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Hilary Collins

April 17, 2017


I go to see the psychic for many reasons: first, because I’ve been lying about going to see psychics and mediums in my essays for a while. Second, because I’m genuinely curious. Third, because I want to write about it.

I find my psychic on Yelp. Reading several reviews, I find myself drawn to this one in particular. I pick up the phone on a Thursday morning and call. I leave a voicemail. She calls me back and we make an appointment for that evening.

She is a middle-aged woman with clear olive skin and beautiful green eyes. She mentions she is a grandmother, has a brisk and down-to-earth presence, speaks in an attractive cigarette-and-whiskey voice. She compliments my handbag as I sit down.

The place is a small room, dark despite a row of windows facing the street. There are glass cases containing crystals and candles in all shapes and colors. There is a large mural on the wall, a many-colored woman or goddess sitting cross-legged, rainbow dots running from her pelvis to the crown of her head. There is a cabinet in the corner full of books. We sit on either side of a small curved table, which holds a crystal ball, a pack of well-worn tarot cards, several small clear crystals, and a couple small white candles.

I wasn’t specific about the services I wanted, and she doesn’t really ask. She hands me the pack of tarot cards and asks me to shuffle them while channeling my energy and my questions into them. She asks me to be sure of what I want to ask before I hand them back. I hand them back after a minute and she asks me to shuffle again, and this time really concentrate. I do it again. When I hand them back the second time, she explains she did not get enough of my energy the first time. When she deals the cards, she lays ten in a cross pattern on the table. The card in the center of the cross is Death.

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Tyrell Collins

March 16, 2017

If You Weathered My Storm

August 29th, 2005

There was no storm where I was. Lithonia, Georgia, an oasis of tall evergreen and fruit trees. Home to the gray squirrels, mallards, foxes, and wild turkeys. A good five hundred miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. The day was supposed to be a happy one. Clear skies and an orange yellowed rayed sun. A day at Six Flags amusement park with Batman and Superman roller coaster rides, pictures with Bugs Bunny and Daffy the Duck, and sticky cotton candy that melted on the tip of my tongue. Sadly, only half of this day was a happy one. Holding my vendor sized hot dog, my mother became frantic, pressing the phone against her ear. She called me over and told me my uncle from New Orleans called just for me. I could hear the shakiness in his voice. He told me he loved me, and hopefully, he would see me soon. I was confused. Mom didn’t say anything about him coming to visit. She didn’t like people, even her own brother, just showing up spur of the moment. And what did he mean by hopefully? Mom gave me another few dollars and told me to get her a coke from the vending machine by the public restroom. But before I scurried off I heard her as she became secretive again, pressing the phone against her ear, “We won’t be in contact for days,” she said, “When you can, call me and tell me where you are?” What did she mean? He was in New Orleans. I thought the blazing heat of the sun must have gotten to her. But enough questioning. I needed to get back to my fun. It was my twelfth birthday.

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Margaret McMullan

March 15, 2017


Portrait of Writers as Young Women

For my friend and fellow writer, Julia Gregg, on the occasion of a speaking series 
to celebrate the life of her son, J. Zach Gregg (1983-2016) 


We are alike, you and I.

I start out happy because I am born in the South. I run, climb trees, roller skate. I have a cat named Cat, and, even though it’s the sixties in Jackson, MS, I am so dreamy I never consider if I’m black or white; boy or a girl; rich or poor. I exist to smell magnolias and eat boiled shrimp and peanuts.

But then (wait for it) my family moves. North.

In the North, I am surrounded by pale children with strange, nasally accents who say that I am a freak because I have a weird accent. Can they even hear themselves? At recess boys flip my skirt up and say “Shorts?” and then run around screaming that I am not wearing shorts under my skirt. Who wears shorts under skirts? I ask, hiding shame. What kind of freak are you? they answer. I begin to wear shorts under my skirts. I try to sound like them, but then, when I realize I have nothing to say, I just stop talking. I become A Quiet Person. Me! A quiet person!

This is what the North does to us.

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Lee Bey

March 15, 2017

Life in the Big City

I’m an architectural photographer. But occasion I like to roam the streets and photograph the people of this great city.  You never know what you’ll find: an acrobatic shirtless tattooed skateboarder in Grant Park or a sidewalk produce vendor on Pilsen’s 18th Street. You might find three strangers striking up a warm conversation on a frigid day downtown, or maybe—just maybe—a young Esperanza Spalding, a few years before Grammys and fame, singing her heart before a modest audience at the Chicago Jazz Fest.









Lee Bey is a respected expert, writer, and photographer of the built environment. He also consults and lectures on urban design, community development, and architectural preservation issues.

Gary Scott

February 15, 2017

Corresponding with the Woman Who Was Not My Wife

“It’s not necessary to imagine tear drop crystals or facets multiplying light, only nine ensconced bulbs and heavy-ass bent mental,” I wrote, going off, giving too many details, sharing how the dining room chandelier came crashing down at three in the morning. The light beast pounced upon the table in the dark, wide enough to have maimed every memory of plate, fork, or wrist. You told me you hallucinate when you orgasm, that you see IMAX landscapes, meadows with wind, whales diving, “your standard Windows 95 screensaver,” adding, because what’s light without a little bit of darkness, “and sometimes post-apocalyptic cityscapes.” Oh sure, we both casually and carefully mentioned our spouses; we both started sentences with we. When you ended our correspondence, I still had one thing to tell you, though. Just this: I learned that Alexander Graham Bell thought Ahoy should be the standard greeting when answering the telephone, that it was Edison who pushed for Hello. It made me think of Lionel Richie and Adele and how much better Jerry McGuire would have been if Zellweger had said, “You had me at Ahoy.”

Gary Scott is a stay-at-home dad and writer. He’s a graduate of Western Washington University and has
been published in the Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Slice, Bellevue Literary Review, Brevity, and
elsewhere. He lives in Bellingham, Washington.

Catherine Young

February 15, 2017

A Cup of Tea

Listen to Catherine Young read: A Cup of Tea Here:

Catherine Young Essays

Photo credit: Celeste Thahammer

I take the thick-walled porcelain cup into my hands. Words from my childhood spin inside it—Grandma’s words:

“But for the blink of an eye, you wouldn’t be here.”

The tea cup is a scrying bowl. When I peer in, memory takes me through a veil of sulfurous smoke to Pennsylvania’s anthracite country in the 1960s—a place of uncertain ground, collapsing and emptied of coal. Fires burning beneath streets; flames flickering on mountains of coal waste; sad and sick people sitting helpless in each grimy house; Grandma in her house, waiting for my visit.

A train rims the mountainside as I make my way through the cindered alley in our hollow. Above the soot-covered houses, coal cars rattle and screech. White letters on black cars pass, Erie, Erie, Lackawanna . . . All day, the trains take our coal away and come back for more.

I pass through a blackberry patch, walk along the creek and willows, and shuffle through the grasses to an empty lot. There I climb the field of rocks that jut out from the grasses like steps and pass the blooming wild apple trees to the last alley behind Grandma’s garage.

I push the unpainted gate open and step down into her yard. The arbor frame, which held the grapevine is falling down, and the coop and the dovecote are simply piles of wood. Old wooden barrels rot in the yard among the wild and untrimmed bushes and fruit trees. Over and over Dad told me about how it used to be.

“During the Great Depression, we had grapes and apples, a garden, and chickens, and even pigeons.”


“Budacoo, budacoo,” Dad cooed deep in his throat, guttural like rolling the German r’s. “That’s the female call. Budacoo, budacoo-wonk-wonk. That’s the male. You try it.”

Grandma always tells me, “He felt so bad about killing those birds. He always had a soft heart.”

Grandma’s yard is a terrible mess, and so sad looking, but today in spring, the yard has flowers everywhere: mock orange, lilac, apple, and the bright red of quince along the fence. The gray, worn wood of the garage is hidden. Now everything seems happy.

Grandma’s house, like nearly everyone’s, has peeling paint from the coal smoke. Her back porch stands much higher than I do, and it has nothing but skeleton railings on it—nothing to keep us from slipping off. It stands above ground because our rocky hillside does not let us sink our basements in—sometimes the coal mines under us collapse and do that for us. At least in our hollow, there are no mine fires below us as there are in Minooka, but we breathe the smoke from their neighborhood anyway. At the back door, I freeze. I don’t want to turn around in case I might be sucked backward off the edge. Continue Reading


Priscilla Long

January 17, 2017







Dwelling Spaces/Urban Places




Immensity is within ourselves. 

—Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Photo Credit: Tony Ober


Urban alleys. Urine and crime. Trash and broken glass. Dumpsters. Junkies. Syringes, needle-bent and rusted. Feral cats, pigeons, rats. Stinks and rots. Feces of unknown origin. Persons of unknown origin, curled under trash bags, drunk, or dead.

In cities like Portland, Denver, and Detroit, and in Seattle, where I live, a grassroots movement is growing toward reclaiming urban alleys. Alleys are neighborhood spaces begging to be developed as neighborhood spaces. Alleys could be comely and green. Shops could open onto alleys lined with flowerboxes. Alleys could provide walkways for pedestrians, walkways festooned with prayer flags, mobiles, or hanging gardens.

Reclaiming begins with naming. Named alleys in Seattle: Firehouse Alley, Kings Cross Alley, Canton Alley, Jazz Alley (not an alley), Ally 24, Nord Alley. A path in my small garden wends its way between fern and fence and winds under the paper birch tree. I name it Aphid Alley.

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