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. 

Blues Poems by Helen Ruggieri

                     BLUE RIFF

                     Blue eyes turn the world into a Hollywood Pool

                     a great ball in the void of space

                     they turn the world into a lost sky
                     chicory trapped along the interstate

                     delphiniums giving in to the breeze

                      a sad place in a haze of blue smoke

                      where broken down jazz singers

                       sing the blues so we may weep


                        BLUE ANALOGIES

                        antlers of the white tailed deer
                        have the same symmetry as coral
                        growing under the sea

                        human fingernails are shaped
                        like fish scales and are
                        composed of the same protein

                        a newborn’s blue cast eyes
                        are the same milky color
                        as the blind eyes of the old

                        plants like music too
                        and children outdo themselves
                        when expected to

                        subatomic particles are
                        agitated by human nearness
                        ancient oak groves seethe

                        with the spirits of old gods
                        and fish and birds breathe

                        the same blue

                        ONCE IN A BLUE MOON

                         we are entitled to be happy
                          it is August and I’m gathering
                          lunaria seed, peeling off the
                          covering to reveal a translucent
                          silver circle like a moon against
                           a dark sky.

                           Tonight, the second full moon
    of the month will rise to the southeast
                            not as rare as one might think,
                            maybe every two or three years.

                            I’m humming the song –
                            blue moon, you saw me standing alone
                             but under the August sun
                             I shrug off the sadness

                             my hands full of seed. 

                                            poems by Helen Ruggieri


Soon as I finish this I am going outside to dig up some Japanese Maples for the Trade Fair. Not so many this year, just three. It'll be cool to get the tree growth report from people as over The Trade Fair's history so far, a few dozen trees have gone home with people. Think any one wants a white pine (Native's Great Tree of Peace)? Think I'll try a couple. Most anyone will take perennial flowers. This year I will again bring some "I don't know what the heck they are" perennial flowers. I might learn their names from some one. John Roche's houseplants made the trip to New Mexico. I think it was by stretch limo, you can ask him for the story. 
                                                           ---Alan Casline


along with their bedding and books being packed up, the room is filled with all those moving on but in no hurry about it.

many hands chip in for clean up.  

extra food stuff is distributed

cartons of eggs named for poets who will digest them

who’ll take the two open gallons of milk?
Maril will take milk “We were going to buy some on the way home”
but won’t take the near full carton because Bob is going to be away and we only need three days’ worth.

large bag of granola and small bag.
whose household has more mouths to feed gets the large bag

will someone please take the Genesee Cream Ale?
if not we may find ourselves drinking from these cans next year because I’m not drinking it.
I’ll just bring it back, a year older and no wiser.

there is a milling of poets with nearly filled backpacks at the free tables.
 hoping to snatch up a last few tidbits 

a small quiet deal is made about a poem and a little book to put it in

books can be put away for another day – living plants need to find a home.

John Roche can’t find one for the magical climbing house plant that will grow thousands of yards in a single year and sticks to walls, windows and roof tiles cutting out sunlight and making doors inoperable.
I can’t imagine why?
he takes his plant back home with him.

the Trade Fair grounds empty only a few staying for the last clean-up.
my two corn flower plants not taken. 
my plan to plant them on the grounds at field edge
Michael thinks there is room at his place and takes them ‘
they are beautiful blue flower
they will spread like crazy that’s the only thing but they are easy to control, just pull up easily

I don’t know to tell him: Cornflowers are often used as an ingredient in some tea blends and herbal teas, and is famous in the Lady Grey blend of Twinning’s.

I gather extra handouts.
if I get around to it, these can be added to mailings for those who might have been here.
                                                                                                                                            May 17, 2015
                                                                                                                                                 Gell Center
                                                                                                                                near Naples New York



Fri. May 13, 2016
noon-2:00     Early Bird Registration (enjoy the site)
2:00-3:00      Nature Walk: haiku moments
                       (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 Marge Merrill
4:40-4:50       Poetry reading Maril Nowak  
5:00-6:00       Light Dinner Served (soup, bread, green salad)
 6:00-6:05      Alan Casline: Welcome
6:05-6:15       Poetry reading: George Wallace 
6:15-6:25       Poetry reading: Stephen Baraban
6:25-7:35       Gallery Six Reading Reenactment (with John Roche, Michael Czarnecki, Nick Eckerson, Dwain  
                       Wilder, George Wallace, Michael Peters, ryki Zuckerman, etc.)  
7:35-8:35       Panel: Beautitude: (George Wallace, Kerouac’s holy goof; Alan Casline, Mexico City Blues;
                       Helen Ruggieri, Kerouac’s Haiku/Spontaneous Verse).               
 8:35-8:40       Martha Deed: Cloudburst thoughts and evening wrap-up
 8:40               Party 

 Sat. May 14, 2016

 8:30 Breakfast Served (oatmeal, cereal, fruit, bagels, eggs, etc.)
         Breakfast will be continuously served.
9:30-10:30        Remembering Ken Warren
10:30-10:40       Poetry Reading: Howard Nelson
10:40-10:50       Poetry Reading: Jane Sadowsky
10:50-11:00       Poetry Reading: Michael Peters
11:00-11:10       Poetry Reading: Helen Ruggieri
11:10-11:20       Poetry Reading: David Landrey
11:20-11:30       Break   
11:30-12:30       Panel: Beatniks: John Roche, on the road(ghosts); 
                                     Alifair Skebe, On Diane DiPrima, Steve Tills, Reading Jim McCary             
12:40-12:50       Poetry Reading: ryki zuckerman
12:50 -1:00        Poetry Reading: Nick Eckerson

 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 us on an expedition to Canadice Lake

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: Gretchen Schulz
4:10-4:20        Poetry Reading: John Berry
4:20-4:30        Poetry Reading: Martha Treichler
4:30-5:35       Panel – Beats and Beyond: David Landrey, On Joel Oppenheimer; ryki zuckerman, On Joy  
                                     Walsh, Janine Pommy Vega, Ann Waldman,  Alifair Skebe and David Landrey, On  
                                     Denise Levertov
5:35-5:45         Poetry Reading: Robert McDonough 
5:45-6:15        Elegy for the Road/Kerouac’s Ghost(performance) Michael Czarnecki and Sue Spencer
 6:15–7:00       Dinner (hot vegetarian etc.)
 7:00-7:10        David Yockel
 7:10-7:20        Dwain Wilder
7:20-7:30         Leslie Gerber
7:30-7:40      Colleen Powderly
7:40-8:00-    Music, Songs, and Poetry by Tamar Samuet-Sigel        
 8-10 -          Open Mic hosted by John Roche (by sign-up, those not otherwise slotted during conference to go first)
                     Bring a poem by a beat poet to read as part of your open mic presentation
 10-10:10   Wrap-up John Roche
 10:11- 12:00 Campfire Party
12:00-?          Midnight open mic until we run out of poems

 Sunday May 15, 2016

 9:30-11:00                Brunch (like Saturday Breakfast)
 9:30-ongoing          Trade Fair
10:30-10:40              Poetry Reading: Alifair Skebe             
 10-40-10:50            Poetry Reading: Therese Broderick
10:50-11:00              Poetry Reading: Martha Deed
 11:00-12:40              Workshop: “How many Beats does it take to change a light bulb?
                                   led by Therese L. Broderick
                               Therese will help you to generate a piece of writing—poem, song, essay, story, love letter,
                                   blog post, or tweet—with a prompt that radiates from the numbers and equations, as well as
                                   from the non-quantifiable registers, of your Cloudburst Council experience.

 12:40–1:00               Further Round-Robin of Poetry.  Each poet read one poem

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Watershed Exploration in the Finger Lakes Region

Tour to Canadice Lake Finger Lakes Watershed with Steve Lewandowski 
Steven Lewandowski will lead an expedition to the shores of Canadice Lake. He informs us it is a big hole but one filled with water.  The trip is an optional activity as part of the 5th CLOUDBURST COUNCIL to be held Saturday afternoon May 14, 2016..
Meet at front entrance of lodge for carpooling

3 Poems from Leslie Gerber

photo of Leslie Gerber (not current)

Like Her

Someone who looks like her
is in the bed at night,
at the table in the morning,
walks with the dogs,
but doesn’t talk like her,
doesn’t wash her face,
knows me as a shadow.

Someone who sounds like her
may answer the phone
but doesn’t know what to say,
when asked her name
cannot respond,
mixes up the dogs’ names,
sometimes with mine.

Someone who moves like her
sometimes opens the door
but doesn’t know old neighbors,
cringes at the sight
of the postman,
looks at the mail
as if it were a meteorite.

Someone who feels like her
reacts to a hug
by hardening
and then doesn’t feel like her.
Retreats from water.
Wants more clothes
to protect her from touch.

Someone who looks like her
was once the sun
and now sleeps on the dark side
of the moon.
When she wakes, she watches
pages from her book
as they float off into space.

(from my book “Lies of the Poets”)


One day in 2005
I gave names to everything in the gym.

The first treadmill was Spencer,
the second Spencer Jr.
One bicycle was Armstrong–
for Neil, not Lance!
The next one was Sadie.
The big barbell weights were Marx Brothers,
the small ones Andrews Sisters.

When I had finished this task I took the list outside.
I had not noticed before
that the sky was so blue it made my eyes tear,
the clouds so white they looked like angels.

As I burned my list
so my ancestors could read it
I reflected on the damage I did to the air,
the ashes seeking to destroy the lungs of birds.
I resolved to stop driving one day a week
and to breathe as little as possible.

A moth came to me in my dreams that night
to thank me for my resolutions.
She apologized that all the butterflies were busy
but she was as white as the clouds.

Latvian Sprats

A small round can of tiny fish
with a transparent plastic top.
Sprats, it said in large type
but I had to search for the country: Latvia.

The fish were soft and tasty
with crunchy tails.
They came from Latvia, which has a city,
Riga, and nothing else I know

so I closed my eyes and looked hard
and saw a small girl in dirty clothes
lying awake on a cot in a dark room
shivering with cold and hunger.

Outside the room a wild boar
paced impatiently on a threadbare rug
its eyes green fire
its jaws steaming.

I opened my eyes and saw
the girl had the face of my children.
I was about to rush to her
but she whispered,

Do not come. If you were here
you would see so many in the streets
you would shrivel into ugly dust.

Stay home and buy more fish
so that my father can have work
and give me the bread.

Buy cans and leave them on the street.
Then, when someone takes one
follow her home and give her your money.

Then the image faded
and I could not remember
where I had bought the fish.

(new work)
Leslie Gerber (more current)

Leslie Gerber was born in Brooklyn in 1943. In 1964 he married a 
family of a woman and three small girls. After 5 years as a book 
cataloger at the Strand Book Store, he moved to Ulster County and 
started a mail order classical record business, Parnassus, which 
operated until 2008. He still publishes classical music CDs and DVDs. 
Despite a B.A. in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College, he did mostly 
music criticism and only a little creative writing until he started 
writing poetry in 1999. He now lives quietly in Woodstock with his wife 
of 31 years.