by Carl Sandburg

         (for the ghost of Johann Sebastian Bach)

He was born to wonder about numbers.

He balanced fives against tens
and made them sleep together
and love each other.

He took sixes and sevens
and set them wrangling and fighting
over raw bones.

He woke up twos and fours
out of baby sleep
and touched them back to sleep.

He mananged eights and nines,
gave them prophet beards,
marched them into mists and mountains.

He added all the numbers he knew,
multiplied them by new-found numbers
and called it a prayer of Numbers.

For each of a million cipher silences
he dug up a mate number
for a candle light in the dark.

He knew love numbers, luck numbers,
how the sea and the stars
are made and held by numbers.

He died from the wonder of numbering.
He said good-by as if good-by is a number.

SOURCE: “Number Man” appears in The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (Harcourt, 1970), available at

SOURCE: Poetry (October 1947).

IMAGE: J.S. Bach postcard, available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

by Jane Hirshfield

Lie down, you are horizontal.
Stand up, you are not.

I wanted my fate to be human.

Like a perfume
that does not choose the direction it travels,
that cannot be straight or crooked, kept out or kept.

Yes, No, Or
—a day, a life, slips through them,
taking off the third skin,
taking off the fourth.

And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple,
an animal question, scuffing.

Old shoes, old roads—
the questions keep being new ones.
Like two negative numbers multiplied by rain
into oranges and olives.

Source: Poetry (September 2012).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Hirshfield is the author of several collections of verse, including Come, Thief (2011), After (2006), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Award, among others. Hirshfield has also translated the work of early women poets in collections such as The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (1990) and Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-Three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (1994).

by Jared Harel

My grandmother never trusted calculators.
She would crunch numbers in a spiral notebook
at the kitchen table, watching her news.
Work harder and I’d have more to count,
she’d snap at my father. And so my father worked
harder, fixed more mufflers, gave her receipts

but the numbers seldom changed.
There were silky things my mother wanted,
glorious dinners we could not afford.

Grandma would lecture her: no more garbage,
and so our house was clean. The attic spotless.
In fact, it wasn’t until after she died

that my parents found out how much she had saved us.
What hidden riches had been kept in those notebooks,
invested in bonds, solid blue digits
etched on each page. She left them
in the kitchen by her black and white television
we tossed a week later, though it seemed to work fine.

SOURCE: “Numbers” appears in Jared Harel‘s collection The Body Double (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012) available at

SOURCE: Cold Mountain Review, Volume 39, no. 1, Fall 2010.

IMAGE: “Spiral Notebook” by Pam Kennedy. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jared Harel’s poems have appeared in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Ecotone and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, The Body Double, was published by Brooklyn Arts Press (2012). He lives in Astoria with his wife and daughter, and plays drums for the NYC-based rock band, The Dust Engineers. Visit him at

by Mary Cornish

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I like the domesticity of addition—
add two cups of milk and stir—
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else’s
garden now.

There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mother’s call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.

SOURCE: “Numbers” appears in Mary Cornish‘s collection (Oberlin College Press, 2007), available at

SOURCE: Poetry (June 2000).

IMAGE: “Counting Circles” by Carol Leigh. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally an author and illustrator of children’s books, Mary Cornish came to poetry late in life. After a progressive disease struck her drawing hand, Cornish enrolled in the MFA program for creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College, where she soon switched to poetry. Known for its thoughtful investigations of domestic scenes, Cornish’s work also explores the relationships between art, artifice, and the past. Cornish is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she teaches creative writing at Western Washington University.

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the past.

PHOTO: Jewelry-lovers can wear the last line of The Great Gatsby in a stunning brass cuff, available from Jezebel Charms, a British site that offers “charming literary creations.”

by Marjorie Pickthall

See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies’ dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer’s praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marjorie Pickthall (1883–1922) was born in England but lived in Canada from the age of seven. She was once considered the best Canadian poet of her generation.

IMAGE: “Sunday Morning” by Amy Tyler. Prints available at

Before and After
by Katie Aliferis 

Long after the glitter has settled
Long after the gowns have ceased flowing
Long after the bubbles have popped in their glasses

Your heart still jumps at the click of heels on the
Marble floors, at the tone of a light giggle
At the mention of her name

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katie Aliferis is a writer from San Francisco, California. Her poetry has been featured in Voices of Hellenism Project: Voices, 9 Muses News, Velvet Revolution Reading Series, and other literary journals and websites. When not writing, Katie can be found reading, traveling, and enjoying time with her friends and family. Follow Katie on Twitter: @KatieA_SF and visit her website

Illustration: Portrait of Daisy Buchanan (watercolor, 2011) by Hannah Haeun Kim, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

SOURCE: “Before and After” by Katie Aliferis will appear in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology (April 2015).

the garden
by George McKim

swirls and eddies
of voices
and words

in the garden
I was roaring drunk

SOURCE: “the garden” is based on page 42 of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Scribners paperback edition, 2004).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: George McKim has an MFA in Painting. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Dear Sirs, Shampoo, Diagram, elimae, Ditch, Cricket Online Review, Blaze Vox, The Found Poetry Review Pulitzer Remix Project and others. His chapbook Found & Lost is forthcoming from Silver Birch Press in late 2014.

NOTE: “the garden” by George McKim will appear in the Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology (April 2015).


April 10, 2015 will mark the 90th anniversary of the publication of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald — a book that many people believe is the best novel of all time. To celebrate the occasion, we are planning ahead — and getting started with our latest anthology: The Silver Birch Press The Great Gatsby Anthology, a collection of poetry, prose, art, collage, photography, and other work that celebrates this remarkable novel.

WHAT: Poetry, prose, paintings, drawings, photographs, and other work inspired by The Great Gatsby.


Poems (up to three — either original work or found/erasure poetry based on The Great Gatsby)
Short stories (up to 2,000 words)
Essays (up to 1,500 words)
Creative nonfiction (up to 2,000 words)
Short plays or screenplays (approximately 5 typed pages)
Other literary forms (up to 2,000 words)

TYPES OF VISUAL MATERIAL (send jpg files of approximately 1MB):


SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 1, 2014

RELEASE DATE: April 2015

HOW TO SUBMIT: Please email written entries as MSWord attachments and visual entries as a jpg attachments to along with your name, mailing address, email address, and one-paragraph bio. (If submitting an erasure poem, provide the edition and publication date.)

PAYMENT: All participants will receive a copy of the Silver Birch Press Great Gatsby Anthology.

Laurie Blauner Poem
Matisse in the Company of Strangers

could only see their forms and sizes, an alphabet
of color, the clouds gone haywire

against the fact of sky. The conversation
meanders to how ready life is

to leave, the way abstrations of gray birds
always know how to fly without our help.

And Matisse says he believes in imagination
for even the slightest things,

white roses imitating angels, the half smiles
of fish or music leaking into a library.

The moon rises like a glimpse of light seen
from the distance of a keyhole in a dark room.

Al the strangers’ faces turn smooth
and featureless in their representation

of the turning of one century into another,
and Matisse can only think about capturing

a little brown, the mimicking red, radiant blue, and
sympathic green in shapes that defy this changeable worlds.

SOURCE: Poetry (March 1993)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: The author of six books of poetry, three novels and a novella, Laurie Blauner received an MFA from The University of Montana. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in various publications, including The New Republic, The Nation, The Georgia Review, The Seattle Review, The New Orleans Review, Poetry, and American Poetry Review. She has received an NEA grant, King County Arts Commission, Seattle Arts Commission, Artist Trust, and Centrum grants and awards. Laurie Blauner lives in Seattle, Washington. Her most recent novel is The Bohemians (Black Heron Press, 2013), available at Visit the author at

IMAGE: “Still Life with Sleeper” (1940) by Henry Matisse


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