It’s Gingko Season

This is not a metaphor for anything. I am talking about a very real pungency. Smashed yellow cherries on the concrete sidewalk. It’s check-the-bottom-of-your-shoe season, it’s did-I-step-in-dog-poop season, it’s no-you-didn’t season: it’s Gingko Season.

It’s that one spring in Brooklyn where we finally discovered that the Chinese restaurant on the corner had been using the construction dumpster by our house to get rid of their old fry oil, mouldering baby corn, yellowed tofu corners, slimy strips of chicken fat.

You can’t call 311 on a tree.

It’s the constant whiff of judgment: who threw up here? It’s the smell of some young person’s humiliation: partially-digested macaroni and cheese soaked through with liquor and bile. It would not be an exaggeration to say I always gag when walking under a gingko tree. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I almost always automatically ‘tsk’ when walking under a gingko tree. Its effects are both physiological and psychological.

There is no solution to this problem except to be glad that gingko trees are one of my problems. And anyway, gingko season doesn’t last long: soon the cold air will take the edge off the stench, soon the pulpy sidewalks will be layered over with snow. Soon enough, I could live somewhere else entirely. The gingkos would still be here, steady canopies with a million little fluttering leaf fans. The gingkos would still be here, obstinately performing their ritual above our heads.


by Olivia Dunn


Olivia Dunn is a Visiting Professor of English at Skidmore College and a graduate of the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her work has appeared recently in The Pinch Journal, SHANTIH Journal, Tinker Street, The Nervous Breakdown, River Teeth, and McSweeney’s.

My Own Van Gogh

I thought about taking up Art once. Before I met Margery. Before I went into investment banking. Something I picked up in the military during the war. Not a real war. More of a military intervention. The Mongolian Intervention we called it. The gas fields of Northern Mongolian. We were liberating the gas lines there. We did liberate them. Very successfully. Exxon stock went up 15 points. Wall Street gave us a parade.

A bit of art can be a great solace to the human spirit. Especially alone, in a drafty barracks, in a strange land at thirty below, somewhere north and west of the Yangtze. Nothing that unusual, actually. It was quite big back then. Painting-by-Number. That’s where the pattern of what you are to paint, the picture, is already printed on the canvas in very faint blue lines, with dozens and dozens, if not hundreds and hundreds, of little blue numbers inside of them. And you begin to paint. Filling in each little numbered space with the correspondingly numbered pigment. It’s quite systematic. For an art.

I did a very handsome Spaniel I recall, and then a Golden Retriever, 12 by 14, but my favorite was the Old Masterpieces Series, “Recreate the Experience of the Old Masters in Your Own Home,” it said on the box. I did a rather nice BLUE BOY, that’s Gainsborough; a very good MONA LISA, and a passable Van Gogh, because with Van Gogh, for some reasons, I kept slipping outside the lines. There were sunflowers. A big vase of sunflowers. I used up two entire tubes of Cadmium Yellow #17 on that one. Oh, those sunflowers nearly did me in. Sometimes I was tempted to cheat, and smear over some of the numbers, but I restrained myself. I stuck with the rules. To the finish.

You need a great deal of patience to pursue Painting-by-Number. And a very steady hand. Not mine tonight. A young man’s hand. I recommend it, because at the end of the road, when you’ve painted in that last number 17, you have a very fine piece of art, your own Van Gogh, done in your own hand. You’ve sort of re-experienced his suffering. But without having to cut off your ear, of course. No amount of money can buy that. That sense of accomplishment is priceless. It stays with you a lifetime. My very own Van Gogh.


by Charles Leipart


Charles Leipart was a finalist for the 2017 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize for What Wolfman Knew, Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival; What Wolfman Knew is published in the Summer 2017 issue of the Jabberwock Review. His work has appeared in the Bayou Magazine, Burningword Literary Journal, Panolpy Literary Zine, the Eastern Iowa Review, the Scene and Heard Journal, QU Literary Magazine, and Projector Magazine of the University of Greenwich, London UK. Charles is a graduate of Northwestern University, a former fellow of the Edward Albee Foundation. He lives and writes in New York City.


When I go to places

The seaside

I am already leaving there

Rehoboth Beach

More water than sand

More sky than water

Bones of fish laid bare

A new tableau each morning

Tides take back

All that they lay down

Washing me to white

To bold

To bright

A seagull screams just once

And dissolves in my skull

Naked sun

She milks my pupils

Opalescent to blind

At dawn

I see dead birds

Banking fast from clouds

My cousin Eddie

Arc of his returning boomerang

A spinning, skimming whir

Over the green, the coppery

Glossy mallards

Old pennies for heads

Pumpkin orange feet

Folded under what floats and bobs

At the edges of Camp Brule Lake

Startled flock rising

Quaking the water lilies

Seesaw tipping frogs into leaps

A melee of flaps and squawks

My cousin Vernon now

Boomerang two

Not returning

Arm bent back as an arrow to its bow

One unlucky heartbeat

Twirling into tailspin

A roped corpse to splash

So boys can cheer

And echo echo echo

I am already returning

To Camp Brule Lake

Spilling into Elk Creek

Who pauses and changes her clothes

The Flat

Expanse of silt and limestone

Red shale and watercress

Big enough for two pickups

Nature’s Car Wash

In between cascades

A waterfall at the top

A waterfall at the bottom

Liquid chimes

Teacups resting in their saucers

On top of a walking tray

Treed place

Entombing the cold pools

Where fish can stand still

I step across The Flat

To the other side

Soles on the same level parts of the same stones

Nine steps

I’ve made it

The slippery silt covers me

Cloaked in branches and tangle

Caught without my own feet at the seaside

I dissolve into backgrounds brushed and shaded

Into the shadows of the places who know me


by Virginia Watts


Virginia Watts has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, recently in Ruminate Magazine’s Readers’ Notes and her nonfiction story “Marti’s Father” appears in Volume 1, Issue 2 of Ponder Review, Fall 2017. This story has been nominated for a 2018 Pushcart Prize.

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