Carl Sagan Called Our Planet – Carol Smallwood

Carl Sagan Called Our Planet

a pale blue dot—since most,
being covered with water, made
it look blue in space—
but what makes water blue?

The answer follows more
patterns than why the sky’s blue:
a question often asked by
young children.

Carol Smallwood returned to college to take creative writing classes and has founded humane societies. Her 2017 books include: In Hubble’s Shadow (Shanti Arts); Prisms, Particles, and Refractions (Finishing Line Press); Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction (Shanti Arts); Library Outreach to Writers and Poets: Interviews and Case Studies of Cooperation; Gender Issues and the Library: and Case Studies of Innovative Programs and Resources (McFarland). 

Silent Communications – Anita Goveas

The flowering cherry tree outside Sarpana’s room in the pebble-dashed house in Wimbledon was a mistake. A dwarf ‘Pink Perfection’ tree that grew too big until its canopy shaded the front garden and its branches almost stretched to her window. The music of the wind in the leaves blew her to sleep most nights, as she lay awake counting her mistakes.

The eldest child is the leader, everyone knows that. The middle child is neglected and the youngest is spoilt by everyone. But what happens when the eldest is tone deaf and the middle child is a boy who’s born singing? When the eldest daughter has arms skinnier than the green shoots of over-shadowed crocuses, and the youngest daughter’s cri-du-chat means she only listens to people who can lift her over their heads?

No one ever asked anything of Sarpana but she felt silent expectation pool in the base of her neck. It wouldn’t rub away. She gave up going to the library to take Tarla to the park, and winced every time she ate dandelions. She stopped playing chess after school to take Jinesh shopping, and shrank every time he came home with pockets full of stolen CD’s. The only thing she knew for sure was sometimes the breeze sighing through cracked bark sounded like secret comfort. She whispered back in gasps in the dark and listened for changes in the code.

The cherry tree replied the day of the Great Storm. The wind intensified all day, swirled over the porch and ripped through the lavender. The tap-tap-tap on the window came at exactly midnight on her digital clock. Sarpana moved forward, pressed her face on the cool glass, blinked into the gloom.  The heavy branch crashed through the top of the window and spiked through her pillow. She slept on the floor as if stunned.

It split itself in half with the effort of communication, limbs still pointing. A hybrid, twisted thing. Crocuses grew back under the dead part, Tarla hugged the half that still flowered every morning. It never gave fruit again. The crowds who gathered to stare at the wreckage and point at the miracle girl made her mother bite her lip and her father rub the base of his neck. Sarpana pleaded for the tree every evening, but her passionate gasps dispersed like seeds sucked from a dandelion head.

They chopped it down the day she left home. The tap-tap-tap of the suitcase on the pavement told her not to go back.

Anita Goveas is British-Asian, based in London, and fueled by strong coffee and paneer jalfrezi. Her stories are published and forthcoming in the 2016 London Short Story Prize anthology, The Word Factory website, Dodging the Rain, Rigorous, Pocket Change, Haverthorn and Riggwelter Press. She tweets erratically @coffeeandpaneer.

When I Was Little – Sara Smith Andress

When I Was Little

we were so poor
my mother would water down the ketchup
and I learned that there are two options:
to leach the last remnants from the bottle
and risk being spread too thin,
or leave the clumps behind,
and eat eggs plain.

Sara Smith Andress lives in the Florida panhandle with her husband, two daughters, and fifteen chickens. She teaches composition and literature to community college students.

Women Writers We Love – Alarie Tennille

This week we catch up with Alarie Tennille, author of Waking on the Moon.  Her poem Still With Me was featured on Dying Dahlia in October 2016.


What inspires you the most? 

I’m inspired by many things, from family memories to quirky news, but looking at art is my surest cure for writer’s block. I’ve learned that art without a strong narrative works best for me, even abstract works I don’t understand. It’s easier to create something new when I’m not rehashing a Bible story or Greek myth that the painter has already told. Reading is also a great inspiration.

Since I retired five years ago, I honor my biorhythm and stay up to the wee hours when the house is quiet. My cats and I commune with the moon. My latest poetry collection, Waking on the Moon (Kelsay Books, April 2017) pays homage to Luna for her help, even though it also contains my usual art and family poems.

Who is your favorite woman writer?

I adore so many women writers. A few of my favorite poets are Jo McDougall, Jane Kenyon, Andrea Hollander, Maryfrances Wagner, Margaret Atwood, Lucille Clifton, and my critique group, Tina Hacker and Teresa Leggard.

What does your writing process look like? 

Because I’m a night owl, I write mostly after 10:00 p.m. I don’t pressure myself to write every day since I did that for almost 30 years on the job. Retirement gives me more leisure. (Leisure means reading.) I do look for ideas every day. If I go more than a week without writing a poem, I force myself to sit down with paper and at least try. That rarely fails me. My critique group tells me I’m prolific. They wouldn’t be happy if I brought in 30 poems each month.

What advice do you have for fellow women writers?

My advice to all writers is the same. READ. Too many people fancy themselves as poets when they don’t read good poetry. By reading, you learn a lot about the craft and what you may be doing wrong. When you discover poets who write the way you want to write, cultivate them. Often the journals where they publish will also like you.

My second piece of advice is to join or start a CRITIQUE GROUP or at least find a couple of readers willing to tell you when a poem goes astray. It’s important that you find a group that suits you. They should be honest and offer helpful suggestions without making you give up hope. My group has only three writers, which is the ideal number for me. Too many poets can cause more confusion than help.

Women are more likely to feel all the family organizing and nurturing falls on their shoulders, so they often have trouble carving out time to write. Set aside some time twice a week if every day is too difficult. The good news is that most writing happens in your head. You can plan what you want to say between errands. If I think about a poem for a few days before I get to paper, the writing goes more smoothly.

What are you currently working on? 

My next poetry collection started before the last one was published. Each new book begins with poems published too late to go into the previous book. Once I collect 20 or so, I inspect them for common themes to see how to direct more writing to the project. I’m also going to try publishing some poetry reviews in 2018.


For more information on Alarie, visit her website at

Letter from the Editor


Dearest Dying Dahlia Readers and Writers —

DDR is off to a fabulous start this year! We have been receiving some wonderful submissions and featuring some great interviews with talented women writers in our newest segment, Women Writers We Love.

Speaking of love, let me share some… Dying Dahlia Review just celebrated its 2nd Birthday! *Hooray! Cake for everyone!* I’ve said it once (or a few dozen times) but let me say it again: thank you all for your love and submissions and contributions and for following along. From the beginning, we’ve wanted to feature creative women at their awesome-est (not a word, but just go with it) and we definitely have.  DDR is around because of all of you. So thank you dearest readers and writers. Continue reading “Letter from the Editor”