All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Photo of salad with fruit
 

Whenever I say that my extended family camps together in the summer—living in tents, cooking over the fire, and bathing in the river—someone will ask, “And you all get along? For a whole week?” Sure, I say. Of course, I’m lying. My family includes my seventy-something father who loses his temper if he doesn’t get an afternoon nap, my sister Carroll who just stops talking at the first sign of trouble, my sister Laurie who has been known to threaten family members with a sharp knife while making fruit salad, my brother Kevin who refused … Continue reading Whiskey Island Mango Salad by Janine De Baise

Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

Photo of black man on bench that says "Whites Only"
 

In the summer of 1967, the year of my high school graduation, the Newark, N.J.-adjacent town of Plainfield, where I grew up, exploded with race riots. I was in Washington, D.C. when it happened, working as a G-2 clerk-typist for the U.S. Post Office. I didn’t witness the events in my hometown, where an incident in a diner escalated into full-blown violence in reaction to police brutality against people of color. Fifty-one years later, as an officer handcuffed me for attempting to drape the crown of Queen Isabella of Spain with a foot-square piece of … Continue reading Then We had Ice Cream by Isabel Wolf Frischman

We’re Celebrating by Susan Shafarzek

Photo of fireworks
 

The 2022 Streetlight Essay/Memoir contest has concluded. I’m happy to announce our winners: Betty Wilkins, Catherine Childress and Susan Valas. All three essay impressed our judges with their strength of narrative and their ability to deal with issues that are often hard to encompass. Betty Wilkins, our first prize winner, won honorable mention winner from Streetlight last year, with her essay “Hudy’s Secret Recipe” which appeared in the Fall 2021 quarter of Streetlight. We’re especially glad to see her work again (the contest is judged blind, of course, so imagine our pleased surprise). She’s almost … Continue reading We’re Celebrating by Susan Shafarzek

The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland

Photo of people riding camels in desert
 

The Moroccan village was the same color as the surrounding hills and empty desert. The landscape had three primary colors: sandy tan, sky blue, and, occasionally, palm tree green. The young couple, tourists traveling into the hinterlands, found menu choices equally limited where options, like all resources, were scarce. The couple carried their argument from the restaurant into the night. The man, angry, pulled the woman close, roughly gripping her sweater. “Take care what you say.” From the shadows down the dusty narrow side street emerged a small group of young men, boys really. The … Continue reading The Camel’s Hump by Albert McFarland

When Stevie Nicks Was a Witch in Florida by T. J. Butler

Photo of coastline covered with trees
 

When Stevie Nicks was a witch in Florida, I sent her letters on stationery purchased from the canteen. The new girl at the youth residential center told me her mother was Stevie Nicks, and also a witch. I was fourteen, a year into the system. I didn’t ask why Stevie Nicks’s daughter was also there. Anything was possible; lies about mothers, or the real reasons kids were there: I’d been stealing cars since I was eleven, or my teachers kept calling the social workers, or, my mom’s in jail for selling drugs. I heard the … Continue reading When Stevie Nicks Was a Witch in Florida by T. J. Butler

Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee

Two hikers jumping on large rock
 

I wasn’t going to make it. I’d made a mistake; this whole stupid backpacking thing was a mistake. I trudged a step further. A young guy, about thirteen, with Keanu Reeves hair and an Osprey backpack loosely perched on his shoulders made eye contact with me. He winked, gave me the “we’re in this together” nod, and flashed a peace sign as he loped past. I looked away, crushed. It’s almost funny now, how I gave up not even fifteen minutes into a three-week backpacking trip. I mean, in redemption stories, the part where the … Continue reading Happy Trails (and Other Lies I Tell Myself) by Amy Bee

The End of the Global Village—On TV Anyway by Miles Fowler

Photo of TV with cartoon playing
 

I’ve noticed that when I get together with friends, we never ask each other, “Did you see [fill in the title of a television program that recently aired]?” as those of my generation once might have. Rather, the question now is, “What are you watching these days?” We no longer assume what we used to assume, which was that our friends have watched the same things on television that we have seen—or, at least, there was once a good chance that they might have. Sometimes, it turns out that we have seen the same programs, … Continue reading The End of the Global Village—On TV Anyway by Miles Fowler

The Ornament by Niles Reddick

Photo of various ornaments
 

I’d met three of the Partons: Randy and Stella at a festival in Georgia when I was a kid and Dolly at a concert, where I snagged backstage passes from a friend who knew one of the backup singers. I recalled my preteen daughter and I standing in the parking lot next to semis and a butterfly back drop. When Dolly came from behind the semi with two hulking bodyguards and the spotlights came on, her sequined blue jumpsuit and six inch heels lit up, and my daughter tugged at my Polo and asked, “Daddy, … Continue reading The Ornament by Niles Reddick

What the Land Holds by Kelly McGannon

Photo of a ram with large horns
 

  We met the ram yesterday. The one we were warned about but had forgotten was loose in the world. After the biblical rains, the world felt charged as if pages in time had fallen open. With gaps just wide enough to slip through, we stepped sideways into the crackle to spook around for a bit. There’s a quality to this land that I’ve noted over time. It’s a thin place where spirits on walkabout wag their tongues, the river carries old hymns, and reality bends. On days like yesterday, when forgotten doors to hidden worlds … Continue reading What the Land Holds by Kelly McGannon

The Swordfish by Leslie Middleton

photo of boats on water at dawn
 

It is well into night, and she moves slowly. Her sword pierces the water that slides away like sheets of ice. Bubbles spin into small vortices that carry her forward. She pushes the water, and the water pushes back. The long barrel of her body arcs from side to side as she swims, propelled by her tail fin, scalloped and black, sharp as a sickle. Water, eye, and brain, are all one. Her looking links intention to muscle. Specks of life—the tiny jellies, the embryonic fish and crabs and eyeless shrimp—crowd together into the layer … Continue reading The Swordfish by Leslie Middleton