The Lesson of Pain: Lessen the Pain

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

“The Marrow of Zen,” one of the sutras of Shunryu Suzuki’s book, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, relates zen practitioners to four horses, with the fourth horse responding only after the pain of the whip penetrates to the marrow of its bones. If alcoholics need to hit rock bottom, I have some sense of what that means. I read Zen Mind, …

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Sun Fungus

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

I haven’t said my skin is ash. I hyperpigment where the band of my sports bra rests, where a racer back runs rigid between my blades, where my favorite strand of pearls wants to lay. I sliver tiny shavings of my skin where these polka-dots amass. I fragment, and I flake, but I fold myself in scarves and sweatshirts so …

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Rochelle Shapiro

Editor back-issues, nonfiction, poetry

The Dying Sister   You fell in slo-mo like a mimosa petal caught in a small breeze, sprawling, nearly soundless, on our parents’ speckled linoleum. I, five years younger, didn’t know you held your breath to make yourself faint. I didn’t know you’d whittled yourself down to taut skin over sharp bones by spitting meals into your napkin. I cried …

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Johanna Lane

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

To the Man Who Was to Be My Gardening Companion for Fifty Years You used to love that I see the fierce beauty in a little chaos. I first cleared that web of woodiness cautiously. I pruned instead of hacked the curious entanglement of Greenbrier and Wisteria. The roots seemed to reach as deep as our own. Coiled arms weaved …

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KFC

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

‘Time to count it out,” said Tommy the gay black manager. I always liked Tommy, he was not stupid, he was good to us and not needy or demanding. The black girls started counting out the chicken pieces and talking shit as usual, I listened in because they were blunt and funny. Some of them didn’t mind pocketing money from …

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New Brunswick, By Way of Oakland City Center Bart

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

27 February 2013. She said: Gentlemen, excuse me, gentlemen. Gentlemen. You’re such nice looking gentlemen. Gentlemen. I don’t mean to bother. All I have to give you [rustle of a plastic bag] is this flashlight. Gentlemen. I’m a pastor. I’m Pastor Patricia Smith. This is a high crime area. I was just beat down the other day. I’m the victim …

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How to Steal a Storm

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

In the beginning the air was cold and sweet like a backwards mausoleum. Cameron said this was the kind of sky you could drink, and then the wind picked up soft-armed and rolling. Listen: the rain rhythmic bent and streaming. The rain forming a film. I talked about half-truths and we couldn’t count how many clouds were in the sky …

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Soap Scum

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

My father bought rounds of shaving soap wrapped in crinkled pastel paper and stored them in the bathroom drawer. When I was small enough to perch on the counter, I’d watch him wet a caramel-colored brush, swirl the bristles around a mug of soap, and paint his face with the froth. I loved the squelch of the bristles, the hollow …

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To The Mountains

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

Driving up a curvy incline, all that mattered was the beautiful sunshine which illuminated my rough, grey booster seat. Out the window I saw endless hues of forest green and muted browns that looked like my aged dinner table. Everything in the woods; the trees and faint noises of birds emanated a deep ingrained feeling of my own belonging. As …

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July

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

The brightest star in the constellation Cancer is beta Cancri, or as it is commonly referred to, Al Tarf.  The biggest bruise was just above my collar bone on the left side.           The second brightest star is Arkushanangarushashutu, the longest name of all stars in the galaxy.  It means, “the southeast star in the crab.”  It is sometimes referred …

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Grandma Scott’s Funeral

Editor back-issues, Jack Swenson, nonfiction

Everybody called her Grandma Scott, but Eliza Scott (nee Lingstad) was nobody's grandmother. The Scotts didn't have children. Eliza was the eldest of three sisters, and she treated her younger siblings' offspring with grandmotherly affection. My mother fondly recalled spending several weeks each year at the Scott farm helping to tend and feed the animals and taking baskets of food and water to the fields for the threshing crews at harvest time. She and her older sister Nora helped Grandma Scott make the sandwiches for the noon meal for the workers. And every morning she and Nora were dispatched to the barn to search for eggs deposited in secret places by the Scott's brood of laying hens. My mother said there was nothing like having fresh eggs for breakfast. Eliza's sugar cookies, as big as dinner plates, were a special treat as well.

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The Skylight

Editor back-issues, nonfiction

When the weather was nice, sometimes the boys in the art department would eat their lunches on the roof of the building. It was pleasant to be outside in the fresh air and sunshine after being cooped up in the cubicles all morning. For a time, the roof was the place to be from twelve o'clock until one, especially after Shuffle discovered the hole in the skylight over the fourth-floor women's powder room. Shuffle was a big, happy-go-lucky Jewish kid from New York. He never ran when he could walk and seldom walked when he could sit still. When he did move, it was very slowly.

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