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WORDS' WORTH: At Robbins Library, town poets' chair continues


Anne Ellinger, poetPoet Anne Ellinger reads and listens ...

UPDATED, May 16: Emily Botti, inventor of the "talking chair" poetry project in collaboration with Cathie Desjardins, town poet laureate, reports that "the chair enjoyed a great run at Robbins for poetry month in April, where people sat and heard poems over 800 times.

"Thank you again to everyone who participated. Your words and voices made the project even cooler than I imagined it would be, and I had pretty high expectations to begin with, so that's really saying something!

"To allow the poems featured in this project to live on, I created a website with all of the recordings as well as a downloadable PDF of the Talking Chair booklet with the featured poems and bios of the poets. You'll find it here >> 

"As for the interactive chair, the library has asked about a possible repurposing for the children's room, and we are talking about options. So stay tuned: The chair may get another run in Arlington with a new audience and theme.

"Finally, I can't say thank you enough to the Arlington Cultural Council for supporting the project and to Cathie as well as Andrea [Nicolay, library director] and the team at the library for being such terrific partners. I'm so grateful that you saw the potential in this idea and jumped on board with making it happen."


 "April is the cruellest month," poet T.S. Eliot wrote.

Not in Arlington. 

This month, during National Poetry Month, anyone can head over to the fiction room of the Robbins Library and take a seat in front of the fireplace in the "Talking Chair."

Sit down and listen. Seconds after you do, you will hear the voice of one of 30 Arlington poets. It will come from the Admiral radio on the small side table.

Get up and let another take your place on the comfy, beige wing-back chair. After five seconds, the next town poet begins speaking.

The chair, table and radio -- a scene from the late 1940s -- gives life to local wordsmiths, many of them heretofore unheard.

Giving birth to all this are residents Emily Calvin-Bottis, a digital and interactive-experience designer, and Cathie Desjardins, Arlington's poet laureate.

The creative pair joined a crowd of folks representing an expanse of ages April 5 to let the chair's magic begin. Among those milling about were poets known and unknown.

Graeme Garvie, poet... poet Graeme Garvie bends an ear, too. 

Poets established and starting out

Among the former were Anne Ellinger, Jessie Brown and Thomas DeFreitas and Dejardins

Among the latter were Graeme Garvie, author of "My Tree" (all of the poets and their poems are below).

Andrea Nikolay, town library director, welcomed all and said the project got going after an email from Calvin-Bottis about a "magic talking chair."

"Should I know what that is?" Andrea said she wondered.

Emily describe what she intended, and, with the help of a cultural-council grant, the project proceeded from thought to words in action. She said her mother found the radio. The table was retrieved from a Gloucester Street curb.

Desjardins said she found the submissions "great to curate," adding: "One of the wonderful things was discovering the legacy of poetry in Arlington."

A writer since she was in the sixth grade at St. Basil's in Pittsburgh, Desjardins is a certified K-12 and reading teacher. She had come to ribbon-cutting from classes at Arlington High and Thompson.

Asked later about her invention, Calvin-Bottis wrote April 7: "I decided on a chair because I think it is great to interact with technology without a screen and sitting with a comfortable chair with a book is absolutely delightful."

Asked why a radio was included, she wrote, "I wanted the entire experience to feel lived in (sort of like sitting in an old chair at my grandparent's house) so using an old radio as a speaker fit in with that concept." 

The Robbins Library is the "home" for the chair all April, but where it migrate after that "remains to be seen," Nikolay said.

On April 30, in response to a query from YourArlington, Nikolay wrote that the chair would remain in the fiction room until a decision is made.

Poems from the Arlington Talking Chair Project

 A booklet accompanying the ribbon-cutting with illustration by Danielle Hart. Here is the full text:

 This program is supported in part by a grant from the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency which is supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.

The talking chair was conceptualized and created by experience designer, Emily Calvin-Bottis.  

With gratitude to Andrea Nicolay, director of libraries, and Maura Deedy, assistant library director, for giving the chair a home and providing enthusiastic endorsement and promotional support. 

Cathie Desjardins, Arlington's Poet Laureate, for curating the poems and collaborating with style.  

The Arlington Cultural Council and Kimberley Harding for guidance and financial support. 

Artists David Allen and Danielle Hart for their inspiring illustrations. 

Peter Kuliesis for brains and brawn 

Re Morse for chair hunting and Donna Bottis for finding the radio. 

Heather, Lena and Isla Calvin-Bottis for sitting and sitting some more and more and more. 

And, to the poets of Arlington for their beautiful words and voices. 

Emily Calvin-Bottis, April 2018 

Welcome

by Cathie Desjardins

 

Thank you for depositing your derrière

in Arlington’s Talking Poetry Chair. 

Arlington poets invite you to share

delights, wonders, small sorrows and cares

with words that shimmer, words that spin,

words that pry open doors, invite you in,

uplifting words to make you float

high in clouds or in a little boat—

words that create some instant weather,

a shower, a sparkle of sun or rain,

that offer a treat like a flamingo feather,

a blue balloon, a shiny pink stone,

 

so when you go on your way

all packaged up in your buttons and zips

maybe you’ll have a small smile on your lips

thinking of something you heard us say.  

 

Ice Skating 

by Carla Bosso

 

Breezy swirling

in the rink

WHOOOOOOSH!

I twirl

spin

AHHHHHHHHH! 

I almost fell!

That was scary!

I did fall!

Goodbye, skating rink!

 

Carla Bosso seven years old and in the second grade at Hardy Elementary school.


 

 I'm Not Much Interested 

 by Jessie Brown

 

in plastics, plastic surgery, surge protectors, 

in protecting democracy; mock-

turtlenecks, especially with suits; in suits

at all; in gabardine; gabbing; gravel, 

creosote.  Sodas of any kind, hotdogs, 

dog-days, the Fourth.  In going forth, in 

force; in force in general.  I’m not 

much interested in generals

four-star, star signs, signboards,

bordellos, in heels, or handbags,

whether leather or leatherette. In seat- 

covers, wheel-covers, convertibles. In speed.

In spiels, in sales, in deals in ski-

mobiles, snowmobiles, personal

water craft.  In arts-and-crafts, 

applied arts, or appliances requiring

plugs, ducts, coils.  In oil changes,

oil treatments, shampoos, champagnes.  

Campaigns by ground or air, airspace, air rights,

waiving rights, waving banners, laminates.

Nylon, mylar, polyester.  Anything

made without roots.  Without love, or fear.

  

Jessie Brown is the author of two short collections, What We Don’t Know We Know (Finishing Line Press) and Lucky (Anabiosis Press). Her poems and translations have appeared in local and national journals like The Comstock Review, New Madrid, Minerva Rising, and the American Poetry Review.  

She leads independent workshops for adults as well as serving as poet-in-residence in schools and libraries in the greater Boston area (www.JessieBrown.net).  She’s also active in interdisciplinary projects incorporating poetry and the visual arts. A founding member of the Alewife Poets, she gives frequent performances both in collaboration and alone.


   

At Mount Pleasant

by John Burt

 

Every day, on her way from work

She waits there half an hour at the curb,

A well-dressed woman in a small blue car, 

Looking at that stone beyond the grate,

As if calm at last, as if self-possessed at last,

As if to comfort, not be comforted.

Today I saw her kneeling on the grass,

Setting a chrysanthemum in place,

A hopeless gift. She wore a broad straw hat 

Like any woman in her own back yard.

Task done, she sat back on her heels and smiled. 

I almost caught her eye. I wanted to.

But I walked on past. I couldn’t bother her,

Nor tell her how I’d watched her keeping watch.

 

John Burt is a professor of English at Brandeis University. He is the author of three books of poems, all with cheerful titles: The Way Down (1988), Work without Hope (1996) and Victory (2007).


 

 Being Grandmother

 by Kathy Conway

 

They call me Gramk 

or Gramcracker

Draw mandalas with me

think I'm an artist

Laugh at my iphone skills

know I'm not a techie

Entreat me to paint their faces

make chocolate chip pancakes

Read books to me 

brown bear, brown bear...

Crush me at Sorry

search for Waldo

We climb rocks to the marina 

collect periwinkles

Build matchbox-car towns with

Legos, Dominoes and Jenga blocks

Snuggle in the hammock

twirl in the sky chairs

Play list games at dinner

Scattergories at bedtime

Now, they text me

from college

 

After growing up in Arlington, Kathy Conway (nee Byrne) returned to live here six years ago. Her chapbook, "Bacon Street," published in 2014, has poems about and pictures from her childhood. Two local compilations, "Getting There" and "The New Country" include her poems. She has led workshops on writing poetry as memoir in Florida and Maine.


 

 

Chasing the Waves

by Thomas DeFreitas

 

With Dad. Revere Beach, 1972.

My three-year-old legs would scurry to pursue

The beast of the Atlantic in retreat.

 

Of course, its watery paws would soon rush back

To maul the shore. I'd run from their attack

As quickly as I could on toddler feet.

 

Delighted, Dad would look on, and would shout

Encouragement and warning: "Hey, watch out!

They're gonna getcha!" I would shriek and laugh.

 

I'm older now than Dad was then. No son

To teach this excellent art of having fun,

Of chasing waves for an hour, or a half.

 

Thomas DeFreitas has been writing poetry for more than thirty-five years. Educated at the Boston Latin School and the University of Massachusetts, he has published verse in Ibbetson Street, Dappled Things and Plainsongs.


  

 Jar Filling

 by Yawa Degboe

 

I filled up my jar

With people’s feelings

And emptied it out

For haters to find

Nothing.

I consumed everything

One by one I devoured

The doubts of teachers

The rants of neighbors

The judgment of strangers 

All this garbage

Can’t hang on me anymore.

Hey, I am busy here

Raising black girls

In a white man world.

I need to be light

To stomach it all

And empty my jar again

So my girls don’t have to fill their own.

 

 Yawa Degboe was born in Togo, West Africa, grew up in France, and now lives in Arlington, with her husband and her two young daughters who question everything all the time. It is refreshing to rediscover the world through the eyes of a child. Yawa is involved in her community as the co-chair of Arlington Diversity Task Group. 


  

Spy Pond in Winter

 by Cathie Desjardins

 

It’s like the dream where you open

a closet or find some stairs 

to a whole new part to your house: 

 

Here is a Land of Ice

where there was none before,

a village of people icefishing, walking,

sliding, talking, with the exuberance

 of people skidding around 

on a different planet. 

 

Atolls of snow dot ice swirled into

tiny frozen tsunamis.

Wind gusting loose snow 

is almost enough 

to make an ice mirage where you can see 

long-ago skaters in woolen caps 

and mittens, handknitted scarves,

whizzing past without

a thought of growing up, growing old, 

while crews of men and horses haul

thick crystal blocks on sleds

to ice houses on the shore

to be packed in sawdust

and shipped to the tropics.

 

Walking ashore, out of the mist 

to the playground I see 

no one has trodden a path yet

to the farthest swings, 

creaking in the wind. Here are the rungs

of the blue structure our son climbed

fearlessly as a toddler, decades ago.

Crayon color dumptrucks are stalled in the snow: 

Shouldn’t they be clearing 

swaths in the whiteness?

I can’t resist prying loose the red levers 

of the scoop, swooping up some snow,

plopping it in a different spot.

Some kids turn up, blocky as packages

in their snowsuits, and their parents bend

  to them, frolic a little in the snow. 

I want to warn their hovering parents:

You think this will go on

but soon they’ll be taller than you

and then gone.

The frozen cold can make it seems eternal

but the seeds of new summer asters 

are already strewn under the snow. 

But the rough wind takes my words

and the kids are shrieking now,

skidding on their backs

down the rollers of the bumpy slide.

 

Cathie Desjardins is a lifelong teacher, learner and poet. Her first book of poems is With Child, (Tasora Press, 2008) and she is at work on her second book, working title The Muse in the Garden. She is the current poet laureate of Arlington. 


  

Rosa Parks

by Susan Donnelly

 

What you continue to do

is make me understand

that one day there may be a moment,

unannounced, for each of us.  A small occasion,

nothing glamorous.  When we’re tired,

 

rather fed-up, and with a rush of blood,

decide. Something as simple

 

—but what was simple then? The everyday

    was what required laws—

 

as a bus ride, a choice of seat. You endorse

dailiness. Take that first step. Rules

 

fall away on either side and you’re left,

stubborn, on a somehow known path.

The bus brakes. They take you off

to jail. But within you it’s open country,

wind blowing, road leading on forever.

 

[from Transit  

also in The Path of Thunder]

 

Susan Donnelly's newest publication is The Path of Thunder, a chapbook of poems about race in America (Červená Barva Press 2017). She is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Capture the Flag (Iris Press 2009), and four other chapbooks. Her poems appear in many journals, anthologies, textbooks and websites. She teaches poetry in classes and individual consultations from her home in Arlington.


 

Crazy Quilt

by Anne Ellinger

 

Planning

the patchwork quilt of my days

trying

to make the pattern

orderly

pleasing

balanced:

If I see my mom three times a week

no, four

no, five…

If friendships are the red velvet blocks

and exercise the yellow silk

and time alone the brightest green

and my theatre work the deeper purple…

 

But wait!

I can’t fit it all in!

I can’t breathe amidst all those

straight rows

right angles

perfectly cut and placed

squares

made smaller

and smaller so

they all

can possibly

fit.

 

I’d rather make a crazy quilt of a jazzy

improvisational pattern

unpredictable like music

like hiccups

like the wild blue yonder

I’ll take my quilt off the winter-sour bed

and out to the beach

with the breeze

and the stars

and my lover’s warm

ridiculous

laugh.

 

Anne Ellinger performs with Arlington's improv troupe, True Story Theater, and is the co-author of several nonfiction books, including Getting Along: Skills for Lifelong Love. She and her husband, Christopher, set a 15-minute timer to write "improvisational poems."  Crazy Quilt was the first improv poem she ever wrote.


 

My Mother's Garden

by Jean Flanagan

 

Now my mother sees life

in shades of gray

faces appear as shadows

and voices are unclear.

 

It used to be she saw

flowers grow each morning

when she awoke

black-eyed susan and iris

filled her.

 

Now the garden is overgrown

the white phlox have turned a shade of pink

the once perfect dimensions of color and shape

are gone.

 

She used to say that the garden was where

she could think

where troubles came and went with the weeds.

 

Jean Flanagan is the author two books of poetry. Her latest manuscript is a memoir in poetry and vignettes called "A Hard Winter for Living." In May, artist Suzanne Lee will exhibit Flanagan's poem "Black Lightning" as part of Words of New England: A Calligraphic Exhibition of Poetry and Prose at Moakley Courthouse in Boston.


 

Stars 

by Ava Garcia

 

Stars, stars

Starry sky

Why so

many and

why so high?

  

Thousands of

little dots

far away 

high up in 

the sky 

waiting 

to be spotted 

 

My name is Ava Jade Garcia and I'm a 2nd grader at the Thompson School. I love writing poetry because it's a fun way to write what I want to say.


 

My Tree

 by Graeme Garvie

 

Tree! Tree! A beautiful tree

Not too fat, not too skinny

A tree just for me.

 

Just the right height.

Not too high, not too low

A tree just for me.

 

What a wonderful tree

Gleaming there in the sunlight

I run to it, on the spot

 

Climbing in the sunlight

Lift a foot

Reach for a branch

Trying so hard to get to the top

 

I scrape my knee

But I ignore it

My fingers tingle

But I still climb

 

When I get to the top, I can see everything up there:

The blue sky with puffy white clouds

Big buildings close and far away

 

I see the ground

One thing:

How do I get down...?

 

Graeme Garvie is a third grader at Thompson School. He enjoys fencing, four-square and, occasionally, climbing trees.


 

 Ode to the Old Cat

 by Bethany Halford

 

He came to be mine just like the crystal and china

My unexpected inheritance of fur and whim

Six months before, mom sat across from me in a diner

And made me promise I’d take care of him

 

Twenty-one is pretty old for a cat, they say

The vet tells me that’s more than 100 in people years

He’s got dementia and diabetes and sleeps all day

And his meows sound like a baby in tears

 

Mom didn’t think Sam would outlive her

Though she dreaded her longtime companion’s end

She knew he was her last pet though, I’m sure

And now he is my reluctant friend

 

He finds comfort standing in front of a warm oven

Or in slinking just beneath my feet

He’ll sit in anyone’s lap for some lovin’

My husband sneaks him sausages as a treat

 

I don’t know if Sam loves his life here

If he longs for mom’s tender embrace

She’s been gone for more than a year

And this old cat reminds me of her grace

 

Bethany Halford's day job is to write about science. She does this from her home office, usually with an old cat asleep at her feet.


 

 Reading to My Children

by Liza Halley 

 

The Lego magazine

rests open on my lap.

My sons and I sit on the couch.

Summer vacation has just begun.

They’ve asked me to read

the magazine to them like it’s

Avi’s Best Collected Short Stories

or the compendium of Greek Myths , our nightly read. 

 

Part of me

a fly on the ceiling

watching an awful sitcom unfold

listens

as my most dramatic voice urges

with each page:

Just the thing to get you there!

Don’t forget to stop and refuel!

Race to the rescue!

 

And promises

Glassware and golden plates for special occasions! 

The secret will be revealed! 

The greatest challenge yet! 

Fully stocked fridge! 

 

Moshe, just 3,

stops at the rockets,

This one, momma, this one for my birthday, only three monies. And the Power “Minders.” 

Only five monies for this one, now, for my birthday now.

Ezra, wise in his 8 years pipes in

You can’t have two birthdays in one year. Maybe for Hannukah. 

 

Here we are, 

caught in the grip 

of gloss and hope 

leaning against each other 

listening, watching, unfolding. 

  

Liza Halley, poet, baker, school librarian lives in Arlington with her two sons, husband and cat, Itsy Bitsy. She loves her neighborhood and feels so lucky to live in a town with rocking libraries. 


 

Sunset By the Pond

by Sarah L. Hill

 

citrus stained 

by the setting sun

across the surface 

cirrus reflects 

 

a maple spreads

its five-pronged leaves

over the stony edge

showy damselfly, shard of color 

tests evasive drops 

 

a swallow swoops

darts and dives  

whilst on grey wings

the bat descends

leaving ripples like a skipped stone

 

Sarah L. Hill is originally from N.H. and always liked writing. Her poetry has recently appeared in the online journal "Jellyfish Whispers."


 

Daily Bread

by Beth Kress

 

Last night I dreamed 

of a kitchen counter 

full of open bread slices 

staring up at me expectantly - 

this after a week of making 

daily stacks of sandwiches

for my hungry grandchildren.

 

I can still see my mother, standing 

at our old formica counter 

doing this very task. 

In her stylish self-made clothes 

after a day’s work managing a school, 

she’d have served us a casserole dinner 

and cleaned up,

my dad grading papers, 

we kids hunched over homework.

She’d call out in a lilting voice 

asking the five of us our preferences 

for the next day’s lunch – 

as if this was a lark.

 

Her slices too filled the counter 

as she laid them out, 

each pair a clean white prayer book 

ready to be composed 

as she spread on the devilled ham 

or peanut butter 

with practiced precision – 

just to the edges, but not over. 

 

Then the rip of waxed paper 

as she began wrapping each one, 

tucking the corners under, 

stuffing each into a brown bag 

to be handed off the next morning – 

simple food with a simple blessing.

Nightly labor.

Daily bread.

 

Beth Kress grew up in the Chicago area and raised her three children in midcoast Maine before moving to Arlington. She was a school counselor at Lexington High School, taught at Lesley University, and currently tutors ESL students. Her work has been published in the Snowy Egret and the Avalon Literary Review.


 

 Divine Femme

by Rob Lorino

 

Divine Femme, embodiment and protector of all things feminine.

Glitter and blood. Tender whispers and hurled slurs. Hair, everywhere

Like the hands of a lover - welcome and thrilling.  Or the hands

Of a stranger - harsh and unwanted.  A Cha Cha heel

That sparkles, and the bruised toes within.

Hard. Soft. Beautiful. Grotesque. The whole universe in one.

 

Help protect the children.  Every single one

Who's afraid to admit they love dolls, pink, anything deemed "feminine."

The origin of their self hatred won't come from within

But from parents, friends, relatives, strangers everywhere

Who say "You can't wear a dress" or "Take off your mother's high heel"

As they snatch the sequin covered fabric from their hands.

 

Divine Femme and femmes everywhere - embrace the rage within!

Crush this unjust world beneath your heel!  With raised hands

Clenched in fists, our generation will be the one to redefine what it means to be feminine.


 

The Lost Man

 by Achan Manyang

 

This man is from south sudan

when he was a boy

those people that are muslim

want south sudan people to be muslim not christians.

People killing people.

 he ran away.

 He hid in the trees. They couldn't catch him. 

He traveled

to another country

Ethiopia

 by foot 

He met other boys on the way.

One become two

Two become three

Three become four

Four become more

A river of boys

there were no cars.

He kept on walking.

They ate giraffes

They ate any animals.

Giraffes tastes like cow meat.

A crocodile tastes like fish.

When there was nothing to eat

They ate leaves on the trees.

It feels like you are an animal.

He kept on walking.

He stayed in Ethiopia.

In 1991

the war started again.

They ran to the river Gilo.

The enemy was shooting them.

They all jump in the river.

“But if you don’t know how to swim

You just remain in the river.”

He crossed the river.

He kept on walking.

 

Achan Manyang was born in Kakuma, Kenya. Her father came to Arlington in 2001 as one of the Lost Boys of Sudan. In 2006, he became an American citizen and started the process of bringing Achan and her twin brother, Ngor, to America. They arrived in October 2009. Achan is now a junior at Arlington High.


 

First Song Again

by Fred Marchant

 

Trust all the wood you stand on,

Become an ally of the grain,

Bend in the wind. 

 

Trust even the high, precarious places,

The steeples and windy overhangs

That teach you everything.

 

Trust too the rose-tint of late afternoon

Sifting down through a lofted 

Blue heron wing.

 

Trust above all the imminent return

Of the small, but persistent 

Impulse to sing. 

  

                          from The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009) 

 

Fred Marchant is the author of five books of poetry, the most recent of which is Said Not Said (2017). Earlier books include The Looking House, Full Moon Boat and House on Water, House in Air and Tipping Point. Marchant has translated works by several Vietnamese poets and edited Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, also published by Graywolf Press.


 

Library Birds

by Oakes Plimpton

 

Do you know the Cedar Waxwings like the Library Crabapples?

Have you tried a crabapple yourself? They’re bitter, but

Delicious to the Waxwings, and the Robins too.

Cheer yourself and step outside these winter days

And see if they’re there, the Robins with their red breasts

And spectacled eyes, and the Waxwings with their crests,

And bright yellow tail tip, sleek form.

 

See, if I can write a poem, you can too;

Even make a rhyme if you’re lucky — there’s meter:

Iambic Pentameter, for example — “Now is the winter

Of our discontent” (Shakespeare), or “To swell the gourd

And plump the hazel shells” (John Keats).

Looked it up in Wikipedia, that’s how I know.

But we are free to write however we like!

 

Oakes Plimpton is a renaissance man: poet, birdwatcher, essayist, ex-hippie, volunteer farmer and local historian. He has published many works, including Prose Poetry; Robbins Farm Park, a Local History; and 1972 Farm Journal. He is working on a book, Arlington Market Gardens. 


 

 The Stars, at Ten

 by Jana Pollack

 

From the dock, I look down on

Water shimmering with end-of-day-sun,

The kind that means it’s dinner time,

Or maybe just one last swim

Or finishing this chapter.

Dad cooks spaghetti and chicken

While mom reads aloud from Fried Green Tomatoes:

“I guess life just slips up on everybody.

It sure did on me.”

Next to me, my sister’s body hides

Under a towel

We are both damp from our last swim

My face is full of fresh freckles.

I have

Nothing to worry about

But the threat of a thunderstorm

And how terribly big the sky is at night

Being 10

Is like being on a zipline;

The harness keeps you safe

But the height still leaves you shaking.

My sister laughs at my frizzy hair

And I giggle too, my mother smiles

And the water gleams.

  

Jana grew up in Arlington Heights and graduated from Arlington High in 2004. She wrote this poem while a student at the University of Vermont. She now lives in New York City and works in advertising at BuzzFeed.


  

Uncalendared

by DP Powell

 

Sometimes a weekend treats us kindly:

gentle breezes mixed with sun.

Sharing unscheduled time with yourself

 

can be a hoot.

 

Inside? Outside? With a mate, or alone?

Pursuing a path of letting go …

(followed by a ? or !).

Keeping options open –

oh, excuse me, someone’s at the door. 

 

'dp' Powell (Doris Powell) lived in Arlington from 1944-2016. She lives at Goddard House in Brookline, is 94 years old and still loves poetry, Spy Pond and the way words can bring people together.


  

Super Moon

by Steven Ratiner

 

Not the fat mandala the meteorologists

were touting on the news but

 

a dime-sized jewel floating beneath us

in the pond’s black skies which 

 

my grandson, nearly two, snatches up 

in his small fist.  Opening it slowly – 

 

convinced of what he possesses, 

and by what he’s possessed – 

 

he offers me his wet palm.  

I kiss the moon there.

 

[Ratiner submitted no bio, but he is a widely published poet. Find out more here >>]


 

Menotomy Memories

 by Charles Schwab

 

We watched an oriole weaving her nest,

a dangling pouch precarious at best.

Your dad brought us three —

your mom, you, and me —

to the pond at Menotomy Rocks.

 

We once climbed the cliff rising above

(I wouldn’t now for money or love),

the two of us to show

Grandma Syl below

our skill on Menotomy Rocks.

 

I played with you on the jungle gym,

recalling my son when I was with him.

I saw him in you

(Did Grandma too?)

that day at Menotomy Rocks.

 

Sitting, I see how the sunlight behaves

as it bounces off the rippling waves.

Syl passed away,

only strangers today

at the pond of Menotomy Rocks.

 

The years flew by, my recall less keen;

you tried out your wings and reached thirteen.

I getting old,

you growing bold

in the town round Menotomy rocks.

 

I return alone to glimpse the nest —

the fledglings have flown away with the rest

to some other site

for others’ delight,

leaving us at Menotomy Rocks. 

 

Born in 1922 and a longtime resident of Pittsburgh, PA, Charles R. Schwab graduated from Princeton, worked as a financier and statistician, and was a history buff, avid traveler and progressive thinker all his adult life. In 1995 Charles and his wife, Sylvia, ended their retirement travels to move to Arlington, in order to help care for their new grandson, Matt. Later, in his mid-80s, after years serving as president, treasurer and board member of the Arlington Senior Center, Charles took up writing poetry with a young man's passion, self-publishing three books and completing a memoir shortly before his death in 2017 at age 95.


 

 

Jellybeans in Space

by Jan Slepian

 

Science tells us that The Big Bang is responsible

for the birth of the Universe.

That explosion scattered the seeds of everything there is

to the outermost regions of space.

That describes my bathroom floor.

The plastic carton of jellybeans that I was carefully carting,

slipped. More likely jumped.

Down fell the carton, out fell the jellybeans.

Those colorful seeds spread in a millisecond

to the far reaches of whatever.

Much like the original, only, to my ears,

with a bigger bang.

Their colors mixed and mingled. My favorite blacks

were black holes in the cosmic display.

Andromeda, with her companions, was on the floor

behind the toilet bowl.

I couldn’t reach her without leaving earth.

Bending down and picking up was beyond me.

Reaching for the stars no longer an option.

Transfixed, appalled, amused,

I awaited my spaceship. 

 

Jan Slepian wrote "Jellybeans in Space" when she was 93, studying poetry with Arlington poet Jessie Brown. Jan authored 28 books for children and young adults, as well as four books of essays and poems about being very old, available on Amazon and at the library: Astonishment: Life in the Slow Lane, How to be Old: a Beginner's Guide, Jellybeans in Space and The Other Shoe.


  

Cycling Home

by Bob Sprague

 

Three falls before Minuteman opened,

we cycled to Concord on 2A,

Redcoat ghosts blew in our faces.

No races. Just a Revolutionary ride,

our legs churning through history --

past where Emerson essayed, Thoreau

mused, Alcott penned; past Willow Pond,

where bikers, modern "embattled farmers,"

loudly supped, a stuffed moose head watching.

  

Back on Mass. Ave. to Arlington,

tracing the defeateds' retreat,

we rode, until a car door stopped 

me short. No musket and ball, no 

English bayonet left me splayed. 

No Sam Whittemore hero, I. 

 

Bob Sprague has been a journalist since 1970, including at The Boston Globe, Herald and YourArlington.com. He has been a desultory poet since 1960. In Oct. 14 that year, he skipped a day of high school, and, bolstered by some of Dylan Thomas's poems, experienced an hour's trance in which he felt opened to the world's verse. He wishes he had followed up more on the experience than he has.


  

Return

by Virginia Thayer

 

He’s coming! Coming home! At last! Directly

from Biak, a mere mote in the vast Pacific,

aboard a creaky transport, estimating, correctly

he hopes, an arrival in fifteen days on the Atlantic 

side. I’m ecstatic! Two weeks, one day, then a civilian

again. Will it be everything we expect?

Oh God, what a relief! How long it’s been—a million

years ago. Right off he’ll connect with his parents,

then jump on the train to Washington,

where I’ll be waiting, attempting to do my job—

my concentration lost, a librarian-simpleton,

unable to classify documents for the throb

of my heart. I can’t read. I jump from my chair

to shelve some books—as I walk on air. 

 

Virginia Thayer was a a woman of immense and varied talents: poet, painter, accomplished baker and cook, and friend. Virginia contributed in many ways to the life of the Town of Arlington, where she lived for 51 years before moving with family members to Florida. She was a counselor at Arlington Youth and Children's Center and an active member of the League of Women Voters, and of First Parish UU. She died in August 2017, at the age of 95. 


 

 Seashore

 by Mia Vakoc 

 

the salty ocean air surrounds me

      waves swirl and crash

                 beach days 

                      end

                       so

                      fast

                     but i stare at thieving seagulls playing, salty air smelling good

                     my heart grows and a salt water tear drips down my cheek onto my sandy legs

   farewell  

  seashore

 

Mia Vakoc is an eleven-year-old fifth grade student at Stratton School. She likes write poetry, read, ski and rock climb. 


 

 ME 

by Linnea Ward

 

ME (LIST)

HAIR.

EYES.

SKIN.

LOVE.

ME!

 

ME (STORY)

My first memory

is when I was 

two, standing

still in our 

living room.

 

ME (CONVERSATION)

I am special!!

HOW?

There is no other 

me in the whole

wide world!

WOW!

 

Linnea Ward is a girl who is almost 9 years old and who goes to second grade, Mrs. Orlando's class. She goes to Thompson school. 


This news summary was published Wednesday, April 11, 2018, and updated May 16.

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