I first encountered the phrase “loss control” when one of my most talented former creative writing students announced that she’d taken her fine arts degree and secured a job at The Container Store, working in Loss Control—which meant she dressed incognito and followed suspicious characters around the store.
I adore, in particular the missing preposition, of. Loss of control is miles different than loss control, and that both phrases imply the total failure of anyone to do more than impede loss. Loss is inevitable, total control is unattainable, and total loss of control is deadly. Control is an abstraction and a grail. Humans are driven to maddening distraction, dangerous and untenable lengths, in pursuit of control. We don’t ever get control, yet we hunt it. We hunt it because we hope it will give us some leverage over loss, which isn’t a distraction but a kind of affliction.
The stories and poems our theme contained are vastly diverse: unhinged and craft narrators dominate (as if the demonstration of control equaled actual control), people get lost in the desert, lost in their thoughts, disconnected from reality. Characters suffer complete loss of the senses, they murder, commit suicide, submit job applications, operate wobbly moral compasses and demonstrate robust appreciations of the absurd.
The loss of love, the loss of a loved one, the loss of our senses, of youth, the loss of merchandise—that broad spectrum of contingencies that keep us searching for solutions. And, as all good writers know, it’s the searching that provides comfort. Especially if you can go incognito.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The New, All-True CV
Susan White Norman
Casco on the Foam Planet
After I Smothered the Baby
In Case of Loss of Control
In Case of Sudden Danger
(The Cattle Were Lowing)
This Is Not a Personal Poem
Self-Portrait Without the Self
The Burning Place
Jynne Dilling Martin
Autopsies Were Made with the Following Results
Alone We Were Though Never Left Alone
Every Coral Branch Supports the Moon
Skin Music: a memoir
The World with Us in It (excerpt)
Beautiful Classmate from the Past
A Kind of Poetry
American Window Dressing
After A Silvia
Ed. Diego Trelles Paz
The Future Is Not Ours
By Marion Wyce
The Game of Boxes
By F. Daniel Rzicznek
The Singapore Grip
By Drew Calvert
My Brilliant Friend
By Martha Witt
Karl Ove Knausgaard
My Struggle, Book One
By Josh Billings
Leslie Adrienne Miller
By Callista Buchen
It’s Fine by Me
By Jeanne-Marie Jackson
By John King
When I received an email containing Mohamed Bourouissa’s “Le Telephone” the image loaded on my screen from top to bottom in excruciatingly slow progress: first revealing that a group of boys existed, then exposing their eyes, followed by their mouths, and finally their bodies. Once their eyes were there, I began to wonder if the white boy was going to kiss or pummel the black boy. When his mouth filled in, I still was unsure. I waited, and waited, for his body to reveal his intentions, to let me know how the boy with the camera phone was sinning: was he capturing a sensual moment to text to his friends and spread homophobic gossip throughout the school, or if he was attempting to capture a moment of violence, sealing himself as the uninvolved onlooker, damning himself, as the willing crowd?
Looking at the photograph now, in it’s full form, I’m still unsure. The image is from the series “Peripheries,” throughout which Bourouissa, a French Algerian, toys with race, masculine energy, sexuality and the creation of otherness in French culture using what he calls “emotional geometry.” Bourouissa uses real locations and intentionally stages subjects to appear not quite candid. This remove from reality creates a falsely safe distance from the emotions of the pieces which Bourouissa notes are communicated through the “interplay of eyes and power struggles.” Often there are boys clustered in groups, one set of boys waiting, scoping out, sizing up the others. Gangs of boys crowded into a hallway, a circle of boys on a roof looking like they’re ready for a group rumble, two boys facing off, ready to box. The tensions rely on an interaction not just between two people, but on the two people interacting in the context of a group. There is a kind of calm before the storm feeling, where the viewer knows that it may be minutes or hours or months before something happens, but that eruption is the inevitable conclusion.
“Le Telephone,” though, is not just a part of the series about of male violence, it is the link to the other half of “Peripheries” where the presence of girls focus the scene. There is one with a girl and a boy on a bed, touching carefully, and in the corner of the mattress, another boy leans against the wall, watching. In another two white girls walk below and underpass between two groups of black boys, and one of the girls looks back, nervously checking that the boys intend to remain where they are. There is yet another where a black boy is being arrested in his underwear, while a white girl, his lover I presume, looks on. These are not romantic visions of male-female relations, but moments where the worst of male impulses is palpably on everyone’s mind. Not just black boys with white girls, which holds its own stereotypes and danger for certain people, but teenage boys and teenage girls where the boys always seem to be on the verge of unwanted, violent advances. Or at least that’s what the girls, and the viewers, are afraid of.
These photos make my heart race. They sling me straight back into high school where violence and sexual risk was exciting, and then shoot me back into adulthood, where I know the danger these activities hold. The gap in time that these photographs represent, the memory of my own naiveté, is what gives the series its power. In an odd way, then, these photographs reassure me that the world is safe. At least, it is safer than it could be, if these boys lost control.
Sarah Barber’s poems (books) have appeared in Poetry, Crab Orchard Review, The Journal, Fugue, Malahat, and FIELD, among other places. Her book, The Kissing Party, was published in 2010.
Josh Billings (books) is a writer, translator and nursing student. He lives in Rockland, Maine.
Bruce Bond (poetry) is the author of eight books, most recently The Visible, Peal, and Blind Rain, which was a finalist for LSU’s Poet’s Prize in 2008. His tetralogy of new books entitled Choir of the Wells is forthcoming from Etruscan Press.
Melanie Braverman (poetry) is the author, most recently of Red. The work featured in this issue is from a book-length gesture in prose poems called The World with Us in It, others of which have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, and The Drunken Boat.
Michael Broek’s work (poetry) has appeared or is forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, From the Fishouse, Blackbird, The Sycamore Review, The Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. His chapbook, The Logic of Yoo, was issued by Beloit Poetry Journal in 2011.
Callista Buchen’s (books) poetry and prose have appeared in Gigantic, Gargoyle, jmww, >kill author, and others. Her reviews have been published in Mid-American Review, The Collagist, and Prick of the Spindle. She lives and teaches in Kansas.
Stephen Burt (poetry) is professor of English at Harvard. His third full-length book of poems, Belmont, will appear in spring 2013.
Drew Calvert (books) is a freelance writer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Kevin Carey (books) teaches writing at Salem State University. His new book of poems is The One Fifteen to Penn Station. He recently finished editing a documentary film about New Jersey poet Maria Mazziotti Gillan called All That Lies Between Us.
Ramona Demme (books) is an editorial assistant at Viking Press and lives in Brooklyn.
Alex Dimitrov (poetry) is the recipient of the Stanley Kunitz Prize for younger poets from The American Poetry Review and the founder of Wilde Boys, a queer poetry salon in New York City. His first collection, Begging for It, is forthcoming in 2013. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Yale Review, Slate, Tin House, and Boston Review.
Percival Everett (“Little Faith”) has written some books. If you write long enough, you win an award or two and so he has. He is professor of English at the University of Southern California.
Adam Felts (“Sam”) is a student at Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. He has a cat named Justice.
Dennis Hinrichsen’s (poetry) most recent books are Rip-tooth, winner of the 2010 Tampa Poetry Prize, and Kurosawa’s Dog, winner of the 2008 FIELD Poetry Prize. He lives in Lansing, Michigan.
Nathan Huffstutter’s (“After I Smothered the Baby”) essays and reviews can be found online, where he is a regular contributor to The Nervous Breakdown, The Collagist, and Emprise Review.
Jeanne-Marie Jackson (books) teaches in the English Department at Connecticut College. Her writing has appeared in Bookslut, Inside Higher Ed, the New Haven Review, and SLiPnet in South Africa.
Laura Kasischke’s (poetry) most recent poetry collection is Space, in Chains, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award as well as the Rilke Prize. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan, with her husband and son.
Thomas E. Kennedy’s (books) 30+ books will include the forthcoming Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories, 1982–2012 and Kerrigan in Copenhagen, A Love Story, the third novel of his Copenhagen Quartet. Recent work has or will appear in Boston Review, Ecotone, The Southern Review, American Poetry Review, New Letters, and Epoch.
John King (books) is the host of the writing podcast The Drunken Odyssey. His work has appeared in The Newer Yorker, Palooka, Gargoyle, and others. While his doppelganger proudly teaches at the University of Central Florida, John resides at an undisclosed location and toils on his epic novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.
Aubrie Marrin’s poems have appeared in Guernica, Harp & Altar, Sink Review, Colorado Review, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2012 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
Jynne Dilling Martin’s poetry has appeared in Granta, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Boston Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, Southern Review, and has been featured on the PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer. She will be the 2013 Antarctica Artist in Residence.
Rachel May’s writing (“Avery”) has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, awarded the William Allen Creative Nonfiction Award, and published in Indiana Review, Cream City Review, Meridian, Nimrod, Michigan Quarterly Review, Fugue, and other journals.
Chloé Yelena Miller’s (books) poetry chapbook, Unrest, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Her work is published or forthcoming in Alimentum, The Cortland Review, Narrative Magazine, Poet’s Market, and Storyscape Literary Journal, among others.
Susan White Norman (“Casco on the Foam Planet”) is a fiction writer and teacher living in Dallas, Texas. She is also the fiction editor of Reunion: The Dallas Review.
Donald Revell (poetry) is the author of eleven collections of poetry, most recently The Bitter Withy and A Thief of Strings. He has published five volumes of translations from the French, including Apollinaire’s Alcools, Rimbaud’s Illuminations and A Season in Hell, and Laforgue’s Last Verses. His critical writings include The Art of Attention and Invisible Green: Selected Prose. Revell is a professor of English & creative writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
F. Daniel Rzicznek’s (books) collections and chapbooks of poetry include Vine River Hermitage, Divination Machine, Neck of the World, and Cloud Tablets. Also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice, Rzicznek teaches writing at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Will Schutt (poetry) is the author of the forthcoming book Westerly, winner of the 2012 Yale Series of Younger Poets competition. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Agni, FIELD, The New Republic, and elsewhere.
Christine Sneed’s (“The New, All-True CV”) stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories of the Midwest, Ploughshares, and others. Her first book, Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her second book, a novel titled Little Known Facts, will be out in early 2013.
Ben Stroud’s (“Amy”) story collection Byzantium won the 2012 Bakeless Fiction Prize and will be published by Graywolf in 2013. His stories have appeared in Electric Literature, One Story, Boston Review, Ecotone, and other magazines.
Paul-Victor Winters (books) is a writer living in southern New Jersey. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The New York Quarterly, Mead: The Magazine of Literature and Libations, and Scythe.
Martha Witt (books) is the author of the novel Broken As Things Are. Her translations and short fiction are included in several national journals and anthologies. Her new translation of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author, will be published in 2014.
Marion Wyce (books) has received an AWP Intro Journals Award in Fiction and had her work performed in the Interact Theatre Company’s stage series Writing Aloud.
Michael T. Young (books) has published three collections of poetry, most recently Living in the Counterpoint. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Edison Literary Review, Iodine Poetry Review, The Potomac Review, The Raintown Review, and other journals and anthologies.