The accessories of childhood
were made for consumption—
the stacks of clean paper
and waxy crayon points,
little balls of Play-Doh
salty and soft.
Everyone has their color:
you draw your skin with blue
because that’s what you see in the mirror.
Indigo, cerulean, navy
an ocean, the rain, the sky.
Happiness is a squiggle of orange
Uncertainty a blank yellow circle
love is posey pink
on a field of maroon.
Chubby fingers skate across the canvas
leaving smears of rainbow in their wake,
those same fingers
that picked the dried, fuzzy pods from the bush outside
scattering the last of the seeds to the wind,
blue-lipped and wide-eyed.
The sky was grey
—Abigail Povill (16 years)
We lost a fine poet, an inspiring educator, and a good friend
with the passing of Pauline Uchmanowicz.
The loss is shared widely and deeply.
for Pauline Uchmanowicz
I see oceans
when I think of you
a sailboat upon
without her crew
I see reflections
in the waters
far too soon
ships and shells
I hear you
in the waves
all we ever
all we’ll ever
in the abyss.
Around that bend
a few miles back
it got too sad
to do anything
A love hymned in choir halves:
nine tenths the possession
and a funeral urge to laugh.
The councils of morning must suffer
or pay the price for waking
those in the arms of another.
I sat up and my cot creaked. Through the barred window, a bleeding
sunrise saturated the haze over the shingled roofs of elderly buildings.
There’s no place like this (back at home).
Halfway across the cobblestone bridge, I stopped to read initials and
dates carved onto the hanging padlocks: vandalistic tokens of eternal
devotion between (ephemeral?) lovers.
As I leaned over the railing and watched the river flowing away from the
city, a twig peekaboo-ed from under the bridge and bobbed downstream.
I thought not (of home).
Up the bell tower on a ladder,
The sky was as calm as milk,
On white camel sultan’s daughter
dressed in silk,
Surrounded by cacophony of chatter,
The moon rose and shone on her face,
The moon was huge and filled with sweetness,
Caravan approached the fortress,
Her brother was sitting in the old man’s place,
Her honey gold hair fell in curls on her shoulders,
The night was laden with the scent of basil,
And the sea began to rise beyond the hill,
Seen from atop granite boulder,
The stars shimmered and a bell rang,
And somewhere a nightingale sang.
I asked to see a shotgun. Which is the best?
I asked. This one, she said. She handed me
a 12 gauge, 6 shot, pump action shotgun.
It was heavy. I almost dropped it. She smirked.
I aimed at the wall. I pumped the pump.
I pulled the trigger. I pumped and pulled.
Pumped and pulled. Pumped and pulled. Six
times I pumped and pulled. I was pretending
12 gauge shotgun shells were blasting the wall.
I was starting to enjoy it. I was finding a rhythm.
It felt like writing a poem. It felt like writing
a 12 gauge 6 shot pump action poem. Give it
here, she said. I handed her the gun. Thanks,
I said, What do you want this for? she asked.
I don’t know, I said. Hunting? she asked. No,
I said. I don’t hunt. For home defense then?
she asked. Yes, I said. I want it for home defense.
I understand, she said. Because it’s a different
world. No, I said. Because it isn’t. I didn’t get
it. I’ll take my chances with the world unarmed.
A mop was left leaning against a handrail on platform #2.
There was rain and clouds and leafless trees and cement everywhere. It was bitter cold
and the air smelled like burning fuel. The rain was torrential and the grey, noodle-like pieces of mop head were hydroplaning along the greyer, sloping earth, simultaneously soaking up and
being drowned by the leaden water of Poughkeepsie.
Puddles formed from the mop’s run-off and they were filled with cigarette butts, gum, trash, and ghosts. There were high-rise apartments, derelict factories, empty IBM office
buildings, and boarded-up Victorian homes in the filthy pools. And these ghosts—they wore
rain jackets and looked up toward the severe sky, where their reflections were staring back
down at them.
These were departing reflections that waited on the train’s arrival at platform #2. And when it came, it hauled them away from the grey, endemic composition; away from the pools
full of antiques and ghosts.
The ghosts—they stayed behind and waded through the city to recollect souvenirs, the wet trash sparkling around them like a childhood pool party.
Once again nostalgia nearly flooded the whole of Poughkeepsie.
-Michael De Rosa
My life’s like a train that’s goin nowhere -
fully loaded never stopping -
passing over rusty bridges red with age.
Carrying a dangerous load nestled safely where no one will go -
carting more baggage than I’ll let you know.
Hustlin, makin money, building my mountain of dirt -
goin places I know I shouldn’t go.
Missin dad, miss my mother, missin sis and my brother.
I’m like a train that goes on forever -
and I’ll keep goin even after I die.
-Robert Wagner, Sr.
(dedicated to son Rob Jr., who died of an opioid drug
overdose on November 21, 2016 at the age of 25.)
Lawrence at the Century Mark
‘Starting from San Francisco,’
you took us on a century long journey
across the vast expanse of American landscape,
revealing your ‘Pictures of The Gone World.’
Brightly illuminated in City Lights,
you chose to raise a ‘Howl,’
against the obscenity of middle-class morality,
you gave voice to those who ranted in obscurity.
A force rising from ‘A Coney Island of the Mind,’
covering the continent in your pocket poets,
you provided verse a new form.
Rexroth, Bob Kaufman, McClure, Corso, Carl Solomon,
Kenneth Patchen, William Carlos Williams.
Poetry sprouting in the heartland of America,
as you nurtured Walt’s ‘Leaves of Grass.’
The breezes moving over the Rockies,
across the Great Plains
bringing forth poesy.
You are a ‘Big Sur,’
in your cabin beneath Bixby Bridge,
where Jack suffered the dt’s,
set down the Pacific roar.
From Columbus Avenue you set out on your voyage
onto uncharted waters,
in search of a new world.
Seeking to unseat the powers that be,
you set forth ‘A Tentative Description of a Dinner to
Promote the Impeachment of President Eisenhower,’
continued to confront the ruling forces going forward since.
From your North Beach refuge,
you established a beachhead against ignorance.
You captured the American heart,
set it free,
providing ‘The Secret Meaning of Things.’
Lawrence, your words rise up to fill the American century,
your life a testament to the power of the word.