Joy Katz



Guy—tall, blond, friendly—knocks on our front door. He carries a clipboard and a glossy brochure. The kids, he says, are getting around phone-line-based security systems like yours. Guy waves his ballpoint in the general direction of a sign, “Protected by Guardian,” half-buried in ivy.    [keep reading...]

Shena McAuliffe


This Human Skin

In 1864, Robert McGee, a child, was scalped by Chief Little Turtle. McGee lived, and grew up with his head scarred like a baseball. Little Turtle left enough hair at the front of his head that a hat would have covered the bald spot and scars.    [keep reading...]

Kate Partridge



The length of a human baby’s vocal cords is 2–3 millimeters. Babies vibrate them very hard—harder than an adult could without injuring herself—to produce a grating sound, designed like the roar of a lion to generate response.    [keep reading...]

Rob Schlegel


Popular Doughnuts

Among friends and family I am famous for avoiding conflict. Once, when I was pitching in a college baseball game, my catcher signaled that I try to hit the batter as payback for his high-cleat slide that nearly injured our shortstop an inning earlier. I shook off the call.    [keep reading...]


Emily Carr


Membership (as the commercial says) Has Its Privileges

Already the person I most wanted to be—the person who in effect would allow me to stop thinking about it—changes shape, changes direction. She is like Achilles: running as fast as he can, going nowhere.    [keep reading...]

Laura E. Davis


Submission Bombing (interview)

Here at Better, we spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how culture, and especially literature, will change as a result of social networking and other online technologies. So when we heard about a group of writers calling themselves “Submission Bombers,”     [keep reading...]

Aaron Gilbreath


“Just Move Around” (Eddie)

TRANSCRIPT FROM THE AUDIO ESSAY:  The city of Portland, where I live, is the urban center of a county with more than fifteen thousand homeless people. That figure includes not only people who sleep on the streets and in shelters, but also people who sleep on friends' couches,     [listen to the essay...]

Anna Journey


Widowmaker: How to Get
Struck by Lightning

When I admit my secret wish is to get struck by lightning, I’m not speaking figuratively. I don’t mean struck by a blinding desire or love at first sight. I’m talking about a bolt five times as hot as the surface of the sun.    [keep reading...]

Alexandra Kimball


Here: On Twitter,
Writing, & Buzz

Back in 2010, I had a tedious but pleasant at-home gig as a creator of corporate blog copy. Let’s say it was for a company that sold chocolate syrup. For this purpose, I had an account on Twitter, in whose placid screen I spent several hours     [keep reading...]

David Stuart MacLean


That You Ever Saw

On the morning of my mother’s fortieth birthday, my sisters and I all sat on her bed as she opened our presents. I was ten and still devoted to pajamas, while my oldest sister Katie had taken to sleeping in one of my dad’s enormous shirts, and my other sister Betsy had done the same to emulate Katie.    [keep reading...]

Elena Passarello


Teach Me Tonight

In 1941, the Embassy Music Corporation printed “Tips on Popular Singing by Frank Sinatra,” a short text—little more than a pamphlet, really—by the singer and his coach, John Quinlan. “Everyone can sing a little,” the manual insists,    [keep reading...]

Nancy Singleton Hachisu


An Interview with Nancy Singleton Hachisu

Lesley Wolff: Japanese Farm Food has become a sensation among food-conscious Americans and proponents of the Slow Food Movement. How does Slow Food differ between Japan and the US?  Nancy Singleton Hachisu: When asked what Slow Food means to me, my knee-jerk response is: It’s a group in Italy.    [keep reading...]

Alison Stine


West Coast Loneliness

Snowfall, this is my goodbye to you. Already there is a chip on one of the black-striped bowls I bought at the discount store in the Mission on Friday. I find it comforting. Already it’s worn, already familiar. Already, I broke it. The hallway of my new apartment smells of England.   [keep reading...]

Johanna Stoberock


Will Help Be Given?

[from the audio essay transcript]: Every year they grow a corn maze six miles outside Walla Walla, in eastern Washington, where I live. The signs for the maze begin appearing in mid September, printed in red ink on white boards stuck in the corners of fields like some strange crop that bleeds words.    [keep reading...]

Steve Wasserman


Show Me the Meaning
of Being Lonely

I am sitting here on Valentine’s Day watching a YouTube video of Frédéric Bourdin in the study of his small Le Mans flat, lip-synching the Backstreet Boys’ “As Long As You Love Me.”    [keep reading...]


ART: Paul Ferragut, Leo Katunaric, Stefanie Schneider

FICTION: Bridget Apfeld, Jennifer A. Howard, Laura Schadler

NONFICTION: Joy Katz, Shena McAuliffe, Kate Partridge, Rob Schlegel

POETRY: Dan Beachy-Quick, Carrie Fountain, Jules Gibbs, Alen Hamza, H. L. Hix, Anna Maria Hong, Krzysztof Jaworski, Thomas Kane, Eric Kocher, Jennifer MacKenzie, Andrew Nance, Kate Partridge, Beth Woodcome Platow, Paul Otremba, Catie Rosemurgy, Claire Sylvester Smith, Lesley Yalen

ET CETERA: Glenn Shaheen’s
“POET The Game”


Emily Carr, Laura E. Davis, Aaron Gilbreath, Nancy Singleton Hachisu, Anna Journey, Alexandra Kimball, David S. MacLean, Elena Passarello, Alison Stine, Johanna Stoberock, Steve Wasserman