Learn more about the 150th celebration

CURRENT ISSUE: Spring 2016


Perfect Yes

Angela straightens my hair next to the window so she can smoke and breathe it outside. Every second or so her eyes do a one-two flick: around the room, outside, back around. It’s a Sunday night, so it’s only the two of us home, plus her friend Heloise, who sits on the bed painting her nails, watching us watch the house next door.

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We go clockwise around the circle of folding chairs. Most of us are shy. We say our names and, per our leader’s prompt, something we like about Quakers. A shiny-headed man with a gold-tipped cane is one of the last to speak. 

He sits close to me in the circle, wearing a dark blue suit and loafers and clutching two books to his lap. One is a Bible. He does not wear a wedding ring. He shifts positions constantly, putting varied amounts of weight on the cane as he tries to sit up straighter. He struggles to get his sentences out, lips moving frantically around sounds he cannot make. His dark eyes bug with the strain. When the words emerge they are painstakingly placed, each one a piece of fragile glassware set on a high shelf.  

“I….am….in love….with….God.” 

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between beat 3 and beat 1 (waltz)

there is no approaching
infinity, nothing

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Summer Reads: Children of the Sun by Afred W. Crosby

Summer spreads us denizens of 21 South Street far and wide. The "Summer Reads" series features just a few of the very best things we read during our time apart. It took us an hour to get the bonfire going at my friend Fred’s house on one of my first nights back in town for summer vacation. A few others made a delicious tray of Texas Toast to pass the time, and we somehow fell into an intense discussion about theoretical physics, something that none of us specialize in by any means. It all led to one great book recommendation, however. In the veins of the morals of both personal and scientific evolution, "Children of the Sun: A History of Humanity’s Unappeasable Appetite for Energy" by Afred W. Crosby is an illuminating and eternally relevant read. It’s not the sort of book I would have likely chosen for myself, but I am much more apt to give a chance to anything coming directly from a friend’s bookshelf.

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Summer Reads: Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed

I like to apply metaphors of digestion to reading: indigestion, malnutrition, excretion, rumination. Word salad goes down like real salad. When we were kids most of us wanted to be the carnivorous animals that stalked our prey, sprinted in for the kill, ripped limb from limb and swallowed whole. Russian has a single adverb that encompasses the notion of consuming something's entirety with a single gulp. Satisfaction is implied. This is how I wanted to read: to salivate, devour, and then laze around not thinking about my stomach until the next gazelle turned up. Yet as much as I eye ungulates, I'm really just a large hunk of cow flesh chewing on the grass. The grass where I am always tastes like shit but the foliage over there looks damn fine. I move over there. It's not. I need six hours a day to pick up a measly twenty-four pounds of grass.

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