karen wiles
Crabbing
by Emily Hockaday

I lost the first few
pulling too quickly
or not quick
enough. You reached

for the string
over my shoulder
trying to man both
string and net

at once. We were left
with empty lines—the rags
of flesh less and less
attached to the bone.

I had helped
you secure that string
around the raw chicken,
fat puckering up

over the knots before
dropping it down
into the dark water.
When I first asked you

to take me crabbing,
you took it as
a joke, maybe, said
the season starts

in August, at dark,
so day-lit May
was improper.
I took your information

rolled it between my
fingers to feel around for pieces
of your childhood
amongst the knowledge

you’d gained living on the shore
of an island.
You were right.
To go crabbing

when there aren’t any crabs,
it doesn’t make sense.
I wanted to see
one crab. It’s what I said

at dinner that night—
chicken legs—over the stiff
plastic tablecloth
saturated in ugly floral

print, Alzheimer’s, your
familial ghosts. I promised
your mother a poem
so here it is:

the dock jutted out
into a bay
which I called the ocean
because really

if A touches B touches
C—it smelled
like the ocean. The salt stuck
to my lips and pores,

the spray misleadingly gentle,
and I crossed the dock
in the deliberate and
exploratory way

a child picks apart
veins in an oak leaf
by ripping out
the papery and meaty insides.

The slats of wood, crusted
with salt, speckled and stained
with worm carcasses, bird excrement
and burns

led out into the water
like a long tongue.
Posts and hooks
with grimy bits of string

sticking up. The equipment
made it an expedition. You,
shaking the spiders
off the plastic bucket, net

held like a lacrosse
stick, were in
command. The crabs came
early that year,

would probably come again,
too, a second wave. It was
abnormal (though to be
expected). You and I

have precarious timing.
We threw each
crab back; all
runts but the same

pregnant female,
so hungry, again and
again.

SOURCE: Previously published in Go Places (2012).

PHOTO: “Why Men Fish” by Karen Wiles. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a crabbing excursion I took with my now-husband (then-friend) and other friends out in Patchogue, Long Island. The trip came after a lot of begging and nagging on my part (because this was off-season). We started too early (dusk) and apparently had missed a wave of crab and were destined to miss the next as well. We’ve since had more luck, but even though we left empty-handed I remember the trip fondly.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Emily Hockaday is author of three chapbooks: Ophelia: A Botanist’s Guide (Zoo Cake Press 2015), What We Love & Will Not Give Up (Dancing Girl Press 2014), and Starting a Life (Finishing Line Press 2012). Her work has appeared in a number of journals including the North American Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Newtown Literary, Amazon’s Day One, and, most recently, Qu. She can be found on the web at emilyhockaday.com and on Twitter @E_Hockaday.

Soranzio
Death shared a picture on your timeline
by Massimo Soranzio

A turtle stranded on the beach today
Caused life to be suspended, then and there.
People crowded the shore on that spot, they
Took selfies, or looked sad—but did they care?

I watched the scene from a distance and saw
Its deep-sea green carapace spotted white
By harmless barnacles, whose only flaw
Is, they’ll move only if they hold on tight.

Well, I don’t really like corpses, you know,
And I felt kind of sick when I was told
It was missing one eye, a dreadful show
(Yet quite attractive to some) to behold.

A meaningful, long life suddenly ends—
What stays is someone’s picture shared with friends.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The same beach, with people concentrating on something else one summer later. This is Grado, on the northern Adriatic coast.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was participating in an online workshop a couple of summers ago, and I had a deadline to write a poem adhering to some metrical form. I have always been in love with the sonnet form, which is often present in my poems in some variation, even when I apparently write in free verse. Anyway, I had spent my day at the beach with my family, and I still had in mind this unpleasant episode, so I decided to write a sonnet about it. (The text has been revised a few times since.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Massimo Soranzio writes on the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, about 20 miles from Trieste. He teaches English as a foreign language and English literature in a high school, and has been a journalist, a translator, and a freelance lecturer on Modernist literature and literary translation. He took part in the Found Poetry Review’s National Poetry Month challenges Oulipost (2014) and PoMoSco (2015), and in a virtual tour around the world with an international group of poets on foundpoetryfrontiers.org.

WELTY
Portrait of a Father at the Beach
by Tommy Welty

The eagle on your back stretches its wings
while your little girl sings she
hangs her doll on an altar stick —
its lifeless blue stare over gray seas
watches and wonders while
seven thousand gulls
ascend over seas and alight
on the sand where you and yours
have lounged for hours,
your legs buried to the
twin lightning strike stains
on your calves like pistons
tossing the Frisbee with your son
laughing — Your twisted cross
twisting a mirthless dance and
your son throws rocks at birds.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a picture of my son and I on his first birthday at the same beach from the poem but on a different day. (Photo by Samantha Jeet, samanthajeet.comMay 2016, La Jolla, California.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For National Poetry Month, I was writing a daily poem as a portrait of someone I knew or encountered over the course of the day. We were living in San Diego and having a beach day, my son and a kid about his age were playing and we had struck up small talk with the kid’s family. I was disoriented though when their father arrived, took off his shirt, and displayed a full back tattoo featuring a tattoo of a symbolical hateful icon.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tommy Welty is a writer and musician from a suburb close enough to Chicago to say he’s from Chicago though he’s never actually resided in Chicago. Tommy lives there with his wife, Alyssa, and son, Atticus Mac, who was named after Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird but not from Go and Set a Watchman. His poetry has been featured at The Curator and he writes about Christianity and poetry at tommywelty.wordpress.com.

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To celebrate the beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere — though in Los Angeles, summer is a year-round occurrence — we’re offering a FREE Kindle version of our Summer Anthology (Silver Birch Press, 2013) from Tuesday, June 28th through Friday, July 1st. The collection features summer-related poetry & prose from over 70 established and up-and-coming writers around the world — including some classic authors from the past. 

Contributors include: Jeffrey C. Alfier / William Blake / John Brantingham / Julie Cadawallader-Staub / Anton Chekhov / Virginie Colline / Daniel Patrick Delaney / Colleen Delegan / Kirsten Dierking / David Dondero / Paul Laurence Dunbar / Barbara Eknoian / Merrill Farnsworth / Paul Fericano / Chris Forhan / Susie Sweetland Garay / Jeffrey Graessley / Syed Afzal Haider / win harms / Donna Hilbert / Rodger Jacobs / Diane Eagle Kataoka / Michael C. Keith / Ruth Moon Kempher / Linda King / Ted Kooser / Thomas Kudla / Moriah LaChapell / Ellaraine Lockie / Gerald Locklin / Tamara Madison / Karen Margolis / Clint Margrave / Catfish McDaris / Daniel McGinn / Lori McGinn / Marcia Meara / Edna St. Vincent Millay / Carolyn Miller / Paul Nebenzahl / Gerald Nicosia / Jax NTP
/ Jason Parker / bart plantenga / Jackie Pledger-Skwerski / Stanley Plumly / Ivon Prefontaine / Conrad Romo / Daniel Romo / Carl Sandburg / William Shakespeare / Raymond King Shurtz / Tere Sievers / Joan Jobe Smith / Rick Smith / Clifton Snider / Dale Sprowl / Kendall Steinle / Caitlin Stern / Robert Louis Stevenson / Tate Swindell / Larry D. Thomas / Thomas R. Thomas / Jeri Thompson / Mary Umans / Dirk Velvet / Philip Vermaas / Melanie Villines / Diane Wakoski / Bruce Weigl / Edith Wharton /

Find your free Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology at Amazon.com.  (If you don’t have a Kindle device, get free kindle reading apps for your computer at this link.)

We would appreciate any reblogs, tweets, or Facebook posts about this offer! 

forhan1

Congratulations to Chris Forhan — author of the poetry collection Ransack and Dance (Silver Birch Press, 2013) — on the June 28, 2016 release of his memoir My Father Before Me by Scribner, prestigious publisher of some of the greatest of the great (F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Kurt Vonnegut).

BOOK DESCRIPTION: An award-winning poet offers a multi-generational portrait of an American family—weaving together the lives of his ancestors, his parents, and his own coming of age in the 60s and 70s in the wake of his father’s suicide, in this superbly written, “fiercely honest” (Nick Flynn) memoir. The fifth of eight children, Chris Forhan was born into a family of silence. He and his siblings learned, without being told, that certain thoughts and feelings were not to be shared. On the evenings his father didn’t come home, the rest of the family would eat dinner without him, his whereabouts unknown, his absence pronounced but not mentioned. And on a cold night in 1973, just before Christmas, Forhan’s father killed himself in the carport. Forty years later, Forhan “bravely considers the way he is and is not his father’s son” (Larry Watson), digging into his family’s past and finding within each generation the same abandonment, loss, and silence in which he was raised. Like Ian Frazier in Family or Frank McCourt in Angela’s Ashes, Forhan shows his family members as both a part and a product of their time. My Father Before Me is a family history, an investigation into a death, and a stirring portrait of growing up in an Irish Catholic childhood, all set against a backdrop of America from the Great Depression to the Ramones.

chris forhan

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Forhan is the author of the poetry collections Forgive Us Our Happiness, winner of the Bakeless Prize; The Actual Moon, The Actual Stars, winner of the Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize; and Black Leapt In, chosen by poet Phillis Levin for the Barrow Street Press Book Prize. He was raised in Seattle and earned an MA from the University of New Hampshire and an MFA from the University of Virginia. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and two Pushcart prizes. His poetry has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2008 and has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, New England Review, Parnassus, and other magazines. He teaches at Butler University in Indianapolis, where he lives with his wife and two children.

Find My Father Before Me by Chris Forhan at Amazon.com

rmb.1962.beach copy1
Beach Memories, A Haiku Sequence
by Roberta Beary

1)
at the end
of the hot bus ride
pink seashells

2)
under the boardwalk
the deep timbre
of the cop’s voice

3)
cabana —
brushing the beach
from my hair

4)
beach wedding—
the day dad lost me
in the waves

PHOTO: The author, age eight, at the beach in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was eight, my father took us to Atlantic City, leaving my brother, age nine, in charge. I got lost somewhere between the sand and the shore. As my father lay dying in 2005, he spoke of his fear on that day in 1962. A visit to any beach reminds me of the day I was lost, and then found.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roberta Beary is the haibun editor at Modern Haiku.  Her book The Unworn Necklace, a Poetry Society of America Award Finalist, is in its fourth printing. Her most recent book, Deflection, a collection of prose poems, is an Eric Hoffer book awards finalist. Follow Roberta Beary on twitter @shortpoemz, where she tweets her photoku.

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Near Drowning: In Brief(s)
by Leslie Sittner

We walk hand-in-hand down to my cousin’s beach, across the quiet road. Dad’s fully dressed, leaning on the railing overlooking the stairway down to the beach. A dozen people in swimsuits are lying on towels.

I squeeze Dad’s hand, whisper, “Watch me now!”

He nods, smiles, as I run down the stairs, across the sand, and belly flop into the water.

I wave, and start swimming like a pro. When I’ve gone what I think is “far,” I drop my feet down to stand, prepared for praise. There’s no bottom. I can’t touch. I gulp a mouthful of water. I go under again and again, flailing.

Dad and the sunbathers are all gaping at me. Dad runs down the stairs, rapidly removing his shoes, pants, shirt glaring at the onlookers. Not one of them has made a move to rescue me. They even snicker as he disrobes.

He races in to snatch me up before I go under a fourth time. By now I’ve swallowed buckets of water. With uncontrolled hiccuping, I cry with abandon. Dad holds, hugs, and soothes me. Everyone is watching. In his wet semi-transparent briefs, Dad stands shaking with anger, clenching and unclenching his fists.

“Not one of you could rescue a drowning child? You had to wait for me to undress, then laugh? You shouldn’t be allowed to use this beach.”

He hugs me close. Puts on his pants.

“I’m so sorry, Daddy. I thought I was swimming even with the shore. Instead I swam away from the shore, into the deep water.”

When we return to the camp, I announce. “Guess what? I almost drowned! But Daddy saved me!”

He smiles and makes a small bow, then grimaces as the telltale silhouette of the wet briefs in his pants comes into view.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is that same day at Lake Desolation, New York. The extended family is sitting against the beach railing. I’m in the upper right twitching my nose — probably still some water in there somewhere. My brother is next to me with my beautiful mother in front of us. Dad is taking the picture. This was insurance so that he himself wouldn’t appear in a photo lest his wet briefs show through his pants. He was extremely modest in public.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt immediately brought this experience to mind. I tried to capture the speed of the event as well as the fear, anger, and humiliation. Oddly, I didn’t hang onto my fear for long. I went back in swimming right before the photo. And I’ve been a water hound ever since.

Sittner_2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are now available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words and 50 Word Challenge. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her friends do.

kellyredinger
A Short Dive from the Low Board
by John Lambremont, Sr.

That summer, the sun beat down on us
like it was the Devil himself;
we scampered for shade
into the thickest woods,
and drank a lot of hot water
from the garden hose.

The neighborhood pool was our savior,
our clear crystal blue oasis.
As soon as our summer membership began,
Mom started taking us to the pool
nearly every morning in June,
and we would often return again
with Dad late in the day.

On one sunny sojourn,
the Lackie twins and I
had the diving board
to ourselves; we performed
cannonballs and can openers,
jack-knives and swan dives
to our collective hearts’ content;
then we noticed that the lifeguard
had left temporarily his nearby post,
so we quickly concocted a plan.

We decided that the thing to do
was to all jump off the board
in rapid succession, taking
care not to land on each other,
so we prepared for the leap,
John in front, me in the middle,
and Jim taking up the rear.

John ran off the board,
and as I started to follow him,
I saw the lifeguard emerge
from the snack shop,
looking directly at me,
his face contorted with anger,
and about to shout, blow
his whistle, or both.
Busted, I stopped at mid-
board, and tried to turn around,
but in so doing, I ran into Jim,
lost my balance, and fell off
to the side like a poul-doux
being shot from the sky.

Time slowed to a crawl
as I rapidly descended;
I had no time to extend
my arms, and I landed
face-first on the concrete.
Stunned and numb, I drew
myself to my knees, checked
my face for blood, and found none.
My vision was awash in waves
as I staggered to my feet
and wobbled over to my mother
in her pool-side recliner.
She comforted me as I cried,
for once not scolding me
for doing a bad thing.

Jim got off the board gingerly,
and went to the spot where I fell.
He found there a small piece
of chipped tooth, picked it up,
and brought it to my mom.
She wrapped it up in a damp napkin,
summoned my little sister,
and took us home.

Dr. Lorio gave her concussion instructions,
and held me out of two baseball games.
The dentist said there was no way
to re-attach the chip, but that a cap
on the tooth was a viable alternative.
I declined, and to this day, one
can still see the chip in my upper incisor,
a permanent reminder of my
short dive from the low board.

PHOTO: “Boy jumping off diving board” by Kelly Redinger. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

1-John Lambremont, Sr. by Nhu-Y lambremont

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Lambremont, Sr., is a poet and writer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. John has a B.A. in Creative Writing and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His poems have been published internationally in many reviews and anthologies, including Clarion, The Minetta Review, The Chaffin Journal, Picayune, and Words and Images, and he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. John’s last full-length poetry volume is Dispelling the Indigo Dream (Local Gems Poetry Press 2013), and his latest chapbook is What It Means To Be A Man (And Other Poems Of Life And Death) (Finishing Line Press 2015). John’s new full-length poetry collection, The Moment Of Capture, will be published in June 2017 by Lit Fest Press.

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Lost
by Rona Fitzgerald

Summer days she’d set out with four of us on the bus,
bag laden with cosies, sandwiches, spare clothes.

Infinite blue, sea and sky merging, no frontiers.
Bird beat, waders, oystercatchers, zen-like herons.

We stood on one leg until we fell, splashed about
ate our sand-filled lunch as mother’s nose twitched.

Trudged home across the long bridge trailing
wet wool togs and towels. Back to order.

My heart’s in those grainy dunes
keening sea birds summon me home.

PHOTO: Bull Island Sanctuary, Dublin 1960. The author is the child front left, crossed legs and shading her eye.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote the poem from memory — starting with the infinity idea and the zen-like herons. Part of the prompt for me is living away from Dublin and the sea which was part of my life as a place to swim and walk. I miss the light. Normally my Dad would not be with us, my mother would haul the bags and shepherd us smaller kids to the beach.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rona Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and has been living in Glasgow for 20 years. She is the second youngest of seven children. Her work has been included in a number of magazines and anthologies, including the Dublin-based Stinging Fly, New Voices Press anthologies and The Wait poetry anthology edited by George Sandifer-Smith. Her poem “Nocturne’” was published in Scottish Book Trust publication Journeys. “Solstice” was published as part of the Mid-Winter Special on Three Drops from Cauldron webzine, and “Quest’” was published on the webzine I am not a Silent Poet. Rona is a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

Peipins- The Pool at the Temple
Diving into the Abyss
by Terez Peipins

It was big news when our new middle school installed a swimming pool. We all speculated about how it would look, what bathing suits we would wear, and what would happen if someone peed in it. Although I grew up next to a pond, I never learned to swim. So, in seventh grade the day finally came when our class went swimming. Our bathing suits were navy blue and baggy. I had to take off my glasses which meant I was in a chlorine fog. I joined the nerds in the shallow end and learned a strange frog-like backstroke. We had six weeks of a shallow pool experience where I could stand up at any time if my stroke wasn’t working.

The following year when our class’s turn came, I was sick with a cold for the first two weeks which kept me away from the pool. At the end of my first day back, the class lined up to dive. That was not something I could manage so I went to shower and change. The gym teacher pulled me out of the shower and made me get into line. I protested to no avail. I jumped off the diving board into the deep end. Sputtering I came up and had to be rescued by a pole.

All was not lost. The following year, understanding my fears, the new gym teacher (who, by the way, was hot) held my hand as I floated in the deep end. I’m still not a great swimmer but I can swim in the deep end of a pool with a minimum of anxiety.

PHOTO: The author in the pool at Baps Indian Temple (Atlanta, Georgia).

PEIPINS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The  poetry, fiction, and essays of Terez Peipins have appeared in publications both in the United States and abroad, including Anak Sastra, Barcelona Ink, The Barcelona Review, The Buffalo News,Conte, Creeping Bent,Hawai’ Pacific Review, Melusine, and Pedestal, among many others.  Her newest chapbook, Dance the Truth is published by Saddle Road Press. Her novel, The Shadow of Silver Birch is published by Black Rose Writing.

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