When We Were Wolves

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An Oregon boot was a heavy iron cuff with an iron brace that ran down your ankle and under your arch.  The idea of course was to discourage migration.  It was invented by some crackpot warden at Salem with too much free time on his hands.  We had Oregon boots in Wyoming in 1949, and walking in them was like walking across the exercise yard in ice skates.  We did that too.

The One Strong Flower I Am

Winner of the 1995 Editor’s Prize for Essay

This essay is not currently available online.

They are runaways, throwaways, “problem” teens; culls from meager schools and emissaries from questionable homes; bearers of “emotional disablilites” and lurid autobiographies for which they are medicated elaborately and counseled when possible; products of biology, family community, of fate, impure and hardly simple.

Beiderman and the Hard Words

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Aug. 2. An over-heated wind all day, and the dust that rides on it, not simple dust but dirt itself, the earth itself.  The rags Ma stuffs in door and window sill hold back only some; and grit n her kitchen, on the oilcloth, pots, in the water-pail, a skin of it everywhere, near gives her fits.  With grit in our teeth, we spit black.

Poetry Feature: Julia Wendell

Featuring the poems:

  • Learning to Breathe
  • 38
  • Better Half
  • Visitor

Poetry Feature: Kevin Stein

Featuring the poems:

  • In the Room with Seventeen Windows
  • Revenant
  • What I Hate About Postmodernism
  • Poem Written Late Century, Full Moon at Treeline, San Juan Range, Colorado

Captains By Default

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The snow is delicate and knee high.  It is cotton candy in my mouth, too fleeting to satisfy but enjoyable just the same.  I bend in mid stride and shovel the powder with my gloved hand.  With this motion I leave a smooth and straight gully that strikes me as the most perfect consequence of my effort, conspicuous in its complete lack of fault.  I pack the snow against the roof of my mouth and suck it of its moisture.  The remains trickle down my throat.

Why Richard Can't

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There were endless good reasons.  For months now, Richard had lain in bed running over the list in his head, adding to it as though the reasons were dollars and he was wisely depositing them in a savings account.

Black Swans

This essay is not currently available online.

“There is something satisfying and scary about making an angel, lowering your bulky body into the drowning fluff, stray flakes landing on your face. I am seven or eight and the sky looms above me, grey and dead. I move my arms and legs–expanding, contracting, sculpting the snow before it can swallow me up. I feel the cold filter into my head, seep through the wool of my mittens. I swish wider, faster, then roll out of my mould to inspect its form. Am I dead or alive down there? Is this a picture of heaven or hell?”


This poem is not currently available online.

Poetry Feature: Kathy Fagan

Featuring the poems:

  • Easter Sunday
  • Vigil