Issue 3: Blue Vegetarian Lions (Apr-May 2015) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, prose, videos, and artwork from writers and artists around the world.
Love Is in the Air — Neil Ellman
crescent moon — Laurie Kolp
Column — Janet & Cheryl Snell
& in the dream — Marcia Arrieta
Everything but the Sky — Swoon
That Sinking Feeling — Joseph Farley
Solar Therapy — Michele S. Cornelius
To: That Bird So Small I Mistook You for a Floater — Barbara Young
The Trees in Buena — Seth Jani
He Realized the City Was the Abstraction — W. Jack Savage
Rendered — Richard King Perkins II
Mary at 30 Thinks about 60 — Kenneth Pobo
Mary at 60 Remembers 30 — Kenneth Pobo
Sisters — Shloka Shankar
Penelopiad — Jade Anouka
These Hands — Debbie Strange
Buddha & Co. — Howie Good
Wastage — Bill Waters
Poem Without Words — Dick Jones
Camberwell Old Cemetery — Jean Morris
waxing moon — Eric Burke
Omen — Sonja Johanson
The Episodic West — W. Jack Savage
Errant — Lawrence Elliott
Sakura Yama — Bobie (Yves Bommenel)
microwords — Herb Kauderer
Ode to a Writing Prompt — Yoni Hammer-Kossoy
Fish in Bowls Are Like Bears in a Circus — Trish Saunders
Holding the Moon — Laura M. Kaminski
On the Beauty of Nature — Dane Cervine
Ode to a Bee — Michele S. Cornelius
Hidden Flowers — Laura M. Kaminski
pick-your-own — Julie Bloss Kelsey
The Red Drum — Marie Craven
It was probably early November, back in ‘96, one of the best times of year here in Austin when the summer heat has broken and the first cold fronts start rolling in. I was in grad school at UT Austin at the time and one especially nice day my fellow students and I filed into the bare off-white room with the scuffed up walls and mismatched chairs somewhere in the bowels of the Communications Building where our weekly graduate screenwriting seminar met.
Our professor, Robert Foshko—Uncle Bob, after he and my aunt married a few years prior—usually started with some story from his years working as a writer and producer during the golden age of TV that would serve to illuminate and somehow tie together our weekly discussion. Or perhaps he would talk about some obscure film from which we could all learn something about writing, and then we would dive into our pages and the critique of the good, bad and ugly in all our writing. Bob wasn’t afraid to tell us where we’d gone wrong or to tell us what we had done well either, which for some teachers is the harder trick.
He was unyielding in his demand for our best work and always honest in his assessments yet kind at the same time. You always knew he was on your side even when your writing that week was lousy. Though I abandoned screenwriting for poetry and fiction, the lessons I learned in his class have continued to influence my writing and my teaching.
He was forever reminding us not to be afraid to leave things unsaid, to show and not tell. Our audiences are smart people, he’d tell us. They will figure things out and appreciate your letting them do so.
But on that particular November day, he stared at us with his inscrutable expression, took a deep breath as if about to gently tear into some especially egregious writing and then did the seemingly unthinkable. He said, “You know, it’s a beautiful day out there. And you people are young. Go outside and enjoy yourselves today.”
I didn’t go to the library to read for my other classes. I didn’t study or write. I hopped on my bike and rode all over Austin that sunny autumn afternoon. We made up for that day of course, nothing is free after all, but years later, I still think it was one of the best things I learned in grad school.
Bob died unexpectedly earlier this month. It’s a painful blow to the whole family and to the many of us who loved him, but I found some measure of solace in this issue of Gnarled Oak.
All of the amazing work contained in this issue was selected and the order (mostly) set before he died, but somehow the work that came in the weeks after Bob’s passing helped me. It’s a strange serendipity, I know, but it makes me all the more grateful to have the honor and privilege to publish this journal and be able to fill it with such fine work. So, as always, my sincerest thanks to all who submitted and contributed work, all those who read Gnarled Oak, comment and share it with friends and networks. I can’t thank you enough.
Now, go outside and enjoy yourselves today. See you in July.
With gratitude and thanks,
James Brush, editor