Archives for posts with tag: travel

At the South Rim
by JC Sulzenko

A blind man goes to the Grand Canyon. NO, it’s no joke.
He really travels there, asks his friend, What do you see?
He turns toward her, toward her reply.

She looks past him across long shelves of rock,
down, down, down to a mud-brown river.
She does not answer.

No wind, no rustling leaves rescue her
from the penury of her words.
What’s it like? he insists.

She squares her shoulders, picks up a rock,
a slice of shale. Puts it in his palm.
What’s this?

She closes her hand around his. Hold it tight.
Feel the ridges, the cracks, the rough edges.    
That’s the canyon in your hand.

Yes, yes. But so what? He leans forward,
two steps away from a drop of 2000 feet.
She pulls him back.

He grips her wrist.
I need to know. I NEED to know
what it looks like.

She tries again. Cliffs and plateaus contour down,
layer upon layer, ledge upon ledge,
to the river, thin as a ribbon from up here.

How far down, how deep?      
She squints at the staircase befitting giants and myths.
Stand 1000 men, each six feet tall,

shoulder-on-shoulder. That’s how deep.
He nods. Are there colours?
What colours?

She frowns, has never asked
if his eyes remember
mortal colours or know only shades.

Think of scales on a piano: the treble— 
high and sharp, cold and brittle
as the limestone below the rim.

Lower in the chasm, think of bass chords,
warm as the lava-red rocks that catch,
hold the desert sun.

The canyon, a concerto—its movements
aligned with the fanfare of dawn,
with the coda of dusk.     

She smiles, turns to her companion.
He nods his head.
I see, I see.

PHOTO: The Grand Canyon, Arizona, by JC Sulzenko.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My only visit to the Grand Canyon almost a decade ago led me to write “At the South Rim” years later. I had approached the lookout with eyes downcast. When I raised my head, I could barely take in the spectacle it was my privilege to see. I was not prepared for how this wonder’s scale and beauty would affect me and stay with me to this day.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: JC Sulzenko’s poems appeared on Arc’s Poem of the Year shortlist, and have been featured in Vallum, Maple Tree Literary Supplement, Oratorealis, Naugatuck River Review, and online — either under her name or as A. Garnett Weiss. The Light Ekphrastic and Silver Birch Press have published her work. In 2019, she won the Wind and Water Writing Contest and WrEN Award (Children’s Poetry), and judged poetry for the National Capital Writing Contest. In 2018, Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology (Mansfield Press) as well as the Poet’s Pathway and County CollAboRaTive projects featured her writing. Point Petre Publishing released her South Shore Suite…POEMS in 2017. Her centos took top honours in The Bannister Anthology (2016, 2013). She has presented workshops for the Ottawa International Writers Festival, the Griffin Trio, MASC, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Ottawa Public Library, and a number of Alzheimer societies, among others. She co-authored chapbooks Slant of Light and Breathing Mutable Air with fellow Canadian Carol A. Stephen, and currently curates the Glebe Report’s Poetry Quarter, plus serves as a selector for Visit her at

etsy yellowstone
Sometime in Yellowstone
by Karla Linn Merrifield





If I do not subside
in Earth’s grand quake
I will become the vapor.

PHOTO: “Sunset, Lower Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming” by SolsticePhoto. Prints available at

Karla Linn Merrifield at Yellowstone
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this gestalt-form poem in situ during a visit to Yellowstone National Park with my late husband in 2009. It was our second visit to the park.

PHOTO: The author at Yellowstone National Park.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Karla Linn Merrifield has had 800+ poems appear in dozens of journals and anthologies. She has 14 books to her credit. Following her 2018 Psyche’s Scroll (Poetry Box Select) is the 2019 full-length book Athabaskan Fractal: Poems of the Far North from Cirque Press. In early 2021, her Half a World of Kisses will be published by Truth Serum Press (Australia) under its new Lindauer Poets imprint. She is currently at work on a poetry collection, My Body the Guitar, inspired by famous guitarists and their guitars; the book is slated to be published in December 2021 by Before Your Quiet Eyes Publications Holograph Series (Rochester, NY). Find her on Twitter @LinnMerrifiel and on Facebook @LinnMerrifiel.

Ficus Benghalensis
by Michael Minassian

I like the quiet blue house
at the end of the block,
the one next to the tall banyan tree:

they say Jack Kerouac
lived there ’57 to ’58
and wrote The Dharma Bums
on one long continuous scroll

like some beat Bedouin
scribe burying sacred texts
inside pottery jars
in the back of caves —

sharing space with his mother,
typewriter and a bottle,
sometimes he felt
so cramped he slept

in the backyard
beneath the dangling roots
of the banyan tree

like a priest or goat herder
dreaming of America
in the long paragraph
of the past:

Orlando, the dead sea,
the hanging gardens of Babylon.

© 2007 Michael Minassian

Previously published in The Dos Passos Review

PHOTO: 1418 Clouser Avenue, Orlando, Florida, Jack Kerouac’s residence while writing The Dharma Bums. (Photo by Maksim.)

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When I was a college professor, I produced a series of podcasts of visits to writers’ homes, including Hemingway in Key West, Flannery O’Connor in Savannah, and Jack Kerouac in Orlando. The Kerouac home was the most difficult to find. After driving in circles in a residential neighborhood, I stopped to ask directions. The first person I questioned had never even heard of Jack Kerouac. But a couple, out walking their dog, knew exactly where the house was located. Armed with my notebook and camera, I approached the house with some caution. The site of The Kerouac Project, a writer’s residency program, a previous resident had posted that he felt intruded upon because tourists kept knocking on the door or peeking through the window. But the current resident, Darlyn Finch Kuhn, rather than being put out by my presence, invited me into the house and gave me a leisurely tour, allowing me to photograph the interior and graciously let me cool off with iced tea before I left.

PHOTO: The author on the porch of 1418 Clouser Avenue, in the College Park section of Orlando, Florida, where Jack Kerouac lived for a time during the late 1950s.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michael Minassian’s poems and short stories have appeared recently in such journals as Comstock Review, Main Street Rag, Poet Lore, and Third Wednesday. He is also a Contributing Editor for Verse-Virtual, an online magazine. His chapbooks include poetry, The Arboriculturist (2010), and photography, Around the Bend (2017). His poetry collection, Time is Not a River, published in 2020 is available on Amazon. Visit him at

“I’ve got a mule; her name is Sal, fifteen miles on the Erie Canal”
                                                                      –Thomas S. Allen, 1906
by Julie A. Dickson

Along the water’s edge, the canal, the locks
cutting a swathe through towns and farms,
water glistening in the sun, I sing beneath my breath
a song about Sal, walking the towpath, pulling barges
along the Erie Canal to the next lock, water rising or falling
to allow the barge passage, weighed down with cargo.

Sal had a job, walking the towpath, perhaps fifteen miles
as the song describes, with a man leading her, long rope
tethered to a heavy loaded vessel, her burden to bear.
Did Sal mind her position in life? Did she live long?
Did Sal yearn for pastures and freedom to run and graze,
instead of spending her days on the towpath?

The canal is visible from many roads along New York State,
locks appear as bridges to nowhere, I often gazed at them
from the back seat of my father’s car, singing about Sal.
The towpath of our lives is a tether to responsibility, focused
as Sal was, on the task in front of us, not on the beauty of the canal
alongside, water reflecting old factories, birds feeding on its banks.

The song, made famous by Pete Seeger and others, taught children
about early life on the canal but we didn’t know its meaning,
plodding along, making a living, fulfilling a purpose in a small niche,
Sal led barges loaded down with goods to the next town, her mind
on walking, but thinking perhaps of the hay waiting in her stall.
Tethered to tasks, we don’t see the canal, eyes only on the towpath.

PAINTING: “Erie Canal” by John Henry Hopkins (1825) via William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am a lakes girl, a New York State girl, having been raised around Lake Ontario and Lake Erie; water is in my blood, and I would drive the length of the state just to view the canal and farmland. The bridges to nowhere were a mystery to me throughout my childhood.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Julie A. Dickson is a New Hampshire poet whose work addresses nature, current events, animal welfare, elephants in captivity. Her poetry has appeared in various journals, including Ekphrastic Review, Poetry Quarterly, Blue Heron Review, The Avocet and The Harvard Press. She is a member of the Poetry Society of New Hampshire, and has coordinated workshops as well as 100 Thousand Poets for Change. Her full-length works of poetry and Young Adult fiction can be found on Amazon.

PHOTO: The author along a stretch of the Erie Canal.

EDITOR’S NOTE: When completed in 1825, the Erie Canal, which spans 363 miles, was the second longest canal in the world (after the Grand Canal in China) and greatly enhanced the development and economy of New York, New York City, and the United States. (Source: Wikipedia.)

IMAGE: “Current route of Erie Canal,” map by Rosemary Wardley. (Credits on this page.)

Victoria Falls on Zambezi River
I have spread my dreams under your feet
                                        —William Butler Yeats
by Susana H. Case

In the early light, a line of curio sellers
crosses Victoria Bridge
from Zambia, their trinkets
wrapped in sacks draped over bicycles.
They push up the hill,
past the hut
where tourists are tied in harnesses to free fall
through mist over the Zambezi.

The bungee jumpers scream in terror,
stopped just short of the rapids,
just short of the crocodiles.

The zealot imperialist, Cecil Rhodes,
envisioned the bridge as part of a train route,
Cairo to the Cape,
died without realizing his dream.
His remains buried in the Matopos Hills,
anti-colonialists threaten to dig him up,
send him finally back to Hertfordshire.

The peddlers dream of enough to eat
as they unwrap a carved wooden elephant,
lion, leopard, buffalo, rhino. From their pockets,
they pull out freshly pressed devalued
hundred-trillion Zimbabwean dollars,
try not to catch the eye of the police.
If a foreigner stops to look,
more hawkers run over, flash
more wooden animals, more souvenir money.

You mean nothing to us,
a curio seller says if they refuse
to buy another lion or elephant.

PHOTO: Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya, the Smoke that Thunders) waterfall in southern Africa on the Zambezi River at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe (taken from Zambian side of falls) by Steven Heap, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written after a visit to Zimbabwe to see Victoria Falls. Though the falls are beautiful, there is a disjuncture between the lives of the local people and the tourists, who come to see the falls or bungee jump off the Victoria Falls Bridge, that is jarring and difficult to forget, as the poverty is so extreme. And then there are the colonial implications of the bridge, brainchild of the grand imperialist Cecil Rhodes.

PHOTO: The author with Victoria Bridge and mist from Victoria Falls in the background, from the Zimbabwe side, 2015.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Susana H. Case is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Dead Shark on the N Train in 2020 from Broadstone Books. Drugstore Blue (Five Oaks Press) won an IPPY Award in 2019. She is also the author of five chapbooks, two of which won poetry prizes. Her first collection, The Scottish Café, from Slapering Hol Press, was rereleased in a dual-language English-Polish version, Kawiarnia Szkocka by Opole University Press. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Catamaran, The Cortland Review, Portland Review, Potomac Review, Rattle, RHINO, and many other journals. She is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City. Visit her at


by Clive Collins

A monument’s a solid thing of stone and metal made to define an age, defy the ages. My monument, the one I speak of here, is formed from less tangible tissue: memory, dream, hallucination.

In Edinburgh once, during a two-year long moment of confused foolishness, I sought freedom from my demons in the streets. On one of my walks I got lost. It was late in the afternoon. The day was already gathering. I was in an area completely strange to me. Where I should have turned back, I kept walking.

Eventually, I came upon what has recreated itself ever since in my dreams.  Narrow sloping streets, cobbled, banked with tall stone tenements. A church that split the way before me, posing left or right. The downward slope grew ever steeper. Afraid, I questioned the sense in what I was about. In front of me reared of a sudden a monumental stone gateway, the same grey-sooted stone as the buildings that pressed in from either side.

Beyond that, well, memory sings; more cobblestones, more buildings, these with half-basements occupied entirely by junk shops whose contents spilled out onto the basement steps or, seemingly, climbed the walls. A shop sign to my left read “Madame Doubtfire’s.”

I thought I’d lost both sense and way. Looking behind me, the last of the day’s light made the dreadful gate I’d passed through loom up dark against the sky.

How I found my road back, I do not know. I did, although in many ways I did not. A marriage died. A probable career deserted me. Now, in my dreams, when I am walking city streets, they are those streets. And always in this dreamscape I see that gateway in silhouette against a black-clouded sky, monument to myself: monument and folly.

PHOTO: “Old entrance to Stockbridge Market, Edinburgh, Scotland” by Macumba (2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Memory is deception, of ourselves mostly, but of others too if we choose to air memory’s fabrications. The Stockbridge area of Edinburgh where I became lost in 1973 is not the place that so often forms the backdrop to my dreams or is remembered here.  But I did see “Madame Doubtfire’s” on that walk, the shop long predating the novel and the film.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in Leicester, England, Clive Collins has spent the greater part of his life working as a teacher in Ireland, Sierra Leone, and Japan. He is the author of two novels, The Foreign Husband (Marion Boyars) and Sachiko’s Wedding (Marion Boyars/Penguin Books). Misunderstandings, a collection of short stories, was joint-winner of the Macmillan Silver PEN Award in 1994. More recently, his work has appeared in online journals such as Penny, Cecile’s Writers, The Story Shack, and He was a short-listed finalist in the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction.  Carried Away and Other Stories is available from Red Bird Chap Books.

Florence Cathedral at Night in Florence - Italy
Duomo, Florence
by Neil Creighton

You come upon it suddenly,
meandering through narrow streets,
past beige, time-coated buildings,
turning down the curve of Via de’ Martelli,
casually drawing near to the street’s end
and then you gasp.

You come upon it unprepared,
seeing at first only the soaring facade
and the enormity of its tower,
but turning into Piazza del Duomo
you see its length, the immensity of its domes,
and again you gasp.

You come upon it in amazement,
seeing it as glistening white marble
with geometric patterns in pink and green,
embroidered, scrolled, balanced, harmonious,
exquisite in scope and detail,
and again you gasp.

You come to it in awe,
its front a composition in threes:
three great doors rise in elegant curves;
above them three circles spoked like sunbeams;
always the one in the center is highest or largest
and you think you understand.

You come to its details:
complex, embroidered patterns in stone;
paintings in colored stone above each door;
lines of sculptured figures in porticoes of blue
and circular inlays glinting with gold
and you feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps later you will walk through the doors
and again feel its power and artistry,
or you will climb the narrow stairwell
to the dome’s dizzying height
but now, in this first sudden moment
you are overcome by its beauty
and, dimly realizing its complex grandeur,
praise the vision that conceived it,
the capabilities that built it,
the artistry that embellished it,
the materials that adorn it
and you stop, stand still, and stare.

PHOTO: Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (Duomo, Florence, Italy) by Pitinan, used by permission.

Duomo, Florence
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Back in the days when travel was possible, my wife and I loved to travel. Italy is very special and I wrote a great deal there. Here I try to capture that sense of suddenly coming upon an architectural masterpiece.

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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. He has been widely published, both online and in hard copy. He is a contributing editor at Verse-Virtual,  an online poetry journal. His chapbook, Earth Music, was published by Praxis Magazine Online in 2020. Loving Leah was published this year by Kelsay Books and Rock Dreaming has been selected for publication by the same publisher.

PHOTO: Duomo (Florence, Italy) by the author.


Gravity Grateful
by Mark Blickley

Looking down from high places doesn’t bother me at all but when I have to look up at things, like buildings, it makes me nervous cause it feels like some kind of force like a magnet or something is going to pull me up and lift me off the ground which is a lot worse than falling ’cause if you’re falling down you know you’re falling and that’s that but if you get pulled off the ground and lifted into the air you’re not falling, but you could fall at any moment, and there’s no end because if you fall you have to land, but if you’re lifted up it could go on forever and I hate that.

Photo of Dalí Theatre-Museum (Figueres, Catalonia, Spain) by the author (January 2020).

Museum of Salvador Dali

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This past January I visited Barcelona, Spain, with my daughter Deirdre. We rented a car and decided to take a side trip to the Salvador Dalí museum at Figueres, Spain. After viewing the inside of this exquisite museum, I focused on its exterior structure. The photo that appears with my poem is my looking up at a detail of this magnificent building. When we returned to Barcelona, I obsessed over this photo, which resulted in my writing a surreal-tinged prose poem, “Gravity Grateful.”

PHOTO: Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres, Spain by Taras Verkhovynets, used by permission.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mark Blickley is a widely published author of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild and PEN American Center. His most recent book is his text-based art collaboration with fine arts photographer Amy Bassin, Dream Streams.

Liberty Quarantined
–virtual tour, May 2020
by Marjorie Maddox

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PHOTO: “Statue of Liberty,” Liberty Island, New York Harbor, New York City, NY by Jeff Burak on Unsplash.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Because I’ve only seen the Statue of Liberty from the outside, this story at CBS News inspired “Liberty Quarantined.”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Winner of the 2019 Foley Poetry Prize and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lock Haven University, Marjorie Maddox has published 11 collections of poetry—including Transplant, Transport, Transubstantiation (Yellowglen Prize); True, False, None of the Above (Illumination Book Award Medalist)Local News from Someplace ElsePerpendicular As I (Sandstone Book Award)—the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite); four children’s and YA books—including  Inside Out: Poems on Writing and Reading Poems with Insider Exercises and A Crossing of Zebras: Animal Packs in PoetryI’m Feeling Blue, Too!Common Wealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania (co-editor); Presence (assistant editor); and 600+ stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies. Her book Begin with a Question is forthcoming from Paraclete Press in Spring 2021. For more about her work, visit

EDITOR’S NOTE:  The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World; French: La Liberté éclairant le monde), a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, was designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and its metal framework was built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. (Source: Wikipedia.)

Photogenic at any Age
by Rosemary Marshall Staples

Stars shine, lights glow,
cameras flash.
Daily photo shoots.
Her beauty remains unfading.
No model can pose as well.
She is timeless,
mysterious and stunning.
Elegant and natural
she captures us.
We can’t keep our eyes off her.
She leaves us all
intoxicated and intrigued.
We have no choice but to return
time and again for another look.
More famous than a painting,
a century old, yet new every day.
Poised on a pedestal of rock.
Nubble Lighthouse is calling
to waves, to wanderers, to shutterbugs,
to look, gaze, breathe, rest and return.

PHOTO: “Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse” by Joel Bailey,
Hidden Fox Photography (2017).

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Rosemary Marshall Staples is a poet and songwriter. Her work has appeared in Spotlight magazine, Poet’s Touchstone, and Piscataqua Poems. Featured at Maine venues with her poetry and music, she is a member of The Poetry Society of New Hampshire and The Writers in the Round at Star Island. Her poem “Photogenic at any Age” is about Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine. The poem appears on the placemat at Fox’s Lobster House located at Sohier Park, adjacent to the parking lot overlooking Nubble Lighthouse. Since childhood, she has visited this landmark, which holds many memories of family and friends.