The Light on Sifnos by Barbara Quick


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 


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–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

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

Kobe, Japan by Rafaella Del Bourgo

japan sangaku

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.


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


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.


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.

Taos Pueblo by Feroza Jussawalla

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Taos Pueblo
by Feroza Jussawalla

Jim Silversmith stands tall over me
In Taos Pueblo as I admire filigree as delicate
as the ancient work in my Indian hometown,
carved into a storyteller cuff bracelet. Braids frame
the burnt adobe wrinkles, braids tied in
leather and not with Jasmines. A proud Rajput
he, a true Mogul with slit eyes, “¿De done eres tu?”
he asks, in Spanish, Taoseño being
sacred and secret.
We talk about how we were
carried by even more ancient colonizers
into the hearts of subcontinents,
and named by los güeros for a trade,
individuales colonizados, cousins,
our names stuck with the languages,
that grew in fertile and infertile soils
mangled, unmangled, untranslatable.
And yet, here I am translated.

Here I am in Taos Pueblo, nestled in the crook
Of the Sacred Mountain’s mothering shoulder,
mesas turn into rocks piled upon rocks,
pather pati, and merge with the
red-brown sandstone sculpted
by the wind into Arches, sifting, shifting sands
in one grand sweep from Dead Horse to the Deccani plateau
Jahilia, Mongolia, all holy sands from Mecca and Medina
To Chimayo.

We are all the same people
coming overland through the
northwestern passages into the hinterland,
over air, into the Northeastern passages—
coming to fill this vast

PHOTO: Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. Photo by Miroslav Liska.

NOTE: Taos Pueblo is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It’s located about one mile north of the city of Taos, New Mexico. Considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States, Taos Pueblo is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. A tribal land of 95,000 acres is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Feroza Jussawalla is Emerita Professor of English at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Originally from India, she is the author and or editor, and co-editor of several scholarly works, in postcolonial literature. Her collection of poetry, Chiffon Saris, was published by Toronto South Asian Review Press and The Writer’s Workshop, Kolkotta (2002).

Not Fifteen Days by Laura Schulkind

Grand Canyon Archana Bhartia

Not Fifteen Days
by Laura Schulkind

We round another bend in the river,
what will be one of our last,
hurtle through the white, then
drop into sudden stillness—
a glassy stretch the color of sagebrush—
the only sounds the unrushed dip of the oars and
the canyon wrens calling to their mates.

We take in our last views of this soaring castle
of Muav and Dolomite and Redwall as
we near Lake Mead,
and in the approach, I cannot help
but start to brace for impact—
the speed of cars, the press of work.

I imagine arriving home,
you waiting there,
perhaps giving the geraniums a final watering.
Me smelling of silt and Mormon’s Tea,
and desert rain and sweat. Hair wild and stiff.
Nails ragged. Lips cracked.
Imagine your reaction—a raised eyebrow
as you ask, how long were you on that river?

And I consider how I might answer such a question,
wondering if, like dog years, there
might be river years.
Realize, I could only answer with a question:
By what measure?

The time it takes to bend to a river?
To fall into its rhythm of pool and drop—
leaning into the rapids and
melting into the calm that follows?

Or, the time it takes to bear witness to a two-billion-year-old
hot, steamy slow dance between rock and water?
To climb up layers of limestone, granite, shale and schist—
each step ten thousand years?

The time it takes to learn to see,
to read the ancient story in a vein of granite?

The time it takes to give and accept innumerable kindnesses,
shed our defenses and modesties?

The time it takes for new words to feel familiar in your mouth—
laterals, high-siding, river holes (who knew rivers had holes)?

The time it takes to feel you have shed your skin
and grown a new one?

Or measured instead by Earth’s timeline—
here for a fleeting moment, a sigh on a wind already gone.

Whatever the measure, I realize this:
It is not “fifteen days”.
That answer would clearly be wrong.
My time on the river far longer, and
far shorter than that.

PHOTO: Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona. Photo by Archana Bhartia.

Grand Canyon 10

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was one of several that I wrote during a two-week period while traveling by dory from Lee’s Ferry to Lake Mead on the Colorado River (about 280 miles) in May 2019.

PHOTO: The author with her husband  Dan Perlstein on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon (May 2019).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Schulkind, an attorney by day, is entrusted with others’ stories. Through poetry she tells her own. She has two chapbooks with Finishing Line Press, Lost in Tall Grass (2014) and The Long Arc of Grief (2019).  Her work also appears in numerous journals, including Caveat LectorDallas Review, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The MacGuffin, Mudlark, Reed Magazine, and Valparaiso Review. Her published work and reviews can also be found on her website,, along with musings on why “lawyer-poet” isn’t an oxymoron.

Rincon Point, Six A.M. by Jonathan Yungkans


Rincon Point, Six A.M.
by Jonathan Yungkans

The sea tears out of its skin,
a Lazarus deshrouding,

navy against an orange
sunrise. Surfers play Jesus,

waiting for a wave to let
them walk on water. No one

talks—words hover like gulls, pick
away silence’s magic—


so I say nothing and watch
their bobbing devotionals,

notice an imprint of huge
feathers in wet sand. Christmas

was last month. Easter’s three away.
So what’s an angel to do

with downtime except to lie
invisible on the sand,


arching like a cat, a wave,
intending neither to leave

or stay, to leave or erase
its mark. The blueness reaches

deeper than bone or sea bed,
thicker than water, dredging

to leave what it can on shore
in a shush and quietude.

Previously published in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Issue 7 (Mar 2021).

PHOTO: Surfer at Rincon Point, California, sunrise. Photo by Atpfiz.

NOTE: Rincon is a surf spot located at the Ventura and Santa Barbara County line in Southern California. Also known as the “Queen of the Coast,” Rincon is one of the most famous surf spots in California, known around the world for its well-formed waves and long rides.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This was one of my pre-dawn road trips heading north—partly for photo ops, partly to snap myself out of despair. Rincon Point is just north of Ventura, California. Locals sometimes frequent it as an early-morning surf stop. It is literally off the beaten track—you drive under the freeway and across the railroad tracks to wind your way there.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Jonathan Yungkans is a Los Angeles-based writer and photographer who earned an MFA from California State University, Long Beach, while working as an in-home health-care provider. His work has appeared in San Pedro Poetry Review, Synkroniciti, West Texas Literary Review, and other publications. His second poetry chapbook, Beneath a Glazed Shimmer, won the 2019 Clockwise Chapbook Prize and was published in February 2021 by Tebor Bach Publishing.

Art Fair by Jeannie E. Roberts

Lake Pepin_Stockholm_Jeannie E. Roberts

Art Fair
by Jeannie E. Roberts

—near the shores of Lake Pepin

Down Great River Road
past the family cottage
and clear-cut memories of lighthearted days

a train whistle blasts
and Saturday shines as only the third
Saturday in July can.

At Stockholm’s Village Park
artists / musicians / and fair-goers
with the unity of gathering
with the poetry
of place.

CREDIT: “Art Fair” appears in Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015) and was first published in Goose River Anthology (Goose River Press, 2012).

PHOTO: Lake Pepin by Jeannie E. Roberts, all rights reserved. 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Pepin and Stockholm are villages within Pepin County, Wisconsin, USA. Great River Road (Highway 35) is a Wisconsin state highway running north-south across western Wisconsin, USA. 

NOTE: Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is located in a valley carved by the outflow of an enormous glacial lake at the end of the last Ice Age.  Lake Pepin is now a corridor for water, highway, and rail transportation. Known as the birthplace of water skiing, it hosts a variety of recreational activities. For over 40 years, artists have been filling Stockholm Village Park overlooking Lake Pepin on the third Saturday each July for the Stockholm Art Fair. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jeannie E. Roberts has authored six books,  including The Wingspan of Things (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), Romp and Ceremony (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Beyond Bulrush (Lit Fest Press, 2015), Nature of it All (Finishing Line Press, 2013), and Rhyme the Roost! A Collection of Poems and Paintings for Children (Daffydowndilly Press, an imprint of Kelsay Books, 2019). Her work appears in North American and international online magazines, print journals, and anthologies. She is poetry reader and editor of the online literary magazine  Halfway Down the StairsWhen she’s not reading, writing, or editing, you can find her drawing and painting, or outdoors photographing her natural surroundings.

Belief by Laura Foley

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by Laura Foley

Walking the endless Meseta, we turn to see
yellow broom flowers, orange poppies going by—
the only way to know these pilgrims’ progress.

Each night, an ancient town new to us,
steps closer to our journey’s end—
we feel no mystic pull toward Santiago,

but we believe in the awe of those who do,
as Gregorian chants pipe through a darkened church,
and a friend we meet weeps freely at a café table.

We leave Castrojeriz in the graying dark,
before dawn, before cafés open, our shoes
tapping a slow rhythm on quiet streets,

and though at this moment they’re empty of all but us,
we know the road, the path we’ve chosen,
takes us somewhere many have gone before.

We feel them all in the hard-packed trail,
in our aching feet,
in our will to keep going, a mysticism we can believe.

AUTHOR’S NOTE ON THE PHOTO: This photo was taken near Castrojeriz, Spain. We had walked about 200 miles and still had another 300 miles to go. It was springtime, it rained often, and the wildflowers, especially the poppies, were magnificent. (Photo by Clara Gimenez)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: My wife and I walked five hundred miles, from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, to Santiago Spain, on El Camino, an ancient pilgrim’s path.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Laura Foley is the author of seven poetry collections. Why I Never Finished My Dissertation received a starred Kirkus Review, was among their top poetry books of 2019, and won an Eric Hoffer Award. Her collection It’s This is forthcoming from Salmon Press. Her poems have won numerous awards, and national recognition—read frequently by Garrison Keillor on The Writers Almanac; appearing in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry. Laura lives with her wife, Clara Gimenez, among the hills of Vermont. Visit her at

The Spirit Weavers by Nancy Lubarsky

panama mark poplawski

The Spirit Weavers
by Nancy Lubarsky

The woman sits on a stool outside the local tourist
shop. She splits the dried and bleached palm leaves
into thin strands. She blends dyes from complex
recipes of flowers, roots, and berries to interweave

tribal tales, wildlife, or patterns from the earth’s
geometry. She begins the basket at the base, in a spiral.
She bends the reeds, loops, and tightens—one row over
another. This basket may take months or years to finish.

We had just a week with you, our guide. We are on your
journey—your tightly woven story. Not the city where
you were born, not the tall skyscrapers, or the locks of
the canal, but the countryside. You want us to know real

Panamanian life: a one-hotel town with only the day’s
catch on the menu; the force of a waterfall we push against
just to stay upright; the tree frog’s green shimmer in the
rainforest after dark; a steep sunset hike, not to see the sun,

but the breadth of the valley; the still Caribbean waters
above, the coral and sea life metropolis below. For just a
brief time you unravel these fibers for us—the ones in
your heart, the ones that protect your country’s spirit.

Previously published in the author’s poetry collection The Only Proof (Kelsay Books, a Division of Aldrich Press, 2017).

PHOTO: Clouds dropping over mountains of Cordillera Central and Santa Fe National Park, north of Santa Fe, Panama. Photo by Mark Poplawski, used by permission.


NOTE: The Wounaan Indians of the Darien Rainforest in Panama are some of the finest basket weavers in the world. Using the Chunga palm and other plant materials, they weave utilitarian baskets, ceremonial pieces, and the most beautiful and intricate basketry depicting plants and animals, fish and flowers, insects and geometric patterns. The Wounaan translate their belief in the harmony in nature by transforming organic materials into baskets. They see “spirit” and “nature” as inseparable. (Source: Mabee-Gerrer Museum of Art)

PHOTO: A basket the author obtained during her visit to Panama.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  This poem was written about my trip to Panama several years ago. While most people just see the canal and move on to other places, our guide showed us another side of Panama (really several sides) that were unique and beautiful.  This picture depicts a sunset hike in Santa Fe, Panama.

LubarskyABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nancy Lubarsky writes from Cranford, New Jersey. An educator for over 35 years, Nancy has been published in various journals, including Exit 13, Lips, Tiferet, Poetic, Stillwater Review, and Paterson Literary Review. Nancy received honorable mention in the 2014 Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and again in 2016 and 2018. She is the author of two booksTattoos (Finishing Line Press) and The Only Proof (Kelsay Books, a Division of Aldrich Press). Nancy received honorable mention from The Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Contest (2018).  She has also been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.

This Afternoon in London by Larry Pike


This Afternoon in London
by Larry Pike

I stood in the museum’s Manuscript Room
long enough to hear the grave whisper
of the gimpy Lord’s soul as it pressed
against the leaded glass. Was it an alien

tongue or simply muffled sound indistinct
about my ear? Its swelling sigh did not arouse
the sentry who spared an indifferent look
at me leaning across the restraining rope,

my shadow spreading over the heavy pane
preserving Byron’s frail pages—there and
there and there where I could not discern
his rapid hand on the brittle sheets.

The chill casement received my reckless touch
like a busy confessor eager for some original sin,
and discharged a meager static spark
through the window on the dead.

PHOTO: British Museum, main entrance, London, England (2018).

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In August 1973, I traveled with nine friends on a two-week tour of England. During one of our days in London, we spent most of the afternoon in the British Museum. I was a rising college junior and had recently declared an English major, and I was eager to visit the Manuscript Room. The Magna Carta, among other rare documents, is there, but I was keen to see the pages on display by some of the poets I’d studied the previous semester—Wordsworth, Shelley, and Byron. I stood for quite awhile trying to decipher Byron’s penmanship. That trip with my friends was a great journey and a memorable time together, but that afternoon was the highlight for me.

IMAGE: Don Juan’ Autograph draft of stanza of the Dedication and of Canto I, stanza 220 (circa 1818). Find more information at the British Library. In 1973, the British Library Act 1972 detached the library department from the British Museum, but until 1997 it continued to host the now separated British Library in the same Reading Room and building as the museum.


NOTE: The British Museum, in the Bloomsbury area of London, England, is a public institution dedicated to human history, art, and culture. Its permanent collection of about eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence. The Museum’s holdings document the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. The first public national museum in the world, the Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It first opened to the public in 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the current building.

PHOTO: The British Museum Reading Room (2006).

Larry Pike photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Larry Pike’s poetry has appeared in a variety of journals. He has work forthcoming in River and South ReviewBetter Than Starbucks, Saint Katherine Review, and Cape Magazine. His collection Even in the Slums of Providence will be published in October 2021 by Finishing Line Press.

Author photo by Bryn Chapman.