SOL2015 March 28 Memories And Ghosts in Grayscale

 Tara Smith’s post regarding students writing from old family photographs prompted me to recall Cynthia Rylant’s book, ‘Something Permanent’ where she used the Great Depression photographs of Walker Evans to celebrate the stark beauty of lives lived in harsh and challenging times. Rylant’s poetry added new perspective to the images.  My wife Vicki brought me this special little book while we were living and working in New York. I regard it as a treasured addition to my personal library.

Today, I have been inspired to use a couple of my own black and white photographs as inspiration for writing poetry.

Union St, Park Slope, Brooklyn, 2001

Snow On A Silent Street

It is quiet on Union Street
But we know
Many have been this way
Clues in the snow covered pavement

They are home now
Having removed
And through windows
They peer out across the silent street
The street dressed in a white shroud
The street that gives little away

Eighth Avenue, NYC 2006

Fire Escape

On those long ago evenings
The children
Dragged mattresses onto the fire escape
No A C back then
Just a sweat box apartment

So they crept through
An open window
With simmering hope of
Cool evenings
Spent slumbering above the street


  1. I love the simmering hope, combined with the dragging mattresses. Your pictures do an amazing job of celebrating the beauty and elegance of New York.

  2. The pictures are beautiful and your poetry took me right there. Perhaps a book of photographs and poems similar to Cynthia Rylant's would be in order?

  3. You paint a beautiful picture with words and photos, Alan.

  4. The second stanza of Snow on a Silent Street is such a contrast to the first. The repetition of the street pulled it together. Simmering hope, loved that phrase! Awesome pictures and poems that add richness to the scenes.

  5. The street gives little you wonder, what are they thinking as they peer out across the silent street?

  6. Love the image of sleeping on the fire escapes on a hot summers night! Thanks for the poems.

  7. How did I not find your blog until now?! I loved reading your poetry especially since I grew up in NYC. The beautiful photographs share what I remember most about NY (now that I live in Maine): cityscape, black and white, fire escapes...ahh the things we miss.


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