George Held: Night Falls at Nightingale’s

Dear Paul,

I miss you so much but they won’t let me receive letters here unless they read them first so I guess you might have written but got censored. I’ve asked Jill to play go-between for us since she’s the only one I trust and she puts on her bland nice little girl act when she visits. Otherwise only my brother has visited (once) and Daddy (twice).  But he puts on a cheerfulness that he never had to fake before. I know it’s because that bitch my stepmother Caroline has made him promise not to see me. She’s the one who put me here of course in the sanitarium. Nightingale’s. They don’t call it Nightingale Sanatorium or Nightingale Booby Hatch of course just Nightingale’s. Maybe you can write one of your poems about it, sort of an anti-Keats poem. I know how much you love the ode and one of my best memories is of you reading it to me under the big oak at the high school. Continue reading “George Held: Night Falls at Nightingale’s”

Dennis Vannatta: Adoration

Bobbi woke with a start with him kneeling by the bed, his face inches from hers.

“The toaster isn’t working,” he said.  “I can’t make toast.”

It wasn’t Derrick, her husband, but Aaron, Derrick’s older brother.  Bobbi was relieved because if it’d been Derrick, well, what on earth would he have been doing kneeling beside her?   She wasn’t surprised, though, to find Aaron there or anywhere else around the house—as long as he was in the house.  Aaron rarely went outside. Continue reading “Dennis Vannatta: Adoration”

TJ Neathery: Turing Test

At times, Braff Grieg forgot Cait wasn’t a real woman, especially moments like this as her delicate fingers slipped a garlic cracker into his mouth. He chewed and let the pulpy blend roll over his tongue. The garlic was sprinkled with sea salt, and he could almost taste the ocean. A happy thought—he was back at the old beach house, the place he had once loved so much, leaning over the porch railing and letting the brine-soaked wind wash over him. He allowed himself a smile, and just then, while standing on his balcony in New York City, he felt a sharp breeze blow up from the street below and catch the edge of his shirt collar. It was just as if the breeze had been recalled straight from his memory. He looked out over the city. The leaves of Central Park smoldered orange and red. It was a chilly mid-November evening. The weatherman said it threatened to snow the next day, but it was not snowing yet. Continue reading “TJ Neathery: Turing Test”

Chuck Taylor: Gang or No Gang

I liked to hang with Willis, this older guy who lived on a small farm just north of Glen Lennox housing development, where my parents rented an apartment. Willis was my lord-on-high god, for he was in high school, while I, mere I, was ten, a fourth grader, an outcast Yankee who got beat up walking home from school, and who got told, whether beaten or not, to save his confederate money, for the South would rise again. Continue reading “Chuck Taylor: Gang or No Gang”

Robert Wexelblatt: “Hsi-wei, the Monk, and the Landlord”

The Tang minister Fang Xuan-ling, who visited Master Hsi-wei in his retirement and recorded their conversations in his memoirs, relates the following story about the origin of the Master’s gnomic poem popularly called “Teacher Window.”

While he was making his way through Jizhou, it happened that Hsi-wei was invited to rest for a few days in a hillside monastery.  The monks were of the Ch’an sect, therefore exceptionally neat, disciplined, and, when not silent, economical in their communications.

Continue reading “Robert Wexelblatt: “Hsi-wei, the Monk, and the Landlord””