by Harriet Sohmers Zwerling

A tiny grasshopper, the color of jade,
lands on the worn wood deck in front of me.
First, I think it’s a leaf;
then it turns itself around toward the bay
and I see its shape, its little paperclip legs,
moving forward like pistons in an engine,
picking up speed, and then,
rocketing into space all the way to the water!
Such incredible energy in such a small machine,
while I, this old woman,
struggle to stand.

I started writing in high school and haven’t been able to stop since.


by Charles Troob

Wisteria encloses our yard on three sides
Tendrils poke through fence slats
thick ropy stems burrow underneath

A foot or two in from the property line
a vine shoots up from the soil
Every half inch or so it spews out
a cluster of leaves—five pairs
and one more on the end
in mindless replication
then marches on
seizing every opportunity to take hold and climb

A few weeks ago I found wisteria poking
under the fence, then twisted around a seven-foot
false cypress in stranglehold from base to top
I snipped it at the base
spent a quarter hour unraveling
ten yards or so of green vine
and tossed it in the street
for village compost

If the neighbors joined
eradication might be possible
but invasion to me is decoration to them
Next door an arbor supports wisteria a foot thick
Late May it blooms in grapey clusters
the scent heavy
as if to show up the graceful lilacs
that open on Mother’s Day and quickly fade—
like Mama Rose in Gypsy
taking the stage after her daughter’s star turn
blowsy overripe
unlovable but a life force

Charles Troob attends Sarah White’s weekly poetry group. Occasionally he gets lucky and something good comes out.  Enjoy!  

Three Poems

by Carol Schoen


They were nobodies;
two of the million
children of immigrants
from East Europe,
not artistic,
or philosophic,
or brilliant.

Born in New York
same time
as the Communist state
in Russia,  Julius and Ethel
committed their lives
to the goal of equality
for all.  They never lost faith.


Hundreds of years in Russia
as merchants, managers,
we kept order among the serfs,
dwelled in shtetls, ignored at best,
while the elite wrote scurrilous
books about us.

The Communists gave us the vote!
Imagine that!  We were citizens,
no longer aliens barely tolerated
Citizens, participants in the great dream.
We owe them.  I just wanted to help.


No one saw the scabs,
police batons hacking

at the people’s  backs.
My first job, I  was a leader
striking for workers rights;
we won few concessions.

Julius said NO!
let the people feel oppression ,
suffer till they understand
only total change,
total destruction of the old,
will bring the relief
that communism offers.

Destroy?  destroy?
More suffering?

Carol Schoen wrote her first poems for Sarah White’s study group and has been chugging along happily ever since.

This Hand

by Mireya Perez Bustillo

In 1588 the Dutch sculptor
Henrick Goltzius drew his right hand
Strong gnarled
With knobbed knuckles
And strong wrist
With the white cuff rolled up
The veins bulging
Today I see my right hand
Delicate weakened
My wrists a narrow cuff
My thumb
Not its normal self
As it knows
It needs to rest
A while
Write another way
A week before its surgery


by Mireya Perez Bustillo

Like a beetle under a frog’s skin
the paint bubbled larger with the heat
almost ready to burst like when she
held “number one” under her belly was hard like
……………………………………………..a balloon.

Sarita liked to look at the bubble
When Miss Jones started with the questions:
……….What happened to the old woman
……….who lived in a shoe?
……….Why did the cow jump
……….over the moon?
……….What did Jack eat as he
……….sat in his corner?

In the bubble puff Sarita could see
“Rin Rin Renacuajo” “Mirringa Mirronga” and “Pastorcita”*
………And Miss Jones doesn’t even
………know why “Rin Rin” left all
………dressed up and so early, or
………why  “Pastorcita” lost all her sheep
………“Rin Rin” is the best and papi
………taught me it and I know
………it all and say it for the guests.

“Sarita, Sarita, there you go again… “
………And I bet Miss Jones doesn’t
………know you say at the end
………“Colorin, Colorado, este cuento
………se ha acabado” ** And
………She doesn’t even know about the bubbling.

*Characters in nursery stories by Colombian writer, Rafael Pombo
** Traditional way of ending fairy tales and nursery rhymes in Spanish

Still Life : September 15, 2001

by Carmen Mason

Is that what it is
this life?
Painting on water
the center not holding
no still life anywhere?

I am glad that the
children are still
on their swings
lovers still
holding hands
tighter than yesterday

fishermen on the bridge
watch the smoke
from the towers
forgetting the line’s pull
the silver dervish
at the end of the line

Driving by the small park
I notice it’s filled with
birch trees, triumphant
warriors of blight

a bride and groom
walk to the edge
of the pier and kiss
as the merciless smoke
leaves the frame of the camera

I am aware of all
I have not seen for years
All things precious

I see everything now
and wait for the next
glimpse of subject
the registering
the arm lifting
the brush taking
its oily ink to write
to paint on water.

I have been writing prose and poetry all my life.
They are sighs of joy, cries for help, testaments of love
or loss, refuge and epiphany. They surprise, console
and astound me. Just like friends and strangers do.

American Beauty

One does not become enlightened by imagining the figures of light
but by making the darkness conscious.  ~ Carl Jung

by Carmen Mason

Oh yes
the melon roses
shot with coral edging bending
down, their scalloped shadows
(strong scented, sweet) upon my favorite
page of writing (who today? Colette
Munro, Morrison, Millay?)
The West, its burnt sienna mountains
against feathered shirt-white tufts
periwinkle skies.
Oh yes, the sea, everywhere the sea.

And home
my grandchild’s face so full of trust
perfect kissing-lips turned up awaiting me.
Two neighbors, bowed and plodding
hands entwined, their fine
white hair whisping in the reminiscent air;
the garden’s figs, hard purple not yet cracked
by the squirrels’ teeth; obscene peppers, eggplants
melons hot and squirming in their lusty skins
eggplants, peppers like women bent and yearning
lettuces, frilled and gentle green
baby slugs benignly curled in their
tight wombs. America the Beautiful.

But no:
museums filled with blushing forms
of porcelain flesh and corn silk hair.
Madonnas and baby Jesuses putty pink
anemic white ’neath radiant halos –
arcs of sacred personages;
our Founders’ high-bosomed matrons
smiling coldly or away, pinched tight
but certainly please, not Beautiful.

(When my little girl, dark and olive-eyed
first went horse-back riding
the keeper booted and bravado, moved to
the little girl behind her on the line and said
here my angel, my blond-blue-eyed beauty                                                  

jump on his back and let him
ride you to glory, little princess
then pulled the
dappled pony round my own
sweet girl
to that golden smiling one

Later, driving home she asked
what it had been all about :
Why didn’t the man take me
first on the line? Avoiding
what she meant to say
her dark face looking out, away
my brave girl perhaps fearing my reply.
It’s the ignorant people
in the unfair world my .
darling colt, my gorgeous girl.
She laughed and turned to kiss
my neck, my fury galloping away
through her thick dark hair.
What could I say to a girl of six?)

There is a black girl in that astounding book
The Bluest Eye, called out of name:
a child who dreamed of gouging
out her shadowed eyes (her mother
looking down at her, assuring
she was Ugly, Homely, UnBeautiful.)
Pecola Breedlove begged to have the bluest eyes
so she might prevail and overcome.
She goes mad instead.

But the most astounding of all:
Helen Keller, smitten with years and years
of American lore, then old, had her eyes
surgically removed (one had always bulged.
She knew without seeing
it was unsightly.)
What did she replace them with?
Liquid blue glass
globes unseeing –
American Beauties (a marble term.)
Dear old Helen, her new blue eyes flashing,
still deaf and blind to those worn-out Old Men
who served to hobble her along her azure way.

I have been writing prose and poetry all my life. They are sighs of joy, cries for help, testaments of love or loss, refuge and epiphany. They surprise, console and astound me. Just like friends and strangers do.

AMERICA: Flip Book

by Carmen Mason

I remember Search
for Tomorrow, Ernie Kovacs
Pinhead and Foodini
benevolent, laughing times

years later with my first child
still resting inside me
I watched the President and his
pink pill-boxed lady
spilling and scrambling
through blood   then
Ruby getting Lee Harvey
in the gut    again and
again    a flip book
repeated on every
channel through the
day and night

fifteen years later the
Amazing Wallenda weaving then
plummeting again and
again onto a San Juan taxi cab
his granddaughter    the crowds
and the city buildings staring
all day long    all night

So I could only
sit still and give him
my unimportant tears
Robert Kennedy’s son
who sat alone
forgotten in his motel room
switching stations from daddy
to daddy to daddy waving
waving and waving
then shaking some hands
then falling and falling
again and again
and again   the boy
watching him fall
through the day
through the night

I have been writing prose and poetry all my life. They are sighs of joy, cries for help, testaments of love or loss, refuge and epiphany. They surprise, console and astound me. Just like friends and strangers do.

The 4th Daughter

by Marjorie Levin

(Gilberto’s 75th Birthday)
She was eleven and radiated a girl confidence.
She spoke in Spanish but the praise for her father was so clear
that individual words weren’t needed to understand.

(Last Wednesday)
She is very fragile and cries in the middle of her happy life.
It’s over the tired but heavy slights that just don’t go away.
The mother that never was and oh that very same father.

(It Happened About 18 Months Ago)
She explained to me her baptism.
Coming from her people- never a god or God in sight.
She found Jesus Christ to be her savior.
And she wears a large key to keep that day firmly in mind
and keep her new families firmly attached.

Theirs are amazing voices full of grace. Really.
If voices could love, these do.
It seems they rise and fall in study and in song.
They pray in song together.
What are they looking for?
What do they hear when it’s found?

She is like the baby- at thirty-three
With the clear chimes of a girl calling out to her life.
But she has that already and it arrives soon.

I’m a lifelong designer.
I’m trying out writing as a different route to designing answers.
I have always designed visual answers to solve specific problems.
I am trying to shred the visuals and glue them back together in words.


by Jim Gould

Flowers spring my longing.
Snowdrops push through frozen crust
Crocus peeks from thatchly brown
Daffodil turns its yellow proud     to sun.
Take heart, my heart –
………dare to show your blooms
………before they wilt

A recovering lawyer, Jim travels the world, devours
NYC culture and writes in many styles.