Archives for category: Poetry

birch okeeffe 1925
Thanks to all of our followers, readers, and contributors for your ongoing interest in our site. We plan to extend our hiatus through autumn 2017. During the coming months, we hope you will visit some of our previous poetry & prose series (links below).









ME, AT 17

















IMAGE: “White Birch in Autumn” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1925).

by Susan Baller-Shepard

I will go over land and tell of it.
I will traverse it until I know it right well.
Ribs in my chest become rippled snowdrifts in the field,
bones a plaster ceiling rippling to the edge, in the house
on the farm in a flat place, bones, my home here,
this land the bones I rest on, this land I know like bones,
know from the inside out, it’s how I knew your face.

I walk the prairie where the sun sits Indian style,
a pregnant woman sitting stretching out wide, nothing to stop her,
the prairie stretches out all ways, by silo and barn, field and track.

Should you speak of her, and shun her flatness, tell too of the green
of the corn, the light which moves and shimmers the green, until it has a      life
of its own inside your life; lighting you up there. Or talk fog settling in,
lying down, hiding distances, visibility just what you can see in front of       your own
face, then lifts and is off by nine. Or the blackness of the soil, when plant      shoots
break it again, awaken again, to light of longer days.

Fires raged here, ate it all up. Time and time again it grew back,
green, though only Burr oaks survived, knobby, thick, fierce
against the blaze. I will speak of the woman in the blue dress talking
by the arc of gold corn shooting out of the red combine. I whizzed by      her
in the field, in my car on the highway, acre upon acre of flatness      harvested.

Tell me again how you wish you had a piece of land? A hectare? An      acre?
Tell me how undone you feel without it? How you wish you had space
and time to know it, how you’d become a farmer, how you’d feed      someone
you’d never met, someplace you’d never been before. Land’ll do that to      you.
Make you better, for just knowing it.

IMAGE: “Illinois Cornfield” by Frank Romeo. Prints available at

buck in backyard by susan baller-shepard

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am the granddaughter and niece of Illinois farmers. I remember once a woman told me Illinois was the ugliest state she had ever driven through. I told her, “You’ve gotta have the eyes to see its beauty,” but she remained unconvinced. I traveled once to the interior of Brazil, near the Sertão. The soil there looked like lunar soil, it was so depleted from years of drought. When our Brazilian friends arrived here, they could not believe the richness of the soil. I never looked at the dirt in Illinois the same again. Plus, the autumn sunsets? They are something to behold, unobstructed, vibrant, amazing.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Buck in Backyard” by Susan Baller-Shepard.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A graduate of the undergraduate Writer’s Workshop at the University of Iowa, the award-winning writing and poetry by Susan Baller-Shepard has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post “On Faith,” Spirituality & Health, Writer’s Digest, Outrider Press Black and White series, and other publications. She writes for the Huffington Post, edits, and her poetry can be heard on WGLT’s Poetry Radio. In a warm kitchen, with the scent of baking bread, Susan’s grandmother Mabel Lake Baller recited poetry, illustrating words could be food, filling what was hungry.


On December 1, 2014, we’ll launch the Silver Birch Press I Am Waiting Poetry Series. (Submissions accepted through December 31, 2014 — for guidelines, visit this link.) The series is an homage to poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and his poem “I Am Waiting,” which first appeared in A Coney Island of the Mind — his 1958 collection that, with over a million copies in print, is one of the most popular books of poetry ever published. Ferlinghetti’s 96th birthday rolls around on March 24, 2015.

To set the stage for the I Am Waiting Poetry Series, today we’ll feature the original.

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

IMAGE: Lawrence Ferlinghetti with a painting from his van Gogh series.


Give America A Break: A Tribute to Jack Micheline

This tribute album is both a Vinyl and CD production. The first half contains various readings by poet Jack Micheline transferred from cassette tape mixed in with interview excerpts. The second half includes poets and friends of Micheline’s reading his work, poems in tribute, or sharing remembrances.

Over three dozen poets were recorded for this album including: Amiri Baraka, Neeli Cherkovski, steve dalachinsky, S.A. Griffin, Q.R. Hand, Bob Holman, Alan Kaufman, Tsaurah Litzsky, Jessica Loos, Judith Malina, David Meltzer, Eric Mingus, Eve Packer, Yuko Otomo, Anne Waldman, ruth weiss, A.D. Winans, and Eddie Woods.

Each version is different (vinyl, CD, download), as they progressively contain more material. The Vinyl is a limited edition of 250 with a gatefold design, 180 gram, colored double-vinyl. The CD is a double-disc with bonus material not included on the vinyl. All vinyl orders include a download of the digital version.

“Jack Micheline was one of a kind. Often described as a Beat poet, he was in fact never part of any literary movement or scene. Jack was a troubadour, with an original mind and a unique poetic voice. He was also a man of the people. In his younger years he would boogie uptown from Greenwich Village to haunt the streets and jazz joints of New York’s Harlem, the pulsating neighborhood he so eloquently portrays in his tragically moving ‘O Harlem.’ . . . Jack was brought to Amsterdam by Soyo Benn Posset for the 1982 One World Poetry Festival. When it finished, I put him up in the guest quarters at Ins & Outs Press and arranged a reading. To the delight of a spellbound audience, he gave his usual knockout performance.” Eddie Woods from his intro to Jack Micheline in Amsterdam

Cover photo: Jack Micheline by Eddie Woods, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

To order Give America a Break: A Tribute to Jack Micheline, visit

Silver Birch Press is excited to announce the August 17, 2014 release of Resurrection Party, a 74-page collection of poems by Michalle Gould.

BOOK DESCRIPTION: Resurrection Party concerns itself, almost to the point of obsession, with the question of how the imagination grapples with the fear of death. The collection intertwines religious and mythical subjects and themes with more fleshly concerns about the body and decay, presence and absence. It has been described as containing poems of “almost exquisite refinement, illuminated by the taut glow of sensuous prosody and imagery” and as “a deeply meditative collection at once intelligent, tender, and utterly human.”

COVER ART: “Danse Macabre” by Michael Wolgemut (1493).


“Michalle Gould’s poems are a study in beautiful paradox—their meticulously crafted structures serve as containers for the wilderness that resides within. Their terrain is somewhere between body and spirit, life and death, intimacy and solitude, elegance and intuition. Possessing a sly humor coupled with a laser sharp awareness and assertion of how all is ephemeral, Resurrection Party accomplishes the rare: it makes even the big questions fresh.” Louise Mathias, author of The Traps and Lark Apprentice

“Michalle Gould has been writing poems for years, and the long wait for her first book is finally over. In Resurrection Party, she intertwines the ancient and classic with the modern and popular, the sacred with the profane. The result is a deeply meditative collection at once intelligent, tender, and utterly human.” Hayan Charara, author of The Alchemist’s Diary and The Sadness of Others

“Michalle Gould’s Resurrection Party feels like wandering the wondrous caverns of a strange museum in the nighttime quiet. Again and again, we encounter poems of an almost exquisite refinement, illuminated by the taut glow of sensuous prosody and imagery, and yet there is a thrilling queerness there, a trembling corporeal hunger. The body, its potential for ecstasy, is deeply connected to these pageants of resurrection. Gould writes, ‘To be human is to be like a cloud chalked in the sky . . .’ Such whimsy, such recreation, stalks the heavy, sometimes biblical landscape where so many narratives of what it is to be human unfold. In Resurrection Party, Gould invites us to play there, to imagine, to fall into our graves and rise again, over and over. And at this party, we get to be different every time.” Michelle Detorie, author of After-Cave


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michalle Gould has been working on the poems that constitute Resurrection Party for almost 15 years. In that time, her poems and short stories have appeared in Slate, New England Review, Poetry, American Literary Review, The Texas Observer, and other journals. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she works as a librarian, and is in the process of researching and writing a novel set in the North of England during the 1930s.

Find Resurrection Party by Michalle Gould at

by Ana Maria Caballero

I fear my capacity to guide
Mistake toward fulfillment

At times, I blame:

          The flurry of misprint,
          of crisis to unscramble;

          The renewed promise
          of classic self-improvement;

          The flat-water buoyancy
          of fresh peace.

Other times, I blame:

          This devotion
          to words and their construction –

          How they unsay as they say –
          How they commit to purpose as thought –
          How they slay aim through speech –
          How they make me prove and reprove this power –

          This lack.

IMAGE: “Manaña” by Ed Ruscha (2009), from his On the Road Exhibition at The Hammer Museum (2011) featuring words from Jack Kerouac‘s novel of the same name.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ana Maria Caballero has worked in finance, journalism, wine importation, and even for the Colombian government before recently becoming a mom. Now she focuses her efforts on writing poetry and book thoughts, available at Her work has appeared in Big River Poetry Review, Elephant Journal, East Coast Ink, Really Systems, Aviary Review, CutBank, Ghost House Review, Dagda Publishing, Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Boston Poetry Magazine, as well as other publications, and is forthcoming in Pea River Review and Smoking Glue Gun. She also writes a weekly poetry post for Zeteo Journal’s “Zeteo is Reading” section. She lives in Colombia.

by Robert Cording

So strongly present, enclosed
in familiar features: all you
ever see, your self, unreal
to the Buddhist monk, but
something you cannot get rid of.

Inconceivable, this face, yours
just once to wear, that says, You
can go this far and no further.
That grins, self-mockingly,
when you try to reach with words’

tenuous liaisons what you believe
words do not invent.
Your petitions repeat themselves,
endlessly trying to get it right,
but still you hear only

your own voice, your will
never strong enough
to will nothing. So here
you are, fleshed out in features
that tell the same old story

year after year, the end
just beginning to make itself
clear in the boney ridges
rising to the surface
of your cheeks, in the deep

holes into which your eyes
stare, and sink, an emptiness
asking, What have you ever seen
beyond the point of vanishing
to which we have brought you?

SOURCE: Poetry (December 1996).

IMAGE: Self-Portrait (The Pilgrim) by René Magritte (1966).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Cording is the author of several collections of poetry, including Life-list (1987), Heavy Grace (1996), and Walking With Ruskin (2010). Cording has received numerous honors for his poetry, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He has served as director of From the Fishouse and was poet-in-residence at the Frost Place. The Barrett Chair of Creative Writing at the College of the Holy Cross, Cording lives in Woodstock, Connecticut.

by Piper Leigh

Avoiding the tide of a stranger in another room,

I walk to my sea.

I long for unbroken shorelines, mourn what is lost.
A seahorse lies stiff in my hand.

The tide takes my name. Manta rays fly into view, ghost of shark joins the flock.

I seek scarlet saturation
in tide pools holding an entire world.
My pen scratches watermarks on broken shell.

Waves surge in dreams and darkness, roil the sea bottom,
carry my petition to tender anemones.

SOURCE: “Self-Portrait” appears in The Landscape Between Us by Catherine Ferguson and Piper Leigh, available at

IMAGE: “The Landscape Between Us” by Piper Leigh, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Piper Leigh is an artist, author, photographer, and bookmaker. Her book of poetry and photography my thin-skinned wandering  was released by Tres Chicas Books in 2011. Founder of the consultancy Comunica — where she fosters innovation, learning, and experimentation through creative meetings and workshops, leadership training, and strategic planning — she is the author of the book series Art & Science of: Courageous Conversation, Meetings, Innovation. For a complete list of her books, visit

Author self-portrait by Piper Leigh, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. 

by Daneen Bergland

What is wrong with the geese
is how they appear
versus how they sound
piercing the clouds
with that bottled noise
like a bell rung backwards.
Their necks push
into different weather.
I remember how that feels,
waiting for my body
to autumn exotic.

IMAGE: “Wild Geese,” art print of original collage by Laura Wooten Studio. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daneen Bergland‘s poems have appeared in Denver Quarterly, Cerise Review, and Poet Lore, as well as in the anthology of Pacific Northwest poets Alive at the Center. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, received awards from the Academy of American Poets, and earned a Literary Arts fellowship. She teaches in the University Studies program at Portland State University.

by Lejan

My hair is like a waterfall, straight with many layers. It is as black as midnight, with bits of brown, as dark as a wet tree trunk.

My eyes are as brown as brown, shiny as a coin, big and gloomy, my eyes are.

My nose is like a slide, sloping downwards. Bumpy and rough, but smooth also. Medium sized, placed in the middle of my face.

My mouth is pink like a faded cherry. Soft and squishy. Like a birds feather.

My face is like the sun, light and round. Ovals are crossed with my circle. It’s an Ovacircle.

My body’s like a duck, not fat, not slim, it feels like dry straw. Rough and Smooth.

My feet are like turtles, slow and steady. Wide like the endless ocean.

My hand is big, skinny, and soft. Strong like the wind.

IMAGE: “Blue Sea Turtle” by Coastal Colors Cape Cod. Prints available at