Archives for category: IF I Poetry & Prose Series


Thank you to the 87 writers — from 24 states and 16 countries — who participated in our IF I Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from September 28 – October 26, 2016. Based on emails and comments, this series was a reader favorite! Many thanks to the following authors for their amazing work!

Azia Archer-DuPont (Minnesota)
Roberta Beary (Maryland)
Lana Bella (Vietnam)
Nina Bennett (Delaware)
Norma Bernstock (Pennsylvania)
Steve Bogdaniec (Illinois)
Timothy Cheeseman (Ohio)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Wanda Morrow Clevenger (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Jay Deitcher (New York)
Kathy Lundy Derengowski (California)
Casey Derengowski (California)
Steven Deutsch (Pennsylvania)
Cal Freeman (Michigan)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
VIjaya Gowrisankar (India)
Deepali Gupta (India)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Tom Holmes (Mississippi)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Caroline Johnson (Illinois)
Jacqueline Jules (Virginia)
Tim Kahl (California)
Gordon Kippola (Texas)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Barbara Krasner (New Jersey)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Bernadine Lortis (Minnesota)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Mohini Malhotra (District of Columbia)
Betsy Mars (California)
Mary C. McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Michael Minassian (Texas)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Phetote Mshairi (Oklahoma)
Heidi North-Bailey (New Zealand)
Debasish Parashar (India)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Marianne Peel (Michigan)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Tim Philippart (Michigan)
D.A. Pratt (Canada)
Kelly Ramsdell Fineman (New Jersey)
Jonaki Ray (India)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Mark Redford (England)
Scott Redmond (Scotland)
Bethany Reid (Washington)
C.R. Resetarits (Mississippi)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Esther Rohm (Ohio)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Lois Roma-Deeley (Arizona)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Barbara Ruth (California)
Wilderness Sarchild (Massachusetts)
Susan Schirl Smith (New Hampshire)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Jane Shlensky (North Carolina)
Ndaba Sibanda (Kuwait)
Alex Simand (California)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Sarah Dickenson Snyder (Massachusetts)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Ryan Stone (Australia)
Jacque Stukowski (Illinois)
Elizabeth Kate Switaj (Marshall Islands)
Terrence Sykes (Virginia)
Amanda Tanner (Michigan)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
James Walton (Australia)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Lin Whitehouse (England)
Ginna Wilkerson (Florida)
Lozan Yamolky (Canada
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)



If I Made a Movie
by Michael Minassian

If I made a movie about my life,
I would prefer the midnight showing
or perhaps a small art cinema
in a random city.

Unknown actors would stand in for me,
or I might play all the parts myself –
switching camera angles or using tricks of lighting
to fool audience and critics alike.

At the Oscars, the stage crammed with stars,
I would graciously accept my awards,
although my speech would run on
for fourteen hours as I thanked all of you,
               my friends.

PHOTO: Santa Fe (New Mexico) Independent Film Festival, October 2012.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Having attended many Film Festivals, I noticed quite a few writer/directors made autobiographical films. I wondered what would happen if I produced my own autobiography. Would it be a comedy, tragedy, action movie, tear jerker, western, sci-fi? Of course, it would be an international box office sensation and win multiple awards.


Michael Minassian 
lives in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have appeared in such journals as TheAurorean,The Broken Plate, Exit 7, The Galway Review, and Third Wednesday. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online literary magazine. Amsterdam Press published a chapbook of poems entitled The Arboriculturist in 2010.

if I write
by Mark Redford

if I write too much or
if I worry that I don’t

write at all, I have
become the insincerity

that I write to confound;
I should write when it

flows and sobs, I should
not write when stuck

in parse, no quota too
empty, no fate to fulfill

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The place where writing often happened through darśan; you can see me there, just below the middle line, in the process of being created in between the words I write and the words I read.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Redford has written since he was “sour 16” trying to find himself against the “phoniness” and “bad faith” he’d read about (Salinger & Sartre respectively); he continued writing at university to moisturise the crust of all that reading he had to do to find the honesty; he didn’t write so much while he suffered a career which begged the muse and time to do it; he re-started writing in earnest while he retired in awkward grace, sometimes hitting a lode but mostly labouring in style, and usually wondering whether he has been looking in the wrong place all along . . .

“If I” is a Palindrome
by Scott Redmond

If I fell down, I might get back up, consider it anyway
You know, so long as I wasn’t falling into bed or into love or into lava,
If you fell down, I might help you back up, try to anyway
You know, so long as you didn’t fall into a really deep hole, or anything else dangerous
Like a burning ring of fire
(On the off chance that the ghost of Johnny Cash is reading this).

If I fell down, would you help me back up, would you try to at least?
Would you extend a hand, throw some rope or try to grab me with one of those dinosaur grabby stick things?
What if I was really stuck in deep quicksand that started around my ankles that’s reached my neck
And every time I struggle to get out I fall farther, would you help me then
Even when I could not help myself?

I have fallen more times than I have gotten up.
One more time to be exact.

IMAGE: “Cherry Fall” by Joan Snyder (1995).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short piece takes it’s inspiration from two main sources — the stand-up comedy show “If I” by Demetri Martin, which is the origin of the poem’s title,  and secondly a short battle with depression. During this, I saw the fight-or-flight responses of both myself and those around me, and in the piece I’m questioning both myself and those around me on how they would react if it happened again. I realize how wanky that sounds.


At 19, Scott Redmond is one of the younger writers and performers on the Scottish poetry scene. In his first year, his work appeared in a number of publications, including High Flight and I am not a Silent Poet. He is also an acclaimed stand-up comedian and award-winning playwright and director. He does not understand why it is not spelt “playwrite.”

PHOTO: The author during a stand-up comedy show in mid-2016.

If I Were A Palmist
by Debasish Parashar

If I
were a palmist
I could have read how
the lines on your palm
merge with the borders
and defines
not merely of maps and geography
a geosophy

just reading your palm
I could have predicted,
“You will find a new love
in your late sixties
a give and take !”

could have warned you
flicker of your eyebrows
would mean so much
for so many !

I must tell you
your lines are curved so deep
they can bleed…
irony is
I am not a palmist
but I dream.

IMAGE: “Palmist” by Vivian Frerichs. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: India historically has been more than a geographical territory, but a wider system of thoughts, cultures, and ideas. Strengthening of personality cult in politics problematizes that very idea in contemporary times.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debasish Parashar is a public policy, governance and art & culture enthusiast,singer/songwriter, lyricist, poet (to some extent), and social journalist based in New Delhi, India. A postgraduate in English literature from University of Delhi, he has sung for “In Search of God” and “Raag.” His write-up on Majuli has been listed among top 100 online #worldheritagesites stories globally in May 2016 by Agilience Authority Index. His literary works have been (or will be) featured in prestigious international Journals/Reviews/Zines, such as Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Scarlet Leaf Review, Enclave/Entropy, Raven Cage Zine,Spillwords, Visual Verse( Germany/U.K), Tuck Magazine (Global), Indiana Voice Journal (U.S.A), Muse India, Indian Periodical, The Poet Community, Swarajya, Youthkiawaaz, Duane’s PoeTree, Thumb Print Magazine (Accepted), Sadda haq, Assam Tribune, and many more. His works are included in two upcoming international anthologies, Apple Fruits of an Old Oak (Kew Gardens Press, New York) and Dandelion in a Vase of Roses  U.S.A). Visit and follow him on Twitter @MrDevParashar.

If I Smile Like St. Dismas the Good Thief
by Catfish McDaris

If I had better concentration, the writer of my novel wouldn’t take the reins. Listening to Johnny Cash sing If I Were A Carpenter warms the heart of an old man on a cold lonely night.

The novel has a writer, a painter, a thief, a killer: those are the 4 main characters.

The gargoyles sneer
down from the Basilique
du Sacré Coeur de Montmartre

Mademoiselles and
gypsies dance and laugh

There is no sadness
or hunger

PHOTO: “Sacré Coeur Basilica (Paris)” by Hugh Smith (2012).  Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris won the Thelonius Monk Award in 2015. His 25 years of published material is in the Special Archives Collection at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is listed in Wikipedia. His ancestors are from the Aniwaya Clan of the Cherokee Nation.His newest book is Sleeping with the Fish.

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: My self-portrait was when I was 50.

if I could make time quiet
by Deepali Gupta

If I could make time crawl into small steps or if I could stop the time for once. A question a feeling of loss drips down every night and dawn if time crawled right here and right now. It would slow down our demons, thoughts, and so much work.
Becoming a poem, picking up our little pieces and rebirthing.
Letting go of the darkness that resides within which consumes us nevertheless, holding on to everything that helps us live through.
Sitting down and appreciating life and its blessings of what life has given.
Sipping the morning coffee and feel every sip, gulping every aroma.
Beautify, resilient up.
I would hear nature, dance along the rhythm. Listen to songs and enjoy this.
I would become the moment I always wanted to be. Soak in it. Think of only growing, learning.
I would come into countenance of every single emotion I put in the “I don’t want to focus on this” just because I did not want to break down and ruin my schedule.
Feel it. Feel it. Relive it. Relieve it. And then learn to feel again like a child. Be the lilac sky.

IMAGE: “Sunset at Giverny” by Claude Monet (1886).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Deepali Gupta is a medical student from Mumbai, India. She believes words can heal or break you. You can find more of her work on instagram at ofachesandhealing .She loves to stargaze, sing, read, and have deep talks. Most of her poem is based on her observations in her surroundings. She has been published in anthologies and magazines.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Taken at home months back– trying to live amidst chaos, something that the world is trying to make me, and something that I am. Trying not to dull my soul.

If I Was Invisible
by Phetote Mshairi

If I was invisible
would you still overlook the fact
that I am exactly
who you prayed for?

If I was invisible,
would my virtuous attributes
still be divisible
by the square root
of what I do not look like,
whom you would
rather I be?

If I was inside out
with nothing to hide,
would my transparency
frighten you?

Would you allow reality
to enlighten you to the fact
that you actually
like me too?

Could you fathom that truth?

If money and material objects
were no object,
would you still object
to your obvious connection
with “Mr. Phetote would be perfect if
(insert something superficial here)”?

If I could convey chivalry
in a million and one ways,
and the authenticity
of the Gentleman in me
would make you see
that chivalry
is not make believe…
then would you believe me?

If physical matter
didn’t matter,
how much more
would I matter to you?

Please tell me
that “we”
matter more
than carnal matters do…

Do we?

PHOTO: Taken at “Lefty’s on Greenwood,” Tulsa, Oklahoma (Winter 2015).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was motivated by a woman I was dating who told me that I would be perfect if I looked a certain way and if I had more money. :-/


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Phetote Mshairi is a poet, author, Poetry Slam champion (in several competitions), songwriter/performer, teaching artist of poetry workshops,  actor, and mentor from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He has a B.B.A. from Langston University, with a major in Business Management. As a member of the Poetry Board Committee at Living Arts of Tulsa, he curates, presents, hosts, and performs in original spoken-art events. The host of a weekly open mic event called “Manhattan Musings,” he is also a songwriter and performer of music from various genres, with two music CDs of various genres in the works.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Taken in February 2016 at a heritage poetry slam near Dallas, Texas.


If I Had Never Been a Runner
by Susan Schirl Smith

If I had never been a runner, I would have received that call early one morning during the mid 80s. There were no cell phones and no texting. No way to reach someone away from home.

I woke up at dawn, left my friend who was visiting for the weekend, and went off to the YMCA in Boston to run before I drove to New Hampshire for a college reunion. Because, in those days, I had to run, no matter what. It was my escape, my sanity, my freedom. I knew that I’d feel better seeing people from college that I hadn’t seen in six years if I had that time of meditation in motion beforehand.

After the Homecoming game, a man put his arm around me on the football field. I looked at him, puzzled at who he was. “Excuse me, do I know you?’’ I said. As I glanced at the name, Smith, on his jacket, I thought “Oh, no.“ This man was an old friend, the kind of friend where something more than friendship always simmered just under the surface, but never rose above in our college days. By the end of the dance that evening, something new had begun.

If I hadn’t run that morning, I would have taken the call that my cousin had been murdered on a beach in California. Homecoming football games, and dances, and newborn love would never have happened that day. I would have been with my family.

If I had never been a runner, the girl who was the miracle of that love would never have been born. The one who hears the story of the phone call that wasn’t and the chance meeting on a football field. Because I ran.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My first “real” running shoes. Prior to these, they were called sneakers.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: That “meditation in motion” helped me through the loss of my cousin, and brought great joy to my life. Though my running days are behind me now, that daughter I spoke of is training to run the Boston Marathon for charity. And for her mother.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Schirl Smith has worn many hats over the years: nurse, creative coach, holistic energy practitioner, photographer, among others. She has decided to put the hat of her first love, writing, back on and has been published in a holistic nursing journal as well as contributing to creative/spiritual blogs and publications. The memoir of her relationship with her brother, Desperado, is her current project. Having been told even when she lived in the New York/New Jersey area that she really had never left New England, she has decided to return home, and lives (mostly) in southern New Hampshire.

If I Leave
by Carol A. Stephen

If I had never slept in barns, nor called
a cellar home, might walls have held me
safe from tractors I could never drive?

If I could ride, would the furrows be straight,
narrow trenches filled with rain, the promise of each seed?

Yet, I’ve tilled myself a garden, made a home
for frogs to hide under inverted clay pots. They wait
for flies, their tongues curled, sticky with anticipation.

If I leave first, bury me with a memory of my garden:
          a blackeyed susan, blue delphinium,
          or an explorer rose, everywhere thorned and twisting.

Scatter the petals of spent blooms in the doorway,
crush them underfoot. Their scent will hold an answer
to when or why. Do not cry then. Walk the old growth forest,
scatter my memories among roots of its oldest tree.

Give what remains to soil and sky, and with each kneeling
do not speak of what’s gone but listen: in the movement of trees
a voice echoes each blade of grass. Your upturned palm
returns my energy to the universe.

IMAGE: “Flower Garden” by Gustav Klimt (1907).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Began as musing about the grief process and a well-known poem “Do Not Stand By My Grave And Weep” by Mary Elizabeth Frye (1932).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Carol A. Stephen is a Canadian poet. Her poetry has appeared in Bywords Quarterly Journal and two Tree Press/phaphours press collaborative chapbooks. You can also find Carol’s poems on-line at and in videos at Twice shortlisted,  in 2012 Carol won third place in Canadian Authors Association National Capital Writing Contest. She’s the author of three chapbooks, Above the Hum of Yellow JacketsArchitectural Variations, and Ink Dogs in my Shoes (2014), as well as a collaborative chapbook with JC Sulzenko, Breathing Mutable Air (2015), and a  chapbook of ekphrastic poems, Slant of Light (2016). Visit her at