At Ease in Tarragona by Margaret Koger

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At Ease in Tarragona
by Margaret Koger

I’m barefoot, standing on wet sand as waves froth white at my ankles.
I tug my strapless a little higher as others exult au naturel in the sun.
I wait for the Med to lift me. The man I’ve come lately to love shed
his fear of naked flesh soon after our Idaho childhoods. He swims
as old Sol and his salty sister re-source us.

How did I child in Central Cove, Idaho and adult on the Platja Savinosa?
Whence the Sant Jordi Hotel? (Saint George ready slay Spanish dragons?)
I see myself at three or five or seven crossing a black asphalt border
to hear stories—Helen’s hurricanes, her romance with Danny the Basque
how the old country suffers, money so scarce, sons sent away.

Is this where my wanderlust began? Or were Robert Louis Stevenson’s rhymes
“At the Sea-Side,” and “Away all Boats” in a garden of verses already my future?
“The Land of Nod” and a “Pirate Story”? Yes! Derring-do, swashbuckling me
Kidnapped with David Balfour and Ransome washing up on Treasure Island
perchance to roam the Cévennes in France with a donkey carrying my bags.

My mind a puzzle map of distant shores, not just a country girl forever
harboring sea dreams, dreams held at bay by family anchors until finally
once, twice, and then again to Barcelona, to ramble along the Ramblas
canaries in cages, scented flower stalls, buskers’ weddings, Picasso prints,
beer, and men harmonizing in the Barri Gòtic.

So, the map. Why not try Tarragona? Where Roman ships harbored in Tarraco
Hispania Tarraconensis, one of the most important cities of the empire
where the amphitheater roared with lions as crowds of citizens howled for blood
Augustus meanwhile reclining in a lavish villa; a time-travel view of antiquity
so easily accessible by rail. Yes, why not?

Oh Tarragona! Why so comforting? Mornings at the Sant Jordi, old Domingo’s
forty years of service, shuffling now, baskets of sticky croissants and butter,
café con leche? Yes, and orange juice—before we watch rabbits and goats
scamper across the scrub hillside below. Tarragona, where Sol and his sister
sea renew us, for the sea is fecund, enlivening even when wind whips

the waves into twisted breakers and the surf swells, stealing sweetness
from the beach. Then we stroll the Rambla Nova, eye ships waiting
roadstead to enter the crowded harbor, step down into the amphitheater
photograph the monumental ombú tree, and rest beside the hippodrome,
imagining chariot races, dramas, circuses, and 30,000 roaring Romans.
By sunset we hunger for Sant Jordi’s calm, to gaze out to sea, hoping
to return next year, hoping to hear summer singing its universal song.

PHOTO: Tarragona, Spain. Photo by Pau Sayrol on Unsplash.

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NOTE: Tarragona is a port city located in northeast Spain on the Costa Daurada by the Mediterranean Sea. Founded before the 5th century BC, it is the capital of the Province of Tarragona. The city has a population of 201,199 (2014). The city’s Roman ruins have been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. A number of beaches, some awarded a Blue Flag designation, line the Mediterranean coast near the city.

PHOTO: Roman Amphitheater, 2nd Century A.D., on the Mediterranean Sea, Tarragona, Spain. Photo by Marc Pascual.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margaret Koger is a Lascaux Prize finalist and an experienced writing instructor from Boise, Idaho. Her poetry characterizes the problems facing our society and the need to make room for nature. Her poetry has been archived by the City of Boise and has appeared in numerous journals including Amsterdam Quarterly, Forbidden Peak Press, Collective Unrest, Chaffey College Review, Thimble, Inez, Headway, Burning House, Voice of Eve, Tiny Seeds Literary Journal, Ponder Savant, and The Limberlost Review.

One Place in New England by David P.Miller

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One Place in New England
by David P. Miller

to Charles Ives and his symphonic cataclysm

The trumpets and drums of “Putnam’s Camp”
topple over each other in a race toward high-
steppin’ small-town holiday promenade
and its irresistible brass detonation.
“The Housatonic at Stockbridge”: an immersed
orchestral mass, recollected river swelling
from flow and eddy, to inundate, climax
and fall back. A sigh before silence.

Two of Ives’ Three Places in New England
rise a quarter mile in present sound,
reach my black iron table and chair
on a Lenox inn porch. Out of the arched throat
of the Shed at Tanglewood, past the highway
skirting a margin of Stockbridge, uphill
through the apple trees. Music, filtered
by landscape, diffused into roofless sky.
An inchoate tonal pile, I follow this with water
hinting at the corners of my eyes,
because I know these contrary harmonies
from the vinyl I spun at age twelve,
gazing through the living room window
at our own home mountain vision.

Mr. Ives, if only you could hear this
with me, tangled with the traffic below,
the clatter of breakfast gathered
from metal tables by summer workers,
Chairs scraped back into place
across the vintage painted wood
braided with soprano confidences
regarding some kitchen contretemps.
The glory of your all-of-it-at-once,
Charles, that divine discord.

Originally published in The Poetry Porch, 2020

PHOTO: The Apple Tree Inn, Lennox, Massachusetts.

NOTE: Apple Tree Inn is located in the heart of the Berkshires in Lenox, Massachusetts. The property is host to an 1885 Victorian-style manor situated on 22 acres of rolling hills facing Stockbridge Bowl (Lake Mahkeenac).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written at Apple Tree Inn, Lenox, Massachusetts, in August 2019. I was sitting on the breakfast porch, and sounds from the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s morning rehearsal filtered uphill. The music itself described the part of the world where I sat.

PHOTO:  The author at Apple Tree Inn, Lennox, Massachusetts (2019).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David P. Miller’s collection, Sprawled Asleep, was published by Nixes Mate Books in 2019. His chapbook, The Afterimages, was published by Červená Barva Press in 2014. His poems have recently appeared in Meat for Tea, Hawaii Pacific Review, Seneca Review, Denver Quarterly, Turtle Island Quarterly, Halfway Down the Stairs, Constellations, The American Journal of Poetry, Lily Poetry Review, Nixes Mate Review, Unlost, and Northampton (UK) Review. His poem “Add One Father to Earth” was awarded an Honorable Mention by Robert Pinsky for the New England Poetry Club’s 2019 Samuel Washington Allen Prize competition. With a background in experimental theater before turning to poetry, David was a member of the multidisciplinary Mobius Artists Group of Boston for 25 years. He was a librarian at Curry College in Massachusetts, from which he retired in June 2018.

Remembering to Ask by Carolyn Chilton Casas

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Remembering to Ask
by Carolyn Chilton Casas

Returning to Arcos de la Frontera,
after driving through white hill towns
of southern Spain—
Ubrique, Grazalema, silent for siesta
Zahara de la Sierra,
it is dusk as we enter the city gates.

Winding streets coil back and forth
around the city’s hillside.
Most barely allow one-way passage,
with ancient stone walls on either side,
and arches so narrow we must pull in
the mirrors on our tiny rental car.

When we arrived the first day,
the GPS steered us straight
to the center. Now,
it cannot locate our hotel,
commands us to turn
into oncoming traffic, leads us
two times around the outskirts
and back to where we started.

My young son is driving.
Soon it will be dark. I am anxious,
then remember to ask the angels,
who await our pleas for help.

Under my breath, I ask.
At that exact second,
when my petition has just slipped
from my lips,
the system reroutes itself,
guides us directly to the plaza
and our hotel on top of the hill.

PHOTO: Street of the Casco Antiguo, Arcos de la Frontera, Andalucia, Spain. Photo by Makoshark2.

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NOTE: Arcos de la Frontera is a town and municipality in Andalusia, Spain. It is located on the northern, western, and southern banks of the Guadalete River, which flows around three sides of the city under towering vertical cliffs. The town offers a commanding vista atop a sandstone ridge, from which the peak of San Cristóbal and the Guadalete Valley can be seen. The town gained its name for its role as the frontier of Spain’s 13th-century battle with the Moors.

PHOTO: View of Arcos de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain. Photo by Alvaro Trabazo Rivas. 

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PHOTO: The author and her son outside their hotel in Arcos de la Frontera, Spain.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carolyn Chilton Casas is a Reiki Master and teacher, a student of metaphysics and philosophy. Her favorite themes for writing are healing, wellness, awareness, and the spiritual journey. Carolyn’s stories and poems have appeared in EnergyJourney of the HeartOdyssey, Reiki News Magazine, Snapdragon, The Art of Healing, as well as other publications. You can read more of Carolyn’s work on Instagram at mindfulpoet. On February 16, 2021, her first collection of poetry, Our Shared Breath, was released.

Setia by James Penha

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Setia
by James Penha

Somewhere between Melak and Tanjung Isuy
along Borneo’s Mahakam River
we entered the house of an old fisherman.
He led us into a sitting room
divided by a short board fence
protecting a shallow pool of water where,
against the wall,
beneath a crucifix of black ironwood,
steeped a crocodile,
peacefully alert, sure
we dare not disturb
the little girl asleep on its back,
her sweet snores
as zephyrs to its nape.

      “My granddaughter and crocodile
are friends. Take picture yes.
You touch beast?”

      He roused the child so Ferdy and I waded
to tap out fingers lightly on the scales
for our camera
entrusted to our host.
We shared the pictures
with the crocodile’s groggy playmate
who rubbed her eyes
to see Polaroid magic.

      Ferdy interpreted the old man’s Indonesian for me:
“Eight year ago, I fish River
and catch baby crocodile in my net.
We eat not crocodile
when the fish are many,
so I throw it back in water,
but I hear cry like baby orang,
human baby.
I fish more, and again net bring crocodile
to my boat,
and again I hold its tail to throw in River,
when I see it cry. And then of course I know
crocodile is twin, is person.”

      Ferdy explained for me:
“Country people drown second girl
when twins are born,
because twins are bad luck, even in Sumatra
with my Batak tribe still,
but sometimes baby fight to live
and gods help.
They turn baby into animal. The old man he say:
      “‘So I take her home. We feed her
as we feed my granddaughter
who has same age.
She eat not food of crocodile,
only food of my granddaughter.’”
      The old man laughed,
said to me in English,
“She is person. They are as sisters now yes.

      “We call her Setia.” Faithfulness,
Ferdy translated. “And she thank my family
with luck and fortune.”

      We left a gift of rupiah.
Aboard our boat again, I asked Ferdy
if he believes.

      “The people believe,” he said.

      “But you? You wear a university ring on your finger,
you are no animist. What do you
believe?”

      “I believe what I see.
You not?”

      I laughed, pressed him for logic, reason
beyond reasons.

      “‘That is my opinion,’ in Indonesia we say, ‘You have yours.’”

      And Ferdy bore me deeper down the Mahakam,
into the Borneo jungle.

PHOTO: Village on the Mahakam River, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, Borneo. Photo by Rafal Cichawa.

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NOTE: Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. It is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra. The island is politically divided among three countries: Malaysia and Brunei in the north, and Indonesia to the south. It is the only island in the world to be politically administered by three countries at once. Approximately 73% of the island is Indonesian territory. In the north, the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak make up about 26% of the island. The sovereign state of Brunei, located on the north coast, comprises about 1% of Borneo’s land area. A little more than half of the island is in the Northern Hemisphere, including Brunei and the Malaysian portion, while the Indonesian portion spans the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

MAP: Location of Borneo in Southeast Asia.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: One of the best trips my partner Ferdy and I ever took in Indonesia was a week’s journey on a motorboat, with pilot, guide, and cook, down the Mahakam River in Kalimantan, Indonesia’s piece of Borneo. I narrate exactly what I saw and heard at the most intriguing of our stops along the shore in the poem “Setia,” originally published in Pacific International 30 years ago!

PHOTO: Setia with visitors (from left) Ferdy and river guide, along with the little girl she lives with.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry, his work has lately appeared in several anthologies: The View From Olympia (Half Moon Books, UK), Queers Who Don’t Quit (Queer Pack, EU), What We Talk About It When We Talk About It, (Darkhouse Books), Headcase, (Oxford UP), Lovejets (Squares and Rebels), and What Remains (Gelles-Cole). His essays have appeared in The New York Daily News and The New York Times. Penha edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry. Twitter: @JamesPenha

A Perfect Summer Day by Milton P. Ehrlich

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A Perfect Summer Day
by Milton P. Ehrlich

A perfect day begins the night before.
A mackerel net is set in a fireball of a setting sun.
Up at dawn before marauding seals
have cleaned off the catch,
I fillet them on the shore tossing bloody entrails
to screeching gulls hovering overhead
I deliver a feed to my neighbors and friends.
I’m awed by the grandeur of pristine air
and sun-flooded clouds as white as a linen wedding dress.
In a sky lit from behind by a quintessential blueness,
I gather wild strawberries for breakfast.
I munch on June Ellen’s homemade granola
and one of her gargantuan cowboy-cookies.
I cruise across St Mary’s Bay in a Boston Whaler
to snorkel off Wheeler’s Bar at low tide for the mother lode
of bar-clams and maybe even poach a lobster or a bushel
of hefty crabs.
While mackerel and beer-soaked corn are on the grill,
I’ll down a few Mooseheads, before sauntering along
the shore eyeballing red foxes, who sit like Cheshire cats
in front of an old lobster box.
It was used as a table when they were fed by Leonard,
who is now propped up on a throne of pillows.
His glazed eyes still search the horizon for his nemesis,
the seal, his shotgun at the ready, only now, it’s just a cane.
I’m reassured to still see herons, sentinels of the bay,
standing on one leg, hunting for morsels of the sea.
A bevy of piping plovers and terns tiptoe on the sandy shore
in a flurry of white feathers nattering with ospreys, gulls
and cormorant cronies.
Scattering crows, squawking chanticleers cackle,
caw-cawing ahead of me.
I see apparitions of driftwood jungle-creatures,
a gallery of sculptures even Rodin and Giacometti might envy:
A horse head with knots for chestnut eyes, a gnarled octopus
curled around cattail punks reaching for the sky, an elephant
with a broken tusk plunked in plush maidenhair marsh-fern
as if it were a grove where elephants go to die.
A gaunt giraffe feeds on fluttering green leaves
high up in an aspen’s branches, a reindeer’s
bleached white antlers protrude in rust-colored clay
and verdant kelp.
A unicorn dips his horn into the swirling Gasperaux,
sweetening the gushing freshet flow
so smelt can leave the estuary and breed in the sea.
A slow walk in the labyrinthine shallow water
empties my mind into quietness.
monitor the underwater show:
under lucent plankton, schools of silver minnows flash by.
Barnacle-covered fiddler crabs careen sideways
like inebriated pals, a pair of small red fish
stealthily lumber along resembling twin submarines.
I step over cracked carapaces, steamers
and chipped blue mussels
revealing an opalescent inner layer.

Suddenly, I’m dazzled by a four-foot eel darting away
into emerald green eel grass,
reminding me of how Leonard once trapped a slew
of squirming eels, nailing them to a bench, skinning
and smoking them for shipment to a Bavarian Rathskeller.
On the way back I see my father’s profile in a passing cloud
and feel an ache of regret that such an avid fisherman
never got to visit my paradisial bay.
Observing my shadow I reflect on how ephemeral
and transient we are, and how elusive moments
of perfect happiness can be. I also wonder
how come my shadow is so much taller than me.

My perfect day ends slumbering in an old iron bed
with creaking springs that once cranked out
a progeny of eighteen They made do with a hand pump
and a two-seat outhouse, still standing next to the barn
listing to the side like a slowly sinking ship.

PHOTO: Cormorants perched on pier pilings, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Photo by Rixie. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: There is no more beautiful destination than Prince Edward Island, Canada. This poem recounts a day in the life on the island.

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NOTE: Prince Edward Island is located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, west of Cape Breton Island, north of the Nova Scotia peninsula, and east of New Brunswick. Its southern shore bounds the Northumberland Strait. The island has two urban areas, and in total, is the most densely populated province in Canada. The island’s landscape is pastoral, with wooded areas and rolling hills. The coastline has a combination of long beaches, dunes, red sandstone cliffs, salt water marshes, and numerous bays and harbors. 

MAP: Prince Edward Island circled in red. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Milton P. Ehrlich Ph.D. is an 89-year-old psychologist and a veteran of the Korean War. He has published poems in Poetry Review, The Antigonish Review, London Grip, Arc Poetry Magazine, Descant Literary Magazine, Wisconsin Review, Red Wheelbarrow, and The New York Times.

In the Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy by Wilda Morris

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In the Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy
by Wilda Morris

On this cool November night, I sit at an outside café
surrounded on two sides by five-foot glass walls.
From here, I can see the Baptistery, a corner
of the Giotto’s bell tower. Beyond the Duomo
with its red-orange dome, my view is obscured
by chocolates reflected from a store window.

The piazza is alive with parents pushing strollers,
tourists from a dozen nations dragging suitcases,
snapping selfies on cell phones. Photographers
focus Nikons and Canons. A police car backs out.
Bicycles weave between pedestrians. A toddler
clinging to a big red balloon rides her father’s shoulder.

Leashed black labs sniff each other; the owners
laugh, say ciao. and begin to chat.
The young donna in short skirt twirls
toward the suave young man as his dog
licks his leg. They compare canine companions.
He grins as he tells her a tale about his.

She waves goodbye and starts to go, pulling
on her leash. He calls her back. After more talk,
she puts his number in her cell phone, he puts hers
in his. My lasagna went cold as I watched
something warm between them.

PHOTO:  Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy (2017). Photo by Runoman.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: On my first trip to Italy, I had to choose between Florence and Venice, and picked Venice. It hurt my heart when the train went past Florence, though, and I didn’t get to experience any of that wonderful city. When I had an opportunity to attend a writing workshop in Orvieto, I added several days in Florence to my itinerary. Early one evening, I ordered dinner at a sidewalk cafe in the Piazza del Duomo. Before I went back to the hostel where I was staying, I drafted this poem about my experience there. It is different from my poems about the cathedral, the art galleries, and the Arno River, but it records a fond memory.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Wilda Morris, Workshop Chair, Poets and Patrons of Chicago, and past President of the Illinois State Poetry Society, enjoys traveling as much as writing. She has published over 650 poems in anthologies, webzines, and print publications. She has won awards for formal and free verse and haiku. Her most recent collection is Pequod Poems: Gamming with Moby-Dick (Kelsay Books, 2019) Her poetry blog at wildamorris.blogspot features a monthly poetry contest.

PHOTO: The author on the roof of the cathedral in Florence, Italy, a few years ago.

Home of the Desert Rat by Robert Coats

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Home of the Desert Rat
by Robert Coats

…I shall give myself
to the desert again—that I, in its golden dust
may be blown from a barren peak,
broadcast over the sun-lands…
                                   —Maynard Dixon, 1935

Three arms of a cloud fuse to form an arrow
pointing at the summit of Picacho Peak,
its flanks of red-orange rock
riven by deep arroyos.

The shack of the Desert Rat is darkened
by a cliff’s shadow thrown across the terrace.
Behind the shack, the steep bank of a desert wash
and nearby, a Model T,
a copse of scraggly cottonwood.

What wound would drive
a man to live here in solitude?
Perhaps at Belleau Wood
he saw comrades blown to bits.
Or returned home from work to find
his house in flames, his young wife
and baby trapped inside.

In the late afternoon light
he walks across the boulder-strewn terrace
to watch the mountain’s purple shadows
drawing long.

At night he steps out to gaze
at the Milky Way’s long shawl
illuminating
the vast and silent sky.

PAINTING: Home of the Desert Rat by Maynard Dixon (1944-1945), Phoenix Art Museum.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  This is an ekphrastic poem; that is, a poem about a painting or photograph. Maynard Dixon (1875-1946) was a well-known painter who lived and worked in the American Southwest, painting the landscapes and people of the region, including many Native Americans.  During the last years of his life, he and his third wife (Edith Hamlin) divided their time between Mount Carmel, Utah, and Tucson, Arizona. By the time of this painting, Dixon was struggling with emphysema, and his mobility was reduced. ¶ The exact location where Dixon set up his easel is unknown, but the available evidence—the chevron pattern on the side of the mountain, the shape of the summit, and the deep arroyo at its base—indicates that the mountain is Picacho Peak, 40 miles northwest of Tucson. But, curiously, the red-orange color (typical of Utah sandstone) and lack of vegetation on the mountain do not match what is shown in the image on Google Earth. Picacho Peak is basalt, a black volcanic rock, and its vegetation is typical of the Sonoran Desert.  We know that Dixon was very fond of the red sandstone landscapes, so it seems likely that his choice of color made use of his well-earned artistic license.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robert Coats has been writing poetry for more than 40 years. Aside from four poems previously published by Poetry and Places, his poems have appeared on the Canary Website, in Orion, Zone 3, Windfall, Song of the San Joaquin, in two anthologies (Fresh Water: Poems from the Rivers, Lakes and Streams and Fire and Rain: Ecopoetry of California), in the hand-printed and bound book Gathering Black Walnuts from Cedar Fence Press, and in his book The Harsh Green World, published by Sugartown Publishing.  He is a Research Hydrologist with the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.

The Light on Sifnos by Barbara Quick

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The Light on Sifnos
by Barbara Quick

How does one describe the light here in this place
where the dawn really does have rosy fingers,
where the mountains glow at night,
their barren slopes a magnet
for the radiance of moon and stars,

Where whitewashed houses on the lowest slopes
are strung like chalky pearls
around the mountain’s throat,

And oleander blossoms burn like hot pink coals?
The shadows are as deep as wells, the air as clear
as something newly born.

Even early morning light burns its mark
on tender human skin, as if the sun were reaching down
to tell us that we’re changing
as surely as the plants that bloom and fade,
each bright blossom’s moment
giving way to new ones.

The ferry comes and goes many times every day,
bringing bright new tourists to the island,
taking others away.

Reprinted from The Light on Sifnos (2021: Blue Light Press)
Copyright © 2021 by Barbara Quick

PHOTO: Kamares, Sifnos, Greece. Photo by Gaetano Cessati on Unsplash 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Barbara Quick is a novelist, poet and occasional journalist based in the Wine Country of Northern California, where she lives with her husband, violist and vigneron Wayne Roden. Barbara is best known for her 2007 novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins, which has been translated into a dozen languages, is still in print, and was released as an audiobook in early 2021. Her poem “Skinny-Dipping in Vathy,” which she wrote during a month-long stay on the Greek Island of Sifnos in 2019, was published on October 11, 2020, on YourDailyPoem.com–and is featured in Barbara‘s debut chapbook of poems, The Light of Sifnos, co-winner of the 2020 Blue Light Press Poetry Prize. Barbara‘s fourth novel, What Disappears, will be published by Regal House in 2022. Check out the media links and read more about Barbara and her work at BarbaraQuick.com.

PHOTO: The author on the Greek Island of Sifnos (2019). Photo by Wayne Roden. 

Kobe, Japan by Rafaella Del Bourgo

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Kobe, Japan
by Rafaella Del Bourgo

Under a sky the color of mica and freshly cold,
the first home of my father’s father,
I sit on the platform skirting a temple,
its yard, earth packed by a thousand years of feet.
On the margins, gravel and rock;
a monk drags bamboo tines
to create concentric circles
like ocean waves lapping against a boulder.

He glances my way,
a lone American woman
close to the cemetery where my ancestors rest.
He lays down the rake,
comes to sit beside me,
the map of his faith
in the folds of his shabby robe.

I show him a photograph from 1901,
my family,
Sephardic Jews against a painted backdrop,
obis tight around flowered kimonos.

He nods to a younger monk,
and his face blossoms into smile
as we are served bowls of sweet, hot tea.

PHOTO:  Suma Temple (Kobe, Japan). Photo by Sangaku.

NOTE: Kobe is the seventh-largest city in Japan. With a population of 1.5 millon, Kobe is located on the southern side of the main island of Honshū, about 19 miles west of Osaka. From the mid 1920s until the 1950s, the Kobe Jewish community was the largest Jewish community in Japan, formed by hundreds of Jews arriving from Russia, the Middle East, as well as from Central and Eastern European countries.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I very much liked the Japanese aesthetic, how they made beauty in simple gestures like carrying their lunches in knotted silk scarves. Even the plastic food for restaurant display windows seemed like art; I took home shrimp and peas, and a ball of vanilla ice cream with a maraschino cherry on top. The Japanese rock garden is a dry landscape of boulders set in gravel or sand which is raked to represent ripples in water.   They are meant to create a sense of tranquility. I saw these in many of the Japanese temples I visited.  Kobe was special because this was where my paternal grandfather was raised.

PHOTO: Japanese rock garden. Photo by Nmint.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rafaella Del Bourgo’s writing has appeared in journals such as Nimrod, The Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, The Adroit Journal, The Green Hills Literary Lantern, Caveat Lector, Puerto Del Sol, Rattle, Oberon, Spillwayand The Bitter Oleander. She has won many awards, including the Lullwater Prize for Poetry in 2003, and in 2006 the Helen Pappas Prize in Poetry and the New River Poets Award. In 2007, 2008, and 2013, she won first place in the Maggi Meyer Poetry Competition. The League of Minnesota Poets awarded her first place in 2009.  In 2010, she won the Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award and the Grandmother Earth Poetry Prize. She was awarded the Paumanok Prize for Poetry in 2012, and then won first place in the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers’ Poetry Contest. Finally, she won the Mudfish Poetry Prize for 2017. Her collection I Am Not Kissing You  was published by Small Poetry Press in 2003, and her chapbook, Inexplicable Business: Poems Domestic and Wildwas published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press. In 2012, she was one of 10 poets included in the anthology Chapter & Verse: Poems of Jewish IdentityShe has traveled the world and lived in Tasmania and Hawaii.  She recently retired from teaching college-level English classes, and resides in Berkeley, California, with her husband.

Kayaking Poem by Donna Zephrine

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Kayaking Poem
by Donna Zephrine

From Bridgeport, Connecticut
To Port Jefferson, New York
Paddling a kayak for 20 miles
Two people working their way across Long Island Sound.
Exercising legs and hip muscles
Building endurance through calm and choppy waters
Staying on the waterway route
Marked by buoys along the way
The smell of salt water
Birds and seagulls flying overhead
Bass, fluke and blue fish jump up from the water
A feeling of freedom
And tranquility.

Photo by Mika Korhonen on Unsplash 

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NOTE: The trip from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Port Jefferson, New York, across Long Island Sound measures about 19.2 miles. Long Island Sound is a tidal estuary of the Atlantic Ocean, lying predominantly between Connecticut to the north, and Long Island in New York to the south. From west to east, the sound stretches 110 miles from the East River in New York City, along the North Shore of Long Island, to Block Island Sound. A mix of freshwater from tributaries and saltwater from the ocean, Long Island Sound is 21 miles at its widest point and varies in depth from 65 to 230 feet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Zephrine was born in Harlem, New York, and grew up in Bay Shore, Long island. She graduated from Columbia University School of Social Work in May 2017, and currently works for the New York State Office of Mental Health at Pilgrim Psychiatric Center Outpatient SOCR (State Operated Community Residence). A combat veteran who completed two tours in Iraq, she was on Active duty Army stationed at Hunter Army Airfield 3rd Infantry Division as a mechanic. Since returning home, Donna enjoys sharing her experiences and storytelling through writing. Donna’s stories have appeared in the New York Times, Writers Guild Imitative, Suicide, The Seasons, Lockdown, New World, Qutub Minar Review, Summer, War and Battle, Bards Initiative, Radvocate, Oberon, Long Island Poetry Association, and The Mighty. In her spare time, Donna plays sled hockey for the Long Island Rough Riders and serves an advisory board on Heroes to Heroes.