by Amy Dennis
Running, I turned onto the sidewalk along John King Boulevard. I cover this route a lot. It’s my only focused time outside, so I really should unplug and tune in to what’s happening around me: the sweet smell of cedars in the local park; gray rabbits scuttling under a brick wall as I trot toward them; school kids released to the wilds of a fenced playground for brief recess. These are the pretty little details of my otherwise cookie cutter neighborhood, and I appreciate their earthiness. But this whole running thing isn’t just about sucking up fresh air and spinning off calories. It’s my therapy time, think time, idea time. Sure, it looks like I’m just jogging along, but I may be mentally rearranging my living room, trying to remember how old my parents are, or praying (again) for courage. Almost always, though, on every run, I bring along the nearest set of cheap ear buds. I plug in, and most of the time, I let the music take me away somewhere else completely.
by Michael Morris
My brother was just sitting over in the corner of the floor by the front door. He had a stain on the front of his blue suit jacket from where I threw the beer at him. For the first time in my life, he was shutting the hell up. I guess I surprised him. He just sat there looking at me like was just too damned stunned to know what to say.
“So if you don’t mind, prick face, I’m going to try and watch the rest of my show.” And I did. I figured he’d leave. I didn’t care.
See, I was already having a pretty shitty day when he showed up, in the middle of my show, to “check on me.” He’s always doing that. Spending his lunch hour coming home, prying in my business.
by Billy Dennis
Billy Dennis Jr. 3-4 years old
Billy Dennis Sr.
Keeton Park Golf Course
I’ve tried to work out how old I was at the time. My best guess is that I was between two and three years of age. My father, Billy Dennis Sr., a legend of Dallas golf, brought home a 3-iron that he found discarded on the golf course. The club had been cut-down by cutting the middle section out and welding it back together. This was before they really engineered clubs for kids, so even cut-down, the club was so heavy that it almost caused me to fall over on my backswing. But I adored it. Golf quickly became my life. After all, it was my dad’s life and his looked pretty good. “It doesn’t matter if you’re three or ninety-three,” my dad would say as I swung away, “if you can stand, you can play golf.” Some kids have their security blanket. I had my 3-iron.
by Shayn Davenport
My brother Josiah has always been my wingman. Like me, he is strong and stout. Besides our blonde hair, we are every bit the Czech image our father has passed onto us. He is exactly two years younger than I am, and he is one of my best friends. He knows everything about my life.
“Are you ready to go, Josiah?”
“In a minute. I have to piss.”
“Hurry up; Mom will be back soon and I’d like to avoid that whole shit-storm.”
“No shit, should we leave a note?” cynicism laces Josiah’s laugh.
“Yeah, she’ll be wracked with worry about her two lovely boys.”
We both have feelings of despair. He feels the abandonment and emptiness of our family. It is as deep as Death Valley and just as dry. One good thing about inattentive parents, though, is they don’t miss you when you’re not around.
by Amy Dennis
Fearlessness is a slick shyster. We tend to think of fearless acts as those steps of faith that balance on the tightrope between dreams and disaster. Not always. Fear rides around in our back pockets every day, just waiting for the chance to hold us back from our own growth. The good news? Fear’s alter ego, fearlessness, hitches a ride, too. It’s in the other pocket: the odd, brittle good luck charm from your childhood that you can’t quite bring yourself to ditch.
Women especially tend to hold fear close, like a trusted companion. Sometimes that’s healthy. Fear can, after all, prevent us from engaging in dangerous behaviors. Fear settles into our guts and raises goosebumps along our unsuspecting arms, pulling us away from dark corners of decisions that don’t even need to be made. So powerful are those instincts that they often override the stubbornness and social dissatisfaction that can lead to powerful life changes. What does that look like?
by Amanda Preston
I’ve never finished a book without falling
asleep, not one essay, novel, drama, poem;
how could I be done with something that I love?
Closure is really an impossible task if
you actually think, so perhaps it would be
best if authors never wrote endings at all
Must everything be finished
before our intended receives it?
We, ourselves, never are
by Michael Morris
Ashamed I cannot connect
to the natural world like Basho
did, I lay here listening to
my C-PAP machine intersect
the fading click of the T.V.
turned off and the mechanical
peep my alarm uses to lull
me downstairs to make us coffee.