Tom Baragwanath: Gorgeous Blue

Keller was late to the party, later even than the Phillips had come to expect. He’d neglected to wrap Rachel’s gift before leaving and had to stalk the house for paper and ribbon, settling on a vaguely festive red bag mashed inside a kitchen drawer.

The hallway mirror told him the chowder stain across his breast was more apparent than he’d realized. It was his only jacket; he’d have to find a dark corner of the ballroom and hope no one came too close. Then, as a grace note on the evening’s already stammering shuffle, he found his station wagon still loaded with cement mix. By the time he unloaded everything and pulled into the road his collar was soaked, his skull squeezed tight. He wished he’d remembered a flask.

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AN Block: Once the Fireworks Start

My Bubbe came over from the other side packed in steerage like a sardine when she was eleven, then headed straight to a shirt factory. She had no choice. One of twelve children, she never learned to read or write, she spoke broken English and had to go through a lot of hardship in her lifetime. By the time I came along Bubbe needed a cane, she walked side to side and stopped to rest after every few steps, but she’d seen things other people hadn’t, and knew things they didn’t know.

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Susan Dugan: Rice Pudding

I have no photos of that bleak holiday when I was eight years old. My mother had died, along with my unborn sister who was to be named Jackie, just two weeks before President Kennedy’s assassination. There’s only a collage of mental images more vivid than Kodachrome that I sometimes still shuffle through when awake in the middle of the night. Always, I am drawn to the specter of me kneeling at the tarnished grate in the floor of Aunt Louise’s guest room, peering down at the cavernous wood stove, straining to decipher a hushed conversation between my aunt and father at the kitchen table beside the iced-up window just beyond my visual field.

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Don Fredd: Temp to Perm: A Journey

May 7

Edwardo is on my case again.  The temporary title of acting manager at The Napolitano Ristorante weighs uneasily upon his crown.  I can always tell when the “suits” that monitor this branch of the franchise are planning an inspection.  Everything is swept, then double swept.  I am warned to follow the rules with regard to how many ounces of topping the manuals call for.  I’ve explained all too often that, when I’m busy, it’s grab a handful of mushrooms or peppers and dress the pie.  I don’t have time to weigh everything.  I usually add the fact that I’m the only pizza guy who works alone, juggling and tossing the pies with dazzling acrobatics which has them nearly touching the ceiling—a great crowd pleaser.   I then dress many different combos while my sixth sense tells me when to check the oven.

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Don Raymond: What Even Are?

The cat is a continuous function: smooth trace of a hand
along the length of her body, though only periodically
differentiable from the matrix of her surroundings:
discrete irregular patches of color and shadowed shapes
integrating into the background, absolute stillness
in the closed curve of perfect sleep; a twitch, oscillation
about the axis of her boneless, unparalleled comfort –
a viper’s downward pointing diamond of a head;
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