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Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

No Talking To Imaginary People

To give me a better shot at catching a long-distance ride, my father dropped me off at the Pine Valley entrance to Interstate 8, about forty miles east of San Diego. He waited till I’d arranged my equipment along the roadside, then took out his camera.

By Poe Ballantine October 2015

Close To Home

For the last eight years, Michael Dvorak has photographed people in his home state of Minnesota. Taken at county fairs, parades, and on the streets in and around Minneapolis, the images are part of a series he calls “Close to Home.”

By Michael Dvorak June 2015
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Small Time

From outside, Jumbo’s was nothing more than a black-painted steel door in a brick wall, above which was a sign with a grinning yellow clown. When a customer came or went, the door would open for a moment, and I could glimpse the rich blackness of its interior and smell stale beer and cigarette smoke. Especially in the evenings, the illuminated yellow clown sign called out to me.

By Alex R. Jones April 2015

The Encounter At Twenty, 1966

The day that it happened, / my teacher had written crap on the bottom of my first poem. / I wanted to throw it into the Hudson / where it would sink with its no / under the gulls, the garbage scows, and the litter.

By Ellery Akers September 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Tyranny Of Paradise

When I was twenty-four years old, it looked to me as if America were coming down. It was 1979, and there was runaway inflation, long lines for gasoline, a nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island. Men were curling their hair and wearing high-heeled shoes, and the Soviets were still poised to bomb us off the map.

By Poe Ballantine June 2013
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Why I Moved To The Country

I moved to the country after living in Oakland, California, for the better part of twenty-five years, adoring and defending my troubled city as if it were my wayward though generous lover.

By Ruth L. Schwartz January 2013

Citizens Of A Broken City

She’s shuffling around the lake in flip-flops, / pregnant belly hanging / over the open strings of her sweat pants, / and she’s shouting into her cellphone: / “You just don’t get it!”

By Alison Luterman February 2012

CJ The Prince

You can’t breathe, yes, but it’s not because you feel punched in the gut. It’s the cold. The cold that sank in so fast and deep, your insides are freezing. All ice. And the radio in your brain is playing Rigo’s words from just a week ago: “CJ goes anywhere. It’s like he got a pass. He’ll hit the barbecue in the projects, hit another on Grape, stop and shoot dice with Swans on his way home. CJ’s dad is like royalty, and CJ the prince, man. CJ one guy they just let be.”

By Daniel Larson April 2011
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Six Lost Books

A writer is in a perpetual struggle with emptiness. He or she awakens each day to the Blank Page and somehow finds words to fill it. But the next day the page returns, just as blank as before. Even a finished book carries traces of emptiness, behind the words and in the corners of the pages. Normally this emptiness is white, but I am confronted with the rarer black variety.

By Sparrow March 2011
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

The Nature Trail Closest To My House

The nature trail closest to my house doesn’t take me to any overlooks or waterfalls. The scenery is a few flat acres of meadow grass, a shallow pond, maples, and oaks. On a map the trail would form a blocky figure 8, like the digital number on a gas pump, but there are no maps of this park, and the only visitors live within a couple of miles.

By Rob Keast February 2011