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 12, 2010

Loggerhead Rises from a Swamp

Aptly titled and accompanied by an amusing picture on Mark's iPad, Alan's poem was a more "poetic" effort than the one I so harshly commented on last time. Tim remarked cutely that it lacked scientific references to the flora and fauna. Alan and Mark had trekked up Bennet's Hill in Clarksville, the inspiration for both guys' poems. Mark had written Hilltop Visionation (he made that word up, I asked), a letter to America in a great font, which we all liked. It was adorned with colorful vistas from his camera.

The photos led to a short discussion of the efficacy and purpose of photos and artwork accompanying poems, a topic which was tabled for a discussion night.

Jim tried to tangle Paul's tongue with Carmen Maccaronicum (Macaroni Song), a real twister with a hodgepodge of foreign words that Jim presented in his own inimitable style and accents which Paul had to attempt to duplicate. Jim called it an aural toast, definite open mic material.

I thought Osterman and Whiteman was an hysterical portrayal of a prestigious law firm run by a short guy with small genitalia. Few criticisms of this one.

Wildly successful is my thought on Philomena's Corduroy Pants, I think my alltime favorite of her poems. It was a commentary on sweatshops, invoking a comparison betweens worlds and cultures that was well written and intense. " be connected by the clothes on your back to that person sitting and eating rice noodles...yet to be on guilt's edge with the rightness and wrongness of world equations." Great stuff.

As I write this I'm realizing what a good night it was. Ann unveiled a heretofore hidden aspect of her life with a picture of her ex as The Wolf. When she left the cottage, she left forever, no woodsmen to rescue her. (As an aside, Ann's face looked like someone had beaten her, but she hastened to tell us it was from dental work. Don't go to her dentist.)

Beach Boy Burke took some unusual criticism last night with Lakeside Rocks at Lookout Point. Everyone was waiting for Mike's traditional surprise ending which did not occur. Paul (I think) said it was too formal for Mike's voice. We suggested rearranging the verses, taking out some unnecessary words and reworking the final six lines. Don't laugh, we did like the poem in spite of all the disagreement.

Dan did another good job with Skipping Stones. I noted that Dan seems to have made a great leap (sorry, pun) in his work recently. That means that now we can get down to the business of finetuning our critiques. One point made was that taking out the qualifiers (some, someday, always, much) would make the work stronger, e.g. "False opinions are like sins" instead of "some false opinions are much like sins". Dan assured us that he is an eager learner.

I chuckled over Paul's response to my desire to have more color in last week's Carousel Horses. Instead of inserting more actual colors, he added the word color in two places. It was funny, but it still didn't work for me. Paul made changes to the whole poem. We still wanted him to lop off the final two lines. Tim told us Paul never stops revising, which is good.

We spent a long time on Eddie's (Edie) Visit to New York, with a variety of opinions on the length (her longest ever) and the topics included. I thought it tried to cover too much and would have been stonger as three separate poems. Not everyone, including the writer, agreed. We all liked the first section best, re the bus stop encounter.

To sum up, the twelve of us were an energized group with lots of interaction and some really good critiques. Larry and I graciously :)) gave up our spots in the interest of time.

We will not meet again until after Thanksgiving, so blessings on you, raconteurs.

There follows an email I just rec'd from Dennis and his poem (which I enjoyed).

Dear Poe-ettes,

Sorry I could not make the gathering last nite but I have had a wee bit of work
done on my plumbing. Am ok.

I did have a poem to share which I send below. It is dedicated to Helen Vendler
that great spelunker of poesy caverns, holding high her torch so all can see her steps and perhaps wish, dare to tread there as well.

I was thinking what a great gift to poetry she is and thus this poem below.



(For Helen V.)

When the sounds of day
Are neatly packed away
In their proper drawers

And darkness rings
Like a visitor from outer space,
Rings the bell of consciousness,

I sit and ponder my remains
Strewn like carrion across
A solitary country road,

Which even crows deny
A place at table, remains
More alone than nothing.

But who’s to weight
The weight of life more
Than endless death?

The mind could care less,
Calculator running up the score,
But the heart, the heart cares

Runs about like a crazy neighbor
Organizing the neighborhood into
Edens of collective joy

Poor heart, the heart, driven
Like a horse without a cart
Blind at a blind man’s game.

Again, it matters not, it only
Matters how to settle in
To common consciousness

Where life and death night and day
Are so one that their twin selves
Have no past or future,

Suspending all that’s real
Into nothingness, an absence,
That gives pleasure beyond bounds.

Who has not stood at that wharf
And seen the boat of life sail off
Far into the thinness of the sea?

The sea is full of such,
Rudderless hulks without place
Or destination to go to.

Again it matters not, it only
Matters how to settle down
Into wordless silence

The place that is no place
A mind without thought or reason
A body wrinkled like a peach.

A drowsy numbness? No. Nirvana
Is no place or acheless state
Nirvana is the beginning

Before all beginnings were,
Before there was an is,
Before is-not was, before

Before before, before before
Was, when the sounds of day
Are neatly packed away

In their proper drawers
And darkness rings
Like a visitor from outer space.

Dennis Sullivan
October 29, 2010
2:11 am
The Ville


  1. Anonymous11/12/2010

    Wow, kudos three meetings in a row...I think I have died and gone to poetry Heaven...perhaps it is time to retire??? Thanks everyone for the kind remarks...Dan Lawlor

  2. Anonymous11/20/2010

    Tinkering is the greatest tool a poet can have.
    Every poem, whether at first it seemed to be the best words that could be chosen, may, in the light of subsequent re-viewings, always be altered, or upgraded, to make the offering a better work. So, tinker away, dear friends, the future is the rewriter's dream
    Dan Lawlor, utility poet (which means I can play any position, infield, outfield or just warming the bench)