John Hicks

It was freezing in Vicksburg. The sky was bright blue, banded with cirrus clouds. Up on the bluffs, in the military park, I saw the raised ironclad hulk of the USS Cairo for the first time. They picked it up from the bottom of the Yazoo River a few decades ago and built a museum around it.

There’s something that never gets old about seeing a big ship that’s been dragged up on land. In its day, the Cairo slithered down the river like a gigantic smoking robot alligator, blowing things to pieces. I imagine people ran the other way when they saw it.

Francis Illington

Describing—let alone defining—the act of death is a fool’s errand. After all, how does one speak of eternity, whether spent in unremembered inky nothingness or fluttering around on angelic wings?

Still, some of us come closer than others in peaking behind the epistemological, spiritual and otherwise cosmological curtain separating the living from the dead. I’ve always liked the term “the sweet hereafter,” even if it’s hard to beat German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who called death “the supreme festival on the road to freedom.”

Jimmy Gabacho

This is also important at a time when universities and colleges are experiencing economic pressure as well as increased competition for high performing students and a demand to provide “practical majors” that will bring a quick return on an educational investment. For a number of years, many of us have contended that students need to build their skills as competent thinkers, readers and writers. Clear thinking, reasoning, expression are necessary skills in any field, and I have yet to hear anyone argue the contrary.

Andrea Hewitt-Gibson

My daddy’s people have lived in Amite County, Mississippi for over 200 years–before Mississippi even had statehood.  I confirmed this over the past week as I have been researching genealogical records for my family tree.  Of course, my childhood was steeped in this Southern history and tradition–both good and bad (i.e., grits for breakfast and “never trust a Yankee.”).

Grant Bailie

“My darling pet,” the bald ghost said to the frightened masseuse. “Your arms are open to me, my sweetest lamb, but they are open like umbrellas. Please, do not interrupt me with your soft mews of protest, your dulcet screams, your gentle skittering into the darkest corner of this all too bright room. You cannot dissuade me from my purpose. Let us gambol in the daisies and then later, when he have had our fill of that, piss in the bushes. ”

Derek Bridges

Brady, Frank. End Game: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall–from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness. 2011. New York: Crown. (pp. 44-47)

As Bobby was becoming more involved in the world of chess, he attracted the attention of a wealthy and unusual man named E. Forry Laucks. A chess player himself, Laucks liked to surround himself with other players, many of them offbeat and highly talented. He was always generous to Regina [Fischer’s mother] with small amounts of money–$25 to $100–for tournament entry fees and other expenses. During the spring of 1956, Laucks gathered a group of chess players for a thirty-five-hundred mile motor trip through the southern United States and ultimately to Cuba, stopping off at towns and cities for a series of matches with local clubs.