Saturday, September 17, 2011

Speaking of the Bigger Stuff

via "Remembering Osh"
RBM's essay "I'd Like to Talk About the Bigger Stuff," which won Phoebe's inaugural nonfiction contest and appeared in print earlier this year, is now available online. Another excerpt:
To the west, through the helicopter’s tea-colored portals, I can see Uzbekistan; the cotton fields and cherry trees of the Fergana Valley; and a long, maniacal border severing one village from the next. I imagine, for a moment, an engorged Stalin, dragging a fountain pen down a wide gray map. Skirting his line, as though his hand ignored the topography, march row after row of mountaintops. They look cold and lifeless from on high. They divide Bishkek from the farmlands and become impassable in winter. Reminding the Russified Kyrgyz, who prefer white rice, of those hotheaded Uzbeks, who prefer red. But that’s enough imperial history.
To read this and more from Phoebe 40.2, as well as other debut nonfiction, visit

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Happened Yesterday in Baghdad

RBM's essay "What Happened Yesterday in Baghdad," presented last fall at the U.S. Air Force Academy's War, Literature, and the Arts conference, is soon to be out in print. An excerpt:
Once, when I was young and intent on becoming a Texas cattleman who also apprehended bandits, my parents commissioned a sepia portrait at the county fair. For about $25, families could select frontier costumes and stand inside a saloon as flashbulbs illuminated the scene. My mother, pictured wearing ostrich feathers and a broach, refused to distribute the photo the following Christmas on account of liquor bottles visible in the background. But the original has hung for years in our hallway. The visage of the boy at her side is somehow indelible: my pudgy, adolescent jowls expressionless beneath a top hat, one small hand gripping a cane, the other pocketing a revolver. I hadn’t examined it closely until recently. Then, late one August night, I saw what looked like the same boy online, in another portrait titled Great Times Together.
To read this essay in full and others from Teri Carter, Leila Levinson, and Joseph Bathanti, as well as fiction and poetry, you can access WLA 23 via Google Books.

The View from Wall Drug

August 15, 2011 -- Toys, taxidermy, and a Trappist chapel for customers at Wall Drug Store in Wall, South Dakota. The placard at the chapel's entrance celebrates “the priests and ministers who have served on the wall of the Badlands since 1909.”