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By George Bilgere

Featured Art: I wish I knew You When I Was Younger by Lucy Osborne

The family—the father and mother and two (cute) kids—
got into their private plane at the airport near the lake
and lifted off into the snowy night, into the weather,
and now here’s this picture of the four of them
at Disneyland, and the picture is on the front page
of today’s newspaper which is on our dining room table
where the four of us—father, mother, two (cute) kids—
are having pancakes on a late Sunday morning,
the snow falling outside, burying the deck chairs.
And I think of how it must have felt as the lake
came swimming up ravenously from the night
to devour them, the pale blue instruments
in the cockpit whirling, bleating in terror,
the father and mother working very hard
in the last clarifying seconds to formulate a phrase,
an utterance of sufficient magnitude,
a shouted finale involving love, that beautiful
old word that had rescued them so many times
before, and then the impossible shock,
the cold and darkness, and now their photograph
with the smiling mouse on our dining room table
which my grandparents bought when they married,
my wife and I at the controls, steering this
sturdy, well-built wooden craft through the snow,
the blinding snow that pushes at the windows,
while the kids dribble their syrup on the front page
and my wife is trying to be stern with them
but she can’t stop laughing.

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Insult to Injury

By George Bilgere

I find an old air gun
and a can of ammo
down in the basement
in a cardboard moving box,
along with some other stuff,
flotsam from previous lives.
A teenager, a long-expired
me, used it to polish off
tin cans in the backyard,
and once a bright, golden
oriole, shot in mid-song,
blowing a hole through me
as it fell. Holding a pistol
is like shaking hands
with death. What the hell,
let’s see if the damn thing
still works. In the same box,
a volume of poetry, slim,
but not slim enough,
by a poet I never liked—
all smoke and mirrors—
a poet utterly, brutally
forgotten, although a blurb
on the back still calls his book
“an astonishing debut.”
I prop it against the wall,
pump, load, cock, and Blam
goes the gun as it hasn’t
in half a century. I inspect
the astonishing debut.
The pellet, as it happens,
made it farther than I ever did,
stopping on page sixty-two,
just deep enough to dimple,
not tear, a sonnet on the guy’s
divorce, how his wife ran off
with his best friend, how terrible
the betrayal, how deep his grief.
How losing her tore out his soul.
And now this.

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By George Bilgere

Featured Art : Noon to Dusk by Alex Spragens

I am standing by the pop machine
at the gas station, drinking a root beer.
It cost a dime, my whole allowance.
My bike—a J. C. Higgins three-speed—
looks cool: I just washed it
and waxed the blue fenders.
Grownups are moving around me
in kind of a fog. Actually I feel sorry
for grownups, with their neckties,
their dark jackets and serious talk.
I am wearing low-top Keds.
Their shoes are hard and gigantic.
Try climbing a tree in those shoes.
How am I supposed to know
that an old, white-haired guy,
a grownup, is watching me
from his desk in the future,
writing down every move I make?
Why would anybody even do that?
If there’s one thing I don’t like
it’s writing. Writing and division.
This root beer is actually excellent.
It’s a hot day. My fenders are waxed.

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Women Alone in Cars

By Pamela Davis

Do you see us? We park in our cars
all over town. Enjambed between jobs
and laundry at home, we stop time.
Toe-off shoes. Fan our bare toes. Exhale
the poisons of the day. Somewhere
in the car, there is chocolate. Aretha,
Mrs. Dalloway. Men pass staring hard
as cops. One asks if we’re okay. Sorry,
we mutter for the hundredth time.
Beyond the dashboard, the sun stalls
before sinking the ancient way.
An open road is ripe. One summer night
in the Sixties my Dad drove home from Vegas
in a gold convertible he bought playing craps.
Cheerios went limp in our bowls
the morning he came back, presenting
Mother with the car keys. Choking them
in one fist, she slammed out, gunned
the engine’s 385 powered horses
and thundered off. It became her way.
We were always left listening for the Pontiac’s
brakes to screech at the end of our street.
Tonight I point my car north and turn up
“Respect.” City lights leak out my rearview mirror.
I’ll be gone an hour or half the night.
Virginia was wrong. A room isn’t enough.

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By Chris Greenhalgh

Featured Art: Immersion by Lucy Osborne

I told them I’d retired, that I didn’t have it in me.
I repeated I was happy now.
Still they insisted, “One last poem.”
My love wept, “But you promised.”
I said, “You don’t know these people.”
“Are a duelling scar and doctorate not enough?”
My gut clenched. The darkness pressed.
I wanted the world to hold fast but it
wouldn’t. The rain told me that much.
From the outside the job looked impossible—
words secure in vaults with a time code, and
an alarm tripped by the whiff of a cliché.
One hundred drafts to achieve a felt life.
I rearranged the apparatus of my thinking.
Voice recognition software, the geometry
of broccoli florets, the right amount of
messiness to bring the world into being.
Light spilled from the margins, lines slid
into place, each faceted like a jewel.
You can read it HERE behind the paywall,
sustained on the page, a miracle.

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What I Am Telling You, Jessica, Is That Those Chickens Are Fine

By K.T. Landon

                                                                                                                For Jessica Jacobs

You say that a poem that contains a fox
and a henhouse must, at some point, include
a slaughtered chicken, that the rifle on the mantel
must go off in Act Three. But what I am telling you
is that my neighbor has built his coop to last
and surrounded it with a sturdy double fence
of chicken wire, and that that fox is out of luck
this time. And I know that good news for the chickens
is bad news for some vole or field mouse or hapless
housecat. So maybe all I’ve done is point that gun
in another direction or into another poem, but this
is a poem in which no chickens will die. A rabbit
will bound across the road and the car will slow
in time. The fox will discover the trampoline behind
the house next door and with it the wonder of flight.
Everyone I love will live and call me after supper
to say goodnight. My neighbor is a good man,
a minor god who has brought forth a paradise
for chickens. And I know those chickens, clucking
contentedly in their self-important obliviousness,
are too foolish to be a metaphor for hope
(though isn’t hope always foolish?) but in this poem
the chickens stand for joy—for feed scattered
with a free hand and fresh water in the trough,
for a swept house and a warm nest, for the sun
and the breeze and friends to admire your glorious,
feathered self and this single, glorious day.
And we’re in pretty deep now, aren’t we,
speculating about the Inner Life of Chickens,
but can you doubt, watching them watching us,
that they have one? That they, too, understand
the urgency of this still and incandescent moment
that is here and leaving already? I know
it’s not always this way. The gun goes off
eventually. One night the latch will fail to catch
or a hinge will rust through, and the fox will bring
terror and death, as foxes do. Every story ends
with a corpse. But, Jessica, it’s not Act Three yet.
My neighbor, the chickens, the fox, you, me—
we love what we love for as long as we can.
Right now, in this blue and breathing hour
that shines inside us all, those chickens are fine.

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Dependable Lies

By Isaac George Lauritsen

Featured Art: Untitled by Amina Toure

I’m sorry I couldn’t make it
to your dinner party.
In the process of developing
a mango sorbet
the machinery spun so fast
that a black hole came into existence
at the bottom of the bowl
and put my kitchenware into orbit
forcing me to utilize a butterfly net
to return the room to normalcy.
I’m sorry I couldn’t join you
for an afternoon at the beach.
After I put on my newly bought
swim trunks, my house swarmed
with brand ambassadors, so I spent all day
shooing them away with air horns
and last season’s bottle rockets.
Also, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it
to your godson’s confirmation.
On my way there, I drove into a fog
but the fog stayed surrounding the car
for what felt like twelve years
so I stopped driving and considered
what I couldn’t understand
such as the many unanswerable questions
that accompany existence
and as I started to choke up
the fog choked up too
with a bit of perspiration.
I couldn’t tell if I was being
empathized with or mocked
which caused me to question
every friendship I’d ever had.
Seriously. I’m so sorry I couldn’t make it
to your grandma’s b-day get-together.
As I was dressing in formal attire
my hair became sentient
and rebellious, rearranging itself
out of the mousse I’d used
to command it. Every time I felt
my hair snaking about in its mischievous
way, I returned to the mirror
to find a new shape.
At times, my hair was abstract
and chaotic. At other times
it represented better things:
towers, trees, a range of
mountains with follicles of
birds arcing over my head’s horizon.
At one point, my hair became
your grandma who informed me
that I looked like an absolute
ragamuffin. I didn’t feel like explaining
irony to your grandma-who-was
my-hair, so I went back to sleep.
Finally, I’m sorry I couldn’t make it
to your absolute rip-roaring banger
of a potluck. I wasn’t myself that night.
It’s just that I was the lemon rind
curved to the lip of the martini glass
that had become my life.

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By Matt Hart

Featured Art: Funghi by Nina Battaglia

Today his family is driving
to Cincinnati from Philadelphia
to start packing up his things
and taking some of them away.
Not a lot of people know
that Dean was living here (because
that was how he wanted it), but
we were spending a lot of time together
with beer or scrambled eggs,
though usually not both
at the same time, same juncture,
same hootenanny-creature-feature.
He seemed lighter and lighter,
sometimes almost clear. But then
he got sick—wasn’t taking care
of himself, wouldn’t see a doctor.
And it still doesn’t add up—how
happy he was and how desperate—
but that day at the hospital
it was the intensity and the LEDs
of his eyes I watched expire
in a surge of tangled wire.
And now, I am a torrent of crystal sadness
that looks like stars and fades
like an old jean jacket that gets
agitated and spun out with all the rips
in time and space, which are just people
arriving on the scene and then
vanishing—but everywhere I look,
there they still are
and by “they” I mean him,
and yeah, it’s kind of stupid
all these months later, but I am
kind of stupid all these months later,
and today I’ll go over to what used to be
his apartment and clean a little
the bedroom, the bathroom, and
the kitchen, so I can feel
like I’m doing something useful
in the void, but also so it’s ready
for his family to find him, cosmic
and still raving, his pockets
full of poems.

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Sometimes it feels so animal-

By Alice White

Featured Art: Schuylkill Sunset by Alex Spragens

the peach tree trunk breaking our fence in half
to make room for itself, wisteria
reaching its fingers into the windows
when we look away. Waist-high nettles lie
in wait at the property line, a field
of them, teeth bared. The trail through the valley
disappears in summer under brambles
that catch and tear our clothes and skin. I chose
to have kids. To replicate myself, spread—
that’s what life does, from the most innocent
forget-me-not to the knotweed we fought
for years, painting poison onto each leaf
in spring. Of course life wants to keep living,
wants to live so much it will kill for it.

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By Carlee Jensen

Featured Art: Paralyzed by Abby Pennington

It was Halloween, and all the ladies from the front office had dressed as Wonder Woman. I spotted them as I crossed the parking lot: in matching red go-go boots and lamé headbands, tight Lycra dresses that framed their tits in gold. There was something dazzling about the sight of them, standing shoulder-to-shoulder at the head of the carpool line, tiny skirts ruffling in the October breeze.

“It’s quite a spectacle,” said Claudia Palmer, surveying the scene while she waited for me to swipe my key card at the front door. Claudia was too dignified for costumes, but like all teachers of a certain generation, she owned a vast collection of appliqué vests and novelty jewelry, which she trotted out for special occasions to the delight of her fourth-graders. As she waddled through the door, burdened by her many tote bags, I admired the twin kernels of candy corn hanging from her ears and the gap-toothed jack-o’-lantern brooch perched at the apex of her ample chest.

“I’m glad they’re confident,” she went on. “Even Mrs. Ward, at her age. But is this really the example we want to set for our young women? Your outfit seems much more appropriate, Valerie.”

I was a cat. I had been a cat every Halloween of my teaching career, with the same fuzzy ears from the grocery store seasonal aisle and the same greasy whiskers drawn in eyeliner on my cheeks. A hole had opened in the armpit of my overextended black T-shirt, revealing stipules of untended hair whenever I raised my arm. I liked Claudia—she was the kind of teacher I could imagine myself becoming in a few decades, an old-school bitch who inspired devotion in the students she tortured with handwriting practice and multiplication quizzes—but it seemed awfully rich to suggest that I was any kind of example.

Still, she wasn’t the kind of person you contradict. “It is a bit on the nose,” I admitted, gesturing through the window at Mrs. Ward. She was hamming it up, striking Lynda Carter poses for the approaching cars. “Like, I’m a teacher! What’s your superpower?

Claudia clicked her tongue. “I get that mug every Christmas. It’s a bit of an overstatement, don’t you think?”

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The Triple Goddess with a Bird’s Head, on My Dad’s Side

By Sue D. Burton

“. . . she circled the battlefield as a conspiracy of ravens to carry away the dead”
—Gregory Wright,

There were trainloads of us, my daddy said, heading
to “Hillbilly Heaven”—up to Akron in the 30s and the 40s—
lured by Tire & Rubber, but we were open-shop snakes (cheap) to
anybody who already worked the factories up there, though of
course once we got active in the union, we got dissed
for that, oh, it goes on and on—homesick— the
rubber bust—.

It’s what now we call the Great Appalachian Migration— but

by the time all that went down, we pretty much forgot
the Morrígan, that ancient Celtic goddess of battles and doom
who crossed the Atlantic with us and spent the next how-many-years
dirt farming in West Virginia. And the Morrígan, too, got
pretty much tamed down, though sometimes she just shows up,
on your doorstep, like the baby my friend gave up,
who thirty years later tracked her down.
And didn’t have a pretty story.

But why should the Morrígan—a feisty old gal
with the head of a raven—have a pretty story? My dad said
the Scotch-Irish (we Celts) had a fightin’ reputation.
Though now they say if you eat vegan, your microbes or
whatever are in sync and you pass for middle class.

I never went to war.
But I would like a bird’s head.
I’d like to think I had some magical mythical legacy, other than
Wonder Bread and bad-years Goodyear Tire. Though to what end? I
told my nice bourgie dentist once I wanted a gold front tooth.
I don’t think that’s a good idea, Sue, he said.

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The Numbers

By David Dodd Lee

I counted eight cygnets (and two adult swans) on the river in May but then counted four
cygnets in late June and today the four have turned into three. My next-door neighbors

went from two to no persons then back to two after the deceased
couple who’d lived there’s daughter and husband moved in, then up to five

after the woman’s sister, her sister’s boyfriend, and their child
joined them. A note written on lined notebook paper that I assumed

(on what basis?) was written by the woman’s sister blew into
my yard. It said I want out of this life and I love you Jesus I do

but I don’t care anymore I’m sorry but for now they’re still five. My
house is one and sometimes two, especially on weekends, add

one cat and it goes up to three. I grew up in a house of six and then
there were five and then six again for a while and then five. My

sisters ended up in houses of six, five, and four eventually, I in houses
of two, four for about eight years, two again, now usually one . . .

The eight, four, then three cygnets take all summer to become close to
indistinguishable from their parents and then by spring each relocates

to a different pond river lake where they become two, then four, five, six, seven, etc.,
something you can count until counting no longer seems to matter anymore.

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8 Ball at Sportsmen’s Bar & Grill

By John Bargowski

Featured Art: Time Lime Rhyme by Mary Popa

Road-trip thirsty, barely out of our teens
and passing through on our way home

from a cross-state friend’s, we took
every game from the pair of locals

we faced at this circus-lit hillbilly joint
in the knobby hills off I-80,

and maybe it was the booze queued up
for us at the bar as payoffs,

or maybe the skinny brunette in a brushed
Lady Stetson and skintight Wranglers

helping us drop coin in the slot of the juke
for triple plays between wins,

but something lit their fuses, so after JC ran the
last six striped balls of a double

or nothing, then sank the 8 in a corner
pocket with a bank shot, the English

on the cue ball spinning it so near the lip
a hip bump could’ve knocked it in,

that’s when the first pool stick shattered
across the table, skittered past the two-steppers

on the parquet then trip-switched the stools
to spin round, ejecting every good-timer

from their seats at the bar onto the floor
as we did the math, cut past the banjo clock

and out the swinging double to the Olds,
wheel-rutted the gravel and tore asphalt

back to the interstate, slapped in Waylon
and blasted some tonk out of the box.

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In the Red Vinyl Booth of the Horseshoe Cafe

By Carol Tiebout

We traded Harvey Wallbangers, Velvet Hammers, and straight-up tequila, kicked
Nixon and Agnew around and came up with a board game
about Camp David that would use lacquered walnut shells and peas as markers.

When the acid slid in, clipping all the edges in clear light, we fell out into
the late-night street now stuffed with one hundred thousand points of
cool fog that wrapped the curbs and thinned under the lamps

into a series of three-foot worlds. A drunk appeared below us, limbs curled up waving
like a crab that had been tossed onto its back from its rocking bed to hard granite while
still holding the comfort of the sea. He looked up at me

with baby-kissed blue eyes and asked, “Are you an angel?” I thought for a moment
maybe I was, maybe in the realm of infinite possibilities, it could be there on certain
Tuesdays, my name in the index of Alan Watts’ book under A.

Fifty years later the sky opens up, raindrops the size of cats singing
the hood of my car as it curves past the turnoff to town
and in a loud whooosh, deafening as a splashdown, I no longer

understand why I would hold back any longer from
whatever walks into this minute
from the deep seams of the world.

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The Happening

By Josh Luckenbach

Featured Art: Birds of Freedom by Kourosh Nejad

Things went on right up until the moment of it—
the hummingbirds whirred at the trumpet honeysuckle,
and the aphids scaled the ivy on the brick wall
facing out toward the new construction across the road
and the mountains and highways beyond
where the people in cars traveled distances near or far
with their usual haste or leisure to sit in offices
or to attend the weddings and the births
which, it seemed, were more and merrier than ever before;

and afterward, the strangest part was that things
went on then too—the packages arrived on time,
the lights turned on and off at the flipping of the switch,
the goldfinches returned in late morning to flit
among the zinnias near the deer netting, and the clouds
drifted as they had the day before in the same ageless sky
that often feels too vast for us to have a place in it,
and yet, for the time being, we do, as now I occupy
this patch of grass and tell my hand to move and it does. 

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By Josh Luckenbach

Featured Art: i.dissociation. paranoia. by Ahneka Campbell

Up all night shuffling from chair
to bed to couch to floor

and only the flustered trilling
of the soul at its own failing,

decades funneling to this:
narrow opening, fissure

in my hope’s remaining rot
which I had thought

to step through
would mean to surrender to

the dull world (and it would,
though not in the way that I’d feared)—

tunnel-visioned and mourning
the loss of meaning,

up all night and no god; I lost
years like this, hope long since gale-tossed.

Meanwhile whatever it was that was
going to happen never did. Now, finally this—

hot coffee on the front stairs
at daybreak, windswept hair—

this auroral calling forth from night’s
void as mundane as it gets.

That’s it. It’s a deal.
I’m clearing my schedule.

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Their Every Yellow Leaf

By Sarah Sarai

Jacinth looks at the pig and 
asks what she did in another lifetime 
to be so beautiful. 
Maybe not everyone would see it
but she’s perfect. 
I am not everyone. I agree. 
Alice is perfect, 
a hippopotamus made compact. 
I stroke her dark hide and feed her 
fruit cup from breakfast. 
Cauliflower and a toasted bagel.
Plum jam. 
With the pig, Jacinth and 
I break bread. 
Jacob, who is new to this poem, 
buries his cigarette in a late-fall lawn
to take a call from Quebec.
In bright sunlight Alice considers 
eternally recycling life. Is my guess.
Jacinth has no interest in me or Jacob
and praises only the pig, who is complete. 
Is her guess. The heart gets lonely 
some days. Is Jacob’s guess.
Feeding Alice renders longing and irritation 
irrelevant, without obliterating either.
Aspens snap their every yellow leaf. 
The trees expected we’d be gone by now. 
Their every yellow leaves don’t guess. 

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The End of the Story

By Damen O’Brien

Featured Art: Atardecer rosa by Rubi Villa

I climbed down into Wonderland following the paths of my memory.
Old playing cards ruffled like leaves, but his burrow was empty. It was
a shivering day, a pale sun peeking briefly into his cold warren. He was
long gone. Soft crumble of soil, colorless straw. He had vanished,
popping the buttons of his waistcoat on the far paddock’s fence.
All those years ago and we’d lost touch. One rushed note in 20 years, 
apologies for not visiting, complaints of lateness, and then nothing.
No phone number, no address. He has joined the ranks of the Missing, 
shutting the last yellow doors of Wonderland, boarding the windows,
battening down the root cellars, scrambling across the checkerboards
of desperation. He’s a gray exposure photograph on a billboard 
of the lost. He’s a file note numbered amongst the renditioned, the
compromised and betrayed, standing in a hopeless queue somewhere,
waiting for his portion of grass. We give the past away in exchange 
for the future. We foreclose the titles on our fairy tales for a handful 
of beans, until they’ve all gone, hitching out in the huddled back of 
rusty trucks, bussed in to the Big Smoke for a carrot or two, a cardboard
sign seeking work, selling our heirlooms for a passport, lying unmarked
and misremembered in a thorny field. It’s been such a long time. I was
a little girl with mud on the hem of my petticoat, but I always knew 
the world would one day come to Wonderland. He has gone on the last 
flight from the embassy’s roof, hiding his face from the government’s 
algorithms, sleeping in subways. I barely remember what he looked like. 
A twitchy nose, a neat tail, a pocket watch. If I were asked to identify him, 
I would say, he was a White Rabbit. He was always having to leave.

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Patience as a Crocodile

By Damen O’Brien

Seven hours under
bubbles to breakfast,
practicing his terminus
while they slap water
with the fowl’s carcass rag
and tempt him to spring-
loaded striking at 1 p.m.,
to the matador’s applause
each hot weekday and
twice on Saturday, but
he must only win once,
tangent to his target,
a holy investiture,
sacred digestion, and
every zookeeper has
one absent moment,
so he’ll wait forever
like the best missionaries,
for the one chance of faith
to find its grim purchase,
when in the coughing dark,
a child’s fever breaks
and prayer can be praised,
so one heedless heel
too close to the water,
then matter of fact,
not with any animus,
not out of revenge,
a final punctuation
for the slow god
of limitless perseverance,
cold-scaled leviathan,
to take and roll and roll 
until the silent ripple of
dismay which is
a crocodile’s patience.

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By Julia Strayer
Winner of the New Ohio Review Fiction Contest: selected by Madeline ffitch

Featured Art: Monte Constantino, Night by Alex Spragens

I lost her the night of the squalls, when wind raged hard enough to rip trees from the ground—my husband helping neighbors with a collapsed roof, and me with blood that wouldn’t stop and wouldn’t stop. I carried her for four months. I had imagined her face.

I walked the dark house alone, not wanting to sit, hearing crying that wasn’t mine while the moon trailed after me. I searched out the front window for my husband’s headlights because it wouldn’t feel real until I could tell him, but my breath fogged the glass, and I couldn’t see. Finally, I slept because I was too tired to do anything else.

Empty and quiet. My body. The house. Except for the walls, which were run through with mice and scratching.

They say children choose their parents. What does that say of me? What does that say?

In the wild, a wolf mother will carry a dead pup around in her mouth, showing the body to the rest of the pack, before she buries it.

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By Corinne Wohlford Mason

It was winter solstice. As day faded, 
we drove to the appointment
through our city and over the river, 
a circuitous route, the golden light
ennobling the derelict brick, the industry
of the river, the winter hawks perching
on the floodplain. The news was 
not that bad, but still, bad enough. 
We had options. We drove home 
toward one bright star against the pink 
spill of sunset. Look at this light
we kept saying. Here is a neighborhood 
we have never seen before. The sky shifted 
sapphire to black. We floated 
premises; they floated away. We would 
choose later, let the longest night 
take its time. We would do this right.

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By Kevin Boyle

As retirement began in May, I placed my little reminders 
around the house, “Every third thought shall be my grave,”
and for the first week I was dutiful, losing track of 

my lists of groceries or my dog’s empty bowl, thinking
of my grave easily a third of the time, keeping a running tab
of each idea on my phone, sometimes unsure of when

a thought might end and another begin, was the Carolina
wren’s call only one thought, and the white-throated sparrow’s another,
if so, then as I dug my garden with my rototiller 

that hurt my bones, I would certainly consider my grave
just then, the rectangle clearly a visual reminder and the soil,
only the treated lumber borders threw me off, so I thought of the pecans

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By Kevin Boyle

I missed it on holiday by a mile
or so, collapsing at hilly
Sacré-Coeur—calling out,

My hips, my knees,
my wife answering, 
My hibiscus, my hydrangea,

darling, though I wish
I had marched farther on the Parisian butte 
like a Communard, braving

it to see the song-and-dance bar beautifully
named Lapin Agile, the agile 
or nimble rabbit who would enjoy

the cruel, rugged landscape,
and while there, I’d hoist a tankard
to toast the artist Utrillo

who painted the bar a hundred times,
a thousand, always from the outside,
perhaps because he loved drink too much

and inside were the drams and drafts
and cups and absinthe, and outside 
there was weather and next door

a cemetery where he would later lie.
Perhaps it’s best for me to see the bar
framed, hanging on a wall, and not to toast,

from inside, the melancholy Utrillo—
why toast an alcoholic?—
but to focus on his focus, the repetition 

that always changes
somewhat, an idée fixe that lets you see
the seasons that are colors and leaves

or no leaves at all. I don’t need to travel
since I can see what there is to see 
(life!) here in my sleepy and flat zero-ass town.

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Job Interview: Where do you see yourself in five years?

By Carrie Shipers

If I said “Dead” you’d want me to describe
the cause and circumstances, promise 
my demise is unrelated to my work, 
which I don’t know for sure. Most days 

I’m awake to my impending doom,
but the details remain dim. “In your seat” 
would sound arrogant and also isn’t true. 
I much prefer a cubicle to losing 

my weekends or leading folks like me. 
I may be surrounded by robots, but I bet 
they’ll need a human standing by in case 
they walk into a corner and get stuck, request 

a reboot to erase having learned their tasks 
are stupid and endless. Given you’re 
a decade my senior—or else really 
fatigued—“Retired” might offend 

by rubbing in you’re nowhere close. 
Too much focus on the future strikes me 
as futile. Once the apocalypse begins, 
we’ll probably all do things we can’t 

imagine now. If I asked you the same, 
I wonder if you’d have an answer prepared, 
be flattered someone cared, or if you’d 
be upset by goals you haven’t met. 

Experience suggests I’ll be performing 
this same show for a new audience,
either because the company’s at risk 
of shutting down, or because I’m so frustrated 

I can’t bear to stay. I’m tempted to say 
“Standing on the roof,” then allow 
an awkward pause before explaining
there’s also a DJ and champagne 

to help us celebrate my latest great idea, 
which I won’t reveal until after I’m hired. 
I wish this question had come sooner 
on your list. I don’t want the words

I leave you with to ruin our rapport, 
but the longer we sit here the more 
my vision narrows to the door, 
the relief I’ll feel when I walk out of it.

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The Hiring Committee Makes Its First and Final Offer

By Carrie Shipers

Featured Art: untitled by JC Talbott

We don’t negotiate salary because we’re already certain 
what you’re worth. It may be less than you’d hoped, 
but it’s enough to live on if you’re practical. We don’t
negotiate benefits because we think you’re lucky 

to get any. The single therapist is prone to naps and lousy 
metaphors, but you’re so sad that you’ll keep going back. 
We don’t negotiate duties because the job ad was crafted 
to include everything that we don’t want to do, and then 

revised again when we got sued. Belonging to a group 
always requires sacrifices: someone has to do the dirty work 
for which no credit is received, take on difficult tasks 
where failure means you’ll probably get fired, and it’s not 

fair for you to skip your turn. We don’t negotiate 
vacation time because we’re angry it exists. You’re also 
not allowed to work from home unless you’re quarantined—
we tried it once and were so drunk by noon we answered 

our email with kitten pictures. We don’t negotiate 
office space because you’ll be assigned a cubicle, 
bottle of bleach to combat creeping mold. If you choose 
to decorate, make sure all items fit into a single banker’s box, 

which allows for ease of exit if you suddenly get fired. 
And should you have requests we haven’t covered, 
the answer’s No to those as well. We know winning 
a small concession would increase your confidence, 

make you feel truly wanted. But honestly you weren’t 
our best or favorite candidate. You were the one 
we settled for because you seemed most likely to say yes, 
and the fact that you’re still listening suggests 

we were correct. Regardless of your reasons for taking 
this job—debt, despair, misguided optimism—
we think you’ll fit in fine as long as you remember: 
We don’t negotiate because there is no need.

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Questions for the Tech Founder

By Carrie Shipers

If I said solutionism was the greatest challenge
facing us today, how many whiteboards 
might you fill before the irony hit home? 
Was your attempt to privatize the Post Office 

short-lived because it was too hard to disrupt 
real objects, or because Jeff Bezos told you 
to back off? Are you more embarrassed by 
the bubbling sinkhole stinking up your campus 

quad, the fence that fails to block its view, 
or the studies stating that the Valley’s so-called 
“pipeline problem” is merely a myth you’ve built 
around a rigged system? Given the resulting 

poor publicity, do you regret deciding to: 
use live endangered animals to illustrate ideas, 
spend millions on a bonding trip at which 
most of your staff contracted STIs and salmonella, 

compete pants-less at the all-hands sack race?
Relatedly, what percent of the lawsuits 
you’ve had to settle might’ve been avoided 
by investing in HR before a second helicopter? 

Are you aware the word “founder” also means 
to sink or fail utterly? If yes, do you ever dream 
you’re drowning and wake up afraid, 
and does this perhaps explain your interests

in sea-steading and extreme longevity? 
If I suggested several of your famous Principles, 
e.g., Be Boldly New, seem cribbed from 
other companies, would your benign 

but somewhat flat affect pivot toward rage 
so fast I’d feel dizzy? Did you agree
to this meeting in the hope that seeming
open, honest, and sincere would counteract 

your current image as a greedy genius
hooking users on their own abuse? Or because
a public busy judging your ethics, humor
and haircut is less likely to notice or object

to your real work, which is not the thing 
you’ve gotten famous for? Assuming 
the latter, are you sorrier I’ve caught on 
or flattered by the depths of my alarm?

Read More

Hair of the Dog

By James Sullivan

Featured Art: Prositabhartruka Nayika by Kripa Radhakrishnan

The kids call him Smash Dad when it happens. “Smash Dad, Smash Dad!” chant six-year-old Kevin and Kylie, voices still almost indistinguishably high- pitched. “Ha ha ha.” Robert forces a smile, squinting to repel the enemy light. I can only imagine the gouging pains and gushing nausea he describes because, while we both like to drink, only he gets these hangovers.

He’s never belligerent or weepy when he drinks. At the worst, he’s increasingly amorous, which is no trouble for me once the kids are in bed. We have a grand time, sampling this and that, lots of reds from Sonoma especially. Sometimes, even knowing what it does to him, he’ll indulge in some Californian IPAs: “Gonna let the gorilla hammer me,” he says, releasing the hop aroma. It’s one of the things that maintains the continuity of our university romance as we’ve entered the house-and-kids phase. I remember him carrying my vodka-smashed body like a bundle of loose logs after a post-exam party, performing Matrix bends to protect my head from cabinets and doorknobs. At parties a couple times a year where I choose to over-indulge, I like to relive that old marriage of tenderness and danger by making myself his unwieldy patient, the only one he takes home from the hospital. Later we sip Pedialyte in bed, and I tease him about his least favorite Beatles song (and my favorite physician, “Doctor Robert”) until our new life demands we get up and fix twin breakfasts.

But even his hangovers are atypical, never the balled-up-in-agony, stay-in- bed-all-day kind. It’s more like someone has gently popped loose his brain case, as if opening up the back of a watch, then swirled a paintbrush around in gray matter, dabbed a little of the juices over here, mixed in some tannins and grape skins, and adjusted the dial on the left, producing a new arrangement of my husband’s faculties. Picture George Martin, alcohol surgeon with a slapstick sense of humor. Parts and labor $20, rebate if you recycle the bottles.

Me, the worst I lose is some REM sleep. But Smash Dad, my remixed Robert, better a Bob in this state, he goes haywire. The man lumbers like a Sixties Toho robot (MechaDad is one of my names for this character), neck stiff and limbs clumsy like a 50-meter city destroyer. He inadvertently thumps and elbows into cupboards and door frames and hunts for the jar of pickles, cheeses and mustards and cartons of eggs spilling to the floor as he fumbles: “I know they’re in here, but they’re not in here!” I sense in these moments anger at the end of a long road of banal frustration. Like a hemorrhaged eyeball on a dopily grinning face.

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By Sydney Lea

Featured Art: Cuervo de Jupiter by Rubi Villa

Wingbeats at the window
snap me out of the torpor
of my minor springtime sorrow.

A blast of desire, not wholly
carnal, not wholly not,
suddenly overcomes me:

I’m almost 80—and lovestruck.
What can that have to do
with a cardinal’s frenzied attack

on his likeness there in the pane?
Bright bird, I see that you’re jealous
—of what? You’re at it again,

enraged. Small wonder you’re scarlet.
Listen: you’re only alone.
Aloneness. Somehow I feel it.

A small bird’s futile ardor
brings on a premonition.
My love’s in the bedroom, dear reader,

and I picture my world’s perdition.

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Halfway to Vermont

By Owen McLeod

Featured Art: Clown Hair by Emily Rogers

I tell my wife
my old friend Tom
is in the car
right under my seat in fact
she says not funny
I say I’m not joking
then reach down
and fish around
until I produce
the small blue padded envelope
that contains
the portion of Tom’s ashes
his half-brother
mailed to me from Alabama
five months ago
I explain my plan
to scatter them
on the shore
of Lake Champlain
where we’re going
to spend a week
doing nothing
it’s fair to say my wife
who grew up in China
with beliefs and customs
about death
very different from mine
freaks out at this point
and asks that I get Tom
out of the car
the sooner the better please
I take the next exit and 
look for a halfway
decent spot
but it’s just a Sunoco
in the middle
of nowhere
we pull in
and while my wife
goes inside to pee 
I walk to the edge
of the parking lot
and pour Tom’s ashes
on a struggling patch of grass
which strikes me as not
altogether inappropriate
given that Tom
spent his entire adult life 
and unable to fulfill
his great promise 
as a poet
in the few moments
I have at the edge 
of the parking lot
I try to remember
the good poems
he wrote before
he couldn’t write anything
and I feel guilty
about cutting him off
years ago
but I just couldn’t
continue watching him
drink himself to death
and it grieves me
that I never truly thanked him
for introducing me
to poetry in the first place
but it’s time
to say goodbye
so I say goodbye
to the ashes in the grass
and walk back to the car
where my wife
greets me with a hug
and a bottle of cold water
and says yuàn tā ānxí may
he rest in peace
and then to the sky
above the Sunoco sign 
thank you
thank you
thank you

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The Exaltation

By Ronald Okuaki Lieber

In dry season in equatorial Chad, the Sahel is so hot the soil
Chars to red dust, the grass to a blond bristle, heat bearing down like affliction

And because the land blisters and coastal Africa is forested, humid and cool, air Is
Sucked easterly, darkening the horizon with fury into which a man, tending

The village flock stares, a wave so sudden and massive the Dogon has little time
To corral the sheep before the air erupts with stinging needles. The storm

Sweeps across the continent until in the Atlantic thunderheads and wind
Marry the doldrums, and a hurricane is born. Its updraft plunges the ocean, and swells

Spiral westward across the open sea to loom large on 
Beaches lining the American Eastern seaboard as in Montauk Long Island where surfers

Scan the near horizon for the shadowed lines their kind read. It’s what they have prepared for 
The summer afternoons and cool September dawns before work, that one stirring

Pitched perfect just where a surfer waits, and he paddles to catch the lip, a chthonic uprise
Heaving him high to which he surrenders, riding the rollinglevel underneath

Into rapture that I as a ten-year-old in the thick of the Ozarks heard in the treetops
Swaying back and forth, a thousand miles away. The shepherd stokes the charcoal

Embers with dry twigs, the surfer packs his board, and the hurricane makes landfall
In Kill Devil Hills, splintering wooden homes. I am joined.

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Fearfully & wonderfully

By Stacey Forbes

Featured Art: The Blues by Abby Pennington

My preacher brother
free-climbs and fishes 
the ocean in small boats.
Once, in a kayak, he caught a
young blacktip shark.
The two of them thrashed
like an angel wrestling 
with flesh and my brother’s
thigh was wounded. A hook
in the mouth hurts, too.
He knew the angel
in the story wasn’t him.
He felt the weight
of original prayer in his hands
and released it. My brother
doesn’t run from pain.
Holiness hurts sometimes, 
he says. Just enough to wake
you. To make youremember
you swallowed a spark
on the day you were born.
We are light, chasing light.
Follow the hawk
that follows the sparrow.
We are called to walk
with all that hums and howls
and crows on the earth.
Joy is not made
gently. Imagine the fury
and beauty of flight.
Imagine swimming
in warm, dark bodies
of water with stingrays
and cottonmouth snakes.
My brother has done this
and more with his sons.
He touches the holy and
the holy touches him.
Nothing that lives can dig
the divine from its heart.
I have a picture
of my brother on a climb
where he came very close
to falling. He hung 
there, fear and wonder
alive in his eyes, 
laughing over the black-
foot daisies and butterfly weed
four hundred feet down.
Dangling from the face of God.

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A Blueprint for Escape

By Anna Farro Henderson

Featured Art: Pomodori by Nina Battaglia

The Italian smells of mint and chocolate, but when I blink my eyes open there is only the Midwest sun. While it’s dawn here, it’s siesta for him. Champagne bubbles up my spine—I’m sure a message awaits me.

In my sleep I had kicked off the sheets and thrown my T-shirt off. Rob doesn’t believe in air conditioning. It lets you go on as if there aren’t seasons. The humidity in our bedroom has the weight and press of a crowd without the fun and excitement of a concert. I blink at the thought of smashing into and exchanging air with strangers. While the initial lockdown lifted in June, the world has largely stayed on pause.

I roll over to watch for the slight rise and fall of Rob’s chest. Nothing. I pull a feather from the duvet he sleeps with and hold it under his nose. No quickening. Julie tells me, in our daily calls, that I’m crazy. But I swear he has no heartbeat either. I design cardiac medical devices for a living, and Rob’s vital signs baffle me.

In graduate school, Rob and I raced our bikes around city lakes. We’d fall into the grass and make out. I pressed my head to his chest, delighting in the booming announcement of him over and over. Now we ration flour and toilet paper. The least important of supply chain problems, but the most immediate in our house.

The hallway is dark, and I feel my way through the house. I expect the air on the deck to be fresh, but it is like stepping into an open mouth. The heat will build until we reach the right level of violence when, finally, the sky darkens, tornado sirens shriek, and, as if punctured by a bullet, the humidity shatters into a crackling light show. Most of summer is build up—the dramatic storms are rare moments of punctuation.

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By Ken Holland
Winner of the New Ohio Review Poetry Contest: selected by Kim Addonizio

Featured Art: Unresolved by Lucy Osborne

It’s not that the sane are sane
and we need talk no more about it . . .
it’s more the question of how insanity hasn’t run rampant.

Please, if I may be an example:

If I were given the choice to suffer in poverty,
or suffer fleeing that poverty,
I would simply say, No thank you.

Or this: if, as the animists believe, even stones have souls,
you’d be mad to think about chain gangs
and what they do with sledgehammers.

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Betwixt and Between

By Ken Holland

My friend and I stopped in a bar
we maybe shouldn’t have stopped in,
but we were on the way from here
to there and decided to pull off the road
somewhere in-between.

Somewhere in-between has its own charm
being a space where letters don’t get written,
and bills don’t get paid, and old lovers
just get older for all the time you get to ignore them.

A beer and a little space in-between you and
your friend who’s in the same in-between space
as you are, ignoring all the same things
you’re ignoring.

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The House, the Russian, and the Dying

By Raphael H. Kosek

Featured Art by Felicity Gunn

The House

The house, my mother’s house next door lay fallow over two years—the inner air still and musty, grass carpeting the gravel drive. What happens to a house where no people move about inside, breathe its air, circulate its dust? It exists as a museum of quarters suddenly vacated—blankets on the bed, water in the kettle, dishes left to be put away, mail to be opened. Two years ago my mother had a spinal implant for pain that went wrong. Her pain multiplied. She couldn’t walk at all, so she went from hospital to nursing home to assisted living. And the house languished. The carcasses of ladybugs littered the upstairs. Reluctantly I discontinued the phone, cancelled the cable TV. Her house, next door to mine, haunted me like a ghost.

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Mother Standing in the Atlantic

By Eben E. B. Bein

Featured Art: First and Never-ending Painting by Connaught Cullen

Once the ferry to Provincetown
cleared the neck, the headlands
decorated with lighthouses,
and it whipped along at some
impressive number of knots—
I do not know how much
speed is in a knot but
let’s just say she carried me
at a spate of knots—
toward some dark shape
in the middle of the ocean
no island to be seen,
it finally resolved:
a lighthouse
standing alone in the roil
searching the ocean
on her one long and rusted leg.

I had assumed all lighthouses
were mothers
come to call their children in,
leaning on their rocky fences,
getting cold, muttering
It’s an island—how far
could they possibly get?

Far. And who would
keep looking. I do not know
what kind of hope
I’m allowed.

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Looking Through My Mother’s Dresser as a Child

By Joyce Schmid

Featured Art: Yeats’ Hill by Connaught Cullen

I found a small six-sided box
inlaid with moonlight, glints of rainbow—a
small anomaly of radiance.

Mother-of-pearl, my mother said,
the word itself a wonder—

mother made of pearl/mother of a pearl—
pearl-mother and pearl-daughter—one.

Her father’s gift to her—
her father, dead.

Can I have it when you die?

She gave it to me there and then—at eight—
a year before she finally forgave me

for being born in wartime, colicky and premature,
my father stationed in St. Paul.
When she joined him there,

I’d become a stepchild in her heart.

I didn’t want the treasure yet.
I needed it to still be hers—

a stash of startling beauty
I could rummage for and find

those suburb-summer afternoons
with grief-dust falling
over beige-gray furniture and floors,

time lolling hot and humid over everything,
and beauty the only place to go.

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Dandelion Is The New Guru

By Lisa Bellamy

Featured Art: i.fragility. by Ahneka Campbell

I am exhausted by my confusion,
wary of sudden fires,
but dandelions, it seems, have dug in
for the long haul, and to them
I offer 10,000 bows—
I witness the indignities they endure,
the insults (weed, useless stem,
filthy stalk). I admire
their stand against savagery, poisons,
brutal mowing; stalwart
resistance of the taproots.
I lie among them, listen
to their whispers: we will not be moved.

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Ode to My Minivan

By Cassie Burkhardt

Featured Art: Drive Time by Abby Pennington

You are slightly shorter than a Boston Whaler but just as difficult to park. When we’ve piled three kids in you and Frozen II’s going on the DVD, we might as well head Into the Unknown, which is what every day of parenting feels like anyway.

You are so roomy my children could Irish stepdance comfortably inside you, and so filthy cheddar Goldfish could spawn from your cupholders or several strains of bacteria from their stinky feet, socks thrown at me while I’m driving. You are useless in cities, rain and snow. In fact, you cannot drive over a single snowflake without completely breaking down into a ditch two feet from the sledding hill.

When your automatic doors slide open, people line up for bao buns from what looks like a popup restaurant, but instead, out fall woodchips and half-eaten lunches, an entire soccer team, faces smeared with chocolate ice cream ready to decapitate the other team with their ponytails.

O minivan, your behemoth shape is literally the definition of uncool and people burst out laughing when they see you in relation to me—someone who used to be cool—someone who went to NYU, once stayed up past ten, wore tight jumpsuits to underground clubs in Paris circa I can’t remember and yet, you fit seven humans comfortably. We wedge scooters, coolers, suitcases, relatives, boogie boards, hopes and dreams, pets, stick collections, and an entire folded-up trampoline in you on a pretty regular basis.

You are a superior flu-season-nose-blowing-bunker.

One seat of you is removable to allow for side-of-the-road dining, a triage room, parking lot naps, breastfeeding marathons, poop diaper explosions and mental breakdowns.

Your front headlight? Smashed into an innocent column just minding its own business in the parking garage where I park every day because I was drinking coffee and throwing apple slices into the backseat while driving.

You have been keyed.

Just kidding, that was me again. I swiped you against a metal post upon exiting the environmental center while queuing a Cookie Monster song on Spotify.

(Did I mention this van is a boat?)

Did I mention we have survived three fender-benders, the soul-sucking school dropoff procedure, that you have popcorn and sand in every crevice, that being a mom is so underrated and hard and thankless and infinite, but also kind of hilarious, even noble if you just embrace it?

That maybe minivans are magic carpets and the horizon is getting closer.

You are a so-called Sport version of nobody cares. You are a complete and total embarrassment. And when I say I hate you, you know what I mean.

I can’t imagine life without you. I can’t wait for life without you. My next car will be a vintage Porsche Carrera, or a slim Italian bicycle, or a speck of dust.

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Our Trouble

By David Hansen

With my sister, a lean, hard girl who looks like our mother, I discuss my trouble. When I’ve said it all, we talk about money.

“Just let me help,” I say.

“You are helping,” says my sister. “Let me help more,” I say.

Now my sister fishes a roach out of a tiny bowl from which I, as a little girl, ate ice cream, and says, “You’ve changed the subject.”

“Have I?” I say.

“Yes,” she says. “We were talking about you. Whenever we talk about you, you try to talk about me instead.”

“I don’t think that’s true,” I say. “But very well. What about me?” She asks me whether I will do a certain thing about my trouble. “Oh, I don’t know,” I say.

In truth I will not do this thing, but I will come close. I will come so close that I cannot speak of this thing, even now.

My sister lights the roach and draws a gentle breath from it, leading it back into this life. Then she offers the roach to me.

“But should I?” I say. “Probably not,” says my sister.

“I must warn you,” I say, accepting the roach, “that this will make me a mite dreamy.”

When we are both afloat my sister tells me of the business with her landlord, a bad situation she has only made worse by taking him to bed. I ask her how much she pays now. She tells me.

“For this?!” I say, but in truth, I adore this little place, with its seasoned hardwood and its hideous angels sculpted into the cornices.

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Our Grandmother

By Kari Gunter-Seymour

twisted silver-streaked strands
into a knot, pinned at the tip of her crown,
draped her bird-bones in crossback aprons
cut from calico, sewn on a pump pedal Singer,
bought brand-new just after the war,

baked flaky scratch biscuits from
White Lily flour, spoonfuls
of lard, a pinch of salt and sass,
danced the flatfoot clog around
an old wringer washer,
employed on Mondays without fail,

wielded a scythe and hoe
good as any man, grew cabbages
big as watermelons,
drew us maps, where we came from,
patchworks of bloodroot, furled fierce
along the face of the Appalachians,

orphaned us, laid out
under a pine branch blanket,
a rough-chiseled stone.
Daffodils regretted their unfurling.
Redbuds wept purple pearls,
the fields so bare they grew voices.

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Mysterious Ways

By Kari Gunter-Seymour

Featured Art by Ross Di Penti

Nine weeks, no monthlies,
my body a nestling’s perch,
a tremoring tree, leaning

into a southeaster, hard luck
and poverty licking red-hot
flames against my bent back.

I scrimped, saved, still forty dollars
short of the cash I’d need to set
me and that little bird free.

No stranger to a bowed head,
I got straight to the appeal, laid out
my endgame and trading points.

The Lord coughed up two twenties
by way of a birthday card, sent postage due
from my granny, who wrote at length

about her late-night vision.
She saw me old, alone in the dark,
crying out for some little bird.

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Breaking the Silence: Abortion and Knowledge in Summer and Weeds

By Jana Tigchelaar

While bodily autonomy and individual privacy are phrases commonly associated with the current discussion of reproductive rights in the U.S., the key term for understanding the culture of abortion starting in the late nineteenth century is knowledge, according to Kristin Luker in Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood. As legal exceptions to the ban on abortion rested on a physician’s determination of medical necessity, abortion became the privileged ground of the doctor whose medical license gave him the sole ability to decide when abortion was medically justified. In other words, by the late nineteenth century, abortion became a question of who could lay claim to this specialized knowledge, and who could exercise their authority based on it. Luker calls this era from the 1880s until Roe v. Wade in 1973 “The Century of Silence” because while the medical community determined the necessity of abortion care, they also dominated the public narrative about abortion.

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Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: Birth Without the Gendered Body

By Rebecca Richardson

Featured Art by Steve Mowrey

In his review of Frankenstein, Sir Walter Scott defended the novel’s “philosophical and refined use of the supernatural.” Here was a novel that altered “the laws of nature” not to “[pamper] the imagination” but to illustrate “the probable effect which the supposed miracles would produce on those who witnessed them.” The reviewer for Knight’s Quarterly Magazine agreed. “Frankenstein is, I think, the best instance of natural passions applied to supernatural events that I ever met with. Grant that it is possible for one man to create another, and the rest is perfectly natural and in course.”

This way of stating the novel’s premise—“Grant that it is possible for one man to create another”—can seem, like the novel itself, to elide the fact that Victor Frankenstein is reinventing a wheel. To be sure, there are distinctions: this is an asexual reproduction process that depends on the spare parts from the dissecting room and slaughterhouse, and the new being isn’t an infant but an adult of gigantic stature. But despite his size, the Creature starts off, in mind and spirit, as an infant, a blank slate to be written on by his experiences.

Despite what might seem an obvious analogy for reproduction and birth, it would take until Ellen Moers’s work in the 1970s for Frankenstein to be widely interpreted as a “birth myth.” For evidence, Moers pointed to the material of Mary Shelley’s lived experiences: Shelley knew that her own birth had caused the death of her mother, she became pregnant at sixteen after running away with Percy Bysshe Shelley, and, during her time with him (before and after their official marriage), she was continually dealing with pregnancy, miscarriage, childrearing, and the loss of children. Despite these parallels, it had taken around 150 years and a couple waves of feminist thought for Frankenstein to be read as a Gothic analogy for pregnancy, childbirth, and the aftermath.

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Monstrous Body Horror in Transition: Gretchen Felker-Martin’s Manhunt and Jeanette Winterson’s Frankisstein

By Emrys Donaldson

When I consider being pregnant myself, I imagine Sigourney Weaver from the original Alien: a wet head emerging, its teeth bared, as I scream and scream. What for others may evoke joy and anticipation for me evokes fear. In Gretchen Felker-Martin’s 2021 horror novel Manhunt, pregnancy itself becomes a kind of body horror as testosterone turns people into sex-crazed zombies bent on cannibalism. A fertility specialist explains the process to a wealthy patient: “When they [the changed men] impregnate a victim, the baby is XY. No variation. It undergoes viral metamorphosis in utero and eats its way out of the mother at three or four months. A few hours later, it can hunt for itself. In a year, it’s sexually mature.” Gossip tells of “a woman in Vermont whose boy twins had eaten their way out of her.” In this science-fiction world, pregnancy is not only dangerous for all the usual reasons, but also because a zombified fetus might eat its way through the abdominal wall (just like in Alien). Abortion access saves lives. To abort, in this world, is to avoid being eaten from the inside out. Yet in the post-apocalyptic world of Manhunt, as in the twenty-first century United States, abortion access varies widely and depends on the pregnant person’s financial and social resources.

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Getting It Behind Them

By Wendy Rawlings

Featured Art by Steve Mowrey

For men, it’s almost always about solving a problem. “We’ll be fine afterward. Just like we were before,” the male character in Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” tells his girlfriend Jig. In Matt Klam’s 1997 short story, “There Should Be a Name for It,” the male narrator says of his girlfriend’s abortion, “This was her show. Soon it would finally be over.”

Of course (though maybe this isn’t as obvious as it should be), for women, it’s not over once the pregnancy is terminated. There are the lingering effects on the body as it recovers, days lost from work, stress from lies told to family or friends. There’s the money needing to be earned to replace the money the abortion cost. There might be ways the abortion shifted the woman’s relation- ship with her boyfriend or husband, or ways she was affected if the man who constituted the other half of the act that led to pregnancy wasn’t a boyfriend or husband. She might not have known or liked him very much. He might have raped her. And then there’s the cultural taboo against abortion; that, too, is in bed with the woman as she recovers.

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