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We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Julie E. Bloemeke provided these photos taken at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta, Georgia. Julie contributed the poem “Triple Hoax,” featured below, to the collection.

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 AUTHOR’S NOTES ON THE PHOTOS: I submitted two photos, a reflection of duality in my history with Nancy Drew.  In both, I wear a pendant, bought years ago precisely because it reminded me of the spider sapphire on the cover of one of the hardback Nancy Drew books I owned and read as a girl.   In the first shot, there is a portrait of Millie Benson, far more an adventurer and rogue spirit than my poem gives her credit for.  It is my way of paying homage to my fellow Toledoan writer.  A high wind raced over the porch as I took the photos.  The only way to keep Millie in place was to tape her photo to the inside cover.  The gusts were so strong that my copy of The Spider Sapphire Mystery blew off of the columns, many times, missing my head by mere inches.

I chose to shoot at Rhodes Hall in Atlanta for its columns and stone, its suggestion of castle, its name, Hall, another tip to other Nancy Drew titles and locations.  The sun flare reminds me of ghosts, orbs, another layer of mystery, all caught without my knowing as these are self-portraits, taken with a timer.  I could not see my pose or the light; it was all a mix of guesswork and chance.  So when I went back and brought up the frame, lit as it was, with Mildred looking over Nancy, Nancy looking over me, me looking over the anthology, it seemed a haunting serendipity.

In the other photo, I wanted to unbutton Nancy, to satisfy some of her longing, and mine.  Perhaps I wanted to scandalize Millie a bit too.  I left many clues; the more one regards the photo, the more there seem to be.  The old lace in the window is both a hint to a Nancy Drew title, and to one of the only humorous lines of poetry I have — as of yet — written.  My boots are also a metaphor: all of the suggestive seduction of tying and untying, brass bound, the hidden staircase of want.  The ring I wear was made in Toledo; I purchased it from the Toledo Museum of Art after my poem won the 2015 ekphrastic contest there.  Look closely at the layers in the window; there are two people passing by, made captive by the camera, caught and reflected back, people I did not see at the time.  With no one behind the lens, my expressions are for an unknown, the intensity behind my eyes a surprise even to me.

 Triple Hoax

How I searched those promising titles,
their suggestive seductions: scarlet
slippers, brass-bound trunks, hollow
oaks that refused to reveal where.

How every mystery stopped me,
Ned and Nancy at another “No
Trespassing” sign, perfect set-up
of near lust again interrupted.

How could Ned and Nancy resist
all those heavy breathing phone calls,
that sensual slinking behind
moss-covered mansions, intense

whispers in the dim light of twisted
candles, the two of them, alone, crouched
under the hidden window, fingering
that spider sapphire in the dark?

Book after book, I began to get a clue,
suspect a double jinx, but still I held out,
determined to find the key

to Nancy’s jewel box, the secret
of Shady Glen, hoping that Nancy
would rip off her velvet mask, slip

under the hidden staircase, unbutton
that old lace and say, here, Ned,
is the real twin dilemma.

But instead, there was only the persistent
mystery, the tease of the broken
locket, those damned leaning chimneys, 
the crossword cipher that kept me—
captive witness, dancing puppet—
from unveiling the silent suspect,

the true sinister omen, the phantom
trick behind the text,
the Carolyn Keene who wasn’t

so Carolyn
or Keene,

who wrote Ned and Nancy
into perpetual chaste,
the hex of a wooden lady
who never held a secret after all.

Clue: 23 Nancy Drew titles below. *

* (1) The Triple Hoax (2) The Scarlet Slipper Mystery (3) The Mystery of the Brass-Bound Trunk (4) The Message in the Hollow Oak (5) The Mystery at the Moss-Covered Mansion (6) The Sign of the Twisted Candles (7) The Hidden Window Mystery (8) The Spider Sapphire Mystery (9) The Double Jinx Mystery (10) The Clue in the Jewel Box (11) The Secret of Shady Glen (12) The Clue of the Velvet Mask (13) The Hidden Staircase (14) The Secret in the Old Lace (15) The Twin Dilemma (16) The Clue of the Broken Locket (17) The Clue of the Leaning Chimney (18) The Clue in the Crossword Cipher (19) Captive Witness (20) The Clue of the Dancing Puppet (21) The Silent Suspect (22) The Sinister Omen (23) The Secret of the Wooden Lady

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A sleuth of intuition, Nancy searched for symbols, signs, clues, not only to solve cases, but the mysteries of the people she encountered — their gestures, tone of voice, shifty glances, contradictory stories.  And Ned, her “special friend,” was curiously exempt.  Ned and Nancy snuck out, broke rules, trespassed, untied each other, freed one another from kidnappers and enemies.  He rescued her; she rescued him.  And yet in all of this, no passion or true physical intimacy, not even a startling kiss to emphasize the throes of their continual life-or-death predicaments.   I read Nancy Drew voraciously, waiting for such a moment, hoping the detective I so admired for her pluck would let her guard down, expose the clues of desire.  And when she didn’t, I began to feel a sense of betrayal and frustration, a flagging trust, as if the hex had been on me all along.   Couple this with my discovery that Carolyn Keene — who I much admired and longed to be — was not a person but a pseudonym, and I felt doubly duped.  It was only in further research for “Triple Hoax” [included above] that I learned another truth.  Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, I spent almost two decades living only miles from Mildred Wirt Benson — largely Carolyn Keene — while she was alive, and often still writing.  It is a great regret that I only discovered this well after her death.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie E. Bloemeke’s poetry manuscript, Slide to Unlock, was recently chosen by Stephen Dunn as a 2016 finalist for the May Swenson Poetry Award.  Her manuscript also placed as a semifinalist in six book prizes, among them the 2016 Crab Orchard Review Poetry Open Competition, the 2016 Washington Prize, the 2015 Hudson Prize, and the 2015 Crab Orchard Poetry Series First Book Award.  A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars and a 2016 fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, her work has appeared or will be published in Gulf Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Chautauqua Literary Journal, Drunken Boat, Poet Lore, The James Dickey Review, Four Chambers, and Bridge Eight among others. Her work has also been included in various anthologies, including The Southern Poetry Anthology Volume V: Georgia, My Cruel Invention, and The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.  A 2016 finalist for the Saluda River Poetry Prize for the state of South Carolina, she was also the winner of the 2015 ekphrastic competition at the Toledo Museum of Art, where her work was on view with the Claude Monet collection. In November she served as the inaugural Poetry Director for the Milton Literary Festival in Georgia.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at Amazon.com.

roig
1969
by Kerfe Roig

My only thought what
I was not. Uninvited.
Unrequited. But

Beautiful feeling
The Age of Aquarius
New day is coming

These new voices gave
more choices: one of many
singing harmony.

What am I to do?
Time to sit down and wonder
Better get ready

With guitar and Hair
going where an opening
mind left fear behind.

SONGS FROM 1969 BILLBOARD TOP 100 REFERENCED IN THE POEM:
“Crimson and Clover,” “Aquarius,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Going in Circles,” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.”

IMAGE: Psychedelic self-portrait by Kerfe Roig.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At 17, I was lost, a bundle of insecurities. The music of that tumultuous year, 1969, helped me to find a place to belong both with my peers and in the world, while at the same time opening my thinking to new possibilities.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kerfe Roig
enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina: methodtwomadness.wordpress.com.

AUTHOR IMAGE: Self-portrait by Kerfe Roig.

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Following Seventeen Magazine’s Rules for Making Out
After a Late Shift at Dairy Queen
by Lisa Wiley

1. Soft lips are best. Carry lip balm.
Never use sticky gloss or gooey lipstick.

2. Relax! Odds are he’s been dying to kiss you all night.
Let him tuck the loose strands escaping your ponytail
behind your ear.

3. Agree on a radio station before you park
away from conspicuous streetlights.

4. Start with light, closed-mouth kisses.

5. Place your hands on his broad shoulders or run your fingers
through the thicket of his dark hair.

6. Limit tongue. Pay more attention to what he’s doing.

7. Once things are warmed up — don’t forget about behind the ears,
under the jawbone, forehead, collarbone dip, inside the wrist.

8. Be gentle — avoid hickeys.
Otherwise, your supervisor and parents will be suspicious.

9. Inhale the innocent mix of varsity leather and starched white Hanes
that you will never quite smell again.

10. Don’t unbutton or unzip anything.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My graduation photo, Amherst Central High School (Amherst, New York, 1990).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I dove into a pile of Seventeen magazines for inspiration and to remember what it feels like to be 17.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Wiley teaches English at Erie Community College in Buffalo, New York. She is the author of two chapbooks—My Daughter Wears Her Evil Eye to School (The Writer’s Den, 2015) and Chamber Music (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her poetry has appeared in The Healing Muse, Medical Journal of Australia, Mom Egg Review, Rockhurst Review, Silver Birch Press, Third Wednesday, and Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine among others. She serves as a regional judge for Poetry Out Loud and has read her work throughout New York State. Visit her on Twitter.

bob-cousy
How We Grew
by Steve Deutsch

The summer I turned seventeen
a girl I never knew leapt from her 8th floor window.
She fell soundlessly
to land some twenty feet from our pick-up game,
just as Fox’s one-hand set shot,
arced and graceful as a prayer,
clanged against the unforgiving rim.
My best friend, Red, threw up by the foul line.

It was a summer of sorting out.
In Vietnam, our country had need of its children.
Some of us — good at math,
good with words,
good at taking tests
were off to college — four years of a certain kind of diligence.
The others donned helmet and gun
and tried to make a deal
with a god they had no use for,
so that they might come home again.

I never knew what made her jump
on that perfect day in June,
when the wind, for once
blew from the north,
taking with it the stink of landfill
just five minutes south of us
in Canarsie Bay.
I often wondered just what it was
that defied her self-forgiveness —
how fortune shakes the die
in her palsied hand
and how we must learn to live with the lie.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Picture of Bob Cousy (how I saw myself on the basketball court at 17).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is nearly nonfiction. A girl I did not know, of about my age, did leap from her window to her death — though I did not see it. And my friends did divide between going to college and going to Vietnam. Those of us who went to school had an infinitely easier time of it. We have, however, had to come to terms with our good fortune — a process that in my case seems like it will go on forever.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Steve Deutsch, a semi-retired practitioner of the fluid mechanics of mechanical hearts and heart valves, lives with his wife Karen — a visual artist — in State College, Pennsylvania . Steve writes poetry, short fiction and the blog stevieslaw.wordpress.com. His most recent publications have been in Eclectica Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, New Verse News, Silver Birch Press, Misfit Magazine and One-sentence poems. As an adult, he had the good fortune to sit in on two poetry classes taught by first-class poets and teachers. He has been writing poetry ever since.

reardonat-17
Holy training years
by Patrick T. Reardon

At seventeen, Jesus was a blue-collar
guy with muscled arms and callouses
on his hands from his Dad’s workshop.
Hold on. At thirty, he read the Torah
in the temple so maybe he was left alone
from manual labor and sat daily meditating
on the scrolls. Remember that meeting
with the scholars when he was twelve.

At seventeen, I was a tall first baseman on
the seminary softball team, the tall center on
the basketball team and the tall editor of
the Stepping Stone newspaper. I was studying
to be theological and spiritual and moral and
pastoral and holy. I knew where I was going
without having a clue.

I did not know that I would never be a
Catholic priest and almost become a
Chicago cop and would fall in love with
a woman with a broken ankle and be
heartsick when our son got a scratch on
his perfect toddler skin and would be
astonished at our daughter’s fierce hunger
for the world, all of it. And I did not know
that I would talk with my brother hours
before, in a rain-snow of a late November,
he took his sorrowed life.

At sixty-seven, I know I will never know
if, at seventeen, Jesus had a clue. I know
each moment as one in a succession of
bubbles that pop until there are no more
bubbles. I know that, for me, it is a
kindness to have each delight a
surprise and each stab of pain
uncharted. I fly blind the
continent of the future.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me (at left) as a 17-year-old high school basketball player.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since, at 17, I was in the seminary studying for the Catholic priesthood, I did a lot of thinking about Jesus, and, in this poem, it seemed right to consider him at 17 as well as myself.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is the author of Requiem for David, a collection of poems that Silver Birch Press will release in February 2017. His Pump Don’t Work blog is at patricktreardon.com.

marilyn-zelke-windau-sheboygan-falls-wi
We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Marilyn Zelke-Windau provided this photo taken at Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Marilyn contributed the poem “Long Overdue,” featured below, to the collection.

 Long Overdue

I’m reading Frank Dixon now.
It’s a Hardy Boys Mystery.
I found it amongst your death’s leavings.
The first page is mildewed.
It says, “After 30 days, return to Dave.”

At bedtime, when I was eight,
I read Nancy’s stories
of the moss-covered mansion
and the broken locket
and the old clock, attic, stagecoach.
I was in love with Ned Nickerson.

You were curled up in your own room,
on the daybed, with your heroes.

Night pulled shades down at 9 o’clock
but parental rules mustered youthful ploys.
A flashlight beamed bright my sheet shelter.
In your room a nightlight was the factor at play.

Batteried lights didn’t burn holes in blankets.
They only woke us kids at 3.
Then, after droop-eyed bathroom calls,
our legs shifted mystery dog-eared pages
to bed bottom,
where reading would be resumed,
tented,
tomorrow.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Nancy Drew books were a mainstay of comfort for me as a young girl. I learned from her that it was okay to be a smart girl, to like puzzles, to try to figure out solutions—sometimes creative solutions—and to stick to a problem until an answer could be found. I cherished that alone time with Nancy, reading in bed, under the dining room table, or in the waterless bathtub with blankets and a pillow, door locked so that no one would interrupt me. Most of the books I checked out from the library. They had old bindings. I didn’t know then that there were several people who wrote under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Soon, Nancy’s mysteries were coming out more and more quickly. My allowance money was always gone at the bookstore. My birthday and Christmas lists became full of titles. I still have most of these books here at home. They stare at me and implore me to remember and reread them.

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.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at Amazon.com.

foley
Equus or, First Night
by Laura Foley

A group of twelve
from a fancy high school,
on a birthday outing for one of us,
daughter of a slain Kennedy.
We sit together, watching a teenage boy
romping onstage like a horse,
my first sight of a naked man
we cap off with piña coladas
at Trader Vic’s,
eluding Secret Service agents,
hailing taxis in the street —
I hop, buoyant, in my trusty sneakers,
among this loose group of friends,
harboring a secret crush
on one of them.
At his house, emboldened
by my first taste of rum,
or strangeness of the play,
or the famous company,
I reach for him and
in the morning we
eat cereal with his mom,
while the bells of St. Thomas More
remind me it’s Sunday,
and nothing has changed
and everything has changed.

SOURCE: “Equus, or First Night” appears in the author’s collection Night Ringing (Headmistress Press, 2016).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My yearbook photo, age 17, at Concord Academy (Concord, Massachusetts).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem recently, a memory of my “first time.” It was an eventful experience, in more ways than one. Caroline Kennedy was my classmate in high school, and for her seventeenth birthday party, a group of us went to see the Broadway play Equus.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley’s books include Night Ringing (Headmistress Press, 2016), Joy Street (Headmistress Press, 2014) and The Glass Tree (Harbor Mountain Press, 2012). She won the 2016 Common Good Books poetry contest, judged by Garrison Keillor, and the 2016 Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, judged by Marge Piercy. Visit her at laurafoley.net

bryant-photo
Crossroads
by Cynthia Bryant

Nightfall contained pitch-thick air of desert
though muted night-lights glistened above
no light made its way through doorless opening
into the adobe pueblo with earthen floors
floors to sit, fitfully sleep upon
ample water from a nearby well

Daylight hours spent in town
daughter perched on hip
husband’s eyes hawk-like from a distance
as we pulled manna from the hearts of tourists
for formula, diapers, food
enough to gas the psychedelic painted van
bartered for in Colorado the month before

Barely into my seventeenth year
on the sly with Army-deserter husband
who hid beneath a dark-haired wig
tied at his forehead with rawhide band
Our hungry daughter
whose bottom prickled with rash
that year outside of Taos

Summer season brought happy diversions
shared with brightly clad wanderers
whose long hair, beads, bandanas
colored my world
as they trickled eastward
toward rumors of days and nights
filled with free love, music

We stayed on
unable to follow the dreamers
Our young family
pressed deep into living
that summer of ’69
battling survival and dysentery
against colorless New Mexico backdrop
under shadow of fading youth

SOURCE: “Crossroads” was previously published at othervoicespoetry.org (1/18/2007).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The picture was taken in 1969 — when I was 17 —  with my daughter after we escaped the marriage.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Crossroads” was written after much therapy and healing from the childhood horrors I escaped early to marriage at just 16, motherhood at 17.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: First published in 1997 by two important journals dealing with childhood sexual abuse, Cynthia Bryant has since been published in over 50 anthologies. Her poetry is on numerous websites, an e-book and she has recorded her poems for play on e-radio as well as community television. She has self-published eight chapbooks of poetry which are available in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as many California locations. Most notably Cynthia’s poetry books Sojourn, Pebbles in the Shoe as well as No Time to Shoot the Poets have been accepted in the Ina Coolbrith’s Circle library section in Sacramento’s State Library’s Special Collections Reading Room. You can find her Poets’s Lane page on Facebook.

rayograph-the-kiss-1922-jpglarge
Untitled at Seventeen
by David Bennett

Mary and I were swaying
back and forth
on her front porch
being snarky
when I stopped the swing
and the laughs that came so easily to us
abruptly.
“Teach me how to kiss.”

The class of 1963’s graduation approached,
and we were headed to different colleges.
My chance to straighten out
a crucial experience I was missing out on
was disappearing fast.

We hadn’t really dated dated.
We’d just gone to events
and hung out.
But we’d never been

romantic.

Though I couldn’t articulate this
until years later,
it didn’t hurt
that her brother was a flat-out doll
who might occasionally parade around
in only his briefs.

“Johnny!” his mother said once.
“We have company.”
He came back with a chuckle.
“It’s only David.”
As though I was part of the family.

When I took a bathroom break
later that evening,
I examined his razor,
flecked with red hairs
that had recently adorned his face,
as if I’d found the elusive specimen
that would explain evolution.

“Stonewall,”
at that time,
meant only “obstruct,”
“obfuscate.”
Which I had mastered.

For the next few minutes
Mary and I discussed
what I’d just asked for.

“Learn how to kiss?
Are you serious?”

“I might need to know some day.”
A seventeen-year-old boy
and I’d never ridden the train.

She was game.

We took positions
— arms thus and hips just so —
and arranged our faces
with puckers
and low-lidded looks.

I took a deep breath,
closed my eyes completely,
ready to take the plunge
off the Acapulco cliff,
exhaled,

and backed off.

“I can’t do this.”

“Maybe you’re gay, David.”

I’d never heard the word,
but I knew its meaning
immediately.

I gave her idea
a three-second thought
and shook my head.
“No, I don’t think so.”

IMAGE: “The Kiss” by Man Ray (1922).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As soon as I sat down to address the theme — something from my seventeenth  year — this poem flowed freely from my fingertips. It’s a vivid memory 54 well-traveled years later. The porch, the swing, Mary, Johnny, the razor, my sense of  being lost, my sense of the impending loss of a good friend. Many kisses later, I look  back on that confused, earnest, and wistful boy-man, whose temperate take on life was  still taking shape, and smile on him. Growing up gay in rural Texas in the 1950s was     not easy, I tell him, but it made him save room for charity and whimsy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Bennett made it to 71, after all. He solved lots of riddles and decoded plenty of puzzles and ultimately learned how to be in the world. Now, having retired from careers as a Registered Nurse and Licensed Massage Therapist, he can say he made something of himself. He’s now in a death-match with bone marrow cancer, which is incurable. It will win, eventually, but David can point with pride to Pyrrhic victories over the last eleven years. He’s content in general but would rather have a different President.

AUTHOR PHOTO:  The author in a coffeehouse in Portland, Oregon, named Rain or Shine, in September 2016, at a showing of some tapestries he fashioned.

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Track Star
by Veronica Hosking

Running on the track
I saw his muscled legs pump
Twenty years ago
I called his name and quickly
Ducked down, too shy to be seen

Running on the track
He looked around wondering,
Did I hear my name?
Unaware his future wife
Stole a glimpse of his hot bod

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me (Veronica Heintz) at age 17 with Shawn Hosking dressed for my junior prom, Hamburg, New York (May 1991 — about a month after our first date).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written in April 2011 for my husband, Shawn Hosking, to commemorate the anniversary of our first date: April 18, 1991. I was 17 years old at the time. Before Shawn came to pick me up, my sister and I drove over to watch his track practice. My sister was the one who set up the date, and beforehand I wanted to see what he looked like. We sat in the car in the parking lot, watching the runners circle the track. Every once in a while yelling out, “Shawn” to get him to look around. Shawn and I celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary in October 2016, so I would say 17 was a very good age for me.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet.  She lives in the desert southwest with her husband and two daughters.  Her family and day job, cleaning the house, serve as inspiration for most of her poetry. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina magazine 2006-2011.  “Spikier Spongier” appeared in Stone Crowns magazine November 2013. “Desperate Poet” was posted on the Narrator International website and reprinted in Poetry Nook February 2014. Silver Birch Press has published several of her poems upon first accepting “Rain Drops” in the Half New Year poetry collection, July 2014. Veronica keeps a poetry blog at vhosking.wordpress.com.