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Shelter

There is a cooler that has ceased to operate at the Elks Club in Iowa City. The Elks Club is private. You need to pay a few thousand dollars to join. And then a certain amount of money each year. There’s a pool and a nine-hole golf course. When you pull in, you need to look left to see if anyone’s standing on the seventh tee box because the entrance road cuts across the fairway and it’s impolite and possibly

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Grateful Man

I’ve seen the guy before. Big black guy. Bigger than everyone else one the line. At The Vine in Coralville. He’s loud. Always talking to people. White folks and black folks. It doesn’t matter. He talks to everyone the same. Not like the young black guys on the line who play hiphop real loud and speak in a language I don’t fully understand. Which, I guess, is the way they want it. They are wary of me. Holding back a

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The Prickus Miserablus in its Natural Habita

I’m going to rip the bandage off. Rip it off like a mad doctor. Not like these other doctors with their neat little ideas about the “healing process.” Not me. I’m not like that. I’m going to rip the bandage off. Expose the wound. Some will say it’s gritty. Some will use the word fierce. A bold new voice. Okay. Here we go now. Here we go. I’m going to tell you a story. This is how it begins. Chapter

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Simple Jack Fixes a Dryer

  It can be fixed. It’s simple. It’s only a machine. This is what you tell yourself. Maybe you’re trying to fix a clothes dryer. It’s simple, you say. It’s only a machine. It was working yesterday. And something happened. One thing happened. And now it flashes an error code on the LCD. The most experienced mechanic will tell you it’s not personal. But that mechanic is full of shit. Have that mechanic get five callbacks on the same job

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Curly Fry Diary

There is another life. There is a truth beneath this truth. All we need to do is rip off the bandage. “I was thinking we should do something different this year,” I said. “I really should see those kids.” “What kids?” said Deb. “My nieces and nephews,” I said. “You see them all the time,” she said. “No,” I said. “My brother’s and sister’s kids. I mean, they’re grown up now. When’s the next time they’ll all be together?” “So

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Gronk Me

I didn’t have sex last night. But I did have a fantasy football draft. “How’d it go? said my wife when I got home. “Good,” I said. “Tell me about it,” she said. “I’m not doing it this year.” That’s what I told Scott. I told him this when we were on the golf course. “Why not?” he said. “It’s a waste of time,” I said. Scott was lining up his putt. He does this by crouching behind his ball

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Russell’s Paradox

While breezing through a comic book, I read a few balloon captions about a mathematician named Gottlob Frege. Frege searched for the unshakable foundation upon which to build all mathematics. It surprised me that a mathematician would search for such a thing because I always figured numbers were already pretty solid, being numbers and all. There are things, however, according to the comic book, calledparadoxes, which are capable of capsizing venerated mathematical systems easy as pie. Bertrand Russell’s famous paradox

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Mr. Incredible

What happens to us when we are young is, we are afraid of having no purpose in the world, alone as we are, without money or career or family, and we grasp about for employment with the eagerness of a drowning person. And we begin what becomes the repetition of our days. And we gain a foothold. And we feel more solid. And maybe a family comes. And maybe children. And maybe we start a business. We feel more solid

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Anthology of

I parked outside Shakespeare’s, where I was supposed to repair the electric fryer, but there was a wake happening in the bar, a lot of people dressed in black eating chicken wings and chocolate cake, and the tiny kitchen was jamming, so I needed to kill a half hour to let things slow down. I flipped open the new Iowa NWP anthology, I’ll Tell You Mine, to an essay written by John D’Agata. It was very well written. John’s character was

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Hug a Cop Today

There was something on Facebook about a prayer vigil at Bethel AME. It was on Bethel’s page. It said something about someone from some news channel wanting to get more details about the prayer vigil. But there was no public posting about it. I checked my email and my phone. Nobody from church had contacted me about it. “Have you heard anything about a prayer vigil at Bethel?” I asked Deb. “No. Why. Is there a prayer vigil?” For the

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