Archives for category: WHEN I MOVED

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During 2016, the Silver Birch Press blog featured 11 poetry and prose series. Many thanks to all who participated. All told, our 2016 writing prompts generated 917 poems and stories — the vast majority written specifically for our series. Cheers!

ME, IN FICTION Poetry & Prose Series (January 2-15, 2016): 28 participants

SAME NAME Poetry & Prose Series (Jan. 16 – February 13, 2016): 60 participants

MY MANE MEMORIES Poetry & Prose Series (February 14 – March 4, 2016): 80 participants

LEARNING TO DRIVE Poetry & Prose Series (March 25 – May 5, 2016): 95 participants

STARTING TO RIDE Poetry & Prose Series (May 6 – June 4, 2016): 76 participants

MY IMAGINARY SKILL Poetry & Prose Series (June 5 – June 25, 2016): 51 participants

BEACH & POOL MEMORIES Poetry & Prose Series (June 26 – August 8, 2016): 130 participants

WHEN I MOVED Poetry & Prose Series (August 9 – September 27, 2016): 151 participants

IF I Poetry & Prose Series (September 28 – October 26, 2016): 87 participants

MY PRIZED POSSESSION Poetry & Prose Series (October 27 – November 24, 2016): 78 participants.

ME, IN A HAT Poetry & Prose Series (November 25 – December 31, 2016): 81 participants

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Thank you to the 151 writers — from 33 states and 17 countries — who participated in our WHEN I MOVED Poetry & Prose Series, which ran from August 9 – September 27, 2016. Many thanks to the following authors for their moving work!

Reina Adriano (Philippines)
Janet Banks (Massachusetts)
Cynthia Anderson (California)
Prerna Bakshi (China)
Shreerupa Basu Das (England)
Ruth Bavetta (California)
Gary Beck (New York)
Alice Venessa Bever (Wyoming)
RIck Blum (Massachusetts)
Katley Demetria Brown (Massachusetts)
Mary Buchinger (Massachusetts)
Larry Burns (California)
Alex Carr-Malcolm (England)
Susana H. Case (New York)
Abby Chew (California)
Jackie Chou (California)
Tricia Marcella Cimera (Illinois)
Sara Clancy (Arizona)
Marion Clarke (Northern Ireland)
Joan Colby (Illinois)
Clive Collins (Japan)
Chloe Cotter (Canada)
Neil Creighton (Australia)
Barbara Crooker (Pennsylvania)
Gareth Culshaw (Wales)
Howard Richard Debs (Florida)
Carolyn Divish (Indiana)
Evel Masten Economakis (Greece)
Barbara Eknoian (California)
Kristina England (Massachusetts)
Ruth Evans (Massachusetts)
Peter Faziani (Pennsylvania)
Jennifer Finstrom (Illinois)
Jane Frank (Australia)
Martina R. Gallegos (California)
Gail Gerwin (New Jersey)
Siwsan Gimprich (New Jersey)
Susan W. Goldstein (Florida)
Vijaya Gowrisankar (India)
Elizabeth Greene (Canada)
John Guzlowski (Virginia)
Tina Hacker (Kansas)
Brenda Davis Harsham (Massachusetts)
Penny Harter (New Jersey)
Ken Hartke (New Mexico)
G. Louis Heath (Iowa)
Mark Andrew Heathcote (England)
Heidi Hermanson (Nebraska)
Jennifer Hernandez (Minnesota)
Kevin M. Holgate (Canada)
Karen Paul Holmes (Georgia)
Trish Hopkinson (Utah)
Veronica Hosking (Arizona)
Yi-Wen Huang (New Mexico)
Kyle Hunter (Indiana)
Amanda Janik (California)
Jorge Jefferds (Pennsylvania)
Carol H. Jewell (New York)
Sonja Johanson (Maine)
Joseph Johnston (Michigan)
Derek Kannemeyer (Virginia)
Rose Kelland (England)
James Ross Kelly (California)
Sofia Kioroglou (Greece)
Steve Klepetar (Minnesota)
Tricia Knoll (Oregon)
Jennifer Lagier (California)
Emma Lee (England)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
Richard Levesque (Indiana)
Cheryl Levine (Massachusetts)
Joan Leotta (North Carolina)
j.lewis (California)
Laurinda Lind (New York)
Virginia Lowe (Australia)
Rick Lupert (California)
Christopher Madden (Connecticut)
Marjorie Maddox (Pennsylvania)
Janet Malotky (Minnesota)
Melisa Malvin-Middleton (California)
Poojal Mapari (United Arab Emirates)
Betsy Mars (California)
Patrick Lee Marshall (Texas)
Carolyn Martin (Oregon)
Mary McCarthy (Pennsylvania)
Patricia McGoldrick (Canada)
Teresa Marita McGuire (Mississippi)
Linda McKenney (New York)
Joan McNerney (New York)
Michael Minassian (Texas)
Helen L. Moore (Scotland)
Alice Morris (Delaware)
Eileen Murphy (Florida)
Robbi Nester (California)
Cristina M.R. Norcross (Wisconsin)
Thomas O’Connell (New York)
Mags O’Connor (Ireland)
Robert Okaji (Texas)
Thomas Park (Missouri)
Lee Parpart (Canada)
James Penha (Indonesia)
Tim Philippart (Michigan)
Rosalind Place (Canada)
Frank Pool (Texas)
D.A. Pratt (Canada)
Sarah Pritchard (England)
Edie Ravenelle (Massachusetts)
Patrick T. Reardon (Illinois)
Kevin Risner (Ohio)
Lisa Rizzo (California)
Jeannie E. Roberts (Wisconsin)
Esther Rohm (Ohio)
Kerfe Roig (New York)
Dave Roskos (New Jersey)
Christina Rothenbeck (Louisiana)
Sarah Russell (Pennsylvania)
Barbara Ruth (California)
Bruce Sager (Maryland)
Jeff Santosuosso (Florida)
Penelope Scamby Schott (Oregon)
Rhonda Schmidt (Texas)
Iris N. Schwartz (New York)
Sheila Scobba Banning (California)
Sunil Sharma (India)
Sheikha A. (Pakistan)
Ginny Short (California)
Lois Paige Simenson (Alaska)
Leslie Sittner (New York
R. H. Slansky (California)
J.L. Smith (Alaska)
Melissa Snider (Wyoming)
Carol A. Stephen (Canada)
Amanda Tanner (Michigan)
Jonathan Taylor (England)
Alarie Tennille (Missouri)
Marilyn Terhune-Young (California)
Larry D. Thacker (Tennessee)
G. Murray Thomas (California)
Jasmine Tritten (New Mexico)
Vincent Van Ross (India)
Alan Walowitz (New York)
Hannah Ward (Pennsylvania)
Mercedes Webb-Pullman (New Zealand)
A. Garnett Weiss (Canada)
Sheila Wellehan (Maine)
Kelley White (New Hampshire)
Lynn White (Wales)
Wendy Wuchnick-Gibbs (Texas)
Kim Whysall-Hammond (England)
Jonathan Yungkans (California)
Marilyn Zelke-Windau (Wisconsin)
Joanie HF Zosike (New York)

Please check out our current calls for submissions:

MY PRIZED POSSESSION Poetry & Prose Series (October 15, 2016 deadline)

ME, IN A HAT Poetry & Prose Series (November 15, 2016 deadline)

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Moving Day
by Bruce Sager

I peeled out of that driveway
and made my way over here,
to this new place, this place
you’ve stopped by just now
with a cake in your hands
and a smile on your face, and so
here we are, you and I, smiling,
standing with such fine patience
on this new porch

all of the day
spread before us
like a fresh cloth
over the rooftops.

IMAGE: “Home Sweet Home” cake. Image found at gourmandetcroquant.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Sager, famous for 15 minutes as author of Famous and The Pumping Station, lives in Westminster, Maryland. His work has won publication through contests judged by Billy Collins, Dick Allen and William Stafford. Several new books – four of poetry, one of vaguely hilarious short stories – are forthcoming in 2016-2017 (via Echo Point Books, Hyperborea Publishing and BrickHouse Books).

Greetings From Seaside Heights
A Strange New Cottage in Seaside
by Dave Roskos

moving to Seaside Heights.
a small cottage “on the highest
point of the island” according to
the landlord, who composes classical
music, writes poetry & digs Stockhausen.
somehow, his properties did not flood
during the storm. his brother, our other
new landlord, said it is because he
loves Jesus Christ. They own the pizzeria
in front of the cottage, make really good pie.
whole town was full of drunken yahoos
on Saturday. their Saint Patrick’s Day Parade
is a real booze-fest, “drunken dumb show,”
as Allen Ginsberg would say.
on Sunday it was a ghost town again.

IMAGE: Seaside Heights, New Jersey, postcard, available at cardcow.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dave Roskos is the editor of Big Hammer & Street Value magazines  & Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books. He has worked as a furniture mover, hod-carrier, flea market vendor, resident-assistant at a Catholic Charities Homeless Shelter, online book-seller, demolition man, factory & warehouse worker, & general factotum & day laborer. For the past several years he has been working in Human Services as a direct care case worker for a non-profit Independent Housing Program which serves people recovering from mental illness & addiction. His work has appeared in Home Planet News, Big Scream, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry & many other print & online publications. Lyrical Grain, Doggerel Chaff & Pedestrian Preoccupations, a 170 page Selected Poems, was recently published by Cat in the Sun Books. He lives in his home state of New Jersey with the poet Jen Dunford and their three cats.

PHOTO: The author (left) with stepdad Skip in Skip’s truck. (1999).

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Burns (You Forgot How Snow Felt on the Skin)
by J.L. Smith

Your toes were painted coral
ten days ago
in a Vegas area nail salon,
where you prepared them
for their last days of freedom,
before you sentenced them
to life behind snow boots.

Your hiking boots,
olive in color,
military camouflage appropriate,
a poor substitute for the snow boots
that you could not find,
because they were tossed
in a cardboard box
by underpaid movers
who were in a hurry
to end the day with a beer,
and marked them garage items,
as they were among the last
items to leave the Arctic
for Maryland six years ago.

Like that old R.E.M. tee
you would not dare get rid of
despite the holes it has—
because you might wear it one day
to paint kitchen cabinets or something—
those boots are somewhere in California
waiting for the ferry to bring them to Alaska.

Still, you feel them taunt you as
you step into the early November snow
that travels up your shins,
wetting your blue jeans,
contracting them to your skin.

Your skin chills,
the snow seeps
and scrapes down your ankle,
searing skin that forgot
how the arctic burned
when it met warm flesh.

Flesh that cried in memory
of coral toes
and sandals,
that were once free to air in the open
without shame.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is one of many poems written for a chapbook based on the many places I lived as a military spouse. This one, in particular, details the move from Nevada to Alaska, the second time we lived in the arctic.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.L. Smith presently lives in Eagle River, Alaska, but is in the process of moving (yet again) to a location that is not yet finalized. By the time she arrived in Nevada, she had managed to live in five different states and one foreign country within an 11-year time span. She hopes one day to stop moving, but admits it does provide a lot of her writing material. Her work has appeared in Dirty Chai, Cirque, Yellow Chair Review, and other journals. See more of her work at her blog jlsmithwrites.com.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A selfie from the last remaining days in our home in Alaska.

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Civil Unrest
by Melisa Malvin-Middleton

I. Appalachian Fog

In the ’40s, you were the little Jew
with Horns

living in a trailer.
First, Oak Ridge hollers

so grandpa could help, unknowingly,
build the atomic bomb,

a hero, that scorched
generations.

II. Evanston Apartments

Safe outdoor sleep
on Lake Michigan

and neighbors crowded
around George and Gracie,

Benny and HUAC
on the first home screen.

III. Red Scare

Suspicion drove
the union family west

toward the songs of Richie Valens,
poodle skirts, and the scent

of orange blossoms
and smog’s lead veil

over pink houses and cacti,
white rocks on roofs.

IV. De Facto

Segregation spawned
the Pretty Hunger Striker,

who smoked her Virginia Slims,
and bore two under canvas

of burnt bras and grass,
while dreams smoldered.

V. Grandma’s Chevy

Station wagon—
we rode it seatbelt free

in back,
rear window open.

Yet the salmon hibiscus blooms you planted
endure.

IMAGE: “Hibiscus with Plumeria” by Georgia O’Keeffe (1939).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I approached “Civil Unrest” while thinking about how deeply linked we are to our ancestors and how their literal and figurative moves through life can shape our own paths. In particular, I considered how my maternal grandparents’ and my mother’s transitions through significant historical periods in American culture frequently connected to physical moves they made across the United States. Often these moves represented a shift to or from another era or place that signified the contradictions of the turmoil and personal growth they traversed. The moves my maternal grandparents and mother endured have been passed on to me, in that I carry more than the stories they told me of their histories; I carry the weight of their experiences as well; I embody their pain and their evolution. The torch of their moves has been gifted to me as my life progresses and I grieve their losses—in particular, my mother’s—and embrace the memory of them and their endurance in spite of all the obstacles and uncertainty they faced.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Melisa Malvin-Middleton
is a Los Angeles poet, playwright, and musician who teaches writing at California State University, Northridge and College of the Canyons. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in The Ofi Press and Clear Poetry, while her plays have been performed by Fresh Produce’d and Savage Players. This fall, her chapbook will be out with Yak Press. For more information visit melisamalvin.com.

PHOTO: The author at Castle Peak Park in West Hills, California.

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They looked and turned away
by Kim Whysall-Hammond

They looked and turned away
Londoners afraid to interact
With the girl sitting, weeping
On a stinkingly hot day in the city
Exclaiming that she had gone blind
Oversized suitcase abandoned near her feet
My feet
Someone pushed a cold drink into my hand
A woman’s voice comforted me
A stranger joined me on the step, asked where I was going
Told me that a long hot walk carrying a load
Had affected my sight
Sat until, miraculously, my sight returned
Then left
Pulling myself to my feet
I retrieved the offending suitcase
Slowly made my way to the Tube station
Continued my journey, moving from London to Oxford
Changing university, leaving friends and home city
Aiming for a Doctorate, I should have noted the omen
For I found loneliness and failure

IMAGE: “Suitcase full of books” by Garry Gay. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem describes the actions of a unique person in London — a kind stranger. I’m a Londoner and I love my home city, but it can be a brutal place. I was moving a suitcase full of books from London to Oxford, where I hoped to earn a Doctorate in the “Angular momentum of the Earth.”  I didn’t. This is my first published poem.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kim Whysall-Hammond
is a scientist by training, an IT manager by profession, and a poet by necessity, although until recently her poetry has been covert and hidden away.   She now shares poems at thecheesesellerswife.wordpress.com in a rather devil-may-care fashion for an Englishwoman. She has had a poem accepted by Ink, Sweat and Tears.

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Sorry, the choice isn’t mine
by Poojal Mapari

I didn’t know it meant we were moving out,
when you said change was the only way through.

“A better society, a better life”
was all I heard ’round the clock.
So, why these voices in my head
when Change would change my ma and pa’s life?

Maybe change was what I didn’t like;
change symbolizing uncertainty so proudly
it made me want to cry.

Too little to understand
what change preached back then,
So, why these voices in my head
when moving out maybe wasn’t that hard to strive?

Sharjah to Dubai? Fifty thousand steps,
Completely different names,
Isn’t that too much for a little child? was all in mind.

“Don’t over-think it,
you’ll love the place in no time”
easier told than loved;
hate was all I had for The Place.

I didn’t succeed, of course,
to make ma and pa understand
Amy’s Teddy was more important than life.

And in I entered this place;
Dare I say, beautiful,
more than teddy even,
But sshhh, ma and pa should never know
and neither should Teddy ( Please?)

And today right before I’m off to sleep, here I am
penning my little childhood dilemma,
thinking about what my mum meant
when she said Change was the only way through;
through life, through ups and through downs.

IMAGE: “Bear in the sand” found at Favim.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It’s been nine years since I last moved, so this poem is a little excerpt from what was on my mind when I was around five and was told we had to move…

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poojal Mapari, a student in grade 10, identifies her passion as writing. She is almost always writing and if not that, reading. She also loves photography and traveling.

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A New Beginning:  My Move to the Big City
by Wendy Wuchnick-Gibbs

As I watched him walk away that Thursday afternoon in February, dressed in his well-worn jeans and his favorite dark blue sweatshirt pushed up to his elbows, only then did it hit me. I was on my own and about ready to embark on a whole new chapter in my life. My dad, who had driven the almost 1,300 miles from Ohio to Houston with me, was on his way back to the only place I had ever known. My new home was now an exciting city with millions of people of all ethnicities and cultures; what an eye-opener for someone who had grown up in a cookie-cutter community with the proverbial two and a half kids and a dog. The white fence was optional.

I remember thinking as the moving van pulled up with my belongings that there was no going back, figuratively and literally. Consciously deciding to move away from my family and friends was liberating and scary and inviting all at the same time. I was ready to navigate and control my life’s autobiography. Exciting as it was to be on my own there was also a tiny flicker of fear on that day in 2005.

That tiny sputter of fear that I felt on move-in day was nothing compared to the huge tidal wave of fright that I felt a few months later as the imminent threat of Hurricane Rita was upon the city of Houston. As instructed, I evacuated with millions of other Houstonians hoping to flee the devastation of the storm. In the end, the hurricane did not arrive as expected and I made it through my first test of the unknown. There will still be “unknowns” to tackle but never regrets for the place I now call home.

IMAGE: Houston, Texas, postcard available at zazzle.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendy Wuchnick-Gibbs is a stay-at-home mom who loves date nights with her husband John and cuddling with her daughter, Lillian. In her spare time, she enjoys volunteering at her daughter’s school, reading, and visiting with family and friends. Originally, from a small town in Ohio, she now calls Houston home. The inspiration for her writing was her Grandma Ellen’s advice to write about what you know.

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Belvedere
by Barbara Ruth

I was twenty when I moved to San Francisco
And began my love affair
with her beaches, 49 hills,
the octopus at the aquarium
and especially the Victorian on Belvedere
where I lived for two months
where I learned for the first time
what it is to love a woman.
For years afterward, when people asked where I was from I’d say,”San Francisco
is my spiritual home.”

At 31, I came again
in a car whose muffler fell out on Market Street.
I wandered back
to the aquarium, the Japanese Tea House,
Land’s End.
Looked out, once more, on the Pacific from Ocean Beach,
walked up Belvedere Street to the Victorian on the corner.
My heart jumped at the “for rent” sign in the window.
I fantasized climbing the steps
paying the rent
leaving behind 1977
trading it in for 1966.
We lived on the road then. We got the car fixed and picked up 101, heading North.

I moved to Berkeley in 1983.
Within a week I checked the house on Belvedere — no sign this time.
The SF lesbian households I tried to join never asked me back
after the first interview.

In 2015, living in San Jose,
my caregiver drove me to the house on Belvedere
a block off Haight Street.
There’s a church across the street now. We thought we could park there on a Saturday.
The pastor shooed us off.
No sign in the window of the Victorian, spiffed up on the outside,
I’ve been unable to climb those steps 30 years.
The City streets get steeper
every time I come.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The house on Belvedere Street where I lived in 1967, taken in 2015. I lived on the third floor, where the top of my head often exploded into sunbeams.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After looking for two years, Barbara Ruth has yet to find a home in the valley of the silicon in the US of A. When she is not searching for housing, she takes photographs, and writes memoirs, feminist theory, fiction, and poetry. Her work can be found in the following recent anthologies, Barking Sycamores Year One, Yellow Chair Review, Year One; Lunessence, Garland of the Goddess, QDA (Queer Disability Anthology,) and Spoon Knife Anthology, and has been published in periodicals from Australia, Canada, India, UK and US.

Author photo by Colleen Hagan.