Saturday, June 7, 2014

Poetry Afternoon at the Giant - Saw Old Friends and met some new ones -- Poetry Galore Below - Mitch, Linda, Donna, Martha and moi - Backs / Ode to Robin Franklin / Upon Reading The Mother's Tale by James Agee

Thank you Robin Franklin, Community Coordinator at the Giant, for setting up the room, choosing the beverages and sitting in on our Reading. See my poem about Robin at the end.

My goal last nite was to write three new poems for today's program. Carly Brown also utilized the opportunity to present new work.

Michael! I yelled. Great to see you. Mike looked great! He used to run Mike's Hikes.

He stood up and read the poem, by memory, he wrote when he first became a certified peer specialist.

Eleanor, I said to the woman on the extreme right, How did you find out about us?

Your Letter to the Editor in the Intelligencer, she said. Eleanor was one of the friendly library aides at the Upper Moreland Library.

Linda Barrett read first as she needed to leave for her job at the Roslyn Giant. Two of her poems are at blog's end, not to be confused with the novel Howard's End.

Linda read her great poem "Lobsters." I told the audience she was a prizewinner in the Montgomery County Community College Writer's Contest.

Eleanor asked what her story "Mr Cat's Revenge" was about: An evil Muslim man who turns into a cat in order to get the woman he loves, who spurned him.  The cat met his demise when he was run over by a car. 

What an imagination! Donna Krause and I agreed.

Many of Donna's poems have been published on IdeaGems. 

Donna fearlessly writes about her bipolar disorder and also about her tragic losses. Her daughter Mariel was 15 when she died of meningitis. Her husband John died last year. See her poems at blog's end. 

When I was leaving at 3:15, who should I see in the parking lot, but my Scotty! He had just woken up and thought the event would last until 4 pm.

I had told Mitch Davis....

that Scott is  a Jewish mechanic who works at SEPTA. Mitch thought I had said a Jewish cantor.

Holy cow!  Take a look at our late Cantor Meisels back at Temple on the Heights in Cleveland. Studied at Juillard!

Isn't this fun... going on all these amazing tangents. "Amazing" is one of those new words that means ... take your pick... stupendous, great, extraordinary. My mom still uses "swell."

Visited Mom tonite after the show. She looked amazing! I needed to drop off....

As gifts for the poets, I bought an assortment of chocolates at the Giant. How many squares of this did I eat? Hmmm, four.

My blood sugar shot up to 193.  Hopped on my exercise bike, pedaled over 20 minutes, while watching about the Landing on Omaha Beach. Talked about Rommel, The Dessert Fox, who used specially invented grenades that would blow you up in the air.

I only know one man who fought with Rommel: then 18-yo Karl Rickels, who's now an MD, inventor of psych meds and professor. Read about him here.

One of the commentators on the show, a retired military man, said when you wanna win a war, men and women are expendable. Body counts are terrible, but it's what we must do.This is the price we pay to have plenty of fuel and nice things, he said.

Mom had her photo album out. Look how great Mom looked, next to Aunt Selma Greenwold, back in Cleveland.

Uncle Marvin is long gone. He fought in Belgium during World War Two. Dad was stationed at the now infamous Guantanamo.

Martha, on the right, had left her sick bed, and asked me to read two beautiful poems.


She’s here,

Standing over my shoulder,

Listening to the doctors’ words,

Amazed at the tests that could have

Saved her life,

Had she wanted it saved.
She’s here,
One flight down,
from the hospice floor
Where she died,
Patting me on the shoulder
Whispering in my ear,
“ Don’t be afraid!”
She’s here,
As I write the experience
As she wrote her experiences
As wife, mother, widow and Home-goer
She’s here,
Looking for the silver lining
And opportunities
To take others
Under her rainbow
She’s here,
Still my mother
Whether here or there

I didn’t think I’d miss her this much,
She who was always there.
The cushion I could fall on.
Wise woman, organizer, event planner,
Celebrator of birthdays long into my middle age,
Seeing her skinny kid,
in every holiday gift,
Sure a size M would fit my 2x body.
Always answering the phone
Even when Caller ID came out
And she saw it was me again,
Calling to complain about one thing or another,
Not for help, but to hear the sound of her calming voice.
That profound connection,
Mining the gold of who I really am.
My meaning in life -
To make her proud
And to walk tentatively in her
Giant footsteps.
Then, as it must for all of us,
the silver thread that tethered her to this earth,
Thinned and snapped.
The rites said,
Body buried,
House cleaned out
Leaving her child in a vertigo of lost identity.
Who am I without my mother?
What are the steps I should take to get through
My many crises?
I’m Eunice’s daughter
Whether she’s here or there,
I step up and take my place
in the line that stretches back to Eve.
Buoyed by my past,
Strengthened for my future.
Saying, as she always did,
“Have faith! All will be well.”

Sunset thru the kitchen window. Altho the peonies are past their prime, their aroma still titillates.

Allan M Heller, poet laureate of Hatboro, PA, reads his poetry with gusto!

Allan's book, published by Mark Amos of Bux-Mont Stationers. I also recommended Mark for my friend Freda Samuels who's finishing up her memoir. She's the youngest 88-yo you've ever met.

Read Allan's book in its entirety - five stars!

Great seeing Mitch Davis again. He used to read at our Coffeeshop Shindigs in Hatboro at the Daily Grind Coffeeshop. The miserable owner, Kevin, used to play opera music thru the speakers while we were reading.

Uh, Kevin, darling, would you mind turning the effing speakers off!

Poems by Mitch are below. We admired his bold poems about women. We asked what his wife Karen thought about them. Hemming n hawing a bit, he said she likes them.

After all, I said, men always paint beautiful portraits of women like Botticelli's Birth of Venus below.

In fact, Mitch and Karen just got back from Italy. My dream is to go dere again.

Mitch is a former restaurant critic, having wrin for The Trend. After the group adjourned, we talked about restaurants. The two best cuisines, he said, are Italian (!!!) and Chinese (!!!)

Told him about Lemon Basil on the Pike, where Donna, Ellen and I celebrated Ellen's b'day.

 Meg of the beautiful tattoos - forget about the tattoos, said Mitch, I like her necklace - read two stunning poems. She gave me one to load on here.

So where is it? Ruthie, we can't trust you with anything. Her mother Ellen also came along.

Saul Miller read a wonderful poem by his daughter Amy,  The Circle of Blame. She has performed at the Bitter End in NYC.

The prolific Poet Laureate of Hatboro read more poems, one in the "pantoum" genre. Applause applause! I'm looking for a new poetic format and might try the pantoum. I've done quite well with the cinquin - 2 4 6 8 2 - syllabification.

Below is for my friend Denis Hazam who's been having problems being "dialyzed," a term I'd never heard before. What else could I do but send him a poem. I was nominated by Sharon Katz to be Woman of the Year at a local TV station, so the title is a takeoff on that.


the Beast roars, stands
over your bed, jagged
teeth itching to pounce, when Fate cries

Denis and Fran Hazam came for lunch a couple mos ago.

 Carlana Brown read a number of great poems, including one about how we look when we age.... oh, those "turkey necks."


What makes us old?  Did the intervening years do that?  Is that the way that each generation thinks? 

When I see someone that is older than I, I wonder first of all what age they are.  I also wonder how they are getting along.  I try to decipher if they are in any type of pain.  Is getting old hard for them?

I think if I will be able to deal with it.

Now that I am getting of a certain age, I recall looking in the mirror a number of years ago and instead of my face staring back, the face that was looking back at me was indeed my mothers face. 

Where did all those fine lines.  Okay, lets just be honest, wrinkles, age spots and that lovely turkey neck, come from?

I recall looking away quickly, scared by the reflection I perceived.

Now several years later, I have come to realize that undeniably was my actual face gawking back in the mirror. 

And, I must admit it hasn't gotten any better.  The one thing that I can do to make it a little more favorable, take off my glasses.

Nice!  That works. 

Whoa, where did yawl go?


I knew I wanted to write three new poems for today. Worked on em in the wee hours. Bet Carly's working on hers, too, methinks.

I need lotsa time to procrastinate before I write, so I watched one of my fave programs online - Second Opinion - a medical show produced at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Great cast of smarties.

Everyone's family doctor - or PCP as they call them on the show - should be as good as Louis Papa, MD.  My James Foxhall, MD, is excellent.

Oh look! I found James Foxhall's photo online. Hmmm, wonder who took it.

Am wearing a necklace Robin Franklin made various friends from covers of the New Yorker mag.

 Ate my dinner in my breakfast nook, with the great view.
 Made cold soup... chick peas, shrooms, spinach, green scallions and dark vegetable stock. Whenever I eat soup, I always choke.... innocuously. Cough cough cough.


When my legs arrive at the
top of the stairs, I listen
for her voice, the way a child
finds Mother in a wayward
corner of the house, oh there
you are
anxiety gone.

Her voice, how shall we
describe it, not the lark
ascending nor the nightingale
sighing for lost love

A blustery low wind come
through the upstairs window
swaying the white curtains
wind chimes clinking like
wine glasses
laughing at contact
and so I too laugh as
I greet her

No, I am not a pain in the ass,
No, I am not to be dreaded and
avoided, but welcomed on the
topmost floor of her Penthouse
where she presides over her flocks
as she assigns us rooms and takes
our burden from us in her
natty suit and swinging earrings
her New Yorker waiting at home
on the bedside table, waiting,
like us, to be acknowledged and loved. 


Backs can mean a number of
things. Stepping up on the
bus, you sit behind the
driver, and stare at his back
while across from you an old
man scratches his back with
his umbrella.

A man, a former drug addict
named Les – ya know him? –
gave me a smooth
white carton of paper. Reams!
Les is forgotten and his paper
soon will be as I use up the
very last ream, tearing it open
with the franticness of one of
those obese children digging
into his Whopper

My printer chugs away
blindingly-white paper
made from tall pines
in the Northwest
did you mark how
they stood at attention
on the mountaintop
seeking God?

To preserve its diminishing
numbers, I type on the other meaning
of “backs,”
one side already rubbed
with ink. 

My backs: written on
flawed letters that must be redone,
stationery where I tell a woman
her son must stay on the higher dose
of Abilify, a letter to Cousin Leonard
where I tell him after fifty years I loved
his father and his cow-faced mother Sophie
my history and theirs all in backs
my Dead Sea Scrolls in
Qumran’s Caves.

I told the group that in our Upper Moreland Library Book Group we read James Agee's "A Death in the Family." So I read a couple of his short stories, including the one below.

Allan Heller had read a collection of Agee's poetry, which he found excellent. Agee was a film critic who put that genre on the map with his astute writing.


Published in Harper’s Bazaar, 1952

“A Mother’s Tale” is open to
interpretation by the
critics and professors
Let me fill you in
We’re talking cows here
the slow comely soft-eyed
darlings the English love
to paint, but under Agee,
their contentment ends
when one comes home from
the battlefront to warn the
others of what awaits
they shake their heads
when hearing of trains
and stockyards
they had no idea
their paradise smashed
their only hope to
disbelieve, to deny
Mother encourages this
she too fools herself and
banishes the images that
legend holds are true. Something
called Meat. Her tail swats some
flies and she whirls around to see
her soft flanks that have traveled
with her when she and her boys
roam the meadows to graze. In a
vision, she tries to swipe away,
her boys are herded by
men on horseback, she follows them
down the green pasture, as they get
smaller and smaller, until,
No! she’s sure this is a dream.

What I want to know, Mr Agee,
he of the Library of Congress best books
a farm boy himself,
who loved nothing better than the smell
of the manure and hay and straw on his
Daddy’s farm, how did you turn yourself
into a mother cow, with a moo that would
melt in your mouth?   

 Am so used to seeing Mitch with his earring I'd forgotten about it until he included it in a poem.

Read two of Linda's poems below.


                          Gray Skies overhead
                          Melting snow exposes
                          Dirty mounds and fog
                          Parking lot's wet asphalt
                          Reveals garbage can contents
                          lying flat against it
                          resembling dead hideous sea creatures.
                          Trees on the hill
                         Flowers in pots in the Roslyn Giant's entrance
                         once green and lively
                         turn various shades of rust.
                         SEPTA trains in the station
                         wail dinosaur death cries
                         Above Susquehanna Road skies
                         clouds part for a moment
                         allow a rainbow to stretch
                         across the sky's open dome
                         reveal God's loving promise
                         in its multi-colored arch
                         Even in sad times,
                         He comforts us.


                          They sit in the cramped corners
                          of the water tank
                          face each other
                          armored claws bound
                          with thick rubber bands
                          These shelled warriors
                          take on boxer's stances
                          wait their chance
                          to attack each other
                          in impromptu bouts
                          They step over one another
                          pick fights for dominance
                          of their watery ring
                          Some desperate crustaceans
                          decide to make their escape
                          reach out for the tank's top
                          but fall over backwards
                          onto each other
                          Those lucky ones
                           usually win
                           when the sea food man
                           in his white coat
                           pulls them out
                           makes them champions
                           of someone's dinner.

When I am an Old Man
M. Davis, June 2012

When I am an old man I shall wear an earring,
A necklace, and baggy pants below my hips.

I will sit in the park in the sun without a hat,
And watch the world go by.

I shall stand with my shirt unbuttoned in the rain,
And hand out flowers to young couples in love;
Perhaps even get a tattoo behind my shoulder.

I will take long naps in the afternoon,
Waking in time for another “happy hour.”
Have a “Vesper Martini” (Bond’s favorite cocktail),
Maybe two, with some half-price apps. at the bar.
As Jimmy put it, “…Wasting away in Margaritaville.”

I shall spend my 401k on trips to Bangkok,
And on women half my age but twice as smart:
Or maybe my age and half as smart.

But right now I’m not old enough to be a vagabond.
I still have respectability, a mortgage to pay,
And a loving wife at my side who is my guide.
Besides there’s the role I must play to show the way
And be a proper example to the children.

Yet… maybe I have begun my vagabond journey…
Notice the earring if you haven’t already.

Isn’t there a tattoo parlor ‘round the corner?

THE ONE BELOW WAS PUBLISHED IN THE INQUIRER, one of three chosen that year in April, National Poetry Month.

Checkerboards in Winter

The diehard players are there,
Hunched over their granite board,
Wrapped in scarves and capped in wool,
Their breath like puffs of pipe smoke.

One had brought a snow scraper,
His buddy a bath towel.
Together they had wiped the
Early snow from the checkerboard squares.

Around them three kibbitzers stand,
Watching the play move by move,
Shuffling their feet to stay warm...
A wintry tableau in the park.

These men come in all weathers,
Retirees with little else
But each other and their game,
Apart from the city's life.

Once they came with wives and kids
In days of spring and summer.
But now they bring their checkers,
Their castles, bishops, and pawns.

Mitch Davis, Nov. 2011

The Sadness of Beautiful Women

Mitch Davis, Nov. 2006  
Rev. 07, June 2014   

Most think to be a very beautiful woman
 a blessing.
Little do they know
 how distressing,
 even depressing.

You’d have to be in her skin
 to understand
How her attractiveness
 is its own imperative,
 a constant demand.

Each day drawing attention,
         unwanted, unwarranted.
Staring eyes burning her,
Stalking men concerning her,
Lustful minds undressing her,
Lewd minds caressing her.

Everyone thinks: This pretty thing
 has not intelligence, skill,
         nor toughness inside.

Bosses, peers, subordinates deride:
“This ‘bimbo’ can’t really do the job,”
 Or something equally snide.

How sad such a gift turns a handicap…

“Does my new man love me, or just my body?”

“Is my dress too revealing?”

 She cries….

And wishes:
 She’d never been given
                a face and form so appealing!

REMINDED me of The Lovely Shall Be Chooses by Robert Frost. 

Yes, he was young once.


When I was a Boy
M. Davis, Nov. 2011
When I was a boy
I'd hold my breath.
My friends would think
I was very near death.
“Missus Davis, Missus Davis
He's turning blue!”
They'd all call.
Why'd I do this... wish I knew.
When I was a boy
I had no girls.
A strange species, girls,
With narrow waists and curls.
I bloomed real late,
How sad but true,
To see at last
They are..., well..., human too.
When I was a boy
I went to camp
And saw them more...
Sue Klein made my crotch damp.
Went to her bunk
One late dark night,
Raised her blanket,
Lay down and held her tight.
When I was a boy
I loved my Sue,
Kissed her mouth,
And got her crotch damp too.
I never held
My breath again
Or turned blue,
Not since then, when I turned ten.

Later in the show, Saul asked Mitch what happened to Sue.

Who's Sue, said Mitch.

I vividly remembered the below poem from our Coffeeshop Shindigs.

Women in Airports

Mitch Davis, May 2006.

What is it that makes women in airports so alluring?

Is it their mystery? 
Who are they?
Where are they from?
Where are they going?

There is one now….

Is it her aloneness?
Is it unaccustomed, just temporary?
Will some gentleman be waiting at her destination,
To carry her bags, and warmly hug and kiss her?
(What would it feel like?)

She is so beautiful, yet is she truly alone?
She is not young, but older now,
Yet still lissome and lovely, her hair still full and dark.
Something in her knowing eyes and thighs
Express she has been married once.
Is she recently separated, or by now divorced?

I watch her from across the flight gate area.
She stands aloof to all, her back to a huge window.
The early morning light is streaming through her hair
And partially silhouetting her appealing profile.

She is tailored, in a figure-contoured black suit;
Yet feminine ruffle softens her white under-blouse.
Her heels are just so high to raise and taper her calves;
She holds no business attaché, only a small “carry-on.”
(What does she do?)

I try not to overly gaze, but my eyes are drawn to her.
I want to know her name, to caption her image in memory,
But my legs will not dare to close the distance.
Her head turns toward me…I look away, feigning detachment.

Mercifully, the disembodied boarding call begins filling the space.
We move methodically, separately, toward the bridge tunnel.
She is ahead of me…my out-of-control eyes are mesmerized;
Her undulating female walk…a promise of her sexuality?
(What would that feel like?)

We board the plane….

Perhaps the airline’s unknowing, uncaring computer
Will randomly choose to seat us next to each other.
And I will learn the answers,….even after we land. 


Jews have never been afraid to confront God and challenge him. I think The Book of Job set the standard. 

After Mitch read this stirring poem, I read my Nazi Waters, which is too long to print.

Close out the night, Mitch!!

The Longest Hate

Did You know oh Lord,

When You chose Abraham and his people,
What You were doing?
Did You know oh Lord,
When You made your covenant with them,
What You were brewing?

You gave them Canaan, and your sacred Torah,
In trust forever your laws to keep.
You promised them a great nation, a light unto the world.
Then what did You do, go back to sleep?

The “Chosen People” – give me a break!
This ancient agreement was just a fake.
Did You really expect they’d be loved forever?
For an omnipotent God, you’re not very clever.

No, for thousands of years, they’ve been shunned and scorned,
Exiled, ghettoed, gassed, and burned…have You even mourned?

This then, oh Father, is what you gave them,
In payment of the burden of being your chosen.
They’re consigned for centuries to this fate:
Ever being the object of the world’s longest hate.

©Mitch Davis,
April 2014
Poems by Donna Krause


I’m barely there.
Hanging on to life.
Hands cracked and giving way.
Face so raw,
From the blustery summer wind.
Searching to find the good.
That life has to offer.
Tears blinding me now.
My spirit slowly melting,
Into an ugly abyss
Please help me to find a peaceful place,
I cannot see a trace.
Decision to keep on breathing.
The next chapter of my life.
Finding a trace of goodness
Through my grandson’s eyes.

CHELSEA'S MORNING                                 

It’s Chelsea’s morning.
Sun coming up,
Peeking up and over the hills,
Of Boulder, ColoradO.
Huge Rocks sit with dignity,
Kissing the horizon.
Bronzed skin from hiking,
Ascending to the highest peak.
Sky is painted royal blue.
Lives on the side of a mountain.
Perfect solitude.
Delightful country home.
Fireplace roaring,
Snuggling with her dog and her special love.
Guiding her as if she was my own.
Childhood was grim, at times.
As her second mama,
I see glimpses of myself, in her.
Fighting the stress of everyday.
Chelsea’s smile reflects the moonbeams.
Full of sweetness with a kiss of honeysuckle.
She and my daughter are united spirits,
In unison with nature.
Their beauty matches the view of Colorado.
Chelsea surprises me with her visits.
Tears wash over my face.
Loves me like delicate butterflies,
They fly into her life just in time.
A piece of her sits softly in my heart.


 Kind souls formed
 A circle of light
 Arms linked
 Weaved in and out
 Sweet empathy
 Heartfelt and warm
 Tears trickling down my cheeks
 Hiding a familiar wall of dismay
 Light came towards me now
 Afraid to join them
 Shock from John’s death
 Melted away
 Easier to be alone
 Fear lurked in my heart
 Voices calling me still
 Found the courage to belong
 Sunlight danced in my eyes
 Taking in the fresh winter air
 Enveloped by the circle of living     


Goodbye to all the rooms!
All dressed up
Walls painted with pretty pastels
New shades of green
Tiles so unique
Water bath
Takes one to a fresh relaxed state
Dining room furniture
Cries out to stage
Holiday feasts
Champagne toasts all around
Bedroom adorned with gothic taste
Good character and strength
Out back brimming with snap shots
Of birthdays for small or tall
Are playing in my mind
Our Christmas mornings
Full of magic and glee
My younger days were gone
Like a tired old porch swing
Recalling the sting of deaths
Heavenly births captured my heart
All slipped away from me
Like snow melting
On the evergreen trees
How can I leave this haven?
This memorable place called home


Calming vibrations, humming so serene.
Land of colors, too vibrant,
For the eyes to see.
Burdens are lifted, no more despair.
Time to drink in this peace,
And let God guide our path.
Glowing beams of light, play on the gold threaded swings.
Eternal connections from heaven to earth.
Luscious fragrances from bouquets of flowers.
Delivered to their loved ones.
Smiling with tears that trickle from their eyes.
Beds become cradles,
Rocking tenderly, there are no words to speak.
Footsteps are heard in the stairway,
Leading to euphoria.
Doorbells ringing, once, twice.
But no one is there.
Our sweet child’s presence.
A gift that is so poignant,        
Our hearts cry out for more.

END OF BLOG POST. But don't worry. Another one always comes along.


1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed everything here, but too tired to comment on specifics.