Looking out the high-rise window into a fog so dense that it blurs an afternoon sky deep into the thawing river, that wash of gray as far as everything, a world of gray, except for the squares of snow, which from above in high-rise relief appear as boxes of city park and tree guard and trash bin, you think about leaving.

Tomorrow isn’t different, except the sun shines, and the banks of the river suddenly appear, and you see the place on the cliffs where you went on that day trip—back when every rattling bus ride was an adventure.

–Sharon Rousseau is a writer, photographer and poet living in NYC and the Hudson Valley. Visit her website.

Abraham Lincoln’s “Lost Speech” was delivered on May 29, 1856, in Bloomington, Illinois. Tradition states that the text was lost because Lincoln’s powerful oration mesmerized every person in attendance. Reporters laid down their pencils, forgetting to take notes. In 2006 a fragment of the Lost Speech was found in the archives of a Baptist church in Bloomington. Through a distant cousin, I obtained it:

“A monarch provides security; it is comforting to bow to a Sire. But our nation was born of another wish. We are all part-kings here. If you bow to one man, you must bow to all…”

–Sparrow lives in the quiet hamlet of Phoenicia, in the Catskill Mountains. He is slowly listening to Tchaikovsky’s “Serenade for Strings” on his record player. Sparrow also contributes regularly to The Sun.

Imagine the stark symmetry that created these apples—you said—rows and rows of trees, craggy with wind and months of frozen Upstate winter, which can somehow coax blooms again. You pulled a cap that I’d knitted for you closer to your eyes. I remembered finding the yarn, thinking immediately of your skin, the way our first summer had changed you into someone I’d never seen before. You were like that. With every season, I saw a different person. Now, walking through autumn in Union Square, we’d been a couple for over a year, and you were talking about orchards.

–Sharon Rousseau writes and takes pictures in New York City and the Hudson Valley.

sharonrousseau.com

Brenda lifted herself up in the hospital bed by the steel bars along each side.  At 92, her wrinkled Nordic face surrounded by wild white hair flying in all directions, as if the energy from her brain electrified it to reach every molecule in the room. While devouring my face with dark deep set eyes and wide smile, she said,

“Well, there you are. I was waiting for you.”

I took her frail hand in both my hands.

“I am so honored to meet you!”

“And I, you!”

Brenda raised my hands to her heart. She had pulled me home.

–Excerpted from “Burning Incandescence” by Pat Horner, a story about Pat’s encounters with writer Brenda Ueland and her work.

Visit Pat’s website here.

Pat Horner is a painter/collage artist and writer exhibited and published in the US and abroad. Horner is the Chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Woodstock Artists’ Association Museum and a journalist, photographer, coach, teacher, publisher and editor at publications including the “The Woodstock Guide.” She’s currently writing fiction and memoir from Woodstock, NY.

Her website is: http://www.pathorner.com/

One of my favorite memories is from Paris, the Musee L’Orangerie, going there with my friend Steve Jacobson. We walked into a room with four walls of Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies.”

Two weeks before he died, Steve was still teaching. He came into my empty classroom and told me that that day was his last day. He had resigned for medical reasons. I didn’t handle it very well. A hug was appropriate, but I’m not a man hugger. Steve said, “We’re a couple of Norwegian bachelors, aren’t we?” So I try to remember the happy day in the Musee L’Orangerie.

Jim Krotzman is a retired English teacher at Watertown (WI) High School. He is a struggling haiku poet and fisherman.

Kennedy Park was given to the county by Burdette Kennedy, an unkempt recluse. People ignored him. He would come into town periodically, and he often stopped at our house. He always asked, “Where does Ernie Tracey live?” My mother would give him directions and a sandwich.

Ron Thompson once went out to Burdette’s farm to ask permission to fish on his property. Burdette was cooking supper. Six cats and Burdette circled the pot eating pea soup together.

Two generations later, people enjoy the park as though it were donated by a philanthropist in a three-piece suit, not a man shunned.

 

Jim Krotzman is a retired English teacher at Watertown (WI) High School. He is a struggling haiku poet and fisherman.

I look at the stream behind the house and see water rushing violently. It has no memory or shame. It cares nothing for the damage done to the structure or foundation that time has created alongside the tormented boundaries of its existence.

The stream just flows, always ahead without looking back. It has forgotten and forgiven but I have not forgotten or forgiven myself for having done nothing other than make your life miserable.

However, I am not the stream nor have I learned its lessons, yet in my mind I am floating on the water without regrets or blame.

Visit Pat’s website here.

Pat Horner is a painter/collage artist and writer exhibited and published in the US and abroad. Horner is a member of the Board of Directors of the Woodstock Artists’ Association Museum and a journalist, photographer, coach, teacher, publisher and editor at publications including the “The Woodstock Guide.” She’s currently writing fiction and memoir from Woodstock, NY.

My cousin’s a surgeon and he said he only listens to beautiful music, sung sweetly by women, in languages he doesn’t understand, while he operates.  I was thinking of recording some songs in Portuguese for all his patients, prayers to a God that may be lonely and have less stuff to do.  One of those Gods who used to be really busy back when all the people used to call out his name in anguish and frustration and hope, all day long.  But who now bides his time in the heavens, whispering to all their descendants who can’t hear him.

Ida Hakkila hosts and picks out the records she plays on The Heavy Light Show, which airs on Radio Woodstock (WDST.)  She’s also been writing lately, a sitcom about God and money, and some songs in Portuguese.

Most people don’t know this, but in the basement of every Fox News office sits a shrine to Our Lady of Perpetual Immigration (OLPI). Each office has a slightly different statue of OLPI, depending on the ethnic composition of the surrounding area. In some cities she resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe, in others she looks like Kuan Yin. Each day all news bureau employees are required to pray a chaplet of ten Hail Marys for the sake of perpetual immigration. As a memo from Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes explains: “Hating immigrants is the only joy real Americans have left.”

-Clark Strand

Clark Strand is the author of books on spirituality and religion, including HOW TO BELIEVE IN GOD: Whether You Believe in Religion or Not (Doubleday). He has been writing microfiction for the past 15 years and describes his art in terms of robbery: “You really want to get in and out in under 60 seconds…or else you’ll get caught.”

He tore on and on, collapsing into a white ash whose crooked trunk kicked back abruptly, like an arthritic knee. He envied the ridged and scabrous armor (though there were scars, from the interrupted blows of woodpecker and woodsman’s ax) and the capacities to extend its fleshier limbs far from harm’s way. Yet in the dark once-green fraxinus leaves were falling, and crumbled to dust as he ran his fingers along their tender veins. The last boy to spend a night in the lap of this tree was also on the run. He was consumed by a fire in 1892.

–J. Michael Kilby

Michael Kilby is a Professor of Medicine, Division Chief, and AIDS researcher. He has a morbid addiction to stamp-collecting, movie matinees, and rock bands incorporating banjos.