Michael Caleb Tasker opens the collection. His “For the Killing” demonstrates why he has been a finalist in each of the Hemingway, Steinbeck, and Raymond Carver short story competitions. His entertaining style is a treat for any fan of those famous authors:
“Is he dying?” the boy asked.
“In pain you think?”
The boy took his rifle from the roll in his saddle.
“What are you doing?” his father asked.
“Same as I’d do to any other animal. I’m going to finish it.”
“No. We’ll leave him be.”
“He’s not yours to kill.”The nonfiction pieces are equally intriguing, including Karen Chase’s “Befriend Only to Betray,” which allows us to follow a poet whose curiosity leads to a search for the motives and personalities involved with the poaching of black bears:
I was out of place in these shops, just as I was out of place working on the Operation Berkshire project. A poet? A woman? But I liked how unexpected it was to find myself sitting next to Al in front of his slaughterhouse exchanging questions. And I liked finding myself in a Chinese apothecary, inquiring about bear gallbladders. One pleasure of being a writer is that you can explore anything.These pieces help us examine the unusual in life, while much of the poetry helps us examine the usual and commonplace. For example, Kristene Brown’s “Lonely Crowbar” gives a lonely tool a personality. Sonya Huber’s “My Nine Year Old Tells Me” narrates the perspective of a young imagination dealing with the zombie craze. Connie Wanek’s series of God poems asks us to pause and feel good; “First Love,” for example:
After God created love he feltThe additional lineup of well-published authors is impressive. This is not a collection of new writers striving to make an impression; the list of publications itself could draw attention as part of marketing campaign. In every instance, it is well worth reviewing the biographies to find more sources for the works of the authors included here.
himself swooning. "What is this?"
he cried out to Mrs. God.
"What have I done?
Is it a kind of music?”
"It bears a strong resemblance,"
she said softly, watching the warm sea
begin to rise and fall, as though
longing for the moon.
"Take slow, deep breaths," she advised,
"and it will pass."