In this issue of Apalachee Review, some of the best writing is about sports. Joe Ponepinto's boxing story, "The Sting of the Glove," puts you deep inside a morally compromised manager who pushes his fighter too far, then puts on the gloves again himself. Perhaps he returns to the ring in an effort to recapture his own stolen career. Perhaps he does it to win the comatose fighter's girlfriend. Perhaps both.
Sarah Grieve gives us two baseball poems. In "Ode to Kevin Costner in Bull Durham," she goes the full nine innings to explore the interplay between baseball/sex as seen on the movie screen and in real life. "Plate Appearances" pays loving tribute to the poet's father and to Moose Strubing, "the only major league player and manager never to register a hit or a win." In another baseball poem, "In His Backyard, Kid K Plays 'Burnout,'" Charles Manis uses dense physical and kinetic language to capture the "crash-toward-first-base, / fling-across-his-body, hard-as-he-can-drive-and-then-some / motion" of pitching.
The essays are another strength of this issue. In "What Mama Said: A Child's Memoir," Katherine Tracy tells charmingly about eating dinner at a "Communist party" in France, where her father was stationed. In "The Flying Test," D. L. Hall remembers a brush with death that cleared the fog from a confused time in her life—and convinced her she definitely did not want to learn to fly an airplane.
Another riveting essay, "Fixing the Deck" by Pat MacEnulty, begins innocently enough with a home repair project. But before we're done, we've journeyed deep into a wrenching family history of abandonment, addiction, anger, love, recovery, boundary-drawing and gratitude. It's like watching someone survive awful things and emerge as a fully grownup human, in only eight pages. The essay is drawn from MacEnulty's book, Wait Until Tomorrow: A Daughter's Memoir, published in 2011 by Feminist Press and also reviewed admiringly in this issue by Apalachee Review Editor Amanda McCormick.
Other noteworthy work includes a story in the my-first-kiss genre, "God Don't Like Ugly," by Liara Tamani McDyess, and a generous helping of poems. My favorites are Caroline Miller's "Third Day of the Year," Dan Manchester's off-the-wall pop-culture poems, "Resting" and "Jennifer Grey's Original Nose Speaks Before Rhinoplasty," and Sudasi J. Clement's "Somewhere Holy." In that poem, a young girl is locked out by her mom and spends the night with her father and his "new girl," and ends:
After they floated off to bed I heard
my dad reading Dylan Thomas, the one
that begins with a three-pointed star,
and I, restless pilgrim on the couch
placed a pillow over my head
before they made love, sacred song
I knew existed but was unprepared to hear.