She Shall Not

By Amy Bernstein

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She hates looking at her naked body so much that it has become a religion for her. Thou shalt not. No full-frontals in the mirror that hangs on the back of the closet door like an obnoxious guest who flaunts house rules. No looking down, chin on chest, toward the breasts striated with fatigued cellulite, or to the mounded belly that blocks the view down toward the toes. Or so she imagines; she dare not look. Looking would make her physically ill as well as distracted, and then she’d be no good to anybody. Hence the Commandment: She shall not.

She shall not appear naked in front of the bathroom mirror while brushing her teeth. She shall not regard the flesh while reaching for a towel after a shower.…

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Ten Ways Your Novel Will Kill You

By Scott Jones

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Fall approaches. The novel scurries into corners, a rat-like beastie, and you attempt to slip the leash back on. You know this book will kill you in these next months, where the light fades and days shorten into stunted, despairing winter.

1. Smarmy with self confidence, you read the first draft for the English Department in your Thursday seminars. You discover “experimental” does not mean “entertaining.” Lined up like the Supreme Court, they purse their mouths like sucking lemon juice through straws. They suck all your optimism away.

2. In your epic novel of a prisoner-of-war camp, you discover your depraved commandant is a Roman Catholic. Your publisher, Holy Trinity College of San Luis Obisbo, won’t like this. Oh no! The commandant is gay.


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By Alyssa Hanna

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when you burned down my house
i tried to rebuild: monuments of soot
trampled beliefs trying to pull meaning
from the inside of a cedar tree
and i carved. i carved you, next to
a motherless god, a wifeless god,
a god that poured fires over still
waters and begged to be left alone
behind a curtain, gold rods and gold seams
fraying at the end like the veins
that tied me to you, kept us sprouting
branches instead of scorched forest,
the center of the earth crumbling into
itself a dead leaf;
a home turned skeleton.

Alyssa Hanna

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By Bevil Townsend

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To speak of the living like limestone,
as if they were brittle.
Alone and full, I gaze up.

Anything in the sky
 – always –
a convex void repelling me back.

Silent, I watched his ankles
dangle from the pier, swollen and blotched ––
the skin a discolored canvas

stretched over puff and bone.
And my throat closing. How to speak of his
illness without admitting decay?

We didn’t. His face towards us ––
now –– a soft presence      
through the leaves.

Bevil Townsend

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