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Articles tagged "Sex"

An Introduction to Our Fourth Annual Queer Issue

This June, Words without Borders publishes its fourth annual Queer issue. The United States is celebrating LGBT pride month. The country’s Supreme Court is scheduled to deliver verdicts on two landmark cases relating to gay rights in America, both concerning the rights of same-sex couples to marry. In France, the new Socialist president François Hollande signed a “marriage for all” bill into law in late May. In response, massive demonstrations erupted around the...

from “The Confession”

In the spring of 2005 an exorcism took place in a small, unfinished monastery in Vaslui County in northwestern Romania. Casting out demons is more common in Romania than in the West, but there was nothing typical about this rite. A single priest officiated, whereas Church policy requires three. The person undergoing the ritual is generally a willing, quiet participant, accompanied by family. On this occasion, the hallucinating and unwilling victim lay restrained on an improvised stretcher...

Harpooned Woman

 Two lonelinesses that sometimes came together to feed the ego of destruction. –Marilin Roque   Upon a bed of frustrations, bed of lost hopes, a ghost ship bed, suddenly too wide, too deep, too chimerical, I watch the smoke of our cigarettes fade in the air, watch the puffs of smoke float and dissipate, disappear without trace, suddenly substituted by other gusts, vaporous and unpredictable. I will never again be able to enter this room. I will never again be able to...

from “The Graveyard of Bitter Oranges”

In front of a tropical fruit stand in the Piazza dei Cinquecento, lit up by low-hanging bare bulbs, I stood and observed the red flesh pierced by black seeds of the melons, the yellow pineapples split in two, the ovular, yellow-green bunches of grapes, and the segmented coconut flesh laid out in large basins. I heard Arabian music, camels knelt down before a Corpus Christi altar covered over with flowers, blessed mendicants meandered through the streets among the dead cobras, playing...

Bitter Lemons

Everything went well until we got to Corfu.  It’s not that things started to go wrong there, but that this may have been an omen that our happiness had already been drawn out far too long.  I was a new professor.  Upon completing my first course as a lecturer, I bought myself a car: a white Fiat 127.   My goal was to travel through Greece that summer, traversing those historic and literary places of which I had dreamed since my childhood.  I was neither...

Don’t Do It

He left his car in the parking lot of the hospital complex. It had all been under construction for years. Around him were unfinished buildings with display windows still protected by tape beside other old, dusty ones, with air conditioning units hanging off them like enormous ticks. Amid the buildings were pre-fab sheds, cranes, fenced-in areas all around, but he knew his route well. He passed a row of oleanders that had been relegated to no-man’s-land, and he emerged in an open...

The Man with the Knife

He lay back on the sofa, tipsy. She had invited him out for a meal and now they were back at her flat. He was a renowned poetry critic with a successful career. She was just an aspiring poet. He had agreed to help her be “successful”—that was the word they used in China nowadays. It was not easy to be a successful poet. She would have to work hard. She offered him tea to sober him up. Then they could go on talking about poetry—Rilke and Yeats, even Foucault and...

The Christmas Tree

Someone had placed a giant tree in the hotel lobby, a pine made of unrecyclable plastics. We’re in a strange land and Christmas is nearing. We see these things with a particular disdain, a particular apathy of islanders steeped in a system that alternates beauty with politics. Christmas, for us, is nothing more than faint nostalgia, our mothers’ childhoods, the tree in the corner of a color photo from cousins in Miami, the wool purse brought by someone from Russia when the...

Musical Beds, Catalan Style

If you've finished the issue and are still in the mood, check out Empar Moliner's rollicking "Invention of the Aspirin" in our October 2007 Catalan issue. A bored wife finds she has the ability to slip into other women's identities—and their bedrooms. Shapeshifting from secretary to teen to porn star, and whirling in and of bed with, among others, her daughter's boyfriend and the president, she embraces this cure for her ennui. The result is inevitable and (at least...

From the Archives: Poetry, Sex, and Rap

April is National Poetry Month, and our theme this month is sex, so we're going back to our November 2005 South Korean issue for a tale that fits both: Lee Gi-ho's "Earnie." The story of a young prostitute with a booming voice who escapes via a fortuitous encounter with a music impresario, it appears in two renditions: the text, translated by Yu Young-nan, and a rap version penned by rapper Kyle Myhre, better known as El Guante. Poetry and sex, and a salute to translation as well,...

Beyond this Darkness and this Silence

  The world has become aware of its invisible citizen. But no one knows you are here. —H. G. Wells   I warned her in one of our first conversations, though she didn’t take me seriously: “I’m invisible.” Not that I reproached her for her skepticism. To be honest, I don’t usually talk about it; people aren’t prepared to face the extraordinary. Which, if you are a part of what is considered “extraordinary,” can be...

Tana

The rain began that morning. Tana was coming home from school. Thursday afternoons they had sewing class, and now on the bus, she realized this was the first day she'd left school in the dark. It would go on like this for months. It was cold out, raining, and the bus, jammed with boys and girls, with students, was steaming hot. The windows were fogged up; someone had managed to pry one open, and Tana, already sweaty, was freezing. She thought: I might get sick, stay home a week. She...

To Troy, Helen

                         The two lay down together on the bed. Atreus's son paced through the crowd, like a wild beast, searching for some glimpse of godlike Alexander.   Iliad, book 3: 284ff.   I parked the car four blocks beyond the house. Felt like I was following a plan that I had rehearsed a hundred times. What sense did it make? Helen would not know I had come, did not even know I was on my...

The Hunchback and Botticelli’s Venus

Fluttering locks of reddish hair whipped by the wind and rain, smooth and radiant skin, she is Botticelli’s Venus walking down the street. (The one in the Uffizi, born from a seashell, not the one in the Staatliche Museen, with a black background, which is similar but has dry hair arranged around the head, descending evenly down the body.) Don’t think that I boast any extraordinary perspicacity, but the fact is that even if the woman I observe is as motionless as a statue, I...

The Ringing Body

She always recognized them by the  trembling behind their bravado. From his first “Hello” she was certain  he wasn’t one of them . . . that he had meant to call her, in particular. He was not one of those triflers, the junior bureaucrats, young clerks, and drunkards who amuse themselves by dialing just any number, for a thrill or perhaps the chance of something more.  She recognized their  attempts to disguise their impulsiveness: “Is Ahlam...

Horst

I’m thirty-nine. I’m a chemist, graduate of the university of ****. For the last twelve years I’ve been working as a lab technician for a pharmaceutical company. Practically speaking, I’m a hired hand, because the creative part of our work all belongs to our bosses, the illustrious professors and scientists who design our research programs according to the needs of the company. Among the eggheads who work with us there’s even a Nobel Prize winner who...

Good Women and Bad Women

We never discovered how they found us out. My brother insisted that Márgara had stumbled across them accidentally while she was putting clean sheets on the bed, and that she had squealed on us. I suspected something different. On a number of occasions I had surprised my mother going through my drawers, or secretly reading my diary—it was more like an exercise book of notes and drawings and doodles—or stealthily lifting the other receiver while I was talking to a friend on...

The Bicycle Factory

In 1966, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu issued Decree 770, criminalizing abortion. After that, women found their own ways to end unwanted pregnancies, no matter the risk. With money and contacts, one could arrange curettage—then the procedure would be performed without anesthesia in a garage or on a kitchen table. On rare occasions, a gynecologist would assist. Most women learned to terminate a pregnancy on their own. A catheter was introduced into the uterus. Through it,...

Review

After the intermission, when they prepped the audience and warmed them up with an acrobatic display, clowns, and other supporting acts, the second part began, the main one, the part with the adored women. Wind instruments, festive but refined, herald the entrance of the star Dolly Scheinwald. She strides erect. She is very beautiful. Her form draped in a black dress with a deep reveal, her hair black and her alto a sensual rasp. Two bachelor spectators, high in the gods, know she’ll...

The Sex Life of the Writer

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. —Ernest Hemingway   A friend recently lent us a book called The Sex Life of Immanuel Kant.1  Its author,  one Jean-Baptiste Botul, examines the philosopher’s lifestyle, which besides the usual mingling and chitchat boiled down to study, study, and more study. And thus Kant not only preserved himself from marriage but from ever making room in his life for a woman, not the smallest corner. For a man to be chaste his...

Velocity

I met her on the day that I divorced the sow. She came up to me and asked if I wanted a hug. She was wearing a black T-shirt with the words “International Hug Day” emblazoned on it. Behind her trailed a flock of smiling huggers. On any other day I would have yelled at them to go get a real job, since I knew they were the type who turn the celebration of “international days”—days like “No-Smoking Day,” “Family Day,” “Accident-Free...

The Other Day After the Rain

I. Once again, the erection. The body’s first signal, heaving me back into reality every time I awake. The Hebrew Kabbalists say that during the night God takes souls on a mystical journey; the privileged never return to their bodies. Just like Enoch, they remain in eternity. But the Kabbalah reveals nothing about the relation between this mystical voyage and my morning erections. I sometimes wonder where God must have brought me in my sleep for me to wake with a cock so stiff...

Spider

Your long years of service in this institution entitle you to at least this one privilege. You get your double espresso in a real cup over the heads of the students crowded around the counter, and you go find a seat at one of the tables. To say your spirits are low would be a wild understatement. You try to withdraw into yourself, but all you find there are fathomless recesses of blackness, gloom, and self-loathing. You’ve just come out of a class to which only a third of the...

Diary

At eight in the morning I looked at my watch and it was eight o’clock. At nine-thirty I looked at my watch and it was nine-thirty. At eleven in the morning I looked at my watch and it was ten to eleven. At twelve noon I looked at my watch and it was twenty to twelve. At one in the afternoon I looked at my watch and it was twelve-twenty. At four in the afternoon I looked at my watch and it was twelve-twenty. And at quarter past five when I looked at my watch it was still...

Bird’s Nest

Luminous missionaries our sexual bodies perfect as a bird's nest carnivorous, incomparable.   The bodies of virgins hold all the dreams the honeyed bodies of whores hold all the men The bodies of ladies hold one man and charm thousands The bodies of dust of the dead where worms sigh The bodies of pregnant women brimming with knowledge of creation The world created through a circle.   “Nido de pájaros” © Aurora Arias. By...

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