Archives for posts with tag: photography

How to Write a Poem
by Robert Okaji

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog crap while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.

Originally published in Indra’s Net, an anthology in aid of The Book Bus charity (Bennison Books, 2017).

PHOTO: Nautilus Shell by Edward Weston (1927).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My process sounds odd to most people, as I seldom know what I’m going to write about when I sit at the table. I simply start writing. Sometimes a word or a phrase sets me off. Or an image, or even a vague feeling, a discomfort or a pleasure of some sort. Life’s circumstances also come into play, and my landscapes, both emotional and literal, affect the output. The words carry me along, and at some point in the writing, perhaps only one or two lines in, but often much deeper in the piece, the poem, the flesh of it, starts coalescing. And then I backtrack and revise. In essence, my subconscious guides me, and such a guide is not always trustworthy or easy to work with, as many false trails are laid out and pursued. But even the false trails lead somewhere, often to greater rewards. ¶ Not knowing is central to my process. This probably sounds cryptic, or pseudo-zen, but it’s honest. I learn by questioning. By doing and failing and trying again. I revise during the course of writing, even during the first blush of creation, as well as after. The poems always sit and marinate for a while, sometimes for just a few days, sometimes for weeks or months, and there are a few that have stewed in their juices for years. When I return to them, I see problem points that weren’t apparent before, and I revise accordingly. At some mysterious point, the poems are done, or at least as done as they’re going to get, and I consider sending them out in the world.


Robert Okaji is a displaced Texan hunkering down in Indiana. He holds a BA in history, and once won a goat-catching contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vox Populi, North Dakota Quarterly, Slippery Elm, Panoply, Book of Matches, Buddhist Poetry Review, The Night Heron Barks, and elsewhere. He blogs at

hartke 1
by Ken Hartke

It rises like a ziggurat in the desert.
Torn by the wind.
Shattered by the elements.
Stabbed by blades of ice.
Blasted by the heat
of countless searing summers.
Hammered by lightning and
shook by roaring blasts of thunder.
The mythic monster’s head lolls
in its everlasting giant’s sleep.
The Diné’s old legend cast in stone.
Climb up. Go higher.
The far horizon unfolds
to reveal range after range of
fire-formed hills — blackened,
broken, and brittle in the sun.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Cabezon Peak, a volcanic plug, is a landmark of Navajo ancestral lands. It represents a slain giant’s head (Ye’i-tsoh) in their mythology. It is part of the Mount Taylor volcanic field and rises 2,000 feet over the desert in New Mexico.

Photos by the author. 

hartke 3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Ken Hartke is a writer and photographer from the Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico, but was originally planted and nourished in the Midwest. His New Mexico images now inspire much of his writing. He has contributed work for the Late Orphan Project’s anthology These Winter Months (The Backpack Press), and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine. He keeps an active web presence on El Malpais,, and other places.

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


alice front 4 4 20

As the world is in crisis and people are quarantined, we want to help bring some cheer! That’s why we’ve decided to convert some of our books to Kindle versions and offer them, at first, for free (Amazon only permits publishers to list titles as free for a few days each quarter) and then at the lowest possible selling price that Amazon allows. The Kindle version of our Alice in Wonderland Anthology is available for FREE from Wednesday, April 8 through Friday, April 10, 2020. Find it at this link.

Released on November 26, 2015 — exactly 150 years after the 1865 publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland — the Alice in Wonderland Anthology features work by 63 writers, artists and photographers.

Contributors include: Mary Jo Bang, Virginia Barrett, Sabina C. Becker, Roxanna Bennett, Rebecca Bokma, Ed Bremson, Kari Bruck, Cathy Bryant, Kathy Burkett, Julia Margaret Cameron, Lewis Carroll, Maureen E. Doallas, Kallie Falandays, Nettie Farris, Jamie Feldman, Jennifer Finstrom, Jackie Fox, Kristin Geber, Sandra Herman, Joanie Hieger Fritz Zosike, Trish Hopkinson, Valerie Hunter, Tatiana Ianovskaia, Justin Jackley, Mathias Jansson, Laura M. Kaminski, Kevin Korb, Jo Anna Elizabeth Larson, Ae Hee Lee, Renee Mallett, Char March, Alwyn Marriage, Karen Massey, Kim Naboshek, Michael O’Connor, Donatella Parisini, Erin Parker, Marybeth Rua-Larsen, Jayme Russell, Rizwan Saleem, Albert Schlaht, Anita Schmaltz, Elvis Schmoulianoff, Dustin Scott, Shloka Shankar, Sheikha A., M.M. Shelline, A.E. Stallings, Katarina Stanic, William Stok, Wendy Strohm, Robyn Sykes, Eileen Tai, Christina Tam, John Tenniel, Pablo Valcarcel, Amy Schreibman Walter, Lynn White, Martin Willitts Jr, Rachelle Wood, Andrew Woodham, Emily Yu.

We hope you enjoy this offering — and hope the collection brings you cheer!

Getting the Picture
by d.r. sanchez

After life in rural high school,
before college in the mountains of country roads,
my summer was spent on a corner in Queens.

My daily commute a subway, a bus, a transfer,
and ten-block walk to a lot near a hospital bus stop
where I watched employees and patients.

Some were safe, others harassed, few threatened
yet I was unafraid, protected by the window locks
of the Foto Hut with conditioned air, and no phone.

Just enough room to stand, four feet wide, six deep,
drop off bins under the counter in front of me, film and flash
inventory above, stacked to the ceiling, within easy reach.

I locked up for grilled cheese with pickle and bacon,
for daily lunch at the diner across the street, and an egg cream
which has no egg, has no cream.

Business was slow, the delivery driver stopped
mid-afternoon to pick up, to drop off
what the customers dropped off, picked up.

Books and solitaire to fill the between
and I honed my ability to pry open seals on envelopes
careful that none witnessed me examining the contents.

It was 1978, no selfies, no smart phones or computers
people used cartridges and rolls to capture their exposures
and trusted their private secrets to curious teens.

PHOTO: Artist’s rendering of Fotomat from 1970s — a business similar to the Foto Hut described in the poem.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have written and rewritten about this job in several ways over the years. I challenged myself to convey my experience as concisely as possible and decided that a poem was the best vehicle to meet that challenge. It brought back memories that made me smile, and some that made me shudder. My cousin Paul got the job for me. Memories are all we have of him now. I dedicate this poem in his memory.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: From left, my cousin Paul, me, his sisters, and my brother (Queens, New York, 1978).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debra Sanchez has moved over 30 times and has lived in five states in two countries…so far. She leads and attends various writing groups in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, area and also hosts writing retreats. Her writing has won awards at writers conferences in various genres, including children’s stories, poetry, fantasy, fiction, and creative nonfiction. Several of her plays and monologues have been produced and published. Other works have been published in literary magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Visit her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Osco Drug
by Kelley White

was my first real job
when my summer boyfriend
came to pick me up
the manager asked me to keep
an eye on him. Shoplifting
suspect. Hanging around too
much. But I was the real criminal.
Peeking at the nude pictures
of my neighbors in the one-hour
photo developing lab. You’d be
amazed at the shots people take.

PHOTO: The author in New Hampshire (summer in the 70s).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My first job started out as a cashier at one of the first chain drug stores in our area. I was lucky enough to advance into a kind of specialty position behind the camera counter. My mother took a full-time position at the same store when I went back to school in the fall. I worked about 24 hours evenings and weekends throughout the school year from 14 on. It was my mother’s first job since my birth. We both had to hitch rides there as the family had only one car.


Pediatrician Kelley White worked in inner city Philadelphia and now works in rural
 New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in journals, including Exquisite Corpse, Rattle, and JAMA. Her most recent books are Toxic Environment (Boston Poet Press) and Two Birds in Flame (Beech River Books). She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant.

Father's Flower Girls
Father’s Flower Girls
by Jeannie E. Roberts

   “Bless you, my darling, and remember you are always in the heart ―
   oh tucked so close there is no chance of escape ― of your sister.”
   ~Katherine Mansfield (1888 – 1923)

Sisters stood steadfast,
beside one another, fused
in a foreground of phlox.

Blossoms imprinted, found
torn and faded, a memory
tucked close to her heart.

Flower girls, he called them,
from a photo once taken.
Now sisters stand distant,

apart. Like the wheel
of seasons, summer releases
its fullness to fall, bows

to the call, departs on its passage,
surrenders, detaches, decays
but recalls―all that’s lost, is found.

This seasonal motion, has essence,
devotion, no escape, exit or door―
flower girls, he called them,

from a photo once taken―
sisters together, blooming forever-

PHOTO: The author (right) and her sister, Mary, near Ellsworth, Wisconsin, circa 1967 or 1968 (image credit: Donald E. Roberts).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This photo was lost for many years, and after finding it I felt more grounded, at peace really. I recall the day my dad took this picture of my sister and me. I was like most kids, not thrilled to be photographed, but our dad insisted on it. He compared us to the phlox that were blooming near our driveway, naming us his “Flower Girls.” I also remember that my grandmother (Gram) displayed this photo on a table next to her favorite reading chair.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts writes, draws and paints, and often photographs her natural surroundings. Her fifth book, The Wingspan of Things, a poetry chapbook, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She is the author of Romp and Ceremony, a full-length poetry collection (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush, a full-length poetry collection (Lit Fest Press, 2015), Nature of it All, a poetry chapbook (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and the author and illustrator of Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book (2009). Her poems appear in online magazines, print journals, and anthologies. Born in Minneapolis, she divides her time between Minnesota and Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley area. Learn more about her at

A Treasure Chest
by Terri Miller

A treasure chest
of whispers from the past

In a home with
devastating memories!

When my mother and brother
went to their
final resting place.

The family home
was padlocked by
the bank.

It took several years
to obtain entrance
into the home, just

to find rubble three
feet high in
every room.

I frantically looked
room by room, on
my hands and knees,

to find pictures of
memories past.

As I cleaned the
rooms, I reached my

Recovered the pictures
foreclosure at last.

PHOTO: “Box of photos” by, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In July 2016 I returned home to Rhode Island from Florida. Finally, able to settle the estates of my mother and brother. They died in 2012. This process took me four years to enter the family home. In the end all I wanted to retrieve was the pictures.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Terri Miller was born and raised in Rhode Island, but now resides in the country part  of Florida. A country girl at heart, she has been writing since grade school. In 2013, after the death of her brother, her poetry became darkened. Around 2015, the darkness lifted. She is a lover of life’s simpler things. Her inspiration for poetry is rooted in faith and family, in love, nature and words.  She believes life is poetry waiting to be written!  What she looks at seems to make her write. She can’t wait to get her thoughts written down, but it’s not always at the right time, because there are so many other things that she should be doing. Like anything else, she is a work in progress and is presently under Major Construction. She has recently been published in the Awakened Voices literary magazine, Silver Birch Press, and Wild Women’s Medicine Circle. Follow along for inspiration or for simple enjoyment at Mia’s Wisdom and My Poetry Express.

Snow Duck on the Ides
by Sally Toner

I see the stone creation, smaller than
my neuropathic hand. All thumbs, I stop
and fumble a shot. He’s pocked, throat slit by sleet
and sun, but once upon a time his beak
was bright, the yellow of daffodils that cry
beside him. They’re already dead, whether
cased in glass from weather or man.
The flowerpot man on the corner flashes
with flags on the Fourth of July—a Santa hat
in December; when wind or rowdy kids
destroy, they fix him to resemble human
form again. The duck is different; his grief
is real, compounded and ignored, like poison
in the veins, until the statue, now
a stranger to himself, stares at me,
black spotted face reminding in a whisper
of precipitation, “I’m still here.”

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The Snow Duck (a reflection of the author at present) — March 14, 2017.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most “lost and found” stories are from a person’s past, but this one literally happened this week. On a very cold, short walk to try and counteract the effects of chemotherapy, I came upon a lawn ornament I have never seen the countless times I’ve been down this path before. It was 70 degrees just last week. There’s no reason why it should be this cold this time of year, and I found myself falling into that self pity trap because I couldn’t even make it halfway around a route I jogged six months ago. Then, walking backwards against the wind, I saw the snow duck and stopped to take a picture. I wondered how long he’d been there, unnoticed. Then it occurred to me that, when awful things happen, we can become unrecognizable even to ourselves. In the end, though, the tiny statue reminded me that, no matter what form I may take in the present, “I’m still here.”


Sally Toner
is a high school English teacher and mother of two who has lived in the Washington, D.C. area for over 20 years. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle Magazine, The Delmarva Review, and The Great Gatsby Anthology published by Silver Birch Press. You can follow her on Twitter @SallyToner.

A Picture of Maud
by Lynn White

I had a sister once.
Her name was Maud.
She never grew old,
never even grew up.

My father cried…

I never knew her,
never even knew of her.
But I know now.
I have a photograph
so I can see her,
picture her as she was.
And I won’t forget that
I had a sister once.
Her name was Maud.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Maud with her brother and our father, about 1923, in Sheffield, England

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: A few years ago my half-brother’s eldest son got back in touch with me via an online family history site. I phoned him and two weeks later he was at my front door. It was the first time we’d met in almost 60 years! He brought with him a load of photos of my father and his first family, which was wonderful — I didn’t even have a photo of my father. The photo here was very special. Until that moment I had never heard of Maud, didn’t know she had existed, had no idea that my father had a daughter as well as a son from his first marriage. It remains a prized possession. I wrote the poem as a tribute to Maud at the time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition 2014. This and many other poems have been published in recent anthologies, including Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices, Vagabond Press’s The Border Crossed Us, Civilised Beasts and Vagabonds: Anthology of the Mad Ones from Weasel Press, Alice in Wonderland Anthology from Silver Birch Press, and man other rather excellent online and print journals. Visit her on facebook and at