Archives for category: My Prized Possession

Thank you to the 77 writers — from 24 states and 12 countries — who participated in our MY PRIZED POSSESSION Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from October 27 – November 24, 2016.  Many thanks to the following authors for their engaging, wide-ranging work!

Amy Abbott (Indiana)
Margaret Adkins (England)
Jordan Altman (Canada)
Mikki Aronoff (New Mexico)
Linda Baie (Colorado)
Devon Balwit (Oregon)
Ruth Bavetta (California)
Shreerupa Basu Das (England)
Norman Belanger (Massachusetts)
Shelly Blankman (Maryland)
Anne Born (New York)
Paul Brookes (England)
Thomas Cannon (Wisconsin)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Sally Clark (Texas)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Wendy DeGroat (Virginia)
Casey Derengowski (California)
Keith Dwyer (Texas)
Laura Foley (Vermont)
Harry Gallagher (England)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
VIjaya Gowrisankar (India)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Mark Andrew Heathcote (England)
Donna Hilbert (California)
Jesse Holth (Canada)
Trish Hopkinson (Utah)
Mark Hudson (Illinois)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Bob Kunzinger (Virginia)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Lynda Lesny (Canada)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Maggie Mackay (Scotland)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Betsy Mars (California)
Mary C. McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Patricia McGoldrick (Canada)
Julia McGuinness (England)
Tom McLaren (New Mexico)
Joan McNerney (New York)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Robbi Nester (California)
J Newton (England)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Marianne Peel (Michigan)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Rebecca Pilling (Massachusetts)
Ren Powell (Norway)
D.A. Pratt (Canada)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Scott Redmond (Scotland)
Bethany Rivers (England)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Esther Rohm (Ohio)
Chelsea Rounsley (Illinois)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Karen Sawyer (Texas)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Frank Stern (California)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Jen Waldron (Georgia)
Sheila Wellehan (Maine)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Frederick Wilbur (Virginia)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)


That ring you gave me…
by Sofia Kioroglou

That ring you gave me on that day
more beautiful than a blossoming rose
a symbol of your undying devotion and our eternity

That ring you gave me on that day
declared our love to a long and arduous journey
during which true love has been forged

That ring you gave me, my love
I will always wear on my right hand
a token of eternal bliss

That ring you gave me
when I grew tired of the chase
I happened to find

And since the wind blows in my face
I sail with every wind
the ultimate find of my search, this ring

PHOTO: The author and her future husband Peter join hands at their engagement party.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The day my husband popped the question totally out of the blue is a moment indelibly etched on my mind. The poem, however corny it may be deemed, describes exactly how I felt when he placed the ring on my finger. When writing this poem, I drew inspiration from The Alchemist  by Paulo Coelho, which is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts, and from Friedrich Nietzsche, a rather incongruous combination that  I hope makes sense to those who are tired of the chase but who learned to find. Based on Biblical references, it has always been the tradition of the Orthodox Church to place the wedding ring on the right hand of the couple.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sofia Kioroglou is a poet, a wife, a missionary, a pilgrim, and a perennial traveler to the Holy Land and Egypt. She likes to take her readers on an exhilarating tour of Jerusalem’s treasures through her poetry and to write articles on the delectable local fare in Jericho, near the Mount of Temptation, and  her visits to Cana, where hundreds of couples renew their wedding vows at the Wedding Church.  To learn more about her, visit her blog at

My Comfort Friend
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

So soft to touch, my comfort friend
You’ve felt my joy on every achievement
You’ve soaked my tears at every anguish
You’ve heard my fears through whispers

So soft to touch, my comfort friend
I’ve inhaled you when I was uncertain
I’ve crushed you when I was in pain
I’ve danced with you, as my companion

So soft to touch, my comfort friend
My small hands stretched to enfold you
My cheeks rested on you each night
My dreams were all shared with you

So soft to touch, my comfort friend
You’ve seen my grow from a child to adult
You’ve been my support when I left home
My comfort pillow, you know me the best

PHOTO: The author with her prized possession.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My comfort friend, my little pillow, has been with me since I was three years old. Wherever I go, I take my pillow with me. I can’t imagine my life without my pillow.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her second book of poems Reflect in December 2015. Her first book, Inspire, published in December 2014, reached bestseller status. She was announced as one of the winners of Inspire by Gandhi competition, organized by Sampad, a UK organization. She has been announced as the Winner of AZsacra International Poetry Award (Dec. 2015). Her submissions have been published in Forwardian, Triadae Magazine, iWrite India, Dystenium Online, Taj Mahal Review, and Silver Birch Press. A participant in the Poetry Marathon 2016  (24 poems in 24 hours, 1 poem per hour), she has also reviewed and edited poetry and fiction books.

Disney’s Nautilus
by Jonathan Yungkans

I got hooked on Bach through it
classical music and sea stories
James Mason as Nemo at his
pipe organ face twisting
the music increasingly distorted
and the klaxon sounding
time sink another warship

I loved the whole movie
but especially the Nautilus built
like some iron-plated sea monster
so when many years later
a replica sat in  the background
of a camera shot on Roy Disney’s
desk while he talked about
something else I spotted it
and said that had to be mine

a rainstorm at Disneyland
washed me within sight of it
the card payment I’d have
like the giant squid wrapped
around its hull that Nemo
and crew fought in an storm
green like an AMEX card
but Nemo and I both won
the Nautilus over my stereo
even when I don’t play Bach

IMAGE: Disney Nautilus Model issued in 2004 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The movie mentioned in the poem is the Disney version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Events transpired pretty much as in the poem. I got hooked on the film as a kid (along the with Gregory Peck/Virginia Mayo film Captain Horatio Hornblower) and saw the replica Nautilus one afternoon, watching the Disney Channel with my wife. I’ve probably had mine about 20 years and it’s not going anywhere. The Bach piece that Nemo (James Mason) plays at the beginning of the poem is the Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565. I’m still very much attached to it, as well.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jonathan Yungkans is a Los-Angeles-based poet, writer and photographer. Growing up in Gardena, California, not far from the Pacific Ocean and at the time still predominantly Japanese-American, left him with three things—an intense love for the sea, a deep appreciation for cultures other than his own, and the outlook (and resulting questions) of an outsider aware that he didn’t quite fit into his surroundings. Subsequent years as an ESL teacher and a publications editor for a multi-cultural Christian ministry only added to the latter two of these. His work has  appeared in Poet Lore, Poetry/LA, Twisted Vine Literary Journal,  and other publications.


Magic Box
by Keith Dwyer

My prized possession has abilities that belie its humble, pedestrian appearance. It always sits in the same place in one room of my house. It can alter the emotions and thoughts of those who occupy the same room. It can transport those same people to places and events around the world and prompt discussions or even arguments. Finally, but maybe most importantly, it inspires wild, hedonistic gyrations of the whole body in spasms of unadulterated joy! What could be such an item that can do all these things? It is my Sony Boombox radio with CD player — made of black, molded plastic, with a pop-up CD player and a silver antenna . It is most likely the single greatest gift I’ve ever received, and since receiving it, there has scarcely been a day when I haven’t played the radio or a CD on it.

When the time comes that I am able to replace it with something bigger and better, I’m not so sure I will do so. I have it situated just right, so that its sound fills every corner of the room equally. It has just the right amount of functions and buttons. It doesn’t take up very much room, but yet, it speaks loudly to my heart and mind. It plays any style of music with equal aplomb. I have listened to presidents speak through it. And I have cheered or cried with all the stories it has filled its room with. In actuality, it merely serves as a medium for information and music. But without this unique, multi-function medium, I might never know what I was missing!

IMAGE: Sony boombox given the Warhol treatment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Keith Dwyer is currently working on his first novel. An avid reader since school, he has only recently decided to try his hand at writing. It’s as hard as people tell you, even frustrating at times, but he senses the act of writing is its own reward!


Nanna’s Notebooks
by Paul Brookes

A coal depot clerk’s clear print
in columns shopping list for me,
in another: events in Grandad’s time
at nursing home, medication,
doctor’s and carers visits carefully
recorded until the hand unsteady
scrawled, shook, lines wobbled,
columns invaded columns,
words abbreviated like her breath,
words bent double and tired.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A page from my Nanna’s notebook.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My Nanna was fastidious in her attention to detail. At times she could compliment and slight in the same sentence. Clerically trained in a coal depot, she carefully recorded the weight of the coal exiting the site. Later she was a shop assistant in Marks and Spencer. She and I planned her funeral well in advance.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Brookes has been writing since he was 11. He was poetry performer with “Rats for Love” and his work was included in Rats for Love: The Book (Bristol Broadsides, 1990). His first chapbook was The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). He has read his work on BBC Radio Bristol and had a creative writing workshop for sixth-formers broadcast on BBC Radio Five Live.

Regarding A Gift of Joy, Helen Hayes’ Autobiography
by Ren Powell

I fear I am slowly forgetting
how to write a poem.
How to coax the sounds to line up
and sing inside my head
with the voices of those forgotten,
those anonymous, recorded
in my developing brain, inside
my body, inside my mother’s body:

the pure soundtrack of becoming.
Allusions. Every poem
is a wink of recognition;
every poet is enthralled
with the music of her own
species. And the actress is a sonorous
medium for the dead. Her autobiography
is all intertextuality: a memory of a whisper

echoing over seven centuries
to meet me here. Now here
in that soft spot that has never healed
she has been the go-between to mingle me
with everyone who has ever written.
On page 203 the scalloped page channels
the woman who channels Wordsworth
“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting”

But I read, and I remember still.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Never judge a book by its cover. A Gift of Joy by Helen Hayes New York: M. Evans and Company, Inc., 1965).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am someone who has learned not to hold onto things too tightly. I have few possessions that have significant emotional memories: my children’s baby clothes, my grandmother’s costume jewelry, and this book. I originally tried to write a prose piece about it, but memories intruded and the little paragraph stretched to a thousand words. It was the first book I bought for myself, with my own money. I was 10. I misunderstood the cosmic message and thought for many years that my kinship with Hayes meant that I was destined to be an actress. Nope.


Ren Powell
is a native Californian who has made her home in the southwest of Norway. Her sixth poetry collection is forthcoming this year with Wigestrand Publishers. Her selected works Mercy Island is available in North America through Phoenicia Publishing and Amazon.

Tarot cards and burning candle
My Tarot Deck
by Mary McCarthy

Was a present from my high school friend
who liked to think witchy thoughts with me,
to push at the edges of the expected
and cook up a good scare
breaking all the rules.
Like going to the school chapel
late at night,
poking around in the relic case,
stealing sips of wine,
and a few unconsecrated hosts,
trying to cast spells
by circling the altar widdershins
and playing bawdy rock on the organ.

She was born on Halloween
and I on Lammas Day.
Dates we thought significant,
fitting us to be the perfect
modern witches.

I loved the cards.
The images spoke to me
of things at once
strange and essential.
I learned how to lay them out
for a reading
and surprised myself
because the patterns always made sense
telling a story
whether for a friend I knew
or for a stranger.
My readings were in great demand,
popular at parties, casual gatherings,
and even by appointment.
Until it became something more
and less than fun.
I could feel the pressure
of the needs they brought to me,
the threat of chaos
underneath the call
to find a story for them
that would make sense of lives
that seemed all too accidental.
Solutions and assurances
all far beyond what I could see.,
I quit my readings
but kept the magic cards
fifty years now
safe and quiet in their box
held in reserve
for unknown future

PHOTO: Tarot cards (stock image).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Thinking about a precious possession kept for many years, this Tarot deck came to mind. In the same way we used to scare ourselves with the Ouija board when teenagers, we took to the idea of these magic fortune-telling cards. It was part game, part serious — almost believing what I’d come up with in my interpretations of the patterns in the cards. Also delicious because definitely outside the rules of our Catholic nuns’ teaching at school. We loved thinking of ourselves as outlaws!!

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is a photo of me in my younger, witchier days!.

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.

Art Shrine
by Robbi Nester

In one corner of the living room we’ve made
a kind of family shrine, memorial to my family’s
efforts in the arts of painting, sculpture.
There on the stairs we’ve hung the painting
of my grandfather, Wolf Horvitch,
as a young, if balding man in spectacles,
an early oil by my great-uncle, Isaac Rosenberg.
And there, Wolf’s death mask,
product of no shaping hand but death’s,
its rough brown surface, like a spackled ceiling,
stormy sea, preserving his expression
better than a photograph could do.
Death is my relation too, my link to all who breathe,
an artist of a sort, whose practiced hand
lays bare the scaffolding beneath the skin.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Painting (left) of my grandfather Wolf Horvitch by my great-uncle Isaac Rosenberg and death mask (right), Wolf Horvitch.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt (and others’ responses to it) set me to thinking about what objects I could not do without, and have brought with me over the years from one place to another. I settled on these things. It’s true there is more than one, but together, they make up a constant in my life, an “art shrine” that celebrates my family on my mother’s side.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and a full collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014). She has edited two anthologies, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014) and Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees—celebrating the photography of Beth MoonHer poems, reviews, essays, and blog posts have appeared in many journals, anthologies, websites, and weblogs.

Author photo by Charles Hood. 


Signed in my presence …
by D.A. Pratt

Two things about the moment are still very much alive in my memory: first, my amazement that Josef Skvorecky’s reading in Regina was scheduled for a regular classroom at the University and, secondly, my amazement that I was the only one who approached him afterwards with a book to sign … as he complied with my request, little did I know that he would become my “favourite living writer” …

Before going to the reading, I had begun reading the Penguin edition of his novel entitled The Cowards … I had purchased the book more or less “just because” … he sounded exotic and I liked the art on the cover (Penguins were like this at that time) … however I opted to take the hardcover copy of The Swell Season to the reading … later I would learn that the stories in this collection essentially complemented the story portrayed in the novel …

When I stepped out of the line of people leaving the room to ask him to sign my book for me, I was able to tell him that I was reading The Cowards and that I was enjoying it … as he signed and dated the book, he responded that he hoped I would “continue to enjoy” …

I indeed did “continue to enjoy” … I became an avid reader (and collector) of his writing … years later I would write a long fan letter to him and he responded both graciously and generously … anyway, it all started when I went to that reading – the book he signed in my presence represents a “moment” and in many ways it is more than just a prized possession!

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The concept of a “prized possession” is fairly foreign to me … however, upon reflection, the copy of The Swell Season signed by Josef Skvorecky in my presence when he visited Regina in 1983 probably comes as close as anything to qualifying for this title …¶ Reading Skvorecky’s works (many feature the continuing story of Danny, perhaps an “alter ego”) opened the door for me to Czech writing in general: reading The Cowards and The Swell Season led me to Milan Kundera (I really enjoyed The Unbearable Lightness of Being) … also Ivan Klima and Bohumil Hrabal … and Vaclav Havel (his nonfiction writing has really spoken to me over the years as well as his life’s story) … I’ll also mention Zdena Salivarova (I enjoyed her novel Summer in Prague) – she’s now Skvorecky’s widow … together they created 68 Publishers after they moved to Canada … Skvorecky’s novel entitled The Engineer of Human Souls was a “reading experience” that I did not want to end (the book is partly set in Canada) … ¶ When we visited Prague in 1999, I bought Czech language editions of both The Cowards and The Swell Season … I even bought a copy of one of his novels that has yet to be published in English – its presence in the “Czech literature” part of my book collection still tempts me to undertake a most unlikely undertaking (I went to Prague knowing just “twenty words of Czech”) … ¶ Anyway, it all began with that reading at the University of Regina in 1983 … as he signed the book for me in that classroom I had no idea how important his writing would become to me … my memory of that magical moment is still very much alive … the book he signed that day symbolizes more than anyone could ever realize …

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: D.A. (David) Pratt “continues to continue” in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, although he sees himself as an outsider within what he considers a comfortably conventional community – this is reflected in his self portrait poem published by Silver Birch Press in 2014.