Stefan Strychar

St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada

With a natural inclination towards travel, humans tend to be an exploratory species… but there’s something to be said about the comfort afforded by familiarity. I’ve made the drive between Detroit and New York numerous times, cutting through Canada along the way. For years, whenever approaching St. Catharines, the familiar crooked masts of this ship offered a comfort that I knew where I was, and where I was going. Last year, I finally decided to pull off the road, walk up to the shipwreck and snap a quick photo.

I think half the fun of travelling is finding something along the way and making it your own.

 

 

 

Gail Denham

The last two years, our vacation times have been spent searching and photographing old mining/ghost towns. A place we really enjoyed was Berlin, Nevada. This is now a State Park. The Park system has done a splendid job of preserving the past as intact as possible, labeling houses that still stand, placing placques at the site of where a home stood, and keeping the gold mine workings and buildings as they were decades ago.

 

One thing I love is to stop at a home site, a grave, a delapitated house and imagine who might have lived there — how did they manage without water or electricity — what were their entertainments — where did they buy supplies? So many questions. This gate that stands in a family’s back yard must have squeaked open many times as the family visited neighbors, went to a country store down the road; or to allow the family to carry the coffin of their small child to its resting place down the hill.

 

Berlin captures my imagination. It allows my mind to wander through ”what ifs” and stories, many of which will never be fully known. It’s a site worth visiting. Plan to spend several hours. Up the hill from here is an RV park, but somehow the state has managed to keep this “ghost town” in a state of perpetual historical perspective, allowing the visitors to flesh out stories for themselves, and wonder…?

 

 

Tendai Mwanaka

 

There has been this want in me, almost need, to just get out of the house. I had been cooped inside for long time writing, without getting out much. I decided I wanted to visit the dam, Seke Harava Dam( formerly, Prince Edward Dam) in Hunyani river. I took a lot other pictures on the way, but I started enjoying it really when I started taking the pictures of this dam. It reminded me of 2012, when I tried with 3 other writers in the Caine workshop( Beatrice Lamwaka, Brenda Kunga, Waigwa Ndangui), to find De Bos Dam, up the Babilonstoring range of mountains In Volmoed, South Africa, but failed. This time I got to it. I saw the dam.

 

 

 

 

Tendai Mwanaka

The sun usually rises near the buffalo hump, on Mozi Mountain on the Nyanga range of mountains, Nyanga, Zimbabwe. We called that KwaMozi, growing up in this area, such that it is the most important and well known part of this mountain, to our side of the mountain. The fascination with this mountain is deeply ingrained in me, it’s something I grew up seeing every day, and it imposes its myth, feelings and atmosphere in and around the area. A lot of rain, it was believed, came from this mountain, even traditional rainmaking ceremonies were done on Mozi Mountain. It is sacred. There are a lot of stories, of people disappearing or getting lost in this mountain, some have never been found again by their relatives. There are people who died on top of it whilst crossing at night. It is very cold on top, and in winter months, it freezes. It is a living beast; there are people who actually live on top of it. In Volcanic explosions, the sun bursting from Nyanga Mountain, it would seem to be coming from it, when you look at the sun from the west of the mountain. It is like the eruption of volcanic lava from the earth, sprouting embers around. It creates beautiful golden ripples of rays, and haloes. I had to edit the image in Picasso to create those yellowish golden colourful effects.

 

Tendai Mwanaka’s work has appeared in over 300 magazines in over 27 counties, making him the most published Zimbabwean poet of his generation. Tendai’s collection of poetry titled Voices from Exile was published by Lapwing Publications, Northern Ireland in 2010. His novel Keys in the River: Notes from a Modern Chimurenga is a series of interlinked stories that deals with life in modern day Zimbabwe, published by Savant, USA 2012, Zimbabwe: The Blame Game, a collection of non-fiction pieces was published by Langaa RPCIIG, Cameroon.

 

 

 

Dede Cummings

My father told stories all the time. He’d plan our Sunday outing and would ferry us out through the small channel going against the tide. He would talk to me mostly, as the younger girls were chatting aimlessly with Shirley in the front of the boat and the wind carried their words away with the offshore breeze. I’d constantly ask him: Who lived here? What did the Narragansett’s do? What was it like in the Great Hurricane when your family lived in their summer home?

“Red, right, returning.” My father taught me that navigation directional as he coasted around rocks and drove the boat into channels. There was one cove that had nothing but high spartina and flocks of white egrets. He’d always go in there and cut the engine. The boat would coast, and the chatter would cease. He’d raise a finger to his lips and look around, daring us to look through the tall grass, or out through the channel to the sea beyond.

That was my time with him. The other sisters and Shirley would begin to get all wound up as soon as the motor started. I kept on gazing back at the spartina, the longing so intense it felt like I was being pulled back by some unknown undertow.

 

Dede Cummings is a writer, publisher, and commentator for Vermont Public Radio. At Middlebury College, she was the recipient of the Mary Dunning Thwing Award, and in 1991 studied with Hayden Carruth at the Bennington Writers’ Workshop. She was a poetry contributor at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2013. Dede is working on a memoir of her childhood called “Spin Cycle.” She lives in Vermont where she designs books and runs the startup Green Writers Press.

 

 

 

Renée K. Nicholson

I am telling you this story because you are the only person who will not judge me

And you didn’t get all that mad when I borrowed your silk blouse without telling you and spilled cheap cabernet down the front of it in a long, grape-y smudge that the cleaners couldn’t get out.

Do you remember that?

You were still with Tyler then—oh  Tyler—and you  could never really be with a Tyler because of the shaggy bangs, dirty blonde and keg-o-rators and cars with iffy transmissions, floorboards mashed with remnants of Taco Bell.

I remember that blouse, smooth between the fingers and robin’s egg blue, draped across my torso like a slick, bright waterfall.

It happened when I went to meet Brett, who had a few pictures in that show, black and white photographs—

Remember how we thought black and white was the height of sophistication, like filet mignon and restaurants that park your car for you, where the cheapest bottle of wine is over fifty bucks and we’d pretend not to care. That wine of our youth, fermented in memory, all the bottles and glasses and stained clothes and the all those things we wished with each satisfying pop of the cork.

 

 

 

William D. Hicks

From the lakefront to the downtown shopping and restaurants there is much to see and do in Saugatuck Michigan. There is also the farms and sunrises that can’t be beat. And being that it’s only a couple hours away from Chicago, it’s the perfect getaway from big city life.

 

 

 

 

James Penha

Hot and cold in the caldera atop Mount Bromo in Java. This is my kind of equinox: a place where opposites co-exist.

 

 

A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past twenty-five years 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.

 

 

 

 

Anna Lena Phillips

Not long ago I found a stack of greeting cards on a table, one of several that stand in the main post office in Durham, North Carolina. Each table is made of green glass, sturdy and scratched, and is fitted with two brass lamps like the one shown here. I love these lamps, which are so friendly and yet so elegant, and I love the tables, which are at such a height that I can rest my elbows on them, stare at the banks of post-office boxes, and commence with whatever business I have. The greeting cards were nothing special—mass-produced, with bland watercolors of flowers on them in several patterns—but they were there.

 

It’s easy to not write a letter, even when the cards are left out for you, just by their presence making news for you to write about. Even when the lamp beckons, as if it’s saying to anyone, You, too, might stand and write here, turning your head, shifting from one foot to the other; carefully address the envelope, checking each numeral; affix a stamp and walk toward the counter, drop the new letter into the brass mail slot, hearing it flap back on its hinge, and go out the revolving wooden door, feeling virtuous and satisfied, feeling the slow travel of the letter—quick, really, so quickly it will reach your loved one—through the workings of the postal system, living in the mystery and anticipation of news not yet delivered but on its way.

 

On my desk at home I have put a note for myself: ALWAYS WRITE BACK. I haven’t written back always, which is the reason for the note, and which is one of many reasons for the affection I feel for the post office: its very architecture supports me in the effort. These tables are not going anywhere—they’re bolted to the floor. These lamps are, to borrow a phrase from Mary Wells, sticking to the table like a stamp to a letter. And each one’s little halo of light waits for me to slide a card or sheet of notepaper into its circle, take out my pen, and begin.

 

 

Anna Lena Phillips’s projects include A Pocket Book of Forms, a travel-sized guide to poetic forms, and SEND WORD, a pop-up letter writing station. She teaches at UNC Wilmington and is editor of Ecotone.

 

 

 

Paul Beckman

There’s nothing like New Orleans! Everywhere we go there’s great street music and great restaurants. This quartet kept us mesmerized for a half hour. We stay in the French Quarter but move all around the city and no two visits are ever alike. The “Big Easy” is our place to go to de-stress from out every day lives. People are friendly, jazz and Dixieland is everywhere and we always find a new spot—a street, alley or neighborhood that we can add to our collection.

 

Paul Beckman is a writer and photographer. He used to be an air traffic controller and a builder but now he’s just a Zeyde who writes Flash Fiction and takes pictures above and below water.