All posts by Susan Shafarzek

Bring Them to an Art Show: On Teaching Imaginative Writing by Rich H. Kenney, Jr.

White horse head morpihing into flowers
 

If a piece of artwork could express itself in words, what would it say? This was the question I pondered while visiting Time Lapse, an art faculty show at Chadron State College (CSC) in Chadron, Nebraska several semesters ago. Here’s the beginning of what Black and White Crease, a painting by adjunct faculty member, DeWayne Gimeson, seemed to say to me: I believe in creases like the ones that form on balls of paper we too often throw away. We rarely see their peaks, their crevices, their unscripted shadows save for the quiet exhale—the curious … Continue reading Bring Them to an Art Show: On Teaching Imaginative Writing by Rich H. Kenney, Jr.

Piano Lessons by Miles Fowler

Close up of Story and Clark piano
 

The Story & Clark piano with its warm, reddish brown finish looked nice in the living room and probably improved the appearance of our home. The problem was that none of us played the piano. So my parents decided that their middle child—me—should take lessons. My older brother already had plenty of activities. My younger sister was not considered. At nine, and without a lot of extracurricular activities, I was apparently the perfect candidate. Except that I had no interest in studying the piano, or any other instrument. My grandmother, a kind and generous person, … Continue reading Piano Lessons by Miles Fowler

First Responder by Joan Mazza

Back of brown envelope
 

Tired of bars and discos where I met men who drank and were in search of easy women, horrified by the scary men I met at church singles groups, I decided to be bold and placed a personal ad in the newspaper. “Are you out there?” the headline read. It was 1979, before the Internet, before Herpes and HIV were in the lexicon. I didn’t tell anyone but my shrink. I made my case: I could specify the kind of guy I wanted: smart, kind, solvent. He had to love books and dogs. Surely, I … Continue reading First Responder by Joan Mazza

My Father’s Gardens by Leslie Artz

Green garden
 

If I had to pick a color to write about, it would be green. Leafy green, bold green, hunter’s green, the way it washes over the landscape after days and days of rain. Months of green from the beginning of May when the buds first begin to open, “when the world is really and truly green all over.” Emerald green. It’s the color of the season I love so much—June and the promise of longer days. Gardening season begins. Things never feel completely settled until the weeds are tamed and the seeds are planted. Volunteer … Continue reading My Father’s Gardens by Leslie Artz

Precious by Sarah Dickerson

White and black kitten
 

When I was five years old my stepdad, Bill, found Precious as a stray kitten in the parking lot of his office and brought him/her home. We had him/her fixed at the appropriate time, but later, no one could remember which surgery had been performed. Was the cat spayed or neutered? We decided Precious was a girl—why else would we have named her Precious? And besides, don’t all cats seem inherently female? She was “precious” indeed. Solid white but for a black patch on top of her head between her ears, so little she slept … Continue reading Precious by Sarah Dickerson

A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Santa waving in the falling snow
 

Clichés abound this time of year. It’s the one season in which it’s OK to speak of holiday magic or lapse into sappy memories like those that surfaced recently when I ran across a 1956 photo of 4-year-old me on the lap of Santa Claus. Understand, I’m talking about The Santa Claus—not some run-of-the-mill helper who brings up the rear in an annual Christmas parade. I mean he who sat upon the throne-like chair in Richmond’s Miller & Rhodes for the latter half of the 20th Century. Whole books have been written about his reign, … Continue reading A Visit With Santa by Priscilla Melchior

Miles and the Orgone by Miles Fowler

Gold domes on pink stands
 

In his 1971 memoir, Me and the Orgone, Orson Bean recounted his life-changing experience undergoing orgone therapy, a body-mind psychotherapy developed eighty years ago by Austrian-born psychiatrist Wilhelm Reich. Reich and orgone played a role in my life, too, beginning in the 1970s when I embarked on an eventually abandoned plan to become a psychotherapist. While studying Gestalt therapy and bioenergetics at Associates for Human Resources (AHR) in Concord, Massachusetts, I learned that these therapies are partly derived from different phases of Reich’s career. As a psychoanalyst in the 1920s, Reich developed a new approach … Continue reading Miles and the Orgone by Miles Fowler

Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

Inside of a darkroom with safe light
 

During a late afternoon P.E. class in fourth grade, my mother came looking for me on the playground in her leather boots that zipped to the knee. In those days she wore her brown hair in a short permanent wave that looked like a little cap of curls from far away. I remember seeing her standing on the foursquare courts between our shrill games and the parking lot. She claims she called my name and I ignored her. I don’t remember the events of the afternoon this way; however, my family had encountered a lot … Continue reading Postcard From the Darkroom by Valerie Kinsey

My Sister by Peter Breyer

Picture of Berlin
 

The voice of the singer soared over the lyrics of the gospel choir that Easter morning a decade and a half ago. You plead my cause, You right my wrongs/ You break my chains, You overcome/ You gave Your life, to give me mine/ You say that I am free…How can it be? I had plenty of reason for celebration sitting by my wife of thirty-five years, our son and his fiancée, and finally, my 88-year-old mother, all in a row. The exuberant parishioners were filled with joy, but I was still distracted with the … Continue reading My Sister by Peter Breyer

Car Talk by Joan Lassiter

Tan 1973 Buick Riviera
 

I wheel in beside the beige Buick. Ten years ago Mama had claimed its parking space twenty feet below her apartment balcony. From there she watches over her car—a proud reminder that she still has places to go, people to see. “Hi, Honey!” she calls as my feet swivel from beneath the steering wheel and onto the pavement. I squint upward. Her gray curls are barely visible above the brick ledge. “Hurry on up. I need a hug.” Juggling my canvas tote and purse I lean down to peep into the half-lowered window of the … Continue reading Car Talk by Joan Lassiter