Book Reviews

Diary of a Mad Poet

Jonah Raskin’s review of Diary of a Mad Poet: Robin Gabbert’s new book of poems, Diary of a Mad Poet—her first published book—comes out of pain and loss, fire and cancer, but they are also poems of healing and joy, family ties and friendships. Some take place in the far away past, others in the near present. Some experiment with form and the arrangement of words on the page. In one poem the author asks “Has God deserted you? Was he ever there to?” Altogether, Gabbert’s individual poems add up to a portrait of a life lived fully. They offer hope to readers like the author herself who have come through troubles and who delight in the powers of memory and the rigors of the English language. Jonah Raskin is the author of seven poetry chapbooks, a performance poet, and the author of American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of…


The Trees on Her Block

The Trees on Her Block By Camille Sherman Thick strands, split ends, hanging in zero gravity toward the sky A morning stretch, limbs painting fine details on the clouds Noble, astute, aged and ageless Naked and resolute, spindly in its brittle winter coat Immune from human error, impervious to neglect or over-watering Pledging a sacred vow of new life in the spring Thawing those that pass below Breathing new poems into poets, Fresh brush strokes into painters Holding our attention and springing our steps Until a season-long sunset When autumn leaves start to fall Camille Sherman is a professional opera singer from the Bay Area. She trained at The Boston Conservatory and the San Francisco Conservatory of music, and served as an Artist in Residence at Pensacola Opera and Portland Opera. She currently lives in Portland, where she continues to sing and develop artistic projects with local artists.


Perseverance . . . Prompt #562

Today’s prompt is inspired from the Perseverance Rover landing on Mars. What do you think about the Mars landing? Is this as impactful as man’s first walk on the moon? OR: Where were you on July 20, 1969 when Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin landed on the moon? OR: Write about perseverance. About the parachute that helped land Perseverance: The parachute that helped NASA’s Perseverance rover land on Mars unfurled to reveal a seemingly random pattern of colors in video clips of the rover’s landing. NASA officials said it contained a hidden message written in binary computer code. The red and white pattern spelled out “Dare Mighty Things” in concentric rings. The saying is the Perseverance team’s motto, and it is also emblazoned on the walls of Mission Control at NASA’s Jet Propulsion. “The Verge”


This Side of a Freeze

This Side of a Freeze By Deb Fenwick You have one last stop to make. The holidays are approaching, and you have one final card to mail. A quick stop at the post office, and you can tick the box and check that task right off the list just before dark hits at 4:30 on a December day. Parking strategies are key here, and when you find a second-tier one across the street, you grab it. You’ve got layers. Layers of fleece and GORE-TEX, even a new hat, to insulate you from temperatures that are just this side of a freeze.  You cross Lake Street when you first see him. He’s just a little older than your daughter. He’s standing outside the main entrance near the flagpole as you approach the mailbox box with your stamped envelope—with your contents safely sealed inside. You see him approaching. He’s tall, and he…

Guest Bloggers

Why not just get busy and write?

I’ve been reading back issues of Tiny Lights and found this gem by Suzanne Byerley, published December 2000. Even though this was written twenty years ago, it’s a perfect piece to share with you in these days of restlessness, as we wade through difficult times to find inspiration and energy to write.—Marlene Cullen “Steps” by Suzanne Byerley. I find myself restless. I prowl about the house in my slippers making sure the cats are behaving themselves, sorely tempted to turn on CNN and see if Florida has picked the next president yet. Maybe I’ll lay out a game of solitaire or fumble through that little Bach prelude my daughter mastered when she was six. What is this wild drive to diversion? Why not just sit down and get at what makes me happy? Why not just get busy and write? Because the steps to the desk are like slogging bootless…

Book Reviews

The Strongbox

“I do most of my pleasure reading in bed, and I found myself eager to pick up The Strongbox, night after night, as the story unfolded. I knew from the book description that author Terry Sue Harms would come out okay in the end—despite setbacks that would have broken many: neglectful parents, a stepdad who called her a bastard, the death of her mother when she was sixteen, running away from home, dropping out of high school, and exposure to drugs. But how? I kept reading to find out. She wrote honestly about her vulnerabilities but kept me feeling safe along the way. “The author’s smooth, almost conversational story-telling drew me in and compelled me to read on. I marveled each time she pulled herself up: by completing beauty school, landing a steady job, teaching herself to read, taking college courses, graduating from Mills College. I cheered with her along…


Rinse Cycle

Rinse Cycle By Brenda Bellinger Remember when we used to rely on weather forecasts that were broadcast with our nightly news? We’d get a good-enough sense of when to expect rain from the fuzzy satellite image. Many years ago, I used to ride the bus to work. At one of the stops along the way, a cheerful woman named Marilyn would board. She had Down Syndrome and would always greet everyone before settling herself into a seat toward the front. Occasionally, she would bring her umbrella. If Marilyn was carrying her umbrella on a bright sunny day, you could be assured it would rain, even if it hadn’t been predicted by the weatherman the night before. Who could have imagined that one day we’d have phones that would tell us precisely when rainfall would begin and end based on our location? Yes, it’s convenient and often very helpful but I…


Finding Peace

Finding Peace By DS Briggs When in Switzerland I wandered into a large ornate cathedral. The choir was singing. The voices soared with the organist’s notes. I didn’t understand the language but sitting in the back pew I felt entranced and relaxed.  I live with a lot of silence within my home. I don’t usually have the radio, tv or music as background. I don’t know why. Habit? Or just a need to keep calm. I have experienced calmness in walking outdoors.  I was on the dog path, walking Boo. I heard a splash in the creek. I saw a pair of ducks swimming, dipping and eating with their bottoms-up.  I took time to watch how the sunlight dappled the creek and how the brilliant red-leafed tree stood out from the myriad of greens and browns. I just stood, leash in hand, and looked. I enjoyed the calm while I…


I am a writer . . . I use story to reimagine worlds

“I am not a writer because I write a certain number of words every day. I am a writer because I use story to reimagine worlds. My value as a writer, citizen, and human is not rooted in my productivity, I tell myself on those brain foggy, exhausted days in which small humans climb on my limbs with no mercy.” —Ruth Osorio, excerpt from Ruth’s guest blog post in Brevity magazine. Ruth Osorio, PhD As of Fall 2018, I am living my undergraduate student dream as an Assistant Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Old Dominion University. My family lives in Norfolk, VA, where we spend our days chasing kids on the beach. I am also involved in local grassroots organizing tackling the school-to-prison pipeline and school suspensions in Norfolk Public Schools.