There Is a Season #2

by on Oct 24, 2016



Steve Tomasko has written about himself in the first, third and possibly fifth person (don’t ask). He often verb-ifies things he shouldn’t and trips over his own dangling participles. Despite these possible disqualifications, he has published one poetry chapbook, “and no spiders were harmed.” You can read more about him and Jeanie (his wife, also a poet) at Jeanie & Steve Tomasko.

dark water

by on Oct 21, 2016


dark water
my ambiguous


Martha Magenta lives in England, UK. Her poems focus on a wide variety of topics including love, loss, spirituality and meditation. Recently, she has begun to write haiku. A number of her poems and haiku have been published in online journals. She is co-owner of POETS, the second largest poetry community on Google Plus.


by on Oct 20, 2016

Destrehan-Luling Louisiana Ferry Crash Kills 78—October 20, 1976


There are ways
the dying say goodbye—

on a river waving hands
greased in oil that slip away

in a hand that grabs a rail
while the other grips a girl

in hands let go while struggling
to the shoreline in half-light

in the hand over a mouth
holding in one last exhale—

and then are still.


Alan Perry holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Minnesota. He is a member of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, and is involved in programs at the University of Arizona Poetry Center in Tucson, Arizona. He and his wife divide their time between a suburb of Minneapolis and Tucson, and he has poems forthcoming in Sandcutters and The Moccasin.

Ocean Watch

by on Oct 19, 2016

For days I study
the architecture of clouds
the prehistoric silhouettes
of pelicans chaining past
dark wings riding
invisible rivers of bright air

I sleep and dream the moon falls
into the arms of the ocean
their long dance ending
in this strange embrace
where the waves take her
and polish her to pearl
smooth and lustrous
unmarked by time
a promise just remembered
small enough to keep


Mary C McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work included in many online and print journals, including Expound, Third Wednesday, Earth’s Daughters, The Evening Street Review, and Caketrain.

‘A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday’

by on Oct 18, 2016

It’s 10 minutes after midnight
and threatening rain, and though
I’m looking out the kitchen window,
I can’t see anything, only the blur
of my reflection, and all around it
darkness, complete darkness,
but for a Death’s Head moth,
drawn by the one light still on,
crashing against the glass to get in.


Howie Good co-edits White Knuckle Press with Dale Wisely.


by on Oct 17, 2016

It is a city alternately black and red, but always the same city. The people of this city are stocky, stunted in height, dark-humoured with toil, laughing, friendly, fragile and numerous as matchsticks. It is a city of railways and canals, like all cities, and canyons of brick where pigeons roost, heedless of hawks. It is a hissing, clanking city one day, a buzzing, ringing city the next, a place of riots and massacres, of carnivals, shops and trams. The streets are friendlier than the parks. In its museums old people learn about their grandchildren’s world, but cannot enter it. Its Free Trade is conducted by orchestras, its cathedral lurks in back streets, its pubs take centre stage. The universities multiply and compete, the docks are ship-less and airy, the airport has shrunk to the size of a child’s toy and the memory of thunder.


Jo Waterworth lives in Glastonbury, UK, and is involved in groups for writing, editing and performing poetry. She is also studying part-time at Bath Spa University, now taking a third year poetry module. She has been published online and in print, and has won various poetry prizes in the UK. She blogs at Jo’swriting.

Issue 10: Call for Submissions

by on Aug 30, 2016

Here we are. It’s the Big 1-0. Gnarled Oak is heading into double digits. This is the Official Call for Submissions for Issue 10 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 10 through September 30 and plan on starting the issue the week of October 10 (yes, Issue 10 starts on 10/10) October 17. 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 9: Harbor, Home, Hard Love—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Aug 29, 2016


Issue 9: Harbor, Home, Hard Love (Jul-Aug 2016) 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)


I Am April — Tiffany Grantom

Gossamer — Jeanie Tomasko

composing for voice & breath — Scott-Patrick Mitchell

Westbound PA Turnpike — James Esch

Acutance — Jack Bedell

prairie storm — Debbie Strange

Texas Life Story, Six Words — Lisa Bubert

and if you sketched the view from here minus
 — Jeanie Tomasko

The Meeting Ran Long — Marie Craven

Multilingual — Steve Klepetar

The Elephant in the Room — Juliet Wilson

After Ekphrasis — Marie Landau

Geography of the Dream — Joan Colby

Talking You to Sleep — Margaret Holley

Sea Song — PJ Wren

Daydream — Olivier Schopfer

Moon Kisses — Kelsey May

Super Moon— Cathryn Essigner

In a Dark Room — Steve Klepetar

Once Upon a Time — Consuelo Arredondo,
 Cristina Ortiz, Ferrie = differentieel,
 Johann Mynhardt & Luis Rojas

My Cross — Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

Skins — Mary McCarthy

ECT — Mary McCarthy

Ominous Dreams — Bill Waters

Only the Lonely — Marie Craven

old footbridge — Pravat Kumar Padhy

tequila sunset — Christina Sng

riddle of renewing — j.lewis

from Orchards — Marilyn McCabe

 afternoon at the beach — Jeanie Tomasko

Editor’s Note

Back to school. That’s why this note and issue wrap-up is so late. Should I tell you the dog ate my work? It’s a great excuse since dogs will eat anything: paper, plastic, Legos, spatulas, curtains, coffee tables, trash. Why not the last page of this issue?

So I’m back to school and already I hear this from my students: “Writing is boring.”

My mind short circuits. This simply does not compute.

Lately, I’ve tried responding with, “Why are you writing boring things? Try writing something interesting.”

This stumps them sometimes, but I figure why not? Many of my kids act like they want me to entertain them, but maybe they should try to entertain me.

This year, I’ll tell them to try to think like writers: entertain me, inform me, persuade me. Show me your world as only you know it.

Now here we are starting the second week of school and a few at least seem willing to try. Maybe I can find a seat in the back of the classroom, sit down and learn from what they’ve got to say.

It’s what I like to do here at Gnarled Oak, and so, thank you as always for writing and reading, for sending your work and letting me publish some of it. For letting me sit in the back and learn so much. It’s always an honor, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this issue as much as I did.

And for those of you teachers, students, and parents of school and college-aged kids, best of luck to you in the new school year, and may all your dogs keep their teeth off your work.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
Aug 2016


Gnarled Oak — Issue 9: Harbor, Home, Hard Love: Read onlineRead the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)

Shorts-and-long-sleeved-shirt-kinda-perfect-Sunday afternoon at the beach

by on Aug 23, 2016

here where everything is broken
[i] fragment of

sand dollar, sea star, clam
[I think] this day didn’t

start well
whelk, wrack, knotted wrack

knotted yes, unable to
tide, ebb, endless, crash

[I think I]
burrow like a sand crab

run from
like the small gulls

in and out, pursuit of
oyster, whorl of inner ear

[I think I finally]
the first thing I said

I picked up this shell for you and
you placed a small stone

in my hand,
harbor, home, hard love

washed up, wrack line
how all this broken

[I think I finally get
it] inside


Jeanie Tomasko is the author of a few poetry books, most recently (Prologue), the recipient of an Editor’s Choice award from Concrete Wolf Chapbook Series, and Violet Hours (Taraxia Press), a collection of the antics of a unique little girl. She can be found on her website (, walking around somewhere near Lake Superior with her husband, Steve, or enjoying the antics of her cats at home, where she endeavors to always have a bottomless honey jar, garlic from the garden and bees in the front yard hyssop.

from Orchards

by on Aug 22, 2016

(Watch Marilyn McCabe’s video “from Orchards” on Vimeo)


Marilyn McCabe’s new book of poems, Glass Factory, was published by The Word Works in Spring 2016. Her poem “On Hearing the Call to Prayer Over the Marcellus Shale on Easter Morning” was awarded A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando Prize. Her book of poetry Perpetual Motion was published by The Word Works in 2012 as the winner of the Hilary Tham Capitol Collection contest. She blogs about writing and reading at