In the Temple

by on Aug 30, 2017

(Watch Marie Craven’s video “In the Temple” on Vimeo)

Editor’s note: From a poem by Candida Baker. 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:

Natural Light

by on Aug 29, 2017

The desire to be seen is
Slide a mirror to me,
under the door,
here in this dark room,
and I will find a way
to flash semaphores.


Anna Kander, MSW, earned her social work degree in the Midwest. Her poetry and fiction are slated to appear in Breadcrumbs, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and elsewhere. Find her at

Saving Face

by on Aug 28, 2017

After it’s over
I’ll count my spoons
and line the plates up
and swear no one ever
took anything from me
I wasn’t ready to give.
If I do this well enough
I might even convince myself.
But I feel the cracks
spreading underneath
my fresh plaster,
and the pipes are leaking
somewhere in the cellar.
I don’t think I’ll get away
with my pretense
of order smooth as an egg
without a cloud or question
to mark its perfect surface.
I think I must go down
with all the other
too rough and raggedy
to let in the house,
too mad to expect
anything less.


Mary McCarthy has always been a writer, but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many print and online journals, including Third Wednesday, Earth’s Daughters, Verse Virtual, and the Ekphrastic Review. Her electronic chapbook Things I was Told Not to Think About is available as a free download from Praxis Magazine.

Trees and Names

by on Aug 25, 2017

Trees are eating a road near Chernobyl.
They have rooted through asphalt like insanity
and hunger, and have cloned many more willows
full of birds. We hope all of this is the health,
the recovery, three times more like a new heaven
baptizing itself in the songs of wrens and kingfishers
at the edge of starlight. Yes, the trees feed
shadows to the nests, and a few stray tabbies
claw into the scents and voices, so we learn.
Yes an old woman follows us, and relinquishes
her name because it was carved into a small tree
by her first lover more than seventy autumns ago.
The name is illegible now inside her mind.


Clyde Kessler lives in Radford, VA with his wife Kendall and thier son Alan. Kendall illustrated a book of his poems that has just been published: Fiddling At Midnight’s Farmhouse (Cedar Creek Publishing).

Before We Stepped Outside

by on Aug 24, 2017

my head

soft hands
planted roots
on my scalp
spring warmth

cherry blossoms
in your laugh

on our tongues


James Croal Jackson’s poetry has appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Rust + Moth, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. His first chapbook, The Frayed Edge of Memory (Writing Knights Press, 2017) is forthcoming. He is the 2016 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest winner in his current city of Columbus, Ohio. Visit him at

Once Upon a Linear Time

by on Aug 23, 2017

i don’t believe in space wormholes, time travel, events unravelling counter-clockwise. what is becomes what was. time is an arrow. resurrection comes only in memory, the rising of the dead, the rolling back of the stone in mind and dream. this is the dimension of ghost where physical laws don’t rule and time isn’t an arrow shot from a bow. the constant struggle to keep from slipping into randomness. forces weakening until connections loosen like petals falling from the autumn flower. although once upon a linear time everything was as simple as leaping over a puddle in spring.

the lilac not yet
in full bloom and already
florets in decay


Marianne Paul is a Canadian poet and novelist. She won the 2016 Jane Reichhold Memorial Haiga Competition multi-media category, and the 2016 Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku International, Canadian division. To learn more of her work, visit and

first day of school

by on Aug 22, 2017


first day of school
the sun’s warmth
in my lunchbox


Anthony Q. Rabang finished his BS Biology at the University of the Philippines – Baguio in 2015. He started writing haiku, senryu, and haibun while soul-searching in January 2016. He has poems published in the Asahi Haikuist Network, The Mainichi Failed Haiku, World Haiku Review, Contemporary Haibun Online, Cattails, Wildplum, Akitsu Quarterly, Akisame, Makoto, Presence and Under the Basho. Website: Short Pauses.

Issue 13 Call for Submissions

by on Jun 18, 2017

This is the Official Call for Submissions for Issue 13 of Gnarled Oak, which will start in July and be an unthemed issue.

Gnarled Oak accepts poetry, prose, videos and artwork. I don’t impose rules on what is and isn’t acceptable (other than the no hate speech, no pornography one), but as a general guideline, I tend to favor shorter works, which for our purposes means poems of less than 20 lines, prose less than 1000 words, and videos less than 7 minutes long. Regarding form and style, I’m open to almost anything. Check out previous issues to get a sense of things.

I’ll be reading for Issue 13 through July 7 and will plan to start the week of July 24 August 14. Please visit the Submissions page for more in-depth guidelines. I look forward to seeing what comes this way, and I hope you’ll send something and help spread the word. Thank you.

Issue 12: Refuge—Summary, Contents & Editor’s Note

by on Jun 17, 2017


Issue 12: Refuge (Apr-May 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)


Lenting — Tiffany Grantom

i woke this morning — Neil Creighton

Avoidance — Mary McCarthy

Landmine in a Field of Flowers — Matt Mullins

snow angel — Tom Sacramona

The Island — Barbara Young

Look Both Ways — Jane Williams

The Two Ends — Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

Song for Awe & Dread— Tommy Becker

long night moon — Deborah P. Kolodji

whiteout — Marianne Paul

Practice Makes Perfect — Elizabeth Vrenios

Enchant(ed) — Misha Penton

highway dusk — Malintha Perera

Sacred Stones — Lawrence Elliott

Trees — Olivier Schopfer

The Spoilt Season — Steve Klepetar

Ode to the Corner of the Drug House Down the
 Gravel Road Off the Two Lane Highway #51
 — Darren C. Demaree

The Stars Are All Dead and Have Fallen
 — Barbara Young

heel cups — Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

usual questions — Christina Sng

crow moon — Debbie Strange

Listen — Ken Poyner

Anatomy — Marie Craven

Refuge — Steve Klepetar

Editor’s Note

This week I took my son to the Bullock Museum of Texas History to check out the Stevie Ray Vaughn exhibit. They had his old Stratocaster under glass, beautiful and beaten to near ruin.

“Why does it look all messed up?” my son asked.

We turned and watched some footage of him performing “Pride and Joy” on Austin City Limits. “He could play like that,” I said, “because he practiced so much that his guitar wound up looking like that,” I said pointing back to the old Strat.

Maybe it’s true, or maybe he bought it already beat up. Still, there’s a good lesson there about practice, I think.

Later, I sat at the table to do a little reading and work out exactly what I would write here, cup of coffee topped with whipped cream on the table beside me. The fly that Simon the Cat has been too lazy to kill the past two days buzzed nearby and then I heard more intense buzzing, high pitched and fast. Desperate.

I glanced at my coffee cup just in time to see the fly disappear beneath the whipped cream to a hideous high-temperature doom, those buzzing notes still ringing in my ears.

Then after a moment of silence for the fly and a quick trip to the coffee pot for a fresh cup, I continued reading Fear of Music by Jonathan Lethem, an analysis of one of my favorite albums, Fear of Music by Talking Heads. That album, and their next one, Remain in Light, are the kinds of work that make me want to write until my computer and pen look like Stevie Ray’s guitar.

I’ve a suspicion that pens and computers of many of Gnarled Oak’s contributors must look pretty well-used too. How else does such fine work as appears here come about except through long practice and hard work. And coffee, too, perhaps.

* * *

This issue ended three weeks ago, and so my apologies for the tardiness. But here we are at last.

I especially liked this issue for the number of videos I was able to include (thanks to Dave Bonta at Moving Poems for a well-timed shout-out to Gnarled Oak that resulted in substantially more video submissions than usually come my way).

And, as always, thank you to all who submit to and read Gnarled Oak.

With gratitude and thanks,

James Brush, editor
Jun 2017


Gnarled Oak — Issue 12: Refuge: Read onlineRead the PDF (right-click/save-as to download)