Dispatches

The First Day of Fall

By SHANE CASHMAN

spiderweb

Highland Falls, NY

A black ant walks across the kitchen counter and I try to flick it away. It dodges my finger, but it’s miscalculated how close it is to the edge and falls off the cliff of the counter and into the dog bowl. It struggles to swim. The ant is dying the way I always die in my worst dreams. In nightmares I sink to the bottom of the lake near my childhood home. 

Debbie WenThe First Day of Fall
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It Was a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

By JOANNA BRICHETTO

grass

Couchville Cedar Glade State Natural Area, Davidson County, Tennessee

My mom has moved to a “senior community” a long drive from my house, but a short drive to my favorite cedar glade.  Last night, I slept on the sofa so I could start a hike before dawn. Her new key takes some fiddling, but I sneak outside to meet black sky.

A Dodge pickup tails me hard on new asphalt for new subdivisions (so many) and old pasture (not so many), but when he turns toward the Interstate, I turn away. Pink begins to glow through my open window.

Debbie WenIt Was a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
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Hot Potato

By LEATH TONINO 

Colorado Springs, Colorado 

Hackysack

His business card is cut from the corner of an old photo. One side is the chopped image of a carpeted floor, a screen door, a chubby toddler’s left arm and hand. I flip the card over.

Julia PikeHot Potato
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The Little River

By SUSAN HARLAN

the great smoky mountains national park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

The Little River isn’t very little or rather
I don’t know what it is little in relationship to.
By the bank the water is smooth as paper
but in the middle my sneakered feet are unsteady
pulled by the current.

DoostiThe Little River
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Four Poems from New York City

By SEAN SINGER

New York City, NY

Floating

Today in the taxi I brought the famous jazz drummer’s wife, Elena, all around Harlem doing errands. Cobb is the last surviving member of the band that recorded Kind of Blue. We went to the bank and to the pharmacy. She let loose with some stories. It was as if his music was not alone waking up from its dream.

Whitney BrunoFour Poems from New York City
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The Old Apartment

By ISABEL MEYERS

São Paulo from above.

São Paulo, Brazil

“So he’s just going to let us in without identification? He’s not gonna think we’re trying to break in or something?” I glance at the stern-looking doorman guarding the apartment building.

Rosa, with the confidence I’ve admired since we became friends on the first day of kindergarten, stares at me. “I’ll just tell him I’m Felipe’s daughter.”

Whitney BrunoThe Old Apartment
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On Zoos

By HANNAH GERSEN

A fenced-in tiger at a zoo in The Bronx.

The Bronx, New York

The tiger was showing off, pacing alongside his swimming pond, looking as if he might jump in at any moment. His long tailed curled inquisitively, like a housecat’s. At least twenty people held up phones to capture the moment on video. My five-year-old son stood by the glass divider, watching, rapt. Several feet away, holding my seven-month-old baby girl, I observed the tiger’s pixelated clones prowling across tiny screens.

Whitney BrunoOn Zoos
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Corregidor Flames

By CLINTON CROCKETT PETERS

Corregidor Island ruins

Corregidor Island, The Philippines

Corregidor Island, off the coast of Manilla in the Philippines, is balmy but windy, a ceiling fan in Florida. I’m hiking limestone bluffs pockmarked with WWII pillboxes, some say live ammo, and blobs of sunset-colored avian called “mango birds” that flutter in and out of sight. Underneath me is a bunker I’m trying to find. It is multiple airports in size, and I gambled I could stumble on it. Lost, I look out from one of the islands many palm-saturated hills and see a statue tumoring from the beach: General George “Doug-out-Dug” MacArthur. Below the bronze feet, are the words, “I shall return.”

Whitney BrunoCorregidor Flames
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Dream Ladders

By MATTHEW SCHULTZ

Immovable Ladder at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; Jerusalem

Israel and Palestine

The story of the Immovable Ladder is this: it was left on a balcony of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem by a careless mason in 1750 and has sat there ever since. The six orders of monks, in whose ruthless stewardship the church is kept, have divided the church into blocks of turf, which they guard with fervor, and sometimes with fists.  It’s unclear to which sect the balcony (and by extension, the ladder) belongs. Any attempt to answer that question would be a threat to the delicate status quo that keeps the monkish violence at bay. And so the ladder sits. Undisturbed.

Avery FarmerDream Ladders
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Non-Native

By CATE LYCURGUS

Sand dunes at Tolowa Dunes State Park
Tolowa Dunes State Park, California

Sandy showed us how. She placed the shovel’s tip a few inches from a tuft’s base. Angled the handle back a bit, just enough to loosen the grass before she lowered, hand-pulling. This way, she explained, down to the source. Awards went to the biggest pile, longest root (you cannot burn grass off the dunes; the network just shoots back again), cleanest area too. Tawny tips waved in small breeze from the lagoon, off the lip of sea. But the grass is pretty, C said, and somebody murmured, agreeing. He traced the rake in arcs, looking down, but couldn’t swirl it far. European beachgrass (Ammophila arenaria) grows in clumps from rhizomes that spread four meters each year, so it’s no surprise beachgrass defines large stretches of Pacific coast. Pretty till you get a spine in your glove, E admitted, wincing. Until you get down close.

Isabel MeyersNon-Native
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