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A Public Space

No. 04

Michael Thomas at Yankee Stadium; an illustrated story by William T. Vollmann; Focus: Antarctica with Bill Manhire, Owen Marshall, Anne Noble, Sir Robert Falcon Scott, and others; Kevin Moffett eats out; Jillian Weise sends a letter from Buenos Aires; Anna Deavere Smith with a captive audience; stories by Jack Livings, Helen Schulman, and Jim Shepard; poems by Geoffrey Chaucer, Bernadette Mayer, Reginald Shephard, G. C. Waldrep, and more.

Table of Contents


If You See Something

The Messenger

“They hung a white Jesus in the hallway,” I told my sister.

Samantha Hunt


If You See Something


If pigeons had brains, and in turn the power to imagine dying and what happens afterward, they would have dreamed up Philadelphia as their heaven.

Ian Chillag


If You See Something

I Special-Goddamn-Ordered These

After awhile I avoided looking inside.

Kevin Moffett


If You See Something

Letter from Buenos Aires

Dear Big Logos, I’m alive in tango central!

Jillian Weise


If You See Something

A Captive Audience

As we approached the shimmering Nile River, we started to see soldiers lining the roads.

Anna Deavere Smith



The Heir

There once had been a time Omar looked forward to fighting the Chinese the way he looked forward to a good meal or sex.

Jack Livings



The Former Age

A blissful life of peace and sweetness / was the life they led in the former age.

Geoffrey Chaucer



Song of the Broken Clocks

The broken clocks inside the clocks were singing. It was February.

G. C. Waldrep



Two Poems

Greedy thing, we called the dingo bitch who hung around camp / mustard brown with black streaks and filmy eyes.

April Bernard




The chestnut tree holds its votive candles aloft

Rosanna Warren



Why do the Outmoded Maintain Themselves So Resolutely?

I am the prank / of smiles and summer easiness / where nothing else is / or could be.

Sean Hopkinson



The Clearing

In a field of thousands / of wheat stalks, millions of wheat / stalks, countless wheat stalks

Greta Wrolstad



At the Santa Lucia Highlands Court Ball

when we met, I still in the stony-take / throes of accretion, you rapt in the grainy / phenomenon of disintegration.

Christine Bown



Thought for a Stalled World

In early June, a late frost, an airplane coming apart above us, / and then catching hold, / the dogs down the street lunging at each other, / and the grass in your hair from yesterday / still there.

Adam Clay



Alongside the Desiring Machines

I wouldn’t know what to do / with gods worth more than summer

Reginald Shepherd



Lawn Archaeology

I did not think over / the bone’s curve / buried and grown.

Leila Wilson



The Sleep Touches Everyone

The sleep touches everyone. The sleep is pinned to the junipers / wracking their collective sunshine for the answer.

Nick Twemlow



Summer Solstice

“as long as i have something planned out / ahead of time…” you see this guy / is helping teach workshops, he must be phil / in dream, a younger man who can’t / come next week but it’s ok I say

Bernadette Mayer



Courtesy for Beginners

Summer camp: here’s how bad summer camp was.

Jim Shepard



Too Late

It was getting late when I learned how much I liked the red brick buildings; here’s one with an octagonal tower!

William T. Vollmann



I Am Seventy-Five

Six months after her husband died, Lily Weilerstein found his sex diaries buried in the back shelf of the cedar closet in the hallway of the Upper West Side apartment that they had lived in together for almost forty years, since the Age of Possibility as Walter had referred to it in retrospect, back when they were almost young.

Helen Schulman



The Ridiculous and the Sublime

I was born in Invercargill—called by Rudyard Kipling "the last lamppost in the world"—so I grew up knowing that if I got in a small boat and rowed south for a very long time, I would eventually bump into an iceberg.

Bill Manhire



Antarctic Summer Reading List

Aurora australis is an atmospheric effect—“the southern lights”—equivalent to the northern aurora borealis.



Antarctic Slang: Say it Like You Mean It

Degomble: To remove the small balls of snow that have hardened on one’s hair. After a long day on the ice, huskies and bearded gentlemen require a particularly thorough degombling.



The Frozen Continents

I had never met Beavis before he and I were put on the PEP scheme together.

Owen Marshall



Antarctica Translated

Anne Noble has been researching and photographing Antarctica since 2001.

Anne Noble



Impressions on the March

The seductive folds of the sleeping bag.

Sir Robert Falcon Scott



Visiting Mr. Shackleton

Cool! Wow! Beautiful! Awesome!

Bill Manhire



The Fire on the Snow: A Radio Play

I am to break into the conversation / With a word that tastes like snow to say; / I am to interrupt the contemplation / Of the familiar headlines of the day

Douglas Stewart



The Republic of the Southern Cross

There have appeared lately a whole series of descriptions of the dreadful catastrophe that has overtaken the Republic of the Southern Cross.

Valery Bryusov



Who’s Your Daddy

It would seem simple for most: my brother, who still lives in Boston, has managed to get tickets to game two of the American League Championship Series between the Red Sox and the Yankees, enough for me to take my son and two friends.

Michael Thomas

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