One-Year Anniversary Edition of the Virtual Poetorium…

Dear Readers,

Here is the One-Year Anniversary Edition of the Virtual Poetorium from last night reposted from the Poetorium website @ poetorium.home.blog. I want to thank my fellow bloggers Brad Osborne for being our featured poet, and Ken Ronkowitz & Diane Puterbaugh for graciously accepting my invitation to participate which I previously posted on this blog. I know it’s quite a long read, but I hope you will enjoy it…

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The Virtual Poetorium March 30, 2021

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Ron Whittle

RON: Okay, people, please find your seats now, and we’ll get the Poetorium started.  Well, the biggest news for us is we have lost our venue due to COVID19.  We will have to find a new home when things open back up again.  If anyone has any ideas,  could please you let either Paul or myself know?

I’m going to start with an opening poem as I usually do.  This poem is called “I Am Half the Sea and Half the Storms Gale”.

I Am Half the Sea and Half the Storm’s Gale

I am a brother to the Moon
a tidal child
forever wondering
the call of the rising surf
And being by the sea 
is like an ongoing baptism
where your soul is washed clean
and can roam with the earth’s 
ever rising tides
We may be limited by
the borders of our skin
but there are no borders
barriers, or limits
put on our minds
And I have seen the sea
in ways our eyes can not perceive
where words could neither
define nor explain
and even though my heart
may wander
my soul will always be
one with the sea

— Ron Whittle (Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, USA 2020)

Before I turn this over to Paul,  I hope that all of our followers have managed to stay clear of the COVID19 bug.  If not, I hope you now are over it and safe and sound.

Paul, I know you got some things up your sleeve.  Do you want to take over for now?

PAUL:  Thanks, Ron, I do. Now, normally I would be presenting the “Mystery Poet” segment at this time, but I think we will be dispensing with that portion of the show tonight, perhaps even permanently. What do you think, folks? Is the “Mystery Poet” something that you enjoy, or is it time to give it the old heave-ho? Maybe you would like us to bring back the “Dead Poet Tribute” or do you have another idea for something else for us to do? Please let us know your opinion because we want to make the Poetorium the best poetry show possible, and we need your feedback to do that.

With that being said, I think we really do have a pretty great show for you tonight with a fantastic line-up of poets in our open mic (including someone who traveled all the way from the great State of Tennessee to make their Poetorium debut) and an amazing feature by the fabulous poet and blogger Brad Osborne (some of you may remember Brad from his appearance at our special Virtual Ho-ho-etorium last December). Ron and I will be bringing Brad up to the stage so we can sit down and interview him in just a little bit, but I have a few observations and announcements to make before we do.

First of all, I am proud to announce that tonight marks the one year anniversary of the Virtual Poetorium. Believe it or not, we first launched this virtual version way back in March of last year when the pandemic first began, and we were no longer able to continue the live Poetorium shows. Unbelievably, the number of Virtual Poetoriums have now surpassed the amount of live sessions we have done. Hopefully, we will get back to meeting in person in the very near future, but until then, Ron and I are committed to keep churning out this very unique online poetry show in print. Thank you everyone for your continued participation and support!

Also Ron and I received some great news about Anne Marie Lucci, the Poetorium’s very own official caterer and baker of blond brownies  that we are dying to share with you all. Anne Marie, could you please stand up…we don’t want to embarrass her, but we are so proud and happy to have heard that her poem “The April Fool in Us All” is being published in the baseball-themed commemorative edition of  the Worcester County Poetry Associations irregular anthology series The Issue which will be entitled “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” and distributed to every attendee of the opening day game of the Polar Park Worcester Red Sox! So let’s all give her a big hand and be sure to congratulate her when you next talk to her.

And now, I will stop blabbing and get on with the show! As I mentioned earlier this evening, we are so pleased to have the one and only Brad Osborne as our featured poet at the Virtual Poetorium tonight, Before we call him up to the virtual stage to be interviewed, I’d like to tell you a little more about Brad:

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Brad Osborne

Brad Osborne, a highly decorated Marine combat veteran and poet living in Pennsylvania, is a contributing editor and member of The American Poets Society.His poetry has been published in “The Gettysburg Historical Review”, “NY Naval Quarterly”, “Tempest Poetic Society Journal”, and the anthology “Expressions” by The American Poets Society. His works have been featured online by Spillwords Press NYC, The Navy Times, Reader’s Digest, Healthy Living, Meditations, and many others. He was awarded Anna Rabinowitz Prize by the Poet Society of America for 2015, the Silver Medal for Poetry by the Pennsylvania Poetry Review for 2009 and was a finalist for the Buckner Award in Poetry for 2017. Having traveled the world in youth, Brad now resides in the rural beauty of central Pennsylvania, a boon to his two great passions, poetry, and motorcycling. Both of which seem to add all the flair a happy life requires. He is currently editing his first book of poetry “Reticent Ink”, which he hopes to publish soon.

Please welcome to our virtual stage, Brad Osborne!

RON:  Brad, We do this so that we can get to better know all of our guest speakers. It was something that both Paul and I agreed on from the very beginning. Most poetry events never let us get to know the Poet, the man or woman. So we decided it was high time that someone should do this. So with that in mind, here is my first question… Who is Brad Osborne?

BRAD: First, let me thank you both for the honor of attending. I am excited to be among such talented artists. There is not much to tell. I lead simple life where my day job working data maintenance for a national medical provider supports my hobbies and a comfortable lifestyle. I am single and the kids are all grown, so I have a great deal of “me” time. Though my writing consumes a great part of that.

RON: What was it that got you started writing?

BRAD: I have always been enthralled by the written language. My mother was an English teacher who also proofread for Doubleday when I was young, and I grew up in a house that looked like a library. I was completely captivated by the power of the written word. I would say my own writing started as a way of understanding my own thoughts and feelings, as in their articulation I found great insight about who I was, and more importantly, who I wanted to be.

RON: Who are your favorite poets and why?

BRAD: I love Whitman for his blending of the transcendental with overt realism. Maya Angelou for pushing verse into the next century. I also favor Langston Hughes for his ability to evoke a passionate response. But my favorite of all is Dylan Thomas, whom I consider a master of the rhythmic ballad.

RON: If you had one thing to tell aspiring poets to do, what would that be?

BRAD: Read every piece of poetry you find.

RON: What would you call the type of poetry that you write?

BRAD: I would consider most of my works to be classical in style. Often form driven with a great penchant for lyricism. But I have also written in the historical narrative for a few published pieces.

RON: Outside of poetry and blogging, what other interests do you have?

BRAD: I am an avid motorcyclist and a voracious reader. One hobby for when it is sunny out and one for one it is not. Add to that the time I spend writing, and all the “me” time I talked about vanishes quickly. I also find the time to spend with friends and family who are my greatest joy in life.

RON:  Would you please tell us about your family life and where you live?

BRAD: Well, I have already talked about the excitement that is my somewhat monastic life, so let me talk about where I live. I reside in the tiny town of Shiremanstown, a suburb of the capitol Harrisburg in central Pennsylvania. I love it here, as it is only a ten-minute drive to all the amenities a big city can offer, such as theatre, galleries, museums, music, dining, etc. Or ten minutes the other direction and you are in the middle of quiet Amish farmland amongst the beauty of nature. That is what I call having a balanced life.

RON:  Do you ever write any humorous poetry. If so, would you share it with us?

BRAD: I am planning to present a couple of humorous poems tonight. The “Life in Contradiction” is quite lengthy, but I am also including “Poetry” which is shorter and a light-hearted look at our art.

RON: Paul do you have any questions you’d like to ask Brad?

PAUL: Yes, thank you,  Ron. I do… Brad, I realize Ron has already asked you about your favorite poets, but which ones do you feel, if any, has most influenced your own writing?

BRAD: I think Dylan Thomas is a favorite because it was within his poems, at some very early point in reading, that I realized the power of well-written poetry. It was likely the first time I was moved to tears by mere written words. That certainly provoked in me a desire to touch others in a similar way.

PAUL:  As you already know, Brad (but the audience probably does not), we first met on the internet through our perspective blogs. Yours, Commonsensibly Speaking, is such an absolute pleasure to read, filled with such astonishing poetry and thoughtful insights. What inspired you to first start blogging?

BRAD: I think like most artists, I started as way to gauge the strength of my writing. Both editorially, which my early blog posts included, and poetically once my blog moved to be strictly poetic works. I was looking for feedback and criticism to improve my skills. But the sense of community and support made it much more. I was introduced to aspiring poets from all over the world and found such wonderful poetry out there that I may have otherwise never seen. I have had the privilege to collaborate with established poets and mentor young writers finding their voice. I have been refreshed to find that my struggles at writing are not uncommon and never permanent. And it has afforded me the connections to be so greatly honored by being here today.

PAUL: Do you have any expert advice for novices who might like to try own their hand at blogging?

BRAD: I sure do, as I have been at this for some time.

  1. It does not cost anything. My entire blog is free.
  2. Do not be afraid to change direction. My site grew into being exclusively poetry, but even I am not sure what it may grow into next. I have started series and killed series. It is and always will be a work in progress.
  3. As with any web site, most platforms provide a ton of metrics on views, visitors, likes and assorted minutia. Pay them little attention. Take the long view. Only after you have been writing for a number of months can you even begin to start to see trending.
  4. Read other blogs, like their pages, leave comments, ask questions, and otherwise engage with others on the platform. It builds your support community, exposes you to other inspirational writing and increases your exposure.
  5. Last, but most important, be consistent. If you are only going to post infrequently, readers will not make coming to your blog a habit. I have other bloggers, like Paul, that I follow and read every day. Personally, I have had a blog post every day for nearly a year and a half. My readers know they can always find me and that the post will be about poetry. You don’t have to be that committed, but you should be consistent.

PAUL:  One thing we both seem to have in common is a deep, almost passionate interest in poetic forms, which you share with your readers on your blog in your weekly feature “Whittled Words”. What do you feel are the advantages of working in a specific form?

BRAD:  Paul, we do share that inordinate passion for the beauty that is form poetry. Over the course of my “Whittled Word” series, I have visited and written in nearly sixty different forms of poetry thus far. Within each form we find the building blocks of all great poetry, creatively placed to impose tempo, timbre, and tone. From the hendecasyllabic lilt of the Strambotto to the sweet refrains of the Ode. From the Shakespearean siloloqy to the brevity of Hiaku. Everything each of us writes is some creative restructuring of the forms which have proceeded us. I also find the work and challenge of writing to these classic forms is what sharpens my ability to create, regardless of what I am writing.

PAUL:  Are there any poetry forms that you personally prefer to write, and if so, which ones?

BRAD: I would never be able to choose one over another. They all have beautiful frameworks for well-chosen words. But I am a sucker for a good refrain.

PAUL:  Another regular series you have on your blog is “Tuesday Tidbits” in which you share your own original quotes about poetry, writing, and life. I just love these, there are so chock-full with incredible wisdom and insight expressed in such clever ways? Could you  please share with us your process on how you go about writing them?

BRAD: Thank you for mentioning the series, Paul. Readers have certainly enjoyed it each week. I find writing the quotations to be some of the most fun and creative writing I get to do. There is not much of a process. I take the common struggles we all have as writers and deliver them in the same conversational tone as I would if speaking to a friend. I find it a beautiful blend of editorializing and free verse. And as with any writing, that commonality allows the reader to see themselves in the words and thus a connection. I do enjoy finding witty ways to tell them what they already know.

PAUL:  If you don’t mind, Brad, I’d like to conclude this interview with one of your fabulous quotations on poetry or writing. Do you have a favorite one that you could recite for us now?

BRAD: “It is incalculable to determine the number of word combinations in any one language. It is in this infinity where creativity takes hold, and the writer tries to add up all their words and make them equal something.”

Thank you, Ron and Paul, and my humble thanks to everyone here. It has been my great privilege.

RON: You are very welcome, Brad!  So unless someone in the audience has a question… no?…well then, I guess that concludes the interview portion of our program. Brad, thank you so much for a really fantastic and fascinating interview! Now, folks, please give our guest speaker Brad Osborne a huge round of applause as he takes to the podium to present his poetry…

BRAD:

Aboard an Autumn Ship

Though the days grow short
With harvest solstice passed
The changing air still courts
A warmth that seems to last

Greenery remains aloft
As yet to take the plunge
And dapples mountain far as soft
As painter’s well-worn sponge

Snap now fingers of morning air
The frost will be here soon
Fear I loss of sun so fair
Save for the beautiful moon

Oh, the joy of summer days
Remembered to the last
I knew that you could not stay
But have forsaken me too fast

This omen of impending cold
Colored tapestry of new fall
Like seasons growing ever old
You hear the reaper’s call

Bounty, bosom, and harvest shared
Fields readied for their sleep
From winter’s touch may I be spared
The friend in you I keep

But as all seasons come and go
I know you’ll leave me too
Like call of morning rooster’s crow
What else are you to do

In days ‘tween summer’s heat
And winter’s deathly grip
Warm winds fill sailor’s sheet
Aboard an autumn ship

—Brad Osborne

In the Hush

The dawn whispers good morning
Peeking above the mountain covers
Holding the dreams of silent lovers
A childish orb playing timid for show

Reluctantly it rises, the world yawning
And as it crests the peaks of height
Pushing back all trace of night
There I, warmed by the loving glow

It will rise to command the skies
Yet, now in the small of days
A single ray, sets to blaze
The meadow, wildflower rainbow

The reds, the blues, the vibrant hues
Glisten for this morning kiss
A moment of heavenly bliss
Nature in all her beauty bestowed

So, pass each day now, as you must
For etched is well my memory
By such a rare gift given me
In the hush, before sun grows

—Brad Osborne

Life in Contradiction

They say, “Look before you leap”,
A moment to consider cost.
But don’t dare fall asleep,
For “He who hesitates is lost”.

“If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again”, damn it all.
It may be a much kinder friend indeed,
Saying, “Don’t beat your head against a wall”.

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”,
No sweeter words will you ever find.
But you will be left to ponder,
Why is “out of sight, out of mind”.

“Two heads are better than one”,
Or, at least, some say that’s true.
But any father would encourage son,“
Paddle your own canoe”.

And, if it true, that “haste makes waste”,
And we should take the time we can.
Then why are we constantly faced,
With the fact, “time waits for no man”.

We’re still learning how the human mind ticks,
And “you’re never too old to learn”.
But, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”,
When just remembering is a concern.

Yes, “a word to the wise is sufficient”,
A meaning so profound and deep.
But it may be considered deficient,
For we all agree that “talk is cheap”.

“Spare the rod, spoil the child”,
If it is obedience that you seek.
But, in the same text is filed,
“Turn the other cheek”.

You should “hitch your wagon to a star”,
Adventure into the something new.
But if you choose to travel that far,
“Don’t bite off more that you can chew”.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”,
Try not to, if you can.
But, if you’re looking for a lover,
Then the “clothes make the man”.

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”,
As if some attention is beholden.
But it is when the noise does cease,
That we remember, “silence is golden”.

“Birds of a feather flock together”,
But don’t let that well detract.
For the tethered wisdom of another,
Would say, “Opposites attract”.

“Winners never quit”,
Keep going until you’re dead.
But, if you’ve had enough of it,
At least, “quit while you’re ahead”.

“Actions speak louder than words”,
On that we can find some accord.
But there are other words I have heard,
“The pen is mightier than the sword”.

“Many hands make light work”,
Woe to the deadly sin of sloth.
But, is that where the real evil lurks,
If “too many cooks spoil the broth”.

“Better safe than sorry”,
Good prudence is explained.
But life is like a safari,
“Nothing ventured, nothing gained”.

And, “it’s not the size of the boat,
But the motion of the ocean”.
Though the idea doesn’t seem to float,
If “the bigger, the better” is a notion.

Acceptance found in the tenet,
“Whatever will be, will be”.
But, “life is what you make of it”,
Unacceptance given by decree.

“Cross your bridges when you come to them”.
Your fears and anxieties will be disarmed.
Lack of preparation may leave you wanting then,
For being “forewarned is forearmed”.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”,
That’s what the farmer had told Roy’s son,
Yet I can say to you with great candor,“
One man’s meat is another man’s poison”.

They say, “The more, the merrier”,
Till the party gets too loud.
And sometimes it is a barrier,
Because “two’s company and three’s a crowd”.

“Seek and ye shall find”,
And as simple is all that.
It somehow brings to mind,
That “curiosity killed the cat”.I

f you want to avoid any social rifts,
“Never look a gift horse in the mouth”.
But, “beware of Greeks bearing gifts”,
Rolling up to the gate in the south.“

The best things in life are free”,
Or, at least, that was someone’s hunch.
They live a different life than me,
“There’s no such thing as a free lunch”.

“A penny saved is a penny earned”,
Ben Franklin spoke so bullish.
Another lesson that can be learned,
“Penny wise, pound foolish”.

We are told, “Stop and smell the roses”,
Don’t let life pass as a loss.
But as their scent fills our noses,“
A rolling stone gathers no moss”.

They say, “Patience is a virtue”,
Words bordering the sublime.
Yet, just as true, the other view,
“You are never given more time”.

What beautiful notion, “The sky is the limit”,
There is nothing to fear here at all.
But remember with each hill you summit,
“The higher you climb, the farther you fall”.

So, we have made a few mistakes,
You could say, “No one is perfect”.
Then I guess practice is all it takes,
Because “practice makes perfect”.

“The early bird gets the worm”,
No truer words are there than these.
But I can assuredly confirm,
“The second mouse gets the cheese”.

—Brad Osborne

Poetry

It’s not as easy as it looks
To put words down in poetry
They do not tell you in the books
How to rhyme words with ‘poetry’

It is harder than it appears
To find the exact word each time
The struggle through the long years
To find the words that sound alike

To count each meter of writing
Trimming ideas in brevity
For the reader uninviting
If one line has more than another in longevity

The war to find the exact word
The one word that fits perfectly
Like a lonesome singular herd Kurd nerd purred spurred blurred whirred bird
It must fit nest beautifully

So, don’t forget all the hard work
That has gone into writing form
In poetry does beauty lurk
A beauty beyond given norm

If you think stanza falls from sky
If you think there is ease in verse
I beg you to give it a try
I promise it can’t be much worse

—Brad Osborne

Quantum Entanglement

Real connectivity
Quantum relativity
Mechanics of the stars
Tell us who we are

With a bang undone
Particles as one
Distance they are sent
Bound entanglement

Logic holds no clue
Science gives no due
The unison is held
A universal weld

There is dust in you
Birthed when time was new
That endless calls, you see
To the dust in me

Synched by vibration
Regardless their station
Two forever paired
Lives to constant share

It’s how I find your heart
When we are far apart
That tiny celestial trace
Untouched by time and space

—Brad Osborne

The Mist

Is it cloud that falls so gently
When mountain top is kissed
Or does it rise from the valley
This cold and haunting mist

All pale shapes and grey shadows now
Sight rendered all but blind
Like whiskey drunk too fast somehow
A fogging of the mind

Unknown fears in every crease
The fears of never knowing
My will cannot command you cease
And keep my fears from growing

Being trapped in ghostly blanket
Suffered your icy chill
Yea sun would come I’d thank it
And temper failing will

If but scant rays could break rampart
And glimmer added hue
A warmth to spirit and to heart
Gained strength to see this through

Should graced light fail and hope abide
My journey will not stop
All my fears must be put aside
If goal the mountain top

So, taunt me now you evil mist
You cruel, sadistic haze
Battle you, my will exist
Earning my brighter days

Set upon me your eerie wrath
You may have chosen me
But I the chooser of my path
Will choose my destiny

—Brad Osborne

The Whispered

Memories hang heavy
Like Spanish moss draped
Over the gnarled boughs
Weathered by the voice of years
Fed by long forgotten tears
And traced in the wounds
We are all the whispered here

Visions rise like smoke
A pungent scent seen
Stung in blood-shot eyes
Burnt in the sepia lost
Paying the highest cost
And placed within the tombs
We are all the whispered here

Darkness beats the anvil
With a farrier’s skill
Drummed to war
Bodies of the broken
Names left unspoken
Now echoes in the gloom
We are all the whispered here

—Brad Osborne

PAUL: Wow! Thank you, Brad! That was just incredible! Folks, let’s show our appreciation for such an amazing feature by giving a big (virtual) hand for Brad Osborne!

Normally, we would be now taking a short intermission in a few minutes, but tonight we are going to skip that, and keep plowing straight ahead. 

So now once again, we come to one of my favorite segments of the show, the Poetorium group poem. For this month’s poem, which is entitled “Chronology”,  contributors were asked to send us one to six lines with their first line starting with the phrase “In the Year ______”, filling in the blank with any year of their choosing such as “In the Year 374 B.C.” or “In the Year 2525”. The subject of the lines could be about an historical event (either factual or fantastical), a personal incident (real or imagined), or actually anything else they wished. All the contributions received were then compiled in chronological order according to the year to create the following poem (which I think turned out fairly decent):

Chronology (The March 2021 Poetorium Group Poem)

In the year 1477,
William Caxton published Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls”,
thought to be the very first poem in the English language
Printed on a printing press, as well as the introduction of
The concept that Valentines Day was meant for love & lovers.
Both haters of poetry and romance feel it set a bad precedent.

In the year 1793,
Louis the XVI discovered (in spite of whatever Elvis
Might have said) sometimes it ain’t so good to be King.

In the year 1880,
I killed two bad guys in one day.

In the year 1903,
By a Carolina sea,
Man winged free,
Shedding gravity.

In the year 1948,
I lived in the California desert.
Once watched my mother kill a scorpion
As it ran out from under a box.
A big stick she used. 
I marveled at her bravery.

In the year 1962,
Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”
Was published. My mother looked
Up at the maple tree and said,
“The robin sings for rain.”

In the year 1969,
We watched “Where the Action Is,
Because it wasn’t at our house.

In the year 1984,
When I read Orwell’s eponymous novel,
Thought Police, Newspeak and Doublethink
Were merely dystopian concepts…My God,
Who would have thought?

In the year 2020,
For the first time in history,
The bank was happy when a masked
Man stepped up to the teller.

In the year 2021,
Judging by the events of this and the past year,
Can we be certain we’ll all still be around
In the year 2022?

Thank you, Bob, Brad, Diane, Dwayne, Howard, Joan, Karen and everyone else who contributed!

Ron will be starting the virtual open mic in just a bit, but first, I’ll be presenting 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 a Hay(na)ku, sometimes referred to as “Philippino Haiku”. In case, you are not familiar with the form, it somewhat resembles the haiku in the fact that they both consist of three short lines. But unlike the traditional Japanese form, the hay(na)ku is isoverbal, meaning its lines’ lengths are measured by the number of words instead of syllables. There is one word in the first line, two in the second, and three in the third. Also like haiku, a hay(na)ku doesn’t necessarily have to have a title, but there is no rule against it having one either. Not surprisingly, we received quite a few of both varieties: untitled and titled.

We will start with the untitled ones. Ken Ronkowitz, a Poetorium first-timer (welcome to the Poetorium, Ken!), sent us the following four –

moon
not full
to Earth eyes

—Ken Ronkowitz

daffodils
yellow buds
Don’t rush us!

—Ken Ronkowitz

argument
her fault
but my problem

—Ken Ronkowitz

crocus
first green
then purple hats

—Ken Ronkowitz

Long-time Poetorium regular Karen Warinsky wrote this one –

Coffee
dark, hot —
riles me up.

—Karen Warinsky

Here is another untitled hay(na)ku, this time by Joan Erickson

Man
rides bicycle
sips a soda

—Joan Erickson

Okay, now here are the hay(na)kus with title. I’ll start with my own humble efforts –

Barnyard Memories of My Youth

Pullets
bathing in
basins of earth.

—Paul Szlosek

Oops… My Bad!

Planned
Mistakes are
Accidents on purpose.

—Paul Szlosek

Brad Osborne, tonight’s fabulous featured poet met the challenge with these three –

Ticking

Time
Ticking tacit
Careful counting creeps

—Brad Osborne

Self

Self
Is the
Hollows between events

—Brad Osborne

Campfire

Oak
Hewn sacrifice
Forest stone altar

—Brad Osborne

Robert Eugene Perry also contributed three –

Hidden Meaning

What
was that
you said again?

—Robert Eugene Perry

Floundering

Fishing
for compliments
with baited breath.

—Robert Eugene Perry

Tempus Fugit

Stop
wasting time
it cannot wait.

—Robert Eugene Perry

Last, but not least, here is a lone hay(na)ku by Jonathan Blake

Before the Cold Vermont Rains

Cows 
rise from
the tall grass

—Jonathan Blake

Thank you, Ken, Karen, Brad, Bob, Joan, and Jonathan. You all stepped up and met this month’s writing challenge head-on, and knocked it out of the park!

And now here is the moment at last that everyone has been eagerly waiting for. Please welcome our Master of Ceremonies, Ron Whittle, back to the Poetorium stage so he can finally begin our open mic…

RON: Alright, alright, I’m going to kick off the open mic with a poem of mine…

The Wood as It Turned Out Was Fruitless 

The old floors
of this old house 
tell a tale of its years
of existence and
it speaks to me
with every step
or tiptoed movement
I make
It whispers to me
in every creak and groan
and it owes its story
to every nail that has
released its hold to 
the elements of time,
shrinkage, abuse, and
from every foot that 
has walked across it
It holds within it
a memory of every
mark, scar, or stain
with no explanation
of who, what, or when
We can only guess
and we are left to believe
it had a hard life
Those interested in antiquity
would call it patina
I would be more inclined
to call it wore out
It is what it is
and grew old with me
and the thing with
old floors are they can
be sanded and refinished
they look pretty but still
creak and groan
but with people
when it’s time
they just bury us
pretty much to mostly 
because we are wore out

—Ron Whittle

Okay,  first up on the open mic is Joe Fusco…

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Joe Fusco Jr.

JOE:

The Easter Squirrel

          Once upon a time, not so long ago, the Bunny was drinking very heavily the night before Easter. He drank so much that he passed out at the wheel, crashed his Volkswagen Rabbit into a guard-rail, and broke his left-hind leg.

          Now, the Bunny woke up early next morning with a terrible hangover and feeling very guilty. He knew he had to hide the Easter eggs for all the good and sober boys and girls, but he couldn’t hop from house to house. He was about to drown his guilt in a single-malt scotch when someone knocked on the door of his condo.

          It was his neighbor the Squirrel.

          “What’s up, Bugs,” the Squirrel shouted. “I heard you had a terrible accident!”

          Now, the Bunny knew his neighbor the Squirrel was a real go-getter but somewhat on the forgetful side. He suddenly had a lightbulb of an idea.

          “All the good and sober boys and girls are about to wake up and start to look for their Easter eggs, Mr. Squirrel. I’m afraid they’re going to be very disappointed.”

          “I’ll help you hide the eggs,” the Squirrel shouted.

          So, that morning, the Easter Squirrel scurried from house to house hiding walnuts for all the good and sober boys and girls. He hid walnuts because he had put all the Easter eggs in a safe place then forgot where that safe place was.

          When the parents of the children saw the Easter walnuts, they were
outraged. They raced to the nearest Walmart to buy more jellybeans and chocolate rabbits. In their haste, one of them turned the Easter Squirrel into roadkill.

          “Here’s to our good friend, the Squirrel,” the Bunny shouted as he raised a glass of single-malt scotch at the funeral. “May he not rest in peace!”

—Joe Fusco Jr.

RON: Now please welcome Karen Warinsky…

KAREN:

End of the World

Don’t try to scare me that its the end of the World.
My world has already ended
multiple times,
and started up again,
old sights and sounds changed into
new ones, and familiar folks
disappeared and replaced by others,
souls I didn’t know and wasn’t even looking for.
Jobs have come and gone,
fun has come and gone and come again,
so you can’t scare me with this hand wringing,
this bell clanging, this alarmed message that it will all end!
It has ended, over and over again,
and I have learned to hang on to what’s meaningful
as I hurl through this carnival ride
taking it all in, eating my white cheddar cheese popcorn,
drinking my Miller, sometimes a Guinness,
sometimes a Blue Moon.

—Karen Warinsky (from Gold in Autumn, Human Error Publishing, 2020)

RON: Our next poet will be Diane Puterbaugh.

PAUL: Diane, since this is your first appearance at the Poetorium, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself before you present your poem…

DIANE: I live in Jackson, Tennessee with my husband, cat, and a 4 month old Boxer puppy, so it is a miracle I get anything done, but nonetheless I have had poems in Visitant Lit, Poetry Super Highway and Peeking Cat Literary…

Summer Hair

That crack in the sidewalk near the front door
is part of some economist’s graph of
statistics on the GDP

The robin’s nest on the meter box
was abandoned, the location too
exposed

If you get locked out, there’s a spare key
suffocating in a plastic bag under
the deck

Her bathroom drawer inters
lip balm, hand cream and a silver barrette
still clasping a summer hair

—Diane Puterbaugh (originally published on Poetry Super Highway, December 2018)

RON: Thank you, Diane! Now, everyone, please welcome Mishelle Goodwin to the Poetorium podium…

 MISHELLE:

In the Year of 1982

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been happy. Torn by Love and Vengeances. That now the Flemings are back. Today is March 2021 the 19th the day I could begin again. Now I could do everything right it seems like only yesterday and I still don’t think it’s fun. I don’t love those nutty people she say’s, always trying to impress us. They steal, cause problems all over Gods green earth. While they are killing that same old girl they used to know. To me? So, don’t worry I always run late. She couldn’t find the called Tony PUZO 999. Even though this “Journey” to me was hard and long. Henry’s brother was arrested and some one knew why he pulled over she saw them and she was Psychic ked for a fight. She finally called 911 and now she is going to call the police this is gone far enough. I new they were all there. It was because he was driving along the high way and slimed on the breaks. The chain broke and then it’s axel dropped making the logs fall off the log truck; It was a big semi-truck that Henry drives. He never put any insurance on it. One car turned over it was carrying logs. This was only the start of these situations. “Someone is trying kill me. Fate I said, Hah. She was not paying attention because she did not even like her bratty bat mobile. Well I fix that!
    Well, Mixing Business with pleasure again. How did you put it. Well guess I’ll have a Medium ice coffee, extra cream, two sugars, chocolate, raspberry with coconut, Chocolate MOCHA. and as the logs were rolling off the truck “Well isn’t this nice” A little Ironic don’t you think a little too, Ironic Yah, I really do think. I have a idea Fangs. It was not my car. If I had a car It would not be mine and people would get killed on the expressway and your friends maybe but She doesn’t do it that way. She left. Nobody was there so after checking to see if they were O.K. They left it there. That did not work right Mr. E  who she didn’t trust me it is a little difficult with how often, such and such of this.
    Get this were married. We did not change a thing. He won about $2,000.00 or more playing the lottery and got you out of jail and died the next day. We were both there. So was he. Get this. What is a thief notorious for. What happens to “HERO”. Well they both get one just so you both could be safe  because neither on worked right.in case they don’t. What filthy thing is mud in you eye. It happens all the time. The big cheese is a fart. Fate, if it hand’s off to a crime over where I lived had ever been some one else coffee. I’d say they’d still be there. Kool, but look I’m not grimly but if I know you that I bet he got back out again. I’m Memmi to him. He doesn’t know the truth how I got it right or he would have gotten killed that way. He passed away is what really happened.
    Enough about death. But they did start it with him again. Just because my mother was always busy. Well if my father traveled a lot. He wanted to help some how it aggravates him I have no education and well it’s the truth when that was said. He got into a fight because my son of Jesus and her standards about servants. Well you get it. With why. All I said on the phone was a THIEF. And they go and start with as stupid as some of those people are. The funny thing was that no one ever stayed home but mom. It’s the law. She stayed home with house keepers and maids. Sara and Mary went to sell there paintings. All the boys and Paula  all headed for the beach. Towards the end of the day the kids were there and the wife. Mom went to get the old republic complain why he was there. Or maybe he wasn’t. That Fucken Bastard was Vantuchie and that’s where I was that night. I’m no one that you have ever heard of. In case your wondering.
    He had tongue tied and twisted a sermon and that’s not all he wanted it that way. Could he reposition him not if he can help it. The driver no I’ll try. She likes rock-n-roll and AC-DC. She was there at his funeral she a high priest ❄. Asked me to watch her back. “She never could shake them” Well I won’t believe that. She never reviled the driver. His mother went never to no big white house, with a big back yard, white picked fence. They were to dangerous once. I don’t know who got shot or how. Even if it sits an a big hill and that big hill isn’t big enough to climb. Just because she just got up and left. Never to return. Henry new better than to start trouble. He was trouble enough and he broke my heart. I snuck up on him and shot him. He never stays out of my way.
    Henry said, “The king and I and jokingly enough they do not steal theft or not. I said in a letter. I always thought he’d like working like an employee because your always after money and every once and a while he’d have a minute or to visiting the place. My I thought you had a visitor. The girl who lived in the apartment. Said, the same thing. Possibly to get him to go to the station. When they played together they were Fluffy, Felix, and Sam.  It helps. Sleeping. The police didn’t want to disturb him. Gone from here. He ran over her and right into him moving his money into it because I needed his help
That one day turned into 50,000,000.00.
    They stole your money and credit card.  A_______MESS! Henry Flemings did hear Mr.’s voice. telling him about E.S.P.L.O.R.I.B.E.M.U.N.U.M. From infinity and beyond. Now that’s cleaning up a mess. Striking danger where it is a must. Because that why we drink it here. 

Late
   Last Summer
was the first
    time.

We meet at a cottage
Near that house
that’s a vacation
But trouble for me.

I’d been there before
It would be
twice. There and what
is it?

Why, can’t I stay away
from there.
Was it Marshall’s
No, told
Differently.

Not there 
doing cleaning
When she starts
It goes there all time.

They were blowing.
My mind and I did not
like it!

I’ll like rock-n-roll 
better at least I’ll 
know how to hit.
Blow his mind.
They do all the
time.
“No !”
I want.

Now, 
that worked

Let’s see the summer of 1964.
She was terminally pretty. 
He well was taken.
Couldn’t blame me.

Not with what I can
Blame on me.
He’s a little hard of unhearing.
One more night.

I’m telling my mother!
He hell yah! With the way
you did that.
Somebody had to stop me!
The police I supposed.

Trouble
With my mother
She don’t give 
Swag’s

To be O.K.
I was busy
spying for a fight. Well’
See she was terminally pretty.
.
 Well, she was the best damn 
woman that they’d ever dreamed
who’s motor she always kept clean

Just to taste a sweet life and 
that is what it takes.
Well I’m not blind.
Got what it takes.

    Henry got home and his mom was gone. 
Running late. HIM a little bit of a new year and I did not want to get caught. Paula I said that if you got what it takes keep trying to find Paula. She found Henry’s note.She decided to go to the beach. He followed her. She paid no mind She went to Alder an and well until at least  he got back.

—Mishelle Goodwin

RON: Next up, all the way from California, is Eugenie Steinman…

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Eugenie Steinman

GENIE: Thank you for again asking me to participate in the Poetorium .

I wrote this poem in a meditation. Realizing my mind as separate from me, I was able to acknowledge it and comment about it , hoping to share, inspire others to do the same. This was first published in my book Persimmon: Poems and Recipes in 1996.

To  Mind

You did it you did it 
Will it never end?
You the aggressor I must defend.
I can’t have spontaneous fun
 Amuse you are the constantly attacking one.
Even when I’m on my guard
I always lose the bout.
You and those relationships that give you so much clout.
But someday when I’m not thinking 
Will be the joyous one
And I won’t even stop to notice that the war is won.

—Eugenie Steinman (originally published in Persimmon: Poems and Recipes)

RON: Next up is Dwayne Szlosek…

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Dwayne Szlosek

DWAYNE: Thank you, and I hope you’re all doing well!

Nine Gun Billy 2

This is Billy Gunn. It’s May 16th, 1880.
Some of you may remember that nine men killed
my mother and sister, and burned the Gunn Ranch
down to the ground. That happened on May 1st.

Now I am in a town called Brownwood in eastern Texas.
I hear there is a man there, who is at the Saloon. He is one
of the nine who killed my family. His name was Lucky,
I am about to be the one, is going to change his name to Unlucky.
I enter the saloon at midday, I look around the bar.
There are three men and the barkeep.
I walk up to the bartender with my heart racing.
I will have a beer and a shot of whiskey.
I say the bartender “I am looking for Lucky.”
The owner looks straight at me and nods,
like he was to say he is behind me.

The man’s name is Lucky. A tall man, his hair is dirty
and greasy. Long beard and mustache. A shirt, red in color.
A brown gun belt with blue jeans and with a
pair of brown scuff up and dirty cowboy boots.
A black hat, tattered and worn.

I have no gun to kill Lucky with, I never ever shot a gun before.
I have to get creative about killing him. I see a broken broom handle,
leaning against a post, right next to Lucky. I also see him talking
to his friend at his table, his back to the broken handle.
I am not sure if that man who is talking to Lucky is one of the men
who killed my mother and sister or not,  but i will see if he is
As soon as i kill Lucky with the broom handle.

I finish my beer an shot of whiskey. I thank the keeper, and pay him.
I walk towards Lucky, as if I was leaving. I get up behind him,
and quickly grab the broken broom handle, shoving it through Lucky’s neck.
He gets up quickly from the chair, blood everywhere. I grab his gun
from his holster and shoot Lucky in the back, he falls over to the floor dead.
His friend reaches for his gun. I raise the gun I have, and shoot, killing him.
I found out later it was one of the ones that murdered my family.
So I killed two of them out of the nine, leaving me seven of them to deal with.
Now I have two gun belts and guns now. I want to finish this.

Nine Gun Billy

P.S. The other man’s name was Bison…

—Dwayne Szlosek (Copyright 3\16\2021)

I hope you all liked NINE GUN BILLY. There is more to come…

RON: Now let’s all welcome Howard Kogan…

HOWARD:

For Gustave Flaubert

As if the soul’s fullness didn’t sometimes overflow into the emptiness of metaphors, for no one, ever, can give the exact measure of his needs, his ideas or his sorrows; human speech is like a cracked cauldron on which we bang out tunes that make bears dance, when we want to move the stars to pity.”  —Gustave Flaubert (Madame Bovary Part 2, Chapter 9, 1856)

We read your words and we are moved
to recognition, to gratitude, and pity too
by words that fail you by what they cannot do.
Yet the very same words have come to us
from another time, another world,
and enthrall us with the spells they cast,
the world they conjure, for our world was built
by your words, the music of your cracked caldron.

Look at the heavens Gustave,
can you see the bears dancing
across the night sky ladling
their pity upon us?

—Howard J Kogan

RON: Okay, next up is Robert Eugene Perry…

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Robert Eugene Perry Reading Mary Oliver at the Poetorium at Starlite Before the Pandemic Began...

BOB: Hello Poetorium! It is exciting to be back after a two month haitus!

The following three short poems were the result of a prompt from Lis McLoughlin regarding local land trusts. The first poem was written next to the French River at Riverside Park, N Grosvenordale, CT which is right down the road from me. Perryville Dam and Pierpont Meadow are both in my hometown of Dudley, MA.

All three poems were recently published in the Honoring Nature anthology, published by Human Error Publishing. It can be purchased here: https://bookshop.org/shop/NatureCulture or on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Honoring-Nature-Anthology-Authors-Festival/dp/1948521490 and other online venues.

Susurration

(in) a language all its own,the river
speaks in susurrus, syllables
sometimes sibilant, soft
slaps of waves over stones,
sweeping sensuously across branches,
swirling into eddies around corners,
speaking in soothing textures,
showing off its splendor –
singing surreptitiously
for those with ears to hear.

—Robert Eugene Perry (originally published in Honoring Nature, Human Error Publishing)

Piermont Meadow

bare feet on the grassy path
spring births unparalleled joy
conduit between worlds
grass gives way to rough needles

tall pines arch
a portal to silence, introspection
whispers weaving through the forest
evergreen slicing my dull senses awake

a stream bends through
marsh grass and cattails
sliding under the path
to the waiting pond

the trail forks, to the right
a wooded path will reach the water
to the left will loop
past the sunning beaver’s dam

cycles, seasons, changes –

the gestation of spring,
dance of summer rhythms,
circles of fall, all lie down
and sleep in winter.

—Robert Eugene Perry (originally published in Honoring Nature, Human Error Publishing)

Conjuntion (Perryville Dam)

This is the sweet spot
where time slows.

The marsh explodes with sound
red wings caw
full throated joy
calling to make life –

a wood drake observes
from the channel
patiently awaiting
his chance to impress.

Slowly moving water
heading for cataracts
                           just downriver

patchwork of greens and browns
new growth sprouts from decay

the river flowing over the dam
background music for the bog
bright red buds on trees
highlighted by overcast skies.

Standing on the bones of my ancestors
I am here, now.

—Robert Eugene Perry (originally published in Honoring Nature, Human Error Publishing)

RON: Our next poet is Jonathan Blake…

JONATHAN:

Poem for the Butterfly Flattened by the Windshield of My Black Tacoma:
Metaphor for the Pandemic of 2020

Like a strange kiss.

Two starved lips pressed to glass.

—Jonathan Blake

RON: And our final poet in the open mic tonight is Joan Erickson…

JOAN: This is an early poem from many trips to Guatemala
to visit my father when he retired there…

 Love One Another

The woman in the marketplace
in Guatemala City puts the apron
in a bag and as she does she moves
her body to the rhythm of the music
coming from her small radio.
She points to the radio,
“You like?” she asks.

“I like,” I say and begin to move
my body. We both add arm movements –
swinging and swaying – she on one side
of the counter and me on the other.

My husband who is waiting looks
the other way. She hands me my apron
and I hand her forty-five quetzales.

“Gracias,” she says and as I walk away
she yells, “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” I answer.

—Joan Erickson (February 2000)

RON: Okay, people, before I close out the show, I’d like to bring back to the podium, my co-host and fellow co-conspirator Paul Szlosek…

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Paul Szlosek From a Very Long Time Ago (You Can Clearly See the Scar on His Cheek From Being Kicked in the Face by a Neighborhood Horse)…

PAUL: Thanks, Ron! As everybody here probably knows by now, I am a big fan of obscure poetry forms. Tonight I would like to share one with you that you probably never heard of before. It’s called a Quartina, and a variation of its more famous cousin the Sestina, using a set of four end words instead of six. This poem was originally published on the online poetry journal Grand Little Things early last year…

Hated by Horses (A Quartina)

Oh, you were the lucky ones,
chased and bit by neighborhood dogs.
You do not know what it’s like
to be hated by horses.

It’s a social stigma that dogs
me still, never to be liked
by teenaged girls who rode & adored horses
(for me, always the most desirable ones),

who shunned me because I wasn’t liked
by horses, all kind of horses:
Thoroughbreds, Clydesdales, even miniature ones
the size of your average pet dog.

I’ve been chomped & thrown & kicked by horses
all through my life since the age of one.
They despise me as if I was the foreman of a dog
food factory, attacking me viciously like

angels (avenging ones) or feral dogs.
No fury like the hatred of teenaged girls or horses.

—Paul Szlosek (originally published on Grand Little Things)

Before I turn the virtual microphone back over to Ron to close out the show,  Ron and I have a big surprise for everyone. Now, don’t blame me because it was our fearless leader Ron’s idea, but I have taken at least one line from every poem presented tonight, including all seven of Brad’s poems from his feature but not the group poem or the hay(na)kus (I believe there were about twenty poems altogether), to create a Cento, otherwise known as a “Patchwork Poem”. This form which steals lines (ummmm… I mean borrows) from other writers to create a brand new poem goes way back to Roman Times. I guess you can consider it a group poem that you didn’t realize you were contributing to. It probably doesn’t make much sense, but we hope you enjoy it…

First Virtual Poetorium Anniversary Cento

Names left unspoken
Now echoes in the gloom.
We are all the whispered here.
Don’t try to scare me
That its the end of the World

When we are far apart.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been happy.
I can’t have spontaneous fun.
I will have a beer and a shot of whiskey,
Two starved lips pressed to glass.

All the good and sober boys and girls
Add arm movements – swinging and swaying.
Can you see the bears dancing
(Dance of summer rhythms), 
Speaking in soothing textures,

Still clasping a summer hair?
Standing on the bones of my ancestors,
I am here, now, with no explanation,
Forever wondering how to rhyme words.
With ‘poetry’, it is harder than it appears,

Like whiskey drunk too fast somehow.
You do not know what it’s like
Holding the dreams of silent lovers.
I know you’ll leave me too –
Try not to, if you can…

And now, here’s Ronnnnnnnie…

RON: Thanks, Paul. As much as I always hate to do it, it’s time to close out the show. Here is my closing poem…

The Man Who Left Winter’s Mountains for Springtime
Shores Would Never Be Same Again
(Dedicated to My Friend, Richard Fox, Poet)

The spring morning air
was purified
by a chirping choir
that is coming home to nest
from the winter holiday
in the southland
Life is, perpetual motion 
the snow melts
grass grows
and flowers bloom
just as the birds return
And we worship
the warmth of a
restless star in the throws
of a change in seasons
The soft winds announce 
their return with sweet
whispers of spring
in the air which
feeds the fantasies
of the impatient winter
mindset of humans
and animals alike
Somewhere nearby
dandelions are blooming
readying puffs of promise
for another day
in the future and
those of us that can
will dance barefoot
in the green of the grass
in local parks
and neighboring lawns
of plenty
And I can’t help but wonder
Can walks and wading 
on the beach be far off
with sand between toes                                     
and the aroma of suntan lotion
plied to bodies hanging
in the air           

—Ron Whittle (2021)   

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has been my pleasure to hear all of your poetry tonight.
Until next time, be safe and Godspeed!

6 thoughts on “One-Year Anniversary Edition of the Virtual Poetorium…

    1. Thank you so much! That really means a lot to hear that. I hope you will check out the latest edition of the Virtual Poetorium which I just reposted here on my blog….

      Like

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