Archives for category: My Imaginary Skill


A Little Cy Young
by S.L. Kerns

At 10 years old, I stood day in and day out behind our faded, white farmhouse. Tall weeds and trees surrounded me in a square patch of grass, freshly cut for my training grounds. The Kentucky summer sun beat down on me in my navy blue Angels jersey, but I refused to strip it off.

Baseball was my passion, and I believed pitching was my destiny, even if the coaches always placed me in the outfield.

The cistern’s protective wall—concrete and on a slope—proved itself a worthy hind catcher that summer with every perfect pitch bouncing back from the chalked-up strike zone and rolling back towards me, never making me leave the dirt mound I had made.

With the only ball I owned in my right hand, I flipped it around in my black Mizuno glove—a birthday gift from Dad—testing different grips across the worn-out seams. My body and arms wound up and twisted like a contortionist caught in a cyclone, mimicking all my favorite major-leaguers: Randy Johnson, Nolan Ryan, Hideo Nomo, and the legendary Cy Young.

In my mind, I threw fastballs, palmballs, knuckleballs, curveballs, and changeups against the greatest batters: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Rogers Hornsby, and the short-fused Ty Cobb. None of them could even connect a foul tip off my wicked pitches. Of course, Ty Cobb often got pissed, and even charged the mound a few times.

I threw the ball hard against that concrete surface hour after hour, day after day. Each time it returned to me there’d be a new scratch, dent, or tear. Eventually, there was nothing left, and my private, summer training ended.

PHOTO: The author in 2015 at Chuo Park in Takamatsu, Japan, wearing a Yomiuri Giants  [Tokyo] Kiyohara jersey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Since moving to Japan, I’ve rediscovered my love for baseball, and wish I could go back and play again.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: S.L. Kerns may have southern roots grounded in Kentucky, but has branched out to a life in Asia. He spent nearly six years lost in Bangkok before moving to his current home in Japan. He loves soaking in words of wisdom from being an avid reader and a good listener. He also loves bodybuilding, and likes to think of himself as one of the physically strongest prose writers since Mishima or Hemingway. He teaches English and has recently begun writing, using his surplus of wild experiences to fuel his stories. His work has been published or is forthcoming online in Flash Fiction Magazine, 101 Words, Silver Birch Press, Visual Verse, Degenerate Literature, Funny in Five Hundred, Eastlit, and in print in Kill Those Damn Cats: Lovecraftian Anthology, Anonymous Anthology, Out of the Cave, Pure Slush: Summer, and 47-16: A Collection of Poetry and Fiction Inspired by David Bowie Volume I and II. He also blogs for Muay Thai Lab. Follow him here:

imaginary skill logo1

We extend our appreciation to the 51 writers — from 17 states and 15 countries — who participated in our  MY IMAGINARY SKILL Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from June  5 – June 25, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for a wonderful series! We started with a poem about imaginary juggling by Steve Klepetar and ended with a poem about juggling by Sunil Sharma. How’s that for symmetry!

Jan Alexander (New York)
Tobi Alfier (California)
Elizabeth Alford (California)
Magdalena Ball (Australia)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Mark Blickley (New York)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Jane Burn (England)
Jacalyn Carley (Germany)
Sylvia Cavanaugh (Wisconsin)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Lew Colgan (Colorado)
Mike Dailey (North Carolina)
Steven Deutsch (Pennsylvania)
Emma Filtness (England)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
torrin a. greathouse (California)
Mavis Gulliver (Scotland)
Geosi Gyasi (Ghana)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Ryn Holmes (Florida)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
S.I. Kerns (Japan)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Ellaraine Lockie (California)
Maggie Mackay (Scotland)
Betsy Mars (California)
Erica Gerald Mason (Georgia)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Scott-Patrick Mitchell (Australia)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Leara Morris-Clark (Massachusetts)
Robbi Nester (California)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Neha Srivastava (India)
Maureen Sudlow (New Zealand)
Virginia Chase Sutton (Arizona)
Dorothy Swoope (Australia)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Lynn White (Wales)


by Sunil Sharma

I wish I were Anthony Gatto.
So that I could easily dominate a flood-lit stage
and move around with the grace of a ballet dancer

at the same time juggling balls and other props
with the agility of a panther
holding/tossing objects in the air
nothing ever falling outside the defined circles

I wish I were talented like him
so that I could go to a cancer hospital
and entertain the kids there and put
smiles on the angelic faces drained of vitality
entertain the senior citizens abandoned forever
in the autumn of life
by their children in an antiseptic shelter.

I wish I were a juggler who would not ticket
any performance or ever dream for a celeb career
but simply desire to spread joy in the lives of the distressed
and depressed, the sick and the humiliated
through my clever acts for few hours!

PHOTO: Juggler Anthony Gatto.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Juggling fascinates. I often dreamed of becoming a juggler and serving humanity through such performances and not debase this art as a commercial activity, although I have no problem with professionals earning their livelihood through such a ticked activity or show. “Our Lady’s Juggler” by Anatole France was/is a major influence. This poem compensates for the lack of such a skill.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Based in Mumbai, India, Sunil Sharma is a widely published Indian writerHe has published 14 books: four collections of poetry, two of short fiction, one novel, one a critical study of the novel and co-edited six anthologies on prose, poetry, and criticism. He is a recipient of the UK-based Destiny Poets’ inaugural Poet of the Year award — 2012. Recently his poems were published in the UN project, Happiness: The Delight-Tree.

isadora by genthe
by Dorothy Swoope

I imagined I
was Isadora —
dancing barefoot
on a lush summer lawn,
fragrant flowers
woven through
my flowing hair —
lithe and light,
a loosened, bright

IMAGE: “Isadora,” portrait of dancer Isadora Duncan by Arnold Genthe (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was inspired to write this piece through the Silver Birch Press prompt “My Imaginary Skill”  I spent hours imagining I was Isadora Duncan and would dance and swirl aimlessly in my own world around the house in winter or out on our front lawn in summer, thoroughly entranced with myself!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dorothy Swoope is an award-winning poet and long-time resident of the South Coast, New South Wales, in Australia. Her writings have been published in newspapers, anthologies, and literary magazines in Australia and the USA. A collection of poems, The touch of a word, was published in 2000. Inspiration is everywhere.

Skill in Need
by Jacalyn Carley

I imagine
working night’s whetstone, honing
somnambulant pleasures —
falling asleep.

I imagine
dropping anchor in night’s harbor,
quieting unruly passengers in the brain —
waking up eight hours later.

IMAGE: “Ladder to the Moon” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1958)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by the prompt, pure and simple, thinking it might be possible to make poetry from restless sleep, to squeeze an iota of text from the sweats and doubts, the flotsam and jetsam, of bad nights.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jacalyn Carley is a writer, teacher, and former choreographer who lives in Berlin, Germany. She is On-site Director for Sarah Lawrence College’s Summer Arts in Berlin program, and has had poems published in Borders, Silver Birch Press, Painters, and She has authored four books (all only available in German translation) and is working on a full-length collection of poems about the nude.

Curtain Call
by Shelly Blankman

The curtains open, footlights burn bright.
I can barely see critics furiously jotting
grand reviews, a far cry from the little
girl alone in her bathroom, hairbrush mic
in hand, on a black-and-white tile floor stage,
plastic shower curtain like the velvet one
parted for the singer I was meant to be,
with an audience of one — two if you counted
my mirrored self in a cloud of steam that
looked like dry ice rising with diva flair.

Applause sinks into silence;
my bathroom voice bursts, tears trickling down
my cheeks like the last rhythmic drips of the faucet,
with crescendos that would have made my house shake.
I can hear gasps as I reach Streisand highs
and Fitzgerald lows, my flowing sequined
dress, the color of beige roses and Dove soap.

Shouts of “Bravo” explode as I bow and swells of
“Encore” beckon for one last song; I feign humility
as I wend my way backstage through the barrage
of hugs and air kisses, paparazzi flashes and
questions,wanting nothing more than to rest my
laurels among the flowers crowding my dressing room.

PHOTO: Barbra Streisand performing on the Ed Sullivan Show in New York City at age 20 in 1962.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a child, I wanted to be anyone but me. There was no better place for that than in the shower, where I could be a star, everyone would adore me, and I had talent beyond that of anyone I’d ever seen or heard. Of course, the reality is that all I ever really accomplished in the shower was to become squeaky…and there was no future in that. And frankly, bullies don’t care whether you’re clean or not. But every day, for a half-hour or so, I was a star. And for many years, my imaginary life played out in the shower, was good enough.


Shelly Blankman
is an empty nester living in Columbia, Maryland, with her husband, Jon, and four cat rescues. They are the proud parents of two sons, Richard, 31, of New York, and Joshua, 30, of Texas. She spent most of her professional career in public relations and copy editing, but her first love has always been poetry. Shelly enjoys making scrapbooks and cards, and, of course, writing.

The Dancer
by torrin a. greathouse

i have this dream where i am dancing
     under spotlights / body wrapped in dusk
          like a bruised palm       dark & tight

as unripened cherries / my body a discount hurricane

                    [bearing my mother’s name]

knee tucked tight to my chest

                         pirouette on pointed toes /

               like music box porcelain

tight muscled leg accordion inhaling

     as plié transforms my entire body /

                              into an alabaster wing

     in this dream i am grace
          with battered toes / but unmarked knuckles

a bow that bends
               only notes

               & never arrows / into flight

body never taught to be weapon
never taught fistfight sits on the other side
                              of Faggot
                    in the dictionary of man

          never taught that Faggot was a bad thing

     never taught to be broken
                              string before this body
               learned to sing

in this dream the curtains never close
          my body simply fades

                    to daylight
& when i unshackle my body / from the sky
                              black sheets

          i reach for my cane /
                    feel the way it presses into my palm
                              so familiar.

PHOTO: “The Dancer” by lassedesignen, used by permission.

torrin a. greathouse
is a non-binary, queer poet from Southern California, & the co-founder of Black Napkin Press. Their work has been published or is upcoming in Rust + Moth, Chiron Review, Caliban Online, TQ Review, & The Feminist Wire. Their first full length collection, In Search of Stray Gods, is upcoming this year.

Hands of young potter
Throwing a Perfect Pot
by Tobi Alfier

IF I had an imaginary skill it would be as an artist. I would wear flowered sundresses and sandals, braid my hair, and have a booth at the long-gone Whole Earth Marketplace where I would throw pots all day. I would take them to my aunt, the REAL artist, for glazing beauty and then to a studio that rented kiln space. I would sell my work for what amounted to ten cents an hour, make friends with all the other hippie-types with their VW vans and a dollar fifty-two in their checking accounts, say “yes, I saw Ghost” a hundred times a day to all the “real” people coming to shop, and be perfectly happy. I would trade a bowl for a pair of dichroic glass dangling earrings, shave my legs never, and sing Joni Mitchell songs, or all the songs to Hair, in my head as my hands got strong and the clay did my bidding.

PHOTO: “Making a pot” by Best Photo Studio, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m still a bit of a hippie. I still know the words to most Joni Mitchell songs and most of the songs to Hair. But the art is gone. Others in my family are blessed that they can call themselves artists. I can’t even pick out paint colors.

talfierABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tobi Alfier is a multiple Pushcart nominee and a Best of the Net nominee. Current chapbooks are The Coincidence of Castles from Glass Lyre Press and Romance and Rust from Blue Horse Press. Down Anstruther Way is forthcoming from FutureCycle Press. She is the co-editor of San Pedro River Review (

Half a Ton
by Vincent Van Ross

I was a great fan of cricket
I used to see myself
As a reflected image
Of legendary batsmen
Like Gary Sobers,
Vivian Richards,
Don Bradman,
Tony Greig,
Sunil Gavaskar,
Sachin Tendulkar,
M S Dhoni
And Virat Kohli

I was talking to my friend
About it the other day
When he mentioned
That I should do something
Like Yuvraj Singh
Who scored 36 runs
In a single over
Scoring six runs a ball

I swept him
Off his feet
With my response:
“If that is the case,
I will score
A half century in one over”

“That is impossible,”
Protested my friend
Who got bowled over
By my googly

“That is impossible
Only if you think
In a straitjacket
But if you think
That is very much possible,”
I explained

“How in the world
Would you score
A half century
In an over?”
Countered my friend

“There are only six balls
To an over…
Even if you score
The maximum number of runs
Which is six per ball
You still end up
Making 36 runs”

“That is what I said…
You are talking of a perfect over
Where each of the six balls
Is a fair delivery
And, I am talking of an over
With two no-balls…”

That caught him off-guard
And he looked at me
With utter disbelief
And I continued
Singing merrily
As if that was my swan song…

“That makes it an over
Of eight balls, right?
If I score six runs a ball
I make 48 runs in the over
Add to the two extra runs
For the no-balls
And, we have fifty runs
In the kitty”

PHOTO: Cricketer Sunil Gavaskar.


Vincent Van Ross
is a journalist and editor based at New Delhi in India. He writes on national and international politics, defence, environment, travel, spirituality, and scores of other topics. Apart from this, he dabbles in a little bit of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and humorous writings. Vincent’s 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.

mime with open mouth
Screaming Mime
by Mark Blickley

I should speak out when they abuse
This pasty-faced artist who decided to choose
Being trapped in silence with make up queer
I may not speak, but I can hear.

The taunts, the insults, and the hate
Towards street performers who refuse the bait
Of ridiculed anger through vulgar gestures
Believing performance is a continuing semester

Of learning to grow within painted smile
Ignore the assholes, concentrate on the child.
Who laughs with joy or open-mouthed wonder
Yet tosses no coins as my stomach thunders

Breaking the silence, begging for bread
My intestinal rumblings plead to be fed
A steady diet of human compassion
Through the clinking of coins in an appreciative reaction

To my ancient art and enduring hunger
Selling myself like a common whoremonger
Hoping to satisfy an insatiable crowd
In tight fitting Spandex, a seductive shroud

Ignoring lewd sneers at my exposed anatomy
That I’ve twisted and stretched in hopes it would flatter me
As my muscles contort and my body sings
A silent song that once entertained kings

PHOTO: “Screaming mime” by Korionov, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote “Screaming Mime” because I always thought mimes were so amazingly creative and like to imagine being one, but I’m also aware at how poorly they are treated as butt of jokes and ridiculed. I imagined myself as a street performing mime thinking these thoughts while I am entertaining a crowd.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and poetry. His most recent book is the story collection Sacred Misfits (Red Hen Press) and his most recent produced play, Beauty Knows No Pain, was produced this past Fall at NYC’s 13th Street Rep Theater. Blickley’s text-based art collaboration with photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams, was featured an art installation for the 5th Annual NYC Poetry Festival held at Governors Island and published in Columbia Journal of Literature and Art, among other venues. His new play, Valadon: Reclining Nude, premieres this October in NYC. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center.