delaney1a

PHOTOGRAPH: On July 16, 2015, Daniel Patrick Delaney read a chapter from his memoir Mary’s Last: Tales of an Irish-American Orphan at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in the historic Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For the event — attended by many friends and neighbors from his youth — Delaney chose to read Chapter 14 (“Come Closer”) of his book, including the following excerpt…

I reach for the tree branch and climb down, the bark of the little cherry tree falling around me. Wasps fly above the high grass, as the water gets lower. The sun is all over the lumberyard, and the smell of hot tar wakes me up. I dip my hand in the swamp and slurp the clear water, and head for the tracks. The smell of the railroad ties bakes on me, as I walk along the tracks behind the lumberyard. The rope swing over the green pond, tadpoles and frogs puttin’ holes in the water. I slide into the pond and skim the green layer with my arms. A deep breath and I’m under the cool water. I open my eyes to see the dark green that’s all the way through. Another breath and down to the mud. It holds my feet down with my arms straight out, until I pull to the top, cool and clean…

AUTHOR’S REFLECTIONS ON THE EVENT:
curran4Reading aloud has always been easy for me. One of my first memories of school is reading in front of the class, but I don’t recall ever being taught how. That for some reason escapes me, but the pure contentment in my reading aloud is a clear vision to me. The words pouring from the page with the utter confidence of that strange, but strong boy that lived within.

On a hot, July (2015) night in Philadelphia, I had the rare opportunity to stand again in front of a group of people and read. This time, however the words were my own. The boy within began at first to speak with ease, and then the book was opened. At that moment the boy turned and left me, to listen to what we had written. He sat on the uneven sidewalk and stared back at me.

The words came as water from a summer hose, warm then cool at first, but now they would have their way. They welled up from my shoes while bursting from my ears. Familiar faces from the past turned to their rightful age, as young as the story that I told this night. And when I had finished, I knew what I had written was true, and the faces on the children of the old block, once again, as old as myself…knew.

PHOTO: The author as a young boy in Philadelphia wearing an outfit he found in a Goodwill donation box.

Levesque
We Lived on Monmouth Time
by Richard L. Levesque

Rt. 495 from Amesbury, MA to Portsmouth, NH
Rt. 95 from Portsmouth, NH to Lewiston, ME
Rt. 202 from Lewiston, ME to the town of Monmouth, ME

lines drawn in asphalt
my father traveled
without a compass or map

his strong hands steering a bus
more black primer coat and rust
than machine

my mother sipping coffee
at a plywood table
that would fold into a bed

my sister and I tucked into bunk beds
forged from two-by-fours,
beer, and sweat

we would travel this way
120 miles
before the sun ever thought of rising

and come to rest
a mile off the main road
beside Annabessacook Lake

the night air seeping pine scent
through the window screens
as a soft breeze lulled us to sleep

we would wake in the morning,
my aunt and uncle greeting us warmly
with coffee and eggs

and The Munsters on a small television,
rabbit ears plucking signals out of the sky
as the campground birds paid homage to another day

then it was time to feed the fish at the dock,
my cousins and I skipping Trix cereal off the water
and dangling pieces of hotdog between our toes

or swim at the cove
where you could walk out for yards
and the water would magically never go past your waist

the afternoons were for exploring
the abandoned cabin of a five and dime dynasty
left to overgrown ruin beyond a stone wall

inside, magazines of four boys when they were Fab
were the only markers of time
as the mounted heads of forest game stared at us blankly

at night we would return to our bus
mother, father, sister, brother
and say goodnight to each other in the spirit of The Waltons

we all lived simply back in those days,
traveling through our moments with youthful steps
like ageless wheels on a long road

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: No photographs exist of us on vacation in Monmouth, Maine, but we seem to have plenty of the bus that took us there. This photo was taken in Amesbury, Massachusetts. The date stamped on the back is September 1977.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: If you were part of a working-class family back in the day, you didn’t take trips to Disneyland. That was never in the cards financially. So you made do. My father traded in a full-size bus for the mini bus he wound up renovating and painting himself. In addition to the folding bed/table, he built bunk beds, cabinets, and a sink. We also had a portable toilet, a VCR hooked up to a car battery, and a Coleman stove. If you threw in a cooler, you had all you needed to take a few days off and head to Maine. And those were our vacations. We just went to my Aunt Therese and Uncle Bill’s cabin and parked in their driveway. It was every bit as good as Disneyland to us because that’s all we ever knew.

levesque2a

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard L. Levesque has been writing and publishing poetry since 1991. He is the author of two chapbooks, Bone-Break Psychobilly Stew and Fetal Graceland. He is currently working on a third chapbook, Carriagetown Frogs, about his life growing up in Amesbury, Massachusetts. He currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife Lorrie.

Oonah nephew Robert sister Esme Holidays Are Like Lollipops
by Oonah V Joslin

The day has been full of sand and salt, rides and candyfloss, sunshine, unaccustomed sights and sounds. The others wanted to go on a ride and so I had to go on too so all were treated equally. When they all had a chocolate bar, despite my protests I had to have one too – disgusting stuff! And then the sticky cloud of pink sugar, spun bigger than my head, sickly sweet and wiry on the tongue – so much of it; it’s only beneficial function was to block the rays of the damaging sun from my milky skin. And so, amid the high roofed echoes and screeches of the amusement park, the kiddie train went HooWhoohoo on well oiled slats around and round in dizzy circles ‘til, sick with ice cream, sweets and the heady smell of engine oil and I screamed to get off. We were apparently ‘having fun’ and in order to do that you had to leave the secure comfort of your home, your own little bed and blankets and stay in a damp, smelly, cockroach-infested chalet at the seaside to be force-fed on sugar and then made sick by centrifugal force of a tiny train to nowhere.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author as a child (left) with nephew Robert and sister Esmé at Portrush, Northern Ireland.

joslin3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Oonah V Joslin has been writing for 10 years since leaving teaching. Life is one big holiday. Visit her at oovj.wordpress.com.

PHOTOGRAPH: Poet Suzanne Rawlinson with her copy of The Great Gatsby Anthology at Hammersmith Bridge in London, the borough where she lives. She picked this location as an homage to The Great Gatsby — specifically how Gatsby and Daisy live across the water from each other.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne Rawlinson is a full-time teaching assistant who also enjoys writing part time following the completion of her studies in creative writing. Suzanne writes across a variety of genres in the form of blog posts, scripts, and poetry. Occasionally she writes short stories and would love to extend the poetry into songwriting. Currently Suzanne is working on a script for TV/radio and regularly contributes to her blog — writing about real-life experiences, issues, and musings. In 2013 Suzanne had a poem published in an online magazine. Her poem “The Destruction of Desire” appears in the The Great Gatsby Anthology. Visit her at a range of social media links: suzannerawlinson.wordpress.comsaucysuesays.wordpress.com, on Twitter, Facebook, or her YouTube channel.

Lagier-2
Autumn on Kauai
by Jennifer Lagier

Pele’s feisty roosters screech,
challenge the audacity of daybreak,
chase pompous Nene geese and timid doves.
Their crowing grates nerves, transform to dream demons.

Rising sun sizzles against palms, pines, hibiscus.
Blushing rain clouds float above scarlet ti trees,
monster philodendron, banana leaf jungle.
Swollen cumulus billow, suffused with tropical colors.

Blustery blue storms sweep ashore,
dump warm silver payload.
Battered plumeria revert to bare limbs,
autumn reflected in an absence of flowers.

Transported from arid California shores,
even the most austere succumb
to sensual saturation, perfumed head winds.
Brilliant, broken gardens let the soul blossom.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: The photo above was taken in October 2014 from the patio outside our condo. The photo of me below was taken at the same location.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spend a week each year in Princeville, Kauai. While there, I bask in beauty, scribble poetry like a woman possessed.

Lagier

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Lagier has published nine books of poetry as well as in a variety of literary magazines. Her latest book, Camille Vérité, was published by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review, maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal and misfitmagazine. She also helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Visit her website at http://jlagier.net.

Johnson
We Are the Island
by Nina Johnson

We dreamed of living on an island,
swore we’d survive on sweet chunks
of coconut, banana – even ants –
swim in the sea every morning,
afternoons of hammock naps,
evenings from here to eternity.
We’d get away from it all,
running with nearly empty bags.

We arrived hungry, hammered
on coconuts – drank them dry –
climbed trees for bananas:
all green, green, green.
We searched for shelter, a shelf
to collect our new coconut bowls,
nail driftwood carved Mr. and Mrs.

We skipped our swim, our nap,
our movie scenes in the sand,
to build and weave with sticks
and reeds. We discussed the physics
of palm frond hammocks, the dynamics
of tree branch fishing spears. We debated
flavor profiles: fish wrapped in leaves
on hot coals or fish pinned to planks
over high flames?

We missed the sunset, huddled
close to the fire, and, by the rhythm
of the waves, confessed the coconuts
were not as sweet as we’d imagined.
We spoke of home, a distant place:
all green, green, green.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with her husband Ron Johnson overlooking Lake Michigan from a Wisconsin shore (August 2002).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: At times in my marriage, we’ve talked about “getting away from it all” and living remotely. But we are industrious people, and I tell my husband we would unwittingly make work out of even paradise! Sometimes newlyweds have the romantic notion that love will make life a vacation, that being together will erase the pressure of having “things.” Everyday life sometimes causes us to neglect the romance, the sunsets, but it’s still there — and it still has the power to keep us looking toward the future “green” like newlyweds.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nina Johnson is a writer based in the Indianapolis, Indiana, area. Her poetry has appeared in The Lighter, Silver Birch Press, and the Lament for the Dead online poetry project. She was most recently an Education Reporter for a local publication. Her husband and three daughters are patiently waiting for her to finish editing her first novel.


PHOTOGRAPH: Poet Trina Gaynon with The Great Gatsby Anthology in her Southern California garden. As flattering as flapper era clothing can be, she rarely leaves her own home in costume. Her poem in the collection, “Lost in Gatsby,” is a series of erasures, especially suitable for a man with so many blanks in his past. More recently The Great Gatsby has inspired two other poems — one about reading the book, as a substitute teacher, to write lesson plans for high school students, and the second about the “owl-eyed man.”

trina gaynon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Trina Gaynon is a literacy tutor. Her poems appear The Great Gatsby Anthology, The San Diego Poetry Annual, Saint Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, Obsession: Sestinas for the 21st Century, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium, Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront, Knocking at the Door: Poems about Approaching the Other, and several WriteGirl anthologies, as well as numerous journals including Natural Bridge, Reed and the final issue of Runes.  Her chapbook An Alphabet of Romance is available from Finishing Line Press. Visit her at tdgaynon.webs.com.

Eisenbrey
Food and Wine
by Karen Eisenbrey

I dreamed the perfect vacation
the week before our trip to Lake Chelan,
Mom and I, Italy,
food and wine.
Not cathedrals. Not museums.
Food and wine.

Chelan’s not Italy but has a sunny climate.
They grow apples there, and grapes.
They make wine.
We cooked spaghetti
in our hotel by the lake,
walked down the road for pizza.

There was no trip to Italy;
my mother’s gone where I will not soon follow.
I dream a new perfect vacation:
Mom and I, Paradise,
a heavenly banquet –
food and wine.

PHOTO: The author with her parents at Lake Chelan, Washington (May 1994).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process is that I write the things that won’t leave me alone. I had forgotten this decades-old Italy dream until I saw this call for submissions. I distrust poetry and only write it when I have to. This turned into one of those times.

Karen Eisenbrey (color)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen Eisenbrey usually vacations at home in Seattle, Washington, where the climate is mild and good food and wine are abundant. She writes mostly fiction, but will occasionally hark up a poem if there’s no other way to get the idea out. Recent flash fiction and poetry have appeared in the “Slim Volume” anthologies from Pankhearst. Her garage-rock fairy tale “St. Rage” was published in January 2015 as the 13th release in the Pankhearst Singles Club. It is rapidly morphing into a novel. (Author photo by Joe Mabel, 2014.)

Anfang
Hasta Monteverde
by Sandra Anfang

At 7:30 a.m. we stand in the road
our carry-on bags carve patterns in congealing mud.
The bus pulls in
radio cycles through stations:
opera, Latin heartthrob, rancheria
pump through outsize speakers.
We veer out of town
slide past the happy hour signs,
coconut stands, pulperias.
From the rear window the cubist montage recedes
already the size of a dollhouse kitchen.

My son sleeps off last night’s cerveza
reeking of garlic with a barf chaser.
The barkeep told him there’s nothing for him in Monteverde
no party, nada but the naked jungle.
I hold my tongue
though the weight of it breaks my biceps.
Can’t fault a twenty-two year-old
flattered by a hopped-up hotelier
who offers all the free beer he can drink.

At the first stop
an empanada lady glides through the bus
steam rising from her plastic tub of patis
an offering to the Virgen de Guadalupe.
Their spiced perfume follows me down the aisle
like a spurned lover
flips a switch in my brain.
For five hundred colones you can buy la alma de la cocina:
a Costa Rican Madeleine.

A Federale hops aboard
peruses each passport
as if reading the paper over coffee.
It’s only 10:15 and he’s got hours to fill.
He and the pati princess do-si-do to the door.

With six more hours on this bus
we hang from vinyl straps around the turns.
The potholes could swallow small children whole.
I shut my eyes and try for sleep.
The music rises like an equatorial sun
as we roll on to San Jose.
to be delivered to the next adventure.

PHOTO: The author hanging by a thread over the rainforest (Costa Rica, 2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2013, I traveled with my son, his girlfriend, and her mother along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica and through the Monteverde Cloud Forest. We crisscrossed the country in long-distance buses, sometimes for ten hours at a stretch. That’s where much of the adventure lay.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sandra Anfang is a poet, teacher, and visual artist. Her poems have appeared in Poetalk, San Francisco Peace and Hope, West Trestle Review, Tower Journal, Clementine, Corvus, Unbroken, Silver Birch Press, Spillway, and many others. She is a California Poet/Teacher in the Schools and hosts a monthly poetry series in Petaluma, CA. A day without poetry for her is a day without oxygen.

REDFORD
holiday
by Mark Redford

on the coach down to Folkestone: the pages of
Batman DC-14 100 Page SUPER SPECTACULAR

from a time and world before my day whole cities and
lives lived in shadow and yellow light in recede and smirk

in caption and still in number and date –
later we walked down into town from the campsite

from the streets we stepped into the general store
the smell of tins and packed food rose from the

faded lino floor with lime highlights, the comic rack
revolving: seceding titles, successing numbers,

companies of generation, branches discovered,
a distant family, a close ancestry; now traceable

PHOTOGRAPH: Walking the long way down into Folkestone, the author (with his younger brother) with landscapes coming out of his head in more ways than one (don’t worry, he paid the price later when he had it permed and most of it fell out; — eh?; the 1970s: can’t live with them, and yet they’re still here!).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We didn’t have much money after Dad left so we had a few holidays in a caravan of an aunt in Folkestone; the escape from London to the Kent coast added fresh smells and landscape to a 13-year old possibility but also depthened (sic) what I read at the same time (proving the proverb: the more you travel, the deeper you stay where you are). I still read comics, but I mostly smell them now.

mark redford

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Redford was born in Bethnal Green, London (within the sound of Bow Bells, ‘wish mayksim a troo cocknee’ although he only speaks like that when ‘ease avvin’ a bubble’). He has been teaching for 28 years and was passionate about the cognitive development of learning until he finally realised that nobody ‘got it’.  While he is recovering from that, he has resumed writing and continues teaching with a wan and slightly ironic smile. He has published slightly too (The Blue Hour magazine, The Haiku Quarterley; and is soon to self-publish MLR Poemics Presents #1; Uncannily green Poems) but mostly transmits, in a tiny voice, from some dark cupboard [that’ll have him] in the posts of mlewisredford.wordpress.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,596 other followers