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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.