Archives for category: My Metamorphosis


Thank you to the 52 authors from around the world who participated in the Silver Birch Press MY METAMORPHOSIS Series from August 22 – September 15, 2015. With your poems and stories about transformation, you helped us  celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Your work was stunning, inspiring, honest, clever, thought-provoking, and much more. Many thanks!

Kimmy Alan (Minnesota)
Susan Austin (Idaho)
Barbara Bald (New Hampshire)
Johannes S.H. Bjerg (Denmark)
Eric Burke (Ohio)
Jacalyn Carley (Germany)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Yoko Danno (Japan)
Rodrigo Dela Peña, Jr. (Singapore)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Lourdes A. Gautier (New Jersey)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Alegria Imperial (Canada)
Mary Kendall (North Carolina)
Muni Khan (Bangladesh)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Rosalyn Marhatta (North Carolina)
Betsy Mars (California)
Karen Massey (Canada)
Catfish McDaris (Wisconsin)
Elaine Mintzer (California)
Stephanie Morrissey (Texas)
Leah Mueller (Washington)
Debasis Mukhopadhyay (Canada)
Jimmy Pappas (New Hampshire)
Aparna Pathak (India)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Apoorva B. Raj (India)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Glenis Redmond (North Carolina)
Mark Redford (England)
Kevin Ridgeway (California)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Roslyn Ross (Malawi, Africa)
Trish Saunders (Hawaii and Washington)
Marsha Schuh (California)
Alisha Grace Scott (California)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Joan Jobe Smith (California)
Linda Ann Suddarth (Texas)
Susan Beall Summers (Texas)
Marianne Szlyk (Maryland)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Thomas R. Thomas (California)
Elizabeth Vernios (Maryland)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Connie Wieneke (Wyoming)
Abigail Wyatt (England)
Yuan Changming (Canada)

by Eric Burke

a fragment. the weathered self-ordination of middle age. a fragment

SOURCE: First published in Right Hand Pointing.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was first published in Right Hand Pointing and has subsequently been remixed in a poetry video by Marc Neys for The Poetry Storehouse.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eric Burke lives in Columbus, Ohio, where he works as a computer programmer. More of his poems can be found in Pine Hills Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, bluestem, PANK, qarrtsiluni, Escape Into Life, decomP, A cappella Zoo, Weave Magazine and A Clean, Well-Lighted Place. You can keep up with him at his blog at

Marianne at Metro
Once She Was a Subway Flyer*
by Marianne Szlyk

when Addison Road was the end of the line.
Beyond here there were only buses
the C29 down the highway
past strip malls, past farm stands,
past the DMV and the gas station,
to the front door of the college.

Then she was a moon-faced girl
in black among the masked faces,
her students coming from work,
the stout security guards,
and the boys to men
with blank white shirts
and shorts past their knees.

That was nearly ten years ago.
She looks like her mother now,
tightening a gunmetal belt
over a navy cardigan.
She walks to work.

Someday she might come back
to see what this place has become:
the new town center, the stores,
the station

a village green with
Kenny the mayor on Foursquare,
Addison Road,
no longer the end of the line.

*NOTE: A “freeway flyer” is a name for an adjunct instructor who teaches at more than one college. A “subway flyer” would be one who, without a car, commutes via public transportation.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: This photo is from the time when I was a subway flyer. My husband Ethan Goffman took the picture at Silver Spring Metro Station, our stop back then.  When I was a subway flyer, I took Metro and other public transportation to the various places where I taught.  However, that was a long time ago.  Since then, I’ve found a full-time job, lost quite a bit of weight, and begun looking more like my mother.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Once She Was a Subway Flyer” began as a bop poem with “don’t get around much anymore” as its refrain. (I learned about the bop in Reuben Jackson’s workshop. Invented by poet Aafa M. Weaver, the bop consists of a six-line stanza, an eight-line stanza, and another six-line stanza, each separated by a refrain.) Fearing copyright issues, I took out the refrain and turned my baby bop into free verse. Eventually, Linden Avenue Literary Journal accepted the poem for Issue 17. It is also in my first chapbook, Listening to Electric Cambodia, Looking Up at Trees of Heaven.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is…an associate poetry editor at Potomac Review, and a professor of English at Montgomery College.  Recently her second chapbook, I Dream of Empathy, has been accepted by Flutter Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Long Exposure, Front Porch Review, The Syzygn Poetry Journal, ken*again, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Yellow Chair Review, Snapping Twig, Flutter Poetry Journal, and Black Poppy Review Her first chapbook is available through Kind of a Hurricane Press. She hopes that you will consider sending work to her magazine. For more information, visit The Song Is blogzine.

How I learned she wasn’t a horse
by Aparna Pathak

Sweating tresses and a territory of flour on her forehead
that would resemble a different island every time; my mother
didn’t have the option to change the pace of
her running within the province.
She wore invisible blinkers; selective mechanism shriveled
her focus just on us whether we were around or not.
Up with imperial horsepower, I didn’t see her relaxing ever.
They say horses sleep while standing up.
But now a mother myself,
I know she wasn’t a horse.

IMAGE: “Horse Face” by Octavio Ocampo. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem while I met my mother recently and realized how hard she worked to make us what we are today. Her whole focus was just on us (my father, my brother, and me) and she never complained. As it is said, we realize worth of our parents only when we become parents; I understand her more today than ever — that is my metamorphosis.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aparna Pathak is from India. Her work appears in Poetry Life and Times (Spain), Reflections (UK), Negative Suck (Atlanta), Poetry 24 (UK) Rolling Thunder Press (UK), Blue Cygnus (India), Earthen Lamp Journal (India), and Creatrix – A Journal of poetry and haiku by WA poets Inc.(Australia), Lost Tower Publication (UK) Inner child Press, and various anthologies like Nivasini – Celebrating India. She is not a photographer but she has an eye for unique surroundings that resulted in one of her photograph getting selected by Rattle Magazine (US) for their Ekphrastic Challenge contest.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Taken in the car, while I was coming back to home after meeting my parents.

Ash backwards
by Betsy Mars

I hear the shofar singing:
ashes to ashes, dust to dust,
announcing a new year.
The frequency of the sounds breaks the shell of my cocoon of self-      doubt,
I stand on the edge observing

Tentative wings spread wide, still flimsy and muscles stretching.
No longer flattened with atrophy, shielding a fragile core.
Antennae reaching here and there, sensing
Into the possible, relentless

Old ways infiltrate, voices insinuate.
The jobs you didn’t get, the people who abandoned you,
the publishers who rejected you. The insultingly low expectations of
Incompetency, a need for external protection.

Refuting your latent lisp and baby fat, your thick glasses.
Your secret crushes and puberty
full of magnified flaws and hair follicles sprouting.
Hormonal tendrils creeping into your childish freedom,
strangling the breath with strange excitement.

Back in the present, with a new presence of mind,
a new stage with your strong knock-kneed legs sturdy under you,
and your fledgling hopes, and
who are you now:

The product of long-brewing history and genetics,
mystery formulating every second
new, scattering wishes to the ever propelling wind,
and landing on your feet.

IMAGE: “Autumn Song” by Erté (1892-1990).

Betsy purpletips (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a poet who lives in Southern California. After many years of butting heads with herself she is starting to alter some of her patterns and embrace change. The idea of metamorphosis speaks to her current state of flux.

My daughter took this photo of me when I was first re-entering a period of creativity after emerging from a self-imposed semi-seclusion as a result of coping with some difficult issues in my life. It was the first time I dared to change my appearance in any way that might draw attention, and it started with dipping my toe in–or rather, my hair ends–purple dye.

Photo by Katie Naphas.

this whale

which brushed past me –
as big as a neighbourhood
impossibly swimming
mysteriously swimming
but swimming – its huge fin just
touched me imperturbable the way things are done
imperturbable the way things are

I have tried to create things –
magnificent and inexorable –
but the whale is nothing
and my creations are nothing but
swirls and currents

there never was a whale
there never is myself


turn into the current

recede and

IMAGE: The Second Day of Creation” by M.C. Escher (1925).


By birth and nature Mark Redford has tended awkwardly to the outer reaches or outside of whatever has brought him up.  This has afforded him plenty of side-on observance to notice the high windows of Roan School for Boys, the flatlands grey desks of Lancaster University library, the bay windows of the houses he never lived in and the agendas behind the doors he never opens in the school where he continues to work.  He is married with three adult children which has brought him in from the cold somewhat, but he is ever by the way and difficult to ‘get’; it’s as if he had been scared and fascinated by something huge…

by Barbara Bald

They tower above me—northern red oak,
American beech, eastern hemlock
and snow-laden birch that dip to the ground.
Some offer a light kiss;
others remain snugly imprisoned.

Below in the valley, civilization rushes by.
Here it cannot touch me.
Here, in this wild place,
I am safe.
Standing among giants, I grow taller.

I am the pioneer woman carrying water
from a nearly frozen well.

I am the farmer sheltering my cows
under massive white pines.

I am the emancipated slave clearing
boulder-strewn fields for my first year’s crops.

I am the mother, gasping in labor, determined
to birth my second son.

I am that crawling baby facing a tower
of carpeted stairs.

Turning my cheek to winter’s wind,
like a tree white-coated on its northern side,
I willingly feel the bite of wet snow.
Snow-shoes solid beneath me,
sensing my place, my strength,
I humbly begin the trek home.

IMAGE: “The Lady Clare” by John William Waterhouse (1900).

Barbara Bald and goat

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies: The Other Side of Sorrow, The 2008 and 2010 Poets’ Guide to New Hampshire, For Loving Precious Beast, Piscataqua Poems, The Widow’s Handbook, Sun and Sand, In Gilded Frame and other anthologies published by Kind of Hurricane Press. They have appeared in The Northern New England Review, Avocet, Off the Coast and in multiple issues of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s publication: The Poets’ Touchstone. Her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. Her recent full-length book is called Drive-Through Window and her new chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. Barb lives in Alton, NH with her cat Catcher and two Siamese Fighting fish.

PHOTO: Barbara Bald and new friend at the Remick Farm Museum, New Hampshire (2015).


Notice Me: A Poem of Aphrodite
(in the Spirit of Sappho)
By Linda Ann Suddarth

Inanna gathered all the me.
The me were placed on the Boat of Heaven.
The Boat of Heaven, with the holy me,
pushed off from the quay.

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth

Desire has shaken my mind
As wind in the mountain forests
Roars through trees.

Sappho, 15

I am a seashell
sing through me,
radiate scarlet
to the western sky.
Laughter’s darling
is the breeze
that lifts my hair
cools the sweat
on my neck.
I am the wind silvery
with glee,
the trees ravished
with desire,
bending bodies
as if they remember
some pre-tree time
and the motion of water,
leaves like hair
sweep the earth.
Centuries run round
circles of the sun
Inanna, Ishtar, me.
Beauty catches the poet
by surprise
notice me.
Notice the glow
of youthful skin
the playful glance
remember the giggle
that catches running
from each silly child
to the other
until no one is immune.
Though I shout “stop-stop!
My sides are hurting”
notice me rolling
from side to side
finally breathless
no laughter left
until eyes meet again
erupt into a giggle-dance
again and again.
Recognize what Beauty is,
I am the purple
interwoven into everything,
the silence between things,
the song, the cricket’s chirp,
the heavy stillness
of dead heat in Su(m)mer,
the quiet of snow falling,
The wee hours
when traffic dies away.
Remember in the desert
the sound of ocean waves,
remember in the mountains
the vista of the prairie,
remember in old age
the beauty of your mother
when she was young
her hair brown and soft.
Notice me
even in the pain of love
the absence of love
I am the presence
in what is not.
I am color—
what makes you
choose one over another.
A painting for this wall?
Or to leave it white?
Like the brrrrrr
in a man’s deep voice
or the delicate collarbone
peeping through a woman’s blouse
desire springs through
all things life-giving,
wonder at it,
this is me
this is yours.

IMAGE: “The Birth of Venus” by Odilon Redon (1910).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Notice Me” is about being present with the beauty that is available in the moment, and even in small moments and tiny details there is transformation as a result.


Linda Ann Suddarth
 sees the creative life as a vital expression of the psyche. Linda has been writing poetry for 30 years, and has published in many poetry journals. She has a BFA in painting, an interdisciplinary MA in Aesthetic Studies, and a PhD in Mythological Studies with an emphasis in Depth Psychology. Linda is on the Board of Directors for the C. G. Jung Society of North Texas, and teaches English and Art at Richland College in Dallas. For more, visit her blog:

Anyone But Me
by Alisha Grace Scott

I’m too much of a coward to
read my poetry to anyone but me—
alone in my moon-drenched apartment
bellowing verses to the indifferent walls.
Yes, I will never be brave enough to let
gentle phrases like
infinite ellipse, or
shutter-quick blinks, or
bittersweet mirage
sail a sea of whirlpool ears
on my whisper-soft tongue.
And I will certainly always avoid
allowing verbiage like
calloused soul, or
violent embrace, or
pungent nostalgia
to fall from my thunderous lips
and rain down sputtered syllables.
No matter the cost, for the span of my life,
I will never be able to speak these
stray feelings herded into sentences
and released from their pen in my pen:
No one will know
how I sometimes wonder
whether I’m so lonely that I’d love a mirage,
paint a pretty image over a convenient face
and lose my mind trying to keep it from being erased, or
How I crack myself up thinking
that the only way to tell the seasons in L.A.
is when pilates-sculpted calves shed stilettos
for boots that look like chunky wookie feet, or
How I once lost a night’s sleep in guilt,
counting my ribs—two sets of twelve—
just because I didn’t know how many I had
and felt I owed them each their own apology.
Yes, I am
an infallible fool,
a perfect coward,
a runaway scaredy-cat chicken but—
I think I just read my poem to
duped and crookedly grinning,

AUTHOR’S CAPTION FOR THE PHOTO: She drove far from the city and hiked to the top of the Vasquez Rocks to find solitude. When she got to the top, she heard all the lives in Los Angeles sing to her through the breeze, and she no longer needed to be alone.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alisha Grace Scott received her B.S. degree from Virginia Tech in psychology and is currently a graduate student at Antioch University Los Angeles pursuing her M.F.A. in Creative Writing. She has had her fiction and poetry published in Silhouette, Rose Red Review, Syzygy Poetry Journal, Enclave, and resides in the L.A. area. If you see her wandering the city staring into space and furrowing her brows, shhh, she’s busy working.


Transformation of a Maiden
by Apoorva B.Raj

The journey was to the Holy shrine of pashupati
Started on a sunny sunday
With a ray of hope and light
To attain the goal and finish the target
I Was a lonely traveler
Moody maiden always looking for
Good of someone
I met with worldly rejoice
Sat with ease and chat with smile
Forgotten my path
Hooked to the fancies
Hanged over to love and responsibilities
Toasted under pain and pressure
Again I thought of the glowing shrine
Now I am not alone
No space for my mood and moves
Thinking of my journey
I thought it would be done by
completing my duties
As I am a transformed woman
Now a good wife, a caring mother
and a responsible teacher.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: With my adorable child Dhavan near the pond in Melukote, Mysore (India).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My poem touches on the journey of a spiritually minded girl who ended up tangled in worldly matters because she forgot herself in the midst of youthful bliss. Now she is determined to fulfill her responsibilities as a prudent woman.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Apoorva B.Raj words as a part-time PhD Research Scholar in the Dept of English, Kuvempu University, Karnataka state, India, and has published articles and poems in international peer-reviewed journals. Her poems have been featured in several Silver Birch Press poetry series.