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by Mish (Eileen) Murphy

I am still
for my husband to finish
the living room—

for your birthday,
he agreed
six months ago.

Did I mention
that the one wall
he did paint


the one with the
big screen TV
the size
a twin bed

that he bought for himself
without asking me?

I do love that TV, though…

While he was painting
the black wall

he dripped a splotch
of black
on one of the
dingy white walls,

when I was watching
my shows on TV,

out of the corner of my eye
I would see
what looked like a


climbing up the living room wall.

And after I nagged and nagged him
to evict the roach splotch,

I eventually realized
that this black
would still be
the same dingy wall

until Ragnarök died down.

Hire a professional?

He spent all our
extra money
on the

my “real”
birthday gift…

In the meantime,
the only light
in the living room
comes from
the flickering TV screen,

as shadows
the room,

all insects,
big and small.

PAINTING: Untitled by Jiro Yoshihara (1969).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mish (Eileen) Murphy is Associate Poetry Editor for Cultural Weekly magazine and teaches English and Literature at Polk State College, Florida. She has an M.A. in Fiction Writing/Teaching of Writing from Columbia College, Chicago. She just published her third book of poetry (fourth book overall), the collection Sex & Ketchup (Concrete Mist Press Feb. 2021). Fortune Written on Wet Grass (Wapshott Press April 2020) was her first full length collection. Her second book Evil Me was published August 2020 (Blood Pudding Press). She’s had more than 100 individual poems published in the U.S, Canada, and U.K., in journals such as Tinderbox, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and Thirteen Myna Birds, and many others. Mish also is a prolific book reviewer and visual artist; she illustrated the children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus (2019). Visit her at and on Facebook and Instagram

USPS rural licensed tupungato
The substitute rural postal carrier
by Eileen Mish Murphy

Even junk mail
can be exciting
when you’re retired
or quarantined

It’s fun to see
how many folks wait
behind their drapes
her truck
to arrive

The dirt roads
to backwoods trailers
are always flooded

So her van
always gets mired
in the mud

& sometimes
she has to leave
her vehicle

& walk through
a pack of outdoor dogs

to knock on a door,
carrying packages

while wearing
a mask

& clutching

pepper spray

PHOTO: Rural delivery from U.S. Postal Service. Photo by Tupungato, used by permission. 


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sister, who is a rural postal carrier, is the person in the poem. The pandemic has increased her workload tremendously because everybody is buying things from the Internet, and so there are a lot more packages to deliver. 

PHOTO: The author (left) with her sister. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eileen “Mish” Murphy lives near Tampa, Florida, with her Chi-Spaniel Cookie. She teaches English and literature at Polk State College. Her poems have been published in numerous journals and literary blogs, including Silver Birch Press, Tinderbox Journal, Rogue Agent, and Thirteen Myna Birds. She is a staff writer for Cultural Weekly. A prolific book reviewer and visual artist, she has also done the illustrations for the highly acclaimed children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus. Fortune Written on Wet Grass was her first full-length collection. It was followed by the poetry chapbook Evil MeVisit her at

by Eileen Murphy

It’s getting dark; we’ve been in the car traveling
winding mountain roads all afternoon.
I’m getting sleepy.
Mommy? I whine. Can I have my blankie?

My mother speaks from the front seat
without turning around.
It’s lost, honey.
I’m puzzled. “Lost?”

My mother turns around,
but doesn’t meet my gaze.
It was old and raggedy.
You’re a big girl now.
You don’t need a blankie.

I glance out the window and quickly away,
dizzy and scared by the cliffs
that drop off at the side of the road.

I start to cry. I want my blankie.
Doesn’t she understand I need to, I must
rest in my blanket’s comforting arms?

Sighing, my mother says, It got eaten
in the dryer, honey. It’s gone.

I’m sobbing now. I want my blankie!
Oh, dear. Somebody’s tired.

Settle down back there, my father’s voice intrudes.
He’s been driving all day.

I want my blankie, I wannit, I wannit! I scream.

Young lady, warns my father, if you
don’t shut up right now, I’m gonna stop this car
and give you a spanking.

Do I shut up or do I get a spanking?

I forget.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Silver Birch Press call for “Lost and Found” submissions has been rolling around in my mind for some time now, when suddenly this poem sprang out in response. The poem is autobiographical in the sense that I had a beloved “blankie” that got “lost,” per my mother, in the move our family made from Washington State to Texas. Although I was only two, I still remember how upset I was. In the poem, I try to capture what it would be like for a little girl like me when she first discovers her blanket is lost.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy now lives 30 miles from Tampa, Florida. She received her Masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature/English at Polk State College in Lakeland and has recently published poetry in Silver Birch Press, Tinderbox (nominated for Pushcart Prize), Yes Poetry, The American Journal of Poetry, Rogue Agent, and a number of other journals. She has published (or has forthcoming) over 50 poems in the U.S., Canada, and the U. K.


I Stand Here Serving Lunches (At St. Joseph’s Elementary)
by Eileen Murphy

Half an hour into my shift
as an eighth grade student lunch worker
Mother Superior
swans downstairs to the
a new girl by the wrist.

The new girl wears a navy pinafore
too tight in the tummy, and her short-sleeved
uniform shirt is
dirty and sweaty.
Behind glasses
her eyes dart
the mint-green cafeteria walls
for an exit sign.
But Mother’s grip on the girl’s wrist
is unbreakable. The girl tries
hiding in Mother’s
black wool robes
but Mother yanks her back
so we all get a good stare.
The room settles
in greedy silence.

I was doling out spaghetti, careful
not to give too much, when the girl
starts crying, silent tears dribbling her cheeks.
She’s on display, legs trembling,
while Mother intones the day’s announcements.
Finally, Mother puts the new girl in the food line
and I’m allowed to serve her.
I recklessly slide an extra meatball on her plate, try
to catch her eye,
give her a wink—
but she won’t return my gaze.
She sits at a table far from the others, farthest
from the head table where Mother sits.
We call that
table “Outer Mongolia.”
She twirls her fork in the pasta, won’t
bring it to her mouth.

Wasting food is a sin, child. Eat!
Mother waits, bat-like, arms folded.
The girl whispers I’m sorry to her plate of spaghetti.
I’m sorry what?
I’m sorry, ma’am.
No, you must call me Mother.
Spit bubbles at the girl’s lips,
her nose leaks.
I’m sorry, Mother.

PHOTO: The author in her second grade school picture.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem earlier this year during a NatPoMo 30/30 project. The poem is part of a narrative sequence that’s resulted in a book-length manuscript that I have in progress entitled The Knife Tree. The poem is autobiographical, based on the move my family made from Chicago to a town outside of Tampa during second grade, when I changed from attending public school to attending Catholic school.  The poem is written from the POV of an outside observer, not the viewpoint of the person making the move (me), the protagonist. I feel the POV I chose tells this particular story best, and my piece from an outsider’s POV is  autobiographical. When my bio says I’m a “former Chicagolander,” I’m referring to the fact that I lived in Chicago for over 20 years as an adult, not my childhood move.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A former Chicagolander, Eileen Murphy lives near Tampa, surrounded by the wild animals of Central Florida, most of them mosquitoes. She received her masters degree from Columbia College, Chicago. She teaches literature/English at Polk State College and has recently published poetry in Tinderbox (forthcoming), Pittsburgh Poetry Houses, Thank You for Swallowing , Thirteen Myna Birds, Uppagus, quarterday, Right Hand Pointing Issue 94, The Thought EroticRogue Agent, and other journals.

Arthur’s World of Cats
by Caitríona Murphy

All I wanted that year was Arthur’s World of Cats. As the name suggests, it was a book about every breed of cat. I was a six-year-old obsessed with cats. I wanted that book more than anything. More, possibly, than I wanted a cat. It was at the very top of my Christmas list from Santa. One day, close to Christmas, my mother gently sat me down and told me she’d been talking to Santa. Arthur’s World of Cats was proving very hard for him to find, even with his magic. It was unlikely he would be able to get a copy to Ireland before Christmas, but he might be able to get me one in the New Year. The disappointment I felt was only matched by the look of my mam’s face. We hugged and I said to tell Santa that was okay.

Christmas morning, 1995. Beautiful present after present opened. I was so happy already. My mam pointed out one box I’d neglected. Inside, more beautiful than I’d dreamed, was Arthur’s World of Cats. Somehow, Santa had gotten one. Hugging that book to me, I knew what true, perfect Christmas magic was.

PHOTO: This is a picture of me and my little brother and two triplet sisters from that Christmas morning. I’m on the left of the picture, then my brother and sisters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This story is about one of my happiest Christmas memories. A book on cats is probably not what most kids want from Santa, but it was my dream. My mother is my hero and has always ensured myself and my siblings have the best Christmas possible, no matter what lengths she has to go to. The year I was six, she had to go to the ends of the earth to get me that book, but she managed it. I still have the book and when I think of Christmas magic, I think of that moment. I usually write very dark stories, so this is really out of my comfort zone.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Caitríona Murphy lives in Dublin, Ireland, with her family. She is a Crazy Cat Lady who writes when she’s not working as a nurse. Her work has appeared online and in print, including The Eunoia Review, The Narrative Journal, Rocky Mountain Review, Second Chance Anthology and 100 words, 100 books, among others. She is the winner of Mash’s flash fiction contest and Rollick’s “Frantic” issue.

Author Highlight--Christina Murphy PHOTO: Christina Murphy stands with her copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology by the statue of John Marshall, the fourth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (1801-1835), on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The statue is the center point of the main entrance to the University, and it is a beloved symbol of the University itself and of the community it has served since 1837. Huntington is a “land, water, and air” city, as it is open to travel and commerce via all three means. Huntington also has the distinction of being the largest inland port in America by tonnage. Christina contributed the poem “Ascend into Dreams” to the anthology.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON HER POEM: My creative process in writing “Ascend into Dreams” was an effort to imagine what a vision of the highest freedom of ascending into dreams would be like for a man of Jay Gatsby’s intense imagination and romantic sensibilities. I have always been mesmerized by the intensity of Gatsby’s imagination and ability to envision his own created and idealized world. And so I sought for this poem the types of images and conceptual frameworks that would best exemplify what the passion and the intensity of Gatsby’s vision of love would be like. That concept guided me through the drafts of this poem until I felt it captured the idea and ideal of Gatsby as the consummate dreamer for whom creating and sustaining his romantic vision became his life’s passion.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christina Murphy is a poet and fiction writer originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. She has lived parts of her life in states whose names—Tennessee, Mississippi, and Connecticut—are variants of Native American words for “big river.” Now she lives in a 100-year-old house along the Ohio River, and “Ohio” is also a Native American word for “big river.” She senses a pattern here and attributes the stream of consciousness that runs through a number of her poems to her affiliation / connection with rivers. Her poetry appears in a range of journals and anthologies, including, PANK, Dali’s Lovechild, and Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and the anthologies Let the Sea Find its Edges, From the Roaring Deep: A Devotional in Honor of Poseidon and the Spirits of the Sea, and Remaking Moby-Dick. Her work has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart Prize and for the Best of the Net anthology. Christina invites and appreciates readers’ comments on her work, and she can be reached @ChristinaMurph1 on Twitter.

The Shaman Meets with the Man in the Moon
by Joseph Murphy

I grasp rungs of light ascending from a lilac’s bud.

Passing the seven-colored mountain’s peak,
I draw a dreamer’s fingers from my drum’s skin:
Through them,
Reach the final rung.

Guided by my ancestors’ marks, I step
Through a maze
As others would a stream.

One of my spirits hisses free before The Gate of Bones.

The bolts groan beneath that spirit’s bloodied fins:
Hinges splinter;
The dark’s gnarled echo

I pass through and perch on a spoke of light.

The Man in the Moon greets me;
Offers a silken thread
Linked to all the souls I am to return
To body and breath.

When I take it in my beak, I awake
In a pine’s topmost limbs
Knowing the fullness
Of my fate.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After reading Mircea Eliade’s Shamanism, I became fascinated with the subject and a wrote a series poems on various aspects of it, in the first person, trying to imagine the world though a shaman’s eyes.

IMAGE: “Fire, Full Moon” by Paul Klee (1933).

Joe Pix

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph Murphy has had poetry published in a number of journals, including The Gray Sparrow, Pure Francis, and The Sugar House Review. He is also been a poetry editor for an online publication, Halfway Down the Stairs, since 2009.


Thank you to the 120 poets from 31 states and 17 countries who contributed their work to our I AM STILL WAITING Series, which ran from April 19, 2021 to July 16, 2021. It was a wonderful three-month homage to the late, great Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his influential poem “I Am Waiting.” Ferlinghetti’s work and legacy will resound forever! Many thanks to…

Cynthia Anderson
Paige L. Austin
Jaya Avendel
David Bachner
Sam Barbee
Jenny Bates
Laurel Benjamin
Shelly Blankman
Lavina Blossom
Rose Mary Boehm
Steve Bogdaniec
Ranney Campbell
Robin Cantwell
Gary Carter
Jan Chronister
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Clive Collins
Paul Corbeil
Joe Cottonwood
Barbara Crary
Howard Richard Debs
Rafaella Del Bourgo
Hali Denton
Lara Dolphin
Margaret Dornaus
Margaret Duda
Barbara Eknoian
Jeff Ewing
Attracta Fahy
Scott Ferry
Mark A. Fisher
Yvette Viets Flatten
Laura Foley
Thomas Fullmer
Martina Gallegos
Christian Garduno
Sue Mayfield Geiger
Matthew Gilbert
VInce Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Oz Hardwick
Steven Hendrix
Maura High
Stephen Howarth
Mathias Jansson
Sarika Jaswani
Andrew Jeter
Carole Johnston
Joe Johnston
Paul Jones
Feroza Jussawalla
Debra Kaufman
Lynne Kemen
Munia Khan
Kim Klugh
Tricia Knoll
Judy Kronenfeld
Mary Anna Kruch
Aakriti Kuntal
Laurie Kuntz
Jennifer Lagier
Paula J. Lambert
Joan Leotta
Eleanor Lerman
Robert Lima
Rick Lupert
Anne Lutomia
Andy MacGregor
Tamara Madison
Giovanni Mangiante
Shahé Mankerian
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Mary McCarthy
Joan McNerney
Shannon Milliman
Elaine Mintzer
Lisa Molina
Sally Mortemore
Leah Mueller
Jagari Mukherjee
Lowell Murphree
Mish (Eileen) Murphy
Burleigh Mutén
Jill Namatsi
Lillian Nećakov
Maria Nestorides
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Mary O’Brien
Jay Passer
James Penha
Darrell Petska
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Jessica Purdy
Patrick T. Reardon
Jeannie E. Roberts
Kerfe Roig
Ed Ruzicka
Rikki Santer
Federica Santini
Wilderness Sarchild
Sheikha A.
Julia Klatt Singer
Ranjith Sivaraman
Massimo Soranzio
Julie Standig
Carol A. Stephen
Terrence Sykes
Alarie Tennille
Gail Tirone
Richard Vargas
Smitha Vishwanath
Alan Walowitz
Kelley White
Lynn White
Jonathan Yungkans
Thomas Zampino
Andrena Zawinski
Yvonne Zipter
Joanie HF Zosike

licensed Thomas Carlson
Thank you to the 66 authors from 10 countries and 20 states who participated in the Silver Birch Press PRIME MOVERS Series, which ran from August 28 through October 4, 2020. We extend our appreciation to the writers who expressed their appreciation to essential workers keeping the world moving during the pandemic—or those who would be doing so if they were still with us! Many thanks to…

Janet Banks
Roberta Beary
Shelly Blankman
Rose Mary Boehm
Mary Camarillo
Stephanie Campitelli
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Joe Cottonwood
Howard Richard Debs
Vandita Dharni
Julie Dickson
Dakota Donovan
Sheila A. Donovan
Margaret Duda
Barbara Eknoian
Attracta Fahy
Jennifer Finstrom
Beth Fox
S.M. Geiger
Vince Gotera
Anita Haas
Bridget Harris
Donna Hilbert
Stephen Howarth
Marilyn Humbert
Joseph Johnston
Tricia Knoll
Michelle Kogan
Judy Kronenfeld
Tom Lagasse
Jennifer Lagier
Joan Leotta
Rick Lupert
Marjorie Maddox
Ruthie Marlenée
Betsy Mars
Mary McCarthy
Joan McNerney
Eileen Mish Murphy
Mari Ness
Cristina M.R. Norcross
Jay Passer
Roger Patulny
Marianne Peel
Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Patrick T. Reardon
Jeannie E. Roberts
Sarah Russell
Paul Ruth
Wilderness Sarchild
Carol A. Stephen
Dana St. Mary
Leslie Sittner
JC Sulzenko
Ann Christine Tabaka
Jo Taylor
Alarie Tennille
Mary Langer Thompson
Cruz Villarreal
Smitha Vishwanath
Alan Walowitz
Kelley White
Lisa Wiley
Jonathan Yungkans
Joanie HF Zosike

PHOTO: U.S. Post Office worker, Bisbee, Arizona (April 2020) by Thomas Carlson, used by permission.

Thank you to the 114 writers — from 26 states and 12 countries — who participated in our LOST AND FOUND Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from March 6  to May 5, 2017. Many thanks to the following authors for their intriguing, compelling work!

Paul Andrews (Canada)
Jeanie Axon (Australia)
Daisy Bala (Illinois)
Charlotte Barnes (England)
Nicholas Batdorf (Pennsylvania)
Roberta Beary (Maryland)
Nina Bennett (Deleware)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Amanda Bonnick (England)
Katley Demetria Brown (Massachusetts)
Gary Campanella (California)
John Carney (Pennsylvania)
Lucia Cherciu (New York)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Wanda Morrow Clevenger (Illinois)
Marion Deutsche Cohen (Pennsylvania)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Jackie Craven (New York)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Isobel Cunningham (Canada)
Karen Eastlund (New Jersey)
Katherine Edgren (Michigan)
Jessica Edler (Florida)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Ellen Evans (Rhode Island)
Judson Evans (Massachusetts)
j.a. farina (Canada)
Rhys Feeney (New Zealand)
Vern and Ilyse Fein (Illinois)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Laura Foley (Vermont)
Vincent Francone (Illinois)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Lourdes A. Gautier (New Jersey)
Susan W. Goldstein (Florida)
Vince Gotera (Iowa)
VIjaya Gowrisankar (India)
Ananya Guha (India)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Oz Hardwick (England)
Richard Harries (England)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Penny Harter (New Jersey)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Udo Hintze (Texas)
Nurit Israeli (New York)
Mathias Jansson (Sweden)
Elizabeth Kerper (Illinois)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Laurie Kolp (Texas)
Judy Kronenfeld (California)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Kathleen A. Lawrence (New York)
Yvonne Higgins Leach (Washington)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Stephen S. Lottridge (Wyoming)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Aimee Mackovic (Texas)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Anu Mahadev (New Jersey)
Betsy Mars (California)
Lindsey Martin-Bowen (Missouri)
Danielle Matthews (England)
Mary McCarthy (Florida)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Terri Miller-Carrara (Florida)
Michael Minassian (North Carolina)
Penelope Moffet (California)
Cord Moreski (New Jersey)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Connor Mura (New York)
Eileen Murphy (Florida)
Kathleen Naureckas (Illinois)
Maria Nestorides (Cyprus)
Perry S. Nicholas (New York)
Kirsty A. Niven (Scotland)
Cristina M.R. Norcross (Wisconsin)
Kathryn Olsen (Utah)
Annasofia Padua (Florida)
Sunayna Pal (Connecticut)
Erin K. Parker (California)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
Will Pennington (Maryland)
Dustin Pickering (Texas)
Tania Pryputniewicz (California)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Luisa Kay Reyes (Alabama)
Susanna Rich (New Jersey)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Diana Rosen (California)
Roslyn Ross (Australia)
Alexis Rotella (Maryland)
Pallabi Roy (India)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Sally Toner (Virginia)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Sylvia Riojas Vaughn (Texas)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Michelle Walshe (Ireland)
Courtney Watson (Virginia)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Lynn White (Wales)
Robert Whiteley (Canada)
Lisa Wiley (New York)

Please check out our current call for submissions:

MY FIRST JOB Poetry & Prose Series (May 31, 2017 deadline)