Madden Kenai Photo

Leaving Kenai, 1990
by Christopher Madden

Our trip started with a Wisconsin ride board and went via Fargo past a giant roadside cow and Glacier Park, Montana. It ended with us summering in Inlet Salmon’s boatyard on the Kenai River. We pitched our tent on pallets in view of the active volcano Mount Redoubt and wondered at the twenty hours of sunlight.

Too many dreamers came to make fortunes in Alaska that year after Exxon Valdez and the fishery over-hired to save on overtime. Fish and Game frequently closed fishing for days. I ruminated and straightened old nails while she worked the roe house building delicate boxes to pack salmon eggs destined for spawning, but headed to Japan.

The “Shackteau” was repurposed from a wooden phone booth salvaged from the yard. Re-born with duct tape, plastic drop cloths, a Swiss Army knife, lowercase prayers and uppercase obscenities. We covered the penis graffiti but left “The great Alaskan dream: an Okie heading south with a Texan under each arm” sideways on the wall. The structure served as our tent vestibule, spacious enough to stand, remove boots and hang rancid foul weather gear. Undressing was a little like fileting yourself.

A bench made from discarded halibut splitters was perfect for campfires or playing the fifteen-dollar guitar that I bought from an eight-fingered fisherman. Our sleeping bags could be romantically zipped together or unceremoniously unzipped when we argued. Sometimes she would hand me sandwich bags of morning sickness through the tarp when I returned after the docks closed.

We left when the sockeye stopped running and donated the shack to the surfers camping next door. When we moved, it triggered a feeding frenzy of denizens asking for the Hooverville palace. One bid a six of Hamm’s beer, another a twelver. I should have listed the Shackteau with a Realtor.

PHOTO: The author and the Shackteau, 1990, Kenai, Alaska.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spent a summer working in the salmon industry fulfilling my wanderlust and thirst for seeing America. Alaska was stunning and inspiring, but a challenging place to deal with being broke and a pregnancy. I still am astonished at the feeding frenzy of people that wanted the Shackteau. My son is now twenty-five and I found this photo in a box after he moved out recently.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Christopher Madden
is an adjunct professor of English at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA with a concentration on fiction from Fairfield University. His poems, fiction, and short essays have appeared in Temenos, Ball Magazine, Airways Magazine, and Spry Literary Journal. He has worked as a realtor, mechanic, sales manager for rare metals, bartender, theater manager, and dockworker along the Kenai River. He lives in Norwalk, Connecticut, with his wife and several cats that all have the last name Stone.

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Lives
by Larry Burns

I live in Canyon Crest. It is a great place to walk if you have nowhere to go but up and down a bunch. Every day, I walk. It’s next to Sycamore Canyon, so there is a kind of sense to the name. I did visit that canyon, and I stood as close to the crest as I thought safe. It was less grand than my memory of the Grand Canyon. But I did see the ass-end of a quick coyote while I stood there. Which was grand.

Before this I rented in Orangecrest. It is a recent creature and I don’t know why that crest lost a cap but I do know they trucked off crates of oranges during its production. I planted an orange tree in my backyard, but it died too.

Before that I lived in Mockingbird Canyon. Truth be told, I hear way more mockingbirds now than I did then. Maybe I was just not as good a listener. Killdeer Canyon would make more sense. They were all over, and distinct because, when their nest is threatened, they lure predators away by flopping around feigning an injury.

From any angle, that was a big house. No matter how often I swept, new dirt blew through its cracks. It was dark at night, which meant I could stare into space as much as I wanted. If you ask an old person for directions to that old place, tell them you are looking for Woodcrest because they do not like the newer name. It was named by developers who spent too much money to build in Woodcrest.

Before that I bought my first home in Orangecrest. If you told me in 1995, that I would someday live in Woodcrest, Mockingbird Canyon, and Canyon Crest too, I would have responded: Where are these places and why haven’t I heard of them before?

PHOTO: “Atop Sycamore Canyon [California]” by Scott Cameron. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem recently while attending a poetry workshop through Facebook. I was thinking about what took me to the city of Riverside, California, in 1995, but I quickly realized I wanted to write about what I’d learned in each move around the city. Riverside is 52 square miles, so it has plenty of space to roam.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Larry Burns is a SoCal native. Most of his work takes elements of that geography and applies it to simple situations, providing plenty of room for the reader to create a particular meaning or emphasis. He believes that writing is a community effort, with the writer as the focal point; done in order to create a radiating outward of expression and description of the human condition. Beyond writing, he supports the writing community as a faculty member with University of Phoenix and as a founding member of Inlandia Institute. Previous works and works in progress can be found at www.larryburns.net.

PHOTO: The author off the coast of  Prince of Wales Island, Alaska (2012).

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How to Get There
by Ruth Bavetta

I’m no good
at giving directions, always forget
the names of streets,
just point myself the right
way, past the big green house
turn left at the tall brick wall,
right at the street heading out.
Six months after I met him, I left
my house, my street, my town, steering
books, socks, dogs, cats, kids
from their known coordinates right
across the valley to this house, where
we’ve lived for thirty years, twenty
since the children grew and left. Even
now I can’t tell you the right way
to get where you’re going.
Once you’ve left,
go right on down the street
and when you get to the place
where you need to turn,
turn.

SOURCE: Previously published in the author’s collection Embers on the Stairs (Moontide Press).

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The photo is the road leading away from my former house.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I moved from San Bernardino to Redlands, California, to marry my second husband.  Less than 15 miles, but the most important move of my life.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ruth Bavetta is an artist and poet whose poems have been published in Rhino, Rattle, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, North American Review, Spillway, and Poetry New Zealand, and many others. Her work is included in four anthologies. She has published three books, Flour Water Salt (FutureCycle Press) Embers on the Stairs(Moontide Press) and Fugitive Pigments (FutureCycle Press.). She loves the light on November afternoons, the smell of the ocean, a warm back to curl against in bed. She hates pretense, fundamentalism, and sauerkraut.

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They say you can’t go back
by Rose Kelland

I looked back.
Home.
Green lawn.
Edges dancing with sun-drenched colour
Of pansies, impatiens, roses, cassia, pampas grass.

I looked back
At pastures, cows
Grazing in slow motion.

I looked back
At neighbours, friends,
Dogs stretching
Cats chasing moths, butterflies, imaginary insects.

I looked back
At the Hadeda
Jabbing his beak into the choicest worm then
Startled, rising clumsily, squawking.
I wouldn’t miss him — or would I?

Tomorrow
A new family will discover
Tranquillity
Delight.
Another child will roll over the soft green grass
Another dog will dart in and out
Another cat will tiptoe.

Tomorrow
We walk into
Our box within a box.
Bushes lining a cricket pitch garden
Pebbles the narrow width.

Cars lining streets
A constant snake of metal boxes.
Sky unzipped by flying predators
Talons down, screaming at the pounce.

Neighbours hanging undies just inches
From my window.
The sun playing with yellow t-shirts
Pink panties, white pillowslips, green dresses.
A gentle breeze teaching them to dance.

And I long to go back.
Many tears will flow
I can’t go back
Home is another hemisphere.

PHOTO: “Mountains, South Africa, Outeniqua Pass” by Anna Omelchenko. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rose Kelland left South Africa with her husband and youngest daughter, to settle in the UK in December 2006. Her home in South Africa was a semi-rural town, and they moved to south west London, under the Heathrow flight path. Moving from an average sized South African house with large garden, to a mid-terrace small London home, was part of the huge culture shock.

AUTHOR PHOTO: On holiday in Dartmouth, U.K., 2008.

David Thurau
Moving to a Smaller House
by Kyle Hunter

I was nearly nine.
Finally, I had decided to abandon my rebellion
and join my parent’s church.
I can’t recall if the baptism was nice.

Dad retired as a Captain
We took our things and passed through
the guard gate one last time
I didn’t think to look back
I didn’t know that from here on out
my world was shrinking.

I’d never again kick up the familiar dust
of the maple-columned corridors of nature’s chapel
or race forward under sheen green frescos
to drink from the living water
and catch crawdads in the river

I’d never again sit at the feet of the half-pipe
watching sun-made halos
grace the buzzcuts of teenaged flyboys
spinning in the space above my head
or run the secret messages of my compatriots
through thickly veiled forest
chased by the echoes
of massive iron horseshoes
that cast up sand at the boundary
between jungle and a civilized party.

But most of all
I’d never again ride
my bike at reckless speeds
down the hill and off
the mud-packed ramp
closing my eyes
soaring weightlessly
through nothingness
and everything.

PHOTO: “Au Sable River Bend near Oscoda, Michigan” by David Thurau. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about the last time I moved as a kid. My family moved from Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda, Michigan, to West Lafayette, Indiana. My father was getting out of the military, which meant that after moving regularly for the first nine years of my life my family would never move again (my parents still live in the house that they moved to then). As I looked back, I realized that I left a lot behind in that last move.

PHOTO: The author at age nine — just after the move.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kyle Hunter is an attorney living in Indianapolis with his wife and four young children. His work has appeared in Branches Magazine and So It Goes: the Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

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A Leveling
by Trish Hopkinson

He brought us here, to this juniper desert,
across Midwestern state borders into broken promise,

sloughing family fragments like tire treads along the way.
I-80 rose up like Hell’s Backbone, egoistic and narrow-

sighted with drops on either side of slight rails.
We should have been safe in the valleys,

miles away from Boulder Mountain . . .
And yet I learned to fear altitudes,

the uncertainty of my own feet,
the distant perspective of abandonment.

Two years gone. Maybe it wasn’t long enough.
The knee-locking dread never subsides.

Instead, vertigo sets in on each downward step,
handrails clinched each time I try high heels

and the teetering always sets me down bare.
How can I be bowed into such spinelessness,

faint at the sight of red clay cliffs and sloping pines—
a grand staircase. Father Escalante would pray for me

to forgive. He would level my landings. He would lead
me to grace.

SOURCE: Originally published by Wicked Banshee Press, Issue #2 Fall 2014.

PHOTO: “Red Cliffs, Moab, Utah,” photo by Red Cliffs Lodge.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The landscape of Utah is quite a bit different from that of Missouri, where I was born and lived until I was 10 years old. This poem captures some of the Utah landscape that is still so stunning to a family of Midwesterners.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Trish Hopkinson
has always loved words—in fact, her mother tells everyone she was born with a pen in her hand. She has two chapbooks Emissions and Pieced Into Treetops and has been published in several anthologies and journals, including  StirringChagrin River Review, and The Found Poetry Review. Hopkinson is co-founder of a local poetry group,Rock Canyon Poets. She is a project manager by profession and resides in Utah with her handsome husband and their two outstanding children. You can follow her poetry adventures at trishhopkinson.com.

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Tree of Life
by Gail Fishman Gerwin

On the spring day when
Charlie Giordanella’s
building crew sealed the
roof planks on our new house,
they nailed a tiny fir where
the chimney would sit.

From The Old Country,
they spoke in unfamiliar tongues
yet their cheers honoring a shared
feat transcended our language gap.

Tradition mandated the tree,
along with an outdoor festa,
blue sky as backdrop, upturned
stones on the excavated lot
rocking our feet.

Wearing caps, sweatshirts,
tool aprons, the workers
delighted for the camera,
held cardboard cups,
hoisted a bottle of rye.

The photo shows me in
my green cotton coat,
brown corduroy collar,
sandwich in hand,
peering sideways
with a semi-smile.

Headed toward a place where
no moving vans would roar
into our driveway in the dark of
night, where no bullies would
hamper my walk to school,
I felt relief.

SOURCE: “Tree of Life” originally appeared in the author’s collection Sugar and Sand.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR/PHOTO CAPTION: My parents Cele and Benjamin Fishman, both of whom came to America as young children, met, married, and worked together to build a moving and storage business that my grandfather founded, took great joy from our new home in Paterson, New Jersey. My memory of this day is as vivid as when it occurred. As a bride more than four decades ago, I held my father’s hand as he led me down the porch stairs of this home to my own new life and the moves it has entailed.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gail Fishman Gerwin is the author of three poetry collections: Sugar and Sand (Paterson Poetry Prize finalist), Dear Kinfolk (Paterson Award for Literary Excellence), and Crowns (Aldrich Press, 2016). Her poem “A State in Mind” was a third-prize winner in the 2015 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards. She is associate poetry editor of Tiferet Journal and is a writing-workshop facilitator. Gail’s poetry, book reviews, fiction, essays, and plays appear in print and online literary journals, in other media, and on stage.Visit her at www.gailfgerwin.com.

The Notebook
Moving Day, March 29, 2015
by Joanie HF Zosike

Daddy. The day has come to pass
Time to stare at your absence before
I turn and walk away, so completely
Incomplete, in despair to leave you

Your fluid presence in this house
Left a shadow of your former self
One symbolic trace of graphite—
The profile of a Romanesque nose

Daddy. You take your shape now in
My mind more clearly every day since
You left this house and flew away to
Who knows where on that horrid day

Moving out on a ghost is hard to do
I placed this act in motion, turned the
Key, started the motor; we’re primed
To leave tomorrow on an eastbound jet

You understand, I’ll never leave you
Hold back the tears from your face so
Noble and fine, leave no grief behind
In your core you most surely know I

Revere your memory, hold you close
Your remaining ephemera, your faint
Dulcet tones, giggles and sighs in this
Night of exit, I will never leave you

I turn a rough corner to a blank page
You are with me every step of the way
My God, my infernal debate about taking
Will and faith to move Mom so far away

Believe that the promise I made to you
Will be fulfilled; I will carry your crown
Your precious wife, remain by her side
And never leave her unaided or forlorn

Our ancestral home is where she abides
The nascence of you accompanies her
Whither thou goest, seep from the crevice
I will bed a garden for you to rise again

PHOTO: The hand of Nathan (The Nose) writing in one of his notebooks at age 97. Photo by Carl Hieger.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Loss. Raw. Still feels raw. Will always feel like an open sore. An absence. And that is the price of love. For when I lose one whom I love, it feels as if a part inside me has been excised, and this tender tissue will always feel raw. On the other hand, I look into the empty space and see great gifts, inherent strength, and the promise that the strange interception of life and death can be transformed into laughter, a poem, a ballet, or a symphony. I write it out. The raw spot is irrigated with gratitude.

JOANIE HF Zosike

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Two years after the death of her father Nathan in early 2013, Joanie HF Zosike sold the family home in California, flew back east to purchase another house for her mother Gloria, and returned to California to liquidate and empty out the family homestead. During that time, she also began work on a book, The Nose’s Tale, now in progress. This poem is part of that draft material. Joanie’s writing can be seen in several publications including Bastille, Dissident Voice, Heresies, Maintenant, Rabbit and Rose, and a number of Silver Birch publications and blogs.

AUTHOR PHOTO: Joanie HF Zosike ponders life and the bill at a restaurant in Florence, Italy. Photo by Susan Chute.

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Moving Day
by Frank Pool

I’m leaving the walls my father built, the hard
wood panels stand as bare as the day he filled
the final hole, the final molding board.
As ash will go to ash, the room is full.

The pictures all are down and packed and moved.
Alone I run my finger down the grain
and stand in silence for the man who loved
the son who will not see this place again.

The measured lengths and widths have met their ends;
if they be boards or walls or years or lives,
they break apart against the planet’s spin
as time for moving out someday arrives.

For one last time this wood I can rehearse
for from today these walls must live in verse.

SOURCE: Originally published in Sulphur River Review.

PHOTO: Ash wall paneling.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was occasioned by moving out of a house, and specifically from seeing my empty study. My father, who had recently died, helped me panel the room in ash hardwood. I had recently taught “The Aeneid,” so the idea of building walls was on my mind. There are many doublings in the poems, including word meanings, but also double instances of physicality and memory, past and present, and past and future.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank Pool has published poems in literary journals, and has published chapbooks and a full-length collection, Depth of Field  (Plain View Press). For five years the chairman of the board of directors for the Austin International Poetry Festival, he lives in Austin, Texas, where he had a successful career teaching in the public schools. Now semi-retired, he writes a weekly column on language and literature for the Longview (Texas) News-Journal. He has run nine marathons and 30 half-marathons, and currently coaches a walking group training for those distances.

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Moving
by Elizabeth Greene

I hated to leave that house behind,
the Rose of Sharon tree outside my window
the blueberry bushes, sandbox, swings.
I was seven.
               I hated to leave
the ghosts of my first cats–Smokey One,
Smokey Two, Grey Greene, Copper and Felina.
Five cats in five years, vanished. My mother
too afraid of death to mark their passing,
bury or mourn them.
               I hated to leave my friends,
double-jointed Linda who could walk
on her hands; Valerie, who ate fish on Friday.
               I didn’t understand that
for my mother age seven meant tragedy,
the age her little brother died, hit by a car
nearly thirty years before, didn’t understand
how she lived in fear.
               She might have felt
disaster hovering, might have sensed it was time to move.
Closing day came in the midst of storms.

Never put off a closing
, our lawyer said.
The sale went through. Next day, the roof blew off.

In our new house, the power failed.
We weren’t at all sure about the furnace.
We stayed with a friend for a month.
I felt, at seven, the best of my life was over.

PHOTO: “Blue Window and Rose of Sharon” by Tina M. Wenger. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

SOURCE: First appeared in the author’s collection Moving (Inanna Publications, 2010).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Moving” is the title poem of my second collection. It was a memorable move because I was leaving the fairly idyllic period of my early childhood behind, but also because of the storm, the staying at the home of a friend for a month, and just escaping being in the house when the roof blew off. When I wrote the poem, I remembered that seven had been a watershed age for my mother, too. The book Moving is about starting to move forward after a period of stasis, so “moving” has that undertone too.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth Greene has published three books of poetry, most recently Understories (Inanna Publications, 2014) and has a novel A Season Among Psychics forthcoming from Inanna in 2018. She is currently working on a fourth collection of poetry. She lives in Kingston, Ontario, with her son and two assertive, non-vanishing cats, aged 16 and 15. Visit her at elizabethgreen.ca.

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