Archives for category: ME, AT 17

Thank you to the 153 writers — from 36 states and 16 countries — who participated in our ME, AT 17 Poetry & Prose Series, which ran January 1 – March  5, 2017. Many thanks to the following authors for the captivating trips down memory lane!

Rosie Accola (Illinois)
Sudeep Adhikari (Nepal)
David-Matthew Barnes (Colorado)
Ginger Beck (Arkansas)
David Bennett (Oregon)
Nina Bennett (Deleware)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Cath Bore (England)
Paul Brookes (England)
Cynthia Bryant (California)
Tiffany Buck (Georgia)
Don Kingfisher Campbell (California)
John Carney (Pennsylvania)
Alexandra Carr-Malcolm (England)
Salena Casha (Massachusetts)
Jackie Chou (California)
Anshu Choudhry (India)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Wanda Morrow Clevenger (Illinois)
Marion Deutsche Cohen (Pennsylvania)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Michael Coolen (Oregon)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Isobel Cunningham (Canada)
Mitra Debarshi (India)
Kathy Derengowski (California)
Steven Deutsch (Pennsylvania)
Margo Jodyne Dills (Washington)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Amanda Elfert (Canada)
j.a. farina (Canada)
Roberta P. Feins (Washington)
Andy Fogle (New York)
Laura Foley (Vermont)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Kate Garrett (England)
L.T. Garvin (Texas)
Lourdes A. Gautier (New Jersey)
Mary Gilonne (France)
Gary Glauber (New York)
Beth Gordon (Missouri)
Vince Gotera (Iowa)
VIjaya Gowrisankar (India)
Ananya Guha (India)
Stephanie Han (Hawaii)
Pauletta Hansel (Ohio)
Oz Hardwick (England)
Richard Harries (England)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Clemonce Heard (Oklahoma)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Yvonne Higgins Leach (Washington)
Donna Hilbert (California)
Danna Hobart (California)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Andrew Hunt (Oregon)
M.J. Iuppa (New York)
Rowan Johnson (Tennessee)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
James Ross Kelly (California)
Elizabeth Kerlinkowske (Michigan)
Munia Khan (Bangladesh)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Joseph Kleponis (Massachusetts)
Laurie Kolp (Texas)
Katy Konrad (England)
Sarah Krenicki (New York)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Kathleen A. Lawrence (New York)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Cheryl Levine (Massachusetts)
Daniella Levy (Israel)
Kali Lightfoot (Massachusetts)
Sarah Lilius (Virginia)
Laura Lovic-Lindsay (Pennsylvania)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Tamara Madison (California)
Kate Mahoney (New Zealand)
Shahé Mankerian (California)
Christina Marrocco (Illinois)
Betsy Mars (California)
David Mathews (Illinois)
Mary McCarthy (Florida)
Patricia McGoldrick (Canada)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Josh Medsker (New Jersey)
Terri Miller-Carrara (Florida)
Michael Minassian (North Carolina)
Shane Moritz (Maryland)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Vicky Morris (England)
Donald S Murray (Scotland)
Lylanne Musselman (Indiana)
Gillian Nevers (Wisconsin)
Jo Newton (England)
Allie Beatrice O’Hollerin (Illinois)
Robert Okaji (Texas)
Cindy O’Quinn (Maine)
Erin K. Parker (California)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
Maria Pascualy (Washington)
Stephanie Paterson (California)
Sarah E. Pearce (Illinois)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Jennifer Perrine (Oregon)
Tim Philippart (Michigan)
Dustin Pickering (Texas)
Lesley Quayle (England)
Zoë Ramsey (Scotland)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Sonny Regelman (Texas)
Cinthia Ritchie (Arkansas)
Bethany Rivers (England)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Katelyn Roth (Kansas)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
d.r. sanchez (Pennsylvania)
Cathie Sandstrom (California)
Karen Sawyer (Texas)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Beth Sherman (New York)
Shoshauna Shy (Wisconsin)
Alex Simand (California)
Laila Simon (Oregon)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Donna JT Smith (Maine)
Susan Smith (New Hampshire)
Alec Solomita (Massachusetts)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Skaidrite Stelzer (Ohio)
Ryan Stone (Australia)
Terrence Sykes (Virginia)
Mary Ellen Tally (Washington)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Mary Langer Thompson (California)
Marion Tickner (New York)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Rachel Voss (New York)
Jen Waldron (Georgia)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Michelle Walshe (Ireland)
Sera Waters (Scotland)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Wendi White (Virginia)
Lin Whitehouse (England)
Lisa Wiley (New York)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Marilyn Zelke-Windau (Wisconsin)
Joanie HF Zosike (New Jersey)


Junior Year
by David Mathews

“we welfare kids could travel…”
—Junot Diaz on playing Dungeons & Dragons

The Dead Milkmen—
          gospel of my attitude & angst.

Supermarket bowtied bagger
after school.
                    A nearby laundromat had a Castlevania machine.
I’d go smash some shit with a morning star—
an extension of my avatar’s arm until my quarters ran out.

          Using Chicago’s Northwest Side alleys
like the back roads of thieves. Sneaking
sips of booze & finding junk treasure.

                    Shy but still smitten by
                         new wave daughters of Artemis
                              & headbanger shield-maidens of Odin.

                              Wearing their black nail polish way before
                                        Reality TV housewives knew its power.
Secretly I rolled 20-sided di.
Fighting chaotic evil demon lords.
Severing the heads with vorpal weapons
          of those that swim in darkness.

          Wishing I had bags of infinite holding of my own—
                    opening to a non-dimensional space.

Hiding the fact my gym shoes
          brought at the outlet store
                    just before the school year
                              had holes I had to live with.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I was never in one group, but I hung out a lot with the headbangers. They wanted a picture of headbangers for the yearbook and somehow I ended up in it dead center. (1990 yearbook, junior year.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I saw the “ME, AT 17” prompt, I almost made the mistake of trying to make my version of an “Ode to a Grecian Urn.” But the 17-year-old I was is not trapped in time unchanged—I hope not—I’d like to think he keeps me company.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, The Ghazal Page, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and has received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. He lives in his hometown of Chicago where he teaches and writes.


by Andy Fogle

We take a train from Bremerhaven to another town to the south, and when we get off, they lead me from the station to a small field with reeds taller than us. In the middle, an open circle: beer cans, cigarette butts, a condom wrapper. A bottle appears from Scott’s jacket pocket; I drink with them, but do not smoke. Seventeen, and I wasn’t sure kids really did this. Later, a waitress our age brings us pizza in a café, and I am not afraid to look in her calm, bright eyes. I am not afraid to hold the look.

IMAGE: Jägermeister, a German liqueur made with 56 herbs and spices at a strength of 35% alcohol by volume.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE TITLE: “Speisen” is a German word that can have a few meanings, most interestingly enough for this piece “power,” “supply,” and “food.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:The summer between my junior and senior years of high school, my father, grandmother, and I took a trip to visit my aunt (sister and daughter of my father and grandmother, respectively) and her family in Germany, where they’d lived for a decade by then. I had not indulged in many substances at the time, and could be talkative yet tentative around girls, and so the trip for me was a very straightforward cultural awakening. It’s simple, my memory—memory, period, perhaps—is made of fragments, and I’ve been slowly trying to set down slivers of that trip into vignettes.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy Fogle has five chapbooks of poetry, with poems, translations, memoir, interviews, criticism, and educational research in Mid-American Review, Blackbird, South Dakota Review, Natural Bridge, Reunion: The Dallas Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, English Journal, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. He lives in upstate New York, teaching high school and working on a PhD in Education.

Sweet 17
by Terri Miller

It’s May 1980
Spring Formal
Another brick in the wall
by Pink Floyd is playing on the radio

My Jr Prom
My first date
Blind date at my Jr Prom

Gorgeous guy
blonde hair
blue eyes
dressed in white

Myself a blue chiffon gown
done up to boot

Pictures were taken lol
with me and my mystery man

Food was horrible
but who had
time to notice
with five couples
to a table

Few words were
as we didn’t know
each other

Schoolmates were jealous
of my mystery man

As we danced to
You take my breath away,
by Berlin

The night ended

IMAGE: “Blue prom dress,” illustration by Fairy Fortune, used by permission.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terri Miller was born and raised in Rhode Island, but now resides in the country part  of Florida. A country girl at heart, she has been writing since grade school. In 2013, after the death of her brother, her poetry became darkened. Around 2015, the darkness lifted. She is a lover of life’s simpler things. Her inspiration for poetry is rooted in faith and family, in love, nature and words.  She believes life is poetry waiting to be written!  What she looks at seems to make her write. She can’t wait to get her thoughts written down, but it’s not always at the right time, because there are so many other things that she should be doing. Like anything else, she is a work in progress and is presently under Major Construction. Follow along for inspiration or for simple enjoyment at Mia’s Wisdom and My Poetry Express.

Sonnet on Being Seventeen
by Amanda Elfert

At seventeen, I didn’t know much just,
Not much of anything; painful hurts would cut.
I gazed in the mirror wishing I was what,
Guys found beautiful, not a red complexion.
But skin cleared for grad photos somewhat,
And graduation was a monumental strut;
Into the wide world of a young adult but —
Drunk for first time, on two pints of beer chugged.
But made great friends, started with tea, no fear —
When fortune teller read our palm, seer —
Said I was too quiet, had to live, learn not be,
Girl committing to first guy of her dreams.
Then off to Mexican Orphanage, saw clear,
Those in need, how vital is charity.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Myself, age 17, at the San Diego Zoo on my high school’s mission and services trip to an orphanage in Mexico.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I think seventeen is such an age of change for young people. It’s on the cusp of finally being free and able to do more of what you like in life and less of what you’re told. It’s finding out that even with newfound freedoms there is still responsibility. And later in life remembering, you are never so free as you are at the end of high school and in university. You are free in ways you cannot comprehend and will never be again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Eifert is a writer and blogger in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. She has poetry and short fiction published online forSpillWords Magazine and SickLitMagazine. She has an English BA and has applied to an MFA program in Creative Writing. You can visit her blog at to see where most of her work develops. She also conducts  writer/blogger interviews on her blog and does a variety of other writing.

17: Acrostic
by Joanie HF Zosike

Smashing boulders, breaking icons, she redefined the crevasse between
Evil and good. Not one of those giggly, silly girls; she pondered mortal
Venal sin, her Jewess-self raging at the iron maiden of low-c catholic
Easy was a realm she never visited. Passion whipped her skin, an icy
Nights were mortal wounds; she longed for a special somewhom.
Taken by the throat, her innocence was shaken into shackles at her
Even after this assault, she didn’t weep, rather, she sang, and infused her
Eagerness and terror into one lurid portrait of bravado in shiny red
Nonchalantly, she wove a pyretic cloak of intellect and sexy indifference.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me, at age 17, having learned that being all that isn’t all that. Here I’m appearing in Mozart’s first opera, Bastien and Bastienne, with Joey Block as “Bastien.” (Young People’s Opera Association, Culver City, California).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joanie HF Zosike’s poem, “Cross Jesse,” recently appeared in Bastille No. 3, published in Paris. Her work also appears in Silver Birch Press Summer, Noir Erasure, Alice in Wonderland, and  The Great Gatsby anthologies. A chapbook, Bliss, Not Weight, is one of 15 chapbooks published in Silver Birch Press Ides Anthology, and an earlier chapbook, The Character Poems, was published by Chez Chez. Other publications appear in At the Edge, Counterclock (Germany), Dissident Voice, Heresies, Jewish Forward, Levure Literraire (France), Maintenant Vols. 5-10 (Three Rooms Press), Public Illuminations Magazine (PIM) “Fortune” and “Flesh” issues, and Rabbit and Rose, among others. She is also an actor, singer, director, workshop presenter, and caregiver.

Thin Ice
by Allie Beatrice O’Hollerin

Daughter and beau, cooking in the kitchen.
For Father’s passed out from whiskey drinkin’.
Sliding fast on the linoleum floor,
hoping Dad continues sonorous snores.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My senior prom.  The school was Anchor Bay High School.  It was 1975.  The prom took place at the Hillcrest Country Club in Mt. Clemens, Michigan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have never written a poem before, but decided to take a class and try my hand. I read about the “Me, at 17” prompt and realized that there couldn’t be a better place to start. This is the age where hormones are raging and our fear of flying is almost non-existent. I put these thoughts together and came up with this very short story poem.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Allie Beatrice O’Hollerin has been and can still be an automobile radiator puller, farmer’s wife, storyteller, chef of some of the better curried lentil soup, former cleaner at Eastern Airlines, mother of brilliance, science teacher, writer of short stories, plumber, lover of people of all religious or nonreligious persuasions, and poet wanna-be.

by Michelle Walshe

I remember that class very vividly. It was religion. We were talking about what we would do after school. I went to an all-girls, Catholic school, where Sister Margaret prowled the corridors looking for misdemeanours, policed the colour and size of your hair clips, while all around me, my classmates were getting pregnant, drinking heavily from the age of fourteen and smoking John Player Blue. My classmates didn’t go to University. My voice was a lone one that day in class saying I wanted to study further, to have a career, to travel. I remember telling the teacher I thought my life had not begun yet. All around me, astonished expressions on faces already jaded, skin already ruined by drinking and smoking too much, eyes already glazed from living an entire lifetime in your teenage years. I remember feeling very young and very innocent that day, surrounded by girls I couldn’t wait to be free of. Their tiny existences, centred around “the group,” their cliques, their boyfriends, their babies, the drunken nights, the hangovers, all things I didn’t experience until much later in life. It was like living in a parallel universe. I would leave my academic, over-achieving house every morning and enter this place. I hated it, every minute of it. And seventeen was the age I left it all behind, never to look back.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Seventeen, final year in school, taken in May at the end of the school year in my school uniform (policed by Sr. Margaret!).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am about to buy a new pair of glasses and they remind me of these ones. I haven’t worn glasses like this since I was seventeen. I graduated to contact lenses and smaller, less visible, less noticeable specs. These ones in the photo were red. I loved them. Now I am returning to this style and I went looking for this photo in a box of hundreds of photos to reassure myself and managed to locate it. Looking at it now I’m tempted to let my hair grow again too!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Walshe is a forty-something woman searching for meaning and happiness. To this end she travels, reads, writes, plays a lot of sport, anything to escape. No husband, no kids, no ties, just a passport and a credit card and a wish to be free. Just back from two years in Morocco, home in Ireland for Christmas.

by Katy Konrad

As the sky clouds over
I think of the last time
The sun went out of my world.
August 1999, Seventeen years,
Me and a friend watched the solar eclipse
‘Don’t look directly at it’ people said
In case we damaged our eyes.
Teenagers, with badly applied eyeliner
And appliqued stars adorning our cheeks.
Pink hair mascara streaked my mid length locks.
My friend carried a Gonzo bag.
In an open field in the West County
We’d never felt more trapped
Desperate to escape our small town lives,
Live city life and be independent.

PHOTO: Total solar eclipse in France (August 11, 1999). Photo by Luc Viator.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired by the Solar Eclipse in 2015 and it really made me reflect on the last time this happened, and how much life had changed for me in that time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Katy Konrad is from Somerset, UK, and has spent the last 16 years living in the North West. Writing since childhood, her first published poem was “Fragments” in In The Red  (2003), which is in The Poetry Library in London. Since 2009 she has had over 20 additional poems published. She featured as an emerging poet with three poems published in Social-i, and poems in exhibitions at The Grosvenor Museum. A runner-up in Dead Good Poets Liverpool’s Most Romantic Poet slam in 2010, she appeared on Vintage Radio in 2011. A performer in the North and South West, she is a regular at Zest, Alexanders Chester. She has read at Liver Bards at The Ship and Mitre in Liverpool in 2012 and 2013, and performed at the Callendar Poetry Festival in Scotland in 2012 and 2015. A participant in NaPoWriMo for the last five years, she is working on her first collection. A book reviewer for, she is featured in 2012 on More4’s TV Book Club.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Recording my poems at a studio in Cheshire, UK (March 2013, aged 31).

Sixteen Going on Seventeen
by Anaya S. Guha

Sixteen on to seventeen
Sound of Music
Still humming
College enters
School’s corridors disappear
College canteen is not whitewashed
Nor is the college
Hounded by the Alsatian dog
College is exciting
Chimera even the ragging
By seniors
Sixteen completed
I was enriched by insouciance
But Sound of Music
Was still ringing
An echo which still continues
Me at seventeen
Broke new ground in
Bunking classes
Me at seventeen
Did the tango.

IMAGE: “Tango” by Frantisek Kupka (1909).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ananya S. Guha lives in Shillong in North East India. He has been writing and publishing poetry in English for 31 years.