Category Archives: NONFICTION

Let Me Explain To You Why You Get No Extra-Credit; (a dispatch from your web-editor)

Let Me Explain To You Why You Get No Extra Credit
by Eric Dovigi

A dead skunk is permitted to decompose on the side of a road until it dissolves like a putrid dandelion, yet I’m not allowed to sit on a public bench for more than a half-hour.

On this Earth, to shoot, stab, blow up, push, stone, set on fire, toss in acid, banish, exile, ostracize, discourage, hate, and ridicule are the most ubiquitous methods of empowerment.

In our culture, people are invited and encouraged to commoditize themselves on human-sharing websites that suggest they assign themselves a status, a profile, neat lists of friends, events, and take photos of themselves with squishy faces, let people know what sorts of boring things they will be doing that night and invite other people to share in the boredom; or by means of a carefully chosen quotation, express the intention to spend a lifetime in pursuit of artistic accomplishment of which they will never, ever, in a million years in a million possible universes, be even partly capable.

People jump on top of alligators for fun, eat spoonfuls of cinnamon, lick frozen aluminum poles, build paper mache wings and leap from the Eiffel Tower, all with more confidence than I have ever had, doing anything, in my entire life.

This morning I walked to work with plastic bags tied around my shoes. My shoes were made for running in the summertime. The right shoe has a large hole in the side.

It is winter. Snow is everywhere. By the time I got halfway to work the plastic bags had torn mostly off. My right sock was drenched. I stumbled and fell cutting through the dry gully by the graveyard.

Every day I wake up tired, and I spend so much time during the day just being tired that by the time I go to bed, I’m not really that tired anymore, so I lie awake until it’s morning.

You came into class twenty minutes late yesterday. Twenty minutes. Here is a list of pretty much the only people that are ever twenty minutes late on a regular basis: a) employees who are about to get fired, b) people having sex at near-absolute-zero temperatures, c) Gandalf, d) the New York Phil’ under Leonard Bernstein (I don’t expect you to get that joke), e) Kanye West when his watch is set forty minutes ahead, and f) the rabbit from Alice In Wonderland.

You have not been writing down the word-of-the-day since at least September. I watch you.

I don’t like your Facebook profile picture. Yeah, I looked up your name on Facebook.

I make less money now, as an instructor at a university, than I did when I worked retail–by a long-shot. Lagavulin ain’t getting any cheaper.

I’m starting to go a little deaf in my left ear. What’s that? Extra what?

I’m afraid of dying. I want those extra-credit points for myself. I want to horde them up. Maybe my inflammation will reduce. Maybe cell-senescence will slow–or reverse. Maybe my traumatic memories will disappear. Let the serotonin flow. Let wine rain from the sky. Give me those extra-credit points! They’re mine! num num num…

No. I don’t want them. I don’t want those extra-credit points because they’ll only dull the pain for a moment, child. The elation won’t last. The sense of safety, of accomplishment, of pride, will pass quickly and leave no residue, and the weight of Earth will descend with swift eagerness and you will be utterly crushed, you tiny tiny human. Old people will fuck you over forever, until they die, and then you’ll be old, and the dead skunks will dot the roads and you won’t be allowed to sit on a bench, and cars will hit you, and people will laugh at you, and you’ll have spent your entire life as a teacher making less money than you did when you worked retail, and then you’ll die.

There is no such thing as extra-credit.

Night Noise

Night Noise by Emma Moser

The pattern of your breathing changes,
and that is how I know we both heard it, that we are both stirring from a different darkness than the one which embraced us, hours ago, as we embraced, fading into sleep, and that the velvet of conversing breaths has been violated by something harsher, rawer,
alien and unwelcome as it scrapes its way into our warm and sacred silence.

Now we are both listening, I know we
are, both on our backs pretending not to see your ceiling as we listen to the shrieks, to the sharpness of voices, unmuffled even beneath your shag-rugged floor, your first-floor Canadian housemate and his girlfriend, again, as his thunderous
shatters like a wave against her rigid godforbidyouasshole,
as their tones of rage suffocate us soft and quiet creatures, we who squirm under lover speech turned hard.

Why do we just lie here, why don’t we
speak, why do we remain in our separate bed-corners, pretending the other must be sleeping through the war downstairs, pretending their noise doesn’t crumble us inside, we whose words to each other have always been silk, and smothered under this noise I can’t

help but wonder what your voice would be at that volume, if it would shake me, and what contortions your face would wear, if it would frighten me, or if I too would yell, hiding behind an unfamiliar voice to shield myself from yours, and where is your arm,
and why doesn’t it reach over to me now.

There is a shift, the single crash of
a slamming door, and though the house is no longer shuddering, though the weight of their shouts dissipates from your room, silence begins to crowd our ears, colder than the one into which we had breathed, hours ago, and it outlines our stillness all the more,
our upturned faces that look at ceilings, and letting go of a sigh I begin a shift in my body, a slow rolling away from your undiscovered arms, to embrace the stillness instead.

But I never find it, because all at once
you are turned over and your face is touching mine, your lips feeling the shape of my forehead in the dark, your hand cupping my shoulder, and the pattern of your breathing changes, perhaps to say
perhaps to let the silence say it for you, and sinking into your warmth, that is how I know: we are safe again.


An MFA candidate for fiction writing at Southern Connecticut State University, Emma Moser‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming at several venues, including Prairie Margins, Cheat River Review, The Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, and Thoreau’s Rooster. As creator of the blog “Antiquarian Desiderium.” She is also a contributor at Writers Get Together.




…It can’t store enough fuel to last the night

and hoist it from its well of dreams

to first light trembling on wet fuchsia,

nor break the hard promise life always keeps.

A lot of hummingbirds die in their sleep.


Diane Ackerman, Dark Night of the Hummingbird



Creeping home after midnight requires equal amounts of attention to detail and skill. After years of late nights, I know to take my shoes off before walking up to the door, so no heel sound will clatter on the steps. I secure my purse over my shoulder and tuck it under my arm to prevent it from jangling or bumping into door jambs. If I’ve been drinking, I take a couple of cleansing breaths to focus on the task at hand: getting the key into the lock with a minimum of fumbling. Stabbing blindly at the key plate is the sure sign of an amateur.

Tonight, however, I’m sober as a judge. My stealth is out of habit and courtesy rather than propriety: I don’t want to wake my parents. I’m every bit a guest in this house, and want to act it. Already I have figuratively slunk to their house in Phoenix after failing to beat the recession. Back in Texas, someone else is living in my house and someone else is doing the administrative tasks that I used to do, before my position was eliminated.

Continue reading BIRD BY DESERT-LIGHT




I’m not even fishing, just standing on the bank of the Little Miami River, and the flowing seems to pour through me. It’s as if the future lies downstream and all I have to do is look there to see it. My eyes are like spools from which the lines of my being arc out, unwinding to catch on the surface, then slowly sink, gleaming like lasers cutting through the murk, spreading a light net over the deep. I’m so close the smell of the water seems to rise up from inside the earth.

Continue reading PRESENCE