From Storyglossia Issue 24, October 2007

On the way out of the house, Ryan encountered his mother in the living room, the ever-present coffee cup propped on the arm of her chair. Brandy already? At 6:30 in the morning? He didn't know.
"I saw dad after practice yesterday," he said.
"At the pool?"
"He was waiting in his car."
"Nice of him to take an interest." She was shaking her head.
"He wants Aileen to spend the weekend with him."
She'd been staring at the wall, but now she looked him in the eye. "If he wants time with your sister, he can ask me."
"He said he tried to call."
"Well he can fucking try again." She drank deeply from her cup.
"You should get in the shower, mom," he said. "You'll be late."

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From the Anthology Home of the Brave: Stories in Uniform, 2009

What nobody knows, really, is that I went to Iraq to break loose from my brother Jake. I was twenty, Jake eighteen, and we’d always hung out together, had a good time. We had a little posse since high school, me and Jake and his friends Cliff and Manny. I was big and built, didn’t work at it, just sort of came naturally, and had a pretty good beard, so I could get beer at a couple places out on the highway and we’d grab some sixers and drive out and party. We live in Plumas County, in Northern California: mountains and forests, loggers, truckers, mill workers, Republicans; nice little downtown strip in Quincy, the county seat, and just a hint of yuppie tourism starting. Hot in the summer and cold in the winter, it’s a simple place, really. Nice to live in, tough to leave. Took the war, in fact—and Jake, of course—to get me out. Didn’t plan to leave again once I got my discharge.

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From Green Mountains Review, Vol. XXII, No. 1, Spring 2009

Understand that it can drink till it is sick, but cannot drink till it is satisfied.

— From Frank Bidart, “The Third Hour of the Night”

It is three months since my sister Ilse died, and what I recall of last night is drinking lots of

whiskey and reciting poetry. Loudly, I think. Bly, I think.

It was a company celebration, and I was talking to Lydia when I realized, my god, I’ve been nodding, chortling, delivering clipped greetings to passersby, and feigning attention forever. First pause, I dashed for a refill, and here I am now, asking myself—again—how could I ever have slept with that woman? 

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