“Stop ’n’ Go” by Michael Parker

Every day but Sunday he dresses in the uniform of his former profession: khaki-colored work clothes, steel-toed brogans, a thin windbreaker zipped to the Adam’s apple if there is a shadowy sweetness in the morning breeze. He rises before dawn, lights the pilot of the kerosene stove, lets the dogs out, careful not to slap the screen door. He sits at the kitchen table drinking instant coffee, black, for an hour until his wife rises and fries breakfast wordlessly in her housecoat. Neither of his sons wanted to take over the farm and his daughter moved up to Raleigh to work in a bank and he doesn’t understand a good three-quarters of the things he hears people say . . .


“When I began to dig” by Martha Silano

this is what I found: from the Latin, vertere,
to turn, from the Lithuanian, versti, to overturn,

from the Sanskrit, vartate, he turns. Vers, fers:
turning, turning and bending, having planted

a length of beans or corn, having reached a furrow’s
end. Like a plowman, versing, this breaking up

of sod, this fashioning into tidy rows, helping the singers
recall their lines . . .


“Alterations by Elvera” by Anne Pierson Wiese

Today I bought a dress. It was displayed inside an open steamer trunk—the fancy kind with a miniature built-in closet and collapsible wooden clothes hangers. At first, I thought the garment was a blouse, because everything from the waist down was pooled in the depths of the trunk. The young woman tending the store called it a “tea dress” as she carefully lifted it out. It was made in the late 1930s or early 1940s—black rayon with a panel of cream-colored cotton lace on the breast. One of the side seams had come apart slightly, and the original shoulder pads were wizened with age and dangling by threads. But I saw that the split could be mended and the pads removed altogether, and the dress was otherwise in perfect condition . . .


“The Alchemy of Art: An Interview with Charles Johnson” by Nathaniel G. Nesmith

NGN: Let’s start at the beginning. Could you tell us a little bit about growing up in Evanston, Illinois?

CHARLES JOHNSON: I was born in Evanston on April 23, 1948. April 23, they say, is Shakespeare’s birthday. It was a very interesting time to be growing up in Evanston, which was for many people a model community—a very progressive community. I grew up in the shadow of Northwestern University. I went to a high school that had been integrated since at least the 1930s when my mother went there. It wasn’t a paradise, but people used to call Evanston “heavenston.”

Artwork by Mattina Blue