Archives for posts with tag: Alaska

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Calving at Glacier Bay
by Karen George

We wake before dawn, rise to the promenade
deck while the onboard naturalist broadcasts

seeds of glacial wisdom. As our ship queues
to enter the inner sanctum, thousands maneuver

for spots at the rail. Ice floes bob, unveiled
by tendrils of first light. Many hold hands

while we glide through the bay’s mouth.
So much silence. Even he no longer explains

how slabs of ice cleave and, seconds later,
thunder-crack and impact arrive. Cloistered

by cliffs of blue ice, our lungs bathed
in elemental air, we spoon to view the sacred text,

and I believe every wrong unwound,
all ebbed back to innocence, your cancer cured.

Originally published in the author’s chapbook, Inner Passage (Red Bird Chapbooks) and the collection Swim Your Way Back (Dos Madres Press).

PHOTO: Glacier Bay, Alaska. Photo by Brad on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem about the memory of visiting Glacier Bay on an Alaskan cruise that my husband and I took four months before he died. The cruise was filled with such beauty, and at the same time, such sorrow because my husband had stage IV terminal cancer. I’m often struck by how joy and sadness are sometimes inextricably mixed. Visiting Glacier Bay while the sun rose was one of the most wondrous sights I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ll always treasure experiencing that memory with my husband Richard. Calving is the term that describes when an iceberg or glacier splits and sheds a huge mass of ice directly into the sea. It sounds like thunder.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karen George is author of five chapbooks as well as three poetry collections from Dos Madres Press: Swim Your Way Back (2014), A Map and One Year (2018), and Where Wind Tastes Like Pears (2021). She won Slippery Elm’s 2022 Poetry Contest, and her short story collection, How We Fracture, winner of the Rosemary Daniell Fiction Prize, is forthcoming from Minerva Rising Press in Spring 2023. Her work appears in Adirondack Review, Atticus Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Indianapolis Review, Poet Lore, and I-70 Review. Visit her on Facebook, Twitter, and her website.

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.


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.

scott cameron

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

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.


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

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