Archives for category: ME, IN FICTION

We extend our gratitude to the 28 writers  who participated in our ME, IN FICTION Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from January 2-15, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for an enjoyable and enlightening series!

Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Tracy Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Sara Clancy (Arizona)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Donna Hilbert (California)
Mary Kendall (North Carolina)
Phyllis Klein (California)
Olufunke Kolapo (Nigeria)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
David Mathews (Illinois)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Venetia Peterson (Canada)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Chelsea Rounsley (Illinois)
J.K. Shawhan (Illinois)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
R.H. Slansky (California)
Donna JT Smith (Maine)
Susan Beall Summers (Texas)
Sylvia Riojas Vaughn (Texas)
Rachel Voss (New York)
Lynn White (Wales)
Abigail Wyatt (U.K.)


PHOTO: Mia Wasikowska as the title character in Madame Bovary (2014).

One Night at Shakey’s Pub
by David Mathews

“Strive to live content in the midst of those things that cause your discontent.” —St. Vincent DePaul

You might not know this little fact:
I used to tend bar at this little place
where Shakespearean characters hung out.
My favorite regular was Nick Bottom,
surprisingly British for an ancient Greek.
Nick was the kind of guy who would tip well,
because he understood the value of work.
Late one humid midsummer weekend night
while Thin Lizzy lyrics shouted: “…and if
the boys wanna fight you better let them…”
Iago’s subtle whispered encouragement
sent Nick Bottom into a drunken rant.
Falstaff tried to get Nick back to his pint,
But once the lion was uncaged he roared:
“You think I am funny? Is it that damn
funny I want to play the bloody lion?
Look at the rude mechanical acting…
Do you think I just want to be weaving?
And weaving, weaving, weaving all the time?
To wake up and work for lazy royals?
Sod off will yous! At least I don’t get scared
of dirty hands and hard work unlike yous!
You rat bastards with your pretty iambs!
Ah bloody L! You don’t really know shite!
How do you value anything at all?
All you got is your bloody lousy ennui!”
Falstaff finally got Nick out of there,
before Puck turned him into an ass again.
The Duke of Dark Corners too busy to care.
Oddly, Richard The Third turned from his drink:
“Good man, do not let them make you a villain!”
I’m like Nick. I enjoy the same anger.
It’s hard to be content in discontent.

ILLUSTRATION: Nick Bottom costume designed by C. Wilhelm for 1932 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare in Manchester, U.K.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I originally wrote this in Richard Jones’ class at DePaul. Nick Bottom is one of my favorite Shakespearean characters—I feel a connection to him. We both come from humble means, want to express ourselves through art, people above us prefer we serve under them, and enjoy turning us into asses.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Mathews earned his MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University. His work has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, After Hours, CHEAP POP, One Sentence Poems, OMNI Reboot, Word Riot, Silver Birch Press, and Midwestern Gothic. His poetry was nominated for The Best of The Net and received awards from the Illinois Women’s Press and the National Federation of Press Women. A lifelong Chicagoan, he currently teaches at Wright College and College of Lake County.

sunset song
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

Lewis Grassic Gibbon,
you gave me Scotland,
you gave me Chris Guthrie.

In your books Sunset Song,
Cloud Howe and Gray Granite,
Chris moved through
her world
of wild heather, hard farming,
of Highlands, of men,
of female desire and pain.
She fought for her Self —
first as girl, then a woman —
holding fast to the
disappearing ways of
crofters and land.

I loved her so much,
I went to Scotland
again and again.
I rolled Scots words
in my mouth —
wee bairn      aye lass
the kye and the queans
as I hiked by the loch
in mist, heedless of rain,
hearing the quiet voice of
your Chris, speaking
                    my name. . .

PHOTO: Agyness Deyn as Chris Guthrie in the film version Sunset Song (2015).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have visited luminous Scotland five times so far; it’s been too long since the last time I was there. The trilogy of books by Lewis Grassic Gibbon that I reference in my poem make up A Scots Quair, a classic in Scottish literature and language. I first read this novel as a teenager and love it deeply. Chris Guthrie is an intense and complex woman — I consider her my friend. The above photograph is of me in Haddington, Scotland, 2000. The sun was shining as a storm was approaching; typical Scottish weather.

Cimera - Author Photograph

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Marcella Cimera is an obsessed reader and lover of words. Her work is, or will be, in these diverse journals: the Buddhist Poetry Review, Foliate Oak, Hedgerow: A Journal of Small Poems, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Prairie Light Review, Reverie Fair, Silver Birch Press, Stepping Stones, and Yellow Chair Review. Tricia volunteers locally, believes there’s no place like her own backyard, and has traveled the world. Her love for Scotland was also strongly influenced by the magical and quirky movie Local Hero (1983, directed by Bill Forsyth). She lives with her husband and family of animals in Illinois/in a town called St. Charles/by a river named Fox.

PHOTO: The author with her father; Edinburgh, Scotland, 1989.


Patrick at the Bat
by Patrick T. Reardon

The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate,
He pounds his bat, he glares ahead, he readies for…but wait.
From out the dugout comes old Mac, the Mudville chief o’ state.
He points a finger at ol’ Case, and clears him from the plate.

“I’ve had it with you, diva. You’re just a psychiatric.
Get out of here, and we will win with ‘Thunder-hitter’ Patrick.”
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. “No, no, not ‘Thunder-hitter.’”
The name’s a joke, a josh, a jest. They are outraged and embittered.

Patrick’s average is .091. He has no vicious clout.
None in the crowd have any faith that Patrick won’t strike out.
He is not just a hoodoo, but also a devil’s food cake.
But here he comes, his eyes so wide, up to the sacred plate.

There is fear in Patrick’s manner as he steps into his place.
There is gloom in Patrick’s bearing and terror on his face.
“Fraud!” cries the maddened thousands. But Mac has quite a scheme.
He’s bet, you see, all his dough on a win for the other team.

Two quick strikes on weakling swings, and Patrick’s in a hole.
The Mudvilles need three runs to win. He’s praying for his soul.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it wing,
And now the crowd is shattered by Patrick’s empty swing.

A strike out, sure, but, wait, look now. The catcher missed the ball.
As Patrick lumbers down the line, the catcher trips and falls.
Flynn and Blake, they both touch home, and Patrick heads for two.
The catcher throws. The shortstop waits. The toss is all askew.

At third, the Thunder-Hitter turns and heads now for home base.
The guy in right, he throws the pill and so it is a race.
The catcher reaches, grabs the ball as Patrick nears the plate.
And in the cloud of dust and blood, the umpire signals………….“Safe!”

PHOTO: Patrick T. Reardon, a Chicagoan born and bred, is a lifelong fan of the New York Yankees. He would have abandoned the writing life if he could have played first base for the Yankees.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most people are familiar with “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer. I borrowed some of his lines and used them to new purpose in this alternate-universe version of Casey’s tragedy.  I also relied on the reader’s knowledge of the original poem so as not to have to explain, for instance, who Flynn and Blake are. Unlike Thayer, I didn’t add a final verse of the world as it existed after the game. In my mind, I guess, I think time should stop forever at the final moment, an eternal freeze-frame.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon had an .091 batting average during his Little League career, but he played a mean first base.

Summer Reading/Green Mansions
by Mary McCarthy

Tired of the games we played
up and down the cobbled alley:
War, Red Rover, Simon Says,
I quit,
and took my book to the second floor
back porch
where I could read at peace


In a place where trees were scarce,
I was in love with Rima
in her magical forest,
who made her dress of spidersilk
and was the last speaker
of a wondrous language
no one understood.

From the lip of that silence
she turned and looked at me,
just before she fell, burning,
from the burning tree.

And I was caught there with her
so very far away —

when they called me to come in
I couldn’t even hear them.

PHOTO: Audrey Hepburn as Rima the Bird Girl in the film version of Green Mansions (1959).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My mother gave me a copy of W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions when I was nine, and it was my favorite book for a long time. All the issues I would later see with its colonial and racial attitudes were invisible to me at that age — I just fell for the romance of it all, wanted to be Rima in her enchanted forest!!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has been published in many print and online journals, including Third Wednesday, Earth’s Daughters, Camel Saloon, and Gnarled Oak. Despite the grim realities of the world as it is now, she holds great hopes for the future.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at thirty. A time I’d like to revisit!

anna-karenina_2330122a 2
I’m Not Anna K
by Venetia Peterson

He said, “Never. Never,”
then he walked away.

I watched
his determined stride
and how the curling snow
erased his steps.

I could have shouted,
“You are a two-faced lover!”
He could have turned to face
his dialectic betrayal.

To find love, its synergy
of life, was all I craved then.

Confused and with a clenched fist
I punched the winter sky
then my chest.
He disappeared into the dismantling wind.

But, I’m not his Anna K.
I won’t listen to train whistles,
the damning gossip circles,
the pull of numbing liquids.

I’m not alone.
Desires are cyclic like the seasons.
I am more than, never, never.

PHOTO: Keira Knightley as the title character in the 2012 film version of Anna Karenina.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem was inspired by Tolstoy’s, Anna Karenina. Tolstoy portrayed his protagonist as a doomed woman, who abandoned her nineteenth century social responsibilities of wife and mother in order to flirt with her true desire, to be loved.  My Anna has a broader horizon. She will build  on her self-worth and not on Count Vronsky’s limited and fearful never, never.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Protecting a gang of sparrows from the neighbour’s yellow cat can be exhausting. In between, Venetia Peterson manages to write poetry and short stories in Toronto, Canada.

vintage image with beautiful woman
Cinderella’s Support Group
by Jennifer Lagier

Her cigarette shakes
during her turn
to describe how
went dramatically wrong.

She crumples Kleenex,
tells the traditional
rescue by prince
on a white charger story.

Her stepsisters understand
the familiar betrayal motif,
smile wryly, nod when she
sobs about the poisoned apple,
treacherous mirror.

She is over forty and
the magic is dead.
There are no cotillions left.
Youth’s glass slipper has shattered;
the glittery ball gown no longer fits.

IMAGE: “Cinderella” by Mirabella.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: What woman hasn’t landed her Prince Charming, only to discover the qualities of frogdom are permanent? I wrote this poem after my second divorce.

author photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published 10 books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Up, was just issued by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal, misfitmagazine and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO: Jennifer Lagier at Point Lobos, taken by Laura Bayless.


Weaving the Universe
by Kerfe Roig

I said:
Here are threads,
here is a frame
to anchor them. Here are
the colors of the earth
and the fibers of living:
Weave them into worlds of pattern,
into a mirror, reflected song.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In Navajo stories, Spider Woman, after creating the world, was given the gift of weaving by the Holy People. Instructed by Spider Man, who created the first loom, and Spider Woman, who sings the weaving song, the people of the Navajo nation continue to pass on the ways of fiber work to their descendants.

Illustration by Kerfe Roig


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig often uses fiber in her artwork. Inspired by the Navajo myth, she embroidered a Spider Woman doll to serve as companion and spiritual advisor. You can follow her poetic and artistic journey on the blog she does with her friend Nina:

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Spider Woman, my fiber alter ego. (Artwork by Kerfe Roig.)

The Story I Didn’t Tell
by Phyllis Klein

When I married you, a thousand
of your wives’ corpses covered my path
to the altar. My father tried to dissuade me,
I only wanted to save those remaining,
and put an end to your vengeance
if I could. In private I’ll admit I cringe
from your tainted touch, your criminal mind.
My thousand sisters murdered to avenge
your one cheating wife. My dreams overflow
with them when I sleep at all.

That’s how my thousand and one stories help
us both, distract us from your cruelty
and violence. In the book about me,
I am not afraid, but don’t believe it.
How have I done this night after night?
Thought up the genies, the djins, the wandering
mysteries like water drops forming a lake,
forming an ocean, keeping me alive
another day and then another.

Don’t be sad for me. I have used my mind
for peace. I have done what I could in a disaster.
I have travelled in secret, I have altered
the veil of bedtime forever.

PAINTING: “Scheherazade” by Sophie Anderson (c. 1850).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love to hear stories and to tell stories in my poems, and I especially love bedtime stories. My partner reads children’s stories to me at night to help me fall asleep. So when I thought about this prompt, Scheherazade came to mind for me immediately. I wanted to know what it was like to be in the position of extreme self-sacrifice to save others, having to make up stories to survive, and what it felt like on the inside of that. It’s an honor to step a tiny way into the shoes of this heroine.


Phyllis Klein
believes in poetry. Her work has appeared in the Pharos of Alpha Omega Medical Society Journal, Emerge Literary journal, Qarrtsiluni online literary magazine, Silver Birch Press, and The Four Seasons Anthology (Hurricane Press, 2015). She is very interested in the conversation between poets and readers of poetry. She sees artistic dialogue as an intimate relationship-building process that fosters healing on many levels. She lives and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a psychotherapist and poetry therapist. You can learn more at her website,

AUTHOR PHOTO: Phyllis Klein, 2014, taken at Filoli Garden, Woodside, California.

Fairness and Wit
by Rachel Voss

Who wants to live virtuous and die vile?
I think I’d rather be liberal as the north.
“Hang me” for naivete: I like her style.
Wilt not, women of the world, but go forth,
and even die, speaking as you think.
Right the universal order with words,
use that prominent shnoz to sniff out the stink,
cleanse the palate for truth. Chaos girds
us like the ocean round an island. No
lullabies—I only play the swan. Peace
is overrated. Silence is my foe.
Wrongs made right when loyalty’s for lease.
Here, I have a thing for you—it’s a poem
in my outside voice, my refusal to go home.

ILLUSTRATION: “Emilia in Othello” by Hannah Tompkins.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece, a sonnet, is inspired by Emilia from Shakespeare’s Othello. As I say in the poem, I like Emilia’s style. She is, above all, relatably human: pragmatic, complicated, weak, but aware that she is at the whim of forces stronger than she is. Ultimately, like us all, she has the potential for redemption, and accomplishes that with the only tools at her disposal: her voice, and the truth. I imaginatively relate to that struggle as manifested in the part Emilia plays in tragedy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher living in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in The Ghazal PageHanging Loose MagazineBlast FurnaceThe New Verse News, Unsplendid, Newtown Literary, and Silver Birch Press’s  The Great Gatsby Anthology, among others.

PHOTO: At The New York Botanical Garden. (“Our bodies are our gardens, to the which our wills are gardeners.”)

Photo by Lucrezia Alcorn.