April 12, 2016

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Poetry Friday: Monsters

It’s the first Poetry Friday of Halloween month. Today I’m going to tell you about great Halloween read for teens. There will be a poem, too. We’ll save that for last.

Heidi Mordhorst is kicking off
our Happy Halloween season
at My Juicy Little Universe.

The book in question is a horror novel, one I loved, even though I almost never read horror. I am not brave when it comes to scary books. Or movies. Or TV shows. If you insist on watching the Halloween episode of “Little House on the Prairie,” I will quietly disappear from the room before things get intense.

But I made an exception for the YA novel SHALLOW GRAVES by my fellow 2016 debut author, Kali Wallace. I bravely signed up to read Kali’s ARC. I took a funny picture of my dog freaking out with fear. 

No dogs were harmed in the taking of this picture.
Rudy just looks ridiculous when he yawns.
To explain why I fell in love with the story of a Breezy Lin, a teenage revenant (not “zombie,” please, our protagonist is neither mindless nor is she into eating brains), I have to tell you a true story.

Last weekend, my friend’s niece was in a terrible car accident. Although she survived, one of her friends was killed. How will this teenager cope? Witnessing the death of a classmate will irrevocably change who she is and how she interacts with the world.

So, my question is, how do teens begin to recover from this kind of intense trauma? The same question is at the heart of SHALLOW GRAVES. The more I thought about the novel, the more I realized that -- like the best science fiction and fantasy books -- the story serves as a metaphor for difficult things that we confront in real life.

Pre-order from Amazon.

A year after she is murdered, seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow back-yard grave. The circumstances of her revival are mysterious, magical, and as violent as her initial death.

Although she wants nothing more than to return, alive, to her life as it was, Breezy is fundamentally a different person because of the trauma she has experienced. She can’t go back to her family or be her old self. Instead, she has to let go of the labels with which she once defined herself (future astronaut – that’s not going to happen) and find new, more complex ways of understanding who she is. METAPHOR.

Breezy’s quest to find out what she is and how she came to be undead takes her to some truly frightening places. Along the way, Breezy is forced to learn how to tell the difference between those who want to help her and those who want to hurt her (a great cast of religious fanatics, ghouls, and one ancient creature so evil, your skin will crawl), a skill she did not have when she was alive.

SHALLOW GRAVES was recently reviewed by Kirkus. Check out what they had to say here. 

Breezy is courageous in her willingness to confront the truth. Underneath this tale of imagined monsters is a real road map for survivors. Because the paranormal elements are a metaphor, a lens for looking at real human experience, the reader  follows along as Breezy copes with trauma, recognizes that it has changed her forever, and begins the process of being comfortable with who she is now.

I wanted to find the perfect poem to read alongside Kali’s wonderful book. And here it is…

By Dorothea Lasky

This is a world where there are monsters
There are monsters everywhere, raccoons and skunks
There are possums outside, there are monsters in my bed.
There is one monster. He is my little one.
I talk to my little monster.
I give my little monster some bacon but that does not satisfy him.
I tell him, ssh ssh, don’t growl little monster!
And he growls, oh boy does he growl!
And he wants something from me,
He wants my soul.

Read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.

Stay spooky.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Spending Poetry Friday at the Baltimore Book Festival

Writerly Friends, it's Baltimore Book Festival weekend!

Janet at Poetry for Children is hosting
this week's Poetry Friday festival of posts.
I'll be reading, writing, and speaking down at Baltimore's Inner Harbor all weekend. I'll catch up on the Poetry Friday festivities later.

The list of featured authors includes several poets and children's authors I hope to see:

Kwame Alexander
Katherine Applegate
Sandra Beasley
Celeste Doaks
Frederick O. Foote
Erin  Hagar
Meg Medina
E. Ethelbert Miller
Laura Shovan
Carole Boston Weatherford

Did you see a familiar name on there? Here's where you can find me:

Saturday, 1 PM at the CityLit Stage

Chapbook Champions: Winners of the Harriss Poetry Prize

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Harriss Poetry Prize is a chapbook competition open to poets nation-wide who have not published a book-length collection.  Named in honor of the patron saint of Maryland poetry and independent publishing, Clarinda Harriss, and published under the CityLit Press imprint, the prize has been judged by acclaimed poets such as Dick Allen, Marie Howe, Tom Lux, and Michael Salcman, who serves as the series editor.
Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka (Oblige the Light) is the author of Face Half-Illuminated, a book of poems, translations, and prose. Her poems, translations, essays, and interviews have appeared in Akcent; Driftwood Press; International Poetry Review; Lalitamba; Little Patuxent Review; Loch Raven Review; Notre Dame Review; Passager; Przegl?d Polski, Nowy Dziennik; and The Baltimore Review, and elsewhere.
Rebekah Remington (Asphalt) holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, Bellingham Review Online, Hayden Ferry’s Review, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards in poetry.
Bruce Sager (Famous) works as a corporate officer in a systems integration firm. He has been the recipient of Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards in both fiction and poetry, a Baltimore City Arts Grant in poetry, and the 1986 Artscape Literary Arts Award in poetry, judged by William Stafford. Prior chapbooks include Nine Ninety-Five and The Pumping Station.
Laura Shovan (Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone) is poetry editor for the literary journal Little Patuxent Review. She edited the Maryland Writers’ Association anthology Life in Me Like Grass on Fire: Love Poems. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, her novel-in-verse for children, will be published next year.

Sunday, 12 PM at the CityLit Stage

The Poet's Response: A Conversation on Social Justice and Poetics (Little Patuxent Review and Split This Rock)

Co-Sponsored by Little Patuxent Review and Split This Rock, the D.C.-based national network of socially engaged poets, this panel and poetry reading explores how poets respond to issues of social justice, and how activism shapes, informs, and invigorates the poet's craft. The conversation is co-moderated by Sarah Browning, executive director of Split This Rock, and Steven Leyva, editor of Little Patuxent Review.
Mahogany L. Browne is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and Poet’s House, and is the current curator and host for the Friday Night series at the Nuyorican Poet’s Café in New York. Her most recent projects include Redbone: A Biomythography, #Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out Online in 140 Characters or Less, and Swag.
zakia henderson-brown currently serves as Associate Editor at The New Press and on the board of the Brooklyn Movement Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming inBeloit Poetry Journal, North American Review, and Vinyl. zakia is a Cave Canem fellow and resides in her native Brooklyn.
Goldie Patrick has been a feature poet and performer at several poetry venues nationwide. Most recently named one of the top 40 under 40 by the Envest Foundation, Goldie is a self-proclaimed “hip-hop womanist,” inspired to create conversations and movements that empower and liberate the stories of Black women and girls.
Laura Shovan is poetry editor for Little Patuxent Review and editor of two poetry anthologies. Her chapbook, Mountain, Log, Salt and Stone, won the inaugural Harriss Poetry Prize. The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary, her novel-in-verse for children, will be published in 2016.

If you're going to BBF, look for the SCBWI table! 
This is the first year that our local region will be represented at the festival.

Check out our local authors on Friday, 4 pm at the Inner Harbor Stage.

So You Want to Write a Children’s Book
Introduced by: Joyce Garczynski, Research and Instruction Librarian, Towson University
Members of the MD/DE/WV region of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators share their paths to publication in a panel discussion.
Panelists: Timothy Young, Ann McCallum, Laura Gehl and Rebecca Evans.

I'm excited to meet Laura Gehl, who has been featured here at Author Amok.

I can't leave without sharing a poem.

E. Ethelbert Miller's website has a wonderful selection of his poems. "Circus Animal" is a powerful short poem. I think this is a great one for eliciting a powerful discussion with your high school students. You'll find the poem here. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Poetry Friday: Under the Surface

Happy Poetry Friday!

Your host is Michelle Heidenrich Barnes
at Today's Little Ditty. Stop by TLD
for all of this week's poetry links.

This week, there was a story in the news that settled down in mind to sit. I don't know what it will lead to -- a poem, an idea for a story -- but I want to know more about the young man whose skeleton was part of a tree.

Read about it at io9.
The medieval skeleton was discovered in Ireland when violent storm uprooted a 200 year old beech tree. The journal Irish Archaeology describes it thus, "In a scene that must have been quite macabre, the upper part of the skeleton was found raised in the air within the tree’s root system, while the legs remained in the ground." Who was he? What is his story? 

For me, the news isn't just about a skeleton. Part of the story's pull is the storm powerful enough to uproot a tree. I have deep memories of just such a storm, a hurricane, that blew through our town when I was in second grade. Trees were uprooted in our yard. It was a wonder to see the exposed roots in all of their complicated tangle. And what a gift to me and my brothers -- where the rain filled in the hole at the base of the tree, there were tiny ponds to play in.

In a lightning strike of serendipity, I've been reading GOOD WITH ORANGES (Broadkill River Press) this week. It is a collection of poems by my friend Sid Gold.

Order the book
at Broadkill River Press.
Check out "Clear Intent."

Clear Intent
by Sid Gold

The other night a storm
buzzsawed through & brought down
that 40-foot beech with a crack
like a hammer & chisel carving stone.

A spear of lightning struck it
near ground level, splitting the trunk
along its height like a gutting knife
& now the limbs lay splayed
& bleaching like some monstrous skeleton,
the bones, perhaps, of an untold constellation.

Soon a work crew will arrive, men
of clear intent carrying chains & saws
like briefcases, their tongues
still sour with sleep. Hired for a task
of someone else's choosing, they may
have room for nonsense in their hearts,
but have learned to keep it close
while on someone else's clock.

That towering beech, some of us
surely believe, still had much to say
about things for which we often
cannot find the proper words.
Others, living in some other moment,
prefer to turn a deaf ear.

About this poem, Sid explains, "I live in an aging apt. complex (1943), which, I'm told, displaced untouched forest land. The buildings are old enough to have been the products of architects, who designed the layout of the property so as to allow for a number of original growth trees to grace the lawns fronting the building entrances. Unfortunately, a few years ago, two large, very old & diseased trees positioned not far from my own entranceway had to be cut down & limbs & pieces of their trunks, etc., lay on the lawn for some days until carted away. One of the trees was struck by lighting & some heavy limbs came down. That's probably how the disease was discovered. There's more to the poem, of course, but that's one place it started. I have photos of the trees, luckily, but I still miss them."

Sid Gold's third book is GOOD WITH ORANGES (Broadkill River Press, 2015). He is a two-time recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award for Poetry. His poems have appeared in journal such as Poet Lore, the Southern Poetry Review and Tar River Poetry. A native New Yorker, he lives in Hyattsville MD.

Sid is very active in my local literary community -- a mentor to and encourager of his fellow poets. You can read a full interview with Sid Gold at Delphi Quarterly.

Thank you, Sid, for allowing me to share this poem today. I'm still thinking about that skeleton.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Guest Post for 9/11: Talking MG and Loss with Kerry O'Malley Cerra

Coping with loss is a difficult issue in middle grade. Critics have asked: Do 8 to 12-year-olds really need another book about losing a beloved pet? A parent? (Check out this Dead Parent Society of Middle Grade page on Goodreads.) But these books can be powerful reflections for young readers, providing guidance and a model for how to survive grief.

In the shadow of yesterday's 9/11 anniversary, I'd like to welcome middle grade author Kerry O'Malley Cerra to Author Amok. Kerry is guest posting, courtesy of the Bookish Babes blog.

The Thing about Loss and Middle School Kids…

By: Kerry O’Malley Cerra- Author of the middle-grade book Just a Drop of Water

When I agreed to write an article focusing on grief and loss in the middle school years, I was excited. Then I sat down to write it and wondered what I’d gotten myself into. Kids—like all people—are complex creatures, but throw in hormones and bewilderment of where they fit in with the world and any parent will confirm that it can be a touchy three to four year span. Suffering a loss during these already emotional years can escalate a pre-teen’s grief exponentially.

I’ve heard the phrase, “Kids are resilient,” more times than I can possibly count. As a former educator, the words were sometimes thrown around the teachers’ lounge each time a student-related tragedy occurred. This isn’t to say those teachers were heartless—quite the contrary. They showed genuine anguish right along with the kids. But in the back of the teachers’ minds, they assumed that in the end the kids would bounce back.

This mentality often freaked me out. What if a kid didn’t bounce back? What if one suicide spawned another? What if the loss of a parent, friend, boyfriend, pet, or home made the black hole in a student’s heart deepen until it completely sucked them in? Sadly, I’ve seen it happen.

Loss, especially when encountered during the fragile pre-teen and teen years, can be all-consuming. At an age where a simple change of schools can be traumatic, a loss of life can feel like an insurmountable obstacle in getting back to living. It’s just too big, too heavy, too much for an adolescent to deal with alone.

You see, the thing about grief, in my experience, is that it has only one cure: hope. When things seem like they cannot possible get any worse, hope carries a person through darkness. The thought that someday—even if it’s far down the road—things will eventually get better can be the difference between life and death. A drug addict enters rehab because they have hope that things can get better. A child in despair over the loss of a pet or over a bad breakup eventually gets back to their daily routine, because there is hope that tomorrow it might not hurt as much. There’s hope that the grief will dissipate over time.

I researched many hours trying to find a middle-grade book in which the main character—despite some sort of loss or experiencing some form of grief—didn’t bounce back by the end. While I did find a few young adult books like this, and I did find some open-ended middle grade books, I didn’t find a single one that left the main character completely broken. Even the legendary, heart-wrenching books Old Yeller and Bridge to Terabithia take a slight turn for the positive at the very end. In the former, Travis eventually adopts one of Old Yeller’s puppies and names it Young Yeller. In the latter, Jesse, though distraught over the loss of his friend Leslie, manages to build a bridge for himself and his sister to cross over to Terabithia safely. Both of these books provide a hopeful ending. It seems that all middle-grade novels do. And, I began to wonder why. At first it seemed too neat. Too unrealistic. I had, after all, seen kids whose happy endings never came.

But it hit me that books for this age group have a job…to give hope. A kid who is experiencing a traumatic event doesn’t need to read a story with a depressing ending. They need to root for the characters’ lives to get better so they, themselves, will have hope for the same outcome. This is probably why I love middle-grade so much. It’s probably why I’ve felt compelled to write for kids this age. With their whole lives still ahead, the world is theirs for the taking, and with hope, they have a chance to make of it what they want.

And on that note, I want to share some of my favorite middle-grade novels that deal with themes of loss.

Loss of a loved one:
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
A Dog Called Homeless by Sarah Lean
Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Loss of a lifestyle and/or home:
One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
Chained by Lynne Kelly
Shooting Kabul by NH Senzai

Loss of childhood innocence (forced to see the world in a new way):
Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood
Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

Loss of friends:
Breaking the Ice by Gail Nall
Pack of Dorks by Beth Vrabel

Personal, physical loss:
El Deafo by Cece Bell
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart

Thank you for a thoughtful post, Kerry. These books are great resources.

Kerry O'Malley Cerra is the author of the award-winning, middle-grade novel Just a Drop of Water
Find it on Indiebound.
Inspired by a deeply personal experience following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, this book has won a Florida State Book Award, the Crystal Kite Award, made the Maine state reading list, and was named to VOYA’s Top Shelf Fiction for Middle Readers’ 2014 list. Though she'll always consider Philly her home, she currently lives in Florida with her husband, kids, and three poorly behaved dogs.

Let's close with the trailer for Kerry's book, Just a Drop of Water.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Poetry Friday: First Generation

Robyn Hood Black is hosting
this week's round up of poetry
at Life on the Deckle Edge.
I was listening to news of the European refugee crisis on the radio today. The crisis touches me in several ways. First, when I was in Italy this summer for the 100 Thousand Poets for Change world conference, several poets from Africa were denied entry into Italy. Why? For fear that they weren't really coming for a conference, but instead were refugees. Then my good friend, poet Richard Paa Kofi Botchwey of Ghana, was harrased as he passed through Germany on his trip home from Italy.

But the story also touches me because I am a first generation American. My mother came to the United States in 1966, when she married my father. Even though my mom is British and shares a common language with us Yanks (as my uncle used to tease), there are a million small ways that she didn't fit in, didn't understand how things worked, felt isolated and alone. These small things are embedded in my childhood memories.

Leaving one's country is never an easy choice. I can't imagine what it must be like for families caught up in the current refugee crisis. Even if they make it to a country that offers asylum, there are a million small ways that they will remain outsiders. Integration into a new culture is gradual and often painful.

I'm so glad to introduce you to the poet Leona Sevick. 

Leona and I first met at the 2013 Gettysburg Review Conference for Writers. Like me, she is bi-cultural and a first-generation American. Her poem "Lion brothers" walks the fence that immigrants must walk: acceptance lies on one side, maintaining one's home culture and sense of self lies on the other.

Lion brothers
by Leona Sevick

Sometimes they sent her home early,
her hand bandaged tight where a needle
had pierced her. Home from school,
we found her curled on the floor, watching. 

She woke early to put on her face
before we could see it for what it
wasn't, round and smooth and yellow.
Her legs tucked under her,
she held the mirror in her tiny hand
and painted on the jungle colors:
blacks and blues. At the factory
she tied tools around her waist,
slimmer than any boy's, though her arms
were knotted in muscles. She climbed up
beside the men, four feet above ground
on their vibrating monsters, machines
that worked like animals. Like pieces
of thread cut from the loom and dropped
clean, their words gathered around her feet.


It seemed like a child's word
if you didn't know the meaning.

Originally published in Frontiers:  A Woman's Journal (Univ. Nebraska Press).

I asked Leona to tell us about the genesis of this powerful poem.

Lion Brothers is the name of a factory in Taneytown where my mother worked for 25 years. She made patches there--the kind that are sown on uniforms of every type (military, athletic teams, Boy Scouts, etc.). Every morning she woke up at 5 am to "put on her face." I thought of her makeup as her armor. She was the first non-white person to work at the factory. While she had a couple of very good women friends who worked alongside her in that ugly place, she also worked with many bigots and rough men. In time, many of them accepted her as well, though she never called them friends.

I remember that, Leona. Although she didn't work in a factory, my mother had a very hard time making friends after she emigrated. I don't think she had real group of girlfriends until my brothers and I were in our twenties.

Classroom teacher friends: I think "Lion brothers" would be a wonderful discussion prompt to get your upper middle school or high school class talking about stereotypes and the power of words, especially ethnic slurs.

And here's a little gift from Leona. This poem is for everyone who's using this weekend to recover from the first week of school.

Leona says, "Every day as I drive to work I pass a herd of 'Oreo' cows--Belted Galloways.  One particularly dreary morning when I faced a task at work I wanted to avoid, I fantasized about being one of those cows.  I know almost everyone can relate."

Belted Galloway
by Leona Sevick

Weeks like this one make me wonder how nice
it might be to be a cow just chewing, slowly moving
my jaws in clockwise angles. Frothing green trickles
between my teeth and at the drooping corners of my
single-minded mouth, I could lie down and rest
on legs not asked to move except to escape the winds
and stinging rain that come up from the south sometimes.
Or maybe I'd just stand here, letting the water wash my
tough hide--brown rivers of yesterday's dirt rolling
inevitably down into the holes I'm standing in--
thinking of nothing and no one in particular.

Leona Sevick's work appears in The Journal, Barrow Street, Potomac Review and is forthcoming in Poet Lore. She is the 2012 first place winner of the Split This Rock Poetry contest, judged by Naomi Shihab Nye. Her first chapbook, Damaged Little Creatures, was published in 2015 by FutureCycle Press ( She is associate provost and associate professor of English at Mount St. Mary's University.

Buy it on Amazon.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Probability ... none.

Hey, Writerly Friends and Math Brains.

I was working on a new MG novel this morning and came upon (are you sitting down?) a MATH problem.

It's not that I'm bad at math. It's just that my interest stopped at Algebra, because Algebra is all about logic. And this problem is beyond my ability because it involves (really, sit down now) probability. Probability was nearly the death of me in high school. Who knew I would need it as a writer.

Here is the problem. I'm hoping someone out there likes a good probability challenge and can figure it out.

There are twenty-four children in sixth grade at a boarding school, twelve boys and twelve girls. At mealtimes, they sit in groups of four at six tables. The seats are assigned and rotating. The school's administrators want each student to sit in as many different groupings as possible before they eat a meal with the same foursome.

Image: Capital OTC

Question: How many meals would it take for a student to sit in the exact same group of four?

Challenge question: If the tables always had two boys and two girls, how would that affect the answer?


Thanks for your feedback, guesses, and reminders about what "!" means in math, everyone. (It's a factorial. Remember those?)

Based on responses in the comments and via Twitter, here's what you came up with. I'm a writer ... of course, I have follow up questions.

Question/Answer: It turns out, the tables don't really matter. What's important is 24 students grouped in fours. The equation is 24!/(24-4)! x 4! and 10,626 is the answer. Thanks to Jen Maschari and her husband Kurt, who researched the question and chimed in with an answer first. I'm really impressed with how many people had this right.

My follow up question is this: Is this number the number of possible combinations for *all* the students? If so, how often would one particular grouping of four meet during those 10,626 times?

Challenge question/Answer:
According to the amazing author/mathlete Marieke Nijkamp, the equation for this one is: (12!/(12-2)! x 2!) x (12!/(12-2)! x 2!). I have varying answers from the crowd on this one. Anyone care to work it through?

I have a follow up question that may turn parts of the question into a red herring. If you are a girl and one of the other girls in the class is your best friend, how often can you expect to eat a meal with her?

Would it help to assign the girl and her friend names? Girl X and Girl Y -- keeping it mathy.

Thanks also to my commenters: Tabatha Yeatts and her son Dash, June Smalls, Linda Baie, Jone MacCulloch, Sue Poduska. I appreciate your math brains. And on Twitter, thanks for helping out Vicki Coe, Mike Grosso, Dee Romito, and Abby Cooper. Am I the only author who's not a math whiz?

You can buy it here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Poetry Friday: Leaving Home, Part 3

Before you do anything else, Dear Readers, go check out this First Chapters Critique Giveaway. 

Linda Baie is hosting today at Teacher Dance!
As the mom of a new college student, I keep finding poems that speak to parent-child relationships, especially the moment of leaving home.

This week, I was reading A BRIEF HISTORY OF MAIL, by Lisa Vihos. I picked up her chapbook at the 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference in Italy this summer. Lisa and I had been Facebook friends for a few years, but met for the first time in Salerno, greeting one another with a warm hug.

Lisa Vihos
Lisa is a fine poet, educator, and community organizer. So much about the poem I am sharing today speaks to me: the olives, memories of Italy, and how we create experiences for our children, never knowing how or when they might draw on these memories as they grow into adulthood.

Planting a Memory (for Owen)
by Lisa Vihos

I make us a lunch
for the train ride from Chicago to Milwaukee.
Granted, it’s a short ride
but it’s lunchtime and we’ll want to eat.
I pack salami, bagels, tangerines,
and a small bag of kalamata olives.

I want you to know this simple pleasure:
olives on the train. How delicious
they taste as we speed past houses and fields.
Olives run in our family, you know.
Our own special comfort food,
tumbling down the Greek
and Italian branches of our family tree;
little dark nuggets of love.

Someday, you’ll be in Tuscany
wanting to impress a girl.
It’s important that you learn
this sense memory now
so that when you’re standing in the market
outside the train station
you will not hesitate
to buy good olives for her.
You won’t even know why you do this,
but she’ll love you all the more
for spending a little bit extra
on something that tastes so good.

And when you are rushing together
past the lush green fields
and crumbling stone walls
of your Tuscan future,
bite into the rich, dark meat
feel slick oil on your fingers
lick salt from your lips and smile.

In her olive black eyes, there is warmth
and a beckoning road like a train track
vanishing into the distance
connecting you to something
(or someone) that loved you.

Lisa was kind enough to tell me about the genesis of this poem:

I really did pack a lunch for me and my son, to nourish us on a train ride from Chicago to Milwaukee. He was nine years old at the time. While I was on the train, I started thinking about how little things like olives could make a subconscious impression on the mind of a child and I started to write the poem while we were cruising along. He is seventeen now, and I when I read the poem, I still remember exactly what it was like to think about him at some future time, remembering olives on the train with his mother. 

Lisa Vihos is the Poetry and Arts Editor at Stoneboat Literary Journal and an occasional guest blogger for The Best American Poetry. Along with two chapbooks, A Brief History of Mail (Pebblebrook Press, 2011) and The Accidental Present (Finishing Line Press, 2012), her poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals. She has two Pushcart Prize nominations and received first place recognition in the 2015 Wisconsin People and Ideas poetry contest for her poem, "Lesson at the Checkpoint." She is active in the 100 Thousand Poets for Change global movement and recently returned home from the group's first world conference in Salerno, Italy. Visit her blog at Frying the Onion

For a companion poem (more olives! more travel!) check out Poetry Friday blogger Joyce Ray's "In Search of Athena" here:

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MAIL is available for purchase from Pebblebrook Press. If you are interested in buying one, please follow the link or mention it in your comments.

In this series:

Leaving Home (Poem by Linda Pastan)
Leaving Home, Part 2 (Poem by Sharon Olds)