red-hills-lake-george
VEHICLE
by Tamara Madison

This body is the vehicle
by which I navigate the world.
Here is a photograph
of its younger self
crouched on a rock.
Those feet are the feet
by which I have always
trod the earth, but the photo
was taken before living
had given them
bunions and fungus.
The hair that falls
in a hazy fan
down the shoulder
is this hair before it took on
shades of silver and gray.
The face in the photo
is turned away, watching
the winter sun drift down
behind the mountains
while the future
crouches behind the rock,
waiting to climb up
the young back,
this same back with the turn
in its spine which forms
the little hump where
for six decades I have stored
my slights and sorrows.
My body’s scaffold of bones
is the same, but all the cells
are brand spanking new.

IMAGE: “Red Hills, Lake George” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1927).

tamara_madison

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tamara Madison teaches English and French at a public high school in Los Angeles. Raised on a citrus farm in the California desert, Tamara’s life has taken her many places, including Europe and the former Soviet Union, where she spent fifteen months in the 1970s. A swimmer and dog lover, Tamara says, “All I ever wanted to do with my life was write, and I mostly write poetry because it suits my lifestyle. I like the way one can say so much in the economical space of a poem.”

ancient-roman-mosaic-young-woman-6489864
ROMANESQUE
by karla k. morton

I am more Roman than Greek;
one-tenth Neanderthal;
in love with the white wardrobe;
the toga,
laurels tied to dark hair;

acres of olives;
vineyards older than
all ancestors.

I dream in mosaics –
bits of pottery and shell
pieced into lions;
the cool blues and greens
of tiny squares;

the transience of pearls
at my neck;
a belief in gods who chariot the sun
across the sky;

drawing up words
in endless buckets
from the wells.

Were we gods ourselves,
we wouldn’t bother
with such simple tools –
the alphabet, the ink, the papyrus

but late at night,
the stars begin to hum;
the moon rounds her mouth
and whispers
everything she’s ever seen.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wake every morning excited about the possibilities; wondering what miracle will reveal itself throughout the day. Always there is something – a glimpse of lizard changing from black to emerald; a research pearl; a poem that gets stuck in my head. It’s the blessing of being able to do what you love – the excitement of a blank sheet of paper; words pulled down from the sky.

IMAGE: Roman mosaic of young woman, available at dreamstime.com.

karlas-colour-pic-from-bill-mackey-1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: karla k. morton, the 2010 Texas Poet Laureate, is a Councilor of the Texas Institute of Letters and a graduate of Texas A&M University. Described as “one of the most adventurous voices in American poetry,” she is a Betsy Colquitt Award Winner, twice an Indie National Book Award Winner, the recipient of the Writer-in-Residency E2C Grant, and the author of nine collections of poetry. Morton has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, is a nominee for the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame, and established an ekphrastic collaborative touring exhibit titled: No End of Vision: Texas as Seen By Two Laureates, pairing photography with poetry with Texas Poet Laureate Alan Birkelbach. Morton’s work has been used by many students in their UIL Contemporary Poetry contests, and was recently featured with seven other prominent authors in 8 Voices: Contemporary Poetry of the American Southwest. Her forthcoming book (her 10th), Constant State of Leaping (The Texas Review Press), arrives Fall, 2014.

Author photo by Bill Mackey

Dali
self-portrait as Salvador Dalí
by Jax NTP

rationing out mistakes, you must devour them slowly,
and you must systematically create confusion — it sets
creativity free. the way a blank book seeks the writer
for a long-term relationship. the Metamorphosis
of Narcissus, the hands cupping a soft-boiled egg,
strangulating sexuality. supported by the privity
of osseous for crutches, the female coccyx exposes
seven tantric drawers — each compartment
is a disambiguation of tikkun olam — how to surrender
the need to know.

emmenez-moi au bout de la terre. il me semble
que la misère — serait moins pénible au soleil.
take me, not the Burning Giraffe, i am the drug.
take me, not the melting Camembert clock,
i am the hallucinogen. the urgency of optical illusions,
the human skull consisting of seven naked women’s bodies.

to preserve my madness from oblivion: there are days
when i think i am going to die from an overdose
of satisfaction. intelligence without ambition
is the Woman with a Head of Roses, Madrid
without the architectural peninsula — where
skeleton ships become men and men become voyages.

false memories are the most authentic. redolent
of nightmares, not dreams, embalm the broken
portico of your heart before delirium plants elephant
on stilts. Language is a source of misunderstanding — forged
in a kiln that cannot go north after summer. act the genius
and you shall become one. if you understand the painting
beforehand, you might as well not paint it.

IMAGE: Salvador Dali with a starfish on the beach in Cadaques, Spain (c.1960).

jax-ntp

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jax NTP holds an MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from CSULB. Jax was the former editor-in-chief of RipRap Literary Journal and associate editor of The Fat City Review. Jax has an affinity for jellyfish and polaris and a fetish for miniature succulent terrariums. Visit her at jaxntppoet.tumblr.com.

silberzweig3
Don’t Ask Me for Directions, Don’t Videotape Me
by Rosa Swartz

In the other country I swallow
codeine and blonde lager speedometers,
drive quick on the Saturday dream wheels
air smeared with jazz standards, and the static
of the preacher asks me to get down on my knees.

Those nights my shoes were from feathers,
my name bright as searchlights, sky shining
a package of horehound candy, old fashioned
and sweet to the tongue but better spit out,
sunk in a cyclone of last season’s leaves.

Yes, I’ve been lost here so many times,
taking the long way to miss meetings, dates.
Here I am driving on past Podunk Lake,
bugs from the cornfields stuck to my dress.
The cabinets out here fill with mealworms,
gift horses graze in the lawn.

In the middle of the country in my other country,
the sound of the keys say goodbye.
I’m a tangle walking out in the drizzle,
shot glasses, my eyeglasses, I dance
alone in the pavilion in my big man shirt,
my super-hero tights. When I return home
I’ll come dressed as the stock market or a reindeer,
some thing or another that only dreams of sun.
I’ll wave my grandfather’s turtleneck like a flag,
leave my sex frittered away in the swamp weeds.

On the ivy covered highway
I’ll ignore the regal crescent moon, press
my fevered forehead to the asphalt.
I’ve always been peripheral,
a clean knife without a handle, that sharp
kind of love beyond saying.

What noises my boy sobs over the gingham
tablecloth, knock-kneed in a raincoat
not knowing what to call me. Here we are again
in our red boots, going down to the Ace-Hi
for a pack of Merit Lights,
dirty tennis balls in the slush,
us leash-less and the dog long dead.

Behind the register a sign says “recovery
must be perfect from now on.” It’s been
a few decades since I enjoyed a little thing
like that, lungs singed and body shot through.
Still, I believe in the impossible future,
how closely this place resembles another,
minus all the costumes. Please now please,
help me find my way back to where.

IMAGE: “Frida Skeleton Mermaid” by Sandra Silberzweig. Prints available at etsy.com.

rosa_swartz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Swartz is a writer and visual artist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. She currently lives in Portland, Oregon, where she practices darkroom photography and creative writing. She travels frequently. She’s been a poetry editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review and Asylum Lake Magazine. Her writing has most recently appeared in Carnival Magazine, Really System Magazine, and Coal Hill Review. Her chapbook, All Along the California Coast, came out this year on Diamond Wave Press.

doisneau
SELF-PORTRAIT (THE CLASSROOM) 
by Daniel McGinn 

I will now paint my fingers
like breadsticks and I will nibble
my serrated nails.

I will sit down here forever; it seems
like an exercise, my legs run in place
and they need something to kick.

Now show me a window
and do not think I will
not jump, because I will.

I will never learn
to paint my colors
inside of the lines
you draw for me.

I have bread in these hands,
my cup runneth all over
the canvas with a splash.

I leap out of the frame,
I am coloring the walls,
I am moving in streaks.

I stand in the corner,
I stand here forever,
paint drops dripping.

IMAGE: “Picasso’s Bread Rolls” by Robert Doisneau (Valllauris, France, 1952).

mcginn

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniel McGinn‘s work has appeared numerous anthologies and publications, his full length collection of poems, 1000 Black Umbrellas was released by Write Bloody Press. He recently earned an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He and his wife, poet Lori McGinn, are natives of Southern California. They have 3 children, 6 grandchildren, two parakeets and a very good dog.

silberzweig
SELF-PORTRAIT AS BOOK OF SELF-PORTRAITS
by Carol Berg

I taste of words.
In my lower back, I am butter and crescent

shaped. My heart is a mezzaluna,
half moon, that cuts and chews.

I walk down my spine,
trying to understand

myself. I am preacher and Marie
Antoinette. In the elevator, we receive

vertigo. I look around for Shakespeare’s
delicate eyes. He would play my disguise:

a boy with so many mouths like nibbling
goldfish and a string of Christmas

lights. And then suddenly we descend. The skulls
and bones perfectly laid out. Even here, I am water

dripping. I am the evidence we carry out.
I am muscle, venom. Now I am

everything you have read in your hands.

IMAGE: “Red Mermaid” by Sandra Silberzweig, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

carol-reading11

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Berg’s poems are forthcoming or in The Journal, Spillway, Sou’wester, Redactions, Pebble Lake Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Verse Wisconsin.  Her most recent chapbook, Her Vena Amoris, is available from Red Bird Chapbooks.

okaji
SELF-PORTRAIT WITH BLUE
by Robert Okaji

Darker shades contain black or grey. I claim
the median and the shortened spectrum, near dawn’s terminus.

In many languages, one word describes both blue and green.

Homer had no word for it.

The color of moonlight and bruises, of melancholy and unmet
expectation, it cools and calms, and slows the heart.

Woad. Indigo. Azurite. Lapis lazuli. Dyes. Minerals. Words. Alchemy.

On this clear day I stretch my body on the pond’s surface and submerge.

Not quite of earth, blue protects the dead against evil in the afterlife,
and offers the living solace through flatted notes and blurred 7ths.

Blue eyes contain no blue pigment.

In China, it is associated with torment. In Turkey, with mourning.

Between despair and clarity, reflection and detachment,
admit the leaves and sky, the ocean, the earth.

Water captures the red, but reflects and scatters blue.

Look to me and absorb, and absorbing, perceive.

PHOTO: Self-portrait by Robert Okaji.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Okaji’s work has appeared in Boston Review, Otoliths, Prime Number Magazine, Clade Song, and Vayavya, among others. He lives in Texas with his wife and two dogs.

h2ohlogo
I recently wrote the word “weather” when I meant “whether” — and after a few moments of feeling dense, I decided to write a poem that featured both words. The experience gave me the idea for this call for submissions.

WHAT: Poems that feature homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently, e.g., flower and flour) and/or homonyms (words spelled the same, but have different meanings, e.g.,  fair price, or county fair).

WHEN: We’ll feature the poems on the Silver Birch Press blog during the H2OH Poetry Series from October 1-31, 2014.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email the poem (give it a title) to silver@silverbirchpress.com as an MSWord attachment, along with your name, contact info, author’s bio, and any notes about your creative process or the words you chose. (Put all of this information in the MSWord document.)

DEADLINE: Tuesday, September 30, 2014

the-man
SELFIE
by Jack Foley

His mater is delectable,
            Something of a scandal
Solacious, and commendable;
            a disgrace to the literary establishment
His English well allowed,
            missing genius when it is right under their noses
So as it is emprowed,
            “publishers,” “critics,” and “academics”
For as it is employed,
            Ah, given the futility of much contemporary American culture
There is this mighty Void,
            our cultural “elites,” craven before those great gods
At these dayes moch commended,
            Culture, the race to the bottom
O Godde, would men have amended
            sheer disgust
His English, and do they barke,
            relearn self-respect they have forgotten
And mar all they warke?
            the darkening of thought’s tower
Foly, that famus clerke,
            sunset: fire retreating
His termes were not darke,
            where the open-faced smile of the American Emersonian, that    happy existentialist . . .
But plesaunt, easy, and plaine;
            meets the European Nietzschean’s burned grimace
No worde he wrote in vaine.
            Phooey
thr gsbot bivyim yhr derryinhd yhr nounfsty
yhr dvugg
yo slloe yhr dprvisllplainted grass bag
refuse to divulge
yhr eoetlf ot yr nrst nr vsllrf yo sloe yhr dpitiyd yhodr mrfis
I eill trvkon him
yhr rdyrrm in ehivh nre yrttioyyt
ehivh oyhrtd msy ginf yoo Vhtidyisn
the likelihood that the village
you ertr s punliv return had no connection sll in bsin
motr onr yhsn snoyhrt brty yhivk zz & Isthr
we talked of a part of the craving the fullest satisfact ion
errk dytryvh
I hsbr likrnrf you yhr noyr og s honh when he kills
llrlivi llrlfo

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The passage in Middle English is an adaptation of a passage by John Skelton in praise of Geoffrey Chaucer. Other phrases are taken from Christopher Bernard‘s review of my book, EYES (http://synchchaos.com/?p=8769 ). The fractured passage at the conclusion of the poem is taken from my sequence, “LETTERS” — dedicated to the sixth Marx Brother, Typo.

IMAGE: “The Man” by Odilon Redon (1916).

jack_foley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jack Foley is a widely published, innovative California poet. He has published 13 books of poetry, five books of criticism, and Visions and Affiliations, a chronoencyclopedia of California poetry from 1940 to 2005. His radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard on Berkeley, California radio station KPFA every Wednesday at 3; his column, “Foley’s Books,” appears in the online magazine Alsop Review. In 2010, Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and June 5, 2010 was proclaimed “Jack Foley Day” in Berkeley. With poet Clara Hsu, Foley is co-publisher of Poetry Hotel Press. EYES, Foley’s Selected Poems, has appeared from Poetry Hotel Press and a chapbook, LIFE, has appeared from Word Palace Press. With his wife Adelle, Foley performs his work (often “multivoiced” pieces) frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. Their performances can be found on YouTube. Read more at wikipedia.org and on his website.

streetartrsc
SELF-PORTRAIT
by D.A. Pratt

Regina’s mythologies
are not my mythologies . . .
Saskatchewan’s mythologies
are not my mythologies . . .
And Canada’s mythologies
are definitely not mine . . .
Fleeting glances in my direction,
genuinely rare I realize,
won’t see the truth . . .
Mirror images, even the ones
presenting my best angle,
won’t reflect my reality . . .
How does an outsider
who appears outwardly
like a completely conventional citizen
paint a self-portrait with words?
I don’t know . . . I really don’t . . .

IMAGE: Street art in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.

Davd_at_Earl_s

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Within the context that he knows why he continues to live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, David A. Pratt continues to wonder why he continues to live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. This is the fourth poem by David that Silver Birch Press has published this summer. Later this year, he is hoping to reprint his definitive study of the two versions of Henry Miller’s book-length essay entitled “The World of Sex,” which first appeared in Volume Five of Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal.

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