Masthead 2021

Publisher, Charles Troob
Associate Publisher, Lorne Taichman
Associate Publisher, Tom Ashley

Prose Editors: Mary Houts and Eric Roper

Prose Readers:
Mary Elwood
Mary Houts
Ruth Kavesh
Sara Petitt
Eric Roper
Ira Rubin
Susan Smahl

Poetry Editor: Mark Fischweicher and Irene Sax

Poetry Judges:
Mark Fischweicher
Carmen Mason
Judith Meyerowitz
Irene Sax

Photo Editor: Jerry Vogel

Photo Judges:
Janna Amelkin
Ron Forlenza
Jonathan Gaines
Lale Odekon
Susan Rauch
Gerald Reisner
Robin Glasser Sacknoff
Claude Samton
Susanne Yellin

With special thanks to Denise Waxman for her help in publishing Voices onto the web.

Letter from the Publishers 2021

We are pleased to bring you the ninth edition of Voices Online.  There was too much turmoil in 2020 to produce an issue, but here we are again, presenting the amazing work of our talented members.
Thanks to the many people who made this issue possible:  the contributors, the judges, and the editors.  And thanks to our new home, the Graduate Center, for a seamless transition to a bright future.
We have dedicated this issue to three people who made enormous contributions to Voices Online and are no longer with us, Peter Houts, Marshall Marcovitz and Mary R. Smith.
Soon it will be time to start thinking about the next edition.  We invite new and newer members of the Lifelong Peer Learning Program to come aboard as contributors and leaders of the process.

Charles Troob, Publisher
Tom Ashley and Lorne Taichman, Associate Publishers


by Charles Troob

After a heavy snowfall, I look out
At the cityscape, newly picturesque:
Leafless trees delicately traced in white
Like skeletons posing on a runway;
Streets and walkways, reupholstered, empty
Of traffic, savoring a brief pristine
Moment out of time, before the filth,
The ice, the slush, before the sand and the salt;

And then I think of myself, surrounded
By love and books and comfort, drowsily
Whiling away a quiet afternoon—
And my mind flashes on men shivering
Under flattened cartons and old blankets
Burning paper in oil drums to keep warm.

Shortly after I joined the IRP years ago I signed up for a poetry study group given by Sarah White.  The first class was cancelled because of a snowstorm.   Sarah had sent us sonnets to read and suggested we try to write one.  I sat at my desk, thought “why not?” and looked out the window.  I brought this poem to class the following week, and people had helpful suggestions to improve it.  


A Day in the Life: Spring 2020

by Jennifer Ross 

7:00 a.m.
Joyful bird chorus
Bright bursts of blooms busting out
This heartbreaking spring

12:00 noon
On my daily walk
Masked figures pass, no smiles
Silent, empty streets

7:00 p.m.
Neighbors go outside
Clap, bang on our sounding bowl
Thanking our heroes 

Coda, Spring 2021

Slowly we emerge
Drinking in smiling faces
Shoots of hope in hearts 

Jenny Ross is from Cape Town, South Africa and taught English in high school and college.  She lived in Jerusalem, then Ann Arbor, Michigan, but has happily called New York City home since 1989 and although she loves traveling, doesn’t plan to move again. She is excited to see Voices.




by Carmen Mason 

Pythagoras lived when kids
didn’t wield box cutters and guns
or stand on lines for free condoms
missing class
when fuck-you shirts weren’t even
dreamed of by
lovehaters and childhaters
When homework wasn’t necessary because
each moment was an assignment for life
He lived when the parts still equalled the whole
and the whole was a holy thing
He    then Empedocles and later
Euclid believed the
world and all its matter mattered
and Pythagoras suggested that if you don’t get it right
you can come back and try again
in Samos or some other place and
body-state     say a fish or a goat
or a flea or Shanghai

To be brief     Pythy
opposed the taking of life
the eating of flesh or anyone who killed
or prepared animals for diet 

So I think all these drive-by shooters
babyburners     peoplerapers
mindmarauders    ethnictrashers
racelashers     fuckshirt peddlers
drug and craprap hustlers
should die     just die     then come back and try again 

I’ve been writing prose and poetry since I was six. Won the Ist prize in Seventeen Magazine’s short story contest at 17 and several poetry prizes through the years. I write because I cannot help myself. I write to empty out the thoughts I cannot hold inside a day or hour more.




The Egret

by Mary Padilla 

There was an egret by the pond today.

Violets were appearing now on the verges of the wood.

It flew off to the shallows a bit further along the bank

when I came to sit on the cliff at the overlook.

Puffs of flowers in the trees were casting patchy shadows,

but there were no leaves yet.

It stood by the bank, utterly still.

Spring was still spare,

deceptively simple,


A little later it had moved further along

somehow without ever moving,

utterly calm

but alert,



Then it was further yet –

but still immobile,

coming from a deep place.

Why do flowers come back

when people don’t?

 Since coming to the LP2 several years ago, Mary has been trying new things, like applying the economy of the poetic form to expressing what can be more felt than understood.


Gallery View

by Mary Padilla

A moment in time
and space
–  frozen  –
as in Zoom,
–  Leave and Return  –
They have to let you in.
You are in the Waiting Room.
What is on the other side
of that door?
Doors are virtual these days,
and apocryphal.   

But the link is still there for 30 days.
There is no end time.
What does Time mean now?
It should be what keeps everything
from happening at once.
But what about
the parallel universes
we inhabit,
where we click
from one reality
to the next
and back again –
or not.

Everything happens
at once there,
except that there is
no single there.
but rather,
three-ringed circuses,
the net of Indra,
the many-stringed

And where are we in all this?
Are we in this?
If outside, where?
Given a place to stand,
could we move it?
What if there is
no place to stand?
And what would it mean
to move? 

If nothing is fixed,
what then is our perspective?
That of the omniscent narrator?
Of the fish eye immersed
in a medium it can’t fathom?
And of what significance this?
If we can sense only
what we are primed to experience,
then we cannot perceive
what we do not expect. 

Sensations are feelings.
We will not feel
what we cannot know.
Oblivious to the rest,
we each live now
in a world
of our own creation,
socially distant
in a fundamental way,
and alone.
What would it mean
to connect?

Since coming to the LP2 several years ago, Mary has been trying new things, like applying the economy of the poetic form to expressing what can be more felt than understood.



Artistic Constraint

by Mary Padilla

A constraint can be freeing
But this approach does
Cause you to
Disregard what might be
Equally appropriate in
Favor of something that’s
Good technically, not
How you would necessarily
Imagine the choice,
Just privileging this
Kind of technique,
Letting the form dictate the
Meaning, allowing for
No chance to
Override the
Presentation, however
Qualified the
So that
Zenographic limitations.

Since coming to the LP2 several years ago, Mary has been trying new things, like applying the economy of the poetic form to expressing what can be more felt than understood.



by Mary Padilla 

xxxIs that what it is, then?
xxxSomething that puts in motion
xxxa sort of cascade?  Personal?
Write it down
before it slips away.
xxxSuch things don’t usually
xxxneed setting up.
xxxThey come into being
xxxby themselves.  Impersonal.
Maybe the pieces aren’t ready
to be locked into place yet.
xxxTo need to do this thing,
xxxbut not necessarily
xxxbecause it’s likely to succeed,
It’s an exchange with the part that
observes, integrates, and only manifests
when the synthesis is complete,
xxxto wake up with it in mind,
xxxand live with it always before you,
xxxas a sort of waking dream –
like the cuckoo in the clock
that makes its presence known
only intermittently – rarely –
then quickly disappears again.
xxxwhen the fit is on, you must do it.
xxxAnd so you discharge it, this necessity,
It won’t be coaxed out again
until it has something else to say,
and that fully formulated.
xxxdeliver it in the doing.
xxxOr don’t, but then it will persist.
This sort of thing doesn’t – can’t – happen
on demand, under contract, or by a deadline.
xxxNot exactly taken over,
xxxhaunted, preoccupied, obsessed
xxxyou simply must pursue it,
xxxif you are possessed by it,
xxxor it just might destroy you.
It just bubbles up
when it’s ready
and can no longer be contained.
xxxNot its agent,
xxxbut rather reduced to it.
All that can be done is
to give it the time it needs,
xxxas everything else is stripped away,
xxxsuperfluous to what it in essence is,
xxxthis thing that can exist only through you.
and then record the result
xxxWhat matters is the essential need
xxxfor this inessential thing,
xxxmeaningful perhaps only to you,
xxxto be,
when it’s ready
xxxand to continue being,
to be delivered.
xxxeven after you no longer are.  

 Since coming to the LP2 several years ago, Mary has been trying new things, like applying the economy of the poetic form to expressing what can be more felt than understood.






Saturday Night Fever

by Judith Meyerowitz

Trapped in a Groundhog flick
I open the window to change the frame,
watching the march of the food delivery fairies.
Not to be upstaged, doormen fashionably dressed in blue gloves and matching masks.  

Chirp/Boom street birds’ tweets alternate with car rap bass
Can the virus travel on sound waves? 

Shut the window
just in time for Cuomo’s chats
Need to hear his covid stats
Now down 

Do I shoot up lysol or wait for chloroquine hallucinations?
In my altered state, I smile like June Cleaver and prepare another meal

Why does the virus look like a disco ball?
I count pink and red
fuzzies before sleep,
Wuzzie all about? 

Judith has taken several writing and poetry study groups since joining and is a member of an ongoing poetry group. She thanks Voices and all those coordinators for their encouragement and support.