Jane Austen in Egg Harbor [poem] by Stephen Dunn

In search of the right place she’d taken the local that makes its way through South Jersey towns, twenty or so passengers aboard in motley dress, all minding their different manners. A small train, just two cars, one class, carrying many classes, she mused, ever the anthropologist. And she thought of extravagance and self-denial, her …

Too Late [story] by Dani Sandal

Oh it had all been so tragic. The way they sat there in the pews with their grandparents, patient and lady-like. Their fannies going numb. Olive in her 3-D glasses and blown-out overalls; Prue in her short skirt and glossy white Go-Go boots. Goobers melting in their pockets. Olive, touching Prue’s boots every chance she …

Charm School [poem] by Catherine Doty

Back when I thought any good kisser was a shaman, I needed a dog to center and to calm me—not some ukulele of a specimen stuffed in a dress, but a solid, bow-legged side-kick of mutt, one who could handle an open door and a pig ear and set a good example, one who never …

The Road Atlas [essay] by Daniel Torday

1. Baltimore, MD  >> Sun Valley, ID, Summer, 1998 Mid-June. Pick up Then-Girlfriend/Now-Wife from airport, where T-GF/N-W returning from year in Dakar. Plan: in Grandpa’s old 1993 Nissan Maxima, pick up two Old Friends in Baltimore, drive to Tuscaloosa to pick up college friend in Tuscaloosa, drive through Ozarks, drive to Vail, drive through Independence …

Miniatures [story] by Lee Upton

I would turn thirty-five in another month and the class was at a community college and so I thought I wouldn’t be the oldest, given that it was a night class, but everyone was so young and serious already. Years ago when I was those students’ age I took a course in decoupage at this …

Voices [essay] by Raima Evan

It was 1982, and I was three years out of college, working as a temporary secretary while doing voice-overs in New York. Feeling adrift and tired of the uncertainty of the voice-over world, I applied for a part-time job transcribing tapes for a psychiatrist who was studying post-traumatic stress disorder. Arriving for my interview, I …

Radium Springs [poem] by Sheila Black

Dry draw where the water tastes of talc. He sets a trailer on a hill- side and tells her it should feel like home. He wants to raise horses—some picture of flying feet and manes whipping in desert wind. But really he is uncomfortable riding, really he leaves the stallion behind to dash against the …

Bone-house [poem] by Anne Kaier

Saint Jerome ponders near an ancient skull, polished like a vase. Something to symbolize mortality. Does he scrub his thumb across the jagged edges of the nose meditating on his likely death, or does he just pat the thing, admiring the way its curves complement a water jug? If death is your familiar, it may …

Fear [essay] by Seema Reza

I had my first nightmare when I was four. I had the chickenpox and dreamed that Raggedy Ann and Andy came over to play and knocked over the fishbowl. I have a nightmare that someone is following me in a car as I’m walking on a bridge. I run, but can’t get away. I know …

Iodinical [story] by KT Browne

Iodine skips the liquid phase on its way to a gas; it streaks from whole to multitudes then, without a fluid bridge between. At the moment of its boil, iodine mists oddly purple. Thereafter, its particles thin and wisp and stand displaced amongst airspace, vaporous and otherwise invisible apart from the stark contours of every …

A Memoir [essay] by Gene Berson

A pattern of dingy beige brown and green linoleum, cold heater grate screening a draft from dense black rectangles, which lead to “under the house”; my father, high above me, the ceiling light reflected in his glasses, arguing defensively with my mother who was exclaiming: “Rats! Rats! You moved me to a house with rats!?” …

Poem for an Ex by Sheila Black

I resisted accusing you, because I was guilty, too—rewriting you to make you fit, and don’t we all play such tricks with the “story of our lives?” Yet unlike Muriel Spark, who once remarked no character of hers could so much cross a street without her willing it, you keep doing whatever you like. What …

Running Up that Hill [story] by Bill GIllard

He wanted to be the first one up the hill, just this once, after all those years of second place in every race and every game, but the darkness of the woods slowed him down. He tripped over a fallen branch, and thought, you don’t have to be swimming in the middle of the lake …

Pantoum for Playing Outside His Margins [poem] by Catherine Carson

She wants him to be happy in his life, so she tells him he can go. She plays outside his margins, sleeps on his side of the bed. She tells him he can go, finding comfort in vodka and swimming pools. She sleeps on his side of the bed, stares at the middle of her …

Edge [poem] by Sheila Black

You get weary of the pod of stars, of the words for bruise that resemble flowers. This is a drier country. It holds what has been for years; I can see your fingerprints on the ghost town glass, blown thick from sand, some kind of ordinary miracle of heat; smeared with mud, the faces behind …

A Death in Venice [story] by Jon Sindell

The first part of summer we three males of three generations spent solely on the sand, for the churning white surf was straight out of Scrap’s nightmares. In its own way, the sand was out of his real nightmares, for quicksand was one of many natural terrors that still haunted the mother-abandoned seven-year-old’s dreams—along with …

The Woods [poem] by Edward Palumbo

THE WOODS near me are thick with brush and shrubs and the dog gets in there sometimes when he escapes out the sliders and then it is a waiting game i stand outside the woods and stare at him he stands in the brier and stares at me and he always does it at the …

Operator [poem] by JD DeHart

My aunt Sheila was an operator In the old days when you picked up Said, Operator, and she would be There, passing out advice She would manually unplug a wire Then plug it in another location To establish connection There are stories of operators Listening in on the affairs of politicians JFK comes to mind …

EZ Bake [poem] by Catherine Doty

A pie the size of an eye patch, cakes like checkers: the EZ Bake oven starts you out so small what you make is a sniff and a bite and barely that. What drives it is a light bulb: a mere idea, but you want to bake, want to fist and wrestle dough and slather …

Nests [poem] by Laura Eppinger

Being from where we are being white trash river rat being mechanic’s hands basement second home and dregs at coffee pot bottom being fermented feast the links of meat on church basement long afternoon, or beer cans for home team home game means you never stray far, for long. Being grandmother’s fine china set, strong …

For the Swan at White Rock [poem] by Robin Turner

I visit you at sunset for weeks on end, memorize your slender neck, each movement— slow white grace on our mud-thick lake. Bright apparition from the root of dusk, you have seamed yourself to the liquid lining of my vision, dreamed your body into mine. There in the space between sleep and waking you float— …

Jill, July [poem] by Catherine Harnett

How should I feel riding in the front seat of Bo’s red truck, right next to him, Johnny Cash on the radio, watching how he puts his left arm out the window, redder and more freckled than the right one. I am only twelve, but I notice things like that, look at him when he …

Maria [poem] by Catherine Doty

She rises from a nap in the dark apartment. Rain quickens, the black glass gives her back herself, her emptiness filling the frame. She opens the window to cool her hands in the rain and the ghost of the headache that sent her to bed crooks a finger. The medicines she would be well without …

The Affair [poem] by Stephen Dunn

Just when it seemed his marriage had settled into sleepy comforts and an occasional boost from a blue pill, he learned what the luckiest of adulterers come to know: you don’t need some large dissatisfaction to motivate an affair, some overarching complaint. A door would open in a faraway city; inside, everything felt like its …