Being as unique as my name
by Apoorva B Raj

Destiny took me
to pick out my name.
On a good Friday,
for an unknowing Thursday.
Before it, I was simply named Pooja.

The day I chose to be Apoorva —
so unique, never existed before
I just stick onto it literally.
But, I grew up under the shadow of my father
B Raj and strived to Be Royal.

Royal in my thoughts
Loyal in my life
Noble in my walks
Humble in my talks
Ended up Unbelievable in all other views!!

I was Pretty as my name
I tried hard to be prettier to my kith and kin
I lost being the prettiest keen
as I lost my own in my tune
Of being unique or being myself (i.e.,Apoorva).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: “Speculating the spectator” in hotel A 2 B,  Bangalore. India (May 2015).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Apoorva means unique or like no other.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Apoorva.B.Raj has been writing poetry since age 17 on themes like life, love, the divine, and social issues. The particular poem is autobiographical. It talks about her life and struggle for being indifferent. She changed her name when she was studying in 2nd standard. It was fortunate that she chose her name for herself with the help of her parents. But the unfortunate part is that she lost the solace and love of her parents because she stood unique, wanting to be herself,  according to her name.

JFZ HAT_4101
If You Call Me “Joan,” I’ll Think You’re Mad At Me
by Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike

Joan Margaret Hieger, it says so on my birth certificate
Hebrew: Jehudit Miriam—Jehudit, Hebrew for Judith
My sister, my mentor, my friend—“She will be praised”
In the Jewish tradition we honor the dead by naming
A child after the dearly departed—no Jewish juniors
This keeps the name of the person sacrosanct as long
As they live—except in an unintentional synchrony
In the case of my brother and cousin, both Roberts

Joan, after my mother’s paternal grandfather Julius
Margaret, after Morris, my paternal grandfather
Joan [Eng] means God is merciful; Margaret, Pearl
My mother’s heroine was Sainte Jeanne d’Arc
Odd for a Jewish girl to idolize martyred saints
Wishful thinking on Mom’s part, for I am no saint
So I feng shui-ed myself with two “N’s”—Joannie
Perhaps I was trying to make sure to be unique

Nicknames: Koala Bear, a reference to cuteness
Meant I was short, chubby and unlike other kids
Hobbit, all the above with furry feet—short-lived
Sweeter: Jo or JoJo. Brother Carl called me JaJa
Baby brother Bobby, Dudney—been called worse
As in Hiegerbug, a 6th grade taunt alternated with
The generic “chop.” Or libel hurled by ex-amours—
Idiot, fool, tramp, you are the worst person ever!

When I was a teen, Mom renamed me evil brat
And I certainly gave her good reason for her rage
We’ll let that go, since Mom is now my best friend
I wish I had a wonderful name like hers: Gloria
Like a prayer; on Patti Smith’s lips, a mating call
I identify myself as Gloria when she has trouble
Hearing on the phone. I feel like the Remarkable
Ms. Ripley, but I’m no killer, I’m a saver of time

Juanita, Johanna, Giovanella, Joanele, Jonesie or as
Old Mrs. Yacheva said, “Jonesie, vhere is the kittee?”
I prefer my own appellation, Jones (hip and concise)
Close to Josey, altar ego in a yet-to-be-written book
One friend dubbed me Yoni; oh, how I loved that!
Secret sacred name: Sansurai Rae, SanRae for short
My Wiccan name, though I haven’t joined a Wicca
Just danced around them, sometimes in the woods

My first husband tagged me Maggie the Mouth Girl
Joannie Margaret Fritz was my first married name
I dropped Hieger when we married, he changed his
To Landis. We went on the Fritz, we split, I dropped
The second “n” in Joannie because a psychic said
It held me back. I didn’t reacquire Hieger, but kept
Fritz as a stage name to become your DADAMama

My second husband dubbed me Best; he thought I was
I became Joanie Fritz Zosike. “Why don’t you go back
To Hieger, Best?” Johizo, Jofrizo, the jubilant Jonay!
My stepsons called me Auntie Joanie, never “Mom”
Until marriage two was over. I kept Zosike—I like Z’s
To honor my father when he died, I evolved to be
Joanie Hieger Fritz Zozike, the last of the Mohiegers
Buddha is my nature and my face often leaks Kali

My most beloved lover called me Cumquat—Hmmm
A cashier called me Indiana Joanie because of my hat
Ugly? Have to admit some beasts have called me that
Fritz the Cat, JF, JayZee; Judith called me tsatskeleh
My Mom calls me her baby; Germans call me Chonie
My friend, student, savior, Bright Eyes, my bête noir
Myopia, mitochondria, my love, my funny valentine
Dollface, Cutie, Gorgeous, never believed any of that

If you want to know my real name
It is a curious phrase
Unruly as the shape of this poem
Byzantine as a maze
It’s the who and how of what I am
At the end of my mortal days
Deep a drink of mountain water
I am the Moon’s Unruly Daughter

PHOTOGRAPH: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Write anything, just write. Or just wrong. You can’t do anything wrong if you write. Art is not a conscious nor deliberate process. The best we can hope for is sheer flight. I never knew there was so much to account for in my name until I sat down and wrote about it! Thanks, Silver Birch, for the constant stimulation and possibilities.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike recently recanted her bicoastal life between Southern California and Manhattan’s Lower East Side to a ping-pong tournament between the LES and Manchester, NJ. Her nomadic existence and the reasons for it form and inform much of her current writing life. She has recently published in PIM (Public Illumination Magazine) in the Fortune issue under a pseudonym. That name is not included in her name poem. She also is in the upcoming Issue #9 of Maintenant, a dada/surrealist journal, and Issue 4 of At the Edge, a publication born and raised in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. She is currently working on a novel in prose, The Nose’s Tale, and directing Hot Air, the first collective work for the street by The Living Theatre since the death of its beloved cofounder and artistic director Judith Malina. Her first full-length book of poetry, An Alphabet of Love, is due to be published by Barncott Press (London) by the end of this year.

Never Annie
by Anne Born

Annie Nannie Anita — Anne
For four generations, someone in my mother’s family
Was named Anne.

Born into a family of women,
Born with a hand-me-down name,
In the end, I was the only one never to suffer a nickname.

For just one day, just once
My grandfather called me his little Nancy
And I felt special, unique, only, new.

And yet, when I order my
Frappuccinos with whipped cream at Starbucks now,
I tell them my name is Lucy.

PHOTOGRAPH: Anne Born in her very own personal district of Barcelona, Spain (2009).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My name is too short. I always wanted something lingering, graceful. It was only when Ian Fleming’s stories took hold that I realized my name sounded like a spy. Born, Anne Born. I don’t care for Martinis, but if I did, I would like them shaken, not stirred. BORN

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anne Born is a New York-based writer who has been writing stories and poetry since childhood.  She blogs on The Backpack Press and Tumbleweed Pilgrim and her writing focuses on family and life in a big city after growing up in a small one.  She is the author of A Marshmallow on the Bus, and Prayer Beads on the Train. Anne is a photographer who specializes in photos of churches, cemeteries, and the Way of St. James in Spain. Most of her writing is done on the bus.  Find out more at www.about.me/anneborn. You can follow Anne on Wattpad, Instagram, and Twitter at @nilesite.


A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. In the photograph, he is opening The Great Gatsby Anthology on his iPad Kindlle app in a jungle near his home on Java. “Jack” (as he is known to his friends) has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.

PHOTO: James Penha reading the Kindle version of THE GREAT GATSBY ANTHOLOGY in Tangerang on Java in Indonesia. James contributed his poem “Nick Carraway Out in Three” to the collection.

summer_front To celebrate summer, we’re offering a FREE Kindle version of the Silver Birch Press Summer Anthology from Sunday, 7/5, through Tuesday, 7/7/15. The collection features summer-related poetry & prose from over 70 established and up-and-coming writers around the world — including some classic authors from the past. 

Find your free Kindle of the Summer Anthology at Amazon.com. (If you don’t have a Kindle device, get free kindle reading apps for your computer at this link.)

We would appreciate any reblogs, tweets, or Facebook posts about this offer!

by Roberta Beary

insomnia —
the son she buried
inside my name

SOURCE: cattails Premier Edition (May 2014).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author and her dog, Winnie.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother wanted sons. I was to be called Robert but my mother had to make do with Roberta; her hope for a son is something I carry with me always.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roberta Beary‘s book The Unworn Necklace was named a William Carlos Williams Finalist by the Poetry Society of America in 2008, the first such honor for a book of haiku. A frequent judge of haiku and haibun contests, she travels worldwide to give workshops on the art of the short poem. She is an editor of Modern Haiku and a founding associate of The Haiku Foundation. Her most recent book Deflection is a collection of haibun and haiku sequences. She tweets her photoku @shortpoemz.

Family Names
by Lennart Lundh

When my father’s folks made Ellis Island,
the good clerks there, with infinite wisdom,
changed the family name of Lundh to Johnson.
It wasn’t worth an argument to Knut, I’d guess.

Trading Brooklyn and the Great Depression
for Inga’s brother’s farm up Hardangerfjord,
they had no need to change the name again.
They knew who they were, as did their kin.

With the Wehrmacht hungry for Norway,
Sweden and Grandpa’s folks were next.
The border was open, no passports needed,
and gratefully the name remained the same.

Another seven years, and back across the sea.
Grandpa Knut decided Lund was a better name.
Dad and his brother Elof liked the silent “h”,
while Uncle Al figured Johnson was just fine.

There are family stories in names, it seems.
My name comes from my mother’s half-brother,
a relationship so valued, so heirloom-worthy,
I didn’t learn of it, or him, until last year.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with his daughters at Point Loma, San Diego, California (December 1973).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lennart Lundh is a poet, short-fictionist, historian, and photographer. His work has appeared internationally since 1965. Len and his wife, Lin, reside in Northeastern Illinois.

Born into a name
by Aida Bode

A queen and a slave make the perfect

A ruler and a servant make the unspoiled

A visitor and a pilgrim make the shape of
My Name.

Aida was Verdi’s favorite masterpiece
and my father’s second choice for a name;

But I would have never been a good Aphrodite,
so far from Olympus, so far from the waves
I would disappoint pagans
and scare their gods away.

So, I turn my head to listen to the echo
of those who dare to call,
knowing that once upon a time
a second choice was a second chance.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Wearing my name on the sleeve (November 2014).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aida Bode is a writer, poet and translator from Korca, Albania. She’s the author of David and Bathsheba, a novel based on the Biblical story of King David and Bathsheba, the poetic collections True Cheese and Rated, as well as a quotes collection A Commuter’s Eye View. Her prose and poetry have been published and are forthcoming in The River Muse, Dr. Hurley’s Snake Oil Cure, Vayavya, Oddball Magazine, Boston Poetry Magazine, Yellow Chair Review, and more, as well as in multiple Albanian media sources outside and inside the country. Aida Bode is pursuing her MFA in creative fiction at SNHU.

Robbi at Cadence May 2015
In a Name
by Robbi Nester

No one ever calls me by my name.
I got it second-hand, from a grandfather
I never met, long dead before my birth.
No surprise it didn’t fit, this formal moniker,
“Roberta,” that no one ever used except at school.
Stiff as the petticoats I wore back then,
the awkward desks — a frilly name, long-legged.
My mother urged me to wear bows,
play tea party. Instead, I splashed the creek,
bucket in one hand, net in the other,
kept lizards, collected caterpillars
despite the name I had been given.

Some believe a name has power, enough
to cheat the evil eye, as when a person
recovering from an illness is renamed,
so when death arrives, it might be thwarted.
My grandmom was the only one who could have
told me anything about my namesake,
but she never said if I was anything like him
in looks or personality.
In fact, she hardly talked to me at all.
No matter what they called me,
I was still myself.

PHOTOGRAPH: Robbi Nester during a Cadence Collective reading at Gatsby Books  in Long Beach, California (2014).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Names for Ashkanazi Jews, Jews of Eastern European origin, often come from dead relatives. No person is supposed to receive the name of another living person because the name is viewed as having great power over life. My paternal step-grandfather, Robert Ketler, was the source of my name. My grandmother divorced him and he had died long before my birth, but he was the only father my dad knew, since his own father had died shortly before my father’s birth. That’s why he named me, his only child, after his stepfather rather than his biological father. It is true that no one has ever called me Roberta, except in an official capacity. I have never bothered to change my name legally, but to almost everyone who knows me, I have always been Robbi (though not always with this spelling).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012); a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014), and a forthcoming collection of poems, Other-Wise (Tebot Bach). She also edited an anthology of poems inspired by public media, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes, 2014). Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in many journals and anthologies.

by Betty Stanton

It was my great-grandmother’s name, though I never knew
her, and also one of her daughters’ who was not my grandmother.

The name of old ladies, of land runs and covered wagons and
Oklahoma statehood. In the high school ocean of popular names

I stood out, an antique reminder. I hated it. Then my grandmother
died and at her wake we gathered the family to talk about memories.

Friday night board games and a bulging family Bible and holiday tables
sinking under the weight of her meals. She never let anyone stay           hungry,

someone said, and for the first time I heard, She took that from her
mother. Took it from a frontier wife heading west with six babies

at the turn of the century, the youngest wandering away from camp and
being run over by a motorcycle gang. Last thing she’d said was she was

hungry, and Betty couldn’t feed her. I had never really understood
the consequences of being a namesake, the responsibilities passed      from my

great-grandmother, to my great-aunt, to me. Taken from a frontier wife,
She would never let anyone stay hungry. Would never let anyone stay.

PHOTOGRAPH: The poet on the family farm in Oklahoma, where no one ever went hungry (1981).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betty Stanton is a poet and fiction writer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She is currently a candidate for an MFA in Creative Writing from The University of Texas at El Paso. Her work has appeared in Outside the Lines, Limbo, and Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry.


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