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To Walk a Path in Anzio

Issue 31 by Alison Relyea

Every Memorial Day, the lines of this poem interrupt my thoughts, popping in at odd moments as I watch my children jump in a pool or take a bite of a burger. In eighth grade, I had to memorize a poem from a photocopied packet of famous poems as part of an English assignment. In my fuzzy memory, I am sitting at our kitchen table while my mom makes dinner.

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I Am a Stalwart: Part One

Issue 31 by David Kennedy

The first gathering of the Stalwarts was, of necessity, an intimate one. It had been far too long since the social business of politics had occurred under the supervision of Kate Chase. Mary Todd Lincoln being of a sour disposition, and unattractive besides, the great Washington salon of the war years had not been the White House, but the Chase residence.

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Finding My Dead Brother

Issue 31 by Eli Jacobs

My family secret goes back to 1994. My brother Danny was dying of AIDS in a lower Manhattan hospital. I was thirty-one and I’d been living in Israel since I’d moved there from New York in 1986. I hardly ever went back home. I didn’t go to New York to visit Danny in the hospital. I sent a few letters.

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Bamboo Grows Straight to the Sky

Issue 31 by Janet Wells

Beyond the thatched eaves of the school building, the Moie River shimmered in the hazy midday sun, its green oxbows carving through steep lush mountains. From afar the refugee camp’s rows of bamboo huts, nestled among palm and banana trees, looked like a tropical paradise. Up close, the terraces were barren hard-pack dirt, the weathered shelters so close together neighbors could climb onto one another’s porches.

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Here Comes a Regular

Issue 31 by Dave Boeckhout

HE SHIFTS IN HIS seat atop barstool, a lean-to-sinewy build weighed down by an epic hangover. He locks a gaze on his nemesis and stews. A nonchalant simmer boils up into something resembling a care, in the presence of one who has done him wrong.
“Damn you,” he mutters, upgrading his stare to a glare in glowering at a fifth of bourbon one splash above empty.

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River of Steel

Issue 31 by Ed Davis

The country east of Roseville is a gentle plain of grassland and houses, tilting steadily upwards toward the Sierra Nevada. It’s a gradual climb that an automobile wouldn’t notice, but the eastbound freight labored at it, all six power units throwing thick black smoke into the afternoon sky.
In their boxcar Lynden and The Duke stood like sailors on a rolling deck — hands clasped at their backs, feet wide apart, faces thrust forward into the wind.

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The Northland

Issue 31 by Christopher Ryan

The northern lights have a sound, you know. Like static but grander. The electricity of eels, not machines. The first time I’d heard their song, I had just arrived at the upper reaches of Finland’s Bothnian Bay, and while standing there at the edge of the sea with the lights shimmying and quavering above me, for a moment, finally, I wasn’t staring at my feet, the pavement, or the cracks in the earth. I was actually watching, truly listening.

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Not a Child’s Game

Issue 31 by Phyllis Reilly

Erin goes to Coney Island. The year is 1952.
Long before the bus makes the familiar turn towards the shore, she can smell Sheepshead Bay. The saltwater, combined with steam clams and the scent of cotton candy, makes her nauseous. As they approach Coney Island, Erin looks out the window and watches the people walking along the boardwalk. The August heat hangs like a weight over the day, making everyone move in slow motion like they are stuck in wet cement.

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Not Jack

Issue 31 by E. Farrell

“I don’t believe in God.”
That’s the first thing Jack Reed says in class. Not surprising really, Mickey Powell thinks. Most years there is someone, more often a guy than a girl, who wants to define the terms of engagement on the first day, to get the battle, so to speak, onto ground he felt safe on. And what do kids know about God, anyway? What does anyone know?

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Possession

Issue 31 by Pat Hanratty

“You’re awake, Ronnie,” the big woman said. She was sitting at the foot of my bed. A man, decidedly less portly, was standing next to her, smiling. Who were these people? The room seemed out of focus. I couldn’t understand why they were calling me ‘Ronnie,’ when my name was Harry. And where was my lovely Monique? What in the hell was going on?

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Describe How You Feel in One Word

Issue 31 by Ali Wilding

Left with no alternative, Kate had decided to believe in God. She prayed to him each morning on her knees.
And then this, sudden as rain.
She stood alone in their bedroom, reflected in the long mirror that had once belonged to her mother.

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The Bet & The Dirge

Issue 31 by Thomas Weedman

I walk the orchard in my Sunday suit, black Oxfords dusted with gypsum and dirt. Ten thousand apple trees bower sans scabbed bark or a plague of beetle borers. Hard to believe the ginger dwarfs grew at all. They bulge trunks and muscle boughs heaped with green leaves and red apples. Rows even hummock deer shit without fences to keep out the wildlife that feast on the fallen fruit. It’s sweltering out.

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