Sunday, June 29, 2008


On the Porch
by William Chadwick


She's here again, quick to undo
anyone who
sings soft and sweet
knelt at my feet.

She lurks in corners of my heart
playing the part
of my conscience
moral nonsense.

Chasing away all I care for,
blasts of rancor
dispelling hearts
before love starts.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Writing Challenge--Bluebirds

I took part in a writing challenge and my piece has been published there--Bluebirds in the Cold. Please stop by and give it a read. I promise you it will be a refreshing pause in your day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Steps

Die Treppe by Claude Monet

The Steps

Well-worn steps to my lady's door,
to follow would be ecstasy.
But I linger, wishing for more,
like love's musical majesty.
Not this dysphonic travesty
of lusty drumbeat violins,
but sweet melodic fantasy.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Monday, June 23, 2008

Photographing Fireworks

   The photograph that started it all for our business, Janoski Studio Pittsburgh Photographs, was a fireworks photo. Taken on a whim, my husband shot fireworks blazing against a night time cityscape sky illuminated by Pittsburgh office buildings, bringing the two together to tell a story brimming with local appeal. At our first art show, the picture proved to be a spectacular winner over everyday nature scenes.There is drama and pizazz in fireworks that cannot be denied.
    In those days of film cameras, the process produced distinct splashes of color as each burst took its time to burn on the film before the next blast overtook it. They were splendid photos. But along came the modern age where computers took control of fireworks launches, shooting off bursts in quick succession, at times even set to music. Boom, boom! A razzle-dazzle overpowering effect for the audience, but a nightmare for photographers. The bursts now come so quickly, there isn't time to isolate one or two beautiful clusters for a well-defined photo. Now the photographer is bombarded with blast after blast filling the photo frame, accumulated smoke hovering in the air, and overexposure imminent from the light of multiple clusters going off in quick succession. With an illuminated background, it becomes a juggling act to balance exposure of both the fireworks and background. What a mess.
    But you shouldn't give up. I keep trying. Now and then I tame the monster and get a good shot. So let's begin. Here are some steps to follow.
    Location. Location. Location. I remember during those days of our cityscape fireworks shoots, location was a nightmare. Fireworks are popular events, with crowds of not only adults, but children, children who kick tripods, children whose parents won't appreciate if you shove them out of your way. A good point. Choose a spot that has a good view, but be polite. It is a good idea, since tripods with legs spread take up room, to ask nearby patrons first if you may set up...unless you get there first. Then you have "squatter's rights," so to speak. All the same, no matter how early you arrive, you'll find the crowds pushing in on your turf. Be patient with them. Fireworks are for fun. Don't spoil it for anyone.
    Equipment. Of course, you need your camera set at ISO 100 for good clean pictures that blow up well, and extra film or an extra memory card, whichever applies. But also use a tripod and a cable release. A level is not a bad idea to be certain your camera is properly positioned for a level horizon.
    The Fine Points. I recommend a normal or wide-angle lens to allow a wider plane to catch the bursts. A telephoto is too confining. Determine ahead of time the area of the sky where the fireworks will happen and position your camera. Focus on infinity. No auto focus or exposure here. Set your camera on "bulb" and f/11 or f/16 and insert the cable release You now have your camera in a fixed position, ready to open the lens and close it at will. Fireworks require a timed exposure, meaning a prolonged exposure, which you will perform  by hand with the cable release.
    An exact exposure time in general terms is impossible to predict due to the variability of fireworks and surrounding scenery, etc., but my rule of thumb is to release the shutter when a burst starts and keep the lens open for several bursts. If the bursts are not in quick succession, then cover the lens with the palm of your hand or a black piece of paper between bursts. I would try three bursts. If you have a digital camera, check to see how you are doing between shots and make adjustments as needed. If the bursts are washed out, put fewer per picture. If the opposite is true, do more. Your f-stop also provides another way to control exposure. Open up or close down as needed.   
   Once the bursts start, this is an intense photo shoot. You can't go back and try again, and there's no time to think. So plan ahead. If you're using film, use a 36-exposure roll so you don't have to change rolls, or with digital use a memory card with plenty of room. Be ready when the fireworks start, having your camera on bulb, your cable release inserted, camera on the tripod, level, focused and aimed. It's crazy, but remember, fireworks are for fun. With a calm hand and a little luck, you'll get a beautiful shot to enlarge and hang in your home.

 Copyright 2007 JO Janoski

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gritty Skies

Coming Home from the Mill by Laurence Stephen Lowry

Gritty Skies

Gritty skies and blackened eyes
with visions null and void.
Nothing to see
but polluted air
raining black flakes and despair.
They come, they go
like frenzied ants.
The Company is King.
Twelve-hour shifts and shoddy minds
of utter emptiness.
Where is home?
And kids in tattered souls
who press eyes like vacant moons
against still, glassy panes.
The bar, it welcomes
with libations
ambrosia for the soul.
Golden liquid pours
vigor-inducing life juices
to feel for just a while
with belly laughs
gutsy, giddy, roaring
to the bottom
waterfall blasting
rolls of ecstasy
until the infernal shrieking
of cantankerous melancholy.
It skulks by after midnight
shadowy fingers
pointing to the clock
the damnable clock
to remind of another shift.
Another day of toil for
the King.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beautiful Trinkets

Little Girl Sitting in Blue Arm Chair by Mary Cassatt

Beautiful Trinkets

I want things, you know. I may not have finished high school, but I do okay for myself. My small apartment is cheap, and I'm happy with it. I can't afford to drive, so I take the bus, but that's okay, too. The thing is, though, I want stuff--you know, the good stuff--the things that glitter, the jewels that bring a feeling of ease and comfort to life...the trinkets and adornments that make people turn their heads and admire you. With the money I make cleaning houses, those items are way out of my reach. So, I find work in the finest homes in town, so I can be near these lovely treasures.

That's where the trouble comes in. How can a maid resist slipping a glittering diamond necklace in her pocket when she comes across one?

They always trust me and never suspect a thing, but I don't stay long in any one household's employ. That was the plan when I arrived at the Hempstead house, a beautiful Victorian on Fifth Avenue, to work a short while, grab some booty, and move on. My first impediment, however, was their daughter, Claire, a little girl who always hung around watching me work. I needed to be alone to search for the goods.

"Would you like to help?" I asked one day, waving my feather duster at her.

"Hell, no!"

"I beg your pardon?"

"You heard me! We pay you to do the shit work." With that remark, she sauntered from the room. It was time for her favorite afternoon snack of cookies and milk.

I went about my business, flitting the duster about, keeping an eye out for nooks and crannies where a lady might hide her jewels. It was then I spied the glitter of gold in an ornate box tucked in the corner of a closet. The lid was askew to reveal its shiny contents. I checked for the hell child before grabbing up the container. Rifling through it, I picked out a beautiful gold chain with a diamond pendant and held it up to glimmer in the light. It could be months before they missed it.

"What are you doing with my mother's jewelry?" The child stood in the doorway, her face set in stone.

"Just admiring it," I murmured.

"Like hell."

"You know, hasn't anyone ever taught you to respect your elders?"

"I do. But not you. Cold day in hell before I kiss a maid's ass."

I lunged at her. She jumped out of the way, and I landed face first on the floor. The jewelry box I'd been clutching smashed down with me, sending necklaces and rings gliding across the shiny floor in all directions. A movement in the doorway revealed her mother. I needed to think quick.

"Mrs. Hempstead, I caught Claire trying to take some of your jewelry. When I attempted to stop her, well, you see what happened." I nodded to her precious gems all over the place.


Mrs. H. stood, foot tapping, thinking. "Claire, you are a bad little girl. I've told you never to touch my jewels. And now, you've practically become a thief. I knew it was only a matter of time...Off to boarding school with you!"

They hauled Claire out of the room, squealing and wailing.

"I'll clean this up," I said.

"Thank you. Please be sure to find all the jewelry and put it back safe and sound."

As she left, I picked up the gold chain necklace with a diamond pendant...and slipped it in my pocket. I love beautiful trinkets. I want things, you know.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bring Home the Cows

Delta Cows by Lowell Herrero

Bring home the cows. The day is done.
Driven by one
man with a stick.
Move cows! Be quick.

White swans glide on the other way
aloof and gay.
As cows hoofs pound
a weary sound.

On grass along the clear blue lake
where swans partake
in joyful glee
cows never see.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Flower Power

Farm Garden with Sunflowers by Gustav Klimt

Flower Power

Flowers blanket all I see,
shot from guns loaded with hues
covering troubles that be.
Flowers blanket all I see.
Worry cannot speak to me
drowned by earth's jubilant news.
Flowers blanket all I see,
shot from guns loaded with hues.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Friday, June 13, 2008


Dali Atomicus
by Philippe Halsman

Soft sounds while quietude silently roars.
Stillness screams in my head discontented.
I'm unhappy here, restless to my pores.
I yearn for trouble; I'm malcontented.

Make violins screech and cats fly through air
with waters gushing rivers on the run.
Quiet must end; I begin to despair.
Make noise, that rambunctious clatter of fun.

Why does excitement pause like a shy girl
while ennui stabs me with nothingness pricks?
Strike up the band! Find good china to hurl!
Throw out those stoics along with their tricks!

Boredom whisper-kills in vaporous hues.
Blot it out with red-dressed obstinate blues.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Get Away

Ships by Louis Toffoli

Get Away

To sail life's sea of jewels gleaming bright
where clear waters reflect my peace of mind,
I'll skim those seas from dawn 'til pensive night
when knots of indecision will unwind.

Night worries, undo me, fear in plain sight.
I'll spread my sails like wings of butterflies
and learn to fly to morn emerging bright
to soar in dawnlit exuberant skies.

To wrap myself in day's surefootedness,
and let soft breezes reassure my soul.
I'll fix my sails to catch free white goodness
and fill my heart with dreams to make me whole.

Get away, get away, run from the night.
Sail blue seas, chasing dreams, stay in the light.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Rush

Ants by M.C. Escher

The Rush

New places, new faces.
Yet they all look oddly the same.
Stop me.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Chess Set

It was lonely. Only he and the king on a sea of checkered squares, red and black as far as the eye could see, stretching out in a dizzying array. Beyond that ghostly figures hovered, just beyond his control, waiting to pounce. To pounce and snatch him away to horrors unknown. Where did his comrades go when captured? He didn't know. They simply disappeared. The little white pawn missed his friend, the bishop, who was advising him on the rigors of war before this frantic altercation started. Then the blast of lighters in the sky and the slosh of red wine rivers started the mad dash of pieces in all directions. The bishop was taken with the rest; even the lovely queen was gone. The king remained at the rear, shuffling from square to square, seemingly traumatized by the events.

First his buddy to the right was taken, then the soldier to his left, both captured in a frightening display of monster machinery, a giant hairy scoop that whisked them up and away with agility to marvel at, no matter what counter-maneuvers they tried. Now he stood alone with the king and the enemy closing in. He could see the black army coming closer.

"Hey, a-hole! We're coming to get you!"

It was a voice in the darkness. A shadowy figure emerged three squares away, sliding into place with ease and grace. The black rook glared at him, an anger of war in his eyes, his parapets rattling, a well-honed war machine, reveling in the dance.

"Never!" the little pawn replied. "You'll never take me alive!"

"You're not alive, you twit! You live only in the imagination!"

The pawn took pause. "Whose imagination?" he asked.

"I'm not sure. That's like asking who God is, you know. It might be the players' imaginations or it might be the wacky mind of the writer of this piece."

"Wow, that's deep."

"Word. But hey, I didn't mean to get all existential on you...whoa, do you smell cigar smoke?"

That was when the little pawn relaxed his guard, nose extended sniffing the air, as the giant hairy machine propelled a knight through the smoky haze and scooped the little fellow away. And what happened to the little pawn next? Well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Sweet Goodbye

Photo & Poem Copyright JO Janoski

Sweet Goodbye

Purity rings in white bell droplets
with farewell words that float
like doves.
And you turn your face away
to view more verdant meadows
playing fresh spring music...
leaving me behind.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

To Soar the Seas

On Deck - Painting by Charles Sims

She was a bright, cheerful child, wise beyond her years. Intelligence shined a light in her eyes and added a smile, all mellowed by adult perceptions, this in a girl twelve years old. She stood on deck that afternoon, her hand grasping the rail as the ship rocked and she studied me.

"You're old," she said, a tiny pout accentuating the remark.

"Well, in a manner of speaking, I suppose--compared to you, at least."

"I'm older than my brother. He's four." She paused again, her eyes traveling across my face to rest on my gray, shaggy beard. "You've got gray hair," she observed.


"Aren't you too old to be captain of this ship?"

"Of course not! Ships' captains are always gray, and wise I might add, from our years of experience on the sea."

"What do you mean?" She moved closer, curiosity filling those remarkable eyes.

"Well, we stand on deck and study the stars while all is dark and quiet. We breathe in the aura and magic of the sea, listening to the waves splash against the sides of the boat. The sea can't help but tell us its secrets."

"What secrets?"

"Well, if I told you, they wouldn't be secrets, now would they?"

"If I listen, will the sea tell me?"

Before I could answer, her mother appeared on deck rushing to her daughter while wringing her hands.

"Becky, what are you doing up here?"

She grabbed the girl and pulled her away. "So sorry, Captain! I hope she wasn't a bother!"

"I don't want to go!" the girl whined.

"Young ladies don't belong up on deck in the middle of the night." The woman shot me an awkward smile and proceeded to drag her girl away. Becky gave me a sad look. She had no choice but to leave the sea and its secrets behind and go below.

"Landlubbers," I murmured, turning and leaning against the rail. "They have no idea of the magic." As I spied a shooting star soaring across the inky black sky, I grasped a premonition of that girl decades from now, captaining her own ship, her hair as gray as mine, but her soul even more a time when women were, indeed, finally captain their destinies and soar the seas.

Copyright 2008 JO Janoski