ALICE NEEL

Made it to the Met Saturday.

I wanted to meet Alice Neel.

A slightly surreal scene.

Long lines of masked

New Yorkers and others

Enduring the pandemic;

Looking for hope and inspiration.

It was worth the wait.

First, the line led

Through a row of Rodin statues.

Wow. 

And then,

An amazing collection 

Of paintings.

Honest, but not cynical;

Humanistic, but not sentimental.

Alice painted so many different kinds of people:

Black, white, Latino

Poor, working, middle class, rich.

Her art is 

Infused with socialism;

The belief that we can live

Together as sisters and brothers

Free of exploitation, racism, and sexism.

Alice Neel;

This daughter of a

straight laced middle class

family in suburban Pennsylvania,

her father an accountant for the Pennsylvania RR.

She found her way to Greenwich village in 1927

With her husband Cuban artist Carlos Enriquez.

Carlos soon returned to Cuba, 

Leaving Alice to consort with

With artists, radicals, ordinary folk

Until she died in 1984.

This small white woman

With a big heart and a sharp eye

Breaking boundaries

Shows us what our species can do.

Leaving us with hope and  

sadness to yearn and

work for a better world.

April 18, 2021

Nancy and Bennie

Nancy and Bennie

Funny and funnier

“Now Bennie, If you keep trying to 

Bite me,

I won’t  be able to feed you.”

“I hear you mom;

It’s just what I do.”

“Good morning Nancy;

How did you sleep?”

“I was fine until five a.m.

When Bennie began jumping on my head.”

You should see them 

In the yard.

Bennie in his harness

Nancy on the other end.

Bad boy Bennie

and Mother Nancy;

A cross species

Love affair.

April 14, 2021

Dialogue Between Two Poets

by Caroline Donnola

Is a poet
a gift from God?
An offering
from the fairies?
A wordsmith with a silver tongue,
a wounded soul
with too much pain
to swallow?
One who sees the droplets of light
cutting through the dark?
A healer to realign
the humors?

Is there a special spring
from which poets drink,
infusing them with melody
harmony
rhythm
and verse?

Do poets breathe
saltier air,
imbibe sweeter wine
which flows into our brains,
producing magical thinking?

******

We grew up
seven miles apart
(I from the wrong side
of Sunrise Highway.)
Both of our mothers
read us poetry
when we were young.
We were entranced
and so we both
picked up the pen
and created our own.

Years later we met
at a union event
at your home in Jersey City.
Since then
we’ve traveled down
winding roads
of political tactics
candidates and campaigns
fights and crusades
progress and regress
fits and starts.
Surprisingly, we keep on.

At times we meet
in the countryside
for brief forays
into fields of green,
you along riverbanks
with strong currents
where the fish slither by
framed by cresting hills
and purple wildflowers.

*****

Language, my friend,
is simply a game.
We’re playing it
all the time.
Sometimes we’re in tune.
Other times we’re a broken record
that no one wants to hear.
Occasionally 
we string together words
that sing out
in an almost dream-like state.
We call these musings poetry.

Those of us who place
our reflections 
onto the page?
We’re called poets.
All we have to do
is to keep on writing
and say what we long to say.

A Poem by Polish Poet Adam Zagajewski

(Cathy Stewart sent me this after reading my poem posted this a.m. Thank you Cathy)

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June’s long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You’ve seen the refugees going nowhere,
you’ve heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth’s scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

—Adam Zagajewski

It’s bigger than motive

10 dead in Boulder, 8 in Atlanta;

Law enforcement looks for motive.

In Georgia we’re told

It’s an anti Asian hate crime.

In Colorado we’re 

Waiting for “answers.”

What is driving the violence?

More than individual motives.

We were taught that

progress is steady 

and will prevail,

setbacks notwithstanding.

The pandemic challenges;

Corruption corrodes trust;

Poverty persists;

Inequality grows.

Peace remains 

A distant dream.

Anger and violence

is no surprise. 

March 25, 2021

Poetry Can

By Jessie Fields

“Poetry: Forgive me for having helped you to understand that you are not made of words alone.” Roque Dalton from Nancy Hanks.

Poems can so move the soul that tears flow

And lengthen those in sacred bonds

Stretching sentences to outlast time.

Fingers that tremble across the page can trace the stars

And let love turn breathless in your arms.

Poetry between us

Words at our feet.

Can we people making poetry arise and lead the way to a new day

End the cycles of misery, end poverty.

But don’t stop there, from the dust form a new future.

Poetry in action come forth, come lead the way and don’t stop there.

Love and Friendship

By Jessie Fields

Top notes sing, lift high and upright the fallen star  

Of love and friendship wide, no meek prelude to hot embrace. 

Romance praise of rhyme over rhyme far 

Forever unceasing has not and never slackened the pace 

Of violence, war and hate everywhere unwound. 

Begin again, give what human life requires 

To thrive in soul, health and beauty together bound 

Workers, a community of people re-creating, a new becoming inspires.  

Take down the old books, here is a muse to make 

A new world. High history and love in the mad descending hours 

Search and create all the ways a hard hand to shake 

A cold eye to shine. Teach this love, it is ours. 

Jump we humans quick to hate and no peace find 

We forget our real preference is kind.  

Roll over Beethoven

Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.

Chuck Berry still speaks to us;

Maybe more than ever.

We came of age with rock and roll;

A new generation,

A new era.

Breaking boundaries.

Challenging authority.

Roll over,

Tell the news.

A new day dawns.

February 14, 2021

Lie , the Beloved Country

By Robert Carlson

( A Requiem for January 6 )

When did we start loving the lie ,

when did we embrace the Liars ?

When did we begin doubting facts ,

when did we prefer Deniers ?

Why does the truth hurt so much ,

why do some revile the Vetters ,

Why is defeat so hard to take ,

why does denial feel better ?

Where is the fair play we were taught ,

where are the Teachers we need now ?

Where is our courage to sail on ,

where are the Captains at the bow ?

What do we expect from our lives ,

what are the rules we agree on ?

What are the values we hold dear ,

what price do we pay for the pawn ?

Who are the Demons screaming loud ,

who let these Imposters spew fear ?

Who the Enemy at our gates ,

who is the Stranger in our mirror ?

How did our Country become blind ,

how have false narratives been grown ?

How do we cure these addictions ,

how do we heal what has been sewn ?

So lie no more , beloved Country ,

divide no more in anger or angst,

For we will be known , and we will be judged ,

by what is True , and what is Just .

BC, 1- 2021