Issue Twenty-Seven – Winter 2016

To Do Is To Be

By Jeremiah O'Hagan

If I have any advice, it’s to never write an intro like this at New Years.

First, intros are predisposed to summarize.

Second, New Years is downright freighted with reflections and expectations and resolutions and dejections and yearnings and lessons and dreams and hopes and failures and sins and second chances and the need to somehow box up all this, label it “last year,” and forge madly ahead.

Continue reading...

Irreconciliable Differences

By Julie Higgins Russell

The final divorce papers sat in a manila envelope on my cluttered desk. There were photos of kayaking, grocery receipts, wilderness trip maps, and colored pencils all scattered about. The envelope sat pristinely by itself on a corner. I’d gone through the papers inside and organized/paper-clipped my copies, his copies, and the other form.

Continue reading...

Summer on the Island

By Ann Bodle Nash

It is summer. Hummingbirds flit from potted flowers to backyard flowering blackberries that form a hedgerow between neighbors, full of sweetness that will surely follow. We imagine pies, we imagine jam, we imagine fruit in the freezer.

Continue reading...

We Had a House in San Franzisko

By Alex. M. Frankel

I’m thinking of a house, just like any house, ordinary, with floors and windows and rooms and a fireplace. I’m thinking of a house in the fog of the Sunset District in the ’60s and ’70s, a house that huddles next to all the other houses, smug little homes conjoined and rising up and coasting down San Franzisko’s hills.

Continue reading...


By Chet Corey

A common hairpin appears on my bathroom
tile floor. I bend to pick it up.
So out of season. She went away early fall.

Continue reading...

Mistake During Recital

By Melissa Parietti

You’re a cellist with older hands
and when you hit the harmonic near the bridge
you tremble

Continue reading...

Crazy Dog

By Maggie Fuller

He was a short, stocky middle-aged man with generic features and coloring. His once reddish hair had turned gray throughout. He could have been anyone but he was someone they called Crazy Dog.
The night was more interesting than the man. The air was heavy with all that an impending storm lends to the senses. No moon.

Continue reading...

Letter to M. on the Occasion of Her Second Engagement

By Ace Boggess

last time I wrote you an engagement poem
a celebration of the possible

I might as well have sung a ballad
while I shoved you down the stairs

or emblazoned your photograph

Continue reading...

Risking Arrest in Turkey

By Carl Boon

There are one thousand people
in the Kozzy mall tonight.
They are buying beer, notebooks,
parsnips, tablecloths, underwear,
vacuum cleaners, barstools,

Continue reading...


By Ron Yates

Me and Johnny’s going to The Hickory Hut for smoky charred pork slathered with sweet vinegar sauce, Brunswick stew, creamy cole slaw, and buttered Texas toast. We’ve got the evening to kill before we clock in on the graveyard shift at Weinraub Manufacturing, and we’re happy over not having to go to Viet Nam.

Continue reading...

Last Words

By Nancy Shobe

As a journalist, I am paid to ask questions that stop people in their tracks. It’s what turns an article from good to great.

Over the years, I have spoken with CEOs, priests, speechwriters for U.S. Presidents, community leaders, and homeless women. Trust me. They all have their stories, well-rehearsed wordplays of their lives.

Continue reading...

The Fathers of Big Bride Lake, Kentucky

By Carl Boon

wait for large-mouth bass in elm-shade.
Having announced their presence
in the Big Bride Baptist Church today,
and sung, they reach into their coolers
with tender hands and bring up cans

Continue reading...

Chicken at the Top of the World

By Bob Buchanan

Camera safely beside me,
I sit with my guide in a small café
at the top of the world,
on the barren Tibetan Plateau
nestled among mountain peaks,

Continue reading...

God’s Dream

By Chet Corey

It was a recurring dream.
Oedipal, said Freud.
Impossible, said God. I have neither father nor mother.
God called for Jung.
What did Freud say, asked Carl.

Continue reading...

The Russian Woman

By Naomi Lowinsky

“The Russian woman’s daughter is sweeping the floor,” you announce, hauling yourself out of chemo’s last slime before slipping back down into undertow. In dreams you are forever traveling—driving near cliff’s edge, navigating bus stops, running to catch a plane. Perhaps you’re at a wedding in the Old Country, where our dead have gathered

Continue reading...

Starbucks Chronicles

By Carla McGill

I was reading a new biography about Walt Disney when they sat down behind me by the window. He mentioned their Starbucks “date,” which was not really a date, he said, just a casual second meeting. After half an hour I wanted to say to her, don’t be so subdued. Speak out. Twice she had said “that’s awesome.” No more awesome. Be a little hard to get.

Continue reading...

Keep Apace

By Allison Collins

That night when I first heard the glass in the window rattle I honestly thought the girl from next door had driven her Corolla into the side of the house. Sharp and sudden I heard it—over the steady hum of the air conditioner propped into that untidy little window and the noisemaker so busy filling the air with soothing jungle noises,

Continue reading...

The Beyond

By Phyllis Carol Agins

“You know, I won’t be here much longer,” Morris had threatened all of our lives—even when his hair was still black.

While we were growing up, we were forbidden to say that word—death. We, his three daughters, never mentioned our grandparents’ graves.

Continue reading...

Visual Art by the Editors

By The Editors

This issue, we are featuring visual art by Shark Reef’s editors.

Continue reading...