Author’s Note: During the pandemic, I wrote roughly 60 poems about Betty; it was interesting to be so absorbed in her world. She is a person of marginal means living in an occupied village somewhere in the rural United States sometime in the future. Betty’s background is similar to mine, but she is hardier and more realistic. In this poem, she is reviewing her physical inheritance and the lives of her relatives... [Continue Story]
Author’s Note: "Song, Luminescence" comes from the unheard words that came one morning, long after Dad had died in Florida, and Mother in Oregon. I was sitting out back, very early one morning, when I ... [Continue Story]
Editor’s Note: The best “flash” or very short nonfiction connects with readers on several levels by compressing writing, inviting one’s imagination to expand meanings and feelings from the author’s evocative words. Billie Pritchett’s piece is a compelling example.
Author’s Note: In this story, I try to capture a little of what it was like when I was a boy growing up poor in western Kentucky. Material poverty created in me a poverty of psychology. Now I know the only way to combat the poverty mindset is whatever pride I can muster and proximity to good people. Father never discovered the second option for himself, unfortunately.
Author’s Note: I thought the best way to capture the Insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021, was to make the day’s most famous headgear a narrator for the event. This is the first (and only) poem that I have written from the viewpoint of a hat. A class taught by Maryland poet Ann Quinn inspired me. [Continue Story]
Author’s Note: I write a lot about relationships, love, and other mysterious events, so perplexing events and issues interest me. Zen is perfect for that, of course, since the koan is, by definition, a paradox that illustrates how inadequate logic is. Its contemplation is seen as a vehicle toward enlightenment. The jumbled state of emotion, the complications of being and the bodily state—its flesh and consciousness—to me, these are related and ultimately unfathomable, but as a poet, I must try. [Continue Story]
Author’s Note: As an East Coast suburban boy, light pollution meant I never saw the Milky Way until a trip out West. Our children were getting older, soon to college and busy lives, and only my wife had ever been to the southwest, so we planned a trip for December 2018. That moment—to try to put into words what it means to look up and be dazzled, even when you intellectually know what you’re going to see—still fills me with wonder. [Continue Story]
Author’s Note: I wrote (this story) during the peak of the Covid epidemic. Everyone was baking bread. At the same time, I read two newspaper articles which intrigued me. One was about a “starter” museum that housed old sourdough starters. Another article suggested that some of these starters contained the DNA of the original bakers. I spent a few days researching the Gold Rush, Theodore Roosevelt, and the history of women’s rights in Wyoming. Then I was off and running…...[Continue Story]
Writer’s Note: In this poem, I imagine my future dying process, hopefully “years from now,” surrounded by quiet, love, nature, and music. The scene is borrowed from a real place, Commonweal Retreat Center in Bolinas, California, where many have found solace and healing. The poem has since been included in my chapbook “A Doctor Only Pretends: Poems about illness, death, and in-between” and reviewed by poet Matthew Lippman in Tikkun Magazine...[Continue Story]
Author’s Note: “Fried Chicken, 1981” is a portrait of my mother when I was a child. I wanted to say her name the way her mother said her name. I wanted to capture the way she spoke and her mannerisms. I wanted to acknowledge her youthfulness in the context of aging. I wanted to point to the everyday experience of expressing love and care by making dinner. And of course, I wanted to write down how she made fried chicken.....[Continue Story]
Author’s Note: I spend a great deal of my writing wondering about and exploring masculinity; here, I wanted to look at the idea that “men don’t cry” and really twist that around to ask questions about the value of emoting. As a queer writer, I’m also always trying to examine what it’s like to feel islanded outside of the world of heteronormativity, and when those two things came together, this story emerged...[Continue Story]