Mexican-American by Amanda Rosas

Photo of a natural bridge

Mexican-American. Latino/a. Are the hyphens and slashes connecting these forces more like borders or bridges, separating or unifying to the touch? Why can’t I superimpose Mexican and American so that they Rest upon each other like stacked hands, and then maybe we would see transparently, the redundancy of those two worlds. I cannot occupy entirely one or the other, so I live within that hyphen, on that see-sawing slash. I become the bridge, a body split, but connected as one. For years it was a contemplative space of confusion. With age I have created a … Continue reading Mexican-American by Amanda Rosas

The Hotline by Miles Fowler

Photo of old rotary phone

During the 1970s, I volunteered to answer phones at two different telephone crisis centers, in two different states, one in Ohio and the other in Massachusetts. When we picked up the phones at these centers, my colleagues and I never knew what sort of question or problem our anonymous callers were going to have for us. It might be anything from, “My spouse (parent, teacher, friend, etc.) doesn’t understand me,” to “I just took an oval-shaped, white pill with the number 333 stamped on it, and I wonder what effects I can expect,” to “I … Continue reading The Hotline by Miles Fowler

Whose Story Is It? by Trudy Hale

Two large robots boxing

The Twitter world ‘blew-up’ with writers weighing in on the “Bad Art Friend” article in the New York Times in early October (NY Times link below). I had sympathized with the kidney donor whose life and letter had been “borrowed” and “stolen” by the short-story writer. The organ donor writer seemed to be the underdog. I was thinking how I would have felt, if a fellow writer friend, had taken my experience and wrote a story that was published and hailed by the literary community. It was an emotional and ethical kind of thing for me—the … Continue reading Whose Story Is It? by Trudy Hale

Wings by Lance Lee

long boardwalk stretching into the sea

  ……Gulls feast in freshly furrowed and sown Salinas fields early February, early warmth ……far from the cold Big Sur wind-thrashed waves beyond the Santa Lucias: …………………………………..or startle, confetti ……thrown in the blue sky before they settle again in Carmel River’s dune-protected mouth. ……How do they manage tonight when the wind turns Lear-mad and howls and tears at the eaves? ……I cannot sleep, although sleep smooths the lines of the woman I have grown old beside, beside me. ……All night the storm thrusts inland so morning bares a dust-brown day where gulls ……crouch between the … Continue reading Wings by Lance Lee

A Visit from the “Rat Whisperer” by Celia Rivenbark

Picture of a fact cat sitting awkwardly

  The “rat whisperer,” as he had been jovially described to me by his co-worker who performs my regular pest control service, had been summoned. He was admirably punctual, masked and wearing starched khakis and a logo Polo shirt, the picture of professionalism. His assignment: To get to the bottom of a curious, er, dropping I had found on my kitchen counter and placed in a sandwich bag. “Here it is,” I said, holding it like it was, well, rat droppings. Head turned to the side, full arm extension. “I’m so sorry.” The rat whisperer … Continue reading A Visit from the “Rat Whisperer” by Celia Rivenbark

Engineer and Sanitation Worker, 2 poems by Christy Prahl

Photo of helmets behind wire cage

The Engineer Boredom ricochets off the hard edge of a freight train carrying ethanol, carrying the wanton thoughts of a man gone too long without intimacy. A secure living is a railroad job, so you don’t upset the schedule for a woman encountered in a bar knowing it comes to nothing but embarrassment and a poor night’s sleep and the shame of breakfast sandwiches served in plastic. Freeze the graffiti in time and it may tell a story. The whistle sounds within a quarter-mile radius of a public grade school crossing. Two long wails, one … Continue reading Engineer and Sanitation Worker, 2 poems by Christy Prahl

Three Things You Should Know Before You Publish Your Book by Lauren Sapala

Photo of one star shaped balloon

I’ve published five books (three nonfiction and two fiction) and there’s so much I wish I would have known before publishing, that I now know through the long, hard road of experience. Whether you’re going the traditional publishing route, or you’re choosing to self-publish, there’s definitely a learning curve to becoming a new published author. My hope is that I can save you the headache of figuring it all out on your own so that the whole process goes a bit easier for you. Everything Takes Longer (Sometimes Much, Much Longer) Than You Think It … Continue reading Three Things You Should Know Before You Publish Your Book by Lauren Sapala

Hugging the Tree by Zeina Azzam

Photo looking up at tree

“Social distancing during Covid means no hugs.” —NBC News It was neither part of a protest nor a statement to the world. I simply put my arms around a tall oak and stood in embrace, our bodies juxtaposed. There was no swaying: her trunk, solid and true, felt like an ancestor, a pillar thick with years. Her bark scratched my skin if I moved, so I stayed still. It was a time to be calm and reflect on our presence together. To look up to the sky and fathom the height of my partner. To … Continue reading Hugging the Tree by Zeina Azzam

Like Savion by Bess Wiley

Photo of person on beach

He’s in one of my rooms. I pay attention to it now, because his window is closest to the nurses’ station and faces the automatic doors I push my cleaning cart through. I see him as soon as the doors breathe open and the negative pressure ruffles the gown’s paper against my clothes. Everything’s faster in here, no time to catch up on anything or anyone, other than the dying. I stay out of everybody’s way and clean wherever they aren’t. When I peek in his room, the machines and tubes are still at it, … Continue reading Like Savion by Bess Wiley

Valium Dream by J. Thomas Brown

Photo with bright, squiggly lights

Our house, built in 1738, stood in the middle of twenty acres of corn field. The hand-fitted Pennsylvania blue-gray fieldstone walls were two feet thick. George Washington used it as an infirmary for his troops during the Revolutionary War and their blood stains remain in the wide plank floors today. The walls were not thick enough to keep out the world’s contumely. The airwaves carried in news of the assassination of Dr. King, American war crimes in Vietnam, and the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention protests, and no mention of the Valium (diazepam) epidemic. Yet … Continue reading Valium Dream by J. Thomas Brown

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