My Whole Heart
by Krista Lee Hanson
My son’s kindergarten teacher was a big, bearded man, generous with hugs and laughter. His old-school version of early education focused on teaching kids how to love each other and share, how to be kind to each other and silly together. He taught them to run and fetch a seat for a visitor and to pay compliments to everyone. Read more.
You Are Your Only Competition
by Swetha Amit
During my initial days of running, I’d look at the runners on the road and wonder why I was not as fast as them. Bitten by the competitive bug, I’d try and match up to their speed and experience a temporary high of overtaking them until all the air was sucked out of my lungs. The pain of watching them run past me was nothing compared to the injuries and niggles I faced later. Read more.
by Michael McQuillan
Holy light fills window’s tree at dawn. Autumn leaves as angels embrace our white-haired God. There is peace as people sleep. I pray. May heart’s compassion bridge mental walls to unite and not divide. The youthful idealism mourned in my bones with Gandhi’s maxim to “be the change you wish to see in the world” mandates clarity: what values dear to me must I enact to infuse good where I can? Read more.
by Emil Rem
It was almost six in the evening as he stared out of the large bay window of his sons’ 34th-floor suite in Essex House. Central Park sprawled beneath him.
As the sun set on the park, it too was setting on the penultimate day of their Christmas sojourn in Manhattan. The trees turned copper under the fading sun. Read more.
Life in the Liminal
by Clint Martin
I’m on my back. Lazing between sleep and awake, dream and reality. It’s morning’s blurry edge, so comforter reaches cheeks, just below closed eyes. Right leg stretches uncovered, cool in our hotel room’s conditioned air. Left side warmed by wife’s breathing body. Florida’s proud light spills into the room, so behind shut lids, it’s not dark. It’s red. Read more.
My Supposed Amish Life
by Marianne Dalton
I stood like a marble statue, reverential and composed when that Amish horse and buggy came within inches of me. The driver, passengers, and even the horse glided past me unfazed, as if floating on air. Now, moments later, and alone on this rural road, there’s an even greater serenity in me. My mood mirrors the tranquil violet-blue sky darkening overhead. Read more.
Blue Sky and Britches
by Ned Weidner
Whenever it rained, my grandma always used to say, “If there is enough blue in the sky to stitch a pair of britches, it is going to get sunny again.” As a child I didn’t know what that meant.
I looked up into the sky and cried. How much blue is needed to make britches, I asked myself. Heck…I wasn’t even sure what britches were. They are pants right? Jeans? Or do those old school cotton pants count too? In any case, I didn’t understand. How was I to know when the good times were going to roll again, if I didn’t know how to stitch? Read more.
What Does It Take to Swim Around Manhattan?
by Julie Labuszewski
August 19, 1989 in the East River
My breathing to the right. My breathing to the left. My breathing to the right. My breathing to the left. My escort boat on my right with the official race observer, the boat captain, Coach Foster, and my dad. My dad concerned about his twenty-seven-year-old daughter in a 28 ½-mile, non-stop race around Manhattan Island. My coach reassuring my dad. Read more.
Lucky Number 57
by Kimberly Horg
Nowadays, it might be hard to imagine food tasting so terrible that you must cover the taste to eat it. Sad but true. Many people lived with dirty water and tainted food in the 1800s. It was a leading cause of death. Much of society drank alcohol daily because they had no other choice; clean drinking water was not an option, and soda and sparkling water were yet to be invented. Read more.
Before the Call
by Sandra Schnakenburg
I stared at the phone, wondering what to say to a man I thought all my life— was dead. In 2008, two years before the call, everything I once knew had vanished. My angel Mom, who had given me hope, had passed away. I pondered what I would do next. After some inner work, my purpose crept up inside me like a wildfire needing to be tamed. I heard the call. Read more.
by Clare Simons
A mongoose scurried along the mossy rock wall, darted under a pile of wood and dashed in front of my feet in search of tasty vermin. Its beady eyes glared up at me as if to say, “Entrance not for everybody.” The lumberyard stocked cremation woods heisted by timber smugglers from endangered forests, carried by porters, hauled by lorry drivers, and sold on the black market with bribes paid at every junction. Read more.
To Grandmother’s House We Go
by Robert Eugene Rubino
When you were thirteen, your paternal grandparents Nonnina and Nonno already seemed ancient, having been married fifty years. Now you’re older than they were then. But you remember … Three things hang on their walls: a gruesome crucifix, a framed wedding photograph, and a billy club. Read more.
by Jeniah Johnson
Despite its cozy name, despite its gentle rise and dive through corn fields and cow pastures, Comfort Hill Road has its hazards. In the warmer months, when driving to and from town, I watch for entitled tractors, escapee cows, flocks of cyclists racing for the cure. But today, a January afternoon in Vermont, it’s just “Collie Lady” on the road. Read more.
by Michael McQuillan
Jesus lived and died in vain if he did not teach us all to regulate the whole of life by the eternal law of love, the Mahatma Gandhi said. Solidarity with the poor set both men’s moral conduct beyond mortal norms, but we placed them on pedestals rust-crusted with age. Read more.
by Anna West
I put a pomegranate in his hands. His hands once strong and brown, long fingered, now rested empty of life. Closed. Wrapped like torn paper around the red plumpness of the fruit. I could feel the seeds resting like jewels beneath the thickness of the pomegranate’s rind. Thirteen pink paper hearts cut from what felt like my flesh I put in the pocket of his jacket,… Read more.
Church-Sized Tarantulas and Other Realistic Threats
by Chan Brady
First time I did it I was three and a half, complete with gold, bouncing curls and freckles from a summer spent in the sun. I went to daycare every day, and that night I went to daycare, too. I didn’t know what to call such a menial moment. Eventually settled on calling it a “blue-skadoo” like my favorite television show. Nobody believed me except my friends at the church. Read more.
by Etya Krichmar
A long time ago in Kotovsk, a small town in Ukraine, right before dusk, a little crowd of the neighborhood children gathered around the handmade, rough picnic table. The usually unruly kids sat quietly on the four wooden planks hastily attached to the table’s perimeter and waited for Baba Sasha’s arrival. Read more.
A Punk Like Me
by Marianne Dalton
I discovered the babysitter looking through a taboo photo collection with my five-year-old daughter as I stepped through my front door. My quickening heart beat faster and faster and, fearing it could explode out of my chest, I focused my sights on control. Gliding into the living room, I channeled my perfect Stepford-wife-voice, and asked, hey, how was your night? Read more.
by John Sanderson
Long-Post-Short-Good. It doesn’t take long to become immersed in the ebbs and flows of the call schedule. On Long Days, the medical team admits patients from noon through the evening — each one requiring detailed history, a thorough physical exam, a working diagnosis, and orders for the appropriate nursing care, diagnostic testing, and medications. On Good Days, there are no new patients. Read more.
by Siobhan Ring
A tree fell across the road that leads down to the lake. There was no wind, just days and days of rain. The soil loosened its grip. The tree’s roots stretched to the sky behind yellow caution tape and a Seattle Parks Department truck with flashing lights.
We are, at the moment the tree gave up, 22.5 months into a pandemic, significantly too far into a climate crisis and leaning over the precipice of our democracy. Read more.
by Kathleen Tighe
Viewed from the top of the minaret, the desert stretches for miles until it touches a brilliant cerulean sky. On the horizon a blazing sun moves toward its afternoon descent. Even now, all these years later, I can still feel the rays of that sun burning my scalp, still feel my parched lips sucked dry of moisture. The desert sand shimmers in the sun. Read more.
by Mary Jumbelic
“Mom, why are all the police cars and fire trucks here?”
“What did you say, honey?” I said, covering my free ear. “Police? Fire trucks?” Noise at the reception counter made it difficult to hear. I gestured to co-workers to lower the volume. A quick reply of silence followed. They listened to the boss, my prerogative as the Chief Medical Examiner. Read more.
Watercolor for Beginners
by Janna Whitney Rider
It was as if all my colors had changed. There was no control or curation to my feelings anymore, only raw and wild outbursts. I tried explaining to a friend, “I’m a Jackson Pollock painting right now. Red! Blue! Yellow! I prefer a bit more nuance. Something impressionistic typically suits me, like shadows that fade in the afternoon sun. Purple and gray into peachy yellow ochre – these are my colors.” Read more.
A Bright Cold Day in April
by Michael McGuire
It was a bright cold day in April of 1984 when I tested positive for the HIV virus. I remember the date and the weather because not only does the devastation of life-altering news make one hyperconscious of his environment and bring the physical world into magnified bold relief, I was that week also reading Orwell’s 1984 for the third time… Read more.