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, March 26, 2010


The night began with us all anticipating a conference call on my cell from Jim in NYC which didn't work out. Jim seems anxious that he is missing poetry and sent me a sonnet which he was going to read to the group. We'll save it for next time when he will be back. We miss him.

Philomena brought a friend named Ann, who was brave enough to offer up a two-page poem about the joy of adopting her daughter in China. We were our usual brutal selves but gave her helpful suggestions for revisions. The story in the poem is good and it has some good lines, but it needs to be shortened and made punchier. We talked a couple of times tonight about the concept of "show not tell" which is a tried-and-true that always helps me.

Philomena shared Love's Compass, the poem she wrote for Sam on their 20th anniversary, a fact that did not deter us from critiquing. The poem contained the words enlightenment and Buddha, both of which we ended up removing (only sugggestions!) Edie called it "poetry by committee". The streamlined version read by Susan was appreciated by all, including the author, I think.

Susan's Matters of the Heart, here in its entirety, was one of the saddest one-liners ever: "Almost ready to give up/on love/too many/old toothbrushes/fill the/dirty cup in the bathroom." Big debate on one final line, which Susan ended up deleting.

Art called Larry's Channel 437 a compilation of Ogden Nash, George Carlin, Jules Fieffer and Lewis Carroll. Someone said "don't spend too long enjoying it or you'll miss something good". Very true. It was playful and wonderful (Philomena) and a searing political statement(me) about shredding textbooks, murdering turkeys to celebrate thankfulness, slain evergreens commemorating new malls, and more. Loved it.

We totally took apart the last stanza of Paul's Burning Leaves, wanting to omit the final line and remarking that although it contained some good stuff, with a little work it could be more compelling.

Art brought the heartbreaker of the night and did it well. It was a childhood memory of a "small and wan" playmate who died of leukemia. We talked about both the stigma of cancer back in the 40's, and the capitalization and punctuation of the poem. Art told us that the poem had been "pursuing (him) for over 60 years". He said it "sat in me like a cloud" and that he thought it came out finally due to his participation in our group.

Edie won the evening with her Edie's Mikveh. Not only did we really enjoy it, we all got an education in the Jewish ritual bath and sexual mores. Interestingly, our other Jewish female (Susan) had problems with the poem, including the title, thinking it more full of sexual innuendo than reflective of the holiness of the Jewish tradition. I pointed out that that's why it was "Edie's" special mikveh. Edie had us all smiling with her delicate references to "enhancing her life" on Shabat nights with Saul. Reminder to self: look up the difference between labile and nubile.

On May 15 poet/traveler Michael Czarnecki will present a writing workshop here at VPL. See Alan for details.
Our Professor Willis is presenting an evening discussion here on April 12 with the co-author of his new book on innovative teaching techniques. 7 p.m. Good for everyone who needs to relate to others.

Florida was fun, sea-watered my cell phone at the dolphin cove and was incommunicado for two weeks. Dennis will be back from Ireland and featuring at Sunday Four this week (3 p.m.) Hosts Edie and Mike will both be out of town, so it's a one man show.

A Plan for the Improvement of English Spelling

by Mark Twain

For example, in Year 1 that useless letter "c" would be dropped to be replased either by "k" or "s", and likewise "x" would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in which "c" would be retained would be the "ch" formation, which will be dealt with later. Year 2 might reform "w" spelling, so that "which" and "one" would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well abolish "y" replasing it with "i" and Iear 4 might fiks the "g/j" anomali wonse and for all. Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear with Iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and Iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and the rimeining voist and unvoist konsonants. Bai Iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez "c", "y" and "x" -- bai now jast a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez -- tu riplais "ch", "sh", and "th" rispektivli. Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking werld.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Other Every Other Only Real Men Need Apply Thursday Night Poetry Group

My task, that I was coerced into doing by the Sunbathing Queen, is to reiterate what happened last night – Thursday, March 11, 1970 – at the site where the new library will be in about 20 years, and down there among the poets who gather in that swamp with the wattles and the Finns to smoke Cubans and go on and on about all their latest poetic conquests.

To wit:

First up was the soggy – from his Florida getaway trip – Dan. I saw him as wearing a ten gallon hat with his britches falling off his hips, but I was already out of it when the meeting began, so don’t take anything I say too seriously, or don’t take it and sell it to someone else before I get a chance to. Dan danced the words to My Old Chair in his tenor legs. We all tried on the Old Chair and liked it for its tilt and tumble. But some of us were distracted by the twittering Thom Frogs outside the window.

Then Larry went to the bathroom!...

followed by Paul who was haunting him and everyone else with his Abandoned Crazy House. Some of us, the schizophrenics, didn’t like this or that, but overall you know it was Paul and we had a little ride ...

finding ... Alan ...

but here, we all took a 30 minute break to passionately fight for whatever side of the participle controversy we were on – it was a knock-down-drag-out brawl that ended in a tie and destroyed the ambitions of all the mosquitoes who happened to see it.

When Alan’s poem first chugged out of the barn I think we were all right there with him riding on the hay wagon but then Rebecca dropped her contact in a field and everything sort of went mystical and hazy. It was Alan in his wizard’s garb and I think (under all the non-existent sexual chemistry and tension in the room) there was a genuine harmony of opinion that the poem was neat and maybe almost all there.

Which brings me to Mark. Mark seemed to be reading from down in the swamp somewhere, but we all know what that’s like. Maybe he dialed the wrong ZIP! Larry said he was going to the bathroom. Again! Mark pulled out his poem. The ditty was called flung by daily penance: its title was italicized, underlined, and all in small letters, beyond that, sane men fear to pee, which is precisely what we love about O B!

Now we retire to a wood with the venerable Tim. His character romps through the woods seeking it. It? Yes, it! The character’s mother is there to recreate a number of imbalances and then they all have an orgy. Bravo, Tim. Daring, provocative, whacky, designed to move the center of attention to himself, etc. Tim is a risk-taker, and that is very cool, I think. (You don’t know who I am, do you? which is why I’m still able to think!)

Ah, tHom, leave it to tHom to make the trivial sublime. tHom at his chit chatterly ironic oh my god best A High of 51, but see it when it plays in your local movie theater as a pre-show short starting this May.

Me llamo Lorenzo!