“Complete Darkness,” “The Light in a Corner Tavern” and “The Deep”Meara Levezow
In the summer of 1998 I was a lantern-
I mean waitress,
but all the same
the water was freezing cold
and the pressure was pulverizing.
yet (animals) somehow survive in this most
which was the Mucky Duck Shanty (bar and grill)
“Pa,” “Land mark” and “Dark night”Patrick T. Reardon
Drive Chronicles Avenue straight out
of downtown for three miles to the
railroad bridge, empty as a Roman
ruin, turn right toward the spray-paint
chaos of the Grass Lake rocks, right
again onto Esther Road, to 135, and
there’s tight-wound Pa sitting on the
dusk porch while nervous fireflies,
trespassers, skitter, knowing nothing
else, around the maypole of his chair.
“To Maryat, My Aunt,” “Cold Blue” and “River Stones”Mary Dean Lee
Outrageous, abundant woman,
spirit of fire, spirit of thunder.
You sang fugues to me as a child,
rocked me to sleep with your stories,
made grand entrances and exits
in a black Russian coat,
befriended the egg lady, painted
a black Christ crucifixion for her country church.
Your presents at Christmas were books
or piano music, giftwrapped in old newspaper.
“Ode to Baboon,” “Elephant, Room” and “Reaching Out”Rand Bishop
Were you and your healthy
Were you an excess mouth to feed
in some municipal zoo?
Or were you carefully culled
from some robust family
roaming the Ruwenzoris
and in a frenzy flown
until the propitious moment?
“we’re still learning, please bear with us,” “left behind on the fourth of July” and “Warm Bodies”Jerome Berglund
after hearing some
rousing speeches from
several eloquent organizers
off the cuff, exclusively
including a young woman
who was George Floyd’s cousin
shared a heartfelt
and energizing tribute
the small solemn and intimate
gathering of perhaps a hundred
concerned citizens who’d responded
to an online call for marchers
“Etchings,” “True and False, East to West” and “The Blue Hour”Kim Haines-Eitzen
The one-seed juniper defiant
in a sand-drenched wash
grasps against wind and rain.
Earth engraved by crawling roots
broad sap-scented trunk tanned soft
like deer hide now enfolding
barbed wire. Resilience—
Earth’s songs have dimmed over the world, ousted by noises of our own making but she sings here. Now has finished the ‘Knock ‘em down time’ that comes after the monsoon season when the strong winds flatten tall spear grass of the savannah woodlands. Heavy rains have abated, floodwaters drain towards rivers, creeks and billabongs. The woodland savannah begins to dry.
Electric CarsChristine Marra
“Ollie, have you seen what their car spits out into the air?” Gertie asked, hands on her hips. “The smoke, Ollie! Every time that damn Model T cranks up it sends columns of smoke up just like Fourth of July fireworks. Every day, Ollie, every day. How can that possibly not be dangerous?”
Ollie sighed and took Gertie’s hands. “It’s not good for us, Gertie, I know it’s not. And you know it’s not. But nobody else sees it.”
Saving Up to DieSteve Bunk
Jia arrives on the arm of Horst and I look away but they’ve noticed me, so I look back and lift my chin. It’s the usual assortment at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, including a few Chinese like Jia and an overrepresentation of Australians like Bruce Colley next to me at the bar. Colley is in Hong Kong on business for his family, which owns a media empire based in Sydney. He’s higher up now than when I first met him a few years ago.
Beggars in Space-TimeLauretta Salvini
A refrain from a dance rock song soothes my ears as I regain consciousness. Headache pulses between my temples and all my joints are sore. My left knee hurts. I slide my hand down my leg and touch, through a rip in my jeans, the mushy softness of a wound. My breathing gets faster, as random flashes of myself cycling along an urban roadway blast in my mind like a display of fireworks. No room enough to stretch my limbs. The surface under my body has the roughness of wood.
Faith in LifeMichael Hetherton
We stayed close to a lone biker, tailgaiting him on the drive into Sturgis. His Harley floated around the long curves of shining blacktop, and up and down the slopes. The rocky pine-covered Black Hills were clear of clouds, the sky breaking open blue after an earlier rain. We were the only SUV in the long, long, procession of rumbling motorcycles, and we did not talk, transfixed by the constant, fast moving parade.
A Musical InterludeMichelle Toon
I met her at the beginning of the end. My time in the country was winding down, and I wanted to explore all options before leaving; I had danced, and so I wanted to sing. My dream was to play the piano and sing simultaneously in an effortless concert—my favorite songs brought to life—but it seemed to make sense to do one first, especially since I believed myself not to be naturally gifted in these areas.
Long Short Story
Peach BasketsLarry Sherman Rogers
One morning, when I was unhappy with my old man, a U.S. Army drill instructor, who often brought his instructional (bullying) tactics home, I followed a little path through morning dew to a tin-can town where a bale of terrapins idled in sunlight beside a brook that did not babble. I liked it there and decided to stay forever, but later that day I was found by a search party led by the drill sergeant himself. The local paper called it a rescue but the leader of that search party and I knew better.
That night after the opera in Barcelona, I think that was when. I suppose I’ll never really know. I was there with Rob, our last night before he went to Paris on the train. Walking out of the opera at the Liceu, my heart was bursting, too wild and too big for the crowded streets pouring into La Rambla. I still ached with Aida’s torn loyalty. The voice of the enslaved Nubian princess trembled near the back of my throat. I still wanted to understand why people fall in love and lose all reason.
The Deceitful DovesPeter Prizel
The quintessential immigrant during the late 1800s and early 1900s usually tried to assimilate into American culture to a degree. If they did not, they were often destitute, which almost certainly led to their children’s assimilating. Harry Houdini was one of these children. Born in Budapest, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the son of a rabbi, Harry moved far away from his father’s rabbinical world of thought. Houdini was much happier hopping trains from metropolis to metropolis, performing his magic tricks rather than pursuing his studies and taking an interest in ancestral traditions
Samuel’s WayPaul Clark
14th March, 1643.
An eccentric old woman. Creaky and bent. Snarling. Haggard. Annie Parsons hunched in her chair, dribbling and murmuring. Clumps of lank, grey hair shrouded part of her face. Grime made the whiteness of her shift barely visible. It clung to her body like a loose skin. Her bony wrists and ankles bore the sores of a long spell in irons.
Samuel Hawke loomed over her, arms folded, about to perform his service for the town and the county of Hampshire, and more importantly, for God.
Secrets of a Different KindLinda Heller
Before he met and married my mother, my father used to go to Orchard Beach in the Bronx, so he could strip to his trunks without seeming like the exhibitionist he actually was. Other guys his age also flocked to the boardwalk with their muscles oiled and their stomachs drawn in. Summer flings were rampant. The air was heavy with two kinds of heat. But my father offered more than mere youthful swagger. He was the spitting image of Harry Houdini.
The Price of TeaNadine Gallo
On the way to Dublin Nora O'Neal stopped in Kilkenny to see Olga Kerensky. Olga's house was on the main road. Nora remembered it well but not the big brass knocker on the front door. Maybe it was new. She reached up for it and slammed it down a few times. She sniffed the air around her and wondered where the beautiful roses were. She could smell them as if she was standing among them. There wasn't a sign of them anywhere. Once she was in a bog and the rose smell made her think of a lot of butterflies in a garden.
Reflections on 9/11 and Leaving New YorkAlison Relyea
New York City is a love story. It is beauty, pain, concrete and air with millions of little lives col-liding and crisscrossing into one giant ecosystem. It transcends explanation but we know its energy when we feel it and it is unmistakably New York. In our twenties, brunches led to exploring Chelsea galleries, record stores on St. Marks Place, bowling at Bowlmor and moules frites at Felix. Later we traded middle-of-the-night diners for middle-of-the-night feedings, with New York the backdrop to our changing, shifting, evolving lives.
Carving CompassionLinda MacDonald
It was cantankerous Tony who got me thinking about suicide again—the middle-aged widower played by Ricky Gervais in the Netflix series, “After Life,” struggles to move forward after losing his wife to cancer. When he finally succumbs to peer pressure and goes on a blind date, he’s set up with a contented widow. Rather than commiserate with him, she challenges him on his desperation and desire to just put an end to it all. Suicide is easy, she claims.
On the Thigh, Write the Enemy’s Given NameKathryn Stam
Caveat Lector (Let the Reader Beware).
There may be dangerous rocks in this lake. There may be swift currents. The water looks smooth, but the chasm is unfathomable and the path is precipitous (Sandberg, 1894).
I suppose you are curious about how to subdue your enemy. I mean, to really quash and quell them. Is that right? First, you’ll want to think about your enemy. What do they look like? Sound like? Smell like?
Some Girls Have Auras of Bright ColorsSandee Gertz
The first thing you need to know is that some girls have auras of bright colors, but mine were silver stars on walls, tears when I sat at mother’s bay window, and sometimes an odd feeling of time over a never-ending space, where I followed a dark hole, layer through layer, opening to a time before me, God, and a time before that, until the emptiness settled into stones in the pit of my stomach and I had to touch anything: a polished shoe, a porcelain cup, to be sure I was in this world before it shifted and fell.