The universe began as a grain so dense

its burden was precisely the blossom

of existence. Bourbon begins as at least 51%

corn. The mash is gathered, ground, & slurried

to sourness, consumed by yeast & funneled

into copper pots that rely on nothing but fire

to yield clear liquor then calmed by years

in barrels of new burnt oak. No one

has sinned so fully to escape forgiveness

when treated by heat, time, & circumstance.

I knew that everything worthwhile started

as something lesser when dad didn’t defend

his decision to leave. What is polished

to fullness is done so through acts of love.

Sam Wilder

Sam Wilder was raised in Boone, NC, and Marietta, OH, the product of two staunch regions of Appalachia, and he bears that heritage with honor. He went back to Boone for undergrad, and earned his BS in Journalism before moving to Washington, DC, to earn his MFA in Fiction from American University. He currently lives and writes in Chicago, IL.

Contributions by Sam Wilder