Volume 22, Number 1


I took to the streets to visit an old friend of mine. He wasn’t home, but his sister was. She’d been dancing all night in the basement, scrawling graffiti to Belshazzar while her family sat quietly at the dinner table. She told me she was running away to Mexico. She told me a story about Cain, how he washed his hands after killing his brother, but couldn’t wash his memory clean. I asked her what is memory, and she said memory is peace, memory is torment, memory is the god that judges and forgives us. Contempt is memory’s shadow, she said, and can you pray to that God as you understand him that schizophrenia won’t come in the night and take me away? The future is on its way, smashing through doors and walls, dreams and ideals, binding the slaves to their masters with wire. You can hear the future approach; it sounds like war drums, rattling its chains, begging for a new coat to replace its tattered robes. They stood in line for alms, the vagabonds out in the snow, trembling beneath their ragged coats, icy schizophrenia teasing at their minds. They came like the leaders of a gypsy caravan, holding court with the gods they saw behind the glow of every lamp.

—Ian Sanquist