Essays

Needles’ Eyes, Wealth, Learning and Virtue

How do those who claim to be Christians today reconcile the modern world’s quest for material gain with Jesus’s severe injunctions against riches? Most notably in verses 10:25-26 of The Gospel According to Mark: “But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (King James version).

I suspect a representative answer came from a pink-cheeked young business major when I asked that question in a core literature class years ago. Without a second’s hesitation, he told me, “Things were different then.”

 

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. For more than twenty years, he was editor of The Literary Review.

Driving Home

My kids had dressed themselves, indifferent as always to color clashes, and somehow, both had put on bright red t-shirts and plaid shorts. They sat in the backseat between piles of backpacks, blankets, books; and the still wet bathing suits were drying in the back window of the car. The floor was littered with sand and sea shells, flip flops, a rain boot, an unopened caguama, and the fresh green coconuts that we had bought from the roadside vendors as we left the humid heat of the coast. Heading for the mountains and plateaus of our home in central Mexico, we smelled salty and damp. Our fingers were sticky with sweet cocadas and pistachios, and we wound our way up towards Tepic. In the mountains, before Rio de Ixtlán, I spotted the first semi. The truck was piled high with people and backpacks, which I immediately recognized as part of the infamous second migrant caravan of 2018 heading towards the States from Central America.

Lisa López Smith lives and writes from her home in central Mexico. When not wrangling kids or rescue dogs or goats, she can probably be found riding her bike. Her recent and forthcoming publications include: Sky Island Journal, Masque & Spectacle, SAND Journal, Tilde, Esthetic Apostle, Mothers Always Write, Lacuna Magazine, and Coal Hill Review

Donald Trump, Thank You?

At 22, I turned down my boyfriend’s offer of a gun. The cop, who responded to the 911 call when my stalker broke into the house and stole my leotard, panties, hairbrush, and ballet slippers, insisted a gun could make things worse. That I’d probably hesitate at an intruder’s sob story and he’d wrest the gun away from me.

I was no stranger to men wanting to get in without permission: in my home, my car, my head, my mouth, my pants. I’ve lived a life punctuated by more than my share of abuse, assault, and an endless lineup of groping, threatening men in social settings and the workplace. Even in high school, a boy set a contact explosive on my locker when I refused to date him.

Teresa writes fiction and nonfiction and is the founder of Lakeshore Writers Workshop in Oakland, California. Her story collection, Hold Off the Night, was a finalist for the Hudson Prize 2018 and semi-finalist for the Iowa Fiction Award 2016. Her work has appeared in numerous literary journals and anthologies, most recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Madison Review, Dogwood, and in several anthologies including Best New Writing and 2014: A Year in Stories and the Best of Pen & Brush Inc. (forthcoming). Her work has been recognized in contests at Glimmer Train Press, Narrative Journal, Phoebe Journal, New Millennium Writings and others. Her interviews and book reviews have appeared in Zyzzyva, Bookslut, Shambhala Sun, Literary Mama and more.

 

Three Point One Four One Five

“Hey, Katharine. Would you rather get married in a church or…” Emily pauses to sip her coffee and get her thoughts together. She spills some on her chin and giggles while using the back of her hand to wipe it off. “Or a beach. Would you rather get married in a church or on a …

Bird, Window

One Dusk, my desk, a poem lodged inside me, stillborn—a flash of darkness at my window, and then a crash in the room next door. Bomb, gunshot, sonic boom? I arrive in time to hear glass shatter and watch the window collapse. Shards of glass scattered among the volumes in the bookcase, at my feet, …

Yasmine

One afternoon in the early spring, Yasmine and I ended up in a department store on the way to Itaewon, a section of Seoul sometimes referred to as Little America. A nickname born of its close proximity to an American military base, and the fact that shops, restaurants, and clubs catered to American soldiers. As we passed the jewelry counter in the mall, Yasmine suggested we buy matching rings.

“Why?” I asked incredulously. Except for earrings, I didn’t wear jewelry.

“I always thought it would be nice to have a friendship ring. But until now, I never had a close enough friend,” she looped her arm through mind and pulled me closer to the display.

 

Elizabeth Jaeger’s work has been published in various journals, including Watchung Review, The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, The New Ink Review, Ovunque Siamo, Placeholder Magazine, Parentheses Journal, Brush Talks, Waypoints, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Peacock Journal, Boston Accent Lit, Damfino, Inside the Bell Jar, Blue Planet Journal, Italian Americana, Yellow Chair Review, Drowing Gull, Icarus Down Review, Linden Avenue Literary Journal, Atticus Review, and Literary Explorer. She has published book reviews in TLR Online and has participated in an episode of No, YOU Tell It! When she isn’t writing she loves spending time with her son–hiking, taking road trips, and watching movies.

Arabesque: A Series of Revelations

{Turnout}

As with all ballet positions, the arabesque begins here.

To find your true turnout, first stand with your feet together. Now open them up as you would unfold a fan, with your heels acting as the fulcrum. You will see that your turnout is not ideal. It forms, instead of a straight line from the toes of one foot to the toes of the other, an angle. An obtuse angle.

This is the first position. It is the most simple, but also the most revealing, the most vulnerable.

 

Zining Mok is a Singaporean writer of poetry and nonfiction. She is currently a student of the MFA program at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. In her free time, she enjoys dancing and hiking.  

The Things I know: A Croatian Lesson

It was during a third grade pool party, surrounded by kids splashing in bright bathing suits and adults carting ice-pops and lemonade, when I learned I couldn’t say my own last name. What should have been facile and fundamental for me as an eight-year-old became an embarrassing revelation, coming as it did from an old …

Losers, Chicks, and Secret Identities

It was dread. That was what I was facing if my secret ever got out. Few people would understand it, and almost nobody knew about it, because I was very good at hiding it, but it was always there in the background. My comic book collection was my very own treasure horde, and I protected its secrets like a king of misers, but it was not solely to defend it against covetous hands, since the deeper fear lay in never allowing the world to know that I identified with it in the first place. The only instances when I voluntarily exposed my hidden love for comics outside the walls of my home was every time I entered a comic book store to get something fundamental in me fulfilled.

You sacrificed some semblance of self as a comic book fan back in the day. You were an outsider, some kind of weirdo. Looking around at the monstrous success garnered by the industry today, you would at least think it unlikely. My wife thinks I’m exaggerating when I declare that in those days, we comic book fans had to hide. We, the unprofessed and reluctant “geeks,” would keep that stuff in a distant corner of our lives, unknowingly leading the secret identity you read about in the actual comic books we were collecting. Superheroes were all about secret identities, and when Spiderman changed back to the nerdy Peter Parker, it was a leap across fantasy and straight into the reality of almost every fan who was reading such stuff.

Rey Armenteros is a Los Angeles-based painter and writer who writes the blog, Through Concentrated Breath. He has pieces forthcoming in Magnolia Review, Umbrella Factory Magazine, and Still Point Arts Quarterly.

Bitter Fruit

When I learned that my old friend, Greg (I’ll call him), had died from brain cancer, I felt relief at his release. His final weeks had been horrible, his mind gone, his body shrunken and twisted, incontinent, the shell of him writhing in dark pain. We had been friends since our first week in college many years ago, his infectious enthusiasm enduring through his success as a management consultant and his hobby of lead roles in amateur musical productions. Even at the end, when he had lost the power of coherent speech, he revived to sing snatches of show tunes, lyrics still embedded in his diseased brain when all else was lost.

 

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. For more than twenty years, he was editor of The Literary Review.

Essay and Other Nonfiction Workshops at Eckleburg

Personal Essay

Lyric Essay

Body Narrative

Modern Memoir

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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.