Tag Archives: writing

On the Adriatic Sea

The Adriatic Sea

The wind brings clouds that brush their muted grey across the sky and choppy caps of white in the reflecting sea. An Island of green lush trees bridges the gap between horizons, vivid in the haze.

Our apartment is far enough away from civilization to deem going anywhere unnecessary, so we read and write and watch the changing light play across the expanse outside our window. A shallow blue cargo ship rises and falls with the tide, moored stationery since morning.

Branches dance in the breeze outside our door, movement tempered by distance, perception. The boat is barely moving. On the island all is still. And beyond, only birds can break the spell.

— Dubrovnik, Croatia

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Tet – Hoi An, Vietnam

A man stands in front of his home bowing before a table laden with fruit, food and paper money, Joss stick pressed between steepled fingers, whispering prayers with closed eyes.

It is Tet 2015, the lunar new year in Vietnam, and families are gathering around low metal tables on the sidewalk cracking roasted watermelon seeds and piling up empty cans of Biere Larue under the table.

The scent of sandalwood is filling the air on the road to the Thu Bon River, incense sticking out of trees and signs and taped to stray wires, adding density to the warm night air.

Motorbikes line the sidewalks and tourists walk in gutters side-stepping traffic trying to avoid the busy street as hawkers selling candle-boxes and crab doughnuts ask passerby to “Buy something,” wandering from group to group fishing in an overcrowded fishbowl. Further along the river and away from Old Town gather greater crowds of locals waiting patiently for the show.

Sampan on the Thu Bon River, Hoi An

As we reach the riverbank a lady paddles her prow into the thick shoreline grass and asks us if we want a ride. Four dollars?

Why not. We drift amongst the floating candle-boxes lit by  tourists and the Vietnamese family in the sampan gliding next to us. Clusters connect and gather at the bend where the water stills — slowing spinning and lighting the river in a kaleidoscope glow. We pull in next to ten or twelve other boats packed with people waiting for the fireworks.

A family lighting candle-boxes that float down the Thu Bon River

Two minutes after twelve a cheer goes up for the men holding punks as they head for the fuses. Mortars explode and showers of red and blue and champagne gold rain down above us between the collective exclamations of an awe-faced crowd watching the fireworks on the screens of their phones.

Hebah’s head rests on my stomach as we lean back, looking into the smoke-filled sky with child-like smiles. We were both working on December 31st, so this is our recompense. A new year in an old land.

As we walk back home I see the man, his table cleared, standing over a small metal barrel poking orange flames with a metal rod.

burnt offerings

 

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Nebraska

Nebraska Plains

Leica Mini-Zoom, B&W Ilford FP4 Plus 125

A dark house on an arbitrary plot of land on the plains of Nebraska sits silently as cars and trucks drive by in whirring monotonous drones of pistons pushing multi-colored cages inhabited by blank nodding faces unknown. Its black-lidded eaves droop over empty windows staring with dead eyes.

I’m walking along an aged fence stumbling through tussocks of bladed grass.

No cars stop to pull in the driveway to grind the relentless weeds beneath the wheel.

No dog is barking as I walk up unasked for.

Only the crunch of gravel meets my step as my eyes make contact with the clouds.

I line up the horizon in my viewfinder, press the square button that opens the shutter that gathers light and captures a moment as the streams of change flow steadily around it carrying only fragments of the photograph over time until this moment too is dissolved into the canyonlands of time.

-JY

 

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Open Windows

Open Window

“Look at you,” a woman’s voice says, “you can’t even put your shoes on!”

A door slams across the lawn.

“And don’t you dare come back ’til dark!”

Through the window I see the lady who regularly rides her pink-and-purple children’s bike around the parking lot. She’s shuffling toward the pool leaving splotches of steaming grey rising from the afternoon pavement, slowly twisting the yellow inner-tube around her waist.

“Don’t come back, now, or I’ll beat the shit out of you,” the woman’s voice says, speaking lowly through the window screen.

Head down, the lady disappears around the corner.

 

Hours later she’s back and asks for a towel, peaking timidly through the cracked door of the apartment, limp hair dripping across her face.

“You left with a towel, what happened to it?” the woman asks.

Not waiting for an answer she goes on, “You have no business being inside this house dripping all over the carpet — Get out!”

The lady stands still.

“Now!” the woman says. “And don’t you dare come back without that towel.”

 

I pace across the living room. The woman’s voice ringing within my rage. At her. At myself for doing nothing.

Our lives on display as the summer sun opens our windows.

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Fog and snow in the Santiam

Santiam Forest

We reach an impasse in the failing light and choose a bend to pitch our tent and table above the foggy valley floor.

It’s nighttime now and with the icy logging roads behind us, I uncap the Old Crow to heat my stomach and blow life into the gasping fire against the rain and rivers of mist that flow through the hills and swallow us whole.

Icy road

The flames begin to gather and grow hot against the frigid night, vaporizing raindrops back up to their other being, adding with our breath. We draw our chairs closer to the fire and talk. Bringing us back into our bubble, words straining at the darkness in electric fingers of light.

Night lasts long outside and by morning we are ready to return to warmth. Thankful for a presence with the calm.

–JY

HebahType

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The Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom

human-shaped

shadows.

fading threads

of light.

A glow,

then gone.

 

 

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Grey over Alsea Bay

Bridge over Alsea Bay

Salt and seabirds early morning,

monolithic grey.

Looming, in the glowing shade.

 

(Leica mini-zoom | Kodak Ektar 100)

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In nature’s path — Hurricane Sandy

Time: 3:56 AM.

From my window. (Taken earlier)

I’m eating Cinnamon Toast Crunch,
my gaze fixed outside my window.

The sky looks bruised and angry,
like a raging child with flailing arms.

The streets are almost empty.
Trucks snuggled up against walls,
with yellow flashing blinkers.

The wind whistles along my window.
Again, and again — regular crickets.

I’ve filled plastic totes full of water,
and stocked the shelves.

The unknown bears down in squalls of wind.
Not yet a drop of rain.

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Up Amsterdam Avenue

Cool, damp air greets my face as I step out of my building on Amsterdam Avenue. It’s a little after 5 PM and the rain-stained sidewalk a few blocks west of Central Park is buzzing with the hum of restive life released from work and school.

As I’m walking by the Olympic Flame Diner on the corner of 61st two boys dash across the faded crosswalk, one of them doing zig-zags to keep his wobbling basketball spinning on one finger.

One block up and the Amsterdam Houses sit squat and resolute. A public housing project built in the 40s, its brown brick façade and double-hung windows were once a backdrop to a thriving drug trade until a police raid in 2010 arrested 28 people.

Near the entrance a doo-ragged teen slaps the hand of a friend, dragging his fingers through the others to an arc ending with a thumb snap.

On 64th a block of scaffolding funnels pedestrians into a mine-like passage replete with pools of warm yellow light. The smell of concrete dust and port-a-potties is stifling and I burrow my nose into my collar, scuba sipping oxygen toward daylight.

The tunnel ends at the corner where I’m greeted by a gust of fresher air. It’s starting to drizzle again and the wheels of a yellow cab whip through a nearby puddle, sending a spiraling wave of brown water onto the curb.

I’m halfway up the block when a woman in a red overcoat backs out of a door with her shoulder, popping open an umbrella with her free hands as she turns into me.

She gives me an incriminating look that jars a well-conditioned “Sorry” from my un-sorry lips — the indignation settles in and briefly festers and then it’s gone.

I’m too tall for rainy days as my eyes rise to umbrella-rib levels and people rarely think to raise their little shelters above my head as we pass, forcing me to duck and weave through a stormy sea of personal bubbles.

On 69th a brightly lit second-floor window illuminates several Jewish teenagers practicing a ritual in the Lincoln Square Synagogue, its travertine walls turning a darker grey as the rain begins to pick up.

Idling taxis are filling up fast, their puffs of exhaust clouding the air as I quick-step left to avoid a prim charioteer pulled by two mighty poodles wearing fur-lined coats.

At 70th a halal vendor selling gyros and kebabs is flipping, chopping and scraping piles of meat and onions on the black metal surface while a helmet-clad construction worker digs through the ice box in search of a drink.

The smell of seasoned lamb and grilled onions is thick enough to taste and my mouth waters, my eyes dragging longingly behind my forward moving feet.

On 72nd, Broadway meets Amsterdam forming an “X” that marks the 72nd street subway station. Across from the station is a Trader Joe’s where I’m meeting my sister-in-law to get some groceries but she’s running late, so I wait outside under the aluminum awning.

Every few seconds the sliding glass doors open and close behind me with an airy whoosh as I lean against the recessed wall feeling as if I’ve swum upstream.

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What paths we choose.

For someone who loves nature and quiet as much as I, it may seem strange that I moved to New York City and left Oregon at the start of Fall, my favorite season and one that epitomizes the beauty of nature and quiet reflection for me.

But however strange it may seem, not every path we take will suit what we picture as our Selves, and it is on these paths that we get a better picture of who we are and who we can become. But my thoughts are scattered, so forgive me while I spend a few lines picking them up.

—–

It is raining today. The streets are loud and crowded with people hurrying from place to place, eyes bobbing up and down in answer to the siren’s call of their glowing phones. Vendors hawk food and fruit while behind them small clouds of street-born steam go drifting by from manhole to storm grate.

Firetrucks blare in the closing distance.

I’m on the street wearing flip-flops that splash the back of my legs with every step. I order coffee, black. I get coffee, tan.

I’m back inside staring out across the rooftop of the hospital next door. It, too, is pouring steam into the grey-brown evening. Big neon signs are peeking through the gloom with their red and white letters on a skyless skyline.

10,000 faces could be looking into my window, and yet I feel no eyes but the city’s.

My heart starts beating faster and my breathing gets shallow.

This city, in a lot of ways, is everything that I am not. But maybe it is because of that, that I am so enamored by it.

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