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Kat Gregor

The Mariners

There is something slightly mystic in the taming of all seas. We once imagined sailing off the edge of the map—and then, the story goes, certain circumnavigations proved us wrong.

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Robert Wexelblatt

Fein on Cinderella

I wondered if my former wife, who keeps her motives close to her vest, meant something by choosing this particular book. There are themes that might have appealed to her: the absent, sainted mother, an unambiguous warning about second marriages, the fecklessness of fathers.

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Leonard Kress

Blood Thinners

My father is dying, but I’m the only one who seems to know it. He’s in the hospital and they’ve moved him from Intensive Care to Cardiac Step-down to a regular ward. His roommate is recovering from gall bladder surgery and his whole extended family surrounds him with warmth and cheer. My father doesn’t speak more than grunts. He can’t move himself other than to paw ferociously at the tubes running into his chest and the IVs in his wrist, the feeding tube threaded through his nostril. His catheter and the stoma for his colostomy bag. My brother thinks he’s on ...

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Leonard Kress

Ascent to the Underworld

In Centralia, in the Poconos of Northeastern Pennsylvania, there’s no need to descend into the underworld, the realm of the dead, the realm of prophecy and hidden insight. Here, on what used to be a street lined with white aluminum-sided homes, edged lawns and wading pools, well-tuned and tended pickups—the underworld seeps up out of the ground, rising swirling and sulfurous from barely visible slits and fissures in the earth. The topsy-turvy displacement is almost complete. Charred roots tendril out from the ash and slag and gravel mounds that haven’t yet spilled into the hot depressions. The mammoth anthracite coal ...

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Leonard Kress

Dandelions

Lion’s Teeth, I say, but she doesn’t even blink. I don’t know what they’re called in German, whether or not they even proliferate along the Baltic Coast where she grew up. Dandy Lines, Lion’s Teeth, the signifier becomes increasingly slurred...

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Mark Lewandowski

The Polish Lesson

One scorching July day I clipped some newly laundered koszulki onto the line. Arek’s apartament was on the bottom floor of the ubiquitous Soviet-style building: grey, mundane, with bits crumbling off here and there. I sat on my pupa with Gramatyka Polska w Dialogach and tried my best to pretend that I could ever learn this goddamn język.

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Matt Sailor

Cut the Crap

Granted, the punk rockers of the late 1970s and early 1980s have become our heroes and our saints. But would it soften our admiration to know, for instance, that Joe Strummer was born the son of a diplomat, that he went to a posh boarding school in Surrey, that he went to art school to study drawing, that he most certainly never fought the law, much less lost to its omnipotent hand (and additionally, that that song in particular was originally recorded by that notorious voice of the downtrodden, Buddy Holly), that he was not intimately acquainted with running down a railroad track with police on his back?

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