I don’t want to be all playing into stereotypes here, but I’m on my period and everything is pissing me off. From my dog who selectively understands English and won’t stop whining at the squirrels to my long-distance boyfriend/affairmate who I haven’t even talked to today because I’m getting frustrated with Facebook messaging my daily …

Disappearing in Goethe House: Johann’s Sleep

No matter how long a journey is, and though it begins with eagerness and excitement, my heart aches the night before going back home for the narrow streets I had walked on for many days; the harmony of the unknown language, stores, coffees and restaurants, the rustle of women’s skirts sweeping the ground, the cheeping of children leaving school, and the murmur of cars. On the threshold of saying goodbye or farewell and still remembering the taste of food, I long to stay one more day despite homesickness. It doesn’t matter whether the journey is short or long because there is no such thing as a bad escape. Going back home means returning to reality, existing in the detached routine and work. Organizing and turning back to the writings, tidying the house, helping people, living… How sacred it is that time stops during a journey, and I spent it wandering through books in unknown languages. I was bestowed the pleasure of unhurriedly beholding the works of painters and sculptors of the region and the chance to rewrite stories. Soon to become tomorrow’s passenger, I think of all this all night.

Nazli Karabiyikoglu is an author and activist from Turkey, now a full-time resident in Germany awarded with Writers-in-Exile Scholarship by PEN Germany, who secluded herself from the political and gender oppression in Turkey. She is also a scholar of the Human Rights faculty at Friedrich Alexander University in Germany.

A Tiny Green Blueberry

A tiny green blueberry. Crunchy. It’s eaten by mistake. It was mixed in that package of frozen berries that I’ll pretty much eat by the pound. I poured a handful of the frozen berries into my glass and poured two shots of vodka on it. This makes the alcohol sweeten and the berries absorb the alcohol. I poured in an entire can of ginger ale and drank and the tiny green blueberry was at the very bottom.

Young and underripe. Drenched in booze.


Mercury-Marvin Sunderland (he/him) is a transgender autistic gay man from Seattle with Borderline Personality Disorder. He currently attends the Evergreen State College and works for Headline Poetry & Press. He’s been published by University of Amsterdam’s Writer’s Block, UC Riverside’s Santa Ana River Review, UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum Literary Journal, and The New School’s The Inquisitive Eater. His lifelong dream is to become the most banned author in human history. He’s @Romangodmercury on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

The Iceman

About 1937.

We had a large card with numbers on it which we put in the window to tell the iceman we wanted ice. The number on top of the card showed him what size block to bring in. When our ice was just about all gone, we put the card in the window with the number 25 on top. That was for a 25-cent block, a good-sized piece.

The iceman sometimes had a wagon pulled by a horse, but more often it was a truck. He drove slowly along the street and looked up for the cards in the windows. When he saw one, he stopped the truck, went around, and climbed up in the back.

I used to enjoy watching him work. He would climb into the back of the truck and slide a large block of ice away from the pack. Then he would dig the ice pick into the block in spaced places across the top of the block. This was to split it. I enjoyed the chinking sound it made as white sprays shot downward through the ice from the ice pick strokes. Then the piece would split off with a chunking sound.

The iceman put a piece of burlap over his shoulder. Taking hold of the chunk of ice with tongs, he hoisted it to his shoulder. Then he walked with it along the sidewalk by the house and up the shaky outside stairs to our second-floor apartment. Turning into the hall, he opened the top of our icebox and dropped in the ice.

“Twenty-five cents,” he said as he straightened.


A veteran of World War II, Dr. Delbert R. Gardner ( taught English literature and creative writing at Keuka College in upstate New York. Recent publications include poetry and stories in Blue Moon, Timeless Tales, From Sac, and El Portal, among others. Over seventy of Del’s poems and stories have appeared in such publications as The Literary Review, Poetry Digest, American Poetry Magazine, Provincetown Review, and Christian Science Monitor, among others. A scholar of the Pre-Raphaelites, his nonfiction credits include the book An “Idle Singer” and His Audience: A Study of William Morris’s Poetic Reputation in England, 1858-1900.

Adele Gardner, literary executor: For her master’s degree in English literature with emphasis in creative writing, Adele Gardner studied the craft of fiction with Janet Peery and poetry with Janet Sylvester at Old Dominion University. Nine poems won or placed in the Poetry Society of Virginia Awards, the Rhysling Award, and the Balticon Poetry Contest. Publications include a poetry book (Dreaming of Days in Astophel) and over 425 poems, stories, art, and essays in American Arts Quarterly, Pedestal Magazine, The Cape Rock, and many more. She’s literary executor for her father, mentor, and namesake, Delbert R. Gardner.


The first time was in the fifth grade, where I sat in the back of the room, with a large window behind me. One late-winter day, I heard a shrill whistling. Startled, I made a dramatic jump to the window. While not outgoing, I liked getting attention, and I got it, causing a stir in the class. Irritated by the disruption, the teacher asked, “What are you doing?” followed by a glare more stinging than the words. I said, “I heard something.” Not impressed, she said, “Sit down.” While my behavior was inappropriate for a phonics lesson (or whatever the subject was), the teacher’s harsh tone surprised me. I wasn’t playing a game. I did hear something, though I couldn’t prove it. Through the metal-framed window, I saw only the faded, winter grass sprinkled with gravel and dirt next to the building and a swing set in the distance, with no hint of the origin of the noise that interrupted our humdrum instruction. I sat down, chastened by the glaring adult and embarrassed by the giggling kids. So went my earliest acquaintance with tinnitus.

Tinnitus, “a ringing or similar sensation of sound in the ears” without an external stimulus, is most often associated with age-related hearing loss, afflicting up to a third of adults over sixty-five. Although not everyone who is hearing impaired has tinnitus, everyone with tinnitus has a hearing deficit, sometimes minor but sometimes significant. Incessant ringing due to genetics, obstruction, or damage to the fragile inner ear can bring on fatigue, sleep deprivation, memory loss. The resulting stress and anxiety can induce, in some sufferers, psychological problems, including depression.

Tom Wade is a retired state government employee. He lives in the Atlanta area and volunteers with the American Civil Liberties Union. His essays have appeared in Canyon Voices, Dr. T. J. Eckleberg Review, Lunch Ticket, Inlandia, Harmony Magazine, and other publications.


When I was nineteen, I moved to Montreal both for school and in the hope that the city would be for me what Paris was for the Lost Generation. That moveable feast, to quote Hemingway; that Babylon to be revisited, to quote Fitzgerald instead. Unlike Hemingway or Fitzgerald, I wasn’t chasing the modern novel. I thought I’d write a few plays before making my fortune writing sci-fi.

Montreal was cheap in those days and, for the first few years, I bounced between apartments and soon ended up with a roommate in a spacious two-bedroom that cost less than six hundred dollars. When our lease ended, she decided to live with her boyfriend and I decided to save money and so, for the love of a man on her part and a hundred dollars on mine, I moved to a place with two less rooms and twice as many problems.

In Montreal, new leases start on Canada Day, mostly because the separatists like it that way. July opens with tenants roaming like snails with their homes on their backs. My new home didn’t amount to much and, once my futon was interred, there was only a desk and my cat and many boxes of books. It was a sad place with a common room/kitchenette and an optimistic bedroom, which is what you call a bedroom that’s anything but. There was a small balcony but the floor creaked and every movement was a shot in a war with the woman below.

I knew right away that moving had been a mistake and I felt like the surgeon who realizes, long after the patient is sewn, that they’re missing their watch: I had lost something I could never reclaim.

Joel Fishbane’s non-fiction has appeared in issues of Canada’s History Magazine, The Writer, and Howlround. For more information, you’re welcome to visit

The Gift of Pain

I was in Pasadena, California, looking after a cat for a friend of mine. What I had initially embraced as a writing retreat quickly became a nightmare. I was trying to write at a desk in the living room when my back went into spasm, causing me worrying pain. Trying to distract myself, I opened Netflix and watched a new documentary about cancer.

Until then, I had thought the several months of off-and-on back pain was the result of an injury—a musculoskeletal issue from running or riding a motorcycle, perhaps—but my anxiety over the pain’s chronicity had been growing. Partway through the documentary, the angst reached a fever pitch. Fueled, no doubt, by the documentary’s subject matter, I became convinced that I had a tumor in my spine. I was sure of it. I now had cancer. The idea filled me with dread. My mind raced with possibilities, and I began hyperventilating. I was having a panic attack.

It had been nearly a year since I moved to Southern California to explore screenwriting after I quit my science writing job in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In that time, I had gone from a high-functioning working professional to a hypochondriac—obsessed with every ache and pain and overwhelmed by the fear of illness. As a freelance writer in California, I didn’t have a steady income and obtaining health insurance was a nightmare. Everyday questions about the most basic things spiraled through my head: Will I run out of money? Will my insurance cover that X-ray of my lower back? Am I going crazy? Bouts of grinding back pain evolved into a free-floating angst. I was chronically on edge and reacted strongly to perceived threats. My nervous system felt stuck in the “on” position.

Dustin Grinnell is a writer based in Boston. His creative nonfiction and fiction combines medicine and the humanities and has appeared in Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine, Perspectives in Biology & Medicine, New Scientist, Hektoen International, Ars Medica, The Awakenings Review, and Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine. He holds an MFA in fiction from Lasell University, an MS in physiology from Penn State, and a BA in psychobiology from Wheaton College (MA).

The Louvre at Twelve Miles an Hour

In fall 1985, I was sitting on a bench at the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam staring at his View of Auvers, 1890. There were tears in my eyes, causing a young woman seated next to me to whisper to me, “It’s wonderful to see a man so moved by art that he weeps.” I sighed. Did not respond. I was crying not because I admired it, but because I did not experience what other people apparently experienced. I was unmoved by what was in front of me. I did not think it was beautiful. I felt like an atheist in a chapel watching the faithful pray to a God who seems to speak just to them.

Michael Coolen is a pianist, composer, actor, performance artist, and writer living in Oregon. He has received three Fulbright Fellowships, four National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, and his writings have been published widely. He’s a published composer, with works performed around the world, including at Carnegie Hall, New England Conservatory of Music, Museum of Modern Art, and the Christie Gallery. He also has several glowing reviews as an actor and can send them along, too, in case you know anyone looking for an actor.

Enya 4-Ever

Everyone has embarrassing dating stories. Some of us just have more than others. I have enough for an entire book.

Among the highlights: following a break-up with my high school girlfriend, the first girl I asked out in college was a lesbian. In fact, my entire college dating resume involved one gaffe and foible after another—like having a crush on someone who invited me out with her friends, which included a boyfriend that she had never mentioned. And finally asking out a barista that I had a crush on by writing her a note asking her to go out with me—complete with checkboxes! She was married. And though not certain, I presumably became a laughingstock at my favorite coffee shop.

Yet I have never lost hope.


R.J. Fox is the award-winning writer of several short stories, plays, poems, a memoir, and 15 feature length screenplays. His first book – a memoir entitled Love & Vodka: My Surreal Adventures in Ukraine was published by Fish Out of Water Books, who also published his fiction debut: Awaiting Identification. Both books are in development as feature films. His third book is a collection of essays entitled Tales From the Dork Side.

His work has been published in over 30 literary magazines and journals.

Fox graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in English and a minor in Communications and received a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. Fox teaches film and literature in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, where he uses his own dream to inspire his students to follow their own.

2020 Discards: A Miscarriage Story

“I’m thinking about making a sourdough starter.”

I said this in front of my mom in hopes that she would make the sourdough starter and then share some with me. Just like millions of other people spending the majority of my time at home since the pandemic started, I thought baking would be a therapeutic way to ease the stress of 2020. Plus, bread is awesome.

On April 19, my mother came through with the sourdough starter, and lots of homemade bread. I took it home in a mason jar and was given a Post-it with feeding instructions.

On April 6, 13 days prior, I had taken a pregnancy test that turned out to be positive.  I’m 35 years old, so I’m considered to be at an “advanced age” for someone to have a child. Even though I’d been off birth control for 6 months and we were actively “trying” as they say, I didn’t expect to be pregnant.

Heather Wyatt is an English instructor at Jefferson State Community College by day and a food TV junkie by night. She’s obsessed with her two dogs and likes orange flavored drinks. Her first book, My Life Without Ranch, a non-fiction combo of self-help and memoir, is out now from 50/50 Press. Her poetry chapbook Call My Name is available now from The Poetry Box but prior to that her poetry has been featured in numerous journals since 2006. Most recently, her poems have appeared in places like: Jokes Review, Number One: A Literary Journal, and A Walk with Nature: Poetic Encounters that Nourish the Soul. Her short story “A Penny Saved” was published in Perspectives Magazine in 2018. Also in 2018, her essay “Self-Defense” appeared in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review and her essay, “Hot AF” was in the magazine Robot Butt. In 2019, Her essay, “Her?!” was in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. Most recently, her essay “I didn’t kill my boyfriend last night” was published in The Syndrome Mag and her essay, “A Gross, Happy Proposal” appeared in High Noon in 2020. She received her Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from the University of Alabama and her MFA in Poetry from Spalding University in Louisville, KY.

Essay and Other Nonfiction Workshops at Eckleburg

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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.