Issue 5: Call for Submissions

by on Aug 28, 2015

This is the Official Call for Submissions for Issue 5 of Gnarled Oak, which will start in October and be an unthemed issue.

Gnarled Oak accepts poetry, prose, videos and artwork. I don’t like to impose rules on what is and isn’t acceptable (other than the no hate speech, no pornography one), but as a general guideline, I tend to favor shorter works, which for our purposes means poems of less than 20 lines, prose less than 1000 words, and videos less than 7 minutes long. Regarding form and style, I’m open to almost anything. Check out previous issues to get a sense of things.

I’ll be reading for Issue 5 through September 25 and plan on starting the issue the week of October 5 October 12. Please visit the Submissions page for more in-depth guidelines. I look forward to seeing what comes this way, and I hope you’ll send something and help spread the word. Thank you.

Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Aug 27, 2015


Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind (Jul-Aug 2015) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, prose, videos, and artwork from writers and artists around the world.

Read online | Read the PDF (click to read online, right-click & save-as to download)


In the Beginning — Tony Press

common s[un]flower — Robin Turner

texas dandelion — Robin Turner

bindweed — Robin Turner

I confess — Caroline Skanne

Old Gods — Luis Neer

Security — Marie Craven

A Reverence for Rust — Debbie Strange

old broken gate — Brian Robertson

Fragments — JK Anowe

Graffiti — Miriam Sagan

Crooked Smiles — Arika Elizenberry

Bystander — Mary McCarthy

Dog Whistle Effect — Lauren Yates

Angel — Olivier Schopfer

searching — Kala Ramesh

twigs — Duncan Richardson

Elegy for Apologies I Will Never See — Lauren Yates

Wabash & Balbo — Todd Mercer

Walking in Chinatown on Sunday, You Do Get Lonely
 — Trish Saunders

Lime Light — Marilyn ‘Misky’ Braendeholm

Unmusically — Sheikha A.

Sanyi — Saddiq Dzukogi & Laura M. Kaminski

Lines on a Postcard — Joan Colby

deep dreaming — Marianne Paul

Night Court — Marie Craven

wilma suddenly — Angie Werren

red rover — Angie Werren

I Planted a Lemon Tree in My Mouth — Tonya Sauer

Sweet Tea — Roslyn Ross

Considering Luminescence / Consideraciones Sobre la Luz — Eduardo Yagüe

Editor’s Note

August is a weird time of year. There is a certain cognitive dissonance that comes from starting school and returning to the classroom in the midst of summer. Sure, it’s almost September and then you might start to feel autumn coming on farther north, but here in Texas it’s high summer and will be for quite some time. Maybe to native Texans it doesn’t seem weird, but I started my school years and went to high school in northern states and that idea that school starting equals autumn is pretty well locked in, never mind the fact that I’ve been here for twenty-seven years.

This year coming back to school brought me back to something I’d put out of my mind for the summer: the shredder, that big clunky wonderful machine that devours huge piles of paper and rapidly churns them into confetti. I kind of like shredding papers. I like feeding that beast, and standing there in all that white noise is sort of soothing.

Because I teach in a juvenile correctional facility, I shred a lot of old student work. Whatever the kids choose not to take with them when they leave goes down the shredder in the interest of protecting their privacy. So part of closing out my classroom in early June involves shredding all the unclaimed work: tests, quizzes, journals, worksheets, essays, and, yes, stories and poems. Some of them quite good. It makes me wish more of the kids I teach would recognize their own talents and value their voices at least enough to take their work with them out to the Free. But they don’t, and so I shred.

Last spring, whilst peacefully shredding away, I looked down to see that I was shredding the wrong pile. “Noooooooo!” I nearly yelled like Luke finding out Vader was his father, for I was shredding all of my brilliant Notes to Self that I’d written over the course of last school year. Things about what I want to do differently this year, ideas for lessons, activities and projects. You see, I was determined to reinvent things and rethink what I do in the classroom. It’s a useful exercise for teachers to do, I think, to throw out the old and try new ideas. And I was going to do that.

So, I started this August with a bit of trepidation. Not only is it too hot to be in school, but most of my ideas for this year are confetti, recycled months ago. So, I’m starting again by trying to re-reinvent things, and it’s exciting. It’s New 2.0. And I like that.

And speaking of things new and exciting, I hope you’ve found this issue of Gnarled Oak to be as exciting as I did. So thank you to all of you (or all y’all as we say in Texas) who submit (and resubmit) and read and share all this amazing work. You help me—and hopefully others—see the world in new, surprising, beautiful, sometimes heart-breaking and often wonderful ways. Even in August.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
August 2015


Gnarled Oak — Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind: Read online | Read the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)

Considering Luminescence / Consideraciones Sobre la Luz

by on Aug 24, 2015


(Watch Eduardo Yagüe’s videos of “Considering Luminescence” and “Consideraciones Sobre la Luz” on Vimeo)

Editor’s note: the English text of the Laura M. Kaminski poem “Considering Luminescence” and her bio can be read at The Poetry Storehouse.


Eduardo Yagüe studied Dramatic Arts and Spanish Language and Literature. In Madrid, he worked as an actor in theater and film since 1995. Parallel, he has been writing poetry and stories since he was fifteen. In 2012, he changed direction in his artistic work research, which had been focused on acting and writing. He decided to investigate video poetry. He is interested in mixing genres, searching the limits of poetic and cinematographic language.

Sweet Tea

by on Aug 21, 2015

They gave me sweet tea when I was mad,
stirred slowly, steaming hot, handed over
with a clink of spoon on the edge of the
cup, as if to signal, the time had come,

when comfort would be offered, and a
moment of liquid grace, could be taken
down, into the depths of frozen self, as
if, that heat could melt the hardened ice

of fear, so long built up, layer upon layer,
over the years; a crevasse of such great
immensity, that a light dropped, would
disappear from sight, in an instant, long

before it ever reached the bottom, if
indeed, there was a point where it all
ended, and from where an echo would
resound, up, up, up through weeping

cliffs, to signify that there was an end,
and, that sometime, it would all dissolve
into itself, disappearing, deliquescing,
because now the demons had been

consumed and I could once more,
drink deep of tea and of sweetness.


Roslyn Ross was born in Adelaide, South Australia and has lived around Australia and the world. A journalist/editor by profession, she began writing creatively in her forties and has completed five novels and one work of non-fiction based on her four years in Angola during the civil war. She is currently writing a non-fiction book tracing her Greek great-grandfather, a biography of her mother, and a book on spirituality as well as a sixth novel.

I Planted a Lemon Tree in My Mouth

by on Aug 20, 2015

I dreamed in yellow,
summer blooming behind my teeth
like a thatch of dandelions sprawled
in a pastured field.

I dreamed of sweetness,
a sugary sip, dip of tongue
like a hummingbird, fluttering
from bee balm to cat mint.

Instead, I grew dense, sour words,
too-green lemons still sucking
in their dimpled cheeks. Neither bird,
nor you, came for a taste.


Tonya Sauer is a geriatric nurse. This year, she has been selected to attend the Kenyon Review Writer’s Workshop. She lives and works in Elgin, Illinois with her husband and their four awesome cats.

red rover

by on Aug 19, 2015

I dare you to

remember the blue
grass our bare
feet that kid
cooler than we’d
ever be parked
in his trans
am still

waiting on
waiting on
the thunder

those sec-
onds stolen
the street
lights and
time it’s time
to go it’s

to go home


send tommy
right over


Angie Werren lives (and writes) in a tiny house in Ohio. Sometimes she takes pictures of things in the yard.

wilma suddenly

by on Aug 18, 2015

the knife in her hand
heavy with the memory of

once there was water
once there was sun
she remembers

is diving down wanting
to drown but the body betrays
it bursts through forcing you
to unwillingly



Angie Werren lives (and writes) in a tiny house in Ohio. Sometimes she takes pictures of things in the yard.

Night Court

by on Aug 17, 2015

(Watch Marie Craven’s video of “Night Court” on Vimeo)

Editor’s note: the text of the Erica Goss poem “Night Court” and her bio can be read at The Poetry Storehouse.


Marie Craven is a media maker and musician from the Gold Coast, Australia. She has been engaged in online collaboration since 2007 and has contributed to works with artists in many different parts of the world. Website:

Lines on a Postcard

by on Aug 13, 2015

There is never room enough
For a script so large with
Wanting it can’t collapse
Its cursive waves into the
Reverse of a beach. The margins
Overrun with riptides, scribbled
Conchs or scallops. Jellyfish umbrellas
Sail over consonants struggling to surface.
A delicate hand is required. A heart
That hemorrhages wishes
For your presence.


Joan Colby has 16 books including Selected Poems, The Wingback Chair, Ah Clio, Properties of Matter and others. She has published in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, etc. and won many awards. Her latest book Ribcage won the 2015 Kithara Book Prize. Her website is