Hammer & File

The January that William fell down—1968—his father had plugged Christmas lights one strand into the next and laid them circular-wise around the banks of the skating pond immediately behind their house. The bulbed string haloed William as he lay on the ice with dilated pupils. The blanched sky, three figures on his vision’s fringe, . . .

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She broke all his moments in half with the kitchen door standing open.

—Anne Carson, “The Glass Essay”


A Good Place to Dig

When my mother left, I had no idea of her leaving. She took nothing with her, . . .

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The Consort

The Santa Lucia station swarmed with security guards, choking off all water traffic. And Carlo sat sulking in his gondola, an American couple in his charge, their faces burning a bright shrimp pink as they strained to get a look at the pop star.

In a reproduction of Cleopatra’s gilded barge, . . .

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Little Double-Barrel


Her grandmother’s shotgun came to Ms. Hicks by way of her brothers, Tommy and Jack. They insisted she take the thing, she was pretty sure, because A) it was the one weapon of the family’s collection they least wanted and B) they were amused at the idea of her having to own it. . . .

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Queen of England

Dewy and I were not good sons. At home, we sliced the drapes to make togas and blasted birds with pellet guns we weren’t supposed to have. To make our mother nervous, we pressed our skulls to the microwave door and licked the sticky bottoms of our sneakers. At the grocery store, . . .

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Crossroads of America

In our green Plymouth station wagon, we crisscrossed the map. My mother let me choose our destinations. “Any state but Georgia” was Eve’s rule, though I still memorized the Georgia motto: Wisdom, Justice, Moderation. 

Her other rule: we couldn’t stay more than a month in any place. . . .

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Wig Violence

As of yesterday, there is a woman on the run: Eudoxie Gilmore, 32, a lifetime resident of Cape Jasmine who up until recently had worked at the Peoples Funeral Home as hairdresser to the deceased. Eudoxie specialized in finger waves, press and curls, and city feathers, earning an annual salary of fifteen thousand dollars which, . . .

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Linguistic Fallacies and Facial Tics, Sex Ed and Death

A month after my parents rightly feared unlawful and inferable retribution—maybe twenty-seven days after my Uncle Cush arrived, insisting that we move to his abode on the other side of the Savannah River nuclear facility, for he foresaw arson, which indeed occurred—I attended my first and only Optimist International Club meeting. . . .

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Elbow Room

Boone’s genius was to recognize the difficulty as neither material nor political but one purely moral and aesthetic.

—William Carlos Williams,
“The Discovery of Kentucky”

Narrator is unmanageable. Demonstrates a disregard for form bordering on the paranoid. Questioned closely, he declares himself the open enemy of conventional narrative categories. . . .

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Large Black Landscape

It is black. Black and rearing up; rounded points, pointy points. Black and matted together; plates and plains, lines and radiant circles. Black on black. Black on black on black.


Is this a mountain? Mountains? Is this the ocean—all those rearing points, that shifting? . . .

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Notes from a Domestic Scene



Notebooks stood in a rack, straight and tightly shut beside a ruckus of birthday cards. Their colors drew my eye as I went past. I am overly susceptible to colors, even though so much of the world seems best in black and white. The first notebook had a pale blue cover, . . .

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He absolutely killed me: ravished

Their mother loved idioms, coaxed life back into the dead slang of generations past; cool beans, groovy daddy-o, and douche bag all had a place at the table, the breakfast table where she often discussed termite tracks along with her nightly rendezvous. . . .

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