Archives for category: When I Hear That Song

vintage musical background
Thank you to the 47 authors — from 17 states and 10 countries — who participated in our WHEN I HEAR THAT SONG Series, which ran from November  1-23, 2015. We send our appreciation to the authors from around the world who contributed their poetry and stories to the series!

Kimmy Alan (Minnesota)
Glen Armstrong (Michigan)
Nina Bennett (Delaware)
Stephen Blake (England)
Rose Mary Boehm (Peru)
Steve Bogdaniec (Illinois)
Cath Bore (England)
Crystal Brinkerhoff (Montana)
Cynthia Bryant (California)
Miki Byrne (England)
Don Kingfisher Campbell (California)
Sarah Carleton (Florida)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
C.A. Cole (Colorado)
Beth Cooley (Washington)
Joanne Corey (New York)
Rebekah Curry (Kansas)
Todd Duffey (California)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Kate Garrett (England)
Tony Gloeggler (New York)
Tonia Marie Harris (Illinois)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Emma Lee (England)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Richard L. Levesque (Indiana)
Susan Mahan (Massachusetts)
Jen Maidenberg (Israel)
Gillian Mellor (Scotland)
Sarah Frances Moran (Texas)
Lee Nash (France)
Perry Nicholas (New York)
Kenneth Pobo (Pennsylvania)
Rie Sheridan Rose (Texas)
Shloka Shankar (India)
Michael Shay (Wyoming)
Leslie Sittner (New York)
Alec Solomita (Massachusetts)
Massimo Soranzio (Italy)
Christine Stevens (California)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Jason Tinney (Maryland)
Bunkong Tuon (New York)
Michael A. Van Kerckhove (Illinois)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Lynn White (Wales)

tim gainey
Memories nudged to fore
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

As red light stops the taxi and wait begins
The melodious tune from teashop radio tickles my senses
The soulful voice, lyrics and music touch my core

I am back with my best friend in my childhood
As we run, our hands held tight across the garden
The dry leaves crunch beneath, feet leave imprints on the mud

We race over to the swings, and wait for our turn
Attempt to catch the butterfly as it flies across flowers
Our turn arrives, we hold on tight and swing together

In rhythm with each other, our giggles turn to glee
The breeze carries our joy to the birds that perch nearby
Up and down, in tandem, faster and faster, till the sky seems near

Seconds turn to minutes, till our small hands grow tired
We slow down, sweating, out of breath and exhilarated
Hair sticking to our faces, we look at each other and smile

Clasp our hands once again – ready, steady and race
Across the garden and the small lane, till we reach our homes
Then we part, with a silent promise, to meet tomorrow and enjoy

The taxi jerks as light turns to green and the song slowly fades
I dial her number and wait for her delight as she recognizes me
We share stories, of childhood and recent times as the miles go by

PHOTO: “Star Girl” by Tim Gainey. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Purano shei diner kotha” is a song written by Rabindranath Tagore. The song shares the story of two childhood friends and all the activities they did together.


Vijaya Gowrisankar
 released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book features more than 100 poems on topics such as Nature, Life, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood. Her poems have appeared in various publications.


Hopelessly Devoted to You…
by Rie Sheridan Rose

It doesn’t matter where I am…
It doesn’t matter who is with me…
When the radio plays
“Guess mine is not the first heart broken…”
My mind drifts back to you.

You will always be the one who got away—
The heart I could not tame.
Do you ever think of me…?
Across the years that lie between us?
Do I invade your dreams, as you do mine?

We’ve lived as long apart as we lived before we met.
I might manage now and then
A week or two without thinking your name…
And then that refrain will sigh
Through the speakers…

And though I am now in love with someone new,
I will forever be “Hopelessly devoted to you…”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Hopelessly Devoted to You” from the 1978 Grease soundtrack.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rie Sheridan Rose has written five chapbooks of poetry. Her poems have appeared in Penumbra, Illumen, and Wolf Willow magazine. She has poetry in Terror Train, Bones II, and Abandoned Towers as well as the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar and Speculative Poets of Texas Vol. 1. She is also a lyricist, and has written words for many songs recorded by Marc Gunn.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Rie Sheridan Rose circa 2012 at her mother’s 75th Birthday Party.

Connected in Song 
by Christine Stevens

She died too young
Body taken by ovarian cancer
Soul freed by faith in God

I watched the gradual eroding of her body
The changing topography of death
The way cancer eats away the soil of existence
Reducing what was once solid to layers of soft sand

After my mother died, I still caught glimpses of her
In a fox tending her cubs
A yellow butterfly landing near by
Answered prayers for a sign

One day, in the sanctuary of the Honda CRV
Just as I turned the ignition key
Trying to drive away from the sadness and loss
Her song came on the radio
James Taylor’s soothing voice
Singing my mother’s loving message

When you’re down and troubled
When you need a helping hand
You’ve got a friend

No request made
No sign demanded
Just the synchronicity of song
Reaching out from a mysterious place
Disguised as just another tune on the airways

From inside closed windows
Covered in goose bumps
I sang my heart out through waves of tears
Celebrating the reunion of souls
Separated in form
Connected in song

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: How does the perfect song come on the radio, play in the grocery store line, just when we need it most? After losing my mother to ovarian cancer, an innocent song came on the radio in a grand moment of reconnection that inspired this poem.

christine dan edit

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Christine Stevens is the author of Music Medicine, The Healing Drum Kit and The Art and Heart of Drum Circles. Visit her at

EDITOR’S NOTE: “You’ve Got a Friend” was written by Carole King and first appeared on her 1971 album Tapestry.

kenny g

Stripping For Kenny G
by Susan Mahan

It never fails.
I stop dead in my tracks
at the sounds of Kenny G.
The pied piper of heartstrings,
I would follow him anywhere.
One by one,
he peels away
my distractions and my fears,
dropping them with abandon
to the floor of my sensibility.
Listening to “Songbird”
I am stripped of my worries.
I close my eyes, and join him
on a soothing, sultry ride to the moon.
Just the two of us,
dancing across the nighttime sky.
My brooding soul finds peace, and
I am completely happy,
even as I wonder how
the strains of a saxophone
can break my heart,
but not make me sad.

In a defensive world,
Kenny G leaves me

Me and Kenny G.

I might as well be naked.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mahan has been writing poetry since her husband died in 1997. She is a frequent reader at poetry venues and has written four chapbooks. She served as an editor of The South Boston Literary Gazette from 2002-2012. She has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Silver Birch Press.

by Rebekah Curry

You walked in the leaves
where I would lie down.
I heard angels singing; I left them
in the garden. Distance, mountains,
the fall around me in the cold.
You must leave me, I know. Empty places
called out to the darkness below.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Herbstlied” is an erasure poem from the lyrics to the Alexi Murdoch song “Crinan Wood.”


Rebekah Curry
is an alumna of the University of Kansas and the University of Texas at Austin. Her chapbook Unreal Republics is available from Finishing Line Press, and her work has previously appeared in journals including Antiphon and Mezzo Cammin, as well as two anthologies of poets from her home state: Begin Again: 150 Kansas Poems (Woodley Press) and To the Stars Through Difficulties: A Kansas Renga in 150 Voices (Mammoth Publications). See more at

elton john

by Jen Maidenberg

It starts as a gleeful dance in the kitchen while you fry up turkey bacon and lip sync in an effort to swallow tears of turning 40, of your parents now old enough to be your grandparents, now dead instead of driving across the wrong bridge to Philadelphia or hollering at you to leave your brother alone.

Last time you heard it was on a yellow school bus sitting in the parking lot outside Beth El awaiting an 8 a.m. departure to New York City, a trip you remember only in pictures, in the primary colors of the puffy winter jackets you all wore then. You sat in vomit that day, which may have been a different day because the bus with the vomit was a chartered bus, but still.

In the kitchen, you sway with closed eyes, unable to dissolve the image of your brother swinging from a branch of the weeping willow tree in your grandparents’ backyard and
I guess that’s why they call it the blues.
The kids stare, but there’s no use explaining how if they’re lucky they’ll one day hear this song and recall the smell of turkey bacon…frying in a pan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues” is a song composed and performed by Elton John, with lyrics by Bernie Taupin and Davey Johnstone. It was released in 1983 and reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The author remembers first hearing the song on 98FM Philadelphia through a portable radio, while playing with her brother in her grandparents’ backyard in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Jen Oct 3 2015 rev1

Jen Maidenberg
is a professional writer and editor living in Israel. She is a candidate (2015) for a Master of Arts from the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University. Her creative nonfiction column, “My Time, Your Place” is published bimonthly in District Lit, an online journal of writing and art based in Washington, D.C.

gold dust woman
Patton and Gold Dust Woman
by Sarah Frances Moran

In 1998 I spent most evenings
locked in my room. Stereo blasting.
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours on repeat.

It was that awkward age of sixteen.
Where nothing in the world feels right
except for yourself, you’re always right.

I remember writing my song analysis that year
on Gold Dust Woman. Explained in front of 30 other
students what I thought Stevie was talking about.

If I thought they looked at me in a strange way before
it was nothing compared to this.

Of all those teenage memories swirling around
the riffs of Lindsey’s guitar and Stevie belting out
did she make you cry, make you break down,
you’re always what I think of and what moves me.

I rarely remember the mean kids at school
or that song project. I barely remember my stubborn awkwardness.

But I remember your low howl.
The way Stevie’s voice in that one song
would set you off better than any fire truck.
The way you’d look at me with some sort of longing
reserved for creatures that aren’t human, throw your head back
and ah oooooooooooooooow throughout the chorus.

That song pops up now on my playlist and it reminds me
how you taught me what unconditional love is. What a bestfriend is and      how
things that aren’t human are oh so very beautiful too.


PHOTO: Patton and Sarah, 1998.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece is about the dog I grew up with. He was a pitbull mix and was truly a best friend to me and my brother. He would howl like crazy whenever I played “Gold Dust Woman” [from the 1977 Fleetwood Mac album Rumours]. Whenever I hear that song, I think of him. They don’t live long enough.


Sarah Frances Moran
is a writer, editor, animal lover, videogamer, queer Latina. She thinks Chihuahuas should rule the world and prefers their company to people 90% of the time. Her work has most recently been published or is upcoming in The No Se Habla Espanol Anthology, Elephant Journal, Drunk Monkeys, Rust+Moth, Maudlin House, Blackheart Magazine, Red Fez, and The Bitchin’ Kitsch. She is Editor/Founder of Yellow Chair Review. These days you can find her kayaking the Brazos in Waco, Texas, with her partner. You may reach her at

We Lived by the River
by Richard L. Levesque

I didn’t mourn your passing, brother.
Didn’t shed tears of regret or offer up silent prayers.
Nor did I play dirges in the dark.
Most of the cheap hoods you idolized had gone before you.
I knew they had your back.
You were in good hands.
Instead, my respects were paid in music.
My iPod shoved deep in the pocket of my worn jeans.
Headphones barely attached to my head as the music throbbed
and propelled me around the room.
You had known this album front to back.
It was the one with Paul Simonon on the cover,
smashing his bass on the stage of N.Y.C.’s Palladium Theater.
To me, he might as well have been planting a flag on Mars.
It was exciting and dangerous.
It was the unknown.
You slipped the cover of it in my hands when I was thirteen,
that incessant stammering of yours announcing London was calling
and I “Nuh…Nuh…Nuh…NEEDED to hear this!”
The words jammed up in your Adam’s apple and strangled your tongue,
exploding just as you touched needle to record and the slashing guitar      riffs began.
That was the moment we ceased to be in your room with its dim light,
cigarette smoke, and stale beer smell.
We weren’t living in Amesbury, Massachusetts, along the Powow River      anymore.
We weren’t worrying about the slow sinking of our small town dreams.
No, we were little London boys sowing the seeds of revolution along the      Thames.
We were concerned about nuclear meltdowns, famine, and the sun      zooming in.
We could conquer the world with a few good lines of poetry and some      werewolf howls.
For three minutes and nineteen seconds at a time, we weren’t afraid to      fight.
But Joe Strummer would’ve been the first one to tell us dying is a part of      living.
So when you left this world in your final act of anarchy,
I took in a deep breath and prepared to drown on my own.
And I had no fear because I knew you were there with me.
I knew you were finally free.

Levesque AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This is the only photo I have where my half-brother Freddy and I appear together. My sister Lynn is in the middle. This tiny Polaroid was taken sometime in the early 1970s.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Freddy had a horrible stammer that did not make his life easy. But the guy had his finger on the pulse of the music scene way before anybody else did in the late 1970s/early 1980s. He was into musicians like Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Robert Gordon long before anybody had even heard of them in our little hometown. Up until the time he introduced me to The Clash’s “London Calling,” what I knew about music was a combination of my parents’ tastes. So that song started this whole big shift in my record-collecting mindset. A lot of what I like to listen to now can be traced back to that day in his bedroom. Freddy died from a very aggressive form of cancer a few years back. Every time I hear “London Calling” (1979) on the radio, I can’t help but smile and turn up the volume. That’s just me honoring his life and not mourning it.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L. Levesque has been writing and publishing poetry since 1991. He is the author of two chapbooks, Bone-Break Psychobilly Stew and Fetal Graceland. He is currently working on a third chapbook, Carriagetown Frogs, about his life growing up in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Lorrie.

Tainted Love
by Lee Nash


you drive
            we share
go nowhere

lost my light
            can’t sleep
at night

I ran
            I’ll run

            given all

take all
            get away

make things right

you need to

think love is
            to pray
but I don’t pray

this love you’ve given

I give
            give you my tears

            you hurt me

I’m gonna go

SOURCE: “Tainted Love,” lyrics by Ed Cobb (1964).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted to work on an erasure poem and chose a song that stirs up my adolescent memories and emotions. This was a hit in the mid-80s, when I was in my last year at school. At the height of synthpop we couldn’t get enough of this track and its frantic-erotic vibe. Only later would I discover that Gloria Jones recorded the original version in 1965, before I was born.

lee nash photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Nash lives in France and freelances as an editorial designer for a UK publisher. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in print and online journals in the UK, the US and France including The French Literary Review, The Dawntreader, The Lake, Inksweatandtears, Orbis, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, The Interpreter’s House, The World Haiku Review, Black Poppy Review, and Silver Birch Press. (PHOTO: The author in Vayres, France, 2010.)