Issue 38 / Winter 2012

Issue 38 features John Warner, Melissa Delbridge, Nina Boutsikaris, Anne Panning, Philip Gerard, Heal McKnight, Amy Butcher, SJ Sindu, Samuel Autman, Margaret L. Whitford, Sheila Squillante, Kerrie Kemperman, Kara Garbe Balcerzak, Dylan Brown, Diane Seuss, and Brenda Peynado offering brief, vivid prose focused on inadvertent idiocy, stillness, gunfire, family funerals, how quickly gossip travels, almonds,...
The Hard Part of Community College

The Hard Part of Community College

He rarely did homework on time, but really, the assignments weren’t  that great—predictable questions about essays in the textbook, the usual  Becoming Someone or Discovering Your Voice. Still, he wrote beautifully. He always apologized for the state  of his papers, telling me first that time was tight and then that computer  access was limited and...

A Burkinabe Man

If you were a Burkinabe man, one of the good ones, you alone would bear the weight of responsibility. You would take charge of growing food for your family, from the planting to the harvesting. You must decide when to plant: early enough to reap the first rains of the season, but not so early...

There Are Things Grandpa Doesn’t Know

Grandpa Bob bought a new video game console around the time Nana Nancy’s cancer came back. It flowed in her blood now, and hospice workers had come to their home. In the living room, Bob tried to connect the RCA cable for his new video game system while workers set up a hospital bed in...

Candy

My first box of candy came when I was twelve years old, from Nick, the class stud.  Ah, it was garish, the box shaped like we pretend hearts are shaped; a huge red plane floating in space like Pangaea before the great rift.  Did I open the box and bring those soft mounds to my...

Almendras

My IT team moves each month, checking systems and servers for vulnerabilities. Datacenters in Brazil, London, Argentina, Chile, now Rome. My life is full of rush rush rush, to the next month, the next assignment. On the way to Rome, the plane rocks itself to the ground. We land safely, knocked to our feet on...

On Narratives

On the table in front of my father the therapist places four random picture cards: a sandwich, hands washing with soap, a baby, and a knife. She wants him to try to remember the pictures. He’s having problems with his memory. The tumor was more than three centimeters, about the size of a golf ball,...
Dr. Blue

Dr. Blue

The ICU  waiting room becomes your family’s own personal den: pilled afghans, wrinkled  pillows, People magazines, bags of  chips your father’s hand loudly creeps into in the middle of the night.  One day a box of Harry Potter Jelly Bellies  surfaces.  “Here,” your brother, Mike, says.  “Try Puke.” You eat Dirt, Snot, Earthworm, Booger.  You...

Hang ‘Em High

It was back in the days when every little boy in America owned a toy six-gun and our national character was formed in half-hour TV episodes featuring taciturn deadly loners who spent most of their lives riding horses from one dusty cowtown to another and never saw a problem that couldn’t be solved with a...

Our New Idiot

Our old village idiot worked at the City Café.  Hardy bussed tables and swept up, and if you left a quarter and a nickel with your tip, he’d cut his eyes back over his shoulder with stealth enough for any respectable jewel thief, pop the quarter into the ashtray for the waitress, and slip that...

Surrender

We set out the sugar and packets of fruit pectin and line up rows of clean glass jars on Daddy’s knife-scarred butcher block in the kitchen. Then we pick blueberries for jam in the steamy July afternoon at McClan farms. My bathing suit dries under my overalls while we work. At first, each one plunk,...

Still Things

I liked ice-skating mostly because I didn’t understand it.  I just pulled the stiff leather up to my knees, stood upright, wobbled back and forth until I began to move and then, in motion, I felt a thing that is not the right thing but I can convince myself otherwise.  I think, This is a...
SR-9

SR-9

It stings the back of your throat, something sweet on the top of your mouth, the underbelly of your tongue. Squint through the thick gray air, the yellow haze of safety glasses. This is gunpowder, invading your lungs, combusting starchy smoke. This was not your idea. Even through the pillow mufflers over your ears, the...

Family

On the day we buried great-grandmother Lilah Gray in Pine Bluff, my grandfather, Roy, stood in front of her casket and smiled. “Well, the old black hen done gone on in.” As a second-grader, I didn’t understand. Long blind from glaucoma, Mama Lilah would sit up in her bed when us smaller kids visited her...

Something of the Light

My mother and I sit side-by-side on the couch in her small ranch house. We’re sifting through photographs scattered in a cardboard box I’ve retrieved from her closet. She scrutinizes the faces before her, trying to identify persons who no longer exist. I want to be attentive, but her fragility distracts me. She is so...

On Fire

1. At breakfast this morning a story about forty-three children dead in a Mexican daycare fire. How the death toll keeps rising. How the details accrete.  How their parents crashed cars into the building to get them out.  I had been avoiding this news story purposely, fingering the soft satin edge of my limits, going...

Simple

It didn’t seem like much to me then. I sulked in the back seat as Dad steered his green ’73 Pontiac down every back road in the county. With our windows rolled down as far as they could go, steamy August air blew across our faces and provided little relief. He showed me stark white...