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Essays


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2011

Visualizing a Stallion
Jennifer McGaha
Act like a triangle. Become a turtle. Hook your index finger into your groin and throw your right leg over your left shoulder. Salute the sun. Cast your dristhi to the sky. Strength. Prana. Balance. Namaste.

Talking Dirty to the Kids
Marc Levy
We start walking, Jim and Ms. Universe hold hands. When we’re half way across, the road crew opens up with a jack hammer. It sounds just like an enemy machine gun. Me and Jim drop to the pavement. We start to low crawl through traffic.

Tangled Up in Blue
Monica J. Casper
I hesitate for a split second, weighing my profound craving for adventure against the lunacy of befriending these possible serial killers. They're all good-looking. But they might have knives. Or wives. Or herpes. Or tiny dicks.

Los Gringos And Us
Bernadete Piassa
Sometimes our hearts oscillate between our adoptive and native country like a fragile tree that bends in the direction of the wind. We feel that we don’t belong anywhere.

The Climb
Eric G. Müller
We clung against the wall in silence. Hapless! But really there was only one thing to do—climb to the top. We couldn’t help each other. We were utterly on our own—two almost naked people stuck on a cliff face.

Tanked
Myra Bellin
Was I really going to jump into that oversized bathtub with all of the sharks swimming in it? He must have mentioned it in the initial interview two months prior to this orientation tour; I probably blocked it out.

Ashland Autumn
Paul William Jacob
There is no amount of money that could buy from me the moment I spent on that train passing Mt. Shasta at dawn with my headphones on. I felt all the emotion of the previous year of learning, working, and healing in San Francisco break loose and go flooding through my body, releasing up and out into the aura of that illustrious mountain.


Summer 2010

A Peruvian/ New York Love Story
John Bredin
Around the time I began dating Jennifer, a sweet and pretty nanny from Peru, I also started the Love Project, a series of open discussions about love that took place in downtown cafes like Theee Coffee Chamber on Bleeker.

Upstairs at the Van Dyke
Paul William Jacob
He told me that one Australian millionaire whom he had sailed around the world with used to have Miguel make him homemade Belgian waffles topped with broiled shrimp and chocolate sauce every Tuesday night.

The Celebrities
Karl S. Monroe
Otters don’t actually reside at Juanita Bay, and if they did, they are so ravenous that a single pair would deplete the food supply of most of the creatures that do live here. It makes you wonder just where the otters live.

Spring 2010

...it all came down to a serious relationship with Eleanor Rigby
Gary Lehmann
Just when I thought there was nothing new that any of The Beatles could possibly say to interest me, I stumbled across a quote from Paul McCartney which revealed how he and John Lennon wrote Eleanor Rigby, and I was hooked all over again.

Fiesta of Sunset: Peace Corps Reflections
Taylor Dibbert
I am only one person and I am deeply flawed. I was a mean older brother. I could never commit to a relationship. I only picked the fights I knew I could win. I supported the invasion of Iraq. I even used to consider myself a Republican.



Fall/Winter 2009-2010

Home Improvement
Lucas Clay Flatt
The work, you see: it’s never done. Only what is burned is finished. What remains may haunt forever.

One, Two, Three, Four, Five
Noah Kucij
A list of clinically diagnosed phobias includes fear of puppets, fear of laughter, fear of numbers, and fear of the color purple. But none of these afflicts me, and no combination of factors equals the truth that my four-year-old heart perceived in that mask.

Murder on Valentine Mountain
Lorraine Berry
I know this sounds insane, but every time I'm hiking and there's a guy by himself, I always think he's just come from burying a body.

Forbidden City
Usha Alexander
I wandered the broad avenues of the Forbidden City in the middle of Beijing, peering through its darkened halls at the grand furniture and the material excesses of the imperial marriage trousseau.

Human Castles
Marc Gulezian
A Human Castle can grow up to ten levels, although most of them don’t go past eight.



Summer 2009

Adventures in the Language
Barbara Middlebrook
I ended up in Dijon more or less randomly, because the cheapest language program I could find was located there. Dijon turned out to be the perfect base for acquainting oneself with France and the French life.

Off the Road
Marc Levy
Vietnam was and remains a secretive culture. Ba, standing erect and humble, dutifully translated. After ten minutes I agreed to visit police headquarters.







Spring 2009

Instructions on How to Build a Galaxy
Daniel Hudon
Listen to Rumi: Start a big, foolish project. No new galaxies have been constructed in the past fourteen billion years, but that's no reason for you not to build one. Once you've built a galaxy, you can do anything.

Solitary Man
John G. Rodwan, Jr.
Indeed, for the faithless, god songs like Johnny Cash’s can gain poignancy. When he says god reached down his hand or is calling, softly and tenderly, for you and me, he sincerely means it.

Monody for Matador
Stephenson Muret
I stepped out of the bus station's glass doors to witness an old man accidentally drop a small octopus in the street. He uttered a quiet oath.



Fall - Winter 2008

How I Jeopardized My Sanity
Rosemary Mild
The very next day, I get my marching orders. Be at the Hilton Hawaiian Village on February 21 at 11:30 a.m. The test will consist of fifty questions.

Singing Josquin
Paul Graham
The attraction was not religious; it was purely aesthetic. I wanted to live inside the music, wanted to be born up on the currents of harmony and chant.

The First Snow
Lynn Oldach-Engle
Many years ago, my family left our home in the tropical warmth of the Caribbean and moved to a small New England town north of Boston. Steeple-tiered churches and wooden buildings with brick facades replaced the vibrant, paint-box-colored cement houses of our youth.







Summer 2008

Radio Springsteen
John G. Rodwan, Jr.
I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Springsteen at Madison Square Garden, but I might never have gone there if, years before, I had not heard the right song at the right time on the radio somewhere.





A Tribute to Winter
Susie Weber
Frozen in their yogic formations, the branches delicately extend like the fragile fingers of a dancer—a silhouette of limbs. The trees stand tall outside my window as I lie warped on our wine-colored couch, lost in the emptiness of my mind.

On Harmony
Kaitlin Dunnevant
The melodic third, for instance, is much more than a melodic third. It can layer a chord with richness, New York cheesecake drizzled with dark Godiva chocolate.







Spring 2008



A live cat is better than a dead lion
Mary Patrice Erdmans
I was walking the Camino de Santiago, a 1000-year-old, 500-mile pilgrimage route that traverses the north of Spain. Before I left, I prepared myself by walking two hours every day for several weeks.

Annunciation
Elizabeth Aquino
Despite the enormous press of people, I felt alone when I stood in front of it, stunned by the gleaming stone, the towering force of it above me. The sun poured through a skylight above, illuminating David and washing out those of us around him.

Hope is a Dangerous Thing
Justin Ryan Boyer
After a while, when hope doesn't get its way, it dies. It doesn't turn the other cheek like love nor keep on trusting and believing like faith.

Time To Get High
Scott Larson
I finished fourth at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials: all those 140 mile weeks, all the lung-searing interval sessions, only to come up short. I was a reservoir of pent-up anger, frustration and energy with no outlet.



Winter 2007-2008

Memoirs of the 2007 Middle Eastern International Film Festival
Jeff Beresford-Howe
I overhear one of the festival’s organizers instructing an usher that patrons should be allowed to use these seats only if they give her the magic words: “I’m with the Sheik.” I swear to you I’m not making this up.

Train Language
Charmi Keranen
Or sometimes a new train is blowing its whistle and that makes us laugh. Does the train know? We wonder how people make love without the undercurrent of the trains.

Standing for Obama in Iowa
Brian Peters
And there's the charm of inconvenience -- actually being present with the other voters for an hour or two means that you see them and interact with them in a way that a much more conveniently earned "I voted" sticker in a primary election just can't duplicate.

Childlike Things
Laurie Delaney
Some people can't remember the exact moment they were no longer a kid, but I will never forget my first step into adulthood. I met Christina when I was in seventh grade. I wanted to be a detective then, like Nate the Great, the boy detective who got paid in pancakes.




Fall 2007

This is Paris
Maria O'Connell
Always, I returned to my little hotel room on the sixth floor, to the windows without screens and the birds that flew by but never in, to the sounds of laughter and lovers and the lyricism of French words wafting up from the medieval street below.

I'm Not Jack Kerouac
Robert Voris
We never needed to be higher, drunker, better fed, further awed at any one time. Rather, our desire for the next mountain hike, Guinness-fueled conversation, or ocean swim remained unfulfilled.

Recalling Henry Rollins
John G. Rodwan, Jr.
One thing that comes up frequently in the tour log from the 1980s is violence, both among audience members and by audience members against the band. He describes being punched, kicked, spit at, burned with cigarettes and doused in urine.

Turn Back or Die
Bill Gillard
I've lived in New Jersey my whole life, you've got to understand that. Loved it even. Springsteen, Smithereens, the Lincoln Tunnel with its Jersey DNA helix, down the Shore, the New York skyline, the whole deal. Thought I'd stay forever. But not anymore.



Summer 2007

August Night
Jane Hammons
This deep, enormous tree was once a branch from the yellow diseased willow that grew on the other side of the house. When I was a little girl, about eight or nine, I considered hanging myself in the scraggly parent tree.

The 57th Hour
Rodney A Nelsestuen
Every pointless breath presses on my heart the shortness of time, how childhood is a brief and flashing glimpse of family heaving on the seas of life, too busy steering the ship to notice how time passes.

Contemplating Kerouac: A Pilgrimage to Lowell
Michael Phillips
I think Beat is just a feeling, much like you get when drunk and alone, staring at the ceiling of a rundown motel room while on a great journey.



Spring 2007

How I Became a Russian Citizen
Felicia Swanson
I mused that Russians always sound angry when they're speaking, even if it's of love; it's the guttural tone, the hard consonants and relentless syllables necessary to survive the harsh winters and broad brush strokes of dense forests and unforgiving tundra.

Open (for Interpretation) Road
Mark Dursin
It seems to me the “different drummer” interpretation of the poem has persisted because of America’s infatuation with the Non-Conformist.

The Thing They Will Always Carry
Marc Levy
Here is what I know: What you learn in combat you do not easily forget. You drop at the first hint of an ambush falling so fast your helmet still spins in the air.




Winter 2006-2007

Mami, Interrupted
Eduardo Santiago
“When Cuba danced,” my mother likes to say. She has divided history into halves, the first being when Cuba danced, which was before the Revolution. But she has never named the present half.




Fall 2006

What Music Can Mean
Christopher Woods
While the symphony is a perceptive acknowledgment of death, it is also a celebration. Death is a tranquil ritual in the ultimate rite of passage, and Mahler has captured it.

Staking Claim
Jane Hammons
I am not the least bit tempted to tell this woman that I am part Indian. In my creative writing seminar, a Hopi student recently read a poem she had written that ridiculed white people who sit around counting up the fifths and twelveths and hundredths of Indian blood that runs through their veins.





Summer 2006

The Lady Medea
Adrienne Ross
Two more unlikely travel companions than Medea and Emily Dickinson would be hard to imagine, much less find in the same cramped and dirty van.

The Wonderful World of Machiko Hasegawa
Suzanne Nielsen
Hasegawa started drawing at the very young age of two years old. At sixteen, she began her first important apprenticeship to the cartoonist, Suiho Tagawa. Her creation of Sazae-san endeared her to become Japan's first successful woman comic-strip author.





Winter 2005 - 2006

African Refugees
Gail South
The thought of winter terrifies the Africans. They have never felt a cold wind, or icy rain. There is no word for snow in their language. They are wearing sweaters and jackets in the warm classroom.

The Game of Grief
Carrie Pomeroy
While Dad was struggling to breathe next door, Amy and I sat in the neighbor's basement rumpus room, spinning a dial to see where we'd land next, scooting our plastic cars toward the Day of Reckoning.

October Swoon
Kevin White
Then it hit me like a sack of doorknobs -- I was going to tell him using lyrics. Not my own lyrics, not random lyrics he would not know, but those from our mutual favorite band -- the Doobie Brothers.




Summer 2005

Gay Egypt
Richard Ammon
Egypt is a complex culture, not unlike other cultures, in that there is contradiction, paradox and conflicting forces at work that influence behavior and habits. Media headlines may describe homosexuality as highly suspect and under attack in Egypt, but walking the streets of small villages, or along a Nile River promenade, reveals a different story.

1980: A Memoir About a Loss and a Win
Robin Slick
For my 12th birthday, my mother took me to a coffee house to see Joni Mitchell perform. I tried to sit there looking all hip while my mother listened to the Phillies' game via earpiece on her transistor radio.


Spring 2005

The Greatest Sentence
Martin Hill Ortiz
I would argue that the greatest sentences ever are those that can stand alone. They do not require context or gymnastics for resonance. It is not the wisdom they contain that elevates them. It is their elegant construction. The word choices are unexpected and yet perfect. They have song and the voice to sing it.

Where Have You Gone, Joe Garagiola?
Patrick Rasmussen
I suppose it might be tough to fathom how the A's could have been so good in the carport league. Surely you remember Reggie Jackson? He was the heir apparent to Willie Mays in 1969. He was chasing Roger Maris' asterisk that year, blasting home runs at an incredible rate. I think he finished the carport season with two hundred homers, edging Mays by one.


Winter 2004

Kazakhstan Moments
Erin Anderson
In early summer, the steppe lays itself out in fields still green, purple wildflower spires, and white-open petals. Atop skewed telephone poles birds rest their yellow bellies.

It's Good to Be Close to Your Food
Jacob Sackin
The man washing water buffaloes in the Ganges river, the monkeys in dumpsters in the Himalayan mountains, the chickens, donkeys, and elephants made me feel a part of something bigger than myself, and not as alone as I did this morning buying groceries and driving through the suburban sprawl south of San Francisco.

Dear Stella
Megan Doney
The words and events that keep me up at night and trickle into my writhing dreams will never be your burden, too. You won’t have secondary memories of people falling from towers, airplanes blossoming into fiery roses, schools overflowing with dead children.


Fall 2004

Three-Minute Love Affairs
Jennie Orvino
I love to move in unison to the music -- suggest, wait, follow until my breath and chest and pelvis melt into my partner’s. The tango has certainly helped me to be more gracious sexually, and should be a prerequisite to intimacy.

Divinity is Here
Namit Arora
Not only settled, the Bedouin are also learning the ways of the Western tourist. On the main highway, I saw a billboard for a Bedouin Meditation Camp, where one can apparently "enjoy the sound of silence." I can't help but chuckle: O White Man, come to the Bedu with your spiritual void, and bring your Visa.

The Phoenicians
Lizzie Hannon
In the gray-shingled house where I grew up we had one closet, a coal furnace, two bedrooms for the six of us, and hope. Hope came in the guise of the stories we read about how other people, real or imagined, persevered.

Bohemian Boulder
Barbara Foster
Isidore fondly remembers Ginsberg's generosity, his habit of mixing with the crowd, then clapping robustly after his students performed. One memorable night Ginsberg, accompanying himself on the harmonium, recited poems by William Blake.

Land of Morning Calm
Emily Ding
I find the inherent romanticism of mankind charming, how we attach poetry even to the names of countries. Do you know what "Korea" means? Land of the morning calm.


Summer 2004

Gay Cuba
Richard Ammon
The students said everyone has a job in Cuba, and a person can be investigated and possibly jailed for not working -- or he will be given a manual job to do by the police regardless of his skills. A doctor in Cuba earns between $20-30 a month. A policeman earns a hefty $40 a month, so you can be sure he does his job well.

River Road
Molly McCluskey
The first time I saw the Colorado, it was merely part of the landscape, the ever stretching expanse of difference categorizing my trip west. Driving down 128 towards Moab, roaring toward the unknown, it was a border, a long sinewy thing, breathing, moving, running. Suffering. Dying.


On Becoming Jewish-ish
Jeff Leavell
I got rid of my TV, became obsessed with a boy across the street who would stand in his window and watch me, and I started reading the Bible -- the New Testament, because I thought as a writer I should know it. .

One of Us
Ed Markowski
That summer at our house in Ann Arbor had seemed endless: great films, poetry, beautiful girls, and baseball. When Mark Fidrych, aka "The Bird," pitched, the porch was packed.



Spring 2004

Walking in Nepal
Adrienne Ross
Being afraid of heights had always been a fact of life. I had brown hair. I weighed 137 pounds. I had a temper. I was afraid of heights. I would stand at forest edges and mountain passes, beautiful places I longed to wander through, stopped by a border of fear I couldn't cross. I didn't have a fear of heights. My fear of heights had me.

Summer of Color and Songs: A Reflection of 2001
Rebecca Clifford
This all happened within seconds: turn on the TV, CNN, blue sky, black smoke, second plane billowing yellow, orange and black.

Obscurity is Topps in My Book
Stephen Ellsesser
Luke and I have been in a seesaw battle of seeing who can name the most obscure baseball players...I think about it as the greatest ongoing conversation ever...

Bohemia is Bohemian:
Prague Pulses

Barbara Foster
I sensed that this elfin, fiftyish fellow would show me aspects of the Czech capital that tourists miss. Here was an original, an internationally inclined Bohemian, accustomed to being in the center of the action.



Winter 2003-2004

Gay Ireland
Richard Ammon
Dublin is a remarkably comfortable metropolis in which to be a gay or lesbian denizen. In no small part is this due to the esteemed former President Mary Robinson, who as a young solicitor took her own government to the European Court of Human Rights because of its anti-gay statutes still lingering on the books from an obsolete moral era.

Willies
Julie Bolt
He was not far behind me, lunging, but I managed to close the door in his face while he said: pussy bitch, or some such sentiment. I flew up the stairs and unlocked my mother's vacant apartment. After looking through the peephole and finding the halls empty, I did the only two things that I could do. First I threw my head back in a sigh of relief. Then I laughed.



Fall 2003

Nepal
Leili Florence Besharat
From far away, he looked like a cloud eating a girl. That night, I dreamt of the reverse: cloud-eating girls, engrossing their companions in idle chatter, enveloping them in mist. Reclining Vishnu, sleeping on the cosmic ocean, surveying the divine consumption from his dormant perch. Three incarnations short of waking.

Colorado in June
Mike Ingles
Danny said he wouldn't live in Colorado, it was too special. He often said that Colorado is a place no one should be allowed to live; there should be a law -- you can only enter Colorado on a three-day pass.

Conversion and Gambler's Logic
Tom Johnson
This doctrine filled me with unbounded confidence in myself. If I was destined to be like God, then of course I could figure out how to do calculus.


Summer 2003

Drinking with Dylan Thomas
Stephen Roxborough
The night I went drinking with the mortal ghost of Dylan Thomas we weren't too proud to beg for frothy pints of plain or leftover change pretending to recite famous verse fractured into perverse strains of lewd low blue humor...

The Smoke Clears
Diane E. Dees
She put down her glass of wine, smiled at me, and then uttered one of the most shocking things anyone has ever said to me: "I don't care for music."

Traffic in a Thai Forest
David A. Taylor
In Thailand, the forest has always been a refuge for spirits, outlaws, and wild beasts, with its own hierarchy of chaos, a fearsome refuge far from that other fearsome hierarchy, the city. Sort of like the world of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Time Out
Arthur Saltzman
They took their cue from Ishmael aboard Queequeg’s coffin, riding their destinies, or like Viking warriors make their last voyage out. Seven hundred caskets deserted Hardin, Missouri, alone. A flotilla out of a horror film, a veritable exodus of the dead, their devoured bodies roused to unpredictable business in the world they’d presumably left forever.

Drowning in the Sun
Robert Stinson
Imagine The Drunken Boat or Ordinary Nocturne with crisp guitar licks and haunting melodies, and you'll have an idea of the engine that drives the Jim Carroll Band.


Spring 2003


Djamming
David A. Taylor
Gould has flown in from San Francisco just for this event, a cult rite known as the Django Festival...The politically correct term may be 'Romani,' but for Gould and everyone else in Birdland tonight, it's called gypsy jazz.

Splitting: Planned Improvisations
by Robert Gibbons
Lots of sheet music around the house as a kid, my family straight out of Vaudeville, but when my father, son of a grand Tin-Pan-Alley pianist tries to teach me even "Chopsticks" fingers fail, so I take the drive to pound the keys, here, letters like notes & snowflakes, which is all there is, music & oppression, the great Irish interpretation of family life.

Music Reviews
Jeff Beresford-Howe
Galban is less traditional than previous Cuban Cooder collaborators, and the result is an album that hews to traditional Cuban song structures but sounds like it was recorded by an American rock band with ungodly talent.






Winter 2002-2003

Why I Never Played Ball
Cecilia Tan
My father grew up in the Philippines during World War II. They didn't have baseball gloves; they didn't go out and play catch in the evenings. In fact, to hear him tell it, their main sport was riding a pig bareback through the house (until the Japanese soldiers killed it for bacon) and picking the leeches off their legs from wading through swamps. So Dad couldn't mentor me in baseball.

Drinking in Hurricanes
Jamie Joy Gatto
Ten years ago during Hurricane Andrew, I walked barefoot into the rains with my then new lover, now husband. We held hands and scurried over fallen branches, met the wind and rains and found ourselves making love under ancient oaks on a City Park bench while the rest of the city hid themselves safely behind shutters.

Surveying the Koran
by Brian Peters
I fear that I may have committed a subversive act, perhaps even an act with national security implications; yet if confession is good for my problematic soul, I must admit it. I read the Koran.

Baseball as the Antidote
Jeff Beresford-Howe
Mexicali fans at Nido de los Aguilas, it turns out, like to chant, and the thing they most like to chant is the nickname of Smith, who leads the league in RBI. But you don't get a lot of "Bubbas" in Mexico. The fans have trouble with the "uh" and instead render it as "Boo-ba," which gives it a much lighter, happier air.

Reverse Prayers
Ward Kelley
Here in the farmlands of Indiana...poetry is not scorned as once I feared. Instead it is tenously respected, by both farmers and executives, as one might respect a proctoscope -- they're certain it performs some valued function, but they'd rather not get too close to the topic.

Entering the Monastery: An Ongoing Journal (Part 4)
Judy Bunce
I know where there's a black widow. It's inside a warm cabinet that only a few people ever have access to. Someone told me about it, and as soon as I could I opened the door and took a look. Sure enough. A black widow spider and two dead ex-husbands. It's possible, just possible, that we go too far in this "live and let live" thing around here.

Philip Whalen
Steve Silberman
He was smiling slightly. Someone had placed three bright orange flowers at his left shoulder. One of the women sitting in the room invited me to offer incense. There was a profound stillness, and the funny thought came to me that when you are in a room with a corpse, the most important thing in the room is always the corpse.





Fall 2002

Fan at Work
by Cecelia Tan
No one seemed the brawling type. But as I would later learn, you can be doing nothing and get ejected from the Fenway Park bleachers, at least when the Yankees are in town.

Lewis in the Bush League
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
As I was watching the A's sweep the Rangers out of town this weekend, I thought, God, it must be depressing to be a baseball fan in Texas.

Gay Switzerland
by Richard Ammon
My family welcomed him -- which was a stretch for them since they were very traditional fair-haired, lederhosen Swiss types who did not know any Muslim people, let alone a gay Muslim boyfriend of their son.




Good Morning Aztlán
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
It's a band with a heart of gold and a cynic's eye, a drunken stumblebum straightening up to reveal the inner Gregory Peck.

Dred Scott
by Brian Peters
I hesitate to even write about slavery...but failing to think and write about institutional evil only prolongs its hold on the imagination -- and that hold remains all too powerful, even a century and a half later.



Summer 2002

Traveling Through America's Backyard
by Brently Johnson
And this vision I also paint: on my elbows in the middle of the night, too excited to sleep, watching trees, weighted with snow, lean hard towards the train as we near the Willamette Pass. And this: my wife’s face kissing the window while the ocean slaps less than forty feet away and oil derricks in the distance appear almost peaceful, like blinking Christmas trees.

Eat, Eat, Eat
by Kate Baldus
To my shock, I arrived in Bangladesh in the middle of Ramadan. Ramadan is the month of the Muslim calendar when no one eats between dawn and dusk. The school cafeteria was closed. The tea stalls were closed. Food shops: closed. Restaurants: closed. There was no prepared food anywhere. This was worse than anyone could have imagined.

Trading Ethics
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
Transcendent talent is a scarce commodity. If you can hit .320 or win 20 games, it doesn't matter if you beat your wife, espouse bigotry in the name of Jesus, lie about the source of an injury in order to rip off millions of dollars or try to hurt other players with thrown balls and bats.

Where's My Brown?
by Alana Noel Voth
I decided that Kellon’s life would benefit from my going head to head with the pessimists, the racists, my own family, and I declared my son the mighty warrior, guerrero poderoso, a fucking miracle. Hope.

The Zen of Lawn Care
by Brian Peters
Then I noticed the dandelions -- a yellow flower I quite love, followed by a wispy head of cotton that I used to play with for hours when I was younger -- and I realized that the root system made them more stable ground cover on the hills than almost anything else I had growing.

Night Terrors
by Megan Doney
It is a Ptolemaic view of my universe, I know, as if my body was the axis around which all things revolved, as if every germ in the world was on a collision course with my body and only my body. Dying ought to be the last thing on my mind. I’m thin. Not tan. A runner. I like vegetables.

The Horse-Fly Watcher
by Emmitt Maxwell Furner, II
Nailing metal shoes to the bottom of horse hoofs was sort of a family affair. The work was hard and the pay was little, but now as I look back, I realize that while riding around in that old pickup, going from farm to farm, I was introduced to the West Virginia of my dreams, vast, tall, and green.




Spring 2002

Gay Shanghai
by Richard Ammon
Recently I sat with a group of gay Chinese friends at a large dining table, flooded with food, in a private dining room of an upscale hotel overlooking the entire harbor of Shanghai (the Bund). The view is magical, spectacularly Disney, a glittering display with a million city lights reflected in the busy churning waters of the dark river.

The King Biscuit Blues
by Derek Jenkins
There's no easy way to get to Helena. No four-lane highways. But these kind of things are the sugar in my coffee. I took highway 61 through Clarksdale to see Dylan earlier this year in Memphis.

Standing Up Against the Yankees
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
Baseball is nothing without narrative and context. Jeremy's fate is one of the few that calls to mind the game's most famous "what if" play, the one in which a ground ball went through first baseman Bill Buckner's legs in Game Six of the 1986 World Series.

To The Mountains, Heinz Voss

The Bill Collector
by Tom Sheehan
The front room of our third floor apartment was dance hall bare, as my mother had said many times, and it had been that way for months, a raw corridor in itself. Every so often I’d catch her standing at its door or in the middle of that pound of silence (her favorite reference to it), looking as if one of her children were missing.

For the Birds
by Blue Wind Kami
The hatchery always sends 13 baby ducklings, because sexing is not an exact science. Sure enough, we ended up with 12 females and a male who, when they all achieved sexual maturity, was in testosterone heaven.

Story From a Quilt
by Marguerite Colson
In the top right hand corner there is a hammer and sickle, with some bars from the "Russian National Anthem" beneath. Beside the hammer and sickle there is a cage -- the prison cell when he was arrested, trapped by the depth of his beliefs. Caged by society because his sexuality did not conform.

The Hospice Garden
by Diane Payne
On my twentieth birthday, I ate a few peyote buttons in the foothills near a small Colorado town. While walking aimlessly, feeling disappointed that I remained unchanged, I discovered a beat-up hearse parked near an unused mining road with an old man lying in the front seat.

Entering the Monastery
Part 3

by Judy Bunce

And then we talked about my hand. I told her that I kept thinking, "My pretty hand! All scarred!" She replied that someone had once said to her, when she was having similar thoughts, "What do you want to do, have a good complexion, or be a zen master?"




Winter 2001 - 2002

How Baseball Changed My Life
by Marcy Sheiner
Five years ago, if anyone had told me I'd be walking around in a baseball cap, cheering, booing and citing statistics, I'd have thought they were nuts.

George Was My Beatle
by Samantha Capps Emerson

I am eleven years old and I can sign George Harrison's autograph so well it looks almost like the real thing.




Hartsburg
by Dave Gregg
Hartsburg has entered her death throes. The good businessmen have fled, a great Arabic caravan of carpet dealers, jewelers, appliance salesmen and clothing merchants. They have retreated to malls where customers stroll through climate-controlled environs sheltered from such nuisances as atmosphere.

In the Beginning There Was Theda
by Anthony Puccinelli
In the film's most famous scene, a jealous, abandoned lover draws a pistol to shoot the vampire. Imperious and unafraid, Theda commands: "Kiss me, my fool!" Unable to shoot her and unable to live without her, he blows his brains out.

Turning Green in Ecuador
by David Taylor
It was getting dark in the Andes and the conductor -- the only person in the world who knew where we needed to get off -- was dozing in the stairwell of the bus. The driver had no clue that my wife and I had to get off at the remote village of Rio Verde. Lisa and I had no idea what Rio Verde looked like, we only knew it was tiny and had a church.

Miracles of Art
by Robert Gibbons
Time allowed that red hat to be supplanted by the complexities involved in Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance. How often she righted the course of my passionate advance which was often askew. How often A Lady Writing asked me why I was not writing.

The Fritz Chapel
by Brian Peters
There is a characteristic of that Great Faith I'm so miserably unable to define, which I think applies here. Universally when I have seen it, persons of Great Faith lead what might be called examined lives.

Timeless / Lover's Rock
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
Reviews of new music, including the Hank Williams tribute, Suzanne Vega, the Grateful Dead, and Sade's Lover's Rock

Entering the Monastery (Part 2)
by Judy Bunce

For me, it's a day off. I'm on kitchen crew for this three month practice period, which is something that everyone who stays at Tasssajara long-term has to do sooner or later. I'm sitting on my bed with two kerosene lamps burning and my laptop running on its battery. What a life.


September 11, 2001




A continuing archive of voices
from around the world
on September 11











Fall 2001

Got Silk?
by Ron Porter
Having returned to the south after a two year stint in Seattle, I have found it difficult to continue my love of an espresso. Coffee in Seattle was a lifestyle. My wife and I spent an average of five dollars a day on coffee -- to spend less than two hundred a month for espressos was unusual.

The Ugly Gaijin: Love and Lust in the Land of Princess Disease
by Aaron Paulson
In the mid-90s, stories about the expat lifestyle in Korea and Japan were conflated into a single escapist fantasy -- millionaire English majors, who'd made fortunes teaching overachieving salarymen, horny housewives, and liberated cherry blossom brides.

compass azimuth

The Persistence of Memory
by Brian Peters
I wondered, as I walked, about the persistence of memory. It's the primary monument most of us leave behind -- those effects that we've had, for good or ill, on the lives of family and friends.

What Was I When?
by William Dean
They say when you come to a wide river where there is no bridge, you have to swim. The other alternative requires the patience of a holy man: to sit down and wait for the river to dry up or change course. The Zen Master does none of these.

Maria: A Test of Character
by Sam Garcia
"It's OK, Maria." What else could I have said? She lied to me, but here she was in front of me apologizing, and watching, to see what kind of man I was. What kind of a man was I?

Bob Dylan's Love and Theft
by Jeff Beresford-Howe



Bob swings!




Summer 2001

Confessions Of A Compulsive Gambler
by Brian Weiss
Dammit, this isn't a compulsive gambling problem. I'm up against the wall here, financially. True, I did blow more money than I intended over the past few months but, it's not because I'm crazy...it's because I'm losing my ass.

Bob Dylan: An Appreciation of How He Is Now
by Jeff Beresford-Howe
Every Bob Dylan show is a birthday if you want to be born.

France

The Theater of Time
by Brian Peters
I confess, I regarded the time as aspirational, like speed limits and stop signs and changing your oil every 3000 miles. Anytime before nine would be a moral victory, and I can go for days without a moral victory.

Vietnam Journal: Willimantic: 11.10.00
by Marc Levy
How it began I do not recall: round and round, taking turns, each man brought forth the most hilarious, obscene, tasteless jokes I had ever heard.

Entering the Monastery (Part 1)
by Judy Bunce

I quit my job yesterday. I've been selling real estate in San Francisco for sixteen years, six months, and fifteen days, and I quit. I did it because I'm preparing to fully enter San Francisco Zen Center.

John Lee Hooker
by Phillip Poff

John Lee Hooker I was as big a JLH fan as there was, and there I was having a late breakfast with the Boogie Man.







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