Lunar inspiration

By Jess Haberman

On a recent visit to the Peabody Essex Museum our local writers group was absolutely moonstruck. PEM hosted a meet-and-write for the Witch City Writers, and pens hit the paper after our tour of Lunar Attraction. Paintings like Scott Littlefield’s To the Moon inspired the group to produce out-of-this-world poems, thoughtful prose on the exhibition and pieces of larger projects; some of which we could not resist sharing. We hope you enjoy the works that resulted from our day with the moon!


The Witch City Writers Group (left) and the entrance to Lunar Attraction at PEM. Courtesy photo from Jess Haberman (left) and photo credit Allison White

Witch City Flowers

A section from a novel in progress

By Jess Haberman

“I felt oddly apprehensive. I gazed out the window where the moon cast its pale blue light. I could glimpse the bright bulb in the sky, quiet and omnipresent, peeking from under the blinds. The yellow glow from a nearby lamppost permeated the atmosphere, enhancing the eerie aura of the evening. The air was still and dry. Tonight, the moon was both a beacon and a premonition, pushing and pulling me like an undulating tide.

I was simply a body of crashing waves bent on my predictable path. I was secure in the arms of my lover, yet uneasy, distracted by a lunar attraction.”

Visitors in Lunar Attraction. Photo credit Bob Packert.

Visitors in Lunar Attraction. Photo credit Bob Packert

 Lunar Exhibit at PEM

By Sandra Biondo

I especially liked the moon shoes developed by Nike. When I saw them they immediately wanted me to break through the plexiglass case that housed them, grab them and put them on my feet. I wanted to feel all the sensations that the space travelers who landed on the moon experienced.  I wanted those feelings to enter my body through my feet then onto my legs into my pelvis, radiate through my arms and hands. Then with a powerful surge of energy from all that encompasses the universe, charge into my earthly heart.

This energy surge would fill my heart with billions and billions of feelings of those who had come before me.

I now had the opportunity to glimpse the commonalities we humble yet magnificent beings hold in our hearts. I, of course would be speechless, for it is through silence that we feel our greatest truths.


Detail from a piece of artwork in Lunar Attraction. Photo credit Bob Packert

In the exhibit

By Carmen Barefield

I touched the surface
of the moon
millions of miles reduced
to a single panel
so my small fingers could
dip into each crevice
feel each crater, each mare

I felt like a god for a
single second
closed my eyes
as I explored a fraction
of her lunar face
before I moved on

I left the panel behind
became small again
single atoms
staring at the painting
of an astronaut catching
a bus to the moon

I knew right then
in my short lifetime
I will never have
the chance to
touch the moon again

Details of "To the Moon," Scott Littlefield, 2004. Featured in Lunar Attraction. Courtesy photo.

Details of “To the Moon,” Scott Littlefield, 2004. Featured in Lunar Attraction. Courtesy photo

Photo of woman in Elizabeth, NJ, July 4, 1941, A piece from a series of poems accompanying photos her father took in the 1940s.

By Barrie N. Levine

Ronnie Rae’s face
is round as the full moon,
partly framed by shapely waves
around her sunlit skin.

Half moon bright,
half moon dark,
trace of lovely,
hint of princely.

Which is it?
One or both?
We wonder,
she does not.

We who praise
we were absent then.
This was 1941.
Who you were, Ronnie Rae,
was not familiar yet.

First, look for clues
in her clothing:
dressed in a suit
and high-laced boots,
and why a tailored blouse,
on a blazing summer day?

Then, look for clues
in her posture:
she tilts her head
to the sky instead
as marchers pass below.

My father
brings her closer in
with his telephoto lens.
His photo skims
her polished skin
a cool unpitted lunar surface.

Ronnie Rae
keeps her secrets,
even on the bright side of the moon.


Photo of woman in Elizabeth, NJ, July 4, 1941. Photo courtesy of Barrie N. Levine

 Favorable Moon
By Stephanie Sears

The ferry slices moonlight
in night’s flavour of departure.
Clouds hover and coax
the cool-eyed stars to approach.
The free hand of far away draws flotillas of longing
for clown fish lagoons

while the wind of journey
and a favourable moon
buffet and disembody me.
The bleached highway
shaped from ocean
has an adagio heart
on and on of serenity.

A passenger ship bright
with firefly chemistry,
departs with bits of Boston
in its portholes
onto the open range
of running wishes,
the city left behind,
dimmed by nostalgia.

An island in profile
displays lonely bravura but
something too of the wilderness
that once defied settlers.
It still claims a savage due
over this patchwork continent.


Lunar Attraction. Photo credit Allison White.

As Earth’s closest celestial body and only natural satellite, the moon has engaged our curiosity and imagination over millennia and across cultures. Visit Lunar Attraction at PEM, on view through September 14, 2017

jess summer copyJess Haberman is an acquiring editor for food, fitness, lifestyle, love and relationship, art and craft books. She is writing her first full-length novel and has been published by Buzzfeed. She lives in Salem, MA.


  1. Sylvia Belkin says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful, inspired prose and poetry, insights rarely received from visitors. Lunar Attraction is a springboard. Bring it on!

  2. Janey Winchell says:

    What a delight to see so many lively creative responses to Lunar Attraction! As the show’s curator, I particularly appreciate the breadth of imaginative ideas generated by the writers group. Like Sandra, I too would love to slip on those “Nike Air Max Lunar90 SP” sneakers…
    For any readers who might be curious, Mike Libby is the artist who made the unidentified collage piece shown in two of the images. It’s aptly titled “Papermoon.”

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