Thursday, February 25, 2016

Claudine Nash and Alex Conrad

We may not be done with winter yet (although I did see some purple crocuses poking up in my neighbors' yards), but the fall/winter poems are drawing to a close.  Enjoy poet-activist-psychologist Claudine Nash's riff on the color orange!  As Claudine notes, this poem "was Dean Martin's version of Pablo Beltran Ruiz' Latin song "Sway" (or "Quien sera?" as it was known in the original Spanish version)."

“Clean Up”

I started leaking orange
again. Today, in four
different ways. No need

for alarm or urgent
care;  as unpleasant as
it is, I’m told fatality is a

seldom occurring event.
A drop of marigold escapes
me when I group

a bouquet of seasonal
leaves. Another seeps
from my wrist after an

article on waning
solar storms. Chance
images of you bathed

in black and white are
always good for a minor
saffron-infused spill. But

even I admit
it gets a bit awkward
when an old-fashioned

lounge piece like
the type Dean Martin
might have sung

drips from the overhead
and I hemorrhage
a sunset.

Originally published in  The Westchester Review

Claudine Nash’s collections include The Problem with Loving Ghosts  (Finishing Line Press, 2014) and Parts per Trillion (Aldrich Press, forthcoming).  Her poems have won prizes from the Avalon Literary Review, Eye on Life Magazine  and have appeared in numerous publications including Cloudbank, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and The Westchester Review. She is the submissions editor at SolarNation, an organization that utilizes art and writing to draw consciousness to climate change. She also has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and is a practicing psychologist.


Next I'd like to post a new poem by Alex Conrad.  You may remember his poems from last summer:  It is wonderful to see how his poetry is evolving.

"Dans le ciel Je rĂªve" - Alex Conrad 

Tower of Babble
By Alex Conrad

In the sky
There is a house
Within which weathers while the wind blows
A young child holding a serpent.

The serpent whispers holistically to the child
About the wonders of the world.
That city on a hill
Is hidden poorly.

The earth shall be ridded
Of the wretched souls
Who believe they are better than thee
But are clearly not.

When will the people realize
That they are not here
For the rest of their lives
But are obviously headed somewhere else.

A beautiful city,
Not of bricks and stones,
But of men standing around
Looking at the sky.

Let's finish up with a little music.  Of course, I have to include "Sway," the Dean Martin song that Claudine mentions:

I'm going to include a little Frank Sinatra, too.  "The Way You Look Tonight":

Erykah Badu sings "Orange Moon" here:

Charles Mingus and his Quintet play "Orange Was The Color of Her Dress, Then Blue Silk":

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Rita Marie Recine and Toula Merkouris

Recently Rita Marie Recine introduced her cousin Toula Merkouris to me.  Tonight I will be posting their poems together.  Perhaps one of these days they will collaborate on a poem as some poets do at Karen O'Leary's Whispers.

Rita's first two poems were inspired by Valeri Beers' prompts at Poetry Pasta.

Mama and me

As I lay awake at night i reminisce upon yesterday , so long ago.
when i was very young ..

The words that come to mind are the ones my mama said
Life is tough, life is rough you need to pave your way.
Life is tough, let it be it will get better you will see.

No need to fear, no need  for tears...My words are what you need to hear
for mama said "child don't you cry..

As the years go by a child of yours may come your way.
You guide it , you nurture it, you teach it to pray.

so long ago, i still hear her echo, her words...
today , when I shed a tear,,, mama's words are what i hear.
"Little child don't you cry.

look up at the  stars and reach for the sky.
Now i am older and look at whom I have become.
I realize and understand where my strength comes from
The echos of long ago.. remain refrain

Everyytime I shed  tear , mama's words  are what I hear ..
Her face is what I see 
this is what makes me be me.

Standing strong and free.
My mama and me

ritamarie recine
blank paper

I saw a blank paper by the walkway.
picked it up.
It was blank

There was  so much to write,so many words may have been revealed
Yet i left it blank
I speak with my heart.
for silence is golden

Words are etched in  stone 
words are etched in my spirit
i think with my spirit
i write with my heart

i speak  yet nothing is heard
my lips part
similar to the  sounds of silence
i dont speak of anyhting in particular
simply scattered verses

i dont speak , 
i write with my heart

I write, I compose
I live my dream

Ritamarie Recine
January 23, 2016

Toula's poem was inspired by her husband.  As she pointed out in her cover letter, "it highlights pivotal moments in [their] relationship over the last twenty years."

Walking Amongst Time
By Dimitra Merkouris

Walking amongst friends
Eyes recounting jokes not yet spoken.
In a throng of backpacks
There was one. Only one
With a bag slung across his chest. Across his heart.
I leaned back in my chair
Red lips smiling
Feet tapping

Walking amongst trees
Ears filled with birdsong not yet heard
There were two. Only two
Sets of footprints on the Earth. The hard earth.
Pine needles cushioned
Our steps
Wood smoke
Our lungs.

Walking amongst sheep
Heads hung low under the weight of a burden not yet lifted
Waiting to be carried. Always waiting.
An insurmountable

Walking amongst waves
Ankle deep. Knee deep.
Over our heads
We jump out laughing.
Salt stinging my eyes and the tiny razor cuts on my legs
And your face.
Watching a buoy bobbing in the distance.
A marker of time. Water flowing past.
I turn and stare
At the tiny hand grasping mine.
Red lips turn to blue. It’s time to go.
It doesn’t matter.
I know what to do. Because of you.
My eyes recount jokes not yet spoken.
You smile.

I'll finish with some more of Rita's poems:

Efferescence love whether

 love, young love, adoration, infatuation 
Their roles laid their foundation, significance of their devotion and admiration,  
a fundamental creation. 
Their names on a rock by the river side are etched in stone, 
Never had the sense of being alone... 
They write their initials on a tree childhood was so carefree, for her and he. 
Adulthood, they grew apart, their futures differed but, not the heart... 
Unknowingly  from the start they were consumed, in the air a breeze, the scent of their perfume. 

The essence of time passed them by,  
thoughts of one another remain,  
no matter how hard they tried  
Their lives were beginning to unfold,  
they wanted THEIR STORY told... 
their LEGEND OF LOVE was  of shimmering gold, 

Collegium years, University, many years had come and gone. 
Lives continued and they swiftly carried on. 
Their hearts were broken, similar to a life without laughter, without, song... No music.  
.Compared to broken thread, Their facial expressions everyone read 
Their hearts would never be the same... the love they had, 
time and time again it never came. 
Neither is a mother or a father, neither is a husband or a wife 
Each thrusted wholly, immersed in their own life. 
Many years have passed them by, sorrows, and pain, grey skies and rain... helpless... like the hummingbird who was unable to fly... 
Forever  there remained a tie. 
Their lives had once again intertwined, Suddenly their lives once again became intertwined a glance, they became anew, 
Fresh  like their once true love which is shared by few. 

Rita Recine 
Together they would walk, side by side, no longer they would hide, 
they talked, an everending prose. 
Hand in hand united, they would forever stand 
Young love was once again reunited, 
Similar to the summer garden's flowers which forever are abloom. 
yesterday's tragedy, is today's harmony... 
Content is the heart 

Only in death they do part...  


Let's finish with a little music.  

Here is the Platters' version of "Sentimental Journey":

The Flamingos sing "I Only Have Eyes for You":

Have I posted Hank Jones' "In a Sentimental Mood"?

Here is his "Beautiful Love":

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

In the Mood

Tonight I'd like to post Donal Mahoney's "In the Mood."  His tribute to Glenn Miller and the dances where Big Band music played fits in nicely with Mary Jo Balistreri's memories of ice skating (which I posted here:

In the Mood

We're going dancing, my wife and I, 
to a Charity Ball high in the sky where
Glenn Miller's band has been playing 
since 1944, the year his plane got lost 
over the English Channel.
No wreckage was ever found,
not a single body.
Glenn Miller was going to France 
to play for American troops 
during World War II.
Government records say 
he's still "missing in action."

Maybe so, but I hate to go dancing, 
even with music by Glenn Miller.
So I told my wife I'll go if she
can find a dress as red
as the one she wore in 1956 
when Father Hennessy said,  
"This is a prom. Not burlesque."
A slip of a girl back then,
she made things worse 
with black seamed nylons.
All the rage back then, the nylons  
disturbed the padre.

But if my wife can find a bright red dress
and a pair of black seamed nylons,
I'll wear the old seersucker suit
I bought at Macy's for the prom. 
It goes real well with the "duck tie"
I found "on sale" for 50 cents  
at the Army Surplus store.
Father Hennessy loved that tie.
Even now I can hear him bellow,
"That tie's so wide the ducks 
will fly for 50 years to cross it."
How prescient the padre was. 

Donal Mahoney

Donal Mahoney has had fiction and poetry published in print and online publications in the U.S. and elsewhere. Among them are The Wisconsin Review, The Kansas Quarterly, The South Carolina Review, The Christian Science Monitor, The Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, The Galway Review (Ireland), The Osprey Journal (Wales), Public Republic (Bulgaria), and The Istanbul Literary Review (Turkey).

Before I post tonight's music, I'd like to post some pictures of dance halls.  Donal's poem reminds me of my father and my aunt's stories of the dances they used to go to in back in the day.  Below is a drawing of the Totem Pole Ballroom in Newton, MA.

By Source, Fair use,

Below is a picture of contra dancing from the 1940s at Lovett Hall, which is actually in Detroit.

Revere Beach, MA was once known for its dance halls.

This is quite a bit older, from when my grandmother was a little girl, but I wanted to get a picture from Whalom Park, near where my mother grew up.

Let's play some music.  Of course, I have to start with "In the Mood":  

Here is "Sentimental Journey": 

I have to include "Blue Moon," one of my favorite songs: 

I'll finish with "Moonlight Serenade":