Archives for posts with tag: vacation

leotta beach photo
Shells of the Summer of ’62
by Joan Leotta

The soft ripple of low tide
rolled in to chill our toes.
Dad said the damp sand
was good for walking.
He pulled up the collar of my jacket.
Wind was pushing dark clouds our way.
There’d be no afternoon of sun and sandcastles.
We hopped over lines of soft white foam
zigzagging across the strip of brown sand
between our place and the ocean.
Gulls screeched, “Go back!”
I never looked up. My eyes were set
to hunt treasures in dawn’s tide.
At last I spotted something!
An orange fan! A perfect scallop shell!
Surf crashed with sudden interest in my search.
Foam fingers fastened on my prize,
pulling it back out into the ocean.

Without even rolling up his pants,
he chased the wave back out toward the rocks.
He bent over and put down his hand.
Another wave swelled up.
“Dad, look out!”
In another second he was completely soaked.
But he had my shell.
I have it still.

SOURCE: First published in Older Eyes, Younger Tongues, Anthology, Northwoods Press (1990), and shared with friends on Facebook a year ago for Father’s Day.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: Me (right) at the beach in Hyannis, Massachusetts, but a couple of years after the events of the poem—with my cousin, also named Joan.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Our family took a one week vacation every year. In 1962, when I was 14, my mother wanted to go to Cape Cod for our vacation. So, we drove 12 hours to Hyannis from Pittsburgh. I announced I was going to get up at dawn to hunt for seashells because I had read it was the best time to find them. My father gave up his vacation sleep-ins to get up with me. Every day.

gabriel dileonardo

After he died in 1987, my Mom found a box of seashells in our basement—my collection from that 1962 vacation. It was then this poem came to me. The actual incident never occurred, but the poem describes my dad so well that anyone who knew him, thinks it’s a real story until I explain. When I talk about poetry to school groups I often read the poem and then show the audience the shell pictured above right. Yes, I still have the box of shells. My Dad? Well, he is always in my heart. (Photo: The author’s father, Gabriel DiLeonardo.)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joan Leotta has been writing, performing, and collecting seashells since childhood. Now that she lives near the beach, in Calabash, North Carolina, her husband thought she would stop collecting. He was wrong. Joan’s picture book, Rosa’s Shell (coming out in 2017 from THEAQ LLC) is based on this poem.


Near Drowning: In Brief(s)
by Leslie Sittner

We walk hand-in-hand down to my cousin’s beach, across the quiet road. Dad’s fully dressed, leaning on the railing overlooking the stairway down to the beach. A dozen people in swimsuits are lying on towels.

I squeeze Dad’s hand, whisper, “Watch me now!”

He nods, smiles, as I run down the stairs, across the sand, and belly flop into the water.

I wave, and start swimming like a pro. When I’ve gone what I think is “far,” I drop my feet down to stand, prepared for praise. There’s no bottom. I can’t touch. I gulp a mouthful of water. I go under again and again, flailing.

Dad and the sunbathers are all gaping at me. Dad runs down the stairs, rapidly removing his shoes, pants, shirt glaring at the onlookers. Not one of them has made a move to rescue me. They even snicker as he disrobes.

He races in to snatch me up before I go under a fourth time. By now I’ve swallowed buckets of water. With uncontrolled hiccuping, I cry with abandon. Dad holds, hugs, and soothes me. Everyone is watching. In his wet semi-transparent briefs, Dad stands shaking with anger, clenching and unclenching his fists.

“Not one of you could rescue a drowning child? You had to wait for me to undress, then laugh? You shouldn’t be allowed to use this beach.”

He hugs me close. Puts on his pants.

“I’m so sorry, Daddy. I thought I was swimming even with the shore. Instead I swam away from the shore, into the deep water.”

When we return to the camp, I announce. “Guess what? I almost drowned! But Daddy saved me!”

He smiles and makes a small bow, then grimaces as the telltale silhouette of the wet briefs in his pants comes into view.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo is that same day at Lake Desolation, New York. The extended family is sitting against the beach railing. I’m in the upper right twitching my nose — probably still some water in there somewhere. My brother is next to me with my beautiful mother in front of us. Dad is taking the picture. This was insurance so that he himself wouldn’t appear in a photo lest his wet briefs show through his pants. He was extremely modest in public.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This prompt immediately brought this experience to mind. I tried to capture the speed of the event as well as the fear, anger, and humiliation. Oddly, I didn’t hang onto my fear for long. I went back in swimming right before the photo. And I’ve been a water hound ever since.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Leslie Sittner has been turning to the written word as a form of self-expression and reflection. She began this journey two years ago and is just finding her voice in different formats. Two of her stories are now available in print in The Apple Tree by Third Age Press, and on-line prose at 101Words and 50 Word Challenge. A variety of other prose and poetry can also be seen on-line at Silver Birch Press. She is finishing a book about travels with her ex-husband and hopes a publisher will find it as humorous as she and her friends do.

A Short Dive from the Low Board
by John Lambremont, Sr.

That summer, the sun beat down on us
like it was the Devil himself;
we scampered for shade
into the thickest woods,
and drank a lot of hot water
from the garden hose.

The neighborhood pool was our savior,
our clear crystal blue oasis.
As soon as our summer membership began,
Mom started taking us to the pool
nearly every morning in June,
and we would often return again
with Dad late in the day.

On one sunny sojourn,
the Lackie twins and I
had the diving board
to ourselves; we performed
cannonballs and can openers,
jack-knives and swan dives
to our collective hearts’ content;
then we noticed that the lifeguard
had left temporarily his nearby post,
so we quickly concocted a plan.

We decided that the thing to do
was to all jump off the board
in rapid succession, taking
care not to land on each other,
so we prepared for the leap,
John in front, me in the middle,
and Jim taking up the rear.

John ran off the board,
and as I started to follow him,
I saw the lifeguard emerge
from the snack shop,
looking directly at me,
his face contorted with anger,
and about to shout, blow
his whistle, or both.
Busted, I stopped at mid-
board, and tried to turn around,
but in so doing, I ran into Jim,
lost my balance, and fell off
to the side like a poul-doux
being shot from the sky.

Time slowed to a crawl
as I rapidly descended;
I had no time to extend
my arms, and I landed
face-first on the concrete.
Stunned and numb, I drew
myself to my knees, checked
my face for blood, and found none.
My vision was awash in waves
as I staggered to my feet
and wobbled over to my mother
in her pool-side recliner.
She comforted me as I cried,
for once not scolding me
for doing a bad thing.

Jim got off the board gingerly,
and went to the spot where I fell.
He found there a small piece
of chipped tooth, picked it up,
and brought it to my mom.
She wrapped it up in a damp napkin,
summoned my little sister,
and took us home.

Dr. Lorio gave her concussion instructions,
and held me out of two baseball games.
The dentist said there was no way
to re-attach the chip, but that a cap
on the tooth was a viable alternative.
I declined, and to this day, one
can still see the chip in my upper incisor,
a permanent reminder of my
short dive from the low board.

PHOTO: “Boy jumping off diving board” by Kelly Redinger. Prints available at

1-John Lambremont, Sr. by Nhu-Y lambremont

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Lambremont, Sr., is a poet and writer from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. John has a B.A. in Creative Writing and a J.D. from Louisiana State University. His poems have been published internationally in many reviews and anthologies, including Clarion, The Minetta Review, The Chaffin Journal, Picayune, and Words and Images, and he has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize. John’s last full-length poetry volume is Dispelling the Indigo Dream (Local Gems Poetry Press 2013), and his latest chapbook is What It Means To Be A Man (And Other Poems Of Life And Death) (Finishing Line Press 2015). John’s new full-length poetry collection, The Moment Of Capture, will be published in June 2017 by Lit Fest Press.

by Rona Fitzgerald

Summer days she’d set out with four of us on the bus,
bag laden with cosies, sandwiches, spare clothes.

Infinite blue, sea and sky merging, no frontiers.
Bird beat, waders, oystercatchers, zen-like herons.

We stood on one leg until we fell, splashed about
ate our sand-filled lunch as mother’s nose twitched.

Trudged home across the long bridge trailing
wet wool togs and towels. Back to order.

My heart’s in those grainy dunes
keening sea birds summon me home.

PHOTO: Bull Island Sanctuary, Dublin 1960. The author is the child front left, crossed legs and shading her eye.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote the poem from memory — starting with the infinity idea and the zen-like herons. Part of the prompt for me is living away from Dublin and the sea which was part of my life as a place to swim and walk. I miss the light. Normally my Dad would not be with us, my mother would haul the bags and shepherd us smaller kids to the beach.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rona Fitzgerald was born in Dublin and has been living in Glasgow for 20 years. She is the second youngest of seven children. Her work has been included in a number of magazines and anthologies, including the Dublin-based Stinging Fly, New Voices Press anthologies and The Wait poetry anthology edited by George Sandifer-Smith. Her poem “Nocturne’” was published in Scottish Book Trust publication Journeys. “Solstice” was published as part of the Mid-Winter Special on Three Drops from Cauldron webzine, and “Quest’” was published on the webzine I am not a Silent Poet. Rona is a member of the Federation of Writers (Scotland).

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.

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.


No Frigate
by Amanda Hard

Monsoon season came early the year of my eleventh birthday. Instead of summer carnivals and fairs, I got my Uncle. An old man in a tweed hat, he came with the rain to collect me from my mother’s house and take me to his. He gave me a heavy suitcase with no rollers, so I had to drag it to the sun porch where I was to sleep.

While Uncle made tea, I opened the case. Inside were paperbacks laid like brickwork, their covers illustrating spaceships and dragons. They smelled of cardamom and earth, spicy and magic. I chose one and turned the first page.

That year, instead of fried bread and snow cones, I ate elven bread and dragon stew, soaking up stories as the black ground soaked up the rains. I read all but one during my stay, but he let me take it home.

Years later I toured the world. I saw a real spaceship in Florida and sailed a wooden dragon boat in Iceland, but I never traveled as far as I did the year the summer rains came early and I read my way through Uncle’s books.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author reading under a sunshade in Southern Indiana.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Even as an adult, I can’t imagine a vacation that doesn’t include an armful of books. I have sometimes marked important places in my life by the books read while I was there. It seemed only fitting to write this piece about the summer I discovered the glory of Rivendell and the grandeur of Barsoom.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Amanda Hard is a former journalist and magazine editor who received her BFA in creative writing from the University of Evansville. A 2015 finalist for Glimmer Train’s “New Writer Award,” her fiction has appeared in (or is forthcoming from) Ruthless Peoples Magazine, several flash fiction anthologies from the Daily Nightmare, two volumes of the State of Horror series from Charon Coin Press, and the anthology Idolators of Cthulhu from Alban Lake Press. She lives in the cornfields of southern Indiana, where she still enjoys reading in the rain.

          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).

by Kerfe Roig

the sound of nothing
to do, nowhere to go. just
listen: ocean. sky.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: I have been vacationing at the beach since I moved to the east coast in 1964. A favorite spot: the Outer Banks (here, in the 1990’s, Cape Hatteras, North Carolina).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I mostly do my poetic explorations these days in haiku, often as a comment on artwork I have done.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A knit designer by trade, Kerfe Roig likes to make things with colors, lines, textures, and sounds. You can follow her creative adventures on the blog she does with her friend Nina:

The names of things unseen
for Ethan
by Kate Garrett

You discover new spots on our adventures:
Abergele, Deganwy, Prestatyn, Colwyn Bay,
Betws-y-Coed, Llandudno Pier, Conwy Castle.
You and your brothers – pirates and knights –
duelling, peering into dungeons, or racing
to the edge of the jellyfish-dotted sea.

You pack your bag, almost overflowing:
a boomerang, a hacky sack, a water gun
shaped like a shark, an eye-patch and wooden swords,
bunched into place with books, knitting,
paper, pens (for the rainy days),
and a candle, painted in wax with your name.

Your friends teach you bits of an ancient tongue:
trenau, gwylan, “pen, ysgwyddau, coesau, traed,”*
then you explore my dictionary to find
the names of things unseen, but read, and dreamed –
tylwyth teg, môr-forwyn, coblyn, draig**
wrap words like cowry shells to take back home.

*train, seagull, “head, shoulders, knees, toes” (Welsh)
**fairy, mermaid, goblin, dragon (Welsh)

PHOTOGRAPH: The author and her two sons, Rhyl Beach, North Wales, the Irish Sea (August 2013).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: “The names of things unseen” was originally published as part of my debut pamphlet of the same name, as part of Prolebooks’ six-poet collection Caboodle. It was written in response to the holidays I take with my sons to North Wales every August, and how words from a newly discovered language can be treasured as much as a found object (like seashells), and how experiences are coloured by the words we use to think about them, even as children.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Kate Garrett was born thirtysomething years ago in southwestern Ohio, but has lived all of her adult life in the United Kingdom. She writes poems and flash fiction, and edits other people’s poems and flash fiction. Her work is published online and in print, most recently in Prole, Black Sheep Journal, and The Fat Damsel, and her latest book of poetry and flash fiction, Bewitched and Other Stories, is forthcoming from Pankhearst in August 2015. She lives in Sheffield with her three sons, a folkmusicianpoet, and a cat.