Archives for posts with tag: traveling

licensed lev levin

Visiting Ulli
by Cheryl Levine

I boarded the train at the Santa Lucia station in Venice and headed north, towards the city of Trieste, to visit Ulli. We had met in an on-line forum on Italy and, in particular, the Italian language. She was learning English; I was studying Italian. We wrote long emails to each other in the languages we were hoping to acquire more fluently. She would correct my Italian, and I her English. Through these communications, we shared our love of art and architecture, good books, and tagliatelle with wild boar sauce.

When Ulli learned I was traveling to Venice, she urged me to take the two-hour train ride to visit her in Trieste. She was waiting for me at the train platform, smartly dressed in a slim skirt and blouse, handbag hanging from her folded arm. “We’ve lots to do in a short amount of time,” she declared as we left the train station. I told her what my daughter said before I left home: “Let me get this straight. You’re getting on a train alone and traveling to a city you don’t know to meet some stranger you met on the Internet. If I told you I was doing that, you would kill me.”

Ulli threw her head back and laughed. I felt like I had known her forever.

We had prosciutto, mozzarella, and melon for lunch at Trieste’s well known cafe, Buffet da Pepi. We walked the streets of the city, admiring the Classical architecture, so different from the Baroque and Rococo present in other parts of Italy. For our last stop, we hopped in her little Fiat and drove along the Adriatic Coast to visit the grounds of the stunning Castle Miramare, a famous landmark with sweeping views of the sea below it.

If not for Ulli, I would never have visited this beautiful castle in this beautiful city.

PHOTO: Miramare Castle, Trieste, Italy by Lev Levin, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Miramare Castle is a 19th-century castle on the Gulf of Trieste between near Trieste, northeastern Italy. Built from 1856 to 1860 for Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian and his wife, Charlotte of Belgium, it was designed by Carl Junker. The style reflects the artistic interests of the archduke, who was acquainted with the eclectic architectural styles of Austria, Germany and England.  (Source: Wikipedia)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I enjoy the challenge with travel writing in finding an angle to what the traveler is seeing, hearing, experiencing. In that way, one is not merely stating the facts but digging deeper into the true meaning of travel.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cheryl Levine is a former newspaper columnist and freelance editor. She has had essays published in Dreamers Creative Writing Magazine, 24PearlStreet blog, and Silver Birch Press, and has read for Grub Street’s Tell All Event in Boston. She is currently working on a memoir dealing with a range of intersecting topics from her Italian-American heritage, to parental abandonment and its effects on identity, to scary medical diagnoses. She lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

PHOTO: The author during her travels.

licensed funnerusImmigrant Waves
by Lowell Murphree

They aren’t much, I know
so very little

coming and going like that
foreign and undependable

a little movement
at the tip of a long Cheatgrass stem

the string of them along
my canal go mostly unnoticed

but this stand alongside the neighbor’s
pasture fence

is the Pacific
subducting at the Coast and

rising in the body of a
Mongolian immigrant stem-waver two hundred fifty miles inland

just as did these hills twelve million years
before we tried to close the borders.

PHOTO: Pictured are Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley, the town of Ellensburg, the Yakama River, and the Manastash Ridge. Photo by Funnerus, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley is known for its frequent strong winds that sweep down the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains to the flat land across the Columbia River. Watching the Cheatgrass move in waves along a canal bordering my home was the inspiration for exploring how external forces shaped and continue to form and shape my homeland. Manastash Ridge is a long ridge extending eastward from the Cascade Mountains in Central Washington State. These ridges rose from the earth’s volcanic activity 12 million years ago as a result of the subduction of the Juan de Fuca Plate under the North American Plate which also pushed up the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges.  They are a spectacular part of the drive eastward from Seattle toward the Columbia River. Manastash Ridge forms the southern border of the Kittitas Valley where I live, a desert valley made verdant by irrigation canals constructed largely by immigrants who settled the valley with the coming of the railroad. Cheatgrass was introduced to the Western states from Eurasia, used initially as packing material and is considered an invasive species.

PHOTO: The author at home in Central Washington’s Kittitas Valley with Cheatgrass and the Manastash Ridge behind him.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lowell Murphree lives and writes in the Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg, Washington.  He works with local and regional early learning nonprofit organizations as a grant writer, board member, and volunteer.

licensed sue smith
by Rachel Hawk

In August 1965, my friend Barbara and I drove out of Ohio and headed to San Francisco. Unlike our friends, we weren’t ready to get married, buy houses, and have kids. And thought we might never be. We had other dreams and imagined livelier, more varied lives in a beautiful city by the ocean. Because we were nurses, finding work would be easy. Zigzagging across the country, we stopped whenever something caught our fancy. The Golden Spike National Historic Site did just that.

In 1869, two teams of men completed the building of this country’s first transcontinental railroad, laboring toward each other from Iowa and California. For 1,912 miles they  burrowed tunnels, built bridges, and laid down track. It was a massive, arduous, dangerous undertaking. Finally, on May 10th at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, the men hammered a commemorative gold spike into the last, connecting rail, joining east to west. Surrounded by tents, saloons, and boarding houses, the crowd of dignitaries, railroad workers and owners brandished their whiskey bottles, posed for pictures, and cheered. The dangers of crossing multiple raging rivers, deserts, and mountain ranges in horse-drawn wagons had been conquered, making it possible for thousands to travel safely. It had been considered an impossible dream.

When Barbara and I visited, everything — trains, buildings, even the tracks themselves — were gone. As true of many landmarks, there was only a descriptive sign; nothing remained but the story. It was enough. Standing in the wind of that vast beautiful high-desert plain, the excitement of a great endeavor caught us. This was a monument not only to hard work and accomplishment, but also to dreams — and we had our own.

PHOTOGRAPH: National Park Service sign for the Golden Spike National Historic Site, Promontory Summit, Utah, by Sue Smith, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Between 1863 and 1869, as many as 20,000 Chinese workers helped build the treacherous western portion of the Transcontinental Railroad that began in Sacramento, California. When not enough white men signed up, the railroad began hiring Chinese men for the backbreaking labor. Chinese workers blasted tunnels through mountains, cut through dense forests, filled deep ravines, constructed long trestles, and built enormous retaining walls. Chinese workers were paid 30-50% less than their white counterparts and were given the most dangerous work. As they approached the meeting point with the Union Pacific at Promontory Summit, Utah, thousands of Chinese workers laid down 10 miles of track in less than 24 hours. Progress came at great cost: Chinese civic organizations retrieved an estimated 1,200 bodies along the route and sent them to China for burial. The transcontinental railroad’s completion allowed travelers to journey across the country in a week — a trip that had previously taken more than a month. Politicians pointed to the country’s great achievement, failing to mention the foreign-born workers who had made it possible.

Source: “Remember the Chinese immigrants who built America’s first transcontinental railroad” by Gordon H. Chang, professor of history, Stanford University, Los Angeles Times, May 10, 2019.

PHOTO: Chinese workers toil in a treacherous stretch of the Transcontinental Railroad in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, late 1860s. (Source: National Park Service.)

PHOTO: Ceremony on May 10, 1969 for installing the golden spike at Promontory Summit, Utah, representing the completion of the First U.S. Transcontinental Railroad. At center left, Samuel S. Montague, Central Pacific Railroad, shakes hands with Grenville M. Dodge, Union Pacific Railroad (center right). They are surrounded by men who built the railway — but Chinese workers are noticeably absent. Many of the laborers who worked their way west on the Union Pacific Railroad were Irish immigrants — about 3,000 in all, many of whom were veterans of the Union Army in the Civil War. They, too, faced dangerous working conditions and hardships. Photo: Andrew J. Russell, Yale Collection of Western Americana, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, used by permission.)

PHOTO: In 2014, on the 145th anniversary of the first transcontinental railroad’s completion at Promontory Summit, Utah, a group of Asian-Americans, including descendants of Chinese railroad workers, recreate the iconic photo taken without their ancestors in 1869. Photo (c) Corky Lee, All Rights Reserved. 

PHOTO: Plaque at Promontory Summit, Utah, placed in 1969 to commemorate the centennial of the U.S. Transcontinental Railroad and to honor “the Chinese workers of the Central Pacific Railroad whose indomitable courage made it possible.”

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Today, at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, visitors can see full-sized exact replicas of the original (and colorful!) Victorian-era locomotives. According to the National Park Service website, the site now features a visitors’ center as well as driving tours, hiking trails, and re-enactments of driving the Last Spike.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rachel Hawk facilitates a weekly writers’ forum. Her personal essays explore both the interior world of the narrator and the nuances within relationships. Her current work utilizes elements of memoir in narrative form.

mt. hope cemetery
History Talks in a Boneyard
by Ellaraine Lockie

It began as Boot Hill
Separated by the town from Protestant
and Catholic cemeteries
From their public-park-like preservation

Here heathens and the impoverished
lie eternally under wild grasses
weeds, sagebrush and gopher holes
Corralled by a barbed wire fence
whose missing links create a gate

A few cement block headstones
as decomposed as the bodies beneath
whisper identities in broken English
kanji and hiragana
But the list at the library speaks
loud and clear enough to be heard over
three generations of neglect

With names of Chang, Tanisaki
Cloudy Buffalo, Fugimoto, Mutoo
Nakamoto, Flying Man, Jones, O’Neal
Kirschweng, McGrew and Monteath
Labels of Chinaman, Japanese, Indian
Poor House, Breed, Half-breed, White, Negro
French, Irish, German, Scotch and American

Listed causes of death as direct as the crows
that fly above the burial ground
As socially unsheltered as Montana cowboys
Suicide, alcoholism, gunshot wounds
murder, horse and railroad accidents
amputation, scalding, spasms
exhaustion and unknown

The name became Mt. Hope
A plea answered four times a year
when a Hill County worker
mows the gophers’ pasture
The boneyard guarded by an occasional
Chinese zodiac animal gravestone
guillotined by vandals and time

Originally published in Poetry Cemetery.

PHOTO: Sign at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Havre, Montana.

kay young 1979

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I grew up in a tiny wheat farming town in Montana, and my family made trips to the bigger town of Havre for weekly shopping, medical appointments, movies, etc. Even with those consistent trips, I was unaware of the existence of Havre’s two separate cemeteries. It wasn’t until one of my adult annual summer stays in my hometown, which still includes weekly trips to Havre for the same reasons, that I became aware of the ramshackle second cemetery where the non-Christians are buried. I was instantly interested in its history and traced it through the local public library. Of course, the poet in me went right to work.

PHOTO: Gravestones at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Havre, Montana, by Kay Young, 1979 (Library of Congress, Montana Folklife Survey Collection).

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EDITOR’S NOTE: About 50 miles from the Canada border in north central Montana, Havre was founded in the late 1800s to serve as a service center for the Great Northern Railway, due to its location midway between Seattle and Minneapolis-St. Paul.  Originally named “Bullhook Bottoms,” the town held a series of meetings to determine a new name. The original settlers had the final decision, and thanks to a strong French influence, the town was renamed “Havre,” after Le Havre, France. (Source: Wikipedia.)

PHOTO: Saddle Butte, Havre, Montana, postcard designed by KermaB available at


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ellaraine Lockie’s recent poems have won the 2019 Poetry Super Highway Contest, the Nebraska Writers Guild’s Women of the Fur Trade Poetry Contest, and New Millennium’s Monthly Musepaper Poetry Contest. Her fourteenth chapbook, Sex and Other Slapsticks, has been released from Presa Press. Previous chapbooks have won Poetry Forum’s Chapbook Contest Prize, San Gabriel Valley Poetry Festival Chapbook Competition, Encircle Publications Chapbook Contest, Best Individual Poetry Collection Award from Purple Patch Magazine in England, and the Aurorean’s Chapbook Choice Award. Her poems have found their ways onto broadsides, buses, rented cars, bicycles, cabins, greeting cards, keychains, bookmarks, mugs, coffee sack labels, church bulletins, radio shows, and cable TV. Ellaraine serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, LILIPOH.

Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

izabela 23 licensed
by Robert Lima

I see myself climbing,
not the Matterhorn, not
Picos de Europa, not
Kilimanjaro, nor the
highest peak of all —
Mount Everest . . .

I see myself climbing
Huayna Picchu in Perú,
teat of the Inca world
with its milk of mist.

It is set higher than its
sister Machu Picchu and
offers aerial vistas of the river
Urubamba and the deep valleys.

I see myself climbing its
steep inclines, foot upon foot,
clinging to the rock face
as bits dislodge in karmic fall
into the waiting precipice.

I see myself climbing, fear and
tremor at each step of the steep
ascent, ever reaching higher
to attain the mountain’s sacred self.

PHOTO: At nearly nine thousand feet above sea level, Huayna Picchu (center) overlooks Machu Picchu, the so-called “Lost City of the Incas.” (Photo by Izabela 23, used by permission.)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Huayna Picchu is a mountain in southern Peru that rises over Machu Picchu, a 15th century Inca citadel. The Incas built a trail up the side of the Huayna Picchu and erected temples and terraces on the mountain ridge. The peak of Huayna Picchu is 8,835 ft above sea level, about 850 ft higher than Machu Picchu. (Source: Wikipedia.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Lima is a Cuban-born, award-winning poet, as well as an internationally recognized critic, bibliographer, playwright, and translator. As a Greenwich Village poet during the 1960s, he read at coffeehouses and other venues, co-edited Seventh Street. Poems of Les Deux Megots, introduced by Denise Levertov, and the second series of Judson Review. His 15 poetry collections include Celestials, Elementals, Sardinia/Sardegna, Ikons of the Past: Poetry of the Hispanic Americas, and Writers on My Watch (2020). Over 600 of his poems have appeared in print in the U.S. and abroad Eleven of his poems have just appeared in Greek translation in Noima Magazine. Among his numerous critical studies are works on García Lorca, Valle-Inclán, Borges, Surrealism, folklore, dramatic literature, and translations of plays and poetry.

Hermitage: Grand Canyon, 2015
by Jagari Mukherjee

Taking in the Grand Canyon
from its South Rim,
slowly sipping a tall hot apple cider
I discover my own hermitage.

The interiors of my being
feel the balm.
Sore splinters of the past find relief.
I build a cool stone shelter
where dream catchers hang from walls
and Hopi dolls fill the shelves.

The nights are lit only by stars
cut into the velvet paper of the black sky.
With sunrise, I worship
the Vishnu and Shiva temple peaks
reddening at dawn.

I stir pink prickly pear syrup
into my coffee, and wonder how I,
(who apparently have nothing),
am the happiest person on earth.

PHOTO: The Grand Canyon by Sojy John on Unsplash

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I first visited the US (where my sister lives) in 2015 with my parents. It was our first family vacation after 10 years. We visited several places, but our hands-down favorite was the Grand Canyon. We took a cottage on the South Rim and had the most wonderful time. It was possibly the happiest moment of my life. Even today, whenever I think of the Grand Canyon, I am filled with what Wordsworth calls “the bliss of solitude.”

PHOTO: The author at the Grand Canyon (2015).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jagari Mukherjee is a gold medalist in English Literature, a Best of the Net 2018 nominee, as well as a DAAD scholar from Technical University (Dresden, Germany) and a Bear River alumna. Her poems and other creative pieces have been published in different venues both in India and abroad. Her latest book, The Elegant Nobody, was published by Hawakal Publishers in January 2020. She is the winner of the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2018 for Book Review, Poeisis Award for Excellence in Poetry 2019, as well as the recipient of the Reuel International Prize For Poetry 2019, among other awards. She is a part of the Reviews team at The Blue Nib.

mihai andritoiu licensed
Once, in Pittsburgh
by Mary C. McCarthy

my home town, city of three rivers
and many bridges, steel city,
moving from its dark
industrial past
toward the shining dream
of a tech renaissance,
moving sometimes so fast
a project was half done
before they knew
how to end it…
Like our “Bridge to Nowhere”
arching up and over the river
but with nowhere to land —
hanging there for years
ending in a 90-foot drop
to the water,
access blocked to stop
people driving right off,
though one guy did it —
crashed through the barricade
and sailed off the end in his car,
surviving, as part of the story
we liked to tell ourselves
about our crazy, daring,
restless luck.

There one night, at loose ends
between midnight and morning,
the three of us, each one the first
from our family to go to college,
looking for something
to fill the space
between when the bars closed
and our sober-up breakfast
at Ritter’s diner,
decided to climb up on that bridge
and stand suspended
over the drop
without destination
or direction
with nothing to count on or expect,
no sure conclusion
but the deep pull of vertigo
in the wind’s buffet
and the sough of steel
intent on its own trajectory-

A lesson sudden and strong enough
to scare us back
from the tipsy lip of temptation
to roads more safe and boring
that crossed rivers in the ordinary ways
and ended up in places
almost as familiar
as those we always knew.

PHOTO: The Fort Duquesne Bridge (formerly “Bridge to Nowhere”), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by Mihai Andritoiu, used by permission.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Bridge to Nowhere was a temporary landmark but hard to forget. Our late-night encounter seemed just right in terms of our own uncertainties at the time, taking off in directions no one was used to even in imagination — something new in our family histories, well outside the comfort zone.

PHOTO: Fort Duquesene Bridge — The Bridge to Nowhere — in 1966.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Fort Duquesne Bridge spans the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It was called “The Bridge to Nowhere” because the main span was finished in 1963, but due to delays in acquiring right of ways for approach ramps, it did not connect on the north side of the Allegheny River. The lack of approach ramps meant the bridge ended in midair, rendering it useless. On December 12, 1964, Frederick Williams, a 21-year-old chemistry major at the University of Pittsburgh, drove his 1959 Chrysler station wagon through the bridge’s wooden barricades, raced off the end of the bridge, and landed upside-down but unhurt on the other side.The northwestern ramps were completed in 1969, allowing access to Pennsylvania Route 65. (Source: Wikipedia)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary C. McCarthy has studied art and literature, and has always been a writer, though most of her working life was spent as a Registered Nurse. Her work has appeared in many print and electronic journals and anthologies, and she has an electronic chapbook, Things I Was Told Not to Think About, available as a free download from Praxis magazine.

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Once Upon a Time in Detroit
by Gary Glauber

At 24, I took invincibility in stride,
drunk and still driving a rental car at midnight
into a town I’d never been to before,

heading the sixty miles I needed to cover
in record time and never once worrying about it.
Pointing the sedan in the right direction,

I ate up that random highway’s asphalt miles
like I had been to the feted Motor City
a hundred adventurous times before.

I was driving American, feeling every inch
a patriot of horsepower privilege, a Mitch Ryder song
appropriately blaring from the car’s radio.

I was to be shown how nice this town
with the less-than-stellar rep
could actually be. The gray-haired

officials in their fancy tailored suits
showed up to ensure me major improvements
were currently in the offing.

The impeccable politicians included me
like some wealthy insider, privy to their racist,
anti-Semitic jokes in conversational passing.

They treated me to a superb lunch at
their private dining club, featuring all
the spoils of the automotive patriarchy.

The Super Bowl is coming, they assured me.
The first ever to be held in the northern U.S.,
further evidence of the coming turnaround.

Once, in the 1950s, Detroit had been
America’s wealthiest city, hands down,
back when the auto industry was booming.

Since then, there had been myriad problems:
arson, crack cocaine, urban decline, race riots.
But I saw no signs of any of that.

I saw the shiny new urban renaissance.
Here is where it was all happening.
Life was damned good, they swore.

While this inside society of old guard elite
were busy moving mountains, I was being
housed in the fanciest new downtown hotel,

assigned the loveliest young woman
from the mayor’s office whose sole duty
was to make sure I was entertained.

She called up an equally fetching friend
and next thing, we were out in Greektown,
breaking plates, downing ouzo, shouting “Opa!”

Bottle after empty bottle fell like
things shot down in a carnival sideshow,
and still they urged me to have another.

They took me to the DIA museum
with its impressive antique cars
and beautiful Diego Rivera murals.

We visited the Henry Ford Museum
and the Edison Institute in nearby Dearborn:
the history of cars elevated to exquisite art.

They made me feel important,
rather than the pretender I was,
an up-and-coming trade mag editor

staving off cockroaches and loneliness
in a small excuse of an apartment
back in Park Slope. Not quite Mr. Bigshot.

But in Detroit I was being escorted around
like visiting royalty — a whirlwind treat
for the senses, a rollicking frenetic joyous time.

All this in exchange for a nice write-up
in the glossy “meetings and convention” trade mag,
to help them drum up some sizable business.

Hangover encroaching, I returned to
the hotel’s penthouse Presidential Suite.
An incredible array of floral arrangements,

gift baskets, and a Steinway grand piano
awaited in a space 15 times the real estate
of my tiny Brooklyn studio.

I spent the ironic night alone in a giant bed.
No piano accompanied the stupor
that the alcohol and luxury provided.

Detroit unsafe? Detroit ugly?
From my perspective, it had been
one of the best nights of my life.

Wanting money and respect again,
they’d invested millions on lipstick
and band-aids for the American Dream.

Meanwhile I promised to deliver the goods,
which I did enthusiastically, dutifully.
I loved the carefully curated Detroit I saw.

It was a treat for the senses,
fun and fantastic, a promising destination
for any future Fortune 500 convention event.

I believed it because I experienced it,
and, yes, the Super Bowl came to cold Pontiac
but the renaissance never seemed to take.

When Detroit later declared bankruptcy,
18.5 billion was owed to some 100,000 creditors,
all of whom believed the same story

I took with me in my heart to print:
that the Motor City was coming back
bigger, shinier, fully resurrected.

But Cinderella’s coach turned back to a pumpkin —
no matching glass slipper was found;
not all stories have a happy ending.

PHOTO: Detroit, Michigan, skyline and the Detroit River (shot from under the MacArthur Bridge) by Carl Ballou, used by permission.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I read that July 23, 2020 was the 53rd anniversary of the start of the 1967 Detroit riots. My visit to Detroit happened in 1981 or 1982, and my personal history was far removed from that event. Still, I will never forget that trip.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The 1967 Detroit Riots were a series of violent confrontations between black residents and various law enforcement bodies that lasted for five days and resulted in 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed. For more about these events and their effects, watch a 2017 PBS report here.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Glauber is a widely published poet, fiction writer, teacher, and former music journalist. He champions the underdog while negotiating life’s absurdities. He has three collections — Small Consolations (Aldrich Press), Worth the Candle (Five Oaks Press), and Rocky Landscape with Vagrants (Cyberwit) — as well as two chapbooks, Memory Marries Desire (Finishing Line Press) and The Covalence of Equanimity (SurVision Books), a winner of the 2019 James Tate International Poetry Prize.  Another collection, A Careful Contrition (Shanti Arts Publishing). is forthcoming soon.

Lost River, New Hampshire
by Barbara Bald

Moss-covered giants, pushed askew by glacial forces,
form a gorge fifty-feet deep.
Like emery boards on fingernails, cascading waters
tumble rock, scour edges into potholes.
Boulder caves, eons old, beckon visitors,
entice them into black holes of unknown depth.

A challenge for some — biceps ready,
chests puffed into a make-my-day attitude.
Unloading pockets, leaving backpacks trailside,
adults push, pull, contort bodies into crevices
their children scramble through.

Remembering when sleek frames fit through easily,
some come face-to-face with bellies, love handles,
pounds they meant to shed last spring.

Grandparents, like pack mules, carry water bottles,
shades, keys, cell phones, extra layers.
They tag along holding hands with
agile memories
that wear their faces.

At the Lemon Squeezer entrance:
dressed in hiking boots or flip-flops, convertible pants
or mini-skirts, some visitors rally to Mommy you can do it!
Others, eyes wide, palms sweating, ignore all pleas to enter.
Some, simply pass by, intimate
with their limits.

Here, people from all nations, languages, and backgrounds,
worried over being stuck or fear-struck.
laugh in a common language.
In shapes and sizes as unique as rocks,
people of all races agree
to help each other’s children through the caves.

Together they challenge the same adversaries —
time, age, change,
fear itself.
Cameras flash, locking hope in place.

PHOTO: Paradise Falls, a 35-foot waterfall at Lost River Gorge, New Hampshire (

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: For several summers, I worked at Lost River Reservation in Kinsman Notch, just west of North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Lost River is a series of caves that visitors can crawl through and listen for the sounds of a river that makes its way under boulders and boardwalks. My job was to light the candles that lit their way underground, hold their cameras and belongings and test their body frames through a gauge to be sure they could fit through The Lemon Squeeze. Besides being in a scenic natural area, it was a place that engendered peace and excitement. It was an amazing job mostly because I got to see people of all nationalities, not only getting along, but helping one another. It surely convinced me of our oneness.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Bald is a retired teacher, educational consultant, and freelance writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of anthologies, and her work has been recognized in both national and local contests. She has published two full-length books, Drive-Through Window and Other Voices/Other Lives. Her chapbook is entitled Running on Empty. She has written articles for Heart of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Magazine, and other local magazines. She lives in Alton, New Hampshire, with her cat Catcher and some very personable goldfish.

PHOTO: The author at the Bretton Woods Ski Area zip line, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire.

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Framed by a Rainbow
by Ken Gierke

A thundering roar overwhelms the senses, and a refreshing mist on my face and arms brings relief from the heat of an August day. Niagara Falls is a wonder to behold, from the rapids leading to the edge, each crashing wave a character holding the briefest of poses for my camera, to the American Falls, that edge that tempts so many to know its height in their final moments, to the grand Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, best experienced from the Maid of the Mist as it pauses mid-river, drenching its passengers in a deluge of exhilaration that has no equal.

An afternoon could easily be spent here. The Observation Tower, like a bridge that seems to extend partway across the river, offers a view that includes the American Falls at its side and the Horseshoe Falls a half-mile upstream, taking its shape from a ninety-degree bend in the river. A walk across a bridge over the rapids takes me to Goat Island, which separates those two great falls, to the delight of Bridal Veil Falls at its near edge, separated from the American Falls by Luna Island, and then to a view of the horseshoe from Terrapin Point at its farthest edge.

Any visit, whether on a sunny or a gray day, could result in hundreds of photos. This beautiful day under blue skies is no exception, and the tourists recognize that. Some locals will avoid the Falls when those tourists number in the thousands, but I enjoy seeing the excitement on their faces. Some days, I take more photos of people taking photos of people. Niagara Falls offers so many reasons to return, again and again.

seagull on the wing
poised above the mighty falls
framed by a rainbow

PHOTO: Niagara Falls at sunset by Saptashaw Chakraborty, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Niagara Falls is a group of three waterfalls that span the border between the province of Ontario, Canada, and the state of New York.

Framed by a Rainbow

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Before moving from Western New York to Missouri in 2012, I never tired of going to Niagara Falls, sometimes visiting several times a month to take photos. The Falls are beautiful from both sides of the border, and I always plan a visit there when I travel that way.  Hopefully, COVID-19 will be just a memory and the border will reopen before my next visit.

PHOTO:  Rainbow and gulls at the American Falls by Ken Gierke.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ken Gierke started writing poetry in his forties, but found new focus when he retired. It also gave him new perspectives, which come out in his poetry, primarily in free verse and haiku. He has been published at Vita Brevis, Tuck Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, Amethyst Review, Eunoia Review, and his poem “Unwound” is featured in Pain & Renewal: A Poetry Anthology from Vita Brevis Press. His work can be found at his blog, where this poem first appeared.

PHOTO: The author and his wife during a recent visit to Niagara Falls, New York.