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Eden Bailie

Followed by Bio and Q&A

not quite ripe yet

standing taller than five foot will be a pill

for my bones to swallow at this age

so i hold adulthood in my palm, knowing i can’t

just crush it and eat it in a spoonful of


instead i thumb through germs of thoughts, if coffee didn’t wake us up, no one would drink


california is too hot for me, i don’t give myself enough credit for surviving my childhood,

i’m so glad my middle name isn’t marie

and i picture myself marrying new york at seventeen in a cherry red dress, and thinking,

how wonderful it is to be a woman!


Eden Bailie is an author and writing student from Pennsylvania. She’s been previously published in magazines such as Lithium, Typehouse, and Foliate Oak. She loves her cat, her record player, and art, in all its strange forms.  


I used to take the bus to New York City alone a lot, and it became a sort of ritual for me. This piece is about adolescence, femininity, and the false sense of adulthood that the city gave me.


What is your favorite infomercial and/or spokesperson?

There was a man named Billy Mays who used to be the spokesperson for OxiClean. His commercials were mostly just him screaming and dramatically displaying bottles of cleaning products.

Freshwater or saltwater?

Freshwater. I grew up spending a lot of time in lakes & creeks.

What language do you not speak but wish you could?

Italian. My great-grandparents are Sicilian, and the sound of Italian reminds me of being a toddler.

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Emily Robidoux

Followed by Bio and Q&A

I’ve Always Wanted to Know More About Scientology

One time I even filled out a survey online about it. It took several hours. It became about finishing. When I got to the end of the survey, I hit the submit button. A white screen flashed, it might have said congratulations but maybe I made that up. There was a small black address. I was supposed to go to the small black address to pick up the results for my scientology survey. The address was in Indiana & I lost interest in scientology altogether. Last time I was in Indiana I was robbed at knifepoint, alone, in the falling afternoon. I never told anybody that, just bought a new wallet & got over it. But the worst part about Indiana besides the knives & scientology surveys is that you live there, in the Greenwood apartment buildings, & I’m afraid you’re still wearing my sweater.


Emily Robidoux is an aspiring poet currently residing in Rhode Island and working at the University of Gastroenterology. Through her writing she attempts to use precise language to relay the joy and the trauma, the mundane and the exceptional experiences of everyday life. In addition to writing, she enjoys creating visual art. Her work first appeared in the July 2018 issue of Glass Poetry. She is truly excited to be a part of Prime Number Magazine.


In college, my friend signed me up to receive emails about joining the Church of Scientology—in retaliation for signing her up for a “Farmers Mingle” dating app. The emails were relentless. Eventually, and out of curiosity, my friend and I decided to fill out a survey that was supposed to tell us how exactly we'd fit in with the other Scientologists. The survey took hours to complete. When we'd finished, my friend hit the submit button and was met with the crushing news that we would not be receiving the results of this tedious survey in our twin beds in our crappy dorms in the middle of Western Massachusetts, but that we would in fact have to travel to Indiana. But it wasn't just Indiana, it was Greenwood, Indiana, where my ex-girlfriend lived.


What is your favorite infomercial and/or spokesperson?

My favorite informercials are anything that have to do with hair removal products. I love the dramatized versions of painful hair removal, and then the satisfying resolution of a hairless chin or upper lip.

Freshwater or saltwater?

I'd definitely pick saltwater over freshwater any day. I grew up in the “Ocean State” so I spend a lot of time at the beach. I feel like when I'm sloshing around in the ocean I'm the cleanest person in the world.

What language do you not speak but wish you could?

I'd love to be able to speak a made-up or fantasy language, something a little indulgent and relatively useless, just to have a little fun.

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Noel Sloboda

Followed by Bio and Q&A


Mom unclenches her fists
and nickels and pennies
clatter across Formica

between empty plates,
part of our weekly ritual,
when I snatch the bill,

when she insists on picking up
the tip before I drive her back
to the empty apartment.

She never has enough
to balance ledgers tallying injustices
this world heaps upon servers—

from rude patrons to dine-and-dashers,
from extra shifts to managers
who, she bets, bellow just like Dad.

She turns her pockets inside out
giving them a few shakes
for good measure. Long gone

are the purses from my boyhood
crammed with makeup, broken
pencils, tissues, unmated earrings,

and hard candy to stopper
the mouths of my brother and me
if only for a moment.

They weigh too much for her now.
It is better this way, she insists,
traveling light, just in case

she finally decides to run away.
Once she confirms she has no more
to share, she stacks the coins

and towers of a miniature city rise—
a bright and orderly place
unlike where we dwell today.


Noel Sloboda is an Associate Professor of English at Penn State York. His first book was a study of autobiographical writings by Edith Wharton and Gertrude Stein. Since then, he has published two volumes of poetry along with half a dozen chapbooks. Formerly the resident dramaturg for the Harrisburg Shakespeare Company, Sloboda remains deeply committed to the performing arts by regularly composing theatre reviews.


Although this is a highly personal poem, I confess it is not 100% my experience. I based the interactions here between an adult child and older parent on my mother and my grandmother. My grandmother was devout and generous but impecunious. My mother was—at the time—far more practical. But she always tried to do right by her mother, seeing her at least once a week. The poem revolves around our Jamesian “will to believe” and pressures that mount on faith (and ritual) as we age and life grows harder.


What is your favorite infomercial and/or spokesperson?

One memorable spokesperson for me is Dana Gioia. I was lucky enough to hear him talk a few years ago, when he was serving as chair for the NEA and championing the relevance of poetry. What a galvanizing presenter! We need more strong advocates for the arts like Gioia, particularly in this age when imagination, empathy, and sensitivity to nuance appear in short supply. (Gioia would likely transform this into a positive formulation—but I won’t try: I am not a good spokesperson.)

Freshwater or saltwater?

Highlights from my childhood included regular trips to the Atlantic shore, with my mother, in various places throughout New England. So, I will go with saltwater.

What language do you not speak but wish you could?

My wife is fluent in Japanese, after having lived and worked in Asia for a number of years. She has long exhorted me to pick up the language, noting it would be neat for us to share. I agree and dream someday of finding the time.


Robert Schultz

Followed by Bio and Q&A

The Day after Charlottesville We Decide

to Dig out the Quince


The day after Charlottesville, Twenty-Seventeen, we decide finally

to dig out the quince.

We chose it ourselves for a showy corner of the lot, but it spread, thorny,

painful to prune, its tiny flowers and hard fruit

not what we had imagined.

First to go is the green top, lopped and tossed, easily cut, revealing

knots of thumb-thick trunks—dozens of them—and pencil-sized

runners, spreading, reaching.

We knew this would be hard, had been putting it off, waiting for

a cool morning, less Virginia sun. Now we grub

With spade and shovel, then jab sharp hoes to pick packed dirt from

between gnarled roots that plunge, tangle, grip rocks

and clods and their brethren.

Soon we are breathless, sweat stings our eyes. Relentless shrub—primitive

apple—even its lowest distant twigs sprout swelling buds, pink

clenching yellow stamens.

“Slow down,” Sally tells me. I keep chopping, gasping. I wanted

this, something hard and local.

On the phone David said, “Civil wars never end.”

Angry, weeping, I see torchlit faces, hear “blood and soil,” see

Deandre Harris beaten with poles and Heather Heyer

murdered in the street.

Sally touches my shoulder. I sob and straighten. An ache

in my throat answers hate with hate—

Mother Emanuel, forgive me.


Next day we trench around knotted roots and hit them

with the hose. Dirt blasts away, showing

deeper runners in hard red clay.

When the ground has dried I fire the bristling stump

with a torch, then batter charred sticks with an axe.

Embers cool, then it’s time, again, to dig. Far down, I hope, these roots

narrow to a single tap we can reach and sever

or pull entire.


Friends, we could not reach the bottom. It went down and down.


Robert Schultz is a writer and artist. His books include three collections of poetry, a novel, and a work of nonfiction. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in fiction, Cornell University's Corson Bishop Poetry Prize, and, from The Virginia Quarterly Review, the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry. His art exhibition, War Memoranda, made with photographer Binh Danh, is traveling among museum venues, and Schultz’s chlorophyll prints are held in collections private and public, including the U.S. Library of Congress and the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia.


The violence in Charlottesville occurred the day after I returned home from visiting friends there. It is a town we have lived in, where our daughter was born, and I have worked at UVA. My poem published here is the most autobiographical I have written. The lines came to me as I was hacking at the quince and I scrawled them at my desk during rest breaks, sweaty with the work.


What is your favorite infomercial and/or spokesperson?

Dennis Quaid—because, as a spokesperson, everything he says sounds ironic.

Freshwater or saltwater?

Freshwater—I’ve spent years fishing trout streams in New York, Iowa, and Virginia.

What language do you not speak but wish you could?

Urdu—I’m currently working with a native speaker on translations of the Urdu poet, Sarwat Zahra.