River Teeth Issue Preview 24.1

November 16, 2022

River Teeth Issue Preview 24.1


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Editor's Notes Dan Lehman

Two giants of nonfiction literature have died since last we wrote these notes: Janet Malcolm and Joan Didion. And so we offer tribute. Simply stated, one cannot imagine nearly twenty-five years of River Teeth without their enduring influence. You can find it on every page of this issue. In fact, every memoirist or literary journalist writing today owes these women deeply for their pioneering work. 


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"The Proclivities of Witches" Leslie Stonebraker


I feel for the pirate endlessly tortured by a tyrannical little boy who can’t leave well enough alone. Why shouldn’t three bears live happily in their own home, undisturbed by entitled trespassers upsetting delicate family dynamics? Kings are right— teenage mermaids are much too young to fall in anything more than lustful fantasy after a dramatic moment on a beach…Now I find myself wondering: when did grown-ups become the villains of these stories? When did I become a grown-up?

"The Tree" Nicholas Dighiera


What they don’t say, also, is if that driver hadn’t fallen asleep, or if his car had broken down earlier in the day, or if lightning had struck, or if a butterfly flapped its wings on the other side of the world . . . he wouldn’t be dead.

"Topography" Jessica Kulynych


Stunned by her hurtling entrance into the world of air and light, she lay motionless for too many moments as the doctor tried to coax her to breathe. The pediatrician assured me she had suffered no ill effects from her incautious passage, but I have always wondered. It seemed to me she had left something behind, like a child dashing out the door into a wonderland of falling snow without a coat or boots. She has always lacked any protective coating, any hard shell to screen her from the heat or cold of the air, or the brightness of the light, or the darkness of the night. It was a gift, this utter openness.

"Gastroliths" Craig Reinbold


Here, I am in motion, but the work is the same, each movement a repetition, boot to shovel, hand to earth, fill the bucket, boot to shovel, hand to earth, fill the bucket, the repetition a meditation. I am working. Learning to be astonished

"Save the Cat" S. N. Rodriguez


I stole a cat the same year my parents divorced. It happened a few months after my mother and I came home to an empty apartment. My father left my mother a fucking cake in the freezer—and nothing else.

"Giving, or Refugee Love Language" Lilly U. Nguyen


I wanted to reach inside and grasp at the things that made her hum. I wanted to crawl in and draw the covers of her skin over me, as close as a child could ever be to a mother. I wanted to close my eyes and sleep inside that narrow space and wake when the staples had been replaced by a song.

"On the Hairline Fringe" Ana Maria Spagna


Let me tell you, though: this is no place for self-pity. No-nonsense competency rules the day. At the downtown post office, the clerk behind the plexiglass offered expediency laced with kindness. Need a pen? Here’s a pen. Want to ship more cheaply? Try this box. I’d walk past the shuttered movie theater to the natural food store where a double-masked, gray-ponytailed woman weighed my spices, served me vegetarian soup in a cardboard bowl, and rang me up in a jiffy.  

“The Undertaking" Ellen Rogers


Every day, what I didn’t think could happen happened. Whatever they dreamed, they did. Rose-petal confetti. A swordfish sword to swallow, a bouquet to swallow, a glowing neon sword to swallow that lit J from within. A tour down the Willamette River on a homemade boat that doubled as a floating stage. Impossibility flew above our heads, then stuck its landing.

"Safety Dance" David McGlynn


If I lay absolutely still with my foot and arm elevated, I believed I could feel the pain coming. It pulsed in, like a distant radio signal, louder and closer, squealing in my ears until, at last, it peaked and began to quiet. The comedown was relief enough to keep me from giving in.

"How Come You No Hello Me When You Know Me So Well " Nicole Hamer


The day after George Floyd is kneeled on to death, neglected to death, viewed like internet pornography to death, like so many episodes of Black Mirror, the country finally realizes Black lives skip to a story loop. The deaths keep rolling through: graduations, picnics with coleslaw and the right potato salad, bedtime self-care routines, drives to a neighborhood store to score Tums, jogs down your street, inhaling air while outside or inside or staring sideways or while taking in a horizon bursting with pastel colors or gazing upward at a sedate blue sky acting as support cast for a white cloud main event. 

"A Thousand Faces" Jessie van Eerden

 Hard to say how little we know, but I believe it’s less than we thought. So restless, we wash our faces in cold water again, emerge somehow younger, all the lines and folds of our skin notwithstanding. It is late December, and then it is a new year that begins with drifted-in agave and spares us our expectations so that we might receive the gentle astonishment that has come.

Contributors' Notes

Photo Credits, Courtesy of Public Domain Sites:

Unsplash: AARN GIRI, Gabby Orcutt, David Jowanka, Vinicius "amnx" Amano, Tanya Trofymchuk, Felicia Berloi, Mak, Denise Jans, & Jeffrey Betts

Pexels: Pixabay & Tom Fisk


Keywords: 24.1 issue
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