A journal of narrative writing.

While our new year's resolutions may wane as we pine for longer days and lush garden bounties, we here at Conte are ebullient despite Old Man Winter, for the work in issue 8.2 (our eighteenth!) is among the best we've ever had the pleasure to publish.

The eight poems here comprise a more modest offering of verse than our summer issue, but they present a remarkable attention to craft and voice nonetheless. We open with Stephen Lackaye's lyrical and ponderous “Beyond the Hall of Music,” which is followed by Vandana Khanna's somber “Mantra for a New Bride,” a poem that deftly interrogates identity, love, and culture despite its comparative brevity. Next comes the gallows humor of Nicole Robinson's “Letter to Shame” and the rich mythos of Cyndle Plaisted Rials' “Achilles Tangled in Sheets.” The ekphrastic “Michelangelo, Pieta” is a testament to the plainspoken elegance of Peter Cooley, one of our favorite contemporary poets, and it precedes the buoyancy of Karen Schubert's maternal “My Son Springs.” Finally, we close this issue with “Via Negativa”—an evocative spiritual meditation from the always brilliant Bruce Bond—and “The Next Glory,” an epic historical monologue by returning contributor Ken Poyner.

Our prose selections begin with Amee Schmidt’s “Bait or Flight,” a tale filled with very unusual characters whose lives are anything but mudane. The filter of their experience helps throw the pathos of the ordinary problems they face - as do we all - into stark relief. Next up is “At Brokmeyer’s House” by Claude Clayton Smith, a slowly unravelling yarn of a weekend abroad, whose threads snare us deeper into the complexities of our calamities the further it unwinds. Lastly, we're proud to feature Ronald Land’s “Charlie Benson Sees the Ocean,” a sober story about a less-than-sober and more-than-hapless codger who stumbles through a break in his lonely existence like a sasquatch tripping backwards through a cave full of spiderwebs. If that makes any sense.

So grab a cup of cocoa, dear reader, and snuggle up with your softest quilt. We have a few more blustery weeks to endure, but perhaps these poems and stories will keep you warm until all the geese soar back.

Adam, Robert, & Eric