Archives for posts with tag: travel

san francisco joseph kenny
Beach Blanket Babylon Is Gone, Ferlinghetti Too
by Howard Richard Debs

The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco—apocryphal Twainism

July 1990
I remember
my first time
in San Francisco
not wanting to
miss a thing:
the Golden Gate
Bridge, that majestic
span, symbol of
American ingenuity,
Chinatown, sampling
much too much dim sum,
the best they said this side
of Shanghai, block after
block of Asian wonders
engage the ear and eye
down an alleyway
I peered into
a fortune cookie
factory where I
found the secret
of how those little
slips of paper get inside.
I ride the Powell/Hyde
cable car arriving
at Fisherman’s Wharf,
Ghirardelli Square,
to indulge in chocolates,
considered there to be
important, rivaling
halibut and sole.
I took the boat tour out
to Alcatraz, the place
they call The Rock,
the churning waves of
San Francisco Bay
ominous and cold
matching with the edifice
it harbors. I explored the
neighborhoods, Japantown,
Little Russia, the Castro,
Nob Hill and ventured
to North Beach to
pay homage at
Ferlinghetti’s City Lights
echoing the cadence
of the Beat Generation.
Mere steps away
I discovered Beach
Blanket Babylon, a
unique San Francisco
treat, the revues at
Club Fugazi turned
spoofing into an artform,
the exaggerated costumes
and caustic humor pointed
a finger at any who dared
to place themselves above
the rest. I saw an article
the other day noting
that the troupe no longer plays,
a casualty of the changing times.
So Beach Blanket Babylon
is gone now, Ferlinghetti too
yet—I am still waiting for
another show, another Howl.

PHOTO: Columbus Avenue, San Francisco, California, with City Lights Bookstore in right foreground and the Transamerica Pyramid in center background (September 2015). Photo by Joseph Kenny, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Herb Caen, the San Francisco humorist and journalist whose column appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle for almost 60 years, dubbed the city Baghdad by the Bay in recognition of the cosmopolitan cultural diversity it shares with the Middle Eastern city. Another humorist and journalist who for a time called San Francisco home was Mark Twain, but the words of the quote attributed to him about the city’s weather most likely are not his. He enjoyed living there, writing in Roughing It, “I fell in love with the most cordial and sociable city in the Union.” During Twain’s time in San Francisco, a literary movement was imperceptibly taking place against the propriety that perpetuated Victorian tastes. The constrictive standards of the day started giving way to a new way of writing, an American way. So in its history the City by the Bay became a prime example of how an environment of cultural diversity spawns both vibrancy and stimulates creative endeavor. It is no coincidence that during the 1950s San Francisco became the hub of the avant-garde in the visual and performing arts, and of course poetry. My own journey as a poet led me to the Black Mountain poets including Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, both closely associated with the so-called San Francisco Renaissance—an interest that was an impetus to undertake my first pilgrimage to the Bay Area. Who knows where and when there will be further evolution in the arts? We are waiting.

PHOTO: The author at the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco (1990).

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PHOTO:  The author’s treasured keepsake, the program from Beach Blanket Babylon and the ticket from the performance he attended.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Howard Richard Debs is a recipient of the 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. 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. His latest work is the chapbook Political (Cyberwit). He is co-editor of New Voices: Contemporary Writers Confronting the Holocaust, forthcoming in later 2021 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.

San Francisco by Lee Otis
What Am I Still Waiting For
by Terrence Sykes

I am still waiting
for this fog to lift
from my mizzle laden brain
from these steep city streets
rain of course lies in wait
but what do I wait for

city lights draw me in
comfort for a wayward
never felt in place soul
yet my soles are bare
like these bare bones
of unknowing

bare knuckles
from the daily grin
grinding my teeth
as I toss in restless waiting
for sleep or my dream or plans
to come but what lies in wait

when will I know that
I will never find yet
do I wait in Coney Island
or have I waited in San Fran
will I ever quote or question
am I still waiting

PHOTO: San Francisco, California (Polaroid) by Lee Otis (2009).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I asked myself…what am I waiting for…this surreal pandemic to end and begin a normal life and to travel…go back to San Francisco and eat and eat and of course…visit City Lights Bookstore.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Although Terrence Sykes is a far better gardener-forager-cook…his poetry-photography-flash fiction have been published in Bangladesh, Canada, Ireland, India,  Mauritius, Pakistan, Scotland, Spain, and the USA…he was born and raised in the rural coal mining area of Virginia and this  isolation brings the theme of remembrance to his creations — whether real or imagined.

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Best-Laid Plans
by Cynthia Anderson

What happens to a dream deferred?
—Langston Hughes

In the 1960s, the preteen girl
who is me scours her local library
in a small New England town
devouring what they have

on Iceland. My paradise—
a place where everyone cares
about poetry, where books
are the national pastime

and there are more authors,
and readers, per capita
than any other country
on Earth—

not to mention
glaciers and volcanoes
hot springs and waterfalls
the wild rocky coast—

Land of the Eddas!
I imagine belonging there
in ways I’ll never
belong here.

The dream freezes
but doesn’t die. Finally,
retired, I have the time,
money, a friend to go with.

We book the trip
for April 2020—
then COVID explodes.
At least, we get a refund.

So I am still waiting
for Iceland—unlikely
to try again, as global
warming worsens

and my need to stay
home grows stronger—
deferred dreams
can live forever.

IMAGE: Iceland travel poster by 12thStFactory. Prints available at RedBubble.com

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I couldn’t believe my good fortune in finally booking a trip to Iceland, a lifelong dream. I planned to attend the Iceland Readers’ Retreat with a friend in April 2020—10 days of total immersion in Icelandic culture and literature. Then, as COVID unfolded, I watched in stunned disbelief as my long-deferred dream went unfulfilled. However, I continue to enjoy all things Icelandic from the comfort of home.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she has published nine poetry collections, most recently Now Voyager with illustrations by Susan Abbott. She is co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens and guest editor of Cholla Needles 46. Visit her at cynthiaandersonpoet.com.

snorkler burdeny 1960
Snorkeling with Jesus
Keawakapu Beach, Kihei, Maui
by Carolyn Martin

Don’t even think of it! Walking on waves
without a paddleboard is embarrassing.
Anyway, we’ve agreed it’s your undercover day.

Over here. Let’s settle in the shade of this plumeria.
After years at the Jersey Shore, I’ve learned
a careless burn isn’t worth a tan’s vanity.

If you hand me your mask, I’ll show you how
to stop it fogging up. A drop of Spit® swished
around each lens will clear the visibility.

Wait! Before you put it on, tuck your hair
behind your ears. Don’t miss any flighty strands.
You want it sealed tight so water won’t sneak in.

Now fit the snorkel in your mouth and breathe.
Yes . . . it sounds weird and, beneath the waves,
acoustics will be more intense. But focusing

on breath will help you meditate as angels, tangs,
unicorns, butterflies, and – I’m showing off –
humuhumunukunukuapuaas go swimming by.

No, no! Don’t put fins on yet. Wait until you’re floating
in the waves. See that guy who pulled his on
onshore? Another drunken crab scuttling in reverse.
A wetsuit? Are you kidding me?
Boss Frog’s is three miles away and I’ve checked:
Maui’s water is as warm as Galilee’s.

You’re right. The graying coral is disheartening.
Some fish boycott the reefs and locals blame
chemicals lushing-up miles of golf course greens.

No . . . it’s not a good idea to annihilate country clubs.
Tourism would take a hit. Besides, eco-scientists
are working to solve the problem without violence.

One more thing before we head out:
if you should see a turtle entangled
in fishing line – I cried last week

when several struggled by – clap your hands,
say a prayer, do whatever you need to do. Beneath
the waves, no one will see the miracle I allowed you.

Previously published in The Esthetic Apostle. 

PHOTO: Snorkeler (After Misrach), Maui, Hawaii by David Burdeny (2011). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been snorkeling on Maui for a number of years and have the preparation process down to a science. I thought it would be fun to share it with a famous person.

Carolyn Martin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: From associate professor of English to management trainer to retiree, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Her poems have appeared in more than 130 journals and anthologies throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. Her fifth collection, The Catalog of Small Contentments will be released in 2021. Currently, she is the poetry editor of Kosmos Quarterly: journal for global transformation. Find out more at carolynmartinpoet.com

the-palm-1926
How To Survive Winter
by Yvette Viets Flaten

First of all, I plan my escape.
Thumb the cookbooks. Choose
a route, make a shopping list,
assemble my kit and cast myself
off.

Is it to be a weekender escape,
or a long trek into exotica?
Island frivolity or serious meditation?
A seaside paella, or heady Vindaloo?

Shall I bubble my sugo on the back
burner all day, peeling an orange brighter
than the noonday sun? Or thread shashlik
redolent of the noisy Spice Bazaar?

Oh, how far can I travel from the ice
and deepfreeze cold of these winter days,
encumbered like cousin muskox, pawing
at tundra moss? I’ll make myself, then,
tonight, a warm tagine, and tomorrow,
dancing shrimp, basked in olive oil, sanded
with paprika and the salt of sunny seas.

PAINTING: The Palm by Pierre Bonnard (1926).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I love to cook and have collected recipes and cookbooks all my life. Like many others, I turn to the comfort of cooking during the isolated days of the Coronavirus Pandemic. But when the Upper Midwest also goes through the deep freeze temperatures of a Polar Vortex in the depths of winter, cooking becomes even more than a comfort. It becomes a happy escape from home quarantine, or, at 25 below zero, a way to endure what has morphed, quite literally, into house arrest.

Flaten

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Yvette Viets Flaten was born in Denver, Colorado, and grew up in an Air Force family, living in Nevada, North Dakota, and Washington State as well as France, England, and Spain. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish (1974) and a Master of Arts in History (1982) from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She writes both fiction and poetry and her award-winning poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including the Wisconsin Academy Review, Rag Mag, Midwest Review, Free Verse, Red Cedar Review, and Barstow and Grand. In May 2020 she was interviewed by Garrison Keillor as part of his Pandemic Poetry Contest. Yvette’s poem “Riding It Out” was one of 10 winners. Find her interview with Garrison Keillor here.

krupa 2016
How to Get Lost, Anywhere, Anytime, for No Reason
        How in the world did a person get to be where i was?
                                    Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
by Ed Ruzicka

Start where streets
that run East-West
radiate off a river so old
it dodders between banks
that loop and rope at their leisure
or off a coast line of Ss and Cs.

Maybe this city’s or that’s
cross streets fall across one another
in an abandoned game of pickup sticks.
Follow your feet. Now evening
can tune its orchestra up while
the maestro waits in the wings.

Sunset glazes shop windows.
Doors three inches thick. Faint
hiss of neon. A dog pees. A horn blasts.

Assume that comes from the harbor.
Walk that way though alleys become
fly-blown and loose fists of men idle
in front of stoops and broken fence lines.

Come out in a small park freckled
with palm trees. Listen to pigeons
whose language can seem closer
to yours than what the locals mutter.

On the other side is the river.
Its traffic churns sluggishly,
as if already wheeling towards sleep
while stars start to prick black air.

PHOTO: The Bicycle, the hat, and the moon by Alfred Freddy Krupa (2016), used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I went through a period when I was penniless by romantic decree, needed naught but tin cans in the cupboard, fathered insubstantial plans. For wheels, I had a fearless J. C. Higgins bike. That is when I developed a knack for getting lost. If curiosity lends you nine lives, cash in. I don’t think you can really learn a city or a countryside without getting lost. If I once, twice, thrice, in countless places, took pleasure in the openness of an afternoon, please, don’t blame me now, half-retired and back at it. My wife and I soak up what quiet we can on a patio that backs-up to the rest of the world.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ed Ruzicka has published widely including two full length books of poetry. His recent issue, My Life in Cars, is a sort of tell-all-tale in which freedom marries the American highway. Ed began working in his father’s Rexall drugstore at age eight. He became unmoored from Illinois cornfields in 1970 and has traveled widely. He worked as a deckhand, short order cook, oil-field roughneck, tree trimmer, welder’s assistant, barge cleaner, social worker, and more. He settled in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he practices Occupational Therapy and lives with his kind wife, Renee. Visit him at edrpoet.com.

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We were so inspired by our LANDMARKS Series (June 30-August 27, 2020) that we’ve decided to continue our world tour with a new travel poetry blog called POETRY and PLACES. The blog’s tagline is: “Sharing our travel adventures and celebrating our planet…through poetry.” Our logo is a bird atop a cage, ready to explore — the way many of us feel during the quarantine. Travel poems are a doorway to learn more about the world — geography, architecture, art, climate, nature, history, as well as our fellow humans, and much more.

We look forward to your visit at poetryandplaces.com. Learn how to submit your travel or site-related poetry here.

Logo image by Elena Ray, used by permission.

The good things
by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

She works at Roseville station—
a positive presence on the platform,
well turned out in her neatly pressed
New South Wales railway staff uniform,
with always a kind word and a helping hand
for the older folks, and young preschoolers
dangling on their parents’ arms.

She likes ethnic jewelry. I’ve seen her
wear metal earrings—a touch
of whimsy to her outfit. And this January,
at the risk of looking completely weird,
I got her a set of peacock motif earrings,
which I bought from an artisan
on my holiday in India.

I wished her a Happy 2020. I told her
that it’s my fifth year living in Roseville—
that the friendliness of locals like her went
a long way in making newcomers like me
feel welcome and at home.

I will never forget the surprise in
her blue irises—how her eyes grew
bloodshot. And I remember how the tears
just wouldn’t stop, how we shook hands
warmly, how overcome we both were
with emotion, in that moment.

Soon afterwards, the pandemic came
in full force. Throughout the lockdown
I’ve seen her hard at work, masked and gloved,
managing the station—white flags,
and whistles in hand, eyes always crimped
in smiles behind her mask.

Today she was on the platform, chatting
with the older folks lugging shopping,
laboring up the stairs. She told them
not to worry. Despite the pandemic
the upgrade would come—the lifts
and accessible toilets. The good things
were coming to Roseville. And today I saw
those earrings dangling from her lobes—
the silver silhouette of an Indian peacock
glinting in the sun.

PHOTO: 2020 gift box by Sasha Soloshenko91, used by permission.

Roseville-NSW-2069-Australia-2 (1)1NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a recent immigrant to Australia. One of the kindest people I have met in my community is a middle-aged train staff member who works on the North Shore train line. I remember how happy and at ease I felt when she greeted me with a warm hello at the local station, the first time I took the train. This poem is for that train staff member, whom I see every day, and who continues to work tirelessly during these uncertain times.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an artist, poet, and pianist of Indian heritage. She was raised in the Middle East. She started writing poetry from the age of seven. In 1990, during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, she was a war refugee in Operation Desert Storm. She holds a Masters in English, and is a member of The North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent works have been published in Neologism Poetry, The Ekphrastic Review, Nigerian Voices Anthology, Poetica Review, and several other print and online international literary journals and anthologies. Her poem “Mizpah,” about a mother who hopes for the return of her son who was taken as a prisoner of war, was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Glass House Poetry Awards 2020. She is the co-editor of the Australian literary journal Authora Australis. She regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.

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Our deepest gratitude to the 116 authors — from 20 countries and 29 U.S. states — who took us on a fascinating journey to 32 countries and 25 U.S. states during the Silver Birch Press LANDMARKS Series, which ran from June 30-August 27, 2020. We salute the following authors for their inspired, informative, and enlightening poetry and prose!

Brian Ahern
Donna Allard
Cynthia Anderson
Susanna Baird
Barbara Bald
Roberta Beary
Kerry E.B. Black
Shelly Blankman
Mark Blickley
Aida Bode
Rose Mary Boehm
Steve Bogdaniec
Erina Booker
Cheryl Caesar
Don Kingfisher Campbell
Lorraine Caputo
Susana H. Case
Margaret Chase
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Clive Collins
Patrick Connors
Barbara Crary
Neil Creighton
Howard Debs
Steven Deutsch
Julie A. Dickson
Dakota Donovan
Gisella Faggi
Susan Farris
Paul Fericano
Jennifer Finstrom
Yvette Viets Flaten
Sue Mayfield Geiger
Ken Gierke
Gary Glauber
Vince Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Anita Haas
Tina Hacker
Ken Hartke
Rachel Hawk
Robert Hieger
Veronica Hosking
Stephen Howarth
Andrew Jeter
Joseph Johnston
Munia Khan
Tricia Knoll
Jennifer Lagier
Kyle Laws
Barbara Leonhard
Joan Leotta
Eleanor Lerman
Cheryl Levine
Robert Lima
Ellaraine Lockie
John Lowe
Virginia Lowe
Rick Lupert
Anne Namatsi Lutomia
Marjorie Maddox
Ruthie Marlenée
Betsy Mars
Lindsey Martin-Bowen
Mary C. McCarthy
Catfish McDaris
Joan McNerney
Karla Linn Merrifield
Michael Minassian
Elaine Mintzer
Neil David Mitchell
Stephanie Morrissey
Leah Mueller
Jagari Mukherjee
Lowell Murphree
Robbi Nester
Maria Nestorides
Gerald Nicosia
Hana Njau-Okolo
Suzanne O’Connell
James Penha
Rosalie Sanara Petrouske
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Chris Precise
Ismim Putera
Patrick T. Reardon
Will Reger
Frances Daggar Roberts
Jeannie E. Roberts
Sarah Russell
Rikki Santer
Gerard Sarnat
James Schwartz
Tali Cohen Shabtai
Leslie Sittner
J.P. Slote
Massimo Soranzio
Rosemary Marshall Staples
Carol A. Stephen
Jeanine Stevens
Jennifer Su
JC Sulzenko
Terrence Sykes
Ann Christine Tabaka
Alarie Tennille
Mary Langer Thompson
Mark Tulin
Chris Vannoy
Richard Vargas
Alan Walowitz
Kelley White
Lynn White
Lisa Wiley
Graham Wood
Jonathan Yungkans
Joanie Hieger Zosike

Illustration by Vikor Stollov, used by permission.

landmarks
Our travel options have been limited for many months, but we’ve enjoyed an insightful, uplifting, educational, and dynamic virtual vacation through the Silver Birch Press LANDMARKS Series, which ran from June 30-August 27, 2020. In all, we visited 32 countries and 25 U.S. states. Thank you to the 115 authors who led us on this remarkable journey. We will thank the authors by name in a separate post. But here we’d like to celebrate the places we’ve visited during our two-month trip around the world!

WHERE WE TRAVELED DURING THE LANDMARKS SERIES

Argentina: Santa Cruz Province
Australia: Sydney, Uluru (Ayers Rock)
Cambodia: Angkor Wat
Canada: Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
China: Haikou
Cyprus: Nicosia
England: Aldermaston, Coventry, Keswick, London
France: Avignon, Giverny, Paris
Ghana: Elmina
Greece: Patmos
Iceland: South Region
India: Agra, Karnataka
Indonesia: Anak Krakatoa
Ireland: County Mayo
Israel: Jerusalem
Italy: Florence, Milan, Rome, Trieste, Siena
Japan: Tokyo
Kenya: Mt. Kilimanjaro
Mexico: Isla Mujeres, Tula de Allende
Nepal: Kathmandu
Norway: Oslo
Peru: Machu Picchu
Poland: Auschwitz
Russia: St. Petersburg
Scotland: Edinburgh, Fife, Loch Killin
Shetland: St. Ninian’s Isle
Spain: Barcelona, Figueres, Madrid
Sweden: Eskilstuna 
Thailand: Bangkok
Turkey: Cappadocia, Ephesus
United States:
   Arizona (Grand Canyon)
   California (Allensworth, Anza-Borrego Desert, Catalina Island, Leggett,       Oakland, Placerville, San Francisco, Santa Barbara)
   Colorado (Elk Mountains, Mount Sneffels, Pueblo)
   Florida (Orlando)
   Hawaii (Puʻukoholā Heiau)
   Illinois (Chicago)
   Kansas (Ellis County)
   Maine (Cape Neddick, Penobscot Narrows Bridge) 
   Michigan (Detroit, Silver City, Singapore)
   Mississippi (Yazoo County, Vicksburg)
   Montana (Havre)
   Nebraska (Greenwood)
   Nevada (Valley of Fire State Park)
   New Hampshire (Lost River, White Mountains)
   New Mexico (Albuquerque, Cabezon Peak, Socorro)
   New York (Cooperstown, Elmira, Erie Canal, New York City, Niagara       Falls, Utica)
   North Carolina (Outer Banks)
   Oregon (Portland)
   Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia)
   Tennessee (Great Smoky Mountains)
   Utah (Promontory Summit)
   Virginia (Charlottesville)
   Washington (Ellensburg)
   Washington DC (Lincoln Memorial)
   Wyoming (Yellowstone National Park)
Zimbabwe: Victoria Falls

IMAGE: Landmarks illustration by Katsiaryna Pleshakova, used by permission.