Issue 13: Once Upon a Linear Time—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Oct 9, 2017


Issue 13: Once Upon a Linear Time (Aug-Sep 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)


first day of school — Anthony Q. Rabang

Once Upon a Linear Time — Marianne Paul

Before We Stepped Outside — James Croal Jackson

Trees and Names — Clyde Kessler

Saving Face — Mary McCarthy

Natural Light — Anna Kander

In the Temple — Marie Craven

Boat — Olivier Schopfer

abandoned home— Billy Antonio

On the Way to the Ocean — Marianne Szlyk

Three Poems — Tara Roeder

There Must Have Been Starfish — Jeanie Tomasko

summer heat — Mark Gilbert

into the night — Marianne Paul

Hollow — Steve Klepetar

Skeletons — Alixa Brobbey

Bad News — Helina Hookoomsing

parachute silks — Debbie Strange

our tracks — Marilyn Fleming

At the Edge of the Forest — Ben Groner III

Growing Alone — W. Jack Savage

In the Wadi — Devon Balwit

In Homage to Those Who Metamorphose
 — Sarah Bigham

Death Meditation — Marie Craven

country road — Jennifer Hambrick

Editor’s Note

I tend to say yes when volunteers are needed, which is how I wound up coaching soccer and leading a Cub Scout den (and getting way behind on Gnarled Oak). I did both of those things growing up and now that my son is old enough for these sorts of activities, I’m happy to help make them happen for him. It’s fun.

As a Cub Scout leader, I had the pleasure of taking a bunch of first grade boys for a nature walk last week.  Being quiet to listen for birds was tricky, but they discovered so much: rocks, caterpillars, mushrooms, dragonflies, fish and turtles. It was a joy to see these kids look beyond the playground and themselves to the natural world that exists even in one little pocket of the suburbs.

It’s a beautiful thing to open your eyes on what is old and all around in such a way that it all seems new. Seeing things through their young eyes was a gift, and it made me think of Gnarled Oak (because I was running late) and how through it we experience so much made new.

And I’ll leave it here because this issue ran so late. So, without further ado, let me just say thank you to our contributors for their work and our readers for their time. See you in a few weeks for an October issue that will hopefully be more on time.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
Oct 2017


Gnarled Oak — Issue 13: Once Upon a Linear Time: Read onlineRead the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)

country road

by on Sep 25, 2017


country road
even if we never
get there


A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jennifer Hambrick is the author of Unscathed (NightBallet Press).  Her poetry has been published in dozens of literary journals and anthologies worldwide, including the Santa Clara Review, Third Wednesday, Mad River Review, and Modern Haiku, has been translated into five languages, and has won prizes in numerous international competitions.  A classical singer and public radio broadcaster, Jennifer Hambrick lives in Columbus, Ohio.  Her blog, Inner Voices, is at

Death Meditation

by on Sep 22, 2017

(Watch Marie Craven’s video “Death Meditation” on Vimeo)

Editor’s note: From a poem by Ann Thompson. Full credits at Vimeo.


Marie Craven (Queensland, Australia) assembles short videos from poetry, music, voice, stills and moving images by various artists around the world. Created via the internet, the pieces are collaborative in a way that belongs to the 21st century, with open licensing and social networking key to the process. In 2016 her video ‘Dictionary Illustrations’ was awarded best film at the Ó Bhéal Poetry-Film Competition in Ireland. To see more:

In Homage to Those Who Metamorphose

by on Sep 21, 2017

Lithe and tanned, tattooed and bandana-ed, he caught every eye in an evening class of adult learners sharing notes and dreams plus breath mints and chips from the snack bar two stories below.

He tracked the action with a non-blinking gaze and shared deep-exhaled ideas, throaty words caressing the room–life truths from a biker Yoda in boots.

One evening toward the end of May he told the hushed room of imprisonment for violent offenses; anger management classes; parole; loss of parental rights; drug abuse; total, utter, visceral despair; and hate–mainly for himself, but directed at others.

You wouldn’t have liked me very much then, he said, striding out the door, leather-clad, helmet in hand.


Sarah Bigham teaches, writes, and paints in Maryland where she lives with her kind chemist wife, their three independent cats, an unwieldy herb garden, several chronic pain conditions, and near-constant outrage at the general state of the world tempered with love for those doing their best to make a difference. Find her at

In the Wadi (after Armor by Cristina Troufa)

by on Sep 20, 2017

Armor by Cristina Troufa

In the Wadi

Just beneath my skin sits a wadi of thorns;
a fissure deepening as the years rage through.

If you would travel there, protect yourself.
Carry water for when the sirocco desiccates,

a blanket for the midnight chill. Adapt
to the granular, the sere, alert to the biting

things that live in the cracks. Meet each
directly. In time, like any who complete

a quest, you will be rewarded with a lush
bloom, a small season of furious reprieve.


Devon Balwit writes and teaches in Portland, OR. She is the author of five chapbooks, which, along with her poems, can be found if you look for them. When not writing, she is her dog’s best friend.

Cristina Troufa is a Portuguese artist born and based in Porto, Portugal. Cristina holds a Licentiate Degree in Painting (1998) and a Masters Degree in Painting (2012), both in FBAUP (University of Fine Arts of Porto). Since 1995 she has participated in collective and individual exhibitions, in Art Galleries and Cultural Spaces of Portugal, France, Spain, Italy, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Taiwan England and USA.

Growing Alone

by on Sep 19, 2017


W. Jack Savage is a retired broadcaster and educator. He is the author of seven books includingImagination: The Art of W. Jack Savage (  To date, more than sixty of Jack’s short stories and over nine-hundred of his paintings and drawings have been published worldwide. Jack and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California.

At the Edge of the Forest

by on Sep 18, 2017

after Fall Landscape by Julian Onderdonk, oil on board, 9in. x 12in.

In the first days of October,
the clearing always looks the same—

A sea of frenzied tawny tangled grass
keeping the bones of the birches
with their ochre crowns at bay,
and the colossal tree my grandfather
showed me as a boy,
set apart from the others, holy,
seeming to know more about
storms and droughts and seasons
than the rest of the woods,
its branches twisting and sprawling
(like all of our histories, he said)
and clothed in plumes of
chestnut and fire and wine

But the breath of autumn is passing
as he did; softly, swiftly,
with only the sound of a branch
breaking, a hip cracking,
taking with it the knowledge
that the tree is just another scaffolding;
a sweat-beaded promise, a protest
against decay, a hope born of
pattern and chance and time spent
straining toward the sun; a desire
blossoming from a hundred years of
memory and anticipation as it bears
the weight of a robin’s egg blue sky
caught between summer and
winter, morning and night,

somehow utterly unlike all
the other skies that came before it.


Ben Groner III (Nashville, TN), recipient of Texas A&M University’s 2014 Gordone Award for undergraduate poetry, has work published in Appalachian Heritage, Third Wednesday, New Mexico Review, Fourth & Sycamore, Texas Poetry Calendar, and elsewhere. You can see more of his work at Ben Groner III – Creative Writing

our tracks

by on Sep 15, 2017


our tracks
to the woodshed
soon there will be
that first bold lie


Marilyn Fleming is a writer of Asian forms of poetry primarily, tanka, haiku and haibun, and is currently studying sumi-e painting to add to her poetry collection. She loves the ‘less is more’ simplicity of Asian forms of poetry. She is a Wisconsin native who enjoys nature, poetry, gardening and retirement. She hopes to have her first book of tanka published by the end of the year.

parachute silks

by on Sep 14, 2017


Debbie Strange is a Canadian short form poet, haiga artist and photographer whose creative passions bring her closer to the world and to herself. She is the author of Warp and Weft: Tanka Threads (Keibooks 2015) and the haiku collection, A Year Unfolding (Folded Word 2017). Please visit her archive of published work at: Warp and Weft ~ Images and Words.

Bad News

by on Sep 13, 2017

From an over-decorated kitchen –
leafy vegetables wilting in the fridge –
a fly caresses the only orange
in an all but empty glass fruit bowl.

A woman imagines the mountains
of the swirling sea, that spirals
down her stainless steel

She loses her kitchen knives,
the covers of her pots and pans,
the partner to each pair
of slipper-socks,
the gunsmoke arguments,
her medical results,
and her keys.
The safety of her youth slips –
under the locked door and
out onto the streets.


Helina Hookoomsing is a short-story and poetry writer based in Mauritius. She was raised in London and is currently doing doctoral research in the field of anthrozoology. She has published poetry in the local Mauritian press and her short-stories have been published in editions of the trilingual Mauritian literary anthology, Collection Maurice. She facilitates creative writing clubs and workshops, and has performed at spoken word events around the island.