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I joined a writing critique group in the spring of 2019. I wanted to learn how to write both fiction and nonfiction. I was rather confident that I wouldn’t have any problems. How hard could it be after writing business letters and lesson plans for thirty years? Plus, I wanted to be a writer when I retired, so I was excited when I saw a posting for a writers' critique group in the area where I lived.

The first meeting was held at Hardees. It was a meet and greet to discuss goals and purpose.  This was how I met Dorice Nelson. She was 89 years old and feisty. I thought she was more my age at first because she was vibrant, focused on the group, and professional. She and I had something in common. We had both been English teachers. She had published five books, and also did some editing for professional writers. She was clearly more experienced than me. The critique group assumed we would exchange work and give each other feedback. Dorice decided otherwise. It was all of us writing and she gave the feedback. After all, she was the published writer.

For our second meeting, I took a scene from a story I had written. Dorice told me I could not write that scene in first person. I asked why not? The rest of the meeting was a lesson for me about first person. The next meeting, she growled at me. I needed to know more about the protagonist to write that scene. Her editing was in bright red. At this point, I realized I didn’t know anything about writing. It reminded me of the quote by Alexander Pope, “A little bit of learning is a dangerous thing.” My ego was taking a nose dive.

At the third lesson, Dorice threw her pen down, ran her fingers through her hair in frustration and declared, “You can’t even write a complete sentence.” I was terribly embarrassed, but also upset. I retorted to this great teacher, “I can write very well.” I was aware I was being churlish and defensive. I had been a high school principal before I retired. I was thinking, you have no idea how much I had to write in my job. Instead of being rude back to her, I just told her I didn’t understand all these rules for writing fiction. ” At that point I knew she had taught high school students. She had “that look.” I also knew I was not going to win any arguments with her.

Our meetings were at Dorice’s home. The entranceway smelled like the lemon oil you use on furniture. Like my house, hers had bookcases full of books in her family room. The room was tasteful and immaculate. I loved the beautiful white rug which I always stepped around for fear of soiling it with my shoes. We would often discuss various authors, and their writing styles, when we sat at her kitchen table. She kept fresh fruit on the table for us, and her peaches gave off a sweet floral aroma that filled her small kitchen.

At this point in our group writing lessons, Dorice began teaching us, using a textbook entitled, No More Rejections, by Alice Orr. It was an excellent textbook, and she told us she had taught classes from it before. Ms. Orr was a friend of hers. Each meeting I would bring my homework, and she was a difficult teacher to please. Some of the best professors I had in college were demanding and held their students at an emotional distance. I felt Dorice was similar to them. The lessons were a huge stressor, but I appreciated her tutoring me. At one point she called herself my mentor. But Dorice seemed to lose her patience quickly with me, and I would leave feeling like I’d never be a decent writer. I don’t give up easily when I am being challenged; however, Dorice was certainly pushing me. I kept coming back because I love to write. I also wanted to impress this grouchy, brilliant woman.

One day I was the only one in attendance. She told me she had colon cancer, and it was stage four. She was going to start chemotherapy. My jaw fell in shock. Then she gave me a signed copy of Alice Orr’s book. The author had written a personal message on the title page for me. I was astonished at Dorice’s thoughtfulness. I will always treasure the book because I thought Dorice didn’t care for me. As I left, I gave Boots, her dog, a treat and scratched his head. I needed to process this new information about her cancer because she appeared so healthy. I suppose cancer can hide in wait for any of us.

Dorice wasn’t letting a small thing like cancer get in her way. We continued to study through several more rounds of her chemotherapy. I noticed her legs were showing red splotches and her hands were rough and cracked in places. I told her I would pray for her that night. She told me she didn’t believe in God, but I think she did. I knew so little of her personal life. Teachers usually don’t encourage a personal relationship with a student.

I called one day and asked if she wanted anything special. She had spent a few days in the hospital from side effects of the chemotherapy. Could I bring her anything? She said, “This isn’t going to make us friends. I don’t need any more friends.”

I replied, “Okay.” By now I was getting used to the brash comments she made. I had an aunt who had a personality like Dorice. I turned to my husband when I got off the phone and told him we were taking Dorice an Arby’s roast beef sandwich. When we arrived, she answered the door with a mask on her face, and Boots did a happy dance for his treat. She would look at Boots with such love in her eyes.

I learned later the doctor told her she couldn’t have any more junk food. The next time we had a meeting, she had removed all the cookies and sweets on her countertops.

We had one more meeting before she had to stop with our lessons. She told me that I needed to go to Writers’ Village University. She highly recommended it for me. I was crushed. I thought she was tired of teaching me because I never heard the words, “Good job.” I tucked away my pride and decided to enroll in the WVU MFA program as she suggested. That was when she wrote me an email and told me she was teaching there, and she wanted me in her class too. There was no way I was going to take her class. I assumed the students were advanced and I needed the basics. My other thought was she would shred my work in front of others. I could deal with her comments in private, but my self-confidence was not that strong for public feedback.

Something compelled me to go visit her each month under the ruse of taking her books to read. She would ask me if I wanted them back and I would tell her to donate them to the library. As 2020 rushed by us, I dropped books off in my COVID mask, and always made sure to bring Boots a treat. I never went inside because I was scared I might give her the virus or carry it to her. I looked forward to seeing Dorice and Boots. Her smile that time I came to the door touched my heart, and I realized I had truly started caring about this dying woman and teacher. We would email too. I would edit some of her work online but she bluntly told me she didn’t like fantasy stories so she didn’t want to edit my work. I think she was getting weaker during this time and she couldn’t admit that to me.

When 2021 brought us a short reprieve from the masks, I still avoided going inside her house for fear of contaminating her with some aggressive type germs. I worried about her getting sick.

When June arrived, she opened the door, and I could see she had lost a lot of weight, and her beautiful gray hair had thinned; however, she and Boots still smiled at me. The cancer was ravishing her but I never heard one complaint about her pain or fear. She came to the door well dressed, hair combed, but looked horribly emaciated. It made me want to flinch, but I knew she would never forgive my pity so I covered my feelings by watching Boots dance for me.

July came and she told me she was in Hospice now. She demanded it be at her home. I would surmise no one wanted to cross her at this time in her life. I went on vacation so I didn’t get to visit her. We did exchange emails. She asked me how my classes were going and I had to admit it had been the right thing for me to enroll. I expressed how much I loved my classes. That seemed to please her.

When I went to see her in August, a stranger answered the door and my heart stuttered. The woman introduced herself and told me she was a friend of Dorice's. Then she took me back to her bedroom. As I walked down the hall, I tried to get control of my emotions. Dorice was in her bed and she appeared tiny and frail. I wanted to hold her hand or hug her. I wanted to offer sympathy but she still had that look of steel in her composure. She didn’t have the strength to talk to me but whispered, “Sandra, I’m dying.” I nodded my head because I couldn’t speak for fear of bawling. Not crying out loud but raucous bawling. I didn’t though, because I knew she wouldn’t like it. Then she sat up in bed to choose one of the two books I had brought her. She knows she is dying but she still loves to read.

Would I ever be that strong at the end of life?

She had a custom-built bookcase that wrapped around one wall to another wall in her bedroom. It was loaded with books. That didn’t include the books she had in her den. We had that in common too. I have books stacked everywhere although I have two rooms with bookcases. I started feeling awkward because it was evident she was too weak to socialize. I asked her friend      where Boots was, and Dorice had already moved him to his new home. A friend of hers had taken him because she was too weak to care for him anymore. I felt an overwhelming sadness that I wouldn’t see Boots again. I said my goodbyes and told her I would see her soon. I knew I was lying.

I walked out with her friend and I told her to make sure and tell Dorice I loved her. I knew it would mean something to Dorice but I was scared if I told her in person, I would get some type of bluster from her. How could you not love a woman whose last thoughts are picking out a good book to read? Perhaps we were kindred spirits. After all, we weren’t friends.

My husband was waiting in the car. When I slid in the passenger side of the car, he said, “By the look on your face, she must not have long.” I nodded because tears were falling down my cheeks. I looked out the window the rest of the way home. The tears continued to fall as I remembered all the tiny moments of happiness we shared over books, and the debates that would continue from verbal discussions to long emails.  

I received a call on Sunday from a family member that Dorice had passed. I didn’t catch the woman's name because I was so upset. I had only known Dorice two years and yet she had touched my life in so many ways. It felt like she was my family. She had told me she was tough on me because I wanted to be a writer. It made me wonder if I did enough for her at the end. She didn’t want me to pray, to show emotion, or give her love, but I did use prayer, tears, and love. This was one time I didn’t heed my teacher’s request.

The next day, Dorice’s son called and told me I was in her will. I was speechless. Why in the world would I be in her will? I remained silent until he spoke again. He told me that she had left all her books to me. Some were books I had given her but a huge number were instructional writing books and materials. I’m still emptying boxes but a peek into them showed mystery novels too. What a precious gift to me. I was humbled thinking of such a profound bequest. I already miss Dorice.

I admired her knowledge of writing and wished I had taken some formal classes with her, but at ninety and dealing with cancer, her stamina was fading. I had many relatives, including my mother and grandmother who died with cancer, and I knew how difficult it became to deal with daily life problems. Dorice became irritable and crabby because she refused to take her pain medicine. She kept thinking she could manage the pain and I admired her tenacity. My grandmother taught me to respect my elders for their wisdom. I will think of Dorice each day I pick up one of her books on writing. I knew after I started classes at Writers’ Village University that she cared for me and I often wondered why it took her so long to realize she did. Perhaps she didn’t want to become attached to anyone she'd have to say goodbye to so soon. I hope she will be watching and growling for me to improve.

Our friendship, which I would argue with if you said it wasn’t, was an unlikely one. It was also a teacher pushing her student to excel. Harsh perhaps? I thought she was at first but as I got to know her, I knew I would value her instruction. I still wanted to learn and possessed the desire to improve. People often blame a teacher if they fail. I blame the person who doesn’t take advantage of what the teacher offers them to learn.


BIO: Sandra Niedzialek holds two Master's Degrees and is a retired high school principal. She has also been a national motivational speaker, a consultant for The State Department of Education, and has been an instructor as a reading specialist at Queens University, Charlotte, NC.


Safe

by

Brian Hunt

Everyone wore a mask now, but why they did was no longer a question. Those who asked either disappeared or, after a suitable period of re-education, joined their faceless colleagues. The masks kept us free not just from airborne threats to health but from the complexities of signalling...

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Eagles’ Run

by

Sandra Niedzialek

Sarah Jensen works at the county morgue. It’s the only job available, her probation officer tells her. She’s a lousy thief, it seems. Gah, she hates scrubbing stainless steel. She’s the only one in the morgue because her shift is from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. As she...

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How Horrible the Moon

by

Brian Hunt

How horrible the moon. How horrible the pale light it cast upon my grave as it called me to my duty.

In a few short hours I would leave the comfort of my grave to walk among the living. I scared most of them, but now after over...

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The Woman in the Mirror

by

Miriam Manglani

Jack pulled the comforter over his head and clamped his hands over his ears, but it did
little to block out his parents’ screaming. If it got any worse, he would hide in his closet.

“I told you I wanted shrimp for dinner,” Amit, Jack’s father, scowled and...

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To the Moon

by

Brigitte Whiting

"How terrible the moon," Mr. Abrams said each time there was a full moon. "There's sadness with beauty."

At first, when the future Mrs. Abrams met him, she thought it was odd. When he was young, he'd wanted to ride on the back of his older brother's motorcycle...

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One Precious Day

by

Paul K. McWilliams

“We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away.”
                                                                                                                     -Walker Percy

                                                                   

Mike Hanlon, an old childhood friend of mine, had cultivated the pot, not for kicks or profit, but expressly for relief.  He was a poor and suffering soul growing...

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SkippyGraycoat

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Peter Mancusi

Skippy Graycoat woke up early to the chirping of birds. It had been a long night for the young squirrel. He spent hours fixing up his new apartment, a fancy little hollow inside of an old, maple tree, and he was happy to finally have some privacy. No...

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A Pot Full of Beans

by

Brigitte Whiting

Clara Beth didn't remember that she'd promised to fill the cast iron bean pot for the Smithville Annual Bean Hole Bean Pot supper until late Friday afternoon when she received the call that the bean hole was prepared, the embers hot and ready. "Almost ready," she lied. What...

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How You Can Go Wrong

by

Lisa Benwitz

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Angelina scoffed at Sam, her husband of sixty years. “You’re not leaving. You won’t last a day without me.”

“I can’t deal with you anymore,” he said as he walked out the door. As if she’d been the one to disappoint, to betray.

Angelina’s sagging...

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The Piano

by

Nitin Mishra

The old grand piano sat in lonely corner of the room. Dust covered the piano body, and insects crept in through the keys. For the house’s inhabitants, the grand piano was merely a dead wooden sound-making device mechanically operated. No one ever tried to infuse life into the...

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Makers and Takers

by

Kim Bundy

Jake dropped the baby off at daycare early that morning and replaced three water heaters by lunch. There were two HVAC systems left to service, so he wolfed down a sandwich as he drove between jobs. When he got back to the shop that afternoon, his boss called...

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The “Ely Kay”

by

Paul K. McWilliams

It’s my boat yard, and I don’t much care for the look of her. It’s a point of pride. You should be able to take a level to a boat up on lumber. Every day with her list, she stares me down. She looks guilty and sad with...

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What We Long For

by

Cyril Dabydeen

Creating an imaginary garden
                            with real toads in it.
                                    --Marianne Moore


Frogs circle the yellow-and-black snake in the trout stream by instinct, no less. Mr. Yorick, tall, but roundish, ...

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Emerson

by

Paul K. McWilliams

He hurts, body, mind, and soul. Death has made its introduction and he has given it a knowing nod. At this moment he’s in a hospice unit. The head of his bed is elevated and he’s in the consoling company of his dog, Emerson. The dog proved quickly...

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Blunt Trauma

by

Paul K. McWilliams

To all, excepting only Annie, Charles W. Durgin fell while fishing and drowned.  It has been nearly ten years since she struck him with his own club, the club he affectionately called “the priest.” Nightmares still waken her upright and screaming. Not the stifled screams into his calloused...

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Man in the Mirror

by

Nitin Mishra

It may have been the sultriest day of the decade, who knows, maybe two or even three decades and the excessive humidity had invited swarms of insects. In such a sweltering afternoon people were destined to stay indoors, and if anyone ventured out, the insects would certainly torment...

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The Impostor

by

Mick Clark

I was amazed by how many people were stuffed inside my uncle Henry’s corpse.

My aunt clung to me for the first time in her life, bird-bone brittle and ashen pale, while the mourners breathed crowds of ghosts into the icy morning air.

The coffin swayed...

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21 Days of Lockdown

by

Donna Abraham Tijo

Day 1:
When Coronavirus Comes Calling
A five-year-old declares, 'I wish to always have my favourite pancake in my world.'

Day 2:
An E-mail of Hope
He sent the e-mail to the school reserving seats for his daughter for the fall session. It’s in the new city they...

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Sugar Daddy Dreams

by

Enza Vynn-Cara

Burnt toast, avocado, honey, two poached eggs laced with turmeric and garlic, and a new vitamin concoction that makes my stomach churn, and still, I guzzle half of it down with gusto, as if it’s our first Godfather Cocktail at Carlo’s Bar.

Why, you ask?

Because...

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The Visitor

by

Brigitte Whiting

Madeleine saw the visitor in her Sunday school class, a man her age, maybe fortyish —she considered herself a youthful fifty —with a deep dimple in the middle of his chin. He wore no wedding ring. He introduced himself as having just moved to Cannington, and was the...

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Chickens

by

Brigitte Whiting

First, there was dust everywhere, but now, far worse, there were chickens everywhere. They were pecking through the yard, leaving puffs of dust. They were roosting in the pine trees. And they clucked from morning to night. The five roosters vied for which was loudest and shrillest. Amanda...

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Desiree

by

Joe Cappello

I buried him in the backyard one night after a rainstorm. The soil I removed from the hole was thick and sticky and clung stubbornly to the surface of my shovel.

I connected the hose to the backyard spigot and used it to clean off the shovel. Then...

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The Anointing of Mary Ballard

by

Joe Cappello

The young lady entered the laboratory with her eyes cast down reverently, as though entering a church. When she reached the gurney, she pulled a chair close to it and placed the things she was carrying on a nearby table. She removed the sheet covering the body and...

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Beginning at the End

by

Joe Cappello

I am in a meeting at our England location in a typical rectangular conference room walled off from the real world of work taking place outside. Suddenly, I am a spirit floating above my colleagues, as though I had died only seconds earlier and am waiting to be...

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Hope Held My Heart

by

Chel Talleyrand

We were isolated that summer from the rest of the world. The excessive rains had pounded the fields into mosquito-infested pools, destroying our harvests of corn and beans. We heard it was worse in the cities. As food supplies depleted, guns decided distribution. Friends and families banded together...

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Bibliosmia

by

Penny Camp

My love for reading started early. I traveled the world and rode dragons, fought knights, stormed castles, stole treasure with pirates and rescued kidnapped princesses. I floated down rivers in the deepest regions of unexplored lands. I climbed trees and mountains and flew on clouds.

Mom read to...

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To Thwart a Wild Turkey Hen

by

Brigitte Whiting

A flock of wild turkeys has wandered in and out of my yard for years. I have a raised deck so my birdfeeders stand ten feet off the ground and the turkeys graze under them. They are timid birds, and typically when I step out onto the deck, ...

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The Style of No Style

by

Frank Richards

I must be the Charlie Brown of writers because I’ve never been able to figure out what “style” is all about. What does that word, ‘style,’ mean? I’ve always had a problem with it. If there were such a thing as “styleblindness,” a disease like colorblindness, I’d be...

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Corona Clean

by

Fran Schumer

The Corona virus presents new challenges. Stuck at home, and with more of us sleeping, eating and working here, and a dirtier house, I was finally going to have to figure out how to use my new vacuum cleaner. Ordered a year ago, it mostly sat in its...

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Occasional Neighbors

by

Brigitte Whiting

I understand a little bit about wild turkeys. They're on a constant hunt for food, drifting through the neighborhood scrounging what they can. But I don't know how it happens that a few will either be left behind by the flock or leave it. This past fall, I'd...

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Enjoy the Ride

by

Penny Camp

Get up early. You can’t ride all day if you sleep in. Braid your hair tight — you don’t want it flapping in the wind. Make sure you don’t wear the undies with the seams down the back because after a long day of riding they will make...

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Cocoa and Biscuits

by

Penny Camp

Saturday mornings were special occasions at our house when we were growing up. My friends begged to spend the night so they could be part of the Saturday morning ritual.

Mom would take out her green plastic bowl and splash in a little water, a little cocoa powder, ...

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Livin’ the Dream

by

Holly Miller

When I was a child, my mom and Aunt Leona would pack us six kids into our blue Chevy Belair and drive to a local mobile home dealer (they were known as trailers back then). We would walk through the new homes, just for something to do. How...

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Fall in Maine

by

Brigitte Whiting

Autumn is falling in Maine, harder this year than I remember over the last few falls. We've had two nights of close to freezing temperatures, not enough to ice over the birdfeeders or kill any of my plants yet, but cold enough to turn the furnace on. My...

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Best Laid Plans

by

Penny Devlin

Every year shortly before spring, the Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. catalog shows up on my doorstep. The cover is plastered with a WARNING label in big black letters informing me that if I don’t order now, this will be my last catalog. It also has coupons: $100...

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One January Morning

by

Brigitte Whiting

Mornings, I like to have a Kindle eBook open on the dining room table so I can read and look out into the backyard to see what might be happening. 

I live in a raised ranch with an attached two-car garage. My deck, which is off the kitchen...

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The Ruins and the Writing Technique of Negative Space

by

Sarah Yasin

A book club I’m part of recently discussed The Ruinsby Scott Smith. It’s not a book I would have finished reading based on the first 50 pages, but sticking with it afforded me insight into what a narrative voice can do. The story is about a group...

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A River of Words

by

Penny Devlin

Go to work every day. Do your job. Do it well. Always learning, getting better every day. Soaking in the letters that become words, that lead to success.

Meetings, instructions, to-do lists, directions — the words start to drown like a river of brown muddy water rushing through...

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Canada, Marty, and The Exorcist

by

Jen Lowry

On our homeschool adventure today, we dreamed aloud of the places we would travel to if we could. My kids and I agree: Ireland and Scotland are our top two places to visit. We played music from Spotify and sang aloud to the merry tunes of the Irish.

...

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Monarch Butterflies

by

Brigitte Whiting

I had no idea what milkweed looked like because I'd never seen it, but I'd always wanted it to grow in my yard so I could see the monarch butterflies.


For the longest time, I've hoped the patch of wonderfully fragrant plants with pale purple flowers growing...

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A Monarch Chrysalis

by

Brigitte Whiting

The monarch caterpillar couldn't decide where to turn itself into a chrysalis. He wandered across my front stoop so many times I was afraid I'd step on it so I stopped using the front door. One time, he'd be crawling up a post of the front railing. Another...

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Truth

by

Angela Hess

I am twisted, bent, and deformed on every side. Everyone trying to use me to serve their own purposes, to justify their own beliefs and actions. Their eyes constantly sliding away from my pure, unaltered form, too brilliant and painful to behold without their chosen filters to dim...

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The Goldfinch

by

Brigitte Whiting

On a Monday afternoon, I carried a bucket of water outdoors to refill the birdbath. A male goldfinch jumped down from the bath’s rim, and hopped away as quickly as he could to creep beneath a nearby spruce branch. I thought how odd he was...

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Of Heroes and Holiness

by

Angela Hess

What does a hero look like?

 

George Bailey is a hero.

 

George Bailey dreamed of traveling the world.

 

George Bailey gave up his dreams to care for his family and community.

 

Rudy left his family...

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My Desk

by

Luann Lewis

Another rejection letter and I feel like a loser. Yeah, I know, I’m not trying to make a living doing this. I even claim to be “writing for myself.” Butwe all want validation and, let’s face it, us writers want readers. So here I sit, ...

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My Mobile Space

by

Janet Harvey

 

In June, I will expect to find my special place in Townsville, Queensland. Last year it was in Darwin, Northern Territory, and today my place is in Hobart, Tasmania.

 

 

We live in a truck, a 2004 Isuzu 350NPR turbo automatic...

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A Red Squirrel's Narrative

by

Brigitte Whiting

This past summer and fall upturned me. The birdfeeder, usually so generous, abdicated her job, and I had to scrounge for food during the long wet season. My mother told me it was unusual to have such a rainy August and October. She would know. I was born...

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Talk-Back, Dear Lia, on FnF

by

Joy Manné

This essay is part of a Talk-Back series – I owe that title to Karen. A Talk-Back is my response to a chapter in a WVU textbook, my communication with its author.

This Talk-Back is a response to the exercise in Lia Purpura’s chapter, ‘On Miniatures,’ (Flas...

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Reunion

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

“Why the F--- Do I want to see a F—ing alligator jump up to eat a F—ing chicken hanging on a clothesline?”

 

The last time I hung out with my Uncle Dan is when I dragged him to Gatorland to do something touristic. ...

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A Fear of Broken Things

by

Angela Hess

“Does he look at you?”

 

My cousin’s innocent question triggers a flashing red warning light in my brain. My baby doesn’t look at me. I assumed he was too young still, but my cousin’s baby is only four days older than mine, and they are...

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Neighborhood Walk Meditation

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Vultures gather on the old man’s neighbor’s barn,
‘decorated with ravens and barren trees.
A small cottontail stirs...

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Dream Metaphor

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I shiver in the darkened room,
stretch, try to pull the covers higher,
suddenly I am floating near...

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A Whitmanesque Inventory: Spring

by

Phebe Beiser

So glad it rained last night. Now, late morning, sun shines,
an unexpectedly warm early March. What a...

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Solitary

by

Malkeet Kaur

For eons now, the very core of my being
has become inaccessible.

Solitary.

Once it used to be...

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The Blanket Hugs Me

by

Louise E. Sawyer

I’m grateful that I have a daybed
downstairs where I can rest during the day
with my Guinea...

Read more: The Blanket Hugs Me

 

 

 

On Love and Dreams

by

Miriam Manglani

1.
Love is a beast and angel and dream on fire.

2.
Your soul wakes in your dreams.

...

Read more: On Love and Dreams

 

 

 

The Writer’s Breastplate

by

Louise E. Sawyer

…apologies to St. Patrick


Creative Spirit with me,
Creative Spirit before me,
Creative Spirit behind me,
Creative Spirit...

Read more: The Writer’s Breastplate

 

 

 

The Sweater

by

Malkeet Kaur

As I rummage through the clothes,
I spot it, the well-worn white sweater
that now had aging spots...

Read more: The Sweater

 

 

 

The Holly Tree

by

Nolo Segundo

We have a large holly tree
in our backyard—
is it foolish to say
you love a tree?

...

Read more: The Holly Tree

 

 

 

waiting on an email

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

rain beats against the metal awning.
winds whipped up against two storms
racing each other over the Mississippi
...

Read more: waiting on an email

 

 

 

Looking for Weeds

by

Louise E. Sawyer

Pushing my walker with the purple
pet carrier propped up on the seat,
I walk down the driveway.
...

Read more: Looking for Weeds

 

 

 

Ocean Mood

by

Malkeet Kaur

The roaring, crashing surf summon us.
Soft and damp ecru sand lies beneath our bare soles.
The sun-baked...

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The Beetle in the Sink

by

Miriam Manglani

There is a beetle in the sink.  
A big fat one,
shiny and black
with sharp needle...

Read more: The Beetle in the Sink

 

 

 

Four Cats – Four Friends

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I
the painting of four cats
hangs on my living room wall


II
you can see
Glory Barrie...

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On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

by

Nolo Segundo

I miss the big navels, the big navels when they are not in season,
but almost any orange...

Read more: On Eating an Orange and Seeing God

 

 

 

Summer – A Pantoum

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I sit on my deck and enjoy summer sun.
Zephyrs caress my cheeks with soft kisses.
Bombay cat...

Read more: Summer – A Pantoum

 

 

 

Your Broken Heart

by

Miriam Manglani

I found your heart’s hinge —
I knew it could open!
Inside, I saw all of its broken...

Read more: Your Broken Heart

 

 

 

Who Is Margaret?

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

I find the small black and white picture in a box
of old letters untouched for twenty years.
...

Read more: Who Is Margaret?

 

 

 

Made Whole by Others

by

Miriam Manglani

Some people fill deep holes in us
the space that’s left when our loved ones leave
they plug...

Read more: Made Whole by Others

 

 

 

Autumn Villanelle

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

leaves don orange, crimson and yellow gowns
as they prepare for Cinderella’s autumn ball,
soon the leaves will...

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Sunny Day Epiphany

by

Lina Sophia Rossi

Umberto, my Golden Retriever is sad,
Sparkie and Sal, his companions, have died

I wanted to adopt a...

Read more: Sunny Day Epiphany

 

 

 

Ocean City

by

Nolo Segundo

I saw it then as my own little Shangri-la,
for I was very small and knew nothing
of...

Read more: Ocean City

 

 

 

All The Dead I Know

by

Nolo Segundo

Let’s start with Eric—a nerdy-looking kid before
nerds were invented, and only 18 when he crashed
his funny...

Read more: All The Dead I Know

 

 

 

The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

by

Miriam Manglani

She talks of makeovers with friends,
using contour sticks and beauty blenders,
making “Tiktoks” with dance moves
called...

Read more: The Dinosaur Will Get a Makeover

 

 

 

Fireplace Camping

by

Louise E. Sawyer

After supper, my brother Frank and I beg Dad,
“Tell us a story in front of the fireplace.”
...

Read more: Fireplace Camping

 

 

 

My Love

by

Miriam Manglani

My love for you was tentative and tender
Now it blazes like wildfire through dry fields
Cuts through...

Read more: My Love

 

 

 

The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

by

Miriam Manglani

I never doubted that he loved me
even after he died from dementia —
There were tight hugs...

Read more: The Never-Was-But-Could-Have-Been

 

 

 

Farley vs Apricot

by

Glenda Walker-Hobbs

Apricot the Beanie cat
perches atop the bookcase,
guards the books,
taunts the ginger kitten down below

Farley’s...

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Define Self Truth

by

Gerardine Gail (Esterday) Baugh

How blind are we with
wishes that bite; with
memories that burn;
that we choose, to be
trapped, ...

Read more: Define Self Truth

 

 

 

Invisible Lines

by

Miriam Manglani

When I first saw their formless
bodies on screen,
worlds unfurled
in their grainy black and white images,
...

Read more: Invisible Lines

 

 

 

She Bikes for the First Time

by

Miriam Manglani

“Keep peddling!” I call.
Not prepared to watch her fall.
I hold the bike steady
and let it...

Read more: She Bikes for the First Time

 

 

 

The Stranger

by

Miriam Manglani

You were always quiet but
grew quieter.
Unable to retrieve basic words like “cat”.
There were other small...

Read more: The Stranger

 

 

 

A New Day Begins

by

Bob Hembree

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Angst

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Fly on the Wall

by

Bob Hembree

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Glancing Vulnerably

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Fowl Squabbling

by

Bob Hembree

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A Mid-Photo's Daydream

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Solar Reflection

by

Bob Hembree

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Being Held Up

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Reflections

by

Paula Parker

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Jack

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hollister

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Evelyn

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Curiosity

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Rebecca

by

Gerardine Gail Esterday

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Hazel

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Working Hands

by

Paula Parker

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Maya

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The Birds in the Flower

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Pst... Hey

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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The World in Her Hands

by

Alberto Rodriguez Orejuela

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Oak

by

Craig Gettman

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Flower

by

Craig Gettman

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Berries

by

Craig Gettman

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Winding Road

by

Craig Gettman

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Sunset - April 2020

by

Craig Gettman

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