Here we are...

...a group of Baby Boomers of sundry religious,
political and cultural orientations, who have been
meeting at the Voorheesville Public Library since 1991
to read and discuss each other's poems.

We include old fathers and young grandmothers,
artists and musicians, and run-of-the-mill eccentrics.
Writers are welcome to stop in and stay if they like us.


Some of Us

Some of Us
Dennis Sullivan, Beverly Osborne, Tom Corrado, Edie Abrams, Art Willis, Alan Casline (all seated); Paul Amidon, Mike Burke, Tim Verhaegen, Mark O'Brien, Barbara Vink, Philomena Moriarty

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The diehards

Five guys, Edie and I squeezed into Gail's office on 12/29 for a meeting to make up for missing 12/25.

Everyone seemed most interested in Edie's sugar glider, for whom she wrote Goodbye, Lavinia (including photos). Thom surrendered his plates again, after doing it once last Sunday at Sunday Four (which, btw, was truly enjoyable because Mike Burke was the feature). Alan's Victoria Day started a whole conversation about footnotes. Larry's epical tuba note echoing off the porcelain set up a mythical stench. Mr. Amidon met with his muses and Mr. Williams had the best verse of the evening in his suicide poem, complete with illustration.

Nothing from me. My brain was frozen along with my body and I went straight home to my visiting children. It is my understanding that others did elsewise.

Friday, December 18, 2009

(from) The Fish
by Billy Collins

As soon as the elderly waiter
placed before me the fish I had ordered
it began to stare up at me
with its one flat, iridescent eye.

I feel sorry for you, it seemed to say,
eating alone in this awful restaurant
bathed in such unkindly light
and surrounded by these dreadful murals of Sicily

And I feel sorry for you, too-
yanked from the sea and now lying dead
next to some boiled potatoes in Pittsburgh-
I said back to the fish as I raised my fork......

Friday, December 11, 2009

This is all I have to say

Two announcements arose since we last spoke (last night:)) Larry reminded me that we are convening on Tuesday, Dec. 29 for a regular meeting here because, inconveniently, the library is closed on Christmas Eve, our next regular date. I will send a reminder email. I also received mail from Jill Crammond (one of our dropouts) announcing a reading/open mic at the Perfect Blend in Delmar on Dec. 20 at 2 p.m. Michael Burke is featured at Sunday Four on December 27, 3 p.m. I am reading at Cafe Lena in Saratoga on January 6. Some people are going and stopping at the Parting Glass prior, if anyone wants to hook up. Well, you know what I mean. Alan is planning our holiday party at his house when the holidays are over. Details to come.

Truth be told, I was a little spaced out of the discussion at this meeting. Too philosophical for me. I was a little hung up on the meaningless of it all. Why do we bother, who cares, etc. And, I wrecked my poem, attempting to change it, couldn't get it fixed, had no offering. I'll get over it.

The highlight of the night for me was JimthemathguyjustbackfromAfrica, who brought his guitar and played background music for his poem. It was all perfect. Good poem, good music.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Meeting on Tuesday


I have posted Tim's pics from Sunday Four, where Philomena did a beautiful job as the feature, and a good time was had at Smit's following. I am posting to tell you that we are meeting on Tuesday this week because of Thursday being the holiday. The room is occupied until 7, so we will gather in the director's office at 6:30 and move to the community room when it becomes available. You are an extremely dedicated group. The same situation occurs in December when we are closed for Christmas Eve and day, so we may want to talk about another date for next month.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crazi(ness)

It was a rowdy night. Talk, talk, talk, giggle, giggle, whisper, uproarious laughter. Lots of gavel banging. There were ten of us, Philomena and I, eight guys, sounded like more. I wish the women would all show up at the same time.

Alan passed out flyers about the 21st Annual Day of Poet contest at the Colonie Town Library on November 28. There are cash prizes, if anyone needs money, I think one of us EOTNP-ers could swoop up the win.

Here's the rundown on the poems.

I had been anticipating Tim's poem and it did not disappoint. We all read and reacted to this powerful, dare I say strident, work about his mother before he quietly passed along the information that his mother Joan had died on Wednesday. The poem include three snapshots of this colorful woman and was begun before her death, worked on after. Several suggested that a collection of Tim's mother portraits would be good. Certainly interesting. To give a hint of Tim's feelings, I will mention the title, which was Are you crazy, or just plain mean? (There will be no local services.)

I like it when Philomena brings her poems on "recycled" paper. The back sides are almost as readable as the front sides. Her teddy bear poem brought us to a playful place with her description of the behavior of stuffed bears, and led us into a "realization of autumn and all it implies." Mentions of Indian Ladder, cider, donuts, trees putting on a show. Tim requested some stanza breaks.

BTW, I will be putting quotes around phrases that were uttered during the course of the evening, but not always attributing them to the speaker (in case I didn't write down who said what.) In any case, the quotes mean it is not original to me.

Tom was nominated for best title with Broom Clean. It appeared to be an excellent reflection of Tom's chaotic life right now, with his usual unique images. "The apostrophe of your face resurfaced on the foreign rack in Hollywood Video..." Oh, yes, I asked and learned that ostinato is a repeated figure in music.

Strangely enough, Paul induced a small controversy over the glorification vs. the reality of war. Called The Nobility of War, it was really a peace poem, which of course, I approved of. I particularly liked the line that pointed out it was a "child of many motives." How true. Paul seemed to be into the spirit of the evening, questionning what the heck Dennis was talking about, not quite politely. Art had uttered almost the same phrase regarding Alan's comments on Mark's poem earlier in the evening. Lots of babbling going on.

The converation about Art's Such a Niche did get a little beyond simple. Consciousness vs. awareness, terminal niche, origin of species, genesis poems. "With reason can you touch awareness?" Art says no. On the surface, which is where I mostly stayed, it was a refrain with the exact same number of syllables in each line and verse. Very clever. Very Loki-ish. Also brough forth mentions of Alfred North Whitehead, who is a favorite of several of the guys.

Philomena gave a noteworthy 2nd reading of Dennis' Core of the Apple. In the general silliness, Alan took issue with the overuse of -ness ( as in silliness). Art mentioned Gertrude Stein's intention to "destroy all rules". I like that. The author noted that "the origin of choice comes right behind the origin of sin." I won't even try to go there.

Larry had a hard time believing in Alan's title: Give to Vitaminangels.org. Alan insists it is a real organization, which solicits at the Honest Weight Food Co-op for quarters to save children's lives (in an already overpopulated world). The poem was "a tribute to the distance and fragmentation in the name of activism." Okay, maybe I didn't write that down correctly, because it made sense to me when Art said it, but it doesn't now.

Mark wants a t-shirt that says: I hope I have enough Satie left to get through the afterlife, which was the final line of Larry's poem A Bipedal Disorder. Poem contained a couple of words I need to look up, but I did think it was remarkable. Larry has an incredible mind. Dennis called him a "philosophical anarchist". Alas, war is me.

Mark is still in Celtic mode and gave us a "magical" work of "mood and sensibility" called The Cooper's Grave. We all learned the story of the serpent biting its tail, in an airy poem with good imagery, "the imaginary dolour of women weeping."

As usual, I was feeling inadequate in the face of so many good writers, and was reinforced by lovely comments from Mr. Willis on the quality of my writing and ease with language. Thank you, Art. My poem was, to me, a throw-away piece called Ghouls, about the spidery fingers of brown, dead leaves falling on my shoulders. Dennis noted that I shudder from the chill actually shuddered. I hate autumn for the way it presages winter. Oddly, I don't mind winter as much as I dislike the fall.

The meeting adjourned to Smitty's, which I can talk about because I was there this time. Poetry conversation continued, naturally, and lots eating; I was totally starving, pizza, fries, hamburgers, asparagas soup, yum. I told tattoo stories from my recent stint at The Tattoo Learning Center. Tim was not with us at Smit's, but he called me this morning to say what a terrific night he thought it was.

Note: Cathy is in Texas, so I am passing along that the Lifelines group has changed meeting nights to first Mondays. Larry and the philos are still going strong on first Thursdays.

We never got around to talking about the long break ahead, with Thanksgiving falling on our next meeting date. Happy holiday. Eats lots.

Monday, October 26, 2009

from the President Pro Tem (thanks, Mr. P.)

Gathering of 10/22: Art, Philomena, Mark, Dennis, Paul, Larry, Jim and Cathy

Art’s poem Joey was much appreciated as a character study of a creative but underappreciated student. There seemed to be general agreement that the first stanza who be better placed at the end. The poem reflected the concerns and sensitivity of a master teacher.

Philomena’s poem my husband had a procedure was also very well received. It considers the question of indispensability in a humorous and thoughtful way. There was some discussion of the wording of the middle stanza, and fisticuffs were threatened over whether “I am replaced” should be “I could be replaced.” What the right answer is we may never know. (This is an aside from Larry to Philomena: What is the relationship between Rights & Responsibilities? i.e. If I am behaving irresponsibly, am I not in danger of forfeiting some or all of my rights?)

Mark’s poem Hoops was enjoyed immensely. The conceit in which barrel hoops are compared with love was sensitively portrayed. The last line of the poem was stolen from Yeats with impunity.

El Poeta’s poem REFLECTIONS ON A BODAL MOON doubles as an imaginative entering into the reality of newlyweds and a lovely rendering of a romantic reconnection of the poet with his own mate. The war between Spain and France ended with a pyrrhic victory for Dennis. We also wound up with about 5 different pronunciations of the word “mien.”

Paul’s poem ROADHOUSE OF SHADOWS was a wonderfully realized portrait of an old speakeasy and its characters, both then when they were young and in their present dotage. It was suggested that the title be changed to ROADHOUSE so as not to make its later appearance in the poem anticlimactic and some specific examples of minor paring down were suggested.

Mr. Polanski’s poem MEN ARE MORE WATERY THAN WOMEN (“Fat molecules are very hydrophobic and so fat tissue, containing fat cells full of fat molecules, have a lower water concentration than other tissues. As women in general have a higher body fat percentage (partly due to the presence of breasts) they have more tissue that has little water and the so the total body has less water per weight.”) was favorably received. The war between Pinky & The Blue Notes lyrically drags on. It was suggested that the title might not be helpful as is.

Jim’s poem(s) SEVEN KINDS OF SUICIDE was (were) mightily (and cruelly?) encouraged. It was agreed that the beginning three stanzas, aka the early years, were extraordinarily vivid and wonderful. The suicides themselves didn’t always succeed, at least to those of us who were left behind so to speak. I thought the highlight of the discussion was the comment by Dennis to change “Lenny Bruce OD’ed” to Lenny Bruce got needled. We are all happy that Jim is still writing poetry.

Cathy’s poem Arlington was a poignant reminder of the overwhelming sorrow and absurdity of war. After which there was nothing to do but slit our wrists or gather together for Bloody Marys at Smith’s Tavern.

As president pro tem, let me just say it was an honor and a privilege and I didn’t deserve it based on the little I have accomplished so far but I will fight extradition to my dying breath. Larry

Friday, October 9, 2009

BTW, Dennis hates exclamation points

Quiet night, people straggling in. Not even one gaveling.

Joyce seemed delighted with the suggestions we offered about her poem Notes (the best of which was to change the title). Omitting "pre-dawn" and "definite" made this whole simple poem more powerful.

The Health Care Debate was quite satisfying. Who could go wrong with "I want to honor the dead who have died because they had no insurance"? Although there was some ambiguity in the fourth stanza over the placement of "red as blood", Philomena took kudos for this.

Obeduid had a funny and appropriate, entertaining and usually formatted work called Bipolar Stroller. Everyone seemed happy with it.

Dennis' Early Morning Dream... and Paul's opining on hording stuff both got us into rather lengthy commentary. I felt that Paul had not put the usual care and thought into his, (me) not being able to relate to a young single man who can't throw anything away. My fault, I'm sure. Dennis had a great section about Adam & Eve barring God from Eden which everyone liked.

Timmy, Timmy is possibly the best offering of the night. Larry said that the "words are beating each other to death". I felt that I could read it over and over and keep getting new interpretations. "What if I said I don't know?...What if I said I love you?" Good stuff. Again, not great title.

Larry filled three pages with Why Men Have Sex. The apparent reason is for any and every reason. I had planned to write a response, but could think of no good reasons why women have sex. No poem from me, the coughing person.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Two Blobs in One

I begin with Benevolent Bird's beautiful homage to the ghost bird heron, white wings, crescendo in a strange clear light. It was a mellifluous masterpiece.

Cap'n O'Sullivan captured me immediately with the wonderful title - My Mind I Traded for the Moon.* As I mentioned, it brought to mind the illustratons from my Childcraft books, of stars and fairies in the moonlight, golden apples, downy beds. It also gave me what I thought was a glimpse into an aspect of Dennis I hadn't seen before. Just an opinion.

Dennis joined us just in time to hear Obeeduid's poem with him in the title, appearing at 2:44 a.m., carrying a little red basket filled with broccoli and, what else, Guinness.

Speaking of green vegetables, someone suggested an old growth of asparagus, rhubarb or roses would add specificity to Paul's description of the abandoned farm returning to nature. The marble jar in the yard was a great touch.

Tim's poem generated much conversation, as usual. A nearly-abandoned building, inhabited with the remains of a couple, one long gone, one almost gone. We debated line breaks and adjectives, the "rule" being: if you have to use two (adjectives), neither is good. And no multiple choices for the reader. Pick one and stick with it.

Edie's work called Courage was a hit, one of her very best, it "rises to a level of serious poetry".

Art opined that "profound observations were embedded in" Larry's poem No Hope or Crosby. Syntactically speaking (Larry says) I am continuously bumping into myself. Also, on the road to enlightenment, the first step is peanut butter - which with I emphaticaly concur.

Jim Williams wrote a tercet, appropriately called Tercet. It contained "katabasis", which is now on my list of words to look up. (I have a short list after every meeting. ) The poem was very powerful and Jim related the story for us of Hera, Zeus, Pan and Xion's wheel. I liked this: Pray, do tell the hanging man how of my clay is made the hangman's lime.

Philomena incorporated a segment of her job into her poem about talking with a parole officer: righteous indignation ...my teeth clench, holding on to the knob of argument's door.

Art addressed a problem that all of us face at times in our writing lives: I've been barren of late, waiting for Prattle's fuller notes. Know full well what prattle means, I foolishly waited for someone to explain to me who Prattle was, thinking perhaps he was a famous philosopher or a colonel in the game of Clue. Sigh.

I redeemed my stupidity with a good poem, tho, that Dennis thought was "marketable". Marvelous mood, gently mocking, were comments on Protest Rally - the protest being the leaves leaving the trees.

So, it was a strong turnout, with Art bringing a friend named Dick, who seemed to enjoy us, but may live too far away to become a regular visitor.

Between September 10 and 24, many of us attended Tom's feature at the Justice Center. He pulled off a really great stunt, flipping through page after page of his own poems and reading just one line from each. Very effective technique, particularly in Tom's style. Dinner first at Salsa Latina was also noteworthy.

Now, stretch back to the meeting on the 10th that I missed blobbing. Briefly.

Tim's Perfect Stranger was a sparse, "stripped down version of too perfect for sex." One word, one-liners of an encouter.

It was nice to have Joyce with us with a rumination about a Skeleton Key. Joyce needed to "murder her darlings" - cut out some lines or phrases she liked, but which the group felt could be edited.

Lots of talk about Tom's Just Out of Reach. Tom's penchant for saying something original using cliches was obvious here. Joyce called it a mundane vehicle to reach such a depth of feeling and Jim called it a slit-your-wrist kind of poem, both accurate descriptions Tim said it showed terrific technique, with the cliches bringing out terrifying bitterness.

Also lots of talk about Jim's Math Kind of Guy, which we all know he is. I really liked the kind of sing-song quality of the poem, the repetion of the title. Leonard Cohen-ish, according to Larry. Art wanted more mathematical meat and Joyce just wanted to hear more.

I really liked Rachael's Full Moon/Slapping at Mosquitoes September 2. Great line: Moon pulls Ocean's protest right out of her wet, blue boots. "The longer I look (at it), the more I see", Jim said. It painted a great picture.

Larry's A Throwaway was, according to Art "electric, alive, a hot wire". My poem was a sarcastic throwaway about Eli humping my arm like a real man. Art had a clever technique himself in Off Beat in Quatrains, a rhyming effort that was in ruins, in ruins.

Paul wrote about an Antique Shop, a suggestion being that he write in the singular rather than plural form. The second Alan (Siegel) showed a great change in style with Waiting to be Filled, that we all appreciated.

Okay I am left with a couple of odd poems floating around that I am not sure belong with this group. If I omitted you, my apologies.

Alan reminds us that Rootdrinker dues are due. Next Sunday Four features Jay Rogoff, a professor from Saratoga Springs on October 25. Whew, I hope I am caught up.


*When I am done blobbing, I will attempt to link to this poem for you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This is gonna be short

I am still swamped with festival work in addition to my regular, which is why it has taken me so long to get to this blob. If any of you local artists are bringing work for the art show, get it here now as we are hanging on Thursday. We have a wealth of crafters signed up to vend their wares at the festival on September 12, and all-day music, including a classical string quartet and Joyce's husband's traditional Irish music. If any of this interests you, stop by. I will be here most of the day.

Last Thursday began with Joyce's art reception at 4:30 which I was not here for but several of you were. We probably agree that her intaglios are brilliant. And, she left us some brownies and yogurt-covered pretzels to eat at the meeting.

On to poetry - small group of eight (well, seven and a hit and run) allowed us some freedom for conversation. We relaxed the rules - sorry, Thom - and were able to explore some topics at greater length than usual.

It was object night. Rachael's velveteen pouch poem was full of lovely images disguising a lover's quarrel. All good. The poems from Rachael and Art started the talk about rhyming, off-rhyme, internal slant, dissonant rhyme and on through aboriginal music. Art took off running with the fabric sunflower Medallion that was his object, indeed, indeed.

Alan Siegel's The Starman's Message provoked a lot of talk, hopefully helpful to Alan, about vague generalities and the difficulty of translating the abstract into language.

Tim listened to some bad advice and almost wrecked a great poem about death and cemeteries. I know this because he sent me the original later and it was one of, if not the, best he had written. New version had too much telling, not showing, which was more subtly and effectively done in the original.

The Assignment - Tim called Larry's prose poem "totally courageous", Art thought it "concise and bold". I just plain old loved it, especially Nayleesa DeBerry's big black bubble butt. He was inspired by my clay sculpture of a naked purple woman. I also loved Mark's There is a Sight I Must Have Looked. Eight short lines of heart-piercing sadness.

I wrote The Prowler in response Tim's tiger towel and because I had a real prowler at my house one night this summer. Tigers, prowlers, shining eyes in the darkness, fine-honed blades, etc.

Some of the topics we touched on, aside from our own work, were Hafiz, Rumi, prose poems, Ginsberg on rhyming, Auden, aboriginal music, Emily Dickenson on rhyming, William the Conqueror, use of the word bastard, Coleman Barks (?) and William Robert Foltin. Rachael contributed an intriguing remark about poets "falling into a pit of navel lint", but I did not get the context.

Summer is over. Take cover.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Ant, part II

Boy, it has been crazy around here, getting ready for our September festival (more about that to come), among other things. So, I'm finally back to finish last week's blob.

It was good to see Mr. Willis who has been vacationing without us. As usual, I learned something from his poem, called Definitions - that flarf has been used in poetry circles since c2000. It means, well...it's hard to define and I can't repeat the word Art used to describe it. I guess I can paraphrase: FLARF is poetry that rolls around in excrement and picks up anything. Paul called it airborne barf. Google calls it an avant garde poetry movement of the early 21st century, a edgy representation of our culture by poets and artists, exploration of the inappropriate, deliberately bad poetry, and more. Look it up if you care.

Mark wrote in a "bardic" genre, lyrical, singsong observations about aging. An interesting aspect of the poem was pointed out - the stanzas can be rearranged without loss of coherence. Very nice. Paul remarked about his own work Audition that "revisions don't arrive right away", which meant, I guess, that our suggestions, few that there are, have to be digested and considered carefully.Everyone wanted Joyce to remove the word "awesome" ("awesome is irksome" :)) from her quietly beautiful description of mist rising on Pyramid Lake.

Alan's Tour of John Roche's Poem 'Exchange' Art called "free association on the subject of money". It was a little beyond me, I admit. I don't even know John Roche. Rachel wrote of an old collie, a front porch and bike ride. We all liked it a lot. Good line: "the spit of dried dread on your lips." Dan Lawlor was back from his travels as well, with a good, cleanly written prayer called Wherefore God? which addressed some of the eternal questions. Dan was singing on Sunday at the 3rd Reformed Church.

On looking things over I'm voting for Mark for best line: "we cling to the trash and tinsel of our hides." Or maybe Tom's conceit as used as a substitute for salt. Or maybe Rachael's "what of your naked leg, all smooth calf and thigh..." Or Larry's blood returning softly, without apologies. Heck , I can't pick one.

Check out the announcement about Tom and the Justice Center, dinner first. Dennis is keeping a head count.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My Ant


Here is my ant. Poor, lonely, lost and, as the subject of my poem, with the exception of Rachael and Joyce, totally misunderstood. The guys were out in left field somewhere. The poem was ambiguous, deliberately so, but was definitely not sarcastic or about the homeless. Btw, O'bee, a morning survey shows that either "past" or "passed" is correct depending on my intent. So, I guess I scored a miss with this one, although everyone liked my photo.
That reminds me, we had a surreptitious photographer in our midst last night, as demonstrated by the following photos:





























































Good job, mysterious photographer.

I guess I'll work backwards today, starting with Edie's "beatific and blissful"-ly maternal offering re Caesar and Petey, her cat and dog children, and a thunderstorm. It was one of her best and I particularly like it. I also learned that algid means cool.

For reasons not too clear to me, the always entertaining Mr. Williams ripped his poem in half before passing it. I really enjoyed this one, too, and Art called it brilliant. I found out later that even Jim's twelve-year-old realized it was about sex - "watermarks of bliss" (at the laundromat with the bedsheets). Aha, lots of bliss and choirs tonight. Another word I didn't really know - palimpsest.

Lots of opinions on Tom's conceit and the definition of the word. He repeated "My conceit" in the same position all down the one side of the page, and the pro and cons opined. I offered that I thought some of the conceits were clever and some less so and should be worked on. One of the really good ones was the first: my conceit can be used as a substitute for salt.

THE BODY: Jim was ready to steal this from Larry- at least his ideas; Philomena called it incredible and everybody seemed to find it pretty perfect. As for me, Larry lights up my life.

Tim wrote a "really gothic" (Paul) poem and Tom said he really nailed it. I was a little unclear about the status of the father - I thought he was dead. We wanted to eliminate the eyeballs and replace with simply "vibrant blue eyes". Other than that, it was quite a lovely work.

Philomena is a high maintenance kind of gal, we found. Rachael complimented her on her economy of words. It was a funny and timely poem with a good humorous ending.

Okay, I don't have time to finish blogging today, so I will post this and the rest on Monday. We had a real full house with 14 of us in attendance. In case anyone wondered why I disappeared from Smitty's, I boxed up my chicken wings to eat at home in order to avoid a couple of drunks I knew :)).

Remember Philomena's picnic this Sunday and the Arboretum tonight.

Monday, August 10, 2009

from Philomena

I am having a potluck/barbecue at my house (instead of Bozenkill) on
Sunday August 2pm. All poetry folk are welcome. Marian Ct. is off of Gun
Club Rd. which is off of Rt. 146 in Altamont - it is near the Altamont
Fair Grounds, there is a new SEFCU bank on the corner of Gun Club.
Marian Ct. is the first right after that. My drive way goes onto Gun
Club. and is the house right across from the Bozenkill park. I think it
is very light green in color but others differ. Please RSVP so we know
how much meat to barbecue.
Philomena

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sarabande

A sarabande is a dance of Spanish origins dating back to the 1500s. It is the title of Tom's poem, which I will be saving forever because it references my attention-getting fall at the arboretum and my aspirations to become a tattoo artist. Thank you, Mr. C.

We were tres heureux (so there, all you language droppers) to welcome Stacy back after a long hiatus. She has new curly hair and brought a very good poem. Brief, in lines and words. Wave - "frozen in an impossible arc of time". Nice.

Jim was here - is soccer season over? - with a political statement about living in the suburbs (of Delmar). Included some good rhymes and a few bad ones which can be easily fixed. Tim, by the way, thought Midas was only a muffler shop, but I won't laugh because he brought me a beautiful sweatshirt jacket from Cape Cod and I love him.

Tim's poem oozed sensuality with his description of men playing baseball. It was so rich in detail we marveled that he could have observed so much during a traffic stop. Thought it might be tightened up by the elimination of the fourth verse; Stacy suggested expanding to story form.

Who was "The Iron Horse of Baseball"? In fifth grade we were playing King of the Hill in class one Friday. I was in the hot seat, and had been for a long time, when Bobby Bergman, the most gorgeous boy in the whole elementary school, raised his hand, drilled me with his blue, blue eyes, asked me that question. I had just finished a biography of this guy and knew the answer as well as I knew my own name. Somehow the gaze from those eyes dried my throat up like the Sahara and my brain as well, and I just sat there with my mouth gaping open while Bobby Bergman took my chair. 50 years later it is still one of the great humiliations of my life.

Which brings me in a roundabout way to Philomena's poem about going to blackboard and besting some bright boy with a right answer a girl should not know. It was a good statement about audience which needed some tweaking. Mark made an appropriate remark about the ability to go "pfft" - he had better sound effects - at the not good stuff and lose it when you need to. Oh, yeah, Philomena's artwork is still in my office from the exhibit, and the Iron Horse was Lou Gehrig.

Mark's poem had my best line of the night: "opening great veins and white rivers to its soul. " He then taught us the typography tip of squinting your eyes at a page of text and finding the white rivers. I loved it.

We talked a little about Paul's habit of writing with no stanza breaks. Generally his work is short (this one is 19 lines) and so economical with words that there is no need for breaks. The topic of junk spurred some conversation and the suggestion that the title might be changed to Junkman instead of Junkyard as it was really a character study of the man not the location.

Joyce broke my heart with Life Measured in Cat Time, which was Cleo's obituary. Very nicely done. It was rather like prose written in poetic sentences and our only suggestion was to try a rewrite into a more traditional poem form.

Larry's Confessional Poem is walking away with My Favorite of the Night. It was laden with unacceptable-in-polite-society language and references, but totally, hysterically funny and I love it. I had no poem, having been embracing my arty self recently. Alan had no poem because he misunderstood the directions.

At the beginning of the meeting, we exchanged our inspirational trinkets to write about for August 27. Tom and Larry both brought safety pins. What does that mean?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More from Dennis

Many thanks to those who responded to “Giving Voice to the Vatic.” I will add one note in appreciation.

Always-thoughtful Larry is right in that a poetry group might benefit from thinking about poetry sometimes, and all that that entails. In the Voorheesville group we tried that once—instigated by me—and, for my money, it did not fare well. I still remember the angry and exclusionary remarks most.

I am appreciative of Tim’s enthusiasm and his telephone call to discuss briefly the monograph—I did make a very pretty [sic] monograph of the tractatus and sent it to some folks for review [limited edition of 25]—a very comely pic of the Sneem River in Sneem, Co Kerry, whence one side of the O’Sullivans hails, on the cover.

But I might point out that the statement that I made about poetry is filled with maybe 100 assumptions beginning in the first paragraph and going to the last.

For example, in paragraph one: in what way is the poetic tradition vatic and in what way is poetry a pracitce of the body; which suggests questions about how the body might be related to the imagination. And then a practice that begins WITH but DOES NOT END in death!

This kind of statement suggests that poetry has the power of a religion; can poetry transcend death? It might begin with the death of the beautiful but to say that it can put us in the mind/body of the beautiful and forever, that is a mighty big statement that I would not swallow so quickly. Though I have said that that is my ever-present aim—is to live in poetic consciousness always. It is where I am, feel happiest.

And in the last paragraph, for another example, w/r/t “the construction of self,” is the “self” constructed? Is life constructed? And if life is constructed, can it be constructed or in some way affected through the poem—but I had spoken earlier in the essay of how I viewed the poem.

Then it says: what can we ask of the poet? Well, anything? Allen Ginsberg always said the poet has no fixed role, so don’t go laying expectations on the poet—so what can we ask of the poet, the poem then? To bandage wounds!!! Some folks would say bullshit to that, thus I raise the question of: if we do that, do we hobble the poet, the poem?

My answer is yes, I say “more than likely” we would. But I add that poetry, the poet, the poem, is not about bandaging, anything, but about preventing. But preventing what? Like a police officer on patrol preventing street crime? Poets’d say they got better things to do.

I do not say so directly, but I say so, that poetry, through its affiliation with silence perhaps, prevents blows from being thrown that later require bandaging, that poetry structurally, through the power of imagination, prevents acts of violence—like death?—the kind of life designed to take us away from truth and beauty and enjoying the gift of life, that is, poetic consciousness?

Again for my money, anyone who reads and meditates on Wallace Stevens’ poem “The Snow Man,” [see below] for example—I can’t but think that she/he would be hard pressed to raise a hand at another in anger, the thought of a blow struck emptied of its vim, rather the spirit in openness.

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,

In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

As you see, we could go on. This is all I will say here re: the comments and the essay. Thank you to those who responded, especially to Tim and Larry.

And I did send out an erratum page saying—for the monograph—page 2, para 2, line 1, for “Dickerson” read “Dickinson.”

Sincerely,

Dennis

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

There are some excellent responses being posted to Dennis' remarks. Check them out and add your own.
bv

Monday, July 13, 2009

THE DOLLAR STORE SUMMER TOUR

An email from Dan Wilcox led me to suggest a writing exercise which everyone seemed to like. So, you have an assignment for the next meeting: Bring an object from home to lend to another writer for a month's inspiration. We will exchange items at the next meeting and write about them. You can include it in a poem or devote a whole poem to it. Try and be creative when picking the object to bring in, and don't bring something you will need before the month is up.

I didn't take many notes at the last meeting, so this blog will be skimpy. I passed out new member lists. The mistake on this one is that Rachael's email needs an "e" added after rach. Please add it. I also passed around an article from the Schen Gazette about Art Willis (not as poet, but town historian). Nice photo.

Alan says there is still available space at the Aery for Obie's scheduled reading on July 13.
Call Alan at 475-7781.

I brought in a painting for Alan to take to the Pine Hollow arboretum art show. Several of us will be there on July 19 between 2 - 5. Stop by.

We welcomed absent Joyce who appeared with a poem dedicated to her mom and grandmother. It was accompanied by a great quote from Adrienne Rich: Until a strong line of love, confirmation and example stretches from mother to daughter, from woman to woman across the generations, women will still be wandering in the wilderness. Joyce did some re-writing on her poem with Alan's guidance.

Sticking with the women, Edie's poem told a wonderful story about a woman liberated by the death of her husband. Most of us were confused by the title "I met my mother at 42", but that is easily fixed. Rachael's "Question With No Answer" left me still questioning, but everybody else got it. Duh.

My own personal ton of bricks fell on Mike Burke (instead of poor Bird, for a change). He wrote about the demise of a local roadhouse and our picnic at his camp. Great beginning but I thought the second stanza was a big disappointment.

Larry wrote a clever piece about STUPID SHEWS which I was trying to call dialect but others preferred to refer to as "word play". Obeeduid was his new self again with a descriptive (and aromatic) work about remembered childhood - "there being no hedge or fence 'round time".

A small argument ensued over Paul's poem "The Old Ones" about be able to see a negative, which I couldn't see (is that a pun?). I guess I lost.

Tim was a big success for his couplets and the accompanying photo which totally made the whole poem. Not for the children, as it was of an adult nature, but effectively so.

I was happy with my "Felling The Willow" (no, not the willow at the pond, one of several others. Did you know that you could stick a willow twig in the ground and it will grow into a monstrous tree with only nature's assistance? ) - "they wrapped the giant in chains and beheaded it". Paul didn't like my semi-colons. (Paul just corrected me via comments: it was Alan who didn't like the semi-colons and Paul gave me a nice compliment on the poem. Thanks, Paul)

There follows this blog a rather lengthy guest post from Dennis, preceded by an intro to it. It was prompted by recent comments about the value of self-publishing. I have a much shorter answer, which I will keep to myself. Please respond to Dennis' article in the comments so we can all hear them. He has obviously given this serious thought.
Dear Poe-ettes,

For the past several years, at our Thursday group, open mics, and at social gatherings of poets in our region, I have heard a sizable number of poets speak about
the value of self-published work or work published by local publishers.

In private and in public some folks have been quite vocal about this matter, remarking on the large number of such publications some poets in the area have. I even heard several people raise questions about the little confab of local publishers held at UAG [I think it was] last year, where local presses “showed off” their work.

In response to questions, statements sent my way directly or indirectly, I told some folks in our Thursday group and elswhere that I wanted to think about the matter a bit. When I was in Ireland last March I sat down one day and wrote the following notes.

These notes address not only this matter but also the qualities of some small poetry groups and, maybe more importantly, what it means to be a poet, what the poem is [its purpose], and several other items of interest—or disinterest depending on one’s own interests. The nature of the poem, its purpose, and limitations and who or what a poet is I think are worthy of discussion.

Anyway, I share what I wrote, having just finished typing it up a few days ago. The Irish in me!

I put the essay into a little booklet as well, a very, very limited edition with a picture of the beautiful Sneem River on the cover; it runs through one of my home towns. Hopefully the notes will facilitate some reflection about the ideas, if they are of any value to anyone other than myself. I am happy with my part in the process regardless.

I will not discuss the matter through e-mail if there are responses to the thoughts here—I just cannot type that much in response—but will be happy to read what folks add to the blog and to discuss such matters face-to-face when I meet poets in the future.

I hope the writing of everyone progresses well.

Sincerely,
Dennis

Giving Voice to the Vatic:
The Poet and Locality
by
Dennis Sullivan


The poetic tradition is vatic, a tradition of vision and prophesy, and thus a practice of the body beginning with but not ending in death.

Poetry begins with the breakdown of boundaries, with cracks in the wall, where light pours in, filling the soul to overflowing. The poet is born in the person who sings ecstatic: “Rock o'my soul in de bosom of Abraham!”

While prose may be poetic, it is comprised of the leftovers of vatic chants, the construction of stories about before, during, and after, and is essentially, in construction of the flood—the how we fare, hope to fare, and fear we may not fare—narrative, though of course there is narrative poetry, poetry at its weakest link. This despite the assessment that all poetry is at heart narrative.

Regardless, not because of the poet’s intentions (poetry has no ax to grind) but because of how the light (lightening) strikes, the poem is a shared space in which all comers can speak about their dreams, every ilk and permutation. The poem, even though poets personally are not necessarily so, is truly democratic, anarchic, an oracle with structure but not necessarily logic, the farthest thing from linear, hence the remarks about narrative.

Poets do not choose to speak but are carried away by the flow or flash of light, a bacchanalian rite, the value of the poet and any particular poem being her/his/its drawing attention to the unsettling of the old and the creation of the new thereby engendering appreciation for life, the expressional joy of being alive, followed by steps to create, re-create that life anew. The poet is a personal demonstration project; look at Denise Levertov shining her light within a cave.

The publication of the poem then is not the poem (like you see in the store); the poem is the felt-expressed experience of new light, life, but the handing down of vatic praise, chant, warning, ecstatic babble, is made sense of only with great difficulty. There are some who worry about the audience of a poem which is foolishness at its core because the poet is the audience, the taker-in of the experience; the written-down or orally-transmitted expression of that experience is the after-thought of the poetic-act or after-act of poetic-thought, if you like.

There are some creatures who worry about the means by which the felt-expressed finds the light of day, its market value and distribution properties—it is a frame of mind—and thus are drawn from entering the sacred (I use this term with great trepidation and all due apology to anarchists, i. e., poets) and thus are drawn away from entering into the sacred space of the published poem and discovering or discovering anew their own life within it, life within.

How many poems did Emily Dickerson see published in her (bodily) lifetime but she was the living presence of poetry throughout it. In the early Christian church bishops (επίσκοποi) rose out of the commons; the community recognized what they had to say as vatic, prophetic, as having to do with the continuing life of community, the conditions of life and took the liberty to make that life public.

Vates were selected to minister, serve, the needs of community, to help the community understand and identify those needs and steps to take to meet them, acts that violated neither the individual nor collective will, through which the community of persons expressed its commitment to mutual aid, cooperation, love, selflessness, reconciliation, any quality or practice (both means and ends) that fostered the survival and enjoyable well-being of life.

Within the context of the poetic community—which is a contradiction in terms because the poet is a person of the whole community—vatic souls join together to understand the vatic experience and ways to keep it pure as possible, the least self-seeking. But a community that refuses to hieraticize itself (despite hieratic involvement) tends to lord it over the larger community thereby creating a rabblish poloi—the poet, the poem is there to dismantle, eradicate disable distinctions, not an aim but as a result of felt-lightening.

There arises at times within the community (large or small) individuals who give their lives to making public, giving voice to, the words, expressions, experiences regarding the lifeline-light (sometimes at the most local of local levels, where this all starts) giving voice to the vatic experience. Those who jump into this stream are not eagle eyes but eagle hearts and ears, “Look, the light! I will tell it on the mountain!” When John Work penned "Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere" he was telling how the community had been struck by lightening anew.

The publisher, the making public-er, becomes a mountain (socialist soapbox) from which the vatic experience can be expressed and heard—a benevolent act—leaving it to the listener to decide: life-affirming or not? Those who go to the mountain to give voice, though connected to the market, sell wares of collectivity. The manufacture, sale, and distribution of poems are tied to the interests, needs, concerns, hopes, and fears of the community. Poets, like life itself, want life to continue and so aspire to mountaintops from which to speak the delight of experience, Rilke’s under any circumstances, “I praise!”

Big book little book, pamphlet, broadside tacked to the side of a bare-wood barn—no difference, the format immaterial to the felt-experienced-expressed word/poet of life. Essential is what the reader/listener/other-feeler experiences. Are they alive to the life-force, maybe moved to build a mountain to proclaim life from a peak themselves, become poets themselves.

Little poetry groups, workgroups, and the like, exist ad infinitum and, regardless of stated aims and purposes, sometimes stand in the way of life, ordaining themselves with rites that are solely self-directed. Their interest may be seeing poems published—with which there is no intrinsic problem—but sometimes (I’d like to see a study) the group stands in the way of the light seen.

There is nothing wrong with having a night out—who’s to say?—in the interest of sociality (a good 19th century moniker) and conviviality with seemingly like-minded persons (however measured) that is, persons interested in words, human expression, the appreciation of read and published poems and the implications of same for, well, we already said for what, but the “aim” is well worth exploring.

That is, the question persists: to what extent is a person in a work/study group and the group as a whole (its stated and practiced purpose) committed to understanding and appreciating (valuing) the vatic enterprise, which includes making known other vatic experiences that tell the truth (of life, of life’s requirements, human needs, survival, joy at the realization of the gift of life, etc.).

As stated, there are indeed judges and assessors of the truthful experience high and low. A publisher works with works regarded as reflecting the true vatic experience and fostering vividness in others. Who’s to say that person should not engage in joy, gratitude, and appreciation? Who’s to say only corporate/market-certified work is the truest or true reflection of life-engendering vatic experience, that capital credentials bolster the validity of the felt-experience?

While assessment of the vatic experience that leads to publication is welcome at all levels—welcomed or not it will take place—it is the community, the individuals within the community who are the ultimate and paradoxically the first-level assessors. Do we worry less, issue wistful sighs, covet relaxation? By reading, listening to, studying, explicating, divining, digging into, even with a pick ax, the experimenter is more alive, more connected, feels driven to share life with others or, at the very least, not deprive others of that experience—which includes slamming non-market-certified publishers from engaging in publicizing.

I might add that, while the vatic experience is ecstatic in nature, over which one, the poet, has no control (being hit with lightening is as good as any definition of being called) the poet has techniques, methods, structures, which clear away the debris which inserts itself into the light, so poems can remain as clear as first experienced. There is no such thing as “polishing” a poem—God forbid!—only opening up—whatever that is, that is a treatise in itself—to the originally-experienced inspiration, breath, light, spirit, from which the words, chant, poem, song, arose.

This is a process in which the poet tries to get out of the way of the prophetic experience. The felt-joy of the experience is too great to compromise through meddling, joined by a rabid fear that dissembling will lead to a loss of joy. Cynics will say the poet is engaging in a kind of hexing, in magical skullduggery—“The bard of Thrace drew the trees, held beasts enthralled and constrained stones to follow him” Metamorphoses XI, 1-2—but such statements are a projection of ill-seated paranoia and hucksterism, a disbelief in one’s own essential light to make an informed assessment of: am I alive? Let me count the ways. Is your math the same?

Thus the vates, called, chosen, wishes to be true to the vatic/prophetic. Of course the poet wishes her or his work known and when self-interest plays a role in the enterprise, we speak of true vates and false vates, true prophets and false prophets. The Greek Scriptures say it all: by our poetry we know our true selves; the effects of the practices preached tell the magicians, hucksters, tricksters from the healers, those who stack the deck versus those who bandage wounds.

In the construction of self, the construction of life in the form of the poem, the poet . . . well, is it too much to ask a poet to bandage wounds, does that not lame art at the outset—more than likely—but poetry is not about bandaging anything, it’s about preventing before the thought of a blow is struck.

Friday, June 26, 2009

An Oatmeal Named Jonah

A very personal observation from me: it felt good to have Larry Rapant join us last night. Larry has been a huge part of my poetry life. He and Tom and I "toured" the open mics in the 1990s, performing as a group, sometimes with Brian Kennedy and Tom's musical accompaniment. I doubt how good my poetry was then, but I had fun. It felt like old times to have him with us, and at my age, old times are very meaningful. I am not going to attempt to critique Larry's poem or Tom's today. They have been my teachers and mentors and frankly, I consider them perfect in every way. The blog title is my favorite phrase from Larry's poem.

BTW, my research into Merovingian Dynasty shows it to be the Satanic Bloodline of the Antichrist or False Prophet. Or, a Frankish dynasty that ruled in Gaul and Germany circa 500 a.d. Your choice.

Couple of other poems received little or no critique. Everyone loved Mimi's Parked on Pavement. Great title. Amusing. Jim Williams, who slipped in at the last moment in his soccer ref's uniform (quite green) had us laughing with three versions of his Comely young woman from Wiesbaden, one in German, one French, final in English.

Paul (who was in charge of the gavel for a portion of the evening until he fell down on the job) was pretty much letter perfect as usual with Cookies and Cakes. Some quibbling over "dolls and bicycles". Paul had assisted Ally with a successful rewrite of Toxic Silence. I love it when people actually put into practice the advice they are given.

The Bird wrote a Perious Frink adventure with a surprise ending and a pretty good rhyme scheme, which could be made excellent with a little closer editing. Alan Other rhymed not quite so successfully but musically. I was proud of him, too, for revising last week's poem and bringing it for a return appearance. He is striving to become a good poet.

Rachael was back with another of her thoughtful works, with good tone and feeling. Someone suggested better lines breaks and relocating the first stanza. Several people were enlightened by the idea of a phone cradle. Ah, you babies.

Philomena equated true poetry to a juicy peach. It is hard to avoid cliches, I opine, when describing peaches, but here the addition of the ripe young woman and the heroin addict led it out of the realm of the mundane. To carotid or not to carotid.

Personally, I thought Tim's poem had transition problems. I liked both halves - the office crowd and the big ugly woman - but wanted the way smoothed or made into two poems. His characters sketches were right on, as always.

Saving Markle-Farkle until last as my favorite. Just great imagery. Interspersed with conversation. Nice font. Ditched the title. Whole last verse is dyn-o-mite.

Lots of events going on. Check out post-ettes.
Sunday Four is this weekend, with Mimi and her brother. 3 p.m. with food.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Okay, it's fixed

Tom helped. Just click the link, then click on the first picture to see them all.

Sunday, June 14, 2009



SCREAM

Okay, I made a web album of yesterday's pics and succeeded in linking it to the blog. If you follow the link, however, it tells you it can't find it. Don't know what I'm doing. Mark tried to help me over the phone, but it obviously didn't work. I'll try again from the office. It is giving me a headache.

Yesterday was lovely and wet. The food was great. Everyone was jolly. Mike and Donna were good hosts. I forgot to take a photo of the parrot plates. I brought Tony. Significant others were present (Ginny Rapant, Dr. Jennifer, Dan M., Steve Schreiber, Georgia, Donna and her dog Annie) - about 20 of us, and some dogs, including Susie The Summer Dog. I ate a lot, got soaked, was particularly happy to see Dee and Larry who make rare appearances. Georgia took pictures of feet. Ron and Edie and Tim and Ally Cat were no-shows. Dennis ate a lot, Mark made Black and Tans with his turtle thingy - there's a photo if you ever get to see them. Mike made good burgers, sausage, hot dogs. I shared with Susie.


It was a trip down Memory Lane for those of us who used to frequent Lil and Bill's in our youth, including Dan Moriarty. Sad to see it in disrepair. Fun times there. Made me want to dance. Jack, the owner, hauled out old photos and we saw young Mikey Burke.

I left before any poetry happened. Don't know if it did. Wasn't in a poetic mood and felt bad that Eli was home alone most of the day.
Also, half drowned.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Another Oops

I was having a very hectic day and in my confusion, I forgot to blog Tim's wonderful poem. In fact it was my favorite of the night and I was saving it for last, ended up leaving it out altogether. I felt that it was kind of a breakthrough poem for Tim - no repetition. Great sea, fog imagery, a real lonely feeling. Everyone liked it. Only suggestion was to save the last few lines for another poem and he seemed receptive to that idea. My apologies.


Monday - I can't believe it. When I got to work this am I found Alan C.'s poem, forgotten, forlorn and unblogged. It was another favorite of mine. Called Surface Ice is Walkable, includes plunging a foot into the semi - frozen creek. Beautiful: "stone heads all found wearing imperfect icy halos". So, if there 's anyone else I need to apologize to, consider it done.

Paul Perfect is Dead

...killed by his own hand, acknowledged by his own lips. "Old George" was less than perfect. Tim and the Bird and the BlogGoddess were all disappointed that George lacked the emotional punch that we expect from Paul. Philomena contributed "Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" and Mimi lauded it for its clarity and cleanliness. Tim suggested that the comic element of the old guy burying his drinking money should be pushed.

Alan Siegel strove and succeeded in attaining clarity in The Eternal One. There was some discussion over the repetition of "moment to moment" and Mimi brought up some weird thing about counting syllables, which didn't seem to matter to anyone else, but thanks, Mimi.

Mimi's poem From the Attic was a masterpiece in my view. Great imagery, emotion, a message. Led to a discussion on enjambment (leaving a deliberate pause to let your mind change direction).

Mark was brimming with emotion in a two-titled poem about his mother. I think we talked him into The Keening. He confessed a phrase pillage from Yeats - "decked and altered" but had a lot of his own good stuff in it - "extravagance of breath", "lost to a notbook on the bedstead of a lifetime".

The M sisters thought that Edie's Surprise was the best she had ever written. Paul said "it could have been trite but it's not because of the way it is done." "Ah, but friends..."

"Zen up" was a phrase applied to Philomena in a good poem called Perspective, but her specific intention passed right by us (the same as another recent work). I suggested ending the poem at "death's foot hovering", following the popular ant stanza. The final verse was a great one, but misplaced.

No poem from me. Short blog because I am busy. Visit the HVWG website for guidelines for a current poetry contest. Hope you got the directions to Thompson's Lake.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Great Honkers Mystery

I am naming names: Paul, Mike B., Kathy and Cathy, Tim and Jim, Art and Dennis, and taking numbers, whatever that means, of those of you who have not shown up with artwork yet. Edie and Obee have contacted me and made arrangements, but I am expecting the DELINQUENTS to drop work off before Sunday when the show goes up. Thanks, Moriartys and Alan, for being so prompt. I am particularly impressed with Alan's great effort with Chutes and Ladders.

I passed out invitations to be taken to friends and rels for the show reception here on June 18. Ask me for some. We will have refreshments between 6 - 8 p.m. and hang around to impress the art critics who will be swarming to review our exhibit. Wearing black is de riguer and cigarette holders are acceptable as long as they are not holding actual cigarettes.

The Moriarty girls seem to be thinking along similar lines if their poems were any indication. Philomena wrote about "her" saint - Philomena, of course - guarding the gates of her womanhood. It was an assault on the universal theme of the value of female chastity. Paul suggested reversing the final two verses, which was a good idea. The intrusion of the saint made it a little confusing and someone suggested a title change to what worth woman. Mimi wrote a prose poem about women taking charge of their sexuality, also with "gate" references. Weird coincidence. Mimi's ended on a triumphant note and a laugh.

Strangely, Paul Perfect's Gold Star Mother took a little heat last night, with some wanting lines to be eliminated. It was powerful subject matter and, as usual, Paul stuck to his Big Berthas.

Alan must have expended all his creative energy on painting because his poetic efforts were a little on the lazy side: LAST LINES OF THE POETRY GROUP ON THE FOURTH THURSDAY IN MAY by The Every Other Thursday Night Poetry Group. The poem was not much longer than the title.

We entertained (at least I think we did) another Alan in the person of first-timer Alan Siegel. He jumped right in and took our criticism of his poem with good humor. It was another philosophical concept womb poem with some good lines, but some glaring faults which detracted from it the message. (written in all caps, quotation marks, underlines). Mimi reminded us all: "It doesn't matter if you know what you mean if you are not communicating it to the audience." Best advice.

Ally Cat communicated very well with Toxic Silence, about a 14 year-old boy who was shielded from his father's illness and subsequent death and the effect it had on his whole life.

Tim presented a clean, powerful poem we all liked. It turned out that we did not get the message from it that Tim intended, but the audience felt it was very effective with the message we heard. Good controlled repetition, Mimi suggested couplets. Tim thought he should write another version.

I dragged out a poem I had written in April that I wasn't crazy about but people pretended to like it. Called it Leaving Without Luggage re my father's death. In response to a query I just said I thought it was not bad, but mediocre. I still think so.

Okay, on to the honkers debate. To sum up, Obee used the word in a great poem - "upon my honkers as I lie" - and refused to tell us what it meant, so we all guessed and I promised to look it up. I guessed "butt" but Merriam-Webster said "nose". Today Obee caved and told me look in a neat site called the urban dictionary, where it describes honkers as haunches, which is close to butt, and also something Alan mentioned. Now I have forgotten how it was used in the poem, but the mystery part is put to rest. The poem, called Travelers, read like a prayer or a lullaby and we liked "dipping (the) ladle into sleep."

On to the news and gossip: Mimi asked that I report that HVWG is having a picnic on Sunday afternoon, August 2, in the Paint Mine area of Thacher Park. It is a "bring a dish to pass" type party and it sounds like fun to me. Details to come. Also, remember poetry extravaganza on June 1 at Smitty's. Larry's philosophers meet June 4. Lifelines is on vacaton until September. There was a good turnout for Sunday Four and Mimi is the feature in June.

Tom is out of town, the Beach Boy has moved to the lake, and Obee just called with news of a computer disaster. I have a headache, if anyone cares.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Deadline Looms

Art show masterpieces must be here before May 31. Tom and I will be hanging the show that day. Feel free to stop in and criticize. I'm joking. I thought O'Bee would be helping, but no! We are meeting again on May 28, if you want to bring your stuff then.

Congrats to Rachael who had a short story accepted for publication (for money!) and promised to share the address of a good website for submissions.

Several EOTNPs are reading at the Oriel Cafe at Philomena's church on the 15th - that's tonight - at 7 p.m. 405 Washington Ave, with good music and cafe food.

Reminder: Will Christman reading at Smitty's on June 1. On to this evening...

My nominations for best line/phrase of the night:
Philomena: Dislodge this hot rock from my throat
Rachael: ...he swears to love it longer than the cats will live.
O'Bee: ...as he will never have enough of women's love.
Tim: ...reluctant little ponds
Jim: Now the muck and sponge of peat where once a forest stood...

Best entire poem (my opinion only!):
Tom's Screen Dump: In Perugia;Tim's Still Here; Alan's Rhea saved Zeus
Rhea saved Zeus, which began with a surprise gift to the monstrous Kronos, was a gift to all of us from Alan. He captured the mythical story in an airy and humorous poem we all enjoyed, and was kind enough to capsulize the tragic story for us as an addendum. Excellent stuff. I thought Screen Dump was clever and it carried me right along, but Art commented that it was in danger of becoming epigrammatic, which can be tedious, said his attention flagged. We talked about being an artist vs a craftsperson, but tabled the discussion for another occasion. Tim was complemented on both the story line and the presentation, with short, terse, Hemingway-like sentences and no -ing endings, which it seems no one likes much.

Musth - with an "h" - is "a state of violent frenzy occurring in rutting season in male elephants, accompanied by exudation of an oily substance from the eye and mouth glands." And that settles that - Professor Willis prevails, misspellings don't count. (Paul suggested substituting "elephant sex"). Tim remarked that it is still a bad odor, either must or musk, and Art wittily replied "Not to the elephants." I also looked up opprobrium. Oh, Tom wanted the poem broken into 4 stanzas is a good idea.

Tom had another good idea for Jim's work, which began with the Shakespearean-sounding line quoted above. Tom suggesting moving the first stanza to the end to solve a transition problem that Mark pointed out between stanza 1 and 2. Jim had some good alliteration in this Golfing in Northern Ireland saga in which he compared it to love, golfing and love both being psychoses. I mistook the 12D & E reference as apartment numbers rather than airplane seats.

Philomena wrote some terrific lines citing her desire to be a better person in Meditation on the St. Francis Prayer. We had to explain to Ms. Abrams, our little Jewish poet, who St. Francis was (the guy from Assisi who befriends animals, much like Edie does herself.) The Prayer is also a work worth reading.

Mr. Amidon, who will in the future be referred to as Paul Perfect, brought another faultless poem about Drought. I don't know what was the matter with everyone tonight, but we wasted a lot of time quibbling about verb tenses in a number of poems, including this one.

Edie claims to have heard Paul's voice as she was writing her Spring poem, which began with a recitation of green shades and a reference to the Hudson River School, and ended with she and Caesar stumping through the preserve. Nice one, despite more controversy over verb tenses.

Rachael told us she had halved her leather couch poem and it was still a work in progress. Not realizing this room/couch actually existed, I inadvertently insulted her interior decorating abilities - sorry, Rachael - and she likened poets to navel lint experts. We talked in general about what details to include, what details to leave out. Thanks, Mark, for LTD. I was not familiar with that phrase.

Great title nomination:
O'Bee's The events that were soon on top of him:
Neolethean - O'Bee's new river Styx. Love that. Alan mentioned that this reflection on women and aging was autobiographical and not only did we all agree, we all related. You "never have enough of women's love" (or men's either). Art helpfully contributed a line on "finding your body seeking friendship with gravity". Ha.

Who am I forgetting? Only myself, I guess, cause we ran out of time, but that's okay - after the critics flapping their jaws tonight, I need to check my verb tenses before I offer it for inspection.

A few photos follow. Good alliteration, Barbara.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Few Brunch Photos


Art eats.




Techies Triumph




Foster Grant and the Professor














His Honor reads.













Don't just sit there, ladies...Ron needs
the Heimlich maneuver!




Art eats again. Or still.










Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Miscellany Again

MISTAKE: Mimi is at Sunday Four on JUNE 28.

Sorry, I haven't had a chance to blog the brunch yet. Good food, excellent poetry. Next year we are NOT doing it in National Poetry Month. Too much competition.

Paul has taken 1st prize in the All Arts Matter contest and will be accepting his prize on May 17. Congratulations, hope some of you can go to the presentation (in Greene County), gang.

I am featured at the Gay/Lesbian center on May 13 at 7 pm, I guess. I need directions. I've been there but...

Alan is planning Will Christman reading on June 1 at Smitty's - 8 pm. Let him know if you are going to attend/read.

Get ready for the art show! I planned the art reception for June 18 from 6 - 8 pm.

I seem to have lost track of time and missed Sunday Four. Mimi will be the feature on May 24.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chatting with Grandma W. & Adolph K.

No big fanfare tonight, no rockets into the sky, just the usual pack of poets quietly casting off to sail the waters of imagination. We were not disappointed.

Alan’s “Modest Journey Through” took us through a series of images of mother earth in the peace of a warm night. The peaceful, soothing tone rose above contentious specifics of philosophy to conclude “balanced on the fullness of a heart.”

Rachael presented “At the Farm Stand; Grandma W. Talks about a Customer with Her Daughter,” a poem with obvious merit as a performance piece. It succeeds admirably in what it sets out to do: bring Grandma W. to life on the printed page through a monologue in Grandma’s heavily-accented American English. Accented from the standpoint of someone from the northeast, that is. It sounds like Grandma W. could be from anywhere between Arkansas or Oklahoma to Appalachian Virginia. The proof that the accent is captured on the page was that the second reader read it as effectively as Rachael’s first reading. The poem, as Dan and Art pointed out, reads like part of a script, but stands as a poem.

A review of any written work should, I believe, be done by someone other than the author of that work. Novelists don’t write reviews of their own novels; artists don’t write reviews of their own exhibitions. I am not the one to review “Seeing The Light,” my poem about a kid getting bombed on a cup of communion wine at church. Anyone else that attended the meeting is welcome to review it. This blog gives readers the option of submitting comments, an option that is little used. Use it. It’s a free country.

Kathy McCabe’s “The Wrong Side” did a good job stating its theme of social status being influenced by where you live. Comments centered around how to improve its poetic qualities without losing the message. Alan noted the first two verses leaned toward a prose style, while several people offered ideas to strengthen the last verse. After the initial muse arrives, as it has in this case, the revision muses often take their own sweet time coming around, and we never know what comment will spark the arrival of one in the poet’s mind.

A poem that elicits no comments is usually one that is excellent or one that fails to communicate. When a poem gets a lot of comments, the poet can safely conclude he or she is on to something. Dan’s “The Power Within” generated much discussion, ranging from genetics to use of the passive voice. Barbara felt this poem was too instructional, that it should have more of a personal touch. Alan thought voice was the key, and its use needed more consistency. Well supplied with musings on science and thought-provoking questions, this work succeeds in stimulating the mind, but for me would benefit from sounding less objective and scientific. Content was not the question here, delivery of the idea was.

Coincidence worked to the advantage of all who attended this meeting. It is the only way to explain the appearance of Grandma W. and Adolph K. on the same Thursday night, but that’s exactly what happened. Art’s “Homage to A Chest Thumper,” a two and a half page poem about a Polish immigrant, relied heavily on the technique of the man telling his own story in heavily-accented English. Enhanced by a skilled theatrical reading from the author, it could have been ten pages and held my interest. Adolph, who lived a life most people only read about in novels, escaped from the Nazis, then the Soviets, before arriving in the United States. Crammed with interesting details that bring out his personality, the poem leaves the reader or listener wanting to know more about a man who was born to succeed in life. This poem was a hit; with any luck those who missed it will hear Art read it sometime in the future. Catch Art and Rachael reading tonight’s poems at the same open mic and you’ll be doubly lucky.

Tim likes to put his poems in the crucible of criticism very soon after getting them on paper. He did it again with “The Last Time I Saw Kookie,” a poem about his cat. It wasn’t at all clear it was about a cat, or even an animal, until we combed the verses for the few clues given about the subject’s identity. Mimi thought it was vague, lacking in vitality. The fact that many of us couldn’t identify the subject cat with certainty demonstrates the need for more clarity. With more specific references this poem will improve considerably; it already has a strong ending. Much of what Tim was alluding to came to light after his explanatory comments, but as Lawrence Ferlinghetti once said: “Like a bowl of roses, a poem should not have to be explained.”

Mimi brought “Man, 44, Announces Engagement,” a piece that effectively showcases both her happiness and annoyance when she received the news of the engagement. I would be annoyed too if someone close to me delivered a heavyweight piece of news through the commonplace, often tacky medium of email, rather than calling to tell me personally. An apparently unintended hard edge crept into the poem with the reference to his handing over “our mother’s ring” to his fiancé. Nearly everybody picked up on this, so obvious was it, but Mimi said no, there was no such hard feeling. Maybe there’s something subconscious going on here, to have such an effective miscommunication appear in a poem. My opinion is to leave it in. It makes a better poem. We’re not dealing in court testimony here. Bend the truth if a better poem results.

Cathy Anderson’s “Anniversary” is a meditative reflection on the sadness of anniversaries that can no longer be celebrated with the joy of former days because someone who figures prominently in the memories is gone. This poem, as Barbara said, has much feeling, and says a lot in a few lines. Comments centered on the third verse, which Mimi felt tended too much toward prose after the poetic first two verses. What stays with me about this piece was the static Cathy took for using “ribbon of blue” as a description of the Hudson River. Several people criticized its use as too much of a cliché, while “wrong side of the tracks” in Kathy’s poem drew no comments about clichés at all. My feeling is that criticism of the “ribbon of blue” was overdone. I agree with Samuel Goldwyn, who said: “Let’s have some new clichés,” but many of the old ones still have their place.

Jim got the whole group talking with an untitled piece of concrete poetry, a type of poetry which has to be seen to appreciate its artistic merits. Reactions varied considerably. Alan, Rachael, and Tim didn’t warm to the art form, while Barbara found it “utterly fascinating. There’s more here than meets the eye.” There is nothing here that meets the ear, as it can’t be read without making the reader sound like a babbling idiot, but that’s the nature of this type of artistry. Mimi observed that it “has a better chance of being published in a literary journal than anything else presented tonight.” Art is art, but art that sells is published. Sounds real to me.

There are five Thursdays in April this year. We hold a fifth Thursday meeting every so often, and one next week is a possibility. Watch this blog, email too, for a final decision. If it happens, I’ll be there. Be there or be square. Be there and be square. Either way, we don’t care. As long as it happens, as long as you’re there.

Post by Paul

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Things You Might Want to Know

April 25 BRUNCH
anticipated timeline:

10:30 set up, help appreciated
We have a new audio system which I may need assistance with

11 a.m. Poets arrive with food
If you need suggestions about simple food, bring juice or soda, or fresh strawberries or brown'n'serve sausage we can cook here

11:15 a.m. EATING BEGINS!

NOON-ish - Poetry begins when eating diminishes and ends sometime before 4:30 so we can clean up. Help needed here, too.

Notes:
There will be a signup sheet for the open mic on the desk in the hall.
If you can bring an electric frypan, we need one or more.
Roaming photographers are encouraged.
Musical performances also welcome.
Spouses and friends should be encouraged to come.
Bring poems we can read to each other if no one else shows up.

PS - Brunch is not in Cincinnati.



JUNE ART SHOW

I am expecting everyone to contribute something. The show will be hung by Tom, Obee and me on Sunday, May 31.

Your work must be ready for hanging when you bring it, when means it MUST have hooks or holes or some other arrangement to be suspended on the wall. If you are doing a sculpture or found art piece, let me know ahead of time so I can find a spot for it. (Mike Burke's beer can sculpture is an example of this.)

If you are not a serious artist, you are encouraged to be imaginative and unusual - fingerpainting and collages are easy. If you can incorporate one of your poems into your work, that is great.

The earliest convenient time available for a reception is Thursday, June 18 from 6 - 8 p.m. (The FOL Booksale has taken a whole week out of the June schedule and the library will be closed on Sundays for the summer.) Mark your calendars and invite your friends.

See you all I hope on April 23.

Friday, April 10, 2009

War Stories

The math genius me had everyone scratching their heads with eleven people in the room and only ten on the list. Baffled everyone for a while, especially me. Everything was a little bizarre tonight. The setup team left a gaping chasm (is that redundant?) in between the tables for an unknown reason and I wanted Ron to crawl under the tables and pop up in the middle. Looking his normal GQ self, he declined.

Cathy got a little testy with me when I criticized her spelling - I still think I'm right - but we don't hold grudges. It was nice to see her after her hiatus. Her poem was a childhood memory of fearing the hiss of the vaporizer. We had to explain what "croup" was to the younger folks.

Paul shocked and dismayed me with his variation from pattern. No nostalgia for him this time, but a piece called Half Truth which I say was droning. Ron said it "will become a poem eventually". Others leapt to Paul's defense, saying his change in direction was Fresh and current. Tom liked the imagery and metaphors. I like it when he tells a story.

Ron chastised his own Camera Obscura, saying his third stanza- well, I'd won't print what he actually said, but it means was not up to his high standards. Tom called it Charles Simic-ian, if that's a word. We all agree the first stanza with "memory dialing its shady accountant to balance the books" was the best.

Art found Tom's poem very kinetic, into movement, into imagination. It was a well constructed effort with a good exit strategy and left both readers rather breathless with its pace. I particularly enjoyed "dear departed Winnie - comes clomping in". Good stuff.

Tim was Too Perfect for Sex. The 41/21 business confused most people, as well as the end. I found it very emotional - men hunting in smoky darkness, crazed, enslaved. Paul wants you to lose the "tippy-toes".

I learned something from Art, as I often do: a comma in a poem counts for one beat and a dash is used to represent at least two beats, so the use of them contributes to the timing of the poem. His Counterpoint was concise and staccato. Mimi mentioned the success of the assonance. Tom pointed out it was bereft of transitionals, to its benefit.

Dan presented I Walk Among the Stars, a heavenly kind of poem, with very effective spacing on the page. It was rather existential and quoted both Nietzche and Conrad. Tim didn't like the quotes. BTW, when you are doing this...use only three dots unless it is the end of a sentence, in which case, use four. One is the period.

Mimi tackled a great subject - middle aged people reflecting on their teen years. I enjoy almost anything that mentions Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, but I didn't get the part that they were watching impersonators instead of the real deal. Other people got it, I think. I also liked the repetition...the break, the break, last night, last night.

Our first-timer Kevin Duffy, who is a renegade from Larry's philosophy group, attempted to read two poems, but we ungraciously wouldn't allow him to break the rules, even if he was a guest. His poem would have benefited from a better format which would have clarified a big misconception regarding the word "first" which we all made. I wanted it neater. Then Mimi lectured him on the importance of titles. Hope he didn't think we were too rude to come back.

REFRIGERATOR POEM ALERT! This was the poem of the night, which the author Jim Williams insisted was not as good as we thought it was. He said we were influenced by the subject matter, which was anarchy, rebellion against authority, hatred of the establishment, etc. He may be right. But we totally loved the poem anyway. Mimi and I were cheering.

Tom and Jim and Cathy and Just Me had pleasant conversation at the Tavern.

Afterthought: Write out the numbers one - ten, then use numerals for higher.

There is one more meeting before the brunch. See you in Cincinnati.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

An Analgesic Night

With the captain halfway to the tropics and the ship about to sail, one might expect the crew to hold together on precedent alone, but wait, is that a whiff of mutiny in the air? Maybe not; once under sail the night’s voyage was normal, even quieter than usual in some quarters. Once back in port, the usual tars headed out on the straight-line road to grog, and a drink to go with it. In a realm where bands of poets sail the dark hours, the shoals of boredom are especially dreaded.

Alan brought something different from many of his recent poems. “To Comprehend A Gaze Outward” turned our attention inward with a meditative musing set in the early morning hours. Comments were limited, which is often the case with a poem best savored slowly, allowed to steep like a cup of tea in the mind.

Jim Williams, a poet who strikes me as someone who belongs in our group, gave us “Love-feast,” a statement about love in the “shadow of self-interest” that ended up centering discussion on one line: “agape stuff.” That’s agape with an accent on the e, a Greek word. I’ve forgotten what it means. By his own admission it’s a line he has given much thought to already; more might be needed. It said what it wanted to say, but seemed out of sync with the poetic smoothness of the other lines. Also lurking at the edge of this is the concept of using foreign words in English poetry, an idea we’ve taken up more than once.

Reminiscent of Alan’s style in many of his poems, wherein he writes with few articles, is the beginning of Rachael Ikins’ “As Spring Approaches the First Year, The Tribe.” It then starts including more articles as it takes us along to share the comradarie of two poets. With good poetic images and a scenario local poets can picture easily, it did, as Philomena said, let us “be part of the experience of the poem.” Mimi pointed out the punctuation was inconsistent, but I’m not jumping off the punctuation cliff today. As we all know, anything goes in the punctuation of poetry (all, some, or none), but whichever choice you make, be consistent about it.

Dennis did it again, gave us a beautiful poem, thoughtful, filled with the sensitivity of a genuine poet, and polluted it near the end with one word like a cup of toxic waste in a mountain lake. Mimi voiced my sentiments, and probably those of others, when she landed with both feet on “analgesic,” a word that belongs on medicine bottles, not in poems. Change that one line and “Beware” is a winner of a poem. Still, I shouldn’t complain too much. “Analgesic” isn’t as bad as “hendecasyllabically,” a seven-syllable eyesore parked on a line of his previous poem like a toad on the dinner table. This, from the poet who won the Rip Van Winkle Poetry Competition last year. (Hendecasyllable --- a metrical line of eleven syllables)

Mark’s “Matchmaking” successfully captures the flavor of a group of local gossips gathering and spreading news and rumors. This too is a winner. His presentation and layout on the printed page is excellent. If a chapbook consisted of a single poem on a single sheet of paper, this would be it.

Anyone who has seen a few of his other poems would read “The Final Exit” and say: “This is a Mike Burke poem.” As is often the case with Mike, the ending puts the poem over the top with a wham—bang wrap-up. I loved it. As good as it is, though, Rachael had a few suggestions to make it even better. Don’t stay away so long next time, Mike.

Kathy McCabe’s “This Memory” is a touching, sympathetic tribute to a woman who suffered much in the hard school of her life. Alan made the comment that the poem gives little glimpses that make you want to know more about the woman, a comment right on the money. Mimi, who had a lot of good observations this evening, noted the last eight lines were iambic but not the rest, and suggested making the whole poem iambic. Either way, the poem works.

Dan gave us new lyrics to the religious standard “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” lyrics he has sung to a congregational audience. Parody songs are often light, humorous, or ridiculous, but this is none of those. It is a straight-out religious rewrite, skillfully done, that probably was very well received when he sang it. I wish I had been there.

Some people love squirrels and some people, particularly those who want to feed birds only, can’t stand the fat gray freeloaders. All right, so now you know where I stand, but Mimi sees it differently and says so in “On My Deck.” This poem is so effective it makes me feel sorry for the squirrel crying on her deck, but I know if I saw it wrapped around a bird feeder, munching away, my sympathy would melt. A change of person might improve the last verse, but only if the ideas and imagery it currently has are retained.

Philomena’s “Drowning,” described by Mimi as “poignant and sympathetic,” is a strong poem that will be stronger if the intent is made clearer and the speakers better identified. That the intent was not clear enough came through to me when Philomena made her own comments. Tom came to life on this poem, suggesting several of the line rearrangements he is locally famous for. I’m not a fan of repetition, but here the repetition of the lines “underneath, the silent plea, help me” adds to the poem’s power, driving home the idea that the bottom line of all that goes on in this poem is to help people. I hope we get to see this one again.

Last but never least, Tom continued in his collage-of-images style with “Ezra in Exile.” Fans of Ezra Pound’s poetry will especially like this, indeed, a lot of it will no doubt be lost on those who know little of Pound, as a knowledge of his life is necessary to fully appreciate this poem. It is another of those poems that gives you glimpses and leaves you wanting to know more.

Do YOU want to know more? Show up at the next meeting, April 9.

Post by Paul





Friday, March 13, 2009

Eating An Elephant

Tom came with a masterpiece which everyone liked. It exhibited Tom's usual cleverness and wry sense of humor throughout, but also flowed in a cohesive sequence and intensified as it moved along. Art coined an appropriate phrase about it - "diddling with your digital" which described the act of having your computer plundered for personal informaton. Very relatable.

BTW, Dr. Willis dropped the remark that he was once a paramedic at a rock festival and I look forward to quizzing him more on that topic. His poem Overlap was a quiet success, striking a chord about youngsters in Africa being kidnapped and sold for profit.

Kathy McCabe mainly needed to reformat, and the conversation focused on how she could redo the lines to strengthen the tale of twins, who chose between death and therapy.

I got a couple of suggestions for Trying to Sleep (with Satan yammering in your head). The idea had been floating around for a couple of months and I finally got it down on paper in a conversational tone which someone called "a beautiful way of sitting with your sins".

Alan wants to do a broadside of Paul's Stock Car Racer which was near perfect in Paul's inimitable style, recounting the happiness of a man flying around the race track.

Dan Lawlor is back from Florida with a rhyming poem about nameless Longings in a cemetery. Poem needed some details to make it "grounded". General impression was that it was too "otherworldly."

Mark was also a winner tonight with one Tim picked as his favorite of the evening. Art called it musical, Tom suggested a list near the end and switching two stanzas at the top, both of which were good ideas. I mentioned how much I prefered it when Mark did not write in dialect.

Tim and Linda was a great triumph according to to Art, and I wholeheartedly agreed. It was accompanied by a picture of studly Verhaegen around the time of his high school prom and the poem was a heartstopper. It led to a discussion of centering poetry on the page and why you should not do it (it makes it look Hallmarkian). And amateurish. Tim's great line - "you've come to the calm now".

Barbara's Rant of the Night was unleashed on Dennis whose truly lyric and lovely Evening Prayer with lines like "oh pearl white egg of night" was utterly discombobulated by the intrusion of hendecasyllabically. Beats me what he was thinking and he wouldn't tell us.

For a more exciting ride, we suggested that Philomena take out the qualifiers in her work about the horrors of high cholesterol - "we are all on this Titanic together".

Jim Williams made a return visit in a sunny yellow shirt with a poem about a woman in a park feeding the pigeons. It reminded me of a poem I had written years ago after seeing a woman in Central Park with pigeons perched all over her. (As Dan remarked, "there is nothing new under the sun".) There is nothing you can say or think that has not been done before. We can only strive to say it in new and better way. Jim had an unusual rhyme scheme which needed a little work.

I met Rachael Ikins who had been to a meeting that I missed. She is from Menands and rides here with Alan. She brought a prose poem which of course inspired questions about prose poetry. Group liked the wording of the poem - "He lay with his breath in his mouth wishing it hers"- lovely-but it seemed to lend itself more to a regular form.

Bringing up the end is Alan, dear Alan, who, I opine, has suddenly brought back his inner poet with an emotional offering about a tree in Crack Alley. He also chose to rib me with some Google statistics about historic, scientific and romantic poetry, but that was of no consequence compared to his personal revival.

I had a great time last night, lots of good and some outstanding poems.

Dennis is organizing a group for WordFest on April 17, with dinner prior to 7 pm reading. Contact him to sign up. I have contact info for Rachel and Jim if anyone needs it.

Remember also Sunday Four is March 22, with Mary Panza featured. Mary is a little too colorful for some, but I enjoy her. And, she is a great massage therapist! I hope I'll see you there before I leave for Florida on the 23rd. Paul is taking charge of the next meeting.

I passed out invitations to the potluck brunch on April 25. Everyone should be thinking about their artwork for the June show. Obie is taking donations for his art fund.