River Teeth Journal Issue 22.1

October 19, 2020

River Teeth Journal Issue 22.1



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Editor's Notes Dan Lehman

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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.

Continue reading...

"Dark Barn" Michael Dinkel

I was part of it as much as the others, the farmers, welders, truck drivers, and storekeepers who tried to make me feel I was wrong and didn’t belong there. It was our intertwined stories in that farm kitchen that helped me to understand how people might react in ways even they didn’t always understand. The stories were, along with being pleasant entertainment, a way to recognize how we were all part of that place, its history, and its people.

"Beauty and the Bees" Emma Kaiser


Beauty remains one of the most ambiguous of the great abstracts, one of the most imprecise and difficult to define, somehow recognized universally across humanity but also known uniquely by the individual, and all my life I’ve been trying to reckon with the what and the why of it.

"Pain Song" Julie Marie Wade

In the hospital bed, I feel so far from the friend who clutches my hand, so far from my partner on speakerphone. Only Pain is close. She places herself between my skin and the flowered cloth that covers it. I can’t possibly call this a gown. Pain hovers. Pain hums. While other voices are muffled, remote, Pain cuts my ear with a clear, sharp tongue.

"Pain Song" Brenda Miller

If Pain wore a ring, it might bear a rhinestone, sharp-faceted, false glitter of diamond intensity. Love and Pain—don’t they always mesh together, joined by invisible tendrils of flesh? Imagine the wedding ceremony, this ring slipped onto a finger designated for this purpose: the ring finger, a digit that leads straight back to the heart.

"Canned" Allie Spikes

I ask Diann where I’m meant to put all of these things. She smiles, stands quickly, and leads me down to her basement where her husband, Herb, is watching a football game. Half the furniture in her basement is built up on or made of fifty-pound bags of soybeans, pintos, and popcorn. Under the pool table is a stack of long, flat burlap bags of dried food. In the corner is another stack—Diann pulls the quilt off the top. Suddenly everywhere I look is an opportunity for a stack of food storage.

"Small Parts of Us" Jonathan Starke

That there’s a purity and spirit and smooth pulsing that comes with each punch. That it barely even hurts. That stepping into the pain is a brave thing to do. That I was like a lion then, when I was young. When we first met. When our skins were fresh and smooth and clean. When I didn’t have to remember what it was like to be strong, to believe I could pull us up out of anything.

"Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder has 8 Symptoms" Ren Jones

My boyfriend might think I’m pretty. He tells me he thinks I am when my underwear matches but not when I wake up in the morning. Iggy Pop is married to a model, but he isn’t wearing a wedding ring in the documentary. I want to be married. My boyfriend looks like a Stooge. He’s greasy like Dave Alexander at least, so maybe it’s like I’m married.

“If They Ask, What Are You Working On?" Susan Jackson Rodgers

I am working also on hope. I am working on peace—my own, not the world’s; the world is, it seems, doomed. "It’s a wrap,” my son says. "The planet is done for. We messed up bad." One feels this, every day, this too lateness. It is late indeed.

"Father and Son Buried in One Grave" Molly Rideout

The earth around Sand Run has healed itself over these memories. The black walnut and sumac and poison ivy are the scabs over geologically recent wounds. All the same, it's hard to believe that even in the wet April coal days of 1882 this tiny creek—missed on my first drive down the road, doubled back, passed over again, disbelieved again, once more doubled around—once submerged an entire locomotive. 

"This 5,000 Year Old House" Megan Harlan

This very long view of humanity stirred deep desires in me: how much I wanted a child, to be a mother. What I’d struggled to understand was how this child would fit into my literal world, the homes I had always wandered through, as if each one was a somewhat perplexing, sometimes appealing, but always foreign land. My real home was so often my writing, into which I could easily travel and construct endless topographies. And no, I could not raise a child there.

"Jackrabbit" Erin Block

My eyes scan for movement or silhouette, ears honed for the scratch when a jackrabbit jumps. I picture him, holding tight behind a yucca, ready to run like a thoroughbred from a starting gate, his hind legs shifting weight back and forth. I keep my thumb near my shotgun’s safety and my index finger pointed around the trigger guard.

"Gone" J. Malcolm Garcia

Mist concealed the sun and a heavy dampness clung to the street and he smelled the mix of wet odors rising from the sidewalks and he felt so immersed in everything around him that it seemed he had been in Vietnam a long time.

"Truth and Miracles: Werner Herzog, Sansa Stark, and the Girl Who Fell From the Sky" Micah Perks

How do you tell a story about a girl who fell for a handful of seconds, who ate some drenched cake, who inched forward, alone and unafraid, believing she was heading towards and not away from her mother, her white sandal leading the way, her bare foot dragging behind, day after day after day after day?

Contributors' Notes


More about this issue's authors.


Photo Credits, Courtesy of Public Domain Sites:

Pexels: Spencer Selover, Anna Shvets, Ekrulila, Steve Johnson, Felix Mittermeier, Jennifer Li Molina, Artem Beliaikin, Lum3n

Unsplash: Priyash Vasava, Amisha Nakhwa, Ubey Ahmed

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