Archives for posts with tag: USPS

USPS rural licensed tupungato
The substitute rural postal carrier
by Eileen Mish Murphy

Even junk mail
can be exciting
when you’re retired
or quarantined

It’s fun to see
how many folks wait
behind their drapes
her truck
to arrive

The dirt roads
to backwoods trailers
are always flooded

So her van
always gets mired
in the mud

& sometimes
she has to leave
her vehicle

& walk through
a pack of outdoor dogs

to knock on a door,
carrying packages

while wearing
a mask

& clutching

pepper spray

PHOTO: Rural delivery from U.S. Postal Service. Photo by Tupungato, used by permission. 


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My sister, who is a rural postal carrier, is the person in the poem. The pandemic has increased her workload tremendously because everybody is buying things from the Internet, and so there are a lot more packages to deliver. 

PHOTO: The author (left) with her sister. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eileen “Mish” Murphy lives near Tampa, Florida, with her Chi-Spaniel Cookie. She teaches English and literature at Polk State College. Her poems have been published in numerous journals and literary blogs, including Silver Birch Press, Tinderbox Journal, Rogue Agent, and Thirteen Myna Birds. She is a staff writer for Cultural Weekly. A prolific book reviewer and visual artist, she has also done the illustrations for the highly acclaimed children’s book Phoebe and Ito are dogs written by John Yamrus. Fortune Written on Wet Grass was her first full-length collection. It was followed by the poetry chapbook Evil MeVisit her at

usps face mask

My Postal Lady
by Michelle Kogan

My postal lady stands at attention–
Warden style, pensive and alert–
Garbed in one of her multiple-well-fitted masks,
behind interweaving layers of
which guard her, and are
only interrupted at intervals
for human hands to pass packages
into her quasi-protected lair.
Although from our social-distant spot
she may appear unapproachable—
Don’t be fooled,
if you wait your turn
you may be surprised . . .
Watch her as she dutifully
intercepts and directs all
our precious pieces of mail.

She will, JUMP—
Though will never draw blood.
She did with me,
after handing me my
International mail form,
for my poetry package
off to another poet friend
in Australia.
Gruffly she said,
mail from our country sits for weeks
after arriving in another country . . .
I asked, “Can I come to the front
after filling out my form?”
—“NO—Get back in line,”
I did, and filled out my form,
while waiting with others,
six feet between us,
with more waiting,
and more waiting

it was my turn,
I moved forward—
She prompted me with mail questions,
continuing with full cognition,
I stumbled with my credit card,
apologizing with, I’m rarely out
and out of practice.
“I’m teaching online,” I said,
“and the post office is
one of the few places I frequent.”
“You’re teaching online,” she asked.
“How’s that going?”
Her daughter came into our conversation,
A missed cruise they were supposed to take—
“How is she,” I asked.
“Fine, covered from head to toe in protective gear,
like an amazon warrior ready for battle.”
We laughed together,
She lingered in conversation—
Always attentive to her task—
“How are you,” I asked.
She chuckled and
shared her daily ritual
after returning from work.
Voiding all worn—
Selecting a new mask for tomorrow—
She’s received many masks from postal patrons,
and feels it’s only right to wear them.
Finally, she unwinds
with watching something.
Briefly we shared our universe . . .
We parted with thanks, and smiles.

Till next time—
My postal lady—
Dear postal lady
Be safe.

Till next time

A Chicago artist always writing poetry!

PHOTO: Post Office face mask by MadeBeyoutiful, available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I draw, paint, and write stories and an unending output of poems. This flow began about 10 years ago with haikus—I’d write while on walks—and has grown over the years in amount, forms, and desire. I also started following a handful of poetry blogs, reading more poetry, and attending poetry workshops at the Poetry Foundation in Chicago. I love the challenge and focus of poem prompts—to me they’re a puzzle waiting to be solved. A prompt is an invitation to write on something I may not have written on; it may bring ah-ha moments and spur on other ideas. I’ve always loved words. When I was very young I would underline and write down words I didn’t know so I could look them up. The magic came in the dictionary—there were rivers and rivers of words, and I went down many rabbit holes when looking for just a few definitions. And then there were pictures too, and I planned on studying art. I have these two equally powerful passions, writing and art—I have to do both, it’s like breathing.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Kogan, a poet, writer, artist, and instructor, balances her writing and art with nature, critters, and calls from humanity, emerging from her Chicago roots and beyond. Her poems are in a handful of poetry anthologies, including The Best of Today’s Little Ditty Volume I, II, and III, and Imperfect: poems about mistakes: an anthology for middle schoolers. Her artwork is in the collection of The University of Illinois Chicago, Biological Sciences Department; the Chicago Academy of Sciences and its Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago, Illinois; private collections, the book Chicago Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness; and many catalogues. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Find out more at her website:; her blog:, and her Etsy Shop:

In Service to the People
by Mary Camarillo

After my grandfathers served in WWI, they took the Railway Post Office (RPO) exam. RPO clerks were considered postal service elites at the time. They were a close-knit group. That’s how my parents met—their fathers worked together.

The RPO manual required clerks to “possess more than ordinary intelligence, have a retentive memory and be sound in wind and limb.” My grandfathers knew all the rail junctions, the specific local delivery details and were able to ready a 50-pound mail pouch, stand in an open doorway just before the train passed the station at 70 miles per hour, grab the incoming pouch off a crane, and kick the outbound pouch off to the ground (and hopefully not underneath the train wheels).

My father rode with my grandfather on a few trips and decided he did not want to work for the post office. I wasn’t expecting to either, but when a friend took the exam, I tagged along. When I got hired, I planned to work a few months, save some money, and quit. I stayed for many reasons—five weeks’ vacation, 10 paid holidays, health benefits, the retirement package–but mostly because of the camaraderie of a close-knit group of people working towards a common goal.

Postal employees (my grandfathers, Charles Bukowski, John Prine, my husband, countless friends) miss Christmas celebrations, get bitten by dogs, and lose sleep working graveyard because they are committed to getting the mail out despite snow, rain, heat and now Covid-19, and a new postmaster general intent on cutting service.

The Postal Service mission is to “bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.” The RPO handbook called this responsibility “a sacred duty.” I can think of nothing more sacred than binding our nation together in these fractured times.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Postal Service is in my DNA. I had a long career with the service, and I find the recent changes in service standards alarming. There is a longer version of this essay on my website.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: These are photographs of my grandfathers, who were both Railway Post Office clerks. Their names are Hubert Adrian Parker (right) and McDonald Wilson Brice (left), both deceased.

Camarillo Photo3 headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Camarillo’s first novel will be published by She Writes Press in June of 2021. She is currently working on a novel told in linked stories. Her prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Sonoran Review, Lunch Ticket, and The Ear. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband who plays ukulele and their terrorist cat Riley who has his own Instagram account @marycamel13. Visit her at to read more of her work.

Author’s photo taken at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.


At Our Local Family Fare’s Guest Care Counter
by Jeannie E. Roberts

The pandemic may have altered our way of life,
still, there’s familiarity inside our local grocery store.
Even with mask wear, we smile,

extend the light of kindness.
Today, USPS Frog Forever® Stamps are on my list.
As I stand in line, I admire how the guest care clerk,

Christena, works and interacts with poise.
“Hi, how’s your day going?” I say,
then ask for my beloved croakers.

Muffled chuckles rise from beneath the clerk’s mask.
My enthusiastic request for frogs
must have struck her funny bone. I laugh, too.

Next, I walk toward the greeting card section,
where I take my time selecting birthday, anniversary,
and thinking of you sentiments.

I can’t imagine an existence
without the United States Postal Service.
Its beginnings date back to 1775

when Benjamin Franklin became the first postmaster general.
For years, my brother worked at the South1st Street post office
in downtown Minneapolis.

People depend on postal jobs for their livelihood.
Determined, I head back to the counter,
buy two more sheets of postage,

including the USPS Women Vote Forever® Stamps.
Once again, I thank Christena for her frontline dedication
as I envision Joe and Kamala

by my side
with the same fondness for amphibians
and the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

PHOTO: Christena Hill, Family Fare Guest Care Counter Clerk/Customer Service Manager, and the author holding her USPS Frog Forever® Stamps (August 22, 2020, Family Fare Supermarket, Chippewa Falls, Lake Wissota, Wisconsin).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Running errands can be a respite during these uncertain times. Except for walks and other outdoor activities, I haven’t been out of the house much, so when I drive to our local grocery store it’s a liberating experience. Team member interactions are enjoyable, especially at the guest care counter. Recently, I had a delightful social exchange with the customer service manager, as she “womaned” the counter. It’s tough wearing a mask all day—it’s hot and burdensome. Our frontline workers are treasures and continue to make our lives better as we navigate through the pandemic.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts is an artist, a poet, photographer, former educator, computer software trainer and documentation writer, arts administrator, fashion and marketing executive, talent agent, copywriter, on-air/voice talent, print and runway model (plus-size, 10-14), and, most importantly, a mom. Originally from Minneapolis, she lives in an inspiring setting near Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She has authored six books, including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), and Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013). She is also the author and illustrator of Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019) and Let’s Make Faces!, a children’s book dedicated to her son (author-published, 2009). Her work appears in print and online in North American and international journals and anthologies. She holds a B.S. in secondary education, M.A. in arts and cultural management, and is poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs

ImageOn April 21, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative “forever” stamps honoring ten 20th Century poets. Here’s the official description of the stamps from usps.comTen great poets are honored on this Twentieth-Century Poets (Forever®) stamp sheet, including several who served as United States Poet Laureate. The many awards won by this illustrious group — Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams — include numerous Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and honorary degrees.

We have featured six of these poets on the Silver Birch Press blog (Cummings, Roethke, Levertov, Plath, Williams, and Stevens), and will feature the remaining four (Bishop, Brodsky, Brooks, and Hayden) in future posts.

On April 21, 2012, the U.S. Postal Service issued commemorative “forever” stamps honoring ten 20th Century poets, and while I admire those selected, I think the USPS missed an opportunity to honor one of the world’s most beloved poets — namely Charles Bukowski, who worked for the USPS for 14 years.

Here’s the official description of the stamps from usps.comTen great poets are honored on this Twentieth-Century Poets (Forever®) stamp sheet, including several who served as United States Poet Laureate. The many awards won by this illustrious group — Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, and William Carlos Williams — include numerous Pulitzer Prizes, National Book Awards, and honorary degrees.

And now to right this oversight, we have created our own Bukowski stamp — Bukowski Forever, worth much more than 46 cents. 


Charles Bukowski (1920 – 1994) worked for the U.S. Postal Service in Los Angeles during the 1950s and 1960s, leaving in 1969 when publisher John Martin offered him a one-hundred-dollar-a-month stipend for life. A few weeks after he accepted Martin’s offer, Bukowski produced his first novel — Post Office, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1971. A prolific author or poetry and prose, Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories, and six novels — publishing over sixty books.