Essays

A Bendel Bonnet, A Shakespeare Sonnet

What do a Bendel bonnet and a Shakespeare sonnet have in common besides rhyme? Throw in Mickey Mouse. No, it’s not a riddle manqué or a question rejected by the Miller Analogies test. As many probably know already, these are just a few of the superlative attributes applied to the person who is nonpareil in Cole Porter’s 1934 song “You’re the Top.” In fact, the list of best-in-kind comparisons goes on for verse after verse, including the Mona Lisa, the Tower of Pisa, Mahatma Gandhi, Napoleon brandy, cellophane, an O’Neill drama, a Waldorf salad, Whistler’s mama, and camembert. While the wit of this compilation is yet another example of Porter’s lyrical brilliance, it may also be considered symptomatic of a tectonic shift in the hierarchy of cultural values that took place in the early twentieth century.

 

Walter Cummins has published seven short story collections and three essay collections, as well as a number of co-written books.

A Force, A Cosmic Certainty

Trapped in quarantine purgatory, my partner and I, like two stereotypical GenXers, decided to escape to a galaxy far, far away. As we watched all three Star Wars trilogies, I was transported to the mellow days of the 70s in fog-drenched Monterey when my hair shone naturally golden and my sister and I frolicked in the ice-plant, climbing twisted scrub oaks in our front yard, part of the army base where my helicopter-flying father was stationed. I was five-years-old when George Lucas released his space odyssey Star Wars — that lightning in a bottle of space dust forever entwined in my consciousness. Though I was too young to remember viewing the first film, at some point, I developed my first girl-crush on an intergalactic princess with cinnamon buns for hair.

 

A graduate of the Bread Loaf School of English, Laurie Clark taught high school English in independent schools across the US for over 20 years. She recently published an essay in Middlebury Magazine. She blogs for a local mid-century ceramics company and communes with hummingbirds.

Sitting with a Dying Physician

The smell of sickness saturates the room.

A vomit basin, half full, lies on Mary’s lap. Her thin lips quiver. “I can’t eat or drink anything.” She shakes an unused cup of melting ice in her right hand; a tangle of tubes and wires jostle. She grabs an ice cube and slides it into her mouth. She turns her head to the side and retches. “I need a feeding tube.” She shoves her breakfast to the side. A sob rises in her throat. “It’s getting hard not to think about death.”

 

Paul Rousseau is a semi-retired physician and writer, published in medical and literary journals. Lives in Charleston, SC; longs to return to the West. Lover of dogs.

Ghost

I live in a world of spirit.

Each day I am sober is miraculous and terrifying.

Each day I am sober should not be.

I am a ghost who walks and breathes.

 

Adam Fout writes nonfiction and speculative fiction. He is a graduate of the 2020 Odyssey Writing Workshop and has been published in or has upcoming work in The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review, december, J Journal, Pulp Literature, and DreamForge. Read his blog on addiction and recovery at adamfout.com or follow him on Twitter @adamfout2.

Captains of the Mother Ship

At the Four Seasons residential community in Clifton, New Jersey, you can go for a walk. But make sure you bring a key fob. If you decide to take the stairs instead of the elevator and you do not have a key fob, you may get locked in the stairwell between your mother-in-law’s third-floor apartment and the first-floor exit.

The fact that my husband, David, has experienced this particular form of captivity is no surprise, given his tendency to act like a cooped-up animal when we venture from the Southwest to visit my mother in New Jersey for the holidays. To further understand his frenzied sense of containment, consider that David is a guy who likes to get out of his immediate space to feel content. After a few drinks, he might tell you about the time he swam across Walden Pond when dared by his carpool colleagues on their way to work one day.

Jennifer Moglia Lucil grew up in New York, where her parents brought her to Broadway plays at every opportunity. Sometime later, though, she had a dream about picking up roots and traveling West. She now resides in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband, David, and her twin sons. Jennifer teaches an outdoor kindergarten and is a fierce advocate for children being in nature. Jennifer’s work has won local recognition, from the Albuquerque Museum of Art, Anne Hillerman Celebration of Writing Award, 2019, for “Night of Thieves,” and from Alibi.com’s Pretty in Pink Writing Contest for “Chance Conversations: Teachers Seize the Ride-Sharing Moment.” Jennifer studied Literature at Smith College and holds a Master’s degree in Literature and Film Studies from Brown University. She lives and works in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A Time to Lament

Lament was a powerful tool once. The Iliad, perhaps the greatest of the epics of old, ends with three women’s voices mourning Hector, declaring what his death at the hands of Achilles would now mean for each of them. In Hebrew scripture, what was most often lamented was spiritual failure on the part of Israel, the resulting disorder wreaking havoc on the people and land. The prophet Isaiah condemned the wealthy who in a period of economic downturn, rather than helping their fellow Hebrews get back on their feet, bought land cheap from underneath them. They might have come out with riches from taking advantage of others’ money problems, but, in the end, they would be left without friends: “Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth!”

Over the years, Marshall Surratt has committed himself to writing about or photographing people who have sought to make a difference, including Rosa Parks, Anne Braden, Pete Seeger, Wendell Berry, and Wes Jackson. Other times he has turned attention to his family lore, to sort out past wrongs and attempts at penance, believing in self-examination, too. Articles and reviews of his have appeared in Christian Century, Christianity & Crisis, Texas Observer, and Dallas Morning News, as well as other publications.

Love Me

The internet had promised me the “cutest, fluffiest day ever.” So when we saw the sign for the cat cafe while out shopping in Seoul’s Itaewon neighborhood, I squealed. On it, cartoon cats pranced around photos of the real cats waiting upstairs to love us. I turned to my boyfriend with eyes wide and hopeful, and he smiled and nodded, said with his ever-indulging attitude, “We can go.”

 

Paulette Perhach’s writing has been published in the New York Times, Elle, Slate, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Yoga Journal, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and Vice. Her book, Welcome to the Writer’s Life, was selected as one of Poets & Writers’ Best Books for Writers.

Why Cats Need Nine Lives

You might think if you can care for human children that you are qualified to care for a cat, but you would be wrong. Three children came to stay for part of the summer and brought their kitten with them. This feline was offered as a kind of bonus to the package deal—you take three, lovely children for a few weeks, and we’ll throw in a cute kitten—free. (Not that I paid to take the kids, nor should I add, was I being paid. In retrospect, I should have demanded remuneration in order to buy life insurance on that cat.)

 

A. E. Cheetham is a writer and reader of novels who occasionally feels the compulsion to write humorous memoir. She is currently seeking representation for her humorous MG novel, Fixing Up Aunt Katie, as well as her YA thriller, The Conference Go-er

Embodying Truth in the Midst of Falsehood

It’s hard not to feel helpless as we witness the dissolution of cooperation around the planet, along with the dying gasps of dialogue among people who hold different views. This is not new, but it’s painful to watch the unravelling of civility and kindness in our world. We are living at a time when the spiritual teachings that many of us rely on to guide and inspire us are being turned into instruments of intolerance and hatred. So what are we to do? Where are we to look for an example that we can admire? One place, which can’t be accused of taking sides in any present dispute, is Classical Greek Literature.

 

Michael Gray is the author of The Flying Caterpillar, a memoir, and the novels Asleep at the Wheel of Time, about whales, aliens, and humans, and Falling on the Bright Side, about his experience working with the disabled. He is the co-founder of Friends in Time (a non-profit he founded with a friend who has ALS); and past Board president of New Mexico Parkinson’s Coalition and Pathways Academy (a school for kids with autism and other learning issues). A regular contributor to various journals, including Kosmos, and Eckleburg Review, Gray writes a weekly blog on www.michaelgrayauthor.com.

Ascension

We were trying to get a porcupine to fight the wild turkeys.

It started when Chris lobbed a Frisbee over my head and it sailed into the thicket of high grass surrounding the shed. Wading in, I peeled back layers of green overgrowth in search of a round, yellow glimmer of plastic. Instead, sunlight flashed upon the little guy’s spiky head just before he scurried off with instinctual terror to hide under the shed. I called to him in as melodious a voice as I could muster, then whistled some simple nonsense, but to no avail.

It was summer, our annual family vacation in rural New Hampshire, and none of us had much experience taming wild animals and forcing them to do our bidding. Enlisting the help of the Internet, we found step-by-step instructions that were written in such plain and un-ironic language that it read like something out of a fairy tale: Find an oar, preferably an old one that has been frequently used by kayakers. Chop it into tiny splinters. Place the splinters in a small bowl of lightly salted water situated in an open field not far from the porcupine’s den, some time during the early-dawn or late-dusk hours of the day. The porcupine will find the bowl strangely tantalizing, and will emerge to investigate.

 

Cory Johnston is a writer, editor, and teacher from northern New Jersey, where he holds an MFA from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He has been involved with The Literary Review, or TLR, since 2012, and currently serves as Associate Nonfiction Editor. Outside of the literary world, you’re likely to find him seeking out rare and delicious sandwiches, following the summer Phish tour, or trying to befriend the local squirrel population. 

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.