Category Archives: Street Talk

In Other Words by Elizabeth Meade Howard

Drawing of hand writing in front of a rose

  Remember letters? Ones that came in the mail with stamps and occasional foreign postmarks? Remember that moment of anticipation before opening the letter? Remember the thrill of a love letter and the thwarted desire to be in immediate contact? Of course, now in the age of e-mail and texting we can make almost instant contact and become impatient if not answered at once. Forget the patience and time required to find the right words before mailing. Alas, the “art” of letter writing seems a part of the past. As it happens, I have more … Continue reading In Other Words by Elizabeth Meade Howard

Another Season of Winners by Susan Shafarzek

Bouquet of red, purple, and green flowers, amongst green leaves

We’re happy to announce the 2024 Streetlight Essay/Memoir contest winners. With an emphasis on memoir, the winners are as follows: First Prize winner, Sandra Hopkins, in her essay, “Tongues of Fire,” gives us a deep glance into a childhood lived actively. In a piece that is both touching and amusing, she shows how the relationship between generations can be both complicated and beautiful. An artist, born and raised in Virginia, this author shows a fine awareness of the telling evidence of personhood Second Prize goes to Jeanne Malmgren for “Blindsided,” a precisely written story about … Continue reading Another Season of Winners by Susan Shafarzek

No YOU Say it Erika Raskin

Photo of green leaves layered on each other

Someone asked me what a writer’s voice is. I was momentarily tongue-tied. It’s a tricky concept to capture and describe–a little like trying to render a physical sensation or an unfamiliar smell. Lots of adjacent experiences tend to be employed in the effort. But bear with me while I give it a shot. Forty years ago a rat died in our kitchen pipes. (I’ve generally recovered, thanks.) I chronicled the traumatic incident for Salon detailing the stench that came from the spigot as rotting chicken in the meat drawer– with a side of decomposing broccoli. … Continue reading No YOU Say it Erika Raskin

A Leg in the Darkness by Alex Joyner

Photo of a paint horse with sunset through trees behind it

When the leg appeared out of the darkness, flung over the gate of the neighboring corral, I was howling along with Emmylou Harris. “Beneath Still Waters” was booming from the CD player in the old door-less refrigerator in Jackie’s garden, where I was sitting with Jackie until just minutes before when she went off in search of a horse I had seen passing along the dirt road like a phantom. Jackie swore I was seeing things. “You come out to Archer City, Texas and you think there’s nothing around here but horses.” But she set … Continue reading A Leg in the Darkness by Alex Joyner

The Goodness of Contests by Fred Wilbur

Photo of rows of different colors of thread

Life should not be a contest, but it is. This statement seems terribly bleak, “survival of the fittest,” dystopian, shoot-‘em-up violent and down-right unappealing, but countering this notion, contests can be good things. There are team competitions, matches between two individuals, and self-challenging ‘contests.’ Professional sports teams immediately come to mind. They are primarily entertainment, but they illustrate coordination, cooperation, cohesion among members of the team. Such events promote social camaraderie and civic pride (forgetting the celebratory riots which sometimes follow.) Amateur sport is less about entertainment and more about learning to be a team … Continue reading The Goodness of Contests by Fred Wilbur

MAISON MAGIQUE by Deborah M. Prum

Photo of shadow of hand on wall above small house made of paper

  I have a five-year-old grandchild who lives in Paris. Recently, she informed me that when she plays tag at her schoolyard, to avoid becoming “it,” all she must do is scurry to a yellow drum, touch it, and yell, “Maison Magique!” Those two words keep her safe. “Nothing bad can happen to you in maison magique, Deb-deb.” She calls me “Deb-deb” to get around the parental edict, “You may not call an adult by her first name.” My grandchild’s voice is reassuring because she believes what she asserts. Listening to her, I longed for … Continue reading MAISON MAGIQUE by Deborah M. Prum

Lent by Sharon Ackerman

light purple rose

The word Lent derives from an Old English word meaning ‘lengthen.’ Or more precisely, it comes from the Middle English word lente which means springtime, which itself descends from the Old English lencten. Of course the forty day period of Lent comes at a time when days are lengthening and a few green tips of flowers are testing the air. It is this time of lightening that enters the liturgical calendar as a season of reflection and forgiveness. As it turns out, reflection and forgiveness are complicated. Friends in recovery from alcoholism tell me they … Continue reading Lent by Sharon Ackerman

A Change of Scenery by Emily Littlewood

Woman standing against wall, reading

I’ve been having trouble reading lately. Actually, for the last few years. I can’t seem to sit down with a book and focus on it long enough to get through the entire thing. And my memory what it is, if I start a book and set it down longer than a day or so I forget everything that’s going on and some of the characters and even the setting, and the result is that I have to start over. I don’t have the energy. But recently my same-age-as-me aunt, Eden, suggested Fourth Wing, a “romantasy” … Continue reading A Change of Scenery by Emily Littlewood

Our Fathers by Fred Wilbur

Black and white photo of man in glasses

My father died twenty-five years ago when I was fifty; a third of my life ago. He was by most measures a good man, and I grieved as a good son should. I think of him often, have written poems about our relationship. So, I was eager, a few years back, to read An Odyssey: A Father, A Son, and An Epic (Daniel Mendelsohn) which, though mostly memoir, explores the father/son relationship; Odysseus and Telemachus being an early example in literature. My father was not secretive though reserved, not agitated but conscientious, not obnoxiously ambitious … Continue reading Our Fathers by Fred Wilbur

Political Animals by Erika Raskin


I’ve been a vegetarian for years and years. I try not to be preachy about the issue `#ToEachHisOrHerOwn but in truth the whole concept of eating other creatures depresses the hell out of me. Last week, a truck carrying a load of chickens in horribly overcrowded cages, passed me on the highway and I burst into tears. All of which is an ironic preamble to the following observation: Like mammals with two legs, the four-legged variety can also be assholes. Just on principle. Seriously. The coyotes who use our yard as a public toilet, for … Continue reading Political Animals by Erika Raskin