Archives for category: ME, IN A HAT


Thank you to the 81 writers — from 23 states and 10 countries — who participated in our ME, IN A HAT Poetry & Prose Series, which ran November 25 – December 31, 2016.  Many thanks to the following authors for their appealing and engaging work!

Elizabeth Alford (California)
Linda Baie (Colorado)
Sheila Scobba Banning (California)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Paul Brookes (England)
Beth Buck (Utah)
John Carney (Pennsylvania)
Susana H. Case (New York)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Wanda Morrow Clevenger (Illinois)
Esther Cohen (New York)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Crystal Cook (California)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Isobel Cunningham (Canada)
Howard Richard Debs (Florida)
Casey Derengowski (California)
Margo Jodyne Dills (Washington)
Alice Dommert (Pennsylvania)
Steven Duncan (Utah)
Amanda Eifert (Canada)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Melanie Feeney (Utah)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Katharine Goodman (Utah)
VIjaya Gowrisankar (India)
Ananya Guha (India)
Richard Harries (England)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Mark Andrew Heathcote (England)
Ann Hillesland (California)
Juleigh Howard-Hobson (Washington)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Catherine M. Lamkin (South Carolina)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Nina Lewis (England)
Bernadine Lortis (Minnesota)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Betsy Mars (California)
Lindsey Martin-Bowen (Missouri)
Mary McCarthy (Florida)
J. Mirrowfly (England)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Dustin Pickering (Texas)
Megha Punjabi (India)
Mark Rawlins (England)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Scott Redmond (Scotland)
Kathleen Robinson (Illinois)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Esther Rohm (Ohio)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Iris Schwartz (New York)
James Schwartz (Michigan)
Kevin Shannon (Utah)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Amanda Forbes Silva (New Hampshire)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Gayathri Surendran (India)
Virginia Chase Sutton (Arizona)
Terrence Sykes (Virginia)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Mary Langer Thompson (California)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Lin Whitehouse (England)
MM Wittle (New Jersey)
Joanie HF Zosike (New Jersey)


In Nursing School
by Mary McCarthy

It was not the usual nurse’s cap
with its stiff starched wing points
reminiscent of the pristine white
elaborately folded
headdresses of nuns,
sign of a true vocation.
Our school’s cap, a required
part of the uniform,
was more like a pleated
cupcake liner
sitting upside down
on your head.
A dainty humiliation
male students didn’t
have to endure.

For me, it was almost as bad
as the pink scrubs
assigned for our time
in the obstetrical ward.
In vain I looked for any other color
and was told — “only pink”
the nurses chose it there.

In those scrubs I felt
like a stealth bomber
under my pastel disguise,
learning the best and worst,
the basics of this
most basic human act —
giving birth, being born,
in blood and sweat and agony,
in pain and exaltation,
in joy and grief and nothing fit
to greet with such
a weak anemic color.

At our class party
full of laughter and gag gifts
they gave me a new
cupcake cap
dyed pink —
their joke the perfect sum
of all I didn’t want to be.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At class xmas party, with my gift hat. Note the cigarette — I still smoked then, even though I knew better!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was never one for girly frills, and would never have worn any shade of pink by choice. Never liked uniforms, required daily in my Catholic grade and high schools, and then again, after years of sartorial freedom, there was another uniform, and that damned hat!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday and Three Elements Review. She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.


A Souvenir from Kinnaur
by Vincent Van Ross

Most Indians
Do not wear hats
Some used to wrap
A piece of cloth
Around their head
And call it “Pagri

But, there are places
Particularly in the hills
Where people wear
Distinct caps

When I visited
The tribal belt
Of Himachal Pradesh,
I was immediately
By the fawn coloured
Pillbox cap of Kinnaur
With a velvety green strip
And a red-and-white border
Around it

Impulsive as I am
I rushed to the first shop
In the vicinity
And bought a Kinnauri cap

But, the moment
I stepped out of the shop
And went around the village
Wearing the Kinnauri cap,
I found everyone
Laughing at me

I rushed back to the shop
And asked the shopkeeper
As to what was wrong
With my cap.

He too laughed at me
And, told me
That the way
The Kinnauri cap
Is worn gives away
Information about the person
Wearing the cap

He told me
That the way
I was wearing the cap
That I was a widow

I folded my cap,
Slipped it into my bag
And quickly walked out
Of the shop
Saving the cap
As a souvenir from Kinnaur

PHOTO: Cap from Kinnaur, India.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vincent Van Ross is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi in India. He writes on national and international politics, defense, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics. Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. His articles and features have appeared in over a dozen newspapers and magazines in India and Bangladesh. He is also a renowned photographer and an art critic. His poems are littered in anthologies and journals across the world and on numerous poetry sites and facebook groups on the web.


Have Toque, Will Travel
by Lee Parpart

It was just a simple brown ski hat with a striped cuff and a squashed pompom, vaguely poo-coloured and permanently caked in sweat.
But to an eight-year-old dragged from Boston to Britain and then Lusaka for her mother’s doctoral research, it must have signified something important.
Why else would I refuse to remove it for a full year?
In London, I wore the toque so often that a man in our B&B finally worked up the courage to ask if it hid a surgical scar.
I remember him sitting opposite us at breakfast, trying on the question while waiting for his toast to cool.
He couldn’t have known that simply being in a place where toast was served cold helped explain my need for this comfort from home.
From then on we called it the Cancer Hat.
I wore it sleeping, on double-decker buses around London, in baths until it was time to shampoo, and on the plane to Zimbabwe.
I tried to keep it on during that whole first night in Nairobi, but relented when my fever broke 104 and I began a long night of vomiting.
My sister put it on a chair and held my hair back while our mother braved the hotel bar on a quest for ginger ale.
Days later, when we reached Lusaka, the diplomats’ daughters at our British school sized up my striped Levi’s and soiled headgear and declared me unfit for society.
They were not wrong.
I was half a girl, the ink on the divorce papers barely dry when we boarded that first plane and left our father to his broken mind.
I can’t remember when the hat finally outlived its usefulness. One day, about halfway through our two-year stay in Zambia, it just disappeared.
I don’t remember making a fuss.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Christmas 1973 in West Newton, Massachusetts, a few months before my sister and I would fly to London to join our Mom. I was already wearing the hat full-time, inside and out.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been trying to remember if it was my Dad who bought the hat for me. I know he bought me a winter coat at EMS in Boston, and he could have given me the hat at the same time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart worked as an arts journalist and media studies researcher before returning to creative writing in 2015. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous Silver Birch Press series, and she was named an Emerging Writer for East York in 2016 as part of Open Book Toronto’s “What’s Your Story” contest. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

Beach Hat
by Joan Leotta

The other day, while
through my closet
to pack for our beach trip,
I found the very
summer straw hat I’d
worn on our
Caribbean honeymoon.
Should I pack that for
our beach trip or just take
my usual white baseball cap?
I plopped old pink down
on my head.
Appraising myself
in our bedroom mirror,
I frowned. Too big, too pink,
too young for me now.
Before I could toss
old pink aside,
my husband walked in.
“Hey, that looks great on you.
You look so cute!”
He gave me a kiss and went out.
I took off the hat at looked at it.
Old pink would shade my eyes
from the sun. Better yet, it could
transform me
erasing wrinkles, pounds
and years in my husband’s eyes.
I packed the hat.

PHOTO: Pink sun hat found on google images.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I realized that it was the power of the hat, after 39 years, lots of wrinkles and many added pounds later, to prompt a spontaneous complement from my dear husband, to have him see me as he did on our honeymoon, well, that is quite a testament to the power of a hat. I guess after all these years my mother, who loved hats, is chuckling down at me from Paradise. “Yes, Mom, hats have power to transform appearance — as long as the eyes assessing you are the eyes of love.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta walks the beach (hat on) with her husband Joe whenever she can. When not on the beach, she is either poking at computer keys or in front of a group performing stories or giving one-woman shows of her Civil War nurse or Revolutionary War era housewife who meets George Washington.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: With my husband Joe at the beach — a selfie at our favorite coffee shop on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

The Picture Hat
by Sarah Russell

In 1968, the day I got my first paycheck after the divorce (one buck more than minimum wage), I bought a picture hat — pink organza with silk flowers, better suited to Churchill Downs than Grand Rapids, Michigan — because it was My Money, and it looked good on me.  I put it on with jeans and my favorite too-big shirt and sashayed through my bare bones studio apartment, pausing in front of the bathroom mirror to smile for the cameras and add lilac eyeshadow and Chanel No. 5.  I pictured my picture hat with an equally pink, equally organza afternoon tea dress and Herbert Levine’s that would fit my feet like Cinderella. My hat never found its dress and shoes, never even saw the light of day, but it was who I was in that moment.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: No photos of the actual hat exist, but this is a first cousin. Isn’t it a beauty?? Photo found at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I ate peanut butter sandwiches for a month because of my extravagance, but damn, I loved that hat!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing, and editing. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press, among others. She was a featured poet on The Houseboat and Days of Stone. Find more poetry at

What More Could One Ask of a Hat
by Bernadine Lortis

Black as a midnight cat though a bit faded now,
in daylight the droop of its brim tries
to guard me so sun cannot harm me. It’s
my own Galahad, keeping wrinkles
at bay as I garden or walk the beach tanning—
it’s a multi-tasking topper.

It covers my cowlicks so I can meet
others on bad-hair days or in rain;
if I need a small basket and none is around,
it offers to gather ripe berries and beans
yet no complaint heard when it’s washed out in COLD.
A wash-and-wear wonder, it launders so
well. It’s a utilitarian gem.

Flopsy and mopsy—a little too large—
there’s a cord to adjust but I do so
adore the extra allowance that sets
the brim dipping and surfing like a ship
on the ocean and with big sunglasses
I could, if I wished to, be Greta Garbo.

Not that I do, not as a rule, but if
I did—want to be left all alone*—I’d
choose for my lipstick a tomato red,
drop the rim just a bit and you’d only hear
staccato-staccato of mules as I’d
become a shadowy creature that slinks.
I’d go incognito that way.

I’d pass by all neighbors and good friends alike
for they wouldn’t recognize doubles or
my double chin starting to wobble like
Jell-O beneath its wide brim and even
‟007” would be in trouble
should I decide to hide from his private eye.

My hat and I—so simpatico—
it goes anywhere, fits in everywhere.
I fold it in half, unpack, and Voilà!
not a crease on its face so it goes along
to countless metropolises and towns
in America’s heartlands and coasts.

When I travel abroad to countries like
Luxembourg, Holland and France or on to
Germany, England, Turkey or far-off
Japan, I can count on its grace as it
shields from noon heat in mountains of Andes:
Machu Pichu, Peru and in Quito, likewise,
it is fitting attire for me.

If this were the sixties, some would call
my hat neato or nifty. Once it was
hot; now cool or awesome will do and
since the calendar turned 2000
and more, it is old, antique or retro.
Me? Oh, I still call it Magnifico!

*Famous quote from Greta Garbo: “I never said, ‘I want to be alone.’ I only said ‘I want to be left alone!’ There is all the difference.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Photo was taken as I stopped to admire raspberries still producing in my garden during our exceptionally warm, record-breaking November weather in Minnesota .

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I put on my hat to get a tactile, physical presence but that didn’t help. I had to take it off my head to get into my head. My first attempt was in prose which turned out to be boring. One night I woke up with the poem sounding a sort of syncopated Latin beat: “staccato, staccato—tomato, tomato” but sadly couldn’t sustain it. However, my third attempt kept some of it because a lot of O’s reappeared as I wrote so I took advantage of what was happening. Since the guidelines asked that it be true to life—a real hat and a real experience—and because I found my hat to be the most useful on trips, I had to choose among many places I was actually fortunate enough to visit.  As I write poems many want to tell a story so they end up a combination of truth and imagination, and inanimate objects often take on human characteristics. This one is no exception. It ended up to be a fun poem to write.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An avid reader, gardener, and dabbler in watercolor, Bernadine has written secretly and sporadically for years. Her degrees in Art and Education were occupationally driven. She lives and writes in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband of 45 years where she finds inspiration all around her. Creative nonfiction and poetry have been submitted and published this year, 2016, in Stirring: A Literary Collection, Mused-Bella Online, Silver Birch Press, Mothers Always Write, and The Afterlife of Discarded Objects.


Hat, Hold Me Down
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

World keeps swirling swirling at
the mind/body/spirit Theosofest
filled with colors/gods/people
but my hat holds me down on
on the ground/keeps me cool
centered & quite sound.
I know it’s just an illusion.
But what isn’t in this big old twirling whirling world?

PHOTO: The author at Theosofest 2016 (The Theosophical Society, Wheaton, Illinois).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Per The Theosophical Society, “TheosoFEST is an annual open-house festival celebrating the wisdom of the ages, the unity of all life, and spiritual self-transformation.” It’s a truly inclusive festival where many world religions are represented and celebrated; it’s how life should be in my opinion. I wore my Panama hat amidst the colors, the gods, the people. This hat belonged to my father and makes me feel jaunty and sentimental, two things my dad was. The poem itself is a hat (hey, presto!). My husband, Rob, took the accompanying photograph with my cell phone while shaking the phone. I was delighted to see the results. Cool, no?


Tricia Marcella Cimera
is a Midwestern poet with a worldview. Look for her work in these diverse places (some forthcoming): Anti-Heroin Chic, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Ekphrastic Review, Foliate Oak, Failed Haiku, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Silver Birch Press, Wild Plum, and elsewhere. She has a micro collection of water-themed poems called THE SEA AND A RIVER on the Origami Poems Project website. Tricia believes there’s no place like her own backyard and has traveled the world (including Graceland). She lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois / in a town called St. Charles / by a river named Fox. She has always liked the Joe Cocker song “You Can Leave Your Hat On.”

PHOTO: The author in Sonnenberg, Germany, 1994, wearing a pleather cap.

The Occasional Hat
by J.Mirrowfly

Picture this; I’m leaning across a pile of clothes in a boutique,

feeling the brim of a hat. A middle-aged lady, out of place
though not caring,
so thrilled by the appearance
in actuality
the re-appearance,
of a hat.

Look again.
I’m on the cusp of old age
I’m familiar with these things
Styles come and go
and come again.
They’re usually in different materials,
which adds to the effect that
this is not real.
Style as an affectation
It’s an illusion

But this hat,
with its black, slightly wavy brim, silk ridged ribbon round its crown
is the same hat
made of the same soft felt.
Hat incarnate
that I wore throughout my early teens
which collided with the early seventies
(a sepia-toned time when Laura Ashley was queen.
May she rest in peace)

I felt its felt
and thought about the time I traveled
on the train with my friend in the day
to dirty Manchester in the rain.
Me in that hat.

We arrived in the pub
Incongruous in our precarious
Silly elegance
Our two lads so sheepish and cocky in their scruffy best.
I kept looking across at the spartan houses
with their small high windows,
and their dearth of gardens,
(we were wealthy in gardens),
then across at the drinking men,
mainly men, in the middle of the
Saturday on the outskirts of grainy Manchester.

We were young, in love with life
A rich tapestry we were told,
To keep us going.

I am nearly old now,
but I still
get a thrill
out of wearing that hat,
in my garden,
or, occasionally,
On a Saturday
In the rain.

PHOTO: The author in that hat at home (March 2016).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was very excited by the prompt because I’ve always loved hats, but as an introvert, tend not to wear them very often. I did, however, wear one for a brief period during my early teens and this piece of writing is about that time.

ABOU THE AUTHOR: J.Mirrowfly is a twit, that is, an avid Twitterer, occasional blogger and aspirational art-producer. She’s also a fantastic vegan cook. All her talents are, as yet, either unrecognised or unrealised. She carries on regardless. Visit her at writtenintheairblog.

Top Hat & Tails
by Mark Andrew Heathcote

My mother & father fought day & night
But they made a hat with cardboard & glue
They measured my head & were erudite
This accomplishment, of their love, shone through.

To me who had more than just a few doubts
I slept right through it all and then came school…
The very next day Hat on, they recounts
My hat had won the show, yes, this was, cool.

“Oddest-thing-is” I don’t recall wearing it.
I don’t recall going to school at all…
All I remember is seeing the skip-
& joy in their proud hearts, still so, enthral.

As they recapped the story, late one night
Describing how they saved their silver foil.
A “40 a day habit,” I guess they’d to light,
Buy more packs, hadn’t they heard of Tinfoil.

© 2016 Mark Heathcote

IMAGE: The authors homemade top hat.

Well, I was born in Withington, Manchester, one of three children; I was the eldest and the only boy. We lived in a three-bed terrace house with no bathroom or indoor toilet. I lived there until the age of nine and was a quiet and unhappy child, but that changed when the family moved to the countryside, where I then had the freedom to explore nature at first-hand. I spent much of my free time climbing trees and swimming in lakes and rivers, making rope swings, stuff like that. I was looked on as a kind of Tarzan figure, that’s how all other kids saw me. I was never academic and was years behind all the other children at school. I struggled badly in high school and didn’t learn a great deal. I left school at age 16, taking dead-end jobs on local farms and then in factories. I left home at age 17 —  by then, there had been a messy divorce and relationships weren’t good all round and haven’t improved all that much since. So I moved back to Manchester, where I’m still residing now and have done ever since. I’m a father of five and for the past 14 years I’ve be employed as a learning disability support worker. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and enjoy music and gardening.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Andrew Heathcote’s debut book, In Perpetuity, published in 2016, is available from CTU Publishing. His work recently appeared at THE BEZine and in the Silver Birch Press “When I Moved” Poetry & Prose Series.