Saturday, March 16, 2013

Coffeeshop Writer's Group - New Poems: The Well-Tempered Machine / We are not Immortal Like the Catholics

My strange sleeping patterns had me up late, when our writing group was emailing one another. Carly couldn't thing of a thing to write about but we all encouraged her not to come to the group empty-handed.

Colorful Carly Brown

I keep a tiny notebook on my bedside table and had two ideas before falling asleep. Wrote em down and told Carly I would work on em at that very moment.

The Well-Tempered Machine was fairly easy. I often listen to YouTube music and was listening to Glenn Gould play The Well-Tempered Clavier, or "clavicle" as Carly joked.

Everyone brot in a piece to share, which makes for the best group.

Martha brot in a wonderful religious piece, a chapter in her book "Woman at the Well."

"Yanny" is a believable character in this chapter. "The father wanted to name her for his grandmother whom he loved," said Martha. "But he didn't like grandmother's real name so he named her 'Yanny,' a corruption of' 'Granny.'"

"I chose that name," she continued, "because the Biblical woman I'm going to call "Yael" needed an unusual "Y" name," said Marf.

Every American knows what this is, our favorite addiction. 

Linda wrote an amazing poem about coffee.

Like me, she takes it hard when people tell her her poem doesn't quite work.

"Happy?" I said, putting my arm around her. "People loved your poem."

Beatriz Moisset, shown here at her home, wrote another super-interesting piece "Of Bees and Honey: What is Honey?"

"In the beginning, there were wasps, no bees at all." She plots the evolution of bees. Wasps were insect hunters but evolved into vegetarians as they learned to gather nectar, "a rich octane fuel that gave them enough energy to do all the flying needed to hunt for prey."

Sugar! Energy!

"They became hairier and developed baskets to carry pollen home, thus a new creature was born, different enough from wasps to belong in a different category: a vegetarian wasp, the mother of all bees."

The prolific Beatriz published her first e-Book from Google only yesterday. Graphic designers will format it into an online book. For $1,000 extra, you can have a hard copy.

Her "Bees and Honey" story, she said, will comprise a new e-Book.

Carly, shown here when we met at Weinrich's Coffee Shop, wrote a promising poem-in-progress about her new calico cat, aptly named "Our Toots." 

What a character! But, then, what cat isn't?

"Circle of Life" was the contribution from Donna Krause of the gorgeous nails. When we met at Weinrich's Bakery, she had no idea that within a year, her husband John would be dead of a massive heart attack.

Her poem discussed her healing. "Being alone" was not so hard anymore.

I'm sick of ordering bad coffee at the Giant, so I brewed some tea at home in my beautiful ceramic mug w/ tight-fitting plastic cap I bot when I visited The Cloisters Museum in northern Manhattan on one of my day-trips.

I asked Giant's Ann or Mercedes to please refill my cup with water, which they did with alacrity. How's that for a word I've never used in my life.

When returning to my table, who should I see but my friend Terry Farber, sitting with her husband. They were at the Giant, grabbing some lunch, a break from painting their house in Abington. I glanced down and saw Terry's healthy salad, overloaded with broccoli.

Terry Farber, photo from her website. She runs an elder law firm. Taking a big risk, she left a law practice where she was guaranteed work and money, but this was something she'd always wanted to do.

And.... she's doing really well!!!

When Terry left, she gave us a bag of

We each read our fortunes aloud. I said I couldn't eat mine b/c I have diabetes from taking Prograf and Prednisone, my kidney antirejection meds.

Give it to Scott, someone said.

He doesn't eat sugar, I said, and then guess who appeared at our table.

Hey, guess what they're playing on WXPN? Trini Lopez singing "I've Got a Hammer."

Donna, who's still griveing for her husband, said she only listens to XPN b/c other stations play music that make her cry, in remembrance of John.

Look! Trini aged like the rest of us.

Speaking of which, here are my two poems, written in an hour before group.


Dear one,
yellow, though you are,
you peel
revealing rotting wood
I have come to like it here
a high-ceilinged living room
reminding me of snow-covered forests
in Switzerland
a kitchen where light floods in –
am I outside in the backyard
with the songbirds and crows? –
and an upstairs office
where my boy once slept
now catching the curl of winds
that rough up the house
and find their way inside
to chill my feet

I like it here and want to stay.
My borrowed body says
something else
aging sans mercy
until the world is
through with me

Who will buy my house?
The for-sale sign swings
with the wind
turns hot in the summer
and one day
they will fall in love
kick down the sign
and watch the daffodils
come up in spring.   


the soft exhale of the basement furnace
the sigh of the refrigerator
hum of the desktop
lightning-fast hall light
that flips on with a chain-saw snap
the flush of the pink upstairs toilet
that takes its good old time to fill up
and, lest we forget,
the black Bic ready at midnight
for my thoughts.

Machines, all of you
working to please your
mistress, a woman we call
Ruth Z Deming,
and her many manifestations
and operations.

Eli Whitney was one of your fathers
Grandpa Harold, banker Emmanuel
and a rabbi in the old country
were mine.

We love our machines
when my rice cooker died the other day
I did not bury it
- “it” –
but threw it in the trash to be
burned, then buried in the landfill

We don’t think of machines
as having a soul
but can we be sure?

When I lived back in Hungary
a mud-hut my home
drinking warm flasks of kefir
on our sheepskin rug
I listen for the sound of dad
walking outside,
a wooden stick, his cane,
as he made his way home.
Arms ready to embrace.

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