Archives for posts with tag: Poet

Walking in the shadows of knowledge
by Mathias Jansson

The smell of old dust
ageing paper
and endless rows
of silence

Small paper cards
in wooden boxes
yellow by light
all the letters
in the alphabet
neatly written in typewriting

A summer in the shadows
of knowledge
three weeks filled with dreams
adventures and stories
caught between
the covers
of library books.

IMAGE: “Blossoming Almond Branch in a Glass with a Book,” by Vincent van Gogh (1888).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: As a teenager I worked one summer in a public library. I can still remember the smell and the special atmosphere of the library.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mathias Jansson is a Swedish art critic and poet. He has contributed with poetry to different magazines and anthologies as Maintenant 8, 10, and 11: A Journal of Contemporary Dada. He has contributed to anthologies from Silver Birch Press and other publishers. Visit his Homepage and Amazon author page.

Patrick T. Reardon (left) and his brother David in 2002
Finding pain
by Patrick T. Reardon

You ask me if,
in writing about my
suicide-brother, I
find peace.

You ask me if
I find a clearing in
the forest where,
amid bird-song, the
sunlight shafts across
my face.

I have found a
jungle on a steep
hill rising to a
mountain and a
mountain top, a
rainstorm and then
blizzard, a whirlwind,
and, at the peak, stingy
air and greedy cold and a
panorama of the Earth spread
for me as
if I were an asthmatic,
hypothermic god, as
if I were again the baby fighting
my way blindly from the dark, as
if I were the
giver of birth, as
if I were the cribbed
infant with no words and a
dream, as
if I were, like all of us, Job
raging out at the Almighty in
the knowledge of death and
the schooling of pain, and
out to grab
the sorrow-
of breathing,
for as
long as

PHOTO: Patrick T. Reardon (left) with his brother David. From the book Requiem for David (Silver Birch press, 2017).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Well, since the February publication of my book of poems centered on the suicide of my brother David, many people wonder if I’ve found peace through the process of writing and publishing the work.  The answer is very complicated, and that’s what I tried to address in this poem.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon is the author of Requiem for David, a collection of poems (Silver Birch Press, 2017).  His Pump Don’t Work blog is at

Paradise Lost
by R. H. Slansky


We’re not the sort of girls
that slather themselves in baby oil
and bake on the sand for their tans.
In our sporty one-piece swimsuits
we wade into the chilly brine,
seeking the place where sun makes church glass
of the green cobra curving above us,
then turning to brace and feel it break
upon our backs, lifting us off our feet and carrying us
toward shore to run, laughing, back for more.

Again and again, and when
I plant in the sand too close to Lisa,
her joyful out-flung arm connects, too solid,
with my face. The sea does not
stop surging for me as the sting
in my nose brings tears,
and precious moments pass
before I realize it isn’t the spray
on the lenses of my glasses
that obscures my vision,
but the absence of them at all.

I look down.
All I can see
Is a vague and roiling blur
of white and tan
streaming around my knees.

Whatever has been holding me buoyant
capsizes. A sour shock in my ribcage
flips me from fizzy to futile and foolish.
One day, I will recognize
this familiar feeling is not sadness,
but the collapsed paper lantern of anger
flaring fast from fire to ash,
then taking to the wind.

Lisa, her attention split by saying
sorry, sorry, so sorry, to me
puts her 20/20 vision to work. The lantern coals
smolder when my father tells me,
don’t just stand there, look! But
how can I, if I can’t see?

I know why Dad’s patience is short.
Insurance covers one pair every two years.
Glasses lost are money thrown away.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer camp
and I will walk blind into paradise.


Two days into my camp stay
and I am going cross-eyed
from the miss-matched prescription
of an old pair of Mom’s glasses.

Glasses off now, I play mermaids with Lisa,
finding her by the sound of her voice
and the colors of her fuzzy shape
in the cold water of the crowded pool
at the edge of the meadow
where the solar heating panels
only see sun at high noon.

I come up for air to the sound
of my name. Outside
the chain-link fence that surrounds
the pool are two anomalous blurs,
one tall, one short.
From the sun glinting off
the copper cloud of her hair,
I know them both at once.

Here are my parents.
They have done the impossible,
the unaffordable— rushed
a new pair of glasses into existence, made
the drive that seemed
so endless by school bus— all
to restore my sight in time
to enjoy the rest of the week
unburdened with the headaches
inflicted by Mom’s old loaner pair.
They know how much this place means
to me, they bear the gift of the restoration
of the time that still remains.

Here they are.
So excited to surprise me
in the only place that is only mine,
not knowing that the sight of them
would set that lantern aflame again
and send me back below the water
to disappear them, or me.

PHOTO: At left, the author at Cannon Beach, Oregon, with a new pair of glasses secured by a cord. Also pictured is the girl that unintentionally sent her squinting to summer camp. Though the two are still close today, distance, time zones, and lack of photo ops make it difficult for them to continue to coordinate their outfits.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: R. H. Slansky, a six-time 3-Day Novel Contest entrant, two-time short-lister, and 2013 winner, has been featured in the Silver Birch Press ME, IN FICTION SAME NAME, and MY MANE MEMORIES, and LEARNING TO RIDE Series, Geist literary magazine,, and the Literary Press Group of Canada’s website All Lit Up. Vancouver-based Anvil Press released her novella, Moss-Haired Girl, the Confessions of a Circus Performer in 2015. Raised in Oregon, she now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

toasted marshmallows
Toasting Marshmallows
by Martin Willitts Jr

There is an art to toasting a marshmallow
over a sullen campfire, crackling with green twigs,
as the moon shifts over the coals.

First you need the perfect stick to stab into
the marshmallow. It has to be long enough
to hold over flame and sparks shooting in air.

You have to turn the stick as the marshmallow
spins in a tight axis. It will start sagging
this way and that. Don’t let it droop

or it will fall into the fire. You can’t eat that.
You let it brown. This hardens it
so it is less likely to fall. Don’t let it flame.

Holding to close or too long will do that.
Be careful touching it. It retains heat like a lover.
If you tug, it might cling to the stick and fingers.

I once shared a toasted marshmallow with a girlfriend,
like the part in Lady and the Tramp,
only it was gooey and our lips stuck.

IMAGE: “Toasted Marshmallows” by Elena Elisseeva. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There is nothing to say about this poem: a boy, a girl, a marshmallow. I do not know how old I was, but I was a sly little guy.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martin Willitts Jr is a retired Librarian. His poems have appeared in several of the Silver Birch series, as well Blue Fifth Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Comstock Review, Kentucky Review, and others. He has eight full-length collections and over 20 chapbooks. His most recent collection is Before Anything, There Was Mystery (Flutter Press, 2014), and Irises, the Lightning Conductor For Van Gogh’s Illness (Aldrich Press, 2014), and Late All Night Sessions with Charlie “the Bird” Parker and the Members of Birdland, in Take-Three (A Kind Of a Hurricane Press, 2015).


Ten Days in Paris
by Susan Mahan

I fell in love with a frenchman.

We dined in a bistro
…at separate tables.
Pink lighting glowed softly
on white linen,
and I savored him between morsels
of warm goat cheese.
He was handsome and cordial,
soft-spoken and kind.
He sat with a woman,
but I was sure
they were business associates;
he did not tutoie*her.

His gaze held hers
as they talked of their jobs,
their interests,
their families.
His eyes were expressive
and the color of the Seine on a cloudy day.
His eyebrows moved in concert
with her every remark.

I wanted his rapt attention
and longed to bring him back to my flat.

© Susan Mahan, June 2000

*the verb tutoyer means to address familiarly (tu)

PHOTOGRAPH: “Sidewalk Cafe, Boulevard Diderot, Paris” by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1969).

outside d'orsay

My husband died in 1997. I had been married 26 years and had never really been alone in all that time. Two years after he died, I decided to travel alone to Paris. I thought I needed to prove somethingto myself. I brought a journal along to write my impressions of the trip. “Ten Days in Paris”was one of the poems that emerged. When I think of the initial fear I had on that trip — not being ableto read maps that well, only knowing a little French, being entirely alone in a foreign country,how can I submit a poem on “My Perfect Vacation,”you may be asking? It turned out that my time spent in Paris gave me great confidence in myself. I’ve traveled back two more timesby myself since the first trip.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susan Mahan has been writing poetry since her husband died in 1997. She is a frequent reader at poetry venues and has written four chapbooks. She served as an editor of The South Boston Literary Gazette from 2002-2012. She has been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including Silver Birch Press.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Susan Mahan outside The Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Princess Thor1
Hammer of My Name
by Sarah Thursday

My given name, Sarah, in Hebrew means princess.
A concept to which I have never once related.
A captive, a slave, a servant, even a stable girl,
though I’ve never been any of these, are more relevant.
A warrior, a victor, a thief, even a queen holds more meaning.
I am not a delicate girl, set up on a pedestal
in pink taffeta and tiara, helpless to captors,
endlessly in need of rescuing, protecting,
saving from fierce dragons.
I don’t know that girl.
So I choose my own name, Sarah Thursday.
Beyond the obvious, it’s the feel in the mouth.
Say it. You can feel the soft grit on your tongue.
Feel the breath form around the back of your teeth.
No frills, no helpless girl in pink tiaras.
Thursday is the day of Thor, god of thunder,
voice booms across the sky, across black clouds.
Together, I am Princess Thor, the girl who saves herself.
Lets her words of poetry be tiny spears,
lets her voice be her weapon,
sounding heavy across black skies.

PHOTOGRAPH: Princess Thor, May 2014, Santa Barbara.

 NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Hammer of My Name” was written to the All About My Name prompt. I already had one based on my given last name, Tatro, but I often get asked about the name I use for poetry. I felt this was a great opportunity to explain its significance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Thursday calls Long Beach, California, her home, where she advocates for local poets and poetry events. She runs a Long-Beach-focused poetry website called, co-hosts a monthly reading with one of her poetry heroes, G. Murray Thomas, and just started Sadie Girl Press as a way to help publish local and emerging poets. Her first full-length poetry collection, All the Tiny Anchors, is available now. Find and follow her on, Facebook, or Twitter.

photo cat eye specks 001
negative exposure
by Wanda Morrow Clevenger

class photo poses of
animal vegetable mineral
in brutal black & white in
bad eyewear designed by
20/20 visionaries;
picture day kept secret for
incognito wearing me
melted into blank backdrop
believing the flash will expose
the cat-eye specs and
not one speck more

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Suffering from low self-esteem to the degree of invisible, this poem best describes how I viewed myself right up until I drank my first beer at age twenty. The rest is, as they say, history.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wanda Morrow Clevenger lives in Hettick, Illinois – population 200 give or take. She has published over 300 pieces of work in 114 print and electronic publications. Her debut book This Same Small Town in Each of Us (Edgar & Lenore’s Publishing House) released in October 2011. A full-length poetry manuscript is currently stalking unsuspecting presses.

Childhood in West Preston and Surrounds
by James Fogarty

I grew in West Preston,
a little wedge of Preston proper,
Melbourne’s best worst suburb.
Some called it Western DePreston
(Self-deprecation, I guess),
but it was always a special place.
J E Moore Park, with cricket nets sporting broken links,
and forgotten, sometimes broken balls resting on top,
which we’d take home anyway.
Sometimes we’d go the extra few minutes to Crispe Park –
when there was a game, or someone beat us to the Moore Park nets –
damped Merri soil there, my grandpa would tell me,
muddy in footy season.
Before that, Edwardes Park,
its black locomotive our gigantic playground,
worth six-hundred-forty in 1968 but
beyond price in my youth.
Nearby, we’d cut from Henty Street to the Wright Street Park,
between two leaning wooden fences,
when suddenly, a giant, rotating swing would appear,
a now-fading clown painted on top.
Once, an old lady across the road took us to W K Larkins Reserve,
where she told us: “There, a man died once”
and we believed her!
(The red paint on the rock a testimony to this day).
Back around the corner, through the laneway and up the hill –
back at home –
my newborn brother couldn’t have his name,
because that old lady’s dog already had it.
Throughout the years, with a new name settled,
the closest, J S Grey Reserve, proved favourite –
a bent tree our as goal posts,
later cut down and never replaced.
Later, I’d observe more from the bus,
and sometimes the car, like
that strip of yellow-green grass down Cheddar Road,
leading to those dustbowl ovals at J C Donath Reserve, or
H P Zwar Park, flashing between NMIT classrooms, or
G E Robinson Park, complete with spinning egg for play.
Still, the one I remember most
I’ve never visited:
Coburg Cemetery, on Bell Street.
“People are dying to get in there,” my grandpa would say,
without fail,
every time we passed.
I miss that joke,
and those parks,
but I don’t want to die in one,
like that man at Larkins Reserve.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Edwardes Park” (Preston, Victoria, Australia).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Fogarty is a teacher and writer from Melbourne, Australia. He was going to write a panegyric about his childhood suburb, in Melbourne’s north, but ended up writing about the parks he frequented and the memories associated with them.

Through my window
by A. Garnett Weiss

A slash-of-red finch
on the cedar bowed by ice.
Drifting snow, thigh-high:
I’m mad to choose to live here
and breathe such cutthroat air.

So much white-on-white.
My street, a single lane ploughed
like a country road,
brings to mind cancelled schooldays
and skiing down avenues.

Weekends back then meant
heavy rubber boots, snowsuits,
walks to the café
hand-in-hand with my mother
for tea and patisseries.

Today, narrow paths
between steel and glass towers
create wind tunnels
I watch my neighbors rush through
to reach that place of their own.

I’m at home, here; but,
abandoned by youth and warmth,
I squint at the day.
The brutal wind, the raw light
assault me. I close the blind.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece was written after the temperature and winds combined to create a wind chill of minus 38 Celsius in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where I live. (At minus 44 degrees, Celsius and Fahrenheit temperatures are the same, I believe.) On that day, my city gained the distinction of being the coldest capital on earth, beating out Mongolia’s Ulan Bator. headlineHere’s a link to a media report. Ottawa, a city of parks and avenues, prides itself on the way it embraces winter. From an outdoor festival that runs for three weeks into February to a 7.8-kilometre canal (= 90 Olympic-sized rinks) that is cleared for skating, there’s a lot invested in making people find good reasons to enjoy the snow and the cold. Snow clearing, though, is not where the city excels! I grew up in this climate, looked forward to sheltering from blizzards, to drinking hot sweet teas, and to wearing winter-warm coats, hats, and mitts. I built snowmen, tobogganed, skated, and skied. I never have felt as alienated by the winter landscape as I did on that arctic-like day. I chose the discipline of the tanka form for each stanza in this poem to capture my views “through my window.”

PHOTOGRAPH: Winter lovers were out skating on the Rideau Canal during a snow storm in Ottawa on Jan 29, 2015. (Tony Caldwell/Ottawa Sun/QMI Agency)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Poems by A. Garnett Weiss, writing either under her name or as JC Sulzenko, have been featured on local and national radio and television, online and in anthologies and chapbooks. Her centos won a number of recent awards. Various newspapers have carried her creative nonfiction. She has appeared often on behalf of the Ottawa International Writers Festival, which launched both her play and her book about Alzheimer’s disease, What My Grandma Means to Say. In 2012, she served as poet-mentor for The Gryphon Trio’s Listen UP! Ottawa music and poetry composition project.

Micanopy Palms
by Mary Bast

Sequoias drummed a riff
across the miles
through swaying chants
of cornfields, psalms of snow,

to sea, flat cool-
white sand, jazzed
waves, the syrinx song
of oystercatchers.

Edward Hopper days:
palm trees etched
on turquoise sky, a painting
lonelier than death.

To halt the salty
appetite of blue
I think of
risqué words,

of robin’s eggs
and Bessie Smith
no one to tell
your troubles to.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For most of my adult life I swore I’d never live in Florida, picturing the hot sun, flat vistas, and sinkholes. California’s Sequoia National Forest was the rich and redolent landscape of my dreams. Then life happened, gradually taking me from the West Coast to the midwest and eventually to north central Florida. I’ve come to love the terrain and wildlife that inspired Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, but wrote this poem when I first arrived, still grieving the losses that brought me here.

IMAGE: “Micanopy Palms” (Micanopy, Florida), painting by Mary Bast.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Bast writes poetry, found poetry, and creative nonfiction. Her poetry chapbook Eeek Love and two found poetry collections – Unmuzzled, Unfettered and Toward the River – are available at A Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest finalist, Mary’s work has been published in Bacopa Literary Review, Blue Monday Review, Connotation Press, right hand pointing, Shaking Like a Mountain, Six Minute Magazine, Slow Trains, The Found Poetry Review, The Writing Disorder, Pea River Journal, and Poetry WTF!? She’s also an Enneagram coach, author of seven nonfiction books, and painter of landscapes, waterscapes, and animal portraits.