Archive for SJ’s Photos

140 dead in Baghdad

During Ramadan. And they dare to call this a holy war.

The only counter to this brutal horror is beauty, though at times it seems weak protection.  Nevertheless.  This is the land the Mongol armies rode; it’s seen its share of terror.  And now look.



I Love New York

On my corner the NYPD has put up a temporary cell tower for  the Gay Pride Parade. It’s been up all week but I only saw the No Parking signs today. The photo’s not great; the top sign’s white and the bottom one’s blue. There’s no question it’s a deliberately-made rainbow.

I love New York.





Ironbound Expedition

Explored Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood (so called because it’s enclosed on all sides by railroad tracks) on Saturday. Ate excellent Portuguese lunch, coffee, pastry; and first-class small-batch ice cream. Roses everywhere, new park down by the river, a multitude of churches. Rain, but not until we were done and headed back to the train. Excellent expedition!

Expeditionary force:


Ironbound history mural detail:


Front yard shrine:


1961 chimney:


Bella the Cat

Too much laundry in the laundry basket, not enough cat room. Bella took care of that.


Twentieth Saturday, eight days late

Purple-hulled tugboat —
White wheelhouse, white frothy wake —
Rides on pale river.

Bagpipes, drums on pier,
Robins, chickadees, in trees,
Drowning out traffic.

Sailboats inching north.
Hard-nosed ferry plowing south.
Cormorant fishing.


Horses, too

The Cedar Valley Retreat Center has rolling grounds, many outdoor spaces for sitting and thinking, hills to climb, woods to stroll through, plus of course a couple of buildings for residence, meetings and classes. The place has another mission, too, carried out in a few buildings and fields at the front of the property. Besides hosting retreats like the the Wisconsin Writers’ Association Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp, they also do horse rescue. The first year I was here a couple of retired goats were also in residence, and their climbing structure remains though they seem to be gone. But at least two horses are living out their twilight years here. One of them plodded out of the barn yesterday to post picturesquely for both a long shot and a close-up.



Chapel on the hill

Cedar Valley Retreat Center, where I’m teaching right now, is a non-denominational (but Christian-leaning) religious retreat a group like this one can rent. One of the buildings on the grounds is a chapel. This is its interior in the morning light.


The pond at the edge of the 100-acre wood

The Wisconsin Writers’ Association Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp, where I’m Writer-in-Residence, is held at the Cedar Valley Retreat Center. 100 acres of woods and streams surround the buildings, which include the main building where the guest rooms and classes are held, a larger meeting house, a chapel, and a small screened outdoor room. Here’s the pond, where a pair of killdeer are nesting on shore and the trees are full of tweeting, chirping, chipping, and singing. A certain amount of honking and quacking can also be heard.


Teaching in Wisconsin

Spending a week at the the Wisconsin Writers’ Association Novel-in-Progress Bookcamp. Thought you’d like to see my office.


Nineteenth Saturday

Across the river
Streetlamps glow into gray day.
Single red light blinks.

Ferry churns thick wake
Passing before sharp white tents
Against green hillside.

Water laps seawall.
Runners’ feet slap stone pathway.
Fog melts towers’ tops.