Archives for category: Where I Live

WALTON
Neil Armstrong’s Three-Stage Punctuation
by James Walton

In the slow orbit of wombats
my house hangs on to the hill,
the yellow frog flaunts the leaping crimson spinnaker of its jump
to the swallows’ rue at my reflective door,
white lightning shudders in liftoff from another countdown.

Wind dies.

Apple blossom carries the love-letter kiss of butterflies,
delivered in the slow somersault breeze
moon landing clumsy, on the creek now river.
Stars tumble into it, where the eyes of my people well at the eddy;
dreams caught wanting the release of gentle hands not fossicking.

Later, on the plain before Narrandera:

Sun and moon stare it out on the flat,
through moving windows, I make no ground in their yellow orange disregard.
Rise and set, clocking on and off.
They know the contraband in my head is safe,
no small step can approach it.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We drove to the Byron Bay Blues festival (Australia) to see B.B. King, Mavis Staples, and Bob Dylan. We left just after a small earthquake, and 650 kilometres into the trip on the first day went from mountains to flatland, where the sun set and a full moon rose across the plain at the same moment. Felt like a journey through space and time, but somehow still in the same place, so vast we didn’t seem to be moving. A bit of past, present, and something to come.

PHOTOGRAPH:Quake light on Linn’s Hill” by James Walton.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Walton is from the Strzelecki Mountains in far South Gippsland — the last step off the Australian mainland before Antarctica. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. He was shortlisted for the ACU National Literature Prize in 2013, and Specially Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition 2014.

Balmoral Beach 1mb
Freedom
by Irina Dimitric

Freedom to think aloud, a precious
commodity, alas, not a birthright
of all the inhabitants on Earth

My new home in the land of plenty
Down Under, how I love you!
Freedom to think aloud is mine, too

Freedom to walk on the beach
all year round, where golden sand,
the blue ocean and seagulls dance

And on my balcony, merry bush birds
eat out of my hand as I watch their antics and
the shimmering sea; then, they fly away free

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I migrated to Australia with my family in 1964. Apart from having the good fortune to live in a leafy suburb near the sea, coming from a totalitarian regime, former Yugoslavia, the right to freedom of opinion and expression in a democracy is what I truly treasure.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Balmoral Beach” by Irina Dimitric.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Irina Dimitric, retired teacher, lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband and a canary. Writing poetry and photography are her recent passions. Her work has appeared in narratorAUSTRALIA online and in print. In 2014, she published her first book of poetry, Dreams On My Pillow, accompanied by her photographs. Visit her at  http://irinadim.com

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Te Rauparaha
by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

Waves lick at the rocks, you feel the wind bite.
Canoes full of ghosts stroke over the sea —
Te Rauparaha’s back on the island tonight.

The tohunga said the omens are right;
the full moon of autumn reddens the beach,
waves lick at the rocks. You feel the wind bite

like a taniwha. Tribes are meeting to fight
for control of the coastline at Kapiti —
Te Rauparaha’s back. On the island tonight

his woman is waiting, hidden from sight
in the cave on the headland. Just out of reach
waves lick at the rocks; you feel the wind bite

at the trees. Her face in dim fire light
flickers with shadows; the future she reads
Te Rauparaha’s. Back on the island tonight

he’ll feast on the fallen, wairua his right
ruling the tribes of Paekakariki.
Waves lick at the rocks, you feel the wind bite —
Te Rauparaha’s back on the island tonight.

AUTHOR’S FOOTNOTES:
Te Rauparaha: Maori chief (1760-1849), war leader of Ngati Toa tribe, known as the Napoleon of the Pacific
tohunga: spiritual advisor to tribes
taniwha: mythical protective guardian of place
Kapiti: an island off the west coast of New Zealand; controlled the sea lanes
Paekakariki: settlement on the coast opposite Kapiti
wairua: spirit, the practise of eating brave enemies killed in battle to gain their powers

SOURCE: “Te Rauparaha” first appeared in The River Journal (2011).

PHOTOGRAPH: “Kapiti Island” (New Zealand) by Mercedes Webb-Pullman.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online, in print and in her books Food 4 Thought, Numeralla Dreaming, After the Danse, Ono, Looking for Kerouac, Tasseography, Bravo Charlie Foxtrot, and Collected poems 2008-2014. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand. Visit her at benchpress.co.nz.

stuart shearer
May Day Observations
by Sue A’Hern 

Seclusion on Swansea beach is gone for today and maybe for a few months to come.
Sunny and warm bank holiday marks the end of seclusion on the beach season.
For the first time this year pasty legs and arms soak up the sun.
Jacket removed I sit on a bench and observe.

A child shouts from the beach to his grandmother standing on the promenade;
“Nana! Nana! Come down here, come on the beach, Nana come here!”
It appears that Nana is pretending not to hear.

A man sits on the bench next to me;
I can’t see his face clearly,
Eyes are hidden behind large framed mirrored shades,
A baseball hat adds to his anonymity.
He produces a can of Kestrel lager;
Quickly and eagerly sucks at the foam,
Downs the contents in seconds,
Leaves the empty can on the bench and moves on.

The view towards Mumbles is crystal clear;
The horizon filled with sails moving this way and that.

Kite surfers are out in force;
Gliding along sea and sand.

A group of small children sit together;
They watch a woman flying a stunt kite,
Controlled with expertise it glides and swirls high above,
With every loop and turn the children are in awe.

A young man on a fish-tale skateboard;
Weaves his way in and out of the walkers,
He speeds along over the block paving,
Wheels clatter loudly as he goes by.

A woman tries without success to tempt a little boy off the beach;
“I’m going to have ice-cream I am, Grandpas gonna have red pop.”
He runs down the beach away from her shouting;
“No! No! I don’t want none.”
It seems he is determined to stay and won’t be bribed.

The freckles on my arms are now out in their hundreds,
I don’t remember having so many.

Many couples wander by;
Locked arm in arm,
Holding hands,
Some canoodle.

Pram pushing parents jostle for a clear path trying not to collide with;
Other pram pushers,
Children,
Cyclists,
Dogs,
Those walking with sticks,
And the meandering general public.

Dog walkers pirouette around obstacles and other dog walkers;
Doing the avoid a dog fight starting dance,
Rats on ropes and beasts on chain,
Glare at each other on passing.

Many a picnic blanket is laid out,
For the feast of food with sand in it.

A hot and flustered young woman clip clops past;
In thigh high black leather high heeled boots,
With a matching black leather jacket,
Each step made with determination.
I wonder how hot she will have to get,
Before fashion becomes second to comfort.
She looks contradictory against a backdrop of;
Shorts,
T-shirts,
Summer dresses,
Sandals and flip flops.

A group of children varying in size and ages come hurtling past,
One of the older ones is shouting;
“Can we go on the beach?”
They ignore the loud responses from the adults following behind;
“No not yet”
“Wait till we’re all together”
“No there’s too many people”
Excitement fuelled they run,
Leaving a trail of shoes and socks,
They bounce down the steps onto the sand,
Adults pick up the disregarded items and sigh.

Today the world is full of cyclists:
All shapes and sizes,
Ages,
Ability and proficiency,
They’re out in force today.
A large woman dismounts;
Wipes away sweat from eyes and brow,
And walks uncomfortably by, pushing her bike.
A couple riding a tandem;
Negotiate their way with expertise,
Experience and confidence.
So much lycra;
Fluorescent vests,
Helmets,
Knee and elbow pads.

The sun starts to heat up my brain;
Memo to self,
Maybe it is really summertime,
Start wearing a sun hat,
Put sunglasses in handbag.

Time for coffee and cake;
My favourite cafe is full,
Not a single seat inside or out.
Looks like for the next few months it will be;
De-caf cappuccino and carrot cake to go.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2007 I suffered multiple eruptions of brain aneurisms and a stroke, in my former life when I had a fully functional memory and body I was a senior lecturer in Art, Design & Media. I started writing poetry in 2012 to assist and aid my failing memory and test my academic skills. I had my first book of poetry Tank Poetry & Stuff published in 2013 and subsequently I have been published in a number of anthologies.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Swansea Beach” (Wales) by Stuart Shearer. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Following a major illness that affected cognition and memory function, Sue A’Hern turned to writing poetry as form of biblio-therapy. Her illness means that she has to keep precise notes on everything from daily routines to general life experiences; the creative process of observing her local area and general life situation has become an integral part of everyday life. The poem “May Day Observations & Seagulls” is the first time her note taking transformed into a coherent poem and marks the beginning of her journey into a new life as a poet. It was written for the large part on May Day, during a trip to her local beach in Swansea to observe the area.

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Midsummer – Sweden
by Bruce Louis Dodson

This sans sunset day
twilight till dawn
another summer solstice
endless clock of seasons.

Magic hours when animals can talk
and humans dream of lovers
dress the maypole
join in celebration
gatherings of thousands

celebrate until the early morning mist.

Life on earth reborn.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Midsummer (Midsommardagan) is arguably the most celebrated holiday in Sweden — certainly equal to Christmas. It is the summer equinox, a magical time when the sun does not set.

dodson

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat living in Borlänge, Sweden, where he practices photography and writes fiction and poetry. His most recent work has appeared in Breadline Press West Coast Poetry Anthology, Foreign & Far Away – Writers Abroad Anthology, Sleeping Cat Books – Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, The Crucible, Blue Collar Review, Barely South Review, 3rd Wednesday, The Path, Northern Liberties Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Sounds of Solace – Meditative Verse Anthology, Tic Toc Anthology, High Coupe, and Vine Leaves. Visit him at brucelouisdodson.wordpress.com.

spintheday
Sonnet #1 – In Italia
by Eloísa Pérez-Lozano

I’ve never written in this form before
Italian deep inside, the voice I hear
Its lilting cadence dancing in my ear
Stirs memories that make me yearn for more,

Reminds me of the place I hold most dear
The cobblestones of Florence where I’d walk
The strong romantic lingua to unlock
Gelato, behind windows, always near.

The traveling done solo would awake
An independent streak that still remains
The wanderlust, insatiable — no reins —
Life’s moments saved in photographs I’d take.

My heart is now the only one who travels down this road
The life once lived alive once more, through this poetic mode.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem came from a poetry class I took last spring. Our assignment was to write a sonnet, which I had never written before. As I was trying to decide whether to write a Shakespearan or Italian sonnet, I thought it would be interesting to start off admitting that this was my first sonnet. Luckily, the amount of syllables and the rhythm fit perfectly into the Italian style, which made my decision for me. I then remembered thinking how fitting it was for me, considering the amazing experience I had while I was living in Florence, Italy, years earlier. That’s when I decided to write the whole sonnet about Florence. Though my first home is in Houston, Texas, I consider Florence another home and there will always be a part of it that stays with me.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Florence, Italy” by Spintheday. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Eloisa author photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eloísa Pérez-Lozano grew up bilingual and bicultural in Houston, Texas. She graduated from Iowa State University with her M.S. in journalism and mass communication and her B.S. in psychology. In the spring of 2014, she studied poetry at the University of Houston-Clear Lake with former professor Dr. John Gorman, who continues to be her mentor. Eloísa was selected to be a Juried Poet during the 2014 Houston Poetry Fest and her poetry has been featured in The Bayou Review, Illya’s Honey, The Acentos Review, The Ofi Press, the Johnson County Library’s 2014 Poem-a-Day Program, the 2014 Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, and The Degenerates: Voices for Peace Anthology.

marc_rettig
Steel Mill Dust
by Joseph Lisowski

I’m from outside–
from graffiti-scarred gates
of abandoned steel mills,
from bloodstained slogans–
“Aid’s Alley,” “Needle Park”–
from broken glass in the ball field
where rocks served as bases,
from cyclone fences topped with barbed wire
where boys smoked, drank, and cut each other.

I’m from inside–
from duck’s blood soup,
kiska, kielbasa, beets, and leeks,
from a potbelly stove, a coal
furnace never working right,
window cracks, cold.

I’m from my grandfather’s warm
homemade beer served to me in thimbles,
from my grandmother’s soft Polish vowels,
the play of parents, grandparents,
an uncle, ever-increasing siblings
living under the same roof.

All we owned was our laughter,
our sense of family, ourselves regardless
how we lived stacked in a rented row house.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The location described in the poem is the Lawrenceville section of Pittsburgh, below Butler St., specifically, a rented two bedroom row house 186 45th St., less than a 100 yards from the entrance to a steel mill.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Heppenstall Steel, 2006” (facility closed in 1979) by Marc Rettig, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

lisowski

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: After growing up under the shadow of Heppenstall Steel Mill in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Joseph Lisowski has spent much of his life near the sea, including 10 years in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, which serves as the setting for his three published mystery novels, Full Body Rub, Looking for Lisa, and Looking for Lauren. He won the University of North Carolina Board of Governors Teacher of the Year Award (2013-2014). His most recent full length book is Stashu Kapinski Dreams of Glory (Sweatshoppe Publications, 2013).

big_snow
Ice Angels
by Robin Dawn Hudechek

In the winter we made snow angels
and built igloos from icy bricks
molded in plastic cups.

I never learned to ice skate properly
on sidewalks smeared in patches of ice
and concrete cracks that caught my blades
and sent me crashing to the pavement,
rubbing sore ankles.
I longed for a pond or a river nearby
a frozen-over world I could glide above.
Our snowmen wore the scarves
we should have kept wound around our own necks.

We loved the snow days
and the snow that sparkled at midnight
white as noon. No one watched the
clock when we pulled out our sleds
or crunched through thigh-high
ice drifts, sculptured waves
settling against the banks of our houses.

We loved the cold hard panes of night,
the oak tree limbs chattering in icy cocoons
and snowflakes that clung to our windows
and slid down the glass, long teardrops
of broken wings. Snowflakes, tiny skeletons
of leaves, craved the warmth of houses,
fragile and clueless as moths
drawn to the heat of a warmly lit kitchen.

The whistling steam from my mother’s
ancient teapot waiting to be poured
into mugs and stirred into hot chocolate
called us back into the house.
We pulled off our soggy mittens
from nearly frost-bitten fingers
and prayed the snow flurries and
sheets of ice spreading from street to street
like continents of moving glaciers
would keep us away from school
for one more day.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in the 70s in East Detroit, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit [now called Eastpointe]. Once or twice a year we had snowstorms that brought snowdrifts and misery to the adults who had to shovel the snow and drive on the treacherous roads. For us children, the snowstorms were magical with snowy nights bright as day, and wonderfully long school-free days in which our only responsibilities were helping our parents shovel snow, and maybe finishing the homework we probably wouldn’t have to turn in the next day.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Big Snow in East Detroit, Michigan (1970s)” found at Flickr.

Evening in Dana Point Harbor

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robin Dawn Hudechek received her MFA in creative writing, poetry from UCI. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including Caliban, Cream City Review, Blue Arc West: An Anthology of California Poets, Cadence Collective, Silver Birch Press, East Jasmine Review, Hedgerow: a journal of small poems, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Quarterly, The Camel Saloon, and work forthcoming in Chiron Review. She lives in Laguna Beach, California, with her husband Manny and two beautiful cats, Ashley and Misty. More of her poetry can be found at robindawnh.wordpress.com.

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Happy Valley
by Kristin Perkins

Sometimes I feel like I might suffocate from the godliness of this place
the goodliness of this place
this is the place
White shirted, pale-pink skin, blonde hair – the markings of some kind of bird
I am learning to get to know
Utah has a lot of Mormons

And I’ve come from oceans rippling with facets of mystery
and sand and sea and anorexic palm trees
to mountains that fold and curve like blankets over giant bodies
with snow somehow only on one side of a ridge
like a messy yin-yang symbol
or the shadow cast by something white, as dark as any other shadow
that is Utah Valley for me
the shadows in Happy Valley are just as dark as anywhere
which is as comforting as it is sad

I listen to the bird song, muffled in snow
echoing in the wide wide streets
empty on a Sunday
Sometimes I don’t understand
but here I am anyways
outside, inside upside-down
– learning

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I recently moved from San Diego, California, to Provo, Utah, to go to Brigham Young University. My first few months in Utah I definitely had culture shock, and while I am becoming more accustomed to the area I still feel like an outsider. I’ve grown used to that feeling and I’ve discovered, for the most part, I don’t mind it.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah” by Mountain Dreams. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristin Perkins is a theatre and gender studies university student graduating next year with honors. She has had a short story published in Inscape: A Journal of Literature and Art and has written theatre reviews through San Diego Theatre Scene and Front Row Reviewers Utah. She has been in published in a poetry anthology, Degenerates: Voices for Peace and featured on their website. Additionally, two of her plays have been produced, The Encyclopedia Salesman and A Death in the Family. Her visual art has been displayed in professional gallery spaces, and she is currently working on a collaborative performance art piece. Meanwhile, she is working on a novel and performing original spoken-word poetry.

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GOIN’ POSTAL IN BASTROP, TEXAS
by LaVonne Roberts

driving out of my neighborhood, tahitian village,
past the convenience store selling lotto dreams and pork rinds,
i smile.

where else would a gravel road development have the courage to use unpronounceable hawaiian street names
in a town where the first national bank’s sign is soldered on to a bbq pit?
i wonder.

i live in a town where my currency is apple butter and cherry pie.

driving to goin’ postal to ship my ebay sales where jim, the owner, is covering for gary, who’s at home with a pinched nerve after accidentally taking his wife’s menopause pills.
i chuckle.

i ease off the gas, fearful for the tiny bernardaud limoges plates sold. jim will shake his head and say, “i just don’t get it. folks are crazy.” and,
i agree.

I live in a town where the success of a business can be measured in the size of their bbq pit.

i could share that my little plates came from versailles, but i won’t. down a villa in the south of france, but up on ebay. hmm…
i reflect.

i am the town’s citified divorcee selling off her useless luxury goods. years of regrets have been replaced with self-deprecating, straight from the gut laughter.
i think…

I live in a town where the sheriff’s in prison after building the largest bbq pit with prison labor and taxpayers’ money.

i’ve woven a story of sorts, delivering daily installments with my drop offs, like a full-length chinchilla trimmed sheared mink coat or crystal embellished lime green copacabana pants from a gay soiree. whoops.
i cringe.

my strip center schizophrenic mexican cantina of exploding primary colors, garish murals, paper flowers, sombreros and rich smells of chilies, cilantro, tequila and lime, with deep dark red Ming Dynasty arches and trim, the Buddha statue and smell of ginger still imagined is my hideout.
i am hungry.

i share that epsom salts and a tiger balm patch helped my psychosomatic pinched nerve.
i wince.

i live in a town where an affagato frapuccinio delivered to a bmw out of a window designed for a ford 350 is an event not an order.

i share that i am leasing to our toyota dealer and jim whispers, “they’re catholic; they make new orleans gumbo.”
i pretend to understand the correlation of sin city’s cuisine and a foreigner – a catholic.
i see.

jim asks if i watch the gilmore girls for the 5th time and i respond –
we are the gilmore girls for the 4th time.
i know.

i live in a town where a church sits beside “miss behavin’ bail bonds – ain’t no use takin’ a spankin’”

i talk about my canadian-obsessed daughter on full scholarship in victoria, bc who’s graduating high school early.
i say – yes, canada.

i leave out that my eBay inventory is in our town attorney’s sawdust floor garage or that i’m living in his cottage out back. locals think people downtown have too much, and hey, gotta keep that postage down.
i imagine.

i live in a town where the gas pump is always on, and my neighbors loan me their truck.

i share that i considered facing big hair, red nails and one too many cocktails, to stay with my sister-in-law, whose name is a spice
that sounds like a stripper.
i laugh, yes cinnamon, i say.

i think about my grocery list for whole foods, and a trip to my club in austin, where no one knows that i’ve left. i drive 40 miles, because it makes me happy to visit that life and come home.
i smile again – yes, i do.

i live in a town, rich in main street stories, selling salvation on the mega church’s bumper sticker, where tequila runs like holy water.

i wonder, i worry, i hope, but mostly,
in and out,
i breathe.

i live in a town where we have a chicken sanctuary street, where the chickens have the right of way. Seriously – yes.

i miss my children, but i don’t miss the fear.
i miss high-rise manhattan life, soundproof windows looking out on a world i can’t hear, but i don’t miss the screaming
i miss sunday night dinners, children bickering, being a family, but i don’t miss the lies.
i miss my turkish harman, cocktail decided trips to unknown places, sunsets overlooking the mediterranean, the freedom to choose, but i don’t miss the prison.
i miss paris, a life without lines, an assistant who knew me better than me, a black card, and i miss never hearing no, but i don’t miss the noose.

Hell, I miss it all, but I don’t miss “that” me

Going’ Postal – that’s ME

PHOTOGRAPH: “Main Street, Bastrop, Texas” by Nv8200p

Roberts

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: LaVonne Roberts is a social entrepreneur best known for her role in the formation of XOOM, where she was a founding shareholder. After participating in multiple public and private financing totaling almost $400M pre-IPO, XOOM merged with GE’s NBC Internet assets, resulting in the formation of NBC Internet, the first global integrated media company. Today LaVonne uses her design, technology, and entrepreneurial skills where she is most passionate, helping at-risk youth, especially supporting the population of youth in foster care aging out without family. After a very glamorous, but suffocating shallow life, Ms. Roberts decided to find her voice in a lifelong passion – writing. She is known for her home-canned tomatoes, her ability to throw a Moroccan dinner party for 20 — complete with pomegranate martinis and frozen lemon-mint soufflés, and her ability to send you home with a joint venture. She is most passionate about being a mom to her two incredible children, writing essays and a memoir and helping orphans who have aged out of foster care find their voices through higher education.