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Opening Letters > From The Editors


Fall slipped into winter with a subtle pruinescence in Luna County, New Mexico: Sky Island Journal’s birthplace and spiritual home. At that turning point, Jeff and I took a few days off from work, said goodbye to our families, and traveled across the country to meet at my ranch: a rugged patch of isolated wilderness at the base of the Florida Mountains—one of the state's few remaining sky islands—near the border with Old Mexico. We spent the days hiking, climbing, and summiting peaks. We spent the nights, before moon rise, gazing at a sky that probably looked much the way it did before our species walked the earth (billions of stars, hundreds of burning meteors, and the singular edge of our own galaxy—an opaque ribbon of cream flowing from horizon to horizon). When a larger-than-life moon broke free from the desert floor, we marveled at how we could read our books without headlamps.

On the first night, with the full length of the 12-mile-long mountain range facing us, a coyote pack on the southern end began calling to a pack on the northern end. The call-and-response was symphonic. Sound travels differently in the mountains than it does across the desert, and sound is an entirely different creature in those two places at night. As we sat where those two places meet—cloaked in darkness, feet up, sipping a few drinks, down jackets zipped, enjoying this otherworldly volley of sound—a lone coyote sounded beside us. The piercing howl couldn’t have been more than a few yards away. It was startling and refreshing. It was also a reminder.

It was a reminder that we are not alone in the wilderness that birthed us, that there are others on our rogue path, and that we must be a positive presence in each other’s lives.

We are different from other literary journals in so many ways. While we appreciate and respect the paths that other publications have taken, it has been clear from the beginning that the path less taken will always be our path. The rugged independence and relentless tenacity required to stay on that path helps us to be mindful; every step we take should be made with kindness and humility. Reading and responding to every submission, then having the ability to share the work of writers from around the world with readers from around the world, are privileges beyond the telling. We're so grateful for our contributors and our readers. Whether you're new to Sky Island Journal, or you're already one of our 33,000 readers in 137 countries, we're confident that the new writing in our stunning seventh issue will find a home in your heart.

Of the 1,053 individual pieces that we received from around the world for Issue 7, these 50 are the finest.

Thank you for joining us where the desert meets the mountains. Welcome to Sky Island. Welcome home.


Jason Splichal, Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief


Just a few weeks removed from an extended vacation to close 2018, I was recently asked to recall the highlights of that time. After boarding a flight from Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, my wife and I landed safely in Minneapolis.  Over the next two weeks we clocked nearly 1,200 miles in a Ford Fiesta rental car, zig-zagging through Minnesota and Wisconsin, thankful that each day's forecast was devoid of snowstorms. It seemed easy to mention the destination cities or prominent events that took place during the trip as our highlights.  But upon reflection, the best times were the quiet, simple moments with friends and family, some of which I hadn't seen or spoken to in months, even years, and within moments we were reconnected: swapping stories, sharing memories, debating details, laughing, lamenting our missteps, coming to terms with life's challenges, and plotting new adventures that will become tomorrow's stories. To me, those conversations--the ones where we set aside our phones and clip off the television to focus on the people we love--those are the most valuable.

I cherish the conversations I find in literature as well.

While I have never met or spoken to any of the writers featured in this issue I feel a kind of a kinship with each one of them through the characters and worlds they have so graciously introduced me to in their poems, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction. A few days ago I remembered that we accepted the first poem for this issue on October 2nd. I had not read it in months, but when I saw the title and read the first line, I was immediately reminded why it is special. We were reunited like old friends after a long absence. While the words were the same, my perspective had changed, and by sharing the experience we were both changed. The same can be said for every single piece in Issue 7, which makes each reading or "conversation" with them a highlight of my day. 

I believe these conversations with literature have the power to activate our minds, fill our hearts, and remain with us. That is why here at Sky Island Journal, each piece of writing that we publish opens as a protected Word document for an authentic, focused, and immersive experience that encourages a close, intimate, distraction-free reading of the work. Readers, we want your experience with each contributor's work to be singular: just as it would be on the printed page, with crisp white paper between your collective fingertips. With no advertising on our website and a forecast showing a 0% chance of that ever changing, we hope it allows you to fully engage in the works we've so carefully curated for you. With no subscription fees, you are welcome whenever you have time to stop by. 

Thank you for joining us; we think you're gonna like the company you find here. 


Jeff Sommerfeld, Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief


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Alana Jenkins > Creative Nonfiction > Minnesota, USA

Alana Jenkins is a 26-year-old Wisconsin native who is currently a student of the world. She quit her job as an Office Manager for a mental health agency in Saint Paul, Minnesota in August to travel to Southeast Asia. She dubbed her adventure DIY Sabbatical, because it is a self-funded, self-selected pursuit of education through a year of travel and volunteering. Alana has always turned to the written word to contemplate the complexity and beauty of life. Sky Island Journal is her first literary publication.

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Bethany Snyder > Flash Fiction > New York, USA

Bethany Snyder loves the sea and semi-colons. She is an award-winning fiction writer, a voice-over artist, an amateur photographer, a cookie connoisseur, a Maine enthusiast, a horror movie aficionado, and a pop-culture junkie. Born and raised in Penn Yan, New York, Bethany received her bachelor’s in Creative Writing from Bradford College in Haverhill, Massachusetts. She has received the Charles McCorkle Hauser Prize for prose from the Chautauqua Literary Arts Friends at the Chautauqua Institution three times (2015, 2016, 2018), has twice been voted Best Local Author in the Best of Rochester (New York) Awards (2017 and 2018), and is a 2018 Pushcart Prize nominee.

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Bridget Fertal > Poetry > Pennsylvania, USA

Bridget Fertal is a poet, an intern at Eulalia Books, and an undergraduate student studying English and creative writing at Saint Vincent College.  In addition to Sky Island Journal, her poetry has been published in Francis House and Panoply magazines.

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Chad V. Broughman > Flash Fiction > Michigan, USA

Chad V. Broughman was the recipient of the Rusty Scythe Prize Book award in 2016 and in 2017 was awarded the Adobe Cottage Writers Retreat honor in New Mexico. Most recently, Chad received a Certificate of Distinction from New Millennium Writings and was awarded a chapbook contract for his collection of short stories, “the forsaken,” which was published by Etchings Press. As well, his fiction can be found in several reviews and journals nationwide––such as Carrier Pigeon, East Coast Literary Review, River Poets Journal and Burningword––and is currently featured in the on-line magazine, Faith, Hope & Fiction. Chad holds an MFA from Spalding University, co-edits the fiction/poetry blog, Café Aphra, based in the United Kingdom, and teaches English and Creative Writing at the secondary and post-secondary levels on the pristine shores of Lake Michigan. He is a husband and the proud father of two rambunctious young sons.

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Christina Wiseman > Flash Fiction > MASSACHUSETTS, USA

Christina Wiseman lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. Her work has been featured in online and print editions of Crack the Spine, and she has completed the competitive-entry Novel Generator program through Boston’s GrubStreet writing center. She is currently at work on her first novel.

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David Magill > Poetry > Minnesota, USA

David Magill, born in Kansas City, Missouri, moved to Minnesota as a young boy and grew up on a hobby farm in Afton. He has been married to his wife, Patti, for 23 years. His work has recently been published in Metonym, The Esthetic Apostle, Cagibi, Sleeping with Elephants, and Dreamers. He has also been nominated for a Pushcart prize in poetry for 2019.

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Erin Williamson > Poetry > Washington, USA

Erin Williamson manages capital products for a nonprofit micro-lender and lives in Seattle with her boisterous, inspiring family. These are her first published poems.

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Faye Turner-Johnson > Poetry > Michigan, USA

Since her retirement from teaching in 2011, Faye Turner-Johnson has spent many early morning hours (that's when her creative muse most often visits) honing her writing skills. She earned degrees in Theater and Elementary Education from the University of Michigan-Flint. In October 2018, she was awarded an honorable mention for her poem, “Murder for Hire,” an entry in the Rochester Writer's Margo La Gattuta Poetry Summer Writing Contest. Her work has also appeared in The Forum Magazine, Wordpool Press, Crack the Spine Literary Magazine, Dime Show Review and Whirlwind Magazine. She is currently working on her first full-length book of poetry: Life—You Untrustworthy Bastard. She lives in Flint, Michigan with her husband, Joseph.

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Francine Conley > Poetry > Minnesota, USA

Francine Conley is a writer, educator, and performing artist.  She has a chapbook, How Dumb the Stars (Parallel Press, 2001), and a manuscript in circulation: What Sweetness from Salt.   Though she spent more than a decade as a solo and collective performing artist, she earned her MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson in 2014, and since then has published poems and reviews in such places as: American Literary ReviewThe Collagist, Green Mountains Review, Juked, The New England Review, Tinderbox, etc

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Garrett Flagg > Poetry > North Carolina, USA

Garrett Flagg spent his first 24 years in the Philippines, where he earned a bachelor's degree from the Franciscan brothers of De la Salle College. He has published poetry in McGuffin, Third Wind, Cream City Review, Quijote Quarterly, South Florida Review, Horizons, Greensboro Review, and others. A retired community college educator, he lives in North Carolina with his wife, Andrea, and daughter Miriam. Grown sons, Seth and Quinn, reside in Chicago. Flagg is a photographer, water colorist, and actor. He enjoys pickle ball and maintains a website on Facebook called Why Write. 

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Genevieve Betts > Poetry > New Mexico, USA

Genevieve Betts is the author of the poetry collection An Unwalled City (Prolific Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Tishman ReviewNew Mexico ReviewHotel AmerikaThe Literary Review, and in other journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing for Arcadia University's low-residency MFA program and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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Gretchen Cion > Creative Nonfiction > Texas, USA

Gretchen Cion is an essayist, activist, and vision quester. She is a writer-in-residence with Writers in the Schools, sparking creativity among students and teachers in both educational and museum settings. She loves snacking on seaweed and waking in the wee morning hours to write. Gretchen is currently crafting a collection of essays, deep diving into her distinctly different chapters of life. She lives in Houston, Texas with her artist husband and two wildly cool sons.

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Heather Diamond > Creative Nonfiction > Hong Kong

Heather Diamond's work has been shortlisted with Room Magazine and is forthcoming in Memoir Magazine and Imprint.  She lives in Hong Kong and recently completed a memoir about cross-cultural marriage. 

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Jane Buckanaga Picotte > Poetry > Michigan, USA

Jane Buckanaga Picotte was raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and has two Bachelor’s degrees from Lake Superior State University. She’s Minnesota Chippewa from White Earth from her father. She's married, has six kids, and a variety of pets. She has previously been published.

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Jean Ryan > Poetry > Alabama, USA

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. Nominated several times for a Pushcart Prize, she has also published a novel, Lost Sister. Her debut collection of short stories, Survival Skills, was published by Ashland Creek Press and short-listed for a Lambda Literary Award. Lovers and Loners, her second story collection, was published in 2017. Her collection of nature essays, Strange Company, is available in digital form, paperback and audio.

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Jocosa Wade > Creative Nonfiction > New York, USA

Inspired by Hitchcock, Jocosa Wade wrote her first short story at the age of seven. Later, she wanted to be the next Emily Dickinson. Instead, she moved to Louisiana and earned her MFA in Performance from the University of New Orleans. Work in theatre led to playwriting. Her one-act, Beating the Odds, was produced as part of the Washington Theatre Festival in D.C. and at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, Virginia. She lives in New York’s Hudson Valley, and is currently working on a novel set in New Orleans. Sky Island Journal is her first literary publication.

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John Burns > Flash Fiction > United Kingdom

John Burns is a writer and teacher, originally from Nottingham in the United Kingdom, but now residing in Yunnan in China's mountainous south-west region. His fiction has appeared in Peacebuilders, The Cerurove, and LitBreak, among others, while his non-fiction publications include Empty Mirror and Beatdom.

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Jose Oseguera > Poetry > California, USA

Jose Oseguera is a Los Angeles-based writer of poetry, short fiction, and literary nonfiction. Having grown up in a diverse urban environment, Jose has always been interested in the people and places around him and the stories that each of these has to share. His work has been featured in Meat for Tea: The Valley Review and Authorship by The National Writers Association.  

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Julie Weiss > Poetry > Spain

Julie Weiss received her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from San Jose State University. She´s a 44-year-old ex-pat from Foster City, California, who moved to Spain in 2001 and never looked back. Nowadays, she works as a telephone English teacher from her home in Ciudad Valdeluz, where she lives with her wife, three-year-old daughter, and one-year-old son. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Lavender Review, Sinister Wisdom, The American Journal of Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry--Poets Resist Series, Stonecoast Review, Peculiar Journal, and Down in the Dirt Magazine

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Kasandra Larsen > Poetry > Rhode Island, USA

Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Burningword Literary Journal, and Into the Void, and is upcoming in The Halcyone Magazine’s/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets of 2018, among others. Her full-length poetry manuscript has been a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award.  Her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award.  She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and a poetry reader for the journal Bare Fiction (UK).

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Kate Delany > Poetry > New Jersey, USA

Kate Delany is the author of two books of poetry – Reading Darwin (Poets Corner Press) and Ditching (Aldrich Press). Her fiction and verse have appeared in magazines and journals, such as Art Times, Barrelhouse, Jabberwock Review, Room, and Poetry Quarterly. She holds an MA in English from Rutgers-Camden and a BA in English and in Art History from Chestnut Hill College. She lives in Collingswood, New Jersey.

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Katie J. Douglas > Flash Fiction > Arizona, USA

Katie J. Douglas is a native of Tucson, Arizona where she lives and writes today. She is a writer, avid reader, former educator, mother of three, and an entrepreneur. Her debut novel, Forever Today, will be released April 2019.

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Kimberly Glanzman > Flash Fiction > Kentucky, USA

Kimberly Glanzman teaches and studies literature and creative writing at the University of Kentucky, where she is pursuing her MFA. She works on The New Limestone Review. Her poetry has appeared in Iodine, Innisfree, and Kakalak. "Nets" is her first flash fiction publication.

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Linda H.Y. Hegland > Creative Nonfiction > Canada

Linda H.Y. Hegland is an award-winning lyric essay, creative nonfiction and poetry writer, and photographer who lives in Paradise, Nova Scotia. Both her writing and photos most often reflect the influence of place, and one’s complex and reciprocal relationship with it. She has published in numerous literary and art journals and has had work nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

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M.S. Rooney > Poetry > California, USA

M.S. Rooney lives in Sonoma, California, with poet Dan Noreen. Her work appears in journals, including Leaping Clear, Ekphrasis, Heron Tree, Naugatuck River Review and Panoply, and anthologies, including American Society: What Poets See (FutureCycle Press), edited by David Chorlton and Robert S. Kingand Ice Cream Poems (World Enough Writers), edited by Patricia Fargnoli. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Melissa Weiss > Poetry > Canada

Melissa Weiss studies Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in CV2, Prairie Fire, The Maynard, Sky Island Journal, and elsewhere, and placed second in Into the Void's 2017 Poetry Contest. Melissa co-edits One Button Press in Kelowna, British Columbia.

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Michelle McMillan-Holifield > Poetry > Mississippi, USA

Michelle McMillan-Holifield is a recent Best of the Net nominee. Her work has been included in or is forthcoming in Boxcar Poetry Review, Jabberwock Review, Sky Island Journal, Stirring, The Collagist, Toasted Cheese, Whale Road Review and Windhover among others. She hopes you one day find her poetry tacked to a tree somewhere in the Alaskan Wild. 

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Monica Nawrocki > Flash Fiction > Canada

Monica Nawrocki lives with her partner on a remote island off the west coast of Canada where Art is embraced as an essential and joyful part of daily life. She earns her living as a substitute teacher—often reading under-construction manuscripts to captive classroom audiences and happily impersonating someone different every day. She is the author of three books and her fiction and non-fiction pieces have appeared in various journals and anthologies in Canada and the U.S.

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Patricia Harriman > Creative Nonfiction > California, USA

Patricia Harriman is a writer, editor, and writing coach. She has an MFA from Chapman University.

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Pepper Trail > Poetry > Oregon, USA

Pepper Trail grew up outside.  His environmental writing appears regularly in High Country News, and his poetry has appeared in Rattle, Borderlands, Comstock Review, Atlanta Review, Kyoto Journal, CirqueWindfall, and elsewhere.  His collection, Cascade-Siskiyou: Poems, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.  He lives in Ashland, Oregon, where he works as a forensic biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Phillip Sterling > Flash Fiction > Michigan, USA

Phillip Sterling’s books include two poetry collections, And Then Snow and Mutual Shores, a collection of short fiction, In Which Brief Stories Are Told, and four chapbook-length series of poems. Having served as artist-in-residence for both Isle Royale National Park and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, he is the compiling editor of Isle Royale from the AIR: Poems, Stories, and Songs from 25 Years of Artists-in-Residence (Caffeinated Press). New stories can be found in Pacifica ReviewPermafrostFiction SoutheastOyster River PagesCloudbank, and The Best Small Fictions 2017.

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Robert Eastwood > Poetry > California, USA

Robert Eastwood’s work has appeared widely, most recently in The Bird’s Thumb, Up the Staircase Quarterly, The Peacock Journal, Steel Toe Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, Spry Literary Journal, Naugatuck River Review, 3Elements Review, Poet Lore, Sows Ear Poetry Review, and Triggerfish Critical Review. His chapbooks are The Welkin Gate, Over Plainsong, and Night of the Moth, by Small Poetry Press. His book Snare: was published in 2016 by Broadstone Books. His second book, Romer, published in 2018, is from Etruscan Press.

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Samantha Madway > Poetry > PENNSYLVANIA, USA

Samantha Madway is in the process of transcribing hundreds of pages of her writing from barely legible blue ink into reader-friendly Times New Roman type. She loves her dogs, Freddie, Charlie, Parker, Greta, and Davey, more than anything else in the universe. Her work has appeared in Remington ReviewFlexible PersonaVending Machine PressAfter the Pause, and elsewhere.

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Stacy W. Julin > Poetry > Utah, USA

Stacy W. Julin was off traveling and seeing beautiful things when she should have been in school.  She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, A Pebble Thrown in Water, published by Tiger's Eye Press, and recently Visiting Ghosts and Ground from Finishing Line Press (published under the name Stacy W. Dixon).  Her work has been published in Oyster River Pages, Pirene's Fountain, Sweet Tree Review, Southern Quill, Word Fountain, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  She lives in Utah with her three sons and their dog.

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Stephen Coates > Flash Fiction > Japan

Stephen Coates comes from New Zealand but is currently living in Japan. His stories have been published in Landfall, Takahe, Headland, and So It Goes

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Stephen Ground > Flash Fiction > Canada

Stephen Ground’s work has appeared in Dark Ink MagazineTypishlyFlumes Literary Journal, among others, and is forthcoming from The Flexible PersonaThe Sunlight Press, and Flash Fiction Magazine. A graduate of York University’s Theatre and Community Arts programs, he has migrated back to his hometown of Milton, Ontario after a seven-year retreat – first in Canada’s far North in a remote, fly-in community, then selling furniture in the prairielands. When not writing flash fiction, he spends his time hunched over his novel, taking breaks to pluck his mandolin and fret.

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Yoni Hammer-Kossoy > Poetry > Israel

Yoni Hammer-Kossoy’s poetry appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including most recently Stonecoast ReviewThe American Journal of PoetryRight Hand PointingThe Sunlight Press, and Songs of Eretz Poetry. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Yoni has lived in Jerusalem, Israel with his family for the last 20 years, and, when not writing, pays the bills as a software engineer.