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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.

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)

scott wyatt
Dear Diary
by Anu Mahadev

Lunch boxes, water bottles, scarves, shoes.
None would show up after I’d “misplaced” them.

Isn’t it Murphy’s law that you find something
when you’re looking for something else?

There’s the attic, the old cupboard
with stacks of saris. My mother’s house.

I cut my finger, cleaning, rummaging through
the shelves for my old wedding invitations.

That’s when I find it. My forgotten diary.

It smells of warped wood and mothballs
and pine oil and used cinnamon spice.

Brown leather-bound, embossed with a
symbol I don’t recognize anymore,

its pages a deep ochre yellow, stained from
many a tearful night, writing my heart out.

I cringe as I open it, unsure of its secrets.
Most of the words are splotched, leaving

behind a blurry wall of illegible graffiti.
Covered in rhymes and sonnets — my early stint

as a poet, unwrapped. My views on life, as a
know-it-all teenager, and how everything seemed
like it was the end of the world.

It still hurts, the look in his latent summer eyes.

I’d played FLAMES randomly with his name and mine,
and doctored it so it would always end in Love.

I’d practiced my future signature with our initials together.

Those were the days I was drawn to him — a moth
to a citronella candle, and couldn’t read the invisible

ink between the lines. Why is it that this sepia-toned
unrequited love — no more than a gigantic crush —

felt like I still had something to prove?
I could keep going, spelunking through the depths

of the darkness for more, but I am jolted back
to the present by a mosquito bite. The diary is no longer

a long-lost companion. It feels like a feudal lord, and I its slave.
I toss it into the trash. Some dreams shouldn’t be recycled.

IMAGE: “A Soldier’s Recollection” by Scott Wyatt. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in India, and have lived in the U.S. for 21 years. But there is a part of me that perhaps never left home, and whenever I do go back to visit, I’m always looking at old photo albums, old books, anything that I can find to remind me of my childhood and growing up years. That first layer of hurt remains fresh no matter how many life experiences I’ve added in all the years since. So while I was glad to find this diary, and then wondered who else had read it, I was also shocked that it still existed. I wanted to believe that disposing of it would remove those years from my life, and I dismissed the events without a second thought. Yet here I am, writing a poem about it.

anu_mABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anu Mahadev is a New Jersey based poet and a recent graduate of the MFA in Poetry program at Drew University. She is part time editor for the Woman Inc. online and Jaggery Lit. online. Her poems have appeared in the  anthologies Colors of Refuge and Reinventing Myths, as well as in the journals The Olentangy Review and The Wild Word.

Two-piece suit
by Kelley White

          for a poet
               being is
                    a narrative

I was miserable of course for I was seventeen
and I had a single pair of blue jeans
I wrung out each night and hung on the doorknob
against the light of traffic slatting the blinds

I decided when I had my own place I’d never
sleep alone. I didn’t know anyone to invite
but there’d be someone. Maybe a cat who liked moonlight
or a dog that couldn’t bark. My mother watched me

too often in the meadow where I listened to the crackle
of katydids and click beetles. Dry afternoons and wet
mornings. One day I’d meet someone in my meadow
and they’d love all my memories. I’d weave a chain

of black-eyed susans and grass for a hat
band. It’d be the night. I’d meet sunrise.
I’d whistle the song I can’t remember. The one that ends
with a twenty dollar gold piece. And a watch.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A real “Breck Girl,” Ginny Guild, does my hair for the Junior Prom, Gilford, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 1971.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I remember attending a poetry retreat some years back at the Jersey shore with the wonderful teacher and poet Peter Murphy and he gave the opening, “I was miserable of course for I was seventeen. . .” The poem previously appeared in this year’s Eclectic Muse.


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.