Archives for category: LANDMARKS

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Our deepest gratitude to the 116 authors — from 20 countries and 29 U.S. states — who took us on a fascinating journey to 32 countries and 25 U.S. states during the Silver Birch Press LANDMARKS Series, which ran from June 30-August 27, 2020. We salute the following authors for their inspired, informative, and enlightening poetry and prose!

Brian Ahern
Donna Allard
Cynthia Anderson
Susanna Baird
Barbara Bald
Roberta Beary
Kerry E.B. Black
Shelly Blankman
Mark Blickley
Aida Bode
Rose Mary Boehm
Steve Bogdaniec
Erina Booker
Cheryl Caesar
Don Kingfisher Campbell
Lorraine Caputo
Susana H. Case
Margaret Chase
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Clive Collins
Patrick Connors
Barbara Crary
Neil Creighton
Howard Debs
Steven Deutsch
Julie A. Dickson
Dakota Donovan
Gisella Faggi
Susan Farris
Paul Fericano
Jennifer Finstrom
Yvette Viets Flaten
Sue Mayfield Geiger
Ken Gierke
Gary Glauber
Vince Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Anita Haas
Tina Hacker
Ken Hartke
Rachel Hawk
Robert Hieger
Veronica Hosking
Stephen Howarth
Andrew Jeter
Joseph Johnston
Munia Khan
Tricia Knoll
Jennifer Lagier
Kyle Laws
Barbara Leonhard
Joan Leotta
Eleanor Lerman
Cheryl Levine
Robert Lima
Ellaraine Lockie
John Lowe
Virginia Lowe
Rick Lupert
Anne Namatsi Lutomia
Marjorie Maddox
Ruthie Marlenée
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Mary C. McCarthy
Catfish McDaris
Joan McNerney
Karla Linn Merrifield
Michael Minassian
Elaine Mintzer
Neil David Mitchell
Stephanie Morrissey
Leah Mueller
Jagari Mukherjee
Lowell Murphree
Robbi Nester
Maria Nestorides
Gerald Nicosia
Hana Njau-Okolo
Suzanne O’Connell
James Penha
Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Chris Precise
Ismim Putera
Patrick T. Reardon
Will Reger
Frances Daggar Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts
Sarah Russell
Rikki Santer
Gerard Sarnat
James Schwartz
Tali Cohen Shabtai
Leslie Sittner
J.P. Slote
Massimo Soranzio
Rosemary Marshall Staples
Carol A. Stephen
Jeanine Stevens
Jennifer Su
JC Sulzenko
Terrence Sykes
Ann Christine Tabaka
Alarie Tennille
Mary Langer Thompson
Mark Tulin
Chris Vannoy
Richard Vargas
Alan Walowitz
Kelley White
Lynn White
Lisa Wiley
Graham Wood
Jonathan Yungkans
Joanie Hieger Zosike

Illustration by Vikor Stollov, used by permission.

Our travel options have been limited for many months, but we’ve enjoyed an insightful, uplifting, educational, and dynamic virtual vacation through the Silver Birch Press LANDMARKS Series, which ran from June 30-August 27, 2020. In all, we visited 32 countries and 25 U.S. states. Thank you to the 115 authors who led us on this remarkable journey. We will thank the authors by name in a separate post. But here we’d like to celebrate the places we’ve visited during our two-month trip around the world!


Argentina: Santa Cruz Province
Australia: Sydney, Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Cambodia: Angkor Wat
Canada: Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
China: Haikou
Cyprus: Nicosia
England: Aldermaston, Coventry, Keswick, London
France: Avignon, Giverny, Paris
Ghana: Elmina
Greece: Patmos
Iceland: South Region
India: Agra, Karnataka
Indonesia: Anak Krakatoa
Ireland: County Mayo
Israel: Jerusalem
Italy: Florence, Milan, Rome, Trieste, Siena
Japan: Tokyo
Kenya: Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mexico: Isla Mujeres, Tula de Allende
Nepal: Kathmandu
Norway: Oslo
Peru: Machu Picchu
Poland: Auschwitz
Russia: St. Petersburg
Scotland: Edinburgh, Fife, Loch Killin
Shetland: St. Ninian’s Isle
Spain: Barcelona, Figueres, Madrid
Sweden: Eskilstuna 
Thailand: Bangkok
Turkey: Cappadocia, Ephesus
United States:
   Arizona (Grand Canyon)
   California (Allensworth, Anza-Borrego Desert, Catalina Island, Leggett,       Oakland, Placerville, San Francisco, Santa Barbara)
   Colorado (Elk Mountains, Mount Sneffels, Pueblo)
   Florida (Orlando)
   Hawaii (Puʻukoholā Heiau)
   Illinois (Chicago)
   Kansas (Ellis County)
   Maine (Cape Neddick, Penobscot Narrows Bridge) 
   Michigan (Detroit, Silver City, Singapore)
   Mississippi (Yazoo County, Vicksburg)
   Montana (Havre)
   Nebraska (Greenwood)
   Nevada (Valley of Fire State Park)
   New Hampshire (Lost River, White Mountains)
   New Mexico (Albuquerque, Cabezon Peak, Socorro)
   New York (Cooperstown, Elmira, Erie Canal, New York City, Niagara       Falls, Utica)
   North Carolina (Outer Banks)
   Oregon (Portland)
   Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia)
   Tennessee (Great Smoky Mountains)
   Utah (Promontory Summit)
   Virginia (Charlottesville)
   Washington (Ellensburg)
   Washington DC (Lincoln Memorial)
   Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park)
Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

IMAGE: Landmarks illustration by Katsiaryna Pleshakova, used by permission.

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The Great Smoky Mountains
by Jennifer Su

I trusted that my cousin’s intuition was sharper than mine. I glanced at the path we emerged from, a mix of crushed leaves and twigs that tunneled back into a tangle of branches. Sunlight poured over the canopy, tingling the skin on my shoulders. It had been nearly three hours since we last stepped into broad daylight, and the sun had shifted from its sleepy state to a blazing, unsympathetic glow above us. The only ones that challenged its dominance in the sky were unsuspecting wisps of clouds and the smoky mist cast on mountaintops. My eyes panned away from the sweep of green, turning instead to the new terrain before me. The water lapped up against the pebbles on the shoreline. Its gentle ebb and flow either indicated a sanctuary for a quick prayer or a calm before the storm.

With a leap of faith—figuratively and literally—I jumped from the gravel to a light grey stone peeking out of the water. Once my left sneaker left the shore, my arms began making circles—forwards and backwards and forwards—like airplane wings tipping my balance just when I thought I would fall. My momentum continued thrusting my upper body forward, and desperate, I hobbled off to another slippery stone. My eyes darted from side to side, scrambling to find my next destination—the creases around my eyes wrinkled as I braced myself for the icy waves of the roaring river to submerge me—but there was only a splash. My sneakers were soaked instantly, but my knees were dry. Perhaps I overestimated my athletic feat: we were just five feet from the shore. Our laughter bounced from mountain to mountain, and I honestly didn’t mind if we could be heard from miles away.

PHOTO: The Great Smokey Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee .Photo by Dave Allen Photo, used by permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. A subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, they are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visits per year, it is the most visited national park in the United States.

PHOTO: Little Pigeon River, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. Photo by Darrell Young, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I remember this experience quite vividly during my trip to Tennessee in 2013. This account was inspired by a five to ten minute experience when my cousin and I ventured off to dip our hands in the nearby river. I wrote about the experience in my Smoky Mountains journal almost exactly seven years ago, and I’m glad to retell the moment again with some new life.

PHOTO: The author during her visit to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee (2013).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Su is a high school senior who writes short stories, prose pieces, and speeches. Both her written and artistic work has been featured in magazines and in local libraries. Jennifer enjoys creative writing as a means of documenting stories in her life. She finds inspiration everywhere, from a handwritten sign in a small shop to a summer trip across the continent. She is a member of several literary and Toastmasters groups and looks forward to refining her craft.

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Field Trip
by Robbi Nester

In third grade, our teacher led us single file
from the banana-yellow bus to visit Betsy
Ross. She wasn’t home, but we still saw
her house, climbing up the steep and
narrow stairs, so close together they
seemed fashioned for a child. The
ceiling wasn’t far above our heads,
and we were eight! We wondered:
how could Betsy live inside a doll-house?
But at the top the staircase opened
to an ordinary room. There was Betsy’s
bedroom and some ugly chairs, worn
and uncomfortable, the kind that might
make dinner guests eager to leave
without dessert. We heard that Betsy
earned her living covering furniture,
and that was odd, considering the sad
state of those chairs. She once sewed
on a button for George Washington.
The famous flag she made lay behind
a golden rope, draped on a green settee.
In fact, there were several flags, the
stripes and stars in different configurations.
At first the stars were splattered like paint
across the field. They had six points,
but Betsy, being practical, argued for
five-pointed stars, easier to cut, until
they finally settled on the flag we knew.
The stripes were narrower, colors reversed,
stars in a circle in the corner. Someone had to
use the toilet, but Betsy didn’t have one,
at least not in the house. That’s when we
learned that indoor plumbing hadn’t always
been a thing. We wondered what the world
would be like in a hundred years. Look at
Betsy’s kitchen! No stove or running water;
just a fireplace with a hanging kettle. Water
was outside. The teacher let us take turns
pumping. It took two of us to bring the handle
down. People then must have been so much
stronger than we were. The cellar was a cave,
no walls or floor. Dark and cool. It smelled like
dirt. Rough shelves held amber jars of honey,
jam from plums and peaches grown in Betsy’s
garden. The guide said we could buy some
at the store on the way out, alongside tiny
flags and books about George Washington.
That was the day I learned that I was part
of something larger than myself,
like history, something made of change.

PHOTO: The Betsy Ross house, 239 Arch St., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Erix2005, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elizabeth (Betsy) Ross (1752-1836), was an upholsterer credited by her relatives with making the first American flag. Ross family tradition holds that General George Washington, commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, visited Mrs. Ross in 1776, when she convinced Washington to change the shape of the stars from six-pointed to five-pointed by demonstrating that it was easier and speedier to cut the latter. Ross made flags for the Pennsylvania navy during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783). After the Revolution, she made U.S. flags for over 50 years.

PHOTO: The Birth of Old Glory by Percy Moran (1917).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of four collections of poetry, a chapbook, Balance  (White Violet, 2012), and three collections, including A Likely Story  (Moon Tide, 2014), Other-Wise (Kelsay, 2017), and Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited three anthologies, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It!  (Nine Toes, 2014), Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, which was published as a special issue of Poemeleon Poetry Journal, and The Plague Papers,  which is currently being considered for publication. Her poems, reviews, essays, and articles have appeared in many journals and anthologies.

St. Petersburg Animals
by Virginia Lowe

It didn’t dance
this little muzzled bear
clung with real affection
to its carer
master, owner, handler
that all around the newlyweds
might pay to hold it
Fertility symbol
that it was

Baby bear —
yes I held you
and paid money for the privilege.
As I stroked your coarse brown fur
and restrained your struggles
to return to your only friend
I thought,
tears in my eyes,
where oh where
is your mother?
And where will you go
when you’ve grown?

Also represented
where the brides flocked
beneath the statue of the Emperor
on his rearing horse
were other animals
Dogs of various breeds
Doves hidden in long boxes
An elegant black stallion
wearing red leggings
led by a girl of eight.

As three musicians
(all brass) started up
Mendelssohn’s wedding march
over and over
to greet each new
bridal party
and Neptune posed
in full finery —
money changed hands
photos were taken
corks popped.
There were smiles all round.

To tourists elsewhere
the street sellers hawk
bags of tomatoes, socks (four pairs left)
and the ubiquitous
Babushka dolls all nesting.

But in the depths of the city
where tourists rarely go
is an underground pedestrian walk
lined with women
each holding
one or two subdued—drugged?
kittens for sale
Not for the tourist eyes. Nyet to photos

IMAGE: View of the monument to Peter the Great on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg, Russia. Painting by Vasily Surikov (1870).

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great (1672-1725) in the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia, that opened to the public in August 1782. Commissioned by Catherine the Great, it was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet. The statue’s name comes from an 1833 poem of the same name by Aleksander Pushkin.

PHOTO: Equestrian statue of Peter the Great (The Bronze Horseman) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the city he founded in 1703. Photo by Godot13, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The statue of Peter the Great on horseback is the place where wedding parties go to be photographed in St. Petersburg. And there they are met by many people, many animals. Taxis pull up outside the square with giant entwined wedding rings on top, bride and groom within. This was the scene that met our eyes when we visited in 1999. I imagine it is still happening.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Virginia Lowe is an expert in children’s books, and helps people toward publication through her assessment agency Create a Kids’ Book . She has been a children’s and school librarian, and has lectured at university. She has been published in numerous anthologies including Mother Lode (2003), Poetry d’Amour 2017, and This is Home (National Library of Australia, 2019). A collection of her poems alternating with those of her husband, John Lowe, is Melbourne Poets’ Union Chapbook #27, Lines Between (2018).

PHOTO: The author with her husband John Lowe at their home in Australia.

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An elegy for Singapore, Michigan
by Cheryl Caesar

A city built on sand and metaphors,
as Petersburg was raised upon a swamp.

Your founding czar came also from the east:
Oshea Wilder tried to live his name.

Reaching peninsula, he called it island,
a hub to rival Asian Singapore,

and, more important, that big-shouldered burg,
the windy city built on mud, Chi-Town.

You had your little fifty years of fame.
At first you trapped small mammals for their fur.

And then you turned to trees, an endless fund.
Your wildcat bank made its own currency.

When bank inspectors came, you got them drunk:
brash as Tom Sawyer of St. Petersburg,

(Missouri) selling whitewash privileges.
And still folks came. They called you Ellis Island

of the Great Lakes.
                                                            And then Chicago won.
A brilliant sacrifice: by catching fire

she took your forests, leaving you the dunes.
You sold off every tree; thought they’d come back.

Or didn’t think at all, as people don’t.
Within ten years the sands had covered up

the last remaining building, though they say
one foolish Ozymandias stayed on,
acceding to his house by climbing through
a second-story window, while he could.

The literary ones called you Pompei,
though you had suffered no volcanic flow

but human greed.

                                                            But who are we to speak,
as we burn off the surface of our world,

as ice caps melt, and ocean waters rise
far past our second stories, and we stand
on rooftops and pretend it isn’t real?

Photo art of Singapore, Michigan, by Jack Sheridan, all rights reserved, used by permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Singapore, Michigan, was one of the casualties of the four great fires, including The Great Chicago Fire, that ravaged the northern Midwest on October 8, 1871. Its ruins now lie buried beneath the sand dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline at the mouth of the Kalamazoo River in Saugatuck Township, near the city of Saugatuck. Singapore was founded in 1836 by New York land speculator Oshea Wilder, who was hoping to build a port town to rival Chicago and Milwaukee.

PHOTO: An 1869 photo of Singapore, Michigan, shows a lumber mill in the foreground and the schooner O.R. Johnson, which regularly hauled timber 150 miles from Singapore to Chicago via the Lake Michigan waterway. (Photo courtesy of the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society)


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For my 60th birthday last year, my husband took me to visit parts of Michigan that I had never seen before, including the town of Saugatuck. After a morning of visiting shops and galleries, and lunch on a terrace, we spotted, just across the street, a marker commemorating the lost town of Singapore. We could not visit it, as there was nothing left but dunes. But we became fascinated and did some research into it. When we got home, I noticed in my news feed a call for poems with the name “Singapore” in them. It was fate! I wrote the poem above, which won third prize in the contest. It is also a favorite at readings: its theme of global destruction seems to resonate with everyone. Here is a link to me reading “An elegy for Singapore, Michigan.”

PHOTO:  Michigan Historical Commission sign about Singapore, located in Saugatuck, Michigan. Photo by rossograph, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Caesar lived in Paris (France), Tuscany (Italy), and Sligo (Ireland) for 25 years; she earned her doctorate in comparative literature at the Sorbonne (Paris) and taught literature and phonetics. She now teaches writing at Michigan State University. She gives poetry readings locally and serves on the board of the Lansing Poetry Club. Last year, she published over a hundred poems in the U.S., Germany, India, Bangladesh, Yemen and Zimbabwe, and won third prize in the Singapore Poetry Contest for “An elegy for Singapore, Michigan.” She also won a scholarship to the Social Justice workshop at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, awarded by Indolent Books. Her work is currently appearing in anthologies of Reo Town readers from Lansing and of the East Lansing Art Festival. She has gone swimming with wild dolphins, and it is one of the high points of her life. Her chapbook Flatman: Poems of Protest in the Trump Era is now available from Amazon and Goodreads. Visit her website, and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO: The author and her husband while exploring new areas of Michigan (2019).

The Curved Window
by Lynn White

Our Spanish room was simple,
a bit dusty, with two narrow beds,
a wash basin, a small table
and a shared toilet in the passage.
Normality in Spain back then.
But it was our first Spanish room
and we were happy!
The owner was nice,
“doux, comme le sucre”
as my friend told him.
But he spoke no French.

We shopped in the corner shop with
the curved window
which became our landmark
to find our way back home
through the labyrinth of small streets.
At night we explored them
enjoying the clubs and cafes and bars
and the company of lively people.
Then we found our window
and made our way home.

Home to a locked door that
no amount of banging or shouting
would cause to open.
A passerby showed us the system.
He clapped his hands loudly
and a man appeared with a big bunch of keys,
enough to fit the locks of several streets.
Normality when Franco reigned.
He let us in with a smile.
He was “doux, comme le sucre”
my friend told him,
but he didn’t understand.

Forty years later we found the street.
Our landmark, the curved shop window
showed us the way.
It was all still there, though only in facade,
waiting for reconstruction or demolition.
The facade of a memory that
is still there and remains
“doux, comme le sucre”
and we understand.

It’s all gone now.

PHOTO: Alleyway in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Anemone123, used by permission.

Barcelona is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighboring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the fifth most populous urban area in the European Union. Barcelona is a major international tourist destination, with numerous recreational areas, one of the best beaches in the world, mild and warm climate, and historical monuments, including eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

PHOTO: Barcelona, Spain, by Ken Cheung on Unsplash.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by my first visit to Spain in 1965. I went there recently to discover that the street no longer exists. However its absence revealed that the end buildings in some of the surviving streets also had a curved window…Our landmark for deeper explorations of the city was a huge sculptural “Phillips sign” which we could see from everywhere. In the late 60s someone pointed out that there were several of those as well…No wonder we got lost!!

PHOTO: The author in search of her past, looking for her curved window in Barcelona, Spain (2011).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications, including Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal, and So It Goes. Find Lynn at and on Facebook.

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Vacation South of the Border
by Catfish McDaris

After the army I drifted through mountains in Mexico, exploring pyramids, fishing rivers, and lakes. Sharing meals with smiling people. Money didn’t matter. Cozumel was paradise and Isla Mujeres, Europeans sunbathed nude. Fish rubbed with garlic, chili, and oregano were grilled. Cerveza was icy cold and the mescal with lime and salt was smoky. A monkey lived in a tree, eating boiled eggs. Tourist buses stopped the monkey would climb down and snatch off the ladies’ bikinis and grab their purses and throw stuff all over. Laughter turned into tears and tears turned into laughter.

PHOTO: Lighthouse near the beach in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, an island located eight miles east of Cancun in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo by Piotr Pawinski (2015), used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Isla Mujeres (Spanish for “Island of Women”) is an island where the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea meet, about eight miles off the Yucatán Peninsula coast. The island is approximately 4.3 miles long and 2,130 feet wide. To the east is the Caribbean Sea with a strong surf and rocky coast, and to the west the skyline of Cancún can be seen across the clear waters. In the 2010 census, the namesake town on the island had a population of about 12,500 people.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Catfish McDaris’ most infamous chapbook is Prying with Jack Micheline and Charles Bukowski. He’s from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His newest books are Ghosts of the War Elephants and Meat Grinder.

PHOTO: The author in Guadalajara, Mexico (1976).

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Venetian Midnight Tea Nocturne
by Terrence Sykes

   The man in 119 takes his tea all alone – “Verdi Cries,” Natalie Merchant

falling winds reverb the centuries
through my open hotel window
ritual midnight tea
cusp of today yesterday tomorrow
what distant isle shores
steeping origins once docked
Ceylon – Formosa – Mauritius

watching the moon sail over
Salute’s silvered light
Accademia’s bridge creaks
in remembrance of tourists
yet the echo of Bembo
halts my fountain pen
into limbo

ten days I came to
forget the past
one week has already passed
but I remember
each night the rising
floods my room
from the enjambed window

across the Grand Canal
Punta della Dogana
riding endless waves
Vivaldi’s autumn
echoing emitting ethers
though winter is not far away
longing for the other

seasons of my life
could I play them from memory
yet no violin nor fiddle
at hand or within reach
drawing a map in my mind
upon the pages of my soul
endless ramblings

along the way from portals
decommissioned churches
wandering & meanderings
what treasures wash along
the canal walls
if only I had faith
to baptize my grasp

cosmic concerti must end eventually
gathering my scattered verse
souvenirs camera
journaled memories
I rise – ajar the door
place the tea tray
upon the passage floor

awaiting checkout
spring fades into summer
purloin one last croissant
shut the entrance door
but the open window
back to this room
will never close

PHOTO: Grand Canal and Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, Venice, Italy. Photo by Iakov Kalinin, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Several years ago, I heard Natalie Merchant sing “Verdi Cries” … I listened over and over … it drew me in … of course I’m a tea lover and a loner  … so I decided to do a poem …. IMAGINING myself in the song … I took the liberty to use Vivaldi since he lived and worked in Venice …


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Although Terrence Sykes is a far better gardener-forager-cook . . . his poetry-photography-flash fiction have been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India,  Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain, and the USA . . . he was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia and this  isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.

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Eskilstuna Rag
by Chris Vannoy

The snowflakes are dancing around me
and I am smiling!
Ginsberg is sleeping in Izzy’s basement and I am smiling
as Irene screams slam poetry standing on top of the piano
where Tom Waits bangs out a new tune with a cigarette
dangling from his lower lip
while Dylan’s ghost throws down another whisky
and I am drunk on IPA.

Charlie Chaplin taps his cane
listening to the thumping beat of sweet jazz blues
as the psychedelic jukebox drops another record
onto the turntable of the world
where Bessie Smith melts magic from the microphone
and Miles blows his midnight horn

Marlene catches my eye with a wink
And we are dancing, dancing, dancing…

PHOTO: Eskilstuna, Sweden by © Tommy Alvén, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written on my first visit to Stockholm. I met Israel “Izzy” Young and he told me that Ginsberg  used to sleep in his basement when he visited there. “Irene” was the host at a poetry reading in Eskilstuna…the Dylan reference is there because I was on my way to see Dylan Thomas’s childhood birthplace in Swansea, Wales…Tom Waits…I worked at the same pizza parlor he did…just six months after he quit…the rest of the characters I think you know already.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chris Vannoy has been writing for most of his life. Promoter, editor, teacher, and tireless advocate of words both heard and spoken; he works endlessly to raise up words from page to ear and from mouth to the air. The originator of the Poet’s Tree featured and open reading series, as well as editor of the Poet’s Tree Press, He is also curator for “Bedder” poetry reading series and the International Beat Poetry Festival in San Diego. He has read at Mills College in Oakland, California, and at The West Coast Regional slam at Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, California. In 2017 and 2018, he’s read in Stockholm, Sweden; London, England; Cardiff, Wales; Swansea, Wales; Margate, England; Ramsgate, England; Dover, England; Chatham, England; Seattle, Washington; and San Francisco, California. In 2019, he was appointed Beat Poet Laureate of the United States by the International and National Beat Poetry Foundation, Inc. Find him at youtube and soundcloud.