Elena Malec

Another Perfect Day In Paradise

California, December 1992.

Certain things cannot be erased from memory. My first trip to my new home at sunset. The car was rolling on a velvet-like ribbon under a perfect blue sky. Palm trees on the right, multicolored flowers bursting from bushes of an intense green, like a scream, like a violation of the view. And the buildings – private banks and hotels – glass and steel, sparkling in the dimming daylight. Peace. I had the feeling of tobogganing into a fairyland with vacation homes, bushes and trees properly trimmed like schoolboys hair on their first day of classes. Everything like a vividly colored picture book, like a gift on one’s birthday.
My first unspoken question was: do they die down here? I was actually so confused in asking it. Perhaps I should have asked: people never die here, do they? The more we were advancing on the tiny streets with fairylike houses and gardens, the more I was convinced that death could not reach over here.
Then it started, an unavoidable process of intoxication with perfection. The perfect home, in the perfect street, in the perfect neighborhood with perfect lawns and a perfect park, and a perfect heated pool, in a perfect town, from a perfect state (the Golden State), in the most perfect country in the world as most people believe. Well, I don’t. That’s exactly why I have chosen to live it.
How funny! A reality that is very much like a hallucination. What would doctors say about that? They only know of hallucinations which appear as reality. Well, gentlemen, this time I think I have confused you. To me this elaborated reality, manufactured, transplanted from other continents and seeded onto perfection here for the praise of civilization and the spoiling of the rich, to me this reality does seem a farce. Yes, folks, a farce of the end of the twentieth century.

And things are at the very beginning. Only yesterday, at the time of a perfect sunset on the Pacific we passed in our car by these hills with houses under construction. I had just discovered that the few villas on the hills were private property, perfect mansions in a gated community. Well, I said to myself: let them develop. Let more people enjoy the peacefulness of a perfect life.
Actually my question uttered in loud voice was: who inhabits up there, those houses perched on the hill? Rich people, came the answer. How about a house on the beach with its perfect small garden, and stairs with a gate and a lock, with the private boat moored at the private pier always with a barbecue grill?

On the beach, just in front of the perfect vacation homes, seagulls were flocking together to attack somebody’s food basket.
Hungry sea gulls were fighting like beggars for a bite of a sandwich, shrilling and flying over the ocean. Watching their flight I couldn’t tell the seagull with the blood-red spot on its beak from the private plane in its perfect flight for pleasure, business or school; the seagull with the blood-red spot on its beak from the private boat on a pleasure sail.
Wild waves rolling helter-skelter children and adults made me think that the sand we were treading – people and birds, was for all. The beach, no private property. The borderline between dream and reality was there. Where ? Nowhere and everywhere. Where were we? At the horizon, Santa Catalina Island at sunset. Unreal beauty. Hallucination of the senses.
The sky stained with blood-red spots. There does not exist any painter capable of painting this, I said to myself. The new moon and the evening star competing with the last sunbeams of a late November sunset on the Pacific.
From Aliso Pier we could watch the seagulls rocking the waves like children in a swing. What a gratuitous job painting!
A tall blond Scandinavian-looking homeless came to us stretching a begging hand forward: “Hi, folks, givah buck to a poor…”
Perfect misery, you look very much like life. Perfect life, you look very much like death.

By the end of a perfect day, like a Japanese garden in Kyoto, in autumn – a private garden, twenty years old – the night finally falls. Deep and dark like the sleep of death – macabre dance of old faces and places which do not exist anymore but, very familiar to me, seem real, have volume and color, come from everywhere, aggressing me, taking me back…in time…in space, into the night, into nightmarish sleep – spasmodic dance in the dark.

“Deşteaptă-te, române, din somnul cel de moarte…”

The dream starts at daybreak.

Tuesday, December 1st, 1992

Perfect sunrise in the Santa Ana mountains. The bedroom window, a Hollywood scenery, of course.
We go downstairs to have breakfast. Dining room with patio view. Glass window of color photo mural ?

9:00 a.m. Breakfast with milk and cereals, orange juice and newspapers. ORANGE COUNTY, Los Angeles Times:
The A to Z’s of Sleep Study: “For so long people have slept with so many problems, they don’t think it is physiological when it is. This is really interesting because the brain is talking to you.”
A hummingbird is buzzing as we enter into the real again. Nothing spoils the scenery of this perfect morning.
California – another perfect day in paradise.

x   x   x

10:00 a.m. Long distance call. Everything is fine back in the old country.
11:00 a.m. A bit late at Melvyl training session.
12:00 noon. Coffee and a chocolate chip at the Cornerstone Café.
Finished reading another chapter from Umberto Eco’s Name of the Rose. First Day, Terce: “Divine Providence has ordered that the universal government, which at the beginning of the world was in the East, should gradually, as the time was nearing fulfillment, move westward to warn us that the end of the world is approaching, because the course of events has already reached the confines of the universe.”

1:00 p.m. Lunch at home. After lunch went to the pool for a change.

4:00 p.m. On campus. Social Sciences Hall, room 101. Contemporary moral problems – discussions.

5:00 p.m. Humanities Hall, room 100. Theory and Literary Criticism. Lecture. The professor seemed sort of a jester. He was jumping all the time in his Nike shoes trying desperately to be popular with his students. Use and abuse of slang: “Aristotle was a smart Greek who was making a lot of dough with his Lyceum.”
I found this goofy if not embarrassing for someone holding a PhD.

6:00 p.m. Buy one, get one free. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back. News and commercials on TV.
Hot chocolate in the patio.

7:00 p.m. At my desk with a very smart friend, my personal word processor.
Option 1. Create, edit or view document.
CV. Curriculum vitae. I wanted to erase it and my computer asked me: Are you sure? NO.
I tried. I really tried twice but I failed. Certain things just cannot be erased from memory. It’s better to view or add than to erase.
Option 2. ERASE the document in memory to create a new document.
Does not T. S. Eliot tell the same in “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”? There will be time to murder and create.
How strange it seems to me that life should emerge from death, from sacrifice.

8:30 p.m. Dinner for two. Beef roast and potatoes, lettuce salad and fruit. Beef, red meat.
Suddenly it came back that feeling of fainting, of not accepting life anymore. The burden of eating and sleeping day after day, night after night. The food, daily sacrifice. And the memory of every Easter holiday with Pascal lamb and eggs dyed red like stains on the retina. Every gesture at those holy meals like a Christian initiation into a ritual, like the sacrilege of eating flesh. My hands vacillating in using the knife and the fork. Mamma took the knife off my hand very scared. I just couldn’t chew my food. They had their hands blood-red from the eggs they touched. Those stains last.

Certain things cannot be erased from memory.
I remember my younger sister one Easter week. When she opened the refrigerator and saw the head of the lamb with those reproachful eyes wide open, she screamed. Mamma came in a hurry.
My sister was trembling and mumbling: “He, he was looking at me…”
I saw mamma splitting the head of the lamb with an ax and taking out the brains. She cooked them in a soup and served it very warm. She said to me: “Don’t let your soup get cold”. I was eating my tears with a soup spoon, horrified and obedient, my whole body and soul refusing the idea of that abject meal. The brains of the sacrificial lamb like poison in my mouth.

Thank God there exists salvation.

9:00 p.m. Music therapy. “Luciano Pavarotti. Hits from the Lincoln Center.” Greatness, magnificence, perfection.

10:00 p.m. Bed time.

Another perfect day in paradise.


* Wake up, Romanian, from the sleep of death
 (National Anthem of Romania, author’s translation);
** Eco, Umberto, “The Name of the Rose”, 1983, p.35; Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch Publishers, New York; translated from the Italian by William Weaver;

Susanne Toth

Gate 47


unterwegs bin i gern
und do gfreit si mei gmiat
wo die ålm~reserln


~  ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~   ~


on the road & on my way

as I said earlier in my life:
the road is straight

mondschein auf der parkbank,
sex um mitternacht am ufer.

harte zeiten zogen wie einbrecher ins eigenland.
fluchend flüchtend.


ganz anders verhält es sich da mit:

I   was   born…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


wondrin‘ star
[oder: das lachen der augen]


es sagen
die alten chinesen:

         wenn du glücklich sein willst,
sei einfach glücklich.


*masslose liebe*
wird jener
wanderstern genannt


[der also
über mir]


wahrheit als wahrheit.
alles dazwischen

gelesen u/o gehört.
im gleichen rhythmus
wie reisende sich begegnen.

ich glaube nicht
an eine FERNsteuerung.
das gute ist nah.

geschweige denn,
ob es passt oder–
das passt
ja gar nicht.

a drop
in the ocean
is infinite.

eternity as essence of each measure.
in numbers it equals one.

so, be this to love & freedom
that I have found on my straight road
leading deep into the jungle of hearts.
bare naked.
there are bright colors
all around.

ich erinnere mich an jene momente, die ganz klar begonnen haben, ihre koffer zu packen. einmal dauerte es vierzehn jahre bis einer fertig war. der kam dann auch nicht mehr zurück.

sie aber, mag auch ich es gewesen sein, bin wiedergekommen. das wieder allerdings war nicht mehr da. wo also ist sie mit mir hingegangen? und auch wir mussten verlassen. wo ist was geblieben?


it’s really nice to meet you.
I like you laugh.
it makes me

damit waren sie sich und einander näher gekommen.

one equals
as good as
it gets.



thank you so very much.

Martina Sinowatz

Der Daumen des Vaters

Eigentlich weiß ich gar nicht, was meine Heimat ist. Bosnien oder Serbien, Serbien oder Bosnien?

Geboren bin ich in Bosnien. Dort verbrachte ich meine ersten Lebensjahre und alle Verwandten, Freundinnen und Freunde lebten dort. Mein Vater hatte seinen Betrieb auf der serbischen Seite und baute dort ein Haus, in das wir einzogen. Bald hatten wir auch in Serbien Freundinnen und Freunde.

Dann begann der Krieg. Mein Vater sollte als Soldat kämpfen und sich entscheiden, für wen: Bosnien oder Serbien, Serbien oder Bosnien.

Die Brücke über die Drina, die beides verband, wurde zerstört.
Meine Großmutter kam oft zum uns gegenüberliegenden Flussufer. Wenn wir es spürten, gingen auch wir zum Fluss, sahen sie dort drüben stehen, uns zuwinkend. Wir winkten zurück und weinten.

Eines Nachmittags stiegen Mutter und Vater ins Auto. Mutter hatte die Axt dabei. Als die Eltern zurückkamen, hatte Vater einen blutigen Verband auf der rechten Hand. Mutter erklärte, es sei beim Holzhacken passiert.

Am nächsten Tag sagte mein Vater, wir müssten Serbien sofort verlassen. Wir machten uns auf den Weg nach Wien. Meine Eltern sprachen kein Wort.

Ich lernte schnell Deutsch und kam ins Gymnasium. In der zweiten Klasse erzählte die Geschichtslehrerin, dass sich im ersten Weltkrieg viele Männer selbst verstümmelt hätten, um nicht kämpfen zu müssen.

Plötzlich wusste ich, warum meinem Vater der rechte Daumen fehlte.
Ich sprach kein Wort.


Der Eisprung ist da. Ich verspüre nicht nur ein heftiges Ziehen neben dem rechten Hüftknochen, sondern auch Lebensfreude, gepaart mit einem selbstbewussten, zufriedenen Körpergefühl. Meine Laune ist auf dem Höhepunkt, es ist genau der richtige Tag für ein sexy Outfit:

Als Unterwäsche wähle ich den Seidenslip und ausnahmsweise einen BH, damit der Busen nicht so mikrig wirkt. Das enge, rote Stretchkleid habe ich schon lange nicht mehr angezogen – eigentlich wollte ich es schon einmal in den HUMANA-Kleidersammlungskontainer werfen. Dazu passen die schwarzen Strümpfe, deren Bund frau an den Oberschenkel klebt. Erstaunlich, dass das hält. Die Haare stecke ich auf, Ohrringe nicht vergessen! Und welche Schuhe? Die hohen schwarzen natürlich.

Leider ist es kühl draußen. Ich muss die Jacke anziehen, aber lasse sie noch offen, für den Fall, dass noch jemand in den Lift einsteigt. Im 4. Stock kommt tatsächlich Dustin Hoffman (der junge) dazu. Er begrüßt mich besonders freundlich – noch nie  hat er mich so lange angelächelt. Im EG angekommen, hält er mir die Tür auf und ich stolziere mit kessem Hüftschwung an ihm vorbei.

Der fesche Doktor-Richards-Busfahrer bringt den Bus so zum Stehen, dass die vordere Tür genau vor mir aufgeht. Er strahlt mich an, wünscht mir einen „wunderschönen guten Morgen“ und fordert mich mit einer einladenden Handbewegung zum Einsteigen auf. Ich gehe nach hinten zu einem Platz, der noch frei ist, und spüre den Blick, der mir folgt.

Beim Sitzen habe ich allerdings ein Problem: Das kurze Kleid gibt die Strumpfenden frei. Ich kann Strümpfe eigentlich nicht leiden. Das unangenehme Material liegt zu eng an und frau muss dauernd aufpassen, nirgends hängen zu bleiben. Dustin hat mich so eigenartig angeschaut. Hat ein Strumpf schon eine Laufmasche? Nein. Er hat sicher gedacht: na, die ist heute aber aufgedonnert. Er hat mich gar nicht angelächelt, sonder hat sich vielmehr das Lachen kaum verbeißen können. Auch der Busfahrer hat sich über mich lustig gemacht, wollte mich ein bisschen auf den Arm nehmen, zum Zeitvertreib im öden Busfahreralltag.

Schnell erledige ich alles, was ich erledigen muss, lasse die dämlichen Hüftschwünge bleiben, haste statt dessen mit den für mich typischen raschen, plumpen Bergsteigerschritten vorwärts (du gehst wie ein Mann, pflegte mich meine Mutter zu kritisieren), bleibe bei der Rückfahrt im Bus stehen, reiße mir, zu Hause angelangt, die beengenden Sachen vom Leibe – ich werde das Kleid doch in den HUMANA-Kleidersammlungskontainer schmeißen.

Am Abend gehe ich aus. Die ausgebeulten Leggins sind nicht einmal frisch gewaschen. Unter dem weiten Sweatshirt sieht mann gar nichts vom Busen. Die Haare trage ich offen: Das ist herrlich bequem!

Claudia Siefen

Die Landschaft

Nichts sagt mehr
über dich aus, als
die Umgebung, in der du dich
als Kind bewegt hast, die Luft,
das Essen, die Menschen,
welche Kleidung du tragen musstest.
War es kalt im Winter, war es heiss
im Sommer, wie hoch stand der Himmel
über deinem Kopf, und welche Schuhe
musstest du tragen, um vor die Tür zu treten?
Wie dreckig war der Boden
unter Deinen Füssen und
wie trocken war die Erde
im Sommer?
Die Luft, tat sie weh
in den Nasenflügeln,
der Regen, war er weich oder hart und
der Schnee, war er weiss oder schon völlig verdreckt
bevor er nur auf dem Boden angekommen war?
Wie gelb war die Sonne und wie weiss war der Mond?
Manchmal gehören Menschen zusammen,
weil sie als Kinder auf die selben Berge geschaut haben.

Lisa Rosenblatt & Daniela Beuren

daniela Lisa Rosenblatt beuren
HER (2010) – DIE (2001)

Look at her    Schau dir die an
She’s in a pretty bad mood in that picture          die ist aber schlecht drauf auf dem Bild
She’s just in a bad mood in general       die ist überhaupt schlecht drauf
I’m not her     die bin ich nicht

die hat ihre Rechnungen nicht bezahlt   She hasn’t paid her bills
die braucht sich nicht wundern    It really shouldn’t surprise her
wenn der Exekutor kommt When the executor shows up
die bin ich nicht                    I am not her
die bin ich nicht                    I am not her

She eats too much  die frisst zu viel
She cries constantly           die heult dauernd
She always comes too late           die kommt immer zu spät
She can’t find a man, or a woman                       die findet keinen Mann und eine Frau auch nicht
No one wants her    die will niemand
I am not her  die bin ich nicht
I am not her  die bin ich nicht
I am not her  die bin ich nicht

Ich bin nicht die                    I am not her
She there with a finger on the mirror points and laughs
die mit dem Finger auf den Spiegel zeigt und lacht bis er zerbricht Until it breaks
I am not her ich bin nicht die, die blutend in den Scherben liegt und weiterlacht
She there lying bleeding in the shards and laughing on
“Seven years bad luck! Seven years bad luck!”
„Sieben Jahre Unglück! Sieben Jahre Unglück!“

Ich I bin am der the Spiegel Mirror


Leaving _____________________

I’m thinking of leaving
you say.
I’m going home for a while
I’ll tend to some books
talk to my parents
and God.

Lisa Rosenblatt

Ich glaub, ich werde fortgehen
sagst du.
Ich fahre für eine Zeit nachhause
kümmere mich um ein paar Bücher
spreche mit meinen Eltern
und mit Gott.

I stand in our painted box
windows cut out
covered with
curtains (you
could call them)
cooking hole dug into dirt
in the front
without you.  I’ll
waiting, sure, I’ll stay
I say.

Ich stehe in unserer lackierten Schachtel
mit den ausgeschnittenen Fenstern
bedeckt mit
Vorhängen (so
könnte mans nennen)
Feuerplatz in die Erde gegraben
ohne dich. Ich
bleibe da
und warte, klar, ich bleibe,
sage ich.

You’re saying it’s hopscotch,
you are.
You’re saying it’s not four
square, yes, you are, but
that’s just billiards
saying it’s not hopscotch.

Du sagst, es ist Himmel und Hölle,
sagst du.
Da sagst, es ist nicht Four
Square*, ja, das sagst du, aber
das ist einfach Billard,
was du machst, nicht Himmel und Hölle.

But if I could I’d say I
would mahjong it, I would
if, yah, I would and the planks

Aber wenn ich könnte, würde ich sagen ich
mahjonge es, ich würde,
wenn, genau, die Bretter
anders legen.

A n d   i f   I   c o u l d
I’d reach from side to side
one hand on each,
push und the curtains
push would come turnbling
down + humpty dumpty

daniela beuren

U n d   w e n n   i c h   k ö n n t e
würde ich mich von einer zur anderen Seite
strecken, eine Hand auf jeder Wand
drücken und die Vorhänge
patsch sie würden runter
fallen + humpty dumpty

_____________________ Fortgehen

* http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Square


Judith Pfeifer

i once fell on the earth
(bunny blue purple remix)

two feet go east
west back forth
north wind melts south
ice is what you tell me
i am you and you is gone
with the wind film from
the south so hard to
say my name
was made in france
i would be moi
two feet hop east
west north south

Sylvia Petter

ich lebe im al

ich lebe im al
im (al) von austr(al)ia
im (aus) von (aus)länder
im land der freiheit
des narren

mach‘ ich’s r(ich)tig
mach‘ ich’s f(al)sch
bleib‘ ich (aus
en liberté

ich beweg‘ mich
im al
im al-leingang
geh‘ nicht ein
samt al-leinsein

keine leine im al
no leashes in aus
(i’m a roo not a dog)
no roos in aut

(got the t-shirt)
bin kan-gourou
in aut

Elke Papp

…(forever) followers!?…

are we a new race?
or to say it more politely
a new ethnicity?

or just a random mass of individuals (mostly female) living here living there
pushing those who belong to us or pulling them behind us
waiting for the one we belong to come home from work (work we usually don’t know a lot about in a place we usually don’t go a lot we usually get invited to once a year to get a place at a long table next to the one we followed)
like all the others all over the world do?
are we to be seen as a global phenomenon or as isolated individuals spread all over the globe
are we a side effect of the big effect that those we came with have on the city
or are we just freaks like those who we followed who can’t live within the frame their countries put them into
a minority (respected, cared for,….)
has anybody ever mentioned that we are the city?
that the streets would be empty if all of us had left at once?
we are legal aliens
most welcome!
to stay and to leave soon
are we a new globe trotting tribe
or are we just dancing the DNA-dance we are destinated to
following the one who feeds us
it is outrageous to call us the new diaspora
as nobody and nothing chased us out of our countries
beside the fear of losing the one who then perhaps still didn’t have to feed us if we didn’t follow him wherever to
being fed up having a long distance love for all of our lives and deciding to follow, have a family and be fed instead
we are no political refugees
we haven’t been threatened there where we come from
we are looking for a shelter though
aren’t we just first class travelers?
do we and those we followed and are fed by belong to an own class?
looked up and down to…
some start to like us stay here
some don’t care as long as we don’t leave earlier than they do
to a new place where all of us have to find new friends anyway
are we friends one to each other?
some of us get tied to each other as if we’d stay together forever
some we only meet when they are already leaving
we learn their names and the name of the place they are moving to at once
some of them show us a place or tell us a phrase we will never forget
or even leave us something they have lived with for years but can’t take with them
lots of them are from a place we have never been to
we promise to visit them knowing we won’t be able to
with most of them we’ll stay in touch (only?) by pressing the send-message/mail-button
some want to leave and can’t
others don’t want to but have to
all of us suffer at some point
under being stuck whilst everybody seems to be moving on / up/ away
all depends on the one we depend on who depends on the ones who also depend on
lots of us change houses more than one time
our complaints are not ending (whether if it’s about the weather or about whatever!)
only the contracts  do
some came here just for a couple of years (just for the PhD or a post doc come on!) and are still here
being now one of those couples that came here just for a couple of years…

do we want to go back/home?
is the life we left waiting for us there where we left it?
or has it changed address anyway?

Mira Martin-Parker

Two pieces


He sat staring at his reflection in the mirror. It was an old bar, and the glass was original, so his face appeared cracked and fuzzy. The bartender came by and tried to strike up a conversation, but he looked away and made it clear he didn’t want to talk. He sat quietly for another minute, then turned and offered his girlfriend a cigarette.

“Did I ever tell you why I left school?” he asked.

She shook her head. “No, I don’t think so.”

“I lost a hundred grand gambling one night in Monaco. They came after me for the money, so I had to leave England right away. My father still hasn’t forgiven me for not finishing my degree.”

“Is that how you ended up here?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said. “And I fucking hate it. I hate the people. I hate the culture. I hate everything about the U.S. I especially hate this ridiculous college town with all these annoying alternative types.”

“They annoy everyone,” she said with a laugh, “especially themselves.”
He fell silent again and sat staring at the old mirror.

“You have no idea what it means to hate—I mean to really hate,” he said.
She didn’t respond. Instead she pulled a small compact from her purse and began checking her face.

“Of course you don’t. How could you? Your people do it to themselves. Your parents could have worked hard and saved money, but instead they partied all the time and pissed everything away—hippies, artists, homosexuals, and oh my God, that mother of yours! And you—look at you, out drinking and smoking. You have no conception of suffering. Your people know nothing of pain.”
She held the compact in her hand and touched up her bright red lipstick while he continued on his tangent.

“Did I ever tell you about my grandfather?” he asked.

“Nope,” she said, putting away her makeup and closing her vintage bag with a snap.

“He was only a boy at the time of the genocide—maybe seven or eight. He had nine brothers and sisters. The Turks forced them all leave home and wander the countryside. My great grandfather died, along with seven of his children. In the end there was only my grandfather and my great aunt.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, looking down.
He was silent for a long time, then suddenly a huge smile appeared on his face.

“Did I ever tell you I bought you?” he said with a laugh.

She abruptly turned around on her stool. “What do you mean by that?”

“Remember when I picked out that funky old kilim from your dad’s crazy shop. He was only asking four hundred for it, but I wrote him a check for eight grand. Your dad just smiled and thanked me—he never said a damn thing.” He laughed again and motioned for the bartender.

“Bring us another round down here, Carl. And don’t be such a stranger—come on over and say hi every now and again.”
She turned her stool back around and faced the window.

“Oh don’t get mad. You were under age at the time—he could have had me thrown in jail. He needed the money anyway. You guys didn’t even have food at the time. If it wasn’t for me you’d still be living in that dumpy apartment, dressed in rags, and starving to death with all your step mothers and your half-brothers and sisters—hippies, artists, and homosexuals, and you, their pretty little vagabond princess. Hey, that’s funny! Vagabond princess, vagabond princess, ha ha ha!”
She sat staring out the window. It was raining and large drops of water were running down the plate glass. She tried to focus on her reflection but it was nothing but a blur.

The Marketplace

She held her daughter’s hand tightly and dragged her through the crowded marketplace.

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady…

“For the last time, I’m begging you, please stop singing that song. And for God’s sake, who taught it to you in the first place?”

“Uncle Wali,” the little girl answered, struggling to keep up with her mother’s footsteps.
Usually her uncle walked her to school in the morning, but today he had something to do, and reluctantly left the job to her mother.

“Take her directly to the school building,” he said before leaving. “And be sure not to linger in the marketplace. Pass through quickly and stay away from crowded areas.”

“Uncle Wali is teaching me English so I can go to school when we move to England,” the girl explained.

“Well, Uncle Wali shouldn’t be filling your head with crazy ideas.”
As they walked by a vegetable stall an old woman, upset by the high price of onions began abusing a merchant in front of his customers.

“A thief, a shameless thief, stealing from his own people. God sees what you are doing. God will punish you!” she yelled.
Again her mother held her close and dragged her on. “And you should know better than to sing that song in the street—especially now,” she said.

Build them up with gold and silver, gold and silver, gold and silver
Build them up with gold and silver, my fair lady…

“You really are trying to push it with me today, aren’t you? Uncle Wali is not taking us anywhere. We’re staying right here.”
She continued pulling her daughter forward, moving quickly—past the tea stalls, past the smoke shops, past the booksellers.

“That’s not what Uncle Wali said. He told me as soon as he has enough money saved up, he’s going to take us both to England. He’s going to open a carpet shop and send me to school. He said in England I can be anything I want when I grow up. I want to be a veterinarian. They take care of animals. I love animals.”

Take the key and lock her up, lock her up, lock her up
Take the key and lock her up, my fair lady…

Suddenly her mother came to abrupt halt. “Please be quiet!” This time she shouted so loud, several people stopped and looked over. But she ignored their glances, grabbed her daughter’s hand, and moved on. The school building was just around the corner.

“Why don’t you like Uncle Wali, mommy?”

“I love Uncle Wali very much, you know that. I just don’t like him filling your head with crazy ideas. And that song! You know how I feel about that song.”
Up ahead at the corner, a motorbike sped past. The mother hesitated for a moment, then continued through the crowd.

London Bridge is falling down, falling down falling down
London Bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

Julie Maclean

Two Australian Poems

Simpson dingo girl

safe inside your canvas dreaming
of the red track westward across the dunes

the lean shape-shifter   with toes of a dancer
foxtrots the fringe        camp follower
nose to the north   she takes the shape of
a desert grass    spinifex dry
same pale yellow    same drift as the wind

it’s then you daub the ochre   the black
white for the star in the eye   insinuate
a dark shadow   minimal    abstract perhaps

next morning the palette licked clean


Thank you for sending us Oprah,
We’re going to Australia!

Austria? Austria? They’d never heard of us
tucked away like a curling stamp in the corner of
a Dear John letter

What would Jimmy Cook have to say
in his crotch-tight pants, silk frock coat
his dandy wig, drinking coconut juice

out of a shell, gifting mirrors to women
with spears and stories to tell

so they could see their own souls,
while we looked the other way