SMOKE BY JOSHUA FOUST 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 71
I used to ride my bike to the Safeway to buy food for dinner. It was a practical thing, you know? It was green, or whatever. But not any more. I’d think about it on the bus, forcing myself to breathe through a surgical mask.
Riding to the Safeway I would stand up from the seat, pushing my feet down on the pedals revelling in the power of my body.
But that joy is gone now. And I don’t know that I’ll ever get it back again. Not while I’m stuck here.
AL-HILLA BY MARC LADERMAN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 71
I’m an old man in a war zone, 52 years and aging. I’m in the back seat of a US Army Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. It’s always the last seat taken because of the prop wash. Both side doors are open and the chill wind is lashing my face. The Black Hawk is the quotidian bus in Iraq and I’m on my way to work.
THE BOOKSTORE BY WILLIAM FALO 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 71
She flipped through a book about a magical kingdom. “You know what I like about books?”
“You never know what you will find when you turn the page.”
I made seven trips to Iraq totaling 216 days. I was working as an engineer, a civilian contractor working for a US Government contract. I was able to compare the military of the Iraqi War era to the 1980s military I briefly served in. Many of my stories come from diaries written in the moment. I’ve honed the stories over countless shared mugs of beer. I write because Marc without a project is too dangerous to contemplate.
I always was interested in Romania. Maybe it was the stories about vampires in Transylvania or the sad stories of the orphanages. But there were heroes who acted to help the street kids. I love to write stories with emotions. Like Robert Frost said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” My stories have been published in Newfound, Back Patio Press, Vamp Cat Magazine, Elephants Never, Clover & White, and other literary journals.
I’m a communications consultant in Denver, Colorado, a State which experiences a lot of wildfires and has permanently altered one of the biggest industries here: enjoying the outdoors. Before moving to Colorado I was based at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba, and before that I ran public relations for a non-profit foundation in Washington, DC.
Poetry is a tool which I use to explore and understand my emotions as well as the emotions of others. My Scandinavian American background is a significant influence on my writing. The newness of living in a Southern California landscape also inspires me. Writing poetry is my journal for catharsis, remembrance, analysis, and dedication to nature and art. I am a retired English Professor transplanted from New York to Pasadena. My poems have appeared in JOMP, Westchester Review, The Kerf, Three Quarters Review, and the Altadena Anthology.
I wrote this poem to show what it’s like to have mental illness, specifically anxiety, and how it affects my day-to-day life. I attending Tennessee Technological University majoring in Professional and Technical Communications with a minor in Art. When I’m not studying or writing, I am reading in the local coffee shop, strumming a ukulele, or hiking the Appalachian Trail.
SHAWN MICHELE LACY
I write because I live. Writing is life-giving‚ it makes it all worthwhile, to be able to share the stories, the lessons, the pitfalls, the secrets‚ the way through to survival‚ where the next step is to thrive! I am hoping very soon to celebrate 32 years of continuous recovery from drugs and alcohol. Rearview is an acknowledgement that it’s never ever over‚ that always closely behind me is the one thing that could cause me to lose my life. The vision, in the rearview, is palpable, almost tangible, and the perspective can shift and result in a calamity. Neither time, place, distance, serves as a safety net. The rearview is truly like a surround sound theater always there, never far.