On the Front Lines

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

You look in the bedroom mirror, small enough to deny self-adoration, and pull your brownish hair into a ponytail. Tight, like Mother used to do it, just the right way. You turn to the bed. Your clothes are laid out on sheets held taut by perfect hospital corners. You dress in practical layers, to accommodate the variable temperatures of the daylong vigil you perform every Thursday. First, your unmentionables, then flesh-tone tights and a plain white t-shirt. Next, the pleated blouse Mother used to wear, when you held the vigils together, and ski pants, a modest one size too large. Finally, a nice worsted wool skirt you found at Goodwill for a dollar. It’s a bit matronly, but you top it off with your 12-week ultrasound hoodie.

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Writers Read Presents Rocco Versaci

Join Writers Read at Fallbrook Library on February 14, 2017

Rocco Versaci‘s That Hidden Road is a funny, bittersweet and sometimes aching story of loss and recovery. It recounts the author’s bout with cancer, fractured family, and cross country cycling quest in search of self—illustrated with Versaci’s comics.

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The Power of Art and Things to Come

A profile of artist Patrick Brown

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Artist Patrick Brown is a fairly quiet man—perhaps a bit shy—with a cute laugh, a slight Southern accent, and a gentle sadness that sometimes shades his eyes. It’s a companionable sorrow, though. It reaches into his paintings and says, “It might hurt, but it’s OK to look; you know me.” And while there’s no recognized treatment for his particular sorrow, it is treatment of another sort that brought Patrick to California almost four years ago, from Nashville, Tennessee.

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Writers Read Presents “An American Genocide”

The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe

Between 1846 and 1873, California’s Indian population plunged from perhaps 150,000 to 30,000. Madley is the first historian to uncover the full extent of the slaughter, the involvement of state and federal officials, the taxpayer dollars that supported the violence, indigenous resistance, who did the killing, and why the killings ended. This deeply researched book is a comprehensive and chilling history of an American genocide.

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The Gift of the Magi

By O. Henry

One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one’s cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.

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Fertility Prayer

A pantoum by Tom Somers

Full of loveliness, like the new moon
My fertile crescent is flecked with new growth a
Hillock of land rising by levees well-watered, Untilled
plot left fallow like the desert.

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White Privilege, This Is America

Through African-American Eyes

By Conney D. Williams

I didn’t sit down to write all of this, but here I am. The election seems like a dream, but I’m not one of those caught off guard. I don’t see it as such a surprise. As an African American, this is the normal America I’ve seen my entire life. Although the mindset the election reflects had been underground, more covert, this segment of society no longer wants to hold it all in or swallow the medicine of “change” or “inclusiveness.”

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We went to the polls on November 8

And then it was the day after

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

Election Day

7 a.m.

I’m working the public library polling place in my little Republican-majority town, nestled amid the gray-green groves of North San Diego County.

The Poll Inspector opens the doors and declares to the waiting line, “Here ye, here ye, the polls are now open!”

I offer ballots in three languages to those who rush in, eager to vote and get to their jobs, to save the nation from the other party. Some voters bellyache that ballots are available in anything other than English. I try to quiet their amplified xenophobia by noting the beauty of Tagalog, it’s Spanish influence, by making mitigating quips these voters don’t care to hear. I also lead cheers for first-time voters, deflect others who assume the right to challenge the suffrage of one brown person or another, and think of my Latina daughter at home.

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Trump Wins, Liberty Weeps

Trump wins, and Liberty weeps—for Mexicans, for women, for LGBTQ folks, for peace, for those who are differently abled, to people of color, for health, for people of other religions, for people living in poverty, for immigrants, for civility, for the republic, for liberty and equality and justice for all.

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Losing My Mother Twice

By Penny Perry

After the funeral,
I peer through peepholes
in the oak door that leads
to the living room.

Clink of glasses. Ginger ale.
Manischewitz. My parents’ friend Arthur
wears a white shirt and sports jacket.
His wet eyes blink behind glasses.

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Driving Distraction

By Sharon Thompson

This is the third time today
I’ve shamelessly made a wrong turn
past the same construction site.

once again at the traffic light,
one shoulder
rounds forward, nearly to dashboard,
single finger on radio button.
Shoulder again; shrug.
Nothing important here,
nothing more than a wrong turn.
Casual serendipity. Lashes flutter.

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Take that patronizing pat and stuff it

While I yell from the rooftops: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt

I annoyed a man at dinner recently. It’s happened before. I’m pretty good at it. But this time I didn’t do that female thing, that doubt-y obsequious internal questioning thing—oh gosh, was I being mean? That thing we do because men’s egos are purportedly more fragile than ours, and it’s woman’s job to shore up man. Just sit there and engage in some clever repartee, not too flirty. Look pretty. Be nice. And for the great-white-heterosexual-male god’s sake, don’t challenge him!

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