River Teeth Journal Issue 21.2

June 8, 2020

River Teeth Journal Issue 21.2

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Editor's Notes Jill Christman and Mark Neely

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Part of the pleasure of print is that every piece of writing is a kind of time capsule. Literature moves slowly. . . but that slowness feels like a necessary antidote in our fast-paced, pixelated world. We don’t know what will happen between now and the time you read this note, but we at River Teeth wish you safety and good health. In a strange and frightening time, we hope you find solace in these pages.

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"If and When" Rebecca McClanahan

In the forest where she poured their father’s remains, forest service managers continue to set prescribed fires. What is left—charred roots and a blackened forest floor—will heal over in time, clearing the forest floor so that wildlife can flourish and sunlight can penetrate, coaxing seeds into roots into sprouts into trees.

"Whiskey Boys" Phillip Hurst


My old Honda was slung across two spaces, looking like a trail-worn green mule. In the trunk sat a milk crate full of study guides—twelve hundred dollars’ worth of pristinely unused study guides. As I wedged myself into the driver’s seat, a wild grimace on my face and the smell of fermented corn leaking from my every pore, those guides seemed as shame-inducing as neglected pets.

"Ordinary" Wendy Bilen

What if ordinary is enough? What if it’s enough to ask after friends who have been ill? . . . What if it’s enough to listen to students whose eyes brim as they relay the pain of their families, their failures, the expectations others have of them? What if it’s enough to donate money to help immigrants and the hungry and the church? What if it’s enough to pray and try and vote and work? What if it’s enough to share what I have with two girls who have known lifetimes of hurt? What if it’s enough to simply reach toward love and, once in a while, to touch it?

"My Mother, In Passing" Mary Grimm

The last time I saw her was in the hospital. She was wearing a hospital gown but in my memory she is wearing her good black suit, which was by then a little big on her.

"Camino de Santiago" Kevin Honold

The tumbling clouds, now fringed pink, raced to first light. On and on came the clouds, suffused now with a watery glow, breaking over the ridge-crest as over a dam and hurtling, wind-borne, into the sun. In a channel as broad as the sky, the river of clouds rolled overhead, braiding and parting as it threaded the peaks.

"A Thing Happens" Camellia Freeman

And I suppose that is what we call joy. When you love being more than the idea of being. Or perhaps it is when you love a being more than the idea of her. Joy as something greater than simply getting what you wanted.

"Blood Brothers" Liz Prato

There’s almost a and the next thing you know twist to Rachel’s family story. Like, “and the next thing you know, both her brothers were dealing drugs and arms.” What?

“Confessions of a Family Man" Tim Bascom

When the communion hymn ended and everyone fell silent, two-year-old Conrad stayed there, staring intently. The silence was palpable as Cathleen drank the remaining wine and draped a creamy napkin over the chalice. The sanctuary was completely quiet until Conrad, without warning, shouted out a single jubilant word: “HALLELUJAH!”

"Star Tables" Kelle Groom

On the street, white roses and white gladiola spill over the fence. Petals cool and dense. All I have to do is breathe. If ever I am ungrateful let me remember the cold air and opened flowers in June, early evening, when I was lucky enough to live here. Look, my neighbor says, when I come home. Birds dark against the deep sky, flying toward the ocean. Flowers like white tulle dresses all over the front yard. Peonies.

"The Deer Wouldn't Burn" James Ellenberger

Dad probably tells this story after my uncle tells his story because the world is full of deer and all of them seem to want to die. There are signs everywhere if only you’re willing to look. The deer is the greatest sign of all, because it leaps in front of you when you’re not looking. It reminds us that we always ought to be vigilant—or else.

"Astraphobia" Kelly Fordon

There are things you can do during a thunderstorm that can cause more harm than the storm itself. You can pick up a metal garbage can, but, in the process of forging your escape, risk attracting a bolt of lightning. You can climb through jagged glass to escape a fatal jolt—and risk slitting your wrists in the process.

"Kate Chopin, My Mother, and Me" Nicole Graev Lipson

And the terrible truth is this. After we’ve driven down autumn roads fringed with copper leaves; after we’ve arrived at the mountain, the woods, the high-rise hotel; after we’ve disappeared into simmering baths and piles of white sheets and bottomless glasses of wine, my beautiful husband will reach for me from across the bed, and part of me will still be too close to home.

Contributors' Notes


More about this issue's authors.


Photo Credits, Courtesy of Public Domain Sites:

Pexels: Aliona & Pasha, Ellie Burgin, Matthias Zomer, Immortal Shots, Rene Asmussen

Unsplash: Adam Jaime, Bart van meele, Luma Pimentel, David von Diemar, Tandem X Visuals 

Keywords: 21-2
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