THE VIRTUAL POETORIUM
AUGUST 31, 2021
PAUL: Hey there everybody! I want to welcome everyone back to the Virtual Poetorium after our hiatus in July. As you can plainly see, we once again have a smaller than usual audience tonight, but I’m so grateful to all you who beared the awful heat and humidity to trek out from your nice cool homes to be here with us on this very last evening of August. We have an amazing feature for you tonight, a memorial presentation of the work of the late scientist, poet, and writer Lawrence Carradini from Lowell, Mass. lovingly put together by his wife Meg Smith, a regular contributor and good friend of the Poetorium Unfortunately my co-host Ron Whittle is away for a few days, thus I will be hosting solo tonight. The good news is that before he left, he hand-delivered three brand new poems of his for me to share with you. So for your listening pleasure, I am going to start the show with one of them:
So where does someday
fit into the rest of the week
and why is it
when I look into a mirror
I still don’t know who I am.
I have rehearsed
what I want to say to you
a thousand times
and each time
it comes out different.
You have no idea
what it’s like to be a poet.
There is nothing worse
than the typo of the tongue
in front of an audience.
We all know
there are seven days in a week
where does that leave room
As we’ve been doing for the last few shows, I will bypass the “Mystery Poet” segment we usually do at this time, so we can get the show moving and invite Meg on to the stage to ask her a few questions about Lawrence Carradini and his poetry before she presents tonight’s feature. But before we do that, I’d like to let you know a little more about Larry…
Lawrence Carradini was a writer, scientist, events producer and community organizer who lived in Lowell, Mass. Born in Queens, New York in 1953, he grew up in Deer Park, New York, and graduated from Deer Park High School. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in zoology and a master’s degree in vertebrate reproductive physiology and physiological ecology from Columbia Pacific University. He went on to earn a doctor of science degree from Atlantic International University in vertebrate zoology. Career opportunities brought him to New England, where he met his wife, Meg Smith, and made his home with her in Lowell, Mass. From 1996 to 2009, they both served on the board of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, a festival honoring Lowell-born author Jack Kerouac, and for which he served as president for six years.Together, they collaborated on numerous events, combining Middle Eastern dance, literature, music and spoken word. These included Dance of the Beloved, a tribute to ancient and modern love poetry; The Edgar Allan Poe Show, honoring Poe’s presence in Lowell, and many more. From a young age, Larry was interested in writing, especially poetry. In addition to being published in several local newspapers and publications, he frequently featured as a reader at poetry reading series throughout the greater Boston area. His poetry book, Burning Heads, was published by VB Documentation Enterprises. His poetry publication credits include Pudding, Poetry Bay, Salt Hill Journal, Mobius, The Cafe Review, the Chinese-language anthology, Selected Poems of Post-Beat Poets, and many more. At the time of his death, on May 1, 2014, he was working on new poetry and advances to his science education and career. Posthumously, his writing has been featured in numerous tributes.His papers are archived at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell Center for Lowell History, with a page at the UMass Lowell Libraries.
To learn more about Larry, please consult the following resources:
Ladies and Gentlemen, now please put your hands together and please welcome Larry’s wife, Meg Smith to the Poetorium stage…
Please take a seat, and make your self comfortable, Meg. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this for us. As folks in the audience might recall, you were our featured poet back in October, and so it’s such a great pleasure to have you back here on stage to interview you once again. To begin tonight’s interview, Meg, could you tell us how you and Larry first met?
MEG: Larry and I had crossed paths many times in the early 1990s, as we were both involved in the Merrimack Valley, Greater Boston and New Hampshire’s area’s poetry, spoken words and cultural events community. Our poetry also appeared in some of the same publications.
But we didn’t formally meet until about 1996. I was on the board of the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Festival, and Larry joined as well.
PAUL: How and when did you discover that you were both poets?
MEG: This happened just in the process of getting to know each other. My first clear memory of Larry reading his poetry was at the 1996 Jack Kerouac birthday party, which Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! produces in March.
PAUL: Do you know who were Larry’s favorite poets?
MEG: Larry’s all-time favorite poet was probably William Carlos Williams. Like Larry, William Carlos Williams had a background in science (Williams was a physician.) Larry of course also loved Kerouac and the Beats, and e.e. cummings was a major influence for him as well.
PAUL: Do you feel that you influenced each other’s writing, and if so, how?
MEG: I think we definitely did. When we met, a lot of my writing was geared toward horror and gothic publications. Larry started trying his hand at those as well. I think Larry’s word play and fearless experimentation with words, and sound, was a great influence for me. We continued to be published in many of the same publications, including Poetry Bay and The Cafe Review.
PAUL: What effect do you think that Larry being a scientist had on his poetry?
MEG: For Larry, science was about a quest for knowledge, a quest for the truth. It’s a discipline that requires a great sense of organization, which Larry definitely had. His pursuit of the facts, which science also requires, was touched by his poetic sense of wonder in the universe.
PAUL: Could you tell us a bit more about the creative projects you and Larry collaborated on?.
MEG: From the beginning of our time together, we produced many events for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! For which Larry also served as board president.
We created a performance production called “Dance of the Beloved,” which debuted at Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass., in June 1998. It was a combination of spoken word poetry, which Larry read, and interpretive Middle Eastern dance, by me.
I produced a number of literary and dance events with support from Larry, including The Edgar Allan Poe Show, which honors Poe’s presence in Lowell. Larry also helped greatly with the online version of my literary journal, Red Eft.
We always supported each other’s endeavors, including our careers, our writing, and poetry readings and events, and he always supported my passion for Middle Eastern dance and my dance performances.
PAUL: Do you know if over the years Larry developed a regular writing routine, and if he did, could you describe it for us?
MEG: Larry was very methodical, and had a love of order.
He was very disciplined, usually writing every day. He also carried little notebooks around with him, so he could write down any poetry ideas that might come to him. He also wrote many of what I call “napkin poems,” literally, poems on napkins and slips of paper from restaurants and coffee shops.
PAUL: I know this might be difficult to answer, but do you have an all-time poem of Larry’s?
Larry had many poems that I love. This one was published posthumously, in the winter 2018-2019 issue of Polarity:
Ghosts and mirrors
speak to me,
whenever I fail
I hover with witches
They keep me honest.
Well, they try.
I am beyond hope.
But, I keep trying.
I can feel the dirt.
Almost, see the light.
PAUL: Did you ever write each other love poems, and if so could you possibly share one with us, either one you wrote for him, or one he wrote for you (or one of each)?
MEG: We did write poems dedicated to one another, and I wrote some for Larry posthumously.
One day I was going through a jewelry box, and I found this poem, dedicated to me:
Constancy of Numbers
For Meg Smith
Now, what will I do?
The dust is no longer fresh, and signed with each footprint.
I could measure the length of love
one. Two side by side. Water
where will I go now?
If shadows could keep you, I would be the sun.
This is a poem I wrote, dedicated to Larry, and which appeared in my 2017 poetry book, Dear Deepest Ghost. At readings, I sometimes begin with this poem, as a kind of invocation:
Doctorate Among the Living
that white fleeting, under the power lines,
under the horns of Mars,
what was that shadow on the Merrimack,
or on the sidewalk,
a cat molded from night,
that brooks no passage without first a poem.
They do all conciliate —
Larry you were the one true
walking upright in the great river of folkways.
Standing, casting, gathering to yourself
fish, and now,
I, among them,
still cannot contain you,
transcending all ever backbone
my fine finest ever silver cloud.
Now Larry’s work is done, and my work includes keeping alive his tremendous legacy.
I have been working with Tony Sampas, also an alum of Lowell Celebrates Kerouac!, who created an archive for Larry at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell Center for Lowell History. Larry has his own page in the UMass Lowell digital library. I also maintain a Facebook page with memories of Larry, including photos and news, which everyone is welcome to visit.
PAUL: Unless someone in the audience has another question, that concludes our interview for tonight. Meg, just like the last time, you were amazing! Thank you so much for such thoughtful answers and letting us know a little more about Larry. Now, everyone, please put your hands together and give Meg a tremendous round of applause as she walks to the podium to present the poetry of her late husband, Lawrence Carradini…
This thing keeps changing
like a wire on a cycloned fence;
kite flying in the wind
wet to the tail. This way
that. Skittering up
crash. Can you tell me
which way it blew? Why?
Does it matter? To someone…
And the letter doesn¹t have to be
And the problem could be
But, there is always before us
of the first of three signs of being.
—Lawrence Carradini (originally published in Polarity, Winter 2002)
O.K., alright, I am going to say it,
“The universe is a sunflower.”
The seeds of life are spiraling,
We are children of silicon
filled with blue-green
What is so surprising?
Is — the very beauty,
And you can find angels.
I’ve been kissed.
—Lawrence Carradini (written March 11, 1998, and originally published in Raven Cage, July 2019)
One more episode in time
has slipped away
a psychic fantasy, for real
longer than the last
a myriad of moments
dreams and everydays
searches, losing what I know,
dreaming what is past,
there, that’s what I have left.
A right direction is inside.
nothing in a hole,
everything in anywhere,
and hope may be my soul.
—Lawrence Carradini (written March 1979, and originally published in Raven Cage, July 2019)
After The Talking
It’s the jitterings
that get me mostly,
in the back jointless
nest behind the knees.
The rumpled stilt skins
of my long legged youth
Me? Making ends that never.
I go from one same thing to some other.
I go from one (same thing?). I go from… I go.
Jiggle the tank handle. This!
This is the last front before exit.
Now, age is the toll collector.
I cannot run from another star.
The explosion will outstrip me.
The bullet is caught between my teeth for one last time.
I am not old. I am lonely!
I am not going to take this lying.
One more night and I will have it settled.
One more refrigerator door.
One more outside cat.
One more fluffy at the unbitten end of a candy.
Get out of here, you shadow!
—Lawrence Carradini (*published in Selected Poems of Post-Beat Poets edited by Vernon Frazer, 2008)
*Originally published in Chinese by Shanghai Century Publications Beijing, China.
These clouds are rising
in front of my eyes.
But they disappear
when you arrive.
Will you stay
with me awhile?
I know what
what hell explores.
I don’t know what
Earth puts us
in the middle for.
But if you stay
I will try.
*These poetry fragments are of unknown date and origin
PAUL: That was absolutely delightful, Meg! Thank you ever so much for sharing Larry’s wonderful work with us tonight. Folks, now let’s show our appreciation for such an amazing feature by giving a rousing round of applause for both Meg and the awesome poetry of Lawrence Carradini!
Well, once again it’s time to present this month’s Poetorium group poem. In order to keep it fresh and skake it up a bit, I originally asked people to participate in writing a renga, but unfortunately there seemed to be a complete lack of interest. So instead this month, we once again reverted to the old standby of the definition-style group poem and requested that you send us one to six lines with the first line starting with the phrase “August is…”. Since we only heard back from just two contributors, Bob Perry and Mishelle Goodwin, the following is probably our shortest Poetorium group poem yet…
August is when nights
turn unbearably humid,
skin slickens with sweat.
August is when we go back to school,
starting to work and celebrate,
and in the months ahead we listen to each other.
August is close to Fall,
leaves will be changing,
starting to get cooler.
August is the gateway
to Autumn’s cool evenings,
so long sweet Summer!
Thank you so much, Bob and Mishelle, for contributing!
Normally, we’d take a short intermission at this point in the show, but tonight we are going to do like we have done in previous months and totally skip it. So I will be starting the virtual open mic in just a few minutes, but first, let me present the submissions we received for this month’s Poetorium Writing Challenge, the segment of the Virtual Poetorium in which each month we challenge you to write in a different flash fiction or poetic form. This month’s challenge was to write and send us a haiku riddle (or more if you liked) along with its solution. Like this month’s group poem, we only recieved submissions from two people, but each sent us three of fabulous quality.
Bob Perry wrote these three sensational stumpers:
Stuck fast to my face
Blinding me to what matters
All the world goes by
—Robert Eugene Perry
Strung up and tuned in
Await my fingers
—Robert Eugene Perry
Tapping out rhythm
Negating summertime fun
Choose another place
—Robert Eugene Perry
Do you give up? The solution to Bob’s first one is a cell phone, the second is a guitar, and the last is rain.
Diane Puterbaugh, our good friend of the Poetorium from Tennessee (and our featured poet for next month in September) sent us the following two which are somewhat interconnected…
The real kind will grow
My mechanic’s, so dirty
The fake kind press on
Strike the head, don’t bend the shank
A shingle’s sharp mate
The answers to both are nails, the first being fingernails and the second are of the roofing variety.
Here is her third…
Once a skeleton
Hidden under a small rock
Its teeth will not bite
Did you get it? It’s a key.
Finally, here are three that I created. See if you can guess the first one…
A royal figure
(at present) you’ll find at end
of certain actions
The royal figure is a “king” which appears in the present tense at the end of certain actions such as “walking”, “talking”, ” joking”, “smoking”, “licking”, and “kicking”.
Here is my second…
Five columns bowing
becomes one boulder flying
again and again.
Of these three haiku riddles that I created, this is the one I think is truly the most poetic, the whole thing primarily an extended metaphor for a fist that is either knocking at a door, or (for those who prefer violence) slugging someone. The five columns bowing describe the appearance of the five fingers of the human hand curling into a fist (which is somewhat in the shape of a boulder), while the flying again and again represents the repeated actions of either knocking or punching.
My final haiku riddle is really devious. It’s based on a brain teaser I devised years ago that was inspired by those analogies one would find as a student in the verbal portion of the S.A.T.s and other such tests. See if you can figure it out…
to where as Minnesota’s
to New Mexico?
Any idea? The solution has nothing to do with location, but instead with the two letter abreviations for U.S. states. Minnesota is represented by the letters MN, and it’s mirror image is NM which is New Mexico.The reverse of Alabama’s AL is LA, so the answer to my haiku riddle is Louisianna. Pretty sneaky, huh?
Well, I hope you enjoyed this month’s Poetorium writing challenge. Thanks to both Bob and Diane for writing and sharing their ingenious haiku riddles with us.
It looks like it’s going to be a rather short open mic this evening with only six people on the sign-up sheet, but I’m sure it will still be a really good one. I’ll kick it off in the way that Ron always does—with one of his poems…
Calm Is the Persuasion of a Sober Breeze
(Written For My Friend Kathi)
She waded in the sea
of life’s possibilities
The sand shifting beneath her feet
calls out to the wonder and vastness
of the sea
The waves creep in
as the usually do at high tide
Crashing and lapping at the shore
Her heart is racing and beating
feeling the oneness between them both
Exploring each other’s life tasks
the seawater foams
and the sun sparkles on the deep
Stepping back, reflecting, and taking it all in
Ecstasy is the movement
and the seduction of violins
heard playing in her head
She was always afraid
of opening closed doors
but absolutely trusted
in the sand between her toes
—Ron Whittle (2021)
I’m going to follow with two poems of my own which are interrelated, the second being a spiritual sequel to the first. Coincidentally, both poems were originally published in Worcester Magazine, the first in 1998, and the second 22 years later in 2020…
Black Mirror Road
When I was a child, the road in front
of our house ran two ways.
Yet I suppose that is the nature
of country roads: Though a town
or city may designate a street one-way
and expect it to behave accordingly,
there is something about a road
that would defy such an arbitrary rule.
Ours, on ordinary days, would flow
like an asphalt stream down the hill
and merge with the highway that led
to the factories, stores, and schools of
the Massachusetts mill town which
claimed us as its own.
But the other way, the other direction
was reserved for Sunday drives
and lazy summer afternoon strolls.
And the road beneath us,
as if under a mystical spell
would gray and shrivel
and turn to dust as it snaked
past the radio tower that glared
like a dragon into my bedroom at night
with fiery red eyes, past fields
and fields of field corn, to sneak across
the border into the enchanted foreign kingdom
of Connecticut, to be reborn,
renewed blacker and wider than forever.
—Paul Szlosek (originally published in Worcester Magazine)
The Two Winfields
The street, which I live on now,
was once long and serpentine,
snaking along the southeast quadrant
of Worcester, Massachusetts, running
from Chandler, past Mason and Dewy,
slithering across Route 9 before swerving
hard to the left like a drunken sidewinder.
Then over a decade ago, one day,
without explanation, a chain link fence
unexpectedly appeared, surrounding the center
of the thoroughfare and bisecting it into halves.
Perhaps the city, looking for ways to cut the budget
of the Department of Pubic Works, simply sold the right of way,
or maybe it was an act of reverse public domain:
the owner of the vacant lot deciding to poach this stretch
of pavement trespassing through his private property
Instead of one Winfield Street, there were suddenly two,
sharing the same name, but separated by an eighth of a mile,
occasionally causing confusion & chaos — taxis, police cars,
ambulances searching for house numbers on the wrong block.
And this short, orphaned section of road caught in the middle,
caged and withering to black rubble,
serves as a perfect metaphor for myself in the present,
stranded between whom I once was and whom,
God knows, I might still become.
—Paul Szlosek (originally published in Worcester Magazine)
Now please welcome our first poet in tonight’s open mic, Joe Fusco Jr…
Woke up around 9am.
Asked Alexa to play ‘Barry’ on all speakers.
Reheated the coffee and smeared some crunchy peanut-butter on burnt raisin toast.
Did 15 standing sit-ups.
Washed the dish, swept the kitchen floor, folded clothes.
Re-paved the driveway.
Went over my goals-list for 2021. Crossed 2 out.
Read ‘Happy Birthday’ texts from friends and family.
Shocked the pool.
Brushed hair. Combed teeth.
Put on plaid pajama-shorts with new Hawaiian shirt and mandals.
Put house alarm on.
Ready to face the world at 67!
(Forgot my car keys.)
—Joe Fusco Jr.
PAUL: Next up is Bob Perry…
BOB: WordPeace ran this short story last month. I wrote it a dozen years ago for a contest at work, so glad it finally found the right home!
In the Company of Trees
“What are you waiting for? The sun is almost down. If we don’t reach the other side of the forest by nightfall we’ll have to sleep here.”
Lucy kept her eyes closed and leaned back against the ancient oak. Her brother was so neurotic. He hated the woods. She had tried to get him to relax while they were walking by describing the different genus of trees, how each flowered and grew fruit, how all the creatures of the forest used them for shelter and protection. Nothing seemed to make a difference.
She tried speaking calmly to him, with her eyes still closed. “Ben, why don’t you come sit next to me for a little while. Sunset isn’t for hours yet, we have plenty of time to make it to the other side. Please, try to trust me.”
Benjamin looked down at his sister. It was so easy for her. She was always a carefree person, skipping through the daisies and laughing at whatever life threw at her. He loved her with all his heart and he knew she felt the same, but she could never fully understand his fear.
He sat down on a rock next to the tree. “You know I can’t do that, sis.”
She opened her eyes and frowned at him. “You’re not even trying, Ben. You promised to come with me and try to relax. This should be a fun afternoon, we haven’t seen each other in forever, and look at you! City life has made you paranoid.”
He sighed. “I know this is your favorite place – that’s why I agreed to walk with you. I thought maybe I would feel different this time. I don’t. I ‘m still as scared as I ever was, I feel like everything is watching me.”
Lucy reached out and took his hand. “You took a big step in just coming out here, I know. Now you need to take the next step and trust that the forest is a safe place. What happened to you when we were kids was unnatural. That’s not the way the world really is, and I’m sorry it has made you so afraid.”
Benjamin squeezed her hand and sighed. “What do you suggest?”
“Close your eyes and keep hold of my hand. Trust that I will not let anything happen to you. Trust that I love you and that it is just you and me here in this spot, that we are adults now and that as frightened as you are it will pass. I promise you that.” She stood up and gently guided him to lean back against the tree while still holding his hand.
Benjamin’s breathing grew rapid and his eyes wanted to shoot open. He clenched his teeth and tried to slow his breathing.
“That’s it, Ben, you’re doing great. Now try to relax your back against the soft moss at the base of the tree. Let the tree’s strength support you – yes, that’s very good. Keep one hand on the moss, isn’t it warm and soft? Like a carpet of velvet I’ve always imagined. Breathe in the fragrance of the forest now. That’s right, nice and slow, you’re doing just fine.”
Benjamin was amazed at the transformation that had taken place in just a few short minutes. He had no idea where his fear had vanished to, and for the first time in many years he felt free. He wondered where his sister learned this technique, but he was not going to spoil the experience by analyzing it.
Her voice was comforting and reassuring, he let everything go and just floated in an ocean of safety, allowing his anxiety to melt away and sinking deeper and deeper into…
Benjamin found himself standing in a lush green forest, similar to the one he had been walking through with his sister, only this one seemed more alive. Everything around him seemed to glow with a shine that came from within.
The path that lay at his feet was covered with golden leaves. He bent down to pick one up and marveled at the intricacy of the leaf, each vein seemed to stand out in stark relief against the leaf as a whole.
“Come”, he heard a voice call from somewhere down the path. He walked down the path until he came to a field. He felt something stop his body as he tried to enter into the open area.
“Wait”, the voice enjoined him and he stood motionless.
A child entered the field from the other side of the forest. He was running and laughing, rolling over rocks and making whooshing sounds while he brandished a large stick, vanquishing unseen foes.
Suddenly, a shadow emerged from the far end of the field. Without making a sound it moved rapidly towards the unsuspecting boy.
The boy looked up, but it was too late to run. The shadow pierced his heart and left him in the field for dead. The bright colors of the forest drained away, leaving the grass brown and the trees bare. The child still lay there motionless.
Something stirred inside Benjamin. He began to feel anger, then sadness. Still, he was unable to move. He waited for the child to stand up, but nothing happened.
“Go”, the voice whispered. Benjamin began walking towards the child, a new feeling rising up within him. He wanted to help the boy; compassion moved his feet to run to the child in the middle of the now frozen field.
He rolled him over and saw that the boy was himself. He picked him up and embraced his own frozen form. He began sobbing for the lost child, his tears falling upon the lifeless face of his youth.
The child awoke in his arms and smiled. “I ‘m so glad you came for me, Benjamin. I‘ve been here all along. I knew you would come back.”
Benjamin could not control the pent up flow of tears. He held himself and kept repeating, “We’re okay, we’re okay.”
He opened his eyes to see that his sister was still holding his hand. She helped him up off the ground and held him close.
“I love you, Benjamin,” she spoke into his ear.
In between the tears he returned, “The trees saw everything, Lucy. They saw everything and they never judged me.”
She pulled back from the embrace and smiled. “Welcome home, Ben.”
—Robert Eugene Perry (originally published in WordPeace)
PAUL: Our next poet is Mishelle Goodwin…
My leather coat,
It is black
and I had it for years.
Although it just hung in the closet,
I always looked at it,
Hanging there is of no surprise.
I was tempted
To try it on,
Only with a fear of it being destroyed.
PAUL: Now we have Sotitios “Sam” Evangelos Lalos …
What Is Music?
Like Orpheus’s love for Eurydice
The euphonic melody of a mourning cry.
Cursed be the mortal who challenges Apollo, the god of music
To a contest, dear Marsyas; flayed
Depicted in red marble at WAM (Worcester Art Museum)
A stone’s throw away, near the Renaissance Court,
“The Discovery of Honey by Bacchus,”
Dionisius in disguise
Flashes of “Sweet Wine” by the Cream;
Ginger Baker, the Speed freak
Eric Clapton hooked on smack
Jack Bruce, my bass teacher, along with MacCartney
Such talent squandered on dope
The ugly side of music, cacophony
Mistakes, lapses of memory,
Just bad sounds linked to terrible memories
Like music by Led Zeppelin, “Dazed and Confused”
This is how it ends
Let’s start all over again
Music “Come Prima”
“I’m in love,
For the first time
I’ve found happiness
From the moment I saw you, I was in rapture
For the moment after that, I was in love.
Come Prima, Come Prima
I ‘m in love.”
An Ode to my own “Rock and Roll Woman,” by the Buffalo Springfield”.
Six months of musical bliss; spring, summer and fall,
I had the good fortune to fall in love at 19
The bad luck to never fall in love again.
We left each other.
Music squeezed me dry like the proverbial lemon.
“The day the music stopped bye-bye Miss American pie.”
Sung by Don Mclean and heard in the nut house called life.
Next to my sojourn in Art.
“Starry, starry night”
Like Munch’s Scream,
Van Gogh portrays beauty for senses, beauty in art and writing
I mated with music, l loved music, music was like making love to a woman
She touched the depths of my soul
Flashes of the Cream’s “Sitting on Top of the World”.
I returned to the same valley and bathed naked,
In the same stream.
Frank Zappa’s and the Mothers of Invention lyrics come to mind,
“I’m somewhat wiser now, and one whole year older.”
—Sotitios “Sam” Evangelos Lalos (9/3/20-9/7/20)
PAUL: The next presenter is my cousin Dwayne Szlosek with the latest chapter in his continuing saga of Nine Gun Billy…
DWAYNE: Hello, everyone! I hope you are all doing well?
I am happy to be here with you tonight in the month of August.
Nine Gun Billy 6
It is June 5th 1880; my cousin Paul is staying on with me.
He is teaching me how to shoot my pistols
By making scarecrows move on pulleys and thin ropes,
And on horseback, making them moving targets.
I practice for three days, and I get good with my pistols.
Then I am ready to go out and hunt them down
With my cousin by my side and kill all five men,
To finish this for once and for all.
Now we just need to find them.
Paul says a good way to find them is at a good poker game
And a few beers. So we go to Frisbee to play poker that night.
Two men say they know them, the men we are looking for.
They call themselves the Reapers.
They also tell us where to find them.
Paul plays out his last hand of cards for the night,
Beating the two men by having a royal flush,
Giving Paul a jackpot of $300 hundred dollars.
We get on our horses and head for home,
Talking along the way, thinking up a plan.
We make it back to the ranch, putting the horses away,
And hitting the hay for the rest of the night.
The next morning, June 6th, we get an early start,
Heading for the state of Minnesota, White Bear Lake.
It’s a ten day ride from Frisbee.
On the first day, it rains like cats and dogs.
After that blue skies, and sunshine.
The first night, we camp on a cliff next to a river and some trees.
We also cook up some beans and trout for supper
(The trout were caught from the river).
As we clean up after supper, a brown grizzly bear
Comes out of nowhere and jumps on my cousin.
It happens so fast I do not have time to think.
They both go off a cliff, bouncing down the face
of the drop-off and into the river.
On the way down, my cousin yells
“You dirty grizzly, you think you can take me down?
Your mother is a rug in my living room!”
Then I hear no more.
I, Billy, am going out to look for my cousin.
I hope to find him alive…
Nine Gun Billy
—Dwayne Szlosek (Copyright 7\11\2021)
Once again, I hope you are all enjoying the saga of NINE GUN BILLY,
and wish you all have a safe and a good night. Peace to you all!
PAUL: Last but not least on the open mic tonight, please welcome Howard Kogan…
HOWARD: I’ve always liked this poem and so do open mic audiences, but I have not had any luck getting it published…
We may agree on this much, there has to be a beginning,
and from this in no way inevitable start
the action proceeds following agreed upon custom.
Moving from the hard stop on the left to the variable stop on the right,
as if we were Guards at Buckingham Palace or prisoners in an exercise yard
following an ordained path, but permitted a small degree of discretion,
pacing back and forth doing something, if not actually going anywhere.
This follows the pattern people prefer, proceeding down the page,
subject to the law of gravity like everything else,
each of us moving forward, one might say, bravely forward,
but since life has no backspace, no delete, what choice is there?
It’s one of life’s regrets, there are others.
Think of our shared dilemma of writing our story
with someone else’s characters and not starting from the beginning.
So, I may have misled you earlier about the beginning,
for even the beginning is not so much the beginning
as the continuation of a story where a new character is added – you –
the presumed author born mid-story in someone else’s story.
Still no one hesitates to call it your story
as if these were the characters you chose,
the circumstances you selected.
They’ll say, this is your life,
as if you had been served the dinner you ordered,
though you barely recognize it,
and by now it’s already taken almost all the time you have.
—Howard J Kogan
PAUL: Thank you to everyone who read in the open mic tonight. As always, you were amazing.
Now I’d like read Ron’s third and final poem of the evening…
Cape Cod Beach Feet
The Sea’s song goes unsung
I walk the beach
from one end of sunrise
to the end of nightfall
There is an art in doing nothing meaningful
but listening to the collision
between the waves and the shore
I am touched by sun-kissed sand
moving between my toes
The gentle wash of warm water
rushes up and over my ankles
There is a whisper of wind
on the tidal change that brushes the
nearby trees in a dream like a lullaby
Could there be any greater destiny
than to be reborn on any summer morning
amongst the treasures of the sea
leaving only my footprints
as proof that I had been there
Just the sea and me
—Ron Whittle (2021)
I’d decided to to close tonight’s show with an original poem of my own. It is a Singsangsong, a poetry form I recently invented which consists of eighteen lines and has six stanzas. The stanzas alternate between couplets (two lines) in which the first line repeats as the second, and quatrains (four lines) in which all four lines rhyme with each other (a monorhyme). The first line of the quatrain also repeats as the fourth line (and in case of the final quatrain, the third line as well). The theme of the poem is having to say goodbye to someone when you really don’t want to, which I feel is quite appropriate in this very moment. It is called fittingly…
A Reluctant Departure
So long, my love, goodbye…
So long, my love, goodbye!
Now it’s time for me to leave you.
No, I’m not trying to deceive you,
Wish my absence won’t greatly grieve you
Now it’s time for me to leave you.
Our time together’s something we can only borrow.
Being away from you will cause me sorrow,
Yet I know I’ll be with you again tomorrow.
Our time together’s something we can only borrow….
Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen,
Au revoir, auf Wiedersehen…
I must go and we must part.
Although it is fracturing my heart,
I must go and we must part…
I must go and we must part.
Well, I guess that concludes the August 2021 edition of the Virtual Poetorium. Thank you once again, folks, for your continued participation and support. No word yet if or when we will be starting the live shows back at the starlite in Southbridge, but I can guarantee you one thing: we will be back with the Virtual Poetorium in September no matter what (hopefully with Ron). So until then, good night and please take care and keep reading and writing poetry!