Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: A Poem for Opening Day by Emery Greye

It’s Opening Day, Poetry People! You didn’t think I’d miss that, did you? Here is a poem (a version with photos is at the bottom of the screen) by writer, poet, and inspirational speaker Emery Greye of Madisonville that captures the wonder of baseball and spring. He told me he wrote it for his grandson. Lucky grandson!

Another Magical Spring

When I was a just little boy
I couldn’t wait for spring
I’d oil my mitt, the sun would shine
And all the birds would sing

And for fifty years of winter ends
The ice and snow would melt
We’d grab for balls and bats each day
I still remember how great it felt

We had a diamond built next door
We’d race to pick our teams
And play all day till dinner time
At least that’s how it seemed

The shed in left was a two base hit
If you flew it, a homerun
The fence in center was Portman’s farm
But you had to hit that ball a ton

And on Sundays after church we’d meet
And do the ground crews duty
We’d mow the base path grass so tight
Our field was such a beauty

I’ve played or coached now fifty years
Still can’t wait to hear that call
Two words that start another spring
When the umpire yells “Play Ball”

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Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: View From My Balcony by Mark Flanigan

In this poem Mark Flanigan of Prospect Hill engages in a long honored poetic tradition, irony. I thought this the perfect poem for the day after April Fool’s. Mark is no fool, of course (perhaps a bit of a trickster); he is co-facilitator of one of Cincinnati’s longest-running featured reader/ open mic poetry readings, Word of Mouth, held the last Tuesday of each month at MOTR Pub.

View From My Balcony

looking down on the city
the houses and tenements
rise out of the ground
like so many dollhouses

dwarfed by church steeples
advertising their riches
alongside boarded up shells.

to my left stand the P & G towers,
or as I call them
Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

straight ahead
the jail squats wide
like a defensive lineman
in a three-point stance

the casino runs like a pipe
or a dream, maybe both,

and the proximity of the three—
church, jail, casino—
a one-stop convenience shop.

looking out at the city
I wonder,
does the height of each skyscraper
signal relative wealth?

by such logic, Macy’s is lagging
behind Kroger’s

Fifth Third eclipses
both US Bank and PNC,
thanks to all the late fees
they’ve collected from me.

the Carew Tower remains majestic,
if without purpose,
despite playing second fiddle to
Great American Insurance’s headdress.

everybody knows they cheated,
who’s to say
they won’t cheat you?

I make a mental note
to buy some of their stock
as a single engine plane
sputters into view
flying above it all.

looking up into the sky
I marvel at its flight
when a banner slowly unfurls before me
with a printed green lizard
and the words

“Save Money.”

GEICO wins! I exclaim.
GEICO wins!

the American Poet
would roll in his grave,
if only he were dead.
Mark Flanigan
originally published in Versus (Aurore Press)

Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily: I Tell You by Susan Glassmeyer

Thanks to the Academy of American Poets, April has been our National Poetry Month since 1996. I am pleased to participate in this National Celebration by offering a poem (or more!) a day written by a Greater Cincinnati poet. Susan Glassmeyer is a fitting first poet. For ten Aprils Susan offered our community daily “April Gifts,” poems from across the globe she selected, researched and provided to our email inboxes. Susan retired the project last April 30 to give attention to her own writing (a new book soon, we hope!) but there may be an anthology of those delicious Gifts one of these days. Susan lives and works in Springfield Township and is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Writers League. I offer you:

I Tell You

I could not predict the fullness
of the day. How it was enough
to stand alone without help
in the green yard at dawn.

How two geese would spin out
of the opal sun, opening my spine,
curling my head up to the sky
in an arc I took for granted.

And the lilac bush by the red
brick wall flooding the air
with its purple weight of beauty?
How it made my body swoon,

brought my arms to reach for it
without even thinking.

*
In class today a Dutch woman split
in two by a stroke—one branch
of her body a petrified silence—
walked leaning on her husband

to the treatment table, while we,
the unimpaired, looked on with envy.
How he dignified her wobble,
beheld her deformation, untied her

shoe, removed the brace that stakes
her weaknesses. How he cradled
her down in his arms to the table
smoothing her hair as if they were

alone in their bed—I tell you,
his smile would have made you weep.

*
At twilight I visit my garden
where the peonies are about to burst.

Some days there will be more
flowers than the vase can hold.
Susan F. Glassmeyer
Body Matters (Pudding House Press, 2010)
The poem can be found online .

Your Poet Laureate’s Guide to Poetry Month in Cincinnati

Here we are at last: Poetry Month Eve! I am thrilled at the response to my call for poems for the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project. Beginning tomorrow and every day in April I will post a poem or more by Cincinnati area poets. I’ll send these out via my blog and repost each day on the Cincinnati Poet Laureate Facebook Page and in the Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Events Group (which is also on Facebook).I encourage you to “Follow” my blog by clicking the “Follow” button on my website so that you will receive the poems in your email inbox as they are posted. (You will also be able to find each day’s offering in the blog section.) I do hope you will share!

You are also invited to come hear a selection of these poems (and some of my own) at a Cincinnati Poetry Month Reading, Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm at People’ Liberty, 1805 Elm Street, near Findlay Market.

You can never have too much poetry! There is a wealth of poetry activities around the region this month and in our honor on Wednesday, April 5 at 2 pm  Cincinnati City Council will proclaim April as Poetry Month in Cincinnati at its Council meeting I’ll read the new composite poem “Our Words: Cincinnati, April 2017” composed with lines by more than twenty Cincinnati poets.  I can’t find in the Oxford Dictionary website what you might call a group of poets: a pack? an observance? a shrewdness? a pod? I’ll just say that a passel of poets in attendance will be yet another way to show the City that Poetry Matters. (And might I just take a moment to thank CityBeat for acknowledging Poetry in the Cincinnati as well!)

As always I urge you to find and post all literary events, Poetry Month or otherwise, on the Poet Laureate of Cincinnati Facebook Events Page. Go there for a listing of the wide array of events and venues. Here’s what I’m up to:

 Tuesday, April 4, 7 pm, Cincinnati Public Main Library, Popular Library Lounge: I’ll help kick-off their annual Poetry in the Garden Series by reading the afore-mentioned “Our Words: Cincinnati, April 2017.” (This event happens each Tuesday in April and cosponsored this year by Chase Public (recently honored in CityBeat’s Best Of issue) and the Greater Cincinnati Writers League. The format is always featured readers followed by an Open Mic; if you are on Facebook, more information is here. Otherwise, check the Library’s weekly calendar.)

Wednesday, April 5, noon, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College ATLC Auditorium (ATLC 211): Desirae Hosley and I will read at the first of the college’s Poetry Month Reading Series along with winners of the college’s first annual poetry contest, which I had the honor of judging. Info about their weekly line-up (Wednesdays at noon) can be found on Facebook by following Poetry Month at Cincinnati State .

Wednesday, April 5, 2 pm, City Hall: Council proclaims April as Poetry Month in Cincinnati!

Thursday, April 6, 7-9 pm, Lydia’s on Ludlow, 329 Ludlow Ave: A reading from Palindrome:  Poems of My Mother by Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel, (An Urban Appalachian Community Coalition First Thursday Literary Salon) A discussion of poetry as a tool for both documenting what was and understanding what is will follow the reading.

Sunday, April 16, 7 pm: WVXU’s Around Cincinnati: This one you don’t have to leave your house for! Listen in as I read a few poems and talk with Barbara Gray about poetry.

Monday, April 17, 2 pm, City Hall: I’ll provide a Cincinnati Poet Laureate “Annual Report” to the Neighborhoods Committee. All are invited!

Wednesday, April 19, 7 pm, Joseph Beth/Crestview Hills, Kentucky: Come across the river for a reading from my From Draft to Craft Poetry Class, an intergenerational class at Thomas More College.

Sunday, April 23, 7 pm: WVXU’s Around Cincinnati: A reading of “Our Words: Cincinnati, April 2017.”

Wednesday, April 26, 7 pm, People’s Liberty, 1805 Elm Street: Cincinnati Poetry Month Reading, Join us for a celebration of Poetry Month, Cincinnati-style, featuring poets included in the Cincinnati Poetry Month Daily Project.

Saturday, April 29, 10 am-12:30 pm, The Hive (Northside): Poetry As Witness; Poetry For Change  with Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel. I offer this workshop as part of The Hive’s Contemplation In Action Series. Registration is required.

Saturday, April 29 3-4 pm, Cincinnati Public Main Library, Popular Library Lounge: The Public Library will conclude its Poetry Month celebration with a reading from The Realms of the Mothers: The First Decade of Dos Madres Press by Dos Madres editor Robert Murphy, Richard Hague, Karen George, Pauletta Hansel and other Dos Madres poets. (Check out CityBeat’s shout out to Dos Madres Press!

Let the wild rumpus start!

Yours,

Pauletta Hansel, Cincinnati Poet Laureate

 

Our Masks/Ourselves: The Men of City Gospel Mission

Earlier this month, writer and teacher Annette Januzzi Wick offered me the privilege of writing with the men of City Gospel Mission who are part of her “Journey in Words” program. Formerly located in Annette’s neighborhood of Over the Rhine, it is now located around Crosley Field’s Home Plate, and is home to men seeking the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical skills and resources needed to achieve life transformation.

Our Masks/Ourselves
City Gospel Mission, March 2017

My mask sees lots of troubles, fences, mountains, thunderclouds.
I don’t want people to know my troubles or to burden them.
When you see my mask, you see what I want you to see.
Underneath there are mixed emotions:
creative, humble, impatient.
I need a girlfriend. I hate being alone.
My mask became my face because I wore it for so long.
A lie is a modified person.
I was wearing a mask of my lie.
When you see my mask you see what I want you to see.
A mask allows me to be seen,
and to give others the grace to be seen through
a lens of acceptability,
of respectability, of positivity.
We all want to be seen as we wish to be.
On rare occasions, I allow it to slip off—
somewhat confused, tentative, and unsure;
somewhat bold, funny, truthful.
Hurting, anxious, joyful, lonely, optimistic
Without my mask, you see a person that’s happy.
But I’m not because I’m not where I want to be right now.
The amount you see of me depends on who you are to me.
Without my mask I feel alone and vulnerable and unprotected. Too nice.
I feel most comfortable when I wear my mask.
When I remove my mask I am scared of the real world,
about responsibility,
about being sober and alone.
When you see my mask you don’t see the inner gears
of my constant worry, clicking, clacking,
wondering, adjusting, seeking.
When you see my mask you see a cover for comfort.
My mask sees loneliness,
struggle in the world.
My mask sees people who need me to be strong.
Without my mask I see predators.
As time goes on I choose my masks.
Who are they helping, me or others?
Don’t wear a mask.
Be who God has called you to be
and leave the results up to him.
I finally realized I didn’t need to be something I’m not.
It’s tiresome.
Without my mask I see a world
that wants to hold me, give me comfort.
I want to know “Me,”
to like what I see in the mirror now.
I know it’s my choice and I choose to be me,
clean and sober.

By participants in Annette Januzzi Wick’s City Gospel Mission Writing Group, March 2017.
Compiled by Cincinnati Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel

Some Mask Pictures

What’s in a Name? Writing with Cincinnati State

Poetry Month began early for the fine folks at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Professor Geoffrey Woolf extended the kind invitation to me to help get students, staff and faculty warmed up for their first annual Poetry Month Celebration by leading a writing workshop, “Writing our Lives.” Here’s what we came up with!

Our Names

In my name, infinite notions live.
I was born named Ngaame
but I prefer to be called yellow
because I love bright colors.
Flashy, sequined, and unapologetic.
If my name was a scene it
would be a multitude of colors,
existing in a sunrise over the ocean.
My name was Ross until I goofed
and was born female.
I was named Ashley to end a fight
with someone who didn’t stay to raise me
Raymond was not me,
it was the other
who existed only on paper.
Stuck with the syllables
of a language that doesn’t match,
they gave me an “e” instead of an “a”
so I’m left wondering if I’m ever “e”nough.
Now I walk with rage running amok,
and the destruction is ever growing.
It is the spectacle marveled at, teased,
tossed in the corner where the weird names hide.
Never daring to say them aloud—
Margarette, Maura, Michael, Martin.
The statement is one in the same.
I exist, but not in name.
I am digging to find myself again.

My name used to be daughter,
beloved girl.
Now I am Mom,
earned from twice giving birth,
a name honored by a dirty oven and sticky floor,
or “Mrs. J.”, a cherished name,
reflecting my passion, teaching.
Celebrations change to honor the presence
of those who laugh to go on living,
reminiscing on past encounters
and life’s dream.

I knew I’d be different
once I learned my own name.
My name is loyalty.
Who could want more?
My name will make you rip your heart out
and serve it to me on a golden platter.
Don’t worry, I keep Band-Aids in my wallet.
Laugh. You have a powerful name.

My name did not make me, I made my name.
My name is no one else but myself,
enabling me to view life with such simplicity.
I will not have it any other way.
Hear me, see me, know me
and you will never forget my name.

By students, staff and faculty of Cincinnati State’s “Writing Our Lives” workshop, March 15, 2017. Compiled by Cincinnati Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel

Other activities are a student poetry contest and a reading series to take place at noon on April Wednesdays:
4/5 Cincinnati Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel, Desirae Hosley (AKA “The Silent Poet”) and contest winners
4/12 Ralph La Charity, Robert Murphy and contest honorable mentions
4/19 Elese Daniel, Scott Holzman and contest honorable mentions

For more information visit the Facebook page, Poetry Month at Cincinnati State

Walnut Hills: And That’s Our Story

Last week I spent time with some amazing people from Walnut Hills–without ever leaving my Paddock Hills home. Cincy Stories is one of our newer local arts treasures. They offer opportunities for folks to tell their stories around Cincinnati, and last summer opened a storefront in Walnut Hills. (I got to visit Shawn Braley, John William and Chris Ashwell there earlier in the month, and sure enough, a guy came in on his way home and said, “Do I have a story for you!”)

Cincy Stories also has a really cool website which not only announces their storytelling events, but includes the audio of many stories they have  collected, both in their home neighborhood of Walnut Hills and from some of their live events.

So, that’s where I come in. Last week, I spent a lovely afternoon on the chaise lounge in my office listening to Walnut Hills stories and writing down quotes that stood out to me. And then (as I am wont to do) I made a poem from those lines. I like the poem well enough, but really, you need to hear the stories.  I encourage you to check out the Street Stories section of their website and listen for yourself. (I don’t like to play favorites, but I cried when I came to the end of Cecil Evans’ story and saw it was dedicated to his memory.)

Cincy Stories has a live event coming up on February 7 at MOTR Pub.  I hope to see you there–and/or telling your own story at a future Cincy Stories event.

Here’s the poem. I hope you enjoy it!

And That’s Our Story

As a little kid I was always planting seeds.
Just to be growing things—
what a miraculous activity to be involved in.
Walnut Hills is a proud neighborhood.
We just want to add to that.
The problem is, we don’t know each other.
It’s harder to say, how can I be here for you,
how can I help lift you up?
When you have a passion for something
it makes it a lot easier to do it.
Your passion should drive you to address the issue,
not walk away from it.
Over time Walnut Hills has become a part of me.
I’m having a good time.
We have a lot of talent here.
My hope is not to see that lost.
People talk about what we don’t have—
but I like to talk about what we do have.
I know a lot about this area, and it’s looking great.
My million dollar question is,
do the people living here feel like the change is for them?
You see, there’s maybe something you can do to help.
Just listen to people, that’s all you can do.

If the earth makes everything, doesn’t it make your character?
My Dad, bless his heart, knew that environment was important to children.
It’s easier to get in trouble; it’s harder to get out.
He gave me a chance.
One of the things a lot of people don’t have growing up
is two parents pouring into them,
telling them what you can do,
what you can achieve.
You have to take a “till death do you part”
vow to your children.
It’s about how to help your children
be the best parents they can be.
My mother is the one who got me off into who I am today.
I don’t deserve it, but for whatever reason, I got it.
I just want to share it with other people.
Don’t ever let no one tell you what you can’t do.

One word I like to use is gritty.
I’m just like a little pebble—big as the world is,
I’m just a little bitty spot.
I know it’s not possible to see the end
of every road you start down.
You never know how life’s gonna go.
But you can make contact with one another
in a way to change a person’s whole life.
We all live in community together
and we all get to do life together,
and that’s what makes it home.
If you stay true to what you love,
it stays there.
You put a seed in the ground
and within that seed is all the information
it needs to grow.

Composed from Cincy Stories’ Walnut Hills Street Stories
by Cincinnati Poet Laureate Pauletta Hansel