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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 Water

Issue 30 by Fred First

Water. All my life it came out of a tap every time I turned the knobs on the kitchen sink or wanted a hot shower. It always worked that way, always would. I was an otherwise science-and-planet-aware, touchy-feely tree-hugger type, but took water for granted for thirty years. I confess this. I swam in pools full of the stuff whose existence in this world began the second it left the nozzle of the garden hose or kitchen faucet. This was true until I found water 1981.

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La Vieja, Santa Ana

Issue 30 by Christy Shick

I hadn’t planned on stopping again until after we’d crossed the border. We’d filled the tank and used toilets at a Pemex in Hermosillo. From there it was only a few hours to Nogales, hot dusty hours stretching into desert when a burst of pain, like a metal hammer bit into my driving heel and shot like lightening up my hip.

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It’s Spectacular

Issue 30 by Rachel Walton

Sitting upright in bed, wearing his blue checked, button-down shirt, his long, spindly, legs outstretched, covered by his crisp cotton pajamas, my husband’s eyes were closed. His arms were slightly bent at his sides and reaching forward just a bit. His palms were turned upward toward the sky. The room was silent. Some may have seen it as a moment of confusion. I saw a moment of profound communion. Or a gesture of gratitude. It was a holy moment.

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When Lucinda Holloway Met J.W. Booth, April 1865

Issue 29 by Sara Kay Rupnik

The Holloway sisters observed the man calling himself James Boyd as they might a work of art. He lay under the apple tree with his black hat angled over his pale face. His dark moustache rose above his straight white teeth.
“A handsome man,” offered Cecelia, the married sister and mother of three sons.
Lucinda, the spinster schoolmarm, was less generous. “One might say so.”

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Immersed in the Gorge

Issue 29 by Penny Garnsworthy

I often visit a special place not far from my home. Here I am revived, here I can observe, and here my soul feeds on nature in all its forms. I feel privileged to be able to call this place my own: Cataract Gorge in Launceston, Tasmania.

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A Left Turn

Issue 29 by J. Jacqueline McLean

Eleven years later, it is still haunting. The nagging headache is how it started. I stopped kidding myself a year ago. My brain will never return to the zoom, zoom fourteen-year-old who delighted at, “Mom, the paper boy, no, girl, is here.”

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A Celebration of Life

Issue 29 by Dan Popoff

The only thing my mind can focus on standing out here at this cemetery in the middle of July in Charlotte, North Carolina, is that it is flipping hot. It has to be a hundred degrees. A myth I always hear—funeral directors get used to the heat—false.

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Endless M

Issue 28 by Dustin Hendrick

This is my first “solid” memory, by which I mean that I know it happened. I can grasp it firmly with my mind and replay it like an old filmstrip – bad quality, perhaps, but largely intact. It was not a dream. It was not something I saw on television and absorbed. It was not otherwise altered by the unstable physics of childhood recollection.

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Inpatient

Issue 28 by Christine C. Heuner

February. The snow is supposed to start around one P.M., so the school districts have an early dismissal. Your oldest daughter, Meghan, comes home with her shoulders slouched. Her backpack is heavy so this takes some effort. She goes into her room as she always does. Her father, your husband, has bought her everything to make it a haven: a lava lamp, a lighted device that intermittently expels a puff of eucalyptus air, tiny white lights snaking the bed’s metal headboard. A sheet with moons and stars hangs from the ceiling like a hammock. “No wonder she doesn’t want to come out,” you said.

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The Trickster of Mentor, Part II

Issue 28 by David Kennedy

The mood was sour that night in Conkling’s suite at the Grand Pacific Hotel. Conkling had spent the day rallying his men for Grant, loping the aisles of the Glass Palace with furious strides to keep the delegates in line. He had observed with some satisfaction that Platt had placed his arm about the shoulders of Benjamin Harrison of the Indiana delegation, and noted with some irritation Arthur was smoking a cigar with the dregs of the New York delegation, who were already entirely committed to Grant. How wise he had been to take the reins from Arthur!

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A Story of a Murder I Didn’t Commit

Issue 28 by Lazarus Trubman

I was the only diner in this tiny restaurant on the eastside of town, and the only thing that irritated me was the mirror behind bottles. Every time I looked up, I saw myself looking like a portrait of one of my own ancestors: Lazarus Trubman, deep in thought, in a gilt frame. I had circles under my eyes and a few scars on my face; apart from that I looked all right for a man who was liberated from the labor camp in Northern Russia five months ago.

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What I Learned Teaching Literature Inside

Issue 27 by Jennifer Sapio

It is the opposite of ironic to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment inside the Travis County Correctional Complex. It is apropos, apt, appropriate. Perhaps too on the nose. TCCC houses pre-trial and county inmates in a 130-acre facility just east of the Austin-Bergstrom Airport. Pay attention during take off and landing next time you fly into town for SXSW or ACL, and you’ll be able to see the barbed wire.

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Fear of Flying After Erica Jong

Issue 27 by Loren Stephens

I was thirty-one, a mother with a one-year-old son, and a marriage on the rocks. It would take two more years before we filed for divorce, but in the meantime, I was the sole breadwinner, my husband having taken a flyer on producing Broadway theater when the company he worked for downsized and I was six months pregnant. At some point, I told him he should get a job as a taxicab driver to contribute to the household, but he didn’t take too kindly to that suggestion. No surprise, but I was sufficiently exhausted and angry that I had no filter.

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The Binding of Isaac

Issue 27 by Iulia Calota

I remember the bottles. And the flacons. And the blister packs. All neatly lined up on the kitchen counter. I remember her taking a handful of her strongest tablets just before bed and, within minutes, her eyes droopy, mouth like rubber, voice distorted, like a slowed-down turnstile. It was during those few moments of seeing my mother changing from a normal person to a toy that had run out of batteries that I recognised something I wished I could forget.

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The Trickster of Mentor, Part I

Issue 27 by David Kennedy

It was in a mood of intense irritation that Senator Roscoe Conkling arrived in Chicago. Chet Arthur had been sent out in advance, his bulk trundled into a railway carriage like an overstuffed suitcase along with Thomas Platt, but Conkling had little expectation that Arthur would perform any more competently than he had in ’seventy-six…

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Woven Love: How I Found My North

Issue 26 by Anna Hertel

Head tucked between my outstretched arms, I dolphin-dive my way through the blue shallows of Lake Tahoe, one of the oldest lakes in the world, sitting 6,250 feet above sea level. On this ice-crusted September morning, the sun has not yet cleared the tree line in the Sierra Nevada.

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