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


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. 

Eckleburg No. 21

Eckleburg No. 21 curates a beautiful selection of traditional and genre-bending fiction by Gertrude Stein Award winner, Faerl Marie Torres, Agnes Scott Poetry Award winner, Jessica Melilli-Hand, eleventh century Sanskrit translation by Brishti Guha, artwork by Sandra Shugart and more.

All Natural and Incompatible

Somewhere the poet says, “I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free.” The poet says that, or I am misquoting the poet, or misremembering or the poet is not who I thought he is. I saw a tornado gathering over the Holyoke range today; it looked calm.

Thomas Cook is the author of the forthcoming poetry collection Light Through a Pane of Glass. Other essays from the series here featured have appeared in Rappahannock Review and The Dead Mule. He lives in Los Angeles and is an editor and publisher of Tammy.

Where Meaning Lives

Disregard the drooling mouths, the incoherent babbles, the lack of fine motor skills: babies are geniuses. At birth, babies can discern every speech sound found in every language. They may not produce much more than dirty diapers, but they absorb the sound profiles of languages like sommeliers sampling pinot grigios. Send a Japanese baby to Britain, and she’ll distinguish red from led. Drop a Brazilian baby in southern Africa with the Ju|’hoansi, and he’ll crack the code of their consonantal clicks. An American baby can decipher that meaning lives in the tones of Thai. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for American men, and when I decided to move to Thailand in 2011, I soon realized that my linguistic genius had been discharged decades ago alongside a spate of soiled diapers.

Dan Brubaker is a science writer and video producer originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but residing along California’s North Coast. He earned his MA in science writing from Johns Hopkins University after studying biological anthropology at Emory University. His creative nonfiction has appeared in Catamaran, Under the Sun, and BlueSci. Currently, he makes a living in communications and as a freelance medical writer, but evolutionary biology, psychology, and behavior remain his fields of interest. Dan produces an animated, science series on YouTube called Studies Show—a passion project that serves up new research findings with a side of laughs.


Why I Write

In 11th grade creative writing, my poetry dissolved. The overwhelming crush of criticism and the realization that I had no talent stole my brain. When I tried to compose poetry, I threw up my hands with esoteric senseless gibberish. My first husband-partner-lover Scott was a poet. His poetry collection of Apricot was astonishingly clear. He filled each word with a fragrance. It was published in 1973. When he read in public, I knew I could never compete. He was the writer in the family. I was the accountant money-man. I let it go. I descended into the closet about writing.

I have published work in Issue #22 of Really Systems (2019), Free Verse Revolutions June 2019, Emeritus Chronicles (2019), Senior Stories WEHO (2018, 2019) and My Life is Poetry (2008). I’m a standup comic that has performed at The Ruby, TAO and The Blackbox Theater at the GLBT Village in Hollywood. I’ve performed my short stories at AKBAR and they’ve been recorded on The Queer Slam podcast for iTunes.

Something There Is That Does So Love a Cocklebur

You’d think ‘bur’ would have two r’s, the hooks on the letter resembling those on the prickles. Our dogs do not love the cocklebur’s almond-sized fruit, especially Fern, whose fur is the consistency of bad wig hair. The burs cling to Fern like Velcro, using her beard, her tail, her fuzzy pantaloons to disperse to new locations, determined to survive. A member of the daisy family, the cocklebur grows in waste places, places to which its prickly seeds can be blown or washed in, places like the lakebed trails where my husband Marc and I walk our dogs several times a week. As the Kern River and Lake Isabella’s waters recede with the Sierra’s diminishing snowmelt, bottles and driftwood and sunglass frames deposit themselves on the freshly formed beaches. Cocklebur plants, too.

Ann Beman is Tahoma Literary Review‘s nonfiction editor and also serves as prose reviews editor for the Museum of Americana online journal. Her work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Bombay Gin, Mojave River Review, and some other cool places. But nowhere’s as cool to her as where she lives with two whatchamaterriers, a chihuahua, and her husband in Kernville, on the Kern River, in Kern County. Cue the banjos.

Shark Patrol

Just south of Sarasota, I told the lady sun tanning on the blanket there was a shark out there in the water.  It was true.  Big shark.  Two body lengths, shadow grey, cruising like a tank beneath the surface.  “There can’t be any sharks out there,” the woman said.  Some lady in a swim cap.  One of the timeshare occupants from across the street.  Not my grandmother’s friend – they hate each other, all the timeshare tenants.  They can’t stand each other’s one-piece bathing suits with the fake skirt.  They can’t stand each other’s varicose veins.  Each thinks the other is polluting their landscape.  “A big shark,” I repeated.


Tim Fitts lives and works in Philadelphia. He serves on the editorial staff of the Painted Bride Quarterly and teaches in the Liberal Arts Department of the Curtis Institute of Music. Fitts’ fiction has been published by journals such as Granta, The Gettysburg Review, Boulevard, Shenandoah, Fugue, among many others.

The One Dollar

A light tap on the hotel room’s wooden door invites me to investigate. I am away on business in Newport News, Virginia, Room 203. I cross the musty brown carpet that sports faded yellow swirl patterns. Through the fisheye lens, I see a thin Indian man glancing left and right.

As a mechanical engineer for a large public utility in Colorado, I’ve been sent to the Port of Virginia to inspect a new turbine recently purchased for one of our power plants. My mind is preoccupied with the knowledge that my father arrived at this same port in January 1948, when he was merely 17 years old.


David B. Such is a left-handed mechanical engineer with four decades of experience with turbines and other machinery. Off the job, he retreats to his home in the foothills of Colorado where, contrasted to his industrial work environment, he appreciates close connections with his natural surroundings and enjoys reading, writing, drawing, and gardening. His essays, poetry, and drawings have appeared in South 85 Literary Journal, Stonecoast Review, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, Red Coyote Journal, EcoTheo Review, Silver Blade Magazine, and others. He also has an essay and drawing forthcoming in Weber — The Contemporary West. Visit David at and

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.

Essay and Other Nonfiction Workshops at Eckleburg

Personal Essay

Lyric Essay

Body Narrative

Modern Memoir

View All Workshops

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.