Apparitions #writephoto

Gaze long enough into the mist
and forms appear, a figure, two,
fairy folk, the hag, an angel,
as if the barge to Avalon had
never faded far into memory;

Look without looking, summon
with your heart wide open
and perhaps they will come,
hestitant at first, trusting
no human (and who can blame them),
but you, you seek their trust,
and all artists know what it is
to be marginalized;

These folks or angels
(for who can say), appearances
fluctuating according to pleasure
or whim, shape-shifters all,
having learned wariness long ago
beyond our reckoning surely
as we grow impatient, sharpening
rather than softening the retinae,
losing rather than capturing,
lessons learned well
in the dominant paradigm
of patriarchy;

Balance is the way of the world,
and She will have her way; yet
we who remain curious witness
this reemergence, resurgence
in a world increasingly in need
of visions thus recreated.

all photos @2019 Bela Johnson

Inspired by Sue Vincent’s Thursday #photoprompt Destination

All One

Time slips by, a wisp, a wrinkle,
and soon we are dust, unremarkable,
insignificant; as one, at long last,
with the beauty that surrounds us.


Waialea Bay
Old Kiawe, Waialea
Sunset, Kohala Coast
Kohala Coastline Mauka View


All photos ©Bela Johnson

Poetic Angst

There is an economy in words, blunted
kindergarten shears in the hands
of an earnest student, shaping patterns
already memorized in forest and field;

A poet’s dilemma as nature herself
spreads and grows, chaos becoming her
in forest and glade, streams crashing,
gushing through boulder-encrusted banks
as gnarled roots of trees wrap stones
in a thirsty quest to survive what is
to come, waning light and the crunch
of frost-encrusted gravel underfoot.

All photos taken in Washington State (©Bela Johnson)



The grit of metaphor grinds slowly,
chafing the brain until words emerge,
runaway horses on the plains of pages,
hooves pounding sentiments, grafting
meaning onto senselessness resulting,
it is hoped, in broadening context
for eyes to behold, reversing imprints
from the retina, both sides of the story
or facets of the spinning mirror ball
that is existence.


charcoal pastel: Alison Johnson

Of Cycles and Metaphors

The waters of birth released me, dolphin-like,
into a realm of wonder and delight, only to realize
I was swimming with sharks; they, friendly enough
when sated, aggressive and dangerous when needy
and I swam for my life, filling lungs and stomach
and for the sheer sensation of viscous water
stroking sleek skin and oh, I kept on moving,
for once out of water I would perish;

The oceans were vast and dark and deep, caverns
and voids, brilliant colors and textures and hooks;
barbs dangling through refracted rays of sunlight,
tiny concentric circlets framing slender drop lines
nearly invisible, a too-tidy meal wrapped sinuously
around each of them, appearing not quite right
this fast food, still I was hungry and sampled the fare
and the hook jerked and jabbed, piercing my flesh,
tearing off bits here and there; it was painful,
yet still I remained at liberty to continue my journey;

On an on I swam, for what else is a dolphin to do;
each day the waters remained the same, each day
they changed, some tinged with toxic debris,
at other times those brilliant hues of turquoise
and indigo were balm to a weary heart and now,
decades later, I discover tiny hooks embedded still.
As I carefully dislodge each barb, there is
searing pain mitigated by relief; I am free,
if scarred. I am free.

In Two


I: The Birds

I wanted to know where birds go in a storm,
how nature battens her dear ones down
in times of necessary turmoil
when she can longer suppress the urge
to discharge and flush herself clean
of burdens borne daily, clearing tangles
of detritus from her moss-laden hair;

Then just as my thoughts transmitted words
through these keys (and believe me,
I was lucid), the mynahs began their scolding,
assuring me they were close, refuge secure
in the backyard I planted for us all
in the lee, and I didn’t see evidence
of shaking heads and ruffled feathers
buffeted by winds and tipped with beads
of cloudburst, but was comforted
in their sheltering.

II: The Lava

I needed to witness molten rock flowing
to the sea, journeyed on further south,
trudging miles upon soles knowing purpose
far better than reason how to keep
this body safe, feet trembling uncontrollably
upon rocks holding fire just beneath crackling surface
while I, partnered up with a zoom, captured
shots just like this as I ached with the knowing
that such miracles and more will soon vanish
from view when my eyes renounce vision
to the nebulous Beyond.




One of them chuckles, teeth barely showing,
jaws tight as if guarding unspoken secrets
buried in the throat, while the other throws
back her head and chortles, mouth open
to the heavens as though urging every luminary
to brilliance unseen by spirits of the day;

A stilted gait belies the expansive soul within
the first and the loose-hipped one knows,
provoking by example, not taking life so seriously
after all, it’s okay to meander off-course,
the divergent path of Frost’s two
while a trail opens wild before her
unlike alien glass doors in cities imbued
with roundabout redundancy, not pondering
or questioning why and how
while laughter rings again and is not hollow
but full and deeply throated like the gutteral cry
of ravens relaying messages across the pinons.


~ photo of pinons taken with 110 Instamatic film when we lived in the high desert of New Mexico, 1991