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Ruskin and the Terrors of the Flesh


Even in the candles’ soft glow

he could see the flesh fall

soft the first time Effie loosed 

her gown. Her skin held nothing

of the smooth, cold stones he had

caressed in museums, her lines

ruined and heavy. And the hairs,

reaching out from every crevasse,

so needy and insistent. He had hoped

long hikes in the countryside

might tire them somehow,

but they always reached for him

in the dark, found his fingertips

with a greater desire than

his own. He could bring himself

to this point of confrontation

but could never venture far enough

into this dark to conquer any fears.

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Jack B. Bedell is Professor of English and Coordinator of Creative Writing at Southeastern Louisiana University where he also edits Louisiana Literature and directs the Louisiana Literature Press. Jack’s work has appeared in Southern Review, Pidgeonholes, The Shore, Okay Donkey, EcoTheo, The Hopper, Terrain, and other journals. His latest collection is Color All Maps New (Mercer University Press, 2021). He served as Louisiana Poet Laureate 2017-2019. 

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Robert Frank—now there was someone who could photograph a juke joint. Bobby Miller, on the other hand, is a librarian and amateur photographer. He has work forthcoming in Atticus Review and Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art. His website is With his wife, Sandie Friedman, he publishes a project combining photography and microfiction:

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