By Melissa Holbrook Pierson

I am watching an arty art film about an art band—their name is an adjective denoting relationship to a country, which is definitely arty, but in actuality they’re nowhere near as self-conscious as the people who make films about them, apparently, as if what they’ve made of themselves through no one else’s agency could enter the lens outside in and transform the person looking at them into an equivalent rarity, a patently failed hope—and it’s tiring, my mind trying to find some thread of narrative to grasp, first with index finger so the others may follow until finally I’ve got enough purchase to h-a-u-l myself effortfully onto anything resembling chronology or arc or, frankly, audible dialog, but the filmmaker keeps jerking the view back to his artiness (plus the sound sucks, like it was recorded in a subway station bathroom, which is maybe a tad ironic for a movie about people who make music even if it is possibly meant as a postmodernist wave at resisting the viewer’s puerile desire for “sense,” you know, like a commentary on words’ inability to hold intrinsic meaning, but I wouldn’t really know as my Derrida days are far behind me), when suddenly YouTube, or possibly Apple TV—I never know the precise locus of these problems, speaking of deconstruction—crashes, so I am left with a dark screen on which is suddenly projected memory: the night this band performed in the courtyard of a contemporary art museum, the cool evening pierced by green lights shooting from the stage, the whole thing unmediated by anyone else’s janky vision, and then I’m flooded with yearning to be anywhere this kind of revelation can occur, which is mainly when we are together in some huge soup of humanity, individuals subsumed by multitudes.

Melissa Holbrook Pierson is the author of five books, all from W. W. Norton, and has had what might be generously considered a lot of other writing in a multitude of places.

Photo by Melissa Holbrook Pierson.

By Erik Harper Klass

Once in the city at a gathering of political activists and poets, a man I did not know, drunk as a fish, walked up to me and told me apropos of nothing of the waxworks museums of the past, in which people were sometimes hired to stand with the human sculptures, and the museum’s visitors would amuse themselves in trying to discern those objects of flesh and blood with their white-painted faces and their painstaking costumery, from the dead objects of wax that surrounded them, but what was not remarked at the time, and rarely since, the man, swaying, continued, was the strange, almost compulsive drive of these stand-ins—these false-sculptures, these living beings twice removed—who were allowed by the curators to enter these waxworks museums at night after closing and stand motionless with Napoleon and Marx and Gediminas the Grand Duke of Lithuania—to stand in silent, half-darkened rooms and feel the eternal bliss of being an object among objects.

Erik Harper Klass has published stories in a variety of journals, including New England Review, Summerset Review, and Open: Journal of Arts and Letters, and he has been nominated for multiple Pushcart Prizes.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado, living in Oregon by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.

By Sophia Pierroutsakos

In the palm of my hand I held the small, translucent packaging, printed with tiny strawberries and filled with a sparkly pink goo, sweet and delicious looking to my 7-year-old eyes, so I rushed home to ask my dad for 5 drachmas, then walked back along the dusty road to the beach town convenience store in the brutal afternoon sun of an August in Greece, eager to taste the confection, silver coin in my grip, my anticipation growing as I paid for my treat, tearing it open to release the syrup into my mouth: the sudden, bitter soapy taste on my tongue less painful than the sharp sting of my father’s anger and disappointment–how could I make such a stupid and dangerous mistake, missing the small print in Greek, "shampoo"?–my tan cheeks flushed with shame, relief only to be found by running into the cool, blue waters of the Mediterranean I now desperately long to reach, my father forever silent.

Sophia Pierroutsakos is a developmental psychologist currently trapped in the Midwest, teaching college courses from home, battling for bandwidth with her family of 8.

Art by Jay Baker, an artist from Colorado, living in Oregon by way of New Mexico; he records music as Tom Foe.