...here fishy fishy

Big Blue Whale

Vol.59 Issue 02
Cover Artist: Frank Hurley (c) Scott Polar Research Institute
Cover of TLR's "Big Blue Whale" issue

Big Blue Whale

Minna Zallman Proctor
Editor’s Letter

For their scope, songs, mystery and mythology, ferocity and vulnerability, whales have inspired writers from Melville to William Steig. Once you start thinking about whales, you find them (or echoes of them) everywhere. …read the whole letter here

Cover Art: A huge pressure hummock at Ocean Camp with the ship Endurance in the background. Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition 1914-1916. Photograph by Frank Hurley (c) Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK


Enrique Vila-Matas, Spain
They Say I Should Say Who I Am
Translated by Margaret Jull Costa

They say I should say who I am. They say that, in order to satisfy my personal
vanity (of which I have none, but there we are) and also the inevitable curiosity that a reader might feel about the author of this possibly interesting (they say fundamental) testimony about the obscurest episode in the life of the great painter Panizo del Valle…

Laura Kolbe
Poor Historian

Xavier Navarro Aquino
Salient Men

They told us we would only see water that was black. And if we looked close enough, we were told that the water’s deep tone was made up of the thick blood that was pocketed in the ocean’s air bubbles, wood from the sunken, and the dark skin from past failures…

Anne-E. Wood
The Arsonist Returns to Glen Ridge

We were the same age when it happened: fourteen. He was the kind of boy with blond curls who could be caught daydreaming or reading Whitman on windowsills. “Now I will do nothing but listen,” he’d quote to the driveways and lawns…

Ingrid Nelson
Fluffy the Cat

The microphone was for a project for a film class I am taking, though I probably didn’t really need it. Probably if I had just used the microphone on my computer it would have been fine, but if I had done that, I wouldn’t have been able to go to the audiovisual center where I knew Mark worked…

Katie Chase
Pater Noster

Our matriarch was on her deathbed. She was finally giving up. No one thing in particular was killing her, just the cumulative effects of over eighty years of living and abetting life…

A.D. Nauman
Something of Meaning

We were sitting at the bar in our favorite cracked-black-vinyl Italian restaurant, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, because that’s what we did in the ’80s, and I was talking, not yet aware that you barely listened…

Rachel Sherman

Boys showing boys things—even dancing—happened at the deli in the night. It had been clear since they moved there after their wedding: the deli Joe went to in the dark was not the deli she entered each morning…

[read the whole story here]

Claudia Burbank
The Queen of Sheba Rides Again

Mom says she’d rather die than hang her underwear out front like some poor fishwife. Maybe that’s why, as far as I can remember, we’ve always had a dryer. “But who’d see?” I’ve asked. We live in the middle of nowhere, in New Jersey, in the woods, on an ancient dirt road where they don’t even deliver mail…

Sérgio Sant’anna, Brazil
Between the Lines
Translated by Julia Sanches

“I’m not sure about that somber, death-obsessed side of you,” she said, “and your overly intentional search for beauty, as if it could redeem all your morbidity and melancholy…

[read the whole story here]

Martín Rejtman, Argentina
Translated by Sergio Waisman

I’m carrying a package with several CDs of classic Argentine rock, a stack of alternative magazines from the ’70s, two books by Cortázar and two by Baudelaire. They are things that an ex-boyfriend of my sister’s lent me a long time ago…


Shuzo Takiguchi, Japan
Miroir de Miroir: Mirror’s Mirror
Translated by Mary Jo Bang and Yuki Tanaka

The footprints of the cherry tree appear in the mirror of the cherry tree’s ashes. Long ago, a tiny bird with small stone ears fell onto the mirror of the forest; owl of endless future solitude, your uncovered body could be mistaken for a golden glass…

Tina Cane
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Confession
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Dear Elena
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Between Stations
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Book of Days

One condition of emergence is flight     like the inside of an inside joke    it’s a public private thing…     

[read the whole poem here]

Garous Abdolmalekian, Iran
Dark Period
Translated by Idra Novey and Ahmad Nadalizadeh

Of the moon
all that’s left is a stain upon the window

Of all the waters in the world
this single drop on your cheek…

[read the whole poem here]

Dinah Fay
The Future, as Seen Through the Back Pages of Boys’ Life Magazine

How close, the desire
to tear limb from limb,

to bear down with one’s
teeth until the skin gives…

John A. Nieves
The End of Team Fortune Telling
Thunder Moon

She was feeling zodiacal, but I was having none
of it, carving runes in the dirt and telling
time by trees. She had a palmful of constellations—

[read the whole poem here]

Allyson Paty
In Medias Res

with two fingers mother
lifted my chin

cleaned from my face
the last of the blood…

Dan Rosenberg
In the Long Shadows X-Rays Whiten

    god of small physics from whose arms I
dangled in scrawn demanding ascent
     for me     for him rising to retrieve…

Debora Kuan
Portrait of a Sea Woman

The clam grew depraved in the dark
toe of a rubber boot,
draped in fashion seaweed…

[read the whole poem here]

Ashley Roach-Freiman
Blessing for the Use of New Houses

Our root sends fortune and the earth takes hold.
Capricorn owns the earth and holds it.
There is no better dirt to wet spread wallow…

[read the whole poem here]

Kat Finch
The Oneironaut at Tea Time

The tea, alone—shrouded in papery cloth, which
of course, is white—so too the moon +
the white picket fence that seems to put a please in “keep out” +

Nate Pritts
The Grammar Is on You

The fact of my body separate from other bodies
separate but in sight of in context with.

Katie Ford
From If You Have to Go: 22; 23; 24

My body falls into just one thought:
Nothing’s outside my door anymore. Maybe a roach…

Terrell Jamal Terry
Hex Triplet

Dear Mischief,
Let my thoughts be more level
Than that shiny slope of grass…



Priscilla Becker
Morbid Dyslexia

I began to wonder if my brain was constructing my psychological state, or if my psychological state was manipulating my brain. After mis-reading a store-front sign: Death Camp Center, for instance, I spent a good deal of time lamenting the world’s harshness…


Garous Abdolmalekian is the author of five books of poetry. He has won Karnameh Poetry Book of the Year and the Iranian Youth Poetry Book Prize. Abdolmalekian is the editor of the poetry section at Cheshmeh Publications in Tehran and teaches poetry.

Xavier Navarro Aquino was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His work has previously appeared in Guernica. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Mary Jo Bang is the author of seven books of poems, including The Last Two Seconds, Louise in Love, and Elegy, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis.

Priscilla Becker wrote her first essay, “Weeping Willow,” when she was three. She’s a severe addict—yoga, meditation, philosophy—who has published poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and a chapbook emerging from Ugly Duckling Presse, Death Dertificate.

Claudia Burbank’s honors include the Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Award, two New Jersey Arts Council Fellowships, and the Inkwell Prize. Her work has been published in Prairie Schooner, upstreet, and The Antioch Review, among others.

Tina Cane is a poet, teacher, and the founder/director of Writers-in-the-Schools in Rhode Island. She is the author of The Fifth Thought, and her poems have appeared in Spinning Jenny, Tupelo Quarterly, and Two Serious Ladies, among others.

Katie Chase is the author of the story collection Man and Wife. Her short fiction has appeared in the Missouri Review, Narrative, and Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Prize anthologies. She lives in Portland, OR.

Margaret Jull Costa has been translating for over twenty years. She won the translator’s portion of the IMPAC Award for Javier Marías’ Heart So White and the Premio Valle-Inclán for her translation of his trilogy Your Face Tomorrow: Fever and Spear.

Dinah Fay is a poet and high school English teacher in Brooklyn, NY. She co-produces Newark’s Brick City Speaks reading series.

Kat Finch An eternal optimist, she writes poetry inspired by dream logic, mitochondria, and semi-true Wikipedia articles. In her spare time, you can find her at work on chapbooks, illustration projects, and biking every street in Ann Arbor. She works at Wolverine Press as the Chapbook Series Editor.

Katie Ford is the author of Deposition, Colosseum, and, most recently, Blood Lyrics. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and the forthcoming Norton Introduction to Literature.

Laura Kolbe’s poems appeared or are forthcoming in AGNI, The Awl, Colorado Review, Kenyon Review, and Yale Review, among others. Her essays appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Foundation and Virginia Quarterly Review. She’s a physician in Boston.

Debora Kuan is the author of two poetry collections: XING and the forthcoming Lunch Portraits. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Born and raised in Iran, Ahmad Nadalizadeh is currently a PhD student of comparative literature at the University of Oregon.

A.D. Nauman’s fiction is the author of Scorch, a novel. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in Triquarterly, Roanoke Review, Other Voices, among others. She is an education professor and lives in Oak Park with a pampered tuxedo cat.

Ingrid Nelson’s short stories have previously appeared in Slice Magazine and Apogee Journal. She lives in Manhattan.

John A. Nieves’ poems appear in journals such as Southern Review, Cincinnati Review, Crazyhorse, and Pleiades. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Prize. His first book, Curio, came out in 2014. He is an assistant professor of English at Salisbury University.

Idra Novey is the author of the novel Ways To Disappear. Her most recent poetry collection is Exit, Civilian, selected for the 2011 National Poetry Series. She is collaborating with Ahmad Nadalizadeh on a book-length translation of the poetry of Garous Abdolmalekian.

Allyson Paty’s poems can be found in the Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, jubilat, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is from New York, where she is co-founding editor of Singing Saw Press and co-organizer of the Earshot reading series.

Nate Pritts is the director and founding editor of H_NGM_N, an independent publishing house, and is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Right Now More Than Ever and Post Human. Nate lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York State.

The filmmaker and writer Martín Rejtman is the director of Silvia Prieto, Los guantes mágicos, and Dos disparos, among other films. He is the author of the story collections Rapado, Velcro y yo, Literatura y otros cuentos, and Tres cuentos.

Ashley Roach-Freiman is a librarian and poet with work appearing in Bone Bouquet, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, Smartish Pace, and Superstition Review. She co-coordinates and hosts the Impossible Language reading series in Memphis.

Dan Rosenberg is the author of Thigh’s Hollow, cadabra, and The Crushing Organ. He is a co-editor of Transom and teaches at Wells College in Aurora, NY.

Brazilian by birth, Julia Sanches translates from Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, and French. Her book-length translations have been published by or are forthcoming from And Other Stories and Deep Vellum. She currently lives in New York City.

Sérgio Sant’anna is the author of seventeen works of fiction, poetry, and theater. He has won the Prêmio Jabuti, one of Brazil’s most prestigious literary prizes, four times, most recently for O voo da madrugada (The Flight of Dawn), which was also awarded the APCA prize.

Rachel Sherman is the author of The First Hurt and Living Room. She teaches writing at Rutgers, Columbia, and Fairleigh Dickinson University and leads the Ditmas Writing Workshops.

Yuki Tanaka is currently a PhD student in English and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. He is completing a dissertation on British Modernism.

Shuzo Takiguchi (1903-1979) poet, painter, and art critic, was one of the most prominent Surrealists in Japan. He promoted the works of André Breton, Max Ernst, and other European Surrealists through translation and criticism.

Terrell Jamal Terry’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in West Branch, Washington Square Review, Green Mountains Review, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. His first collection, Aroma Truce, is forthcoming in 2017.

Enrique Vila-Matas was raised in Barcelona. The author of Bartleby & Co, and Never Any End to Paris, he has won the Roulo Gallegos Prize, the FIL Award and the Formentor Prize (awarded to Jorge Luis Borges and Samuel Beckett).

Sergio Waisman is the author of Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery and professor of Spanish & Latin American Literature at George Washington University. His latest translation is Target in the Night by Ricardo Piglia.

Anne-E. Wood’s fiction has appeared in many journals. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches in the Writing Program at Rutgers University and Northeast Normal University in Changchun, China.