Archives for posts with tag: history

In Service to the People
by Mary Camarillo

After my grandfathers served in WWI, they took the Railway Post Office (RPO) exam. RPO clerks were considered postal service elites at the time. They were a close-knit group. That’s how my parents met—their fathers worked together.

The RPO manual required clerks to “possess more than ordinary intelligence, have a retentive memory and be sound in wind and limb.” My grandfathers knew all the rail junctions, the specific local delivery details and were able to ready a 50-pound mail pouch, stand in an open doorway just before the train passed the station at 70 miles per hour, grab the incoming pouch off a crane, and kick the outbound pouch off to the ground (and hopefully not underneath the train wheels).

My father rode with my grandfather on a few trips and decided he did not want to work for the post office. I wasn’t expecting to either, but when a friend took the exam, I tagged along. When I got hired, I planned to work a few months, save some money, and quit. I stayed for many reasons—five weeks’ vacation, 10 paid holidays, health benefits, the retirement package–but mostly because of the camaraderie of a close-knit group of people working towards a common goal.

Postal employees (my grandfathers, Charles Bukowski, John Prine, my husband, countless friends) miss Christmas celebrations, get bitten by dogs, and lose sleep working graveyard because they are committed to getting the mail out despite snow, rain, heat and now Covid-19, and a new postmaster general intent on cutting service.

The Postal Service mission is to “bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people.” The RPO handbook called this responsibility “a sacred duty.” I can think of nothing more sacred than binding our nation together in these fractured times.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Postal Service is in my DNA. I had a long career with the service, and I find the recent changes in service standards alarming. There is a longer version of this essay on my website.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: These are photographs of my grandfathers, who were both Railway Post Office clerks. Their names are Hubert Adrian Parker (right) and McDonald Wilson Brice (left), both deceased.

Camarillo Photo3 headshot

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Camarillo’s first novel will be published by She Writes Press in June of 2021. She is currently working on a novel told in linked stories. Her prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as The Sonoran Review, Lunch Ticket, and The Ear. She lives in Huntington Beach, California, with her husband who plays ukulele and their terrorist cat Riley who has his own Instagram account @marycamel13. Visit her at MaryCamarillo.com to read more of her work.

Author’s photo taken at the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony.

licensed erix2005
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.

RossBetsy
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).

nester2-copy

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.

Jack Sheridan cottage_sand_bury_painting
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.

singapore 1
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)

Singapore_Michigan

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.

Caesar1 copy

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).

licensed stevanzz
Postcards Home
by Neil David Mitchell

Bones of the brother
brought to Christ;
martyrdom stories
come to life.
*
Fifty-two types
of icy feast;
twice Tom Morris
rests in peace.
*
Ping of the oldest
swings in town;
castles of sand
built up, washed down.
*
Sprint like Liddell
or take a seat;
Swilken Burn bridge
is crossed by feet.
*
From east, west shorelines
surfboards speed;
sniper gulls glint
their beady-eyed greed…

PHOTO: St. Andrews Old Course, fairway and stone bridge on hole 18 (Fife, Scotland) by Seevanzz, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Old Course at St Andrews is considered the oldest golf course in the world and commonly known as “The Home of Golf.” First played on the Links at St Andrews in the early 15th century, golf became increasingly popular in Scotland until 1457, when James II of Scotland banned the game because he felt that young men were playing too much golf instead of practicing archery. The restrictions remained in force until 1502, when James IV became a golfer and removed the ban.

Mitchell ND St Andrews
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is taken from a series of poems called St. Andrews Days which appears in my recent collection Seasonal Lines. I tried to create little snapshots of everyday life mixed with some of the history of the town, during a trip to the “Home of Golf” on the east coast of Scotland.

PHOTO: The author at Swilken Burn Bridge, 18th hole, St Andrews Old Course (2008).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil David Mitchell, from Glasgow, Scotland, writes poetry, prose and music, as well as balancing the challenging and wonderful roles of being a High School English Teacher, a husband and a father. He recently published his first collection of poems Seasonal Lines. His further adventures can be followed on Twitter @ndsnigh or at his Amazon author page.

miguel braulio pena rodriguez licensed
The Viaduct of Madrid
by Anita Haas

The first time I saw you, illuminated
in your evening glory, I had lost my way. Running
up Toledo Street, hurrying
to meet a friend in Plaza Mayor, I rounded
the wrong corner and you commanded, “Stop!
Forget your silly worries! Look at me!”

Noble eagle, servile slave, you stretch your spine, crook
your elbows, bow your head. Your shoulders carry
a load of heedless traffic, pressing on you from one
set of fingers buried in the Moorish quarter
to the other, in opulent parks and palaces,
your wingspan – your yoke – bridging two worlds, and
– your back to the city – you look down
            on crumbling walls that once protected the town,
            on a park dedicated to its founder, an emir of Muslim Córdoba,
            on travelers passing through you like a gate,
            on the Segovia road, once a creek, the banks of which
housed the earliest settlers.

You shelter the homeless, watch helplessly
as the desperate leap from your shoulders, their ghosts
staring stunned at the spots where their bodies hit road.

Like a medieval fortress, stone steps race up
and down your slopes like beetles, resting on tree-shrouded
landings, where lovers tryst, and photographers snipe
at infinite angles, each frame bathed
in unique light, and cradled by arms
dressed in foliage.

War once crippled your mighty columns
Yet still you arch and gleam majestic
like a dancer, frozen in an ecstatic olé.

PHOTO: Segovia Viaduct, Madrid, Spain, by Miguel Braulio.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Segovia Viaduct is a concrete bridge in Madrid, Spain. The location was previously the site of an iron bridge built in 1874. Sixty years later, in 1934, a concrete bridge, similar to the one that stands today, replaced it — and, during the 1970s, the site was refurbished and expanded, but the basic design remained the same.

Haas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anita Haas is a differently abled, award-winning Canadian writer and teacher based in Madrid, Spain. She has published books on film, two novelettes, a short story collection, and articles, poems and fiction in both English and Spanish. Her poetry has appeared in Quantum Leap, River Poets Journal, Poetry Quarterly, Vox Poetica, Verse Virtual, Wink, Songs of Eretz, Parody Magazine, and Founder’s Favourites. She spends her free time watching films, and enjoying tapas and flamenco with her writer husband and two cats.

WF150_photobyKenMahar_June2019-20
Continent’s Edge
by Jeanine Stevens

Imagine a shoreline, its own salty foam.
Not by Muir Beach or Shelter Cove
but just beyond Red Hawk Casino—gold country:
scrub oaks and ghost pines.
Granite outcrops and below, ocean floor basalt,
marl‘s crumbly clay, shell fragments.
This is Wakamatsu Colony (1869), Japanese
farmers attempting to grow silk, tea trees, rice.
Where are the dwellings, bamboo groves?
Someone would know, perhaps
a grad student researching ancestry.
Near the trail, buttercups, vetch, Rat Tail radish
(a delicacy in Asia). I nibble spicy pods.
Streambeds dry, few miners’ flakes remain.
You may discover garnets in your shallow pan.
Over the foot bridge, simple joy
to walk planks: bounce, sponge, lift.
Tides, first sensory,
something of womb, suck
pull back—thrum tide.
Under a perigee moon, I wonder if bedrock
heaves, upends remains of shellfish?
Behind the electric fence, a Jersey mother has tender eyes.
Long time since I’ve been close to such
a large mammal, her heat shimmering,
dancing in amber sun.

Two identical calves recline,
slowly munching meadow grass.

PHOTO: Wakamatsu Farm in 2019, its 150th year, by Ken Mahar.

8218_WakamatsuTea
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony was made up of a group of 22 samurai and one woman during the Boshin Civil War (1868–69) in Japan preceding the Meiji Restoration. This is believed to be the first permanent Japanese settlement in North America and the only settlement by samurai outside of Japan. The group purchased land from Charles Graner family in the Gold Hill region after coming to San Francisco in 1869. Though the group successfully displayed it produce during the 1869 California State Agricultural Fair in Sacramento and the 1870 Horticultural Fair in San Francisco, the farm as a Japanese colony only existed from 1869-1871. In 1969, the year of the colony’s centennial, it was proclaimed California Historical Landmark No. 815. The American River Conservancy purchased the 272-acre location, 50 miles northeast of Sacramento, in November 2010, with the National Park Service placing the site on the National Register of Historic Places.

PHOTO: Historical marker at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony, Placerville, California.

stevens1
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I write in natural settings, it is usually a pattern of walk, stop, listen, and write, then begin again. This goes back to sixth grade and our bird walks every Friday afternoons. The poem “Continents Edge” was written in one afternoon, step by step, with periods of rest so I could to notice even smaller things like the ragged rattail radish and the bouncy footbridge. This pattern works well for me even in cities, say St. Mark’s Square in Venice. There is so much to take in just by sitting on a bench, watching people and pigeons, the Adriatic creeping over the stone steps.

PHOTO: The author and fellow travelers at Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Farm Colony

Jeanines Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeanine Stevens is the author of Limberlost and Inheritor (Future Cycle Press). Her first poetry collection, Sailing on Milkweed was published by Cherry Grove Collections. She is winner of the MacGuffin Poet Hunt, The Stockton Arts Commission Award, The Ekphrasis Prize, and WOMR Cape Cod Community Radio National Poetry Award. Brief Immensity, won the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Award. Jeanine recently received her sixth Pushcart Nomination. She has participated in Literary Lectures sponsored by Poets and Writers. Her work has appeared in North Dakota Review, Pearl, Stoneboat, Rosebud, Chiron Review, and Forge. Jeanine studied poetry at U.C. Davis and California State University, Sacramento.

licensed sue smith
Promontory
by Rachel Hawk

In August 1965, my friend Barbara and I drove out of Ohio and headed to San Francisco. Unlike our friends, we weren’t ready to get married, buy houses, and have kids. And thought we might never be. We had other dreams and imagined livelier, more varied lives in a beautiful city by the ocean. Because we were nurses, finding work would be easy. Zigzagging across the country, we stopped whenever something caught our fancy. The Golden Spike National Historic Site did just that.

In 1869, two teams of men completed the building of this country’s first transcontinental railroad, laboring toward each other from Iowa and California. For 1,912 miles they  burrowed tunnels, built bridges, and laid down track. It was a massive, arduous, dangerous undertaking. Finally, on May 10th at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, the men hammered a commemorative gold spike into the last, connecting rail, joining east to west. Surrounded by tents, saloons, and boarding houses, the crowd of dignitaries, railroad workers and owners brandished their whiskey bottles, posed for pictures, and cheered. The dangers of crossing multiple raging rivers, deserts, and mountain ranges in horse-drawn wagons had been conquered, making it possible for thousands to travel safely. It had been considered an impossible dream.

When Barbara and I visited, everything — trains, buildings, even the tracks themselves — were gone. As true of many landmarks, there was only a descriptive sign; nothing remained but the story. It was enough. Standing in the wind of that vast beautiful high-desert plain, the excitement of a great endeavor caught us. This was a monument not only to hard work and accomplishment, but also to dreams — and we had our own.

PHOTOGRAPH: National Park Service sign for the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah, by Sue Smith, used by permission.

CHINESE RR WORKERS
EDITOR’S NOTE: Between 1863 and 1869, as many as 20,000 Chinese workers helped build the treacherous western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad that began in Sacramento, California. When not enough white men signed up, the railroad began hiring Chinese men for the backbreaking labor. Chinese workers blasted tunnels through mountains, cut through dense forests, filled deep ravines, constructed long trestles, and built enormous retaining walls. Chinese workers were paid 30-50% less than their white counterparts and were given the most dangerous work. As they approached the meeting point with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah, thousands of Chinese workers laid down 10 miles of track in less than 24 hours. Progress came at great cost: Chinese civic organizations retrieved an estimated 1,200 bodies along the route and sent them to China for burial. The transcontinental railroad’s completion allowed travelers to journey across the country in a week — a trip that had previously taken more than a month. Politicians pointed to the country’s great achievement, failing to mention the foreign-born workers who had made it possible.

Source: “Remember the Chinese immigrants who built America’s first transcontinental railroad” by Gordon H. Chang, professor of history, Stanford University, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2019.

PHOTO: Chinese workers toil in a treacherous stretch of the Transcontinental Railroad in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, late 1860s. (Source: National Park Service.)

East_and_West_Shaking_hands_at_the_laying_of_last_rail_Union_Pacific_Railroad_-_Restoration
PHOTO: Ceremony on May 10, 1969 for installing the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, representing the completion of the First U.S. Transcontinental Railroad. At center left, Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shakes hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad (center right). They are surrounded by men who built the railway — but Chinese workers are noticeably absent. Many of the laborers who worked their way west on the Union Pacific Railroad were Irish immigrants — about 3,000 in all, many of whom were veterans of the Union Army in the Civil War. They, too, faced dangerous working conditions and hardships. Photo: Andrew J. Russell, Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, used by permission.)

goldenspike2014b
PHOTO: In 2014, on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad’s completion at Promontory Summit, Utah, a group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreate the iconic photo taken without their ancestors in 1869. Photo (c) Corky Lee, All Rights Reserved. 

Plaque_at_Promontory_Summit,_UT
PHOTO: Plaque at Promontory Summit, Utah, placed in 1969 to commemorate the centennial of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad and to honor “the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific Railroad whose indomitable courage made it possible.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Today, at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, visitors can see full-sized exact replicas of the original (and colorful!) Victorian-era locomotives. According to the National Park Service website, the site now features a visitors’ center as well as driving tours, hiking trails, and re-enactments of driving the Last Spike.

Hawk3 copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Hawk facilitates a weekly writers’ forum. Her personal essays explore both the interior world of the narrator and the nuances within relationships. Her current work utilizes elements of memoir in narrative form.

qing waa licensed
Statue of William Penn
by Mark Tulin

I used to wear the bronze hat
of William Penn,
the founder of Pennsylvania
who stands atop City Hall
in Philadelphia
I was the one who remembered
how things were
during the revolutionary days
when freedom was a passion
and not a personal insult
I remember what it felt like
to live in the sky,
my head in the clouds,
and look over my brothers
Although I love my place of birth,
I never want to return,
nor do I want to forget
how proudly I once stood.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn atop City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by Qing Waa, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For almost 90 years, an unwritten gentlemen’s agreement forbade any building in Philadelphia from rising above the hat on the William Penn statue. This agreement ended in 1985, when final approval was given to the Liberty Place complex. Its centerpieces are two skyscrapers, One Liberty Place and Two Liberty Place, which rose well above the height of Penn’s hat. (Source: Wikipedia)

PH(1897)_p11_STATUE_OF_WILLIAM_PENN

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Until 1985, the statue of William Penn was the highest point in the city.  I could see this 37-foot bronze statue atop of Philadelphia’s City Hall from my neighborhood in the Northeast section and whenever I took the elevated train into Center City. The iconic sculpture has always been the symbol of what it meant to be a part of the Philadelphia culture. During my adolescence in the 70s, Penn’s statue was etched in my soul, representing our country’s freedom and revolutionary spirit. Since moving from Philadelphia to California approximately 10 years ago, I am reluctant to return to the City of Brotherly Love. I’ve had so many great childhood memories that I don’t want to tarnish them by returning to a place where my favorite corner stores, restaurants, and movie theaters have been replaced by structures that have very little meaning for me.  I want to keep the memory of my city of origin alive and in my heart.

PHOTO: Statue of William Penn awaiting installation at the top of Philadelphia’s City Hall in 1894. The 37-foot bronze statue, which weighs over 50,000 pounds, was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, whose namesake son and grandson also became noted sculptors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: William Penn (1644–1718) was a writer, early member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania. An early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, he was notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed. Philadelphia was designed to be grid-like, with its streets easy to navigate, unlike London where Penn was from. Philadelphia streets are named with numbers and tree names. He chose to use the names of trees for the cross streets because Pennsylvania means “Penn’s Woods.” (Source: Wikipedia.)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Tulin is a former therapist from Philadelphia who now lives in California. He has two poetry books, Magical Yogis and Awkward Grace. His upcoming book, The Asthmatic Kid and Other Stories is available to pre-order. Mark has been featured in Amethyst Review, Strands Publishers, Fiction on the Web, Terror House Magazine, Trembling with Fear, Life In The Time, Still Point Journal, The Writing Disorder, New Readers Magazine, among others. For more, visit his website, Crow On The Wire.

Ron Chapple licensed
American Landmark
by Howard Richard Debs

In 1995, celebrating 30 years together
we went, my wife and I, to New York
New York to visit the Big Apple.
It was a splurge. We stayed
at the posh Peninsula Hotel,
once called The Gotham built in 1905;
upgraded to a deluxe suite
on high, I can’t remember why
we looked out a window
then impressed by much,
we saw Trump Tower right nearby.
We took in the sights, the Met,
a carriage ride in Central Park,
the Carnegie Deli a now closed classic,
serving insults and mile-high corned beef
since 1937. We hit The Great White Way:
Smokey Joe’s Café music by Leiber
and Stoller; the Tony winner too, Crazy
for You, based On Gershwin tunes from
Girl Crazy, their show of 1930,
American songbook all.
Then to the Lower East Side, the
Tenement Museum, where walls
reverberate with immigrant
voices yearning. We took the
ferry from Castle Clinton at
Battery Park where Grandpa Ben
in 1886 arrived, Ellis Island not till 1892
a point from which to disembark.
Once there, we walked back
in history—12 million passed through
before us in search of their dream.
They first were sent to the baggage
room then down a staircase, watchful
eyes upon them, into the Great Hall
for inspection and examination
to be cleared or detained; the gateway
to the golden door shut and abandoned
in 1954, a developer bid to make it a resort
rescued in August of 1965 by President
Lyndon Johnson’s pen I’ll not forget,
that good thing happened when
my wife and I were wed.

PHOTO: Aerial view of Ellis Island with the Statue of Liberty in the background, New York City, by Ron Chapple, used by permission.

Debs1

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My paternal grandfather, Benjamin Debs was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1884 to Charles and Yetta (nee Markuza) Dobrowitz. Arriving in America at the tender age of two after a brief stay in New York his family moved to Chicago. Among a number of successful enterprises through the years, he established a millinery manufacturing business in the Maxwell Street area, Chicago’s equivalent to the Lower East Side. He is a shining example of the immigrants to America who raised themselves up from poverty through perseverance and hard work. It was a privilege to have his name added to the Ellis Island American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

Debs2

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My wife, Sheila (foreground, right), pictured in the Great Hall at Ellis Island during our visit to New York City in 1995. To me in this picture she seems to be pondering what it must have been like.

Debs3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Award. His essays, fiction, and poetry appear internationally in numerous publications. His photography is featured in select publications, including in Rattle online as “Ekphrastic Challenge” artist and guest editor. His book Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words (Scarlet Leaf Publishing), is the recipient of a 2017 Best Book Award and 2018 Book Excellence Award. He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming later in 2020 from Vallentine Mitchell of London, publisher of the first English language edition of the diary of Anne Frank. He is listed in the Poets & Writers Directory.

izabela 23 licensed
C L I M B I N G
by Robert Lima

I see myself climbing,
not the Matterhorn, not
Picos de Europa, not
Kilimanjaro, nor the
highest peak of all —
Mount Everest . . .

I see myself climbing
Huayna Picchu in Perú,
teat of the Inca world
with its milk of mist.

It is set higher than its
sister Machu Picchu and
offers aerial vistas of the river
Urubamba and the deep valleys.

I see myself climbing its
steep inclines, foot upon foot,
clinging to the rock face
as bits dislodge in karmic fall
into the waiting precipice.

I see myself climbing, fear and
tremor at each step of the steep
ascent, ever reaching higher
to attain the mountain’s sacred self.

PHOTO: At nearly nine thousand feet above sea level, Huayna Picchu (center) overlooks Machu Picchu, the so-called “Lost City of the Incas.” (Photo by Izabela 23, used by permission.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Huayna Picchu is a mountain in southern Peru that rises over Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel. The Incas built a trail up the side of the Huayna Picchu and erected temples and terraces on the mountain ridge. The peak of Huayna Picchu is 8,835 ft above sea level, about 850 ft higher than Machu Picchu. (Source: Wikipedia.)

2016-ME

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Lima is a Cuban-born, award-winning poet, as well as an internationally recognized critic, bibliographer, playwright, and translator. As a Greenwich Village poet during the 1960s, he read at coffeehouses and other venues, co-edited Seventh Street. Poems of Les Deux Megots, introduced by Denise Levertov, and the second series of Judson Review. His 15 poetry collections include Celestials, Elementals, Sardinia/Sardegna, Ikons of the Past: Poetry of the Hispanic Americas, and Writers on My Watch (2020). Over 600 of his poems have appeared in print in the U.S. and abroad Eleven of his poems have just appeared in Greek translation in Noima Magazine. Among his numerous critical studies are works on García Lorca, Valle-Inclán, Borges, Surrealism, folklore, dramatic literature, and translations of plays and poetry.