Archives for posts with tag: Art

Pablo Picasso Kiss 1979 Artwork Reproduction For T Shirt, Framed ...
Love Poem from a Distance
by Carol Alena Aronoff

My lips are sealed, swathed
in gauze veils, a treasury of
the unspoken. My blue nitrile
hands cling to each other as
tightly as limpets, a reminder
to keep my distance. Yet, these
hands want to roam, follow
the animal in my fingers, touch
all the wild places, hearts of
palm, your heart.

You stand at the open door,
your cloaked voice, a sonnet.
I shelter in place, stop my feet
from drawing near. My face
wears a mask of mourning
but my eyes will not surrender
to exile, will never accept any
quarantine. Even if that’s all
you see of me, you will still
know my love.

IMAGE: “The Kiss” by Pablo Picasso (1969).  Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was thinking about the loss of intimacy for so many people during this time of exile and quarantine, and tried to place myself in their shoes.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher, and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and has won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published two chapbooks (Cornsilk and Tapestry of Secrets) and six full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earths Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz), as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation (forthcoming).

Red Bandana
by Nancy Wheaton

During the month of March I lost track of the days.
Once I dreamt I was walking the desolate landscape
inside Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory.”
Amid the drooping clocks, I explored the mountains with the ants.
In April and May, people were making and donating masks
from scraps of material.
Shopping became a way of acknowledging
that we are creative and kind.
A most touching scene was in Rite Aid,
where an elderly woman waited patiently,
wearing a Grateful Dead mask,
while the gentleman in front of her listened
to an explanation of the possible side effects of Viagra,
as he was a first-time user.
He wore a red bandana as a mask.

PAINTING: “The Persistence of Memory” by Salvador Dali (1931).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Wheaton lives and writes on the New England seacoast, which is now barricaded with police tape.  She walks on nearly empty streets through town, exploring new neighborhoods.  Out of stillness, she hears piano pieces being practiced and guitar solos.  She has named two chipmunks “Cheeks” and “Gordy” because they share the droppings from the feeder with the cardinals every day.

by James Penha

We were staying over in the living room
of our besties—she . . . and he whom I loved

obsessively to no physical avail but with
whom I remained colleague, editor, muse

philosopher, and madman poet partner—
anything to remain close. He held as well

as my heart the truth I steeled to share
with Mary my longtime girlfriend

as we finished off the cheese and sangria
sedative for the night on the living room

carpet. I have to tell you, I said, something
serious—You’re sick! she interrupted. No!

She’d felt my melancholia so often, she said,
she feared I was dying. And so she saw

a cloud lifting. But it was my mask needed
lifting before Mary. The phantom must

be faced tonight! I used to think, I said,
I could never love anyone until I found

him (sleeping now with his wife not me
in their bed) whom I loved more—veil

gone—than I could ever love Mary —I I I
cared for her even so! and therefore had

to be honest before we got carried away
into some some some thing apparently

normal because, I had to make crystalline
in this void of night and peculiar silence

that I was gay.
                        We had watched Monty
Python that night with our friends but
nothing flying in its circus matched
the absurdity as I turned for her reaction.

Mary? The solace secured in my survival
had cloaked her in a sound and soundless sleep.

PAINTING: “The Three Masks” by Juan Gris (1923).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his verse appeared in 2019 in Headcase: LGBTQ Writers & Artists on Mental Health and Wellness (Oxford UP), Lovejets: queer male poets on 200 years of Walt Whitman (Squares and Rebels), and What Remains: The Many Ways We Say Goodbye (Gelles-Cole). His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Follow him on Twitter @JamesPenha.

    Maintaining Distance
    by Stephen Thomas Roberts
PAINTING: “The Kiss” by Charles Blackman (1962).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted to write a poem about wearing a mask without using the word mask.

Roberts 2

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Thomas Roberts is a Yale Law School graduate and poet. His work has appeared, or will appear, in Poetry Salzburg Review,  The Worcester Review, TRINACRIA, Third Wednesday, Blue Unicorn, The Ocean State Review, The Cape Rock, MagnaPoets, The Tishman Review, and Gargoyle. He resides in Dutchess County with his wife. These days he works from home.

Between Heartbreak and Rage
by Patrice Boyer Claeys

Sometimes I wake up wrong
             breathing hard
                         because in sleep
                                     I dream a world
face to face with blankness that
smells like masks.

Sometimes my eyes feel like loaded guns

            which both flare up and freeze—
                         something about our helplessness
            presses down on me like an iron.


As I breathe,
            blood red
creature within creature
moves over the world.

CENTO SOURCES: Ross Gay, Owen McLeod, Cory Hutchinson-Reuss, Haro Lee, Langston Hughes, Louise Gluck, Christopher Pressfield, Rick Bursky, Will Alexander, David Ferry, Tara E. Jay, Eva Heisler, Xiaoly Li, Don Bogen, Robert Adamson

PAINTING: “The Actor’s Mask” by Paul Klee (1924).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Derived from the Latin word for “patchwork,” cento originally referred to the cloaks worn by Roman soldiers. Today it refers to poems composed of written fragments. I create centos using single lines from a multitude of other poems. I’m drawn to this form by the sparks that ignite when removed lines bump up against one another in a new context. I also find that the collage technique allows me to more courageously investigate frightening topics, such as the pandemic, while at the same time feel supported by the many voices enlisted to create the new piece.

Author Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrice Boyer Claeys is the author of two poetry collections, The Machinery of Grace and Lovely Daughter of the Shattering. Recent work has appeared in Zone 3, Glassworks, Literary Mama, Pirene’s Fountain and Aeolian Harp Anthology. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net. Find her online at

The Demon Speaks
by Robbi Nester
     After a Sri Lankan Sickness Mask from Horniman Museum

I am Kora Sanniya! Anyone I touch falls lame. No one
can defeat me, least of all those fools, with their drum
and dance, that stupid wooden mask. It’s nothing
like me, with its crooked grimace, eyes bulging
like a frog’s, ears like spoons. The shaman dips
and dances, pretending to be me, his bulging belly
bouncing, and the mask, it makes them laugh!
He mocks me, and the other demons crow
and point. Even the patient grins, when he
should moan and weep. I lost my face. Another
claimed it, stealing my voice, my name.

Photo of sickness mask © Horniman Museum and Gardens.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem to be included in my upcoming anthology, but thought it might attract a few more submitters to have this appear in Silver Birch Press first.

Nester2 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester wears masks herself quite frequently these days to ward off Covid-19. She is the author of four books of poetry and editor of three anthologies, including a new one, The Plague Papers, which celebrates online museums, zoos, aquariums, and virtual collections of all kinds. People who wish to participate must choose an object, work, or specimen from such a collection and write a poem or short piece of prose. Send it to The current deadline of May 31, 2020 will be extended to June 30, 2020. Send your work as a Word document and include your name, email address, and a link to the object you’ve written about.

by Kerfe Roig

What looks back? An outline, an ear, a nose? Where is the mouth? Emotions ride the eyes in waves over the barrier between inside and out.
to balance
breath with invisibility
The atmosphere is unsettled. Who (e)merges, from and with, behind, between?
This face: who does it belong to? It appears liquid, fractured like a mirrored jewel, shimmering with unnamable currents, transformed by filtered light. Both distorted and reflected.
disembodied words
search for certainty—was it
ever really there?

Roig 2

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I look in the mirror to adjust my mask, I barely recognize my face, especially with my sweatshirt hood pulled up. And it feels strange to go outside among mostly masked people who avoid even looking at each other as they hurry past. My first forays out were always in drizzle or right after it had rained. The face in puddles was even more alien than that of the one in the mirror.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kerfe Roig lives and works in New York City, where she plays with images and words and blogs about it at

Illustrations by the author. 

Becoming Why is there anything - instead of nothing by Tighe O'Donoghue Ross
Zojaj (iv)
by Sheikha A.

We entered through a door(way) reduced
to the bidding of termites – potential-less

flooring, hives of hardened dust caking
walls; we faced a measure of urgency,

the baton of evacuation ready to strike.
Time trifles with seasons — disconnected

roads from their vehicles — people from
their tarmac — flags from their catalysts —

birds hopping from sill to sill in a state
of freedom, loneliness a washable fabric

brewing aromas of suds, the smell of
cleanliness putting the rains to shame.

Stars step out in their gated compounds
knocking gingerly on doors of playmates

while the moon hangs like a thin spread
of food, and we are reminded how we saw

cobwebs clothing termites and the dense
of fatigue washing us even before entering,

the insurmountable work bearing us down,
and the promise to leave before the hives

reincarnated becoming a horn-full echo
smug in the nooks of mote-laced walls.

NOTE ON THE TITLE: Zojaj is an Arabic word that means transparent glass.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When we were being made to vacate our previous flat, we became frantic in search for a new apartment to shift into, and, being thin on options at that point in time, we accepted what we saw (of the current flat we’re in) and after a month of semi-heavy-duty renovation works, we promised ourselves this to be our temporary abode as we looked for better apartments – the current one acting as a by-time. Something about the 2000 sq. ft. of intense infestation called to us, like a desperate plea for care and we took the project on. Over the five years of unavoidable wear and tear, parts of the ceiling from several areas have fallen, while the walls crumble from mould and paint-chipping, false ceilings hang loose by their rusted steel supports threatening to crash down any day, yet we are tied. The uncanny inability to find, despite an array of options, to move out makes it seem like the house is alive with its own entity making us see beyond its obvious degradation, a spatial appeal – the warmth of isolation – its aging comforts – familiar mourns.  On another note, the image of the door embellishing my poem isn’t of my home’s. I found this image in the collection of a powerful artist by the name of Tighe O’Donoghue Ross and I couldn’t shake it off my mind. I decided to use this in lieu of my original door because I love the ghostliness yet a sense of yearning about it.

ABOUT THE ARTIST: Tighe O’Donoghue/Ross was born in New York City in 1942. He received his B.F.A. and M.F.A. at the City University of New York, graduating magna cum laude. He is a world-renowned printmaker and sculptor whose work is in the permanent collections of such prestigious institutions as The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, The Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Smithsonian National Collection of Fine Art in Washington, DC and the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. He is an American and an Irish citizen, living with his family in County Kerry for the past 30 years. O’Donoghue/Ross’ oeuvre is full of symbol and surrealism, his imagery playful, yet profound. Many of his images contain allusions to Irish and Celtic myths, but he gleans material from all faiths, mythologies, and philosophies when compiling his surreal World of O’Donoghue/Ross. Visit him at and on Facebook.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her work appears in a variety of literary venues, both print and online, including several anthologies by different presses. Recent publications have been Strange Horizons, Pedestal Magazine, Atlantean Publishing, Alban Lake Publishing, and elsewhere. Her poetry has been translated into Spanish, Greek, Albanian, Italian, Arabic, and Persian. She is the co-author of a digital poetry chapbook entitled Nyctophiliac Confessions available through Praxis Magazine. More about her published works can be found at


The lovely month of May is here! While many (or most!) of us are sheltering in place and missing many of spring’s delights, we hope to offer a remedy — a FREE KINDLE version of our May Poetry Anthology (available from 5/1-5/5/2020). Originally issued in a full-color paperback version in 2014, this 84-page collection features 31 poems about May in its many forms, along with thirty-one full-color paintings by Gustav Klimt.

BACKGROUND: The May Anthology is a response to our previous call for submissions requesting poems where the word “may” appears in the text. In the collection, many of the poems speak of May-related subjects  — flowers, birds, and spring  — while others range in topics from dark to light, with the word “may” buried somewhere in the text. Some of the poems display sly humor — and more than one poet has fun with the word “mayhem.” The collection also features four erasure poems and one found poem.

It’s always fascinating to see the type of material that evolves from a random starting point — and the word “may” has the kind of ambiguity that sparks the creative mind to action. It’s a noun (a woman’s name, a month of the year) and a verb (“expressing possibility or opportunity”). It’s part of other words (Mayflower, mayor, mayonnaise, Mayan). Scramble the letters and it spells Amy. Read it backwards, and it’s yam. Yes, May is meaningful, versatile, mysterious, and fascinating. And it has its very own collection of 31 poems — one for each day of the month!

Featured poets (in alphabetical order): Thom Amundsen, Brinda Buljore, Joan L. Cannon, Mary-Marcia Casoly, Allison Chaney, Subhankar Das, Daniel Patrick Delaney, Deborah DuBois, Paul Fericano, Adelle Foley, Jack Foley, Philip Gordon, Benjamin Grossman, Donna Hilbert, Clara Hsu, Mathias Jansson, J.I. Kleinberg, Roz Levine, Tamara Madison, Karen Massey, Catfish McDaris, Victoria McGrath, Marcia Meara, Paul Nebenzahl, Gerald Nicosia, D.A. Pratt, Hayley Rickaby, Disha Dinesh Sahni, Joan Jobe Smith, Caitlin Stern, Jacque Stukowski.

Find your FREE Kindle version at (You don’t need a Kindle to read the book — if you have an Amazon account, you can view it on your computer.) 

Happy spring!

In honor of National Poetry Month, from Monday, April 20 through Friday, April 24, 2020, the Silver Birch Press BUKOWSKI ANTHOLOGY  is available for FREE in a Kindle version. Find the Kindle version here.

This 272-page collection features poetry and prose about Charles Bukowski as well as portraits of the author by over 75 writers and artists around the world. Contributors include people who knew Bukowski — friends, fellow poets, and people he met along the way — as well as those who feel as if they knew the iconic author.

Cover Art: Mark Erickson and Katy Zartl (ALL RIGHTS RESERVED)

Contributing Editors: Jocelyne Desforges, S.A. Griffin, Suzanne Lummis, David Roskos, Joan Jobe Smith, Eddie Woods

Contributors (in alphabetical order): Christopher R. Adams / Sheril Antonio / RD Armstrong / The Art Warriors (Antonio Gamboa) / David Barker / William Barker / Black Sifichi / Harry Calhoun / David Stephen Calonne / Jared A. Carnie / Neeli Cherkovski/ Kim Cooper / Abel Debritto / Henry Denander / Jocelyne Desforges / Rene Diedrich / John Dorsey / Mark Erickson / Dan Fante / Paul Fericano / Karen Finley / Jack Foley / FrancEyE / Ed Galing / Joan Gannij / Anggo Genorga / Marjorie Gilbert / Jeffrey Graessley / S.A. Griffin / win harms / Donna Hilbert / Rodger Jacobs / Linda King / Harvey Kubernik/ Dana Laina / Lautir (Fabrizio Cassetta) / Suzuki Limbu / Michael Limnios / Gerald Locklin / Suzanne Lummis / Marvin Malone / Adrian Manning / Dean Marais / Germa Marquez / Catfish McDaris / Ann Menebroker / Heather Minette / Austin Mitchell / Richard Modiano / Jon Monday / Jeff Morgan / Paul Nebenzahl / Gerald Nicosia / Michael O’Brien / bart plantenga / David S. Pointer / Alvaro Pozo / D.A. Pratt / Wendy Rainey / Steve Richmond / David Roskos / Russ Runfola / Richard Schave / Raymond King Shurtz / Joan Jobe Smith / Ben Talbot / Mark Terrill / dirk velvet / Melanie Villines / Fred Voss / Scott Wannberg / Vanessa Wilken / A.D. Winans / Bradley Wind / Erik Woltersdorf / Pamela “Cupcakes” Wood / Tim Youd / Katy Zartl