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

Friday, November 13, 2009


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 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.

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