Archive for the ‘Poetry’ category

My Wish

November 2, 2018

This is a very trying time for our country. The tragedy at the Pittsburgh synagogue is still fresh in our hearts. The political divisions are immense, and they are present almost everywhere in the world as well. It feels as our globe is turning in the wrong direction — wrong by whose standards? By mine, of course, right? And by many who think and feel like me, right? But there is always another side of the proverbial coin: different people, different standards, different dreams and goals, different disappointments and fears — a total mismatch for seeing things the same way or even in a similar way. So what can we do besides vote?

After the 6th of November things will change over here, yet they will remain almost the same – resentments, pains, anger, and distrust… just from the other side of the coin…. So, how to rise above those differences and anger? How to unify ourselves?!

There are no Angels with white, fluffy wings that will arrive from above and solve all problems for us. No one has a magic wand in their hands to change our reality. So?…

Some time ago I wrote this poem:

My Wish

I wishCrying child
for a day,
all of us
could cry together,
free to sob
like children.

Tears of
would merge
to create
a Chalice of Understanding,
so we can truly love,
so we can live in peace.

-Alicja Mann

Crying She



Just Crying!

Crying He

I propose the first Sunday of November to be our National Day of Crying, because it is a day in the “neighborhood “of November 1st, the day dedicated to the spirits of those who departed from us — recently and in the more distant past. Furthermore, November 1st is observed in many cultures in the variety of different ways. This is exactly the point — a respect for those differences already exists in the observance of that day!

Think about it, please: one day without arguing, without anger, or smiling artificially– just for the sake of smiling… instead the Day of Crying — a day of cleansing our human spirit, a small step towards our unity.


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Thank you!


Text copyright © 2018 by Alicja Mann,

Poem: from the book Looking at the World Twice © 2009 by Alicja Mann

Photographs: courtesy of Tom Pumford at



Weekly Photo Challenge: Illumination

January 15, 2013

Illumination of the Heart I named this photo. It is a poetic photograph that came to life partly intentionally and partly by chance.

Image of the illuminated heart

One deep dark night I was playful with my camera— photographing the colorful lights of our little Christmas tree, and this heart appeared among other whimsical images. It was a joy to see, like an unexpected gift!

Illumination of the Heart. What is the meaning of it? It is a metaphor, of course, and for me symbolizes a need to pay attention to feelings—ours and others’. It means to walk toward and embrace another human rather than be absorbed with statistics of social networking or marketing. It means to pay more attention to our humanity.


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Text and photos copyright © 2013 by Alicja Mann.

The Power of Books

December 2, 2011

Books on bookshelves Copyright (c) 2011 by Alicja Mann

Just looking at them
I grow greedy, as if they were
Freshly baked loaves
Waiting on their shelves
to be broken open— that one
and that….

fragment of “The Bookstall” poem
by Linda Pastan from “Heroes in Disguise”
© 1991

“Freshly baked loaves” — what a metaphor! That is how I feel about books and I am also greedy about them. Really, how could we live without books?

I love books and have been surrounded by them ever since I could read and write, because from that time I was given books as gifts for my birthdays, name-days, and other occasions. Oh yes, I was getting toys, but that was when I was a young child. Once I became seven, and could read pretty well, I was considered an “older” child and consequently expected to not even desire toys anymore. The same rule applied to other kids around me at the time of my growing up in Poland. So for Christmas we received books and games and not some “silly” dolls or cars suitable for the “little ones.” Somehow we did not mind and actually felt proud of that – we felt we were in a different category and a little bit closer to adulthood. Giving up toys — a peculiar rite of passage….

Written words and writers were always highly regarded in Poland.

Speaking of Poland and writers – a few years ago during one of my visits over there, I read a short piece of writing by my aunt’s great grandson, Jaś.

Alicja, Jan, and Great Grandmother - Copyright (c) 2011 by Alicja Mann

What Jaś wrote at the age of 10 (Jaś is the nickname of Jan) impressed me greatly. It fitted my concept of the importance of books in my life as a writer and a publisher. So I purchased Jan’s piece of writing just as I would from an adult writer (for the purpose of publishing) since I strongly believe that good writing should be rewarded and encouraged that way.

Here is the short story by Jan Zembowicz in my translation.

The One Who Dances with the Winds

One winter day I was very bored. So I went to the attic because there are always so many interesting things there. I found an old pen of my grandfather, a black-and-white TV, and a strange book. The title of the book was The One Who Dances with the Winds. It was covered with dust and looked very old with its yellowed and ragged pages.

When I started to read it, I felt the power to rule the weather. “Interesting, isn’t it!?” So I went outside to try it.

I danced the Dance of the Winds and a strong wind arrived. I danced the Snow Dance and snow started falling.

Suddenly two figures appeared. One was half transparent and the other was all white. Apparently they were the spirits of Nature. They told me that I was their ruler and that I had special power. I looked over my shoulder and saw that I had grown wings. “Super, I can fly!” Then I told the spirits to go away.

I noticed that the book was open, and I closed it. I lost my wings and found myself back in the attic.

I opened the book again and this time I found myself in a beautiful garden.

Now, when no one is around, I open the book and ….

Translated by Alicja Mann
© 2011 Word Studio

Jan Zembowicz - photo copyright (c) 2011 by Alicja Mann Tanczacy z wiatrami
Jan Zembowicz — Warsaw 2006 Original text in Polish

During this Holiday Season include books on your shopping list. Happy giving time, happy receiving time, and happy reading time!

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To honor this season of giving I offer any book from my publishing site as a free gift for becoming a new subscriber of my blog which I publish twice a month. The subscription is free and can be terminated at anytime.

Please follow the instructions positioned on upper right side of my blog. When you are confirmed as a subscriber, I will send you an e-mail for your instructions on where to send the book of your choice. The book will be shipped by Priority Mail.

This special offer is valid from today till the end of December. Happy Holidays!

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Text and photos copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Cape Cod Sensuality

September 8, 2011

Moments of “less is more” in using words are of great importance. Bits of happiness and tragedy are captured in those moments. Poems are born in such moments. My desire to define the essence of my love for Cape Cod calls for such a moment.

I fell in love with the Southwest a decade ago and made Tucson my home, yet each summer I “go back home” to the Cape. The call of the Southwest and the call of Cape Cod divide my heart.

What is that call of the Cape made of?

For me it lies in the Cape’s sensuality. Yes, sensuality! Sensuality of the tastes and textures of the place. When I leave the Cape in a few weeks to answer the call of the Southwest, I know that I will also hear The Call of Cape Cod.

My bare feet will long for the silkiness of the beach sand

and the touch of frothy waves.

Eyes will miss the huddled boats in the harbor and the lonely ones

on the infinite ocean horizon.

Tongue will remember the bitter taste of the ocean water and the sweetness

of the native scallops.

Hands will not forget the roughness of the weathered shingles and the gentle touch

of white pine needles.

My heart will know how to answer that call….

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Copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Bourne Bridge to Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Window, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Cape Cod Shingles and Flowers - photo by Alicja Mann

Huddled Boats in Woods Hole, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Woods Hole Eel Pond, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Mermaid watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Old Silver Beach in North Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Umbrella - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Lost in the Beach Sand & Crowded Shells - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photos by Alicja Mann

Joy of the Mermaids - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Little Mermaid - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Nature Art - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Seagull Watching - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Resting Kayaks - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach Dune - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Beach at Dusk - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Restaurant with the view - Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Tasty Native Scallops - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

After the Sunset at West Barnstable, Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

From Our Deck - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

White Pine - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Matt’s Hammock - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

Alicja’s shadow - Cape Cod, Massachusetts - photo by Alicja Mann

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Photos and text copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Plants That Can Kill

April 7, 2011

Oh, Spring! Who does not love it? Plants are awakening and blooming tenderly. The month of April in my native Polish is called nicely Kwiecien, derived from the words kwiecie meaning blossom and kwiat meaning flower. It is a month when many plants show their spring bloom.

Yellow tulips

Plant — a living organism, other than animal, capable of photosynthesis. In Polish the word is roslina, in German, die Pflanze and in Russian, rastenie. English also has another meaning of the word plant which these languages don’t — equipment, a factory, an industrial place of mechanical operation or process — and that was always strange to me.

So a plant in English can also be a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear Power Plants
Arkansas Grand Gulf

This spring we are all deeply concerned about the fate of these kinds of plants — the nuclear power plants of Fukushima, after Japan experienced the deadly earthquake and tsunami a few weeks ago. Indeed there are serious reasons to be alarmed and fearful! A lot has been written about that already. I highly recommend reading The New Yorker March 28 issue, The Nation April 4, 2011 issue, and also the blog Redtree Times of GC Myers dated April 3, 2011.

My personal fear and immense dislike of nuclear power plants started a long time ago — in 1979 after the Three Mile Island accident. I was already living in this country and the mother of two small children. I was simply terrified because we lived in North Falmouth on Cape Cod, Massachusetts and were only 20 miles from a nuclear power plant named Pilgrim in nearby Plymouth. Till today Pilgrim is the only plant in Massachusetts, built in 1972, and therefore relatively new at that time.

My response to the Three Mile Island accident was very intense — as a mother, a biologist and a budding writer. I participated in a variety of organized protests and rallies, took nuclear awareness workshops, and read everything I could find about the Karen Silkwood case. In my personal protest I drove around the Pilgrim power plant with my children sitting at the car windows and with “No Nukes“ and “Split Wood not Atoms” slogans pasted on the bumper of our car. Finally I wrote a poem and illustrated, printed, and distributed it whenever I could.

Here is a reproduction of the original copy. If it speaks to you, please use it (with an appropriate credit).

"Stony Tulips" by Alicja Mann
Click to enlarge and/or print (PDF)

That was 1979. Then came Chernobyl in 1986. Again I was strongly affected — this time through the connection to my native Poland that borders with the Ukraine, which at that time was a republic of the Soviet Union. Some clouds of Chernobyl arrived in Poland, causing a lot of fears and anxieties because the trust in the Soviets’ abilities to deal with that magnitude of crisis was next to zero in Poland. I responded with one of my op-ed columns titled “Hiroshima and Chernobyl”. In the meantime the dispute over the nearby Pilgrim nuclear plant became again intense.

Time passed, no accident occurred at Pilgrim, and people got used to living with this deadly plant or were resigned to its dangers. Recently, Travis Andersen (The Boston Globe online. March 14, 2011) surveyed Pilgrim’s neighbors about Japan’s nuclear crisis and found that some were fearful, while others shrugged it off. For instance: “Heather Cole, who has lived near the plant for 15 years, said she would not even leave in the event of an emergency, preferring instead to ‘grab a six pack’ and dig in her heels, in part because she feels the evacuation would be ‘a nightmare’.“

Cape Cod is a peninsula stapled with two bridges to the mainland where Ms Cole lives. The evacuation of the Cape’s residents would be even harder to imagine! That reminds me of a T-shirt design that addressed the issue of evacuation from the Cape in case of nuclear disaster. A drawing of the Cape was printed on the shirt with the question, “Evacuation plan?” The answer was, “JUST SWIM!” showing small silhouettes of people jumping into the water off the Cape.

Today, in view of Japan’s tragedy, it is time to be awakened again to the dangers of the very existence of nuclear power plants. So I was excited to see The New Yorker cover with the art work of Christoph Niemann titled “Dark Spring.” It was good to see that someone else imagines nuclear reactors as “living plants.” His cherry tree blossoms and my tulips are symbols of these powerful deadly plants.

The New Yorker Magazine cover fragment, March 28, 2011

According to Christian Parenti, a contributing editor to The Nation, “We get less than 9% of our total energy needs from nuclear power, so with proper conservation, we can make up some loss. Fukushima is trying to tell us something.”

Elizabeth Kolbert of The New Yorker ends her comment on the nuclear risk, “We’ve more or less pretended that our nuclear plants are safe, and so far we got away with it. The Japanese have not.“

Jonathan Schell in his commentary in The Nation (April 4 issue) suggests that instead of abandoning nuclear power, “Let us pause and study the matter. For how long? Plutonium, a component of nuclear waste, has a half-life of 24,000 years, meaning that half of it is transformed into other elements through radioactive decay. This suggests a time scale. We will not be precipitous if we study the matter for only half of that half-life, 12,000 years. In the interval, we can make a search for safe energy sources, among other useful endeavors.”

I could not agree more with all three statements. It is highest time to replace nuclear power plants with alternative energy sources.

Wind Farm by Alicja Mann

Let us “plant” these graceful and harmless windmills. Let them bloom in our fields!

Let us have bright and happy springs in the future.

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Photos of nuclear power plants from New Yorker cover art “Dark Spring” – copyright © 2011 Christoph Niemann / The New Yorker. Text and other photos copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann.

Celebrate Women, Books, and Flowers!

March 9, 2011

March is painted with flowers and books for me, and I wish this to be the case for you too. That is why this post is about flowers, women, and books.

Spring is definitely in the air in March! Oh, I know, snow is still on the ground in many places (not in sunny Tucson though!), but buying flowers just to enjoy them is irresistible! They can beat the winter’s blues. Some very dear Pisces (beginning of March B-day people) in my life here deserve flowers this month, and my memories of March when I lived in Poland are filled with flowers. Both of my parents had their name days in March, so our home was full of flowers given to them. In Poland men receive flowers just like women do. Flowers are sold on the corners of many streets of Warsaw and other cities. The custom of giving flowers for a variety of occasions is an important part of the culture. I miss that here, and I buy flowers for our dining table quite often. Also, in our yard here in Tucson Mexican Poppies are in full bloom at this time of the year.

Mexican Poppies Flowers in a vase

I could count on getting flowers every year on the 8th of March when living in Poland. Not because it was my birthday, not because it was my name day, but because it was International Women’s Day. And what is International Women’s Day? It is a day celebrated in many countries around the world since 1911, the date having been chosen in recognition of an 1857 demonstration and march by women textile workers in New York City. So when I first came to this country, I was surprised that most American women were not aware of International Women’s Day.

Things are different today. International Women’s Day is slowly becoming a women’s culture month in this country. It brings attention to their achievements in the arts and sciences, as well as other areas of public life. I addressed this in the “Red Carnations“ essay in my book Looking at the World Twice. This brings me to the subject of books and publishing.

It just so happens that the month of March is also celebrated by independent publishers as Small Press Month.

Here is more: this coming weekend, March 12 and 13, Tucson is the place to be to celebrate books, authors, and publishers. For the third year, the Tucson Festival of Books will bring thousands of people to the University of Arizona Mall. There will be plenty of things to do for individuals of any age, as well as for entire families.

Now you can see that being a woman, a writer, plus a small independent publisher, I have some reasons to celebrate this month. So I decided to tell you a bit about a book with a title that fits this month perfectly — She.

Book cover of "She" by Amy Rowling Amy Rowling, author of "She"

She was written and illustrated (with photographs) by Amy Rowling. The subtitle explains the purpose of the book: Creative Journey to Self-discovery for Women of All Ages.

The minute Amy presented her manuscript to me, I knew I wanted to publish it and so my Word Studio did. I love this book and I am proud of it. In 2007 it won the National Indie Excellence Award in the women’s issues category. The book deals with a wide variety of challenges, fears, and concerns faced by many women today.

The writing is a collection of poems with complementing photographs, each addressing a different issue. Near each poem a journal space is provided with questions to encourage reflection, writing and discussion.

She is like a gentle friend — always ready to listen, to talk and guide you to find your own path.

Here are two glimpses into the book:

Two women by Amy Rowling Within One Frame 

She cannot bear
The ordinary
And yet it is what
She craves

Two caught
Within one frame
She longs to go
She longs to stay

These two
Could remain
And share
One body
Without judgment
Without shame

Back up from the Mirror 

Back up
From the mirror
Don’t look so close
You’ll find the flaw
You look for
It is there
And will grow

Acceptance of loss
What was
What might not be
Only the spirit knows

Age and wisdom
Will find each other

Put the mirror down

Two Hands by Amy Rowling

Have a happy March — celebrate it with books and flowers!

SPECIAL INFORMATION: I am exhibiting She and my Looking at the World Twice at the Arizona Book Publishing Association (ABPA) booth # 259. I will have my signing time at that booth on Sunday the 13th of March from 4 – 5 pm. Please stop by and say hello if you are at the Tucson Festival of Books this weekend.

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Poems and black-and-white photographs – copyright © 2006 by Amy Rowling. Text and other photos copyright © 2011 by Alicja Mann

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