Issue 16

Aunt Agnes goes sledding - #16 Cover





Table ofContents

full or partial text is availablefor highlighted items




Illustrations by Erin Higgins, Vicky Perry, andFerrilyn Sourdiffe

(Updated May 29,1997)

©Copyright 1997 EchoesMagazine

All stories, poems, and drawings are protected by copyright andmay not be reproduced, in whole or in part, in any form, by copyingor by any electronic or mechanical means, without written permissionfrom Echoes Magazine. Individual stories and poems are also copyrightby their authors; drawings are copyright by Echoes Magazine and bythe artists.

Cradle Dreams

by Ann Mack


Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:


Thinking the house was empty, Brian punctuated his frustration by slamming the kitchen door. The small wrestling trophy &emdash; Pee Wee 76# &emdash; toppled from the edge of the refrigerator onto the counter. An empty maple syrup can clattered to the floor like a tall opponent caught by a double-leg take down. Picking up the broken arm of the plastic trophy, he gently balanced the pieces on the cluttered fix-it shelf. Some day, one of them would find the time to glue together the broken mementos and chipped knickknacks, but not during wrestling and syrup season.

Too late, he noticed Grandpa dozing by the wood stove. How could anyone sleep sitting up in that old wooden chair anyway? Just once he wished Grandpa would come to one of his matches. Just once he wished he'd take off that faded baseball cap and talk to him about his father's wrestling. How had he gotten ready for a big match? What did he do the night before? The yellowed newspaper clippings only listed scores and opponents like an encyclopedia &emdash; all facts, no feelings, no personality. The thin scrapbooks lay buried under a pile of Farm Journals and Reader's Digests. Saved not to be looked at, but to keep them from being discarded.

"Am I like him?" Brian often wondered in silence.

With his grandfather now startled fully awake, Brian tried to explain his uncharacteristic rudeness. "How can I expect to win if I can't even stay out of a cradle? I'll bet Dad never made such a stupid mistake!"

Grandpa stoked the Round Oak for the night and mumbled something that sounded like, "Don't be too sure."

For as long as Brian could remember, family had been just Grandpa and him. . . . .

Brian & Grandpa

illustration by FerrilynSourdiffe


"Cradle Dreams" © Copyright 1996 AnnMack

Ann Mack has taught seventh grade English for seventeenyears. Ann is an avid fan of amateur wrestling, is married to thecoach, is a wrestler's mother, and has taught many wrestlers &emdash;a wealth of background for her story. (Her husband's hobby of makingmaple syrup adds some flavor to the story, too.) Favorite writersinclude Louise Erdrich, Michael Dorris, Alice Walker, and "any otherwriter who makes me wish I could have told that compelling story,created that unforgettable character, or used language socreatively." (12/96)

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squirrel & oak leaf (

Winter View

by Christina Sergeyevna

A few always remain.
Just one or two
crimson leaves
still hang up high
in the bare dark branches
of the pin oak,
which have escaped
being trampled by racing squirrels.
Urgent hues unaffected
by chilling winds
and a handful of frosts.
They dangle, wave,
amidst early spring showers,
when leaf buds begin to swell,
spew tender tentacles.
Finally, nudged away
by the new and flamboyant
which have arrived
to clothe this winter view.

"Winter View" © Copyright 1996 Christina Sergeyevna

illustration by Vicky Perry

Christina Sergeyevna was born in London in 1958 andcurrently lives in Austin, Texas. She is a survivor of Hodgkin'sdisease and much of her poetry reflects the precariousness of life.Her work has recently appeared in the Berkeley Poetry Review, DancingShadow Review, Journal of Poetry Therapy, and Healing Journal. (12/96)

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Late Autumn Storm
by Fred Boltz


The full moon passes
slowly overhead and is

swallowed by darkness.

On the other side of town,
everyone tightly locks

their doors against

the coming of winter.


Late Autumn Storm

illustration by Vicky Perry


© Copyright 1996 Fred Boltz

Fred Boltz, forty-four, lives and works as a mental healthworker in Muskegon, Michigan. He received his B.S. in English andpsychology and plans to pursue computer science. In addition towriting, Fred enjoys reading, astronomy, hiking, bowling, andcomputers. Most of his work centers around nature, and two of hisfavorite poets are Robert Frost and Walt Whitman. His writing hasappeared in a number of literary magazines.(12/96)

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The Last Run

The Last Run

by Gene Moser


Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

Slowly, Phil descended the steps. The old man knew it would be the last time. It was dark at the foot of the steps, but he knew where the switch was and light flooded the basement room and the world he had created. He was looking directly at the Dogwood freight yards, as he had so many times, for more than thirty years. When those yards had first opened, the house they were in had stood with its back to open fields, woods, and a long industrial siding, now all gone to progress.

He went straight ahead to check the engine on the ready track. Yes, it was Number 887. It had started out as a Pacific Fast Mail model of a Chesapeake and Ohio Kiwi 2-8-2 steam locomotive. Now it was an aged relic, still with the Vanderbilt tender, pulling way freight for the Mount Vernon, Newberry and Western Railroad as it fought to defeat the onslaught of the diesel. It was his favorite locomotive.

Phil had once thought that he could take it with him to the retirement home. But no, its home was here. The old people would think him crazy if he took it with him. Funny. It was good to bring pictures of a young wife, of kids growing up, of grandchildren and great-grandchildren who looked like kids of sixty years ago. The people there said so. But Number 887 had to stay. He could retire, whatever that meant, but 887 had to stay until the wreckers came.

He had fought the decision to move. Fought it for years. As long as Elaine was alive he had won. . . .

illustration by ErinHiggins


©Copyright 1996 Gene Moser

Gene Moser grew up as an "army brat" and graduated fromFishburne Military School and the College of William and Mary. Hespent twenty-seven years as a Field Artillery Officer, including atour in the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea. Gene now teaches highschool English in Hampton, Virginia and writes for Military Brats ofAmerica. (12/96)

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The Trail

by Jerry H. Jenkins

I led men on a night cross-country march:
navigating through the sunset land
near Fujiyama on a training mission,
a simple one: take forty men, move out,
cross over forest foothills, fifteen miles,
evade detection, and arrive on time,
report results, and that would be the end.

Lake Yamanaka, the Gotemba Trail:
textured names, warm woodcut memories.
It was November, and the twilight air
was fragrant with the smell of pines and cedar.
The trail of shaggy bark and mulch on lava
wound through stands of meditating trees.

The evening spread its rich mahogany
slowly through the silent forest, where
owls and poor-wills made the darkness rustle,
and in a village down below the trail,
lights in clustered huts showed through the trees.
Ahead of us, the quiet path was bare

except an old woodcutter on the trail,
coming home through intimate, deep shadows,
loaded down with arm-thick fresh-cut limbs,
outfitted with the short and floppy trousers,
sloped straw hat and sweat scarf laborers wore
in this place of trees and mountain meadows.

As we approached, he bowed beneath his burden,
pro forma, but I didn't think he meant
to honor us or supplicate himself.
A banked fire flared up in his ebony eyes,
a furnace of unknowable intent.

He may have thought back to some distant island
where men instead of cedar branches fell;
maybe he had fought against our fathers,
and in the whispering shrapnel heard the sound
of night birds in the dusk at Yamanaka,
or sensed the searing sun at Nagasaki,
still burdened with a fire he could not quell.

© Copyright 1996 Jerry H. Jenkins

Jerry H. Jenkins served in the Marine Corps for overtwenty-six years, including a tour of duty in Vietnam; he earnednumerous decorations, including the Legion of Merit. Jerry points outthat his poetry about combat and war is based on real experience, buthe often uses a context removed from the immediacy of war. His workhas appeared in a number of journals; he also took first place in acompetition held by Poetic Eloquence and has won a number of otherawards. Jerry is now executive director of computing at George MasonUniversity in Fairfax, Virginia. (12/96)

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When the Bottom of Dolcoath FellIn

by Lloyd Alan Fletcher

They had built a cathedral down there
or rather, carved it
black from black, heaving
in the vaulted cavern,
the wooden ribs of the stull
arched and clinging
to the vastness of the holy stope.

Slicing into the slanted lode,
they drove rock into pillars,
slim buttresses, unworldly bridges:
dark whispers of rock
mediators between the chasms,
underlings to two thousand feet of planet.

Children at the mother lode
thrusting timbers like prodigious prayers into the vault
as if to stay a matchstick tower already creaking
in its sermon of dust. Worshippers
at the altar of tin
scraping at the floor above the crypt
foundation of the earth, sensing
perhaps, in their deepest ear
that terrible heaven above them
straining to floor the void
with its dark thunder.

© Copyright 1996 Lloyd Alan Fletcher

Lloyd Alan Fletcher is a thirty-three-year-old businessresearch consultant who has been writing poetry "seriously" for abouttwo years. Alan grew up in the industrial midlands of England; this,along with the rugged west of Cornwall, serve as breeding grounds forhis poetry. He now lives in suburban Connecticut. (12/96)

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Lady on the TenementRoof

by Joanna Heller

Lady on the tenement roof

the kids all say you're high.

Through the cloudy classroom windows

and the heavy harsh steel gratings,

we stop to watch you

dancing to the sky,

reaching outward in the air,

your twirling skirt, all stretching, reaching

high beyond the waste

and high

beyond it all

we see you breathing just the sky.


Lady on the tenement roof

illustration by Vicky Perry


© Copyright 1996 Joanna Heller

Joanna Heller has worked in the New York City publicschools for about thirty years, as teacher, staff developer, andmentor. During that time, she says, she found herself "writing,photographing, and witnessing some very intense experiences." Thepresence of "the Lady" on the roof across the street from herfifth-floor classroom was one of many experiences which inspired herto move her hand across the paper.    (12/96)

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Christmas Potpourri

by Paul Whitmer


Following is a brief excerpt from thestory:

I jumped out of bed and ran downstairs as soon as I smelled the coffee brewing. I ran into the kitchen and straight to the calendar. I took a pen and X-ed off December 21. Only five days until Christmas!

"Jeremy, sit down and eat your cereal," my mother said. Something in the tone of her voice made me feel uneasy.

I sat down at the table and proceeded to read the back of the cereal box. Mom cleared her throat. "Jeremy, your grandmother's sick."

I pushed the cereal box away and looked at my mother. "Is she gonna be OK?"

"Oh, I think so. She's just not feeling well. She called and asked me to come up for a few days to help her around the house."

"When are you going?" I asked.

"We'll be leaving tomorrow afternoon."

I didn't like the sound of that. "Whattya mean we? You mean me and dad have to go?"

"No, Grandma doesn't have the room. Your father and I are going to Grandma's. We're going to drop you off at Aunt Agnes's on the way."

I looked at her in dumb horror. "What? No way!"

"Jeremy. There's no other choice. It's only for two days. We'll be back on Christmas Eve."

"Uh huh. I'm not staying with Aunt Agnes. She's weird &emdash; she scares me."

"Oh," Mom laughed, "she scared you when you were a little boy, but that was a long time ago. You're thirteen now."

I had to think of something, fast. "I could stay at Bob's house…That way, I wouldn't have to miss school." My hope was building. Mom seemed to be considering my suggestion.

"Since when have you cared about school? No, I think you'd be better off staying with Aunt Agnes."

"I'll just call Bob and ask." I got up and grabbed the phone. "His mom won't mind &emdash; you'll see."

"No, Jeremy. You'd better…"

Ignoring her, I continued pushing Bob's number.

"Jeremy. Put the phone down. Now!" . . . .

Aunt Agnes goes sledding

illustrations by Erin Higgins


"Christmas Potpourri" © Copyright 1996 PaulWhitmer

Paul Whitmer, thirty-four, is a computer operator who beganwriting in 1993 out of "an overwhelming need to be creative.""Christmas Potpourri" was inspired by an argument his sister had withher teenage son. Paul noted that he admires Stephen King "for hisincredible imagination and his ability to shock the reader."   (12/96)

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