Kamby Bolongo Mean River named one of 25 Important Books of the 2000s by HTML Giant

KBMR was named one of 25 Important Books of the decade by HTML Giant. And was a Page One selection of New & Noteworthy Books by Poets & Writers Magazine.

Monday, December 27, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Stefanie Freele

Although there is news somewhere everywhere nowhere, I’m still thinking about hitchhiking. This particular hitchhiker I observed while waiting for cars to get out of my way, was filthy, greasy, as grimy as taken-a-bath-in-engine-oil. His hair, I suppose was black, at least then it was. His shirt, a sort of football jersey with 07 on the back, soiled. The 07 may have once been white, but dark gray now. He was there when I passed on the way, there on the reverse trip, there at lunch, there again. While I waited impatiently at the stop, there was something, something about how he stretched, how he rotated his neck when he set down his backpack; I felt this knowledge: there was a physically strong man underneath, but a man about to give up. Okay, that’s an assumption, like assuming a koala bear is snuggly and a hummingbird is gentle, but it is the body language I watched, therefore, I thought this. I wanted to say something to him, to give him some sort of hope, some sort of wisdom, some sort of rescue, some sort of something that would veer his path toward better, but on the other hand, maybe his path was just that, on its way to damn good. Maybe he already had all of the hope in China and I was just making an ostentatious asslike moment out of my assumption. Later, I drove past again, this time, stopping, holding back my dog by the collar, and the man squatted at my window in the rain looking at me with eyes clear of drugs, clear of judgment. A look that I rarely see – no expectation. Of course, I am making all this up in my head, but this is what I think I saw: a man who had seen it all and the only way to survive was honesty. Okay, so I’m a fiction writer and all that melodramaticness was my own projection: I hear you say this in an accusatory tone while pointing a rigid claw. I said to dude, “I can’t give you a ride, but I can give you something to eat - if you need it.” He said in a tenor of appreciation, “That would be great.” I handed him an energy bar out of a box on my front seat. He took it, backed up. End of big moment. This week I’ve been studying hitchhikers. I look at the scary people, I think of the creepy people, the crazy people that could do something bad to a hitchhiker or to the vulnerable, especially the chick hitchhikers, and I want to stop it all, but what I can I do, I’m a woman with a dog and later I discover, a box full of energy bars that say “energy lite”. I didn’t realize the “lite” part and this is news to me. My big heart-opening rescue of the downtrodden is “lite” and perhaps he just threw the wafery-thing into the bushes. This is it though - I’m hoping Mr. 07 will run into a sandwich or something and his journey will be safe and well. Next time I went by: a corner of wet grass and a curb, here and there, a little bit of litter.

Stefanie is the author of the short story collection Feeding Strays (Lost Horse Press) and the flash fiction chapbook MOTEL (Bannock Street Books). She is the Fiction Editor of the Los Angeles Review. www.stefaniefreele.com

Monday, December 20, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Brian Allen Carr

I was waiting for a massacre, but it seems that none will come. I was asked to deliver no news, and against my greater instincts I’ve no news to report. The call came Thursday and I truly figured that the weekend would yield some great fire-fight in the state of Tamaulipas. I thought I’d tell you about that. I’d tell you about the cartel members carved up by bullets, their bodies dropped like bruised shoulders on streets dirtied with shards of glass. The location of a celebration was moved in fear of violence, a rich kid was shot three times in the back while on a golf course, white-haired Midwesterners arrived in RV’s to once again make thick the trailer parks of the Rio Grande Valley, but there were no gunfights—the action of them Twittered by the younger cartel members—that erupted. No kidnappings called to attention. No politicians beheaded. The Mexican Navy did not storm Ciudad Mier, a town thinned out in the wake of a Los Zetas siege.

No white people were shot off jet skis by fledgling members of a pirate force. Busted brains did not drift in the brown waters of Falcon Lake. Though $4.4 million dollars of cocaine was seized at Anzalduas Bridge.

I’ve not done cocaine in some time. The summer of my 18th year I did a mess of it. We had a friend named Fast Eddy who was awarded $22,000 in a lawsuit after having fallen from a diving board at a municipal swimming pool and splitting his head open. He got $11,000 of it the day he turned 18 and the remaining $11,000 was to be awarded on his 21st birthday. We spent a summer drawing lines the length of baseball bats across kitchen tables owned by out-of-town parents. I saw the sun rise 30 times in two months and lost a taste for it.

I’ve not crossed a border bridge for over 200 days, but I drive by the river often, the green water still, wide as a motor home between the waist high grass. It’s thicker further west, but it’s siphoned off here to feed the citrus groves. William S. Burroughs used to own one of those groves a couple miles from my home. His wife would set grapefruits on her head, and Burroughs would shoot them off. He wasn’t as good at aiming at Martini glasses. I read Queer and don’t recognize his Mexico. Now there are soldiers in the squares, automatic machine guns around their necks. They searched me once, “Drogas? Drogas?” they screamed and rifled through my wallet, placed their barrel mouths against me. Their faces clean and steady. This was many years ago. The let me go unharmed. Didn’t even take my money. I’ve been across many times since then. Most likely those men are dead.

Brian Allen Carr lives on the Texas/Mexico border. Short Bus, his first collection, is forthcoming from Texas Review Press. He can be found online at www.brianallencarr.com.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Clark Knowles

On the Anniversary of the Assassination of JFK

Yesterday was the anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, but there is no news today. Yesterday, a blue moon filled the night sky. Yesterday, a bomb fell, a door opened, a soup cooled on the table. Yesterday, power was seized and relinquished in coups both bloody and peaceful. Yesterday, food was abundant/scare and we feasted/starved. Yesterday, colonists dressed as Indians dumped tea into the harbor. Yesterday, a mighty civilization ended and though it went nearly unnoticed, one family thoughtfully left a group of tools and clay pots arranged around a fire pit for posterity. Yesterday, a pair of feet stepped onto a new continent for the first time. Yesterday, a species diverged; one group climbed down from the trees and moved into an uncertain savannah, the other stayed in the branches, near the food. Yesterday, there was no awareness, no blurring of the lines between the known and the unknown. Yesterday, the Earth’s surface bubbled and roiled, the atmosphere a vast swirl of sulfur and methane. Yesterday, in a segment of time so infinitesimal, the big bang banged out all that is and would ever be. Yesterday was a good day, certainly, but there is no news today.

Clark Knowles teaches writing at The University of New Hampshire. He writes short stories that can be found in Glimmer Train and Pank. He has a novel, The Aurora Project, that is patiently awaiting a home. He can be found at www.clarkknowles.com

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Jill Leininger

Hey. I’m reading Donne. In pre-digested bits, sure, but someone’s made beans of it all and the lines, once inside me, gurgle and spit. Have you ever seen a woman chew up a grape for her teething child? More than one woman in more than one park has done this. I am grateful.

In Chile, they’re loading straws full of poems into the ground. And food capsules. NASA and Neruda, dense as shit. But you don’t want to hear that.

Today I did my duty: filled bubbles with a ballpoint pen; peed on a stick; took five types of pills and rubbed spearmint on my neck. Also ate the seeds of an apple. Also waited. Also wrote it down.

Yesterday, the microwave beeped at the same time I should have left the house--or stirred something or flipped something or put whites in the dryer. It beeped but I was tiling and dirty. I was making something. Churning sand into the color of my wrists and pressing it into place. Listening to Beckett. And remembering that time in college when I thought I was pregnant. Meanwhile, something was sticking to the bottom of a pan.

Back then, Steve would use anything to roll a joint, the Book of Mormon or a Chinese menu. Religious texts are best, he said. God, I get itchy just thinking of that van.

I’m itchy in general. My pulse is 116. You want nothing to happen? Here’s a vein of paper that cannot be mined. Something charred no one will eat. A scattering of seeds on my mid-term ballot. Here: everything’s small so you can swallow it.

Jill Leininger's poems have appeared in Shenandoah, Crab Creek Review, Seattle Review, and are forthcoming in Harvard Review. She’s currently mutating stories, battening down the hatches, and not writing a play in Johnson, Vermont.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No news today - Guest Post - Kathryn Regina

No News Today

If I call, don't think someone has died. That's not the only reason I call. Oh but guess what is dying? The universe. The universe is more than halfway through its lifespan. I would have called you if this was news.

What kind of news is death to you. If the universe is dying, then everything in it is dying. This death is not news. Look how the sun droops, it's dark at 4:30!

Oh but guess what's good for depression in the winter? Cat videos. There has never been a cat that has not had dying on its mind while being hilarious on YouTube.

I would have called you if there was news of the cat. I didn't have anything to report is why I didn't call.

What I have been doing is watching television and cat videos on YouTube. If you wanted to call you could have called. But if you call you will wake the cat.

The cat is dependent on the sun the same way as you. When the sun is gone, the cat sleeps under the radiator. The radiator is not so hot, don't get hysterical. The radiator will not hurt the cat the way it hurts cats on television. You shouldn't believe everything you think.

I would have called you if the cat had news. If I call, don't think someone has died. That's not the only reason i call. But look how the sun cools, it's dark at noon! This death is not news. If you want to talk to me, you have a phone.

But the cat is sleeping is why you shouldn't call. The cat is contemplating its death through sleep which is a rehearsal of eternal blank. Guess what else is eternal? Nothing. I would have called you if this was news.

Kathryn Regina lives in Chicago and blogs at http://this-is-not-poetry.blogspot.com/.