“God’s Lesson Plan”

Image Cited:

Meme source imagery of Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

Fuller, Bryan and Thomas Harris, creators. Hannibal. NBC, 2013-2015.

Bias Collins is a queer, neurodivergent, transgender graduate student in the PhD in Literature program, Cultural Studies emphasis. His primary research focus is on analyzing adaptations of fictional dis/abled figures from literary to visual mediums, particularly in the genres of science fiction, horror, & the gothic. He is keenly interested in exploring the hybridity of morality & mortality in figures of the cyborg, zombie, & vampire and their reliance on dis/ability in their dis/configurations of the human body. His wider areas of research interests include Disability, Queer, Feminist, & Film Studies. His creative work has also been published in UCSD’s Queer Authors Anthology (2019).

“Still Lifes”



for desertification.



uncontrollable process

processed through,

Like a cliff face which just now buckled.


But always unfinished!

Agnes Martin
The Islands, 1979
Oil and graphite on canvas 72 x 72 in.
Courtesy of the Artist

     Even the green ones

Wilt some.



     Don’t speak

They mouth.

     They eye.

Out of what vengeance?



     Glass bloom—


     Down into itself



Charles Ethan Porter
Mountain Laurel, 1888
Oil on canvas 20 x 24 1/8 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum

  1. Evidence.
  2. Soil fertilizer and hardy bulb.
  3. Bric-à-brac, origin unknown.
  4. Reads “The Rings of Saturn.”
  5. Remains of cherry pie.
  6. $.55, no origin.
  7. Dry spring, calendula.
  8. Fig. 3. w/ cigarillos.
  9. Exterior: debris.
  10. Kitchen TV, paused: Channel 03
  11. Debris (detail.)
  12. London, night.
  13. Contraband.
  14. Reads: “Postponed breakfast til [sic] 12”.
  15. Dry sprigs, unknown origin.
  16. Pencil drawings (tornado, cube, etc.)
  17. Digital scale.
  18. [Illegible]ICE DAY!
  19. Opaque unbranded bar soap.
  20. Ductwork.
  21. Batteries x4.
  22. $2.30.
  23. Fig. 4, Evidence.
  24. Radiator, matte white, Trane brand.
  25. Mastercard Diamond.
  26. Acetylene torch (disassembled).
  27. Orange plastic cup; sprigs of calendula.
  28. Mass of string x3.
  29. Carpenter’s square, unbranded.
  30. Debris, wood shavings, dust.
  31. Dust, etc.
  32. Remote control, site of verifiable fingerprint.
  33. Lip balm, cinnamon.
  34. Evidence, out of sight.
  35. Business card, reads: “Pip’s Baked Goods”.
  36. Debris, soil.
  37. Vermiculite (dispersed with soil).
  38. Egg.
  39. American Express Vista credit card.
  40. Chemicals (source unknown).
  41. Data.
  42. Eggshells.

Wolfgang Tillmans
Nachtstilleben (Night Still Life), 2013
Chromogenic print 53 1/8 × 6 ft. 7 3/4 in.

Jack Kohler is a poet and translator from Columbia, Missouri. After graduating from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in spring 2020, he is now a freelance writer and critic in St. Louis. During the pandemic he began building a chicken coop.

from Smoke

Original by Efrén Ordóñez
Translated, from the Spanish, by Robin Myers


His daily trip to the Depot had become the only possibility of seeing her. Every day, he’d make a wrong turn; some unrecognizable building would appear before him; he’d double back onto the same street and get lost for a few minutes. But he’d find his way. Right-right-left-left. He knew that if he stopped going, if one day he’d forget to check the lists, to suffer through the endless faces, Emma could slip away from him in the multitude of bodies, and if no one went to identify her, she’d end up in the mass crematorium—and he’d never see her again, and he’d never get these images out of his head.

The bureaucrats were never suspicious of him. They didn’t care. No one could know about the images of Emma looping around and around, some new ones (or old ones, really) finding their way onto the undesired carousel. And so, after several days, when the employees finally recognized him, they stopped coming up to give him instructions. It wouldn’t have crossed their minds that he’d spent two or three weeks searching for the same person. Most citizens made their final visit on the third day, and if they couldn’t find the individual in their charge, they assumed that the authorities would take things from there and send the body directly to the Oven. They rarely returned after that.

After so many trips, he’d started to study the chimney of the Oven. Especially at night. From his apartment, he could see its perpetual blue flame, the smoke condensing hundreds of bodies as they escaped the city, gradually forming the veil that many hailed as protection from the sun. But the pavement still burned. The high temperatures in the shade made life in the city feel like it was always on the verge of a storm.

One of those days, after he’d reviewed lists and faces, he fell prey either to courage or to desperation, left the front halls, and went into the next building, the unit that housed the old oven now restored and equipped to meet new needs. A rusty mass. The Oven, in addition to the body-collection project, was an initiative launched by one of the governors, though it was an advisor who’d come up with the idea: it would be a way to stay in voters’ minds and go down in the history of Monterrey. Physically, that is. Each of the adjacent buildings bore the governor’s surname and the years of his administration on a golden plaque.

The unit had two entrances: a large one for the collection trucks, and a small one that could accommodate only a single person at a time. He entered through the second. The building didn’t typically receive individual citizens, but it wasn’t some sort of secret or forbidden act. Apathy has always been the most effective lock.

The temperature was higher inside. Closing the door behind him, he found himself trapped in a dark space, a kind of vestibule or passageway. He was hit by the rhythmic clatter of metal curtains opening and closing, the groan of burning matter, the blowtorches spitting flames. Seconds later, someone opened a door in front of him. A crooked, skeletal shadow cut across the opening. The door stayed open. He moved toward it. He emerged into the unloading area, facing several wordless workers whose sole task was to offload bodies and pile them up onto forklifts. As soon as they filled up the pallet, they headed into a dimly lit tunnel. He climbed the stairs to his left so he could get a look at the whole scene.

He passed a row of downcast, leathery men, their eyes clouded, dressed in denim overalls. He walked around like just another worker and walked up the interminable spiral staircases that reached up alongside the machine rooms—spaces that were incomprehensible to him despite his training as an engineer. He continued upward. He crossed bridges with screeching handrails, protesting under the weight of passers-by. Their creaks sounded more like human screams disappearing into the void. Distant echoes. He stopped to examine the structure, but he couldn’t figure out the intention of the design. He kept going. He walked through doorways whose thresholds opened out onto nothing, crossed others where he found men resting, or hidden, ghosts with menacing eyes. He opened the door to a stockroom and saw a small group of overcalled workers kicking at a sack that was an imperfect sphere with dark stains. His presence didn’t interrupt their game. In the end, after making his way up several levels, he found himself at a stark lookout point with a view of various mouths of the Oven. Below, at least a dozen men—some with their own arms, others driving forklifts—emptied their content into each mouth, all of which opened and shut their steel doors to a steady cadence. Most of the bodies were still clothed. One. Two. Three. Four. Five seconds to toss in a corpse or two. They fell hard. He stared, transfixed by the rhythm of the curtains, the disposal of the bodies. Emma’s name hadn’t appeared on the lists, nor her face on the monitors. He wondered. She could have slipped through his fingers. His stomach turned at the thought of finding her piled up on one of those machines and he didn’t know why. With the metal clack of the curtains still echoing in his head, he made his way out.

His experience at the Oven left him with a sense of fear that quickly morphed into urgency. He intensified his evening searches, but he still hadn’t seen her in any of the dozens of white pick-ups he kept following, spurred by police fantasies and sleuthing speculations. Whenever he caught sight of one, he’d drop everything and track it until he was sure it wasn’t heading downtown, or that a woman who looked like her wasn’t getting in our out. Once again, every effort was in vain.

After several days, he was out of ideas, and he felt that his whole life was being diluted into a stream of identical hours. He returned to the living room couch and fixed his eyes behind the curtains, past the window. Beneath that painting, on a couch where she used to sit, with the horizontal lines running behind her head and the city in the background.

One Wednesday morning, sitting on that very couch, he looked at his books for the semester, stacked up on the coffee table, and regarded them with a certain suspicion. He picked one up. He flipped to a page at random and read the first few words. Finding them entirely senseless, he went to the bedroom and turned on the TV. His thoughts drifted into the colors and dances of a half-dozen presenters on some magazine show. Framed by a ballet of fluorescent demo girls, their choreographies repeated every five minutes without explanation. He watched an interview with a local dentist, the step-by-step preparation of pasta with tuna (quite affordable), and the testimony of a housewife and mother of sextuplets. Nothing caught his attention. Until, in the middle of a commercial, a sequence left him open-mouthed: a swelling melody accompanied the image of a sun glimmering its way into daylight, illuminating the many structures built during the current governor’s administration. The time lapse showed bridges springing into existence, buildings stretching toward the sky, miles of roads where there had once been only open fields. Cranes appeared along the city streets to arrange rows of panoramic ads displaying faces in motion. They smiled. The image faded into white and the glow became a dazzling sun. Beneath the zenithal light, latest-model cars and trucks, doors printed with the state seal, advanced along the roads that flanked the River, single-file, shifting and passing each other in a complex vehicular choreography. Then a group of garbage trucks broke rank and detached from the group, and the camera focused in on just one until it filled the screen. Then a transition to an urban neighborhood. The garbage truck, now sheltered by dusk, stopped at the foot of a mountain, the Cerro de la Silla. Two smiling men, tall and fit, picked up a body wrapped in a black plastic bag stamped with the state seal. They adjusted their load between them, then tossed it gracefully into the back of the truck, still smiling. They got in. The truck revved up and they slipped back into the dance of traffic. One by one, the vehicles progressed toward a shadowy structure with smokestacks looming under columns of smoke. The sun started to disappear behind the mountain. Another long shot of the city, now softened by dusky light; then the tune repeated, proposed, and imposed by the state government to end the commercial.

He jumped up. The answer was suddenly so clear to him. This was how he’d be the first to find her. He could guarantee she wouldn’t be lost; he could take her away right then and here and avoid the humiliating formalities to which the city’s hundreds or thousands of blotted-out residents were surely subjected. In any case, after several days, the idea of seeing her dead had become almost a reality, or at least a possibility. Without dwelling on it much, his goal had changed from finding her alive to finding her, period. And as soon as he found her, Emma would replace the images in his head: they’d stop hurting him, stop forcing down on his chest and emptying his stomach. The images were a substitute for the person, obviously, and so if he could just see the person…He made some calls until he tracked down a well-connected relative, who was a bit unsettled by the request, but nonetheless came through and pulled the necessary strings. The Cadaver Collection Service hired him within hours. The next day, when he signed the contract and the euphoria had passed, he realized what finding her first would mean.

de Humo

La vuelta diaria al Depósito se había convertido en la única posibilidad de verla. Todos los días daba una vuelta equivocada, aparecía algún edificio irreconocible, volvía sobre la misma calle y se perdía unos minutos. Pero llegaba. Derecha-derecha-izquierda-izquierda. Sabía que si desistía, si un día se olvidaba de repasar las listas, de sufrir los rostros, Emma podría escurrírsele entre la multitud de cuerpos y, si nadie la reclamaba, ella terminaría en el crematorio común, y él, sin verla de nuevo y sin que se le borrasen las imágenes de la cabeza.

Los burócratas nunca sospecharon. No les interesaba. Nadie podría saber sobre las imágenes de Emma repitiéndose en bucle, algunas nuevas (o viejas, en realidad) abriéndose paso e incluyéndose en un carrusel no deseado. Por eso, luego de varios días, cuando los empleados por fin lo reconocieron, dejaron de acercársele para darle instrucciones. No les hubiera pasado por la mente que, después de dos o tres semanas, siguiera buscando a una misma persona. Por lo general los ciudadanos hacían la visita al tercer día y, si no se encontraba su carga, asumían que las autoridades se encargarían y llevarían a la persona directo al Horno. Rara vez alguien regresaba.

Luego de tantas vueltas, había comenzado a tomar en cuenta la chimenea del Horno. Sobre todo por las noches. Desde el departamento veía su eterna flama azul y el humo que condensaba los centenares de cuerpos que escapaban de la ciudad y poco a poco iba formando el velo que muchos celebraron como protección contra el sol. Pero el pavimento seguía ardiendo. La alta temperatura bajo la sombra producía la sensación de un perpetuo preludio de tormenta.

Uno de aquellos días, luego de revisar listas y rostros, víctima de un desplante de valentía o desesperación, salió de las salas y pasó al siguiente edificio, a la nave con el antiguo horno restaurado y adecuado a las nuevas necesidades. Una mole de óxido. El Horno, junto con el proyecto de las recolectoras, fue iniciativa de uno de los gobernadores del estado, idea impulsada por alguno de sus asesores para quedarse en «la mente» de los regiomontanos y colarse en la Historia de la ciudad; es decir, de forma física. Cada una de las estructuras aledañas llevaba los dos apellidos y el periodo de su administración sobre una placa dorada.

La nave ofrecía dos entradas: una grande para los camiones recolectores, y otra diminuta por donde apenas cabía una persona. Entró por la segunda. Si bien no se acostumbraba darle entrada a los ciudadanos, tampoco era una actividad secreta o prohibida para la gente. La indiferencia siempre ha sido el mejor candado.

Adentro aumentó la temperatura. Luego de cerrar la puerta quedó atrapado en medio de un espacio oscuro, una especie de recibidor o área de paso. Lo invadió el sonido del abrir y cerrar de cortinas de acero cayendo rítmicamente, del crujir de los materiales ardiendo, de flamas que escupían los sopletes. Segundos después alguien abrió una puerta frente a él. Por la abertura atravesó una sombra esquelética y corva. La puerta quedó abierta. Avanzó. Se encontró en el área de descarga, ante varios trabajadores enmudecidos con la única tarea de bajar cadáveres para luego apilarlos sobre y el testimonio de un ama de casa madre de sextillizos. Nada le llamó la atención. Hasta que, en medio de un bloque publicitario, lo deslumbró una secuencia: las notas de una melodía in crescendo sobre la imagen de un sol asomándose por la mañana cuya luz descubría las muchas construcciones erigidas durante el mandato del gobernador vigente. Con un time-lapse se levantaron puentes, edificios estirándose hacia el cielo y kilómetros de calles en donde antes sólo se veían llanos. A los costados de las avenidas llegaron grúas para acomodar hileras de anuncios panorámicos que enmarcaron rostros en movimiento. Sonrientes. La imagen fundió a blancos y el resplandor pasó a ser un sol brillante. Debajo de aquel sol cenital, varios carros último modelo y camionetas con escudo del estado sobre las puertas avanzaban por las calles aledañas al Río, en fila, cambiaban de lugar, todo como parte de una coreografía vehicular. De ahí, un grupo de camiones recolectores se desprendió del grupo, rompió filas y la cámara encuadró a uno solo que llenó la pantalla, luego la transición a una de las colonias de la ciudad. El camión recolector, cobijado ya por el atardecer, se detiene a las faldas del Cerro de la Silla. Dos hombres sonrientes, altos y en forma, recogen un cuerpo envuelto en una bolsa negra con el escudo del estado al frente. Balancean su carga y, sin dejar de sonreír, la arrojan con gracia a la caja. Suben. El camión arranca y se une a la coreografía que ha llegado a esa altura de la avenida. Uno detrás de otro enfilaron hacia una oscurísima construcción con chimeneas debajo de columnas de humo. El sol comenzó a esconderse detrás del cerro. De nuevo un plano general de la ciudad, ahora con la luz difusa del atardecer y la tonada repetida, propuesta e impuesta por la administración estatal, para cerrar el comercial.

Se levantó de un brinco. La respuesta se revelaba tan clara. Así podría ser el primero en encontrarla y garantizar que no se perdiera, podría llevársela ahí mismo y evitar los penosos trámites a los que seguramente fueron sometidos los centenares o miles de borrados de la ciudad. De todas formas, luego de varios días, la idea de verla sin vida se había convertido casi en una realidad, o al menos en una posibilidad. Sin reparar mucho en ello había pasado de encontrarla con vida a encontrarla y punto. En el momento en que apareciera, Emma tomaría el lugar de las imágenes en la cabeza, dejarían de hacerle daño, de oprimirle el pecho y vaciarle el estómago. Las imágenes eran un sustituto de la persona, claro, por lo tanto al ver a la persona… Hizo algunas llamadas hasta dar con un pariente bien conectado y, aunque a éste le desconcertó su petición, habló con algunas personas para posicionarlo. La Recolectora de Cadáveres del Noreste lo contrató ese mismo día. Cuando al día siguiente estampó su firma en el contrato y pasó la euforia, cayó en cuenta de lo que «encontrarla primero» significaba.

Efrén Ordóñez is a writer from Monterrey, México. He is the author of Humo (NitroPress, 2017), a novel which was awarded the Nuevo Leon Prize in Literature in 2014 and published under the title Ruinas (CONARTE/Conaculta 2015). He also wrote the short story collection, Gris infierno (An.alfa.beta 2014), and the children’s book, Tlacuache: Historia de una cola (FCAS 2015). In 2017, he created Argonáutica, a literary translation press, alongside Marco Antonio Alcalá, for which he translated the short story collection, Melville’s Beard || Las barbas de Melville, by Mark Haber. In 2020, he and Alcalá are launching Red Velvet Goat (RVG), a more ambitious publishing project that will encompass a broader selection of books. He is currently living in New York City and finishing his second novel, Productos desechables (Disposable products)—which he started writing with a grant from the Young Creator’s Program in Mexico—and the collection of fictional biographies titled La maestría del fracaso, with a grant from CONARTE in the state of Nuevo León, México.

Robin Myers is the translator of, recently, The Restless Dead by Cristina Rivera Garza, Cars on Fire by Mónica Ramón Ríos, and Animals at the End of the World by Gloria Susana Esquivel; forthcoming translations include books by Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Tedi López Mills, Leonardo Teja, and Daniel Lipara. Other work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, The Common, the Harvard Review, Two Lines, Waxwing, World Literature Today, Asymptote, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among other publications. She was among the winners of the 2019 Poems in Translation Contest (Words Without Borders / Academy of American Poets).


from How Many Names

Original by Henri Meschonnic
Translated, from the French, by Don Boes and Gabriella Bedetti

from Combien de noms (How Many Names)
Improviste, 1999


between each word a desert
inside the words the
and with each letter I
am grateful
to the silence
for what it has allowed me to

entre chaque mot un désert
à l’intérieur des mots le
et à chaque lettre je
suis reconnaissant
au silence
pour ce qu’il m’a permis de

* * *

we lacked words
we became like a book
with nothing but margins
the words were inside
like a memory
safe from oblivion
listening to what’s coming
to remake our language
with no words
at the bottom of time on the brink of

nous avons manqué de mots
nous devenions comme un livre
qui n’aurait plus que des marges
les mots rentraient au-dedans
comme une mémoire qui se met
à l’abri à l’oubli à
l’écoute de ce qui vient
pour se refaire un langage
avec une absence de mots
au fond du temps au bord de

* * *

words have no Sundays
as the year has no door
the set table is within us
the chair that remains empty
creates the prophecy of the day
where each day is a letter
and the completed word is us

les mots n’ont pas de dimanches
comme l’année n’a pas de porte
la table mise est en nous
le siege qui reste vide
fait la prophétie du jour
dont chaque jour est une lettre
et le mot complet c’est nous

Henri Meschonnic (1932-2009) is a key figure of French “new poetics.” A core figure of the French literary scene of the last half-century, Meschonnic is known worldwide for his translations from the Old Testament and Critique du rythme. During his long career, Meschonnic generated controversy in the literary community. As a poet and as a translator of the Hebrew verse of the Bible, he contends that rhythm rules over meaning, flowing from the bottom up. For him, the revolution in the idea of language is the basis of a continuing change, not only in the poem but also in the idea of history and social life itself. His poetry has received prestigious awards, including the Max Jacob International Poetry Prize, the Mallarmé Prize, the Jean Arp Francophone Literature Prize, and the Guillevic-Ville de Saint-Malo Grand Prize for Poetry. His poems appear in more than a dozen languages. However, even now, almost no Meschonnic poems have been translated into English. Selected from his nineteen poetry books, the accompanying works only suggest the richness, range, and intensity of his poetic output.

Don Boes is the author of Good Luck With That, Railroad Crossing, and The Eighth Continent, selected by A. R. Ammons for the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Louisville Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Cutbank, Zone 3, Southern Indiana Review, and Cincinnati Review.

Gabriella Bedetti’s translations of Meschonnic’s essays have appeared in New Literary History and Critical Inquiry, and she had an interview published in Diacritics, in addition to an article in New Literary History. Meschonnic was a guest of the MLA at her roundtable with Ralph Cohen and Susan Stewart. She studied translation at the University of Iowa and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

“The Condition of the Verses”

Original by Maria Teresa Horta
Translated, from the Portuguese, by Edite Cunhā and M.B. McLatchey


I am of the condition of the verses
with eagerness rescued

I have a pact with the angels
I recognize the trace of light
I want the rigor of words

I sing the flame of poetry
in the most bitter extravagance

I write the excess
with the pain of the blaze
in the desire to be the splendor

And if in each poem
I invent flight
with my poetic voice

I choose lava

“Da condição dos versos”

Sou da condição
dos versos
com avidez resgatada

Tenho um trato com os anjos
conheço o traço da luz
quero o rigor das palavras

Canto a chama
da poesia
na desmesura mais amarga

Escrevo o excesso
com a pena do fulgor
no desejo de ser o esplendor

E se em cada poema
invento o voo
com a minha voz poética

eu escolho a lava

Maria Teresa Horta was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1937. At 82 years old, Horta continues to be recognized for her association with two fellow poets, Maria Isabel Barreno and Maria Velho da Costa. In 1971, during the fascist Estado Novo regime the three women (known thereafter as “The Three Marias”) wrote a collaborative work entitled Novas Cartas Portuguese (New Portuguese Letters). The book was banned, resulting in a trial that attracted worldwide attention and identified the three writers as feminist icons. In 1974 the regime fell, and the charges were dropped. Nevertheless, the imprint of an oppressive regime endured for Horta – both in her consciousness and in her poetry. Horta has always considered herself, first and foremost, a poet. She has published 21 collections of poetry. She has also worked as a journalist for several Lisbon publications during the 1960s (one of the few women to do so) and interviewed such renowned literary figures as Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, and Christa Wolf. She edited the magazine, Mulheres (Women) and wrote plays and fiction pieces. She is most renowned as a poet and political activist. She lives in Portugal.

Edite Cunhā is a writer, artist, and activist who believes that creativity can transform the individual as well as society. She leads multi-media art and writing workshops for people of all ages. Cunhā has a BA from Smith College and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She lives in Massachusetts.

M.B. McLatchey earned her graduate degree in Comparative Literature at Harvard University, her Master of Art in Teaching at Brown University, and her B.A. from Williams College. She was awarded the American Poet Prize from the American Poetry Journal and won the 2013 May Swenson Award for her debut poetry collection, The Lame God (Utah State University Press), and she was a Finalist in the New Women’s Voices Competition for her book, Advantages of Believing (Finishing Line Press). Her most recent book, Beginner’s Mind, will be published by Regal House Publishing in 2021 and explores the question, “How should we educate our children?” Currently serving as Florida’s Poet Laureate for Volusia County, she is an Associate Professor of Classics at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida. Visit her at www.mbmclatchey.com.

“The Albatross”

Original by Charles Baudelaire
Translated, from the French, by Will Cordeiro


Often, just for kicks, bored sailors reach
for that vast bird, the albatross, which glides
above them on lethargic winds as each
old ketch is drifting the abyss of tides.

Soon as they toss this monarch on the deck,
he stoops and gawks with awkward, drooping wings,
which, mortified, trail lifeless and dejected,
like useless oars through landlocked zones wherein

this skyborne voyager’s made comic—weak,
a stupid bumbler who was once all grace!
One sailor sticks a pipestem in his beak;
another mocks the cripple’s dull malaise.

The poet, too, is like this prince of clouds
who chases storms and laughs at arrows slinging;
but cast from heaven to a jeering crowd,
now hobbles, earthbound, with crass, heavy wings.


Souvent, pour s’amuser, les hommes d’équipage
Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.

À peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
Que ces rois de l’azur, maladroits et honteux,
Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Comme des avirons traîner à côté d’eux.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
Lui, naguère si beau, qu’il est comique et laid!
L’un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
L’autre mime, en boitant, l’infirme qui volait!

Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l’archer;
Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Ses ailes de géant l’empêchent de marcher.

Charles Baudelaire was a 19th-century French poet, translator, art critic, essayist, dandy, and flâneur. He is perhaps most famous for his poetry collection, The Flowers of Evil, and his book of prose poems, Paris Spleen. A self-styled poète maudit, Baudelaire’s work often celebrates decadent and anti-social tendencies—drinking, crime, violence, sexuality, insanity, and the life of outcasts in a way that is, at once, both ironic and biographically authentic.

Will Cordeiro has work appearing or forthcoming in Agni, The Cincinnati Review, Cimarron Review, Copper Nickel, The Threepenny Review, and elsewhere. Cordeiro’s collection, Trap Street, won the 2019 Able Muse Book Award. He received his MFA and PhD from Cornell University. Cordeiro co-edits the small press Eggtooth Editions and is grateful for a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. He teaches in the Honors College at Northern Arizona University. As an undergraduate, Cordeiro co-founded Plume, a literary journal of translation at Franklin & Marshall College, which is still going strong today. He currently lives in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Letter from the Editor

Dear lovely readers,

I sincerely hope you are all well, and I am grateful for the investment of your time in reading our journal. What we present here to you in this issue of Alchemy may be considered a motley grouping of translations that stand together in their eclectic cohesion. Whether it is Will Cordeiro’s translation of “The Albatross,” a classic French poem from Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil; or enthralling fragments from Efrén Ordóñez’s Smoke, a novel in Spanish translated by Robin Myers; or a trio of French poems from Henri Meschonnic’s How Many Names, a rhythmically oriented collection rendered into English by Don Boes and Gabriella Bedetti; or Maria Teresa Horta’s “The Condition of the Verses,” a Portuguese poem of passionate self-expression, which Edite Cunhā and M.B. McLatchey have translated; or whether it is Jack Kohler’s “Still Lifes,” a textual montage which explores artworks by Agnes Martin, Charles Ethan Porter, and Wolfgang Tillmans in an experimental fashion that blends the genres of visual art and poetic language, it speaks to the practice of translation as a genre and theme. These works are empowered by the unity that transcends their differences in style, content, and language.

This trend is also present in the visual art in this issue: Michelle Brooks’s cover art, “Blue Mural,” is a striking photograph whose colors harbor its mystique, while “God’s Lesson Plan” is an avant-garde translation by Bias Collins which adapts five of the Ten Commandments to a usable code of ethics for the 21st century. These works are so different from one another, and yet they find themselves in the same home.

At such a time of crisis and uncertainty, art and literature can lift our spirits. Translation has that ability, and it is made all the stronger for it because it is an inherently collaborative art: from source to target language and from creator to translator, the original text is reimagined and rendered into an entirely new work of art, and in doing so, it uncovers another reality, another world of possibility. One may think of the joint effort in the path of translation to be a limitless art, then, with plenty of potential for new discoveries.

Our translators have entrusted us with their work, and we are proud to provide a home for their translations. My many thanks for their consideration in choosing to send their translations to us, as well as every translator who submitted to us; we were quite impressed with what we received, and we are honored to have had the chance to read and consider these submissions. So it is with great pleasure that we present this issue.

I would also like to convey my immense gratitude for Iliria Osum’s aid and exemplary leadership as the previous editor for the past three issues of Alchemy. Additionally, I want to thank Yaprak Yıldırım, Kevin Jang, and NM Mashurov for being such a wonderful editorial team; their collective efforts have allowed this issue to find the form that it has, and I commend them for their hard work. I also cannot thank Professor Amelia Glaser and the Faculty Advisory Board nearly enough for their guiding hand throughout this process. Lastly, I am grateful for the Literature Department here at the University of California, San Diego, where I myself feel overjoyed to be among such delightful and motivating professors.

We cordially invite you to share this moment with us as we share these translations with you, in turn. Enjoy this issue with us!

Make yourself at home,
Nolan Dannels