Archives for posts with tag: Photographs

Soft Reverberations
by Michael Aaron Casares

Echoed steps on empty downtown streets
no soul or body visits or walks around
strong gust from down the alley shivers
a sudden embrace tense to pass
distant motors run
a distant horn is honking
rippling the crisp air
footfalls among the puddles
and the trash
dirty walls and faded paint
rehabilitate ancient concrete
replete with silent memories
locked inside the ebbing minds
of birds gray as street stone

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The photo and the poem are a memory of empty streets in early morning downtown San Antonio, Texas — my hometown.

PHOTO: “Success at the Dawn of the Millennium” (San Antonio, Texas) by Michael Aaron Casares.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Aaron Casares writes poetry and fiction. He lives in Austin, Texas, where he edits the online poetry journal Carcinogenic Poetry, and operates Virgogray Press, a publishing house that shares primarily poetry. His collection, This Reality of Man, is available. Visit him at

by Rosemarie Horvath Iwasa

Tinker’s Creek gouged a path
through the low hills of an escarpment
of the Appalachian Mountains,
in Northern Ohio.

The water cuts through beds of shale,
leaving cleaved plates along the banks
like disorderly stacked sheets of paper.

The shallow flow over Bridal Veil Falls
is clear enough to see eroded boulders
under the stream.

Wind plays the fine boughs of Hemlock
as water splashes into the gorge, I walk
along in awe.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love walking this trail in our metro parks system.  I feel so connected to the beauty of the setting and every time I am there I ask myself what keeps me from being there every week.

IMAGE: “Tinker’s Creek” (Ohio State Park) by Rosemarie Horvath Iwasa.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rosemarie Horvath Iwasa was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, she also lived in Washington, D.C., Naperville, Illinois, and Sunnyvale, California. In 1972, she married a businessman from Japan, had two children, and was divorced in 1982. She finished work on a B.A. in art at San Jose State University and graduated in 1982. Her work has appeared in Di-verse City, the anthology of the Austin International Poetry Festival, as well as The Enigmatist and Blue Hole Magazine, out of Georgetown, Texas; Yes Poetry and once in Nothing, No One, Nowhere. She is interested in memoir and writes a blog posting essays and some poems in ponderingalongthemilkyway.

by Melanie Dunbar

Four cranes rise at the back of the field,
fly as quarters of one bird,
as a flock of grackles
lands hidden in the grass.
Their wingbeats disturb the air near my neck.
This is my east thirty acres.

Fields border my fields,
in the distance the house I can see from my house is white.
Coming up from behind —
the unpainted back of the barn,

chicken coop and faded green shingles.
Near the road is the shagbark hickory
bare now except for the nuts.
Some guy cleaned out his car at the end of the drive.

The dust and hay sticks to the paste of sunblock
on my arms and face. I am encrusted in hay.
I pull bales off the baler,
stack them on the wagon.

The hay catscratches wherever it touches my skin.
It smells sweet,
meadows and clean sheets,
pillowcases left on the lilac to dry.

The tractor and wagon rock back and forth.
I sway with them,
a cowboy on a horse.
I climb to the top, spread-eagle,
a maharani riding an elephant.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We live on a working farm. We grow our own corn and hay to feed our cattle. Baling hay is often hot, dusty, and physically exhausting — but there are moments of rest, when I dream. This poem was written after baling in late August. When the wagon was full, I climbed to the top and let my mind wander.

PHOTO: “Michigan Barn” by Melanie Dunbar.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Melanie Dunbar is a Master Gardener who has suddenly taken her writing seriously. She lives in Southwest Michigan with her husband and youngest son and their rooster, Mr. Beautiful. Her poetry is forthcoming in Your Impossible Voice.

by Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

SOURCE: “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg first appeared in Poetry (March 1914).

IMAGE: Poet Carl Sandburg visits a Chicago construction site, photograph by Leonard Bass (1957).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Concrete and other measures of a neighborhood
by Patrick T. Reardon

Let me tell you about my neighborhood.
Like any neighborhood. Like yours.

In the curb, in the cement: “David 11/29/86.”
Our son, the date the city of Chicago workers poured the concrete for the curb.
He was a year old. I used my car key.

Nanay — “mother” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines.
A grandmother already of her own family, a block away,
caring for grandchildren.
Cared for David and later Sarah when we were at work.
Became their grandmother — their Nanay.

A neighborhood of Koreans and Vietnamese,
Irish, Germans, Poles, Serbians, Croatians, Italians and Romanians,
Asian Indians and American Indians,
African-Americans and Africans from Africa,
Mexicans and Guatemalans and Columbians and Haitians
and Nicaraguans and Cubans and Peruvians,
Chinese, Filipinos, Pakistanis, Palestinians, Assyrians, Russians and…

A neighborhood of Coca Cola factory workers
and ex-priests and nursing home inspectors
and building janitors and busboys and cab drivers
and judges and crossing guards and engineers
and actors and chefs and cops and secretaries
and musicians and teachers and mechanics
and drug store workers and social workers
and waiters and…

The Major and Wally,
Lawrence and Louie, Rudy and Feli,
the house where a suicide may have occurred,
the backyard with tomato plants where David’s bicycle
was stolen by a United Nations of three 11-year-old robbers,
the townhouse where Sarah’s friend Rowena lived,
the way she pronounced “Rowena,”
the gentle slope up to Ridge Avenue,
the alleys,
the streets,
the curbs,
the sidewalks.

The precinct captain comes at election time.
Our garbage is collected. Our snow-filled streets are plowed.
Vote Democratic.

On the sidewalk along our porch, in the concrete:
“Sarah 5-6-92.”

IMAGE: Statue of young Abraham Lincoln, Senn Park, Edgewater Neighborhood, Chicago, Illinois, by Charles Keck (1945), installed in 1997.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was inspired by an essay I wrote in the Chicago Tribune in 1992, which can be seen here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patrick T. Reardon, a lifelong Chicagoan, was a Chicago Tribune reporter for 32 years. An essayist and poet, he is the author of five books. He is writing a book about the Chicago Loop. His website is

by Hedy Habra

An Egyptian sculpture
lost in the Northern wilderness,
the blue heron stands out
in the whitened landscape,
mimics an ibis’ fixed stare,
studies the frozen creek,
sensing trembling gills
beneath the transparent sheet.

But why land in my backyard
I wonder, where no lotus ever grows?
Unless he sees his own ancestral roots
in my wide-open eyes lined with kohl,
and knows that water from the Nile
still runs in my veins since birth.

In warmer seasons he has seen me
feed the silver fish,
tend the vegetable garden,
bend over perennials
springing stronger each year,
add more seeds,
making this our home,
where we’ve lived the longest ever.

Today he saw me walk in circles
in the stillness of barren trees
over crisp snow flakes
masking all signs of life,
the forget-me-nots throbbing
under their icy coat, scintillating,

a thousand suns
opening a dam of flowing memories
on sunnier shores
promises of blossoms to come stanza break

until suddenly, as if pulsated by an engine,
statuesque, the migrant bird deploys gigantic
wings, disappears through the dead branches.

SOURCE: “Blue Heron” appears in Hedy Habra’s collection Tea in Heliopolis (2013 Press 53). The poem was first published in Come Together: Imagine Peace, Philip Metres, Ann Smith and Larry Smith eds.

IMAGE: “Great Blue Heron” by Suzanne Gaff. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Hedy Habra was born in Egypt and is of Lebanese origin. She is the author of a poetry collection, Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards and finalist for the 2014 International Book Award; a story collection, Flying Carpets, winner of the 2013 Arab American National Book Award’s Honorable Mention and finalist for the USA Best Book Awards and the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award. She is a recipient of the 2012 Nazim Hikmet Poetry Award. Her multilingual work has appeared in more than forty journals and fifteen anthologies, including Connotation Press, Poetic Diversity, Blue Fifth Review, Nimrod, New York Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Diode, The Bitter Oleander, Cider Press Review and Poet Lore. She has a passion for painting and teaches Spanish at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Her website is

by Jackie Fox

Like heaven’s beating heart
they arrive by the thousands,
until the swirling sky glides
to a stop.

They leap for sheer joy,
curtsy on black twig legs,
heads touched by God’s

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem after my husband and I spent the night in a private blind on the Platte River watching sandhill cranes a couple hours west of Omaha, Nebraska, where we live. (It’s a real bucket list experience!) Every spring about half a million sandhill cranes spend a few weeks where the Platte River runs through south central Nebraska to rest up before heading north. The cranes spend the days in nearby cornfields eating, and they roost in the shallow river sandbars at night. They talk all night; it’s like a noisy cocktail party. When they stop talking it’s because a predator is nearby. People come from all over the world to see them, and now that we finally did it I understand why. Poems and pictures don’t do it justice (although it’s fun to try!).

PHOTO: “Sandhill Cranes, Platte River, Nebraska” by Bruce Fox.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jackie Fox lives in Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband Bruce. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, most recently in Bellevue Literary Review, LitRagger, Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and The Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, and is forthcoming in Rattle. She has completed one semester toward an MFA in the University of Nebraska creative low-residency writing program.

My Tuscany in Colorado Springs
by Jim Ciletti

He arises at the crack of dawn to raise his arms
to recite scriptures of the morning wind
and dawn’s cracking rise of fireball sun;

The tools and his hands speak the only verses
he knows to seduce stone and cement with
sweat and blisters and swigs of water as he

builds his Tuscany in Colorado; for the arbor
that will bear the fruit and harvest
for the grapes of his body’s wine

for the garden where he will kneel before
tomatoes and peppers to offer a humble
sharing with garlic and basil and oil

for a space for tables for family and friends
to break bread and drink his wine in a joyous
adoration of their friendship and love for one another

for a chair and a table under the arbor where he
will awaken soon to a morning time with his pen in hand
and new songs from his voice and heart

because this is his life and this is where
he will exhale his last breath into the
scriptures of the morning winds and sunlight.

IMAGE: “Enchanted Morning” (Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, Colorado) by Tim Reaves. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Award winning poet Jim Ciletti is the 2010-2012 Pikes Peak Poet Laureate. He volunteers to give creative writing workshops in Colorado prisons, helps his wife
Mary at Hooked on Books Bookstore, enjoys cooking, gardening, making homemade wine, and loves all things Italian. His poetry blog is

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco

They say they could never live here.

They drive past here
without stopping
without looking.

Gunshots scrape the night
like rocks
and the heat presses itself flat
into the street.

(But the sky is a wide bowl,
rimmed by mountains.

On summer nights
while the heat sleeps
we go outside

with our toes in the cool grass

and watch the space station
passing in the dark above our heads

just for a minute.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am not a native of California’s Central Valley, but over the last ten years, it has become my home. Although it is constantly maligned in newspapers, magazine articles, and even books, it is a place that has been good to me and that has a kind of beauty different from anything I have ever seen. It took me a long time to love this place and I recognize that it is not perfect. But I do love it.

IMAGE: “Route 180” by Matt Hammerstein. Prints available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California’s Central Valley with her husband, son, and a big black dog. Her poetry has appeared in Word Riot, Hobart, decomP, The Tule Review, and Paper Nautilus, among others.

by Suzanne O’Connell

The sun will rise in two hours.
I walk the dogs through the dark morning
toward Ballona Creeek, my pretend river.
There is new graffiti I can’t decipher,
and a balloon face wearing a smile.
In the lumberyard stand two bears,
adult and child, carved out of logs,
and the beheaded palm trees wearing hula skirts.

On the corner glows my oasis, the convenience store.
Light spills onto the broken concrete like hot lemon topping.
I can see the cardboard cups, their butts toward me,
sleeping in their burrows, small, medium and large.
Above their heads, pots of coffee brew.
Racks of candy and colorful magazines line the walls.
Breakfast sandwiches and hotdogs warm in the steamer.

Standing behind the counter in his maroon vest is the clerk.
Today he looks at his phone.
Sometimes he cleans the windows.
Sometimes he sweeps the floor.
Sometimes he restocks the shelves.
I imagine him waving to me as I pass.
I imagine him coming to the doorway
to say “Good morning neighbor! Come on in, it’s warm!”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was walking the dogs on a dark, cold morning when I approached a 7-Eleven. At that moment, it seemed to contain all the good and lovely things in the whole world including coffee, a breakfast sandwich, and maybe some human connection.

Photo by Suzanne O’Connell.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Suzanne O’Connell lives in Los Angeles, where she is a social worker and poet. To read more of her work, please visit