Sky-Bar-Wrapper-Small Sky Bar
by Linda McKenney

The little girl sat beside her grandfather, severely crippled with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She would never forget their times together. He wore blue-striped, broadcloth pajamas, hanging loosely on his skeletal frame. She was “grandpa-sitting” while her grandmother went to the market. But this wasn’t a chore, it was great fun.

He wagged his finger, which he couldn’t straighten, and finished another story. Then he rolled his eyes toward the kitchen, indicating that it was time.

Eager to participate in their tradition, she went into the kitchen and pulled down the silver handle on the Frigidaire refrigerator. She squeezed her fingers under the white, metal vegetable drawer and pulled out a Sky Bar. This was their secret. No other grandkids knew about it.

She returned to sit beside him and placed the candy on the rose-trimmed metal TV tray. She unwrapped it slowly. Inside were four milk chocolate pillows with different fillings. He tried to convince her to change up the eating order, but it never worked. She remained steadfast: vanilla, caramel, peanut and then chocolate! He savored, with his eyes. She with her tongue. After he died, she ate a Sky Bar whenever she wanted to remember him.

linda grandfather

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me as toddler wishing someone would grab the handle and take me to grandpa’s house.  And my grandfather when he was still upright.  He was confined to bed for over half of his life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McKenney has been writing for most of her 68 years, most recently experimenting with creative nonfiction. This essay is part of a larger memoir about her grandfather, Arthur. She’s not even sure if they still make Sky Bars, because she stopped looking. (Author photo taken in spring 2015 by the author’s husband.)

maple snow
Maple Snow
by Linda Kraus

My immersion into an icy universe,
the euphoria of that first winter blizzard —
my wonder at a newly crystalline world,
refracting branches catching sunlight.
I remember my mother’s pleasure in boiling
maple syrup and pouring it on virgin snow,
magically creating a winter taffy, nature’s
gift to a child who still prizes its memory,
its sweetness burning her mouth.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Maple Snow” is based on a gastronomic memory — a happy one. So many of our childhood memories are clouded with sorrow and loss; like Proust’s madeleines, sweets are a catalyst to our past.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My photo was probably taken when I was four years old in Cleveland, Ohio.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Kraus has taught literature and film studies at the college and university levels. She has published poetry in several literary journals and anthologies and is currently editing two collections of poems.

chocolate dipped strawberries
by J.K. Shawhan

My boyfriend calls me Strawberry
because of the freckles
under my eyes, because
my fingers go knuckle-deep
in sweets, dipping
grocery-store bought fruit
in a vat of chocolate,

because customers complain to me
while nabbing wallets out
of Prada & Vera purses
that $2.95 is ex-PENSIVE—
businessmen in black suits
stare through my stained,
holey apron—Don’t
you have a discount,
for half a dozen?—

No, because the store owner
is broke, & all her money
is in caramel & candy,
& because she can’t afford
a Saturday off & her daughter
has to work here
& her daughter’s daughter has
to work here, dipping
out-of-season fruit
into a vat of chocolate,

getting smudges on elbows
that match the freckles
under her eyes, because
her income & house & college
tuition relies on several
pieces of candy—

or maybe my boyfriend calls me Strawberry
for none of these reasons;
he just likes the taste
of them for breakfast, too.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Strawberry” is about my experience working at my grandmother’s chocolate store. The poem is a part of a collection I began writing recently about the store and what it is like to work with three generations of family. My hope is that this collection will go alongside another collection I am working on about art and travel, and create one large collection about life, relationships, and finding yourself.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.K. Shawhan studied business and writing at Illinois Central College and Bradley University. While attending Bradley University, Shawhan won Co-Third Place for the Chester Sipple Poetry Award for a collection of five poems, and she began working on a collection of poems about other art forms. Her work has appeared in Bradley University’s Broadside: Writers and Artists, in the University of California, Riverside’s Mosaic Art & Literary Journal, and in the September 2015 issue of Wordgathering. Shawhan also founded the Little Laureates Writing Club at Illinois Central College and worked as a Cashier/Assistant Manager/Marketing Manager of a family-owned candy store for most of her life.

Bakery at the Corner of Sweet Street and Regret
by Elizabeth Alford

We were on the edge of winter,
balancing our friendship like a plate
on the edge of a counter.

I was the counter.

But I could taste happiness from the street.
The warm, smile-inducing cinnamon and
eau de vanilla seduced not only my nose
but those of endless

And the moment I stepped inside,
I knew I was in Heaven. A celebration
of cakes and cookies greeted me
like an old friend.
Every baked surface was draped
with ribbons of icing.
Even the walls were inviting;
my bulging eyes fell upon one close-up
of dripping red velvet atop a bed of
chocolate chips,
beckoning like a lover.
Fancily framed, majestically hued,
deserving of the Louvre—
if it had a kitchen.

I told her this joke; she was insulted.
The bakery was German-based.
That was the beginning of the end.

Across the street, a homely-looking van housed
a homely-looking hippie
named “Hippie Dan.”
I met him. Sweet guy, I thought.
Bright red beneath the brown,
like a cherry cordial.

I gave him most of my sticky bun.

I didn’t think to give him a toothbrush.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by a date at an actual bakery in Oakland, California. The name of it escapes me now, and I don’t even remember how to get there — but the sights and smells left a deep impression, as did that lovely homeless man parked across the street.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Alford has always had an on-again-off-again relationship with Poetry; but in the wake of her graduation from CSU East Bay, she recently announced that they are going steady (much to everyone’s relief). She lives in Hayward, California, with her loving fiancé, mother, and two adorable dogs. Her favorite things include sushi, loud music on long drives, staring at the stars, and writing. She has been published twice in the student literary magazine Occam’s Razor, once as a third-place Donald Markos Prize winner in 2014.

PHOTO: Elizabeth Alford in her backyard (June 2015), not doing too badly after that bittersweet breakup.

BAKED brownie
Well-Traveled Brownies
by Brian Evans-Jones

          Adapted from “The Baked Brownie” on
          Recipe Google Translated into Welsh, French, Mongolian and                Dutch, then back to English

The famous brownie pastry—Oprah says
she is one of his favorite activities.
America’s put much stock in the kitchen;
but not everything is almost like the Bible.
But, their favorite brownie I’ve taken very seriously,
which is an excellent cooked reading.
Because they deserve.
And I think I have to hide.

11 ounces of chocolate powder, cocoa butter, sugar 5 eggs:
you do not need me to say that the children of this rich, Black said.
Now, you can not rely as cakey chocolate, but
if you’re rich and mighty good to just bite, but you love chocolate,
you have found Eden.
They have a good bit high,
so they are not thin fondants: they smooshed dark brownies
and (good) sex is not thin.
If you bite into them, they are satisfied with heft.
So thin, chocolate brownie crust crispy: great business card!

Always with me? Good.
Now go to the kitchen and do it—
Cook The New Boundaries!

350 degrees F.
Cream Party and the baking dish or 9×13-inch color glass.
Parchment paper kitchen line.

Medium bowl together the flour, salt, cocoa powder.
Chocolate and butter, stirring occasionally, until suddenly a big bowl of      chocolate!
Pot with boiling water, melt butter and espresso powder and supple.
Until completely combined, then remove the bowl on a platter nail.
Add the egg mixture and beat until combined the chocolate.
If you cakey chocolate, over when he hit the batter—or not.

Sprinkle the flour mixture on chocolate mixture 5: rubber spatula
(no waves) are used. Center of the oven
to bake for 30 minutes; toothpick in the center
with a few moist crumbs. After the pan with parchment paper
and get them!


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recipes on food blogs may go through many stages of translation: one blogger adapts another blogger’s recipe and reposts it, and then another blogger repeats the process. Some recipes cross countries and languages, changing as they go. And when a blog reader cooks the recipe, another kind of translation happens—one which may or may not reproduce the piece’s original intention. Inspired by that process, I wondered what would happen to an American standard if I took it around the world and back, linguistically at least…


Brian Evans-Jones
recently moved to Maine from the United Kingdom, where he was Poet Laureate of Hampshire, England, and taught creative writing. Poems of his are published or forthcoming in Stoneboat Literary Journal, Word Gumbo, Enigma, and Avocado. He is taking his MFA at the University of New Hampshire and he runs community writing projects in New Hampshire and southern Maine.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: In Pizza Express in Winchester, UK, 2009, trying to decide whether to have dessert.

fannie may box
A Box
by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

Sometimes, when he came in the back door,
after arranging the car in the one-car garage,
maneuvering it in from the alley
at a 90-degree angle,
having dodged other cars, newer cars,
up thousands of numbered blocks in the city,
from downtown to Jefferson Park,
he still smiled.

Giving her a kiss on her left cheek
and a cross-arm hug to we three
at his knees,
he produced from under his topcoat,
the herringbone one
with the two-inch grey buttons,
a box.

One inch thin, five inches wide,
ten inches long, white,
with cursive lettering,
it said, “Fannie May Candies.”
We, the three, whooped with joy.

The box was set on the kitchen counter.
At dinner, we ate every vegetable we saw.
We licked our plates with tongues,
with fingers, readying for the joy.

Ceremonially, the box was presented
first to mother, who claimed
an “M” for a maple cream.
My brother, who was youngest,
was offered it next.
He looked for the calligraphy of “C”
and bit into chocolate chocolate.
My older sister finger-touched
row one and two and then with urging
selected “H” to match her name initial,
bit into hazelnut and smiled.

My turn was difficult,
because I knew what I wanted.
I wanted “V” for vanilla buttercream,
Dad’s favorite.

I looked, stretched my finger,
changed direction and chose “R”
for raspberry.
It was scrumptious.

Once, Dad guided my hand back,
gave me his “V.”
I gave him a brown drool grin
to return the love.

PHOTO: The author at age two in the Jefferson Park area of Chicago, Illinois, waiting for chocolate.

picture MZW

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marilyn Zelke-Windau is a Wisconsin poet and a former elementary school art teacher. She enjoys painting with words. Her poems have appeared in many printed and online venues including Verse Wisconsin, Stoneboat, Fox Cry Review, Your Daily Poem, Midwest Prairie Review, and several anthologies. Her chapbook Adventures in Paradise (Finishing Line Press) and a full-length manuscript, Momentary Ordinary (Pebblebrook Press) were both published in 2014. She adds her maiden name when she writes to honor her father, who was also a writer.

chocolate milk Sweet Dreams
by Jennifer Hernandez

After a hard day of playing paper dolls, Grandma helped me into my p.j’s and boosted me onto the counter (where I’d never get to sit at home). I watched her pour my bedtime snack, a preschooler’s nightcap, chocolate milk. First, the milk sloshed into a tall glass. Next came the can of Hershey’s syrup from the door of the fridge, yellow lid peeled back to reveal two triangular “eyes.” Grandma tilted the can and liquid chocolate streamed from the “eyes,” swirling into the glass of milk. The clink of the spoon stirred those ribbons, transformed 2% into a treat. Alchemy. She handed me the tall glass. Careful now. Don’t spill. But I never could hold it with both hands. Because drinking chocolate milk was a ritual that required a free hand to twirl a strand of my shoulder-length hair round and round a chubby finger. As I drank the cool richness, my mind was already halfway snuggled into those pink polka dotted sheets in the bed upstairs, a chocolate milk guarantee of sweet dreams on the way.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My Grandma Stella was an excellent baker, and I remember many of her sweet treats fondly. She had a huge freezer in her basement packed full of homemade goodies. Sometimes I baked with her, and she was very proud when I won a blue ribbon at the fair for chocolate chip cookies made with her special recipe (oatmeal and rice krispies were key ingredients). I don’t know why the simple bedtime ritual of chocolate milk is the one that surfaced most strongly when I sat down to write, but it did.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken when I was two years old. Obviously, I have always been a fan of chocolate in all its forms. My Grandma Edith brought homemade chocolate cakes for each of my birthdays. This looks like it might have been a day-after-the-birthday shot. I feel very fortunate to have been nourished with so much chocolate and love from both sides of my family tree.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Hernandez lives in the Minneapolis area, where she teaches middle school, wrangles three sons, and writes for her sanity. Her work has appeared in Talking Stick, Red Weather, Verse Virtual and elsewhere. She has recently read her work in the Cracked Walnut Literary Festival and as honorable mention in the Elephant Rock Flash Prose contest.


The Lexington General Store
by Melanie Dunbar

With each step the floor creaks, pine-varnished music from the past. The brass cash register echoes the bells strung along the top of the walnut and glass door. The smell of sugar, sealing wax, and barrels that held apples pulls you to the penny candy, where the ghost owner bends toward you from the other side of the counter. If you listen, you can hear the deep ache of Gram’s knees; her reminder to pick up some horehound.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: During the summer, my grandma would take my brother, cousins and I to the General Store in Lexington, Michigan. Every week we had a dime for penny candy, or maybe an ice cream cone. Then we would go to the waterfront and watch the boats or walk out on the breakwater. In this picture, I was at the age when the General Store was a magical place.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Dunbar is a Master Gardener who lives in Southwest Michigan with her family and their rooster, Mr. Beautiful. Her poetry and flash fiction can be found at Your Impossible Voice, Silver Birch Press, Cheappoplit, and  is forthcoming in Gargoyle and Sweet: A Literary Confection.

mary leonard

For many of us, some of our most vivid memories involve sweets and treats — especially recollections surrounding Halloween, Trick or Treating, and our candy treasures. We want to hear all about your Halloween memories in a poem, prose poem, or flash fiction. Please send a photo of yourself at any age in Halloween attire.

PROMPT: Tell us your Halloween recollections in a poem (any reasonable length) or prose poem/flash fiction piece (200 words or less).

WHAT: Submissions can be original or previously published poems or flash fiction. 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/flash fiction in the Silver Birch Press MY SWEET WORD Series Halloween Edition during the week leading up to Halloween (actual dates to be determined, based on number of submissions).

HOW TO SUBMIT: Email one poem or prose poem/flash fiction to 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”Halloween” in subject line of email. Please send a photo of yourself — at any age — in Halloween attire to accompany the poem, 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. Smith.doc or Jones.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., Mary Anderson has been writing since age eight…”).

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

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

6. Send a photo of yourself at any age in Halloween attire as a SEPARATE jpg attachment (not in the MS Word document). Title the photo with your last name (e.g., Jones.jpg).

7. Email to — and put HALLOWEEN in the subject line.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Friday, October 16, 2015

PHOTO: Mary Leonard and friends (Halloween, 1953).

kn_kay_and_gerda The Wrong Prince
by Jennifer Finstrom

               “The inside of the coach was lined with sugared pretzels, and                in the seat were fruits and gingersnaps.”
                                   —The Snow Queen, Hans Christian Andersen

I baked gingersnaps with my ex-husband the November after we got divorced. I brought over the recipe from my apartment down the street and used the spices that had been in the cupboard when I lived there. Later, I walked home with half of the cookies, unaware that when he returned from his holiday travels, we would stop speaking for a second time.

In the fourth tale of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, Gerda befriends a crow in the forest. The crow tells of a prince who sounds like Kay, the missing neighbor boy who is her friend, but when the crow sneaks her into the castle, she sees that he isn’t Kay at all, just a boy who has managed to marry the princess by being clever and speaking well.

But the prince and princess are kind to Gerda, and if her story stopped there, she could ride away in the golden coach they provided, the crow keeping pace in the air alongside. I see her leaning back on cushions and gazing out the window, surrounded by the smell of nutmeg and allspice, a sky full of black feathers, the constant awareness that so many endings are possible.

IMAGE: “Kay and Gerda” from Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, illustrated by Kay Nielsen (1886-1957).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love writing about fairy tales and have recently been rereading The Snow Queen. I’m always fascinated by descriptions of food in fairy tales, and reading what the golden coach was filled with—the fruits and gingersnaps and sugared pretzels—made me want to write this prose poem.


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 Life, Extract(s), NEAT, and YEW Journal. For Silver Birch Press, she also has work appearing in the  The Great Gatsby Anthology and forthcoming in the Alice in Wonderland Anthology and Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks. 


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