Issue Thirty-Seven – Winter 2021

Groundhog Day — A Little in Advance

By Stephanie Barbé Hammer

One of my favorite American movies is GROUNDHOG DAY, which was directed by the late Harold Ramis, and features an egoistical and annoying newscaster (Bill Murray) who gets trapped into living the same day over and over again in a small town he despises. The town in question is Punxatawney PA, where the famous groundhog of said Groundhog Day lives. What starts out as a comedy becomes in short order a meditation on the lives we feel we are trapped in, a set of routines we are

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By Betsy Mize Currie

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A Good Tabernero Listens

By Ruthie Marlenée

The cantina beckons me in.

After identifying my father’s body, I’ve made my way out onto the sidewalk, blinded by the Mexican sunlight and the blinking Cantina sign across the road from the morgue. I stand contemplating the windowless tavern wedged in between two whitewashed casitas. And then like a couple of strays, sadness and fear come licking at my ankles. I scurry across the road, heels clicking over cobblestone and stumble into the dank watering hole, instantly sucking in the

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To the Light

By Kathleen Holliday

Because of,
or perhaps despite
my whisperings,
the African violet thrives.

When I woke this morning,

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By Sandra Kacher

I kneel among gilded Virgins and kindly Josephs
ready to receive the body of Christ.
A flat white circle sucks moisture from my mouth,
tongue probes for Jesus in the scraps
of wafer sticking to my palate.

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Deathbed Drawing of Keats by Joseph Severn

By Anne Pitkin

The large shadow sets off the pallor of his face,
his death the dark companion on his pillow.
Can he have been this beautiful?
Curls clinging to his forehead, the sensuous mouth, straight nose
under his high brow, lashes against his cheek?

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Something in Between

By Allison Whittenberg

In a sports bra worn thin by use and sweats that once tight hung were now loose, Jennifer ran five miles before her morning class. It was her second favorite part of the day.

Her bare feet hit the unyielding pavement, shock waves assaulting her feet, ankles, knees, and back. Though the hurt felt good, she vowed that, when she hit 25, she’d stop this. By that time, she’d be totally grown, married, have children, and spending hours in front of an ironing board. She’d be too worried about how the table linens looked to indulge in a hobby as consuming as this.

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By Andrew Nicholls

You want to know the most effort you can make, the most you can exert yourself ever? It’s Balmy asking this. Gerry Balmagia, formerly from work and now from pretty much just drinking and checking to see if anyone left money in the wrinkled bill return slot of the Lotto machine, which in my experience no one anywhere has, ever.

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Remembering Leta

By Adrienne Ross Scanlan

I remember seeing Leta in front of Al’s Quick Shop as I walked past Shaker and Elk on my way to Rose House. It was 1979, or thereabouts. I remember Leta wearing white sweaters, bell-bottoms, and friendship bracelets taken from charity bags left on Rose House’s steps. I remember her heart shaped face, her wide-open brown eyes. Do-good-girls, like I used to be, think we see women like Leta, but we don’t. A woman like Leta disappears for days, weeks, travels between cities,

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All I Have Is Yours

By Linda Boroff

“You’ll never guess who called me this afternoon,” I can recall my mother saying. It was dinnertime, and she was at the stove spooning something lumpy from a frying pan into Tupperware. We — my father, my brother Lester, Bradley Willis and I — were at the opposite end of the kitchen around a pink and gray Formica dinette.

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What’s in a Face or The Eyes Have It

By Christopher Thornton

It wasn’t so long ago that former U.K. foreign minister Jack Straw asked that devout Muslim women remove their face veils, or niqabs, whenever they appeared at his office for a semi-private meeting (a woman would be present). This was the start of the face-veil firestorm that would spread through much of western Europe. Future prime minister Boris Johnson chimed in, indelicately stating that niqab-wearing women “look like letter boxes.” Former prime minister Tony Blair drew his own line in the sand, stating that face veils were “a mark of separation.”

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By Andrew Michael Roberts

All afternoon doing nothing, the jade plant and I.

Don’t say we’re wasting our lives.

Seventeen crows have crossed the window: one trailing a silver
ribbon clenched in a fist.

One with a pane of grey sky where a wingfeather was.

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Christmas Break

By Mel Flannery

The South Shore Train leaves in the morning.
One night to bear the dorm’s unnatural silence.

This first real snowfall of the season builds slowly.
Outlines etched on bare trees.

You’ve told your first almost real love goodbye.
Nothing’s bound to change. The sky begins to drop.

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The Taste of Praise

By Elya Braden

In my primary-colored garden
of yeladim where we crayola’d
stick-people portraits of Judah Maccabee
and his muscled bros, Moses crossing
the Sea of Reeds, or Jonah cowering
in the belly of a lumpy, grinning whale,
every Bible story seemed to share

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Don’t Wake the Monsters!

By Suzanne Olson

That Christmas Eve, we made Korean picnic rolls: thin, dry rice tortillas dipped in warm water to soften, filled and rolled up with bean threads, scrambled egg, cucumber, chicken and cilantro, some spicy radish; everything sliced into elegant long matchsticks. We all put our hands into it, this new tradition for a holiday celebration in a new place. Our housemate, Mun-Hee, was born in Korea and shared stories of how her mother would make this lunchbox meal for school field trips; it was a special treat. We were heading to Cochise Stronghold in the morning to open stockings

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Rethinking Scarcity: A Journey Through New Mexico’s Gypsum Dunes

By Katherine Michalak

When the alarm sounds at 6 am, the tent walls are already glowing and the morning air is balmy. Propping myself on one bare arm, I watch Mike’s sleeping face next to me and realize how badly I need a renewal of spirit. Mike’s and my relationship has been tinged with angst lately, not because of a relational mismatch, but because I, at least, am caught in fear that there will never be enough abundance, joy, or connection to stretch across the negatives of life. I’ve come here, to camp in southern New Mexico, because I need perspective, a reminder that spaciousness of

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Existing in a Time of Pandemic

By Ann Bodle Nash

March 2020

It’s raining. The darkness of the day accentuates the uncertainty of the times as I sit at my kitchen table. A steady drip keeps time with my heartbeats. We are in Pandemic Time, a seemingly vast, uncharted, unlimited pause.

In front of me are the remains of two Zoom birthday party celebrations this week: hats, made of

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By Samantha Malay

lack of a plan felt like reason enough
to follow half-truths as if they were favors
sandwiches assembled on a plywood scrap
by whoever sat in the passenger seat

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What’s Needed

By Greg Farnum

A new treat from the street vendors: duck grease on a stick.

Do I need it…
or do I need innovative voice solutions?

Do I need a look that’s as young as I feel?

Do I need a truck that works as hard as I do?

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Waiting for It to End

By Jennifer Brennock

In their bedroom, I move my mother’s walker to the side. I roll the warm cloth like the fancy spas do and place it on her chest.

Peppermint. Eucalyptus.

“Just leave this here for awhile, Mom. Okay?”

“Your father thinks you don’t love him anymore.”

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The Old Ball Game

By Terry Barr

I didn’t fit in well with the other boys on my team, the Cubs. Most had been playing Little League baseball ever since they were six, and given that the best players on our team were either a year or two older than me, they had six years’ experience to my none.

And then there was the fact that in my at most two bats per game, I had struck out almost every time. Once, I had been hit by a pitch on the back heel of my left foot. Once, I had actually

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Journal Entry: Even If It Takes All Night

By David B. Prather

You’d think darkness enough
to lull, but the streetlight flares up
at the foot of the bed, burns all night.
Some parts of the world fall deeper
into their shadows, and some
shape themselves into creatures
you cannot name. I cannot name
all the reasons why I am unable
to remember my dreams.

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By Ace Boggess

It’s about forgetting
what’s beyond your few feet of space.

Does it make you laugh? Think? Cry?
Cringe gripping the armrest of your seat?

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By Christopher Nye

I the spider
waiting for the cabbage
here among the vegetables.
Strong web
of my instincts

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By Dan Overgaard

These phrases, stitched together, must convey
a finished thing, with some intensity
and maybe some surprise. You take the way
a necktie—one with silky dignity,
accustomed to the better restaurants—

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Captain Frank

By John Hicks

What you first notice,
his hands cracked and battered,
in places raw,
from dredging oysters,
his bare living,
from the bottom of the Chesapeake.

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