TransGenre: “I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years”

Another of my pieces. This one was published in Hotel Amerika, the TransGenre issue, 2010.

Copyright reverted to me after first publication. I’m not sure how many people read it the first time, which is why I’m re-publishing here. ALL THANKS TO HOTEL AMERIKA for giving this piece a home.

Ghosts

by Marianne Villanueva

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream, I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They’re all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these ghosts.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.

When I got to my own house, after a journey of some distance, I took the box out but now I felt it contained something evil, I wanted to get away from the box but I felt some sense of loyalty, too, because in that box, possibly, were pictures of my sister.

Eventually I forced myself to open it. Inside was a collection of photographs. My sister was in all of them, but around her were people I didn’t recognize. They were on either side of her, staring straight at the camera. My legs felt numb. There was a terrible ache in my chest and my cheeks were cold.

A leaf had turned. A leaf had fallen. It was a Thursday in September, I saw from the calendar on my desk. The 23rd of September.

10 Years Ago in Hotel Amerika’s TransGenre Issue

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In that same issue were: Sarah White * Mary Cappello * Elaine Terranova * Kelly Cherry * Jennifer L. Knox * Brian Teare * Ben Quick * Christina Manweller * G. C. Waldrop

GHOSTS

(An excerpt)

I dreamt about my sister, dead these many years. It seemed she was in a place of ghosts. In my dream I put my face up to hers and kissed her cheek and said, “I’ll always be your sister.” But she turned her face away and closed her eyes. Her cheek was cold.

I said, “Do you want me to take you away, dear? Come, come! Let us go!” But she only looked sad and didn’t speak.

My son was with me but in my dream he was a young boy. I mean, my son at seven, not the way he is now. He was impatient with my sighs and tears and wanted to get away from that place. He was bored.

I gave him a pencil and told him, “Draw!” He took the pencil obediently. He drew. But it seemed to cost him great effort.

Now and then I would peep at what he was drawing: a series of empty rectangles. I asked him, “Why don’t you put people in your drawings? See, here, and here, and here. They are all around us!”

He looked up and slowly I saw understanding dawn on his face. He filled his drawings with the outlines of people. I understood then that he, too, could see them, these guests.

I told my sister: You are under a spell. You should never have gotten married. She nodded, but she didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Eventually I left, I left my sister there in that cold white house in the middle of a barren plain. The landscape looked like that of a northern country, all bare brown fields as if struck by winter. All white trees.

In the back seat of my car was a white box. It made an angry buzz. I wanted to throw it away but I couldn’t because I knew somehow that there was something in that box that belonged to my sister.


Process: As a matter of fact, self did have this dream. Sometimes that happens. If self can get it all down quickly, the story almost writes itself. Which happened here.

Stay safe, dear blog readers.

Cleaver Magazine, Issue # 28 (Winter 2020)

Flash by Alex Behr, César Valdebenito, Kim Magowan, Tommy Dean, Matthew Greene, Anna Oberg, Savannah Slone, Marianne Villanueva, Mary Senter, Corey Miller, Connor Goodwin, Jude Vivienne Dexter, Francine Witte * Short Stories by Stefani Nellen, Marilee Dahlman, Theo Greenblatt (Trigger warning: sexual assault) * Poetry by Alice Hall, Nathan Lipps, Jeremy Rain * Creative Nonfiction by Keygan Sands and Kharys Ateh Laue * Visual Narrative by Trevor Alixopulos * Art by Nance Van Winckel * Emerging Artists and much, much more!

from A History of Anyway

Intermedia

by Nance Van Winckel

Sad lad of the far north, you with no means and no true lassie, with no way home and no home anyway

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Black and White: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge

Must be on a roll! Participated in two Fun Foto Challenges in one week!

The theme of this one is BLACK AND WHITE. Self took these pictures just a few minutes ago. Thanks to Cee Neuner for the always-wonderful prompts!

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Self is teaching a three-day writing workshop in Mendocino in February. Here are some of the materials from the last time she taught this class, in 2016:

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Now For One of Self’s: “The Lost Language”

This was published many years ago, in a magazine called Isotope.

Published in Utah and edited by a poet, Chris Cokinos.

It joined together two things: science writing and creative writing.

You would find, in the same issue, a play by a physicist, a nature essay, a poem by a mathematician. That sort of thing.

Self loved it.

Chris Cokinos, what are you doing now? Know that self considered Isotope a very noble experiment.

Here’s an excerpt from the story they published, which became the title of her third collection. It’s one of those hybrid things: part essay, part memoir, part myth, part short story.

The Lost Language

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper, they would look like a series of waves. Or like Egyptian hieroglyphics. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

The language was written on tree bark. Epics were probably written in this language, but I don’t know what they are. My ancestors are shadowy people. Shadows.

When I was a little girl, perhaps eight years old or so, my mother gave me a book of Philippine legends. The legends were mostly about beautiful maidens and enchanted animals. But the story I liked best was about Hari sa Bukid, which means King of the Mountain.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mourning for Isotope, edited by Christopher Cokinos

Filipinos once had an ancient written language. If I were to show you what the marks look like on a piece of paper,they would look like a series of waves. Like the eye of the Pharaoh I saw in my old high school history books.

— from self’s hybrid essay/memoir/short story The Lost Language, published in Isotope

Isotope was a literary journal based in Utah State. When that university began to make steep budget cuts, the magazine lost the heart of its funding. In 2009, editor Chris Cokinos issued an appeal for support. Terrain.org posted it.

Alas, Isotope lost the fight. Self mourned. It was the only literary journal of its kind, combining science writing and creative writing, a place that joined physicists and playwrights, biologists and memoir writers, and created an exciting new kind of community.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Bookshelf Survey: Folklore Thursday’s Dee Dee Chainey

Read this list . . . and die!

No, self doesn’t mean die like in that Japanese horror movie The Ring.

She means, die as in perfection! Bliss!

And, just so you know, self did get those two fairy tale books she mentioned in an earlier post. So that’s what she’ll be reading after Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior.

Self knows she just did major adjustment to her reading list. For one thing, she was supposed to read The Strain. But after delving more into that book, she just couldn’t rid herself of the nightmares.

No book should be giving her nightmares: it’s almost Christmas!

So she got the Philip Pullman translation of the Brothers Grimm, and a collection of Chinese folk tales (Publisher: Princeton University Press). She got both books from the Strand.

Also, today, by happenstance, self wandered into the editorial offices of J Journal, in the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and met the two extremely nice and committed editors, Adam Berlin and Jeffrey Heiman. If you like reading and writing about social justice, then you should know about J Journal. And you should subscribe. And submit.

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10th and 59th, New York City

After the death of Isotope, which she felt most keenly (and not just because they published one of her hybrid pieces), she feels journals that go beyond one specific area of knowledge (like medicine; or law; or criminal justice) and explore what creative writers can bring to the table, journals like that should be cherished.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Randomness: Saturday, 20 June 2015

Today the weather is all mixed up. Self felt cool-ish this morning so she put on a turtleneck sweater.

Sometime in the afternoon, it began to shower. Only briefly. Only the merest whisper of moisture.

Now, it is hot. So hot it is really punishing to keep the sweater on. But since she’s been traveling so diligently, most of her clothes are in need of washing. And she brought very little with her (because she knew she’d be hitting buses and trains and hauling her own luggage all over the UK). And she is also feeling somewhat lethargic. And it is too much bother to change into something else.

It occurs to self that a number of distinct words describing negative emotional states begin with the letter “D.” Such as:

distracted * distraught * distressed

It occurs also to self that it is hard to write without using the letter “E.”

She just tried doing a challenge on Jennifer’s Journal. Here it is, for those who care to try.

And it occurs to self that Word Riot, several years ago, published a piece by her that was a Dictionary of sorts:

It began thus:

A

Ask. Ask and thou shalt receive.

Assumpta est Maria, you sang every week in the auditorium.

Angels. Angelus. Angelic.

Admit, admit this was all your fault.

Against. Must you always — ?

And on it went, all the way through the alphabet, self pulling random objects from thin air.

And she did it. She got all the way to the letter “Z.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

VERSES TYPHOON YOLANDA: A STORM OF FILIPINO POETS

Announcing the release of:

Verses Typhoon Yolanda: A Storm of Filipino Poets (Meritage Press:  San Francisco and St. Helena)
edited by Eileen R. Tabios

Paperback, 220 pages, $20

(People:  Yolanda=Haiyan. Filipinos use “Yolanda,” everyone else uses “Haiyan.” You know, at some point self thinks that Filipinos cannot escape comedy, even within tragedy. So if you are a potential donor, and the only thing stopping you is the confusion over which typhoon you are actually making a donation for, note that Yolanda and Haiyan ARE ONE AND THE SAME TYPHOON.  Of course, mebbe you don’t care about WHICH typhoon, in which case, there was also ONDOY several years ago.  It doesn’t matter.  Give, that’s all that counts)

Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

In response to Yolanda’s devastation, Filipino poets in the homeland and the diaspora rallied to create a fundraising anthology entitled Verses Typhoon Yolanda:  A Storm of Filipino Poets.  Edited by poet Eileen R. Tabios, the anthology of 133 poems is released by Meritage Press.

All of the book’s profits will be donated to relief organizations and others helping the typhoon survivors.  Meritage is willing to send books at cost to fundraisers who then can sell the books at their individual retail price of $20 each.

For more information, contact Eileen R. Tabios at MeritagePress@aol.com

*     *     *     *

“Emptiness of Air,” the piece self wrote for Vela, the women’s travel website, is included in this anthology — because self is ALL about TransGenre.  YAY!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

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