The salt beef of civilization rumbling round in the gut.
Constipation was a great problem after the second World War.
Not enough roughage in the diet, too much refined food. If
You always eat out you can never be sure what’s going in, and
Received information is nobody’s exercise.
Rotten and rotting.
Here is some advice if you want to keep your own teeth,
Make your own sandwiches…
– Jeanette Winterson, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
Craig Morgan Teicher
In the Glutton’s kitchen, there is no food. There is a giant refrigerator, but it’s empty. There are cabinets and cupboards, of course, but where the food should be, there’s nothing, not even a cobweb. The plates are stacked and waiting forever. The Glutton sits alone at his table, clutching his fork and knife, his eyes wide open, dreaming.
For the Glutton there is nothing—not even appetite. There is only emptiness, the thick, syrupy air of longing, the desire that trusts its own fulfillment least of all.Why else would he eat so much?
Because, as soon as food appears before him, he stops believing the food is there. With each mouthful, he tries to reaffirm his faith in the sating properties of food. The more he eats the less he has.
Consider this: A glutton for punishment is the only real glutton there is. So, herein is prose and poetry that doesn’t know when to stop, usually because it can’t quite believe it ever started. These writers want more food, of course, but also more love, more sex, more time, more pain. They overindulge to be reminded they exist. What they really want is never on the plate before them. For a hunger that size, they’d need a plate that stretches the hundred and seventy-seven years it would take to drive from here to the sun. What they really want doesn’t fit on a plate.
Likewise, what needs to be said can’t possibly fit into the words on these pages. Silence is ever pressing in. As if a few words could keep it at bay. There are no recipes, no ingredients. We’ve thrown in a bit of everything: the hunger that’s left after divorce and the loss of a job; the kind of sex you can only have in your head; “There are / bananas in the moonlight!”; what’s left “Years from now, hearing the news of your death.”
What you’re about to read is only the beginning of a meal that will never end. We’ve set a place at the table for everybody, though it’s a meal made just for you. We invite you to dig in.
Enjoy the issue.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Big People Everywhere
After Apple Picking
The State of Grace
Translated by Thoraya El-Rayyes
There Is No Wall of Water in the Restaurant
Pudding and Pie
Night Before Last
Appetite for Destruction
But I Can’t Be Sure
From The Uses of the Body
Late Iberian Manichaeism & the Crisis of Faith
The Thief Dressed in Divorce
Love Poem in Memoriam
Quodlibet 30; 31; 32
The Last Sturgeon
Inspired by a Line by Paul Celan
The Arsenal Theater
Venus of Anorexia
Pain Thinks of a Morpheme
Pain Thinks of the Body
A Music in the Head
John Duncan Talbird
The Safety of Home
A Secret History of the Music Video
COVER ART BY MARSHALL KAPPEL. “EATING #31” (C) USED BY PERMISSION OF THE ARTIST.
Heather Altfeld’s (poetry) recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Cimarron Review, Green Mountains Review, Poetry Northwest, Pleiades, Laurel Review, and ZYZZYVA. She teaches and lives in Chico, CA and is at work on a children’s book and a second book of poetry.
Ted Bajek (“The State of Grace”) writes, “I have appropriated elements of Suzanne Unrein’s Massacre Series for use in my story. My thanks to Suzanne for her friendship and inspiration.”
Christopher Bakken (poetry) is the author of a culinary memoir—Honey, Olives, Octopus —as well as two books of poetry, Goat Funeral and After Greece. He is the director of Writing Workshops in Greece: Thessaloniki and Thasos and he teaches at Allegheny College.
Michael Bazzett’s (poetry) poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Massachusetts Review, Pleiades, 32 Poems, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Literary Review, and Best New Poets. His first full-length collection, You Must Remember This, was the winner of the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry; it will be published in the fall of 2014 by Milkweed Editions.
Christopher Buckley (poetry) has edited Bear Flag Republic: Prose Poems and Poetics from California and One for the Money: The Sentence as a Poetic Form, both with Gary Young. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA grants, a Fulbright Award, and is the 2013 winner of the Campbell Corner Poetry Contest. His twentieth book of poetry, Back Room at the Philosophers’ Club, is forthcoming.
Hisham Bustani (“Skybar”) has four published collections of short fiction, most recently The Perception of Meaning and Inevitable Preludes to a Stalled Disintegration. His translated stories have appeared in The Saint Ann’s Review, The Common, CutBak, Banipal, and World Literature Today. He was recently listed among the best six contemporary Jordanian writers by the UK-based website The Culture Trip.
Denise Duhamel’s (poetry) most recent book of poetry, Blowout, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of a 2014 Paterson Poetry Prize. She is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.
Robert Earle’s (“After Apple Picking”) stories have appeared in more than sixty literary journals. He is the author of three novellas, two novels—The Way Home and The Man Clothed in Linen—and a nonfiction book about his experiences in Iraq, Nights in the Pink Motel. He lives in Chapel Hill.
Natalie Eilbert’s (poetry) first book of poems, Swan Feast, is forthcoming from Coconut Books. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, Tin House, West Branch, Handsome, and many others. She lives and writes in Brooklyn, where she is the founding editor of the Atlas Review.
Thoraya El-Rayyes (translation) is a writer and literary translator living in Amman, Jordan. Her translations of Arabic fiction have appeared in various literary magazines including World Literature Today, The Common, CutBank, and Banipal.
Mark Fishman’s (“Night Before Last”) short stories have appeared in Carolina Quarterly, Canvass, Black Warrior Review, Mississippi Review, and Chicago Review, among others. His books Thousand Red Banners (West Coast Print Center) and France (Matsu Books) are available as limited editions.
Jameson Fitzpatrick (poetry) is the author of the chapbook Morrisroe: Erasures. His poems have appeared in the American Reader, Linebreak, the Los Angeles Review, Poetry, and elsewhere.
Piotr Florczyk (translation) is a poet, essayist, and translator of six volumes of Polish poetry, including The World Shared: Poems by Dariusz Sośnicki (co-translated with Boris Dralyuk) and The Day He’s Gone: Poems 1990–2013 by Paweł Marcinkiewicz. He lives in Santa Monica.
Allison Gruber’s (“A Music in the Head”) first book of autobiographical essays, You’re Not Edith, is forthcoming from George Braziller. Allison’s prose has appeared in a number of literary journals and the anthology, Windy City Queer: Dispatches from the Third Coast.
Chris Harris (poetry) lives in San Jose where he has lately worked as a coffee roaster. He will be attending the Ashbery Home School in August.
Steven Heighton’s (poetry) fiction and poetry have appeared in Poetry, Best American Poetry (for work published in The Literary Review), New England Review, Zoetrope, Tin House, London Review of Books, and five editions of Best Canadian Stories. His recent books include a collection of memos and fragmentary essays called Workbook, the poetry collection Patient Frame, and the novel Afterlands.
Laurie Lamon’s (poetry) work has appeared in journals and magazines including the Atlantic, the New Republic, J Journal: New Writings on Justice, Plume, and Ploughshares. She has won a Witter Bynner award and a Pushcart Prize. Her two collections of poetry are The Fork Without Hunger and Without Wings. Lamon is professor of English at Whitworth University in Spokane, WA, and poetry editor for the literary journal Rock & Sling.
Deborah Landau (poetry) is the author of The Last Usable Hour and Orchidelirium. A third collection of poems, The Uses of the Body, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She directs the Creative Writing Program at New York University.
Alex Lemon’s (poetry) most recent book is The Wish Book. He is the author of Happy: A Memoir and three other poetry collections. His writing has appeared in Esquire, American Poetry Review, the Huffington Post, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Kenyon Review, and AGNI, among others. Among his awards are a 2005 NEA Poetry Fellowship and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant.
Robert Lopez (“Big People Everywhere”) is the author of two novels, Part of the World and Kamby Bolongo Mean River, and a collection of short fiction, Asunder. He has taught at the New School, Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and Pine Manor College’s Solstice Low-Res MFA Program.
D.M. Macormic (poetry) was born in Florida and raised in Missouri, but now lives and works in Stillwater, OK. He is currently finishing a PhD at Oklahoma State University.
Ted Meyer’s (poetry) poems have appeared in Linebreak, The New Orleans Review, Witness, Poetry Flash, and Lyre Lyre. He lives and works in New York City, and recently moved to Brooklyn.
Craig Raine (poetry) is now an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and has been the editor of Areté since 1999. He is the author of three collections of literary essays, six works of poetry, and two novels, Heartbreak and The Divine Comedy. His Collected Poems 1978–1999 were published in 2000, and his verse drama ‘1953’ was directed by Patrick Marber at the Almeida Theatre in 1996.
Rowan Sharp (“There Is No Wall of Water in the Restaurant”) is a street performer and jack-of-all-trades in New Orleans, Providence, and the San Juan Islands. Her work recently appeared in Natural Bridge. Her Spanish translations appear in Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America and are forthcoming in Lana Turner. She is currently at work on a novel.
Amy Shuckburgh (“Pudding and Pie”) writes short stories and poetry that have won numerous awards including the Bridport Prize, and she is currently working on a novel. When she is not writing, Amy takes portrait commissions (her sitters include the late playwright Harold Pinter) and teaches creative writing. She lives in west London with her husband and three children.
Born in 1909 in Warsaw, Poland, Anna Swir (Świrszczyńska) (poetry) is widely considered one of Poland’s most distinguished poets. Profoundly marked by World War II, especially the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, during which she volunteered as a nurse, Swir explores in her poems the joys and horrors of human nature and the female body. She died in Kraków in 1984.
John Duncan Talbird’s (essays) fiction and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Juked, Ploughshares, REAL, Ambit, Amoskeag, and elsewhere. His book of stories with images by artist Leslie Kerby, A Modicum of Mankind, will be out this fall from Brooklyn publisher Norte Maar. He is on the editorial board of Green Hills Literary Lantern. An English professor at Queensborough Community College, he lives with his wife in Brooklyn.
Katrin Tschirgi (“Shepherd’s Asylum”) has work appearing or forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Hunger Mountain, Passages North, and Post Road. She currently lives and writes in Boise, Idaho.