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Articles tagged "Youth"

Falling Down Politely, or How to Use Up All Six Bullets Instead of Playing Russian Roulette

But where’s the skill in loading a gun with just one round of ammunition and pointing it at your head, trying your luck at deliverance? The ingenious thing would be to fill all six chambers and let every bullet kill you, one after the other. Bullet 1 Even though the voice ringing out from the stereo in your bedroom belongs to a singer who didn’t die at twenty-seven like those other musical geniuses—Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, that bunch—you still listen to him every...

Mukhtar

When my mother asked me to spend the summer in her brothers’ house in the south, I employed every sophistry of my sixteen years—an age when only a mother pays attention to your budding philosophy of life—to explain to her that life forces surge northward, that the south, from which she and my father came, was becoming obsolete, that Ibn Khaldun (who had inspired this claim) was a great man, that the money could be better spent on a vacation, and that her brothers were...

Moving Like Geckos

I study him while he smokes, lying back, arm behind his head. I watch him release the smoke, breathe it back in and out, thinner now. He’s focused on something in the room but I can’t tell what, maybe my family photos—my mother, my father, the twins—or maybe the cubist still-life painting Donatella gave me. Or maybe he’s not looking at anything at all, just as high as his eyes can reach in this room that’s only twenty meters square. I study him, study...

Sergeant Garcia

In memory of Luiza Felpuda I “Hermes!” The whip cracked against the worn wood of the table. Louder, almost shouting, almost angrily, he repeated: “I called Hermes! Which of you numbnuts is that?” I stepped forward from the back of the room. “I am.” “I am, Sergeant, Sir. Repeat!” Naked like me, the others were watching. The only sound was of the rusty ceiling fan blades turning, but I knew they were laughing quietly, nudging one...

The Sewing Machine

The sewing machine’s quiet hum was my mother’s sad song. At my father’s stall it was her peasant trousers that could send me to school answer the landlord and buy medicine. My sister Marzieh, whose illness nobody understands, and cannot be cured even in the shrine, coughs continuously like the sewing machine’s needle and the softness of her bones only feeds the earth’s lust. Mother is the needle’s thread: with Marzieh’s every cough,...

Mastroianni Day

Mastroianni Day [Exp–Adj]: in accordance with the universal lexicon, a day is deemed to be “Mastroianni” (from Marcello, Italian actor, 1924–96) when spent merrily sauntering about in the company of beautiful women, blown along by the whim of circumstance, devoid of any sense of purpose. The classic “Mastroianni Day” requires a three-piece suit, dark sunglasses, and, preferably, a hat. Some lexicographers would also include compulsive self-adulation,...

Destitutes Compound

At the time I left home for good I must have been around twenty-two or twenty-four years old. What prompted me to leave was my father’s attitude. He complained that I’d developed bad habits. When I think about it now, it seems he was right to complain, and he was also right to try and find out on his own how I was spending my time. Back then, though, I thought it was all rather unfair and I used to complain to my mother about it. What galled me the most was that whenever he...

from “Scenes from the Silent Movies”

Balancing the World on His Chin The posters advertising movies or dances were not the only ones that occasionally clamored for our attention from Olleros' walls and tree trunks. Sometimes, too, a traveling circus would stop there or a family troupe of puppeteers with a tiny cast (I remember one in particular, in which the man not only sold the tickets on the door and played the parts of lion, devil and monk in the play, he also, still wearing his lion costume, organized the drawing of...

Hai Phong

Yellow lamps, prostitutes' eyes Lines of sad provincial poems On a farewell afternoon, yellow leaves are falling Ocean winds have no ports or borders Ocean clouds go their own way Like dates, the harbors have no names In the Lap River the tide rises Fishing boats go and come Someone waits at the Binh ferry for someone A smile is blurred by cement-plant smoke The people of Hai Phong are like sea-wind and sun Off they go, with the dawn Their footprints cover the...

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