Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Iris Arenson-Fuller and Art Fuller Come to Visit from CT - Poem: Walk around the block

When dyou want us there? asked Iris via email.

Round about noon, I said, thinking that would give me plenty of time to:

Mail a get-well card to a friend in Pompano Beach, FL, vacuum, including all the crumbs on my red living room couch, put away my clothes scattered throughout the living room, make a Welcome sign and affix to outside door, clean off the phenomenally messy kitchen table, set the table, have the appetizers ready.

Every time I'd sit down on couch, thinking I'd finished everything, I'd remember something else, like taking down the wine glasses for wine I bot yesterday at the Giant.

Finally, I sat down to watch Person of Interest, an exciting CBS Show I watch on Netflix

Image result for person of interest and I looked out the door and there they were coming up my sidewalk.

They looked surreal! It felt as if they were coming out of my movie.

I blinked my eyes, shut off the laptop, and went out to meet them.

Iris and I have been in touch on Facebook. Art, her second husband, I'd never met before.

 When Iris left, she plucked this off the door to keep as a souvenir. She and Art had miles to go before they leave the area.
 We sat and talked dans le living.
 Made the chili the day before. Sauted the usual suspects in olive oil, then added a huge jar of Ragu and a jar of medium-hot salsa. Plus 2 cans each of Eden-brand black-eyed peas and kidney beans, all unsalted.

Scott, who arrived quite early, after having slept a bit, had given me brown rice, which we put beneath the chili.

I'd grated an entire package of Cabot sharp cheddar which we sprinkled over the hot chili.

Scott just came over before walking to the train station.

You told me the chili was delicious, and it really was!

Managed to find the pink water pitcher - I have so many cupboards, Mrs Hubbard - I don't know what to put in em.

 Iris brot this Truffle Cake from a famous bakery in her neck of the woods. Scott too one tiny taste and said it was like eating chocolate pudding. It was delicious!
 They brought me really great gifts - a colorful scarf to hide my wrinkly neck - a book

Mira Jacob Author Website
A Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

and some fantastic coffee made by Boston's Best

Hazelnut Creme Decaf.  I  tell   you !  It was THE BEST,

not to mention Stash White Tea, which I'm brewing now. Don't tell Iris but it smells like Vicks Vapo-Rub, but I think it will taste better.

Hold on... it's cooling now..... will let you know.... very very nice! a fruity bouquet! Thanks, Isis!

Your women friends, said Scott, are really talkative. What wonderful stories she told... after her first husband Kim Abbot died, she wanted to join a Widow/Widowers Group. The guy said it was too soon.

Her rebuttal? Okay, if you don't let me in I'll start a group of my own the same time yours meets and it'll be free for everyone.

They let her in.

How did she meet Art, who is a cardiac nurse. Stay tuned.

Note: Whenever you don't have matching glasses, here's what you do. Give everyone a different glass. This fish glass is an old one of Mom's. From our days on Glenmore Road in Shaker Heights.

 The appetizers were on my Ottoman Empire... hummus and real Triscuits, far superior to the generic ones.

They've been married 20 years now. They met from a spunky personal ad Iris put in the paper. She got dozens of responses, met a couple of them at the now-defunct Robertson's Ice Cream Shop, but no one would do.

She received an excellent response from Art, tossed it into the trash, and then retrieved it.

This white tea is really tasty, a term Bernice, her mom/law used. The mom was a beauty in her younger years. Art shared photos on his i Phone.

Iris also told us about visiting a medium who said many different spirits were vying to be heard. I'd wrin a story about psychic medium Theresa Roba for the Bucks County Herald.

We really needed the rain. Theresa, who I met tonight when walking off my dinner, said it's sposed to rain for the next four days.

Good. The earth is parched. The CT license plate is beautiful.... blue

 Fare thee well, my dear friend.

See you on your Coach Iris website.... you'll wanna take a look at this... you can sign up for a free consultation.... hmmm, maybe I should do dat!

Kids playing on the street.

Now, I'm gonna write a very quick poem here, after I pour meself some more tea


The construction workers, clad in red shirts, have left for the day
the attic is being transformed into a master bedroom
they talk amongst themselves in the morning, kindly, as my
feet patter by, we nod, and down the hill I go
aching to find out what thoughts will arrive
Where do they come from?
Can they be seen by the man on the moon
or heard by the Almighty?
Today is Succos, the holiday of the harvest,
In the middle of the road, I give thanks
for the black-eyed peas in the chili I made
and hope that the black man someday
will be free.    

Monday, September 28, 2015

Highs and Lows - about diabetes - published - Poem: Bernice and the Lunar Eclipse

The Chicago-based lit mag Hektoen International just posted my creative nonfiction piece "Highs and Lows" about my kidney transplant and subsequent acquisition of insulin-dependent diabetes, due to my antirejection meds, Prograf and prednisone.

They asked me to substantially shorten it, which I did, after brewing a cup of coffee.

You know what, Dear Reader?

I kid you not. A good cup of coffee is just about my favorite thing in the world.

Read my true story here. 

You may think I'm on a roll having a few of my stories - and "Nazi Waters" at last - published. Indeed, I am very grateful and proud they've been published.

Yet, some of my best work has yet to be published.

My Jenny - On Good Days I Remember My Name - Uncle Benny's Stradivarius - have yet to find a home.

Just spoke to my friend Carolyn Constable who told me to send my eye doctor the poem "Seven Minutes in Hell" about my experience in the visual field machine.

"Visual field machine." It took me ages to remember that term. Kept getting it confused with "field of vision."

Oh no! I hope I don't forget it again.

This morning I emailed in my entries to Pentimento magazine, HQ'd in Lambertville, NJ, just across the Delaware River from New Hope.

My true story is called The Wrath of Diabetes. I submitted three poems, one of which I wrote this morning in about 45 minutes. It's printed below and is totally fanciful about last nite's lunar eclipse which really could not, in totality, be seen here on Cowbell Road. 

Image result for photos of lunar eclipse


Ninety-three now, her legs are gone,
so Steve slings her over his back
and carries her into his black
Cadillac with that gorgeous
emblem like the queen’s jewels
that proclaims I’m rich, and
settles her, as she laughs softly,
and thinks, What fun it is being carried by
a handsome muscular man,
reminding her of that wanderlust husband
of hers she lost a thousand years ago.

I get in the back
smelling the still-new interior
leather – oh no! a cow was
sacrificed – and gaze out
the front window. My sister
Ellen, Mom’s caretaker, slides
in next to me, still munching a brownie.

We drive to Woodlawn School
the highest point in the county
and park on the empty street.
It’s well before midnight and
a few people stand on their
sidewalks. Some have flashlights
that pass over their pajama-
clad children.

“Bernice,” says Stevie. “The
moon’s up there,” he points.
“I’m not blind,” says Mom, with
her flashing new front teeth
- expensive as real pearls -
the new dentist drilled in.

Everyone who sees the lunar
eclipse makes a Rorschach
of it. I see it as a round black head
with white ribbons curling all around.

“Let me out,” says Mom.
We look at one another.
“Do it!” I say to Steve and
we all exit onto the silent street.

He opens the huge heavy
door and we stand Mom
up on the sidewalk, a rag
doll, needing support.

“Harold!” she points at the
moon. “Harold, wait for me.
You’re the only man I ever

“Daddy,” I think. Yes, he was
a good man. And, were he still
among us, instead of rotting
underground in Cleveland, he
would have driven us here. Wonder
where his 1964 Country Squire
Station Wagon has gone.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writers' Group meets at Beatriz's Condo - Special guests Lorraine and Fran Bareikis Pulli - Poem: Barbara's Notecards

53 Twin Brooks Dr, Willow Grove, PA 19090  C'mon in. We have appetizers, seltzer water, and a blue cake Donna Krause made.

Oh, and we'll also read our latest work. Almost forgot about dat.

Beatriz was very comfortable on her beige and blue sectional. I really felt like sitting on the floor ... and did.

Looks like I've sprouted wings and am about to fly away. B's coffee table is expandable... it rises... so she can reach things inside it.

Newcomers were surprised about her lovely place.

Steve from Elkins Park went first, as he had to leave early. He read favorite Bible passages. We all liked "Your name is written on my hand." Just checked and it's from The Prophet Isaiah.

Steve is a volunteer at Rock Ministries in the Kensington section of Philly. This once beautiful neighborhood has gone downhill and now has lots of crime and poverty.

Rock has 'safe houses' on every block. Steve enjoys telling the gospel to the down and out in the neighborhood, under the El.

Judy, who prefers her real name, Judith, read a lovely piece she wrote in 2003.The Break of Branches was about a meeting at a coffee house of a man and a woman to see if they were companionable.

No no no! He was a social worker, who She took to task for his lack of compassion.

Who is Judith from the Bible?

Martha, our bible scholar, as is Murphy, said that in the Apocrypha ... well, let's hear it from Wiki

The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life.

Judith with the head of Holofernes

What other biblical characters were beheaded? Dozens. Bring me the head of John the Baptist said Salome.

Rem Murphy read a revised poem about his late wife Valerie, making an excellent poem even better. When she died, his heart was shattered like Waterford Crystal.

His newest poem Where Have You Been Sky Saxon, written in his usual couplet form, talked about sightings of this dead rock musician who was the lead singer of Seeds.... he was found under a manhole cover and near a dirty river in Las Vegas.

The poem was a delightful mishmash of images. Let's listen to the late Sky Saxon, whose real name was Richard Elvern Marsh, born in Salt Lake City, Utah

He died at age 71 of an untreated infection that spread through his body. Sounds a bit like Jim Henson, doesn't it?

Listen to his famous song Pushin Too Hard.  Don't mind if I do, Ruthie!

Conflict of interest! Ruthie is listening to the Blues Show on WXPN. The Tennessee Workhouse Blues by Jenny Pope. You can imagine what that's about!

I didn't get a good pix of Rem, who wore a Phillies' baseball cap.

Fran, on the left, had never heard any of Linda Barrett's stories.

Linda Barrett.

Fran was shocked at the depth of Linda's writing. Her short story Lucy's Quest was about a brilliant young woman who was terrified by a woman named Klemmer who no one but Lucy could see. She was so terrified she jumped into Ada's backyard pool from her bedroom. Linda was describing our friend Ada who has a pool in which I swam thother night.

As someone commented in the group, Klemmer (can't remember her first name) was embued with red-hot anger against Lucy. Linda submitted it to a journal where Allan Heller has been published. Night to Dawn.

Martha, Lorraine, and Murphy

Martha wrote The Grand Cleanout, a poem about throwing things away, how difficult it is, so you put it in three piles, one never to be seen again. But, then again, maybe she'll keep it after all.

Marf told us that when she goes home, her husband David will have a cup of tea ready for her.

Mon dieu! What a guy.

Donna presented Down and Dirty Vacation, an unforgettably horrible trip to Wildwood. The bed in their room slanted downward like a slope on Mount Everest.

We all talked before we began reading. Lorraine found out she was Jewish when a relative - can't remember who - lay dying. I guess these individuals had to hide their "Jewish blood" when they lived in antisemitic countries.

Lorraine was kind enough to help Beatriz out. Wouldn't that be great if I could say, "Lorraine, would you mind getting me a glass of water?"

Fran read two poems she wrote in the 1970s. She no longer writes poetry, is not interested, but enjoys photography. Her marvelous photos appear on Facebook.

 When I goggled her name, this photo came up! Brava

Wonder if she's ever seen the pix by my friend Carl Yeager

  She read Amber Roots which she wrote after taking a trip to her native Lithuania, though she's a first-generation American. Her poem is impossible to describe. It took our breath away. Incredibly great lines - :Baltic rain" -working up to a crescendo at the end. It ended "We remember."

Amber, used in jewelry making, is exported from Lithuania, tho many international companies have branches in this Baltic country. 

Image result for paint strips

Monet's Lavender was the second poem she shared with us.

FRESH GROUND COFFEE HOUSE Last nite I attended the Coffee House, where the coffee is always hot and strong. Two people were of great interest. I wrote a poem about Barbara and short story based on meeting a 66-yo man named Rich.

Rich, I said. I need to write a story for my writers' group tomro. I'd like it to be like a film noir with lots of sex, violence and seedy characters.

Can you be thinking about it, while the band plays.

At intermission he told me a terrific story about his wife leaving him. They had marriage counseling, by which time it was too late.

What didn't she like about you, I asked.

She said I was controlling... I can't remember the other thing. Truly I was amazed he told me this. I did mention I was a therapist.

I wrote it up very quickly before 1:15 when it was time to leave for B's. I drove Judy L since I know where B lives.

I called it Jack. The weird thing is that I was in bed at about 7 am and I had the entire story in mind, was real happy about it, then fell asleep, and it had vanished.

Neither Rich nor his ex-wife has remarried.  Wish I were awake enuf - yawn! - to tell you his story.

When I got home, boyfriend Scott was down his basement playing with his train. He said he liked my story.

 The swirly clouds, said Scott, are cirrus. The fluffy ones, cumulus.
Kids were riding by on their scooters and bikes.

"Look up at the sky at the beautiful clouds," I said.

One little girl, Bella, said  "Hi Ruth."  That's very advanced for a 5-yr-old.

Notecard of a Starfish.


As I walked into the
crowded basement
of the cabaret I spotted
her, a woman my age
with honey-blond hair
and a name tag around
her barely wrinkled neck
“Barbara Rosenzweig,” a
Jew like me, peddling her
watercolors and notecards.

Now that I’m no longer young
and the pet of various one-
night stands, I seek excitement
in various new ways, the hummingbird
levitating, the darting bats at
dusk, the algae in my birdbath
and Barbara’s notecards.

For fifteen dollars I buy Seashells
from the Jersey Shore. A pack of
five, wrapped like my new Animals
of the World calendar in cellophane.

The coffee here is good, I tell her.
May I get you a cup? Her husband
Aaron fetches a hot one as we
reminisce about our families
in the Holocaust. Her people
escaped Russia in 1924. Well
before Hitler, I say.
The Pograms, she counters.

I am sixty-nine,
she is a month older,
and somehow we learn my
son Dan was her math and science
student in middle school.
Quite a boy, her blue eyes sparkle. 

I rock with joy. 

You look like him! she smiles.
Is that when I decide to splurge
on the notecards? Once my
Fallingwater cards were the
love of my life, but nolo contendere,
the seashells beat all.

Remember the first time you were
at the beach, sand, unlike the prickly
grass and clover back home, sand
crunchy underfoot, can you feel
it, sticking like paste, and
foul on the tongue, gritty on
your teeth?  

I held a conch up to my ear
in Barbados,
the sound of the sea leaking
through, along with the
slow hiss of the beginning
of the universe, whose surface
I tred upon lightly,
lightly and gently
so as not to
fall in.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Swim and Dine at The Fabulous Fleishers - My Home Made Cards - Poem: Seven Minutes of Hell

 When I arrived, Ada was swimming laps. I lowered myself in and did my own laps. Earlier that day I had an eye appt with Dr Eric George so I wore my sunglasses, fortified with their own paper dark glasses. Took about 6 hours before the dilation returned to normal.

While there, I took the Visual Field Test. When Michele came in to switch back on the lights, I asked her, How long does the test take - for each eye?

Seven minutes, she said.

Seven minutes of hell, I said.

She said everyone thinks the same thing.

Image result for visual field machine

I was so excited when Ada left both a phone and email message to come over.

 Best honeydew I've ever had. Available at Wegman's. It's called King of the West.
Fruit lovers know the little dustbowl of a town near San Jose in California called Turlock produces the world's best-tasting melons. Honeydews from here, grown and packed by 'King of the West', are sumptuous. They weigh a ton, emanate their sweet bouquet from miles away (ok - not quite miles, but far) and have a real lime-y color to their flesh. Be patient and let them ripen fully before diving in. Your reward will be pure succulence.

Rich and I sat in the den and watched the PBS Evening News Hour.

The Pope is in Washington, DC.
 Ada had marinated the steak meat. It was a thick piece that took at least 20 minutes on the grill. Bet the Pope, coming from cattle country - Argentina - would have loved it!
 Discussing when to remove from grill.
My medium rare piece was scrumptious, as was the salad, below right, tossed with Ken's Balsamic Vinegar Dressing, and how about those grilled vegetables on the lower right.

 Ada's Chocolate Chip cookies. I had about four, excusing myself to inject more insulin. When I got home my sugar was normal. I think I injected 30 units while I was there. She also served her incredible carrot pudding.

Who's on the phone? Their son, Aaron, discussing whether his parents should come down to DC. Aaron gave direx to avoid Pope traffic.

On the way home I drove I drove down Morgan Mill Road, close to my house, and found a treasure-trove of items in the trash. The people are moving.

It was pitch-dark. A couple of nice white lawn chairs.

I took the toys, which are still in my back seat.

Puppy-dog with open mouth, teddy bear, and doll carriage.

Wait! You think I've finished already?

Hold on! Here are some home-made cards I mailed out two days ago.

 The small tulip poplar leaf I mailed to Grace and Max. The large oak leaf is for my Aunt Selma in Cleveland. I put it in an envelope.
This is for Robin Franklin of the Giant, thanking her for all her help in getting us rooms. I used my aqua spray paint.

Mom gave me a coverless children's book The Chinese Children Next Door. Robin is a new grandmom to red-haired Taylor Michelle, so I thought she'd appreciate this children's book, PLUS she was raised on the Pearl S Buck estate in Perkasie, PA.

My artist friend Claudia is a huge inspiration. 

Bought this basket at her recent open house.


What happened to the flashing
brown eyes I had as a kid?
Rest your chin here, your forehead
pressed to the top, says Michele.
Do not blink.
My eyes flutter.
I’m ready, I say, and
hold button in hand.
The visual field machine
grinds. The room is dark.
I am alone. Fright
fills my soul, afraid I’ve
got glaucoma in my
Medicare years.
Click, goes the button,
click click click.
Whenever you see
the flashing light. Ah,
there’s one up top,
click, like catching a
high drive in right field,
click, a grounder near
first base, Yoga Berra,
newly dead at ninety,
concentrate, I yell inside,
what if I go blind, I’ll kill
myself, they make you
fill a coffee cup by weight,
not sight, a regular Jimmy
Piersall, still alive at 85, I snag
a ball from centerfield, grateful
for my dexterity, still playing
at sixty-nine. Light enters
the room. Michele is back.
Time for the other eye.
I ask the only question possible
How long does it take?

Seven minutes on each eye, she says.
Seven minutes of hell, I reply.