All posts by Erika Raskin

Belle Isle Aquarium by Amy Kenyon

Belle Isle aquarium interior

“Mother?” Plump, magnified, younger lips open and close. “Mother?” How many years must she hear it? Mother Mother Mother. How many years already? The lips are those of a luminous fish suspended in water when it ceases to swim back and forth. A fish that hangs in eerie silence, mouth dropping open and then locking upward as it takes in water before pumping it back through the gills. Breathing. Once, as a child, she visited the aquarium at Belle Isle. Nina held her hand as they moved slowly through the large gallery beneath an arched … Continue reading Belle Isle Aquarium by Amy Kenyon

The Peninsula by Christi Craig

campground with RV

Bobbie Ellen leaned against the wall of the arcade at Minnow Lake Campground and squinted at Nick Baker. The first wave of a thick Oklahoma summer had sent her inside with the rest of the gang, where the dark room and A/C kept them all from drowning in the heat. Not that being inside offered much relief, since Nick hogged every inch of cool with his seventeen-year-old self as he stood in front of the air conditioner and worked his usual game, Primal Rage. He dropped fifty cents into the coin slot and played another … Continue reading The Peninsula by Christi Craig

Thinking About the Bologna Train Station by Stefanie Newman

Bologna massacre memorial

“I passed through Bologna once on the way to…” That’s how my favorite Italian city is usually featured in travel narratives. Tourists know its train station, a surprisingly modest building considering how many travelers are propelled through it and on to the rest of Europe. It is a squat two-story rectangle with an unfussy columned entrance. Its design is bereft of allusions to the excitement of rail travel. The architect might have had a post office in mind. Italian train stations always combine hurry and lassitude; waiting punctuated by last-minute alterations in the track assignments. … Continue reading Thinking About the Bologna Train Station by Stefanie Newman

The Effect of Forgiveness on Creativity by Deborah M. Prum


I’ve kept an idea journal for as long as I can remember. Whenever a word, sentence or story idea strikes my fancy, I jot it down and date the entry. One day, I thumbed through the pages, noticing dates on entries. A pattern emerged. Whenever I felt at peace with my life, I saw numerous entries, many of which inspired stories and essays. However, the number of entries decreased to almost none when I was experiencing turmoil. One year stood out. I was stuck in a conflict with a person who had no interest in … Continue reading The Effect of Forgiveness on Creativity by Deborah M. Prum

First Steps by Harriet Levin Millan


Just like the adage about loving yourself before being able to love another person, I’ve come to understand that in order to write with depth, you first have to learn to write about yourself. I grew up in a close-knit Philadelphia neighborhood of row homes and old-world tailors, Holocaust survivors, first and second generation East European Jews. Although the streets were rich with stories, I had internalized society’s blonde-haired, blue-eyed obsession and was diverted from appreciating them. (Ironically, I’d read Issac Babel’s accounts of his Jewish Odessa neighborhood with passion, lamenting why I’d been born … Continue reading First Steps by Harriet Levin Millan

A Place To Flee by Harriet Levin Millan


Michael fled his village in South Sudan at the age of five. He trekked a thousand miles through war zones to arrive at a series of refugee camps where he lived for a decade. As a child at Kukuma Refugee Camp, Michael played soccer using a blown up latex glove fished from a trash bin outside the hospital tent. He learned to play chess and checkers under the punishing sun from old-timers who sat bereft of their children and their land. One of the most life-negating situations a person can face is to live without … Continue reading A Place To Flee by Harriet Levin Millan

City of the Dead by Caleb N. Humphreys


The view from the bus station was disappointing. All I could see was the traffic on Calliope. That, and the bottom of the Causeway, all concrete and metal, darkened by decades of weather and exhaust. The fall air was saturated with car fumes and diesel: a smell that always gave me a headache.  I sat, as patiently as I could, on a metal bench that was peppered with rust and dried bird shit. I waited and hoped that Mary remembered I was coming. Eventually, I saw her working her way towards me, weaving between the … Continue reading City of the Dead by Caleb N. Humphreys

Date Night by Nicholas A. White

3d movie goers

I haven’t seen Dave this excited in months, since before our son left for college. “We’ll see a compressed version of Arnold’s life,” he says, sprinkling his fingers like falling fireworks. “Can you imagine? You’ll love it. It’ll be like one of our movie dates, but better.” “Well, okay,” I say. “I guess we can go.” “It sucks for Arnold having leukemia and all,” Dave says, checking his phone. “But there’s nothing we can do, you know?” We first learned about the Deathwatching app while dropping our son off at his dorm back in August. … Continue reading Date Night by Nicholas A. White

The Trapper by Alex Lowe

black bear in woods

Sometimes he dipped his popcorn into his coffee. He only did that when the popcorn was burnt. Today, it was the coffee that was burnt. The popcorn was soggy. But it was breakfast. The same breakfast he had eaten every day for most of his adult life. Popcorn was cheap. Coffee was cheap. Milk never agreed with him anyhow. The sun still was not up, but the sun always rose later in Mississippi. When he lived in the city he never made it awake before the sun. But that was many years ago. Now the … Continue reading The Trapper by Alex Lowe

Anacostia Unmapped


By Katie Davis   Around Washington people say Anacostia as a code word for poverty, crime, isolation. Many add in a low voice, “Don’t go there.” In fact, a city-wide website left it off the map entirely and pushed Virginia up into D.C.. I say, go to Anacostia in South East Washington while it is still a mostly black neighborhood with a rich history. Cross the Anacostia River, not something most white Washingtonians (including me) have often done. Walk along Martin Luther King Avenue and see the life sized posters pasted onto the walls, a … Continue reading Anacostia Unmapped