Because I am oldest
by Trish Hopkinson

I sit in silence,
my hands in my lap, like sleeping kittens,
the cold metal of the unfolded chair
beneath the backs of my knees.
Many rows of mourners
separated me from the casket.
I am brave. I have to be—
I’m older than my brother and sister.
I was the only one who understood,
the only one who had known
Great Granny.

I think about her house—
the story of how she still used an outhouse
until right before I was born,
how I used to sit on a quilt
on the long grass, playing Canasta
with the grownups last summer.
I sit in sadness—I know
my baby sister will never
have her own Baby Bonnet quilt
sewn by Granny. I know
I am special, because I do.

People always cry at funerals.
I know why. I know they will miss her
and that she is gone. But I am the oldest—
I am not going to cry. Mommy
asked if I wanted to go up and see
her laying there, look at her
one last time. I don’t want to,
but I don’t want to forget her,
so I did. Standing stiffly at the edge
of the casket, the tears well up
into a lump in my throat I don’t have
the strength to swallow.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a young girl.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Because I am oldest” encompasses the pride and responsibility I felt being the oldest of four siblings.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Trish Hopkinson has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including The Found Poetry Review, Chagrin River Review, and Reconnaissance Magazine. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures at trishhopkinson.com or on her Facebook page: facebook.com/trishhopkinsonpoet.

Memories #1
by Barry Charman


I remember driving a car full of spiders
I didn’t know they were in the back seat
my passengers all this time

It was abandoned in the garden
I wasn’t really driving it till
that night when they gave me
directions in a real bad dream

Go left here
be afraid of us for twenty years
Go right at the next scream
that’s us waving goodbye

There is nothing before
no grandparents to recall
friends faces have peeled off over time
school is a blur of laughter

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in the garden, summer 1982, at age three.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about my earliest memory, one that has accrued a strange mythic power over the years. I remember the moment vividly, if nothing else from that time. This poem is also about memory, and how much is lost, and how strange the things that remain are.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barry Charman is a writer living in North London, UK. He has been published in Ambit, The Alarmist, Bare Fiction Magazine, and Firewords Quarterly. He has poems published online at Every Day Poets and Postcard Poems & Prose. He has more recently had poems published in The Linnet’s Wings and Lunar Poetry.

by Jim Barron

When it all ran like clockwork,
before the screens that lit up and you wound
a mechanical world of gears and springs.

In an attempt to save the radios, Grandad
brought home broken watches. Strapless and silent
I was looking for the reason to why they stopped.

I took them apart, carefully regarding the wheels and cogs,
guarding the screws and plates as they came apart.
Working through the layers collecting pins and pivots.

Then there was the time to rebuild them,
my Frankenstein watches. I never did find
the solution for such small puzzles.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child wearing his happy day Christmas face.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Since starting to write, Jim Barron has discovered that he has a need to travel and produce images about travelling. He has been many times an engineer, as well as a builder, and has lived in the United Kingdom and France. Now he plans to settle down to some serious road trips and to climb some mountains. He believes writing is like photography and should leave a quiet impression after the view has faded.

The Buzz of the Meadow, the Bees
by Kelley Jean White

There was supposed to be a horse,
and my pockets full with imagined sugar;
he would lean his quiet head to me; I’d pull
armfuls of apple blossoms from the trees and braid
garlands for us both; and there’d be apples too,
a tree full of apples and flowers, apples to share
with his gentle velvet lips and I would climb
upon his back, my hair a yellow curtain; we’d ride, sing,
let him be golden in the sun,
let him be silver in moonlight,
let us leave earth and climb the arch
of the milky way, sweet flowering planet,
your cool dark sky. But I am a small child.
No horse has come to the fence. It is cold at night.
My pockets are empty.

SOURCE: Cider Press Review (2011).

PHOTOGRAPH: Kelley Jean, age three, Route 4, Hatch Drive, Gilford, New Hampshire, 1957.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a pediatrician a great deal of my life revolves around children. I haven’t written very often about myself as a child but this piece somehow came with sweet light-filled memories (there were bitter dark memories too but they only make the slightest of appearances here). I hated being a pretty little blond girl. I was glad to outgrow that stage and become a plump preteen with mousey brown hair. It’s not quite totally gray today at 60. I am delighted that Cider Press Review was kind enough to publish this piece in 2011.

Kelley Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

The Back Door
by Sandra Hartley

The house is empty, no one is here anymore
I reluctantly walk through and I become that child again
In the kitchen I open the old pantry door
There are bottles of Lowcock’s lemonade on the floor
Peach wine, ginger beer brewing
On the shelves are homemade preserves
Strawberry jam, pickled onions.

I open the back door into the garden
A perfect green lawn, a crystal clear pond of fish, frogs.
A beautiful black and white feline with green eyes
Plays with a mouse, she is the Queen of Sheba,
Her tail flickers.

I see a wooden swing between the garden shed
And the washhouse and the foisty smelling coal shed.
I go back inside to the front room, cosy and clean
Smelling of lemon furniture polish
The neat net curtains, whiter than white
The big armchair next to the cracking,
Embers of the coal fire
I stoke the fire and brush the hearth.

I sit on the cosy rug and open my book,
I read Peter and the Wolf. I hear the Beatles,
Playing from my sister’s bedroom.
Mam is at work, Dad is having his bath
After a hard day at the Steelworks.

Maybe I will play with my dolls’ house next
Or build a castle with my Lego before
My tea of sausage & chips & tomato sauce

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In memory of my family, the home where I was born in the 1960s. Things change, but memories still remain.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Hartley began her creative poetry writing career in 2012/2013 as part of a creative writing project called Pandora’s Box, in the North East of England. Her poem “The Back Door,” published by Ek Zuban, was inspired by her childhood memories of the 1960s, about her family home and her family. Sandra returns her old house as an adult, when her father dies, and when she enters the house she goes back into her childhood memories “becoming that child again.”

by Shloka Shankar

I have a visitor who
has forgotten to take leave.
Having outlived her stay,
she clings to me like
a second shadow —

We grew up playing
with a doll-house that
was imported, never
fought when it came
to sharing toys or one-eyed
teddy bears that smelled
of perfumed dust.

She doesn’t talk or
say much, but is always
dressed in black, a forlorn
smile hanging limply like
an ill-placed comma on
her face.

I’ve grown used to her.
Her presence feels like
a mould that cannot be
scrubbed off. Odourless.
Colourless. Non-toxic.

Chipping away at me
little by little, savouring
our memories and placing
them in Pandora’s box.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a baby.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shloka Shankar is a freelance writer residing in India. Her work appears in over two dozen international anthologies including The Dance of the Peacock, Emanations IV, The Living Haiku Anthology, Family Matters, and publications by Minor Arcana Press, Harbinger Asylum, Kind of a Hurricane Press and Writing Knights Press among others. Her poems, erasures, haiku & tanka have appeared in numerous print and online journals. She is also the founding editor of the literary and arts journal, Sonic Boom.

Richardson as a Kid
by Kellie Richardson

Chest sore from Sister’s jab,
life remained wholly inexplicable.

I hated them.

I wept and cursed with
a mouth too small to sing.

Wee limbs charged with
unwelcome sensations:

Chalk stockings that itch brightly
through revival,

Roots stretched to capacity
by bright bobbles

Tummy aches from feasts
devoured in locked closets.

Each day’s damning
reset by the night light.

Recycled puzzle pieces line my
soft long lashes,
and I burn through daydreams
from the back of
a mint green Eldorado

PHOTOGRAPH: The author in second grade, age 7.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Girlhood” recalls the menagerie of familiar pains and desperate uncertainties of my childhood. There was so much I inherently loved, but also loathed. And although I had routines and schedules (school, church, bedtime), most of my days were marked with fragility and extreme anger. Relationships were unpredictable and in response, I withdrew to small spaces and my imagination I tried to capture the dualism that was a marked theme of my life as a youngster.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kellie Richardson is an emerging poet and innovative voice born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Her work explores the intersection of race, class, and gender with specific emphasis on themes of love, loss, and longing. She employs both classical poetic forms as well as contemporary mediums such as spoken word. Kellie founded her blog, Brown Betty, in 2012 and recently completed her first collection of poetry, What Us Is.

the boy who could fly
by Michael Mackin O’Mara

his face, a silent scream: eyes and mouth cartoon
wide, he felt the floor leave his feet as he lifted by
the scruff of his shirt to heaven . . .

   as when, after the whole lot of them viewed Mary
Poppins for the price of a brown paper sack of
canned goods, a gust unexpectedly sailed all
forty pounds of him and his dad’s good umbrella
across the yard;

   or the station wagon reeking of cigarettes and his
chain smoking dad helpless at the wheel as it
tobogganed down the ice-clad hill a February day
in the drifting snow at the lake house to the tune of
Nana’s stories of the great Coney Island and the
howl of the first long heart-in-your-throat drop
in the front bucket of the famed roller coaster
ride: all danger and impending consequence and
the two tow trucks and all the curse words it took
to extricate them.

   or that recurring stomach flutter dream of two
figures who climbed the clouds and stepped
together into eternity only he was alone and
falling and crying out to God: catch me, catch
me, please, because he’d only meant to fly, and
the voice of God like W.C. Fields on acid: “Go
away kid, you bother me,” and he knows it’s God
that’s tossed him: dashing him as he had here-to-
fore done with only a word or a look or the flat of
his hand.

. . . from across the room he hit the top of the high-
backed couch (the same couch he’d fallen from and
split his chin into a chattering little mouth of blood) it
teetered as if it would flip but instead regained its
ground; he spun over the top, smacked the plaster,
just missing the double-hung front window glass,
and the cast iron of the radiator, and crumpled out of
sight to the floor.

   and if it had been the hand of God that had
sailed him then surely it was the Virgin
Mother now running soft fingers over
smooth skin checking once again for
broken bones . . .

PHOTOGRAPH:  The author in Mineola, New York, at age 6 (1961).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Mackin O’Mara started writing in high school and never stopped. He was fortunate enough to meet a few fellow writing fanatics along the way. For that he is forever grateful.

Billie Holladay Skelley
My Childhood Is a Mixture
by Billie Holladay Skelley

My childhood is a mixture
of what I cannot recall,
of what I cannot forget,
and what I want to remember.

I try very hard, but the truth is
I can never recall
my father who died when I was only two.
No matter how I search my memories,
he has no face, no voice, or touch
I can recall.

All I find when I search
is just a void
left by death, time, and fate.

I try very hard, but the truth is
I can never forget
a man who lived nearby till I was eleven.
No matter how I try to repress my memories,
his face, his voice, and his touch remain.
I cannot forget.

Even though I never search for it
another void remains
created by weakness, desire, and betrayal.

I try very hard, and the truth is
I do remember
my mother who tried to fill the voids.
No matter how often darker memories surface,
her kind face, soft voice, and soothing touch
I can always remember.

When I search here I find a sense of contentment
from a love
enriched by kindness, compassion, and caring.

My childhood is a mixture
of what I cannot recall,
of what I cannot forget,
and what I want to remember forever.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author, early elementary school, Kentucky (late 1950s).

Billie Holladay Skelley3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Billie Holladay Skelley is a registered nurse by profession and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has written health-related articles for both professional and lay journals. Since her retirement from the nursing profession, she has enjoyed focusing her writing efforts on different topics and disciplines for various forums. The creative process she used in this poem involved sifting through childhood occurrences that happened long ago, and stratifying those memories by the ones that still linger to the present day.

A Very Good Day at Four
by Marsha Schuh

It’s cold. The sky is shady,
but I see bright flashes in and out
between the tall black trees.
golden sprinkles of sunshine warm my face.

I smell snow, reach down and touch it,
soft and white like Dairy Queen,
my favorite. I think I’ll taste it, poke
my mitten into it. My hand disappears.

The snow is higher than my boots.

I stand on the stoop watching daddy;
his black galoshes with silver claspers
clomp into the snow. “Follow me, lilla vän.”
But Daddy, I’m too little.

He holds out his hand.
“Walk in my steps;
I’ll make a path your size.”
He makes galoshes holes, and I step in them.

It takes a long time to get to the ponies,
but daddy lifts me up to touch them.
They feel rough and soft together
like Bingo my teddy bear.

The big pony stomps. I pull back
my hand. When he breathes,
he blows big puffs of clouds.
He sneezes, and I hide my face in daddy’s neck.

I want to go back home for ginger snaps,
hot chocolate milk with momma,
but the pony bows his head and rubs
my cheek with his soft black nose.
It’s warm.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: This photo of me as a child of four riding sled was taken at Haram Farm, the Florsheim Estate in Halfday, Illinois. We lived in the gatehouse.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by my very earliest memory—one that I remember rather than one someone else told me. The cold, the warmth, the terror and excitement of being so close to such a large creature, and the comfort of my dad’s arms made this an experience that has stayed with me all of my long life. It is told from my child’s perspective.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marsha Schuh is author of Ghost Whispers, a chapbook about what it was like to grow up happy in a Swedish-American family. She taught English at California State University, San Bernardino until last year. Retirement as given her the chance to enjoy family, reading, writing, teaching, traveling, and most recently, long-arm quilting. Marsha’s work has appeared in Pacific Review, Badlands, Sand Canyon Review, Shuf, Inlandia Journal, Carnival, and other journals. She also co-authored a college textbook, Computer Networking, published by Prentice-Hall and recently figured out how to turn the appendix about converting decimal to binary into poetry. Marsha and her husband Dave live in Ontario, California.


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