First Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
On April 23, 2011, during what is known in Mexico as Semana Santa — or “Holy Week” — I went swimming off of the coast of an abandoned beach at the edge of the northernmost jungle in the Americas, Los Tuxtlas, and a rip current sucked me out to sea.
Four other foreigners and I were the only people on the beach; we were a 20-minute hike from our rental vehicle and about an hour from the nearest town of Catemaco, a small lakeside pueblo known primarily for its shamans….
Second Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
In 1959 I was a nine-year-old freckled blond kid wearing a Red Sox little league hat just to the left of center, hungry for swings at wild pitches and the chase of impossible fly balls. On Saturdays after games, my father brought me to the newsroom where he worked as city desk editor for a small paper struggling to remain a daily….
Third Prize, 2013 Literal Latte Essay Award.
In April of 2011, at the age of 60, singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow died. When I heard the news, I walked into my hallway, and stared at the gold record of her album, Second Childhood, which hung on my wall. I floated back to when I first met Phoebe. In 1973, I had just become an assistant recording engineer at A & R Studios in New York….
I’m watching Inca and pre-Inca walls that have been standing for a thousand years get torn apart in a day. They were built carefully, with a purpose, by hands whose descendants now carry our water, chop our wood, and backfill our sites when we leave. They were homes and courtyards and places of worship. And we’re joking and tearing everything apart like clowns….
Second Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
When I think about my father, the picture that always comes to mind is him standing on the shore of Lake Erie against the distant Cleveland skyline. He watches the wind socks on the pier waving in the breeze, their streamers a rainbow contrast against the blurry city beyond. I imagine in his mind a single perpetual question: Is it going to be a good day for a sail?
First Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
On G8-East, an inpatient psychiatry unit at the West Haven VA hospital, it was time for team meeting. I scribbled the last of my therapy notes, tucked the pen and notebook under my arm, grabbed my sweater, and slipped a loaded key ring over my wrist….
Third Prize, 2012 Literal Latte Essay Award.
I’d always remembered Michael’s birthday, even when years and miles separated us, and when there it was in The New York Times death notices after his name, I knew it was him, my first love, beginning when I was fifteen….
Third Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
The round table at the coffee shop is covered with a dark green and tan cloth. The four chairs fill its arc on the side away from the wall. I’m on one end of the arc; my backpack and a white teddy bear named Snowball fill the next two chairs; and Amanda, a slight, elven-faced girl-child of ten, sits in the fourth chair….
Second Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
My friend, Robin, died recently. I drove across the country to visit her before she died, to remind her that her bravery made me brave. She seemed comforted by this thought, as much as you can be comforted when you know you’re going to die within a specific timeframe….
First Prize, 2011 Literal Latte Essay Award.
I sit in my shorts by an open window in Kentucky surrounded by a hundred sleeping monks. Beyond the monastery’s stone walls, beyond the dark scrabbled woods of hickory and oak, a dog barks at raccoons moving through the night, or at nothing at all, and the world settles back down into quiet….