Issue Thirty-Nine – Winter 2022

Twilight Loons

By John Brantingham

You and your wife are driving across Canada, along a lake you don’t know the name of with the windows down just as the sky is twilighting in the warm early autumn when you hear a bird crying. Your wife says “Pull over,” and you do. From here, you can see the wind setting up a rippling across the water, and you start to speak, but she places a palm on your chest and says, “Wait, I’ve heard this before.”

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By Jordana Jacobs

There was a stretcher waiting for me, the freakin’ brake already disengaged, I’m sure. The OB hovered over me, practically breathing up my vulva, sharpening his cesarean scalpel. The baby’s blood pressure was falling. No longer Mrs. Nice-Guy, the midwife blocked him with her hippy little body, yelling, “Push!” in my face. I looked at my husband. He was texting. The spirit to push swirled out of my body like the soul of a heaven-bound cartoon character.

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Not a Sin

By Jan B. Parker

He turned his back to her, not in a mean way, but a natural one, because the machine beeped and he loved his coffee fresh-brewed. He loved his wife, too, but on days when she woke up cranky, and he reckoned she wanted to take it out on him—whatever it was—he put into use what he’d learned over the many years: it often pays to be a little deaf.

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The Shells on the Moon

By Mary Anne Perez

The latest real astronauts found a collection of sea shells on the moon’s surface. They didn’t have to dig far. It was near the place where the first lunar landing was and they were gathered in a way that signaled a greeting or a gift and the astronauts wondered if the first astronauts had somehow missed this collection or if the shells had found their way to this place after that momentous visit all those years ago.

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The Slice of Learning Between Them

By Leonie Mikele Fogle

(Two humans sit on rubble, paddles propped up beside them. A carries a newspaper and a paper sack with a few bits of food. B carries a backpack. Overpass above. Water all around.)

A. Let’s peel the egg, shall we? We’ve a little salt.

B. Crocodiles float by. Rotting carcasses.

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Moonrise Over the Fluff ‘N’ Fold

By Aruni Wijesinghe

It’s eleven-thirty on a Tuesday night. Beth and I lift clothes out of an industrial washing machine. The wet jeans are heavy, but they feel cool against our forearms in the hot laundromat. I feel something round and foreign in the back pocket of my cutoff Levi’s. I fish a sand dollar out of the dripping denim, hold it up against the fluorescent light of the Fluff ‘N’ Fold. A palm-sized moon.

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The Bard of Frogtown: A Play in One Act

By Allison Whittenberg

One bedroom apartment in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

MELVIN, 19, a part-time poet/ part-time window washer. He is wiry in build with mid-length dreads.

DEBRA, 25, homemaker/songwriter. She is slightly heavy set with unruly artist’s hair. This part requires singing and some guitar playing.

RICE STREET MAN, 22, looks haggard and worn. He has been dead for eight years, therefore, he is a ghost figure, functioning more for the audience than to interact with the cast.

(Curtain rises with MELVIN scratching away in a notebook. A kitchen table serving as his desk. He goes through a series of scribbling and scratch outs.)

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There’s a Hole in the Fabric

By Rose Mary Boehm

woven from threads of laughter
and acceptance.
The cloth has worn thin in places,
age, pressure and loss the culprits.
The moths of despair fed
on the weave of fellowship.

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The Best Laid Plans

By John Delaney

Somewhere between ‘oh, no’ and ‘oh, well’
the verdict falls: you won’t have any kids.

I watched a show on endangered penguins
that yearly breed in a South African town

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Above Your Station

By Mercedes Lawry

Forget the trick of shading your eyes,
giving a half-whistle over your shoulder,
tilting your head a few inches to the left.
You will not be mentioned, not among
the fat and groaning with jewels,

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The Dogs of War

By Christopher Nye

The dogs of war sniff at our heels.
And every canine fang craves meat.
The bell of forgiveness rarely peels.
Streams run red. There’s nothing to eat.

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Poems Out of Music

By Christopher Nye

I see you darn the autumn air
at the lake’s edge,
back and forth,
back and forth,
as if the fabric of sunlight

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By Anne Whitehouse

My parents were rarely on the same wavelength.
Most of the time they talked at each other,
not to each other. But here they are,
by a quirk of the Hebrew calendar,

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By Morgan Songi

in the middle of the rotating stars
strange sounds a fog falling past you
Hannah is heard crying out for her baby
when it snows no snow touches his grave

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Moon Saw It All

By Cassie Premo Steele

Waning moon bright outside my window knows more about the earth than we do. She has seen it all, the caves, the plains, the meadows, the fish, the lizard, the leap to trees and air. The ocean keeping her own company without needing visitors from dry land. The ships. The bounty. The lack of mercy. The fire, the chains, the bullets. Losses and gains. Leavings. Settling.

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Early Seral Stage

By Carey Taylor

We rode together, you and I down that blanketed coastal road.
Port Orford to Bandon and back again. Me, at the front
of the bus to not get queasy. You, inside the ocean
of my belly. In the beginning, we knew nothing of charred ground.
What came before. What would come after. But after

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A Choice Moment

By Nancy Wick

By Nancy Wick This is the sort of thing that happens to a teenager, I think, as I sit in the newsroom, the phone to my ear. Calling my therapist from work is a first for me. Desperation strangles my voice and cinches my shoulders tight. I speak quietly even though the newsroom is practically […]

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Variations on a Theme

By Cati Porter

“Think I just heard another FUCK YOU PORTER,” I text my husband upstairs.

It is early, unlike most of the other times we’ve heard them. I fiddle with the undone ribbon on the waistband of my pajama bottoms, sip the too-hot-for-this-90-degrees-before-ten-a.m.-crap coffee. The soundtrack is a steady stop and start of morning traffic, but the words rise up over the misery song of our busy-at-all-hours avenue

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In Blue

By Lisa Friedlander

When I first woke, the barely lit morning made it possible to open my eyes without sunglasses. Squinting first with only my left eye open, and then with only my right, I saw the pile of clean white T-shirts on the writing desk across the room. They looked alternately warm-white, then cool, warm and then cool. My vacillating experience of whiteness blindsided me, as if there existed some true whiteness about which I had either been, or found myself now, deluded.

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Three from Rich Ives

By Rich Ives

Largest of the white grubs, Captain Pink has a stout body. Someday, he will be chocolate brown and feed at night on trees and shrubs.

If I eat without looking, I taste heaven or surrender.

The window of a footprint doesn’t allow returning. Follow what you see.

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By Julianne Paholski

An old boyfriend came courting. I was standing in Grandma’s breezeway, looking out over the yard, and he came walking down the side street from the cemetery. Everything was still and overcast, humid, as if there might be a storm.

He looked as I remembered, the one time I’ve seen him since high school: middle-aged heaviness, hair long and curly. He was wearing weird round little glasses, as if trying to resemble James Joyce.

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Does God Cry?

By Jack Smith

“What do you and Younger Son have planned?”

“Nothing, I swear.”

Father’s raised fist was poised to eliminate Mother’s look of contempt. He paused and for a moment Mother hoped that he would see himself clearly, as he had a few times before; lower his fist, go into the house, take a six pack out of the propane powered fridge, take down his fly rod and go to the river leaving Mother wondering what would happen in the future to recreate this tableau and wishing Older Son would return from a gathering of The Brotherhood.

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By Candlelight

By Paul Ilechko

Grouped by candle flame into specific
tableaux as lightning breaks the sky

a glass of vin blanc and the memory of
Athens a church atop a hill an old

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Visual Art

By Alison Engle

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Look Around

By Stephanie Barbé Hammer

Our Winter 2022 issue invites you to look at the not so see-able and perhaps even to learn to seek out what cannot — normally — be perceived. Appropriately, this issue contains invisible babies, lunar seashells, unnoticed birds, unspoken tensions between families, paternal scars, and wondrous insects. What marvels lurk in laundromats and along the byways of the everyday? How do we — in this age of very real limits — quest for and discover the magical and the miraculous?

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The Jones Family Reunion, Inc.

By Roger Collins

CAST (w/ brief backgrounds*)

SYMONE EDWARDS: Middle-aged adult, married to Henry Jones (not in attendance); one of their adult daughters (also not in attendance) is a vegan.

DEREK JONES: Young adult, single, Quentin’s young cousin. Intra-generational competitor with ROSE.

QUENTIN JONES: Senior adult, Derek’s older cousin (married with adult children not in attendance.)

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