Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: Poems by Jerry Judge, Bea Wissel and Aralee Strange

For this, the penultimate day of Poetry Month, I offer three celebratory poems, two by Greater Cincinnati Writers League members, Jerry Judge of Finneytown and Bea Wissel of Mt Lookout, and one by the late and much missed Aralee Strange. Jerry’s poem is a palindrome, in that it is the same poem backwards and forward, with a lovely twist of meaning in the final stanza’s reversal. Bea’s poem is a sort of jazz poem—I suggest you read it (and all poems!) aloud for the sheer joy of language. And Aralee’s poem–what can I say? It is a dance with the Muse.
How to Celebrate Life

Dance in the wind like a freed butterfly,
drink from your childhood cup, and
race with the legs you remember.
Ask what you always wanted –
listen with ears that can hear.
Close your eyes and erase
all the shame, all the anger.

Imagine yourself praying.

All the shame, all the anger,
close your eyes and erase.
Listen with ears that can hear –
ask what you always wanted.
Race with the legs you remember,
drink from your childhood cup, and
dance in the wind like a freed butterfly.

Jerry Judge (Previously published in Best of 2010 Ohio Poetry Day)


Aloha from the Liminal Lua!

All this largeness, it’s a headwrecker.
Rinky-dink days not even breaking a slouch.
Fritos and fancy-free, foxtrotting in furry slippers,
making pink boudoir eyes, painting on silky slink,
why howdoyado, so pleased to be of pleasure
note my husky dipping tenor; I’m dripping like honey.
I fritter prettily, play possum, swan around
in a terrycloth turban, bathed in floating
dust motes winking like sequins, I bubble effusively
and inspect the fridge at regular intervals-the almond milk
won’t dare make a run for it on my watch.
Then, ashing away the afternoon, releasing
slow poison in showy smoke streams—
me and the dog, shrill, barking at the sockets, hearing
the electricity snickering in the walls, we are rampant,
wandering, sockless, a restless recipe.
The mirror quibbles, disastrous hair frizz
protests my kinesis, has decided to picket.
I window whittle ‘till I’m woozy and the trees
wave back warning or winking—it’s never easy to decipher.
Violently still or softly speeding?
Surrounded or safely sealed in plastic?
I’ve lost the wrapper.
Where precisely in space is the locus
of my leaching reach? Meandering, cryptic,
accordion noodle of time on the rocks, unfurling hinky,
crumbling within my grasp. I’m starting to suspect
these instruments of meter and measure
have always been defective and I’ve got a bad case
of immensity. In other words, a lemon kind of feeling,
like sucking on a lightbulb—
bright slice of a bitter bud blooming
acerbic slurpy sunshine, acid-slap
ray of pucker up, buttercup.
Darn this laughter volcano of nothingness,
threatening to warp the blackness in me
with a dayglow beam of pure blind might.

Bea Wissel


spelling it out
you enter through the start of something intuitive
it’s what stirs under every starry-eyed experience
lights with a breath you can’t help
the emerging narrative

you need some avid minds around
you need mass illusion and myth
time/space & detox
and in one miracle minute blinding light!
you can can write stuff
you maintain top safe speed momentum
you are all ova that mind reeling what if infusion
rising from uneasy dreams looking for your voice
the eye of unmitigated ramifications

step into the center
shall we dance?

in this corner in all black go-go coda
mouthing the words Out Loud
the one secret life you’ve been missing
boldly going where things are happening one more time

that far downtown

get a Ha-ha to survive the encounters with One Way
suffer all the turn-ons engaged in phony today
be quiet
who teaches you?

teeth on the real
saying grace
all you can see is resistance to the loss blooms at night
the deep breath hands-on muse pool magic hour sayonara
the essence of near intrepid rescues from the crowd

prepare to cave
frame by frame
admit one rude thing
get fiercely unstrung
Trust Jesus

no crybabies

if you’re lucky
bada bing bada bomb
you go mmmmmm
could be happy now

Aralee Strange (Originally posted on the Athens Word of Mouth site. Cincinnati’s monthly Word of Mouth Open/Feature Reading, last Tuesday of the month at MOTR Pub, was founded in Aralee’s honor. We miss you, dear one!)


Author: Pauletta Hansel

Pauletta Hansel is a poet, memorist, teacher and editor. She was Cincinnati's first Poet Laureate from April 2-16-March 2018. Pauletta is author of six poetry collections, Plaindrome (Dos Madres Press, 2017; winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award), Tangle (Dos Madres Press, 2015), The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011), What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011), First Person (Dos Madres Press, 2007) and Divining (WovenWord Press, 2002). Her poetry has been featured recently in journals including Talisman, Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Appalachian Journal, Atlanta Review, Postcards Poems and Prose and Still: The Journal, and anthologized in Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia; Motif: Come What May; and Motif: All the Livelong Day. Pauletta leads community poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond, and has served as Writer-in Residence at Thomas More College in her native Kentucky. She is a co-editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative. Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte.

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