They Whisper

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In Vietnamese language school, we sat in lab for two hours every day.  We wore headsets and hunkered into vubicles and we talked to Vietnamese speakers on tape, responding to their questions, telling them it is a beautiful morning, thank you very much, I am weary and wish to sleep, can you turn out the light? And we took tests from these tapes, as well, and it was always the same woman’s voice.  We had native teachers inour langurage school and finally I got up the nerve to ask someone, but the woman whose voice was on the tape was not one of ours.  Nobody knew who she was.


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From work I usually go straight home to feed the cubs, who’ve come to depend on me for dinner, which isn’t necessarily healthy but has its gratifying aspects–for all of us, I think.  But this had been one fo those days of taking too many people on nature hikes around the island, pointing out the fragile clouds of diesel exhaust–in short, wondering what good i was doing–so it was somethign more than a whim that prompted me to stop at Bark bay on my way home and see about the purple loosestrife I’d spotted growind there.

Blue Boy

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The summer he was seventeen, Kenny was given a job as a lifeguard at a leafy, brick-and-ivy racquet club, in the money belt just beyond the city limits.  Rising at six every morning, he would usually find his father asleep on the sofa, mornign new or exercise on the television, a last, unfinished high ball on floor beside him.  Covering his father with a lavender chenille bedspread, a bedspread decorated with little lines and popcorn balls of cotton, Kenny would eat his cornflakes at the coffee table, watching television.  It was just the two of them that summer.

The World War I Diary of Charles Ponton

This history as literature feature is not currently available online.


How the world fell into the catastrophe of World War I will always be something of a mystery.  It was a war with neither clear issues nor simple villains.  Perhaps the ultimate cause was the rulers themselves, and their greed and vanity as quaintly ludicrous as the gilded eagle sprouting from the top of the war-helmet crown of Kaiser Wilhelm II.  The ambitious Kaiser and his government wer emore to blame than others, but the leadership cultures of Europe, and the behavior of European governments, had much in common in 1914.  The Germans were hardly in a class by themselves.


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When I heard Dinah crowing, I got up and dressed in the dark.  Pa Jopa was snoring and Brice was grinding his teeth, and from the kitchen it sounded like one person whistling and walking backa nd forth int he gravel outside.  I cut two peices of bread, wrapped them in a dish towel, and put them in my pocket.  The rest i left on the table where Brice and Pa Jopa could find it, and then I went out to the barn.

Selwyn on Winged Feet

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February 29


I tried to tell Mildred about the cemetery today, but as soon as I started on the business at Father’s grave–I hadn’t even gotten to what happened at Walter’s–she put me off:  “Oh, please.”

“But let me tell you about Wal–”

“Stop it!” she clapped her hands to her ears.  “You and your relentless imagination! It’s driving me crazy!”

Well, I’m sorry for that, but it’s keeping me sane.

They Whisper

Poetry Feature: Jorge Luis Borges, translated by Robert Mezey

Featuring the poems: 

  • BRUNANBURH, 937 A.D.

The Poloneza

This essay is not currently available online.

When the Campana tolled one chill March day, I was huddled next to the stove in Thanasis’ carpentry shop, sharing a cigarette with him.

“Who’s died, I wonder?” I asked.

He answered, “the Poloneza.”

“on no! The poor thing!” Tears filled my eyes.  The Mami, the midwife, had told me that the Poloneza, the “Polish woman,” whose real name none of us knew, had gone for the second time in ayear to hospital in Athens, this time to be treated for a septic womb.


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My mother calls me from Old Town,Maine at eight in the morning, an hour into my writing time.  “You sound grumpy, Katinka,” she says.  “Did I interrupt something?”

“Just my work,” I groan.

“As long as it’s just your work,” she says.

It’s her social whirl voice, her social work voice.  Send this girl to the prom. I sigh.  It’s my own fault.  I brough a silencer.  But what if a publisher wants to ring me up?  I turn off my computer.