Archives for posts with tag: vacations



IMAGE: “Icarus” by Henri Matisse (1943).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem, originally published by Obsession, 3 (Spring 2012), was inspired by a flight over Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, on an ultralight airplane with no cockpit.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: J.C. Elkin is an optimist, linguist, singer, traveler, theater critic and founder of the Broadneck Writers’ Workshop. Author of World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom (Apprentice House 2014), her prose and poetry appear in such journals as Kansas City Voices, Kestrel, The Delmarva Review, Ducts, and Steam Ticket.

PHOTO: The author at Redwood Refuge, Muir Woods, Marin County, California (2009).

HILL - On the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour Heading to British Columbia, Canada Saturday, April 25, 2015
Railroad Lullaby
by Debbie Okun Hill

rock, rock-roll, rock
rock, rumble-rock, roll

Metal cars on track
squeak, grind . . .
on railroad bed

This giant cradle
a rhythmic roll-rock
lone train rock-rattle
engine heart, a heated hearth

spruce scented
twig fingers
swoop and wave
like musical conductor

A poet with a guitar
strums soft,
soft slow chords
as we toss-turn
into lullaby slumber
into cloud pillows
with goose feathers

We rumble-rock-rest
like prairie bison
of mountain stream
this journey by rail

Each berth and sleeper
hushed by ghost breath
memories of passengers
wrapped in history’s quilt

Tonight, the stars lead us
deeper into fabled forests

rock- rumble, rock-squeak

And amongst these
dark moving images
lone bear blurred-blind
against window pane
you are not forgotten
as we wait for a signal
for that familiar whistle
to announce our arrival

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: This is one of several views from VIA Rail Canada’s Skyline Dome Car taken during the Great Canadian PoeTrain Train Tour heading towards British Columbia, Canada on Saturday morning, April 25, 2015.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I fell in love with train travel while participating in the first 2012 PoeTrain Express from downtown Toronto to the Spring Pulse Poetry Festival in Cobalt, Ontario. This April 2015, I joined 18 other poets for a unique April is Poetry month celebration on the Great Canadian PoeTrain Tour. The tour started in Ottawa, with readings in Toronto, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Vancouver. This poem was inspired by the rock-roll motion of the train while I rested on the upper berth of a shared cabin. A selection of train poems by Canadian poets will appear in The PoeTrain Anthology edited and compiled by Fran Figge and distributed this fall by PoeTrain Projects.

HILL - Debbie Okun Hill (colour websized) Photo Courtesy Melissa Upfold for The Calculated Colour Co.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Debbie Okun Hill is a Canadian poet with over 300 poems published in over 100 publications including Lummox, MOBIUS, Phati’tude, Still Points Arts Quarterly, and Thema in the United States. She is currently on tour with Tarnished Trophies (Black Moss Press, 2014) her first collection of poems by a trade publisher. Additional information about her literary journey can be found on her blog:

Author photo by Melissa Upfold (Calculated Colour Company).

Maureen Sudlow
The Return
by Maureen Sudlow

going south
in the Antipodes mid-winter
feeling the bite
of the frost on our skin

beauty of the mountains
and the salt tang of
southern seas
where the dolphins
surf the waves
and the albatross wanders
the sky-ways for eternity

woken by the song
of the bell-bird
in the pines

storing memories

© Maureen Sudlow

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTOGRAPH: Just a selfie (I am the photographer in the family so photos of myself are few and far between — especially on holiday!). This one was taken when we were walking in Akaroa (New Zealand).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It is not summer down here in the Antipodes, but we took a break to visit my home town of Christchurch for the first time since the big earthquake. Some of that time was spent in Akaroa and we were lucky enough to get out on a catamaran to see the dolphins. Very cold but we loved it!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maureen Sudlow lives in Dargaville, New Zealand, and has published one book of poetry and a children’s picture book. Her picture book was short-listed for the NZ Storylines Joy Cowley Award. More information is available on her blog

Heraklion, Crete – 1992
by Sarah Russell

“I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.”
       – Kazantzakis’ epitaph

We weren’t married yet, that day
we left the marketplace
where butchers and lace makers
share cramped alleyways
to climb to Kazantzakis’ grave,
a pilgrimage of sorts, to honor the man
whose writing cast him from the Church
to be buried alone on Martinego Bastion.

The cross is wooden, stark, bound
with leather thongs; the stonework rough,
unyielding as the man. We decided
he got the best deal after all —
a view of Heraklion and the sea, a breeze
even on an August day, a grave as singular,
as elemental as his thought.

Unlike Kazantzakis, we came to Crete
caught in convention, hoping for everything,
fearing failure. We had loved before.
But, certain the author would approve,
we kissed there, rested our feet
on the Venetian wall, shared
a candy bar, practiced being free.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO:  Resting our feet on the Venetian wall near Kazantzakis’ gravesite on Martinego Bastion, Heraklion, Crete (1992).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: After traveling in Crete and Greece, we married that year on New Years Eve. Twenty-three years later, that day and the picture I included remain our favorite vacation memories.

Russell bio pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell has returned to her first love after a career teaching, writing and editing academic prose. Her poetry has appeared in Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, The Houseboat, Shot Glass Journal, Bijou Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, and Poppy Road Review, among others. Visit to see more of her poems.

Coming Home
by Laura Lee Washburn

Everyone has thought
it would be better if
I were home. They
have not called or mailed,
saving me, they think,
from the expected news.
We’re driving in sun
on four hours airplane
sleep, glad the breakfast
restaurant served regular
eggs, regular coffee,
glad to have read a paper,
to have handled American
dollars. Now the cell
works. We say Hi
to hometown. Listen,
as each of them decants
whatever they’ve
thought they might
have told me, if only
I were around. Even
my recalcitrant brother
has a story, has words
about the hospital. Dad
and Mom are glad
to hear from me. Granny
sheds a tear. My uncle
is actually amused. Only
that’s all there is
one short burst—
it’s all their energy.
They mean to call
back, they mean
to ask about the journey,
the green volcanic
hills, sheep, black beaches,
the fight witnessed
back of the parking lot,
backpackers, indigenous
birds, wood carved
dark as greenstone embryos,
but won’t because somehow
though we’re home
nothing is fixed
in them or the world.
and they need now
someone else to think on
to imagine
they might talk all
the important talk
they’ll keep stored with.

PHOTO: The author at Wellington Botanic Garden (February 2005).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR ON HER CREATIVE PROCESS: Between me and me: It’s time to write. I’m awake. I’ve got a dog next to me. I’ve got a laptop in the bed. What’s been on my mind lately. Shuffle thoughts through choices, the flowers in the yard, the car accident, the jackass celebrity spouting horseshit. A line, find a line. Don’t think. Just write. Listen to rhythm. Where is this going. Get there. Show it. Did you find it. Go there. Save.


Laura Lee Washburn
is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize). Her poetry has appeared in such journals as Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review. Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri. She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky, plays an active role in the activites of her local NOW chapter, and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women — visit the organization on facebook.

I forgot a pair of earrings
by Christine Kouwenhoven

in Rome. I think I left them on the
black lacquered night table of the hotel by the Spanish steps.
I liked them, gold with tiny pearls.

What I remember most about Rome
were the ochre and amber hues, the soft light,
the sense that not all is lost but rather that
someday it will be revealed.

On that trip, we wandered the streets after dark.
They wound around and around, cobblestones
glowing in the street light, and everywhere
there were people, laughing and drinking.
For a few hours, we let ourselves belong.

Then we moved on. We’ve been many places together.
Some better than others.
There is a familiarity to traveling that is comforting.
The white towels in the hotel bathrooms.
The kiosks with water and t-shirts and postcards.
The standing in line to see what must be seen.
The birds, gulls or pigeons or sparrows, foraging,
flickering at the edges of the photograph.

But we go to find what is different.
To shake off the blues of our routine. To make memories.
In this garden, a flower we’ve never seen.
In that museum, a beautiful painting that isn’t in the textbook.
A view that can’t be overlooked.
Dinner, together, by candlelight. The local specialty.

When we move on, a trinket, a token will come home with us.
As if we could save ourselves from losing this, or anything else.

I forgot a pair of earrings

in California. I think I left them on the
wicker and glass vanity of the hotel by the Laguna cliffs.
I liked them, silver with a sliver of striated stone.

What I remember most about California
was the blue-green Pacific Ocean after the clouds cleared,
the sunshine scattering diamonds in a sparkling line to the horizon,

the sense that anything could yet be discovered
if only we let ourselves go.

PHOTO: The author hog-wild in Italy.


Christine Kouwenhoven
lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with her husband and three growing kids. She works as Director of Communications at Baltimore School for the Arts, a public arts high school. Christine has an M.A. from The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University. She shares poems and reflections regularly on her blog Recently she’s had essays published by The Mid, Grown & Flown, and the Baltimore Fishbowl and has poems due in Mothers Always Write and The Poetry Box.

spencer gulf
by Roslyn Ross

It was the first and last holiday
of childhood, the only time we
ever went away, and precious
because of its exceptionality,

where the riveting glaring
gaze of the white-sand beach,
remained in memory always,
and the sky burst shocking

blue, as if it held Summer to
account, and dared the days to
languish in shadow, when they
could not, and would not be

released from the brilliant grip
of sunshine, day after day after
day, where the tease of hot sand
through drying toes and the salt

captured kiss of the sea refused
to leave clothes, or lips or skin,
not even when we ate the fresh
cooked fish, caught by rod at

the edge of the beach, each day
as if the King George Whiting
waited for the hook, knowing
this was the gift they offered

in a Summer that would never
be known again, at least for
some, and therefore, would
be held in perfect prism.

PHOTOGRAPH:Spencer Gulf (South Australia)”

Ros aged six

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: We only ever had one holiday when I was a child, when we drove 602 kilometres from Adelaide to Tumby Bay in South Australia, when I was about seven. My parents, myself and brothers all went to stay with family in a shack on the edge of the beach, Spencer Gulf, where every day the adults went fishing with rods and caught King George Whiting, a succulent and exceptional fish found in the region and known as the King of Fish!

PHOTO AT LEFT: The author, aged seven, about to take off the apron little girls wore in the 1950s and go on holiday to the beach.
Roslyn Ross
was born in Adelaide, South Australia and has lived around Australia and the world, including Antwerp, Belgium; Bombay, India; Luanda, Angola; Cape Town, South Africa; Johannesburg, South Africa; Lusaka, Zambia; Vancouver, Canada; London, United Kingdom and currently, Lilongwe, Malawi. She has spent long periods in the United States, Russia and Portugal. A journalist/editor by profession, she began writing creatively in her forties and has completed five novels and one work of nonfiction based on her four years in Angola during the civil war. She is currently writing a nonfiction book tracing her Greek great-grandfather, a biography of her mother, and a book on spirituality as well as a sixth novel. She writes a blog on her time in Malawi and also blogs on ancestry, poetry and creative writing, with a deep and abiding focus on the human condition.

Safe Harbour
by Abigail Ottley Wyatt

In chill November, stoutly, you and I,
bent-backed and booted, turned into the wind.

Sinking in the slow, red mud, we walked;
I tracked your giant steps;

heard in their clink and tumbling crush,
the singing of the stones;

saw rocks like teeth in the sea’s stark mouth
slow drawn by time’s far edge;

and cockle shells, bleached pale
as death, spill secrets in dark sands.

But then we found our progress barred:
across some river’s tiny roar,

you taught me how the faulted earth
might fall in stern and folded crags

and how it still might quake and split
to break the breaking, bounded shore

There tigers prowled, their bloodstone eyes
as abstract as their welted stripes,

and monsters moved among the stones,
stirred up the bones of the tasty dead.

And so we crossed the Alps to find
a land of snakes and stars;

a single tree, still rooted,
kept its vigil by the shore.

PHOTOGRAPH:Blue Anchor Bay,” West Somerset, United Kingdom, by Geof Sheppard.


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is about a very unlikely “perfect vacation.” The year was 2012 when, around the middle of November, my current partner and I packed our then still separate bags for the first “week away” of our newly established relationship. We were, of course, an older couple and we had both been quite badly hurt in the still quite recent past. Beyond all question it was a big thing for both of us but we each put on a brave face and kept our misgivings to ourselves. Our destination was only a three hour drive away, a place called, most descriptively, I thought, Blue Anchor Bay. In fact, once there, we found our holiday was just perfect and that, despite the chilly weather, there was an abundance of sunshine. I drafted this poem lying on the carpet in front of our beautiful and cosy wood-burning stove and finished it over the course of the evening of the day it describes. As I wrote, David, my partner, examined the many photographs he had taken and sipped at a very decent whiskey. Not surprisingly, I suppose, even three years later, “Safe Harbour” remains his favourite among my poems.

Author photo by David Rowland. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abigail Ottley Wyatt is a former teacher of English turned writer of poetry and short fiction. She lives with her singer/songwriter partner, David Rowland, and her Jack Russell, Percy, in the shadow of Carn Brea near Redruth in Cornwall. Over the past eight years her work has appeared in more than a hundred magazines, anthologies and journals. She is grateful to the editors of every single one of them and she hopes to be published in many more.


by James Penha

In 1955, my family booked a week upstate at Villa Venezia. The owner-chef met us with his son, shirtless and skinny, black hair flopped across his left eye. Ricky was starting fourth grade. Like me. Each night, we strung our faces with pizza mozzarella or dumped markers off Bingo cards or recreated movie scenes, notoriously the surf-strewn lovers in From Here to Eternity. By day, arms wrapped around shoulders, we cut paths into the forest. When, after a week, I was packed into our Chevy, I hid in a book and cried silently all the way to the city line.

IMAGE: Vintage postcard of Middleton, New York (location of Villa Venezia), available at

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This flash fiction is a severely-edited excerpt from a longer short story based on several Rickies important in my childhood.

Penha foto

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and in poetry. Snakes and Angels, a collection of his adaptations of classic Indonesian folk tales, won the 2009 Cervena Barva Press fiction chapbook contest; No Bones to Carry, a volume of his poetry, earned the 2007 New Sins Press Editors’ Choice Award. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: Having moved and been moved so many times across continents and oceans, I have in my possession no photos of myself as a child. So here, on a recent holiday in South Sumatra, I tread the longest spring bridge I have ever crossed.

Longed-For Vacation
by Apoorva B. Raj

Sitting on the comfy couch
Stretching my arms and legs
Feeling stressless for a while
Is what I meant a real break,
Breaking all the commitments
Thinking to write a line on myself
Is the day I yearn for…
But, Busy, hectic life
In the cement woods
Breathing the smoke and ash
Laying the head straight into
Mechanical boards
Is taking away the peace.
The sight of rain,
The smell of mud,
Sounds of frogs, dripping dews
From the edges of fresh green leaves
Which has moved miles far…
seems to be in a dreamy world
Where I longed to go for vacation.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author during a trip to Malpe Beach near Manipal, Mangalore, Karnataka State, India.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: O reside in Bangalore, India, the metropolitan city filled with cement buildings and heavy traffic, no space for fresh air or natural beauty. I often feel the need to escape from this unrealistic world to my hometown located in western ghats to feel the fresh air and mist.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Apoorva.B.Raj works part-time as a PhD Scholar in the Dept of English, Kuvempu University, Karnataka State, India . She has published articles and poetry in international peer-reviewed journals. Her passion is writing poetry and doing creative work.