River Teeth Journal Issue 22.2

April 13, 2021

River Teeth Journal Issue 22.2

 

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Editor's Notes Joe Mackall

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Ultimately every piece in this issue, and really any piece of literature worth a damn, forces us to confront life as it is—and perhaps, at times, as it should be—shining fresh illumination on what William Styron called “the desperate predicament of being human.”

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"A Simple Solution" Abigail Thomas

I offer this simple solution to anyone suffering from nameless fear: write yourself into a story where you stand half a chance of surviving, and do, at least until morning.

"Twenty Wendys" Marianne Jay Erhardt

 

I’m snatched up from a nap by a scream from my toddler’s bedroom. Terror. I book it up the stairs, throw open the door and don’t know what I see. Something is in Nolan’s crib and it isn’t Nolan. It’s a ghost, a shrieking cocoon. It is some creature being born, or newly swallowed, and where is my boy?

"Old Teammates" Greg Bottoms

I saw the two of them in the mirror, one smiling, one scowling. Broad faces, thick necks, cauliflower ears, evidence of an old nose break. I was nobody’s dream date either. I’ve had twenty-five stitches, total, in my face and scalp.

"Tikkun Olam Ted" Nicole Graev Lipson

I see that it’s not a picture after all, but a row of words wobbling across the page. My son, who as a toddler had a speech delay, has been struggling at school to write words beyond his name, and I feel a surge of pride in this effort—a surge that lasts just long enough for me to discern what he has written. Could it be? No. But oh my god, yes.

"Becoming Pete Dawkins" Richard Goodman

I stepped into a brick-and-mortar world of manufactured traditions. It was regimented and male. There’s probably nothing more absurd than an institution or person that pretends to be something it isn’t, or ever can be. The effort is comic, or tragic—sometimes both. You cannot be an English boarding school in the suburbs of Detroit, try as you may.

"New Harlem" Shamecca Harris

In the wee hours of the morning, well before crowds flock to Harlem, I sneak a peek at my favorite of his paintings, an ode to hip-hop featuring a group of B-boys in colorful tracksuits dancing against the backdrop of the city skyline. A tiled frame of international flags borders the scene, and at the very bottom Franco offers an invitation in bold that suggests my home was never really mine alone: Harlem welcomes . . . THE WORLD.

"Leaving Las Vegas" James Brown

Visions will jolt them awake. The keening and cries will echo in their minds for the rest of their lives. It is irreversible, this haunting, and for me to believe that somehow the dead are more fortunate is a perversion, for there is no greater robbery than the taking of life.

“Time Presses" Emily Waples

His father, he confides, has long suffered bouts of prolonged and unbearable depression. I don’t doubt it, in an environment like this; every day between October and May, you must feel like the sky is getting ready to open up and swallow you whole. The night closes in so soon, so relentlessly, that it seems to suck out all the oxygen around us as we spoon mashed potatoes onto our plates.

"Birding By Number" Jason Goldsmith

We make a ridiculous sight, three grown men shuttling left, shifting right. Hopping about as much as the birds in the trees with twice the enthusiasm but less than half their grace. We lean, tilt, crouch, stretch to keep them in sight. A sort of stochastic ballet, weaving circles with the aimless drift of atoms. Or we are dust motes driven by an invisible breeze

"The Hayflick Limit" Jessica Franken

Maybe she felt dying in freedom instead of boiling in the pot was victory enough. Or maybe she thought—like I used to, like I want to again—that a tearing heart can remake the world.

"The Confederacy Comes for You" Rick Rees

History felt like a monologue you had to outlast, or just tune out. And now suddenly everyone’s leaping in—it might be a huge mess, but it’s a healthy mess, an explosion of silenced voices.

Contributors' Notes

Photo Credits, Courtesy of Public Domain Sites:

Pexels: Brett Sayles, Luiz Clas, Spemone, Cotton Bro, Kelly Lacy, Pixabay

Unsplash: Teemu Paananen, Liz Weddon, Kaysha, Mitchell Trotter, Ran Berkovich

Keywords: 22-2
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