snow angel

by on Apr 28, 2017


snow angel
two sticks from the woodpile
and a butterfly


Tom Sacramona is a poet living in Plainville, Massachusetts. He is grateful to have haiku published in journals, such as bottle rockets, Mayfly and Modern Haiku. Sacramona is a member of the Boston Haiku Society and the Haiku Society of America.  Learn more about haiku: Visit his blog at

Landmine in a Field of Flowers

by on Apr 27, 2017

(Watch Matt Mullins’ video “Landmine in a Field of Flowers” on Vimeo)


Matt Mullins writes and makes videopoems, music, and digital/interactive literature. His work has screened at various festivals in the United States and throughout the world including Visible Verse, Zebra, Videobardo, Liberated Words, Rabbit Heart, and Co-Kisser. He has published poetry and fiction in numerous print and online journals, and is the author of the short story collection Three Ways of the Saw (Atticus Books). You can engage his interactive/digital literary interfaces at


by on Apr 26, 2017

Waiting for catastrophe
I keep busy with things
that don’t matter,
avoid starting what
I might not finish,
try not to mourn,
or spend myself in rage,
wasting energies
I can’t replace.
Grief will come
when I think I have
outrun it.
I already have too many
sympathy cards
and sleepless hours enough
to find thousands
of bad endings
that become easier and easier
to imagine.


Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many online and print journals, including Earth’s Daughters, Gnarled Oak, Third Wednesday and Three Elements Review. Her echapbook Things I Was Told Not To Think About is available through Praxis magazine online as a free download. She is grateful for the wonderful online communities of writers and poets sharing their work and passion for writing, providing a rich world of inspiration, appreciation, and delight.

i woke this morning

by on Apr 25, 2017

to a neutral voice intoning
bombs in marketplaces
and refugees washed upon the shore

to music of breath and skin
dark cascade of pillowed hair
gossamer feather of touch

to dreams of justice
from the vast sea’s edge
to beyond the distant shore

to a jacaranda blue day
dancing through the curtain
and kookaburras’ liquid burst of song


Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. His recent publications have been in Poetry Quarterly, Autumn Sky Daily, Praxis mag online, Rats Ass and Verse Virtual, where he is a Contributing Editor. He blogs at


by on Apr 24, 2017

I have lented the ‘shoulds’ in years past. This year, I will lent what steals my breath. I will lent the cycling shrieks of war cries empty, and war cries full. This year I will lent the streaming compulsive—media and social media and the rites of the angry. This year I will lent the proclamations of imminence—every one.  This year I will lent the proclamations of eminence—all but one.

This year I lent, so that prayers made quiet, and prayers made loud I can hear myself. I can hear the whisper call of power and holiness simmering, resonating, in the presence of the Throned. In the just-beyond-my-eyelids.


Tiffany Grantom is a mother of five, doula, paralegal, wearer-of-many-hats-busy-monger who hopes for a season with time to write a book.  Today, just scribbles and lists, and fly-by wording glories.  Also found in working clothes at

Issue 12 Call for Submissions

by on Mar 2, 2017

This is the Official Call for Submissions for Issue 12 of Gnarled Oak, which will start in April and be an unthemed issue.

Gnarled Oak accepts poetry, prose, videos and artwork. I don’t 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 12 through March 31 and plan on starting the issue the week of April 10 and will start on April 24. 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 11: Natural Outlaws—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Mar 1, 2017


Issue 11: Natural Outlaws (Jan-Feb 2017) 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)


Natural Outlaws — Melissa Fu

The Past Is Not Where I Left It — Stephanie Hutton

The Teenager Who Became My Mother
 — Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto

In the Feet of a Refugee — Frank Eze

In Merciless Air — Steve Klepetar

Sometimes the Water — Marie Craven

In the Clouds — Cui Yuwei

kite festival — Anthony Q. Rabang

There Was a River— Micki Blenkush

I Have Me Some Hobbies — Paul Beckman

Journey — Olivier Schopfer

a boy draws a bird — Nicholas Klacsanzky

The Boy by the River Told — Matt Dennison

Dis-Spelling — Mary McCarthy

fistfuls of hair — Marilyn Fleming

Carried Away — Micki Blenkush

Hats Off — Betsy Mars

Scattering in Harmony — Tony Press

frost-filigreed — Debbie Strange

Grief’s Engine is a Flower — José Luis Gutiérrez

The Sound of Taste — Steve Klepetar

Poem for Rent — Marie Craven

The Road Dreamers Take — Robert S. King

beneath the surface — Marianne Paul

their affair — Deborah P. Kolodji

The Next Generation of Stones — Amy Kotthaus

When My Youth Catches Up with Me — Robert S. King

And When — Chumki Sharma

Have Made It — Matt Dennison & Michael Dickes

Editor’s Note

In a fit of helpfulness, I volunteered to be an assistant coach for my son’s t-ball team. Having no experience with t-ball, baseball, or athletic coaching didn’t stop me, but now on the eve of the first practice, I realize I have no idea about any of this: my sports were soccer and swimming, and my coaching was academic (high school debate).

I start flipping through the literature books in my classroom looking—as all reasonable people do—to poetry for guidance and come upon “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer, “Analysis of Baseball” by May Swenson, and a personal favorite “Slam, Dunk & Hook” by Yusef Komunyakaa. Good stuff but probably not much help with the mechanics of coaching little kids. Still, where would we be without poetry?

Not without a sudden lesson plan to coax a bunch of hardened teenage boys to write poetry about their favorite sports and surprise themselves by how much they enjoyed doing it.

And certainly not here at the end of this latest issue of Gnarled Oak. Which brings me back round to coaching t-ball but mostly the trying-new-things aspect of it. Poetry was a new thing once (and remarkably, still strikes me as such though I’ve been at it eight years now). So was starting up this journal that still feels new to me. May all good things in life always feel that way.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
Feb 2017


Gnarled Oak — Issue 11: Natural Outlaws: Read onlineRead the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)


Have Made It

by , on Feb 24, 2017

(Watch Matt Dennison & Michael Dickes’s video of “Have Made It” on YouTube)


After a rather extended and varied second childhood in New Orleans, Matt Dennison’s work has appeared in Rattle, Bayou Magazine, Redivider, Natural Bridge, The Spoon River Poetry Review and Cider Press Review, among others. He has also made videos with poetry videographers Michael DickesSwoon, and Marie Craven.

Michael Dickes has conceived, filmed, edited, and produced a variety of video and audio vignettes that feature his own short stories and poems, as well as producing pieces for hire in the U.S. and Europe. Most recently, two of his short prose films were featured at the International Film Festival in Athens, Greece. See more at:

When My Youth Catches Up with Me

by on Feb 22, 2017

The one I am is fragile in the mirror.
The one I was still lives wildly
along a nature trail, throws rocks
through windows of pools, makes waves,
never grows up but climbs the tallest
of an old-growth forest. He still growls
loudly in my ears, though the lines
he cannot cross are trails worn
so deeply in the past and on my face.

I grumble, clear a hole in the window fog,
replay a film on the pane, eyes flickering
along the forest path where the barefoot boy
is lost forever. Still an echo calls,
not to warn me, but to lead me through
long winters, the snow settling deeper
and deeper in my hair. The trail beneath
my slowing steps whitens, frozen in time
but for a time still cracking like glass.


Robert S. King, a native Georgian, now lives in Lexington, Kentucky, where he serves on the board of FutureCycle Press. His poems have appeared in hundreds of magazines, including Atlanta Review,  Chariton Review, Kenyon Review, Main Street Rag, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Poetry Review, and Spoon River Poetry Review. He has published eight poetry collections, most recently Developing a Photograph of God (Glass Lyre Press, 2014).