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Dear SmokeLong Friends,

art by Marty D. Ison
artwork by Marty D. Ison
Spring for me begins when 1:59:59 becomes, in the next second, 3:00 AM. That lost hour. I've always loved it, been fascinated by it. Kind of like what happens to words when they're deleted. It's a rebirth, but there's something of death in that hour, too.

I like to think of stories beginning out of such a place, the way spring does. There's Tara Laskowski's Louie the Hamster, "scratching behind the walls in the kitchen after everyone has left." That apartment "next to mine" of Scott Garson's "Seattle Gymnopédie" inhabited by "a single mother whose name was Natalie." There's Sarah Black's barista, "that kid…sweet as a Twinkie."

That grandfather of Tiff Holland's "Scrapple"—"a doughboy, then a paratrooper." Shane Goth's "One Night at Crobar" begins with "the girl's fishnet stockings"; Jen Michalski's "Roots," with "the grandmother [who] didn't like fireworks much." Smith and Jones "dip their lines in the water and soon begin pulling up slimy bluegills one after another" (Thomas Cooper "Bluegills"). And on his patio, Charles Lennox's "the man" picks up his doormat and shakes it, unaware of all that might fall out.

Darby Larson's cellmate "spits, says, what's outside?" In another prison, the uncle of John Riley's "By Saturday, We'd Be Singing" lives "part-time…in a cell with a blanket, pillow, and towel." In a garage, Uncle Joe "stays up all night downing Monster Energy drinks... shredding on Guitar Hero III."

It is "the time when all the restaurants started closing" (Tim Jones-Yelvington "What If the Dungeon Closes"). A woman "slide[s] down into the tan leather of [a] Monte Carlo" (Heather McDonald "A Witnessing at the K&W Cafeteria"). It's "the day after the avalanche, [and] snowflakes [flutter] like bugs (Ania Vesenny "At the Foot of the Mountain").

It's night and someone is at work, "always uncertain whether he'd let the day slip by or was getting a jump on the next" (Edmond Caldwell "Night Vision").

Others bed "down on the main mall floor, between a COKE box-machine and a PHOTOS box-machine (Gregory Napp "Turtle Creek").

Somewhere a walk "out into the foggy dawn…hands cradling a mug of hot coffee" (Susannah Pabot "Prey).

Spring, as they say, has sprung, and springs and sprung maybe have something to do with clocks, the lost hour of dreams, seemingly unrecoverable, until someone writes it all down, wielding commas like ninja stars (Samuel Lee).

Happy spring,



Randall Brown
Lead Editor, SmokeLong Quarterly

March 18, 2009
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