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March 12, 2019

The door to my bedroom squeaked open on its own my first morning living in Chicago. It moved slowly. The noise wasn’t that loud—just enough to wake me up. The room was small; the bed, just big enough. I’d be close to anyone or anything wavering through the door. It was July 2015. I’d been in Logan Square less than twenty-four hours. Driving the two and a half hours from Central Illinois, where I h...

February 27, 2019

The first poem I ever wrote—besides a few I wrote in a yellow notebook by hand in the sixth grade, that were really little more than reconstituted song lyrics—came to mind in my junior year of high school, in A.P. Biology. It was the last week of classes, and I think Mr. Leather had run out of lesson plans (all these years later, as a teacher now, I can empathize). He had sent us out onto the scho...

February 19, 2019

Walk Five

Lately, I walk in pools. I call it swimming; I say, “I’m going swimming,” but mostly I walk. I wear a vintage-style swim cap, robin’s-egg blue with cream strap at my chin; a blue racerback one-piece suit; lavender water shoes; clear goggles; and a waterproof mp3 player that tucks behind my ears, hugging my neck. I walk through the water with foam weights and listen to short stories. Debor...

February 15, 2019

     I used to believe that successful poems were like steel nails—confident in their content and form; sturdy enough to be hammered in without warping—but Eric Smith’s debut collection Black Hole Factory shows that there is another possibility. His poems are not nails, but rather hypodermic needles which he uses to inject his readers with language, fear, truth, confusion, love, heartbreak, a...

February 13, 2019

I’ve never been good at playing video games. A child of the original Nintendo system, I remember playing each subsequent edition. I remember playing as Mario and whenever I jumped from platform to platform, I didn’t always make it. I wanted to so badly I kept failing and failing.

My younger brother and I played all the time. We fought sometimes over who would get to play. Sometimes our mother would...

February 12, 2019

I’ve never been good at revision.  In fact, it’s always been a mystery to me, and I never saw how a writer took something apart and then put it back together, still cohesive, maybe even more so.  One writing teacher told me that in revision is power, maybe the only power a writer could ever have, because here is where she gets to be deliberate.  But for me, I had no access to that power, because I...

February 5, 2019

Here’s my story. It’s all about survival. — Madonna, “Survival”

It started simply enough. The week before Christmas, I worked a fifty-six-hour workweek. Six days. I’ve done it before with little problem other than being tired. However, this time, I couldn’t sleep between my night shift and my early morning shift; I ended up not sleeping at all for three days.     

          Then the c...

January 30, 2019

When the ambulance doors opened up, sunlight fell in, too bright and caustic and nothing like the warmth I mourn each fall, just a little bit and then more fervently with winter’s gray advent. When that day rushed back at me, there in the belly of the ambulance, I blinked and blinked, and though an oxygen mask was tied over my mouth, I struggled to breathe. I was hurt, badly. I think now of the gl...

January 23, 2019

Walk Four

For the last month, I have been living in winter. I usually live in milder Georgia where I am finishing my PhD program but have returned to my parents’ house in Michigan during holiday break. Lately, I have been retreating to their house for all of my breaks—doing, as a 33-year-old woman, what my parents wished I had done as a 19-year-old. They live on a small inland lake and there are fe...

January 16, 2019

When the weather is fair, the Beauregarde-Salts will sometimes take a long walk with their giant schnauzer, Peg. Peg and Violet are nine and sixty-five years old, respectively. Veruca, senior-most of this odd bunch, has just turned sixty-six. For two thirds of each year, they live together in a 3,000 square-foot solar powered earth house in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The other third they...

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