Passages North Issue #40 Now Available


I’m really happy about having my new piece, “Gestation” in Passages North, since it’s a Northern Michigan University journal from the upper peninsula. Back to my childhood roots! When the editor sent me the copies, he scribbled on the outside of the package I’m sick of da snow. Boy, do I remember that feeling . . .

This story is a print version only, not available online. You can go here: to get your hands on a hard copy via their site. Or I have a few, and I’ll hand them out to anyone who pays me one million dollars in cold hard cash and/or asks relatively nicely.



Three new publications . . .

I’m happy to say that I was a finalist for the Waasnode Short Fiction Prize, and my story “Gestation” will be published in Passages North this fall.

Also, my fiction piece “Middle-Aged Woman Rethinks Her Sexual Orientation While Breakfasting at a Cafe” is forthcoming in Solstice Literary Journal.

I’ll post links when theses pieces are out.

This spring I received an honorable mention at Glimmer Traina journal that I really admire and have used often in fiction classes with my students.

Lastly, my short story “Version” is out now on The Seventh Wave’s beautiful site! (See “Featured Stories” above right.)

Chinese Lanterns

The following story was the winner of the Rilla Askew Prize for Fiction and was published in “Conclave: A Journal of Character, Winter 2018.” It’s a print-only publication, so I’ll post the story here. 

By way of introduction, I’d say this is a story that focuses on the feeling of adjusting to being alone, post-divorce. But that sounds so serious, and leaves out the fact that, as always, many things are very funny, even while we are in pain . . .

“Chinese Lanterns”

You share your child with a person you don’t know, just because that person is sleeping with your former husband: that’s the deal now. You pull up, get out of the car, kiss your child goodbye, and hand her backpack to her. You wave at the woman in the doorway, your old doorway.

You try to convey adultness, a peacefulness you don’t feel. My god, she just stands there, smiling, waiting for your child to traipse up the walk. What is she thinking? And then, like any mother, she puts her hand on your child’s shoulder and says something to her you’ll never hear, smoothly moving her into the house. What is it? What could it be?

The back of your girl’s dark-haired head, her backpack, her rainbow polka dot rain boots disappear and the door shuts between you, all gone, poof! You look around, to see if the neighbors are watching, curtains twitching. You have to move, you have to get back in the car. You can’t let yourself run up and bang on the door, demanding your child. This is the arrangement and it has its rules.

You drive to your apartment, dazed. You shouldn’t be driving, is what I think, you’ve had a shock and need tea, need pats from soothing hands. It’s all wrong, isn’t it? That woman is with your child as often as you are, filling out half the joint custody dance card along with your ex. Her hip, narrow figure in its narrow, hip jeans stays in your mind. Her shirt falls loosely over her flat belly. Her hair has a way of swinging across her cheek—she must get it styled in one of those places with graffiti for wall décor, the kind that gives people her age a cheap beer, gratis, to help them bear the boredom. She’s a Pilates teacher! But a good mom—am I right?—a good mom has no abs. Continue reading

Zora Raeburn : The Unvanquished

Photograph: Ken Russell

To me, the nearly unheard of writer Zora Raeburn was a woman both terrifying and bold. She was absolutely able to propel herself forward as an artist without any outside support or assistance or acknowledgment. She is pictured here with a wall of rejection letters. She only ever received rejection letters--to the end of her life none of her work was ever accepted for publication. What could that have been like?

I love the way she is using the pointer, professor-like, in this photograph, as if to draw our attention to something there, to educate us on an interesting aspect of content in one sentence of one letter in this monolith of rejection. What could it possibly say? Keep trying? Stop pestering us? Who do you think you are? And what did she do next, once she climbed down, rather unsteadily, from that ladder? Sat down and wrote, no doubt.

To add to her mystique, it is rumored Zora did eventually self-publish a book (the aptly named Disillusionment) that is impossible to track down, and might not even exist.

Isabella and Emily Dickinson

I began this site as a promise, of a sort, to a student. I’ll call her Isabella. She’s a natural member of that group of human beings to whom Belles-lettres matter–and by this I mean those people who are attuned to writing that is aesthetically pleasing (whether brutal or lovely) and original (by which I mean a true representation of some part of the life of the writer).

Isabella is in a writing workshop I’m teaching at the college this summer. We were in my office, talking about a promising poem she had written, when it occurred to me that she should start a blog.

What I wanted for her was the solidity of her voice moving out into the world, a place to be a writer beyond our class (which will be over soon and can’t continue to support her). I wanted her to have a world to write to, and a way to begin to make a rough anthology of her poems, pressing each into an entry that would be conserved.

As we talked, I ended up promising Isabella that I would start my own blog (what a word! Talk about your ugly Anglo-Saxon consonants. Block, hog, blench, agog. A blog must surely be something cavepeople hit each other over the head with). Isabella and I gave each other until class tomorrow (a Monday) to have something to show for ourselves. It’s Sunday night now. You see what I am like. I keep my promises, but definitely at the last minute. Continue reading