Issue 8: The Somnambulist’s Notebook—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on May 31, 2016


Issue 8: The Somnambulist’s Notebook (Apr-May 2016) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, 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)


longest night… — Archana Kapoor Nagpal

Ring-Around-Your-Dreams — Steve Klepetar

The Perigee Moon — Tricia Knoll

Dream of Flying — Michele S. Cornelius

The Somnambulist’s Notebook — Steve Klepetar

Joining the Lotus Eaters — Marie Craven

Making Friends with the Bear — Jo Waterworth

Pine — Arielle Lipset

The body that gleams in the depths — Luisa A. Igloria

Medieval saints could read hearts — Rebecca Valley

Sweet Insanity — Ehi’zogie Iyeomoan

Wasteland — Olivier Schopfer

Waiting — Marianne Paul

Dragon’s Breath — Mary McCarthy

Murmurations — Jennifer Hernandez

Worried Man Blues — Harold Whit Williams

Lilies of the Field — Marie Craven

Rural Road — Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

Train — John L. Stanizzi

Homestead — Debbie Strange

high — Güliz Vural

haiku haiku hai — Marianne Paul

Boy — Casey Stein & Jamie Wimberly

Towards a Larger Physical Stoicism
 — Harold Whit Williams

Washes the Other — Todd Mercer

Winning — Jade Anouka

Dear Zion Canyon, — Carolyn Martin

Reserving Judgment
 — Laura M. Kaminski & Saddiq Dzukogi

brushstrokes — Marianne Paul

Compline — Luisa A. Igloria

Editor’s Note

Simon the Cat likes to bite me sometimes. I don’t really know why. I’m sure he has his reasons, and in the grand scheme of feline justice it all probably makes sense. I’m sure I wronged him weeks or months ago, and as with the US Supreme Court, it sometimes takes months to hand down a decision. The decision tonight: bite.

So I’m sitting here trying to come up with an editor’s note worthy of this issue, and this cat is circling my legs, accepting head scratches and sometimes going for the cheap shot. Does he know he’s going to the vet later in the week for his annual vaccinations?

Or perhaps he’s telling me that I have nothing to add here this time because this issue is so wonderful. Why mess it up, James, he’s saying.

So, I’ll follow Simon’s advice (he is on the masthead, after all) and just say thanks to everyone who submitted, read, shared, commented and enjoyed this issue. I’m probably not supposed to say this as an impartial editor, but it’s one of my favorites.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
May 2016


Gnarled Oak — Issue 8: The Somnambulist’s Notebook: Read online | Read the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)


by on May 27, 2016

“Will the bird rise flaming out of broken light?” ~ Karen An-hwei Lee

When your arms encircled my waist from behind,
I thought a bird had come to light on my shoulder—

and I could not speak immediately for feeling
how densely overgrown the floor of the forest had become,

how at odd times in the night a ringing begins
on the shore of one ear and echoes across to the other.

You walked across the barrier and met me at the gate,
and it took minutes for us to realize we were in tears.

Now, days after, I look around: everything the eye
picks out wants to be the color of a sunset, of clementines.

Imagine small words like fragments of bone:
ten of them strung together are called a mystery;

and I know I am unqualified, but sometimes
I dare to address the future in intimate terms.


Luisa A. Igloria is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Prize, Utah State University Press), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, Montreal, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015.


by on May 26, 2016



Marianne Paul is a Canadian novelist and poet. In recent years, she has become fascinated with minimalist poetry, studying haiku, tanka, haiga, and haibun. Her work has been published in many contemporary journals, both online and in print. Learn more about Marianne’s writing at and on twitter @mariannpaul.

Reserving Judgment

by , on May 25, 2016

you do not even enter
an empty courtroom
with a voice
you take it off
and let it wait for you
by the doorstep
like a footwear

you do not even enter
an empty page
with an opinion
about what makes
a poem
you take it off
and let it wait for you
at the side of the desk
like a dictionary

later, perhaps, will
be a time for voice
later to check up
on definitions,
but for now, you
are alone
between the lines:

let your ink be
barefoot, let it


Saddiq Dzukogi is a Nigerian poet and the author of three poetry collections in English. He is also Poetry Editor for the online journal Expound.

Laura M Kaminski grew up in Nigeria, went to school in New Orleans, and currently lives in rural Missouri. She is an Associate Editor at Right Hand Pointing. More about her poetry is available in her interview with THE STRONG LETTERS.

Dear Zion Canyon,

by on May 24, 2016

This is just to say thanks for Patriarchs
and peregrines, for rock-carved skies
and angels landing in your clouds;

for hanging gardens climbing through
Navajo sandstone, for maidenhair
wreathing through your river’s writhe;

for staircases stepping down from Bryce:
a paradox of deserts, floods, droughts,
and terraces that end without a thought;

for prince’s plumes and penstemon,
for the checkerboard I scaled as aspen
jittered gold in this early frost;

and, most of all, for straightening my bent –
the hazard of my poet’s mind – to wrest
a narrative from your lyrical intent.


After forty years in the academic and business worlds, Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, OR, where she gardens, writes, and plays with creative friends. Her poems have appeared in publications through the US and UK and her second collection, The Way a Woman Knows, was released by The Poetry Box, Portland, OR,  in 2015. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red-penciled “extremely maudlin,” she is still amazed she has continued to write.

Washes the Other

by on May 20, 2016

Try to dig thorns from your own hands.
Now let someone use both of theirs
to clear the fester that’s too self
for The Self to maneuver.
What a challenge to disprove the value
of cooperation. May as well dog out
opposable thumbs. Thanks
for having my back. Glad to
cover yours. Get some shut-eye.
It’s crazy to go this world solo
and sit constant watch. I could worry
the wood and infection from my own fingers,
but not quickly, perhaps not extract
the complete prickers. They break to pieces.
Or I ask for assistance. I offer it to,
what help these two hands can manage.
We should be freer with it, faster
to see the case for interdependence.
Try lifting yourself completely off the ground.
When that doesn’t happen, call me over.


Todd Mercer won the Grand Rapids Festival of the Arts Flash Fiction Award for 2015, the first Woodstock Writers Festival Flash Fiction Award, and two Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Prizes. His digital chapbook, Life-wish Maintenance appeared at Right Hand Pointing. Mercer’s recent poetry and fiction appear in Bartleby Snopes, Eunoia Review, Magnolia Review, The Lake, Literary Orphans, Main Street Rag Anthologies, SOFTLOW Journal and Two Cities Review.

Towards a Larger Physical Stoicism

by on May 19, 2016

Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.
– Walt Whitman


Dust kicked up of a summer afternoon.
A boy grounds one straight to shortstop,

Takes off running. A wild throw high
Over first base. The boy sprints for second,

Another high wild throw into outfield.
A man, an older man, potbellied, laughing

Behind third base fence. The man waving,
Shouting. The older man still laughing,

Lighting his pipe. Both would imagine
Benny Hill’s theme if they’d ever heard

Such a song. The ball with a mind of its own,
Rolling under the left fielder’s legs to lay

Like a fossil in fescue. Tying run home,
The boy rounds third. The older man’s

Laughter, sweet incense of pipe tobacco.
The man shouting Go! Go! The ball thrown

Wild from outfield. This boy sliding home
Kicking up dust of a summer afternoon.


Harold Whit Williams is guitarist for the Austin, Texas rock band Cotton Mather. Recipient of the 2014 Mississippi Review Poetry Prize and a featured poet in the 2014 University of North Texas Kraken Reading Series, his collection, Backmasking, was winner of the 2013 Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press. His latest collection of poems, Lost in the Telling, is available from FutureCycle Press.


by , on May 18, 2016

(Watch Jamie Wimberly & Casey Stein’s video of “Boy” on Vimeo)


Jamie Wimberly is a long-time poet and visual artist.  His poetry is published regularly, most recently in Haiku Journal, and he was named as one of the best poets on Twitter (@haiku_america).  Jamie is also an award-winning painter, with his work nominated for the Whitney Biennial, and exhibitions in galleries in Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York City.  Poetry and visual arts have come together as part of the “poem video series” which entail collaborations with emerging filmmakers in an attempt to make poetry more accessible and relevant in a digital age.

Casey Stein fell into filmmaking at a very young age thanks to the influence of late 90’s skateboarding videos, and soon branched out to explore all aspects of the medium. Equal parts director and cinematographer with roots deep-seated in the arts, Casey has always been around creativity and technology and is a sponge for all things associated.

His short film, Boy on a Bike won the 7th Annual Emerging Pro contest hosted by HDVideoPro Magazine. His work has been featured in numerous festivals around the world as well The New York Times, Spin Magazine, Nowness, Fader, and NME among others.

Casey graduated NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Kanbar Institute of Film & Television and lives in Brooklyn, New York. You may spot him riding over the Williamsburg Bridge on his bike.

haiku haiku hai

by on May 17, 2016



Marianne Paul is a Canadian novelist and poet. In recent years, she has become fascinated with minimalist poetry, studying haiku, tanka, haiga, and haibun. Her work has been published in many contemporary journals, both online and in print. Learn more about Marianne’s writing at and on twitter @mariannpaul.