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catching up with contributors: recent work from Amanda Miska

12 Jul

Let us count the ways we love Amanda Miska. She’s a writer! She’s an editor! She’s an amazing colleague!

One day, a comet zoomed through our sky, and from it fell an Amanda Miska story, and, blessed souls we knew ourselves to be, we published it in our Fall 2014 issue. If you have not read it yet, you should. And if you read it in 2014 but haven’t returned to it, please do. It’s beautiful. Go read it now: “Slow Wave.

We’ve watched Miska stories (and essays) emerge, and we always read them as soon as we see something new. Here’s a sampling of the past few years’ publications. (go read them all)

The Sinner and the Saint” at Atticus Review

A Good Ache” at Matchbook

Incompatible with Life” at Hobart

Weightless and Hysterical” at Little Fiction

 

PRJ 1, 2, and 3, and Remaking Moby-Dick: an update

12 Mar

We are now making all issues and projects of PRJ available as free download. If you’d like a print copy, we are offering them at cost.

PRJ 3 print ($7.40 cost plus shipping)free download


PRJ 2 print ($7.04 cost plus shipping)free download


PRJ 1 print ($6.86 cost plus shipping)free download


Remaking Moby-Dick print ($11.48 cost plus shipping)free download; at Scribd; at Amazon

 

The files are huge, but they are now all yours.

Liz Ahl. Walnut.

22 Feb

WALNUT

I shove the couch away from the wall
to clean out what’s collected there—

and the walnut glows like a knob of kryptonite,
brings me to my knees amidst the dust balls.

The memory’s all sucker-punch: the glint of nutpicks,
the hard shells of hazelnuts, pecans, filberts, walnuts

rapping their knuckles against the sides
of that special bowl you saved for Christmas parties.

To impress me, you’d crack a pair inside your fist,
offer me the treasure of those shards and innards.

Defeated here, years later, on my knees, the bitter tannin
of nutmeats ambushes me. How long

since I cleaned under here? Has it been five years
since the tumor’s tight fist slowly unfolded inside you?

Once, this dry brown knuckle was a seed. Inside it,
a tree waited. Now it’s dry, a desiccated mummy in a coffin.

It is the sharp taste of your absence, rattling its cage;
it is this lump blooming in my throat.

Susan O’Dell Underwood. Tick.

15 Feb

TICK

Cruelty went by other names:
necessity, caution, tradition.
My daddy would haul a hound dog to his side,
ribcage firm against ribcage,
and with his free hand search along the short-haired hide
to find each tick stuck like a backward
bloody nipple, suckling, full enough to burst.
The old dogs never skittish of the sulfur smell,
the match he struck burning close enough
to shrivel the tick’s legs and then the tick.
And I was never skittish either,
nuzzling the young pups nose to nose,
calming them that it would be okay.
I couldn’t help wanting to watch each tortured,
sizzling black release of ruptured oily ooze,
the smell of hair and death,
and sometimes even laughing at the yelp
when the flame came close to skin.

Nothing in that memory torments me.
A tick is a nasty creature.
Habits haunt me which they never let me witness—
the calves bawling in the barn at their castration,
the ball-peen hammer cracking the grown steer’s skull.
I found the copperhead already hoed in two
beside the garden lilies.

One day my brother and I
would visit the dog’s pen near the barn
to see her pups. The next day they’d be gone.
No grown up said a word about her pacing solitude.
How did we figure out the strangling or the drowning?
I never saw, yet still see in my mind
their little whiskered faces
puckered up, eyes closed and wincing
for one more breath,
and someone’s hand I loved
moving to choose another.

Trina Gaynon. Sixties Tract Plan.

8 Feb

SIXTIES TRACT PLAN

Blindfolded, you could find your way
through any house on any cul-de-sac—
living room opening before you,
sliding glass doors to the rear.

Dining room to the right of the entry,
a galley kitchen behind, hanging cabinets
between them, often vanquished
in the process of remodeling.

This is the house whose private rooms
dangle off a hall, four bedrooms, two baths.
A sharp angle into the master suite
creates a sense of privacy for parents.

You could sleepwalk to the mirrored closets
and dress before stumbling out to the sidewalk.
If the next front door is unlocked,
find where your room would be, try on a new life.

Ed Higgins. Poem for the Betraying Lover and His New Love.

1 Feb

POEM FOR THE BETRAYING LOVER AND HIS NEW LOVE

Wishing he holds you all night, unshaven chin
between your breasts. The loosed pillow case
wedged between the headboard and box springs,
around your neck. The two of you dreaming I’ve
set lit candles under the bed. And now, now I have.

Danny Powell. Tomorrow Was Hers.

25 Jan

TOMORROW WAS HERS

It had to be a note. The words would have never come out of his mouth the way he wanted. He would have stared at her and sputtered. She would have heard the words in her heart and cried.

The pen ran out halfway through and he hurried to the kitchen drawer where they kept a stash of others. He grabbed one without looking, not realizing it was blue, and missed the irony as he traced over the last fading black word on the page—bruised—and continued writing.

She was sobbing long before the colors changed. The only other time he had left a note for her on the table was the only other time he had left. It was two years before and she had known he would be back. Now, she knew he was gone for good.

They had decided on a name: Erin Emily. Everyone was secretly hoping she would have Rebecca’s smile and Charlie’s eyes. The opposite turned out to be true, but no one mentioned it. Charlie had forgotten about them and they were going to forget about Charlie.

Forgetting wasn’t so easy for Rebecca, and after Erin Emily entered the world she sat down and wrote her own note—

Dear Charlie,

I just want you to know that Erin Emily and I are doing fine. She’s sixteen now and beautiful. More importantly, she’s brilliant and kind-hearted, and she has the most amazing spirit. I thought you might like to know. I also thought you might like to know some of the things you’ve missed over the years. Well, here’s a quick rundown:

Erin’s first smile. Her first laugh.
The first time she crawled, and her first steps.
Her first word: mama. Her second word: milk.
Her first Halloween—she wanted to be an astronaut. I made the costume myself.
Her first day of pre-school. She cried and cried. When I picked her up in the afternoon, she couldn’t wait to go back the next day.
Her first time without training wheels.
Her first broken bone. It was her right arm when she fell off the monkey bars at school.
Her second broken bone. Left ankle. Skateboarding.
Her first straight-A report card. She’s only received two B’s since.
Her first Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy. The pictures are adorable. Her favorite books, too many to name.
Her first crush. Her last boyfriend.
Her first goal in soccer. Her first home run in softball.
Her first spelling bee victory. She went on to win two more…in a row.
Her love of the flute. Her hatred of the flute. Her love for it again (and still). Her vegetarian phase. Her Goth phase. Her poetry phase.
Her valedictorian speech at 8th grade graduation. Funny, poignant, and unforgettable.
Her Sweet Sixteen birthday party.
Passing the driving test on her first attempt. Her first car: my hand-me-down van.
Her smile. The light in her eyes. Her love.

—then folded the paper into a square and placed it inside a small, wooden box given to her by her grandfather when she was too young to remember.

Erin Emily discovered the box at the bottom of a suitcase of clothes in the back of her mother’s closet. She read the note, shed tears, and laughed, the memory of her mom drifting between thoughts of her 5th grade clarinet, the pictures of the pumpkin costume, the broken pinky finger, and her high school valedictorian speech.

Badger, Party of 7

ART, HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER OF 5, ALL THINGS DOMESTIC, MY CRAZY LIFE

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