I LOVE YOU, MOM!
Yes! My mother baked bread.
On Sunday! Other days she served customers.
We called her Mom.
That was her pleasure.
Serving three sons and two daughters.
And, of course, Dad.
Servitude! That was life.
Dinner every night!
But what pleasure she expressed.
Never in words.
It shone in her manner.
Did we ever hear, “I love you?”
Did we ever say, “I love you, Mom?”
Ashamed to say, “Never.”
Now is the time to believe in spirits.
Mother Spirit can you feel the love?
Can my saying it, now,
Make up for the missed chance long ago? Giving up your life for a cause!
She did it!
Noble, brave, generous, but, at times mean.
Yes, she was normal.
As they say! Shout it from the rooftops.
L O V E ! M O M!
ODE TO NERUDA
Builder of beauty!
Word by word
Revealing the unseen
To your readers.
Sight and sound,
Loud as the drums
To awaken the sleep-walkers,
Dreaming in fantasies
Of your kisses to nature.
Is in your words
Poets on top of a mountain
Asking us to beat in tune.
Hearing the poetic Neruda
Thump, thump the drums
Bring forth the Master
Sing for us!
Hallelujah—to the Master!
Marie Vassallo is a small town girl who came to New York City to attend drama school. She is widowed and has a genius son. She enjoys theatre and movie going, and began writing poems in January 2012.
A SOUL IN HIDING
You are a secret
Hidden from me.
You keep your self enclosed,
Even to your self.
Your charm is in your manner,
An outward allure
Suggesting, though not, promising revelations of
a special kind
If I could come to know you,
And the secret.
You are a secret
Possessing a magnetic pull,
Throwing me off balance,
Out of sync with what should be
Instead, I find that I am drawn
Away from knowing
Who and what I am,
Almost constantly in thrall
To discovering what there is to know
In knowing you.
A PERMANENT ABSENCE
For some there is no end in sight,
No ending to how we live from day to day.
Perhaps we can recount dramatic milestones
in our lives,
Events, experiences that stand out
In the slow process of aging that we
fail to notice.
The thought that all we knew and know
Could, for us, cease to be
Is theoretical at best,
And best kept hidden from our sight.
Of course, there are the other deaths around us,
But if those deaths do not affect our self,
The thought of them does not impress us
With the knowledge of our own demise,
Which brings me to a thought I have had, of late,
About how a sudden death,
Would impact you.
Careless of how we treat each other while alive,
What kind of emptiness (if any) would you sustain?
Roberta Desalle joined Hamilton House, and the Poetry Workshop in particular, in 2013.
Exposure to the varied themes and styles of historical and contemporary poets increased her understanding of what is involved in writing poetry.
Writing in class, to sharing, and listening to other class members has been a stimulus to her own work.
FROM BACKPACKS TO POCKETS
(FROM BOMBS TO POEMS)
SEEKING SOME KIND OF SOLACE
FROM THAT APRIL MARATHON MONDAY’S BOMBS OF BOSTON,
I RACED ON THURSDAY TO BRYANT PARK’S “READING ROOM”
TO CELEBRATE OUR CITY’S CHILDREN
WHERE I HEARD POEMS FROM TEENAGED BOYS
LAMENTING BROKEN HEARTS, BROKEN PROMISES,
GIRLS THE SAME AGE EXALTING, ACCEPTING AND
WORKING ON THEIR POWER WITH POISE AND PURPOSE
WHILE A LITTLE BOY WROTE OF HATING MONDAY MORNINGS
“‘CAUSE IT MEANS I HAVE TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.”
THESE YOUNG BARDS ERASED, IF JUST FOR A SMALL RESPITE,
THE PALL THAT WAS PERMEATING OUR HOURS
WITH OUR SPIRITS CARRYING WEIGHTS THAT WE SO NEEDED TO RELEASE.
WHERE WE HAD NO IDEA OF SOLUTIONS BECAUSE
OUR BRAINS WERE NO LONGER USEFUL, NO LONGER WITH US,
JUST SO VERY EXHAUSTED, BEYOND THE HEADACHES, BEYOND THE SADNESS,
TIRED BEING A WORD WE COULD NOT UNDERSTAND.
LATER, WHILE DOING MY DELAYED LAUNDRY, I READ THE SALUTE TO
“POEMS IN YOUR POCKET” DAY IN THE METRO PAPER AND LOVED THE FACT
THAT OUR MAYOR, A MAN WHO DEPLORES VIOLENCE, NOT ONLY CONTRIBUTED
A POEM THAT WAS CHARMING, HE NAMED THE WINNERS OF HIS CONTEST.
EACH OF THEM IS SUCH A SWEET RELIEF AGAINST
THE HIDEOUS TRUTH ONSLAUGHTS WE’VE BEEN ABSORBING,
THAT I AM SO GRATEFUL TO HOLD POETRY IN MY HAND,
TO HAVE HEARD THE POEMS OF CHILDREN AND, ONCE AGAIN,
BE THANKFUL TO KNOW AND TO TRUST ABSOLUTELY,
OVERWHELMINGLY, IN THE POWER OF WORDS TO HEAL.
Written by Pat Dasko/NYC
Read Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at
Hamilton Poetry Workshop/NYC
I HAD COME TO PICK UP A SCHEDULE
THAT LATE FRIDAY AFTERNOON IN OCTOBER OF 2010.
TWO EARNEST STAFF MEMBERS WERE UNPACKING LOADS AND LOADS
OF BAGS AND BUNDLES FROM CARRIERS THAT
A LARGE, LUMBERING MAN KEPT ROLLING IN AND OUT.
LONG, EMPTY TABLES WERE EVERYWHERE.
THIS ROOM WAS LINED UP, GETTING READY TO PRESENT.
“NEED SOME HELP?” I HEARD MYSELF SAYING
AND RELIEF SMILED OUT FROM THE TWO GALS.
WE WORKED TOGETHER FOR HOURS
CREATED WORKABLE PILES, FILLED RACKS.
TIMED PASSED UNTIL IT WAS NOW 9:30PM AND
THE GRATEFUL MANAGER TOLD US IT WAS TIME TO GO.
“NEED HELP TOMORROW?” ME AGAIN, OFFERING.
“OH PLEASE – BE HERE AT 9:30AM.”
I HAD A BUSY SATURDAY OF IT. MY OLD OHRBACH’S –
PITKIN COUNTRY DRY GOODS – DESIGN RESEARCH SKILL SETS
KICKED IN AND I HAD A REGULAR BALL.
I PUT WARDROBE PIECES TOGETHER,
NEGOTIATED PRICES BASED ON A HUNCH
SAT AND CHATTED WITH ALL THE OTHER VOLUNTEERS
WHEN WE WERE INVITED TO BREAK FOR LUNCH.
BY 6:30PM, I WAS THE LAST OF TWO VOLUNTEERS
ONLY NOW RUTH AND I WERE PUTTING
THE DAY’S TREASURES, THE ONES NOT CHOSEN,
THOSE TO WAIT FOR ANOTHER EVENT, TO BED.
I WENT HOME RATHER SATISFIED THAT BECOMING
AN ACTIVE MEMBER OF THE HARGRAVE CENTER,
POSTPONED FOR A LONG TEN YEARS,
WAS NOW MY NEW COMFORT, MY EASY REALITY.
I HAD FULLY ACCEPTED MY AGE,
MY SEVENTY YEARS ON THE PLANET,
AS A CHAPTER THAT I WAS NOW READY, NOT ONLY TO WRITE,
BUT TO RE-READ AGAIN AND AGAIN.
Hamilton Poetry Workshop
April 23, 2013
Poet/Poem: Howard Moss/”Shorelines”
Instruction: The Moment When (You) accepted: Age
Just the facts: born 4:54am, July 3, 1940, in East Orange, NJ, and raised in Newark, I achieved my degree in Physical Education & Dance from Arnold College of the University of Bridgeport and just attended my 50th Graduation Class Reunion!
Through some great “ricochet off the walls of life," I moved to Aspen in 1966. There I was Director of Publicity, Promotions and Special Events for the town and, in 1970, forming Pat Dasko/Public Relations, I produced a classical ballet company’s (Ballet West) Summer Performance and Teaching Residency, a labor of love. I was also privileged to travel through Europe with them summer of 1971 as an Associated Press stringer with Jacques D’Amboise as our star. Returning to Aspen, I was PR representative for Hunter S. Thompson’s Campaign for Sheriff.
In 1977, now in Los Angeles, as the Casting Director for Norman Lear’s "Fernwood 2night," and then a Script Re-writer on “Rhoda,” I was gently bitten by the bug of Acting; scratched it studying for three years with such wonderful teachers as Harold Clurman, obtained my union cards in Salt Lake City and, returning to the East Coast in 1984, became a member of The Phoenix Ensemble here in New York City.
So, Poetry, I consider it to be the greatest defense against the juggernaut of technology and if it weren’t for Olympia Dukakis challenging me in January of 1990 while working at her Whole Theatre in Montclair, NJ, I never would have dared the courage to present my work in public.
I've been pleased to be published and to have performed with The Gathering, Smoke Signals, Word Up, Nomads Choir, both locations of the Knitting Factory, on NYC radio stations, in a cathedral in Jersey City, at the train station in Hoboken, in a public garden on the lower East Side, Riverside Park for Poetry Place, open mikes galore, public television, in San Francisco, Aspen, Salt Lake City, all five Boroughs of New York City and even Slammed into the Finals at the Nuyorican Poets Café. I enjoy and look forward to hearing other’s work as well as sharing mine.
TAX TIME AND THREE BIG MISTAKES
They say only two things in life are certain—death and taxes.
And it is that time again. You work and work till May. Your pay is for Uncle Sam they say.
After May, you can pay yourself---but wait how about the state and your local taxes too.
Oh, it it were only that simple!. It gets even better—a long time ago, I got audited.
What a time and what a place--Jobless and struggling to start a business.
I made my first big mistake of declaring my next room as office
never knowing that was a trigger, a 99% trigger, I later learned.
You wouldn't wish an audit for your worst enemy.
Relentless is the understatement for my assigned auditor,
Young and pretty, she was an apprentice
She came to my house and followed her superior to the letter;
“That room is no office, it is your living room,” she declared.
She would not hear my weak alibis—“I am older than you, I have a heart condition,
and perchance I remind you of your own mother“
fell all to no avail in deaf ears.
To say I was a nervous wreck was no exaggeration.
I cowered and stressed and skipped precious sleep's hours.
I am so sure she got a nice promotion
for squeezing the $6,000 that I did not really have.
I hired a so called tax preparer to help me out.
Found her ad in the Village Voice and that was the second biggest mistake that I have ever made.
She messed up all my records that I couldn't make heads or tails out of my own receipts.
When I refused to pay up she showed me a gun she kept in her pocketbook
presumable ready to be used for anybody who crossed her path.
So I paid her the $3000 for further messing my miserable life and leaving me alone.
After that I thought I would go straight and go to H and R Block to seek help
That was the third biggest mistake I have ever made.
I sat for two hours with shoe boxes of past years' receipts.
He hemmed and hawed and complained of my expenses
Asked me if they were real and some undocumented,
So I asked him if was an IRS rep, to which he retorted,
No, it is my reputation that is on the line should I not be able to prove each and every one.
He took his time and did not finish my return till alas it was the last day and I had to cough up
whatever he thought I needed to pay. A thousand for him and a nice sum for Uncle Sam.
Today and the past few years I decided to do my own taxes, My Schedule A,B,C,D and E.
I now have an idea of what it will be—the rules for IRA, Roth and even variable and fixed annuities.
I am happier and know what triggers the IRS can be
And now I understand Leona Helmsley when she said “Only little people pay taxes.”
THE TALL AND LANKY MAN WITH THE SOFT BROWN EYES
He must have been a hunk,
This man in his 80's, now slightly bent and slow in gait,
Where has he been and what has he done
This tall and lanky man with the soft brown eyes
Many a tale he has woven, many still he weaves
even now—says he when he was young, a fascinating tale
While working in Big Apples prestigious press
Working part time really, partly to sustain himself,
Amidst its varying group of similar needs.
When much to his surprise one day she came, all gorgeous boss
bedecked in provocative clothes and “Come to my office, please”
Did I do something wrong, with trembling pace
He slowly walked with doubtful thoughts, please let me
not lose this piece of support.
“What are you doing after work”, she asked
“I need a small favor.” With a heavy sigh he answered, “Oh nothing important,
is there something I can do for you?
“Yes, I would like to invite you for coffee, can you oblige
A small and pressing problem I must decide.”
She invited him to her abode, all four flights of foreboding supports
What could she possibly want he asked himself as he pulled and pressed
his clean white shirt, his narrow tie and Harris tweed jacket just newly bought
from the neighborhood bazaar--all colors matched in his awkward pose.
Quietly they reposed, this tall and lanky man with the soft brown eyes and the
gorgeous slender blonde he so admired. He often thought
A woman like this is too good for me, me a working stiff still oft to school.
She dimmed the lights, left the blinds half agape--to let the full moon peek
at only the shadows along the white washed wall.
She quietly held him tight against her breast, Kissed him coolly to his surprise
Undressed him slowly to and held his hand to unbutton her too,
No words were spoken, but actions were deliberate and slow,
Full of tenderness they kissed and made love under the staring moon
This tall and lanky man with the soft brown eyes and the blonde.
“Would you like some coffee?' she asked. So natural he could not fathom what just occurred,
“You see, I am getting married next week and my fiance I hear
Has cheated on me. I do not know the circumstances and nor do I care to know.
I love him too much and I cannot retreat, so much preparation so many guests to see,
This is my way to revenge—a tooth for a tooth and now we are even.” '
“Can we get more revenge my sweet, I kinda like your avenging ways,” he said.
“No,” she said, “but you are sweet, but now remember no words, keep it discreet.”
Lourdes Rao started writing anecdotes and short stories – some got published, some won awards. In her chosen academic profession, it is “publish or perish”. She published scholarly/technical articles, resulting in being promoted to an associate professorship at CUNY. She now enjoys writing poetry mostly free style often with humorous twists.
The first time I saw your body
Shining silver, your black bucket seats
I knew I wanted you.
I slid into you
Trying to hide my excitement.
I put my hands on your wheel
And thought we fit like we were
Made for each other.
I took you home that very day.
We travelled many places near and far:
Fire Island, the Berkshires, Vermont, Canada.
I won the lottery, put you in the garage beneath me.
Came home one day to see you shattered,
Your glass broken, your insides burned;
Only the driver’s seat remained.
We’d been together for ten years.
I would have kept you forever.
But now it seemed I had to let you go.
The man who came to take you away
Got you started.
That broke my heart more.
I never bought another car.
THE END OF INNOCENCE
They’d found their Camelot in Newtown, Connecticut
And the best school for children and teachers
Five kids to a class in Sandyhook, Elementary.
Twenty children, aged 6 to 7, shot in their faces,
Dead in their places
Five teachers and a principal, shot, dead.
An official told us on TV
“Schools are the safest place to be.”
Really? Then give my child back to me.
Statistics lie. Guns kill.
Again and again and again and again
Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora…
Colin Ferguson shot a carful on the L.I.R.R.
Gabby Giffords was shot in a public square.
Into the hands of madmen land the guns,
And nothing is done.
“Close your eyes” the surviving kids were told
As they were led away
They knew they should obey.
The murders of the innocent young
Mayor Bloomberg raised his voice—
“Empathetic words won’t change a thing”
He told President Obama via TV
Who could not help but hear
After four years of tears.
Maybe Michelle will give him hell
If he does nothing.
Some will say “Blame it on the NRA”
They’re just too powerful.”
Assault weapons, magazines of ammunition
It’s become a tradition.
Presidents and Congressmen give up without a fight.
Leaving innocents to their plight.
Eileen Schepetin started writing in her late teens, as catharsis, to let out feelings evoked by events in her life and in the world. She was an adventurous person, and put some of her experiences down in a writing class in college, in what she later learned would be called memoirs. She then started to write poetry on her own, perhaps inspired by the poetry she had listened to in cafés in Greenwich Village when she was sixteen to eighteen. She had also studied some of the great poets in college. Later in life she found a church basement where people composed and played their own music and lyrics, and they let her read her poetry. Then, at JASA Senior Center, she found a writing group where the teacher, Ellen Gould, encouraged her to write poetry or prose. She began to write also about political and social events that affected her, such as Reflections on 9-11 and The Princess Who Would Not Be Queen (Princess Di). A few years later, another teacher at JASA, Joan Falper, started a memoir writing workshop which she resisted at first, but when she finally joined, she wrote regularly for about one year. When Andrew Warren replaced Ms. Falper with his Creative Writing class, she started attending it and continues to write for that class. Finally, she joined the poetry class at Hamilton Senior Center, taught by Michelle de Savigny, and found that she did, indeed, have “a touch of the poet.”
NOVEMBER THE FIRST, 1951
Rose and I sailed on La Liberte
To the land of the free
From jolly old England
Still bathed in austerity.
On board we got up early
To gaze at the Statue of Liberty
And dazed we stepped upon the shores
Of the land of opportunity.
We had twenty-seven dollars between us.
We each had a waiting job.
We arrived on a Thursday
On Monday we joined the hub.
We subwayed to our bookstores
Where the people paid
For wrapping paper, books and rental
Of best-sellers that made the grade.
We discovered Horne and Hardart
Where food was in the wall,
Who knew that one day money
From a wall would fall.
I had my first banana split
There were eggs and prunes galore,
Though we couldn’t afford to eat
Cheap swordfish was in the store.
We went to Central Park in snow
The sun shone on the city,
We went to a dollar play reading
Of some playwright who was witty.
Those first days in New York were bliss
I truly fell in love
And New York still is to me
Like a dovecote to a dove!
Esther Lazarson: I was born in England and brought up on English Literature. Mother was born in Lithuania and loved Pushkin and poetry. She entered crossword competitions and consulted me about the words – which nearly always rhymed. “Is it cat or rat?” “Is it thunder or blunder?” When I was eleven, in class, I wrote the ballad of Robin Hood, and over the years wrote a few poems. On my 69th birthday, as my dear friend Fred was volunteer gardening in Ward’s Island, I started to write poetry. I’m 89 now and I haven’t stopped.
It was when I returned home
from a date in Mullaly Park
I was seventeen
I don’t remember the boy
I don’t recall the heat of heavy necking
or anything else about that evening
except it was summer, and
Dad was in the park looking for me
I don’t remember if I saw him
But he certainly saw me
lit by a full moon
I remember that full moon
When I got home
“I saw you spooning” he said
Then slapped me
I remember that burn on my cheek
I didn’t cry or say anything
about the boy or the slap
The next day I met Dad downtown
not about the boy
not about sex
I understood his concern
I also understood I did nothing wrong
Evelyn Berkal: After spending most of my adult working life in the world of commerce, I retired from my position in financial services. I then volunteered in a program to help seniors with their Medicare problems. I also handled the hotline at SHARE, a breast and ovarian cancer support organization.
It was in a college course in which we discussed, analyzed and wrote interpretations of poems that I was drawn into the magic of poetry.
Since then, I continued taking classes and going to readings. A highlight was going to a one-week workshop in San Miguel, Mexico where I met a variety of poetry teachers and students, mostly from the United States.
I’ve been writing with the Poets at Hamilton since 2011 and have become more engaged than ever, strongly influenced by my wonderful teacher, Michelle de Savigny. It is a pleasure to be part of this outstanding class.
On the way to work one day
The radio announcer chanced to say
The winner of the Useless Contest has been selected
And the winner is…
“As useless as a staple on a one-page memo.”
It sounded good, very clever,
No arguments whatsoever.
In the office one day the stapler jammed
I pried, shoved, pushed and rammed
Cleared it out then wanted to test it
Grabbed a memo sheet, and pressed it.
The stapler was fixed, worked very well
Everything was fine, nothing more to tell.
Suddenly a thought crossed my brain
The Useless Contest winner had lost his claim
Something useful had been found for a useless thing
There’s a message here, give your mind a fling.
Trains roaring, airplanes soaring
Sirens screeching, children screaming
Music loud, drivers uncaring
Volume very high, deafening, blaring
Rock concerts, earsplitting beat
If it isn’t loud, it’s not a treat
Motorcycles roaring, noise not muffled
Drivers make racket but ride by unruffled
Construction sites all over the city
Booming and pounding, what a pity
Structures aren’t built without noise overbearing
What’s to be done to save one’s hearing?
Move to the country that’s far away
Or buy yourself earplugs, and stay, stay, stay.
Otto Mond was born in New York City on September 4, 1932, the youngest of three children. He graduated Yeshiva University with a BA in mathematics in 1953, Hunter College with an MA in math and education in 1956, and New York University with an MS in applied math in 1965. He worked over forty years as a computer programmer and systems analyst for major corporations.
After retirement, he started producing poems and showed great strength in writing rhymed verse. He wrote on various themes with subjects such as homelessness, nostalgia, the nature of dreaming, sonnets of love, noise in the city, and the pleasures of reflection and contemplation. His poems have a wry, amiable, gentle, and optimistic way of looking at the world. Most have a touch of humor using unexpected word play and witty conclusions and commentary.
Some of his poems have appeared in The Lucidity Journal of poetry and in several senior citizen newsletters. He resides with his wife in Manhattan in the upper west side of New York.
THE SELF YOU CANNOT SEE
The self you cannot see is more interesting
Than the self you can, Anita says.
When winter snow glimmers in morning sunlight
You may sense it.
A poet came upon it when he heard
The singing of a lark.
He longed to know the secret of such gladness.
A curious wish, says Anita,
Since he, himself, is what he seeks.
If he could know his own splendor
His eyes would clear, his art would sing.
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
THE MISSING LAST STANZA
O captain, my captain I dreamt of you last night.
I saw you with the holy ones, the angels and
And when you turned and spoke to me
those words of tender care
I banished all my sorrow,
I surrendered my despair.
Your love alone I witnessed – and life
Irwin Goldman is a native New Yorker. He worked as a social psychologist and directed research for the state government. In 1980 he met the great yogi and teacher Baba Muktananda and has since pursued a spiritual path.