Category Archives: Nonfiction

Another Immigrant Story

by Holly Karapetkova

In the 1980s you were a movie star in a small Eastern European country. You played a prince, an attendant lord, and other roles of note. We watch them on YouTube. “That’s me,” you say, though it really isn’t—not anymore. You have to point yourself out because none of us can recognize you, the muted color of 30 years passing. On screen you watch the war escalate. Continue reading

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The Big Bad Brown Swiss

by John Coyne

I was seven or eight years old when I got so drunk at a family party that I ran out of our farm house, down to the barn, and attacked our big brown Swiss cow with a broom.

I don’t remember this act of animal cruelty, but the next morning, when I woke from a stupor, my mother—as well as my brothers and sisters—told me in detail how I had impishly sipped booze left in cans and glasses on the dining room table until I was so intoxicated my suppressed rage at one of our milking cows exploded into violence. Continue reading

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Waimanu

by Malia Collins

I grew up in Hawai`i and before I learned to read, I was made to memorize the list of superstitions my mother kept posted on the side of the fridge, superstitions we’d repeat back to her, like a mantra, whenever we broke one: no whistling at night; don’t sleep with your feet towards the window or the doorway; don’t look outside once it’s dark; don’t cut your nails at night; never step over a body on the floor; don’t sweep trash outside the door; don’t cut your hair, and if you do cut your hair, save it. Continue reading

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Jellyfish Season

by Naphisa Senanarong

The day my mother and her three sisters floated out to sea on an inflatable raft, the jellyfishes were on their annual, fatal pilgrimage to shore. A sea of white, she’d described. The storms parted, like in an animated children’s movie, revealing poison lotuses blooming as far as the eyes can see. I picture them: Ariel’s sisters, muted mermaids drifting onto a patch of hostile ocean—round eyes and naive parted lips, like posters of girls in the fifties congregating around some kitchen appliance. They were too young to register that afternoon as their first brush with mortality. No matter, because life had many more for them—at the hands of loved ones, behind doors too heavy for small fingers, Ohioan winter closing like cracks around frozen throats, in rooms with too many people, hospital beds with too few, restaurants that smell like chicken oil, bathrooms that smell like old blood—leftovers—fine mixtures of rust and self. Smells that linger—how they got used to those, always finding them in unexpected places: hair, collars, breaths.

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In Some Matter of Unknown Time: Love Song for a Coastal Town

by Julie Marie Wade

This story begins with salt—three and a half bushels of it—excellent, fine, strong, & white¹. That’s what the explorers wrote in their log, leaving Seaside on February 20, 1806.

These men had traveled from Missouri, army volunteers under the command of Captain Meriwether Lewis and Second Lieutenant William Clark. It was the first United States expedition to venture all the way west, across the Continental Divide and down into the Columbia River basin. But then the explorers met winter in the Pacific Northwest and found themselves dripping (some things never change), rain riding every gust of wind, the dim light heavy as a helmet on their heads, and the elk meat at risk of spoiling.

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