Saturday, October 3, 2015

Full house at our Writers' Group - "The Hellion" gets a head start on his novel - Two new poems Trending Now on Facebook - Rushing Waters

Carly, who just returned from a two-week vaca in Chicago - "The Second City" - and is the night manager at Gloria Dei Farms brought along the delightful Ginny Kulafar (Serbian name of her late husband), who loves her place at Gloria Dei.

Ginny, born in 1924, so she's 91, had an almost eidetic memory of her life and little-known facts. As I said during the group when I used the word "peripatetic" to describe a Ferris Wheel that makes a circuit around the world, the only way I get to use these big words is at our Writers' Group.

I am not a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, as is the great T Correghessan Boyle!

T. C. Boyle, Leipziger Buchmesse 2009-1.jpg

Let's focus on Ginny a bit. She and her family lived on a farm in Wisconsin, where the temps got to below zero. She was the only girl and loved milking some of the 26 moo-cows in the barn.

She'd bury her head in the soft warm flanks as she squirted the milk in the pail. If the cat came by, she'd squirt some his way.

What a feeling of contentment, she said.

She's always loved trees. In the Gloria Bee, the newsletter of the facility, she's had numerous poems published about trees.

When she was quite young, her teacher read the class Joyce Kilmer's poem,


By Joyce Kilmer
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


From that time forward she wrote her own poetry about Trees. Allan Heller said he liked her rhyming stanzas.

Ginny recited a lovely tree poem she wrote at age 13.

She explained why she loves trees so much... They have different ways of bending, swaying, and what they're saying to one another. She feels like squeezing them. At home, she has favorite trees she watches.

I'll tell you.. I should drive her to Hatboro and show her some of the beautiful trees there, as well as huge ones in the parking lot at Pennypack Trust.

I'm not talking about the trees at Village Green Apartments, where I used to live. You must read this Inquirer story about it. Guess who's quoted and is still, by the grace of God, still alive!

HAPPY TREES was the title of Ginny's poem.

Ginny married a Navy man and they traveled all over the country, every single state.

Come again, we urged her.

Am listening now to Jerry Blavit's Golden Oldies on XPN.

Sha-bom-sha-bom is on now by the Flamingos from the Second City (the first Chicago burned down so the second city was rebuilt on the rubble).

Martha came equipped with hand-painted pink nails and a diamond-studded cell phone.
Her poem "The Viking Butts In" recounted a new character - the sexy well-muscled Viking - who appeared as a character in her head.

Her other people, like Lily and Bear, were not at all eager to share time with him, as they were conversing among themselves. Marf let him go for an entire hour. 

Allan, who we always remember spells his name with two A's, like Edgar Allan Poe, read us five short chapters from his first novel The Village of Blood and Stone.

He got a head-start on November is Novel-Writing Month from NaNo.  

This fantasy novel was influenced by playing Dungeons and Dragons as a kid. My kids used to play back in the apartments. Allan invented the most marvelous names for his characters, all recognizable as either male or female.

Very entertaining, as our absent Floyd would say.

A black and white photo of five men standing in front of a brick wall. 
David Gilmour is touring. He's the dude on the bottom.

Okay, Barrett, you're up next. She also gets feedback at the Thursday nite Hatboro Writers' Group.

THE BRIDE OF TRAHYLEE takes place in the year 1200. Main character is Maeve. Maeve Binchy? I've never read Maeve Binchy have you? After I die and am relaxing in heaven, I'll read her oevre.

As usual, Barrett's story is highly detailed and imaginative.

I still have no idea what this guy looks like.

May I quote from Rem Murphy's poem AGENDA FOR THE NEXT MEETING ?

We'll meet next week
Near Zeta Reticuli
Fifth planet from the sun ...

They'll give you aspirin for your jet lag
A bar of soap and a tooth brush
A souvenir key chain.

OH! We loved that poem.

Aliens from space. From Zeta Reticuli.  

Rem took a cross-country trip and visited the outskirts of Roswell, N M, where he took these pix. 

Roswell, home of the Manhattan Project, which developed the US's first atom bomb, is also believed by many to be the site of a UFO crash.

Read what a skeptic has to say about it.

The late flight surgeon Jesse Marcel, Jr., said he handled debris from an otherworldly object that crash-landed near Roswell. Read all about it ladies and gentlemen. 

Image result for end of the world      It's a shame but the Earth is gonna come to an end some day. Murphy recommended this poem about it by Archibald MacLeish.
Okay, Carly, the laughing redhead, let's see what you've brought us today on this damp bone-chillin day. Ah, it's The Birthday Present and we like it.

Takes place in our town of Hatboro, PA at the well-appointed Hatboro Dish restaurant.

  Look! I've eaten there. The date was February 14, 2014.

Turns out it was Carly's b'day and her family was waiting for her. They opened the presents. She got a round-trip plane ticket to Chicago to see her best friend who she hadn't seen in 40 years.


Donna Krause, in a sparkling gray shirt, could not believe that family friend Joe is moving right next door, to the state next door, that is, to my ancestral home of

Image result for ohio   Ohio, I will never forget its shape, just don't ask me to draw it.

Hey, let's do a little Rorschach.

What does it look like to you? 

I've got my answer. A profile of a little Dutch girl in a cap.

What? You crazy girl?

SO LONG, JOE was a tribute to very nice guy, a bank robber and forger.... oh, sorry, that's another Joe, "we will save your soul and put it in our pocket" - "he lit up the Christmas tree"

Trending Now on FB needs work so I'll publish it later. Yes, I know your great disappointment. Oh, cheer up, for godssakes, it's not the end of the world.



If I get home, I will
never drive in the
blinding rain again,
I told myself, just as
my friend Dave Moyer
told himself he’d never
go on another patrol
in 'Nam.

A straight road would
have been fine, but
this was as up and down
as a heart patient heading
toward flat line.

I flipped my wipers onto
highest speed, hoping they
wouldn’t fly away. There was
the same runover ground hog
in the middle of the road, his
family mourning underground,
as, in tune with the rhythmic
wipers, I saw my car tumbling
over onto Raytharn’s Horse
Farm, my lifeless body lifted
out. Take my new kidney, I
would cry if I could. My wallet
would be waterlogged but they’d
notify the next of kin.

Strangers will handle my
body. Perhaps I should get
a tattoo “Handle with Care.”
My belly looks slender in
the lying-down position. Would
I mind a necrophiliac at the
mortuary? Polka-dots line
my arms, belly, and thighs.
Diabetes pokes.

Heat pours through the vents
of my car. I’m sweating, too hot,
but can’t “Braille” my way
to levers. Without warning, a
silver car passes my turtlesome
driving. Silver, shooting like
a meteor past me. I am
mortified! How dare he.

The streets are calm and tranquil
unlike my own grim self,
gripping the wheel
as if it would screw off.

Finally, Cowbell Road,
After pulling in the drive,
I sit and finish listening
to “The Troubled Man,"
by Henning Mankell.
His cancer has been
arrested by modern medicine
and for certain, though it gets
closer every day, I no longer
listen for the alarm bell.

 Image result for henning mankell

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Iris Arenson-Fuller and Art Fuller Come to Visit from CT - Poem: Walk around the block

When dyou want us there? asked Iris via email.

Round about noon, I said, thinking that would give me plenty of time to:

Mail a get-well card to a friend in Pompano Beach, FL, vacuum, including all the crumbs on my red living room couch, put away my clothes scattered throughout the living room, make a Welcome sign and affix to outside door, clean off the phenomenally messy kitchen table, set the table, have the appetizers ready.

Every time I'd sit down on couch, thinking I'd finished everything, I'd remember something else, like taking down the wine glasses for wine I bot yesterday at the Giant.

Finally, I sat down to watch Person of Interest, an exciting CBS Show I watch on Netflix

Image result for person of interest and I looked out the door and there they were coming up my sidewalk.

They looked surreal! It felt as if they were coming out of my movie.

I blinked my eyes, shut off the laptop, and went out to meet them.

Iris and I have been in touch on Facebook. Art, her second husband, I'd never met before.

 When Iris left, she plucked this off the door to keep as a souvenir. She and Art had miles to go before they leave the area.
 We sat and talked dans le living.
 Made the chili the day before. Sauted the usual suspects in olive oil, then added a huge jar of Ragu and a jar of medium-hot salsa. Plus 2 cans each of Eden-brand black-eyed peas and kidney beans, all unsalted.

Scott, who arrived quite early, after having slept a bit, had given me brown rice, which we put beneath the chili.

I'd grated an entire package of Cabot sharp cheddar which we sprinkled over the hot chili.

Scott just came over before walking to the train station.

You told me the chili was delicious, and it really was!

Managed to find the pink water pitcher - I have so many cupboards, Mrs Hubbard - I don't know what to put in em.

 Iris brot this Truffle Cake from a famous bakery in her neck of the woods. Scott too one tiny taste and said it was like eating chocolate pudding. It was delicious!
 They brought me really great gifts - a colorful scarf to hide my wrinkly neck - a book

Mira Jacob Author Website
A Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

and some fantastic coffee made by Boston's Best

Hazelnut Creme Decaf.  I  tell   you !  It was THE BEST,

not to mention Stash White Tea, which I'm brewing now. Don't tell Iris but it smells like Vicks Vapo-Rub, but I think it will taste better.

Hold on... it's cooling now..... will let you know.... very very nice! a fruity bouquet! Thanks, Isis!

Your women friends, said Scott, are really talkative. What wonderful stories she told... after her first husband Kim Abbot died, she wanted to join a Widow/Widowers Group. The guy said it was too soon.

Her rebuttal? Okay, if you don't let me in I'll start a group of my own the same time yours meets and it'll be free for everyone.

They let her in.

How did she meet Art, who is a cardiac nurse. Stay tuned.

Note: Whenever you don't have matching glasses, here's what you do. Give everyone a different glass. This fish glass is an old one of Mom's. From our days on Glenmore Road in Shaker Heights.

 The appetizers were on my Ottoman Empire... hummus and real Triscuits, far superior to the generic ones.

They've been married 20 years now. They met from a spunky personal ad Iris put in the paper. She got dozens of responses, met a couple of them at the now-defunct Robertson's Ice Cream Shop, but no one would do.

She received an excellent response from Art, tossed it into the trash, and then retrieved it.

This white tea is really tasty, a term Bernice, her mom/law used. The mom was a beauty in her younger years. Art shared photos on his i Phone.

Iris also told us about visiting a medium who said many different spirits were vying to be heard. I'd wrin a story about psychic medium Theresa Roba for the Bucks County Herald.

We really needed the rain. Theresa, who I met tonight when walking off my dinner, said it's sposed to rain for the next four days.

Good. The earth is parched. The CT license plate is beautiful.... blue

 Fare thee well, my dear friend.

See you on your Coach Iris website.... you'll wanna take a look at this... you can sign up for a free consultation.... hmmm, maybe I should do dat!

Kids playing on the street.

Now, I'm gonna write a very quick poem here, after I pour meself some more tea


The construction workers, clad in red shirts, have left for the day
the attic is being transformed into a master bedroom
they talk amongst themselves in the morning, kindly, as my
feet patter by, we nod, and down the hill I go
aching to find out what thoughts will arrive
Where do they come from?
Can they be seen by the man on the moon
or heard by the Almighty?
Today is Succos, the holiday of the harvest,
In the middle of the road, I give thanks
for the black-eyed peas in the chili I made
and hope that the black man someday
will be free.    

Monday, September 28, 2015

Highs and Lows - about diabetes - published - Poem: Bernice and the Lunar Eclipse

The Chicago-based lit mag Hektoen International just posted my creative nonfiction piece "Highs and Lows" about my kidney transplant and subsequent acquisition of insulin-dependent diabetes, due to my antirejection meds, Prograf and prednisone.

They asked me to substantially shorten it, which I did, after brewing a cup of coffee.

You know what, Dear Reader?

I kid you not. A good cup of coffee is just about my favorite thing in the world.

Read my true story here. 

You may think I'm on a roll having a few of my stories - and "Nazi Waters" at last - published. Indeed, I am very grateful and proud they've been published.

Yet, some of my best work has yet to be published.

My Jenny - On Good Days I Remember My Name - Uncle Benny's Stradivarius - have yet to find a home.

Just spoke to my friend Carolyn Constable who told me to send my eye doctor the poem "Seven Minutes in Hell" about my experience in the visual field machine.

"Visual field machine." It took me ages to remember that term. Kept getting it confused with "field of vision."

Oh no! I hope I don't forget it again.

This morning I emailed in my entries to Pentimento magazine, HQ'd in Lambertville, NJ, just across the Delaware River from New Hope.

My true story is called The Wrath of Diabetes. I submitted three poems, one of which I wrote this morning in about 45 minutes. It's printed below and is totally fanciful about last nite's lunar eclipse which really could not, in totality, be seen here on Cowbell Road. 

Image result for photos of lunar eclipse


Ninety-three now, her legs are gone,
so Steve slings her over his back
and carries her into his black
Cadillac with that gorgeous
emblem like the queen’s jewels
that proclaims I’m rich, and
settles her, as she laughs softly,
and thinks, What fun it is being carried by
a handsome muscular man,
reminding her of that wanderlust husband
of hers she lost a thousand years ago.

I get in the back
smelling the still-new interior
leather – oh no! a cow was
sacrificed – and gaze out
the front window. My sister
Ellen, Mom’s caretaker, slides
in next to me, still munching a brownie.

We drive to Woodlawn School
the highest point in the county
and park on the empty street.
It’s well before midnight and
a few people stand on their
sidewalks. Some have flashlights
that pass over their pajama-
clad children.

“Bernice,” says Stevie. “The
moon’s up there,” he points.
“I’m not blind,” says Mom, with
her flashing new front teeth
- expensive as real pearls -
the new dentist drilled in.

Everyone who sees the lunar
eclipse makes a Rorschach
of it. I see it as a round black head
with white ribbons curling all around.

“Let me out,” says Mom.
We look at one another.
“Do it!” I say to Steve and
we all exit onto the silent street.

He opens the huge heavy
door and we stand Mom
up on the sidewalk, a rag
doll, needing support.

“Harold!” she points at the
moon. “Harold, wait for me.
You’re the only man I ever

“Daddy,” I think. Yes, he was
a good man. And, were he still
among us, instead of rotting
underground in Cleveland, he
would have driven us here. Wonder
where his 1964 Country Squire
Station Wagon has gone.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Writers' Group meets at Beatriz's Condo - Special guests Lorraine and Fran Bareikis Pulli - Poem: Barbara's Notecards

53 Twin Brooks Dr, Willow Grove, PA 19090  C'mon in. We have appetizers, seltzer water, and a blue cake Donna Krause made.

Oh, and we'll also read our latest work. Almost forgot about dat.

Beatriz was very comfortable on her beige and blue sectional. I really felt like sitting on the floor ... and did.

Looks like I've sprouted wings and am about to fly away. B's coffee table is expandable... it rises... so she can reach things inside it.

Newcomers were surprised about her lovely place.

Steve from Elkins Park went first, as he had to leave early. He read favorite Bible passages. We all liked "Your name is written on my hand." Just checked and it's from The Prophet Isaiah.

Steve is a volunteer at Rock Ministries in the Kensington section of Philly. This once beautiful neighborhood has gone downhill and now has lots of crime and poverty.

Rock has 'safe houses' on every block. Steve enjoys telling the gospel to the down and out in the neighborhood, under the El.

Judy, who prefers her real name, Judith, read a lovely piece she wrote in 2003.The Break of Branches was about a meeting at a coffee house of a man and a woman to see if they were companionable.

No no no! He was a social worker, who She took to task for his lack of compassion.

Who is Judith from the Bible?

Martha, our bible scholar, as is Murphy, said that in the Apocrypha ... well, let's hear it from Wiki

The story revolves around Judith, a daring and beautiful widow, who is upset with her Jewish countrymen for not trusting God to deliver them from their foreign conquerors. She goes with her loyal maid to the camp of the enemy general, Holofernes, with whom she slowly ingratiates herself, promising him information on the Israelites. Gaining his trust, she is allowed access to his tent one night as he lies in a drunken stupor. She decapitates him, then takes his head back to her fearful countrymen. The Assyrians, having lost their leader, disperse, and Israel is saved. Though she is courted by many, Judith remains unmarried for the rest of her life.

Judith with the head of Holofernes

What other biblical characters were beheaded? Dozens. Bring me the head of John the Baptist said Salome.

Rem Murphy read a revised poem about his late wife Valerie, making an excellent poem even better. When she died, his heart was shattered like Waterford Crystal.

His newest poem Where Have You Been Sky Saxon, written in his usual couplet form, talked about sightings of this dead rock musician who was the lead singer of Seeds.... he was found under a manhole cover and near a dirty river in Las Vegas.

The poem was a delightful mishmash of images. Let's listen to the late Sky Saxon, whose real name was Richard Elvern Marsh, born in Salt Lake City, Utah

He died at age 71 of an untreated infection that spread through his body. Sounds a bit like Jim Henson, doesn't it?

Listen to his famous song Pushin Too Hard.  Don't mind if I do, Ruthie!

Conflict of interest! Ruthie is listening to the Blues Show on WXPN. The Tennessee Workhouse Blues by Jenny Pope. You can imagine what that's about!

I didn't get a good pix of Rem, who wore a Phillies' baseball cap.

Fran, on the left, had never heard any of Linda Barrett's stories.

Linda Barrett.

Fran was shocked at the depth of Linda's writing. Her short story Lucy's Quest was about a brilliant young woman who was terrified by a woman named Klemmer who no one but Lucy could see. She was so terrified she jumped into Ada's backyard pool from her bedroom. Linda was describing our friend Ada who has a pool in which I swam thother night.

As someone commented in the group, Klemmer (can't remember her first name) was embued with red-hot anger against Lucy. Linda submitted it to a journal where Allan Heller has been published. Night to Dawn.

Martha, Lorraine, and Murphy

Martha wrote The Grand Cleanout, a poem about throwing things away, how difficult it is, so you put it in three piles, one never to be seen again. But, then again, maybe she'll keep it after all.

Marf told us that when she goes home, her husband David will have a cup of tea ready for her.

Mon dieu! What a guy.

Donna presented Down and Dirty Vacation, an unforgettably horrible trip to Wildwood. The bed in their room slanted downward like a slope on Mount Everest.

We all talked before we began reading. Lorraine found out she was Jewish when a relative - can't remember who - lay dying. I guess these individuals had to hide their "Jewish blood" when they lived in antisemitic countries.

Lorraine was kind enough to help Beatriz out. Wouldn't that be great if I could say, "Lorraine, would you mind getting me a glass of water?"

Fran read two poems she wrote in the 1970s. She no longer writes poetry, is not interested, but enjoys photography. Her marvelous photos appear on Facebook.

 When I goggled her name, this photo came up! Brava

Wonder if she's ever seen the pix by my friend Carl Yeager

  She read Amber Roots which she wrote after taking a trip to her native Lithuania, though she's a first-generation American. Her poem is impossible to describe. It took our breath away. Incredibly great lines - :Baltic rain" -working up to a crescendo at the end. It ended "We remember."

Amber, used in jewelry making, is exported from Lithuania, tho many international companies have branches in this Baltic country. 

Image result for paint strips

Monet's Lavender was the second poem she shared with us.

FRESH GROUND COFFEE HOUSE Last nite I attended the Coffee House, where the coffee is always hot and strong. Two people were of great interest. I wrote a poem about Barbara and short story based on meeting a 66-yo man named Rich.

Rich, I said. I need to write a story for my writers' group tomro. I'd like it to be like a film noir with lots of sex, violence and seedy characters.

Can you be thinking about it, while the band plays.

At intermission he told me a terrific story about his wife leaving him. They had marriage counseling, by which time it was too late.

What didn't she like about you, I asked.

She said I was controlling... I can't remember the other thing. Truly I was amazed he told me this. I did mention I was a therapist.

I wrote it up very quickly before 1:15 when it was time to leave for B's. I drove Judy L since I know where B lives.

I called it Jack. The weird thing is that I was in bed at about 7 am and I had the entire story in mind, was real happy about it, then fell asleep, and it had vanished.

Neither Rich nor his ex-wife has remarried.  Wish I were awake enuf - yawn! - to tell you his story.

When I got home, boyfriend Scott was down his basement playing with his train. He said he liked my story.

 The swirly clouds, said Scott, are cirrus. The fluffy ones, cumulus.
Kids were riding by on their scooters and bikes.

"Look up at the sky at the beautiful clouds," I said.

One little girl, Bella, said  "Hi Ruth."  That's very advanced for a 5-yr-old.

Notecard of a Starfish.


As I walked into the
crowded basement
of the cabaret I spotted
her, a woman my age
with honey-blond hair
and a name tag around
her barely wrinkled neck
“Barbara Rosenzweig,” a
Jew like me, peddling her
watercolors and notecards.

Now that I’m no longer young
and the pet of various one-
night stands, I seek excitement
in various new ways, the hummingbird
levitating, the darting bats at
dusk, the algae in my birdbath
and Barbara’s notecards.

For fifteen dollars I buy Seashells
from the Jersey Shore. A pack of
five, wrapped like my new Animals
of the World calendar in cellophane.

The coffee here is good, I tell her.
May I get you a cup? Her husband
Aaron fetches a hot one as we
reminisce about our families
in the Holocaust. Her people
escaped Russia in 1924. Well
before Hitler, I say.
The Pograms, she counters.

I am sixty-nine,
she is a month older,
and somehow we learn my
son Dan was her math and science
student in middle school.
Quite a boy, her blue eyes sparkle. 

I rock with joy. 

You look like him! she smiles.
Is that when I decide to splurge
on the notecards? Once my
Fallingwater cards were the
love of my life, but nolo contendere,
the seashells beat all.

Remember the first time you were
at the beach, sand, unlike the prickly
grass and clover back home, sand
crunchy underfoot, can you feel
it, sticking like paste, and
foul on the tongue, gritty on
your teeth?  

I held a conch up to my ear
in Barbados,
the sound of the sea leaking
through, along with the
slow hiss of the beginning
of the universe, whose surface
I tred upon lightly,
lightly and gently
so as not to
fall in.