Thursday, December 3, 2020

News, a poem by Judith Janoo for December 2, 2020




Who isn’t wounded and disillusioned 

by the drama, craves sweetened milk

not disdain, disinterest, the broadcasts


oozing like a sow’s teats,

near truths, and those not close

some hear long enough


to believe its true.

But I want you well.

I want to understand. Start a new channel.


Fact, Dolly donated a million to vaccinate

us, didn’t forget dirt poor, nothing running

inside the one-room cabin but a dozen kids.


This November a Canadian drove a cold, stranded family

a thousand miles to Alaska. A couple canceled

their covid wedding, catered a Thanksgiving


for the needy instead.

We had a Beaver Full Moon,

when a New Zealand couple turned


down millions to give their land to the country.

A Mom waiting in line, paid for many strangers’

groceries. Millions made at an auction for children


of First Responders, a chef gave a million to the hungry,

and every planet was visible.

Kids took brain breaks in mindfulness.


A man became rich when a meteorite crashed

through his roof. His wish for the funds:

to have a daughter.


Be choosey about what you take in,

a teacher once told me. . Filter the news,

let it flavor your milk with vanilla,


and cinnamon. Assimilate it together.

To the millions who thought differently this month

I remember Gandhi had a wayward son


he fasted to bring home.

Today a woman embraced

the son she placed for adoption


forty-five years ago. It takes time.

To the millions, I’m here, waiting.

I want to understand. 

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Poems garnered from the November 11, 2020 meeting: Lucette Bernard, Ange Kahn, Mark Creaven, Adrien Helm



                         Lucette Bernard, whose poem,
                      After the Election, follows.



Some commented on the exhale

powerful, curative

almost enough

to empty that deep reservoir

of breath held for so




They wondered,

was it enough

to sweep away the daily dramas

of a deranged dictator,

enough to snuff out

the runaway greed of stalwart

party politicians

whose hearts were little

more than hardened fists squashing

every notion of the common

good? Was it enough to blow

all of that adrift

like flyaway fluff

in a field

of wasted dandelions?


Others remarked on the inhale,

clean, restorative

warm enough to revive

the belief that all was not lost,

a fresh breath

deep enough to fill the slackened

sails of an entire ocean

of broken dreams.


They hoped

enough of us had rallied

enough of us had spoken

enough of us still trusted

in the winds of change.

Winds so strong, so storm-laden

that they might heave

and whirl and tilt, stirring

up tempest enough

to tear down the whole monstrous

sticky web and shake it

forever loose.



                                    Lucette Bernard

                                    November 11, 2020




                        by Ange Kahn


  I shall not die of loving you

  My love unanswered and un-owned,

  But I shall die of wanting you

  In nights alone.


  I will grow old and odd and strange

  A solitary wanderer

  Who mines the subway floors for change

  A thing of rags and melted wax

  Gangrenous stenches and foul air

  Of crumpled greasy paper sacks

  An animal without a lair.


  I will become a mumbler

  Of polyglot morphologies

  A prophetess of tragedies 

  And some who pass

  Will think it sad

   But none will look into my eyes

   For fear of going mad


    I shall not die of loving you

     My love unanswered and un-owned 

     But I shall die of wanting you

     In nights alone.


A Wake

                    Adrien Helm


What wakes me up in the starless night?

Is it the wings of a bird in flight?

It is so dark. The only light

The amber “necklace” on the causeway shore.


I lay and listen, now awake,

Aware of every breath I take,

With feral sensitivity I make

No move, with tense stillness deep in my core.


Alone I wait in our wide bed.

You work away from home instead

Of lying here with me. You said

It was necessity that made you choose


To keep a job so far from us.

My nature’s not to make a fuss.

So I accept, with silent cuss,

The role of single parent.  So you lose


The daily joys I get to reap,

The smiles and hugs that keep

Me compensated for the heap

Of laundry, meals, and other endless chores.


Our splendid children thrive and grow.

I doubt that you will ever know

Your absence’s toll.  I’ll not show

The cost, not pour more guilt onto the sore.


There’s a quality of suspense

As days and weeks unfold in tense

Apprehension. Atop a fence

Waiting how long; how much more?


Twelve years of nightly calls to read

Bedtime stories, to fill a need --

Crossing the distance to feed

Affection of those who mutually adore.


So I’m alone when I awake

My regular lot as I take

Deep breaths to try again to make

Peace, to fuel another day without you.


Wavelets slap the seawall below

Consoling wet rhythm softly low,

I hear a friendly dolphin blow,

Drifting to rest, faithful to me and you.





                                              by Mark Creaven

He was a believer,

a Buddhist.

The night was cool in his village

 But he wasn’t there.

He had emerged from his tunnel

Thankful to be breathing the air

 above ground.

He and his cell moved quietly

Through the trees on the path everyone used.

They buried the 105mm round on its side,

just off the trail.

They covered it with dirt and branches.

The trip wire was connected to the detonator.

In the dim light of dawn he

Saw that it blended nicely with the dead grasses

Worn down by foot traffic.

Tired now he went back to his tunnel

And slept.

Later that day he heard the explosion,

Muted by the depth of earth above him.

He smiled.


Liam’s Lyric

He was younger than the others then,
A quiet, less obvious voice, helping when
Subtlety was called for, a smoother blend
And quieter backing tenor he could lend.
I could hear him though the others reign

He could be heard in the backup only,
Not in songs of revolution and heroes lonely
Yet he brought a greater dimension, surely,
To songs and narratives, though known to me hardly,
Songs my grandfather vaguely named.

In quiet times of love songs true
He sang through brightly, the others subdued,
Clearly lending power and beauty accrued
From expressive lyrics in narrative pursued.
We heard beauty in tragedy untamed.

The others had seen war as airmen brave.
Lure of battle never fulfilled in his life, saved,
Never admitting the life’s extinction waved.
In quiet songs and in the back
Until the longing for danger waned.

Dylan, from the Midwest clime
Not seeing the lyrical in his songs of the time
And no beauty in his inherent whine
Lyrical only implicit in his lyrics fine.
But Liam finding inherent in feelings maimed.

                                                        Stephen Hickey

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

The Jacket, by Stephen Hickey

 We kept it on the entry wall to the cellar
where it stayed for decades after
I’d moved out of my parents’ house,
just hanging there mostly undisturbed
by them or by me.

The winter jacket I speak of
was made of wool, and it survived
decades of moisture drifting up
from the cellar.  I should have taken it,
I should have dealt with it.

You may remember these coats
from the late 50s.
They were of a simple design,
their most outstanding feature the buttons
and the button holes that weren’t there.

Instead there were hemp loops
and oblong plastic or bone attachments.
These fit into them, providing
a base sort of closure
that eventually would let in a lot of winter cold
when the loops and attachments grew worn
and began to scratch.

They weren’t fashionable for long
and I guess I too began to wear
something tighter and warmer
but I kept this coat still and wore it on days
when the winds blew less strongly.

I recall placing it on the hook
going down to the cellar
toward the end of my senior year of high school
and only taking it out occasionally after that.

No one was wearing those coats anymore
but I found comfort in putting it on occasionally
because putting those attachments through those hooks
reminded me of the last two years of high school
when I still had some sense of direction.

(I wanted to be a journalist)
but I lost that sense and never regained it.
Putting that jacket on
and pushing those attachments through those hooks
made me feel that I would reconnect eventually.

So I kept it past its natural expiration date,
and I would have it still, I think,
but somewhere, sometime over the decades
it vanished.

I guess I lost my security blanket.
It was a perceived but not a very real loss.

In any case,
a sense of direction is not so easily reacquired.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Three poems by Kathryn Kyker


                                                Buttons of Resistance 


Kathryn Kyker

Before I was a mom I knew—

You Can’t Hug Children With Nuclear Arms.

The simple lesson—

Violence Ends Where Love Begins—

lost to me in a marriage where the two

ran into each other and got hopelessly blurred.

A whale smirked Save The Humans—

a sweet delusion so we could forget—

that every creature would be happy to see us go.

(except maybe dogs)


A Good Planet Is Hard To Find, Don’t Dump Toxic Waste, and

Social Justice—almost an obligatory afterthought—

all packed away when new men came to power and


was going to change except it didn’t—

except me.


COEXIST, my lazy bumpersticker nod of compromise

to a status quo tangled by intolerance.

Recycle Yourself, a snarky keychain plea

for organ donation—

one of the last things I believed in.

But no peace activist could fail to rise again on January 2017

except…no, even the dead ones.


I wore a pin of Obama’s words on a hat made by a woman on a bus

from my hometown, with two shades of pink and tiny ears.

Of all the inspired expressions from that sea of women,

Princess Leia’s banner ruled:

her hair plastered in cinnamon-bun swirls, a tunic you can fight in, boots—because

you never know how long you’re going to be on your feet in a rebellion, or who

you might need to kick—and

a light saber to show the way—

A Woman’s Place Is In The Resistance

accept no exceptions:



giving up your power by making yourself small


surrendering choice quietly


the lull of fatigue, the luxury of distraction

And maybe

Despair Ends Where Hope Begins.                                                         

                                                                                                                     kk  6/2020

Waking Up To Ordinary People

Serve my real-life with a dollop of fantasy please,

Something sweet to cut the sharp tang of humanity’s worst—

Sugared fairy dust sprinkled or creamy clouds from the Shire stirred, dragon-like,

Diverting me far from ground zero, where I try and fail again and

            again to grasp what man can do to man—for once glad

            of the chauvinistic term, the semantics of guilt letting me off the hook.

I wish.

Drink before that dragon trails into the blackness—get your mouth around

            some delicious fat of distraction, from the shadows, wet leaves that read

            the cost of your tea, the peril of being an ordinary person on an ordinary day.


On one August 6th years ago, I stood before a small gathering and sang a song

            my friend wrote and played on his guitar. I only recall bits of the melody,

            how the names slid in on a whisper:

Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

Before I learned to keep the horror of what happens to

            ordinary people an arms length away, crafted my

Amulet of exemption.  

I am so far from that woman who stands up and sings solo at a peace gathering, an

Ordinary woman now brings the cup up to images of children at the surface.

Sip carefully—frail bodies, so easy to damage,

My lips; their faces, limbs, organs, skin

Wake up and smell whatever warmth you cradle—

Drink them in, knowing they too, wanted to rise, gently discharge

            their phantoms of sleep to greet the day, sip their tea, and be

 Ordinary people.                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                   kk 7/2020  

Poetry Communion                                               


We who love poetry love

            Words, the warm bread of them devoured, fresh

            from the oven, torn and shared, washed

            down with our common life

            blood, but never sated, we lick

            our lips for more.


We who love poetry love

            Tools, the level of line, wrench

            of rhyme, lave true

            to form, nails of

            impact, pliers pulling

            off armor of indifference.


But I love poetry as

            Creature, wild and unkempt, crafty

            dancing with a dazzle of

            distraction as it crawls inside

            me sideways, curls to nest

            in my belly.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  kk 8/2020   

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Our own Mark Creaven wins the Vermont Writers' Prize

Vermont Magazine has named Mark the 2020 winner of the Vermont Writers' Prize.  The poem appears in the summer issue of the magazine.  Though we cannot place the full text of the poem here, not yet, we can see some of it:

It stood solid
In the middle of a disused field
On Route 100.
Its slate grey cedar slats and shakes
Weathered from the years
Of storm and heat.

                                                    from "Time in Vermont," by Mark Creaven

We continue to be proud of our Northeast Kingdom Wednesday Poets member, of course.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

Lucette Bernard, Mark Creaven


                            by Lucette Bernard

I want to go driving again,

just me, my car and the dashed

white lines on a two-lane road.

I want to see everything open before me:

the air rushing at my windshield,

woods and fields and towns passing

in a joyous blur, all four windows down

and reggae music turned up loud enough

to carry my voice all the way to Jamaica.


Once, years ago, I took the curves

of the Blue Ridge Parkway

on faith, Bob Marley’s three little birds

winging my way through patches

of sun and shade and bending me round

narrow passes where mountain springs trickled pure and true

down gray rock faces. Don’t worry,

don’t worry,

don’t worry ‘bout a thing, I sang

while pink and purple rhododendron

lit up either side of the road, rain damp

balsam blew in through the window,

and blue mountain vistas fell away

from every overlook. I remember stopping

to take it all in, let it all out again,

spread my arms, my hands

wide to the wind, Is this love,

is this love, is this love that I’m feelin’?


I want to drive like that again.


I want to feel like that again,

the way it comes at you, the wind,

the world, and all that possibility

blowing through the air. And me?

I’m singing. Singing at the top of my lungs,

singing and floating

into the natural mystic,

knowing things are not the way

they used to be but believing,

believing with all I’ve got,

that every little thing gonna be all right.


                                                                June 25, 2020

                        by Mark Creaven

My sergeant was named Bradford.
A tall strong man.
A black man.
Once, he told me how
His platoon had been
Caught in an L shaped ambush
Had they stayed in place
They would have been shredded.
But he heard the subtle sound of
An enemy’s heavy machine gun jam.
It was a hollow quiet
From the lack of bullet spray.
He charged that position
Firing all the way
They killed their way
 through the line
And he lived.
Wondering now how he survives
in today’s world.
Strength and courage
Cannot overcome the blind
Rejection of a man simply for his
Skin. What good is it to be a gentle
Giant mean mother fucker
When any peckerwood

Can obscenely reject this good man.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Sylvia's collage poem: Small Town Texas Protest -- with the photos!

Small Town Protest with Collage

These come, then, with their signs, too many to choose best from. 

They’re ready, already, after a long wait for a way to protest here on the town square with its fountain, its man on a horse.  There’s no public transit to the cities, not like when the old folk were young, could take off to where things happen, back when cars and gas were cheap if you didn’t want to take the bus.  Lots of jobs.  Cheap rent.  Education.

Are they Generation Z already?  Then we start over?  Or what? They’re it?  Last chance?

Pick any one you want to remember, then.  Let it be the writing on the cardboard wall of your mind.  A hopeful sign from one of these grand children:

Black Lives Matter
He called Mama
No More KKKiller Cops
Back Justice
Love Mercy
Walk Humbly
Stay Pissed

My black family and friends
deserve to be as respected as I am.
I’m not black
but I see you.
I’m not black
but I hear you.
I’m not black
but |I will
Stand by you.

They stand politely in Sunday summer heat, among them tech-savvy savants who even so made these humbly lettered signs on pieces of cardboard, … nothing purchased, nothing slick --  No Sticks!  They stand modestly through all the malarkey of small town southern plantation culture [ersatz Christian] assembly void of anarchist urbanity, nothing boughten brought along but new black tee-shirts on young black men who pulled this together as best they could, having never done anything like this in their lives, so that something could be said to have been said, here, in their own place --  to come together with blessings of all appropriate, if need be; to appropriate, for once, in need indeed, their own home-town King’s X.

Sylvia Manning
Seguin, Texas
June 16, 2020

after June 7, 2020

This from nearest town, New Braunfels
The young men who pulled it together.