From the Archives: “Return to Sender” by Hilary Vaughn Dobel

Don’t you remember
the day it froze,
nothing in the pantry
but oranges?
We broke the ice
crust on top of the
morning’s snow, ate it
in slices like bread.
Everything tastes
out of season now,
and there are hunched
little women outside,
scattering handfuls of blue
salt onto the street.
In another pastoral,
they are peasants
feeding geese, and you
would laugh at me
for writing this down.
My footsteps are louder
with you gone. If you
receive this in time,
come back.
I’ll be waiting by the stained
glass windows.

Originally published: Winter 2010

Fiction: “No Man’s Land” by Nancy Ford Dugan

“I had a dream I was sitting in a car in a mini mall and my tooth fell out. Unusual for me, right? As a city gal to be in a car, much less a mini mall? I was holding the tooth cupped in my hand in my lap. Then somehow I spotted a dental office in the mini mall, and the dental assistant slash receptionist was Laura Linney.”

Max chuckled on the phone. “Was she nice?”

“She was competent, maybe officious but appropriately so. She was in a cardigan.”

“Of course she was,” said Max.

She paused to suck iced tea through her straw. “In real life according to my dentist, I’ve outlived my fillings. I’m thinking maybe that triggered the dream.”

Should she move off medical topics? But then were dentists really medical? His e-mail said to call him since he had “sobering” health news. Who but Max says sobering?

They were dancing around the topic. He had a bombshell to deliver, and she wasn’t sure the etiquette.

He seemed chipper. Almost annoyingly so.

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Fiction: “I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” by S. Frederic Liss

April awoke to the hemming and hawing of an electric tooth brush whose battery was running low. The sound reminded her of the spinning top her daddy had given her for her third birthday, a top with airplanes which took off and landed as it jiggled along the pitted linoleum floor of their double wide. It had been her favorite toy until its spring snapped, its hand pump locked, and the airplanes froze in place like butterflies pinned to cardboard. Nothing lasts forever, her daddy said when he couldn’t fix it. To a three year old, everything lasted forever, especially daddies. Stretching, April knocked her book off the night table, Marilynn Robinson’s Housekeeping which she selected to read on her honeymoon because the cover art of gingham curtains flapping in an open window lured her into the darkness that lay within. The hemming and hawing stopped.

“You did it, again.” Stan Hiller, her husband of less than twenty-four hours, shouted from the bathroom.

Again.  April had moved in with Stan the February before their wedding.  After waking three consecutive mornings to an open window, bitter cold, snow dunes on the bedroom floor, curlicues of frost on the mirror over the dresser, he designed an experiment to test the hypothesis that April opened the window in her sleep.  With the cloth belt of her bathrobe, he tied her wrists to the headboard of the bed.  On the window frame he nailed a ribbon of bells which would ring if the window were raised.  He set up a video camera with an eight hour recording capacity.  April joked she felt like a victim in a slasher movie, but the next morning they awoke to an open window, April still tethered to the bed.  If the bells had rung, neither had heard them.  For four hours the video camera recorded a closed window, then thirty seconds of static and four hours of an open window.  Maybe you’re the somnambulist, April said as Stan untied her.

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Poetry: “John or Not” by John Harper

John or Not

john, don’t scare myself
from the start; another bus comes by,
another day is loosened
by the hours, another decent
filet mignon gets eaten, another poem,
another airplane ride to the caribbean,
another plume out of the oven network of verbs,
another unused thing of anything,
thing of everything, another armada,
another nation drinking espresso, another mother
wrapping her son’s presents,
another future of his,
pressing his face to the future
he drives on in life for another face not his,
he thinks another life is coming for him,
before another death comes into the picture,
another depiction of his life
he keeps repeating, another life
he wants to be fullest—

John Harper is a graduate of the Writer’s Workshop at Iowa, and has published his poetry in literary journals like DIAGRAM, Mid-American Poetry Review, CutBank, Spinning Jenny and Zoland Poetry. He was a book finalist with Four Way Books, and has a chapbook called Peek-a-Boo Terrain.