a-kind-of-cat-1937(1)
Curiosity
by Roslyn Ross

Lost that grey kitten,
eyes like stars and
fur in silken clouds
of love, damp-nosed
and curious, so very
curious –

Found, that grey kitten,
eyes clouded, fur limp,
body curled in death,
sighing from the final
bite of the snake, as it
defended its babies
from curiosity

IMAGE: “A Kind of Cat” by Paul Klee (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live on a farm and in summer, the brown snakes are common and kittens are as ever, much too curious. We have lost three kittens in the past two years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roslyn Ross has been writing poetry since she was a child. She was born in Australia and has lived around the world for three decades, but is now settled in the Adelaide Hills in South Australia.

HARDWICK LINO
Emptying the Cupboard
by Oz Hardwick

At the bottom of the cupboard my father built
is the lino I’d forgotten, as cold to my touch
as a winter morning, dressing for school, rushing,
three stairs at a time, to the two-bar fire, the wireless,
the settee with the slack springs. Squared like a game,
it’s where I played with cars and soldiers and, later,
guitars and girls, fumbling teenage songs, rehearsing
grown-up roles I still can’t play convincingly.

Splatter-patterned, in sickness I joined dots,
formed twisted faces that chased me deep beneath
nylon sheets that sparked with static as I read,
cocooned in torchlight, lost in a multiverse mapped
in that same Cartesian grid. Lost beneath school bags,
toys, then music mags, I don’t even remember forgetting
such insignificant detail. But now, at the bottom
of an empty cupboard, I find everything I’ve lost.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Bedroom lino, excavated December 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My parents bought their house in 1955, and I was born there in 1960. My father died in 2013 and, following my mother’s death in 2015, I cleared the house before it was sold. Naturally, it was a very emotional time, and unexpected moments would prompt intense memories. One such occasion occurred when emptying a built-in cupboard my father had made in the early 1970s in what was then my bedroom, and discovering that the floor still had the lino that dated from before I was born.

HARDWICK NOW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oz Hardwick is a writer, photographer, music journalist, and occasional musician, based in York (UK). His work has been published and performed internationally in diverse media: books, journals, record covers, programmes, fabric, with music, with film, and with nothing but the reverberation of air. To make best use of life-long insomnia, Oz is also Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University, and has written extensively on misericords and animal iconography in the Middle Ages under the pseudonym of Paul Hardwick. His sixth poetry collection, The House of Ghosts and Mirrors, will be published by Valley Press in September 2017. Find out more at ozhardwick.co.uk.

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Sammy
by Neil Creighton

The Indian Pacific from Perth
has arrived on Platform 2.

We poured from the train.
The platform surged with people.
Baggage handlers scurried around.
Grey day. Spiteful rain. Cold wind.

Better check on your dog, son.

Sammy was in a dog-cage in the baggage car.
He was eight. I was sixteen.
His puppy self had lain in my arms.
Together we paddled the glittering lake,
he in the front, alert, mouth open, excited.
He loped alongside my bicycle.
He bounded comically through high grass.
He lay at my feet in the evening.
He was my brother and my friend.

There’s a dog loose on the tracks.

I barely heard that announcement
as I wandered down to the baggage car.
I’d checked on him on each stop.
Now I’d take him to our new home.

I’ve come for my dog.

Jeez, mate, sorry, he’s gone,
We tried to get him out of his cage.
He held back and slipped his collar
and he bolted.

I ran through the crowd, searching the tracks,
calling and whistling again and again.
No dog loped up happily to lick my hand.

Finally I stopped.
He was gone,
3,400 kilometres from his home,
running in a strange city
full of noise and trams and cars and trains,
increasingly desperate, hungry, alone.

The day was cloudy, cold and wet.
I reached for my sunglasses
To hide my grief, though tears flowed freely.

Sammy, my dear friend,
don’t run too far.
Find someone to take you in.
Let them love you like I do.

In a sad huddle, my family waited.
I walked past them towards the platform steps.
They seemed so very far away.

IMAGE: “Boy with a Dog” by Pablo Picasso (1905).

Creighton for Sammy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved dogs, and although my father was in the Royal Australian Air Force and we led a gypsy life, criss-crossing the Australian continent, my dog always came with us. My poem recounts what happened when we travelled from Perth to Melbourne one cold, wet day.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My dogs, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Eliza Bennet (Darcy and Lizzie).

Neil Creighton Bio Photo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. His recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Autumn Sky Daily, Praxis mag online,  Rat’s Ass Review, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. He blogs at windofflowers.blogspot.com.au.

marilyn-monroe-cat-eye-glasses1
Contents of the City of Manzanita, Oregon’s (a Small Beach Town) Lost & Found closet in February
by Tricia Knoll

     one hooded pink rain jacket, size small
     a fluorescent-yellow broken umbrella
     two sweatshirts (one U of O, one OSU — extra larges)
          lime green flip-flops
     three rings (ruby, gold band, and child-sized mood ring)
     ten sets of keys
     one Prius key ring
     one Kindle
     a corkscrew
     a surf rod and reel
     two unmatched earrings
     four smartphones

I rummaged around for my cat’s-eye sunglasses. No such luck.

IMAGE: Marilyn Monroe in cat’s-eye sunglasses by Arnold Newman (1962).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The ocean is a great cleaner of the beach. Not much on the Pacific hangs out very long when it is lost. The ocean takes away most of the flip-flops and brings back a few half-shells and agates. The days of finding Japanese glass fishing floats are pretty much over with. This poem is from Ocean’s Laughter.

knoll

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Knoll, an Oregon poet, owned a vacation rental beach house in Manzanita for 25 years.  Her poetry about change over time in this small Oregon town is collected in Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press). Her website is triciaknoll.com.

scott wyatt
Dear Diary
by Anu Mahadev

Lunch boxes, water bottles, scarves, shoes.
None would show up after I’d “misplaced” them.

Isn’t it Murphy’s law that you find something
when you’re looking for something else?

There’s the attic, the old cupboard
with stacks of saris. My mother’s house.

I cut my finger, cleaning, rummaging through
the shelves for my old wedding invitations.

That’s when I find it. My forgotten diary.

It smells of warped wood and mothballs
and pine oil and used cinnamon spice.

Brown leather-bound, embossed with a
symbol I don’t recognize anymore,

its pages a deep ochre yellow, stained from
many a tearful night, writing my heart out.

I cringe as I open it, unsure of its secrets.
Most of the words are splotched, leaving

behind a blurry wall of illegible graffiti.
Covered in rhymes and sonnets — my early stint

as a poet, unwrapped. My views on life, as a
know-it-all teenager, and how everything seemed
like it was the end of the world.

It still hurts, the look in his latent summer eyes.

I’d played FLAMES randomly with his name and mine,
and doctored it so it would always end in Love.

I’d practiced my future signature with our initials together.

Those were the days I was drawn to him — a moth
to a citronella candle, and couldn’t read the invisible

ink between the lines. Why is it that this sepia-toned
unrequited love — no more than a gigantic crush —

felt like I still had something to prove?
I could keep going, spelunking through the depths

of the darkness for more, but I am jolted back
to the present by a mosquito bite. The diary is no longer

a long-lost companion. It feels like a feudal lord, and I its slave.
I toss it into the trash. Some dreams shouldn’t be recycled.

IMAGE: “A Soldier’s Recollection” by Scott Wyatt. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in India, and have lived in the U.S. for 21 years. But there is a part of me that perhaps never left home, and whenever I do go back to visit, I’m always looking at old photo albums, old books, anything that I can find to remind me of my childhood and growing up years. That first layer of hurt remains fresh no matter how many life experiences I’ve added in all the years since. So while I was glad to find this diary, and then wondered who else had read it, I was also shocked that it still existed. I wanted to believe that disposing of it would remove those years from my life, and I dismissed the events without a second thought. Yet here I am, writing a poem about it.

anu_mABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anu Mahadev is a New Jersey based poet and a recent graduate of the MFA in Poetry program at Drew University. She is part time editor for the Woman Inc. online and Jaggery Lit. online. Her poems have appeared in the  anthologies Colors of Refuge and Reinventing Myths, as well as in the journals The Olentangy Review and The Wild Word.

clinton

Mercy, Merci
by Melanie Villines

It’s election day 1996 and I’m in Paris—covering an ulcer conference as a medical writer. Everywhere I go, people ask about “Beel Cleentone.” They love him here—the American hipster in shades with a saxophone. But the conference is over and I’m free to spend a week on my own. I change hotels and check in to a place on the Ile St. Louis recommended as Parisian perfection by a famous psychic who used to live here. That must have been a long time ago, because this place is worse than a dump—it’s scary, with thick peeling coats of wallpaper that seem to move. My room is close to the street with windows anyone could jump through. I manage to call a spot where I’d stayed before and book a room. I run outside, rush down to the main street and hail a cab. I duck my head inside. “Do you speak English?” He shakes his head. I open the door and sit in the taxi. I try to explain my problem in the simplest way I can. “Mon hotel est mal,” I say and point, then point in another direction to show that I want to go somewhere else. He gets the message, zooming down narrow streets to the hotel, waiting while I get my bags and check out, zooming across town, pulling up at the new spot, helping me inside with my bags. I give him a 200-franc tip. Later, I sit at a café, ready to read with my prescription sunglasses—but they are gone, lost in the shuffle to change hotels. When I return to the hotel, the concierge hands my sunglasses to me. The cab driver came back with them. Was it my trying to speak French? The big tip? Or was it Beel Cleentone?

PHOTO: Bill Clinton plays “God Bless the Child” on the saxophone (Arsenio Hall Show, June 1992).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Villines is a writer who lives in Los Angeles. Her latest novel is Windy City Sinners (Sugar Skull Press, 2015).

Murphy.jpg
Lost
by Eileen Murphy

It’s getting dark; we’ve been in the car traveling
winding mountain roads all afternoon.
I’m getting sleepy.
Mommy? I whine. Can I have my blankie?

My mother speaks from the front seat
without turning around.
It’s lost, honey.
 
I’m puzzled. “Lost?”

My mother turns around,
but doesn’t meet my gaze.
It was old and raggedy.
You’re a big girl now.
You don’t need a blankie.

I glance out the window and quickly away,
dizzy and scared by the cliffs
that drop off at the side of the road.

I start to cry. I want my blankie.
Doesn’t she understand I need to, I must
rest in my blanket’s comforting arms?

Sighing, my mother says, It got eaten
in the dryer, honey. It’s gone.

I’m sobbing now. I want my blankie!
 
Oh, dear. Somebody’s tired.

Settle down back there, my father’s voice intrudes.
He’s been driving all day.

I want my blankie, I wannit, I wannit! I scream.

Young lady, warns my father, if you
don’t shut up right now, I’m gonna stop this car
and give you a spanking.

Do I shut up or do I get a spanking?

I forget.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at age two.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Silver Birch Press call for “Lost and Found” submissions has been rolling around in my mind for some time now, when suddenly this poem sprang out in response. The poem is autobiographical in the sense that I had a beloved “blankie” that got “lost,” per my mother, in the move our family made from Washington State to Texas. Although I was only two, I still remember how upset I was. In the poem, I try to capture what it would be like for a little girl like me when she first discovers her blanket is lost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa, Florida. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature/English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Silver Birch Press, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, Rogue Agent, and a number of other journals. She has published (or has forthcoming) over 50 poems in the U.S., Canada, and the U. K.

leotta1
What I Found When I Lost My Earring
By Joan Leotta

Settling into my window seat
after running to catch my connection,
at Atlanta-Hartsfield,
I reached up remove my earrings.
Left ear’s shiny metal clip-on daisy
easily slid into my hand.
Reaching for its twin, however
my fingers found a bare lobe.
Immediately I realized the
probable moment of loss–
when I hastily slung the
wide-strapped bag at my feet,
hard over my shoulder as
I ran for that connecting gate.
Likely the strap brushed my
floral clip-on off
away from the garden of my ear.
I fretted over the loss on the flight,
upset in disproportion to that
daisy’s dollar cost.
While at my destination.
a recurring dream roiled
my sleep, bringing up a memory
—how, against advice
I had foolishly worn and lost,
my mom’s aquamarine ring,
that her father had made for
her upon her graduation.
In the dream, once again
she said it was “all right.”
But I could still see
and sense her sadness
in across the plain of death in my dream.
Was this why I now mourned
loss of a shiny metal clip-on, a
thrift shop bauble bought for a dollar?
Determined to find redemption at
Least from this loss, on my way home
I stopped at the Delta Lost and Found.
I described my lost item
to the blue uniformed- woman.
She checked her list .
“No , no one turned it in.”
I sighed and said.
“Guess I should know
better than to wear something I like
when traveling.”
She reached over the counter,
clasped my hand.
“Remember this,
things are just things
If you like something wear it;
enjoy it while you have it.
Do not blame yourself
for what you cannot control.
Things are made to be used.”
That very night
I dreamt again of my mother.
She was smiling at me. On her right hand
She wore her aquamarine ring.
In her left, she held my lost daisy clip-on.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo is from about two years ago, which is when I lost the earring on a flight to visit my daughter (from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to Washington, DC).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The topic resonated with me on many levels—humor, loosing keys and phone; then the more serious of loosing checkbook and my Mom’s ring and that silly little earring. Truly, what the woman at Delta Lost and Found said, was life-changing. Things are only things–always a good theme, but also the idea that we should not be made to feel guilty (even and perhaps especially when we are heaping the guilt upon ourselves!) for using these things. They are meant to be used—and if something happens, so be it! My Mom knew that and although she was sad about the ring, she never scolded me or punished me over the loss. And here I was beating myself up over the loss of a “meaningless” earring. Yep, I sometimes think that woman was an angel sent to release me and all women from unnecessary guilt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been playing with words on page and stage since childhood in Pittsburgh. She is a writer and story performer. Her poetry and essays appear or are forthcoming in Gnarled Oak, the A-3 Review, Hobart Literary Review, Silver Birch, Peacock,Postcard Poems and Prose among others. Her first poetry chapbook, Languid Lusciousness with Lemon, was just released by Finishing Line Press. She also has written a series of novels, Legacy of Honor, and a set of four picture books, Rosa’s Shell is the latest. A group of her short stories, Simply a Smile is available in paper and on Kindle. You can find more about her work on her blog at joanleotta.wordpress.com, follow her on twitter @beachwriter12 or on Facebook at Joan Leotta, Author and Story Performer.

Vintage_Levi_s_BIG_E_Denim_Jeans_34X32_Barn_Find_Work_Pants_01_ame
Work Pants
by Laura Foley

I find them, faded
at the knees,
back pockets, crotch,
crusted still with the dust
of his last bread,
his blue jeans hanging
from a nail
he hammered
in the pine
walls of the old
silo he made
his studio
by the tiled
beehive oven
he built
from river clay.
In the pockets,
remnants of
a pencil,
bits of silt,
wood ash,
nothing else.

SOURCE: First published in The Glass Tree, Harbor Mountain Press.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: These well-used work pants with holes in them are much like the ones my late husband left hanging from a nail in the silo.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this poem, I find my late husband’s work pants still hanging in the silo, a poignant reminder of him.

LauraBeach

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of six poetry collections, including WTF and Night RingingHer poem “Gratitude List” won the Common Good Books poetry contest judged by Garrison Keillor; “Nine Ways of Looking at Light” won the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. A palliative care volunteer, she lives with her partner and three big dogs among the hills of Vermont. Please visit her at laurafoley.net.

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My Cowboy Hat
by Gary Campanella

I had this hat.
It was my favorite hat,
a leather cowboy hat,
handmade in Mexico.
I bought it from a migrant worker
I worked with one summer
in a Wisconsin canning factory.
This was many years ago.

It was roughly but sturdily sown
with thick leather lace
and a braided hat band
was held together with a tin clasp
and, when I bought it,
it had a wide flat brim.

I oiled it religiously, once a week,
and I wore it around the room I rented
to give it fit and shape.
By the end of the summer
it was soft and curled at the sides
and waterproof,
and it fit me, and no one else.

2.

It was my outlaw hat.
I couldn’t wear it in public
without looking silly or unbalanced,
but I wore it in the hills,
and I wore it on the frequent
road trips I took those years,
and, more commonly, I wore it
camping on the bluff
that overlooked that Wisconsin town.

I went to that bluff
when I needed space,
or a fire,
or a sunset,
and once, as I watched the cornfields
and church spires fade into silhouette,
a doe stepped lightly up behind me
and nosed the hat
down over my eyes.

(I wonder now if it was the same doe
I hit with my car,
And had to kill, a year or two later).

3.

Another time in Montana
I camped with a friend’s girlfriend
on the shores of Lake Elizabeth
a week after a Christian hiker
had been killed there,
eaten by a grizzly bear.
Though the bear had been killed
(and maybe eaten) a day later,
the local newspaper interviewed us
for our supposed fearlessness.

She and I made love that night
(our only fearless act)
and in the morning, while climbing
high in the rocks of Going-to-the-Sun Mountain,
she found an eagle feather
and stuck it in my hat band.
She and I never told anyone
we made love, and we never
made love again.
Today she’s a born-again Christian
somewhere in the Arizona desert,
far away from grizzly bears.

4.

I also kept two seagull feathers
in the hat band.
These I found in a ten-day storm
on the shore of Lake Superior.
I was trapped
in a broken-down, mouse infested
Quonset hut. I uprighted a rusted
potbelly stove and improvised
a chimney for a fire. I chopped
wood til the hatchet broke,
then cut wood til the saw broke,
then snatched driftwood from the waves
and dried it alongside the stove
before burning it. After five days
I was low on food and lived
on flour biscuits, whiskey
and some blueberries
I braved the storm to pick.

On the ninth day the weather cleared
enough to walk along the lakeshore.
There I found the feathers – and I thought
how those gulls had made their way,
over the hills and over the years,
all the way
from the Atlantic –
like me –
to this westernmost Great Lake.

5.

Sometime later
I was on the West Coast,
walking it. The hat
was my only luxury.
It earned its keep
in the Mojave Desert sun.

There were three of us,
and we were three weeks across the desert
when we stumbled into a frontier town,
at the foot of the Sierra Nevada.

We were hot and dry and wearing out.
We were low on food, out of money,
with three more days to walk.
The Sierra loomed over us
like a jail sentence.
I found a box of supplies
left by others
in the corner of the post office.
The idea was You take something,
you leave something,
so I took a bag of rice,
a bag of dried apples,
and some instant coffee.
It was enough for three days.
It was all we would need.

In return I left my hat.

Reaching the door
I looked back and saw
dusty rays of sun glancing
off its worn, oiled skin.
It was shining.
I turned and walked
into the harsh white light.

I search for it now and again.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I write most days, and most days I work on making my memoir or my novel better, more ready for publication. This creative process, like most creative endeavors, like much of the traveling I have done over the years, takes many twists and turns. While working last year on a section about hiking in the Mojave Desert I came across an old journal passage where I said goodbye to the cowboy hat described in the poem. I put down my pen, backed away from my keyboard, and reflected on my history with the hat, both before and after I intentionally lost it. And so I wrote it down, not in prose, which is the business of my memoir, but in rhythm and verse, which is the business of my memory. I hope you enjoy it.

GRC Summit 1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Campanella is a Senior Manager and Vice President in Office Services for The Capital Group Companies.  He is a career operations manager and leader, rising most days before 6:00 and working until after 5:00. After that he squeezes in parenting time with his two children, quality time with his wife, and then an hour or two squeezing out a few words. Some of his avocational achievements have included hiking the 2700-mile Pacific Crest Trail, volunteering as a backpacking instructor and wilderness first responder for the Appalachian Mountain Club, and extensive travel throughout the United States (he has slept at least one night in 49 of the 50 states), Europe, and the Middle East. Most recently he has completed two book-length manuscripts, a novel about a murder, and a memoir about traveling. He resides in Los Angeles, California. Samples of his writing can be found at GaryCampanella.com.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken five years ago from the summit of Mt. Whitney, tallest mountain in the lower 48, after losing cowboy hat.