Issue 4: A Parachute in the Wind (Jul-Aug 2015) is an unthemed issue featuring poetry, prose, videos, and artwork from writers and artists around the world.
In the Beginning — Tony Press
common s[un]flower — Robin Turner
texas dandelion — Robin Turner
bindweed — Robin Turner
I confess — Caroline Skanne
Old Gods — Luis Neer
Security — Marie Craven
A Reverence for Rust — Debbie Strange
old broken gate — Brian Robertson
Fragments — JK Anowe
Graffiti — Miriam Sagan
Crooked Smiles — Arika Elizenberry
Bystander — Mary McCarthy
Dog Whistle Effect — Lauren Yates
Angel — Olivier Schopfer
searching — Kala Ramesh
twigs — Duncan Richardson
Elegy for Apologies I Will Never See — Lauren Yates
Wabash & Balbo — Todd Mercer
Walking in Chinatown on Sunday, You Do Get Lonely — Trish Saunders
Lime Light — Marilyn ‘Misky’ Braendeholm
Unmusically — Sheikha A.
Sanyi — Saddiq Dzukogi & Laura M. Kaminski
Lines on a Postcard — Joan Colby
deep dreaming — Marianne Paul
Night Court — Marie Craven
wilma suddenly — Angie Werren
red rover — Angie Werren
I Planted a Lemon Tree in My Mouth — Tonya Sauer
Sweet Tea — Roslyn Ross
Considering Luminescence / Consideraciones Sobre la Luz — Eduardo Yagüe
August is a weird time of year. There is a certain cognitive dissonance that comes from starting school and returning to the classroom in the midst of summer. Sure, it’s almost September and then you might start to feel autumn coming on farther north, but here in Texas it’s high summer and will be for quite some time. Maybe to native Texans it doesn’t seem weird, but I started my school years and went to high school in northern states and that idea that school starting equals autumn is pretty well locked in, never mind the fact that I’ve been here for twenty-seven years.
This year coming back to school brought me back to something I’d put out of my mind for the summer: the shredder, that big clunky wonderful machine that devours huge piles of paper and rapidly churns them into confetti. I kind of like shredding papers. I like feeding that beast, and standing there in all that white noise is sort of soothing.
Because I teach in a juvenile correctional facility, I shred a lot of old student work. Whatever the kids choose not to take with them when they leave goes down the shredder in the interest of protecting their privacy. So part of closing out my classroom in early June involves shredding all the unclaimed work: tests, quizzes, journals, worksheets, essays, and, yes, stories and poems. Some of them quite good. It makes me wish more of the kids I teach would recognize their own talents and value their voices at least enough to take their work with them out to the Free. But they don’t, and so I shred.
Last spring, whilst peacefully shredding away, I looked down to see that I was shredding the wrong pile. “Noooooooo!” I nearly yelled like Luke finding out Vader was his father, for I was shredding all of my brilliant Notes to Self that I’d written over the course of last school year. Things about what I want to do differently this year, ideas for lessons, activities and projects. You see, I was determined to reinvent things and rethink what I do in the classroom. It’s a useful exercise for teachers to do, I think, to throw out the old and try new ideas. And I was going to do that.
So, I started this August with a bit of trepidation. Not only is it too hot to be in school, but most of my ideas for this year are confetti, recycled months ago. So, I’m starting again by trying to re-reinvent things, and it’s exciting. It’s New 2.0. And I like that.
And speaking of things new and exciting, I hope you’ve found this issue of Gnarled Oak to be as exciting as I did. So thank you to all of you (or all y’all as we say in Texas) who submit (and resubmit) and read and share all this amazing work. You help me—and hopefully others—see the world in new, surprising, beautiful, sometimes heart-breaking and often wonderful ways. Even in August.
With gratitude and thanks,
James Brush, editor