Archives for posts with tag: Art

What Was Lost
by Kerfe Roig

A taxi,
a wallet:
what was really lost?
No comfort
in this return. Forever
unfillable. Gone.

IMAGE:  Collage by Kerfe Roig.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I got into the back seat of a taxi several years ago, there was a wallet on the floor. I located the owner through the phone number of a friend that was inside. It was a somber face that met me when I went to her apartment building to return the lost property: she had been taking her dog to the vet for the last time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. You can follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina: 

Self-portrait by Kerfe Roig. 

by Mary McCarthy

Last night I missed my favorite gold chain
The one with the crab charm
We bought first time at the beach
And I took the house apart
Room by room
Unable to believe
It was gone

Sorting through pots and seeds
In the cellar
I found my last year’s Amaryllis
There in the dark
Where I’d left it cut back down
To the bulb
And forgotten

It had put up a long
Pale white stem
And a huge half open
Silk-red flower
Without light
Without water

Resurrected from its own root
waiting for me
like a pledge
of unexpected hope

IMAGE: “Red Amaryllis,” painting by Georgia O’Keeffe (1937).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem thinking about how we spend more time mourning losses than celebrating discoveries, both large and small.


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. Her echapbook, Things I Was Told Not To Think About, is available through Praxis magazine online. 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.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo was taken during a break in our recent house-hunting expedition.

What I Would Have Missed
by Gillian Nevers

That boy will come to no good in the end. Maybe, but
he was good in the beginning. Exuding this James Dean
persona, he was irresistible. He didn’t talk much, but
I didn’t want talk. It was enough to lean into him, press
my face against his back, feel his nipples harden
under my palms. The wind and full-throttle throb
of his bike blocked all admonishments.

It didn’t matter that he had a girlfriend. That night
on the golf course, the air thick with insect sound, the
sky sprayed with stars and us, folding and unfolding
into each other convinced me he would leave her.

I ran wild that summer: staggered into work late,
hung-over with love; broke curfew; just about broke
Mama’s heart. Some would say I lost my bearings.
That’s what you’re supposed to do at seventeen.
Otherwise, wouldn’t life be like always eating the olive,
but never drinking the martini?

SOURCE: “What I Would Have Missed” first appeared in Pirenes Fountain (October 2009).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken in April 1961, in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. It was my junior year in high school, and I had just turned 17. I was appearing in the Spring play Our Hearts Were Young and Gay.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Several years ago, I was invited to write a poem in response to a work of art in “Poems for the Wicked,” an exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. I spent a Sunday afternoon strolling through the exhibition, looking for just the right work to inspire a poem. Earlier in the week, my writing teacher had given the class a prompt to take a cliché and turn it into something new and “fresh.” Several clichés were running through my head as I moved through the galleries, but when I came upon “Sin With Olive” (1970), a lithograph by the artist Ed Ruscha, one cliché popped out “like a flashlight in the dark.” *  —  That boy will come to no good in the end. This is something my mother used to say about some of the boys I went out with. Or, wanted to go out with, but was forbidden to. I was also forbidden to ride on motorcycles. Images of “Sin With Olive” can be found on the Web. Like many of my poems, “What I Would Have Missed” a combination of fact and fiction.  There was a boy with a motorcycle, and I was forbidden to ride on motorcycles. My mother never knew I rode on motorcycles, because I didn’t tell her. And, I really didn’t run wild enough, so as to break her heart.  There was a night, with a boy who had a girlfriend, on a golf course many, many years later, but it wasn’t the same boy.  It’s a composite. So, I guess it’s fiction influenced by fact!  In today’s parlance it could called “alternative facts.”

* Part of a note, from Ed Ruscha, in response to my sending him a copy of the poem.


Gillian Nevers’
poems have appeared in Silk Road, Miller’s Pond, Wisconsin People and Ideas, Pearl, Pirenes Fountain, Verse Wisconsin, Oak Bend Review, Right Hand Pointing, Architrave Press, Merida Review, and several other print and online literary magazines and anthologies. She won second prize in the 2008 Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters statewide poetry contest, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2011. Gillian teaches writing to adults as part of a team of teachers with the Road Scholar “Exploring the Writer in You” program. She also writes poetry with third and fourth graders in a local elementary school and is a guest poet/instructor at The Greater Madison Writing Project’s summer camp. Gillian lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband, Dan.

by Kerfe Roig

My only thought what
I was not. Uninvited.
Unrequited. But

Beautiful feeling
The Age of Aquarius
New day is coming

These new voices gave
more choices: one of many
singing harmony.

What am I to do?
Time to sit down and wonder
Better get ready

With guitar and Hair
going where an opening
mind left fear behind.

“Crimson and Clover,” “Aquarius,” “Crystal Blue Persuasion,” “Going in Circles,” and “Too Busy Thinking About My Baby.”

IMAGE: Psychedelic self-portrait by Kerfe Roig.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At 17, I was lost, a bundle of insecurities. The music of that tumultuous year, 1969, helped me to find a place to belong both with my peers and in the world, while at the same time opening my thinking to new possibilities.


Kerfe Roig
enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina:

AUTHOR IMAGE: Self-portrait by Kerfe Roig.


We asked the 97 contributors to the Nancy Drew Anthology (Silver Birch Press, October 2016) to send photos featuring the book in their home environments for a series we’re calling “Nancy Drew Around the World.” Author Shahé Mankerian provided this photo taken at The Getty Center in Los Angeles. Shahé contributed the poem “Dear 12-Year-Old Self,” featured below, to the 212-page anthology.

Dear 12-Year-Old Self

Ride your bicycle a lot.
Don’t pick up magazines
in the alley. Don’t call

any of the girls. Samantha
does not exist. Her phone
number belongs to Tyrone.

If you want to talk
to girls, go to the library.
The girl sitting pretzel style

in the Nancy Drew aisle
might be shy, but talk to her.
She will know more

about boys than Samantha
or Tyrone. Carry the books
she checked out to her bike.

Memorize the titles
because your job is to know
Nancy Drew. After you watch

her ride off into the sunset,
run to the checkout desk,
and apply for a library card.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: While visiting the Getty Center in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help notice the painting by the French painter Jacques-Louis David. In the portrait, the Sisters Zénaïde and Charlotte Bonaparte (Napoléon Bonaparte’s nieces) stare at the viewer blankly as if they are caught reading a secret letter. A clue. Naturally, the painting reminded me of Nancy Drew. More so, it reminded me of the Anthology cover: Nancy Drew’s shadow keeps her company as she sits hunched over a clue. The shadow acts as an extension, Nancy’s body double. Finally, look at Nancy’s stylish gray dress suit, and the depiction of the overextended shadow in obvious black. Now, look at the painting. Notice the colors of the clothing on the Bonaparte sisters? Gray and black. Coincidence?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California, and the co-director of the Los Angeles Writing Project. As an educator, he has been honored with the Los Angeles Music Center’s BRAVO Award, which recognizes teachers for innovation and excellence in arts education. His most recent manuscript, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist at four prestigious competitions: the 2013 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition, the 2013 Bibby First Book Competition, the Quercus Review Press, Fall Poetry Book Award, 2013, and the 2014 White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Find the Nancy Drew Anthology at


Straw Hat
by Kerfe Roig

I don’t remember
why I bought it. A straw hat.
I painted myself
wearing it: young, jaunty, full
of optimism. Moving
on to other dreams
beyond, past the unrealized,
I lost that self. My
self in that moment, that hat,
in that portrait. Who I was.
And now I draw on
memory. An inexact
rendering of time,
the intersection of lines
reaching forward and then back.

IMAGE: “Straw Hat,” self-portrait by Kerfe Roig.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m working on 100 self-portraits inspired by other artists. This block print was based on a print by Vanessa Bell. When I saw her image, I immediately thought of the now-lost self-portrait I had painted in my twenties, a young woman in her straw hat. I tried to reproduce the feeling of it that remained in my mind, now wearing the hat on my present, much older, face.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig enjoys transforming words and images into something new. Follow her explorations on the blog she does with her friend Nina:

AUTHOR IMAGE: “Self-portrait” by Kerfe Roig.

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. 

Stiflers at an Exhibition
by Tom McLaren

On October 8, 2011, a displaced East Coaster walked into the Goodwill in Gallup, New Mexico. Amid the strewn trash, he spotted an abstract painting, reminiscent of one in his high school English textbook next to Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California.”  He saw one which looked like a Julie Mehretu he had seen at the Carnegie International in 2004. Adrenaline rushing, he looked for more. A Jackson Pollack, Silver Over Black White Yellow and Red, One Number, 31, Lucifer, Alchemy, or Sea Change. 3 others.

A misplaced Chicagoan, blonde, 40s, vaping, a high school teacher on the rez, used these paintings as an excuse to hit on him. He offered her one. He rushed the paintings to his wife, rummaging through the women’s clothing. He wanted to buy the lot, but the price tags of $8 – $15 intimidated him. The blonde put one back. He bought all but one of the big paintings and went back that evening for the small ones. He hung them and thought the pain which seeped through the canvas might be mold.

The abstract expressionist extravaganza which is the group of paintings by Richard B. Stifler I bought that day is my prized possession. Stifler was a dabbler in the arts, a Beatnik who read On the Road one too many times, and upon his graduation from psychiatry school took up residence in Gallup, New Mexico. Even though he died two years before I came West, he haunts me. His name pops up, written inside the covers of avant-garde books I buy at Goodwill. One particular vintage Marquis De Sade paperback tome comes to mind.

When I die, donate my Stiflers to the Albuquerque Museum or for display on the walls of UNM Hospital. I lament the lost Stifler—the one I didn’t take that day.

PHOTO: A Stifler painting from the author’s collection.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’m not sure of the value of my Stiflers, but I spend a lot of time in art galleries — especially contemporary art galleries — around the world. The only thing that separates them from many prized exhibition pieces are the size, say 28″x28″ or 8″ x 14.” I’m a big fan of abstract art because the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. I have talked to physician’s assistants who have worked with Stifler, and I found an old news clipping about the birth of his first child. One physician’s assistant told me he was inspIred by Navajo blankets. To me, Stifler is the Blake in his garden of the fringeland surrounding Navajo Reservation.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tom McLaren is originally from Pittsburgh, but has traveled extensively and lived for a few years in East Asia, where he was a professor of literature and oratory. He has written a few unpublished dramatic works, and his work has appeared in such publications as Word River Literary Review, Gallup Journey, Flipside, and Martial Arts Training. In addition to writing and presenting at academic conferences, his hobbies are judo, aikido, and jujutsu, EDM and Goa Psytrance, and trips to Las Vegas.

PHOTO: The author at a museum in 2010.

Monkey Art
by Mark Hudson

I was in rural Ohio when I was a teenager, and I was at
an outdoor art festival, and I saw a man painting
art on circular blades of chainsaws. Out of the
blue, I said, “Could you paint me a picture
on one of those circular blades of an orangutan
sitting in the branches of a tree, with a bluebird on
his shoulder?”
So sure enough he did, and I must’ve given
him ten bucks or something for the art on the
chainsaw, and I still have it thirty years later.
It hangs in my apartment, and
I walk by it every day, and don’t even notice it,
because my apartment is full of endless paintings
and prints piled up to the ceiling! (Don’t let
my landlady read this!)

AUTHOR’S CAPTION: “Orangutan with bluebird on shoulder” chainsaw blade art commissioned by the author in rural Ohio.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Hudson is a writer and artist who writes about every topic under the sun. He likes monkeys and has often created art about monkeys. And in high school used to have a fascination with King Kong. He has only watched one or two of the Planet of the Apes movies, but thinks it hardly is just monkey business.

Marriage Spoon
by Wendy DeGroat

Our friend has carved two maple leaves touching
to form a handle, then shaped the whorled bowl long
and deep, like a thumbprint pressed in the tree’s rings.
“Canadian,” he says, placing it in our hands unwrapped,
spoon and his maple lapel pin tangible as we embrace.

Canada. That escape each of us considered
when candidates stumped against our love
and votes to let it take root in our country failed.
          We remained planted.
Couldn’t this be the journey of any union?

Releasing from the veined block with which we begin
the form within, shaping from separate leaves
something we can hold, and in those moments we
sense the urge for flight in our branches, coaxing it
instead to sing into the deep bowl of morning.

PHOTO: Marriage spoon carved by Norm Craig in 2010 (Richmond, Virginia).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Norm, our friend who carved this spoon, has gradually been losing his vision and can no longer carve. I wrote this poem shortly after his eyesight began to fade as I contemplated the way that objects like this marriage spoon serve as touchstones for who we’ve been, who we are, and how we’ve loved and been loved.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mslexia, Forage, and The Brillantina Project. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she works as a librarian, teaches writing workshops, and curates Her chapbook Beautiful Machinery, which includes “Marriage Spoon,” is forthcoming in 2017 from Headmistress Press.