Archives for posts with tag: memories

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What We Beheld, Yosemite, 1963
by Mary Langer Thompson
                         For Camille

That summer morning we set out from the cabin
fresh from a night’s sleep in the top of the A-frame
after a long drive with my lovesick girlfriends in the back seat,
Camille’s parents in the front, her dad driving
most likely thinking never again as we chattered about our latest flames.

That afternoon we reached the summit
after our seven-mile hike and a stop along the dusty trail
to eat the lunch Camille’s mom had packed us.
Our legs were sore and the eyes of our hearts filled with granite peaks
and ancient stately Sequoias, Half-Dome in the distance.

Camille, with her Coloratura voice softly began to sing:
Oh Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder. . .
giving even strangers on that cathedral mountain more reason to pause.
By the time she reached the final How great thou art,
it wasn’t mist from Bridalveil Falls that sprayed our faces.

That evening at exactly 9:00 p.m., someone started the
    call-and-response:
“The fire is ready.” Then, “Let the fire fall!”
Hot embers spilled from Glacier Point’s cliff and a waterfall became a
    firefall
as the Indian Love Call made us hope to one day return
with that week’s love of our lives, or maybe, just each other.

Previously published in What I Beheld (Local Gems Poetry Press, 2021).

PHOTO: Yosemite National Park, California (July 5, 2019) by Mick Haupt on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “What We Beheld, Yosemite 1963” took place with my two best friends, Diane and Camille. Diane passed away in 1980 but Camille and I have remained good friends throughout the years. Camille still sings and has a beautiful coloratura voice.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary Langer Thompson’s is a contributor to two poetry writing texts, The Working Poet (Autumn Press, 2009) and Women and Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching (McFarland, 2012). She was the 2012 Senior Poet Laureate of California, and was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Pittsburgh 1954—Feeling Alone While Staying at Grandma’s
When I Had Chicken Pox (age 6)
by Joan Leotta

I was six, my brother a baby,
when the dreaded spots appeared
and I was banished to Grandma’s
house so, in the days before vaccines,
my baby brother would be safe.
I loved staying at Grandma’s
even when I was sick she managed
to find ways to make me smile
when taking medicine.
But at night, sometimes, I
missed my own bed, my house
mom, dad, even my new brother.
On one of those nights
when I was almost well
but the summer heat was
hotter even than my fever had been
lasting into the night,
leaving me wide awake
and swimming in sweaty
cotton sheets in spite of the fan’s
best efforts.
Muffled snores told me
Grandma had already fallen
asleep. The fan’s whap, whirr, whine,
instead of keeping me company,
or lulling me to sleep,
reminded me how alone I was.
I counted imaginary sheep
and ceiling cracks, then slipped
out of bed to look out the open window
next to the one with the fan.
The usually busy street
was empty, lonely, silent,
like the house,
until a red streetcar
rattled up and stopped.
His friendly bell
dinged a greeting
as he pulled up across the street.
No one got out. No one got in.
I waved and then the streetcar
dinged again and glided away
on its twin moonlit silver steel trails.
Reassured now that I was not alone
in that long, hot night, I hopped
back into bed and, at last, fell asleep.

PHOTO: Streetcar, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (circa 1960s) by tassiebaz.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This place poem is my grandmother’s house, a refuge for me as a child in the 1950s when few in Pittsburgh had air conditioning. I loved staying with my grandmother and enjoyed the big bedroom in the front of the house. But that summer, I had to stay two weeks to keep my infant brother from catching chicken pox from me. By the end of two weeks, I was a bit homesick and that, combined with the heat, caused me to have trouble sleeping and feeling lonely.

PHOTO: The author at age six recovering from chicken pox at her grandmother’s house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales featuring food, family, nature, and strong women. Her writings appear in Ekphrastic Review, Pinesong, The Sun, Brass Bell, Verse Visual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Silver Birch Press, Ovunquesiamo, Verse Virtual, Poetry in Plain Sight, MacQueen’s Quinterly, Yellow Mama, and others. She was a 2021 Pushcart nominee,  received Best of Micro Fiction 2021 (Haunted Waters), was nominated for Best of the Net 2022, and was runner-up in Frost Foundation Poetry Competition. Her chapbook, Feathers on Stone, is available for preorder from Main Street Rag. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Under the Ironing Machine
by Robbi Nester

All morning, my mother sits
before this rectangular monstrosity,
feeding it sheets damp from the washer.
I squat underneath, skinny knees
hugging my sides. The warm cotton
billows, becomes a tent where I sit
with my books and sketch pad,
singing to myself. The sun finds me,
and I feel all this will last forever,
even after the smooth sheets lie folded
into squares in the basket, and my mother
stands at the counter, kneading raw egg
into hamburger, offering me a bit
on the tip of one finger. Even after
the sun sags beneath the sill and
the moon opens her round silver eye.

This poem appears in the author’s collection Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019).

PAINTING: Woman Ironing by Edgar Degas (1869).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Most people have probably never seen the kind of enormous industrial pressing machine I am describing here. To my knowledge, they weren’t even that common, at the time, in the late 50s/early 60s, but this machine took up a sizable portion of the kitchen in the Philadelphia rowhouse where I grew up. My mother used it to iron large objects, like sheets, as well as shirts and slacks. It made an ideal playhouse.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and moved to Southern California in 1980 for graduate school. She has been here ever since. The author of four published books of poetry and as many as-yet-unpublished ones, she is an elected member of the Academy of American Poets, editor of three anthologies, and curator of two poetry series. Her poetry and reviews have appeared widely.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo, taken by my friend Jane Rosenberg LaForge, records a summer memory from last year–eating Italian ice in Southern California, a rare finding.

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What Shrinks, What Grows
by Ed Ruzicka

I should have left you
before you left me.

If I had boarded a train
that pulled out of a nameless depot

you would have grown smaller, shrunk:
lover, heron, bunny, quail, cricket, one iota.

Instead you have grown, swollen—
weather front that settles on top of a landscape.

Memories solidify, brood within, without.
You are still on the jetties in Racine at midnight.

The tumult of Lake Michigan bashes stone,
jets up white walls that crash back to rock.

You still giggle in candle light
in our clawfoot tub. While Billie Holiday

sings from the record player’s needle,
you slide a loofa over the limbs of desire.

In some part of me, the weather
has never changed, I am still waiting.

Silly though. If you came to me again
with softness, turmoil, delights, distress,

what would I do now, an old man
who has forgotten how to hope?

PHOTO: Windmill and bathtub (Polaroid) by Moominsean.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Once you have loved someone deeply, that feeling is always there, though largely locked away. I am completely happy as I am now and yet a certain undeniable truth and strong emotion emerged as I wrote this. I can’t figure the heart out. If you do, I’m on Facebook—let me know.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka has published widely. His most recent book, My Life in Cars, is a sort of tell-all-tale about the rocky relationship between freedom and the American highway. Ed began working in his father’s Rexall drugstore at age eight. He lit out from Illinois cornfields in 1970 and has traveled widely. He worked as a deck-hand, short order cook, oil-field roughneck, tree trimmer, welder’s assistant, barge cleaner, social worker, and more. Ed settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he practices Occupational Therapy. Ed and his wife, Renee, often sit out at sunset on a patio that backs up to the rest of the world.

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How to Make Memories When the World Stops
by Shelly Blankman

Memory books line my shelves with pages of life
in pictures . . . moments in time that might otherwise
fade — photos, tickets, programs, awards.

But what happens when the world halts? When
pages of time have no record of trips, outings,
holidays, family gatherings. Nothing to capture

on film. This was my new challenge. Not the materials.
Special glues and pens, papers and stickers. I had
those. But how I do I fashion fond memories from dreary

days that blur, seasons that vanish like steam from windows,
quiet moments that fill our time where noise and color used
to be? Life as we knew it could only be pieced together like

the puzzle of a world that had fallen apart. Personal pictures
that could only be replaced now by snippets of time —
news clippings of Black lives that mattered and a new president

who would matter, too. Screenshots of Scattergories on Zoom
with our kids, now quarantined in Texas and New York, their
laughter echoing in our own living room. A screenshot of my

my husband, tallit on shoulders, yarmulke on head, cat by his side,
leading Shabbat services on Zoom with a congregation no longer
able to pray and sing side by side. And Zoom dinners with friends

and family, on-line toasts to a time when we could clink our glasses
to a future of a world of hugs and hope. A time when my scrapbook
can be filled with festive memories of travels and family gatherings.

New memories for a world reclaimed

PHOTO ART: Heart if home by Holly Lay (Polaroid emulsion on glass and mixed media).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman lives in Columbia, Maryland. She and her husband are currently quarantined there from two sons: Richard of New York City, and Joshua of San Antonio, Texas. Richard and Joshua surprised her last year with her first book of poetry,  Pumpkinhea  (available on Amazon). Her work has also appeared in a number publications, including Literary Review-East, Ekphrastic Review, and Verse-Virtual. 

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How to Be Invisible
by Lynne Kemen

Pretend to read a book,
but listen closely
as your parents forget
that you are close by
and can hear them
talk about the move
that they are
going to make
because your father
changed jobs and
is being transferred
to another state.
Where is Indiana?

When there is an argument,
stay very still and quiet.
Put on the invisibility cloak
while the drama swirls around.
Your parents are talking
about “avorce.”
What does that word mean?

Learn to feign sleep in the
the backseat of the car while
there is an interesting
conversation
about the checkbook
and who forgot
to write the last check
and what
will happen if the check bounces.
How can something flat bounce?

Part of learning to be invisible
Is to make sure that you don’t
let grownups know what you
have learned. Ever. If you do,
you lose the magic of being
invisible forever.

IMAGE: Beautiful World by René Magritte (1962).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: With “How to Be Invisible,” I revisited being a child and wanting to find out why the adults were having such emotionally loaded conversations.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynne Kemen lives in the Western Catskills of New York. Five of her poems were featured in Seeing Things: An Anthology of Poetry, Edited by Robert Bensen (Woodland Arts Editions, 2020), and her chapbook, More Than A Handful  was published in 2020 by Woodland Arts Editions. Her work has also appeared in La Presa. Lynne is a Board Member of Bright Hill Literary Press, as well as several other nonprofit organizations.

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AUTUMN 
by Taigu Ryōkan (1758-1831)

My beloved friend
You and I had a sweet talk,
Long ago, one autumn night.
Renewing itself
The year has rumbled along,
That night still in memory.

Illustration: “Early Autumn” by Qian Xuan (1235-1305)

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AUTUMN 

Zen Poem by Taigu Ryōkan (1758-1831)

My beloved friend

You and I had a sweet talk,

Long ago, one autumn night.

Renewing itself

The year has rumbled along,

That night still in memory.

Illustration: “Early Autumn” by Qian Xuan (1235-1305)