Best of the Net 2012  



Dale Bridges's "Off the Grid" from Eclectica

In 1980 my father obtained a full-time preaching position at a small church on the Colorado prairie, and our family moved into a pink farmhouse just outside the city limits of a town called Fort Morgan. I was excited about our new residence, primarily because I expected to be living inside some sort of walled garrison, wearing a coon-skin hat and fighting off Injuns with my trusty musket. My pioneer fantasy was momentarily crushed, however, when I learned that the city had earned its "Fort" prefix during the 1800s, and since that time the local white men had shed their coon-skin headgear in favor of grease-stained baseball caps, which they wore as they trudged through the streets every morning on their way to work at the local sugar-beet factory.
Scott Johnson's "Death in a Box" from Guernica Magazine
"My country is dying," my friend, an Iraqi, says and looks at me. We're standing in his garden and he is cradling some oily nuts and bolts in his hand. The sprinkler system he set up in our yard is filling the air with a thin mist. He has called his device the mister-mister. Outside the small triangle of relief it provides the air is tight and sharp. The sun is so hot it hurts my skin, which turns feverish and prickly. The leaves wither and grow leathery. The grass, such a feeble and primordial thorn, somehow endures. I look at my friend.
Saeed Jones's "Nocturne" from Union Station Magazine
In college, my friend Maggie and I would attempt to wear out our insomnia by walking from our dorms through all of Bowling Green's past lives to get to a bridge rusted with memory of use. Past the downtown square, past the "historically black" part of Bowling Green, past the warehouse district. The whole way we would talk about the kind of things that can only be said at 2 am in an abandoned part of town.
Peyton Marshall's "The Other Hemisphere" from Blackbird
When we were in high school, my older brother, Fields, had a sweater he could light on fire. He'd touch the hem with a match and the fuzz would burst into flame—then extinguish. I was always goading him to light it. Church, family dinner, a reception at the Army-Navy Country Club: what occasion couldn't benefit from combustible clothing?
Leslie Tucker's "Packing Heat" from The Baltimore Review
She unfolded one delicate hand from her flower print lap, flipped it nonchalantly and spoke with quiet authority. "Don't worry, we all got guns."
Gina P. Vozenilek 's "TELL 'EM NOTHIN': The Murder of Joseph Aiello " from Wake: Great Lakes Thought & Culture
My fourth-grade twin sons have begun studying Chicago history in their social studies class. They were assigned to write a report on Al Capone, whose story, without question, is bound up in complex ways with the city we call home and the heritage we claim as Italian-Americans. On the cover of one of the books they found at the library is the infamous photograph of the St. Valentine's Day massacre. "Which one of our ancestors did Al Capone kill?" my son Peter asks me.