Issue 10: Dark Water—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Nov 28, 2016


Issue 10: Dark Water (Oct-Nov 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)


Inkchester — Jo Waterworth

‘A Man Was Lynched by Police Yesterday’
 — Howie Good

Ocean Watch — Mary McCarthy

Crossing — Alan Perry

Dark Water — Martha Magenta

There Is a Season #2 — Steve Tomasko

Shaky Hands — Cheyenne Bilderback

still not yet done — Adjei Agyei-Baah

Jake Forgets It — Todd Mercer

on that bench — Debbie Strange

Night of the Dead — Annie Prevost

Two Years Ceased — Ann Howells

What If a Tree — Richard Weaver

One Dream Opening into Many — Marie Craven

We Sat Outside — Jean Morris

With the County — Robert Joe Stout

Inside Job — Steve Tomasko

Purple Angel Bottom — Howie Good

Warm #115 — Darren C. Demaree

@ The Limekiln State Park II — Samantha Tetangco

monsoon — Goran Gatalica

Your Shadow — Jean Morris

Shorty, the Crow — Tricia Knoll

License — Larry D. Thacker

The Animals Are Gone — Steve Klepetar

in your old backyard — Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

a new silk scarf — Mary Kendall

love note — Christina Sng

Positive Vibration — John L. Stanizzi

Taking Off — Olivier Schopfer

Editor’s Note

I am a bit surprised that Gnarled Oak has made it to ten issues. When I launched it two years ago, I had no idea if I would even get any submissions let alone enough to publish even one issue. Needless to say, I’m thrilled that we’ve made it this far, and during this post-Thanksgiving season here in the US, let me just say how thankful I am for everyone who entrusts Gnarled Oak with their work and all who read and share this journal. My sincerest thanks.

In addition to post-Thanksgiving, it’s also post-election season here in the US. It’s been an ugly one for sure and it seems the internet has exploded with vitriol, fake news, propaganda, and poorly fact-checked memes. Fortunately, Gnarled Oak has helped keep me sane and hopefully you as well. It seems we’re navigating some dark waters indeed, something I wasn’t thinking of when I selected the title for this issue, but it seems apt on many levels.

When I started this project I wanted to add a bit of light and beauty to this little backroads corner the internet. And so we’ll continue with that project amid the ugliness around. Now more than ever. Thank you all for being a part of this.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
Nov 2016


Gnarled Oak — Issue 10: Dark Water: Read onlineRead the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)

Taking Off

by on Nov 25, 2016



Olivier Schopfer lives in Geneva, Switzerland, the city with the huge lake water fountain. He likes capturing the moment in haiku and photography. His work has appeared in The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 2014 as well as in numerous online and print journals. He also writes articles in French about etymology and everyday expressions at Olivier Schopfer raconte les mots.

Positive Vibration

by on Nov 24, 2016

             East Hartford, Connecticut

I threw bricks at the windows of the school,
and I stole a plastic skeleton from
the Prospect Drug just before Halloween.
I started smoking Kents when I was 12,
and when the Scout leaders had trusted me
to sort the uniforms in the basement
I thought it would be a good idea to
dress up like a Girl Scout and make Greg laugh.
Of course I got caught in my skirt and blouse
by Father Shanley, who called me a snake.
They finally tossed me out in the eighth grade.
The vibrations of the Beach Boys were good,
but years would pass before I really knew
what the positive ones were all about.


John L. Stanizzi is the author of Ecstasy Among Ghosts, SleepwalkingDance Against the WallAfter the Bell, and Hallelujah Time!  His poems have appeared in American Life In Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Rust + Moth, The New York Quarterly, Rattle, and others.  He teaches literature at Manchester Community College.  Find him online at

a new silk scarf

by on Nov 22, 2016



Mary Kendall lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and her dog. Mary is a retired teacher. Her poetry has appeared in many online and print journals and she is the author of Erasing the Doubt, published by Finishing Line Press in 2015. Mary is co-author of A Giving Garden published in 2009. Her poetry blog is A POET IN TIME.

The Animals Are Gone

by on Nov 18, 2016

They left in the night, taking with them
the scents of the world. First there was
disbelief. “This must be a joke,” we smiled

at each other, and we set out to find them
in forests and fields. But our dogs wouldn’t
come when we called, even when we offered

steak and bones, even when we whistled
in that pitch we ourselves could never hear.
The sky was empty of birds, leaf-heavy

trees silent on this late summer afternoon.
We ran to the park, but the peacock cages
stood empty. Even feathers had vanished

or blown away on rising wind. No geese
waddled by the river, no ducks bobbing
just beyond the shore. Cats were gone, milk

souring in their bowls. No midnight yowling
at the fence line, no swarms of gnats.
Suddenly we were alone with the empty seas.

We lay face down in mud, hoping to catch
a glimpse of frogs or toads, or hear a familiar
croak, or a clack of crickets disturbing the high grass.


Steve Klepetar’s work has appeared widely. His poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Recent collections include My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto and The Li Bo Poems, both from Flutter Press, and Family Reunion, forthcoming from Big Table Publishing.


by on Nov 17, 2016

I got a fishing license this morning. It’s good
for small game besides fish – coyote, beaver,
skunks, and groundhogs allowed year round.

A varmint is a problem beast, a nuisance
whose extermination is encouraged, an invasive
vermin offering potential guiltless pleasure hunting.

The last time I went hunting I killed a groundhog
with a .410 shotgun, perhaps the most inefficient
way to take a groundhog but I wanted a challenge.

I stalked the cow pasture then sat still spying
the quick starts and stops of attentive movement,
the rising heads, trying to estimate the stations

of den holes across the field, let them enter before
creeping a few feet closer, a statue when one would
pop up from another backdoor hole, freezing, then

moving again, closer. We danced like this for half
an hour until I was only fifteen feet from an entry,
sat cross-legged in green and brown, waiting

for the groundhog’s boredom to tempt it. I made
a noise. Why would anything be out here to hurt it?
A slow head popped up, then the torso half way

higher to see better, hindquarters stance of curiosity,
nose tilted up, I imagine smelling breakfast, cigarette
smoke on my breath as I exhaled partly and held,

offering the soft squeeze and explosion of shot
peppering up instant flecks of dirt and blood, no
movement then but the puff of dust vanishing.

I heard the whining belly full of babies before
pulling her out of her hole. I verged on a panic
threatening to rush me from the field with a cry

of absolute shame. But I forced myself to stand over
the body until all was finally quiet and the stretched
womb grew still. I turned and snapped the stock off

my shotgun with one strike on a stone and tossed
the weapon in the hole, toed the body in over my
surrendered gun and nudged the berm of dirt over it all.


Larry D. Thacker is a writer from Tennessee. His poetry can be found in journals and magazines such as The Still Journal, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Tennessee, Mojave River Review, Broad River Review, Harpoon Review, Rappahannock Review, and Appalachian Heritage. He is presently taking his MFA in poetry and fiction at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He is the author of Mountain Mysteries: The Mystic Traditions of Appalachia, the poetry chapbooks, Voice Hunting and Memory Train and the forthcoming full collection Drifting in Awe.

Shorty, the Crow

by on Nov 16, 2016

The bent man on a bridge in Amsterdam
feeds crows from his hand.

We are suburban beings, you and I.
I don’t need you to need me that way.

We found each other when you were young,
fledgling with blood-red throat and blue eyes.

That I do not speak like angels doesn’t matter.
You come when I caw out a rasp-hello.

You bring blackness and shine
To the street lamp, my offer on a mailbox.

Three bows, three cucks. I bow back.
Are we friends for fat and kitten kibble?

Did I help you through last winter,
you with short tail feathers?

I admire the risks you take. Trust
that I will see you on the roof.

As I bend down to pull the willowherb,
you fly low, over. Black shadow is back.

You’re ready for me to call again.
I do, every day,

call out my loneliness.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet with more than a casual interest in crows, creeks, and climate change. Her poetry collections include Ocean’s Laughter (Aldrich Press, 2016) and a chapbook Urban Wild (Finishing Line Press, 2014).  Website:

Your Shadow

by on Nov 15, 2016



Your Shadow

Five in the morning, when you
stumble out of bed to go and pee
then peek between the curtains
at the weather (blue enough),
there’s the shadow of this house
projected on the white façade
of the pretty house opposite,
like glimpsing your own shadow
on the face of a stranger facing you –
the shape of your sameness,
your difference, the disjunction…

Waking later to a sun higher
in the sky, dissolving everything
in frothing seaside light,
you walk along the shore and,
startled, see it still – that lovely,
unexpected shadow follows you.


Jean Morris lives in London, takes photos, translates from French and Spanish, and surprised herself last year by seriously getting into poetry. She most recently had some micro-poems published in Otata.