Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday in CinCity

My Dead Friends

by Marie Howe

I have begun,

when I'm weary and can't decide an answer to a bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion

and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child

in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling—whatever leads

to joy, they always answer,

to more life and less worry. I look into the vase where Billy's ashes were —

it's green in there, a green vase,

and I ask Billy if I should return the difficult phone call, and he says, yes.

Billy's already gone through the frightening door,

whatever he says I'll do.

Friday, February 24, 2012


Lenten Dissent

by Cherie Lashway

There once was a logger, named Paddy O'Connell,

Who at lunch during Lent, found himself at McDonalds,

And had just settled down to his Big Mac and fries,

When along came his priest, much to both their surprise.

The priest said to Paddy, "Just what are you eating?

In this season of Lent, I sure hope you're not cheating."

Paddy said to the Father, "I'll tell you no lies.

I'm enjoying a Big Mac, along with some fries."

The priest said to Paddy, "I see no repentance.

Because of this sin, you will have to do penance.

"By Friday or sooner, I say that you should,

For our fireplace, deliver a cord of chopped wood."

Now our timberman, Paddy, an overworked man,

Did think to himself, "I don't think that I can."

But early on Friday, our priest, he heard shoveling,

And looked out the window at Paddy not groveling.

And saw with confusion, dismay and disgust,

That the wood bin was now almost filled with saw dust.

He called down below, barely hiding his ire:

"Hey Paddy, your penance was wood for the fire!"

To which Paddy said, rising up from his work,

While wiping his brow and concealing a smirk:

"I've brought you a cord, like you said that I should,

But if burger be meat, well then sawdust be wood!"

Monday, February 20, 2012

Three Dog Night

by Faith Shearin

In the old days, before houses were warm,

people did not sleep alone. Not even

windows went by themselves into

the cold sheets of night. Rooms were

lit with lanterns and children were

encouraged to jump on their beds,

warming themselves, before they

crawled inside. You might sleep with

your cousin or sister, your nose

buried in the summer of their

hair. You might place a baked potato

in your blanket to help it remember

warmth. A fire would be lit but, after

awhile, it would smolder down

to the bone silence of ash. Everything

was cold: the basin where you washed

your face, the wood floor, the windows

where you watched your breath

open over the framed blur of snow.

Your hands and feet were cold

and the trees were cold: naked,

traced in ice. You might take a dog

to bed or two or three, anything to lie

down with life, feel it breathing nearby.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Saturday in CinCity

  Getting Through

by Maxine Kumin

I want to apologize

for all the snow falling in

this poem so early in the season.

Falling on the calendar of bad news.

Already we have had snow lucid,

snow surprising, snow bees

and lambswool snow. Already

snows of exaltation have covered

some scars. Larks and the likes

of paisleys went up. But lately the sky

is letting down large-print flakes

of old age. Loving this poor place,

wanting to stay on, we have endured

an elegiac snow of whitest jade,

subdued biographical snows

and public storms, official and profuse.

Even if the world is ending

you can tell it's February

by the architecture of the pastures.

Snow falls on the pregnant mares,

is followed by a thaw, and then

refreezes so that everywhere

their hill upheaves into a glass mountain.

The horses skid, stiff-legged, correct

position, break through the crust

and stand around disconsolate

lipping wisps of hay.

Animals are said to be soulless.

Unable to anticipate.

No mail today.

No newspapers. The phone's dead.

Bombs and grenades, the newly disappeared,

a kidnapped ear, go unrecorded

but the foals flutter inside them

warm wet bags that carry them

eleven months in the dark.

It seems they lie transversely, thick

as logs. The outcome is well known.

If there's an April

in the last frail snow of April

they will knock hard to be born.

please note: photo by I.M. Spadecaller

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bus Driver

by Jack Ridl

Standing at the back door, waiting

while the bus's engine hums

against the dark cold, its exhaust

a flume chilling into ice, melting

the snow beneath it, Driver, hands

in pockets, draws on his cigarette,

exhales, and feels the mean language

of age move in his bones.

Behind him, in the losers' locker room,

he knows his boys are dressing slowly,

staring into mirrors, setting their

wet hair straight, frowning at the way

they have to look, trying to think of

anything but the silent ride home.

The snow, packed hard now in midwinter,

squeaks under foot, and the air freezes

in the lungs, burns like a tongue

stuck to a frozen lamppost. Driver

glances at the bus, WILSON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

in black letters along its side, then up into

the sky, clouds crossing the full moon's

light like angels trying to comfort

anyone against a loss. The players

come out, pass him, step up into

the bus, find their seats. Coach

gets on last, sits in front. Driver

takes a last draw, feels the smoke

mix in his lungs, exhales, drops

the butt, a quiet hiss into the ice,

gets on and pulls the warm bus out,

across the empty lot, down a block,

left onto the highway home.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday in CinCity. The Funny Valentine Edition.


by Paul Hostovsky

We couldn't have been more than twelve

or thirteen, sitting on that green bench in the late

sixties or early seventies, me and Michael Zucker

who was much more savvy and world-weary

than I, when I asked him to please explain

the meaning of the words to a song by Carly

Simon, who was simply gorgeous—that much was

plain—after we'd resolved the essential question

of whether or not she was wearing a bra

in that photo of her with the blue top and thick

lips on her album cover. "I don't get it," I said.

"'You're so vain. You probably think this song is about you.'

But the song IS about him, isn't it?" I asked Zucker,

holding my palm up in the air like one who is

trying to ascertain the truth about whether or not

it has started to rain. Zucker looked away then,

gingerly fingering the green slats, as though he were

reading the carved names of the lovers and obscenities

tactually. Then he took a deep breath and exhaled

miserably, took the album cover out of my hands

and gazed awhile at Carly Simon who was gorgeous,

famous, braless, and older than me and Zucker put together.

"That's the point," he said. "She's in love with him."

Sunday, February 12, 2012

and may God bless.


by Alan Brownjohn

(i.m. I. H.)

The lately dead still arrive in the corner of your eye

Past the restaurant window, preparing slow smiles of pride

At achieving their return. They know that without them

You can never be the same, so they cheat for a while.

They keep trying to work a parole to the usual places,

They won't be excluded from them if you are there.

Their fingers have pressed the latch and the door nearly opens,

But then their smile turns embarrassed because they find

It behaves like a turnstile: they think they have admission,

But this door is fixed to prevent them coming back in.

And you just can't help, at all; if you went out to greet them

They would not be there, no one in the street would have seen them.

Then slowly the corner of your eye

Forgets to look.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Monday in CinCity. The There's Got To Be A Morning After Edition.

Well, Super Bowl has come and gone. We are a family who rarely watches football, but we do enjoy that last match-up, especially since we have no dog in the fight. We choose loyalties out of the air. Well, I take that back. She-Who-Was-Formerly-Known as CollegeGrrrl/Blondie, but who has now passed her State Board exams and dyed her hair brown and is now officially an RN(!!!!)(NewRNGrrrl??), does watch sports and generally has a  sports-related reason for supporting a team was rooting for the NY Giants. HoneyHaired Grrrrl liked the Giants because her dormmate is from New Jersey and thus was rooting for a hometown favorite. I liked the Giants because my TV boyfriend, Jon Stewart, likes them and Hubby changes his mind mid-game for whoknowswhat reasoning. He does like an underdog.

I missed half the game as I worked a "Princess Shift"---3pm-7:30pm---and got home to see the tail end of Madonna. If she can prance around with those heels on a slick looking stage more power to her. Power to the prance.

We in the NeuroDrama unit have been working extra shifts in the Cardiac ICU. They've hired a new surgeon to rev up their heart failure/heart transplant department and find themselves with many more patients than staff right now. It's always geographically challenging to walk into another unit and start in running since this unit is designed and set up much differently, but the principles behind treating cardiovascular and neurovascular are much different also. It's been good for clearing cobwebs out of my brain.

The Republican debates and primary tour have been about the only source of humor for me so far this year. Please don't judge me too harshly. Since my friends's deaths I take my lightness-of-being where it comes. Newt lifts my spirits with his petulance and sanctimonious speechifying. There's no Roman Catholic like a newly converted Roman Catholic. Puts the rest of us to shame I tell you, shame, shame, shame!

Buddha in Sunlight

by Red Hawk

Our old dog lies on the front porch in sunlight.

He moves as the sun moves, follows it

along the porch, rising slowly, never

going further than is necessary

to stay within the warm curve of worship.

He yawns, scratches, sheer minimalist,

conservation of energy. This morning

a rabbit hopped into the yard,

nibbling clover.

He lifted his head, eyed it for a moment,

then lowered his head,

closed his eyes.

This is what Buddha taught:

take no interest

in the arising of thought.

The sun moves off the porch;

he descends delicately the way

a nude descends from her bath, and

he finds a place in the grass.

The rabbit nibbles away,


Let it be, Buddha said;

it will settle


Please note: Dog Asleep on Porch by John C. Browne(1838-1918)