Tuesday, May 23, 2017

CLOUDBURST COUNCIL 2017 Marge Merrill In Summation

Cloudburst 2017  —  In Summation

A nine hour closing ceremony? 
 Oscar India   Victor Echo Yankee !

Somewhere between two coasts
god is throwing a party
there is fuck you in the air
and sweet wine in the snow.

The white queen gossips
about valley girls waking up alone.

The beats shotgunning beer
argue there is no future only an infinity of options.
Squirming facts eavesdrops.
My poems are not poems
it was the shadow we thought shouldn't be.
Mark Twain interrupts, is there take out from Mockba?

Clark, Dorn, Henry Miller and other shades
speak of
letting go
making the way.

And the white queen, who is also a former social worker,
talks about children playing in the Trinotite sand,
little girls with soiled bandages
other children who dare in Anatolia.
And the marmalade acolyte shouts, Dear Lord,
don't call Social Services about this!

The Gunslinger takes a long pull from the bottle of Jameson's
and gestures wildly about the room with his 44,
settles his glare upon Horse asks, What do you think?
Whale …..............(drags out the word for a full minute and the Dahlai Lama joins in) finally says
there is a conspiracy of dust and pissed off elephants.
Women are the first environment
honor the sacred directions
even as just another American woman walking alone.

Charles Olsen asks, can I hunger for protein and justice?
You guys are nothing but slaves of appearances savages the acolyte
everyone in this country is a sort of Johnny Carson!

Are there any more Pacman Pistachios?
I'm married to the flywheels and gears.
Coyote always gets into trouble,
gambols with the dogs of the house.

The Muses have emerged from the dark
from the chaos
yeah, in a

Erotic sweet potatoes.  Who knew?
It is all balder and dash
ancient like Langston Hughes.
Oh, Shiva, my darling, which super hero are you?

Somebody feed the snakes!
The more ways out the harder to plan your escape
Take the beaten path to old man Slates still.
Fox, coyote, elk, buffalo and the Lakota elder
pay no attention to the stoned deer.

Franco likes Ike
something the color of puma in Minnesota
the righteous dude
with the attitude
tries the limits of sarcasm, delights cartoonists,
Joe recites warm underbellies
chickens, shit,
and make your own scratch.

The shades toast dead ed with coffee cups; happy birthday!
We may gain the secrets
what are your favorite things?
In my hand a snack I'd never seen.

Chief Wahoo opines
everyone looks better in a daisy necklace.
Take those selfies naked.

Marge Merrill

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Program for Cloudburst Council 2017


Fri. May 19, 2017
noon-2:00     Early Bird Registration (enjoy the site)
2:00-2:10      Opening Ceremony (meet at entrance to lodge): Alan Casline
2:15-3:00      Nature Walk: haiku moments: Michael Czarnecki
                       (an outdoor ramble of roadside, fields and woods at Gell Center)
3:00-6:00       Registration ongoing in Main Lodge
3:30-4:30       Beginning Poetry Circle (one poem from each poet)
4:30-4:40       Poetry reading: Martha Treichler
4:40-4:50       Poetry reading: Therese Broderick 
5:00-6:30       Light Dinner Served (pasta, bread, green salad)
6:30-6:40       Poetry reading: Kathy Tussing
6:40-6:50       Poetry reading: Adam Tedesco
6:50-7:00       Poetry reading: Michael Czarnecki
7:00-7:10       Poetry reading: John Roche   
7:10-8:10       Panel: Conflict of Interest: (Nick Eckerson, Paulette Swartzfager, Dwain Wilder))           
8:10-8:30      Cloudburst thoughts and evening wrap-up: Stephen Lewandowski
8:30-8:40       Friday Night Closing Ceremony: Charlie Rossiter
8:40                Party 

 Sat. May 20, 2017

 8:30 Breakfast Served (cereal, fruit, bagels, eggs, etc.)
           Breakfast will be continuously served.
9:20-9:30          Saturday Opening Ceremony: Alifair Skebe
9:30-10:30        Remembering Friends, Heroes, Legends (Poetry Round-Robin)
                          Sharing poetry of departed friends, admired and historic poets.
                          Bring some poems of beforementioned to share.
10:30-10:40       Poetry Reading: Nick Eckerson
10:40-10:50       Poetry Reading: Tom Nicotera
10:50-11:00       Poetry Reading: Ashley Messer
11:00-11:10       Poetry Reading: Anna Kreienberg
11:10-11:20       Poetry Reading:  Jane Sadowski  
11:20-12:00        Break
12:00-12:30       Panel: Ed Dorn: (Alan Casline, Michael Peters, Alifair Skebe)
12:30-12:40       Poetry Reading: Steve Tills            
12:40-12:50       Poetry Reading: Charlie Rossiter
12:50 -1:00        Poetry Reading: Pat Tansey

 1:00 Lunch Served (cold sandwiches bag lunch)
 Open Time 1:00 – 3:45

Tour in Finger Lakes Watershed with Steve Lewandowski (optional)
Steven Lewandowski will lead an expedition to Canadice Lake or a place closer depending on weather

Workshop: For those not on exploration in the same time slot workshop in the main lodge (optional)
                    Therese Broderick will be doing a Workshop on different ways to create handbound books
                    Materials will be supplied. Martin Willitts, Jr. will also show his way of bookbinding.

Keeping Still: Find a spot and stop. Sit still for at least 15 min. but do not check the time (optional)

4:00-4:10        Poetry Reading:  ryki zuckerman
4:10-4:20        Poetry Reading: Martin Willitts,Jr.
4:20-4:30        Poetry Reading: Linda Griggs
4:30-4:40        Poetry Reading: Bob McDonough
4:40-5:00        Poetry Reading: Dwain Wilder
5:00 -5:50       Panel – Darkness: (David Landrey, Stephen Baraban, John Roche)
5:50-6:00        Poetry Reading: Paulette Swartzfager
6:00-7:00        Dinner        
7:00-7:10           Poetry Reading: Marge Merrill
7:10-7:20           Poetry Reading: Stephen Baraban
7:20-7:30            Poetry Reading: Mark O’Brien
7:30-7:40            Poetry Reading:  Maril Nowak
7:40-7:50            Poetry Reading:  Alifair Skebe
7:50-8:00            Poetry Reading:  Michael Peters

 8:00-10:00         Open Mic hosted by John Roche (by sign-up )
                            Bring a poem about conflict to read as part of your open mic presentation
10-10:10             Wrap-up John Roche
10:15                   Saturday Closing Ceremony: Therese Broderick
 10:20- 12:00       Campfire Party
12:00-?                 Midnight open mic until we run out of poems

 Sunday May 21, 2017

9:30-11:00          Brunch (like Saturday Breakfast )
10:15                   Sunday Opening Ceremony: Mark O’Brien and Gail Allen O’Brien         
9:30-11.00          Trade Fair and Free Fair
10:30-10:40        Poetry Reading:  Alan Casline
10:40-10:50        Poetry Reading:  Stephen Lewandowski
10:50-11:00        Poetry Reading:   David Landrey
11:10-12:40        Looking Outward   Maril Nowak (activity facilitator)
12:40–1:00         Further Round-Robin of Poetry.  Each poet read one poem
1:00-10:10          Closing Ceremony: Marge Merrill

Friday, April 14, 2017


This was first a poem and then a survey of about 30 poets to get their opinions. I’ll throw this out as a bone to chew on. I was intereted in who would be the most original poet. A couple of these debates have been ongoing in my poetic life.
                                                                ---  Alan Casline


rhyming  vs  non-rhyming
pre-20th century  vs  20th century
outsider  vs  establishment
light  vs  serious, dark
confessional  vs  non-confessional
lazy  vs  worked  on
spontaneous  vs  fixed form
contemporary  20th century  vs  little knowledge contemporary 20th century
nature  vs  hate nature poems
domestic  vs  mystical
protest  vs  acceptance
muse  vs  amused

poetry  vs  poetry

Saturday, March 25, 2017


  Last snowfall here in the Normanskill watershed is slowly melting with temperatures fluxuating from just above to just below freezing for the next few days. My thoughts are to the apple blossoms on the hillside at the Gell Center. CLOUDBURST 2017 is budding with many people already indicating they will be returning. A number of new poets had signed on as well. The Blog here is open for business so please send any submissions you want to pass on and I'll try and get them posted right up.

   On Saturday May 14, 2016 at CLOUDBURST COUNCIL as a group around the table we threw our I Ching Hexagrams which were #59 (Dispersion) changing into #6 (Conflict).  At my first glance, I was uneasy over CONFLICT being a touchstone for our continuing work at the Council, in poetry and beyond. I did know the changing nature of the Tao and the I Ching meant the hexagram CONFLICT was not so much about conflict as it was the forces in movement that allowed conflict. Conflict as a theme for our gathering has some background via national politics and cultural clash. The hexagram has two pieces (the tri-grams) that make it up. These are on top The Creative, Heaven and on bottom The Abysmal, Water. These two halves move away from each other and this the I-Ching says gives “rise to the idea of conflict”. Notice not like a Cloudburst where forces crash together but “Conflict develops when one feels to be in the right.” Back to the two tri-grams that make up the hexagram CONFLICT, Creative is strength and the Abysmal is danger, guile. The indication of conflict is the combination in a person of deep cunning and fixed determination. Here is starts to feel like current events “To carry on the conflict to the bitter end has evil effects even when one is in the right, because the enmity is then perpetuated.”
  In my own book 64 Changes, I can see what I drew out of the day I threw the coins and that particular poem for hexagram #6 got written.   the spiritual trends/of individuals harmonize. The CLOUDBURST COUNCIL was born out of conflict if everyone remembers the first Friday night at the Gell Center. Some poetic conflicts might never end but I do think this harmonizing of spirit that very soon at the first Council and over the years of getting to know each other has occurred. To everyone’s credit and to our future enjoyments.
The causes of Conflict are latent in the opposing tendencies of two different forces.  The I-Ching commentary says to avoid conflict you have to catch it before it starts, in the beginning. “If rights and duties are exactly defined, or if, in a group, the spiritual trends of the individuals harmonize, the cause of conflict is removed in advance.” So practically, in organizing CLOUDBURST COUNCIL are there any potential conflicts that need to be addressed in the beginning?

                                                                            ---Alan Casline

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Photos by Alan Casline for CLOUDBURST COUNCIL 2016

Gell Center Lodge

David Landrey
Settlers (L to R,  Helen Ruggieri, Marge Merrill, Stephen Lewandowski, Martha Treichler)
Martha Treichler
Nature Walk: haiku moments

Michael Peters and Alifair Skebe

John Berry
Marge Merrill
Michael Peters
Michael Czarnecki

George Wallace

panel: John Roche, Alifair Skebe, Steve Tills

Stephen Lewandowski
Jane Sadowski

Stephen Baraban

front yard at Gell Center

apple blossoms

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Community Poem by Cloudburst Council poets, 2016

A Community Poem by Cloudburst Council poets, 2016
Like swirling leaves, memories keep dancing back.

My father picks me up, tells me my mother and new brother are up in the high hospital windows. I study each one but can’t find her.

I stand by the huge, steaming locomotive, the B&N Yankee, restrained by arms intent on saving a three-year-old me, and I am outraged at salvation—and still am.

I am three, sister Pat still a baby, and Kathy not yet born, when we must move out of our tiny apartment and into Aunt May’s house. I get to ride there with Aunt Margie and Uncle Frank and hold this memory for my younger sisters.

My braids too tight, my new seersucker sundress making crinkles on my legs, we finally arrive at Cousin Henry’s house with shoes neither on my feet nor in our 1948 Hudson. From her wheelchair, Henry’s girl offers me the shoes on her feet, and I think not! I’d rather go barefoot, but I’ve shamed my mother. Why?

Walking down the street, dressed in my best and my hand in my daddy’s, I am going to have my picture taken to celebrate turning three. I am feeling beautiful and loved.

Sitting on a pinto pony, I am in cowboy boots and western hat, having my photograph taken.

Standing behind the garage wall, I step out into a sharp wind that bites my face. I step back behind the wall, and the wind stops. I have mastered this piece of my universe.

I eat sweets from a crinkly white bag on the back ledge behind my seat in our friends’ 1940s automobile.

Watching the Dodgers with my father in 1955, he makes me think my team has won though he knows about all of their losses.

One Christmas in Ohio, I am sitting in a brown plastic laundry basket next to the Christmas tree.

I am in first grade, at recess, and I and my friends sit in white and purple clover blossoms, catching honeybees and eating their flowers.

We kids spend the day at the beach collecting stones. I pick the tiny, shiny, sparkly, pretty-colored ones. Less discerning, my siblings choose larger ones, filling the front passenger floor of our Studebaker and leaving no place for Mom’s feet. Dad refuses to move until we kids jettison our ballast, returning our carefully chosen treasures to the sea.

A hurricane swept up the East Coast in my first year of life and        as my mother recalled the coffins piled in the Boston streets during the flu epidemic of 1918. So I saw the tree leaning against the three-story porches of the Dorchester house.

The War is over—let’s go to NYC to see the parade—gas rations—shoe rations too—and I unhappy with my new Buster Browns—(preferred Mary Janes™ which were refused) so I tossed them out the window 1x1 and for good measure my baby brother’s too—for 17 miles along Route 9-W on the way home.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


Fun at the Quinneys

Shawn’s younger brother
would eat a whole stick of butter.
Bite it and chew it like candy.
I watched him one day.
It was disgusting.

And though I wasn’t there (thank God)
it was reported he once had a bad case of poison ivy
All over his body and in his itch and frustration
he smashed his penis with the lid of the toilet
and had to have stitches.

I never asked if it helped.

And I once volunteered to become a human ramp
while sledding one day.
Me and Fat Tim side by side on the ground
at the end of the hump we’d been jumping.
My head by Tim’s feet.
Shawn at the top of the hill.

Sounded like fun until I saw Shawn careening
a bit off the track, the blade of the runner
heading straight for my neck.

Good thing I looked when I did
but I couldn’t help punching the crap out of Shawn
who couldn’t stop laughing.

I don’t remember what happened
to Fat Tim’s ankles.

           ---John Berry

John Berry

John Berry’s work has been published in Vox Poetica, The Yellow Chair Review, Disorder (a Red Dashboard publication) The Green Silk Journal, Crow Hollow 19 and The Good News Paper.  His first book of poems, Wobbly Man was published in the Spring of 2016.

A self-taught woodworker, carpentry contractor and promoter of all things poetry, he writes and works from his Winchester Virginia home with his beloved wife Brenda and their two yorkies,  Molly and Lily.  John hosts the Shenandoah Poetry Alliance Open Mic on the second Wednesdays of every month at the Handley Library in Winchester Virginia.

A lover of the unexplored byway or patch of woods never walked, John has nonetheless remained a native Virginian, finding variety and freshness even in the familiar if one is unafraid to look closely at their surroundings and especially at himself.