Issue #28, Fall 2019

Table of Contents, Issue #28

Editor’s Note


“Sabotage” by Robert Earle
“Lyle and the Spaceman” by Lee Rozelle


Two Poems by Ashley M. Jones
Two Poems by Sarah L. Webb
Two Poems by Kayla Sargeson
Two Poems by Richard Hamilton
“Whitman on the Mississippi, May 1848” by Jesse Breite
“The Farm I’ve Willed You” by John Davis, Jr.
“Baker’s Dozen” by Frank Modica
“The Long Haul” by Brad Rose

Creative Non-Fiction

“Some Good Hills Lie Around Me” by Carita Keim


Illustrations by George Mostoller

Book Roundup: Daniel Moore, Shamrock McShane, Esteban Rodriguez, Deborah Gold, Dan Jacoby

Editor’s Note #28

As many of you who have been following us for a while know, we took a couple of years off. This was largely because I found my teaching job to be extremely time consuming, and I also needed time to finish my MFA at the Sewanee School of Letters and complete my latest novel The Fireball Brothers. The book is out, the degree done other than the thesis (which is mostly written), and I’ve settled into a more comfortable pace with my job, so things are loosening up a little bit.

Thanks to some of the folks that I met at Sewanee, we have a completely new staff of readers. I’d like to take a moment to introduce them all here.

Jason R. Kesler lives in Carrollton, Georgia, where he teaches at the University of West Georgia. He has an MFA from the Sewanee School of Letters at the University of the South.

Elizabeth Savage is a high school English teacher with Claes Distinction who writes poetry and dabbles in fiction and is an MFA candidate at the University of the South for the class of ‘20. Elizabeth supports the arts in her hometown of Evansville, Indiana, and volunteers at community and student theater productions in the region.

Laurie Perry Vaughen is a Tennessee poet whose work has been featured at Word of [South] Festival, Georgia Center for the Book, and New Discord. She holds an MFA from the Sewanee School of Letters and has been published in Crab Orchard Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Cold Mountain, Greensboro Review, and Chattahoochee Review. She works as an editor at Abingdon Press.

This new crew has injected much needed fresh air into the lungs of our little web magazine. I appreciate their dedication and hard work. When we announced that we were accepting submissions again, we got quickly overwhelmed and eventually had to put a pause on it so we could catch up.

But in case you haven’t noticed, submissions are now open for Issue #29.

We also have a new feature with this issue called Book Roundup. This is a listing of new books by authors that have been previously published in STR. We wanted a way to continue are relationship with these authors and help them promote their new work, and the Book Roundup is our way of accomplishing those two goals.

Finally, we’ll soon be heading into our tenth year of existence. Our first issue came out in October of 2010. So look for some of the ways that we’ll be celebrating over the next year, including our fifth print issue toward the end of that year.

In this issue: fiction by Robert Earle and Lee Rozelle; poetry by Ashley M. Jones, Sarah L. Webb, Kayla Sargeson, Richard Hamilton, Jesse Breite, John Davis, Jr., Frank Modica, and Brad Rose; non-fiction by Carita Keim; and illustrations by George Mostoller! Photos on our front page are by Tym Cornell.

Illustrations by George Mostoller

Though George Mostoller spends his days toiling in the interlibrary loan department of a nearby university and his weekends hunched over a table with pen and ink, his nights are spent in his band Hawk Tubley & The Ozymandians, beguiling the public with ribald tales, tragic sagas, and lusty ballads.

“The Farm I’ve Willed You” by John Davis, Jr.

Return when my strong ghost is gone:
When the ax-yard stump’s black center
grows moss, when the barn rafters
lose my fingerprints, after every post
forgets the warmth of my work-breath.

No need to forever ask: Is this
how he did it? You know and will grow
your own ways – a man’s touch ingrained
for your children to find and recall
the knots of your knuckles, planks of your palms.

John Davis Jr. is the author of Hard Inheritance (Five Oaks Press, 2016), Middle Class American Proverb (Negative Capability Press, 2014), and two other collections of poetry. His poems have appeared in venues such as Nashville Review, Tampa Review, One, The Common, and The American Journal of Poetry, among many others. He holds an MFA from University of Tampa.

Book Roundup

blue jeaned buddhists by Dan Jacoby – Duck Lake Books, November 2019

Order Now

blue jeaned buddhists is a 94 page volume of poetry with a quiet spirituality without turning away from the more violent reality of American life. At time reminiscent of Kerouac, Corso, or Ginsberg, this poetry is tempered with the quiet reflection of Dickinson. Jacoby bravely shows us the harsh injustice of life to give us the strength to find and embrace inner peace.
Being an older gentleman who began writing poetry seriously late in life, Dan Jacoby tempers the wisdom of age with a fresh voice.

Boys by Daniel Moore – Duck Lake Books, December 2019

Order Now

Daniel Moore lives in Washington on Whidbey Island with the poet, Laura Coe Moore. His poems have been in Spoon River Poetry Review, Columbia Journal, Cream City Review, Western Humanities Review, Phoebe, Mid- American Review, December and others. His poems are forthcoming in Weber Review, Duende Literary Journal, Bluestem Magazine, Slipstream, Levee Magazine, and The Blue Nib Magazine. His work has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes and Best of the Net. Visit him at

Hall of Fools by Shamrock McShane – Son of Sham Press, 2017

Order Now

Hall of Fools is a nonfiction novel about American public education. If you want to know what it’s like to teach in a public school for one whole year – or thirty – or any number in between, if you want to know if your children are safe in school, or if they’re learning anything and who is teaching it to them, if you’re brave enough, enter the Hall of Fools. Hall of Fools is the story of public education, seen through the prim of a thirty-year career teaching Language Arts in middle school.

Shamrock McShane, writer, actor, teacher, taught Language Arts in Florida public schools for 30 years. He studied with Padgett Powell, Harry Crews, and Donald Justice and was a Henfield Award nominee at the University of Florida (MFA). His work has appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Long Shot, Steel Toe Review, and The English Journal. A Shakespearean-trained actor as well as a prize-winning playwright, his roles include Mercutio, Macbeth, Prospero, and most recently Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. He is the author of Rock Beauty and the non-fiction novel Hall of Fools. As a screenwriter collaborating with his son, the director Mike McShane, his films include The Votive Pit, You Are Not Frank Sinatra, and It’s All Good.

Dusk & Dust by Esteban Rodriguez, Hub City Press, September 2019

Order Now

Set along the U.S.-Mexico border, Dusk & Dust introduces the voice of a “boy straddled on the valley of two geographies.” With a keen eye, gentle humor, and great empathy, Esteban Rodríguez’s debut collection explores the lives of the generations who have made their homes in a landscape too often neglected and forgotten. Like the region they portray—relentless, unsympathetic, singed with uncertainty—these poems are marked with a visceral beauty. The aroma of cattle mingles with steaming tamales, and carnival organs play behind telenovelas in this richly conjured and mercurial world. Through the eyes of his luchador mask, with a foot planted firmly on either side of the fence, the young speaker grapples with a host of cultural and familial expectations, a tenuous grasp on his family’s language, and his own burgeoning identity. Funny and poignant, Dusk & Dust lays out a labyrinth of cultural expectations, and, with a voice as clear as it is unique, illuminates a world that seeks to be remembered and lived.

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of the collections Dusk & Dust (Hub City Press, 2019), Crash Course (Saddle Road Press, 2019), and (Dis)placement (Skull + Wind Press, 2020). His poetry has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, New England Review, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, a regular reviews contributor to PANK, and a poetry reader for BOAAT. He lives with his family and teaches in Austin, Texas.

Counting Down: A Memoir of Foster Parenting and Beyond by Deborah Gold, Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, 2018

Order Now

When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they did not foresee that it would lead to a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time.

In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system. We meet social workers, a birth mother with the courage to give her children the childhood she never had herself, and a father parenting from prison. We also encounter members of a remarkable fellowship of Appalachian foster parents—gay, straight, right, left, evangelical, and atheist—united by love, loss, and quality hand-me-downs.

Gold’s memoir is one of the few books to deliver a foster parent’s perspective (and, through Michael’s own poetry and essays, that of a former foster child). In it, she shakes up common assumptions and offers a powerfully frank and hopeful look at an experience often portrayed as bleak.

“Baker’s Dozen” by Frank Modica

Every year on my brother’s birthday,
I reminisce alone in a city of people
who do not know his name.

I look at family albums, his twisty smile.
He is flour and water rolled into pastry dough,
one last piece of pie left on the table.

Frank C Modica is a retired public school teacher. He taught students with special needs for 34 years. Since his retirement he volunteers with a number of arts and social service organizations in his community. His work has appeared in Spindrift Literary Arts Journal, Slab, Heyday Magazine, Cacti Fur Magazine, The Tishman Review, Crab Fat Literary Magazine, and Black Heart Magazine.

Two Poems by Sarah L. Webb

The Kitchen

when I walked into the kitchen that night
the clock on the oven blinked
a boxy blue 7:13
you sat with your back to the door
shoulders rounded over the square table

there had been something cooking
with red or black pepper, and perhaps
you’d already choked on it
alone wiping your eyes and nose
if I’d known you were reading Gordian’s letters

I’d have slipped hunger back under my blouse and snuck away
but when the screen door banged you turned to me
asked me to sit at the table with you
even with all those spices in the air


condemned contemplation
abandoned building in open land

fragmented wind sweeps in
through unseen crannies
wafting wooden musk and grassy gust

rusted joints creek inarticulately
crow’s rustic refrain cracks against walls
waking every phantom reposed within

attention hushes through overgrown grasses
lost among the acres, closing in on tenuous sanity
strenuous system of prayers drying in the sun

sky so pristine it reflects the weathered rooftop
sagging over the space it holds

Sarah L. Webb is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois Springfield. In 2013, She created Colorism Healing, an international initiative through which she hosts writing contests, publishes books, curates exhibitions, produces videos, and more. Her writing has been published online and in print in venues like OVS, Dig, Blackberry, and Roll.