Archives for posts with tag: travel


Bad Karma
by Linda McKenney

The rocky outcrop known as Meads Wall was used for the emotionally charged scene in The Two Towers where Frodo and Sam capture Gollum.

We’re driving through Wakapapa Ski Fields. I’m reading from The Lord of the Rings location guidebook, indicating movie set locations around New Zealand.

As we ascend Pinnacle Ridge, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact location, as the weather is overcast, with low-lying clouds. We come to a section of rock that feels like the right spot. I get out to explore, fighting the chill of windy dampness. Walking, I kick a stone about the size of a baseball. It looks like a lump of coal. I put it in my pocket.

We’re packing to return home. My conservative husband notices the rock.

“What are you doing with that?”

“I’m keeping it as a souvenir.”

“You know that there are prohibited exports?”

“I read the list and rocks are not specifically listed.”

Though when we go through customs, I’m a bit anxious, about being arrested.

Back home, I show off the rock to my grandchildren, exaggerating about smuggling it out of the country.   “I might have been arrested!” They are fascinated by my boldness.

One day, as I’m dusting, I realize the rock’s missing from its home next to the framed print of Gandalf riding into Hobbiton. Remembering that I’d stowed it away for a visit from my two-year-old grandson, I think I’ve just neglected to put it back. I search every possible hiding place. No luck.

I gather my grandchildren together.

“My New Zealand rock is missing. Do any of you know where it is?”

They profess surprise and concern. One offers, “Well, you stole that rock, maybe it’s bad karma.”

They all assure me that they have no idea where the rock is.

Neither do I.

IMAGE: The Putangirua Pinnacles track, Aorangi Forest Park (Lord of the Rings location, New Zealand). (

mckenney - Hobbit museum

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda McKenney is a Personal Life Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Writer, specializing in Mindful Living and Eating. She continually reinvents herself, and her new adventure is writing creative nonfiction. Her most recent work is published in Behind the Podium, Silver Birch Press, 101 Word Short Stories, and The Survivor’s Review. You can join Linda on her Mindful journey by visiting her blog –- She also has an alter ego at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I’m at the entrance to the Lord of the Rings Museum, made to look like a Hobbit doorway. I was very disappointed that the set of Hobbiton was closed. I still have to explore the south island of New Zealand and perhaps find another rock.

What Are The Odds?
by Sylvia Riojas Vaughn

The day Braniff Air
went bankrupt,
fleet grounded,
radio bulletins said
other carriers
would help.
And I,
stuck with a ticket,
lost my wallet.
I pulled into McDonald’s
on the way to the airport,
fumbled for my billfold.
I dumped out my purse,
flung clothes
from my bag.
I thumped my forehead —
I’d left it on the car roof
while packing!
The wingless leather clutch
had flown away.
I pictured skid marks
on my family photos,
a stranger whipping out
my Discover card,
the boarding pass
muddied mush.
Two weeks later,
a trucker called.
He’d collected everything
strewn along an overpass.
He smiled at my reward —
a bear hug, coffee and pie.

IMAGE: “Accessories” by Joan Brown (1971).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The inspiration for this poem is true. My husband and I were on our way to Dallas/Fort Worth Airport in a rainstorm the day Braniff grounded its fleet. We were going to see about changing our tickets to Kansas City, Missouri, to another airline. This was before iPhones, etc. Unfortunately, my husband remembered he’d placed his wallet on the roof of the car as we packed. It flew off, and we had to turn back, because one couldn’t fly without one’s driver’s license. Some weeks later, a man called and said he’d found everything!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sylvia Riojas Vaughn is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. She has been selected as a Houston Poetry Fest Juried Poet three times.  She belongs to the Dallas Poets Community. Her work appears in The Arachneed Journal, Red River Review, Triadæ, HOUSEBOAT, Diálogo, Desde Hong Kong: Poets in conversation with Octavio Paz, Bearing the Mask: Southwestern Persona Poems (Dos Gatos Press, 2016), and anthologies and journals in the U.S. and abroad. Find her on LinkedIn.

the-charmer-1911-2.jpg!Large (1)

Circle Round
by Angela Cannon-Crothers

The Appalachian Trail in Vermont. My first child was born in Vermont. I was married in Vermont, on a hill top. A simple ceremony: Justice of the Peace, a witness, two gold rings. Six years later I am the mother of two and freshly fleshed from divorce, trail guiding back in Vermont. Not much pay, but a much needed vacation. Days in, after huffing up mountains carrying group gear, extra gear for those unable, and brewing Earl Gray for our elder hiker each morning, I was gifted a late afternoon respite at Stratton Pond. I sat out on a log over the water, discovering half hidden newts with finny tails and red bellies, like gems, swimming below. Newts transform twice in their lifetimes, from water to land, and back again. Like me. Shimmer of sun. Cold skinny dip in clear water. After, I was rummaging deep within my backpack for a bandanna to dry off with, when I felt it. My wedding ring. Having thought it was lost and gone for good I nearly laughed out loud at the pure coincidence of finding it here, back in Vermont. I rolled the dull gold around my fingers, memories circling. Pulling my arm behind, with great force, I threw the ring out toward the center of Stratton Pond. Here it would settle to the weedy bottom, a play thing for bright bellied newts and sparkling water. There it would always be. This, at least, would never be lost again.

IMAGE: “The Charmer” by John William Waterhouse (1911).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This piece of prose for the “Lost and Found” Series came from a 4,000-word chapter in my unpublished memoir on the spirit of place. The ending is still, essentially, the same.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela Cannon-Crothers is a writer, naturalist, environmental educator, and college instructor in environmental science and writing. She was a finalist for the AROHO Orlando Prize for Nonfiction in 2011. Her work includes a book, Our Voices, Our Wisdom; An Herb Haven Year, a children’s book: Grape Pie Season, and a novel: The Wildcrafter. Her articles and essays have appeared in Orion, Northern Woodlands, Life in the Finger Lakes, BackHome, and the literary journal Stone Canoe. She lives on a small farm, in a bermed house, in the Finger Lakes of New York, while she finishes raising her youngest teenager daughter. She thinks that someday soon she may try a wilder, more wanderlust, life again.

Backpack, from Mont Ventoux Journal
by Judson Evans


“weary from my ancient bundle…” (Petrarch)

Spasmed to the tugged cords of my scapulae, antibody backpack triggering spider web alarms at each slackening — daily bundle of scrap and sundries for various moody weathers of the mountain — sunglasses, knit wool cap, gloves, sweatshirt, maps, French dictionary, notebook — core samples, and exempla. Later, down from the heights, it would gather a set of antique keys from Arles. A vague plan for a wind chime or mobile —  dangling from bonsai wire, four keys to guard the compass points — four celestial kings or protective deities. Then, the Avignon bookstore the beautifully worn bilingual edition (French and Japanese) of Basho’s Oko no Hosomichi.

first edition−
black marker dedication
bleeding through the flyleaf


Receiving the transmission through my body — distant pings of a sunken aircraft, the book with his inscription sending its black box message. Throughout the night in a fever of words I ripped off t-shirt after sweat-soaked t-shirt grabbed from the stack in the partly packed suitcase. Had I dreamed the book, had the book existed? The passionate dedication of one man to another. I stood in the bookstore trying to translate : for my friend –or was it lover — in poetry and insomnia….? A whole cherry orchard burned. Graffiti heart pierced by three black daggers. Lost coordinates neither in nor out, above / below, the way the laurel torn from its once human branch can’t be grafted — phantom limb….

idly broken off
in the toast
            stem of the wine glass

SOURCE: Journeys 2017: An Anthology of International Haibun, Edited by Angelee Deodhar (CreateSpace, March 2017).

PHOTO: The author in Avignon, France, a few days before losing the used copy of Basho on the Metro in Paris.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Mont Ventoux Journal results from a collaboration with the videographer Ray Klimek. The poems engage with the origin of “landscape” as a concept and as a genre in the arts, and with the world of Francesco Petrarch and his famous climb of a mountain in southern France — Mont Ventoux. This climb and its documentation in a prose text by the poet have been cited as the first example in western culture of an appreciation of “landscape.” The climb is caught up, too, in Petrarch’s complex relationship with his love and inspiration Laura — for whom he wrote the 366 poems of the Canzonieri — and set the motifs (and clichés) of love poetry up to contemporary pop songs . . .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Judson Evans is Director of the Liberal Arts department at The Boston Conservatory, where he teaches a range of courses including poetry workshops. He was an editor and founding member of Off the Park Press, and published work in each of its three anthologies of poems responding to provocative contemporary painters: New Smoke: an Anthology of Poetry Inspired by Neo Rauch (2009); Viva la Difference: Poetry Inspired by the Painting of Peter Saul (2010); The Triumph of Poverty: Poetry Inspired by the Painting of Nicole Eisenman (2011). His most recent work has been published in (print journals) Volt; 1913: a journal of forms; Third Coast; and Green Mountains Review, and (online journals) White Whale Review and Arsenic Amethyst. He won The Phillip Booth Poetry Award from Salt Hill Review in 2013. He has collaborated often with actors, dancers, and musicians in Boston.

by Neil Creighton

The Indian Pacific from Perth
has arrived on Platform 2.

We poured from the train.
The platform surged with people.
Baggage handlers scurried around.
Grey day. Spiteful rain. Cold wind.

Better check on your dog, son.

Sammy was in a dog-cage in the baggage car.
He was eight. I was sixteen.
His puppy self had lain in my arms.
Together we paddled the glittering lake,
he in the front, alert, mouth open, excited.
He loped alongside my bicycle.
He bounded comically through high grass.
He lay at my feet in the evening.
He was my brother and my friend.

There’s a dog loose on the tracks.

I barely heard that announcement
as I wandered down to the baggage car.
I’d checked on him on each stop.
Now I’d take him to our new home.

I’ve come for my dog.

Jeez, mate, sorry, he’s gone,
We tried to get him out of his cage.
He held back and slipped his collar
and he bolted.

I ran through the crowd, searching the tracks,
calling and whistling again and again.
No dog loped up happily to lick my hand.

Finally I stopped.
He was gone,
3,400 kilometres from his home,
running in a strange city
full of noise and trams and cars and trains,
increasingly desperate, hungry, alone.

The day was cloudy, cold and wet.
I reached for my sunglasses
To hide my grief, though tears flowed freely.

Sammy, my dear friend,
don’t run too far.
Find someone to take you in.
Let them love you like I do.

In a sad huddle, my family waited.
I walked past them towards the platform steps.
They seemed so very far away.

IMAGE: “Boy with a Dog” by Pablo Picasso (1905).

Creighton for Sammy

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I have always loved dogs, and although my father was in the Royal Australian Air Force and we led a gypsy life, criss-crossing the Australian continent, my dog always came with us. My poem recounts what happened when we travelled from Perth to Melbourne one cold, wet day.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: My dogs, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Miss Eliza Bennet (Darcy and Lizzie).

Neil Creighton Bio Photo1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil Creighton is an Australian poet whose work as a teacher of English and Drama brought him into close contact with thousands of young lives, most happy and triumphant but too many tragically filled with neglect. It made him intensely aware of how opportunity is so unequally proportioned and his work often reflects strong interest in social justice. His recent publications include Poetry Quarterly, Autumn Sky Daily, Praxis mag online,  Rat’s Ass Review, and Verse-Virtual, where he is a contributing editor. He blogs at


In Bruges
by Michelle Walshe

An early morning in January, Charleroi train station, Belgium, in a brain fog induced by budget airline scheduling, bleary eyed, headachy, vaguely nauseous and freezing cold I paid for a train ticket and shoved my wallet back into the top of my handbag. I remember him bumping into me as I boarded the train. Then I noticed the open zip on the bag. My heart sank. I wasn’t carrying much cash. I know better. Despite my lapse of concentration, I am an experienced traveler. It was the wallet. It was red leather, from Paris. I had photos of my deceased father in it, of my nieces and nephews, my credit cards, loyalty cards, membership cards, all the cards it takes to live a modern life! It was soft, elegant and well…French! And it was gone.

I walked up and down the train hoping he had discarded it. I reported it, in halting French, to the conductor. And then I sat in disbelief as the Belgian countryside rolled by. My first stop in beautiful Bruges, the Venice of the North, was not the Clock Tower or the canals or the Chocolate Factory, but the police station. Paperwork, telephone calls, signatures. No sign of the wallet.

My mother, who has an instinct that fortune tellers would die for, reckoned the wallet would turn up. I scoffed the idea, it was gone. But, she was right. About a week after returning home I received an email from Frederique in Belgium who had found my wallet on the train, looked through it, found my business card and emailed me to get my postal address. One week later, my red wallet, photos, cards, everything – except the cash – arrived in the post! I sent her Irish chocolates, whiskey, and a big card to say thank you.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: The wallet featured in the story. I bought it in Paris in 2010.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michelle Walshe is a teacher in Dublin, on career break, traveling, reading, writing, playing tennis and eating! Basically, doing what she does on the weekends, only full time, for the moment! Find a recent article at

gowalking pedometer
Another Art: In Hungary
by Susanna Rich

                For my Elizabeths


Misplacing is easy: Where is my Droid
jammed with winged statues of naked women
and selfies with lovers on metro escalators?

Ah, yes, raveled up in the Imperial tape measure
I brought to tabulate how my waist
takes to poppy seed palacsinta,

Bull’s Blood merlot, Bird’s Milk Egg Creams.
Keys go on forays, of course, shoes,
glasses, the pen I was just using, the other sock.

But then I lose my GOWalking pedometer,
a 1½” X 2½” gray thingie I clamp
onto the tongue of my Nike’s

to calibrate how far I traipse—
176 steps up to Fisherman’s Bastion;
synagogue to basilica; museum, museum,

museum to terminal market—
pendulum marking my course,
keeping score of my days.


It hurts to lose it—small trochaic
kathumping on my foot—

magic rattle assuring me:
my steps matter enough.

I retrace my steps, eyes low to cobblestones—
back over the Chain Bridge

to the stone lions with missing tongues,
for which the sculptor committed suicide;

through the cavernous Gellért spa,
with its frightening echoes

and limping white robes—
looking hurt into people’s faces.

It was too trivial to matter (until it did),
mass-produced in a China I’ll never know,

five-buck WalMart impulse—
eminently replaceable through the web.


Might as well have been
the hand of the child I never had,
my estranged sister phoning me—

all the things-I’ll-never-have glitches
around which I mold myself
like a storm around its eye.

The young waitress at the Coyote Pub—
For when you’re hungry as a wolf—
calls out to me as I sulk by:

You left something. Here.
Gray thing—heartbeats, feet,
bridges, time itself—reprieved.

Momentary joy: a stranger turned sister,
a foreign country become home
and I into the child found.

But what to do, where go,
now that I’m untethered
to what’s lost?

SOURCE: “Another Art” first appeared in Literary Bohemian.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “Another Art” was inspired during MY Fulbright residency in Budapest, 2005.


Susanna Rich
is a bilingual Hungarian-American, a Fulbright Fellow in Creative Writing (Hungary), a Collegium Budapest fellow, and a Distinguished Professor of English at Kean University (New Jersey). An Emmy Award nominee, Susanna is founding producer and principal performer at Wild Nights Productions, LLC. Her repertoire includes the one-woman poetry musical Shakespeare’s *itches: The Women Talk Back and ashes, ashes: A Poet Responds to the Shoah. Susanna is author of three poetry collections, Surfing for Jesus, Television Daddy, and The Drive Home. Visit her at

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photograph was taken with Jucika, the Falcon, in Fisherman’s Bastion (Budapest, Hungary).

Photo by Morton D. Rich. 

jerry w. mcdaniel
I found you in a jewelry store on a side street in Madrid
by Lourdes A. Gautier

Two young lovers, arms around each other’s waist
Strolled the streets of Madrid biding time
Till lunch when restaurants opened and shops closed for siesta.

A jewelry store window beckoned as gleaming gold
Captured my eye and I tugged at your arm
Gently pulling you inside hoping there was something we could afford.

We chose a charm for my bracelet that would remind us of our trip.
Finally a most perfect circle of gold crowned with a bit of turquoise
Made a bid for my affection for the blue reminded me of the

The shopkeeper sensed our reluctance to spend more.
He, a kind, older gentleman with a soft spot for young love
Placed the ring on my finger where it clearly belonged.

I wore it through the rest of our time in Spain.
Went snorkeling with it on in Costa Brava as it became
A repository of memories, I loved it and you for giving it to me.

A month passed and we found ourselves in Amsterdam.
Arrived too late to secure a bed and breakfast, forced to become
Homeless for our first night, we walked the streets to stay awake.

Fatigue set in and we found a bench near the end of the trolley line.
I looked at my hands only to find my ring missing.
It had slipped off unnoticed thanks to the cold and weight lost since

Three o’clock in the morning, rats scurried along the streets to the canal.
You promised we would find it and somehow on the wide boulevard
There in the middle of the street you were the first to spot it.

What were the chances that anything lost on such a major thoroughfare
Would be found in the dark and gloomy hours of an Amsterdam night?
We both took it as a fortuitous omen, a sign of good things to come.

IMAGE: “Amsterdam at 4AM” by Jerry W. McDaniel (2007-2010). Prints available at

Gautier ring

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: More than 40 years later, this ring still reminds me of the magic of finding that which we thought was irretrievably lost.


Lourdes A. Gautier
is a poet and writer of short fiction and nonfiction. Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in New York City she earned a Masters degree in Theatre and post graduate credits in a doctoral program at the City University of New York (CUNY) focusing on Latin American Theatre. She’s taught courses in acting and theatre history and criticism at CUNY, Drew University, and Jersey City State University and language arts in a special grant funded program at Rutgers University. Her short story, “1952,” was published in Acentos Review. Her poems have appeared in Calliope and in the Silver Birch Press  “All About My Name,” “My Perfect Vacation,” and “My Metamorphosis,”and “Me, at 17” series, among others. She is also a contributor to the award-winning anthology These Winter Months: The Late Orphan Project. She has performed at the Inwood Local open mic night in New York City. Currently an administrator at Columbia University, she continues to work on a collection of poems and stories, and looks forward to when she can retire from the day job and devote herself to writing full-time.


In the World at 17
by Rowan Johnson

At seventeen, he stayed at the Polana Hotel in Mozambique, with swinging palms and the biggest and bluest swimming pool he had ever seen; and then the desperation of the streets outside—rusty old vehicles covered with all kinds of garbage, strewn all over and stinking. Old and weathered women who could barely walk, carrying barrels of water for twenty kilometers every day, just so their children could have a drink.

The next day it was Austria, simply trying to find a toilet. The helplessness of not knowing German; the exhilaration of being a foreigner, a stranger asking directions—a child, knowing nobody, with an intense fear of peering over the edge of that mountain outside. The simple peasant girl who led him back to her room in the dead of the Austrian night, after more than a few too many Jagermeisters; a potent combination for a young boy. Her hair was fantastically black, longer than his arms.

And so he had his memories: the discovery of new, untouched lands, new faces and places, the feeling of real snow, the taste of Alpine water from fresh streams. This was his world—this was the life that he had always known.

PHOTO: Polana Serena Hotel, Mozambique.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rowan Johnson holds a doctorate from the University of Tennessee as well as an MA from the University of Nottingham, England. His work has been published in Two Thirds North, 4ink7, Passing Through Journal, Wordriver Literary Review, GFT Press, and the Writers’ Abroad Foreign Encounters Anthology. He has also written numerous travel articles for SEOUL Magazine.


by Zoë  Ramsey

When I was 17, I secretly defied my father and boarded an airplane bound for Turkey, where I spent one amazing month of the summer before my final year of high school. Ten years later, he still doesn’t know.

I never considered myself particularly rebellious. Independent is how I’d describe myself. My parents split when I was quite young, just two years old. If you knew my parents, you’d wonder how they even got together in the first place. I spent the school year with my mother on one side of the country and visited my father during the summer holidays on the other. As I got older, I realised my summer holidays could be used for things I wanted to do, rather than just the obligatory family visit.

So at the age of 16, I participated in my first foreign exchange. I spent the summer in Brazil, a decision my father supported both eagerly and financially. I was always going to be a traveller and he was happy to encourage my dream. It was my first taste of travel and I latched onto it and never let go. So when the opportunity presented itself to go on another exchange the following summer, I jumped at it. Dad wasn’t so pleased. Turkey was different from Brazil. It was farther away, more dangerous. I remember the phone call perfectly.

“I…don’t plan on sending you,” he had said.

I remember exactly what my mother said when I repeated his words. ‘So just go and don’t tell him,” she had said with a shrug.

So that’s exactly what I did.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at seventeen (my eyes most unfortunately closed) with my host mother and host brother standing in front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I first saw the “Me, At 17”  prompt, I racked my brain for something I did at 17 and was disappointed that I was coming up with nothing. Then I almost laughed out loud when I realised that was the year I took my secret trip around the world and knew immediately that’s what I was to write about.


Zoë Ramsey
attended the University of Edinburgh and received her MSc in Creative Writing. She currently resides in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she’s working on her first novel. She can be contacted via twitter @zoe_writes_.