More Poems from the Shifrah Community Writing Experience

Matthew says about this poem, “Cincinnati’s Poet Laureate, Pauletta Hansel was with us this Sunday. We wrote some poems, and then she took them and fashioned another poem. It seems only fitting to try and write yet another poem to encapsulate the writing of all this poetry. Enjoy.”

“Upon the visit of Pauletta Hansel to Shifrah”
by Matthew Lyon

At last, she arrived, our bodies already belabored.
with poet’s palms, she stood at our feet and read to us.

She reminded us of the children
she had helped to birth,
of mothers beholden to the ground and
of fathers borne to the past.

Silhouetted by the encroaching night,
she met our syntax, idioms and contractions
with a midwifes eyes,
placed her palms upon our every womb,
and led us each in metered breathing,

and one by one, the babied are born.
Their fresh-made I’s scanning in miraculous uncertainty.

Gathering them each to herself,
she made for them a basket,
woven of words
by poets palms.

A coven space, water cradle
to chance these children
within hallowed hollow
against will-be waves.


Mark Flanigan posted his poem from the evening on Facebook and inspired two poetic responses from his friends. Here is the exchange:

What Suits You
by Mark Flanigan

When I go to work
I don’t have to wear a suit.

The people there
they don’t expect me to.

But when I simply walk downstairs
to get to my Work

I do so while donning a jacket
because I expect myself to.

I turn on the light
and it feels like

the tambourine in “Pale Blue Eyes”
tastes like baby

and I tell myself
you know what?

you look good in this here


My Sacred Place
by Marsha Kaiser

My sacred place is where
I love being alone when I am there,
I don’t even like answering my phone.
I hear nothing but silence,
maybe a prayer going on in my mind.
But the time spent is truly hard to find.
The dogs love to bark.
So I truly must wait for the dark
when all is still and silence is real.
So I can pray and think and feel surreal.
So as you see my dark place,
mind and space are my sacred place


My Sacred Place
Steve Lansky

My sacred place holds three
Dirt Devil vacuum bags
At the counter in Kentvale
Hardware Store on the A Line.
After I pay for them my Maui Jim
Sunglasses slip down off my
Hair into place and the cashier
Laughs with me.

My sacred place calls on the phone,
Sharon from the Hilton Beach, ON
Post Office to tell me a package
Arrived. Then I unwrap the kerosene
Lantern globe, which fits okay.
Also leaves me with a fistful
Of two sizes bubble wrap!

My sacred place on the Township
Road, where I stop to photograph
A huge green turtle that doesn’t
Want to be lifted off the road
And I don’t want to get pissed on
So I chase him and he runs to
The bush. My sacred place

Watches the lake while I do
Dishes in the double stainless
Kitchen sink. This has been a day
Of chores. Yet I had fried calamari,
With a garden salad while I
Sketched the Richards Landing
Breakwater near where I dined
On the dock. This day held

Forty-two drops of rain
Then let them rain slowly
After Woody pulled the
Cowling under my front
Bumper into shape cause
I tore it up a few weeks
Ago parking in a tree.

The island presents only
Sacred places and miracles
Large and small all day.