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Photographs by John Milisenda

I have been photographing my family for more than thirty years. The pictures here are of my mother, Rose, and my younger brother, Dennis. My father, Sal, died in 1991.

By John Milisenda May 2001

Joyful Noise

As a child, you followed the rules — that was your job. It was wrong to hit your little sister, to giggle or tickle or otherwise revel in pleasure, to take — or even want — the biggest piece. It was right to let your friends go first, to think of other people before yourself, to sit up straight and use the proper fork. It was downright dangerous to disagree.

By Maggie Kast February 2001
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Lifestyles Of The Blind And Paralyzed

A Eulogy For Mark O’Brien

That O’Brien was out on the streets and not hidden away in some nursing home was a testament to his Irish dander. Remember, this is a man who — since the age of six — had the use of one muscle in his right foot, one muscle in his neck, and one in his jaw. That’s it. He made full use of all three. He used the foot muscle to steer his monster machine; he used the other two to bang with a stick on the keys of a computer, to write, cajole, editorialize, storm, cry, laugh, and rage. You tell me he wasn’t a nut case?

By Lorenzo W. Milam May 2000
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Happy Bird Day Lorenzo

Just as I am about to leave for the North, my birthday appears. I’m willing to forget it, but my pals won’t hear of it. When I get to La Huerta late in the afternoon on my last day in Puerto Perdido, they bring out a cake that they’ve bought with their own money.

By Lorenzo W. Milam March 2000
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

And Jill Came Tumbling After

I’ve heard the story of Ralph’s bicycle accident so many times that it gets on my nerves. Ralph tells it over and over, whenever anybody asks, and even when they don’t. The story goes like this: He went out on Tuesday for his regular sixty-mile training ride. As he came down the hill off Grizzly Peak onto Claremont Avenue, the front tire of his Italian racing bike went flat. He went up on the embankment, riding on the rim. Then he lost control, went headfirst over the handlebars, and landed on his back, snapping his neck in the process.

By Susan Parker January 2000

Saint Ursula And Her Maidens

You have a zygote — “Zoe Zachary Zygote,” your husband calls it — and the world is fuzzy and mint green, soft as lamb’s ear. And your health is much improved. After all those dark days, you have suddenly plunged into Candyland. The trees blossom with caramel apples; the sun shines its Creamsicle rays especially for you.

By Mary O’Connell January 2000
Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

La Calidad De La Vida

Every year my back goes out. It’s like a special anniversary, which I celebrate by groaning a lot and walking around like Groucho Marx with his tie caught in his zipper. This year it happens to me in Mexico, where I rent a large, brand-new, slightly leaky, four-bedroom house for sixty dollars a month in the medium-sized town of Jerez de Garcia Salinas, about eight hundred miles due south of El Paso, Texas.

By Poe Ballantine January 2000


There comes a time in a man’s life when to get where he has to go — if there are no doors or windows — he walks through a wall.

Bernard Malamud

September 1999
The Sun Interview

A Rage To Live

An Interview With Leonard Kriegel

I think crippled is the best word because it’s the most accurate. As a writer, I think language is supposed to be strong and definitive, and should speak of what is. Even the sound of crippled tells you something. It has a harshness about it that speaks to the condition. The writer’s job is to communicate an experience, and when you abstract from it with terms like “differently abled,” there’s no way you can communicate the pain of not being able to use your legs and the rage that is an inevitable concomitant of that pain.

By Dan Wakefield September 1999