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The Heater

Issue 44 by Micaela Edelson

It’s late October and the cold has begun. Normally, the winter comes, the world freezes, and by the Spring, the frigidity of dormancy melts and the earth is reborn again.

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Lightbulb

Issue 44 by Jon Shorr

It was during one of those Rockford Files car chases on TV that Mrs. Leonard Y. Silver knocked on my door. I didn’t hear it at first because Mrs. Silver’s three knocks coincided perfectly with that three-chord banjo stinger…

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The Playlist

Issue 44 by M. Betsy Smith

I knelt in front of the oak cabinets, the knees of my jeans instantly saturated by the soaking wet carpet. I was so tired, but I had to get his record albums out.

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Birdsong

Issue 44 by Jennifer Fox

I had never heard anything quite like it before, yet there was something familiar about it. It was almost songlike, this noise, punctuated with agony and mournfulness.

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Where is Love?

Issue 44 by Michael McQuillan

An aspirational God is manifest in an infant’s birth, the sun’s warmth, a shoreline’s rippling waves. It appeals to conscience, evokes compassion, succumbs to the primal force of base behavior. Order and chaos, hope and longing, love and indifference recycle themselves.

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Learning German in Central Pennsylvania

Issue 43 by Valerie Little

“I thought of you last night,” Professor H says nonchalantly, studying me as I drape my houndstooth printed coat over his office loveseat. A Tetris of stacked papers, folders, and CDs make sitting on said loveseat impossible. Except for that one time when he cleared it off so I could sleep while he worked on his book about Schumann and Brahms. Even after the innumerable hours we’ve prized in this office, I still don’t always know how to read his particular kind of strange. Taking my usual seat across from H, I feel a flash self-consciousness, wanting to hide the shape of my body.

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The Sum of Our Differences Equals Mom

Issue 43 by Andrew Sarewitz

Just as a person may have unexpected contradictions to his temperament, two very different men can each mirror an individual they know well. My oldest sibling told me he sees himself as being a lot like our mother. It’s not that I didn’t believe him, I simply thought I was the one who wore the analogous traits. Since my brother and I practically live opposing lives, I hadn’t thought we both could carry on Mom’s personality. Mom died in 2014.

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The Runner

Issue 42 by Julie Labuszewski

The track meet ended late in the afternoon that day. She and a handful of her teammates in victory blue track uniforms gathered around the front of the high school waiting for their rides. She was fourteen, a freshman. She didn’t know then that she would be the last one left.
A steady stream of cars, turning off the well-traveled frontage road, rushed up the hill and into the U-shaped driveway to pick up their athletes. One by one, they went home with their parents. Gradually, daylight faded and the adjacent parking lot for administrators, teachers, and seniors emptied.

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The Beauty of Authenticity

Issue 42 by Lisa Novick

Early one summer evening, my mother and I are sitting side by side on a glider in my backyard, sipping glasses of wine and chatting, staring out at my native garden. At the edge of the patio, square-spotted blue butterflies are laying eggs among the buckwheat’s pompoms of cream-colored blossoms. A mockingbird is in the elderberry, inspecting clusters of ripening fruit. Above the flowering wands of white sage, hummingbirds are skirmishing, dipping and diving, scolding each other with intense chirps as they duel for nectar.

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Panda Story

Issue 42 by Golnaz Moeini

I went to China to hug a panda.
When I first learned that the Sichuan province in China is the only place on the planet that allows physical contact with panda bears, I knew immediately that I had to go.
My decision to visit the birthland of the giant panda had nothing to do with a vacation from my busy schedule but everything to do with a connection to a world that was raw, genuine, and innocent.

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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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