Entries by Enrique S. Villasis, translated by Scott Lee Chua

Like the Fourth Finger of My Left Hand

[creative nonfiction] So damned sick of delicate things. My co-worker who was raped over and over. I want to time travel, tell his five-year-old self, Punch your father’s friend in the face the next time he touches you. Don’t say resilience. Children are breakable. I’m tired of my toe poking through the sock printed with […]

Red Bird Rising

Becca drops her announcement into the conversation casually. “So… I met someone and it’s looking pretty serious so far.” She is sitting at a long table in the party room of the Hasidic shteeble near her childhood home, the small synagogue that her parents, creatures of habit that they are, still attend. Her father prays […]

Christoper Castellani, Author

Christopher Castellani, the son of Italian-American immigrants, is best known for his critically-acclaimed trilogy of novels about an Italian-American family: A Kiss from Maddalena (Algonquin Books, 2003), The Saint of Lost Things (Algonquin, 2005), and All This Talk of Love (Algonquin, 2013). Filled with real and complex characters living in turbulent times, the Grasso family’s story reminded me of my […]

She’s Not There

“Your mother’s your slave,” a girl in the playground taunted. “Is not!” I insisted, but even at six years old, I recognized the truth in her words. My mom pulled socks on my feet while I lay in bed to save me from the shock of cold tile, read to me in the bathroom when […]

Indelible Laughter

It was a cloudy September morning in San Francisco and my body had decided that everything inside of it was poison. It was 8:34 a.m. on a Thursday and I was hungover at work, sitting behind my desk praying that my breath smelled like coffee and not vomit. It wasn’t very often that I was […]

Secret Ingredients

Turkish Coffee Mama tilts the cup to the side, rolls it around, examines each line, dot, drop. They look like black, crusty Jackson Pollock paintings. She doesn’t take it too seriously. “Ah, habibti, it’s a man in a hat. You’ll meet him soon, and he will be very important to you,” she says to my […]


אמר רבי יודן Rabbi Yudan taught: פעם אחת חזר על כל המניקותOnce, Mordekhai searched but ולא מצא לאסתר לאלתר מיניקהcould find no wet nurse for Esther, והיה מיניקה הואso he nursed her himself. • My breasts judge a handshake, have five-o-clock shadow. I know the proper verb for a deal with God is   To Cut. […]

Theodore Draws Wolves

[fiction] Theodore Loupeson’s feet dangled from the straight-backed chair across the desk from Headmaster Clay. Rain battered against the windows of the Briarwright school for boys—runoff poured from the granite lips of gargoyles onto November-bare rose bushes below. “Theodore.” Headmaster Clay slid a mess of papers onto the desk. “Let’s take a look at your […]

In the Zone

Folks, it’s a beautiful, clear day here on the Florida coast. We have just been given a go for today’s space shuttle launch. *     *     * I grew up in south Florida not too far from Cape Canaveral when the shuttle program was active in the eighties. The heady days of the space race were […]


[creative nonfiction] Well, this is gonna hurt like a female dog (unfortunately I have to watch my profanity, so just use your imagination). The autobiography of seventeen-year-old me, that is. I feel like I have some insight, enough insight on being a black young woman in America. Being born so, I’m automatically important and destined […]

Spotlight: Symphony of Panic

[fiction] You sit in a Goodwill engulfed in the sadness emitted by the abandoned objects, each with their own story you’re sure, and the dejected shoppers. Your chosen object is a $20 chair, cracked red leather outlined by shining buttons. You listen to a man, ratty t-shirt and balding blonde hair, sitting in a different […]

Sex Matters

“Are you a slut, or are you just plain thoughtless?” I heard Mother shout from the top of the stairs. I was in bed. On the landing, just on the other side of my bedroom door, Mother was not visible to me, but I could see her clearly in my mind’s eye, clad in a […]

Portrait of a Slave-Owner’s Wife

Light folds around her       yellow-silk like a pillar-candle Shadows round her cheek             curve between lips press below her nose On her left a thickened impasto of fading paint and varnish layers obscure shapes and it’s hard to see a dark boy in blue livery bending brown skin      black hair   without a stroke of light to […]

In the Yard

Ahsan opened the sliding glass door and stepped out. He inhaled deeply and broke into a cough. The air was thick, murky and filled with an unrelenting stink—as if a gang of motorcyclists had fired up their engines and aimed into the yard. Ahsan covered his mouth and walked out farther. His mother had explicitly […]


Yoga I have bad memories of ballet class, and isn’t yoga like dancing in a way, teaching the muscles how to lengthen, how to lean, how to turn elastic as rubber bands? All my springs are coiled tight for bouncing. My love even calls me Tigger sometimes. I watch her step out of the studio […]