Archives for posts with tag: toys

troll 2 copy
Inga Stinkfinger
by Julie Standig

He told the child that was its name,
and the girl looked at him
with ginormous disappointment.

It was a far cry from what she wanted,
plus it smelled, a musty, moldy—plastic
odor that invaded her nostrils.

Inga was a first edition troll doll,
another Dam doll from Denmark,
a 60s thing. The original original troll.

The child didn’t care—wanted a baby doll,
cuddly and soft with pink rosy cheeks,
pouty-mouthed, maybe a touch of blonde hair.

This doll, not only stunk, she was seriously
ugly—all 7 inches of her—with wild, black
untamed, pigtailed hair

tied up with a Kelly green felt fabric
that matched her skirt, and suspenders.
Even the buttons were made of felt.

The eyes were bulging brown, with laugh
wrinkles, that matched the deep lines
surrounding a broad smile and puffed cheeks.

Her feet were squat, fat moveable legs,
hands large and fingers outspread
all four of them, to match the four fat toes.

The gifter looked hard at his daughter:
no one wanted to take her since she is so ugly,
but I knew you would love her in spite of that.

And the girl was never one to disappoint.

PHOTO: DAM Troll Doll, circa 1960s, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Recently I had come across a photograph of an original DAM troll doll and it struck a chord. I had kept one my father gave me for many, many years and during one of my last moves decided to toss it because it was moldy and it seemed time. But I was wrong. Nothing I could do to get it back and buying an old expensive replacement wouldn’t help. So I wrote this poem and for me that did the trick.

standig copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A lifetime New Yorker, Julie Standig now writes with two amazing poetry groups, Marie Kane’s KT and the Stalwart Poets. She has been published in Alehouse Press, Sadie Girl Press, After Happy Hour Review, Schuylkill Journal Review, US1 Poets/Del Val, Gyroscope Review, as well as online journals. Her first chapbook, Memsahib Memoir, was released by Plan B Press in 2017, and an upcoming collection, The Forsaken Little Black Book, will be released Fall 2022 by Kelsay Books. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with her husband and their springer spaniel.

Princess Barbie
by Lindsey Martin-Bowen

Yes, that’s me, masquerading
once more as Barbie.
Running fingers over a velvet,
cobalt-blue bodice, I’m the Prom
Queen I never was in high school.
My mask appears invisible—
not silk or cotton—yet it covers
skin less than creamy,
blushed & smooth.

I arch my back & balance a tiara
on thick, blonde hair, complements
of Clairol. Revlon & Estee Lauder
now masque my face & make mirrors
reflect Barbie. They send my mind
to Au Petit Marché, where I bite
into a Napoleon, sip café au lait.

Sometimes, I wear Ralph Lauren,
fly first class, and imagine
I’m some undiscovered celeb.
Shedding pain that slides away
like scales, I’m free to wander
along a French shoreline
& watch a fading red sun glide
across a calm sea.

PAINTING: “Barbie” by Andy Warhol (1986). Prints available at

Lindsey as Princess Barbi Oct 2013 Neon Gallery copy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  For the “Wearing a Mask” Series, I first tried to write about my struggles finding a mask that allowed me to breathe. (Allergies forced me to use a variety of scarves.) Yet the editor’s suggestion about the various masks we don urged me to write about one of my metaphysical (ontology) masks: Barbie. As young girls, we bought and sewed wardrobes for this fashion model whose figure (were she a live human) would likely cause her to fall on her face. Nevertheless, Barbie’s large blue eyes and broad smile haunted me as an image of beauty during my early years — and indeed, influenced my makeup mask. This is a photo of me as Princess Barbie, when I gave a poetry reading at Kansas City’s Neon Gallery on Halloween.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lindsey Martin-Bowen’s fourth poetry collection, Where Water Meets the Rock (39 West Press 2017), contains a poem named an Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest’s 85th Contest. Her third, CROSSING KANSAS with Jim Morrison, won Kansas Authors Club’s 2017 “Looks Like a Million” Contest, and was a finalist in the QuillsEdge Press 2015-2016 Contest. Her Inside Virgil’s Garage (Chatter House) was a runner-up in the 2015 Nelson Poetry Book Award. McClatchy Newspapers named her Standing on the Edge of the World  (Woodley Press) one of Ten Top Poetry Books of 2008. Her poems have appeared in New LettersI-70 ReviewThorny LocustFlint Hills ReviewSilver Birch Press, Amethyst ArsenicCoal City ReviewPhantom DriftEkphrastic Review (Egyptian Challenge), The Same, Tittynope ZineBare Root Review Rockhurst Review, 12 anthologies, and other lit zines. Three of her seven novels have been published. Poetry is her way of singing. She taught writing and literature at UMKC for 18 years, MCC-Longview, and teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and other criminal justice classes for Blue Mountain Community College, Pendleton, Oregon. Visit her on Facebook.

cabbage patch
Her Favorite Doll
by Nurit Israeli

I sort through a lifetime
of belongings – getting ready
to let go of the house,
when in a trunk filled with old toys,
I spot the Cabbage Patch doll.

The Cabbage Patch doll
that was my daughter’s favorite,
that was greeted with glee long ago,
that was once doted upon,
still looks the same.

She hasn’t been out
in years, but still wears
the peach-colored dress
she wore on their outings.
It matches her red braided hair.

She is still soft,
and her chubby-cheeked face
remains rosy, but her blue-painted
eyes seem tinged with sadness.
Does she somehow know?

My grandsons will take
the Lego bricks and the trucks.
They will overlook
the once-special doll
their mother loved best.

I know and, in a room where
echoes of children’s voices
ricochet off photo-covered walls,
I hold for one last time
a doll that bears witness.

I let the memories linger,
as I let go of the doll
that was my daughter’s favorite.
She still looks the same.
It’s only we who have changed.

IMAGE: The Cabbage Patch doll

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am preparing to move out of a home where I have lived with my family for over 40 years — the home where my children grew up and where their children love to be. As I sort through a lifetime of belongings, I discover items I haven’t seen in years, items that bear witness to my story.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nurit Israeli, a psychologist who writes poems, holds a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. Nurit has published poems in international poetry anthologies, the New York Times, Writer’s Digest, and other online and print magazines. Several of her poems won awards in writing challenge competitions.

When Johnny came marching
by A. Garnett Weiss

My sailor boy Johnny and me, we’d walk hand-in-hand down the block to the park where chestnuts fell, as polished as marbles.

Around the corner to the greengrocer where grandma picked pearl-skinned, new potatoes she’d smother in butter and feed me as I played in her big cellar.

Far along the road in grandpa’s Packard, up Grouse Mountain to picnic at the top of the world, till wasps and more wasps forced us to run and leave our sandwiches to them.

Where was Johnny? I looked for him under the car’s seats, in its trunk. I took tiny steps up and down the driveway, over the damp lawn. I even searched the coal bin. Twice.

I cried about him being alone, cold, without me. For days, I prayed he’d return.

Weeks later, we squeezed into the car to call on a friend for tea above a wide river valley. I wore my navy cotton dress with gold dots and patent party shoes.

Windows open, I sang to myself as we drove and drove till we reached the green cottage with red shutters and roses—white, yellow, pink—climbing everywhere.

In the garden, the smallest canvas chair with merry stripes waited for me. In case it might be tippy, I looked down as I sat, then gasped.

Under that chair lay my Johnny! I grabbed him, danced him around, held him tight all afternoon and as my eyes closed that night.

I still have Johnny, though he’s lost his beret and going bald. And only now, more than half a lifetime later, do I wonder whose magic brought him home.

PHOTO: Johnny today.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Always intrigued by subjects Silver Birch Press suggests for a series, I waken as though from a dream to write about experiences I had not thought of in many years. “When Johnny came marching,” the title taken in part from a war song, led me to recapture circumstances and details around the disappearance of my favourite doll when I was five and to situate that doll in my life today. I am grateful for the prompt.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A. Garnett Weiss’s poetry, written using this pseudonym or in her own name, JC Sulzenko, has been featured on Arc Poetry Magazine’s Poem of the Year short list, in Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, in a number of Silver Birch Press series and in the press’s 2016 Nancy Drew Anthology and 2015 chapbook anthology, Ides, in which she’s the only Canadian. In July 2016, she curated “Ekphrasis at Blizzmax ,”a month-long showcase of collaborations between 9 poets and 9 artists in Prince Edward County. Three of her centos took top honours in The Bannister’s October 2016 anthology. In November 2016, The Light Ekphrastic paired Weiss with Maryland artist Gina Pierleoni. She serves on the selection board for Bywords and as inaugural curator for The Glebe Report’s “Poetry Quarter.”

Out of Reach
by Lynda Lesny

There you were
Hanging on the line
A clothespin pinching each ear
My scrawny little bear
High above me
Well out of reach.
How could this have happened?
I only left you for a little while.
I just went out to play.
It was safe that one time.
You used to keep me company
When I hid under the veranda
Hid from the girls who wanted to whip me
With their skipping ropes.
It was always just you and me
And then
There you were
Out of reach
The dirt and the grime of all our huddling
All our secrets
All those memories
Washed away.
I hardly recognized you.

PHOTO: “Teddy on Clothesline” by Aparna Balasubramanian. Prints available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My relationship with this little stuffed bear involved my first taste of solitude and acceptance, separation and powerlessness.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynda Lesny was born in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, and currently lives in Sudbury, Ontario. Her poems have been included in The Pendle War Poetry Anthology (UK), Talent NorthSulphur IV, CBC Radio’s Point’s North, Moving with Poetry, and Sudbury Library’s on-line publications, Poet-of-the-Month and Terra North. Most recently, she had two poems published in Issue #8 of the on-line magazine, Understorey.

Teddy,age 61,Granny's gift, 1955
Teddy the Great
by Maggie Mackay

Colossus, King of Toys,
Granny’s gift from Merrythought,
At sixty-one, he’s retired;
not retiring though,
when a tearful child seeks his woolly touch.
Ear adrift,
he bears me no grudge
for the toddling years
when I dragged him
where I tottered,
my bodyguard and very best friend.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by the token of love given to me by my one remaining grandparent when I was two. At first I was afraid of his size and hid under the dining table on the day he appeared. My Gran was the kindest person, and I like to commemorate her influence in this prized possession piece. I still have the teddy bear complete with the ragged ear by which I dragged him around.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maggie Mackay is a retired additional support needs teacher, living on the east coast of Scotland and enjoying life as a final year Masters Creative Writing student at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she is currently working on her poetry portfolio. She has work in various print and online publications, including A New Manchester Alphabet, Bare Fiction, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Prole. Indigo Dreams Publishing, and in several Three Drops Press anthologies.


My Singing Teddy Bear
by Sarah Russell

It’s not my story really.  It’s the story of World War II, of rations and factories retrofitted to make tanks and ammo. Then, the war’s aftermath in 1946, relief when the boys came home, toothpaste once again in metal tubes, the return of bananas and pineapples to Kroger’s.

A three-year-old who did not remember war and sacrifice wanted a bear for Christmas — not an ordinary bear —  a singing bear.  Her parents were dumbfounded.  Have you seen a singing teddy?  Yes, she said.  It sings “Jack and Jill.”

They searched high and low — no Google then, no Amazon or Toys R Us — but no singing bear could be found.

A week before Christmas, the little girl’s daddy walked to the drugstore nearby and remembered a tiny store farther down the block called The Cradle Shoppe that carried sterling rattles and smocked christening gowns for the town’s elite.  Men who worked in the factory like he did never thought of shopping there.

Do you have a teddy bear who sings, he asked.  I have one with a Swiss music box from before the war, the store owner said.  It’s been here so long it’s dusty now.  She found the little bear on a shelf and wound the key.  Sure enough, the bear played “Jack and Jill.” She told him a little girl had come by with her babysitter the summer before and had fallen in love with it.

I still have that bear I got for Christmas 70 years ago.  His fur is worn bare and darned around the key from singing me to sleep a thousand nights and more. With a little help, he still ekes out the tune, and I sing along.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My 70-year-old bear on his patchwork quilt.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I imagine for most of us, our most treasured possession isn’t something of great monetary value, but instead, something that reminds us of home.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to poetry after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Ekphrastic Review, and Silver Birch Press, among others. She was a featured poet on The Houseboat and Days of Stone. More poetry at .

my merry
Sister poem #7:
RED-HANDED In Canoga Park: Root Causes & How It Is All My Fault
by Alexis Rhone Fancher

We were five, and three. I had just learned how to ride. You sat behind me on my blue bike, hung on tightly the four blocks to the drugstore. They had toys. Paddle Ball, Jacks, stuffed animals. I was entranced by the My Merry Kitchen set. Thumb-sized boxes of Ivory Snow, Kleenex, Ajax, and my favorite, a perfect replica bottle of Windex. The stuff of my dollhouse dreams. The restraint I had exhibited on previous visits failed me. I jabbed my finger through the cellophane, that tiny, blue bottle irresistible. You palmed the tiny Clorox, reached for the Brillo pads. “Hey!” the manager shouted, his bigness looming down the aisle. There was no place to hide.When I ran, you froze. When I got on my bike and sped off, you faced the music. This day has defined our sisterhood. I was five for Pete’s sake. Forgive me.

PHOTO: My Merry Supermarket set (Windex bottle in upper left), circa late 1950s-early 1960s.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alexis Rhone Fancher’s poem, “when I turned fourteen, my mother’s sister took me to lunch and said:” was chosen by Edward Hirsch for inclusion in The Best American Poetry of 2016. She is the author of How I Lost My Virginity To Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (Sybaritic Press, 2014), and State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (KYSO Flash Press, 2015). She is published in Rattle, The MacGuffin, Slipstream, Wide Awake:Poets of Los Angeles, Hobart, and elsewhere. Since 2013 Alexis has been nominated for seven Pushcart Prizes and four Best of The Net awards. She is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly. Find her at

What Remains
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

In the photograph I am two years old,
astride what remains
my favorite Christmas present of all time —
my black and white rocking horse.
The picture was taken by my father,
the memory keeper,
using his favorite Hasselblad camera.

My rocking horse is long gone.
My father too is gone.
I have the Hasselblad though;
he gave it to me in his last
fragile year of life.

Christmas, 1966: The photo, the camera,
and me —
what remains.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spent almost the first eight years of my life living in Germany with my family (my father worked for Automatic Electric – later GTE – and was transferred to various countries). Christmatime in Germany was and is a wondrous and fairytale-like thing. The memories I have are amazing. The rocking horse really is my favorite Christmas present of all time; I was madly in love with it and rode it relentlessly. A couple years later it got broken by a nasty kid named Mark. The Hasselblad is an elegant medium-format camera; NASA selected it to take into and photograph Space.

Cimera-Author Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tricia Marcella Cimera is an obsessed reader and lover of words. Her work is, or will be, in these diverse journals: the Buddhist Poetry Review, Foliate Oak, Hedgerow, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Mad Swirl, Prairie Light Review, Reverie Fair, Silver Birch Press, Stepping Stones, and Yellow Chair Review. Tricia volunteers, believes strongly in the ideology of Think Globally, Act Locally and wants you to Support Local Art because it’s important. Tricia resides with her husband and family of animals in Illinois/in a town called St. Charles/by a river named Fox. She misses her father every day.

PHOTO: The author looking out the window, Christmas 1966, Sonnenberg, Germany

Gail and Susan Yvonne.Wasigan
My Susan Yvonne
by Gail Fishman Gerwin

     Dy-Dee . . . an overwhelming
     overnight success.
     —Playthings Magazine (April 1934)

A little metal box, holding nickels, dimes,
a little girl’s cache, maybe from allowance,
maybe from my parents’ good-hearted indulgence
during the years when parents across an ocean
were herded to ghettos and lost to family forever.

A little metal box, money saved, maybe padded
when I didn’t look, maybe matched penny for penny
like corporations willing to bolster alumni donations
for the sake of attracting the cream.

A little metal box, hidden in the maple bookshelf
that sat at the foot of the bed in the room I shared
with my teenage sister who cut my bangs too short
when my parents were out dancing.

Chief operating officer of my own corporation,
I’d check the box daily, count the change,
hungry for the moment that came sometime
in my ninth year.

Maybe it was twenty-eight dollars, maybe more,
less, but enough to beg my father to take time off
from loading the trucks to drive downtown
to Quackenbush’s on Main Street, where my
dream baby sat in a lighted display case
with her clones, all adorned in white organdy.

My Dy-dee doll, perfect hardened head, brown hair
painted in curls that would never wilt, lifelike ears,
moveable arms and legs that sounded like creaking doors,
hazel eyes that closed for sleep, pursed mouth
with a hole for a pointed-nipple bottle.
She’d drink, then pee through another hole,
this one on her diapered buttock.

I named her Susan Yvonne, Susan, the name I
wished for myself, Yvonne for the glamorous star
who vamped onscreen in theaters that marked
Paterson’s glory days.

Beautiful Susan Yvonne, docile in her stiffness,
propped in a pram, marched in my beaming motherhood
up and down Madison Avenue. Gracie down the street
didn’t own one, neither did Nancy, who made it
her business to call me dirty Jew dirty Jew.

When Susan visited me in summer camp,
she sat on my bunk cot’s itchy wool blanket,
garnered more farewell kisses than my parents
at the end of the weekend. When visits with hugs
were forbidden (polio rampaging through New Jersey
towns), she curled in my mother’s arms across the dirt
road, her chubby arms waving hello, then goodbye,
puppet doll who couldn’t see my tears though my
mother’s soaked her glossy head.

My new husband and I pretended she was
our own baby, offered her a spot on our pillows
until our first daughter arrived, and she took
her place on the closet shelf next to our childhood
comic book collection.

I wonder, could she see our girls grow, could she hear
me lament the son who never came home, did she glimpse
the scar on my breast that could not be painted away
like the scratch on her head, easily mended in the
doll hospital, Daddy’s maroon Pontiac her ambulance.

Today she sits atop a tall bookcase, watches
grandchildren flit around the upstairs hall,
her yellowed organdy hat in shreds, her face
as perfect as it was on the Quackenbush
shelf, her forever youth a reminder
of my parents’ devotion, of my hope.

SOURCE: “My Susan Yvonne” first appeared in Dear Kinfolk (ChayaCairn Press, 2013).

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child with Susan Yvonne.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: With apologies to Descartes, I write, therefore I am. I find my comfort in the narrative, although I exercise craft by penning in formal styles. I write for myself, for readers who want to know more about me, but primarily for my grandchildren who someday will be able to hold a piece of me, their Nana, in their hands and perhaps feel the need to tell their own stories to the generations that follow. “My Susan Yvonne” captures a time in my life that remains more clear than recent yesterdays. Though my parents are gone, I can capture their love through poetry, and many friendships from those long-ago days have endured.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Fishman Gerwin has authored two poetry collections—2010 Paterson Poetry Prize finalist Sugar and Sand and 2013 Paterson Award for Literary Excellence designee Dear Kinfolk ( Her poetry, essays, fiction, and plays are featured in literary journals, newspapers and magazines, and onstage. She presents readings, facilitates writing workshops, and is currently is developing a third collection.