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Art by Christian Blaza

Humans in general could benefit from perspective taking, but Americans in particular could use a hefty dose. Our breadth and diversity slims the likelihood of any singular, epitomal American experience, and as such, the ability to compromise with one another, using a basis of mutual understanding to inform our actions, underpins American peace and progress. This mutual understanding requires a consistent personal labor of listening and imagining, imagining what it must be like to experience...

Photography by Chris Highland

"A New, Secular Scripture”

Naturalist John Burroughs wrote, “The book of nature is like a page written over or printed upon. . .in many different languages. . . We all read the large type [with appreciation], but only the students and lovers of nature read the fine lines and the footnotes.” (Leaf and Tendril, 1908).  John Muir spoke of “Nature’s Bible” and radical reformer Frances Wright, in her lectures in 1829, shocked her audience with the words: “The true bible...

Midwestern

Sometimes poems start with nouns. Could we even go so far as to say all poems begin their at-first fragile lives with the solidity of nouns? In the dark we move, and that moving matters when we bump into something or when our bare foot, warm from the bedclothes, comes down flesh against angle, onto a Lego block. Through the day we touch nouns: a pen, a handlebar, a coffee cup, our ear, a book’s spine, our beloved’s spine; or we long to touch, dream of touching, imagine touching,...

Drinks next to a window

I ate a dead man’s tiramisu this past summer.  I did not plan such a macabre act; one rarely does.  My husband Ryan and I had just become new residents to New York City and new regulars to a French patisserie and café two blocks from our apartment—when the owner and head chef, Jean-Francois, dropped dead from a heart attack.   He was forty-five.  I had seen Jean-Francois several times.  A no-nonsense man, he brought out warm trays of croissants, scones, and baguettes, even in the...

A person

Most poems are written in the space between what Wallace Stevens called the “nothing that is not there and the nothing that is,” issued from silence and seeking the resonance and depth of silence. Like Elijah, poets stand on mountaintops and witness fires, earthquakes, and storms, all while waiting for a word from the Divine. Jake Adam York’s poetry inhabited such space—we might call it the via double-negative—with the highest ethical and aesthetic integrity. His were poems of...

Image of a skyline

“A Church Of The Future. . .Without God”

In The Chicago Tribune, November 1891, Ingersoll was asked, “What is going to take the place of the pulpit?”  His response is chilling for believers, and cause for celebration among the happy infidels.  What he describes is nothing less than a Secular Church for Freethinkers.  Centered in education with “something of use” to thinking women, men and children, The Great Agnostic...

James Hearst

[B]urned in the bold air above you
in Black Hawk County
are the proudest words we can speak:
Here is a man.

Let the earth be lucky.

from Paul Engle’s poem “James Hearst” in the ...

Buildings

My arsenal when I enter my poetry workshops is seemingly innocuous: a pen, a 99¢ notebook, and a clay mug that contains a stapled together tea bag.  The tea, bought in bulk, doesn’t hint toward a distant land like Masala Chai nor does it promise a feeling like Calm Chamomile. No, my stuff is just stuff that one could have purchased, and did purchase, decades ago.

After I arrange my supposedly timeless things, it doesn’t take long before I start in on a...

Human shadow

Felicia Zamora’s Poem “A Long Road Never Takes Us” Will Appear In Nar Issue 302.1.

What brings you to the page? The incessant lull of the image? Perhaps the habitual pace around the desk, in taunt of your time? The spark of unexplainable inspiration that requires you to bolt toward any mechanism of capture to get it down? The guilt...

Freaky Dance Party Illustration

The lines/images that trigger my poems rarely stick as the entrance to the final product of my poems. Something that interests me about “Tips for Your Quarter-life Crisis” is that its first line has always been its first line. Well, the first line actually used to be “Don’t feed your kale salad to the wolves,” but when the poem went through a workshop, one of my peers pointed...

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