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1946, What I wanted..

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I wanted to sit in class in Iowa next to Flannery as she recited that first story that stopped the world with an accent so dense with dogwood we had to strain to collect every word.

Happiness in Love

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The happiness was a tablecloth for a picnic. The happiness was the carpet in the hallway. The happiness was the wall behind the painting. The happiness was the sky behind the cloud. The happiness was the seating in the Saab.


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Keisha was the name she gave us. She said she had no father and no last name. We wrote her down as Keisha B. We already had a Keisha A. She was about twelve though she told us fourteen. Her eyes were older than we dared think. We knew her mother had been murdered and that's…

How to Make a Baby

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Eat slowly. Wait. Do not bring reading material. Do not bring headphones. Avoid distractions.


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You climb on a stool, drink off the first glass without coming up for air. Man, that tastes good!


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He was not supposed to leave handcuffs or a butt plug laying around.

Milk For Free

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The last time she wore fur-lined gloves...


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Some folks say your hands can tell the story of your life. Well, my hands cain't talk, but they've made so many pies, I bet they could do it themselves if you cut 'em off and gave 'em the right ingredients, I sure do.

You Don't Have to Read This

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I get it. Poetry is an effort. Language is an effort. Words are an effort. Reading words is an effort. A big effort. It takes energy. Attention. Focus. Who has that? Nobody. So truly. I mean it. You don't have to read this. If you're already reading this you can…


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she waits

Headstone III

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My only brother. Frantic flesh clings to bone.

The Freelance Assignment

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You wanted to be a writer. Now you’re a writer.

The Ten Ox-Herding Pictures of Kaku-an

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a snowflake won’t settle on a smoking furnace; the fathers were never restless, it was always the earth that moved.


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When I was miranda and my mother Rose, ours was a skinless intimacy. miranda in Rose's womb, captured in an essence of love, anger, frustration, fear, the overwhelming stress of Rose's life heavy syrup that kept the bond between spirit and body weak and

2 empty pipes rattling with passion

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i could make swamp boys believe / under dust-sheets stiffened by ice

Bone Density

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Madame Fauve, / with a twisted braid, is dancing.

Play it, Sam

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...still the same old signs...

This Story is Terrible, and I Only Wrote It to Annoy You People

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He watches his paralyzed left arm arc across his body, then swivel around and disappear behind his back. He does this over and over again. He's very high and it makes him laugh.

Carver Country

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My first love was a woman of principle. Never deny your man was her motto.


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I will gobble them like tiny men, missions and things to prove.

Along Came Doreen

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I didn't really know her. Yet, to me, she and her friends epitomized the local hip scene.

An MFA Creative Writing Essay Question

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7. Using Cohen's Method of Structure craft a piece of fiction featuring unexpected conflict. (12 points)

Cancer Arm

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You think about it all the time. Cancer cancer cancer. Cancer leg. Cancer arm. You've eaten too many cancer hot dogs and sausages in your life. You've gotten too many cancer sunburns. Cancer throat. Cancer head. Too much cancer sex.

A Man

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A man’s been in jail for six weeks awaiting trial. Lillian doesn’t say his name. A man kidnapped her from the grocery store parking lot. He raped her at his house, and again in the desert, chopped her hand off with an axe and left her for dead in the


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. . was the earliest born of the not-so-great Pedantic Poets . . . . beleaguered by family financial crises that continued to the beginning of his life, he suffered periods of deep elation . .


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Last summer our marriage took a direct hit and crashed into a deep pit with little warning when Millicent met a Facebook man and simply left, taking up with him, presenting him with my space in her life to receive her touch and this thought perpetually gnaws away, making me…

Confessions of an I.R.A. Terrorist

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Most of us are just ordinary mutts with no gift for writing, nothing like Joyce James [or] any of those...


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The next winter the house burned down.

Intolerable Impositions

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"She gnawed her arm off in the morning, before he woke...."