Archives for posts with tag: Poems

licensed freebilly
Tacoma to Portland in Two Hours
by Leah Mueller

Uncle Sam billboard near Centralia
hovers above I-5 traffic,
a hose of relentless verbiage
spraying letters at passing cars.

Xenophobic word balloons:
rants about Democrats, immigrants,
social program funding. I should
look away, but instead I crane my neck,
read every word at 70 MPH.

Settling back against my headrest,
I scan the crowded interstate.
Everyone wants to go to Portland,
or San Francisco, or perhaps all the way
to Los Angeles. I pass the remnants
of the Winlock monument, with its
sad discards of spiritual tokens.

A gargoyle once lit the way,
crouched inside its glass case,
eternally glowing beacon.
now darkened. The owner dead,
hubris scattered like litter to the gods.
Metal shards still point towards gray sky.

I can’t roll by the Winlock exit
without remembering the defunct motel
I stayed in with my ex, when
our van broke down on the freeway.

Illuminated sign flashed “TEL” as
we bickered about our flat tire.
Long night spent with our light on,
fearing an attack by roving maniacs.
Motel since razed, broken
sign permanently extinguished.

Behold the splendid Mattress Ranch:
gaudy, dancing barnyard animals
advertise beds for humans.

Vancouver Hooter’s clock once read,
“Waddles, time to eat.” There was always
time to eat at Waddles, until there wasn’t.
Old neon now replaced by cheap replica.

Finally, the iron bridge
and welcome to Oregon sign.
Red Lion on my right, $69.00 on Priceline.
Paul Newman partied in the hotel bar,
gazed out at the Columbia River
while clutching a cocktail in one hand.

I plan to follow suit, after a shower.
Portland extends weird but loving arms,
as it has so many times before.
Neon deer sign glows in the distance.

PHOTO: Portland, Oregon, downtown and Mt. Hood at dawn by Free Billy, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pictured above, Mount Hood is a potentially active stratovolcano located about 50 miles east-southeast of Portland, Oregon. The highest mountain in Oregon, Mt. Hood offers the only year-round lift-served skiing in North America. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve made this trip from Tacoma to Portland more times than I can count. I always enjoyed passing the time on road excursions by taking stock of landmarks along the way. They reassure me of how far I have gone, and how many miles still remain. These objects are always waiting for me in the exact same spot. The sense of permanence is comforting, even if I don’t care much for the actual landmarks. Recently, I moved away from the Pacific Northwest and bought a small house in southern Arizona. It’s disconcerting but exciting, because I have to assemble a whole new series of familiar sights whenever I travel anywhere.

PHOTO: Portland’s White Stag sign at dusk. Built in 1940, the sign was designated a landmark by the city’s Historic Landmarks Commission in 1977. Photo by Steve Morgan, used by permission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leah Mueller is an indie writer and spoken word performer from Bisbee, Arizona. She has published books with numerous small presses. Her most recent volumes, Misguided Behavior, Tales of Poor Life Choices (Czykmate Press), Death and Heartbreak (Weasel Press), and Cocktails at Denny’s (Alien Buddha Press) were released in 2019. Leah’s work appears in Blunderbuss, Citron Review, The Spectacle, Miracle Monocle, Outlook Springs, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She won honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry contest. Visit her on Instagram and Twitter.

licensed Mahmoud Masad
Tales of the Mohawk Valley
by Eleanor Lerman

The old are cities coming back to life again: Oneida, Utica,
            Syracuse, Ilion
Their motto of service and industry has replaced even the
extremes of upstate weather as the topic of conversation on
            everyone’s lips
Brickface has been repointed, geraniums snapped into
            new window boxes
and the papers have added food columns and sections on the arts
The spirit is municipal, the worship, Presbyterian, and everyone
is busy, busy—even prayer is jobbed out for a purpose
Keep the frost off the asparagus, the trout eager for
            the sportsman’s hook
In the summer, contented people fall asleep in Adirondack chairs
and their dreams are scented by valley crops and hilltop flowers

But in your mother’s house on Eller Street, with Canada
            in the window,
the wind sweeps in, already thinking about winter. This is
the Leatherstocking wind that closed the old factories, that
brings the headless horseman and blows the witches into the yard
            to steal our housecoats from the line
And in your mother’s house, progress has not reached us:
I sleep too much and you have managed to remain unemployed

Every afternoon, the pots and pans bang out their grief: who will
            make our stew?
Who will pour out the batter for our flapjacks? Every night
the house weeps and refuses to be sold. Every morning,
I try to make it to the store, and every street is like a bridge
            across a mill basin
and the mill wheel is turning and we are the labor of its years,
            the poor grist

So come. If the house will not join with the community, just
            lock the door and walk away
We can cross the Mohawk Valley while the seasons are
            still turning,
walk beneath the waterfalls, across great table of broken schist
to where the earth has cleaved open and peer into its iron heart,
            its silver veins
At the end of the valley there is a lake with a monster who lives
            in a deep, cold pool
That can be our destination: we can buy a guidebook and
            some chocolate
and picnic on the shore. Thus will we partake of the bounty
            of the state,
participate in its rejuvenation. We will blend in with the
tourists, be indistinguishable from people with money and
            plans and things to do

We will ride a boat that glides above the monster’s house and
speculate with strangers: How do you think he makes his living?
How has he survived so long, unknown, unseen, and free?

Originally published in Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds (Sarabande Books, 2005)

PHOTO: Aerial shot of the city of Utica, New York, by Mahmoud Masad, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I work in the early mornings. For the past 20 years, my office has been a purple couch and there is always a little dog sleeping next to me as I work. This poem is a remembrance of time I spent living in the Mohawk Valley in Upstate New York.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Eleanor Lerman is the author of numerous award-winning collections of poetry, short stories, and novels. She is a National Book Award finalist, a recipient of the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts for poetry and the New York Foundation for the Arts for fiction. In 2016, her novel, Radiomen (The Permanent Press), was awarded the John W. Campbell Prize for the Best Book of Science Fiction. In 2018, her novel, The Stargazer’s Embassy (Mayapple Press), received an American Fiction Award. Her most recent novel, Satellite Street (The Permanent Press, 2019) has been named a finalist for both the Montaigne Medal and the Eric Hoffer Award. Visit her at eleanorlerman.com.

PHOTO: The author sitting on the steps of The Limelight cafe in Chelsea, New York City.

licensed kevin berry
The Very Large Array
by Barbara Crary

The plan: casual, a site suggested
on the internet, a way station just off
the interstate, something to do while
on our way to more interesting things.

The Very Large Array, a designation
to which everyone responds, “What on Earth…?”
And I have to admit my own uncertainty —
Radio telescopes? Big white dishes with antennas?

All searching the heavens for unexpected patterns,
disruptions, anomalies light-years away. Now
I’m no stargazer, and maybe I can find
the Big Dipper on a good night, Orion too.

So why am I here? Perhaps the long stretch of highway,
an adventure on the open road, a morning spent exploring
someplace new, even if only a barren plain of
scrub and wiry grass, a few cows and fewer people.

As we drive, we search the horizon until at last
the telescopes come into view — we think —
tiny white dots against impossibly blue sky.
expanding almost imperceptibly as we approach.

Driving for a half hour or more before arrival,
we should have realized the surprising truth —
the dishes are huge and spaced miles apart,
a shock as we enter the gates and get our bearings.

It was the clash between expectation and reality.
Science, yes, but not just science, technology and the
raw beauty of stark white machines looming against
the bright blue sky of the high desert plains, the synchronized

movement of twenty-seven mechanical behemoths
creating powerful synergy in the unforgiving sun, forever
searching for our place among the stars, stars now obscured
by daylight, but still present, waiting for us to awaken.

The combination of the known world of mechanics and
science with the vast unmapped reaches of space, the
human desire to explore, drawing you down a two-lane
desert highway to a place to make sense of the seen and
the unseen.

PHOTO: The Very Large Array (VLA) near Socorro, New Mexico, by Kevin Berry, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I visited the VLA as part of a trip to New Mexico three years ago. Although we visited many landmarks in the state, including Carlsbad Caverns, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe and the cliff dwellings at Bandelier National Monument, we are most likely to reminisce about the unexpected and awe-inspiring delight of these space explorers in the western desert.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My husband at the Very Large Array in New Mexico (2017).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Barbara Crary is a retired school psychologist who lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She started writing poetry several years ago and often writes in short forms such as haiku. She also enjoys the discipline of creating found poetry using words selected from existing texts. Barbara was a contributing poet to the collection, Whitmanthology: On Loss and Grief and shares her work on her blog ravenredux.wordpress.com.

PHOTO: The author at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

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Ode to the Happy Chef Outside Omaha
by Joseph Johnston

The Continental Divide isn’t a ridge atop the Rocky Mountains. That’s Colorado propaganda. The actual Continental Divide is the Happy Chef restaurant on Interstate 80 outside Omaha, Nebraska. It cuts clean through the fiberglass colossus of the Happy Chef himself in the parking lot, right between his giant legs. Press the button at the base of his feet and a speaker hidden in his mammoth wooden spoon declares, “HELLO, PARDNER! COME ON IN AND JOIN THE CLEAN PLATE CLUB!” Take a look at the license plates and the bumper stickers and bear witness to the continent, divided. Out on Interstate 80 heading east are dreamers and kayaks. The only vegetarian offering on the Happy Chef menu is the deep-fried vegetable tray with two cups of dipping ranch. They order milkshakes and leave. The cars on Interstate 29 south are curious about the Clean Plate Club and pester the waitstaff with particulars surrounding the free Pudding Pop for finishing their cheeseburger. Northbound are cattle hustlers in the form of giant grasshoppers. They can go anywhere with those legs. Hard to explain their antennae at Thanksgiving but that only comes up once a year. West? On the Interstate? We screwed up the west. Manifest density, as seen on TV. All highway sojourners should retreat to the Happy Chef outside Omaha. Press the button at his feet. Eat a cheeseburger and join the Clean Plate Club. That free Pudding Pop is sweet relief in sweltering summer. At midnight, with the continent divided, the Happy Chef restaurant closes and the colossus puts down his fiberglass wooden spoon. With two lumbering steps he crosses the median toward the Best Western on the other side of I-80. He jumps in the pool. The American Elohim. No lifeguard on duty.

PHOTO: Postcard from Happy Chef, Greenwood, Nebraska — I-80 at Greenwood exit — featuring the world’s largest talking chef.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: Happy Chef is a family restaurant founded in 1963 in Mankato, Minnesota by the Frederick Brothers, Sal, Bob, Bill and Tom. The location on US HWY 169 was the first and is the last Happy Chef. The restaurant serves Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner all day, every day. The iconic statue is still in front of the building and speaking again! At one time, the chain had 57 restaurants in the Midwest.

PHOTO: The original Happy Chef in Mankato, Minnesota. (Photo by Jona Thunder, used by permission.)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Michigan is my home, but due to my Dad’s job we relocated to Colorado during some of my formative years — from 1st through 8th grade, coinciding with the Reagan administration and the peak/end of the Cold War. Just about every summer the whole family would pile into Dad’s Econoline and drive back home to visit our extended family. Halfway through the lengthy drive, we’d stay at the same motel cluster outside Omaha and eat at the Happy Chef restaurant. I can’t think of anything more Americana than the statue of the Happy Chef dancing a jig in the parking lot, and the speaker hidden in his wooden spoon. On those trips east and west through the plains and the heartland, I kept myself busy looking at the license plates and the billboards and the people in the cars going who knows where, left and right, up and down. It boggled my young mind how huge this country is, and how different its citizens must be. Twenty-four hours driving through the crossroads and I never once saw an Econoline similar to ours. Every little car, truck, RV, or camper was its own little microcosm of America, heading toward something or from something. I had a difficult time connecting what I was witnessing on these highways versus the Cold War propaganda I was reading in the Weekly Reader. As I think back on it, those long hours in the van were probably as close to mindful meditation as I’ve ever approached. This prose poem is an attempt at dealing with those disparate microcosms.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer and filmmaker Joseph Johnston made his first movie at the age of 11, an industrial espionage thriller that continues to play to excited crowds in his parents’ living room every Christmas. His prose, poetry, and video literature have appeared in Atticus Review, Matador Review, and Iron Horse Literary Review. He currently resides in Michigan, where he is working on a feature-length play about a dystopic suburban road rally.

licensed viavaltours
“On the road again…”
by Stephanie J. Morrissey

As a child I’d sing;
when the rubber
hit the melting asphalt;
the muggy city air
caressing my face.
We happily, hot and sweaty,
embarked to the Sunshine State
to see “Pots” and “Granna.”
We’d arrive irritated,
still hot and sweaty,
nonetheless relieved, three days later
at “the house in Florida.”
ENGAGE vacation whirlwind of:
Disneyland; Epcot; Splash Mountain;
Typhoon Lagoon; Boardwalk and Baseball;
Universal City; Busch Gardens;
Silver Springs; Cypress Gardens;
Vero Beach; Ron’s Surf Shop;
Kennedy Space Center; the golf course.
I had summer vacations
kids wished they had.
The All American Dream,
just like the Griswolds,
but without most of the chaos.
When I was little I loved it.
As I grew older I began to hate it,
the monotony; the idea
of what these places represented these icons
of what being an American meant.
The false American Dream
they all perpetuated.
I always hoped
to have the lesson at the end
that all that really mattered was
our family spending time together
Sadly, those amusement parks
were an attempt to fill a void.
I don’t enter amusement parks
of my own volition as an adult,
I just don’t have the time
to spend with them anymore.

PHOTO: Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida, by Vivaltours, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My creative process deviated from my normal process for this poem. This time I prepped by looking at some recent vacation photos, talking to my kids about past vacations we had, reflecting on my vacations as a child, watching National Lampoon’s Vacation, and jamming out to some tunes we listened to on road trips as a kid while brainstorming with one of my best gals.

morrissey
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephanie J. Morrissey is currently riding out the wave of the pandemic in Austin, Texas. Since she’s devoid of the ability to travel, she has spent her summer at home with her partner enjoying their birthday month playing video games about being on an island. Since last writing for Silver Birch Press, Stephanie has released her first book of poetry titled The Heart, A Precious Organ through Hercules Publishing, available for sale through her Facebook poetry page @theconcretelabyrinth or on Amazon.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo was taken on my birthday when my kids, my now ex-husband, and I went to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, California (July 6, 2009).

licensed freesurf69
Patmos
by Aida Bode

I heard one of the peasants say
he saw the birth of blue right here
inside this island,
below the knee-prints of Saint John’s prayers,
across the archway of lightnings
at the peak of the wind’s chanting

I stood tall; arms stretched, tracing the bay
and threw the net of my soul where
all was a gland, of a forgotten eternity
when it was as little as a day
a joyful offspring of time and air
a jewel in god’s hands.

Then, I dipped my finger in the mouth of the Aegean,
and then put it in my mouth;

the peasant didn’t lie,
Patmos gave birth to the sky.

PHOTO: The island of Patmos, Greece, showing the village of Skala and the Aegian Sea by Freesurf, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I visited Patmos in the summer of 1998 and stayed there for two months. I went there as a live-in babysitter and was able to work and enjoy the  summer. The island holds a special place to me because of the way I was able to enjoy the simple pleasures of swimming, bathing in the sun, walking under the dusk sky…my heart expanded and filled with a different kind of calm that stayed with me to this day. The poem fully embodies what I feel when I think about Patmos, the island where the book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Aida Bode is a poet and writer, whose works have been published in a variety of online and print magazines, including Dime Show Review, Prelude, 34th Parallel, Allegro, Transcendent Zero Press, Silver Birch Press, West Texas Literary Review, Three Line Poetry, The Raven’s Perch, Vayavya, and more. She’s the author of the novel David and Bathsheba, two poetry volumes, Rated and True Cheese, and a quotes collection, A Commuter’s Eye View. She holds a MA in English and Creative Writing from Southern New Hampshire University, and in 2017 was nominated by West Texas Literary Review as a Pushcart nominee. For more, visit aidabode.com.

licensed lyrna
Siena, Tuscany, Italy
by Leslie Sittner

afternoon cocktails at an outdoor Campo café
we look out on the familiar Piazza del Campo
historic focal center of Siena
soft in shape and conical in elevation
a most spectacular medieval square
no costumed jousts, ceremonies, pageants today
the medieval Palio three-lap horse race is next week
reminiscing, refreshed, rested, we wander up to

the medieval Duomo di Siena above the Campo
Italian Gothic black and white marble jailbird stripes
wrap the façade and adjacent Romanesque campanile
while Venetian mosaics and Pisano sculpture
join in the adornment frenzy
needlelike spires reach to the heavens for hope, forgiveness, love
three dominant central arched doorways
welcome all in need

inside, clusters of striped columns soar to the saints
elaborate mosaics embroider all pavement
sitting side-by-side in a proximal pew
ignoring the surrounding tourist hordes
we gaze up speechless at the Pisano pulpit
eight-sided carved marble bowl supported by nine columns
sculpted in animals, Bible stories, The virtues, Allegories

tightly holding hands, we wipe away the holy water of our tears

PHOTO: Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Lyrna1, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena) was designed and completed between 1215 and 1264. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with the addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city’s founders, Senius and Aschius. The finest artists of the time — Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Lorenzo Ghiberti, and Bernini — completed works in the cathedral. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 2015, I took my daughter to Italy for a Tuscany Yoga Tour to celebrate reaching our birthdays of 40 and 70. I had lived in Italy with her father for two years before she was born. She had been here before with a college friend and later with her husband-to-be. After morning yoga at the rustic farmhouse, Antico Borgo di Tignano, we went on a day trip to Siena. In the Duomo, she shared her reasons for leaving her husband of 10 years. I shared that during a trip to Italy with her father, I decided it was time to leave him when we returned home. I can’t help think Italy might be a marital jinx.

PHOTO: Interior columns and altar area, Duomo di Siena, Siena, Tuscany, Italy, by Peter K. Burian, used by permission.

Sittner

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner’s print works are available in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press (2016-17-18-19-21), Adirondack Life Magazine, BraVa anthology, and read on NPR. Online poems and prose reside at unearthed, Silver Birch Press, 101Words, 50 Word Challenge, 50 Word Stories, Epic Protest Poems, and Adirondack Center for Writing. A collection of essays about European travels with her ex-husband in the late 1960s awaits publishing. Leslie is currently editing the memoir written by her ancient dog and compiling her own book of haiku with photographs.

licensed nerify
A Wander in Roma
by Carol A. Stephen

These soles have sweltered in unforgiving sandals as we wandered
streets of an August Rome, stood outside the Colosseum, paced
patterns on Capitoline Hill, then thankful to ride the street car
from Piazza Venezia to the Spanish Steps. Happy too, for
running shoes from Seoul in a Roman shop, that cushioned bunions
as they complained with every step on St. Peter’s marble floors.

PHOTO: The Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy, by Neirfy, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy, climb a steep slope between the Piazza di Spagna at the base and Piazza Trinità dei Monti, dominated by the Trinità dei Monti Church at the top. Designed by architects Francesco de Sanctis and Alessandro Specchi, the stairway of 135 steps was built in 1723–1725 . (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My late husband was a refugee from Hungary during the 1956 uprising. As a young man, he traveled widely, although he settled in Canada and became a proud Canadian citizen. He wanted to show me every place he had been. We managed most of them before he died in 2004. We went to Europe in the summer, 2001, arriving in Italy at the hottest time of year, August. I was a rather bigger woman at the time, and the heat did take a toll, including on my feet!  John insisted I appear in a photo at every landmark we visited. I am wearing the running shoes I bought in Rome, the ones from the poem.

PHOTO: The author in front of the Colosseum, Rome, Italy (August 2001).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carol A. Stephen’s poetry appears in Poetry Is Dead, June 2017, and numerous print publications, including Wintergreen Studios chapbooks, Sound Me When I’m Done and Teasing the Tongue. Online poems appear at Silver Birch Press, Topology Magazine, The Light Ekphrastic, and With Painted Words.  She won third prize in the CAA National Capital Writing Contest, and was featured in Tree’s Hot Ottawa Voices.  She served on the board for Canadian Authors Association-NCR and co-directed Ottawa’s Tree Reading Series. She has five chapbooks, two released in 2018 — Unhook, catkin press, Carleton Place, and Lost Silence of the Small, Local Gems Press, Long Island, NY.  In 2019, Winning the Lottery, Surviving Clostridium Difficile was published by Crowe Creations.ca. Visit her blog at quillfyre.wordpress.com.

licensed anil acharya
Kathmandu on My Mind
by Margaret Chase

A whole day we spend there
Edgy monkeys nibbling fruit, eyeing us shyly, boldly
mother large and near.

A day amid architecture circa 1920,
most rococo, half-restored,
fortified by German marks.
So-so Sauvignon Blanc in the Moorish gazebo, a lone pigeon pacing.

Open-mouthed, heads back, we gaze at mirrored domes.
The bartender, polishing goblets, muses “This place was nearly razed.”

Lotus, sculpture, wine and sun
roses, lovers, lawns, and vines
fountains, turrets, secrets

O my Garden of Dreams, I stand, smiling, at your gate,
pinned by the grace
of your flowers.

PHOTO: Spring pavilion, Garden of Dreams, Kathmandu, Nepal, by Anil Acharya, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Garden of Dreams is a neo-classical garden in Kathmandu, Nepal, built in 1920. It features about two acres of gardens with three pavilions, an amphitheater, ponds, pergolas, and urns. After decades of neglect resulting in crumbling pavilions, overgrown paths, and loss of the subtropical flora, restorations were undertaken between 2000 and 2007 with the support of Austrian Development Aid in collaboration with the Nepal Ministry of Education.The renovation project has become a model project for the sustainable development of other historic sites. (Source: Wikipedia)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem in 2010 while visiting my daughter in Nepal. The entrance to The Garden of Dreams is subdued, giving no hint of the magnificence and calm beyond. Miraculously, the structures within The Garden withstood the earthquake of 2015 with minor damage. A century after its 1920 arrival, The Garden is still resplendent. The poem feels alive to me, especially in this time of pandemic, desperation, and upheaval. Despite cataclysmic events, we can hope that our world is not entirely shattered…that our common human foundations will persist. History and culture, imagination and beauty live on, and still incite us to create. Despite, or perhaps because of prevailing conditions, we can still heed Voltaire’s advice: “Let us cultivate our garden.” We may cultivate alone, or collectively, but we must never stop dreaming.

ARTIST’S STATEMENT: I am captivated by the human impulse toward transcendence, and how that quest affects behavior. I love the rogue’s gallery of humanity, and am drawn to understand what drives people to give themselves over to a vision. I dwell in and explore the intersections of art and disability. Imagining and portraying women’s lives compels me. Environments that push the individual to break through, from strange dystopias to sumptuous dreamscapes, intrigue me. I am curious about transgressors. History and its ghosts interest me. The willingness to be vulnerable and to take risks in performance attracts me, and unexpected theatrical combinations in voice, characterization, physicality, and interaction. All forms of art are living languages, and catalysts to expand the vocabulary of the imagination.

PHOTO: The author at The Garden of Dreams in Nepal.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Chase is a writer (poet, playwright, editor) and theatre artist (playwright, director, actor). She explores artforms for wonderment, expression, transformation, and community. She delivers words, whether atop a local industrial container or from the Central Park Bandshell in New York City. Pendulum, her two-woman play about mind games in the age of terror, was recently produced at Manhattan Repertory Theatre, and she is at work on her fifth play, Resurrecting Lady Dada. She has a cochlear implant and declares that “It’s good to be bionic!” She once sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for 800 people on 15 minutes’ notice. She believes in cramming as many lives as possible into this earthwalk, and loves artistic collaboration. Find more of her work at sociallydistantart.com, disartnow.org, instagram, and macaccess.org.

licensed ben krut
Wounded Eurydice
by Jennifer Finstrom

     “At least I have the flowers of myself,
     and my thoughts, no god
     can take that;”
          “Eurydice,” H.D.

The Art Institute opened again on July 30,
and that makes you want to take the 147
bus downtown and stand outside watching
people go in but not yet entering yourself.
Over the past year, this is the place you’ve
come for first dates, for other dates,
immediately after a man you liked text-
message broke up with you, and you
don’t need to go inside to feel again
the heavy door opening, to walk past
the gift shop, take your membership
card out of your purse and show it to
the attendant before climbing the stairs,
your hand on the smooth rail, and then
the slow drifting from gallery to gallery,
through Medieval and Renaissance Art,
Arms and Armor, back around to European
Painting and Sculpture where you find
Corot’s Wounded Eurydice in Gallery 224,
snake-bit, contemplative, moments before
her death. This place is your only church,
and one day soon you’ll be sitting on the steps
outside, the many ghosts of your past selves
moving in and out of the doors, caught like
Eurydice in their own frozen moments,
unable to take back anything that’s happened,
but not seeing what waits beyond it either.

PHOTO: The Art Institute of Chicago by Ben Krut, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Almost exactly one year ago, I began a collection of ekphrastic poems about dating in my fifties. The direction the poems are taking is shifting in recent days amid the climate of uncertainty, but I’m still making progress.

IMAGE: Wounded Eurydice by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1868/1870), Henry Field Memorial Collection, The Art Institute of Chicago.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In Greek mythology, Eurydice was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Source: Wikipedia.)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jen Finstrom is both part-time faculty and staff at DePaul University. She was the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine for 13 years, and recent publications include Dime Show Review, Gingerbread House Literary Magazine, Rust + Moth, Stirring, and Thimble Literary Magazine. Her work also appears in Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks and several other Silver Birch Press anthologies.