tree of life photo
Tree of Life
by Gail Fishman Gerwin

On the spring day when
Charlie Giordanella’s
building crew sealed the
roof planks on our new house,
they nailed a tiny fir where
the chimney would sit.

From The Old Country,
they spoke in unfamiliar tongues
yet their cheers honoring a shared
feat transcended our language gap.

Tradition mandated the tree,
along with an outdoor festa,
blue sky as backdrop, upturned
stones on the excavated lot
rocking our feet.

Wearing caps, sweatshirts,
tool aprons, the workers
delighted for the camera,
held cardboard cups,
hoisted a bottle of rye.

The photo shows me in
my green cotton coat,
brown corduroy collar,
sandwich in hand,
peering sideways
with a semi-smile.

Headed toward a place where
no moving vans would roar
into our driveway in the dark of
night, where no bullies would
hamper my walk to school,
I felt relief.

SOURCE: “Tree of Life” originally appeared in the author’s collection Sugar and Sand.

gail and ben wedding

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/PHOTO CAPTION: My parents Cele and Benjamin Fishman, both of whom came to America as young children, met, married, and worked together to build a moving and storage business that my grandfather founded, took great joy from our new home in Paterson, New Jersey. My memory of this day is as vivid as when it occurred. As a bride more than four decades ago, I held my father’s hand as he led me down the porch stairs of this home to my own new life and the moves it has entailed.

gerwin4

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Fishman Gerwin is the author of three poetry collections: Sugar and Sand (Paterson Poetry Prize finalist), Dear Kinfolk (Paterson Award for Literary Excellence), and Crowns (Aldrich Press, 2016). Her poem “A State in Mind” was a third-prize winner in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. She is associate poetry editor of Tiferet Journal and is a writing-workshop facilitator. Gail’s poetry, book reviews, fiction, essays, and plays appear in print and online literary journals, in other media, and on stage.Visit her at www.gailfgerwin.com.

The Notebook
Moving Day, March 29, 2015
by Joanie HF Zosike

Daddy. The day has come to pass
Time to stare at your absence before
I turn and walk away, so completely
Incomplete, in despair to leave you

Your fluid presence in this house
Left a shadow of your former self
One symbolic trace of graphite—
The profile of a Romanesque nose

Daddy. You take your shape now in
My mind more clearly every day since
You left this house and flew away to
Who knows where on that horrid day

Moving out on a ghost is hard to do
I placed this act in motion, turned the
Key, started the motor; we’re primed
To leave tomorrow on an eastbound jet

You understand, I’ll never leave you
Hold back the tears from your face so
Noble and fine, leave no grief behind
In your core you most surely know I

Revere your memory, hold you close
Your remaining ephemera, your faint
Dulcet tones, giggles and sighs in this
Night of exit, I will never leave you

I turn a rough corner to a blank page
You are with me every step of the way
My God, my infernal debate about taking
Will and faith to move Mom so far away

Believe that the promise I made to you
Will be fulfilled; I will carry your crown
Your precious wife, remain by her side
And never leave her unaided or forlorn

Our ancestral home is where she abides
The nascence of you accompanies her
Whither thou goest, seep from the crevice
I will bed a garden for you to rise again

PHOTO: The hand of Nathan (The Nose) writing in one of his notebooks at age 97. Photo by Carl Hieger.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Loss. Raw. Still feels raw. Will always feel like an open sore. An absence. And that is the price of love. For when I lose one whom I love, it feels as if a part inside me has been excised, and this tender tissue will always feel raw. On the other hand, I look into the empty space and see great gifts, inherent strength, and the promise that the strange interception of life and death can be transformed into laughter, a poem, a ballet, or a symphony. I write it out. The raw spot is irrigated with gratitude.

JOANIE HF Zosike

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Two years after the death of her father Nathan in early 2013, Joanie HF Zosike sold the family home in California, flew back east to purchase another house for her mother Gloria, and returned to California to liquidate and empty out the family homestead. During that time, she also began work on a book, The Nose’s Tale, now in progress. This poem is part of that draft material. Joanie’s writing can be seen in several publications including Bastille, Dissident Voice, Heresies, Maintenant, Rabbit and Rose, and a number of Silver Birch publications and blogs.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Joanie HF Zosike ponders life and the bill at a restaurant in Florence, Italy. Photo by Susan Chute.

blk_ash_panel_clr
Moving Day
by Frank Pool

I’m leaving the walls my father built, the hard
wood panels stand as bare as the day he filled
the final hole, the final molding board.
As ash will go to ash, the room is full.

The pictures all are down and packed and moved.
Alone I run my finger down the grain
and stand in silence for the man who loved
the son who will not see this place again.

The measured lengths and widths have met their ends;
if they be boards or walls or years or lives,
they break apart against the planet’s spin
as time for moving out someday arrives.

For one last time this wood I can rehearse
for from today these walls must live in verse.

SOURCE: Originally published in Sulphur River Review.

PHOTO: Ash wall paneling.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was occasioned by moving out of a house, and specifically from seeing my empty study. My father, who had recently died, helped me panel the room in ash hardwood. I had recently taught “The Aeneid,” so the idea of building walls was on my mind. There are many doublings in the poems, including word meanings, but also double instances of physicality and memory, past and present, and past and future.

Pool1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Pool has published poems in literary journals, and has published chapbooks and a full-length collection, Depth of Field  (Plain View Press). For five years the chairman of the board of directors for the Austin International Poetry Festival, he lives in Austin, Texas, where he had a successful career teaching in the public schools. Now semi-retired, he writes a weekly column on language and literature for the Longview (Texas) News-Journal. He has run nine marathons and 30 half-marathons, and currently coaches a walking group training for those distances.

tina m wenger
Moving
by Elizabeth Greene

I hated to leave that house behind,
the Rose of Sharon tree outside my window
the blueberry bushes, sandbox, swings.
I was seven.
               I hated to leave
the ghosts of my first cats–Smokey One,
Smokey Two, Grey Greene, Copper and Felina.
Five cats in five years, vanished. My mother
too afraid of death to mark their passing,
bury or mourn them.
               I hated to leave my friends,
double-jointed Linda who could walk
on her hands; Valerie, who ate fish on Friday.
               I didn’t understand that
for my mother age seven meant tragedy,
the age her little brother died, hit by a car
nearly thirty years before, didn’t understand
how she lived in fear.
               She might have felt
disaster hovering, might have sensed it was time to move.
Closing day came in the midst of storms.

Never put off a closing
, our lawyer said.
The sale went through. Next day, the roof blew off.

In our new house, the power failed.
We weren’t at all sure about the furnace.
We stayed with a friend for a month.
I felt, at seven, the best of my life was over.

PHOTO: “Blue Window and Rose of Sharon” by Tina M. Wenger. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

SOURCE: First appeared in the author’s collection Moving (Inanna Publications, 2010).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Moving” is the title poem of my second collection. It was a memorable move because I was leaving the fairly idyllic period of my early childhood behind, but also because of the storm, the staying at the home of a friend for a month, and just escaping being in the house when the roof blew off. When I wrote the poem, I remembered that seven had been a watershed age for my mother, too. The book Moving is about starting to move forward after a period of stasis, so “moving” has that undertone too.

greene1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Greene has published three books of poetry, most recently Understories (Inanna Publications, 2014) and has a novel A Season Among Psychics forthcoming from Inanna in 2018. She is currently working on a fourth collection of poetry. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, with her son and two assertive, non-vanishing cats, aged 16 and 15. Visit her at elizabethgreen.ca.

Crooker.jpg
Relocation
by Barbara Crooker

               I
There is rue on my hands—
they are stained with that green smell.
Oh, it’s a take-over plant,
insinuating its leafy excesses everywhere.
Today I pulled it out by the roots;
it was threatening the roses.
My husband’s been promoted;
we are getting transplanted.
Today, a for-sale sign
has mushroomed on my lawn.

               II
There is rue on my hands—
here, looking at houses
a hundred miles away,
I smell its sharp sting.
It must be rue that waters my eyes.

               III
My hands are full of rue;
I cannot be pulled out so easily.
This clean May light,
so dappling you could drink it,
quenching as celery,
is a tonic that binds.
These Darwin tulips
in impossible colors
of wine, fuchsia, and claret
seduce the new buyers
up my walk.

               IV
My hands are full of rue and
although my time is spent
in other people’s yards,
I’ll drag that bitter scent with me
to whatever patch of turf or sod
I get to call my own.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo, which is recent (2014) was taken at Castelnaud, France. Our last move was not physical; my husband’s company was taken over by a French company, which resulted in our getting to take a number of trips to la belle France. . . .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem appears in my chapbook, Moving Poems (The Camel Press, 2014). We moved many times early in our marriage, and each time, it was a wrench, an uprooting.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Crooker is the author of six books of poetry, including Small Rain (Purple Flag Press, 2014) and Barbara Crooker: Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry,” and on The Writer’s Almanac. Visit her at barbaracrooker.com.

Summer sun shining through the canopy, ecology background
Under the Arch of Elms
by Marilyn Zelke-Windau

The breeze would float elm leaves
like the little oval pancakes
we hoped for each Saturday morning
venturing out on a heat buttered griddle.

We’d lie on the grass in the front yard,
count as many as we knew numbers,
think of the serrated knife,
the bread knife,
try to slice pebbles
with elm leaves.

Summer heat trapped the upstairs
of a Chicago bungalow,
made us tired-cry
to sleep out under the arch
of elms.

We pedaled trikes, bikes
in their safe tunnel,
played hopscotch,
four-square, concentration
in the street
of their protection.

Summer green to fall yellow,
we blanketed our dollies
with elm warmth.
November gone, March emerged.
We followed their pattern
and grew, too.

I packed a suitcase
within their shadows,
moved my childhood to the suburbs,
heard they were ill.
Their dying did not open the sky.
Their dying did not open their limb-arms.
Their dying only offered emptiness, youth gone,
a grave under the arch of my elms.

PHOTO: “Elm leaves” by ST8, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Traveling back to a childhood home, on a street now empty of trees, was like going to a funeral. Gone were the beautiful elms of my childhood, their lives taken by Dutch elm disease. Gone also was my youth, but not my memories of it.

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, 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.

june 2 calabash -4
What We Took With Us When We Moved Away
by Joan Leotta

After our son died,
My husband set
a retirement date.
We sold our Virginia home;
began building a
house in NC.

I packed up,
giving away objects
no longer relevant,
to our lives,
cleaning out papers,
while my husband
fought the traffic to and from
his last days at work.
At night we rested together
in the shadow of happy memories.

The last room to sort
was our son’s. When
I pulled open the door
to vacuum behind it,
I discovered that
on his final sojourn
at home, he had carved
his name in the drywall.
In that small space
behind the door,
he had scratched,
“Joe was here.”
Suddenly, our son was
physically present for me.
I traced his words with my finger,
feeling his presence in the
now profound silly message.
Was there a hint of blue in those letters?
Had he used an old pen to gouge
into that pseudo plaster?
I flopped down on the carpet,
swept off my feet
by a flood of my own tears.
How could I leave behind
that bit of wall where his self,  his
humor were so strongly present?
All packing stopped.
Just a few days later,
Our brother-in-law visited.
He brought a saw.
He cut out the piece of drywall
with Joey’s statement; then
spackled and patched the wall
back to perfection
for the new owners.

I packed my treasured artifact
in a clear glass case.
We brought it to our new house.
Sometimes, now, I lift up the glass to
trace again the lines
of our son’s handiwork.
“Joe was here.”
Though he never knew this
house, we brought him with us
on that bit of sheetrock.
Sorrow, happy memories —
we brought it all.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Our new house in North Carolina, now a home.Photo was taken in 2009 — saw the rainbow right after coming home from a trip.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We moved to North Carolina from Virginia a year after our son died, Actually we sold the house that had been our family home and lived for a year in an apartment while our new house was being built. I dreaded leaving that piece of wallboard with Joey’s little etching behind And, yes, my brother-in-law did come and cut it out for us. And, yes, I do have it here with me. Even though I know our son is always near, in my heart, having that bit of board, being able to take it with me helped me be able to leave one home and feel free to make our new house into a home with happy memories and new memories with our daughter and with just the two of us.

joan-leotta2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta writes poetry and prose, performs stories for children and adults and muses and amuses herself at the beach. Follow her writing exploits and the making and publication journey of her second picture book , Summer in a Bowl, on joanleotta.wordpress.com.

name-eknoian-jerkumstances
Homesick
by Barbara Eknoian

I cross the miles holding
onto memories:
my children’s first steps,
their first days at school,
their romps in piles
of orange and gold leaves.

The neighborhood movie house,
where Rocky played
for six months,
was something I could rely on
when I looked up at the marquee.

The drugstore where my kids
brought their piggy banks,
the clerk counting out pennies
for them to buy me perfume.

Chatting with neighbors
over the backyard fence,
as we hung clothes on our lines.
Margaret always washed
on Mondays, shopped on Thursdays;
Vivian walked to the market at noon.

I arrive in the new land
of smog-filled haze
and star-like cacti —
I am on another planet.

I long to see the familiar landscape
of windswept leaves
resting against
the sagging redwood fence.

SOURCE: Previously published in the author’s poetry book Why I Miss New Jersey.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo is taken from my chapbook, Jerkumstances. This was 1957,  when I was 15, in Belmar, New Jersey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Moving from New Jersey to California, I felt as though I’d arrived on another planet. “Homesick” was one of the first poems I wrote when I began attending a poetry workshop. I was still in a stage of grief,  missing family and friends, and the poem just flowed when I began to write it.

barbe

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Eknoian’s work has appeared in Pearl, Chiron Review, Cadence Collective Anthology, and Silver Birch Press’s Silver, Green, Summer, and Self-Portrait anthologies. She is a veteran of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach. Her recent novel — a family saga — Monday’s Child is available at Amazon.

Carr-Malcolm
Flitting
by Alex Carr-Malcolm

The birds ceased to sing
from the day we were condemned.
Our underpinning corroded,
pulling the floor from under us,
everything subsided, along with our dreams.

The floors had started to slope,
and the cracks no longer hidden.

My beautiful childhood home —
Twenty-two rooms, orchards, greens, woods,
and a church at the bottom of the garden.

I kissed the cross, and all four walls,
before my dreams were demolished.

Re-housed in a flat-line estate
council regulation green and avocado,
five rooms and no soul,
the transistor, tinny tune,
Where’s your Mama gone?
echoing in my heart.

PHOTO: Hazlehurst, Hasland, Derbyshire — The author’s childhood home.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother was a caretaker of a beautiful Georgian house — once a vicarage. It was a day centre for ex-miners who had been disabled at work; it was also offices for the Coalite Company (Ciswo). The house was called Hazlehurst, and I lived there from 1967 to 1977. The foundations of the house collapsed due to mining in the area, and it was decided to demolish the house. We were rehoused in a two bedroom council flat. During this period my parents’ marriage broke up and my mother left.

Carr-Malcolm_1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexandra Carr-Malcolm was born and raised in Chesterfield, Derbyshire (United Kingdom). She now lives in Yorkshire and works as a freelance British Sign Language Interpreter within the Yorkshire region. Alex has been featured in many collaborative anthologies by Dagda Publishing where part of the proceeds is donated to worthy charities. Her first anthology Tipping Sheep (the right way) was released in 2013. Her second anthology, Counting Magpies, was released in October 2015. Her poems can be found on her blog:www.worldlywinds.com.

vintage-postcard-greetings-from-texas-lone-star-state-us-680x459
Summer 1966: After France & Remembering Bobby,
Who One Day Would Learn to Multiply and Divide,
Write Love Poems, Define Home, Fight Unfairly and
Live with as Much Gusto as a 7-Year Old. Perhaps.
by Robert Okaji

From left coast to right, or the wide arc between,
which place claimed you? In New York you marveled
at the building’s backs scratched by clouds, and all your
pale cousins in Baltimore spoke strangely and couldn’t fathom
your nuclear family’s private lingo, while the drive to Texas
and its red ants and iced tea blossomed into adventures between
pages in the back seat of the VW bug. By the second week you
learned that Texans sweat as much as the French, and swear even
more, that you couldn’t fight one twin without taking on the other,
sometimes both at once. There was no question of fairness then,
just brotherhood, but the librarian would slip you the choicest
donated fiction, and you played baseball every day in the vacant lot
until sundown called the players home to black and white body
counts and cigarette commercials on the three channels received.
Sometimes you lay in bed under the half-light of the whirring
fan blades, and dreamt of heroes and ornithopters, zebras
and the scent of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. Other nights
you wondered how words could rest so calmly on one page yet
explode off the next, or why a man would climb a tower in Austin
to kill fourteen people when opportunities for mayhem and murder
burgeoned across the sea. Wasn’t living a matter of simple
subtraction? One by one the days parted and you walked through
that dwindling heat, eyes squinting, questions in hand, emerging
fifty years later having suffered additions and division and the
cruelties of love and success, honor and truth, still asking why
and how, home or house, where it went, your shoulders slumping
under the heft of those beautiful, terrible summers stacked high
like so many life-gatherings of unread books awaiting a bonfire.

SOURCE: A version of this titled “Bonjour, Texas” appeared on the blog A Holistic Journey.

IMAGE: Vintage Texas postcard.

Okaji

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Okaji lives in Texas. A self-described military brat, he moved many times over the course of his childhood. He is the author of the chapbooks If Your Matter Could Reform (Dink Press, 2015) and The Circumference of Other, which is included in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks (Silver Birch Press, 2015), as well as a micro-chapbook, You Break What Falls (Origami Poems Project). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Glass, Hermeneutic Chaos, Panoplyzine, Steel Toe Review, riverSedge, Eclectica, and elsewhere. Visit his blog, O at the Edges, at robertokaji.com.

PHOTO: The author with his Italian guitar, purchased between moves in 1976.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,260 other followers