Archives for posts with tag: travel


Have Toque, Will Travel
by Lee Parpart

It was just a simple brown ski hat with a striped cuff and a squashed pompom, vaguely poo-coloured and permanently caked in sweat.
But to an eight-year-old dragged from Boston to Britain and then Lusaka for her mother’s doctoral research, it must have signified something important.
Why else would I refuse to remove it for a full year?
In London, I wore the toque so often that a man in our B&B finally worked up the courage to ask if it hid a surgical scar.
I remember him sitting opposite us at breakfast, trying on the question while waiting for his toast to cool.
He couldn’t have known that simply being in a place where toast was served cold helped explain my need for this comfort from home.
From then on we called it the Cancer Hat.
I wore it sleeping, on double-decker buses around London, in baths until it was time to shampoo, and on the plane to Zimbabwe.
I tried to keep it on during that whole first night in Nairobi, but relented when my fever broke 104 and I began a long night of vomiting.
My sister put it on a chair and held my hair back while our mother braved the hotel bar on a quest for ginger ale.
Days later, when we reached Lusaka, the diplomats’ daughters at our British school sized up my striped Levi’s and soiled headgear and declared me unfit for society.
They were not wrong.
I was half a girl, the ink on the divorce papers barely dry when we boarded that first plane and left our father to his broken mind.
I can’t remember when the hat finally outlived its usefulness. One day, about halfway through our two-year stay in Zambia, it just disappeared.
I don’t remember making a fuss.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Christmas 1973 in West Newton, Massachusetts, a few months before my sister and I would fly to London to join our Mom. I was already wearing the hat full-time, inside and out.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I’ve been trying to remember if it was my Dad who bought the hat for me. I know he bought me a winter coat at EMS in Boston, and he could have given me the hat at the same time.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lee Parpart worked as an arts journalist and media studies researcher before returning to creative writing in 2015. Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous Silver Birch Press series, and she was named an Emerging Writer for East York in 2016 as part of Open Book Toronto’s “What’s Your Story” contest. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.


And dad won’t leave the mountain
by Kristina England

A day after reaching the inner west of North Carolina, my mother and I leave him in front of the Weather Channel, eyes fixed on coastal hurricane. I put on a black and white checkered hat that sloops in on one side, dare to wear pink shirt, floral skirt, too much pattern, the less adventurous would say.

Mom and I drive to Asheville, forty-five minutes away. We eat lunch at the Jerusalem City Cafe, because it is the closest I’ll get to my heritage, then walk around town, sightseeing. Thomas Wolfe statue, iconic tower, people playing instruments on street corners.

Afterwards, I take a different way home. The roads are mostly sideways as we loop Blue Ridge Mountains.

I stop in Old Fort, because the scenes are fine for photogues. Emergency siren sounds. One of those old cranks, some man using his brute force. Mother and I, shaken, head on out, not knowing how to react. The alarm gets more distant but not our rattled profiles.

Mom calls dad to check in, does not mention our encounter. The hurricane has passed. He is in a more steady mood. Survived a tornado ripping through his house at age four.

We do not ask him to leave the mountain again.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me at the end of our trip back from Asheville, North Carolina, at the Flowering Bridge in Lake Lure.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In life, we metaphorically wear hats that are so big, we don’t always see the reality of a situation. This story is about getting dressed up, seeking out adventure, and the understanding we can find when faced with the same fears of those who don’t join us in the adventure. The hat is new and fun. Ask me in 10 years where the hat is and I probably won’t know, but, god willing, I’ll know, really know, the people I love a little more with each passing day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her writing and photography has been published in several magazines, including Apeiron Review, Gargoyle, Muddy River Poetry Review, and, Pure Slush. Follow her on facebook.


World Traveler
by Ann Hillesland 

My sandals slip on the cobblestones as I walk through Prague. The morning is warm, just starting on sticky. Around me, packs of t-shirted tourists pose in front of old buildings and drink fancy coffees at outdoor cafes. It’s my first time overseas and I’m alone. Sidling between clusters of visitors, I point my camera at building frescos and greened metal statues, trying to feel excited by the grandeur and history, but instead feeling lonely. Without a destination, I drift past stalls selling postcards and key chains and beer steins with the gothic castle on them.

A rack of colorful hats catches my eye. I love hats. Because my straw summer hats wouldn’t travel well, I haven’t brought one with me. The store’s hats are not fancy—just bands of ribbon sewn together—but they come in bright colors and will not crush when packed. They strike me as the practical kind of hat a world traveler might throw into her suitcase as she’s jetting off to yet another exotic location. After trying on several, I select a light blue one, pay, and put it on at a jaunty angle.

The city looks different from under a hat. I feel more like the sophisticated jet setter in my imagination, alive to new experiences. As 11:00 am approaches, I make my way to the astronomical clock to watch it chime, even though the guidebook has warned me it’s overrated. I wade into the crowd and stare upwards, like everyone else. When the hour strikes, the statues of the apostles circle by the clock’s windows, each pivoting to gaze out before circling away. From under the brim of my hat, it looks like they’re dancing.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: 2006, Budapest, Hungary (I wore the Prague hat the rest of the trip).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I wrote this piece, I looked at all my pictures from Prague to remind myself what it was like. I noticed how often I pointed my camera up to avoid the crowds in front of every building and statue. It was as if I wanted to show in the pictures how alone I felt at the time.


Ann Hillesland
, a California native, writes fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been published in many literary journals, including Fourth Genre, Sou’wester, Bayou, The Laurel Review, Corium, and SmokeLong Quarterly. It has been selected for the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Fictions, won the grand prize for prose in a Spark contest, and has been presented onstage by Stories On Stage. She is a graduate of the MFA program at Queen’s University of Charlotte. For more of her work, visit

by Chloe Cotter

Last week a friend asked when was the last time I’d felt happy.

 “When…” no, not then. “It was…” no, not then either.

Don’t get me wrong, I have lots to be happy about. I’m a young writer spending my days drinking espresso on the sun-bathed terraces of Paris, and I have a family back home in Vancouver that loves me very much.

It’s just that the ever-present futility of existence weighs down on every moment and reminds me that I’m just a step away from losing it all.

This morning as I walked along the paths of the Buttes Chaumont, I looked at my arms and they didn’t feel like they were a part of me. The sun was shining, warming my skin, but I felt completely translucent, like I didn’t even exist.

I sat down on a bench to steady myself and stare into the space above the pond to think of the nothing that comes to mind when I think of being happy.

Then I thought about that time he hit me like the coward he is and how I packed up my shit while he was at work and moved out like the coward I am. And how I found myself on the other side of the world continuing the search for meaning in other people and things and meals and glasses of Bordeaux and the rainbow haze of the Sagrada Familia and the red-lit rooms of De Wallen.

And I thought about being suspended in time and space and how the whole city, the whole world, is talking nonchalantly about the meaning of life. About our translucent bodies. About how no matter how far we go, no matter how far or how fast you move, there is no escaping our fate.

PHOTO: The author in Paris, August 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote a much longer version of this piece after a particularly difficult experience with trying to integrate myself into the French culture. It wasn’t difficult to talk to or share stories and food with my new French friends, but rather it felt immensely heavy to deal with the reality of being a perpetual wanderer, and having a deep-set need to always move away from difficulties. And not only that — now that I’d found a place (Paris) that I wanted to stay in, the bureaucracy of travel visas stated that my sejour there would have to come to an end eventually, and I was lost with where to move to next.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Chloe Cotter is currently working on her first novel, and is the writer behind She is a perpetual wanderer, originally from Vancouver and currently based in Montreal. She spent 2015 eating and drinking her way across France, finding inspiration in everything. She is a foster cat mama, French enthusiast, and consciousness seeker. Visit her on social media — twitter @chloefcotter, instagram @thekittenlife, and  her website,


Somewhere on I-75
by Amanda Tanner

Many people move from one state to another. Sometimes it’s awesome, sometimes its crappy. For the first 18 years of my life, it was crappy, literally. But, more about that later.

Moving across country has some interesting side effects on a child. For example, I can tell what geographical region you are from based on how you order that fizzy cola with lunch. I won’t get worried when a friend in Georgia asks to be carried to the store, or when my son wants to pump a friend on his bike. I also know that a crick could be a pain in one’s neck, or it could be a stream of water. You say tomato, I say tomahtoe.

Another interesting side effect of moving is that I’m not a hoarder, I don’t get attached to things. While all of my friends have a treasure chest full of childhood toys they can share with their grandchildren, I have none. I don’t even have childhood memories. I imagine that they are with my toys, in a moving van, somewhere on I-75.

This is because, for the first 18 years of my life, we moved every two years or so. I remember Alaska, Minnesota, Florida, both sides of Michigan, Florida twice more, and then Texas.   I know what you are thinking: I must have been a military brat, right? Nope. Daddy was a civil engineer. He built sewage treatment plants.

That’s right, I’ve been to all the towns that were full of crap! For me, moving was always a crappy experience.

PHOTO: Taken by author in Michigan’s northern Upper Peninsula. The sign showing the distance to Miami demonstrates the locals’ sense of humor about their remote location and frigid winters.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For this piece of writing, I combined two of my most frequently told stories from my youth. Friends and family members get a kick out of my moving story because they all assume I am a military brat, and because the story has a bad word or two in it when it is told in person. My sons and their dad are budding hoarders, but I am not. I consistently explain this phenomenon as “the amount of stuff you keep is inversely related to the number of towns that you have lived in.” They all lived in the same town until after high school!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda (call her Nanna) Tanner is a semi-retired educator and lifelong learner. An eternal optimist, Nanna claims there is nothing that she can’t learn. She will tell you she dabbles in the arts and loves creating things. She paints in oils and acrylics, plays guitar, writes poetry, and sings in the car on road trips. Most recently, she has learned to quilt and has made personal creations for 10  relatives.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Nanna needs some new shades! Photo taken in August of 2016 at KMart.

Across the Country, Little Ford, Big Dog
by Abby Chew

I started on a Quaker farm in Ohio, where I raised goats and taught my students to waltz and read sonnets and grow food.
I drove my red truck and my white dog to Maine.
Then back through Ohio, toward Indiana and Iowa—we liked names bookended by vowels.
I’d said goodbye to all the friends I’d ever had.
At Council Bluffs, we considered all we could see. All that lay out there across the plains.
We drove through Colorado the day of the Aurora shooting. We watched the sun bleed itself into the mountains.
I laughed out loud driving through canyons. I’d never been inside a canyon before.
We drove through rain. The little truck did just fine, weighted down and low, barreling on.
We are peanut butter sandwiches in a parking lot at Arches and bemoaned the National Park rules about dogs. We wished we had everything in the world all to ourselves.
We stayed one night in a fancy Las Vegas hotel. Every other dog was snack-food-sized. We’ve never been back.
We got to California and made a new home.
We met a man.
We got a second, smaller dog.
We still have the truck.
We still look East every day.

PHOTO: The author and Alice the dog at the Brite Spot in Echo Park, Los Angeles, blocks from where they live with the new man and the new dog.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this little poem, I wanted only the facts that brought Alice the Dog and me out here to the coast where we now live. A list. Because that trip was so terrible and wonderful. It could only be a list.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abby Chew earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Currently, she teaches at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences in Santa Monica, California.

Cry Me a River
by Perry S. Nicholas
          Remember? I remember all that you said.
           You told me love was too plebian,
           told me you were through with me and…

Even though we were travelling together,
we were separated on the flight home,

ended up sitting half an airplane away, still angry.
It might as well have been a mile of black sky.

I located the clip on the back of your hair,
but you couldn’t spot me at all over your shoulder.

We panicked, then laughed when we told
each other later of a similar thought:

what if this plane went down, and we perished
at odds, you dodging a puking baby, me

holding onto an old man gabbing grammar?
I’d reach for you mouthing our sad song in slow motion.

Hands extended across the seats, our love
falling hard into a river, a divided descent.

EDITOR’S NOTE: “Cry Me a River,” written by Arthur Hamilton in 1953, was popularized by Julie London in her 1955 recording and subsequent TV appearances.

perry nicholas

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Perry S. Nicholas is an Associate English professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y. where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities and the 2011 President’s Award for Classroom Instruction. He received the SGA’s Outstanding Teacher Award on two occasions. He has published six books and one CD of poetry.

The Author about 1970
by Lynn White

Traveling through northern France
with Michel driving.
The Beatles singing on the radio,
“Michelle, ma belle.”
A sky of uniform grey,
dark, dark grey.
And then,
a surprise rainbow.
And then,
to one side,
a helicopter
outlined black.
And then,
I bottled it.
I can still remember.

PHOTO: The author, around 1970.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was returning home, heading for a Channel port in the late 1960s. It seemed like a magic moment, captured.

lynn white1

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places, and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy, and reality. Her poem “A Rose For Gaza” was shortlisted for the Theatre Cloud “War Poetry for Today” competition in October 2014 and is published in Poetry For Changeanthology by Vending Machine Press. Poems have also recently been included in Harbinger Asylum’s Literary Journal and A Moment To Live By anthology, Stacey Savage’s We Are Poetry: An Anthology of Love Poems, the Weasel Press anthology Degenerates, Voices For Peace, Community Arts Ink’s Reclaiming Our Voices and a number of on line and print journals. Visit her on facebook.

ABOUT THE MUSIC: Listen to “Michelle” by the Beatles here.

amsterdam vices haiku
by Tricia Marcella Cimera

amsterdam whipped cream —

better than red light roxannes

or coffee shop scene

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Sumptuous, sweet whipped cream with the author’s morning hot chocolate, Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam (November 2010).


Tricia Marcella Cimera
is an obsessed reader and lover of words. Her work has appeared in diverse places such as Silver Birch Press, Reverie Fair, I Am Not A Silent Poet, Prairie Light Review and is forthcoming in Stepping Stones. She volunteers, believes strongly in the ideology of Think Globally, Act Locally, and wants you to Support Local Art because it’s important. Also, kindness matters. She lives with her husband and family of animals in St. Charles, Illinois, and is a member of the Waterline Writers community in sister-city Batavia.

by Betsy Mars

My perfect journey: headless.
Heedless of my thoughts, mindful and mindless.
No should or woulds. No sense of unworthiness.
No thought for things done, or not done, or undone.

Strolling through places of beauty sublime,
greenest meadows or fern-floored forests,
leading to peat-filled distilleries where they make
small batches of nectar, transcendent
on craggy outcrops at the end of continents,
with no risk of falling off. No acrophobia or claustrophobia.
No phobia. Safe treks down dry-boned paths
littered with shards of domestic pottery
where the volcano blew
             Life in pieces.

Or time travel to the past, clearing dark places
mined with trigger spots and wrongdoings:
Poorly handled breakups or ill-advised makeups,
child-rearing disasters: the nucleus of neurotic reactors,

Then celebratory trips to champagne caves, riding on riverboats
where movement and stillness coexist. Sober and intoxicated,
as the bank flows by. Or through Rousseau jungles
plentiful with beasts and wildness.
Safari tents are filled with soft scents and the sense of being
embodied in a distant place where light doesn’t leach
away the black from the sky,
and the vast spread of stars is revealed,
terrifying, humbling, and alive.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE IMAGE:  Rather than an actual photo of me on vacation, my poem features a painting by Dave Devenot of the Hawaiian Watercolor Society. He created this based on a photo taken by his wife when we were in Florence many years ago. That’s me in the jeans and red top. I thought, given that my poem is more of a wish fulfillment/fantasy take on the theme, perhaps a painting, being more unrealistic, would capture the feeling more accurately.

betsy mars

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In this photo taken in April at LACMA (L.A. County Museum of Art), I am lifting the weight of the world. I am recently starting to  feel myself lightening a little and am hoping to have a more Chagall-like future filled with flight, color, music, and fantastic creatures. Not to mention lots and lots of travel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Betsy Mars is a poet who lives in Southern California.