Essays

Such a Long, Long Time to Be Gone and a Short Time to be There

The waiter was a gangly young man with a shock of brown hair and the exuberant manner of an Airedale puppy. We had only asked for water, but he seemed delighted by our request. The light glinted enthusiastically off his hornrims.

“Bien sur,” he said. “Il n’y a pas de souci!”

There was nothing to worry about—water would be forthcoming. In fact, we could have anything we wanted. Bread, butter, Dad’s request that coffee come at the same time as dessert and not before, everything was “pas de souci.” Emphasis on “pas.” There is no worry.

It was Thanksgiving, and my sister Claudia, my Dad and I were in the market for some good news. That morning, I had gotten off a plane laden with the kinds of provisions Americans miss when they live abroad—two jars of Skippy peanut butter, a tube of Colgate, and a box of Trader Joe’s cornbread mix. But before I even got to the house, Mom fainted on the way to the bathroom and hit her head. She had been sick again for about six months, and the doctors had just decided to suspend treatment, so Claud and I had flown in for Thanksgiving, worried about waiting until Christmas.

Caren Morrison grew up in France and was a music journalist for Melody Maker in London for seven years. After staying up all night in Barcelona with Green Day and touring Scotland in a tiny van with Courtney Love, she decided to become a lawyer. She graduated from Columbia Law School, prosecuted foreign drug cartels at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, and finally ended up as a law professor in Atlanta. She now lives with her federal agent husband, two red-haired children, two sweet but poorly behaved dogs, and a cat. She is currently working on a novel about the corrosive power of remorse in the aftermath of a police shooting. This is her first personal essay publication.

Fast Delivery

At exactly 3 p.m. on March 13, 1957, Carolos Gutierrez Menoyo directed the commando group into two cars and a red panel truck with the words Fast Delivery” painted on its sides. The Palace attack was about to begin.

Long before I visited Havana, Cuba in November 2014 and laid my body against the body of the red Fast Delivery truck pocked with bullet holes, displayed in the National Museum of the Revolution, a red truck had been the means of transport into the untracked wildernesses of my mind; it drove itself into multiple poems and fragments…

 

Drawing inspiration from a range of psychological landscapes, Paula Marafino Bernett’s work reflects a deep curiosity about the mind’s forays into language and association as the drivers for inquiry and the pursuit of a rich and dimensional life. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Clackamas Literary Review, The Louisville Review, Margie, Nimrod International Journal, Rattle, Tar River Poetry, and, Whiskey Island, among others. Her lyric essay “Digression and Memory, The Handmaiden Effect” and a companion essay “Four Hands Improvising on a Piano” appeared in Fourth Genre. Her lyric essay “The Smallest Leaning Begins … has appeared in Eastern Iowa Review.

Shame

It was one of the most shameful moments of my life. It is one that I will never forget and from which I will never recover.

***

For years, my father had been showing the signs of Alzheimer’s disease. The once brilliant mind and sharp wit had dimmed a bit, and it was getting harder and harder for him to keep things straight. Conversations with my father had always been powerful for me. He had the ability to follow my ramblings, ask probing questions with genuine interest, and give feedback or commentary that often made me think further on a certain issue. He was this way with most people, especially my friends, and we had a running joke that my friends had better not start a conversation with my dad unless they had plenty of time on their hands. But his ability to carry on such dialogue had become curtailed, and his short answers, or even silence, stood in great contrast to the talker most people knew. One Christmas, I gave him the gift of an outing each month—just the two of us—to a place of interest for the day. Our car rides, which had previously been packed with storytelling or ponderings about life, instead became filled with wordless spaces and repeated information from previous conversations. His disease was advancing.

 

Home through the Smoke: Recollections of the Butte County Camp Fire

On Thursday, November 8th, 2018, I went to the Good Earth store for lunch. I had just heard about the Butte County Camp Fire, slightly growing anxious as the sky filled with a sandstone haze. I got some coffee, coconut water, and a piece of pizza from the to-go station and went to the express lane. A man, dressed like he just got done with a mountain bike ride, covered in sweat, stood to my right, just out of line. He cut in front of me, and I said nothing, not sure if he was there before I had arrived in line. He then turned back and saw me and apologized. We exchanged niceties as he told he just got in from Sonoma from the train, that he was about to go for a ride.

 

Born and raised just north of San Francisco, Cole Hersey has worked as a staff writer with the Oregon Voice and has worked on the selection committee of the SILO at Bennington College, where he received his undergraduate degree. Currently, he is working as an editor at the West Marin Review. Anne Lamott said of his work, “Cole Hersey is the real thing, a beautiful and observant writer on his way up. His writing is clear and evocative, visual and touching, with just a bit of edge, and a lot of soul.”

The Football Gamble

As our fickle nation turns its attention to another season of weary football, we’re inundated with radio spots, TV commercials, and billboards touting the glitzy appeal of sports-betting. From this onslaught, it would seem that all it takes is a few minutes of research on point spreads, weather conditions, and match-up history for the average fan to swim in the spoils of weekly winnings. Putting down the right bet can turn any casual Sunday into a money monsoon befitting a tech mogul. An activity, which recently was considered unseemly or taboo, has now pulled a firm seat to the crowded poker table of mainstream advertising. So what’s happened?

Tim Cyphers is a writer living in Baltimore, MD. An avid sports-fan, reader, admirer of music, the outdoors, and soon-to-be-(gulp)-dad, he also earns a living in the treasury field.

 

Surcease of Sorrow

I’m typing case notes in the hospice office when one of the home care nurses walks up and sings, “The son’s gonna come in to-mor-row.”

I chuckle-groan. Sons from out of town haven’t been around to experience the patient’s decline, so they can’t understand the decisions made by caregivers who have been. Sons from out of town, whether they are conscious of it or not, believe they can swoop in for a few days and fix whatever’s wrong. Sons from out of town, poor guys, are a pain to educate.

Peggy Hendry’s work has appeared in Storyteller: Journal of the Society of
Southwestern Authors
, Months to Years Magazine, DASH Literary Journal, and the anthology, Coyotes: Winners of the First Six Years of the Tucson Festival of Books Writing Contest. She lives in the lush Sonoran Desert with her husband of twenty-nine years and the cat who owns them. Peggy is currently working on her second novel.

Hotel Pool, or, Gay Subject Matter

Alone in the pool, surrounded by other people’s children, I think of a way to describe the garbled and bulbous sounds of their high pitched voices bouncing | heightened | distracting and I think: this must be what it sounds like inside a snow globe—the garbled nature of voice trapped beneath a glass dome. Here, the indoor hotel pool is rectangular. The ceiling, high. I enter at the low end, easing my feet into cool water, holding the metal rail in case a loud, raucous embodied voice bumps into me.

 

Heather J. Macpherson writes from New England. Her work has appeared in 580 Split, Gravel, The Worcester Review, Concourse, Spillway, Pearl and other fine places. She has work forthcoming in The Bennington Review and Blueline. Heather is a PhD candidate in Creative Nonfiction at University of Rhode Island.

Beets

 

In Southern Minnesota, my job was to pile sugar beets as they came in from the fields. Truck by truck, twenty-four hours a day, every day—unless it rained too much, and the vehicles got stuck.

Zachary H Loewenstein never meant for things to be like this. He currently
lives in a van and is exploring the maritime provinces of Canada.

The Pact

In this suburb, where fast food chains abound, a landscape I first assessed as soulless, I’m beginning to understand why you loved living here. I’ve been missing the point for too long. You were focused on who lived here, on their stories. You didn’t distance yourself from the people you helped. You sat with them, ate with them, listened to them, joked around with them, and, because you understood that no one is ever that far from distress, you gave what you could to them. They deserved a chance, even a leg up. They were you.

Lori Toppel is the author of THREE CHILDREN, a novel, and co-author of STILL HERE THINKING OF YOU, a collaborative memoir. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Atticus Review, Del Sol Review, and The Antioch Review. She is a graduate of the MFA Program at Columbia University.

Dressing the Mutton

I throw on purple tights and an orange racer-back tank top with the logo of Milestone Running—the San Diego store where I buy my athletic gear—emblazoned on the front. I’m out for an early five-mile run. After I return home and shower, I dress in jeans and a t-shirt for a day at my desk, add a hoodie when I walk out later to the library and grocery store. This is me, age seventy-four, on a typical Tuesday.

My grandmother died when she was younger than I am now. In my memory, she’s an old woman, blue-haired, stocky and shelf-bosomed. In a family photo from my brother’s 1956 high school graduation, she wears a dark shapeless dress under a long shapeless coat, a little pancake hat perched on her tight tinted coils. She dressed her age, like most sixty-something women of her day. In tights and a tank top or jeans and a t-shirt, she’d have caused a stir. She’d have been accused of making a pathetic attempt to pass herself off as younger, of being “mutton dressed as lamb.”

Alice Lowe reads and writes about life and literature, food and family. Her personal essays have appeared this past year in Superstition Review, Ascent, Waccamaw Review, Baltimore Review, Stonecoast Review, Hobart, and Bloom. Her work has been cited in the Best American Essays notables and nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Alice is the author of numerous essays and reviews on Virginia Woolf’s life and work, including two monographs published by Cecil Woolf Publishers in London. Alice lives in San Diego, California; read her work at www.aliceloweblogs.wordpress.com.

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.