As a teenager, my favorite band was the Cure. This was pre-Radiohead, pre-Editors, before bands—even alternative bands—tended to be literary. Yet the Cure turned out songs like “Killing an Arab,” based on The Stranger by Albert Camus, and “How Beautiful You Are,” an echo of Charles Baudelaire’s essay “The Eyes of the Poor” (both facts that I discovered, in those dark ages before Google, when I fortuitously—serendipitously?—stumbled upon the originals… one in a borrowed book that I came this close to not taking home with me). In that arid early-90s musical landscape, the Cure was an exception in more ways than one (the Smiths were another, but Morrissey has gone so far off the deep end with his white nationalism these days that I find it hard to listen to his music). I remember, during those years, several vivid dreams featuring the band’s teased-haired, heavily made-up vocalist Robert Smith, including one in which he appeared at my Shelby, North Carolina home to take me away with him.
April Vázquez is the winner of the William Van Dyke Short Story Prize and a Pushcart, Best of the Net, and Orison Anthology award nominee. Her favorite line from a novel is, “Jane had occasionally tried to develop her own hidden depths, but she never could decide what to hide and how far down.”
The drawer on the right side of my desk is similar to the drawer my mother kept under the counter, next to the refrigerator in my childhood home. One I opened daily in search for something, but never finding what I needed inside. Hers held
old pens with the names of realtors and contractors;
mini-calculators, mostly broken;
half-eaten Snickers bars and bags of M&Ms.
Mine with old ticket stubs,
ash from cashed pot pipes,
candy wrappers and
antidepressants spilled from the broken, child-
proof lid, lost somewhere beneath the chaos.
Andrew Walker is the co-founder of Howl With Us, an arts collective aimed at spreading accessible art around the country. His fiction, nonfiction, and poetry is published or upcoming in New Pop Lit, Literary Juice, paperplates, Crack the Spine, and others. He is a graduate of Colorado State University and is currently writing in Denver, Colorado.
It was past 9:00 pm when our family scuttled out of customs with oversized wheeled suitcases, handheld computers, lunch bags, stuffed animals, and an address. August 2013: we’d just arrived to begin a nine-month stay in Oaxaca, Mexico. I’d received a Fulbright to research American adults studying Spanish abroad. In the main airport terminal, a group of Oaxacans, waiting for their own loved ones, beamed at the sight of my daughter, reaching to touch her and cooing endearments.
“¡Es una angel!” [she’s an angel!]
“¡Mira sus ojos tan azules!” [look at her blue eyes!]
“¡Qué preciosa!” [how precious!]
Melisa Cahnmann-Taylor, Professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia, is the author of Imperfect Tense (poems), and three scholarly books in education. Winner of NEA “Big Read” Grants, the Beckman award for “Professors Who Inspire,” and a Fulbright for nine-month study of adult Spanish language acquisition in Oaxaca Mexico, she is also the poetry editor for Anthropology & Humanism and judges ethnographic poetry competition. Her work has appeared in Georgia Review, American Poetry Review, Women’s Quarterly Review, Cream City Review, Barrow Street, and many other literary and scholarly homes. She posts at her blog http://teachersactup.com.
The magnificent tree that we had admired for our more than twenty years in this house is now a stump after a week-long process of devastation, men with chain saws dangling from ropes in the upper reaches, the heavy thuds of dropping branches. It had been our favorite tree in the neighborhood, possibly the whole town, much taller than the others, perhaps one hundred and fifty feet high, and symmetrically ideal—an archetypal tree. Although we didn’t want to watch, we couldn’t help being aware of the pace of denuding, looking out to see lushness hewn, long leafless shafts. Why would anyone want to destroy such a beautiful thing?
Walter Cummins has published seven short story collections—Witness, Where We Live, Local Music, The End of the Circle, The Lost Ones, Habitat: stories of bent realism, Telling Stories: Old and New. He also has a collection of essays and reviews called Knowing Writers. More than one hundred of his stories, as well as memoirs, essays, and reviews, have appeared in magazines such as New Letters, Kansas Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Under the Sun, Arts & Letters, Confrontation, Bellevue Literary Review, Connecticut Review; in book collections; and on the Web. With Thomas E. Kennedy, he was founding co-publisher of Serving House Books, an outlet for novels, memoirs, and story, poetry, and essay collections. He teaches in the graduate creative writing programs at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
“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.
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.
“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.
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 …
Essay and Other Nonfiction Workshops at Eckleburg
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.