Solving for X

Solving for X

She’s never been good at word problems. She remembers hours of agony at the kitchen table, her father trying to help her wrench the variables of time, speed, and distance into manageable equations. “A freight train left San Diego and traveled east at an average speed of 28 mph. A...
Aphorisms for a Lonely Planet

Aphorisms for a Lonely Planet

1 When at home I long to travel, on trips I pine for home. Thank you Lord for these twin dissatisfactions, and this vagabond moon blessing my feet. 2 The couple in the Lima Airport entwined under an orange blanket at 2:00 a.m. She plucks rogue hairs from his eyebrows...
Logophobia

Logophobia

One morning I watched—through our ground-level bedroom window—the steps of his work boots, back not thirty minutes after he had left for a new job in town. Fired. I never knew why, and he claimed not to know. He lumbered around unsettled, rewiring our bedroom or checking mystery switches, wrapped...
The Invention of Familiars

The Invention of Familiars

Some things we don’t care to talk about by name. It’s an old problem and one of its consequences has been fiction. Another popular solution is to fill in the gap with an animal. The monks of the middle ages, denying themselves everything a body wants, or lying about it,...
Bee Man

Bee Man

“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is the richness of self.”—May Sarton Mid-April, brutal hot, spring in the Blue Ridge. I’d pedaled twenty miles already, absorbing the pastel colors of emerging redbuds, dogwoods, and tulip poplars. The formidable hill was scorching my quads when the man—white-haired, overalls, rounded belly—called...
Women These Days

Women These Days

[Compiled and arranged by searching “woman + [verb]” (walking) in national news outlets over the past twelve months] An Ohio woman was shot dead while cooking Thanksgiving dinner; witnesses report that at the time of the shooting, she was standing at a kitchen table, preparing macaroni and cheese. The body...
Louder, Louder

Louder, Louder

Days after my doctor finds a lump on my thyroid, the size of an M&M (peanut he specifies, not plain) a student asks me what the nineties were like. For the nation?   For you, says my student. She is thirteen. Louder, louder, we say to her when she reads...
Fluency

Fluency

What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open – Muriel Rukeyser We learned English faster than our parents, their tongues too old to take a new shape. Our tongues still coated in milk, this meant we didn’t pray like they did, and...
The Last Phone Call

The Last Phone Call

A month after my brother died, I scrolled through the contact list on his phone and memorized his voice-activated-dialing commands. His cellular plan would lapse soon, the cell provider couldn’t transfer the audio, and I didn’t have equipment to re-record them. So instead, I wept on my screened-in porch and...
A Short Book on Grief

A Short Book on Grief

Murderers weep in their cell over the death of a dog. Dogs stop eating when their person dies. You can’t protect yourself from grief. There is no preparation that prepares. There is no border wall you can build to keep it in or out. No one escapes it, not the...
Hairy Credentials

Hairy Credentials

Summary of Qualifications Nicole is a professional woman who wants to rock her Afro in business settings and still command respect. Her career includes ten years of camouflaging her true self to stay marketable and frying her mane to avoid frightening employers with her real hair texture. The consequences of...
This, the Priority of Life

This, the Priority of Life

One week after the Las Vegas shootings, I am locked inside a dark room at the Cache County Jail. Country music plays from an unseen source. Uniforms hang on pegs, an outdated calendar posted nearby. On a worn pleather couch, I sit with Megs, my partner this week for the...
Sunrise

Sunrise

Try not to think about the dog, Jack, the ten-pound mutt that won’t sit still in the back. He’s nervous, jitterbugging from window to window. Feels like trip to the vet. He pauses to bother with a flea. First teeth. Then raking with a hind leg. Then bounding over the...
The Mailbox

The Mailbox

The year is 1952. My mother spends her days stitched to a chair and stares out the kitchen window looking for my father, who has been on a drunk for two weeks. She worries he will come home and even though he has lost the front door key, will figure...
Salt River, Tide

Salt River, Tide

One evening in the swamp-city where I used to live, at the mouth of a river opening into a salt ocean tide, in an apartment building known for jumpers, the woman upstairs tells me about her pain. We ride the elevator, laundry in our arms. The lift jutters as it...
Latest Issue
Issue 58 / May 2018

Issue 58 / May 2018

Featuring Lance Larsen, Pam Durban, Jill Talbot, Amy Wright, Scott Loring Sanders, Joe Oestreich, Kathryn Nuernberger, Bridget Apfeld, Jennifer Sinor, Nicole Cyrus, Allison Gruber, Marcia Aldrich, Phyllis Reilly, Jamila Osman, and Amy Butcher, alongside brilliant artwork by John Gallaher. Read and enjoy.
Craft Essays

Craft Essays

In our May 2018 Craft Section, Wendy Staley Colbert looks at how memoirists manage the ethical problem of writing about others, Gwendolyn Edwards discusses how writers can experiment with speculation and imagination while still upholding the reader-writer contract, and Jennifer Gravely reminds us that all essays will ultimately end in white space.
Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Watch our book review section for regular updates on the best in new nonfiction. We publish our reviews year-round. Grab your reading glasses.
The Brevity Archives

The Brevity Archives

Readers, writers, teachers, and students can find essays and craft-focused discussions under a number of different headings: traditional subjects, such as aging or nature; varying modes and subgenres, such as the profile or meditation; as well as various techniques and literary conventions, such as dialogue and diction.