Volume 28 Issue 2

Essays, peoms, and stories by William Stafford, John Calderazzo, Michael Ventura, Veronica Patterson, Craig Nielson and many more fine writers amd artists


From Sailing Through the Night by John Calderazzo

I open my eyes and see Thich Nhat Hanh smiling at me. It’s an exceptionally intelligent smile that radiates inward and outward, a practiced Buddha smile that nevertheless looks as guileless as a glass of water. It comforts me in this room full of people I don’t entirely trust, this room near Los Angeles with too many men my age wearing ponytails and more women in serapes than I’ve seen in years. The place is festering with goodwill, and I keep expecting somebody to break out a guitar. But I suspect that one of the people I don’t entirely trust is me, me with all my knee-jerk biases. There are damn good people here, I tell myself, pragmatic and tough-minded visionaries, a lot of them, who just need some rest from years of seventy-hour work weeks. Still, I can’t shake the notion that I’m sitting inside a colos- sal cliché. “The Sound of One Lung Coughing”—that’s what I’d call the story I could write about this week. On the other hand, meditation is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever tried, a slippery slope I can’t seem to hang on to, and I don’t know if I’m strong enough to make it through the week.


From The Way of Forever at Chimayo by Michael Ventura

...Now I have tears in my eyes—which is incredibly surprising to me. But I know what I must do, what I will do, and I can hardly believe it even as I’m doing it: standing, going to the priest, and saying in a voice I hardly recognize, “Father, please give me your blessing.” He looks into me, as we stand in the aisle of that small church, his eyes are very dark and not sympathetic. His is an utterly inclusive stare—as though there are only he and I now in the world. It is a look of intensity and seriousness that pierces me—and makes me a little afraid. When he reaches his hand toward me I flinch. I flinch! Men have thrown punches at me and I haven’t flinched (and, at times, I have); but I flinch now from this old priest’s gesture. With his large and very calloused thumb he presses the sign of the Cross into my forehead. His thumb is so rough it scratches. He presses hard. I have to push my head against his thumb, or my head will just go back and back. I’m surprised at the force. I say, “Thank you, Father.” I return to my prayers. I am sitting in the center of Forever, for a small bit of time-out-of-time, with the sting of his blessing pulsating on my forehead. Something has been opened in me by the presence of this holy person—something that has to do not with Christianity (I am not a Christian), but with reverence. How long will it take me to live into and truly occupy this newly opened place?


From Far Side of the Range by Craig Nielson

I met Sara’s older brother once at a dinner party thrown by his new swept-up wife who wore a matching set of boots and hat. Big and handsome with cerulean eyes, he looked at me with wide suspicion and shook my hand like he was gripping a fence post. Later, Sara told me he thought I was a hippy because I drove a “Jap” car, helped poor people, and made favorable comments about President Clinton’s environmental policies. This delighted Sara and she rubbed up against me whenever we talked about it. The more distance between her and her rural past the better. I, it seemed, was her accomplice.







for more information about the press, including subscription information,

please contact