Archives for posts with tag: traveling


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 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.

Visiting Berne
by Anthony Costello

I remember walking the caverns either/
side of the Gerechtigkeits-gasse,
drinking Rugen Brau at Juggere
and Laphroaig at 15 francs a shot,
small birds pecking at the butt ends
of Romeo y Julietta’s, scattering
the Davidoff seals — TWANG of church bells…
waking by the water to cataracts
or floaters for eyes, colours and shapes
merging as in Klee or Kandinsky,
Einstein’s face on my pillow-zine,
boatmen clanking oars riverside
and Under Dem Vulkan unfinished.

PHOTO: Albert Einstein’s home (Berne, Switzerland).


 Anthony Costello is a poet, writer, and poetry event organizer (for details, see living in Luddendenfoot, West Yorkshire, a couple of kilometres along the valley from where Ted Hughes was born in Mytholmroyd and three kilometres from Heptonstall, a little hamlet above Hebden Bridge, where Sylvia Plath is buried. Anthony is a poetry book reviewer for Sabotage and a blogger on poetry matters at His first poetry collection, The Mask, was published by Lapwing Publications, Belfast, in October 2014.

January Vacation
by Marianne Szlyk

The blonde with the sweetheart neckline
walks up to the mic
for “Stormy Weather”
while the warm fog,
like a heavyset regular at the bar,
settles in outside.

The nearsighted bass player stoops
beneath the low ceiling.
The baby grand takes up space
used for dancing
when couples squeezed together and swayed
at supper clubs throughout the nation.
The saxophonist swings alone.

Servers scurry from table to table,
plying wine, beer, and cocktails,
offering separate desserts for all.

Behind scrubbed brick walls, you cannot hear
the freight train moan and stumble
its way to the coal mines.

PHOTO: “Freight train, Staunton, Virginia” by W. Nathan Simmons.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “January Vacation” is about a recent vacation that my husband and I took in Staunton, Virginia, a city that has intrigued me ever since I first took the Cardinal to Purdue University in 1996. (My husband and I go south for the winter but not that far south since I do not fly.) The poem itself was among several I wrote for a poetry challenge last July by the Ridgeline Literary Alliance. I begin drafting the poem by hand in a notebook. From the second draft on, I type and revise, expanding and then contracting, adding details and sometimes taking them out. This time around I shortened the poem quite a bit from my late drafts.

better picture of marianne

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marianne Szlyk is the editor of The Song Is...and a professor of English at Montgomery College.  Last fall she published her first chapbook with Kind of a Hurricane Press. Her poems have appeared in a variety of online and print venues, including Silver Birch Press, Long Exposure, Bottlec[r]ap, ken*again, Of/with, bird’s thumb, Carcinogenic Poetry, Flutter Poetry Journal, and Black Poppy Review as well as Kind of a Hurricane Press’ anthologies from Of Sun and Sand on.  She hopes that you will consider sending work to The Song Is blogzine.

Long distance cruising on Tapini
by Mercedes Webb-Pullman

We ran the yacht’s diesel for an hour
morning and evening.
Everything on the water was important.

But we moved
to our own private Montana,
high on a mountain river near
drought-stricken Numeralla.

Lynchy on his crazy mare
popped up above high tussock.
she’s bucking and kicking but he’s still on
you called as they vanished again

then you were gone too.

I dreamed about Tapini last night,
when we bought her and learned to sail.

I dreamed we cruised to Lizard Island
as we’d always planned, and loved it

and we were still there.

PHOTO: Lizard Island, Great Barrier Reef (Queensland, Australia).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My husband and I bought a yacht, a 40’ steel hull multi-chined cutter rigged bilge keeler, built specifically for cruising the Whitsunday Passage. We learned to sail, and planned our perfect holiday, cruising the Australian Great Barrier Reef. But things happened, we moved inland and sold the yacht. Then our marriage fell apart. That was 30 years ago. Last week I dreamed of him, and the yacht, and how happy we were, once. It was awful to wake up, and not be there on Lizard Island with him.


Mercedes Webb-Pullman
graduated from IIML Victoria University Wellington with MA in Creative Writing in 2011. Her poems and the odd short story have appeared online and in print, in Turbine, 4th Floor, Swamp, Reconfigurations, The Electronic Bridge, poetryrepairs, Connotations, The Red Room, Silver Birch Press, Otoliths, among others, and in her books. She lives on the Kapiti Coast, New Zealand.

PHOTO: The author on vacation in New Orleans in 2011, about to drink her first Hurricane at Pat O’Briens. Cheers!

Over the Pacific: A Chan Poem
by Yuan Changming

Flying high enough means to
Traveling far enough
To a new realm, where
There is neither borderline
Between sea and sky
Between day and night
Nor distinction
Between yesterday and tomorrow
Where every shape is softly roundish
Every line is tenderly curvy
While all colors become fluffily white
Like dehydrated snow
You would find yourself sailing alone
To an outer Hyperborea
On a heavenly boat
With no more attachments to the earth
There and then, your entire selfhood
Shrinks into a tiny dot of light
One and the same with your soul, your spirit
Gliding, cruising
In perfect pacificity

PHOTO: “Skyline view between two layers of clouds, taken through the window of a Boeing 777 flying over the Pacific Ocean” (2006) by Zuzu.


Yuan Changming
, eight-time Pushcart nominee and author of five chapbooks (including The Origin of Letters, 2015), grew up in rural China, became an ESL student at 19, and published several monographs on translation before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently co-edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan in Vancouver, and, since mid-2005, has had poetry appearing  in 1,039 literary publications across 34 countries, including Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Cincinnati Review, and Threepenny Review. 

PHOTO:  The author during his first visit to Hong Kong, the pearl at the Pacific Rim (Sept. 2014).

Different Realm
by Vijaya Gowrisankar

The subtle excitement in the air
As planned holiday time drew closer
The suitcases came out of hiding
In went the clothes, we started packing
Finally, the day arrived to leave

Our first hop was to reach Bangalore
Then, we boarded the train to Mysore
Reached at noon, with summer at its best
Our love for fauna pulled us to zoo
We spent hours, moved from one cage to next

The next two days at Mysore were spent
Visiting the historical spots
Till we left by road to Bandipur
The outskirts of the forests awaited

We stepped into a different world
Dense trees, monkeys, deer, wild boars, insects
Power cuts, indoor games, heavy rains

A trip to forest depths in buses
Eager to catch glimpses of wildlife
Elephants, peacocks, foxes, bison
Mongoose, snakes – with a wish to glimpse tigers

Saw animals sense change in nature
Monkeys expressed, jumped in restlessness
Few minutes before thundershowers
And heavy rains lashed us for few hours

We learnt forests are being destroyed
Animals killed for their body parts
For cycle of life to continue –
We need to save forests and tigers

Days passed and reality crept in
Holidays ended, moments linger

PHOTO: The author in The Government Rose Garden at Ooty, India (June 2015).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Vijaya Gowrisankar released her first book of poems Inspire in 2014. The book features more than 100 poems on topics such as Nature, Life, Positivity, and Change. She is passionate about writing poems from childhood. Her poems have been submitted in various publications.

The Subcontinent
by Jay Passer

I drank Kingfisher and cheap bourbon in bars fashioned
from 15th century vaults
I gave my shirt to a 9 year old kid
I watched the sun chip silver off a tree
as a monkey rifled through my backpack
I got nudged by a bareback bull and
flew 20 feet into space
I was offered black tar by the Guru from the Mountain
marigolds drifted on the Ganges in funereal ceremony
as fighting kites skewered through the smoke
I negotiated a ride to the train station for 20 rupees
using hand language
a woman balanced bananas in a basket upon her head
she wore a sari burnished with saffron and karma
I was reborn on a beach off the Bengalese coast
the boats built by fishermen a thousand years old
I was told by the Guru from the Mountain
that I was a storybook yet to be written
I left the train station how many hours late
the sky the same slate as any mute planet
threatening rain and strife and multitudes
nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine
Gods willing to endure this incarnate being in lieu
of that other place
I asked for an extra towel at the hotel and
the dark boy grinned
a sinuous swivel of the head danced yes
how was I to know
I was born in California

PHOTOGRAPH: “Young woman kneeling in a temple with candles Varanasi, Benares, India” by Jorge Royan.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I spent December of 2004, as well as January and February of 2005, traveling in some northern parts of India. Unfortunately, I didn’t venture south due to the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit on December 26th. I took trains from Delhi to Varanasi, and from that wonderfully spiritual city to Kolkata. My last stop was Puri, on the Bengali coast. At the time I knew nobody in India. Now, due to social media and a penchant for scribbling, I have many friends there, and plan to return for an extended stay sometime in the near future.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jay Passer’s work has appeared in print and online since 1988. He is the author of seven chapbooks and three ebooks. His work was chosen in 2014 to represent the Tenderloin District in the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library Poets 11 Anthology. Passer lives and works in San Francisco, the city of his birth.

by Amlanjyoti Goswami

The trip up the hills, to soar the mind
Beyond little backyard perches,
Tiny puddles of splashing city streets,
Scratching around piddling corners
The hills welcome a different air, make flight possible.

I land — dour afternoon, put my tent up a small inn, carpeted for wear,      and
Suddenly feel a terrible loneliness upon me.
Why did I come here? Why was I not home?
Elizabeth Bishop rang true, wherever she may be.
But it settled, a few breaths deep, the feeling you are not alone
And more such tricks with steaming dumplings and chicken soup.

I had the great man’s number – or rather his grandson’s
From a man I met just once,
He took a kindly look at me,
Eager beaver, looking for pasture?
I tried, busy it said, switched off, please try again later
Time stretching her legs, later, later,
Why hurry now.

Clambered up the lonely hill, monkeys for company,
Felt a chill, walked right through!
A two legged traveller, who hadn’t changed his stripes,
Careful, no looking in the eye. Couples picking lice and love,
Alpha males strutting.
What is a holiday if I cannot not do this, myself?
I survive.

Ambled up the reaches. Crossed a tree whose arms carried ferns,
As if human. Stopped by. Frost came to mind, but there was only
One road to go, move on, the mind said.
Finally, tea at the stall, tea and buttered buns,
I shared with a mountain dog, furry, huge, at the street ledge, just before      the road ends and
The mountain climbs higher,
He licked my plate dry and hung around
For company, growled at the monkeys, the birds,
And humans.
We had a silent handshake, and I trooped on.

Perhaps I would see him, along the way.
It grew dark, pitch black,
Deep breaths, I could hear, only mine.
I turned back, try again.
My phone dead. No charge. Nevermind.
The hill humming a distant tune near a pir’s dargah.
A pir sahib in the mountains. He must be
One with the elements.

I never meet him. Trudge along, plod by
More fern branching great deodars, amble by hill corners,
Lie on narrow ledges whose drop is eternity.
Watch stars in the night sky,
Think of home.

Next morning, before the birds are up, I leave.

The wend home passes through a forest.
I stop, for chai and view,
Hoping a tiger or at least, a leopard would
Cross my path. No such luck. Just a cow, almost pastoral.
But what view. Stretches of green deep inside the jungle,
Not a soul in sight
And me a traveller on the
Edge of nowhere.

Days on, I read a bit in some travel mag
About the place,
The usual, with the photographs,
I am late for dinner and scramble through,
When I see the name of my inn.
The writer it says, nests in the same building,

He was just a few rooms away.

PHOTOGRAPH: Langur monkeys in Landour, India.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amlanjyoti Goswami’s poems have appeared in publications in India, UK ,and USA, including The Caravan, Mint, IQ: The Indian Quarterly, Indian Literature (Sahitya Akademi), The North East Review, The Poetry Shed, DailyO, and Silver Birch Press. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam, and lives in Delhi, India.

          Two Moccasins Tied Together
          Chautauqua, 2015
          by Lisa Wiley

          Lanky, lean, baptized in newfound freedom,
          they jet ski at their own speed

          beyond the range of our Ray Bans.
          These boys like brothers of the same tribe

          tie our two families together here
          as Lake Chautauqua, the Seneca call it.

          Their open road this 18-mile
          stretch, shaped as

          a bag tied in the middle
          to an osprey flying above.

          Give in to the lake,
          the watercolor sky sings.

          Sundrenched, we heed her call
          tubing outside the wake,

          leaping off yellow rafts, falling
          backward into our own teenage slippers.

PHOTO: “Chautauqua Lake (view from Stow, New York, toward Bemus Point) by Jay Litman.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wanted the shape of the poem to resemble Lake Chautauqua, narrow in the center like a bag tied in the middle.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Wiley teaches creative writing, poetry and literature at Erie Community College, North campus in Buffalo, New York. She is the author of two chapbooks My Daughter Wears Her Evil Eye to School (The Writer’s Den, 2015) and Chamber Music (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her poetry has appeared in Earth’s Daughters, The Healing Muse, Medical Journal of Australia, Mom Egg Review, Rockhurst Review, and Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine among others.

PHOTO: Lisa Wiley with her husband Art Moslow in Bemus Point, New York (July 2015).