Saturday, April 23, 2011

Samuel Packwood Burns at the Stake

Samuel Packwood Burns at the Stake
Sandra de Helen

“Dear God, Forgive me my sins and take me
straight to Heaven where my wife and parents
wait for me. Oh God, please do not let me
suffer.” His head is covered. He cannot see
the throng of friends and relatives gathered
on the banks of the Greenbrier River waiting
for the Shawnee chief to set him aflame.
“Heathens! Savages! Let him go!” But no
rifles are fired. Only voices are raised.
Shawnee warriors are dressed for this ritual.
Clad in skins and paint. Carrying spears and
torches, they whoop in excitement, the thrill
of justice about to be served hot.
“We will get them, Father!” the last words
Samuel hears in English before the smoke
overtakes him. As his head falls to his chest,
a young rider yanks the cover from Samuel's
head. “White Eyes! Watch our sacred dance!”
Packwood's clan misunderstand, and roar:
Long live Samuel Packwood!


Sandra de Helen lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. You can see her current work in Mom Egg, Stillwater Review, and pay attention: a river of stones.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Granddaughter's Legacy

Granddaughter’s Legacy
Patricia Frolander

Time to gather and sort a lifetime,
Grandma’s receipts, a century old, lay
among dance cards and Christmas greetings.
Embroidered pillowslips rest
under dainty hankies, wool socks,
bone hairpins. A simple wedding band
hides among her flour-sack aprons.

I reach for her sewing box,
find a brown button from her winter coat
among needles and thimbles.
Nestled at the bottom is a yellowed photograph.

Who is the man with owning arms
around Grandma’s waist?
Dark curly hair droops across his forehead,
as he pulls her against him.
She’s smiling, hands rest upon his
as they lean against his car.

In our photo albums, she never smiles
beside my Grandpa.

I almost miss the yellowed envelope
nestled in Grandma’s Bible.
I unfold Mama’s birth certificate
and the obituary of an unknown man from Ireland.


Patricia Frolander tries to balance family, ranching and writing and have a passion for each of them. Her husband Robert and she own his fifth generation ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. They are blessed with three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, all whom live close to the ranch. She says, "Managing family, ranching, or writing is like trying to rope the wind. In Wyoming, the wind is either bringing a storm or ushering sunshine. I love the changes, although as I age, moderate weather is appreciated."

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Lucille Lang Day

For Mariam Gertrude Peckham, 1846-1914

In autumn she picked apples, packed the good ones in barrels,
and husked corn on the back porch, storing
some for winter fodder, grinding the rest for johnnycake.

She piled yellow pumpkins in the cellar
while the children gathered walnuts, butternuts
and chestnuts--mostly to sell, but plenty to eat.

Sweet cider, which filled her china pitcher
through the fall, was kept
for vinegar when it started to work.

On snowy nights Mariam sat at her desk
and wrote that women should wear pants in public,
attend the universities, and vote.

It was often after midnight when she went upstairs
to the room where Henry was sleeping
under a star-patterned quilt.

He'd wake when she crawled in.
Splinters of moonlight pierced the shutters
clattering in wind.

In March, snow melting, Henry tapped
the maple trees and took the sap inside
for Mariam to strain and boil down.

She sold her articles to magazines,
sewed for neighbors, and ran a millinery shop,
all the while dreaming of a world where women

could enter any profession.
She told Henry, and he nodded as she tacked
a red silk rose to a hat.

Great Grandmother was previously published in Wild One: Poems (Scarlet Tanager, 2000), by Lucille Lang Day.


Lucille Lang Day is the author of eight poetry collections and chapbooks, most recently The Curvature of Blue (Cervena Barva, 2009). She has also published a children’s book, Chain Letter, and her memoir, Married at Fourteen, will appear from Heyday in 2012. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in such magazines and anthologies as Atlanta Review, The Hudson ReviewThe Threepenny Review, and New Poets of the American West (Many Voices, 2010). She lives in Oakland, California, with her husband, writer Richard Levine. Her website is

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sam's Shoes

Sam's Shoes
Lucille Gang Shulklapper

Sam never talked much about himself. He told one long
story over and over to his sons:
When I was ten... maybe eleven...
the Polish soldiers picked me up and ...

Here he would pause, see himself walking,
I was looking for food,
on this dirt road,
it was World War I,
you wouldn't want to know,
they just picked me up,
a skinny, hungry kid.
They needed me,
to bury dead soldiers.

Bodies were thrown
everywhere, some piled
on a horse-drawn cart.
There was a smell
I'll never forget.
They lifted me up,
put me in the driver's seat,
put a whip in my hand.
I was scared. I didn't know how
to drive a cart. So they told me
to beat the horse.

At this point in the story, he
always moved his feet,
dug his heels into the avocado carpet,
and slid the front of his soles
back and forth.

I beat the horse like they told me.
But the horse fell
into a ditch
and all the bodies fell out.
They took the whip
and beat my bare feet.

In America, on rainy days,
Sam wore black rubbers
over his shoes when he walked
to his grocery store.
A hole in the tip of the right rubber
wasn't big enough
to make him throw them away.
After dinner, the smell of shoe polish
was stronger than garlic.

Precisely at five every morning
after Sam retired to Florida,
he slipped white vinyl loafers
over thin white socks.
He walked four or five miles
until his heart started to fail,
his legs swelled,
and he struggled to move
along the catwalk.
When the orderlies
carried him down the stairs from the catwalk,
he insisted on wearing his white, vinyl shoes
to the hospital.

Cheap, worn, old shoes,
tipping slightly to one side,
stand in neat rows in Sam's closet.
Some of the seams show
where the stitching comes apart.
Flakes of dirt and dried shoe polish
lie in the deep creases
of the white vinyl loafers,
The black, tasseled dance shoes,
gleam from the back of the
closet. He wore them three times,
I really need these? He had asked his Helen.

What else? You think you can
wear your white shoes
to your grandchild's wedding?
Throw them away, already.
Get yourself a new pair.

Inside his coffin,
as was his wish,
a white shroud
covers his naked body.
His bare feet rest
on their heels. His toes,
the nails waxen and yellowed,
point upward.

Sam's Shoes previously appeared in The Substance of Sunlight: Ginninderra Press


Lucille Gang Shulklapper has published poems and stories in many journals as well as in four poetry chapbooks, the most recent titled In the Tunnel. She has also modeled, sold realty, made recordings for the blind, taught reading from k-college, and led workshops for the Florida Center for the Book and workshops facilitated through the Palm Beach Poetry Festival. Presently, she tutors third graders in reading as a senior volunteer, and lives with her husband, a retired pediatrician, and a rescued cat named Zoe.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Dedicated to Leslie Otho “Chalk” McBride (1892 to 1968)
and Iva Pearl Shattuck McBride (1894 to 1977)

Andrew Shattuck McBride

From Dad I know my grandfather Chalk was pale, short, heavily
muscled, with forearms big as hams (fists like sledgehammers).
I didn’t get to know him; we met one time, and I was an infant.

I know that he was a smithy, a mechanic, a wildcat oil driller,
and a businessman. His wife Iva Pearl Shattuck was a grammarian
and school teacher. During the Great Depression they paid off
company debts rather than declare bankruptcy. Chalk scrambled
for money. He resurrected an old skill of crafting fine Irish-style
lace (or tattering) to bring in money for food to feed their family.
Chalk and Iva crafted a sort of fine lace: they knitted together
essentials and kept their family intact.

Hard times and pain have returned. During this Great Recession
I’ve watched as a first snowfall knit together branches of
deciduous trees into natural finery and a semblance of lace.

I put aside most of what I know of Chalk, all but an image of
him with battered hands and gnarled fingers weaving fine lace
for Iva, Claire, Bonnie, Ruth and her twin brother Richard
(who would become my father). Now, these people – and my
mother Sally Kirkpatrick McBride - are all dead; I am the last
McBride of my line. I use my father’s mother’s maiden name
with pride. As I work on what is essential, I keep this fine lace –
this work of love – before me in gratitude and as example.


Andrew Shattuck McBride is a poet and writer based in Bellingham, Washington. His poems are published or forthcoming in Dreams Wander On, bottlerockets, Prune Juice: A Journal of Senryu and Kyoka, The Temple Bell Stops: Contemporary Poems of Grief, Loss, and Change, The Bellingham Herald, and Haibun Today. Writer's blog.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Was it Exactly

How Was it Exactly?
Carol Brockfield

Did she run away first,
take a job in another city,
leave him with the kids,
with him taking his turn next?

Was it stealthy
when he didn’t come home
that late afternoon
to greet the children one by one--
as they waited by the door?

Or did she agree that he should go—
dreams stillborn with the struggle to feed seven.
(And why didn't he see ahead to this
when he'd pulled her to him each night?)

There were better jobs somewhere
than the stink of the tannery.
He would send money home to them.
So was it the unexpected joy of freedom
that made him forget?

All that's clear is she scrubbed hospital floors
washed dishes in hotel kitchens
grew vegetables
plucked chickens,
tended livestock.
Kept them alive:
Six mouths meagerly filled,
six bodies barely sheltered.

Had she expected anything different?


Carol Brockfield has been doing family research for almost fifty years now, way before the internet brought us armchair genealogy.

She is the current chair of the Rogue Valley Chapter of the Oregon State Poetry Association, and her poems have been published in The Hiss Quarterly, The Cimarron Review, Women Writers, flashquake, Quite Curious, Verseweavers, and Napa Valley College anthologies. A former New Yorker and Californian, she now lives in Southern Oregon.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's in a Name? - Helen F. More

What's in a Name?
Helen F. More

[Before the battle of Lexington, William Dawes and Paul Revere were both despatched to rouse the country, Dawes starting first.]

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, "My name was Dawes."

'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear --
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because
He was Revere and I was Dawes.


Note: This appears online several places under the title, The Midnight Ride of William Dawes.  The credit is almost always given to "Helen F. Moore."  However, we have tracked down an online archive of the 1896 volume of Century Magazine where the poem was originally published, and have reproduced the title, author, and poem as it originally appeared.  A search suggests the author published a few other items, mostly prose, using the same spelling of her name.


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz


When I was going to get married, you gave me a quilt.
The Wedding Ring, but the links were doubled. You had pieced
and sewed it by hand and it was beautiful, meant to grace
my marriage bed. I thought
you'd change your mind when I changed
mine, but you let me keep it anyway.
maybe, one day


Your work was always on display at the County Fair.
The state recognized you as a contemporary, traditional quilt maker
             and your quilts
hung in the Palace of the Governors. A magazine article and a splash
of fame in the life of a maid.
Later, when I worked for the Smithsonian, I offered your name
for the folklife program. The local coordinator was surprised.
Rosie Brooks is your grandmother? he asked.
And I smiled big, proud to say yes.
So proud.


I only wanted to learn the Bear Claw. So much a little girl, collecting plush
              and porcelain.
The other names meant nothing to me -- “The Log Cabin,” “ Strip,” “Flower Baskets.”
A “Britches Quilt” was what your family poor, black and in Texas
made to keep warm. Old britches were always saved. Your daddy's and your brothers.'
But I only wanted to learn the Bear Claw. And I didn't want anything
             made from leftovers.


Before you forgot who I was, you gave me
all the quilt tops you had. Of ten grandchildren, only I loved to sew. I dropped by
a quilt shop, once, bought muslin, but not the batting. You kept asking me and I
made excuses.
Later, when you left the hospital, in those days of your dying,
I would tell you how I was finally making progress.
I even promised to bring you a quilt for your medical bed in your daughter's house.
Yes, I lied. But I didn't care because talking of quilts made you smile.


Almost Christmas. A year after your death. At a craft show,
a woman stands and watches me stitching a bear by hand. She asks if I ever prick
myself and goes on to share how hand quilters often leave drops of their blood
in the seams. Later, at home, I unpack the quilt tops and lay them across
the living room floor. On my knees, I search the stitches
for that which also flows through my veins. Search for what I need in order
to do what you have entrusted to me, and finish it all.


Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz is a fiction writer and poet as well as a teddy bear making and aspiring photographer. She blogs about life at and about writing.