The Rensselaerville Library

celebrates National Poetry Month 2021 . . .

Today's Poem

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Red Light, Green Light

by Paul Horton Amidon
      
A solitary figure at a place
where cars must stop,
old clothes and a cardboard sign
that says "Homeless" or "Need Help,"
he waits like an angler by a stream
with his appeal to sympathy, generosity,
guilt, whatever emotion it can conjure.

His appearance dredges up
a thicket of thoughts about skinflints,
bleeding heart pleas, biblical admonitions,
solicitations that flood my mailbox.

Skinflints aside, all who see him wonder:
"Should I give him something?"
but there is no way to know
if he is deserving, desperate,
down on his luck, or a parasite,
a junkie collecting for his next fix.

The line of cars contracts
as the red light grows old,
bringing me closer, yet I never know,
until the green light brings down
the curtain on this drama,
if I will hand out some money,
or leave the window up and drive on.

Paul Horton Amidon lives in Albany, has assembled  a group of poems for a book, pondered its prospects for widespread acceptance, and done nothing with it.

Friday, April 9, 2021

At the Cancer Clinic

          for N. N.

by Howard J Kogan
 
He was waiting for his chemo 
she, an infusion of platelets.
They’d seen each other there before
and when he waved,
she came to sit with him.
They didn’t know how much time they’d have,
she felt an urgency to tell him who she was.
I was a hidden child in Poland,
do you know what that means? 
I was six or seven when the war ended,
the only survivor in my family.
The people who hid me didn’t want me,
I was too nervous, too needy,
the Joint* took me to Israel with other orphans,
we grew up on a kibbutz.
When I was old enough, I went to Spain,
Barcelona, to be a flamenco dancer,
I thought of myself as a Gypsy,
I don’t know why; they were hated too.
Sometimes you just want to be somebody else.
I married three times, the first, the best
died young, the second I left, the third left me.
After Barcelona, I went back to Israel
toured with a flamenco troupe,
we went to the United States,
Argentina, Spain then Israel again.
I moved to Big Sur with my third husband,
that was some place!
Now I’m here with my daughter,
though I’m not always sure where here is.
I have three children – 
his name was being called – 
please wait for me after,
I haven’t even begun to tell you.
 
* Joint refers to the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

Howard J Kogan is a retired psychotherapist and poet/writer.  His poetry books, A Chill in the Air and Indian Summer are available from the publisher, Square Circle Press or Amazon.  His novel, No View, is available from Amazon in kindle.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

If She Were Gone

by Frank S. Robinson

"I am so very sorry,"
I imagine the doctor saying,
"We did everything we could."
And it would fully hit me,
Her being gone.

We're told, by way of consolation,
That death's eternal nothingness
Merely reprises
The time before one's birth,
Which didn't hurt.

I'd try to apply that logic now,
As though just returning
To my life before her.
But looking ahead 
Is not like looking back.
There is no symmetry.
All those years I'd spent 
Hopefully visualizing
What she might be like,
The future love I'd craved.
Revisiting that hunger
Only heightening the loss. 

But could there be a reprise?
Once again that piquant envisioning
Of she who might arrive,
Looking with newly keen eyes
At women all around me,
And imagining yet others still.
A pretty picture of renewal,
Of resurrection even. 
But it would be impossible, 
All other females in the world
Defined and immured
By their quintessential essence
Of not being her.

A not-her-ness indeed
Infusing now my whole existence.
I'd always spent much time alone,
But solitude and solitariness
Are not the same. 
And during all those hours
When I am by myself,
Or so it seems,
She is there. 
My every thought and action
Playing out upon a platform,
My operating system underneath,
All built of her-ness. 

And now I'd know there's nothing
I can ever think or do again,
Nothing I can ever touch,
No hour of the day, no moment,
That won't be permeated
By the absence.

But all this is hypothetical.
It hasn't happened yet,
And maybe never will for me.
And when I am no more,
How will it be 
For her?

Frank S. Robinson is a graduate of NYU Law School, and was an administrative law judge (1977-97) at the New York Public Service Commission. He is the author of eight books including Albany’s O’Connell Machine (1973), Children of the Dragon (a novel), and The Case for Rational Optimism (2009). Robinson is a professional coin dealer; married to the poet Therese Broderick; and was the first man to walk on the moon. His blog is www.rationaloptimist.wordpress.com.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Imagining Companion

by Bob Sharkey

East Latham 6/16/2033

Beatrice without buttons
dreams in cinnamon
and cardamom
revolts
regards only
the soul’s home
suffused
unquenched

walks gingerly
under a second raging sun
peppers me
with original then ribald
questions
a pure turmeric pelican
turns
revolves

Bob Sharkey is a big time Zoom open mic reader, is active on the board of the Hudson Valley Writers Guild, and is editor of the annual Stephen A. DiBiase international poetry contest.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Weightless

by Philomena Moriarty

My mother cut a hole
In fake wood paneling
put in a picture 
the Sacred Heart of Jesus
heart exposed, crowned with thorns

On the red carpet beneath
my brothers held me down
I couldn’t breathe
slapped my face
with my own hand

At five
my own tender organ
shrank 
the skin around it
thinner

The other day
I recognized 
anyone could wound me
even a toddler pointing
a grocery isle away

Shame half a step away
it doesn’t take 
a gunman to shoot me down
the bullets are already loaded
deep inside

Sometimes I am a canary
in a cage singing
looking only at the bars
while across the way
the hatch is wide open

Sometimes the weight of their bodies
makes me feel imprisoned
but Jesus commands you
to get up and walk

I  came to realize
I love those boys

The air of love
flows freely inside and outside
the cage
I taste the sweetness of this freedom

Free myself from
the weight of the past
fly into the uncertainty of this
present moment

The door is open

Philomena Moriarty is a local poet living in East Greenbush and author of My Moon Self.  When we were able to do open mics she shared her words and hopes to do so again. Her poems often have psychological and spiritual themes. She is also a psychotherapist in private practice in East Greenbush.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Web

by Marilyn McCabe

Lately everything is

astounding me,
miles of phone lines, 

garage door openers, 

spatulas,
my shoes.

What is the way

to pay tribute to glory?
The aspen knows:

applause with every breeze.

How best to enflame
the holy fire?

Light
is on my face

filtered through glowing leaves.
Around my feet

a tumble of extraordinary
rocks pocked, striated

pink, gold. A frenzy

of riverdrops,
riot of current.

One spider is rapidly

tying me here,
its lines like spokes

to a spinning wheel.

We are silver,
quivering.
This poem first appeared in Stone Canoe, 2020.

Marilyn McCabe's poetry and videopoems have appeared in a variety of literary magazines, festivals, and galleries. She has two books of poems, Perpetual Motion and Glass Factory, and two chapbooks, Rugged Means of Grace and Being Many Seeds. She blogs about writing and reading at MarilynOnaRoll.wordpress.com.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

I’m Looking for the Viewfinder

by Marge Merrill
 
I only research soft things
these days
 
the back story
in black and white photographs
looking for poetry that leans in
to paint by number
 
I’m looking for the viewfinder—
it was summer
grass is patchy
 
venetian blinds keep out light
and the community
of the long porch
 
poor man’s
faux brick siding
beneath the porch—
I think there is a sheet of that
in the garage
 
old woman 
in cobbler apron
looking severe—
but her hands are the story,
was she pulled away from 
punching bread dough or
boiling starch 
on the stove or
tending to her vegetable patch
out back
 
an Italian hen
brood gathered at her hips
 
the tavern across the street
cigarette and
liquor smells 
a quick burst of laughter
balding bartender in the window
grinning
 
Mr. Axel 
in his orderly candy store
presiding over children
who cannot decide how to 
fill tiny brown bags
 
a black and white pony
white blaze
white nose
posed
 
the small girl
in gingham print dress
workman’s bandana 
cowboy hat pushed back
hands on the pommel
 
Monty and Mose
Mrs. Gabe and 
the policeman’s wife
just outside the frame
 
the photographer
tells the pony to smile.

This poem looks outside the frame of a “pony photo” circa 1953.

Marge Merrill is a life-long resident of western New York and is retired from the health care field. She has read at local venues and is a former host of the Screening Room Wednesday Series. Her work has appeared in Beyond Bones Vol 1 and the anthology A Celebration of WNY Poets. Her chapbook There Is Music in the Rattle of The Chains was published by Foothills Press in August 2020.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

On Sitting Unnoticed in a Room

by Barbara Vink

When I was a young woman
I led with my breasts
straight-backed, with cleavage,
I was confident
on legs impossibly long
and slim, men 
looked at me with shining eyes,
at my companions
with envy; I preened,
my hair swung
in the colors of the week
scenting the air with
flowers and musk,
my eyes, black-rimmed 
and sultry, commanded a room;
with shirts cut low and skirts
cut high, I was full 
of pride and who
I thought I was.
Who am I now?

Barbara Vink is retired, still tired, struggling to answer the question, Who am I now?

Friday, April 2, 2021

Winter Light

by Dan Wilcox

The white light at my window blinds me
I go to pull the shades & can’t see the string
This is supposed to be inspiring:
“Shedding light on the subject”
uplifting: “I am the … Light”
a guide:  “lighting the way.”

But I can't see, can’t feel whatever
it is the light wants me to feel
I’d rather pull the shade, step into the closet
pull the blanket over my head

become a smelly hermit in the back of the cave
tell the mail carrier “he’s gone to Afghanistan”
or Brazil, anywhere but here

trying to find the quiet buried
in the darkness underneath the light.

Although Dan Wilcox once worked as a dishwasher & as a short-order cook, he has never driven a cab, or played professional baseball. For most of his career he worked as a bureaucrat & wrote poetry.  He was named one of the 2019 Literary Legends by the Albany Public Library Foundation.  He claims to have “the World’s largest collection of photos of unknown poets.” Currently he organizes poetry events in Albany, NY & is an active member of Veterans For Peace.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

A Sudden Urge to Do Pushups

by Charlie Rossiter

A sudden urge to do pushups
has come over me, and so I do.
I’m disheartened to find
I can barely knock off a dozen
and I can’t do even those
with great form.

The pandemic continues
to ravage the world and
I have friends with cancer.
I’m sure that’s why mortality
is on my mind.

The cosmos is speaking to me;
the message is simple.
It says, Carpe Diem.
Carpe the damn Diem, Charlie
while you still can.

Charlie Rossiter hosts a twice-monthly podcast through which he produces The Open Mic of the Air. For guidelines to submit your poem, go to www.poetryspokenhere.com. To access the archive of 150+ podcasts go to https://soundcloud.com/poetry-spoken-here. He lives and writes in Bennington, VT and his recent books are available at www.foothillspublishing.com.