River Teeth Journal Issue 20.1

December 12, 2018

River Teeth Journal Issue 20.1
Table of Contents 

Editor's Notes Dan Lehman

A few issues ago, this space discussed the dangers of what some have termed “me-moir”: nonfictional self-absorption in an era increasingly dominated by noisy narcissism. We suggested that genuine empathy is a ready antidote and that such other-centeredness might help us not only reach outward for our topics, but even more importantly, help to coax deeply personal stories toward genuine connection. The secret, we suggested, was ...

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"Place of the Red Willows" Iver Arnegard

Three months ago, coming home from town somewhere near here, I hit a mare at sixty miles an hour. And today, just as I expected, a band of horses graze to the east of the highway, feeding on the lush grass of the borough pit. But I don’t see my mare among them. After watching the herd a while, I pull back onto the road heading south...

"The Local" Greg Bottoms

“Give me a ride home, man,” said Stapleford. “I’m drunk. And if I walk they’ll pick my ass up again. You know they will. A night in the police station, a fine. Come on, man. Help me out. You owe me.”

“How do I owe you?”

“I didn’t beat your ass, man! I beat the ass of a guy who looks just like you instead! I’d say that was pretty decent of me, wouldn’t you?”

"Earthquakes and Angels" Sydney Lea

So there I was, training for a flat-water kayak race near our beloved camp in Washington County, Maine. August of 2016, a great interlude in my life: I was seventy-four, but to churn the water for two hours at a time and to feel strong enough meanwhile that I could notice the lavish splendors of the neighborhood—well, it all but gave me the illusion that I’d never grow truly old.

"Los Perdidos" Beth Alvarado

My father-in-law was orphaned when he was child. He came to this country from Mexico, looking for his family and, although he didn’t find them, he created his own.… He watched the news programs from Mexico almost obsessively, but he never went back, not even for a visit.

"The Heart Holder" Ash Whitman

It is 7:30 a.m. and my body prickles electric with exhaustion and adrenaline. The surgeon glances at me over his left shoulder: “You ready?” I can see only his eyes and relaxed brow between his face mask and his cloth surgical cap. My answer to his question forces its way out of my mouth, choking my animal impulse to faint or run.


I coax myself into believing that I am ready.

I am the heart holder. I have held forty-eight human hearts.

"November Light" Ryan Brod

When I was ten, Dad took me hunting for the first time. I sat in silence beside him in a two-man metal tree stand. My butt sank into the camouflaged cushion on the bench seat that supported us. The November sun was still below the horizon, but there was enough light to see. From the stand, we faced a narrow valley, at the bottom of which a small stream gurgled over mossy rocks. The far bank rose sharply, then leveled off into a stand of white birch.

"On Enchanted Rock" Vivé Griffith

   “Do you have the number for the ranger station?” You heard her voice almost before you saw her, this woman with a sun hat shading her face.
   You said, “No, I’m sorry.” But the man that you love, the man sitting with you to look at the vista you’d declared breathtaking, said, “Wait. I have the park map.” On the top he found the number.
   “Is someone sick?” he asked.
   “Chest pains?” he asked. It was almost a joke, something so unlikely in a place where water gathers in vernal pools that fill with the brightest green grasses.

“Breathtaking" Holly Willis

Pare things back to the breath, to the knowing, nothing extraneous, nothing not true: The rocks edging this Maine island are rough, the waves furling pewter and punctual, the trees bend without breaking in the wind, and the snow sits wet on the porch. But still there’s a wisp of something I’m missing: a thread, a breath, time, a touch. Now let go and I’m drifting, sailing on a fine thread, trying to span the gap.

"Arctolatry" Jake Maynard


The bear, this particular bear, was what I wanted most from Alaska. What I’d always wanted. Yes, I wanted mountains and glaciers and the quick money cannery work can provide. But most of all I wanted the bear. Its claws, its stench. I was also a college student, and a grizzly felt as far away from college as a person can get.

"High Pockets" Earl Fendelman

As I put him into the car seat anchored in the back of the rental car, I asked if he wanted to hear about the man whose house we were going to see. “No.” I kissed the child on the forehead. I had sort of expected that answer.

“Would you like to hear about a man whose leg was bitten off by a whale?” That got a better answer. So I slid into the driver’s seat and started to tell about Ahab and Moby Dick. It took three sentences. But that was enough. I couldn’t help but wonder why it had taken Melville so many pages.

"The Best Bar in the World" Seth Sawyers

If The Dizz had comment cards and if you forced me to fill one out, the only thing I’d change would be booths instead of the high-tops along the bar’s back wall. I’d adjust the air conditioning from Deep Arctic to merely Pretty Cold.

And that’s it.

"An Egg!" Richard Hoffman

 What sort of a being was she, my mother? Not only what sort of person, but preceding even that elaboration—via time, culture, and circumstance—what sort of being was she? Adjectives: female, resilient, buoyant, libidinous, graceful, social, religious, down-to-earth. Writing this, I feel as if I am stalking my mother, trying to catch a glimpse of her, to see her from different angles—literally, through the windows of first our house on Ninth Street, and then the house we moved to on Thirteenth. I am a kind of voyeur, a spy from the future, although I don’t know what I’m looking for, exactly, nor who I am to report to.

Contributors' Notes


More about this issue's authors.


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* Photo Credits

Up-island Spider” Drxbenzo [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikime

Czech municipal coat of arms. UnknownUnknown author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“Herman Melville house” Midnightdreary This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Herman_Melville_House_-_Lansingburgh.JPG

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