Archives for posts with tag: Birthdays

hokusai plum
My Wife Says—
by Shahé Mankerian

In your poems, you remember the kiss
your mother gave you under a loquat tree.

Pressed between stanzas, a blind dog
hides in the residue of a demitasse.

In the melted snow of Mount Ararat,
you always trace the face of God.

You’d rather describe death by skewers
in the sewers of Beirut than kiss me

in a steamy sonnet beneath the stained-
glass gown of the Virgin. I don’t need

morning walks on Champs-Élysées
or a blue heart pendant from Tiffany’s.

My needs are minimal like a haiku.
I’m still waiting for a poem, a pristine plum,

like the kind William Carlos Williams
stole from the fridge—so sweet and cold.

PAINTING: Plum Blossoms and Moon by Katshushika Hokusai (1803).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve always loved and admired Charles Bukowski’s poem “one for old snaggle-tooth.” It’s an exquisitely vulnerable love poem dedicated to FrancEyE, the mother of Bukowski’s only child. The poem I wrote is dedicated to the woman I love who reminds me periodically that I no longer write her poems. The prompt “I am still waiting…” coupled with Bukowski’s inspirational verse provided me with a poem of redemption, a long overdue birthday gift to my wife.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poet Shahé Mankerian is the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School in Pasadena, California. He is on the board of the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His debut poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, will be published by Fly on the Wall Press in October 2021.


The Long Christmas
by Cath Bore

I was in the supermarket shortly after New Year 2015, earwigging to customers while I was picking up some bits. I like to listen. I’m a writer, it’s what I do. Say something spicy in front of me and it’s going in my notebook, no exceptions. Anyway, two women were next to me in the queue talking about one of their young daughters, whose birthday happened to fall that week. “She understands why she can’t have a birthday party like her brother and sister do,” said one to the other, sounding sad (but not quite sorry enough for my liking). “Their birthdays are earlier in the year, but hers is just too soon after Christmas.” Her friend nodded and agreed the January daughter was indeed good girl for being so gracious.

Me, I felt like turning around and bellowing NO, YOUR JANUARY DAUGHTER DOES NOT UNDERSTAND. She puts up with it because she’s a nice kid. Although how she managed to get that way, I don’t know. Why don’t you save money up and put it to one side for her party? Or just don’t give your other children parties, if you can’t treat them all the same? Hanging is too good for you. You’re a bad mother. What you are doing is SO UNFAIR.

I didn’t say any of this, though. I should have. Really wish I had. I wrote it in my notebook instead. The pen is mightier than the sword, I hear.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I felt so sorry for this little girl, someone I’d never even met. It stuck me, on hearing this, the myth that Christmas only lasts for a single day. That’s the lie that gets told to anyone who finds Christmas uncomfortable or sad or upsetting or irritating, isn’t it? Get through the one day and that’s it, you’re sorted. Breathe, over and done with for another year. Go for a stroll in the afternoon to break it into manageable bitesize chunks and life winds comfortably back to normal after 24 hours. In fact, Christmas stretches out like a yawn, its effects financial and otherwise, longer reaching each year.

BORE (2)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cath Bore is a writer based in Liverpool, U.K., currently writing a novel and lots of flash fiction. Her website is

by Jeannine Hall Gailey

Every year my birthday comes in April,
with a fickle sun and pollen on my fingers.

I wake up in a field with a scrap of cloth in one hand
and a fistful of wheat in the other. Wheat represents
a blonde fertility goddess fading with the light; the cloth
is the floral print prom dress that still hangs in my closet.

Did you ever think you’d make it this far? Imagined children
in the distance like somber ghosts, taking notes. You have lost them,
your home, the name of their imaginary fathers.
Shades of a different country, forgotten.

In the years close to forty a woman might stop looking
in the mirror. But when I was thirteen, I dreamed of thirty-nine.
Even then my hair turning grey, my blue eyes washing out,
wishing to be taller, older, free as trees in the wind.

In my imagined future I wore pink heels with white shorts;
the future would be full of bookshelves, clean carpet, champagne glasses.

These days I drive fast and play the music as loud as I like.
I am not afraid of the policemen. The shine of water makes me
reckless, necklines more restless.

Come help me blow out the candles. We will eat only the frosting
and put on movies about vulnerable boys standing in the rain,
waiting for us to come out to them, pale and patient as the April moon.

IMAGE: “Pink Shoes” (mixed media) by Janelle Nichol. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, and, upcoming in 2015 from Mayapple Press, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. Her website is

by Jennifer Tonge

Hair still Titian,
but Botticelli’s grip has loosened—

not now Rubenesque,
and probably never;

Ingres approaches,
but Courbet might capture me.

Could I be surreal?
It seems almost likely—

bells in my ears
and fortresses under;

cones have been set on my eyes.
My spring is gone

and summer’s upon me,
rude in its ripening.

I’m espaliered, strung wide and tied,
pinioned, and thus can I fly.

SOURCE: Poetry (May 2005).

IMAGE: “Jo, the Beautiful Irish Girl” by Gustave Courbet (1866).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, Jennifer Tonge received an MFA from the University of Utah. Tonge’s poetry has been anthologized in Rising Phoenix (2004) and Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English (2000). Her poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Quarterly West, Poetry, Ploughshares, New England Review, and Bellingham Review. The recipient of fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Ucross Foundation, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Tonge has taught creative writing at the universities of Utah, Wisconsin, and Texas as well as at Butler University. She has served as poetry editor of Quarterly West, as president of Writers@Work, on the board of City Art, and as associate editor at Dawn Marano and Associates.


Today, there is at long last glorious rain — which I love any day of the year — in Los Angeles. And whether or not you like rain — and I don’t think most Angelenos like it, judging by their elaborate moisture-averting wardrobes — we need it to keep the dry brush from bursting into flames.

The above paragraph is a preamble to saying I woke up to the beautiful sight of a quarter-sized (including the legs) spider in my bathtub, looking for shelter from the storm. I would have left him/her there, except my cat Clancy likes to chase and eat spiders — and I didn’t think it wise for the cat or the spider. So i captured said spider in a jar that once held Bonne Maman Cherry Preserves (great with plain greek yogurt) and ushered him/her outside, where I hoped the arachnid found a place to wait out the rain.

The above two paragraphs are a preamble to marking the 114th birthday of E.B. White, author of one of my all-time favorite books, Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte, as most people know, was the spider that was a “a good writer” and “true friend” to Wilbur — a pig she saves from the slaughterhouse. (And for those who believe in animal totems — or who find them interesting — spiders are the totem of writers.)

So let’s enjoy a passage from the delightful, charming, profound Charlotte’s Web, a masterpiece for young and old by E.B. White.

“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.” 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elwyn Brooks “E. B.” White (July 11, 1899 – October 1, 1985), was an American writer. He was a contributor to The New Yorker and a co-author of the English language style guide, The Elements of Style. He also wrote books for children, including Charlotte’s WebStuart Little and The Trumpet of the Swan. In a 2012 survey, readers of School Library Journal voted Charlotte’s Web the top children’s novel of all time. (Read more at

by Shel Silverstein

So what if nobody came?
I’ll have ALL the ice cream and tea,
And I’ll laugh with myself,
And I’ll dance with myself,
And I’ll sing, “Happy Birthday to me!”

…And on the first birthday of the Silver Birch Press blog, we would like to extend our appreciation to comic genius Shel Silverstein for his fun, uplifting poetry — and for providing some of our most popular posts of the past year.

Drawing: “Happy Birthday to me!” by Shel Silverstein, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


In one of the most famous passages from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Daisy Buchanan states: “In two weeks it’ll be the longest day in the year…Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”

Well, we’ve celebrated many authors’ birthdays in the Silver Birch Press blog, but the writer whose birthday we wanted to celebrate most of all is F. Scott Fitzgerald. Rereading The Great Gatsby a couple of months ago inspired the birth of the Silver Birch Press blog — and, during the past few months, we’ve written frequent posts about Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, and even the author’s hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota.

So I could only think of Daisy missing the longest day of the year when I woke up this morning and realized that I’d missed F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 116th birthday! Yes, yesterday was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday!

I blame it on the hot, dry weather in Los Angeles that makes it hard to string two thoughts together. But there’s really no excuse for this blatant oversight. Je suis désolée…


In August 2010, Skylight Books in Los Feliz hosted a gala event to celebrate Charles Bukowski‘s 90th birthday. Gerald Locklin read poems, Linda Bukowski was in the audience, Pamela “Cupcakes” Wood stopped by. When the festivities started, one of the hosts read a trivia question and promised a Bukowski T-shirt to first person who called out the answer. I won the first “I’d rather be reading Bukowski” T-shirt of the night! (The winning answer was “John Fante.” The question was: Who is Skylight Books’ top-selling writer? I figured it was a trick question, considering we were all there to celebrate Buk’s birthday.)


“I never met another man I’d rather be. And even if that’s a delusion, it’s a lucky one.”