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On the Thigh, Write the Enemy’s Given Name

Issue 41 by Kathryn 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?

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Carving Compassion

Issue 41 by Linda 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.

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Some Girls Have Auras of Bright Colors

Issue 41 by Sandee 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.

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Reflections on 9/11 and Leaving New York

Issue 41 by Alison 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.

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Jumping Off Place

Issue 40 by Lisa Grantham

Since I learned I was pregnant, every drink has been my last. But I haven’t stopped. I can’t. I keep promising myself I’ll give it up tomorrow. But I’m out of tomorrows. My baby either has fetal alcohol syndrome, or he doesn’t. Abstinence is no longer about my son’s well-being. Now it’s about getting a few days sober so I won’t go into withdrawal in the delivery room or give the staff a reason to test my baby for alcohol.

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Dear Young Queer Non-binary Poet

Issue 40 by Carla Schick

Dear Young Queer Non-Binary Poets, Thank you for creating new avenues of exploration, and this is what we experienced:
Older than you, I wandered wide, but infinitely narrow, New York, Queens streets in search of my body. Yes, my body. I sat in the drip drip drip of basement pipes with my best girlfriend as we promised to grow up together. This didn’t happen. I grew up. Left. She shattered under the weight of her father’s history of mental depression.

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Injury Reports

Issue 40 by Kristen Gidel

September 2016
Folded neatly in the front pocket of my older son’s preschool bag is an injury report form.
And my own heart trips, unable to catch itself from falling.
Not in concern for his scraped hand. Not in surprise that his teachers even filled out and sent a form for an injury that, when I check, is not evident. Not in gratitude that they cared for my son, though I am grateful. Grateful every day that I have complete confidence in his caregivers.

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I Am Racist

Issue 40 by CJ Acosta

I started out the day like I always do. I took a shower. I got dressed. I went to my local cafe for some coffee. I generally try to stay away from my phone during this time. This is my time to relax and write and prepare for the day.
I am glad I checked my phone.
When I did, I saw a flood of criticism of the police. Criticism of the police, the government and the “system.” I am not blind to the intolerable acts of our current administration. I am not ignorant to racism.

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A Holy Man of God

Issue 39 by Rebecca Jeeves

I have a clear image of myself: I’m looking for my bicycle in the garage. I needed it to bike to my friend Abigail’s house but couldn’t find it anywhere.
Turrets of dust particles floated upwards. Exposed by horizontal, flat rays of light breaking through the dust-heavy aluminum window blinds. I watched as they rose, spiraling around and around, higher and higher up into the garage rafters until out of sight.

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Passing on the Insights

Issue 39 by Craig Etchison

I went to Vietnam in 1968 as a young, naïve kid, serving with the First Cavalry Division. By the end of my tour, I was no longer quite so naïve. Typical, I think, of so many kids who went to Vietnam thinking they were serving freedom and democracy when, in fact, we were serving the political ambitions of dictators in Vietnam and the political ambitions of those running our country at the time.

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Summon Up an Old Friend

Issue 39 by Meg Lewis

Look out of the window. Focus in on the droplets streaming across the glass. Focus back out on the road, the lampposts zipping past in blurred grey stripes. Summon up your old friend, the giant orang-utan, who swings from the T-bar of one lamppost to another, keeping up with the cars as they speed down the M25. Get bored with the orang-utan – you are too old for this now. Shuffle, look straight ahead. Change the radio station to Kiss FM, even though the music makes you feel uncomfortable.

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Just Listening

Issue 39 by Pat Hulsebosch

“I can’t. I can’t open this car door,” wails seven-year old Samantha, hand tugging awkwardly – ineffectively – on the inside handle of her parents’ bulky old Suburban station wagon. I was in Florida for a weekend visit from Chicago. We’d spent the morning at Lowry Park Zoo. Although it wasn’t quite naptime, both of us were a little worn from an overabundance of orangutans and ostriches on a hot tropical day.

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And Then I Was Happy

Issue 38 by Gloria Buckley

It was the late 1970s and I sat so young and gullible while a moderator caught a glimpse of my sorrow mirrored in the reflection of his warm brown eyes as I listened intently to words of mass emotional destruction. I wanted to sort out grief and identity issues, and so I enlisted in a weekend of minimal bathroom breaks, minimal sleep, and meditative moments where I traversed the galaxies into my own creative process.

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The Flavor of Ice Cream

Issue 38 by Shabnam Curtis

One June day of my freshman year/ninth grade, in 1985, I needed a break from studying. My mother suggested we go out for ice cream to Tajrish Circle. Tajrish, a shopping area on the skirt of the mountains in the northern part of Tehran, was a favorite place for my mother and me to wander, especially for window shopping and mouthwatering snacks. My father disagreed.

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This Will Be the Happiest Time of Your Life

Issue 38 by Shannon Andrada

I’m sitting in my grandmother’s backyard, lying in the sun on a lounge chair. Tears fill my eyes, and soon I’m sobbing. At times I justify my crying at everything, saying that sensitive people are the best kind of people, but at other times, like now, I do not justify it. I know that I am behaving like a fool.

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Skar

Issue 38 by Liza Porter

When I learned at my high school reunion that Mr. Skar had died, I felt relieved, almost giddy. Though not still musically inclined, I could’ve played a beautiful song—call it an ode to joy—to celebrate his death.

I was shocked at my reaction. Despite the decade-plus of recovery from addiction I had put together and all the therapy I’d done, it was apparent how much of my hatred of perpetrating men I’d put on Skar,

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Strangers in the Park

Issue 37 by Gerry Moohr

You probably know about the violence that struck Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, 2017. Demonstrators from thirty-five states rallied in Lee Park to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Confederate Army. I saw a lot of what happened that day.

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The Dying Gladiator

Issue 37 by David Kennedy

Kate had calculated that meeting the presidential carriage as it pulled up the drive at Edgewood would serve her interest, but that did not deprive the gesture of its heartfelt quality. The carriage had been specially made in New York. It was dark green in color, Arthur’s favorite, with that hue presenting the central theme on the exterior paint and the interior upholstery, trimmed in morocco and cloth.

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