Monday, February 14, 2011

The Continuing Saga

I’m considering a move. Looking over the Bisbee, Arizona Chamber of Commerce site and thinking about Mom. She longed to return to Arizona after leaving under circumstances far beyond her control that I will get into at another time.

I glance up at a painting of a woman of the Yavapai Nation, rolling out flatbread dough on stone, that Mom painted before meeting my dad and I’m filled with emotion.  I do apologize for all I’ve missed posting because of my recent incidents of life slapping me in the ass.

That poetry of love, life and death…well boy, it continues.

Enhanced Poetry at Bobby's Place
18th & Cranberry, Erie
Wednesday February 18, 2011 @ 7:30pm
Claude Braudis opens. $2 cover
Enhanced Poetry -Chuck Joy and Kurt Sahlmann

Invited Artists Series at the International Fellowship of Poets and Spoken Word Artists PA Local 1136
Erie, PA
Saturday, February 26, 2011 @ 8:00pm
Features Monica Igras and Geoff Peterson

If you have ever had the opportunity to hear Monica read, you have definitely heard something that will rock your world. She is a force that is unstoppable. Monica, my friend, you are incredible. I can’t wait for this event.

And well, what can I say about Geoff? Please don’t just take my word for it, you will think I’m biased anyway; he is after all, the love of my life. Geoff is immensely talented. He tells it “like it is” and when you hear him read his work, you will nod and say, “Amen,” because you will feel it too. He takes you on his journey and he will not let you go.

Before this though is Poetry Scene Friday, February 18, 2011 @ 6:30pm at The Erie Book Store 137 East 13th St.
Erie, PA, 16503
Open Mic. Everyone is invited to sit and listen, read your own or someone else's poetry. Relax in front of the warm fire and enjoy coffee, tea or a soft drink and a tasty pastry.

Coming in March:

The next Poetry & Dinner Night will feature: Lynn Ciesielski on Sunday, March 6th @ 4 p.m. at the Woodlawn Diner (3200 Lakeshore Road, Blasdell, NY 14219-1410
The dinner choices are: Roast Pork with Dressing, Vegetable, and Mashed Potatoes or Spanakopita with Greens and Feta. The cost is $12 and this includes the meal, beverage, wine, beer, dessert and of course the Poetry! To make reservations, e-mail Sara Ries at or call 716-903-3335 and please be sure to include which dinner choice you'd like. 

Open reading slots will be available.

Friday March 25@ 8:00 pm in the Walker Recital Hall on the campus of Mercyhust College.

Join poetry and music lovers for an evening of poetry and song at Mercyhurst, featuring the work of Beth Gylys, award-winning poet from Georgia State.  Her collection, Matchbook, is a sonnet-sequence of personal ads and have been set to music by Guggeheim fellow Dan Welcher of the University of Texas.  Louisa Jonason, chair of the Music department at Mercyhurst, will direct a performance of Matchbook by vocal artists. The event is part of the Erie County Poet Laureate program for 2010-2011, organized by Dr. Thomas Forsthoefel, chair of Mercyhurst’s Religious Studies Department and the current Erie County poet laureate. For details, contact Forsthoefel at 824-2353.  See you then!

Sunday, March 27@ 8:00 pm in the Walker Recital Hall on the campus of Mercyhurst College.      

In collaboration with the Mercyhurst Literary Festival, the poet laureate program, led by Tom Forsthoefel, 2010-2011 Poet Laureate of Erie County, will bring in David Whyte, a poet whose spiritual sensitivities have made him an internationally sought after speaker. The author of six books of poetry and three books of prose, David Whyte has traveled extensively, including living and working as a naturalist guide in the Galapagos Islands and leading expeditions in the Andes, the Amazon and the Himalaya.  His life as a poet has created audiences in three areas: the literary world of poetry readings, the psychological and theological worlds of philosophical enquiry and the world of vocation, work and organizational leadership.  Join us for a delightful evening with David Whyte. 

I am really dealing with missing an event that is near and dear to my heart.

Snoetry II (hosted by Lix & Kix) was recently completed and because of events that were out of my control, I was unable to attend any part of it. This really broke… no… crushed my heart.

Until next time Poe Peeps. I love every one of you! You keep the poetry of life in a  clockwise progression.  ‘til next time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The poetry of life and death

This blog is usually about poetry events and the where and when they are happening. But this time it is about the poetry of life and death as it is happening.

Tonight I am home, alone, sipping Pinot Noir, contemplating the seating arrangement in the car for the nine hour drive to my hometown. The main event for this trek? My mother’s funeral. Well, not funeral, not even service, but believe it or not, reception. Yeah, a reception. Is someone supposed to be receiving instead of losing, mmmm?

The last visit to good ole Urbana, Illinois was for the same reason, different parent. Same bat place, same bat station, three years later, Mom’s ashes will settle next to Dad’s.

A copy of Michael Moore’s “Sicko” sits on the floor next to me on top of a stack of my other videos that I just lugged into my new apartment. The last gift my mom gave to me. A memory of me walking in the kitchen while Mom was mixing cake or cookie batter and she was singing “I Shot the Sherriff,” just flashed into mind. That may not be funny to anyone who doesn’t know her. Um… didn’t know her.

Other memories deluge my mind, Mom scolding us for playing ball in the living room during the 1969 earthquake. Her shoving the kitchen table and chairs into the dining room before she mopped the floor. The delight in her eyes when she shared with new friends that the ceiling in the kitchen when we first moved into the house was painted Lizzie Borden Red. The look on people’s faces when she told them that she let us kids play up at 5 points (a major 5 street intersection in Urbana). It’s the same look I get from people when I advise them to pass their kids over a gas stove so they can get a good night’s sleep. I am my mother’s daughter.

I’ve spent years of my youth and middle age trying to be anything but that. Just as I come around to appreciate her and become proud of where I am from instead of ashamed, my brother put me on speaker phone so I could tell her goodbye. She was still hanging on, I was told. I didn’t know what to say, so I told her I love her and my kids love her and I didn’t want her to be in pain. I wanted her to know it was okay. When I read the obituary my brother wrote it said she died January 26 at 6:39 p.m. Central Standard time. I grabbed my phone and looked at my call record January 26, 8:26 p.m. Eastern Standard. There is only an hour difference between life and death. My timing was off.

I’ve been reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets for my Cannon and Critics class. Most are about how time is a nasty prankster and getting old a disgusting thing.  Yes, he was quite obsessed with Time’s cruel hand. He is dead. Everyone knows him or at least is aware of his overrated work.

I have this obsession too and don’t want beauty to fade or my body cracked and broken, I want immortality as much as anyone. Well anyone who has contemplated suicide as much as I have, two sides of the same coin.

My mom had this obsession too. Instead of writing she chose her immortality through painting. She was quite good and painted mostly of her beloved Arizona. She painted portraits of her children too. I’ve read that having children is also an expression of immortality. I’m not sure of this actually. I have children but never consciously thought of it as my way of sticking around forever. Whether that’s true or not though doesn’t matter. As long as I’m alive I’ll express my memories of both Mom and Dad and my grandparents through writing and telling my children and if they have children, I hope they will tell them. Who knows how long those memories will in fact last. I won’t be around to know but the poetry of life and death will always be. Someone will be writing it and reading it and living it.

For Mom:

Cutting Screens

Mom sat at her desk carefully
pressing the exacto blade in profilm,
using that metal ruler as a guide

to cut designs with precision.
Getting paid under the table
assures her that us kids
will have dinner tonight.

I tell her that the picture she is
working on, guys holding beer cans at
their crotches and pouring the liquid
on the ground, while pretty women stand around,

is a play on the boys letting girls
watch them pee. Mom tells her boss
she can’t cut this screen – it is wrong.

She won’t get paid for that one, but she
takes the cash for those she finished and
slips it neatly into her purse.