September 20, 2008

Christine Wideman, R.N.


must be a howling full moon tonight because everybody is streaming through my hospital and just howling crazy after 15 years in this job there isn’t much that surprises me anymore lets face it being sick brings out the very best and absolute worst in patients and their families and it all comes to a head in intensive care.

take poor grandma here in bed-one with a little bit of dementia at home but she’s mostly functional in her own normal environment but two days in the hospital with a heart attack have taken their toll and knocked her for a loop so i find her standing stark naked at the side of her bed with a river of poop yup poop that’s what we call it running down her leg she is holding the end of her iv tube in her mouth with one hand and staring at the trickle of blood from the bleeding iv insert site on the other hand i’m going home she says this hose isn’t putting out enough water for my flowers she holds the iv tube out to me it’s flooding onto the floor here she smiles you take it oh my God honey what in the world are you doing did you have to go to the bathroom here let me help you are you ok are you in any pain are you in any pain oh no dear she answers there hasn’t been any rain oh damn i think and glance at her ears empty God only knows what she did with her hearing aids now she’s totally confused sun downing and stone deaf too great don the nursing assistant comes to my rescue and 20 minutes later she is cleaned up and put back together we are both hoarse from screaming at her she still wants to know when she can leave her sister’s basement and go home.


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September 6, 2008

Christine Stewart-Nuñez

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Pretend one language is all you speak, so the swirl of vowels,
edge of consonants around you turn to cacophony. Home
is thousands of miles away. Familiar syllables float by, lost
in air heavy with sweat. Four thousand shops along labyrinthine alleys
and your group has evaporated into the crowd like cigarette smoke.
Men shout “hookahs! kilims!”—words lost in your ear.
You’re too new, but “come in for tea” pulls at your full purse.
All salesmen look the same: brown slacks, white button-downs,
dimply grins. They want you, or seem to, eyes boring into your body.
The rush only lasts twice. One wants to sell a hookah with its limp pipe
curling over its glass tube like the neck of an alien bird. You find
yourself haggling. You don’t even smoke. You just came here to sightsee.
Next it’s a gold chain two centimeters thick, some platinum rings
set with emeralds and amethysts. Something more reasonably priced
turns out to be moonstones that look like a child’s drawing of a flower.
Each time you turn a corner or veer down a left fork you end up at a store
selling boxes inlaid with mother-of-pearl or painted with men
on horses clashing with other men, both with uplifted spears.
The moustached man promises a deal on a yellow leather jacket
if you don’t want a box. Suddenly you want a box and a set
of ceramic tiles. Organza embroidered with butterflies and roses
as souvenir gifts, perhaps a carpet woven in Bergama—hand-dyed
with chamomile, madder, indigo. You begin to haggle and he laughs
when you suggest half. Unbuttoning your shirt a notch knocks off
a million lira—ten bucks. The clerk’s assistant runs for a bigger
shopping bag, but it’s time. You imagine your group standing
at the ferry platform, your name on their lips. You depart
empty-handed with the taste of tea leaves on your tongue.

from Rattle #28, Winter 2007

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March 2, 2001

350+ Poets Read Their Work


As much as we loved providing an audio CD for issue #27’s Tribute to Slam, we didn’t want page poets to be left out. The tradition of public readings is central to contemporary poetry, whose medium, we’ve always felt, isn’t the page, but rather the breath itself. Here is an opportunity to listen to poems as the authors intended them to sound, in their own voice.

Any poems that have appeared in Rattle are eligible, and this archive will be updated regularly. If you are a poet who we’ve published, and would like to be included, email us to ask how. We also plan on adding audio clips from recent and upcoming interviews—keep an eye on this page for updates.

Poet Title  
NEW! Leslie Marie Aguilar Poem for the Educated Black Woman …
Christeene Alcosiba What Remains Is Given Up to the Fire
Pia Aliperti Boiler
Dick Allen from The Zen Master Poems
David Alpaugh Strip Taze
David Alpaugh Space Monkey
Arlene Ang Tonsillitis
Arlene Ang A Driving Student Adjusts the Seat
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Op-Ed for the Sad Sack Review
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz At the Office Holiday Party
NEW! Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz Things That Happen During Pet-Sitting …
Robert Archambeau The People’s Republic of Sleepless…
James Arthur Sad Robots
Matthew Babcock Passage
Kathleen Balma Roadkill on the Path to Salvation
Li Bai Alone on Mount Jingting
Caleb Barber I Went in With My Hands Up
John Wall Barger Three Photos of Jayne Mansfield
Tony Barnstone Jack Logan, Fighting Airman
Tony Barnstone Bad Usage
Tony Barnstone Why I’m Not a Carpenter
Tony Barnstone The Truth Is That He Never
Tony Barnstone Young Woman Drinking…
NEW! Ellen Bass How I Became Miss America
Michele Battiste Once More, With Feeling
Grace Bauer Our Waitress’s Marvelous Legs
Ruth Bavetta Elegy for My 1958 Volkswagen
Michael Bazzett The Usefulness of Marriage
NEW! Michael Bazzett The Last Expedition
Francesca Bell With a Little Education
Francesca Bell Narrow Openings
Heather Bell Love Letter to the Gulf Coast Oil Spill
Lytton Bell Jane’s Heartbreak Yard Sale
Marvin Bell from A Conversation with Marvin Bell
Karen Benke Joyride
NEW! C. Wade Bentley Storytelling
NEW! Roy Bentley Ringo Starr Answers Questions …
Kristin Berkey-Abbott Currencies
F.J. Bergmann Uses of Metaphor
Gregory Betts Lingers Tear Gas
Darla Biel When My Ex Called in Sick
Michelle Bitting Mammary
NEW! Michael Blaine Jayus
Laurie Blauner The Hit Man Absentmindedly…
Laurie Blauner Peculiar Crimes
Sally Bliumis-Dunn Meaning
Sally Bliumis-Dunn Gratitude
Michael Boccardo Weighing In
Bruce Bond Boo
Jan Bottiglieri Dear Atlas,
Russell Bradbury-Carlin Rooms Change When We Argue
Amanda J. Bradley To Thomas Pynchon Regarding...
Myra Binns Bridgforth 3PM Clients Must Not Be Boring
Rachael Briggs Singularity
Traci Brimhall At a Party on Ellis Island, Watching…
J. Scott Brownlee City Limits
Grace Bruenderman Piraha
Andrea Hollander Budy Eating Mashed Potatoes
Andrea Hollander Budy Delta Flight 1152
Andrea Hollander Budy Field Hospital
Chris Bullard Back Story
Jane Byers Baseball
Patricia Callan Clearking at the Ideal Laundry
Allison Campbell What to Know
Marlon O. Carey Every Element Is Relevant
Wendy Taylor Carlisle Circus
Pablo Garcia Casado Dinner (tr. by Chris Michalski, performed by The CS Field Trio)
Grace Cavalieri Why They Stayed Together
David Cavanagh Fugue
David Cazden The Joy of Cooking School
Sam Cheuk Dramaturgy
Rohan Chhetri Not the Exception
NEW! Michael Chitwood Summer Job
Teresa Mei Chuc Playground
Antonia Clark Famous Last Words
Martha Clarkson How She Described Her Ex-Husband…
Thomas Cochran Fishing
Cathryn Cofell Leaves of Grass/Suicide/Psychic Hotlines
Brendan Constantine So God Will Know You
Anne Coray Call it Love
Anne Coray Letter From a Brother
Claudia Cortese Sarah’s Mother Makes Her Long Dresses…
Nina Corwin Speaking of Tongues
Steven Coughlin Another City
Hope Coulter Morning Haul
Sage Cohen What’s Wrong With
Chris Crawford So Gay
Kelly Cressio-Moeller Waiting for Charon in the ER
Barbara Crooker The Fifties
Barbara Crooker Question Mark and the Mysterians
Nika Cruz Under the Shadows
Paul F. Cummins Undercover
Jim Daniels Lip Gloss, Belgium
Carol V. Davis Salt
David M. deLeon Not Everything I Do Is Magic
Paul Dickey Wheat State Salvation
Michael Diebert Retail
Kim Dower Why People Really Have Dogs
Kim Dower How Was Your Weekend,
NEW! Kim Dower Boob Job
Caitlin Doyle Backward Sonnet for a Forward Thinker
James Doyle The Flippant Zeitgeist
Stevie Edwards What I Mean by Ruin Is…
Sally Ehrman Magic on the Other Side of This
Meaghan Elliott How to Drown Kittens in 1958
Ray Emanuel 4% of Everything or Nothing
Alejandro Escudé Précis
Rhina P. Espaillat Familiar Faces
Anna Evans Crash
Anna Evans Feeling Compassion for Others
NEW! R.G. Evans The Things That Mother Said
Robert Fanning Watching My Daughter Through the One-Way …
Joseph Fasano Mahler in New York
Joseph Fasano North Country
Patricia Fargnoli Fun
Doris Ferlinger Lookists
Michael Ferris Think of the Children!
Megan Fernandes The Flight to Sacramento
Brian Fitzpatrick Sleep Half Sleep (Silence) with Reasons
Charlene Fix Dear FSG
NEW! Kelly Fordon Tell Me When It Starts to Hurt
Linda Nemec Foster Playground
Linda Nemec Foster The Dream of Trees
Drew Foti-Straus Film Color, 1950
Alan Fox Silk Woman
Matthew Gavin Frank After Senza Titolo, 1964
Catherine Freeling The Robbery
Cal Freeman Farrier
Joy Gaines Friedler Assisted Living
Katie F-S Two Bits
Peter Funk The Town Drunk’s Last Stand
Gary Gach Haiku
Jeannine Hall Gailey I Forgot to Tell You the Most Important…
Jeannine Hall Gailey Advice Given to Me Before My Wedding
Jeannine Hall Gailey Elemental
Kay Putney Gantt What Difference Could We Make
Rhonda Ganz Cryogenesis
Conrad Geller The Coyote in the Graveyard
Conrad Geller The Destination
Kristin George Bagnadov Holding Light
Dan Gerber On My Seventieth Birthday
Maria Mazziotti Gillan Shame Is the Dress I Wear
Maria Mazziotti Gillan The Cedar Keepsake Box
Ted Gilley The People Across the Street
Valentina Gnup We Speak of August
Idris Goodwin Why Do They Call Bill Clinton the First…
Myles Gordon The Beat Goes On
Jack Granath After the Japanese
Chris Green My Brother Buries His Dog
Timothy Green Cooking Dinner
Sonia Greenfield Sago, West Virginia
Benjamin S. Grossberg The Space Traveler’s Moon
Albert Haley Barcelona
Sam Hamill Eyes Wide Open (credits)
Sam Hamill On Being Invited to Submit…
francine j. harris Katherine with the lazy eye. short…
Mark D. Hart Incompetence
Lola Haskins The Fruit Detective
Lola Haskins Creek Light
Penny Harter Blue Sky
Robert Haynes On the Rule of SB-1070
Rebecca Hazelton Elise as Android …
Jamey Hecht First Divorce
Susan L. Helwig What Need or Duty
Donna C. Henderson Tinnitus
Donna Henderson Shenpa
Patrick Hicks Sitting on the Berlin Wall
NEW! David Brendan Hopes James Dickey Died Owing Me a Bar Tab
Amorak Huey Rock J. Squirrel Goes Alone …
NEW! Amorak Huey Mick Jagger’s Penis Turns 69
David James How to Make Amends
David James The Famous Outlaw
Lesley Jenike A Golden Retirement
NEW! Edison Jennings Blue Plate Special
NEW! Edison Jennings Brown Eyed Girl
Luke Johnson The Hearth, Like a Bocce Ball
NEW! Joel F. Johnson Oakbrook Estates
Allan Johnston Waitress
Zilka Joseph Puzzle
Zilka Joseph Waiting Inside
Bo Juyi Springtime in Loyang
Courtney Kampa Avante-Garde
Courtney Kampa The Miscarriage
Courtney Kampa Self-Portrait by Someone Else
Sean Karns Jar of Pennies
Glenn Kletke Sledding
Deborah P. Kolodji Basho After Cinderella
Danusha Laméris Arabic
Sara E. Lamers November
Eugenia Leigh Destination: Beautiful
M.L. Liebler Underneath My American Face
Diane Lockward The Mathematics of Your Leaving
Sandy Longhorn Self-Portrait: November
Gregory Loselle from The Whole of Him Collected, #10
Bob Lucky Wouldn’t You Confess?
Krista Lukas Patio Tomatoes
Alison Luterman Say Yes to the Dress
Alison Luterman Big Naked Man
M While My Mother Rots in Memory Care…
M Salt
M To a Husband Saved by Death at 48
M For Those Who Never Know …
Taylor Mali What Teachers Make
Charles Manis Flu Season and A Living Will
David T. Manning Not My World
Michelle Margolis The Blessings of Dreams
Bruce McBirney Midnight
Stephen McDonald Flow
Glenn McKee A Beauty Spot
Glenn McKee Another Night Nobody Came Alive
Michael Meyerhofer Pasteurization
Devon Miller-Duggan Old Blue
Mario Milosevic You Don’t Know Because You’ve…
NEW! Annie Mountcastle Labor
Mathias Nelson Dip My Pacifier in Whiskey
Mathias Nelson I Only Dance for My Mother
Harry Newman Early Snow
Harry Newman Primitives
Hannah Faith Notess To the Former Self in Art Class
Judith Tate O’Brien Sawdust
Loretta Obstfeld My Life with Jeff Goldblum …
Grace Ocasio Ars Poetica
John Paul O’Connor Breakfast
John Paul O’Connor Beans
John Paul O’Connor Stone City
William O’Dalyfeaturing music by Louis Valentine Johnson To the Antiphonlist
Wendy Oleson Eat Your M&M
Jason Olsen My Best Friend’s Wife
Brett Ortler What the Dead Tell Us About Charon
Todd Outcalt Ont he First Anniversary of His Wife’s…
NEW! Jeremy Dae Paden After My Copy of Levertov’s …
Nancy Pagh Spring Salmon at Night
Molly Peacock from A Conversation with Molly Peacock
Robert Peake Road Sign on Interstate 5
Joel Peckham Body Memory
Kate Peper Don’t You Miss the Phone Booth–
Jennifer Perrine Home Visit: Danny
Jennifer Perrine Home Visit: Jenny
Jessica Piazza Panophilia
Patrick M. Pilarski Your Village
Marilyn Gear Pilling The Dog
Donald Platt Caddy
Christine Poreba Between Missing and Found
Jack Powers Rob Smuniewski Is Dead
Ken Poyner The Robotics Problem
Catherine Esposito Prescott To a Hurricane
Richard Prins The God Zoo
NEW! Melissa Queen Learn to Sail with Your Dad
Peg Quinn When the Buddha Farmed Nebraska
Saara Myrene Raappana A Battleship Examines Its Faith
Doug Ramspeck Bottomlands Widow
Jessy Randall Poetry Comic #1
Jessy Randall Poetry Comic #2
Dian Duchin Reed Holy Cats
Richard Robbins The Tattooed Woman
Kirk Robinson The Breaks
NEW! Larry Rogers Mr. Rescue
David Romtvedt American Election
Rachel Rose What We Heard About the Americans
Rachel Rose What We Heard About the Canadians
E. Shaun Russell Archetypes
Michael Salcman The Night Before
Hayden Saunier Self-Portrait with the Smithfield Ham…
Hayden Saunier The One and the Other
Jacob Scheier Single Man’s Song
NEW! Barbara Schmitz Pretty Sure
Jan Seabaugh Czechs Mix
Diane Seuss What Is at the Heart of It…
Glenn Shaheen Feral Cats
Glenn Shaheen Chinese Spies
Lee Sharkey Berlioz
Michael Shea Letter to a Young Bombmaker
Thadra Sheridan After the Bowling Stopped
Carrie Shipers Apology for Being Small
Heidi Shuler Trials of a Teenage Transvestite’s Single Mother
Jinen Jason Shulman Constellation
Paul Siegell 6.22.00 – PHiSH – Alltel Pavilion, NC
Martha Silano What the Grad Students Said
Martha Silano La Gioconda
Karen Skolfield Ode to the Fan
Mary McLaughlin Slechta The Hour of Our Belief
Marc Kelly Smith I Wanted to Be
Patricia Smith Building Nicole’s Mama
Laurence Snydal Eye in the Sky
Ephraim Scott Sommers To Myself as a Statue in Central Park
Lianne Spidel Ambassador Bridge
Terry Spohn Shelf Life
John L. Stanizzi Defiantly
John L. Stanizzi S-Plan
Jill Stein Lunch with My Parents
NEW! Lolita Stewart-White If Only
Paul Suntup Olive Oil
NEW! Sarah Sweeney Tripping at the NC State Cultural Fair
Carol A. Taylor A Fading Memory
Abigail Templeton U.S. Unemployed Jumps to 12.5 Million
Mark Terrill Ways In, Ways Out
Jamie Thomas 1973
Davey Thompson & Cameron Tully The Chair
Lynne Thompson Overheard at Starbucks
Lynne Thompson Lament: I Am Implication
Lynne Thompson Psalm for Working Women
Melinda Thomsen Major League Salaries
Deborah Tobola Dream/Time
Emma Törzs Watching Fireworkds Alone
Emily Kagan Trenchard This Is the Part of the Story I’d Rather Not Tell
Brian Trimboli Things My Son Should Know…
Ann Tweedy Nature Essay
R.A. Villanueva Teacher’s Prayer
Vance Voyles After
NEW! William Walsh The Movie Star’s Secret
Thom Ward The Invention of How
Thom Ward The Thing in Question
Charles Harper Webb BLACKDOOG™
Lesley Wheeler Rim Walkers
Lesley Wheeler Science Fiction
Laurelyn Whitt Bunahan
Marcus Wicker Self Dialogue Reading Etheridge Knight
Ian Williams Hero
Martin Willitz, Jr. Pacific Dogwood
L. Lamar Wilson Dreamboys
NEW! Matthew Wimberley Tabula Rasa
Jessica Young Instructions Included with Telescope
Michael T. Young The Risk of Listening to Brahms
Natalie Young Discussing Earth’s Insects

January 1, 2001

Tribute to Speculative Poetry

Conversations with
Rhina P. Espaillat & Timothy Steele


Rattle #38

So much of contemporary poetry is self-oriented, pseudo-biographical, and set in something like the present reality that it’s easy to forget that poetry doesn’t have to be so grounded—and that the current dominance of psychological realism is far from the historical norm. In fact, the oldest poems we still have—the ancient epics of Gilgamesh, the Mahabarata, the Iliad, and so on—might all be described by an impartial observer as  “speculative.” King Gilgamesh himself may have been a historical figure, but the gods and goddess, the wild man Enkidu, and the monstrous Humbaba are all pure imagination. Think of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or The Faerie Queen.

This is what we mean by “speculative,” a term often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein as a broader alternative to science fiction. Whether poetry or prose, speculative writing always creates a new world. Suzette Haden Elgin, founder of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, defines speculative poetry succinctly as writing “about a reality that is in some way different from the existing reality.” This includes science fiction (whether hard or soft), fantasy, horror, supernatural, superhero, utopian, dystopian, apocalyptic, alternate history, and anything else along those lines that’s yet to be defined.

But why speculate on what might be speculative? As always, we put out a call for submissions, this time for “otherworldly” subjects, and let the community of writers dictate where the boundaries might be. The result is the 50-page feature section—35 poems culled from some 10,000 offerings. A Viking party, broken up by police. A slime mold’s singularity. Alien frat boys. A garden of words that give weeds a whole new meaning. Androids, asteroids, X-Men. In one poem, never-ending stairs appear in a hole outside of town. In another, Rocket J. Squirrel goes (alone) to couples therapy.

Clearly this is a journey somewhere strange, which raises the question: Why embark at all? Isn’t speculative writing just a form of escapist genre fiction—daydreams of another world that help us avoid addressing this one? Quite often that does seem to be the case. Countless submissions constructed vast and bizarre universes with the deftest of verse, but left us wondering, what for? Other poems, though—those that follow, and more—managed the transformative magic that makes real poetry. They say what cannot be said another way; they construct new worlds in response to the confines of this one. They make what’s strange, and leave you feeling changed. And unlike the real world, it’s never a dull ride.

Issue #38 also includes a large selection of open poetry, interviews with formalists Rhina P. Espaillat and Timothy Steele, and the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize winners. In addition to the $5,000 winner, Heidi Shuler’s “Trials of a Teenage Transvestite’s Single Mother,” subscribers are invited to vote for the first annual $1,000 Readers’ Choice Award from among the finalists.

$10.00 $7.00


Audio Available = audio available

Speculative Poetry

Burt Beckmann Howie Night Dróttkvaett
Audio Available Kristin Berkey-Abbott Currencies
Ash Bowen The Astronaut Explains Divorce to Me
Audio Available Rachael Briggs Singularity
Chris Bullard How We Knew Them
Audio Available Jeannine Hall Gailey Elemental
Audio Available Rhonda Ganz Cryogenesis
Audio Available Conrad Geller The Destination
Kim Goldberg Green Thumb
Audio Available Benjamin S. Grossberg The Space Traveler’s Moon
Audio Available Penny Harter Blue Sky
Audio Available Rebecca Hazelton Elise as Android …
Audio Available Amorak Huey Rocket J. Squirrel Goes Alone …
John Philip Johnson Stairs Appear in a Hole Outside of Town
Audio Available Deborah P Kolodji Bashō After Cinderella
David Kutz-Marks Seraph
John Laue The Poetic States of America
Michael Lee The Taking of Lead
Ben McClendon In Case of Unrest
Ken Meisel Reminiscences
Dave Nielsen Police Report
Aimee Parkison The Creature
Audio Available Ken Poyner The Robotics Problem
Audio Available Richard Prins The God Zoo
Marilee Richards One Possibility
Howard Rosenberg Unprepared for the Afterlife
Noel Sloboda Self-Portrait as a Raccoon
Audio Available Laurence Snydal Eye in the Sky
Claire Wahmanholm Rooms, Atoms
BJ Ward Wolverine the X-Man Kisses
Audio Available Charles Harper Webb Blackdoog
Audio Available Lesley Wheeler Science Fiction
Corrie Williamson Xanthus, Achilles’ Immortal Warhorse …
Shangrila Willy What to Say When Your Baby Sister …
Audio Available Natalie Young Discussing Earth Insects


Ruth Awad Inheritance
Audio Available Ruth Bavetta Elegy for My 1958 Volkswagen
Audio Available Patricia Callan Clerking at the Ideal Laundry
Audio Available Sage Cohen What’s Wrong With
Audio Available Rhina P. Espaillat Familiar Faces
Audio Available Robert Fanning Watching My Daughter…
Audio Available Doris Ferleger Lookists
Audio Available Megan Fernandes The Flight to Sacramento
Alan Fox Together
Audio Available Ted Gilley The People Across the Street
Beth Gylys Second Marriage
Eloise Klein Healy Spitball
Audio Available Edison Jennings Blue Plate Special
Audio Available Glenn Kletke Sledding
Joanne Koong Clockwork Conjectures
Richard Krohn Pancakes
Audio Available Danusha Laméris Arabic
Daniel J. Langton Bosnia
Audio Available Bob Lucky Wouldn’t You Confess?
Audio Available Michael Meyerhofer Pasteurization
Audio Available Loretta Obstfeld My Life with Jeff Goldblum …
Christopher Presfield Morning Riff
David Rosenthal Pretty Pair
Anele Rubin A Man on the Subway
Justin Runge History
Audio Available Barbara Schmitz Pretty Sure
Mather Schneider The Mermaid of South Mark Road
Phil Shils Patient Encounter
Audio Available Martha Silano La Gioconda
M. Jeanne Skvarla Some Degree of Shameful Relief
Sarah Pemberton Strong Another Thing That Amazes Me
Audio Available Emma Törzs Watching Fireworks Alone
Audio Available Jessica Young Instructions Included with Telescope

Poetry Prize Winner

Audio Available Heidi Shuler Trials of a Teenage Transvestite’s Single Mother


Audio Available Lytton Bell Jane’s Heartbreak Yard Sale
John Brehm Time Out
Norma Chapman My 1930 Model A Ford
Audio Available Kim Dower “How Was Your Weekend,”
Anna Evans Zeitgeber
Audio Available Catherine Freeling The Robbery
David Hernandez Dear Proofreader
Audio Available Krista Lukas Patio Tomatoes
M For Those Who Never Know …
Kenny Williams The Return


Rhina P. Espaillat
Timothy Steele






























Other links of interest to RATTLE readers:

Errors or omissions? Email Timothy Green: