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I’ve seen Niagara Falls, Times Square, and the French Quarter, San Diego’s Balboa Park, Big Sur, and the Golden Gate Bridge, Old Faithful and Denali Peak.  I’ve slept within earshot of the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and camped out in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Nevada, California, Arizona, and Tennessee.  I’ve lived in seven US states, on farms and ranches and in towns and cities, and I’ve lived in Doha, Qatar.  In the wild, I’ve seen bear and beaver, muskrat and porcupine, white-tail and mule deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, and moose.  Bald eagles, barred owls, parrots, and giant fruit bats.  Dolphins. 

I’ve fly fished in the Colorado Rockies, surf fished off Galveston Island, caught walleye and pike in northern Wisconsin, perch in the Lake of the Ozarks, and crappie in an unnamed creek on a farm in central Illinois.  I’ve downhill skied in the mountains of Colorado, and I’ve skied cross country in the hills around Fairbanks, Alaska.  I’ve swam in the Atlantic from Virginia Beach to Key Biscayne, in the Pacific off the Mexico coast, in the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida panhandle and the Caribbean off the Venezuela coast, in the Persian Gulf, and in the Indian Ocean four hundred miles from the shores of Madagascar.

I’ve stood inside the Great Pyramid of Giza and Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia, in the Prado in Madrid, in the Hancock Building in Chicago, in Vancouver’s public library.  In airports in twenty-four US cities and in Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Caracas, Venezuela, in Amsterdam, London, Madrid, Geneva, Frankfurt, Istanbul, and Cairo, in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, in Manama, Bahrain, in Victoria, The Seychelles, and in Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

I’ve been stranded in the rain in the Guatemala highlands, haunted after sunset by the distant screams of dozens of howler monkeys.

I’ve watched a million bats emerge from beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas.

I’ve had a hole-in-one on a Virginia golf course.

I’ve shot pool with John Prine, tossed darts with Townes Van Zandt, and traded stories over beers with Harlan Howard and Nanci Griffith.

I’ve worked as a stock clerk, a cashier, a hospital janitor, as a bartender, a cook, and a waiter, as a retail wine seller, a musician, and a sound engineer for a music club.  I’ve painted gutters and downspouts on apartment buildings and worked in the hardening room of an ice cream plant.  I’ve sold, mixed, and delivered paint for industrial contractors.  I’ve labored on a sod farm in central Ohio, herded cattle in eastern Wyoming, been a songwriter in Nashville and the lead book reviewer for a major newspaper in a mid-sized American city.  Finally, I’ve been a college professor, teaching writing, editing, and literature to three thousand students over twenty-three years.  I’ve published one novel as author and one poetry anthology as co-editor, and I’ve co-founded two literary journals. 

I’ve been married three times—the first two for seven years each, the final time for twenty-five years and counting.  I have two children—one in Granville, Ohio, and one in Davenport, Iowa—and three grandchildren, two girls and a boy.

With all that, I can still be surprised, and can still be amazed.

This issue of diode, the first of our eighth year of publication, amazes me.  Thank you for contributing to it.  Thank you for reading it.

Jeff Lodge
Richmond, Virginia