by Jari Thymian

Can you believe –
          that clever witch called
          me a hussy and a charlatan?

Under my turban
          and Victorian dress
          a shy seventeen-year old,

a bookworm who’d never
          thrown my voice from any stage
          up to the high school balcony.

Before opening night, I didn’t know
          how intoxicating to spin drunk,
          to soothsay, to swallow the drug

of hatching heinous schemes to applause.
          The silly romance I tried to foil
          ended in a kiss and a curtain call.

Now, I am trapped on a white page
          void of script by the real witch
          whose lead role hex

lets me command only your brief gaze.

PAINTING: “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” by Karl Bryullov (1830).

PHOTO: The author in 2015 wearing a turban. Photo by Greg Fischer.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I found this painting of woman with a turban, I instantly felt the weight of the turban I wore for the senior class play in high school over 40 years ago. Being on stage with an audience was a rush I’d never experienced before. I had so much fun being someone else totally different — loud, brash, drunk, and dastardly.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jari Thymian’s poetry has appeared in both print and online publications including tinywords, FRiGG, Skylark, Cattails, KYSO Flash, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and Bamboo Hut. She has poems anthologized in the Stories of Music from Timbre Press and in 2015 Haiku from Modern Haiku.

Hyatt-Blankman (2)1
Letting Go
by Michele Hyatt-Blankman

I was different from the start.
My head was too big.
She’ll never live, mom was told.
I did.
She’ll never walk or talk, mom was told.
I did.
But I wore my pain.
They called me pumpkin head.
They called me an alien,
like the ones you see in old movies.
They tapped me on my head in class.
No one saw. No one believed me.
No one will want me, I thought.
But someone did.
My husband, My soulmate.
He didn’t care, he said.
But I carried the pain.
I was told I’d have no children.
But I did. Two healthy sons.
But I carried the pain.
The pain of a pumpkin head.

And then I saw myself.
In a simple, sweet painting
at the MoMA.
I didn’t laugh at her.
I didn’t judge her.
I didn’t touch her head.
And surrounding me were people.
Including children.
They weren’t laughing. Or pointing.
They asked their parents about her.
They smiled at her beauty.

And I did, too.

IMAGE: The author at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City during 2013.  She is standing in front of the painting “Untitled” by Japanese artist Yoshitoma Nara (2000).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1953, I was born with hydrocephalus. I was shunted when I was three. All my life I have had an enlarged head, but much more disproportionate to my body when I was young. As a result, throughout school I was mercilessly bullied and teased. A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited my son in New York City, where he works for Houghton-Mifflin. We went with him to the MoMA, where he called my attention to a big portrait, “Untitled,” by Yoshitomo Nara. We laughed and I posed in front of it. I felt at that moment I had gone full-circle…some 59 years later. This poem is based on the moment of seeing the portrait of a life I have since outgrown.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele Hyatt-Blankman began writing stories and poetry from a very early age, beginning a lifelong interest in both. She expanded her interests to journalism at Marshall University, where she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Following years in public relations and copy editing, she now spends time at home with her husband Jon, a retired school teacher, trying to keep  her four cats out of trouble. She is also a proud mom of two sons — Richard, 31, and Joshua, 29, who live in  New York and Texas, respectively.

madame bovary.jpg
Ever imagine yourself as a character in a book, movie, or mythic tale (or would you like to do so)?  We want to hear all about your fictional musings in poetry or prose, where you appear as a character in an established work of fiction. (You would be, say, Oliver Twist or Emma Bovary, or you could create a new character that appears in the story.)  If available, please send a photo of yourself at any age to accompany your submission.

PROMPT: Tell us how you see yourself in an established work of fiction in a poem (any reasonable length) or prose piece (300 words or fewer).

WHAT: Submissions can be original or previously published poems or prose. You retain all rights to your work and give Silver Birch Press permission to publish on social media and in a potential print edition.

WHEN: We’ll feature the poems and prose in the Silver Birch Press ME, IN FICTION Series on our blog starting in late December 2015 or early January 2016 (actual dates to be determined, based on number of submissions). We’ll also feature the submissions on Twitter and Facebook.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email one poem or prose piece to SBPSUBMISSIONS@gmail.com as an MSWord attachment — and in the same file include your name, contact info (including email address), one-paragraph author’s bio (written in third person), and any notes about your creative process or thoughts about your piece. Please put all this information in one MSWord document and title the file with your last name (and only your last name). Write “Fiction” in subject line of email. If available, please send a photo of yourself — at any age — and provide a caption for the photo (when, where).


To help everyone understand our submission requirements, we’ve prepared the following checklist.

1. Send ONE MS Word document TITLED WITH YOUR LAST NAME (e.g. Twist.doc or Bovary.docx).

2. In the same MS Word document, include your contact information (name, mailing address, email address).

3. In the same MS Word document, include an author’s bio, written in the third person (e.g., Ignatius J. Reilly lives in New Orleans…”).

4. In the same MS Word document, include a note about your poem/prose or creative process (this is optional — but encouraged).

5. In the same MS Word document, include a caption for your photo (including where, when and/or date taken).

6. If available, send a photo of yourself at any age as a SEPARATE jpg attachment (not in the MS Word document). Title the photo with your last name (e.g., Eyre.jpg).

7. Email to SBPSUBMISSIONS@gmail.com — and put FICTION in the subject line.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Thursday, December 31, 2015

PHOTO: Mia Wasikowska as the title character in Madame Bovary (2014).

mona lisaMona Lisa_Jeannie E Roberts_2015
Mona Lisa
by Jeannie E. Roberts

sometimes she sits like Mona
practiced in her pose―

with arms
in gentle fold
slight smile
as silent welcome

a pleasant
postured air

in a chair
she’s availed herself
an image

set in prim repose
not recognized―

who knows where love
may lead you
down open roads
or halls

where landscapes change
and rearrange
like paintings hung
on walls―

who knows why
old ways flourish
why rebirth touches few
where veils hang

in closed refrain
in lieu of larger views―
she sits like Mona Lisa
practiced in her pose
when biased eyes

PAINTING: “La Gioconda,” aka Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci (early 1500s), Musée du Louvre, Paris.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author posing like the “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci. Photo by Bruce Pecor.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem considers the marginalized human being and demonstrates how the need for acceptance can result in adaptive behaviors and conformity. The minimization of humans based upon race, beliefs, gender, appearance, education, and other factors is an age-old issue. Even today, especially in smaller communities, backlash and shunning is evident for the outspoken person, the person perceived as being different, or the individual considered a threat to the standards of the norm.¶ The “Mona Lisa” was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance period. This cultural movement influenced European intellectual life; it impacted art, music, science, politics, religion, literature, and philosophy. Humanism played an important role during this early modern period; it encompassed an intellectual, philosophical, and ethical stance, embracing the progress and the value of all human beings and their individual and collective human freedoms.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts lives in an inspiring rural setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. Her second book of poetry, Beyond Bulrush, a full-length collection, is forthcoming from Lit Fest Press in 2015. She is also the author of Nature of it All, a poetry chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and the author and illustrator of Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book. She draws, paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. Learn more about Jeannie at www.jrcreative.biz.

moreelse painting1SBPpicture
I Confide in Paulus Moreelse’s “Portrait of a Young Lady” About My Divorce
by Jennifer Finstrom

At the Art Institute, I always visit Gallery 237
first, gaze at the red-haired young woman
across four centuries. She is younger than I am,
looks nothing like me, but we have formed a kinship.
The curators know few details of her life beyond
this moment, assume from the opulence
of her jewelry, the pearls and enamel, the lace
and ribbons and gems, that she was a part of the Court
of Orange-Nassau. We commune together
in silence, and I can imagine any sort of story
for her. In 2002, I wrote a poem called “Girl
in an Imaginary Painting,” and reading it now,
I am astonished at what it knew about my life.
Paintings know as much as poems, and I
continue to admire the frilled ruff, heavy brooch,
and black and red puffed sleeves: this is all armor,
something she must have one day come to know.

PAINTING: “Portrait of a Young Lady” by Paulus Moreelse (c. 1620), Art Institute of Chicago.

PHOTOGRAPH: Recent photo of the author with some of her own favorite accessories.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Over the past several years, I’ve become fascinated with the unnamed young woman in Paulus Moreelse’s “Portrait of a Young Lady.” I’ve written about her before, and I’m sure I will again. The reason for our bond is almost certainly the detailed opulence of her dress and accessories and how they seem to both hide and protect the person within.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Finstrom teaches in the First-Year Writing Program, tutors in writing, and facilitates writing groups at DePaul University. She is the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine, and recent publications include Escape Into LifeExtract(s), NEAT, and YEW Journal. For Silver Birch Press, she has work appearing in the  The Great Gatsby Anthology  and Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology. 

hemstead house photo 1
Many thanks to The Great Gatsby Anthology authors who participated in the fundraiser for renovations of the Gatsby-era mansion Hempstead House (now a cultural/educational center) on Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015. Pictured from left are: Alan Walowitz, Stefanie Lipsey, Caolan Madden (holding a copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology), Becca Klaver, Rachel Voss, Christina M. Rau, and Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike.

Silver Birch Press was pleased and honored to donate a supply of The Great Gatsby Anthology for the event and for future sale at Hempstead House. For more about the preservation efforts for Hempstead House, check out this recent article from Long Island Pulse.

Girl with a Blue Ribbon
by Sandra Anfang

Wrapped in green foliage
steeped in spring’s deep arbor
red hair splayed about her shoulders
the ice blue satin ribbon more a garnish than a collar.
I sink into a bed of dove gray tulle, arm on a velvet hassock
in the ruby port dress with white lace collar and cuffs.
I feel the constricting sash
as mother ties the bow at the small of my back
like a starched Christmas package.
I’d trade places with her in a heartbeat
for though we both sit for formal portraits
there’s a wildness in her streaming locks
a hint of mischief in her blushing lips.
No doubt we’re both dreaming of tadpoles and cattails,
riding the barefoot wood of our imagination.
A palpable sadness fills my budding dimples
trying hard to bloom. The ponytail, corkscrewed
by strips of ragged sheets, is pulled too tight.
Oh, to wear her wild crinkled blondness
the blue bow almost an afterthought
though our eyes share a certain ennui,
a prayer of escape and transport!
See that frisson of perspiration on my worried brow?
The gold charm bracelet, shackles my wrist
matching the heart-shaped locket
that advertises our family’s class.
Look closely; see how the photographer
has painted my mouth in an upturned bow
flushed the wan cheek to make me glow
where my blood ran cold.

PAINTING: “Girl with a Blue Ribbon” by Pierre Auguste Renoir (1880).

PHOTOGRAPH: Portrait of the author, circa 1959 (retouched photograph).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At my son’s suggestion, I recently hung an old childhood studio portrait of me outside my bedroom door. It has always made me sad to look at, but the longer I do, the more I come to embrace my childhood self. To me, the pose bears a strong resemblance to Renoir’s “Girl with a Blue Ribbon,” painted in 1880.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Anfang is a prize-winning Northern California teacher, poet, and visual artist. She is the author of four self-published poetry collections and several chapbooks. Her poems have appeared in numerous journals including Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and HopeWest Trestle Review, two Healdsburg Literary Guild anthologies, The Tower Journal, Corvus Review, River Poets Journal, Clementine Poetry Journal and Spillway.She has a chapbook forthcoming in 2016 from Finishing Line Press. Sandra is a new California Poet/Teacher in the schools and is the founder and host of the monthly poetry series, Rivertown Poets, in Petaluma. To write, for her, is to breathe.


girl-in-a-white-dress- Lucian Freud1947
by Lynn White

She’s standing still
pale as England,
slim and serious
as I stood
Hair chopped
above her shoulders
with a little curl allowed
as mine was
A little curl allowed,
in memory of its ringlets
earlier than
Then it grew longer
and we pulled it straight.
So now, it’s more like it was
before then.
Before then,
it was longer still,
and ironed straight
under thick brown paper.
It had been shorter still before
its feminine length curtailed, but
with a little curl allowed,
a reminder of its ringlets earlier than
Of its earlier hated ringlets
grown from loose curls.
Ringlets cut
father died.
Not until

PAINTING: “Woman in a White Dress” by Lucien Freud (1947).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author, around 1970.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition 2014 and has since been published in several journals and anthologies. Poems have also recently been included in Harbinger Asylum’s Literary Journal and A Moment To Live By anthology, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, ITWOW, She Did It Anyway, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices, The Border Crossed Us, and a number of online and print journals. Visit her on facebook.

vintage musical background
Thank you to the 47 authors — from 17 states and 10 countries — who participated in our WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG Series, which ran from November  1-23, 2015. We send our appreciation to the authors from around the world who contributed their poetry and stories to the series!

Kimmy Alan (Minnesota)
Glen Armstrong (Michigan)
Nina Bennett (Delaware)
Stephen Blake (England)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Steve Bogdaniec (Illinois)
Cath Bore (England)
Crystal Brinkerhoff (Montana)
Cynthia Bryant (California)
Miki Byrne (England)
Don Kingfisher Campbell (California)
Sarah Carleton (Florida)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
C.A. Cole (Colorado)
Beth Cooley (Washington)
Joanne Corey (New York)
Rebekah Curry (Kansas)
Todd Duffey (California)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Kate Garrett (England)
Tony Gloeggler (New York)
Tonia Marie Harris (Illinois)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Emma Lee (England)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Richard L. Levesque (Indiana)
Susan Mahan (Massachusetts)
Jen Maidenberg (Israel)
Gillian Mellor (Scotland)
Sarah Frances Moran (Texas)
Lee Nash (France)
Perry Nicholas (New York)
Kenneth Pobo (Pennsylvania)
Rie Sheridan Rose (Texas)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Michael Shay (Wyoming)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Alec Solomita (Massachusetts)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Christine Stevens (California)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Jason Tinney (Maryland)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Michael A. Van Kerckhove (Illinois)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Lynn White (Wales)

Check out our current call for submissions (deadline: Nov. 30, 2015) — link below.

ME, DURING THE HOLIDAYS Poetry & Prose Series

Independence Day
by Tony Gloeggler

As soon as you hear
Federici’s mourning organ
punctuated with Bittan’s
piano, you can see Bruce
with his head hung low
lurking in the shadows
still steps from the microphone.
When he moves closer
the crowd rumbles, roars
and Springsteen shushes
them quiet with his hands.
As he folds both hands over
the mic, he opens his mouth
to let his hoarse whisper
reign over the stadium,
you are back home
walking in the hallway
after another aimless late night,
walking in the dark past
your parents’ bedroom.
Happy to have avoided
seeing your father
all day, you hear him
talking to your mom,
his voice a simmering
whisper, telling her
how sick and tired
he is of you. When
will you get a freakin’ job
and move your lazy ass out.
My mom listens, waits
until he runs out of breath
so she could say, “Just
give him a little time..
He’s my son and I won’t
let you throw him out.
No, never.” I drop my clothes
on the floor, get into bed
without waking my brother.
and fall asleep humming,
“They ain’t gonna do to me
what I watched them do to you.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Gloeggler is a life-long resident of NYC’s boroughs and manages group homes for the developmentally disabled in Brooklyn. His poems have been recently published in The Raleigh Review, Rattle, Chiron Review, Mas Tequila Review, Nerve Cowboy, and Paterson Literary Review. He’s been nominated for Pushcarts a handful of times and would like to know who he needs to talk to to have a chance to actually get one. He has published four collections (One Wish Left/Pavement Saw Press, The Last Lie/NYQ Books, Until the Last Light Leaves/NYQ, and Tony Come Back August — a duo with photographer Marco North — with Bittersweet Editions). The last two books focus on his 35 years working with the developmentally disabled and his connection with the autistic son of an ex-girlfriend.


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