End of the Dog Days

End of the Dog Days
by Karen Eileen Sikola 

There is a picture in my mind, of a man with no shirt, his belly taut, his skin burnt from the sun, which reflects off his bald head. In his hand is one of those plastic wands that chucks tennis balls as far as the stream flows between our facing townhouses and Hardy Pond. At his feet is a red-nosed pit bull named Reddy, his tongue dripping in anticipation, his eyes awaiting the next throw.

There is another picture in my mind, of a man with no shirt, his belly heaving, his skin splattered with blood, which runs down from a gash on his bald head. In his hand is a kitchen knife, and at his feet, a woman who always welcomed me home, her eyes awaiting the final blow.

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Epitaph for Steve Cannon

Strong as the base of a mountain | There’s no countin’ | How many MCs have sprung from my fountain
– Rza, from Biochemical Equation

 

Looking back at the date and time when Steve Cannon died, I was reading a hefty tome titled A Poet’s Glossary, a section with entries for Elegy, Encomium, Endecha, Epicedium, Epitaph, and Epode. Steve telling me through cosmic avenues that he was dying or had died? Maybe.

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Personal Essay

Personal Essay
by Grace Elliott

 

I am trying to learn how to write personal essays. For years, I have struggled with how to write true stories about myself. I worry about the lack of special in my life, the lack of event. 

“The point is not the events,” I tell myself now as I try to learn how to write essays. “The point is the frame.”

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Of Rats and Men

Of Rats and Men
by Luna Adler

On the eve of Thanksgiving, you open your front door to find a dead rat sprawled in the middle of the sidewalk. The animal resembles a half-smashed piñata, shapely but definitely battered, with blood leaking from its body. Sure, you believe yourself to be handy—you know the difference between a Phillips head screwdriver and a slot head and, to the chagrin of everyone who loves you, have never been afraid to mess with a few electrical wires. But you have major issues with vermin and in the past your boyfriend would have dealt with it. Now, three months after your break-up, there are less than 24 hours before your mother arrives for Thanksgiving dinner and a giant rat lays dead by your doorstep.

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On Springsteen and Other Fathers

On Springsteen and Other Fathers
by Rax King

 

My father dies towards the beginning of a year that ends with the release of Springsteen on Broadway on Netflix. He loved the Boss, the E Street Band, and especially Clarence Clemons, so this is just one more thing that he would have really liked…would have. But he’s never going to see it, just like he’ll never see a post-Trump America or the end of Game of Thrones.

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Firsts

Firsts
by Lisa Calcasola

Sometimes I forget that for the vast majority of my life, I hated my eyes. It was a powerful kind of hate, subtle, yet all-encompassing. I did not have to consciously think the words: I hate my eyes, I hate how small they are, too skinny and slanted, just like they say, no eyelashes, no heavy eyelids, can I even convey expression through these eyes that are so, so small? Rarely would these thoughts cross my mind in such a steady stream. Rather, they were part of the jumbled, incohesive messaging that constructed my inner dialogue, which informed my very being, whatever small perceptions I held of myself as an adolescent.

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Peaceful, The World Lets Me Down

Peaceful, The World Lets Me Down
by Eva Dunsky

The constant sunshine in my hometown of Los Angeles is where I’ll start.  The further you get from the beach, the higher the temperature climbs, and when I was thirteen, spring called for shorts, t-shirts, and keds, the year being 2009 and the style icon being Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong.  Your clothes were important — either you were cool and you subscribed to the trends, or you were uncool and dragged your backpack around on wheels.  Or maybe, if you were like me, you forged an alternative look and hoped for the best. I remember wearing the shorts and tanks I wore every year, the ones I had inherited from older cousins or purchased at the thrift store near my house.

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A Track List for Piercing Tongues

A Track List for Piercing Tongues
by Dorothy Bendel

“Big Mouth Strikes Again” (The Smiths)

He opened his mouth so I could inspect his tongue, thick and squirming like Jabba the Hutt’s. I aimed the needle at the sweet spot: dead-center, between two purple veins in a pond of saliva. I knew to avoid veins like I knew to avoid earnest declarations of love, which only bring trouble. I can’t remember his name. I’ll call him The Mark.

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