Gathering Sunlight
by Silvia Scheibli & Patty Dickson Pieczka
Pages: 104
Price: $24.00
Publisher: The Bitter Oleander Press
ISBN: 978-1-7346535-7-1
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Two extraordinary North American poets have come together in this shared book of poetry that exemplifies the depth to which the natural world and our place in it is perceived. Whether it’s Scheibli’s ability to connect with a Latin American culture that has been so influential on her own work, or Pieczka’s wanderings through the dream-like reality of her ever-deepening world, these are all poems from poets who have not only earned their words but lived them as well.


Through anaphora, synesthesia, assonance, and more, imagery flows through these poems like a wild river! At times the imagery erupts like a volcano; other times words flutter as though they’re made of silk. The uniqueness of language is impressive. From Silvia Scheibli we read: “Parakeet-green & coconut-clawed / iguanas bask in dream-filled palms / taste melon sunlight / & tout spectacular tails / as their heavy Mayan eyelids / stay motionless.” And from Patty Dickson Pieczka, “Unbraid the night song / smoking through my hair // I reach into the past / with hands of dust.” These poems about nature and the human condition are often intertwined to create one in the same. Written by two extraordinary poets Gathering Sunlight is a remarkable tour de force that comes highly recommended!
–Alan Britt, author of Emergency Room, Towson University

Gathering Sunlight takes the reader to the remote sky islands of Mexico, into the "foothills of the imagination," seeking the wisdom of ancient Mayan and Aztec cultures, the Huichol artisan Chakira as our guide. Sensual and lush, Silvia Scheibli's poems offer a way of seeing. They are a visual poetic diary of her journey to reconnect with the spirits of the natural world. The journey into the dream world is unsustainable, however, the harshness of poverty, illness, and accidents cuts into the poems. Patty Dickson Pieczka also decries dream's infidelity, "I wake on the roof to find my dream has lost its voice and forgotten its prayer." Both poets seek a place "far from the present with its dust-strewn dreams," although they know that this place is often perilous; the "sultanate green eyes of jaguars" gleam in the poems, and dragons lurk at the "farthest edge / of the subconscious." We must, however, learn the ways of the forest without fear, "Asleep in the cloud forest at night / death ignited their dreams / of opalescent orchids." In shedding our distinctness as humans, we are reintegrated with the natural world. "All nature enters me, / I am dove, magnolia, mountain lion."
–Andrea Moorhead, Editor Osiris


Silvia Scheibli has served as judge for the 2017 Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. In 2015 she was invited to Ecuador in a cultural exchange of poets between the United States and Ecuador touring and reciting in the Amazonas as well as in Quito, Babahoyo and Guayaquil with Alan Britt and Steve Barfield. Besides publishing eight books of poems including, The Moon Rises in the Rattlesnake’s Mouth (Bitter Oleander Press), Under The Loquat Tree ( 2002, Vida Publishing), and Parabola Dreams co-authored with Alan Britt (2013, Bitter Oleander Press), she is the editor and publisher of Cypress Review and CypressBooks since 1980. Scheibli has published in Cholla Needles, Osiris, Bitter Oleander, Ann Arbor Review, Black Moon, The Midwest Quarterly, The January Review and The Raw Seed Review among others. She is an enthusiastic photographer and birder living near the borderlands in southeast Arizona where jaguars, bobcats, coatimundi, white-tailed deer and javelina move freely.

Patty Dickson Pieczka's third book of poetry, Beyond the Moon’s White Claw won the David Martinson Meadowhawk Award from Red Dragonfly Press. Her second collection of poetry, Painting the Egret's Echo, won the Library of Poetry Book Award for 2012 from the Bitter Oleander Press. She was the featured poet in their Spring 2014 issue and was invited to serve as book contest Judge in 2019. Other awards include the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest in the Best Sonnet category, the ISPS poetry contest for 2012 (first place in the free verse category), Frances Locke Memorial Poetry Award for 2010, and nominations for an Illinois Arts Council Award and three Pushcart Prizes. Other books are Lacing Through Time (Bellowing Ark Press, 2011), and a chapbook, Word Paintings, (Snark Publishing, 2002).

Patty graduated from the Creative Writing Program at Southern Illinois University. Writing contributions have appeared in many journals, including Bluestem, Blue Unicorn, The Cape Rock, Crab Orchard Review, Eureka Literary Magazine, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Red Rock Review, Sierra Nevada Review,, Willow Review. Her first novel, Finding the Raven, was released in June 2016 by Ravenswood Publishing.


Grita on Madero and Auguacate
by Silvia Scheibli

Humidity is a luna moth
crawling down my neck.

If only we had one of those yellow street umbrellas
hanging in the exhibit on Madero
across from the pharmacy by the taco truck
whose driver sped to the scene
of a woman hit while crossing the street.

If only the monsoon would show up
instead of drinking tequila
for nights on end
wallowing in uncertainty.

If only gas were cheaper again
so we wouldn’t be walking
with the sun’s ashes racing in our veins.

If only the taxis had A/C.

If only I had worn crocks.

If only we had booked a water taxi
and I hadn’t heard the woman
dying on the cobblestones–
one shoe twisted under the wheel.

From the Throat of Sunrise
by Patty Dickson Pieczka

I wake on the roof to find
my dream has lost its voice
and forgotten its prayer
Its colors sift to the street below.

The day has a bite taken out of it.
Everyone is hungry,
chewing off bitter hours.

I try to patch the hole
with sweet cherries, melons,
the earth's tears.

How does one atone for desiring
baked apples, blackberry wine,
a squeeze of pineapple between the lips
during this season of loss?

As salvation slips behind a cloud,
morning hides beneath my tongue.
The sun melts.


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