My first masturbator was a young inmate—standing at the front of his cell, jeans crumpled around his ankles, boxers sagging below his knees. His hand moved up and down the shaft of his penis. Looking directly at me, he pulled harder, his racing breath audible through the cell bars inches from me.
I backed away, unable to speak.
What was I expecting anyway? The men here were rapists, robbers, and murderers. This was San Quentin, a men’s maximum-security prison, and I was a new female correctional officer—a prison guard—conducting my first institutional count. But here in West Block, …Read article
I have watched so much rot before me, and here now, two potential disasters. The pickled Korean cucumbers, the more serious of the two; I will need to build courage.
I reach toward the back of the refrigerator, and remove a translucent-blue container. Cheese I brought home some months before from Mercado Latino. Queso Oaxaca, half of the strings stripped and eaten, the rest, a disconsolate off-white moon with a glowing, yellow haze. I may be too late. I open the lid, breath in, and am pleased–only mildly pungent–not far from its original form.
I peel a small …Read article
Mary Ann Presman
Deep in a daydream, Janet almost launched into “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” instead of “Lamb of God” at Communion. That would have been embarrassing. As it was, she saw Father John glance up at her in the choir loft—he heard that first errant note before she recovered, remembered where she was.
Which was at the organ for eight o’clock Mass at St. Seraphina’s Catholic Church, just hours away from her shift as a Guest Services Ambassador at Wrigley Field. These two occupations were not to be confused, although both were performed in what Janet regarded …Read article
I saw the way she pushed them –
flickering like river –
into the mound, turning what
was almost weightless
into substance, flour of air,
pinch of sea, sludge of yeast
she drained, slight foam
from the narrow bowl,
hard plane of her wide palm
pressing on counter, leaning
with her urgent weight, making
something live that was static.
The way her brain flew, fingers
turning dough into baby, white
dusting cabinets, floor, her face
a studied countenance of care.
The manner in which he held a hoe
as if it were a loved thing, what
The sweet susurration of tires continues
as cars drift ruefully past my house.
It’s a constant stream, day and night,
and by now I no longer hear them.
Except, there are fewer after midnight,
which means that the extra ones in morning
act as a gentle kind of alarm clock,
drawing me out, hauling me up
from the deep, still waters of sleep.
Long ago, I learned to draw. In order to draw
well you need to learn not to think
too much. Afterwards, I learned to paint,
which to my surprise involved forgetting
how to draw. The …
All we have now is caring for each other.
Most days now I do piecemeal work on the computer
as long as I can stand it. That’s my job and after it
my dog and I go out walking as far as we can go in the desert sun.
She knows how to lead us through the deep sand
where the rabbits go and the roadrunners
with their opal feathers look for paradise the same
we do. Today we see on TV the president has the ego
of a cartoon character, oblivious to everything
but his own image …
Rebecca Beardsall received her BA from DeSales University and her MA in English from Lehigh University. She is in the MFA program at Western Washington University. Her poetry has been published in various literary journals, and she co-edited three books. Originally from Pennsylvania but considers Washington and New Zealand home.…Read article