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All the Corazons in Spanish Songs // New Fiction by Rhoads Stevens


I wanted to take a shower by myself. It had been a while since I had taken a shower by myself. I could not take a shower by myself because, if I did, my fiancée was convinced I was showering for another woman. I would be making myself pretty and clean for another woman that wasn’t her.

     “You are taking a shower to make yourself irresistible,” she would say.

     Or if I wasn’t showering for another woman, my fiancée was convinced that I was showering with another woman.

     “I can hear the two of you rubbing each other,” my fiancée would say. “You are not cleaning each other. You are rubbing each other.”

     I would open the shower curtain, try to show her I was in the shower by myself.

     “Where is she then?” I would say. “Is she in the drain?”

     “Yes,” she, my fiancée, would say. “That puta is in the drain.”

     I thought of a woman in the drain, her face up close to the grate. She had her mouth open and flapping, and she was sucking at all the water that came off my body. This woman was most certainly not my fiancée.

     We were in the shower together right now. I soaped my fiancée, and she soaped me. We had a routine when we showered together.

     I soaped her legs so that, next, she could shave them. She insisted on cheap razors. They got dull after one or two uses, but she would use them for a month. And she would shave herself fast and carelessly. She often gave herself cuts on her ankles or heels. A cut right where the inside of her thigh meets her groin.

     This time, though, she didn’t cut herself. After she finished, she proposed that she should shave my legs. I hadn’t shaved my legs in years—not as long as I had known my fiancée. I said I didn’t want her to shave my legs.

     “Why?” she said. “Because of the women?”

     She soaped my legs. “Tranquila,” she said. She started shaving me fast, and only a few strokes into it, she peeled my shin. The water came off of me, and it went into a mouth.
     

–––––––

Rhoads Stevens grew up in Honolulu and lives in Providence.
     



5 Poems || Oscar Schwartz


please skip to the last line of this poem and read from

the bottom up

 

never to speak again

and so by this line the lovers have already left each other

feels that the other is a blind conformist

yet the person who read from the top down

feels that the other is by nature inconsiderate

because the person who read from the bottom up

but then there is an insurmountable tension between them

they will meet here in this line and fall in love

the other from the top down

one from the bottom up

there are two people reading this poem

 

god will send you nudes

 

if you’ve been feeling guilty

about all the sinful things

you’ve been enjoying on the internet

and you try to seek consolation

in the presence of your grandma

she will say fuck’s sake just go to

confession you devil child

 

but what she couldn’t know

is that if you leave your room

there is that fear that the internet

will die of loneliness without you

 

at night alone you wonder whether

if you looked hard enough

you might find god on your facebook feed

constantly posting status updates

like a distant relative who is the only person

more active than you who is rumored

to send nudes to the boys in your school

 

quietly you feel that

in this way that you might find faith

and befriend the lord, and maybe

in time, god will send you nudes

 

the world’s youngest desert

 

in a young desert

one of the youngest on the planet

where the sand is still clean and the dunes

mountainous the camels infantile and adorable

there is an inbox and in this inbox

there is spam

the spam tells of anti-ageing medication

of botox and silicone and it is

written by hand in the cursive script

of your mother, bold and legible

just like the permission slips

she would sign and leave

by the door for your sisters

so they wouldn’t have to swim

in the ancient desert of school sport

 

you were only six at the time

 

after six years of life

you went to a michael jackson concert with your dad

who was wearing a silver leather jacket

(or at least it was shiny)

you were wearing a skirt with butterflies

he told you to stand on his shoulders to see better

when michael jackson moonwalked

you felt all the butterflies on your skirt

turn into razor blades

(or at least it felt different)

michael jackson threw his towel into the crowd

a woman caught it and put it to her face

remember

 

language giving birth to itself in our mouths

 

your name is xyz

you have been accused of a terrible crime

you have to go into hiding and take on a pseudonym

from now on i will refer to you as sarah

sarah, you are not alone in this

because in the future most of us will be forced to use pseudonyms

in the second future no one will know their real name

children will be born and given a pseudonym

pets will be given pseudonyms

abstract nouns will be given pseudonyms

it is possible that by the third future we will call ‘happiness’ ‘rebecca’

and we will call ‘rebecca’ ’seaweed’

in the fourth future the giving of pseudonyms will be non uniform

meaning that in the fifth future we will be endlessly confused

and in the sixth future we will talk aimlessly

hoping to be understood by coincidence

so that by the seventh future we will talk with no meaning

like parrots and we will be living in caves too

but then for some unknown reason the eighth future will happen

and everyone will be free

and we will come out into the sunlight

and start swapping our names back

i can imagine it now

you will walk up to a beautiful man and you will know straight away

you will say to him you look like someone called sarah

and he will say to you, you look like someone called xyz

and you will embrace for a minute then shake hands

and in the ninth future you will swap your names back

everyone will start swapping their names back

and this action will be repeated over and over

and we will authenticate each other

so that by the tenth future

we will once again feel language giving birth to itself in our mouths

__________________________

Mark Leidner – Blackouts from Oscar Schwartz on Vimeo.

 
__________________________
Oscar Schwartz is a writer from Melbourne, Australia. He is currently writing a PhD on whether computers can write poetry. He tweets @scarschwartz.