The Character of Magdalen Montague

Eleanor Bourg Donlon

My dear R.,

The character of Magdalen Montague has long been considered an acceptable topic of public discourse, so I feel utterly justified in writing to you about it. The subject has, in fact, proved an invaluable stimulus to waning conversations. One has only to reference that sublimely intriguing yet eminently respectable personage, and interest is revived, animation awakened. I witnessed a singular demonstration of this phenomena the other day when I had the misfortune to meet that Medusa’s head borne on a sea of bombazine (Lady Fleming, you know). I had no idea that park lanes so readily afforded corners until I was backed into one by her formidable ugliness and assailed with political pamphlets and moral lessons. [Read more…]

Landfall

Gabriel Olearnik

Great whale road
cobbled with broken boats
and thick rafts of white
The sailor’s shortened eyes
match the shortness of breath

Land. A sharpness and spread of eucalyptus on the lungs
Legs heavy on the rush home
Give me a hand of clean water
and the black-baked bread
Give me medicine
for a shipwrecked soul

Gabriel Olearnik studied medieval history at University College London. He is currently an attorney and practices corporate law.

The Last Ship

J.B. Toner

“There’s trouble in Midgard again,” said Dr. McGarnagle. “They need a Hero.”

“Very well,” replied the Doctor. “This is a job for Chase Hardrock.”

“Ah—sir, Mr. Hardrock is on leave.”

“Balls. Send in Bob—from Accounting.”

“…Yes sir.” [Read more…]

Day Trip to Sublice

Mark De Cristo

It was our last day teaching in Frankfurt. We had been there for two weeks, working the intensive English courses for newly hired German employees, eight teaching hours a day, five days a week. Too much, most teachers would say, and rightly so. But we needed the money, so we agreed, took the company car, and made the trek each morning from Berlin to the frontier with Poland, heading back again in the evening. [Read more…]

Half-Light and Whispers

Gabriel Olearnik

Twilight is the most beautiful season of the day
Where heavy light clots like milk across the seams
Of stones warmed by the touch of sun
Shapes and shadows fray and spill and run
Spreading orange moons across the pavement
And ashed, reverent dust betrays itself
To cautious breath from incensed city rises. [Read more…]

Of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

Amanda Glass

I think our passage cannot be more plain
to eyes not earthly; and I think they smile
in ways which need no lips, when we attain
our little heights of thought, and pause, beguiled
by glimpses of far brighter realms beyond.
Like children in strange countryside, we cling
together, all-confiding, close and fond,
and with the grace of youth and joy we fling
our baubles—pealing laughter, glances clear
and heady, sweet air-kisses born of souls
which meet from shining eyes. For here
and now we can be lavish—time’s grim tolls
have not yet wrecked our readiness to give
ourselves without reserve. [Read more...]

Quid Est Veritas?

J.B. Toner

But how can I be happy, when I know
   Each hour I add a sin-weight to His load
   As he goes reeling up the Sorrow-Road
To grim Golgotha where the ravens go?
But how can I be sad, when I know well
   He died for us, to bring us lasting joy—
   He bled and suffered, sadness to destroy,
And hush the haunting threnodies of Hell?
Ah, Lord, Thy wisdom brims with mystery,
With beauties that it scalds the eyes to see,
  With healing that can cut us like a knife;
I understand the crowning irony:
That Pilate questioned, "What is truth?" of Thee,
   Who art, Thyself, the Way and Truth and Life!

J.B. Toner is a graduate of the school of hard knocks.

Argument

K.K. Adams

I sit in sullen silence
on the sofa, curled up,
wondering
at every rustle and stir
from the bedroom
if you are coming
to find me,
so like a child
crouching behind a hedge
in a game
of hide and seek. [Read more…]

The Builders

Gabriel Olearnik

Come up and take them.

–Leonidas, king of Sparta, when asked
by the Persian emperor to lay down his arms.
Battle of Thermopylae, 480 B.C.

The gate was almost finished.
In those thirsty hours, a taut rack of earth we raised
With much labor. We packed the soil with shield-butts.
Waist deep in horse-flies, we stretched our lances—
Protean, slender bronze. Our cloaks were red and wet,
The air was old and saline by the end. [Read more…]