Essays

Vita Brevis, Ars Longa

“Miss Merritt has retired,” so the letter I received in the late ‘80s began. At the time, I was teaching at Jones County Junior College where my colleagues and I were enjoying Robert Fulghum’s bestseller, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

“I must have been a slow learner,” I told my coworkers. “I made it all the way to high school before I learned anything really useful.”

After 30+ years in the college classroom, Allison Chestnut rejoined the other side of the desk and in August 2018 finished the MFA from Mississippi University for Women. She is a Florida native, attended university both at the last state supported nunnery—Mississippi University for Women—and at Louisiana State University, where she passed David Duke every day on the way to class. She can read, sing, pray and starve, and hopes to add publish to the list. As a Southern spinster with a Bible and a gun, she grew up reading Fannie Flagg, Jerry Clower, Florence King, and Lewis Grizzard. She has seen a squirrel get loose in a Baptist church. She has ridden a mule in Bonifay, Florida. Please do not hold her disdain for Faulkner against her. In high school she was nearly arrested for attempting to take a picture with Bruce the Shark on the movie set of Jaws II. She has read poetry and prose at meetings of SAMLA, SCMLA, and the Conference on Christianity and Literature. She holds the PhD from Louisiana State University and is currently professor of English at William Carey University.

Women, Walking

1.

As I sell my art and craft for a living—both in markets, street fairs or street festivals, and through galleries or stores—I walk miles. I don’t walk to the markets, of course. I load (rather overload) my car and drive to my destination. Then I carry my stuff (tables, canopies, racks and shelves, crates of potteries, heavy sculptures, large canvases) from my vehicle to their display location. Sometimes I use a wheeled contraption, but delicate items (the most numerous) need to be transported by hand, one by one, repeating ad libitum the trajectory between car and booth, store, or gallery. I don’t sweat, don’t fret. I breathe quietly. But I walk miles, several times a week. I have for my entire life.

Toti O’Brien is the Italian Accordionist with the Irish Last Name. She was born in Rome then moved to Los Angeles, where she makes a living as a self-employed artist, performing musician and professional dancer. Her work has most recently appeared in Scryptic, Voice Of Eve, Blue Tiger Review, and Projected Letters.

Homunculus

“Why do all the kids in these paintings look like old men?” Sabine asked, inspecting the legacy of some long-dead Italian.

I tilted my head back to drum up a few extra millimeters of breath, placating my air hunger for another minute or two, and replied, “I think those kids are supposed to be Jesus.”

“And why, exactly, does the baby Jesus have your dad’s hairline?”

I shrugged. “The immaculate recession?”

 

Brian Koukol, raised in the suburbs of Los Angeles, now makes his home among the salt breezes and open spaces of California’s Central Coast. A lifelong battle with muscular dystrophy has informed the majority of his work, which is written with the aid of voice recognition software. His work has appeared in LitMag Online,The Delmarva Review, and Phantaxis Magazine,, amongst other places. Visit his author website: www.briankoukol.com.

Suicide Notes

My daughter Jacqueline started “honors physics” this fall despite her thinking she wasn’t good enough at math to qualify for the class. I considered hiring a math tutor over the summer. I wish my dad could just come by for homework help. If Dad were around, Jacqueline would be “Debbie” or maybe something more exotic …

Election 2016: A Lyric Essay

More than anything, this election seemed to be about space. A black man occupied the White House for two terms, and now a white woman has a serious chance of doing the same. Should it be surprising that The Donald won the Republican nomination? If a Negro or a Broad can rule the empire, surely a Wealthy White Man by virtue of his colonial legacy can too—personal background be damned. The rebellion might have achieved a minor progressive parade, but now The Empire Strikes Back. With no actual applicable experience to cite for his fifty-state job interview, Trump made it about space. The Oval Office is obviously too easy to obtain, and this corruption bores into every facet of the American Experience. It’s too easy for Mexicans to enter our climate-changed deserts, and so we need a goddamn wall to uppercut them back. It’s too easy for Syrian refugees to wait two years as they toss tarnished souls into a bureaucratic penny fountain, and so we need to outlaw Islam just to be safe. A matronly diplomat is within reach of Pennsylvania Avenue? She needs to be relocated to a prison with other nasty women. Law & Order, Law & Order, Law & Order. We are a country without laws if a white man’s ass is not on the throne. This order has been disrupted by these imposters, these Others.

Jeffrey H. MacLachlan also has recent work in New Ohio Review, Columbia Journal, the minnesota review, among others. He teaches literature at Georgia College & State University. He can be followed on Twitter @jeffmack.

Shift

Think about a person who meant something to you; and by “something,” I mean at that time you felt like they were your whole world. They were the water in a gravitational pull with the Moon. The Earth tries to hold onto everything as the Moon tries to pull everything closer. Since water is always shifting and moving, the Earth is able to hold onto everything but its water. And so the moon pulls at it, and the Earth is constantly in flux. Alternating between high and low tides. So maybe that person was your Moon. Maybe they pulled you into their brilliant luminosity, and you bulged at the weight of that pull on one end and bulged at the weight of yourself at the other end. And you were a thing constantly shifting, just as the word “you,” depending on who you are speaking about and to, shifts.

Angela Youngblood lives and writes in a small northern California town. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from CSU Chico. Her prose has recently been published in Entropy and is forthcoming in The Boiler Journal. Amateur plant enthusiast, but not-as-vigilant-a-plant-caretaker-as-she-would-like-to-be, she tries to nourish things to grow. She sporadically posts on her nebulous blog youngofblood.wordpress.com.   

 

Share the Road

At the corner of Health Center and Health Sciences Dr. in La Jolla, California, there is a bright orange sign that states “Share the Road.” I had just exited the Moores Cancer Center after my third of seventeen radiation treatments for a patch of malignancy near my right eyelid. This was my second time in the ring with the big “C.” It wasn’t as life-threatening as the other, but reading this simple road sign somehow eradicated my fear. Like the proton beam that daily sliced through my cancer, it reminded me that I am not alone in this, nor any other aspect of my life, while I share the road with others.

Jerry Parent is an MFA candidate in creative writing at Antioch University Los Angeles. He is serving as Lead Blog Editor for their online publication, Lunch Ticket, where his essays have also been published. He earned his B.A. in philosophy from St. John’s Seminary College and currently resides in San Diego, California.  

Self-Defense

The classroom had a basket filled with peanut butter crackers and oatmeal cream pies. A coffeemaker held luke-cold coffee. The water basin was bright orange and only had water sometimes. The square room could have had desks for a standard classroom or, like that summer evening, be cleared out to create a giant space for the blue exercise mats laid all over the floor. I was there with my mother; a woman at her work had taken the self-defense class with her daughter and my mom, always looking for a way to spend time with me, suggested we do it.

Heather Wyatt is a teacher and writer by day and food TV junkie by night. Her first book, My Life Without Ranch, is forthcoming from 50/50 Press in fall 2018. The creative non-fiction title will feature that love of food, but also explore the dangerous relationship we can all have with it. She lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and has a slight obsession with her two dogs. She graduated from and instructs English at the University of Alabama. She received her MFA from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, in poetry and several of her poems have been featured in a number of journals including: The Marr’s Field Journal, Public Republic, Snakeskin, tak′tīl, The Broad River Review, Blinking Cursor Literary Magazine, The Whistling Fire, Stymie Magazine, Falling Star Magazine, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Straight Forward Poetry, The Binnacle, OVS Magazine, The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss, Heyday Magazine, ETA Journal, Puff Puff Prose Poetry and a Play, Silly Tree Anthologies, Melted Wing, Vietnam War Poetry, Dămfīno, Writers Tribe Review, Jokes Review and Number One Magazine.

Between Parachute and Rifle

We’d bought the beer and ice at a gas station near Parachute, Colorado. I stood with the pump while my father acquired the goods. I was a couple years off the buying age, although I had a decent fake in my wallet. I laid a bed of ice in the cooler and tumbled the cans in, keeping two for the ride. I cracked his open as he got in and held it out as he put us in gear. He said: “Goddammit, son. Don’t hand me my beer yet. Wait till we’re on the road.”

Gregg Murray is Associate Professor of English at Georgia State University, Editor-in-Chief of Muse/A Journal, and Executive Editor of Real Pants. His essays appear regularly in The Huffington Post and The Fanzine. He also writes poetry.

Crossing the Street in Tibet

  1. Do not be daunted by the eight lanes of cars, buses, trucks, bicycles and pedibikes as they weave a snarled braid of traffic.
  2. Ignore traffic lights—the drivers do.

Michelle Cacho-Negrete is a retired social worker in Portland, Maine.  Her first book, Stealing; Life in America, was published in October.  Four of her essays have been among the 100 most notable; one was selected Best of The Net.  Her essay, “Street Kid,” was runner-up in Brooklyn Literary Arts.  She is currently in five anthologies and has had six Pushcart nominations.

Essay and Other Nonfiction Workshops at Eckleburg

Personal Essay

Lyric Essay

Body Narrative

Modern Memoir

View All Workshops

Submit Your Nonfiction

We accept polished creative nonfiction/essays up to 8,000 words year round, unless announced otherwise. Preferences veer toward shorter works under 1500 words with an arts and culture focus. If you wish to include a bio, keep it short, under 200 words. Submit your nonfiction.

Essay Collections and Memoir Manuscripts

We publish short works at The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. At this time, we do not publish novel, long memoir, essay collections, story collections or poetry collections at The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. We do offer manuscript workshops at The Eckleburg Workshops. If you are looking to place a manuscript, we can suggest several excellent small and large presses whose excellent books are promoted through our Eckleburg Book Club — i.e., Random House, Graywolf Press, Coffeehouse, Tinhouse, St. Martins Press and more.