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It’s a motley lot.  A few still stand

at attention like sentries at the ends

of their driveways, but more lean

askance as if they’d just received a blow

to the head, and in fact they’ve received

many, all winter, from jets of wet snow

shooting off the curved, tapered blade

of the plow.  Some look wobbly, cocked

at oddball angles or slumping forlornly

on precariously listing posts.  One box

bows steeply forward, as if in disgrace, its door

lolling sideways, unhinged.  Others are dented,

battered, streaked with rust, bandaged in duct tape,

crisscrossed with clothesline or bungee cords.

A few lie abashed in remnants of the very snow

that knocked them from their perches.

Another is wedged in the crook of a tree

like a birdhouse, its post shattered nearby.

I almost feel sorry for them, worn out

by the long winter, off-kilter, not knowing

what hit them, trying to hold themselves

together, as they wait for news from spring.

 

                               ~ Jeffrey Harrison

 

Scottius 11

Scottius 11

Glimmer Train is currently accepting submissions for its Short Story Award for New Writers contest through February 28.  The contest is open to writers whose fiction has not appeared in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000.  Contest entries must not have appeared in any print publication.  Stories submitted to this category are typically 1,000 to 5,000 words and should not exceed 12,000 words.

The first place winner will receive $2,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and ten copies of that issue.  The second and third place winners will receive $500 and $300, respectively, possible publication, and ten copies of the publication issue.  Results will be announced in the May 1 bulletin.  For more information or to submit your work, visit the website at http://www.glimmertrain.com.

Good luck!

 

issue98_current_cover_450x675

In the Library

Yesterday I enjoyed my inaugural quest into the musty stacks of the Claremont Colleges Library and emerged victorious with all the books on Grace Paley I sought.  With my first doctoral research paper due in May, I can anticipate a great deal of time will be relished here…

 

There’s a book called

“A Dictionary of Angels.”

No one has opened it in fifty years,

I know, because when I did,

The covers creaked, the pages

Crumbled. There I discovered

 

The angels were once as plentiful

As species of flies.

The sky at dusk

Used to be thick with them.

You had to wave both arms

Just to keep them away.

 

Now the sun is shining

Through the tall windows.

The library is a quiet place.

Angels and gods huddled

In dark unopened books.

The great secret lies

On some shelf Miss Jones

Passes every day on her rounds.

 

She’s very tall, so she keeps

Her head tipped as if listening.

The books are whispering.

I hear nothing, but she does.

 

~ Charles Simic

 

"The Bookworm" by Carl Spitzweg, circa 1850

“The Bookworm” by Carl Spitzweg, circa 1850

Upon such days, with such-like sloth

who wants to study?  And yet, alas,

exams impend, like it or not.

I guess we’ll have to work a little…

The book, however, seems stale bread,

it’s dry, it’s stiff, I can’t bite through.

We’ve overcome much more than that…

And now I spin in bacchanalias

of terms and systems’ orgies,

and I remember midst all that

what a boat my friendly boatman

had promised me the previous day –

and all the unfinished volumes

slam shut and on their shelf.  It’s time!

 

~ From “The University Poem” by Vladimir Nabokov, whose controversial classic Lolita is the next text in this semester’s literary lineup at Claremont Graduate University

 

"Daydreams" by Thomas Couture, 1859

“Daydreams” by Thomas Couture, 1859

There Were Days

There were days when she was very happy without knowing why. She was happy to be alive and breathing, when her whole being seemed to be one with the sunlight, the color, the odors, the luxuriant warmth of some perfect Southern day.  She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places.  She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in.  And she found it good to dream and to be alone and unmolested. 

There were days when she was unhappy, she did not know why,—when it did not seem worth while to be glad or sorry, to be alive or dead; when life appeared to her like a grotesque pandemonium and humanity like worms struggling blindly toward inevitable annihilation. She could not work on such a day, nor weave fancies to stir her pulses and warm her blood.

 

~ From The Awakening by Kate Chopin, born on this day in 1850

 

"A Willing Captive" by Frederick Stuart Church, 1888

“A Willing Captive” by Frederick Stuart Church, 1888

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –

The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing –

And Winter slumbering in the open air,

Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,

Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

 

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,

Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.

Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,

For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!

With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:

And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?

Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,

And Hope without an object cannot live.

 

                                                   ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Caroline Léna Becker

Caroline Léna Becker

On Art

Art, especially the stage, is an area where it is impossible to walk without stumbling.  There are in store for you many unsuccessful days and whole unsuccessful seasons: there will be great misunderstandings and deep disappointments…you must be prepared for all this, expect it and nevertheless, stubbornly, fanatically follow your own way.

 

~ Anton Chekhov, born on this day in 1860

 

Osip Braz, 1898

Portrait of Anton Chekhov by Osip Braz, 1898

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