Issues 6 & 7(?): Call for Submissions

by on Nov 25, 2015

This is the Official Call for Submissions for Gnarled Oak‘s sixth issue as well as for an experiment of sorts—an “oldies” issue that will come either before or after the next regular issue, which will start in January and be an unthemed issue.

For the next regular issue (probably Issue 6), the standard spiel:

Gnarled Oak accepts poetry, prose, artwork, and videos. 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 6 through January 1, 2016 and plan on starting the issue the week of January 11.

For the oldies issue:

This is an experiment of sorts inspired by the weekly vintage verse feature at Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY (a fine journal, you really should check out) and my son’s love of show-and-tell. I’m interested in putting together a short issue (10-15 pieces) comprised of pre-twentieth century poetry. I’m hoping people will submit a poem they love, like, or that should simply just be shared along with a short (~200 words max.) statement about or response to the poem. Creative responses intrigue me. As do visual and even video responses.

Regarding the poems, I’m more interested in “deep tracks” than the “hits,” so the likes of Poe, Dickinson, and Shakespeare are fine and will be considered, but I’d like to try to avoid the high school English textbook standards (I already know them being a standard high school English teacher).

It is important from a copyright standpoint that all submissions be of poems in the public domain and out of copyright, so they must be pre-twentieth century. As always shorter works are preferred. Translations will be considered but the translation itself must be either in the public domain or the submitters own work.

Submissions for the oldies issue should contain one poem and the submitter’s statement/response. I will keep submissions open for this issue until I have 10-15 pieces at which time I will announce a publication schedule for it.

And, as always…

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.

2015 Pushcart Nominations

by on Nov 24, 2015

Here are Gnarled Oak’s six Pushcart nominees in order of appearance. I hope you’ll go back and reread them:

Burn Job by Lawrence Elliott (from Issue 2: The Velocity of Night)

microwords by Herb Kauderer (from Issue 3: Blue Vegetarian Lions)

bindweed by Robin Turner (from Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind)

Crooked Smiles by Arika Elizenberry (from Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind)

Bystander by Mary McCarthy (from Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind)

the globe in my pocket by Ehizogie Iyeomoan (from Issue 5: The Globe in My Pocket)

Congratulations to these authors and my sincerest thanks to them and everyone who allows me the honor of publishing their work at Gnarled Oak.

Issue 5: The Globe in My Pocket—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Nov 23, 2015


Issue 5: The Globe in My Pocket (Oct-Nov 2015) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, prose, and artwork from writers and artists around the world.

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


the globe in my pocket — Ehizogie Iyeomoan

Poem Where No One Thinks about Death — Glen Armstrong

playing my guitar — Brian Robertson

the blues — Herb Kauderer

Agnes Martin at Tate Modern — Jean Morris

Aubade: A Parallel Poem — Yuan Changming

Big Shot Family — Paul Beckman

Jackie O’s Strange New Life — Elby Rogers

moving sale — Sheila Sondik

Renovation (A Fragment) — Ben Meyerson

a single cloud — Shloka Shankar

Poem — Howie Good

Deconstruction — Olivier Schopfer

masquerade ball — Archana Kapoor Nagpal

The Halloween Quintet — Judy Salz

Boyhood Buoys (4): Frogmeat Sale — Yuan Changming

Apex — Mary McCarthy

Thunder — Leah Browning

read-letter day — David Kelly

Holiday — Rachel Nix

spring breeze — Kala Ramesh

the tightening — Debbie Strange

Shoal — Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

Year of Glass — Katie Gleason

Eagle — Kenneth Pobo

My Mother’s Voice — Mary Kendall

China Seagull — Jo Waterworth

across the open sea — j.lewis

Nightswimmer’s Purgatorial — Todd Mercer

Mountains Will Break Your Heart, If You Let Them — Trish Saunders

Editor’s Note

Here at the end of the final issue for 2015—an anniversary issue since it’s been a year since we went live—and since it’s Thanksgiving week here in the US, I want to express my gratitude and thanks to all who make Gnarled Oak such a joy.

So thank you to everyone who sends poems, stories, videos, and artwork for consideration. The submissions queue here at Gnarled Oak is so good I sometimes feel like my email is a journal in and of itself, and a good one at that. I can’t publish everything, of course, but everything is read and appreciated.

Thank you also to all of Gnarled Oak’s readers, especially those who help promote and share the work that appears here. This would be nothing without the support of Gnarled Oak’s readers and the community that has grown up around this journal. So thank you for reading and for sharing. Someday a poem is going to go viral like a cat video; I just know it!

While we’re imagining that better world, maybe we can imagine a world in which we stop blowing each other up. Can poetry and artwork, stories and videos help bring that world about? I don’t know. Some days it seems like it doesn’t make a bit of difference. But maybe it does.

And so I’m thankful to all of you who share your words, ideas, stories and visions with the rest of us. You make the world a better place. You give hope, understanding, perspective, insight. I believe that helps. I know it doesn’t hurt.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
November 2015


Gnarled Oak — Issue 5: The Globe in My Pocket: Read online | Read the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)

Mountains Will Break Your Heart, If You Let Them

by on Nov 20, 2015

Go, little one, stake your tent in temple grass.
Tread ruthlessly on hominid bones
ground to powder eons ago,
fine as the cornsilk compacts
of your grandmothers.

Scrape your sandals on fragile flowers
that cover the lava fields,
smothering bones of the iiwi,
alala and o’o birds.

Their age is finished.
They know it.
Trample now, while you still have time.


Trish Saunders divides her time between Honolulu and Seattle. Her poems have been published in Gnarled Oak, Silver Birch Press, Off the Coast and Right Hand Pointing.

Nightswimmer’s Purgatorial

by on Nov 19, 2015

Not drowning in regrets, but he’s out too far,
where the rip-tide waylays him. He swallows
a lung-full. It proves easier to drift
even further lake-ward rather than swim in
to his clothes and keys. Go with the current,
he figures. He reaches an island’s beach strip,
it’s a couple acres, unpopulated. He spits
out the lake, then waits for morning light
to make an attempt at the mainland.
Strength can renew with a few hours’ rest.
He’ll try, if no boaters pass sooner.
There could be a search, if a beachcomber
stumbles on his shirt and shoes
by the high-line where the tide turns.
The Nightswimmer, weakened, winded,
doesn’t know how this will resolve,
but he isn’t drowning, yet.


Todd Mercer, a middle-brow writer, won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015. His digital chapbook Life-wish Maintenance appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Recent poetry and fiction appear in Eunoia Review, Kentucky Review, The Legendary, Literary Orphans, Lost Coast Review and Softblow Journal.

across the open sea

by on Nov 18, 2015

–for Laura, in response to an admonition not to count the waves

sailing is not my profession
but i understand the metaphors
the talk of wind and waves
of safe harbors and clear skies
of trusting the captain who
has prepared and knows
every port along the way

but i am so long robbed
of the sight of land
of blossomed trees and
golden sand between my toes
that i cannot rest until
i see the captain’s charts
know at the very least
how far until next port
and something under my feet
not in constant motion

what good-hearted captain
would leave me swabbing a deck
deny me a glimpse at the maps
when one look in my eyes
one look into my soul
would tell him how close
how very close i have come
to losing hope on this
open sea


j.lewis is an internationally published poet, musician, and nurse practitioner. His poetry and music reflect the difficulty and joy of human interactions, sometimes drawing inspiration from his decades of experience in healthcare. When he is not writing, composing, or diagnosing, he is likely on a kayak, exploring and photographing the waterways near his home in California.

China Seagull

by on Nov 17, 2015

The least of three seagulls, you, the flightless one, yearning after your fellows, are the unlikeliest muse. But you have survived.

I remember my delight at this gift – three in a box, delicate in tissue – from my father. He understood me. We shared this soaring love, floating on the stiff sea breeze.

Wings were broken in my clumsy adolescence. Three became two, became one.

You were hidden away in dusty corners, in boxes or bags, out of sight. So when did you emerge? How did I find you, where have you been?

You perch on my windowsill, companion of stones, shells and crystals, gazing at the sunrise, the full moon, the garden birds, starling flocks. Survival brings its own contentment, you tell me. You are always looking up.


Jo Waterworth lives and writes in Glastonbury, UK, where she is a mature student studying creative Writing and Ceramics at Bath Spa University. She has been published online and in print, most recently in the anthology 21 Reasons for Choosing Jeremy Corbin, and has a pamphlet with Poetry Space of Bristol. She blogs about her writing journey at Jo’swriting.


by on Nov 13, 2015

While out on the boat we see an eagle
sliding over still water, hunting fish.
She flies with grace and skill: daring, regal.

The Wisconsin morning lolls, almost full-
y open, water lilies yellowish.
While out on the boat we see an eagle

glide.  Feathered lightning, she drops down to pull
up her late breakfast, a favorite dish.
She flies with grace and skill, daring, regal,

to the upper part of a pine, watchful—
a breeze stirs branches, some lazy reeds swish.
While out on the boat we see an eagle—

they had almost disappeared.  We’re grateful
enough survived, their journey not finished.
She flies with grace and skill: daring, regal.

Love, you look so relaxed, it’s wonderful.
We had hoped to see raptors, got our wish.
While out on the boat we see an eagle—
she flies with grace and skill: daring, regal.


Kenneth Pobo has a book forthcoming from Blue Light Press called Bend Of Quiet. His recent work has been in: Weber: The Contemporary West, Floating Bridge, The Queer South (anthology), and elsewhere.

Year of Glass

by on Nov 12, 2015

When I was a teenager, my parents took us to Wisconsin.
There was a dock, we have a picture
of my grandmother before her funeral and the glassy-eyed lake
eating the remnants of youth.

My brother was shorter, and fat, and he sat in the boat next to me.
Quiet and angry like a round fly.
I was tall and thin and hated my hair.
Fragile; white egg of adolescence.

I am a beekeeper of years.
I forget details
my grandmother’s face, her favorite shoes
how she sounded coming up the stairs

so many blue winters.
So many families like camels,
mothers retaining children. Nursing homes,
the clink of spoon in tea,
sugared donuts, a jewelry shop down the street.
Men pass in and out buying rings.
Women say yes, women say no.
We age and the lake forgets our names, if she ever knew them.
Year of glass.


A native of Oregon, Katie Gleason lives in Arizona with her husband and two rescued greyhounds. She is a graduate of Portland State University.  She has been a social worker for ten years, and she is a student of The Writers Studio.