7/18/2013- A Visit to the Epworth
by Aggie Wolf
It’s the wrong hospital room.
Peppered with rain, bearing
an armful of green roses
I peer at you in the bed.
An old man? A foetus?
A bald boy? A baby bird?
Not you, my sister!
The mouth. It’s your mouth.
At my touch, your blue eyes open –
too soon – before I’m composed.
It’s you, in there.
Slowly, you return to the world.
Memory – vague.
I prattle, hiding my horror… Read more of “A Visit to the Epworth” Here
“The July air is unusually cool and pleasant across the driving range. Jim Hamilton saunters out of a building adjacent to the long expanse of green…” Read More at the Courier and Press Website
7/14/2013- Clicker Training
by Jami Cates
It’s the hottest part of August, and my mom and I have a moment, one of our best kind. Side by side in the kitchen, she unloads the dishwasher while I grab dishes and glasses for dinner. The energy is good, and we talk about things that will make us laugh–something funny that grandpa did, something funny that dad did, a funny moment from a recent bad date–and we are not 30 and 59 but something more timeless. I am buzzing with our connection, but then she notices the glasses that I have picked–worn plastic tumblers–and to the adolescent who still lives in me, it sounds like she snaps, though she probably just says, “Put those back and use real ones.”
What was a jazzed feeling of being at one with my mother and the universe switches in a microsecond to frustrated and overwhelmed with the heat and all the stuff that goes along with visiting my parents. I want to snap back something sarcastic, but I stop myself, and hoping to bring back the blissed-out feeling, call on one of our longest-running jokes: My mom and I have watched a lot of South Park together, and sometimes I affect an Eric Cartman voice to whine at her, and sometimes she says that I remind her of Cartman, that fat, eight-year-old Archie Bunker-incarnate (I can’t remember which came first, my impression or her joke).
On that hot afternoon in August, using my best Cartman voice…Read More of “Clicker Training” Here
7/12/2013- Erika, Age 22
by Shanti Knight
Against a lush, dark green backdrop of country road, Erika is, in every way, the healthiest and happiest and most beautiful I’ve ever seen her. Her hair, pulled off her face, remains its natural, thick, curly texture. She wears no makeup, and her clothes are casual and in colors found in a garden. She leans effortlessly against a porch column and her bare feet rest on the stoop. Most strikingly, she holds a six-month-old baby girl to her left breast, feeding her child and joking about weaning: “When people ask, I say, ‘Well, hopefully she’ll be weaned before she goes to college, but if not, we’ll work it out.’” I can still rely on Erika for laughs that inspire tears. She’s one of those people who can just keep a concept going, weaving a massive, spiraling, knotted scenario from a hint of irony. She’s 22 now, but it’s a fourteen-year-old girl I remember as I take in the woman before me.
I met Erika in the eighth grade, at Amanda Reese’s fourteenth birthday party, and I found her hilarious. She is clever and shameless, qualities that together result in outrageous scenarios. We had Latin class together our freshman year of high school, where we joked about our teacher, who was rumored to have once been a stripper…Read More of Shanti Knight’s “Erika, Age 22″ Here
7/10/2013- I Live in Blue
by Judy Hood
I live in blue
hydrangeas, the ones we passed
in the cul-de-sac at the bottom of the
eucalyptus clean hill,
where dachshunds saunter through the park,
chase runaway balls and blowing leaves.
I live in blue
hydrangeas turned to tissue paper silver
on their stems, promising resurrection,
whispering of all the nights in fog and chill… Read more of Judy Hood’s “I Live in Blue” Here
“…I read an article recently about the power of our names, which said that name sounds, popularity and meaning can influence the paths we take in life. Shanti is a name that has attached me to a culture (it’s a vernacular and prayer word that means “peace” in Sanskrit and Hindi)…” read more at Nameberry.com
6/29/2013- 222 by Julia Gregg
The morning is clear and silent, sun falling like butter across late September trees. I have not slept well. I wait with coffee on an autumn back porch.
In the cool of the morning, against the perfect blue of a sky with no humidity, a single bird sails. Not frantically, but smoothly–flies for me, and then I know.
It takes a quarter of an hour for the call to come, to tell me Jeff has died, but I have known. He is no longer bound by a body, ravaged.
I am the kind of person who has lines of songs and poems, of stories and novels, tucked away in emotional mental files. And so these lines come to me at once: “When it happens, I know it. A message saying so merely confirms a piece of news some secret vein had already received, severing from me an irreplaceable part of myself, letting it loose like a kite on a broken string.”
I can never drive past a pecan grove without thinking of Capote. I will say to whoever is with me in the car, “See how straight those trees grow, in rows. Those are pecan trees.” And then I will explain the term windfall pecans. It is a ritual I am compelled to repeat, just as I have been compelled to make some sense of tie that binds me to my brother and the summer we spent in the house at 222 LaRua.
“Ten days out from the Fourth of July, prompted by two Australians, I’ve been thinking about the American dream…” More at CourierandPress.com
by Bailey Trela
The room is square with a low ceiling and a cold, concrete floor that is stained in several places; the walls of the room are a gray that changes between neutral and sickly as the light from above, courtesy of six fluorescent rods, pulses, surging bright then dim. The walls form a sort of quincunx with the broad, over-varnished oak table in the center of the room. At the table are two men. One is older, hunched over with sagging shoulders and a face that seems to be melting, folds and creases and wrinkles stretched and dragged earthward by time and sadness, what are collectively called age. The other man is younger, thinner, with flinty eyes and gleaming lips, but he is also nervous, looks harassed; he shifts in his chair (hard and made of molded plastic) as if in search of some elusive posture that is comfortable. They both stare at the contents of the table.
On the table: too much food (all in multiples of three). There are three steaks, t-boned and raw and practically wading in juice, three crimson lobsters with shining segments …Read more of Bailey Trela’s “Fulcrum” here
6/15/2013- Cleaning Dentures
by Jen Hayden McCarthy
The patient–83-year-old white male, shortness of breath–was a Midwesterner from a mile away. He was the kind of man who wore navy Dockers hemmed up by his wife and who had a belly laugh as common and as loud as a burnt coffee before work in the morning. They had been married “forever and 62 years,” and she spoke up from the corner chair to edit his medical history when they finally got a room that Thursday morning; it was busy, lots of new admissions. “Well, the lung cancer…that’s been…six years now?” She made sure I changed it: “Eight years – ‘member you got it when Charlie was born.” Charlie was his great-grandson. The wife rolled her eyes and sighed loudly from her corner, settling in with her coat across her lap.
He coded (out of the blue) on the way up from the ER – no one saw it coming. The doctors had discussed just sending him on home, actually. He had walked into the hospital 45 minutes beforehand, and his wife had a lunch planned. It was my last day of orientation, and I kept thinking “I’m not supposed to be doing this, I’m not supposed to be the one doing this,” holding his head as he wildly aspirated blood. “I’m not supposed to do this yet.” Ten, maybe twelve, maybe thirty people were in the room then, and I was choked into a corner, scrambling for a non-rebreather mask and buzzed with adrenelin, insanely wondering what my own pulse was. I could feel it trilling to the same rhythm as the wheels of the crash cart rolling down the hall. Somewhere in the city of commands and gloves snapping, I heard a choke like a small sink drain unstopping, or a mouth pushed underwater. His wife was crying.
In the hospital, when you die, all of your affairs, your family members, and especially your body, cooling, are taken care of. We take your family gently by the shoulders to a dimly lit room with several grey boxes of cheap, thin tissues. We take your belt, with its one worn-big hole, your hemmed navy Dockers, your socks, your dentures, your wedding band. We wash your dentures first (it’s a courtesy) before bagging them with the rest of your things, the small folded pile that came with you. We take off the gluey telemetry pads from your chest, and we clean around your mouth, between your fingers, the obvious places. There are three tags: one for your papers, one for your personal items, and one for your toe, like the movies. The cart that we wheel you down in is disguised as a laundry cart, because we don’t want to disturb visitors.
I drove home ten hours later, the bottoms of my feet throbbing at the end of my shift, thinking to myself that it had been a pretty good day and that I had really stayed on top of things, gotten all my vitals and blood sugars right on time, when I remembered him. Remembered that I spent what felt like an hour on his post-mortem paperwork, that I cleaned breakfast from his dentures. Sir, I’m sorry. I don’t remember your name.
6/15/2013- Freudian Slip: Jeb Bush needs a dictionary?
by Haddon Wills, thestringermag.com
Yesterday at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in D.C., Jeb Bush gave us something to talk about when he said, in a prepared speech, “Immigrants are more fertile” (see NPR and MSNBC’s coverage of the conference).
Initially, this struck me as a command of language gaffe–a Jeb Bush needs to get a better proofreader or maybe he should hire a diction specialist kind of moment. Used in the context of human reproduction, “fertile” refers to a person’s ability to reproduce: for men, the ability to produce viable sperm, and for women, the ability to conceive, gestate, and give birth–a physiological ability. Keeping up with the medical literature, I knew that Jeb Bush had no new information on any physiological differences between immigrant and U.S.-born women. No one knows if immigrants are, physiologically speaking, more capable of reproducing. What we do know is that immigrants have higher overall birth rates (see Pew Research Center statistics on birth rate), so we should probably quit being grammar police and assume that what Jeb Bush meant to say is that immigrant women have higher birth rates, right?
I thought so, at first, but after thinking on it more, I wonder if it isn’t cause for paying more attention because of what it highlights about Jeb Bush and his understanding of the values of the conference attendees. Is the value of immigrants to the U.S. economy that they give birth more and have larger families, or, as the planned diction implies, are seen, at least by Jeb Bush, as more capable of giving birth? Either way you look at it, the outcome will be more U.S. women gestating and taking care of more U.S. babies in more U.S. homes. More U.S. women devoting time to family and home–a plain-spoken appeal to a conservative base that continues to idealize and idolize women in the home. We can’t get our U.S.-born girls to produce large, intact, Republican-voting families, so let’s bring in girls that can… The “road to majority” indeed.
6/15/2013- About the Stringer Magazine: “Quantum entanglement, the idea…”
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