Stephen Benz
A Bolero in Havana

Stephen Benz - A Bolero in Havana

Creative Nonfiction
Along with two books of travel essays—Guatemalan Journey (University of Texas Press) and Green Dreams: Travels in Central America (Lonely… Read more »
Jon Pearson
A Busload of Banjo Players

Jon Pearson - A Busload of Banjo Players

Creative Nonfiction
Jon Pearson is a writer, speaker, and artist. He has been published in numerous publications and was nominated for a… Read more »
Chris Souza
All Gratitude Being Mine

Chris Souza - All Gratitude Being Mine

Poetry
Chris Souza lives and works in Massachusetts. Previous publications include: Gulf Coast, Bellingham Review, Connecticut Review, New Delta Review, West… Read more »
Nathan Alling Long
Asleep

Nathan Alling Long - Asleep

Fiction
Nathan Alling Long lives in Philadelphia and teaches creative writing and literature at Stockton University. His work appears in over… Read more »
JJ Mitchell
Dead Letter Drop

JJ Mitchell - Dead Letter Drop

Poetry
JJ Mitchell is an essayist who writes widely on environmental and socio-political issues for the Huffington Post and other publications.… Read more »
Fredric Sinclair
Holy Water

Fredric Sinclair - Holy Water

Fiction
Fredric Sinclair grew up in Connecticut and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in… Read more »
Caitlin Mullen
Ice Fishing

Caitlin Mullen - Ice Fishing

Fiction
Caitlin Mullen is a first year student in the Stony Brook Southampton MFA program. She received an MA in English… Read more »
Leila Chatti
Narcissus Brings Me Flowers

Leila Chatti - Narcissus Brings Me Flowers

Poetry
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and received her MFA in poetry from North Carolina State University. The recipient of… Read more »
Jessica Goodfellow
Nocturne without Counterexample

Jessica Goodfellow - Nocturne without Counterexample

Poetry
Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Mendeleev’s Mandala (Mayapple Press, 2015) and The Insomniac’s Weather Report (Isobar Press, 2014). Recipient of the… Read more »
Chris Harding Thornton
Providence

Chris Harding Thornton - Providence

Poetry
Chris Harding Thornton is a seventh-generation Nebraskan who writes fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. She holds a BFA in creative… Read more »
Peter LaBerge
Smoking Magnum, 1991

Peter LaBerge - Smoking Magnum, 1991

Poetry
Peter LaBerge is the author of the chapbook Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015), recently included on the American Library Association’s… Read more »
Merrill Oliver Douglas
Summer, in My Early Twenties

Merrill Oliver Douglas - Summer, in My Early Twenties

Poetry
Merrill Oliver Douglas lives in Vestal, NY, where she does freelance writing for trade magazines, university publications, businesses and nonprofits.… Read more »
Lisa Grove
There Are More Storm Clouds than What You See Outside Your Window

Lisa Grove - There Are More Storm Clouds than What You See Outside Your Window

Poetry
Lisa Grove’s poems and translations have appeared in Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, A cappella Zoo, and elsewhere. She lives in… Read more »
Christopher Green
We Are V

Christopher Green - We Are V

Fiction
Christopher Green currently lives in Brooklyn, where he also hosts a monthly fiction reading series, The Prose Bowl, and its… Read more »
Robyn Anspach
What Barren Means

Robyn Anspach - What Barren Means

Poetry
Robyn Anspach has an MFA from University of Michigan. She currently works as a data analyst at Google. Read more »

A Bolero in Havana

Stephen Benz

Havana was easily the most affable and unpredictable place I had ever been. As I walked around the city, it seemed I was constantly falling into conversations—chance encounters that inevitably altered my plans and led me in unexpected directions.

Case in point: I was walking along the Malecón, the photogenic seaside boulevard that gives Havana much of its visual identity, when a peanut vendor intercepted my path. He greeted me like an old friend, calling me compañero and asking about my activities for the day. Shortly into my Havana visit I had learned to welcome these encounters. No need for the usual tourist leeriness: Habaneros are innately curious and outgoing, an attitude worth emulating. So I stopped to chat with the peanut vendor.

I had just left my hotel, I told him, pointing to the Riviera a block away, and now I was on my way to the Cementerio Colón to see its famously ornate mausoleums and vaults. The peanut vendor approved of my intention to visit the cemetery (and advised me not to miss the firefighters’ memorial therein), but he did not approve of the hotel. The Riviera was, in his view, much too expensive and not sufficiently Cuban.… Read more »