Archives for posts with tag: travel

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Great Smoky Mountains
by Jennifer Su

I trusted that my cousin’s intuition was sharper than mine. I glanced at the path we emerged from, a mix of crushed leaves and twigs that tunneled back into a tangle of branches. Sunlight poured over the canopy, tingling the skin on my shoulders. It had been nearly three hours since we last stepped into broad daylight, and the sun had shifted from its sleepy state to a blazing, unsympathetic glow above us. The only ones that challenged its dominance in the sky were unsuspecting wisps of clouds and the smoky mist cast on mountaintops. My eyes panned away from the sweep of green, turning instead to the new terrain before me. The water lapped up against the pebbles on the shoreline. Its gentle ebb and flow either indicated a sanctuary for a quick prayer or a calm before the storm.

With a leap of faith—figuratively and literally—I jumped from the gravel to a light grey stone peeking out of the water. Once my left sneaker left the shore, my arms began making circles—forwards and backwards and forwards—like airplane wings tipping my balance just when I thought I would fall. My momentum continued thrusting my upper body forward, and desperate, I hobbled off to another slippery stone. My eyes darted from side to side, scrambling to find my next destination—the creases around my eyes wrinkled as I braced myself for the icy waves of the roaring river to submerge me—but there was only a splash. My sneakers were soaked instantly, but my knees were dry. Perhaps I overestimated my athletic feat: we were just five feet from the shore. Our laughter bounced from mountain to mountain, and I honestly didn’t mind if we could be heard from miles away.

PHOTO: The Great Smokey Mountains near Gatlinburg, Tennessee .Photo by Dave Allen Photo, used by permission.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Great Smoky Mountains are a mountain range rising along the Tennessee–North Carolina border in the southeastern United States. A subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, they are best known as the home of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which protects most of the range. The park was established in 1934, and, with over 11 million visits per year, it is the most visited national park in the United States.

PHOTO: Little Pigeon River, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee. Photo by Darrell Young, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I remember this experience quite vividly during my trip to Tennessee in 2013. This account was inspired by a five to ten minute experience when my cousin and I ventured off to dip our hands in the nearby river. I wrote about the experience in my Smoky Mountains journal almost exactly seven years ago, and I’m glad to retell the moment again with some new life.

PHOTO: The author during her visit to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee (2013).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Su is a high school senior who writes short stories, prose pieces, and speeches. Both her written and artistic work has been featured in magazines and in local libraries. Jennifer enjoys creative writing as a means of documenting stories in her life. She finds inspiration everywhere, from a handwritten sign in a small shop to a summer trip across the continent. She is a member of several literary and Toastmasters groups and looks forward to refining her craft.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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St. Petersburg Animals
by Virginia Lowe

It didn’t dance
this little muzzled bear
clung with real affection
to its carer
master, owner, handler
Unaware
that all around the newlyweds
might pay to hold it
Fertility symbol
that it was

Baby bear —
yes I held you
and paid money for the privilege.
As I stroked your coarse brown fur
and restrained your struggles
to return to your only friend
I thought,
tears in my eyes,
where oh where
is your mother?
And where will you go
when you’ve grown?

Also represented
where the brides flocked
beneath the statue of the Emperor
on his rearing horse
were other animals
Dogs of various breeds
Doves hidden in long boxes
An elegant black stallion
wearing red leggings
led by a girl of eight.

As three musicians
(all brass) started up
Mendelssohn’s wedding march
over and over
to greet each new
bridal party
and Neptune posed
in full finery —
money changed hands
photos were taken
corks popped.
There were smiles all round.

To tourists elsewhere
the street sellers hawk
bags of tomatoes, socks (four pairs left)
and the ubiquitous
Babushka dolls all nesting.

But in the depths of the city
where tourists rarely go
is an underground pedestrian walk
lined with women
each holding
one or two subdued—drugged?
kittens for sale
Not for the tourist eyes. Nyet to photos

IMAGE: View of the monument to Peter the Great on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg, Russia. Painting by Vasily Surikov (1870).

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The Bronze Horseman is an equestrian statue of Peter the Great (1672-1725) in the Senate Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia, that opened to the public in August 1782. Commissioned by Catherine the Great, it was created by the French sculptor Étienne Maurice Falconet. The statue’s name comes from an 1833 poem of the same name by Aleksander Pushkin.

PHOTO: Equestrian statue of Peter the Great (The Bronze Horseman) in Saint Petersburg, Russia, the city he founded in 1703. Photo by Godot13, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The statue of Peter the Great on horseback is the place where wedding parties go to be photographed in St. Petersburg. And there they are met by many people, many animals. Taxis pull up outside the square with giant entwined wedding rings on top, bride and groom within. This was the scene that met our eyes when we visited in 1999. I imagine it is still happening.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dr. Virginia Lowe is an expert in children’s books, and helps people toward publication through her assessment agency Create a Kids’ Book . She has been a children’s and school librarian, and has lectured at university. She has been published in numerous anthologies including Mother Lode (2003), Poetry d’Amour 2017, and This is Home (National Library of Australia, 2019). A collection of her poems alternating with those of her husband, John Lowe, is Melbourne Poets’ Union Chapbook #27, Lines Between (2018).

PHOTO: The author with her husband John Lowe at their home in Australia.