Poetry Feature: Christina Hutchins

Featuring the poems:

  • Confessions of a Tactile Kleptomaniac
  • A Way Back to Life
  • A Traveler is Met By Shapes of the World
  • Interregnum [featured as Poem of the Week, July 29, 2008]



I was born wizened.  Rasp of first breath,

I took the tinders of my parents’ gazes and flinted

a honeyed flame.  Before knowledge of cake or wood,


before even I was plated with a name, there were

cracklings and pleasings, wetly offered smiles and gasp :

I was old.


I took my place and a heat

leapt up, not mine,

but I tended it.


Drinklings, we are born to this necessity.  To help.  Helpless,

we snort the atmosphere, lunge toward milk, love.  Eyes clouded,

lungs dewy with night, we emerge from the close cabin rocking


to a day already underway.  Once I was emperor

of a body not my own, yet I craved the broken levee.

Haven, if it is haven, gives.


The swimmer passes

her piped body toward

the sting of light.


Ever after, the tear ducts remember.  There was a beach

belonged to my mother’s and my father’s Sundays.  We walked there.

Sometimes I was between them, holding both their young hands.


Then she turned old and he was infirm,

rotting from within.  I was the shunt of wreckage,

yellow-blue flame, versicoloured


mermaid of the rocks,


for the abyss.


One by one, I took from my fingertips the limpet shells

I had worn like small roofs over touch.  I stacked them, so many

tunics on the beach.  My cinder cones.


Plum-hot the anvil, lava, the volcano’s rise, ours

is a sky of yellow crumb and ash.  Amorphous, still I am consuming,

yea and nay, and consumed,


but shaken loose: empress

of undertone, perilous foam,

creek in its natal dark.

Poetry Feature: Michael McGriff

Featuring poems from Landscapes with Origins:

  • [In the break room]
  • [Against my will]
  • [The slow child, the small child]
  • [Worm of concession]
  • [This father and daughter]
  • [Midwinter: she doesn’t reach]


[In the break room]

In the break room

the mill holds us

in its mouth:

the graveyard shift

and its floodlights:

Sally’s buying a new trailer:

Tony’s truck’s about paid off:

a certain stillness

between us:

Jake’s back in jail

for getting rowdy:

we are among the chosen:

someone’s daughter

stays up all night

eating her own hair:

a woman on 3rd Street

applies makeup to a corpse

she’s recently washed:

a cop drifts over a fog line

in his Crown Victoria:

the foreman’s girlfriend

stands in the corner:

Todd thinks she looks

like a country singer:

the way her hair shines

like a bare bulb

over broken glass:

she’s new here:

her painted fingernails:

she rests her hand

on the animal of sleep

and it leans

against her leg:

in fifteen minutes

she’ll crawl up a ladder

into a metal cage

where hot sheets of plywood

will shoot out

one after another

like a satanic card trick,

and she’ll guide them

by the edge, in midair,

and let them drop

to the sorter,

until she closes her eyes

just long enough

to catch the rhythm

of her own breath

and float upon the waters

where the animal of sleep

winds through the cattails:

she’ll feel the calm

of starlight subtracted

from daylight:

then a sheet of veneer

will tear open her face:

the mill holds us

in its mouth:

a corpse’s hands

are placed together:

the cop drives his cruiser

into the river:

which will soon fill

with a daylight

our curses may

or may not

ever reach.

Put on the Petty

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

After Eric and I survived an F2 tornado in Tulia, Texas, I thought we’d live forever. We rode out the tornado in a high-profile SUV-precisely the wrong kind of shelter-and after we’d crashed into a brick wall and ducked under a one-hundredtwenty-knot jet that screamed through the blown-out windows, it seemed as if the Angel of Death had roared, in a breath choked with debris, and then fled, leaving us alone and lucky.

Never Trust a Man Who —

The full text of this story is not currently available online.

In the sopping-wet spring of 1995, Sylvia rode the bus to and from Old Mountain more times than she cared to count. Her twin brother, Drago, was in Kyustendil, doing his military service, and she felt obliged to visit her mother twice as often as usual. When she had been a student, she’d caught any bus she could, usually from Poduene Station, which was a filthy place, thick with fumes and overrun by dogs, full of stalls hawking cheap underwear and overripe vegetables.

Arctic Summer

The full text of this story is not currently available online.

Even today, I am unsure about a lot of things. I am unsure about what exactly happened to me in Qik that summer, about how much it had to do with the strange beauty of the place-strange enough to put a spell on you. Or how much it had to do with her, or with me.

Poetry Feature: Jude Nutter

Winner of the 2007 Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize for Poetry.

The Insect Collector’s Demise [featured as a Poem of the Week August 21, 2008]

How to Use a Field Guide

Growing Up in Bergen-Belsen: The Chrysalis

A Conversation with Charles Baxter

The full text of this interview is not currently available online.

This generation takes in more information daily than my parents and grandparents ever had to. With the Internet and the screen culture, we’re all living in a period of data smog. Part of what it means to write a story now involves noticing that environment. I’m really interested in the way people do not pay attention to certain things anymore. People listen much more selectively than they once did. It’s a feature of our time that you see people walking down the sidewalk talking on the phone. That’s amazing! They’re on the phone! These things remain a feature of our lives that our grandparents would never have believed.

A Review of Seven First Poetry Books

Featuring reviews of:

Barter by Monica Youn

My Soviet Union by Michael Dumanis

Floating City by Anne Pierson Wiese

Standing in Line for the Beast by Jason Bredle

Sister by Nickole Brown

The Man Suit by Zachary Schomburg

Frail-Craft by Jessica Fisher.

The Mechanics of Being

The full text of this essay is not currently available online.

He confessed everything then, eager, like a serial killer at last confronted with evidence of his crime, to have the details of his awful secret revealed. And when pressed about why he hadn’t said anything sooner, he mentioned his master plan: he would make his sight get better by ignoring, as much as possible, the fact that it was getting worse.

Whistling in the Louvre

The full text of this story is not currently available online.

The smell of insanity: acrid, piss-logged wood. The only way they’ll get rid of it, she told us, is to rip up the flooring. The butch could have done it, too, with her bare hands. A jangle of keys, the reassuring click of a tumbler, and we were back in the hall. My wife, with concern in her voice: But one got used to it, right? No, you never do. Twelve years later, sitting on the hospital lawn, I catch a whiff of it in the breeze. I prefer waiting outdoors. Besides, the sun feels good on my face. Fall is in the air. A typical July morning in New Hampshire.