagged into hishandkerchief. This city didn’t. It just spread into saltbush. The shopping-centre was on the bloody edge.The room was as quiet as it always was when bloody Highgate had had it a while.

He kept is head down and copied the rubbish. The bell eventually rang.



He wanted to be by himself so he could stop and think and be able to see that everything would be all right. He wanted a bit of peace and a bit of shade.

He had to buy lunch.

Jean and them were on their way out when he got to the hall. Elizabeth wasn’t with them. He sighed. That meant she’d probably come and hang around him on the line. He hated her, hanging around and trying to talk. At least the hall was fairly cool; at least he could stand at his full height and stretch.

“What are you getting?” Elizabeth was at his left elbow, looking up at him as though the answer would tell her if he was sick.

He shrugged and scowled at the seething and shoving. There weren’t any lines when you came down to it, just a fat mass of kids at the counter all asking for potato-chips.

There wasn’t even any decent food here. No fish and chips, no chip butties.

He saw the last bag of chips go to some little kid. Shit, he thought. He couldn’t even get a buttered roll and stick chips in it.

And bloody Elizabeth was still there, still wanting to know what he was going to bloody eat.

“A bloody chip buttie with no bloody chips.”

“Jesus, I was only asking.” She turned and went.

There weren’t any rolls.

He got two bloody cheese and tomato sandwiches and went outside to find Green and them. Healways had lunch with Green and them. Green’d turn on him if he didn’t.

He was sitting on the grass with Green and Adams and Peters. There wasn’t any shade.

The hard, spiky clumps and blades of grass prickled at his feet. Hard red dirt gaped between them. The minerals in the dirt glittered. He squinted and looked away.

The world moved.

Sylvia was with Jean and Elizabeth and them a few yards away. She was hardly ever with them, she was usually playing netball.

He unwrapped his sandwiches and stared out towards the oval so he could look at her without seeming to. Her father was a supervisor at the pellet-plant. She’d been here practically since she was born, in the sun and the saltbush and the glittering red dirt.

He heard Green slag, saw the slag glisten on a grass-blade. He turned and squinted and watched Green twist his lips, slag again, and grin. Jean pointed and cackled, “Hey! Tha’s dir’y, tha’ is!” Green gave her the finger. She wiggled her bum and went on cackling.

He couldn’t breathe until he’d looked out of the corner of his eye to see if Sylvia was still there, still talking, still tying the laces on her sandshoes.

She was wearing white. She looked like cool white gold.

The dirt glittered like shattered glass.

Sylvia was slim and blonde and poised and cool and beautiful. Every time she moved she was dancing somewhere, in the air somewhere else.

Green yelled.

He turned. Green’s lips and knuckles were white.

“You’ll have to leave school,” Peters said. Adams was grinning. “You’ll have to get married.”

“Get stuffed!”

Sylvia! He turned back again. Sylvia was standing, but she didn’t look as though she’d heard, didn’tturn, look straight at them and walk away.

He held his breath. If he was lucky she might stay for a while. They might all go over to the oval together; he might walk near her, next to her.

He might be able to talk to her after he’d won.

He closed his eyes and watched her turn and smile at him.



The girls were all standing up and going. The sun was blinding. He squinted and looked down at the dirt. The light off the minerals was like knives.

“Let’s have a fag.”

He didn’t move.

Green slagged and turned and looked down at him. “Don’t bloody wet yourself! All the bloody teachers are on the bloody oval!”

He scowled and got up. Green and his fags made him ill. But no one ever said that to Green.

They got to the bog. Green leant on the door, lit a fag and stared at the burning point of ash. Adams leant against the wall. Peters lit a fag of his own. They all watched Green. He began edging along the tiles, towards the other door.

Bloody Sylvia couldn’t be pregnant, Green was saying. Not by him, he’d been using Glad-wrap and rubber bands. It must’ve been someone else, one of them blokes from the shipyard or the pellets or the mill.

Green grinned.

Stephen looked at the gaping stalls, wanted to shove Green into one, smash him bloody and leave

him there. But he kept quiet and kept moving, a sixteenth of an inch at a time, while Green shook another fag out of the packet. He stopped until Green was watching the fat match-flare and the thin twin twists of smoke, waited while Green inhaled and his gaze slackened and he started rubbishing on again. Then he began shifting sideways again, finger by finger, moving, warm tile, cold tile, till he could get to the door and disappear.

“They can do blood tests at the hospital. They can prove it was you.” Adams was deadpan, serious, dragging on the fag he took from Peters.

Green’s eyes widened. He made a short thick sound and then in one single movement collapsed and threw up, retching into a growing pool of sick. The air was full of the sound and stink.

Stephen waited for the others to move, help Green or get someone, but all they did was watch and grin.

He ran. He wanted to find Sylvia, warn her, hide her, protect her, obliterate everything Green could have done, everything Green could have rolled around and done.

But she was all cool white gold and Green couldn’t have done it.

Couldn’t have.

Couldn’t have.

He ran till he had to stop for the pain in his side.


His eyes hurt. The sun was like a bullet-hole in his back. They were all lined up for the hurdles. Kids in bloody lines, his father said. Like bloody cannon-fodder.

The gun went off.

He breathed and threw himself at the air.

If he could get away

The last hurdle crashed. The back of his ankle was skinned.

And Green was already there. Green never practised but Green was already there.

Green was standing and panting; Green was grinning with his mouth turned down. Sylvia was grinning.

Elizabeth and her soft voice said: “You came second, Stephen, that’s all right.”

But Green was looking at Sylvia, and Sylvia was looking at Green.

“He was just lucky,” Elizabeth said. “You know he’s not going to go in the soccer or anything.”

Green had his arms on Adams’ and Peters’ shoulders, he was saying he wouldn’t mind a drink. Jean was saying he wouldn’t know how to get one.

Sylvia was smiling at Green.

Green was speaking to Sylvia and Sylvia was smiling.

Sylvia was speaking to Green.

Jean pointed and hooted.

“Jesus, Stephen! You look like your dad.” She moved her hips. “I know where he goes after work.”

Green was still talking to Sylvia and she was still smiling.

He turned and sat and unlaced his shoes, ripped the dangling skin off his ankle, put his socks on so they’d rub and sting, kept his head down. Waited for them to leave him alone.


He told Highgate he’d help put the hurdles away so he could stay late and not be out where they could see him. And then get straight home.

Where his father would have left for work.

And his father would come back afterwards, from work, not fresh from screwing Jean or some other bloody slag.

The hurdles had been put away. Everything was done, everyone was gone. He turned and started to walk. The bricks of the classrooms were liver-red in the sunset, the shadows were the colour of hardening blood. He turned and walked backwards so he could watch the whole butcher’s shop shrink with every step he took.

“Hey! Stephen! Hey!”

He turned again. Sylvia was riding towards him. Her mother must’ve sent her to the shops.

In the late light it was as though she burned in the air, as though a tawny light blew softly through her skin and made everything around her glow, and whoever stood near her could be warmed and glow softly, too.

He wanted to look at her forever.

She was there. She’d stopped her bike and was standing with one foot on a pedal and the other on the ground.

His throat was dry.

He was afraid.

“Are you going in the soccer?”

His foot dangled from the kerb. He looked up and the setting sun screamed into his eyes. He looked down at the axle and spokes in the front wheel of her bike.

“I might,” he said. “It depends.” Green laughing and slagging while everyone whistled and stamped and yelled.

Green getting all the goals.

“I’m going in the net-ball.”

He squinted. She was almost a shadow, but not quite. He could see her small white teeth smiling.

“You going to watch Match of the Day?”

The sun was too bright. He looked at the saltbush that led up to the bare, square tabletop hill a mileaway. He looked at the square, bare rocks. The shadows between them were purple.

The air in those shadows would be cold.

He looked at the ground, at his foot next to hers.

“Yeah,” he said.

“I barrack for Manchester.”

Green barracked for Manchester.

“They’re great.”


She was still smiling, but she was twisting her foot on the grit, getting ready to go. He wanted to ask her if she was going to go out with Green. He wanted to tell her what Green was like.

He wanted her to reach through his silence.

He blinked.

The last of the sun was still burning on the saltbush.

“When’s net-ball practice?”



“When’s soccer?”

“Tuesday and Thursday.”

So he couldn’t see her then. They couldn’t walk home. He manoeuvred a stone with his shoe until it left a scar on the road.

The sun had gone. The sky over the hill was like shallow, luminous water.

He still couldn’t speak to her. It would be like trying to speak to the air or the light.

“Yeah, well, I’ve got to get home by dark. My mum said.”

Sylvia turned her bike and bent to straighten the pedal. “See you Monday, then.” She smiled and rode off towards the glimmering sky. He watched the road lengthen between them.


His father wasn’t home. He had already left for work.

His mother said they had fish and chips for tea because he’d won; there was bread so they could have real chip butties. Ken had told her, she said, when he came home from school.

His brother was all blue eyes and innocence, stuffing himself with chips, making claws of his hands and baring his teeth, pretending to be that stupid dinosaur band he liked so bloody much.

He stared at the walls. Compressed cardboard they must’ve been. You could hear people on the other side yelling at each other or their kids or watching telly or having a leak or a screw. His father said he worked double shift so he could get away. His father said the bleeding country began as a bleeding jail and that’s all it still was, every bleeding house another cell of bleeding prisoners.

“Never mind.” His mother turned the oven off and started shaking salt and vinegar on the fish. “You tried hard, and that’s the main thing. If you try hard at your schoolwork you’re bound to get a good job.”

There was no such bleeding thing as a good job, his father said.

His father was at work. Afternoons began at four, nights at twelve.

His father came straight home from work and went to sleep. He had dinner in the afternoon. His mother cooked it for him and then he went straight back to work.

That’s why he never saw him.

He watched his brother stuff his mouth and grin. He watched his mother telling him to have some chip butties anyway because nobody could win all the time.

He turned and stared at the windows and watched the streetlights weep in the glass.



* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

M. F. McAuliffe is the co-author of the poetry collection Fighting Monsters (1998) and the limited-edition artist’s book Golems Waiting Redux (2011).

Her short fiction has appeared in Overland, siglo, Australian Short Stories, The Adelaide Review, The Clarion Awards, and Eye-Rhyme. Her poetry has appeared in Famous Reporter, Poezija (Zagreb), and Prairie Schooner, among other venues; her long poem “Orpheus” was staged by the experimental La Mama Courthouse Theatre in Carlton, Victoria, in May, 2000.

In 2002 she co-founded the multilingual magazine Gobshite Quarterly with R. V. Branham, and she continues there as contributing editor.



Artist: Jane Gilday

Arbor Life: Hummingbird

Acrylic on panel


Sequestration* and other poems

by Judith Steele



Down he comes
handing out food clothes light
and again he comes
handing out violence and darkness.

This world is small
the children say
surely other worlds must be
above and above us?

Only God can move
up and down between worlds
handing out pain and pleasure
in this mysterious way.

*“Sequestration” was the first charge made against Josef Fritzl in Amstetten, 26 April 2008, after the discovery of the 24 year captivity of his daughter and her children he fathered through incestuous rape.


I was reading a poem
about a mother’s memory
of her son’s first schoolday,
and I remembered first day
for both of us
at the new secondary school.

From the staff-room window
I saw my son standing alone,
hands in pockets
of his new grey pants,
slouched sufficiently to suggest
to schoolyard observers his ease
and approachability

but I saw
his chin tilted
eyes straight
shoulders squared

against whatever battering
I’d dragged him to
this time

his spirit as always
sternly alert
and courageous.


Mirror, stained glass window, curtain
throw light and shadow on the red quilt,
undulating centre surrounded by still life

How long do you think this will last?
It’s not your bed

Life on the ocean wave
lasts only until the night
he sleeps elsewhere

and you attack his bed
with a carving knife

Early hours of morning weeping
you try to patch the waterbed
with masking tape

He comes home
The wounds are fatal.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Judith Steele is Australian, currently lives in South Australia. She is co-author (with Moira McAuliffe) of Fighting Monsters, (Vaughan Willoughby, Melbourne, 1998) and was twice winner of the Dymocks Northern Territory Red Earth Poetry Prize (2001, 2002). Her poetry has appeared in Northern Territory and South Australian publications; in Gobshite Quarterly (Oregon) and Tema (Zagreb); and in webzines The Animist, Thylazine, Four and Twenty and In Other Words: Merida (May 2013).



viejos tributo merida jpb

Artist: Juan Pablo  Bavio

Anciana de Yucatàn

theater, translation

Hunting Guide

By murmurante teatro




There is a borderline that, on some occasions, is presented for us to decide whether or not to cross it. It is a threshold. To cross it is to transit from one reality to another. When you cross that threshold, you´re no longer the same.

All of us here have once found ourselves in front of certain thresholds which fascinate us, scare us and before which the hunter or the pray, the wrong doer or the victim will find himself in a game of intermittent roles which we all have sometime played.

We present you with these tales as lose pieces left in a crime scene, with the intention of building a guide with them not to provide solutions or certainties but to formulate questions

about the hunt that goes on in the so called “white” Mérida of Yucatán.

I AM 55.2%

I always wanted to play the trumpet since I was a girl but it wasn’t until I was in a prep school in arts that I had the chance to play the violin. My dad gave me a new piano as a present. I started to take clarinet lessons right away but had to quit them, along with school, to work in a cantina. I wash dishes because I don´t feel ready to deal with customers. I am been told that they can be rude or they´ll touch you or are nasty with you.

There´s a musician in my family, though: My brother; my older brother who left to Mexico City to study music, and with whom I haven´t spoken in a very long time. I have much to tell him but I don´t call him for fear of telling him things I may later regret, even when there are things that we can say to each other without words.

A little while ago I found his old cassette tapes and I wanted to put something together with them, along with the empty bottles that I brought from work, to create an object that may form something of the two of us. It reminds me of some exercises that I did when I was still in school but this is just for me and its meaning cannot be measured with a grade.

I still miss school, my friends, some of the teachers, some routines but there are things that I realized being out of school, like the fact that at the school they´ll promote competition not only among students but also among professors and parents. It´s always the thing of who knows more, who believes to know more, who deserves better grades, as if grades were to define what one is. A grade is only a number. Numbers themselves are cold as statistics.

Statistics in Mexico say that every 52 seconds a student drops out of school and that, of every 100 students who enter elementary, only 14 reach college, and that more than half of Mexico´s teenagers are below poverty line. But my brother went indeed to DF to study.

It´s not that everything is perfect for him. Sometimes he has no money and calls home; then my folks send him what they can but it´s never enough. Soon will come the time when they won´t be able to help him and he´ll have to think of what to do to survive.

Sooner or later, we all have to think of what to do to survive. This may be the reason why they had fire drills at schools. The bad thing is that not everyone took them seriously; not even I.

I remember the drills in which the teacher, upon hearing the fire alarm, would get up calmly, chatting with other teachers or scolding the students that were being silly. There was a time that a teacher wasn´t notified that there would be a drill and was teaching his the class in my group. He got so scared when the alarm went off that he forgot what he had to do as a responsible adult in front of a group and simply took his things and went out running. He just fled. After that, the teacher became the whole school´s mockery. Both students and faculty remembered his face all scared and his clumsy run.

I now understand. I understand that teacher. The fire drill made sense for him because he believed in the need of saving his own life. Fleeing became an act of life or death. I understand those who flee. I understand my brother because I wish I could flee, leave everything behind, chase a dream or wake up to a nightmare.

But, at the same time, there are little things, people, and routines that don´t let me run away, even when I´ve been wanting to for so long. I may be just waiting for something to happen, or cultivating nostalgia, growing old.

I´m already judgmental of myself again, feeding what corrodes me.


The Scorpion and the Frog is an ancient fable of African origins but I know a different version that I would like to share: The scorpion is anxious to cross the river because otherwise he will die. Then he sees the frog swimming nearby and he thinks it´s his last hope to cross. He calls him and says: “Please, help me, the humans burnt the forest and threw pesticide on this side of the river and, if I don´t cross it, I will die and won´t be able to join my kind.”

Ths frog stares at him and says: “Yea, right! I help you cross and, when we´re in midstream, you will bury your sting on my back. Then, when I ask you why, you´ll say ´Oops! I´m sorry, I couldn´t help it. It´s my nature.´ I know the fable. it´s older than the tortoise; so I won´t fall for it and risk my neck this time.”

The scorpion looks at it with awe and says: “Well, you´re right in that the fable is very old and, of course, I also happen to know it but it´s not quite correct. The true nature of a scorpion is not to kill the frogs that risk themselves to help them. The true nature of a scorpion is to survive, just as any other animal. That is why I ask you to help me join my kind who are in the other shore.”

The frog is convinced and allows the scorpion to climb on his back. They start to cross. When they´re in midstream the frog grabs the scorpion´s stinger and stings himself with it. Terrified, the scorpion looks at him and says: “What is wrong with you. Why did you do

that? No we will both drown!” The frog replies: “I´m sorry, I couldn´t help it. It´s my nature.”

I think there are a couple of things to think about this. One is that, by principle, a frog and a scorpion should not cross a river together. I feel like I grew up the son of a frog and a scorpion who decided to cross a river together, who hurt each other and this made me grow up in fear and guilt. Fear made me vulnerable as a scorpion with its stinger folded. That is why I ate too much; so much that I grew very fat. I was a fat and fearful kid and the other kids would realize it. At school there were certain acts that I would suffer; for instance, crossing the soccer field. Every time I crossed the soccer field I would get hit by a ball, or by a few balls. I would feel fear and fury and would sweat. I´d sweat a lot. My clothes would get soaked until one day that all changed. I was about to cross the field and I started sweating oceans, as usual, so I stopped and took off my wet shirt. I left it on the side and crossed the field with a bare torso. I´ve no idea what the others thought. I don´t know if they laughed at me and mocked me. What I do know is that I stopped playing a roll. I understood that fear makes us play certain roles that change constantly. Sometimes we sting others; other times we get stung by others but we generally sting ourselves.

[Text projected on the wall:
The emperor scorpion is a very frail being, actually.
When I have it on my hands, I feel its enormous fragility
and the fear of hurting him is greater
than that of being hurt by him]


The only thing I wanted to do was to stop feeling what I was feeling at that moment. It´s an escape. It´s as if nothing existed upon closing my eyes; as if the world ceased to be.

Falling into depression is total despair. You feel agony, an oppression in the chest, you´re short of air, no one understands you, you feel unprotected, you feel the world falling upon you.

This happens because we all have a limit: a limit to laugh, a limit to cry, a limit to tolerate. When you really try to, your life changes and it´s no longer the same. You exceed the limit and it´s as easy as saying I live, I don´t live, and what? Who cares? It´s my life, mine and no one else´s.

It´s a very strong pain. It´s as if you had a broken mirror and saw your reflection in it, as if you saw all the fragments and no matter how hard you try to put them together, it will never be the same. It´s that no one can live fragmented.

After knocking on so many doors, I finally got a job. I learned my lesson: I didn´t mention that I was under psychiatric treatment, because in the world out there, as I call it, when they

know that you attempted suicide, they´ll point the finger on you and marginalize you, more so if you´re a woman.

Now I am in a dilemma because I have a job and I am happy but the schedule is in conflict with my therapy and I can´t go. Also, I can´t take the medication as indicated because it would affect my performance at work. But I´m happy because I have a job.


Not that long ago, it happened here in Merida—the so called “white city”—that two friends got together to chat. They were old friends. As it often happens among men, their friendship was based in aggression, mostly subtle aggressions, heavy jokes, disapproval disguised as just kidding. As in many friendships among men, one was the constant aggressor and the other one, the victim.

That afternoon—or evening—when they got together, they were into their beers or rum for that matter. The thing is that the aggressor started to victimize the victim, as usual. But this time a limit was reached. That afternoon—or evening—in the heat of the beers—or rum—the victim didn´t play cool with his usual roll and decided to counterattack. Surprised, the aggressor felt his warm blood flowing up his face and let himself be driven by it, and by an instinct to defend himself, even when that man who was just returning the previous aggressions was his friend, one of the people closest to him.

Then another limit was reached when the aggression became physical: A hand padding the other´s back stronger than usual; a finger coming too close to the other´s face; a hand that pushes it away; a push followed by another push; a slap in the face; a fist that travels in the air and thrusts into a jaw, into a nose, and the air full of fear, of strikes, of blows, and the sequence gets out of control. The fists tremble with the arms. The bodies strike and retaliate as never before. The faces are heat up.

The victim can no longer stand it and runs inside his house to his room from the yard where he received his old friend as many times before. Frantic and covered with sweat, he feels his stomach boiling. A sharp pain between belly and genitals makes him fall. He gets up at once and opens a drawer where he looks for something messily. He finds the gun. A gun that someone gave him once and he decided to keep, “just in case one day…” A gun he had barely touched before but he grabs, he checks—all six bullets are in place for him to unload on that asshole who´s out there yelling at him and keeps on yelling although he no longer can distinguish any words. He´s no longer there—he´s nowhere actually. He is one with the gun, completely alone for the first time in years; alone with his thoughts. He closes the drum, releases safety catch as it goes click.


And the victim goes back that night to that house, to that room; thee victim that falls heavily; the victim who hits the floor; the victim who refuses to go over the threshold; the

victim who won´t become the aggressor and who stays there, in that room, alone for the first time in years, feeling how time has become something else.


The heat in Merida. The Summer heat in Merida. The Summer heat in Merida every day that you have to wear the school´s uniform. It´s amazing how you sweat after a few steps; how you sweat when you realize your classmates restart a cycle you know well; a cycle that has you as an axis; a cycle consisting only in mocking you, in screwing you up. They´ll study you more than their Math books. They´ll detect any change in you, if you wear your hair differently, if you´ve drown anything new in your notebook, if you say something in class.

And you sweat much more when the bell goes off announcing that the school day is over, and that you´ll get out alone, and that you´ll have to cross that empty lot full of rocks to head for home. You know what it´s coming: Two or three will be there at the empty lot before you and they´ll await you.

When you get there, soaking wet, they´ll have everything ready: An arsenal of mockery for you; newly thought ideas and, when the moment comes, the push, the slaps, some random kick, until they get you on the floor and kick you harder. They´ll take your backpack, they´ll hide it, they´ll throw your belongings to the dry, red earth. If they´re in the mood, they´ll take your shoes and will throw them far away. They´ll deal with you as a chicken in a kitchen, except that, here, what gets on your sweaty skin instead of flames is the dry red earth. They may even record your humiliation with a cell phone, to then upload it for millions of people to witness it.

Today, however, something went different: Your hand found a rock of a good size and weight. Your fingers clutch it with no one noticing. They don´t notice it indeed as they´re laughing of you: How ridiculous you must look like that with your face all red as if broiled with sweat and dirt, moving clumsily as a circus elephant. But you´re now standing and your hand is gaining impulse with the rock toward your closest attacker. When you see him laying there, covered in blood, you cross the threshold to realize you can no longer stop. Then you crash his head with the rock once and again until you see his brains.

And then, the silence. A silence almost peaceful that no one dares to break. As you run away, you don´t know where you´ll stop, nor you care to know. You only know that, when you´re asked later if you would do it again, you won´t help it but to smile before you say yes.


When I was 14, my sister asked me to come with her every time she went jogging. She wanted to lose weight and gain shape as she was going to run in the Miss Yucatan pageant. I accepted. We would wear our sweat pants and go out jugging, every day, around the neighborhood.

My sister always wanted to participate in the Miss Yucatan thing, maybe because my mother was queen of the Lion´s Club in the city where she grew up and my sister used to look at the old pictures and admire her crowning ceremony, my mom wearing elegant dresses, riding on a carriage all nicely decorated. Beautiful she was.

My sister didn´t win. Twice she didn´t. She never became Señorita Yucatán so she quit working out and jugging but I continued. For years I wore those sweat pants in the morning, even if I´d gone out partying the night before. I went jogging on Avenida Campestre, by myself. It was my moment of the day to be alone, especially since there was always some sort of tension at home; a strange tension. I think I´ve managed to handle tension even when I´ve lived in it all my life. Well, as my mother used to say “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” and “Every cloud has a silver lining”. I imagine she knew that well. She was from Sinaloa, in Northern Mexico. She grew up milking cows, riding donkeys, and chasing chickens. As a girl she was a free soul. Her headaches started at age 14, during the time when my grandma left my grandpa for being such a bohemian and a womanizer, you know what I mean? A bohemian as many local men, being Yucatan one of the states with the highest rates of alcoholism nationwide. My father was bohemian too. I suppose that´s how tensions started, since my Sinaloan mother married my Yucatecan father; when my Sinaloan mother, who wasn´t bohemian, married quite a bohemian “yuca”. She who would always get headaches that made her lay in bed for days. He who always liked to drink; a habit I found out about when I was older. I must admit that he had I never saw him drunk when I was a girl, because my mother took good care of putting us to bed very early, way before the sun was down. I never understood why she did that or what it meant to be an alcoholic. I though it was some kind of an allergy or skin rash. I never saw them argue. Everything seemed perfect, even when there was always something in the atmosphere creating tension, for instance, my mother´s migraines. She loved having children. She has five and used to say that she would have loved to have thirteen or more, as aunt Chelo did; that pregnancy was one of the happiest stages in her life, she´d say. I don´t really share her view. When you get pregnant your body gets deformed, your feet get swollen, everything hurts. Of course, it´s a good excuse to keep your husband at bay.

One day, after years had gone by, when I already knew of my father´s alcoholism, I asked my mother why she had never left my father; why she had never divorced him. She said because of us, her children. “It´s the cross I must bare”, she said, and bore it to her last days. One evening, when she was already very ill and could barely speak, she asked me to tell my father to let her go. What he did was ask the doctors to give her “quality of life”, whatever that may mean. What it translated into was prolonging her suffering a few more months until she died without having had the opportunity to do what she willed during the last days that she could talk and move around.

We, the relatives, are very selfish. Despite the tensions that have´n ceased, I think my life has been better. Tensions of skin, tensions of gender, tensions that, true, won´t unleash the

same forms of violence as in other parts of the country, still detonate things that mark people profoundly; things that people don´t talk about, situations that people hide… Maybe that is why my mother got sick. Maybe that is why people will drink anything here in Yucatan, what makes them dizzy, what makes them drunk, what they like, what they don´t and what hurts.

[Statistics projected on the wall:
6. Yucatan holds the first place in alcohol intoxication nationwide.
5. In Mexico, one of every 6 children who suffers bullying commits suicide.
4. In Mexico, about 15 million illegal weapons circulate.
3. In Mexico, suicide has become the third cause of death between the ages 18 and 35.
2. Mexico holds the first place in violence against minors worldwide.
1. 55.2% of teenagers in Mexico are below poverty line.]


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Noé Morales Muñoz was born in Mexico City in 1977. His professional activities have developed mainly as a playwright, theater critic, teacher, translator and literary essayist. He was the theatre reviewer of the Mexican cultural supplement La Jornada Semanal from newspaper La Jornada for almost a decade, and has been a regular contributor for other newspapers and magazines. He has received artistic development grants from the Mexican Foundation for Young Writers, the National Fund for Culture and Arts, the Laboratorio Fronterizo de Escritores/Writing Lab on the Border, the Royal Court Theatre of London. He took part in the 2009 edition of The Word Exchange, a fifteen-day residency at the Lark Play Development Center in New Yok City in November 2009. He has received two awards for his work. The first of them was the 2007 National Theatrical Essay Award, convoked by the National Institute for Fine Arts and PasodeGato magazine. The second was the 2010 Chilango – fmx Scenic Arts Award, promoted by Editorial Expansión and the Festival del Centro Histórico of Mexico City. He has had four of his plays produced throughout México, and has developed collaborative scenic works as dramatist, stage manager, producer, director and assistant director with some of the most outstanding Mexican theatre companies, like Teatro Línea de Sombra, ASYC Teatro de Movimiento, Realizando Ideas, El Rinoceronte Enamorado, and Cardumen Teatro.

Fer de la Cruz is a Yucatecan poet born in 1971. He has received two national, two regional, and one state-wide poetry awards in Mexico and is a member of the founding faculty at the School of Creative Writing of the State Center of Fine Arts, in Mérida. He is also coordinator of the Historic Mérida branch of Centro de Idiomas del Sureste, where he was a teacher for 20 years. He holds an MA in Spanish from Ohio University and a BA in Philosophy. As an independent editor, writer, translator, and cultural promoter, he has participated in cultural festivals, conferences, and book fairs in Mexico, Cuba, France, and the United States. His poems appeared in the books “Redentora la voz” (Ayuntamiento de Mérida, 2010) and “Aliteletras. De la A a la que quieras” (Dante, 2011), as well as in the chapbooks “La cuenta regresiva. Radiografía urbana mesozoica” (El Drenaje, 2012) and “Seven Songs of Silent, Singing Fireflies” (JKPublishing, 2008): delacrux@hotmail.com.




Artist: Mel Blossom


Poetry, translation

Mi madre tiena la boca llena de muertos

by Irma Torregrosa
translated by Terin Tashi Miller

My mother has a mouth full of corpses
From the first cup of coffee of the day
From when she gets in her car
From when she prays to God for us.

I don’t believe in the miracles but would invent a God
that kills without listening to urgings
that I hear in the nights with an ear pasted to the wall
almost hugging it to not cry
saying that darkness is also life
that death is also life.

How strange to the woman that I don’t know the smile that came from eating deer
the kiss that marked my first time
How strange this girl that I loved as I did
that didn’t know the time is the same
that we ourselves are to blame for uncertainty.

My mother has eyes of lost battles
and the hands full of heaven
my mother has a mouth full of corpses
and I a smile broken
of fear
that I don’t know how to get rid of.



Mi madre tiene la boca llena de muertos
cuando la primera taza de café del día
cuando sube al auto
cuando pide a Dios por nosotros.
No creo en los milagros pero inventaría un Dios
qué matar si no escucha los ruegos
que yo escucho en las noches con la oreja pegada a la pared
casi abrazándola para que no llore
diciendo que la sombra también es la vida
que la muerte también es la vida.
Cómo extraño a la mujer que no conocí
a la sonrisa que le dio de comer a los venados
al beso que marcó el principio de mis tiempos.
Cómo extraño a esa niña que amó como yo lo hago
que no sabe que el tiempo es el mismo
que somos nosotros los culpables de la incertidumbre.
Mi madre tiene ojos de batallas perdidas
y las manos llenas de cielo
mi madre tiene la boca llena de muertos
y yo una sonrisa quebrada
de miedo
para que no se vaya.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Irma Torregrosa (Merida, Yucutan, 1992) is studying at the School of Creative Literature of the State Center of Bellas Artes and a student in the degree program in Social Communication of the Autonomous University of the Yucutan. She won third place in the Second National Prize of Young Poetry Jorge Lara Rivera in 2010, and a summer scholarship winner in the Foundation for Mexican Leters in 2011 and 2012. She has published in various magazines, among them, the Circulo of Poesia, Hysterias and the journal Por Esto!, as well as in national compilations of young literature.

translated by Terin Tashi Miller
Author of KASHI, (Formerly self-published as “From Where The Rivers Come”), DOWN THE LOW ROAD, and SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL
Sympathy For The Devil by Terin Miller
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Artist Samuel Barrera
Fiction, translation

Alexandra, Be Good (Hunting Lemur)

by Bojan Babic


She sits in the park, crying. She doesn’t know why she’s crying. A mustachioed statue of a hero climbs down off its pedestal to her, sits beside her and kisses her on the forehead, then kisses her on the mouth.

The teacher calls her to the blackboard and tells her: “solve this equation”. The sum is easy and she knows the answer, but she has a bird’s claws instead of hands and so she can’t hold the chalk. She wants to tell the teacher that she can’t hold the chalk, but instead of a mouth she has a beak and she lets out a bird’s squawk.

Now it’s night-time. She stares up at the sky. The moon is revolving quickly around the earth, faster and faster until it eventually falls down to earth, but everything is all right, because her grandma brings her a basket of cherries.

Then she feeds mechanical iron pigs, and they sing her a lullaby, all in the same mechanical way. They lick her feet with their mechanical tongues. They scratch her.

Now she is towing a ship across town with her hair. Then she is chased by babies in the street, and she’s naked. That’s what Alexandra’s friend Maja dreams, strange things, crazy things. Every morning Maja comes to school with a new story. Alexandra listens and says nothing. She says nothing because she dreams of nothing. She dreams of nothing because she hardly sleeps at all. No sooner does she fall asleep than she is woken by a noise, disturbed by light, interrupted by fear. And if she is fooled for a moment by her forcibly closed eyes and begins to dream, the dream is always the same. She is at lunch with her family in a nice large house, it’s their house. She reaches for the salt, and another hand smacks her lightly, because salt is forbidden. A stupid dream – and boring, above all else.

And then, at that moment, Alexandra always wakes up.

That’s the only thing she dreams. And she only sleeps for a short time, a couple of minutes, and then comes back to reality. She lies in bed, in the dark, for hours on end, all night long, with a blanket over her head, and hugging a toy, a small lemur teddy.

It’s the same every night. Tonight is no exception. Then suddenly the light comes on.


Get up, son[1], come on. It’s already half past four. We’re going stalk. You didn’t forget, did you? Come on, come on. What we’ve been hunting so far is nothing compared to stalking. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll be asking to go again and again. Stalk hunt is the ultimate way to hunt roebucks. You know, a true hunter-stalker must be in good condition, know the ground and game excellently, have a sense of ease of movement and be fully observant. And we have these qualities, don’t we, son? For me, stalking, this hunting pursuit, is a real art.

To approach the quarry, the superior ones, to find yourself in a position to shoot, or to test yourself, and then to slowly get closer to young herds, not yet good for shooting, to examine the limits of nature, your own nature.

The chase gives you so many opportunities to improvise, to use quick-thinking and such suspense as you can only imagine, which is the sweetest thing of all. Adrenalin surges at every step as you stealthily get closer to the animal.

And when a buck you haven’t noticed up ‘til then rises from the grass. Pleasure. Stalking. Pleasure. Nothing’s better.

Come on. I’ve got a .243 Winchester for you. OK? I think it’s the right size for you now. You’re ready for it. I know, I can see what you want in your eyes, but you’re still a beginner. No rush, you’ll get to the .222 Remington. It’s for the experienced. You still have difficulty carrying it, but you’ll grow. You’ll get stronger. You will, my son. You will. I’ll keep it, for the time being.

And I’ve seen what you draw all the time, in secret. Nice gun stocks, rifles. Shooting. Targets. I too like to see pretty, engraved weapons, choice stocks, the glow.

But you should not yearn for such things. Engravings do not shoot the game, my son. What is important is that the rifle does the job. And that it is suited to its owner, while the engraving – the engraving may be over-done and become kitschy. What I used to see all over Greece and Turkey, those guns and rifles, yes, all that looked like mockery. As if a rifle were entertainment for lonely spinsters. As if it were some kind of embroidery or tapestry, or something. Engravings all over weapons with no order or plan, meaningless, shapeless. Come on, get dressed.


Alexandra pulls back her covers. Alexandra takes off her pajamas. Alexandra is in her underwear. He’s looking at her, stern, but proud.


              Come, my son.


Her legs are muscled, strong. Her body is robust, sturdy. She is wide, not tall. She isn’t fat, you couldn’t say that. Once she heard her relatives describe her well-built.

Her father taps her on her behind to hurry her along.


              Come on, son. The quarry won’t wait for us.


Alexandra hastily puts on a khaki uniform and cap. There’s no time to wash her face or other morning rituals. To catch the first ray of sunlight. To seize the day and draw it close. To catch a perfect roebuck and shoot it right below the shoulder blade. Killing with a single shot – the first commandment of hunting.

Off they go. They’re jolted along in a white Lada Niva on the muddy roads. They breathe in the woods. They stop. They search. Search without success. Oak trees, long grass, ditches, brooks, foxes’ dens, abandoned cottages, pheasants, wasps, all flash before their eyes for two hours until it’s time for breakfast. The secret is to be patient, to persevere. To take more time than the roebucks do. To always be one step ahead. To be a human.

Jolting along in the Lada again. Deeper into the woods. The road tapers off into nothing. On foot. They search. And search. Their boots pick up turf, mud. Their feet become stronger. Wider. He is in front, some twenty steps. He’s a scout. He spots something. He freezes to the spot. He quietens Alexandra’s footsteps. He kneels down behind a tree stump. She lies on the ground, in a ditch. He observes, motionless and silent. He doesn’t talk. The silence lasts a minute – an eternity. He points his finger and whispers ecstatically, at the top of his voice, so Alexandra can hear him over in the ditch.


I can see him. There he is. About a hundred and fifty yards away, I’d say. He’ll come out into the open. He’ll come out. Come. Come on, boy, walk into our sights. That’s right.

              What’s the matter now? Why are you standing, my boy? Come on, feel free. We mean you no harm.

Just to have a little fun. Ahaaaa. A plane flies by. Ignore the plane, little buck. Just go on your way. To the water. Come, come slowly. Can you see him, Alex, huh? See how handsome he is. Nature is a miracle. God is great. What perfection He has created. Look at those horns. They’ll be yours, Alex. Are you happy? Yes. You’re happy.


The roebuck approaches, no longer afraid.


That’s right. Come now, Alex, shoot. Breathe in, just like we practiced. Gun stock on the shoulder. Find him.

              Can you see him? Yes? Good. I have him in my sights too.

Look him in the eyes. Aim for the heart. He can’t be just wounded. Under no circumstances. Right through the heart, under the shoulder blade. Then he’s dead in an instant, in no time at all.

              I love this moment. Alex, this is what I live for.

That’s it. Two hunters. One target. Both have it in their sights. That’s how a special connection is created. I couldn’t feel it with just anybody, you know.


Alexandra aims. She looks at the animal walking freely across the freshly mown grass, directly towards the river. The river is between her and the animal. Father is on the same side of the river as her. Father. Alexandra turns with her eye on the sight. From the animal’s head to the man’s head, to her father. Ninety degrees.

What this right angle covers: mossy tree trunks, ferns, tree stumps, a small metal pot, a puddle with the surface covered in pond scum, a starling, spring. Nature through the blur of rapid movement. A face; an expression of tense exaltation.

Through the visor Alexandra observes the man aiming at the roebuck. She takes a deep breath and with a tranquil, so very tranquil micro-movement she points the little cross at the line of his temple. The man talks passionately:


Only with you, Alex. With you. Because you are the best. You are my own creation. No one else could share this love of hunting with me. No one else could understand me. You are so young, and so… Ah, my son, you still don’t know what people are like. Not yet. And it’s better to stay that way. Animals are better. Much better.


Alexandra aims at his temple.


              Look at those eyes of his. Huge.


Then she lowers the visor to the speaking lips. She’ll blow them up. She imagines them blown up by a gunshot. Flying lips. Speechless. He’s mute. Mute. At last.

He says:


              Look at him, look closely.


She’s looking at him, closely.


              How carefree he is.


Despite a spasm of passion, she recognizes light-heartedness on her father’s face.


              He doesn’t even realize you have him in your sights.


She smiles at the thought that her father wouldn’t even think that she has him in her sights.


How old would he be? Five, probably. He must have lots of young. You see, Alex, how God has arranged it. Animals pass away, disappear, and their young go on living. Fending for themselves. They don’t suffer, they don’t grieve, they don’t wait for forty days, six months, a year. And us, how closely related we are. You see, if I wasn’t alive, if I disappeared, if someone, for example, shot me accidentally now while hunting, what would you do? How would you cope? I shudder even to think.


Alexandra puts her forefinger on the trigger. She clenches her teeth.


Here he is. He’s moving. Good boy. There. Just a bit to the left. Turn a bit more to the left.


She lowers the gun aimed to the left, to the neck. She’s focused on the jugular.

There. That’s the ideal position, Alex. Got him? If so, shoot. Shoot below the neck, near the shoulder blade. Shoot for the heart.


She lowers the sight further, to the chest. The heart.


Don’t wound him. Kill him straight off, with one shot. Don’t torture him.

              Go ahead, shoot.


He makes a move with his body as if he wants to step away from his rifle and look at his daughter. Alexandra briskly resumes her initial position, with the weapon pointed at the five-year-old roebuck. Father glances at her expectantly.


              Go ahead, now. Shoot. He’ll run away.


Without hesitation, Alexandra fires a bullet, then one more. The buck takes a step in fear, then falls down. He tries to get up, but falls again. He raises his head, then lowers it. He keeps on moving his legs, then stops. He lets out a cry.


You’ve wounded him! You’ve only wounded him. I should have known you weren’t ready. Let’s go over there. Come on now. Quickly.


They run across the brook and undergrowth. They approach the quarry. There’s a big gaping wound on a leg muscle. Blood. The buck screeches. Cries out. The screeching is unbearable. The woods echo. Father positions himself over the fallen buck, observing him, not without pleasure.


Look at him. He’s hiding his eyes. He’s staring into the ground. Look, Alex. That’s how all of them look at the ground. They pray to it, or whatever. Praying for a miracle. How pitiful they are. How we used to slaughter them. Killed hundreds of them. And they all hid their eyes from death in the same way. They were all the same. They repented. Groaned. Squealed. Repented, not because they knew they’d sinned, but because they hadn’t moved, escaped in time. Fools. A lowlier species. Ha! Shoot now, Alex. Finish the job. Come on. Be good. You have to do it. Right in the heart. Lean the rifle over here.


How he screeches, wounded, he moves his lips inwards, draws them in. His gums are visible.


              Go ahead. Shoot!


Alexandra feels dizzy. Alexandra feels dizzy.


Shoot. Shoot! Shoot! Shoooot! Kill him. Be a man. A man, Alex. Shoooot!


Alexandra finishes the job. She kills the animal. Straight in the heart. The last jerk. The last. She can feel her father’s hands on her shoulders, his lips on her eye.


              That’s right, son. I’m proud of you.


As he hugs her, he pushes her head under his arm. She can smell his sweat.


              Now you’re a man. Now you’re a man, my son.


Alexandra cannot sleep. Alexandra cannot dream. She lies in bed, in the dark, for hours on end, all night long, with a blanket over her head, hugging a toy, a small lemur teddy.



[1] Fathers in Serbia sometimes call their daughter – son.






Kao ona sedi u parku i plače. Ne zna zašto plače. Onda brkati kip junaka ustane sa postolja, priđe joj, sedne pored nje i poljubi je u čelo, poljubi u usta.

Onda kao nastavnik je izvede ispred table i kaže joj „Reši ovu jednačinu“. Zadatak je lak i ona zna rešenje, ali kao ima ptičje kandže umesto šaka i ne može nikako da uhvati kredu, nikako. Hoće da se požali nastavniku kako ne može da uhvati tu kredu, ali umesto usta ima kljun i ispusti ptičji krik.

Pa, kao noć je. Ona gleda u nebo. Mesec se vrti oko zemlje brzo, sve brže i na kraju padne na zemlju, ali sve bude u redu, jer joj baka donese kotaricu trešanja.

Pa, kao ona hrani gvozdene mehaničke svinje, a one joj pevaju uspavanku, isto nekako mehanički. Ližu joj stopala mehaničkim jezicima. Grebu je.

Pa, kao kosom vuče brod po gradu. Pa je jure bebe po ulici, a ona gola. Pa sve tako nešto nenormalno i ludački sanja Aleksandrina drugarica Maja. Svako jutro Maja u školu dolazi sa novom pričom. A Aleksandra sluša i ne govori ništa. Ništa ne govori jer ništa ne sanja. Ništa ne sanja jer gotovo da ni ne spava. Taman zaspi, ali probudi je šum, uznemiri je svetlo, unespokoji strah. I ako je na silu zatvorene oči nekako zavaraju na trenutak, pa započne sa snom, taj san je uvek isti. Ona je sa porodicom na ručku u velikoj lepoj kući, kao njihova je. Pruži ruku da uzme so, a neka druga ruka je blago udari, jer je so zabranjena. Glup san i nadasve dosadan.

I tu, u tom trenutku, Aleksandra se uvek budi.

Samo to sanja. Samo tako, kratko spava, po par minuta, pa se vrati u realnost. Leži u krevetu, u mraku, satima, noćima, sa ćebetom preko glave, i igračkom, malim plišanim lemurom u zagrljaju.

Svake noći je tako. Pa i ove. Onda se svetlo odjednom pali.

Ustaj sine, hajde. Već je pola pet. Idemo na pirš. Nisi valjda zaboravila. Ajde, ajde. Ovo što smo do sad lovili nije ništa u odnosu na pirš.

Kad jednom probaš, tražićeš da idemo stalno. Lov piršom ti je vrhunski način lova na srndaće. Znaš, pravi lovac tragač mora da ima dobru kondiciju, da odlično poznaje teren i divljač, da ima osećaj za lako kretanje i savršenu moć zapažanja. A mi to imamo, je l’tako, sine? Za mene je pirš, taj lov pretragom, prava umetnost.

Da priđeš lovini, kapitalcu, da dođeš u priliku za pucanje ili da testiraš sebe, pa da lagano prilaziš mladim grlima, koja još nisu za odstrel, da ispituješ granice prirode, svoje prirode.

Pretraga ti daje najviše mogućnosti za improvizacije, trenutna rešenja i samo

da znaš kakvu neizvesnost, a to je najslađe. Adrenalin cepa pri svakom koraku kada se prikradaš životinji.

A još kad se iz trave podigne srndać kog do tog tre- nutka ni ne primetiš Gušt. Pirš. Gušt. Nema bolje.

Ajdemo. Spremio sam ti vinčesterku, dvestačetrestrojku. Može? Mislim da je to sada prava mera za tebe. Za to si spremna. Znam, vidim ti u očima šta želiš, ali još si na početku. Polako, doći ćeš i ti do dvestadvadesetdvojke remingtonke. Ona je ipak za iskusne. Ti se još mučiš da je nosiš, ali porašćeš. Ojačaćeš. Hoćeš, sine moj, Hoćeš. Neka je kod mene, za sada.

A video sam šta crtaš stalno, krišom. Lepe kundake, puške. Pucanje. Mete. Volim i ja da vidim gravirano i sređeno oružje, birane kundake, sjaj.

Ali ne treba patiti za tim stvarima. Gravure ne odstreljuju divljač, sine moj. Bitno je da puška radi posao. I da odgovara svom vlasniku, a gravura, gravura može da bude preterana i da pređe u kič. To što sam ja viđao po Grčkoj i Turskoj, te pištolje i puške, pa da, pa to je sve izgledalo kao sprdnja. Kao da je puška zanimacija za usedelice. Kao da je to nekakav vez, goblen, šta ja znam. Gravure preko celog oružja bez ikakvog reda i plana, bez smisla, bez oblika. Ajde, oblači se.

Aleksandra se otkriva. Aleksandra skida pidžamu. Aleksandra je u donjem vešu. On je posmatra, strogo i ponosno.

Ajde, sine moj.

Njene noge su mišićave, snažne. Njeno telo je robusno, jako. Svo nekako u širinu, ne u visinu. Nije debela. To se ne može reći. Čula je jednom kako rođaci govore o njoj kao o osobi sa jačom konstitucijom.
Otac je udara po zadnjici požurujući je.

Idemo sine. Lovina neće da nas čeka.

Aleksanda brzo oblači maskirno odelo i stavlja kačket. Nema vremena za umivanje i uobičajene jutarnje rituale. Uhvatiti prvi zrak sunca. Uhvatiti dan za mošnice i privući ga sebi. Uhvatiti savršenog srndaća i pogoditi ga pravo pod plećku. Ubistvo jednim hicem – prva lovačka zapovest.
Izlaze. Bela lada niva ih trucka po kaljavim putevima. Dišu šumu. Zaustave se. Tragaju. Tragaju bez uspeha. Čitava dva sata im se pred očima smenjuju hrastovi, strnjike, šančevi, potoci, lisičji jarci, napuštene kolibe, fazani, ose. Vreme je da doručkuju. Tajna je u strpljivosti, u istrajnsti. Imati vremena više od srndaća. Biti korak ispred. Biti čovek.
Ponovo truckanje u ladi. Dublje u šumu. Više nema puta. Pešice. Tragaju.
Tragaju. Čizme nose busenje zemlje, blata. Noge postaju snažnije. U širinu. On je ispred, nekih dvadesetak koraka. On je izviđač. Nešto primeti. Zaledi se u mestu. Ućutka Aleksandrine korake. On klekne iza panja. Ona legne na tlo, u šanac. On nepokretno posmatra i ćuti. Ne govori. To ćutanje traje minut – večnost. On pokazuje prstom i šapuće ekstatično, iz sveg glasa, kako bi ga Aleksandra čula tamo u jarku.

Vidim ga. Evo ga. Negde je na stopedeset metara, rekao bih. Izaći će na pokošeno. Izaći će. Hajde. Hajde mali, dođi nam na nišan. Tako je.
Šta je sad. Što stojiš dečko moj. Hajde, slobodno. Ne- ćemo ti ništa.
Samo malo da se družimo. Ahaaaa. Avion proleće. Pusti avion, srki. Samo nastavi svojim putem. Na vodicu. Hajde, hajde polako. Je l’ ga vidiš Aleks, a? Vidi kako je lep. Priroda je čudo. Bog je velik. Kakvo savršenstvo napravi. Pogledaj te rogove. Biće tvoji Aleks. Je l’ se raduješ? Da. Raduješ se.

Srndać prilazi oslobođen od straha.

Tako je. Hajde sad Aleks, nanišani. Udahni vazduh, kao što smo vežbali. Kundak na rame. Pronađi ga.
Je l’ ga vidiš? Da? Tako je. I ja ga imam na nišanu.
Pogledaj ga u oči. Ciljaj u srce. Ne sme biti samo ranjen. Nikako. Pravo u srce, pod plećku. Onda je odmah gotov, u momentu.
Volim ovaj trenutak. Aleks, za ovo živim.
To je to. Dva lovca. Jedna meta. Obojica je imaju na nišanu. Tako se stvara posebna veza. To ne bih mogao da osetim sa bilo kim.

Aleksandra nišani. Gleda životinju koja slobodno hoda po nedavno pokošenoj travi, pravo ka reci. Reka je između nje i životinje. Otac je na istoj strani reke kao i ona. Otac. Aleksandra se okreće sa okom na nišanu. Od glave životinje do glave čoveka, do oca. Devedeset stepeni.
Šta sve staje u taj prav ugao: mahovinom obrasla stabla; paprat; nekoliko posečenih panjeva; metalno lonče; barica čije je površina prekrivena žabokrečinom; čvorak; proleće. Priroda kroz sfumato brzog pokreta. Lice; napeti izraz oduševljenja.
Aleksandra kroz vizir posmatra čoveka koji nišani srndaća. Udahne duboko i mirnim, najmirnijim mikropokretom položi krstić u liniju njegove slepoočnice. Čovek govori strastveno:

Samo sa tobom Aleks. Sa tobom. Jer ti si najbolja. Ti si mojih ruku delo. Niko ne može da podeli ovu ljubav prema lovu sa mnom. Niko drugi ne može da
me razume. Tako si mlada, a tako… Eh sine moj, još ne znaš kakvi su ljudi. Još ne. I bolje je da tako ostane. Životinje su bolje. Mnogo bolje.

Aleksandra cilja u slepoočnicu.

Pogledaj te njegove oči. Krupne.

Onda spušta vizir do usana koje govore. Razneće ih. Zamišlja kako ih hitac raznosi. Usne lete. Ne govore. On ćuti. Ćuti. Konačno.
On govori:

Pogledaj ga, pogledaj pažljivo.

Ona ga gleda, gleda pažljivo.

Kako je samo bezbrižan.

I pored grča strasti, na očevom licu prepoznaje bezbrižnost.

Ni na kraj pameti mu nije da ga imaš na nišanu.

Ona se nasmeje na pomisao kako ocu nije ni na kraj pameti da ga ona ima na nišanu.

Koliko li je star? Petogodac, verovatno. Sigurno ima dosta dece. Vidiš Aleks, kako je to Bog uredio. Životinje odu, nestanu, a njihovi mali nastave život. Snalaze se. Ne pate, ne tuguju, ne čekaju četrdeset dana, šest meseci, godinu dana. A mi, koliko smo samo mi vezani. Eto, da mene nema, da me nestane, da me neko, na primer, slučajno u lovu sad pogodi, šta bi ti? Kako bi se snašla? Ne smem ni da pomislim.

Aleksandra postavlja kažipst na obarač. Stiska zube.

Evo ga. Pomera se. Tako je dečko. Tako. Još samo malo levo. Okreni se još samo malo levo.

Ona spušta nišan ulevo i naniže, do vrata. Koncentisana je na žilu kucavicu.

To. To je idealna pozicija. Aleks. Je l’ ga imaš? Ako ga imaš pucaj. Pucaj ispod vrata, kod plećke. Gađaj srce.

Ona spušta nišan još niže, do grudi. Do srca.

Nemoj da ga raniš. Ubij ga odmah, iz jednog hitca. Ne daj da se muči.
Hajde, pucaj.

On pravi pokret telom kao da želi da se odmakne od svoje puške i da pogleda svoju ćerku. Aleksandra se naglo vrati u početnu poziciju, sa oružjem uperenim u srndaća petogodca. Otac je pogleda sa iščekivanjem.

Hajde, bre. Pucaj. Pobeći će.

Bez čekanja, Aleksandra opali metak, pa još jedan. Srndać napravi korak straha, pa padne. Pokuša da ustane, pa padne. Podigne glavu, pa je spusti. Nastavi da se pomera nogama, pa prestane. Oglasi se.

Ranila si ga! Samo si ga ranila. Trebalo je da znam da nisi spremna. Hajdemo tamo. Hajde sad. Brzo.

Dotrčavaju preko rečice i žbunja. Prilaze lovini. Na nožnom mišiću zjapi velika rana. Krv. Srndać riče. Doziva. Rika je nepodnošljiva. Šuma odjekuje. Otac sebe postavlja nad palog srndaća i posmatra ga, ne bez zadovoljstva.

Vidi ga. Krije pogled. Zuri u zemlju. Vidi ga, Aleks. Svi oni gledaju tako u zemlju. Mole joj se, šta li. Mole se za čudo. Kako su samo jadni. Kako smo ih samo tamanili. Ubijali na stotine. I svi su tako krili pogled od smrti. Svi su bili isti. Kajali se. Jecali. Roptali. Kajali se, ne zato što znaju da su nešto zgrešili, već zato što se nisu sklonili, što nisu pobegli na vreme. Budale. Niža vrsta. Ha! Pucaj sad, Aleks. Dovrši posao. Hajde. Budi dobra. Moraš to da uradiš. Pravo u srce. Nasloni pušku ovde.

Kako riče, ranjenik pomera usne unazad, povlači ih. Vide mu se desni.

Hajde. Pucaj!

Aleksandri se zavrti u glavi. Aleksandra se zavrti u glavi.

Pucaj. Pucaj! Pucaj! Pucaaaaj! Ubij ga. Budi čovek. Čovek, Aleksandra. Pucaaaaj!

Aleksandra dovršava posao. Ubija životinju. Pravo u srce. Poslednji trzaj. Poslednji. Oseća očeve ruke na ramenima, njegove usne na svom oku.

Tako je, sine. Ponosan sam.

Dok je grli, gura njenu glavu pod svoju mišku. Ona oseća njegov znoj.

Sad si čovek. Sad si čovek, sine moj.

Aleksanda ne može da spava. Aleksandra ne može da sanja. Leži u krevetu, u mraku, satima, noćima, sa ćebetom preko glave, i sa igračkom, malim plišanim lemurom u zagrljaju.


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Bojan Babic (1977, Belgrade, Serbia) has published 3 books of short prose and 3 novels till now. He was awarded Borislav Pekić award – the only literary scholarship in Serbia. Some of his short stories were translated to Albanian and Swedish. This is the first time his story was translated to English language.

Natasa Miljkovic, born in Smederevo, Serbia, in 1984. She graduated from the Department of English Language and Literature of the Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, where she is currently doing her PhD thesis on scientific and artistic truth, based on some of John Banville’s novels. She works as an English teacher and a freelance translator.



Artist Nannette Guinto Amorado