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Sparks Vol. 5 No. 1

Page
"Trilogy 1 by Alfredo Salazar
















contents

Editorial

Two Poems

by Michael Estabrook

what can you expect she's an engineer

I won't see Last Tango in Paris again

Six Poems

by Ray Heinrich

genocide eats the lamb

you're getting to be a dream

feet and figs

what are you wearing?

the secret of life

forget the accident

Two Poems

by Fraser MacFarlane

Jeopardy Answers

Writing Poems For Al

Poem

by Daniel Vian

SPASM 1900

Reviews

The Tunnel by William Gass

Noteworthy


Sparks: A Magazine for Creative People
ISSN#: 1077-4149
Editors: Jim and Stacy Esch
Sparks Copyright ©1996 by Jim Esch and Stacy Tartar
All rights for each work contained herein revert back to the authors upon
publication.
Web Published in the USA
Sparks is published four times a year. We welcome your submissions.  Send all
correspondence to the address below.
email: jmesch@artsci.wustl.edu
Sparks Online available at http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~jmesch/sparkspage.html
and http://las.alfred.edu/~sparks/sparkspage.html

Editorial

So we've cut loose, made the break. We've gone to an electronic-only edition of Sparks. Why? No time, no money, no patience left to do the print version. That's OK. We welcome the change. Most of our readers reach us online anyway. Besides that, to be frank, the color publishing possibilities of the Web-edition make our old photocopied print efforts look piss poor.

So enjoy Sparks in all its transient flickering interlaced and non-interlaced glory. I guess with a name like Sparks, it's rather fitting to see it make a home on the wires. We'll keep working to provide you the best literature we can find in the best format we can present it in.

- J. Esch


Michael Estabrook

 

 

what can you expect she's an engineer

Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major.
Augustin Dumay's playing like ice
melting in the dawn's rising sun. I turn
the volume higher and say to her, if you listen
carefully you can actually hear him breathing.
A quizzical expression drifts across
her face as she asks, "Why
would I want to hear that?"

 

I won't see Last Tango in Paris again

In 1973 my wife and I went
to see Last Tango in Paris and
after it was over and we
got outside I began
crying I don't know why exactly.
It was dark out and the streets
were empty like the theater
was empty and we walked slowly
and I couldn't stop crying.
In the car I rested my head
against the steering wheel and
held onto it with both hands and
sobbed and sobbed my poor
wife watching quietly thinking
I'd lost my mind trying
hard not to laugh.


 

 

Ray Heinrich

 

 

genocide eats the lamb

Right there,
in this photograph
of hands reaching,
genocide eats the lamb.

The neighbors she grew up with
are busy killing her brother,
there in this photograph
of hands reaching.

This will be explained
to her grandchildren,
long after
all the hands
and the remembering
of all the hands,
are over.

This photograph
will be denied,
just as she
will be denied,
just as she
will remember,
a hand reaching,
and one more
and one more
becoming
all the hands
reaching.

 

you're getting to be a dream

waiting for a laugh
before returning
before signing the required form

you should have been here hours ago

you're getting to be a dream
i'm getting to be old

my fathers words
my mothers songs
i forget more and more of them

soon
i'll be returning
but first
i must laugh with your old smile

you're getting to be a dream
i'm getting to be old

 

 

feet and figs

caught
between the feet and the figs
listening to idleness
refusing to answer

oh my silence
oh my feet
each wiggley toe
blessing like prayer wheels
greeting me
escaped from socks
uncaught
but i'm caught
between the feet and the figs

 

what are you wearing?

My new pink skin fresh with innocent blood
and the gray fur, rings, needles, and claws
sewn into this jacket you made me into.

 

the secret of life

today we discovered
the secret of life
but still can't decide
what's for dinner

 

forget the accident

the bits of glass
left in your face
sparkle beautifully
in the truck's lights


 

Fraser MacFarlane

 

 

Jeopardy Answers

who do you think you are?
what is your problem?
when are you going to change?
why are you such an asshole?
where the hell are you going?

 

Writing Poems For Al

The rain beats the pavement
Like a red-haired stepchild
I hold my head in my hands
And consider the abyss

Does that sound more like a poem to you, Al
Or should I make it rhyme?


 

 
 

Daniel Vian

 

 

SPASM 1900

Nothing to be seen
Nothing to be heard
Nothing to be touched
He sits in the musty room in the shadows
Books shaking whenever the El passes
Piles of old magazines
Newspapers, photographs, postcards, assorted debris
Agglomerated and stacked in odd places
Multiple towers of Babel
Blisters of dead paint on the walls
Frosted glass in the single window
Daylight outside but nothing visible
A smell of rotting fruit seeping under the door
An insidious gas
In the year 1900 millions are reported to be starving in India
A groaning mass of wriggling bodies
The river Ganges brown and bubbling
The boy Apu wandering naked in an alley in Benares
Where is Gunga Din?
Of whom are you speaking, my dear?
Regarded with such evil forebodings
She stands facing right
Her right side presented
Her right arm folded
Her right hand on her hip
Only her left hand can be seen
The hand bent
The fingers touching the lower part of her left shoulder
Her face is turned so that all of it is visible
Dark hair, a rose pinned in her hair at each temple
Lips heavily rouged, dark eyes looking unwavering
The right side of her face in a green shadow
A bit of pink on the upper slope of the right cheekbone
Below the oval face an expanse of cream-colored skin
A gown with a low neckline, white shoulders exposed
A mass of ruffles on the upper arm and over the bosom
On her left side a dangling shawl, blue-grey in color
Hanging past her knees
On her right side the red flounces of the gown
Scattered green and blue and mauve patches
She moves her right arm
She slowly turns
She says something in Spanish
The music starts
Many a brave soul did it send hurrying down
Many a hero did it yield a prey to dogs and vultures
British trade unions create the Labour Party
White sleeves raised, ruddy faces, hands clenched
We are determined to change the course
All the mouths are open
He passes his younger days perpetually occupied
A variety of circumstances prevent his marrying early
Nor is it until the decline of life that he becomes a husband
And the father of a family
He came down furious from the summits
With his bow and his quiver on his shoulder
And the arrows rattled on his back with the rage
He sat himself down away from the ships
With a face as dark as night
As she sails into the room like a great ship gliding on the sea
Shouting, the voices hoarse, a beer mug raised in salute
Too much dust here
One hovers on the edge of a sneeze
I cannot breathe this morning
Dust
Dust
He could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion
A plain man cannot stand against the anger of a king
Waves of strikes spread through Europe
I suppose it was to be expected
The dead man was an absolute stranger to everyone
A query at the railroad station
No one had seen him alight from a train
Mayor of New York breaks ground for construction of first subway
Through a tunnel linking Manhattan and Brooklyn
Starched white collars and a gathering of pick-axes
All the open mouths
He then took me into his laboratory
And explained to me the uses of his various machines
His eyes flashed fire as he scowled
It makes it a little awkward for you, doesn't it?
Hawaii is officially a territory of the United States
Oahu green, then acres and acres of pineapples
Ships of fruit companies in the harbors
Let us hope she will not turn out so badly
The sleuths turned the clothes inside out
Then bit their lips in frustration
The tailor's label had been ripped out of the jacket
The laundry mark had been torn off the shirt and underwear
Fire reduces the Canadian city of Ottawa to ashes in twelve hours
Blocks of smoldering wood, a gray haze in the eyes
I always do you justice
Indeed, a remarkable woman!
World exposition opens in Paris
Yellow gleam of tubas and trumpets
Dark eyed girls with sweat glistening on their upper lips
He could not imagine the robber in the kitchen
Hearing a shot in the dark
Calmly assuming it had been fired by his partner
The sleeping husband could have awakened
And fired at the intruder
The natural impulse of the man in the kitchen
That of self-preservation
Eugene V. Debs announces he will run for president
Mouths opening and closing, opening and closing
It's a magnificent place, and certainly the grounds are ravishing
Boxer rebellion breaks out in China
I shall go in the morning
See what she means to do in the matter
British take over Orange Free State in South Africa
Jeffries defeats Corbett
The two men half naked, arms and fists raised, at the ready
Here you are again! Do you want to see Papa?
Stephen Crane dies at twenty-eight of tuberculosis
I'm waiting for you, you know
You haven't finished your work yet
General Arthur MacArthur offers Filipinos amnesty
Of course I did. It was delicious!
Germany reported to be building a powerful navy
Hundreds die as three steamships burn in Hoboken
What must be, must be
But it's really dreadful to think of it all
King Humbert I of Italy is assassinated by an anarchist
Your reputation would suffer, I assure you!
Zeppelin airship makes first flight
Order the carriage at half past three
Australian colonies form confederation
We may as well leave our cards together
Allies enter Peking to free legations
But she's a mere peasant! Entirely uneducated
A mere, common creature
Nietzche dies after eleven years of madness
It's not finished
Where is the upper part of it and the sleeves?
William Jennings Bryan accepts presidential nomination
I'm sorry to have called you wicked
United States population reaches 76 million
One can't praise such a voice as that!
McKinley and Roosevelt win election
I believe you would do it if I asked you
Oscar Wilde dies in poverty in Paris at the age of forty-six
I think a great many people will be jealous of her
Sarah Bernhardt arrives in America
I believe the world is a cruel place after all
The Boer War drags on.


 

 

 

Reviews

The Tunnel by William Gass

reviewed by Jim Esch

I'm digging in the dirt
To find the places I got hurt
(Peter Gabriel)

This book took about three decades to write, and it shows. It's as big as life, as dark as death, as depth defying as a Wallenda family high-wire act. The novel tells the story of one William Frederick Kohler, a cynical, bitter history professor at a Midwestern university. He has just completed his masterwork, called Guilt and Innocence in Hitler's Germany and only needs to write the introduction. A funny thing happened on the way to the intro, though. Instead of writing history, he writes the history of his life in fits and starts, inserting the errant pages into the pages of his tidy manuscript, so as to hide them from his wife. Not only that, but he begins to dig a tunnel in his basement, another dirty little secret. That's the extent of the formal plot here. Most of the action has to do with Kohler's upbringing, his alcoholic mother, his verbally abusive father, his academic mentor ( a German named Mad Meg), his history department colleagues, his affairs, his students, his relatives, his philosophical musings, and much much more. Kohler's literally digging into his past; it's a messy business, and what he finds aint pretty.

You can't say that about the writing though. Gass is a prose master, who seems able to toss off brilliant similes with the ease of lighting a match. He's unafraid to challenge his reader, with unreliable narration, stream of consciousness effects, riffs and tangents, and other modernist tricks and turns. Many readers will be put off by them; I wasn't. It's a relief to see someone attempt to write this kind of novel, instead of opting for the minimal slice of life tripe that passes for literature too much these days.

Gass, himself a philosophy professor at Washington University in St. Louis, has informed this novel with his broad knowledge of literature, philosophy, and history. In fact, the book can be seen as a cold, hard look at the philosophy of history itself, a grappling with history's absurd fates and fatalities -- history as humanity's graveyard ditch.

It took guts to write this book. Folks will inevitably search for biographical parallels between Kohler and Gass, which won't be fun for Gass since his narrator is such an asshole. The truths in this book will hurt you, make you wince. It's lies may be hard to sort from the truth, which may make you itch. But if you have the stamina to finish it, I don't think you'll regret having read it. For all it's bitter digging into nowhere, The Tunnel amounts to something frighteningly deep.


 

Noteworthy

A group called Book Stacks is now hosting an on-line Fiction Writers
Workshop. We are hoping to turn this into a forum in cyberspace where
fiction writers can present drafts of short stories or novel chapters
for comment and critique by other writers and interested readers.
Writers of all experience levels are welcome to present their work, and
everyone is encouraged to provide constructive criticism.
If possible, I would very much appreciate it if you could mention this
on your zine.  The URL is:  "http://www.books.com/scripts/newcon.exe?"
From there, click on the link to the Fiction Writers' Workshop.
Thanks.
DC Palter
Fiction Editor
Abiko Quarterly
=====
Heron View is a small Internet press, selling books in electronic form,
distributing them through e-mail and on disk. We specialize in new
authors, hoping to develop them into the kind of author that the larger
houses eventually steal away from us. Our first catalog, starting in the
fall, has 5 novels and a role-playing game on it; mostly SF, but one
mainstream and one horror work to add a little variety. We're going to
have more diversity come the new year, when we add a few more authors to
our list, but right now, we're trying to get the word out. Please visit
our site at http://www2.cy-net.net/users/heron and check us out.
Robbie Taylor, Senior Editor
Heron View Literary Services
http://www2.cy-net.net/users/heron or E-mail:heron@cy-net.net
"bringing light out of the black hole..."
=====
World's First Online Literary Reading
No more need to put up with the overpriced cappucino, monotone authors,
and bad pick-up lines so commonly found at today's coffeehouse literary
readings.
The World's First Online Literary Reading is up and running!
Eight characters' voices, reading from eight short stories, can be found
at
"Xander Mellish: Short Stories and Cartoons," at
http://www.interport.net/~xmel.
In addition to the voices, the site includes comic drawings and short
fiction about New Yorkers in their twenties with very big dreams.  Plus
news and updates, a poster offer, and a large selection of reader
response from all over the world.